Can you count on Melvin Gordon to continue his sophomore ascent? Was Kenny Britt’s breakout performance in Week 6 a fluke? Nick Frazier’s got you covered.
We’re in the thick of the fantasy football season, and at this point, you probably know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. So, want to take advantage of others’ ignorance and improve your team via trade? Here are some guys to try to get rid of before they fall off, and some guys to acquire before their stock skyrockets.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears: After posting back-to-back 100-yard performances in Weeks 4 and 5, the rookie took a step back, totaling only 40 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches in a loss to Jacksonville last week. Granted, the Jaguars’ front seven is legit, and the Indiana product still found the end zone. However, the schedule only gets worse for Howard. In the next three weeks, the Bears face Green Bay, Minnesota, then go on a bye. The Packers’ defense ranks first in the NFL in opposing rushing yards per attempt with 3.0, and the Vikings’ is eighth at 3.7, meaning it would likely take a touchdown for Howard to put up respectable fantasy outings. After that, he takes on Tampa Bay and New York, two more teams with great rush defenses. The point is, the road won’t get any easier for Howard. Hopefully, the guy you’re trying to trade with will look at his previous 100-yard outings and see a decent RB2, when, in reality, it’s no guarantee Howard holds onto the starting job. Kadeem Carey had nine carries for 50 yards in the Bears’ loss to Jacksonville, and former starter Jeremy Langford will return eventually from an ankle injury. Try to dump Howard for a high-ceiling RB2 or WR2 while you can.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: You likely only own LaFell in a deeper league, but he’s been a borderline top-30 wide receiver in his first year with the Bengals. He’s also pleased his fantasy owners as of late, finding the end zone three times in the last two weeks. Don’t expect that to last. At one point or another, the Bengals will get Tyler Eifert back onto the field. The tight end was a red zone beast last season, and his return will significantly cut down LaFell’s targets within the 20-yard line. And we have yet to see him score from outside of the red zone. His value is likely as high as it will be this season, meaning if you’re in a deeper league, try to snag a flex player with upside.
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers: Gordon’s made a huge turnaround after a disappointing rookie season. He already has seven touchdowns in six games. A closer look at his rushing stats suggest he’s too touchdown-dependent, though. His 3.4 YPC is nothing special, and it took him 27 carries and a 49-yard scamper to crack 90 yards against the Broncos last week. He’s definitely the top dog in San Diego, but he’s likely to regress into an RB2 as the season progresses. If you can convince others in your league that Gordon will be a top-10 running back at the end of the year, you should do everything you can to strike a deal for a truly elite halfback.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns: After a surprising start to the season, Crowell has disappeared the last two weeks, running the ball 22 times for a measly 38 yards in that span. But I have a hunch that the power back we saw at the beginning of the year is the real Crowell. His last two games were against New England and Tennessee, and in both of those games, the Browns wound up playing from behind — not that that’s a surprise. Still, those are tough matchups. Crowell should be good for about 15-20 touches a game. Duke Johnson won’t present a real threat to Crowell, and quarterback Josh McCown shouldn’t be held out much longer. McCown isn’t superb, but he’s a vast improvement over rookie Cody Kessler, meaning opposing teams will have to play for the pass a little bit more. This team won’t win many games, but Crowell is one of the best players on the offense, and ground-and-pound coach Hue Jackson will make sure he gets the ball going forward.
Kenny Britt, WR, Los Angeles Rams: In this case, Britt is likely still on the waiver wire unless you’re in a 14-team league. He’ll be one of the top waiver wire pickups this week after going off for 136 yards and two scores against Detroit in Week 6. If someone else in your league gets their hands on the 28-year-old wideout, do your best to buy low. Britt hasn’t stood out any other week, but he’s remained consistent, totaling less than 66 yards just once in six games. He has a bye coming up in Week 8, but he takes on the leaky Giants secondary, the no-longer-intimidating Panthers defense, the Jets and the Dolphins over the next four weeks. Case Keenum is no Kurt Warner, but those are four secondaries that have been exploited often this season. You can reasonably expect Britt to perform as a decent flex option, and maybe even a WR2 on good days. Convince Britt’s owner that his performance against the Lions was fluky and do your best to snatch him before he has more monster outings.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos: If you’re currently a C.J. Anderson owner (like I am), you’re probably banging your head against a wall after his recent outings (like I am). Why can’t we get the C.J. Anderson from Week 1? It’s hard, but try to stay calm. If you watched the Broncos’ loss to the Chargers last week, you saw Anderson’s 20-yard touchdown catch called back because of a stupid holding call. Just like that, eight points wiped off the board. While it sucked, it’s evidence that the skill and talent is still there. Anderson hasn’t totaled less than 14 touches in a game, and while backup Devontae Booker has shown flashes, this is still Anderson’s backfield. In the fourth quarter of Denver’s loss, Anderson almost exclusively got the valuable snaps. Plus, following a matchup against the Texans in Week 7, Anderson faces San Diego, Oakland and New Orleans. These rushing defenses scare absolutely no one. Whoever owns Anderson in your league has probably had it up to *here* with him, so try to finagle a deal where you give up a low-end RB2 for the Denver back. He can’t possibly have touchdowns called back every week … right?