Week 1 Trade Calls: Austin Ekeler's time to shine

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Though most fantasy leagues only completed their drafts within the past seven days and Week 1 doesn't kick off until Thursday, savvy fantasy managers will find ways to enhance their rosters during the intervening time. While some value might linger in free agency, the trade market more likely presents more opportunities at this juncture.

Trade for:


Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: Melvin Gordon remains away from the Chargers as Week 1 approaches, and the team has broken off extension talks. Meanwhile, Gordon's backup Austin Ekeler has produced more on a per-carry and per-touch basis and now finds himself positioned to take over the starting role. Ekeler probably won't match Gordon's touchdown output, the fifth highest among all players since 2015. Still, Ekeler should see plenty of targets in the passing game to mitigate some of the difference.

Josh Gordon, WR, New England Patriots: A large portion of the Patriots' passing attack will go through Julian Edelman and their running backs, but plenty of targets from last season remain unaccounted for. Rob Gronkowski retired this offseason, Chris Hogan joined the Panthers, and Phillip Dorsett could miss some time with a thumb injury. Meanwhile, Josh Gordon has received a full reinstatement from the NFL last week and, even after missing significant time, still possesses the best physical talents of anyone in New England's receiving corps. Gordon should feature heavily in the team's game plan against the Steelers and could see his trade value skyrocket after a strong performance or two.

Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens: An afterthought following his departure from New Orleans, Mark Ingram landed in a Ravens offense that looks to run more than any other in the modern NFL. Ingram's abilities as a receiver -- he ranks 10th among active running backs in targets since 2014 -- also suit his new team well. NFL.com's Graham Barfield called Ingram "easily the most versatile back in Baltimore" in his AFC North team previews, and that should lead to no shortage of fantasy opportunities this season.

Trade away:


Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: The contract stalemate between Gordon and the Chargers shows no signs of abating. Head coach Anthony Lynn expressed his confidence in running backs Ekeler and Justin Jackson earlier this week, a reasonable stance given the duo's play last year. And now Ezekiel Elliott's new six-year, $90 million extension further complicates the picture, increasing the likelihood that Gordon extends his holdout deep into the season or forces Los Angeles into a trade. Perhaps the latter scenario makes Gordon an enticing option, but we have no timetable for when the Chargers might deal him and where he might land. And given that Gordon has only played a full season once in his career, he presents increased risk even if he returns or lands in a favorable situation. Offload Gordon while you still can.

Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys: With Elliott back in the fold, Tony Pollard returns to a reserve role. Many fantasy owners drafted Pollard hoping for a redux of James Connor only to see those dreams dashed by Jerry Jones' checkbook. Pollard showed well in the preseason, so he could revive some of his value should something happen to Elliott. Until then, see what he can fetch on the trade market.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck's sudden retirement casts doubt on all of the Colts' offensive weapons, but none more so than T.Y. Hilton. Incredibly consistent, Hilton has finished five of his last six seasons with at least 120 targets, 1,100 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The lone exception? Luck's lost 2017 campaign. Granted, Indianapolis has a better supporting cast to help new starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett than it did two years ago, but Hilton's name still carries more weight than his expected production without Luck.

Trade-call hotline:


I would advise against this trade for the team acquiring Melvin Gordon. While Gordon's fantasy upside certainly exceeds Tyler Boyd's, the Chargers running back could conceivably sit out until Week 10 ... perhaps even longer. We still have a lot to learn about the Bengals offense under new head coach Zac Taylor, but Boyd has the opportunity to shine while A.J. Green recovers from ankle surgery. If Boyd produces, you'll have the opportunity to sell high on him later.

You can attack this from two directions. Tevin Coleman produced solid numbers as the No. 2 back with the Falcons in 2016, the last time he played for Kyle Shanahan before arriving in San Francisco earlier this year. Coleman looks well positioned to earn a sizable workload with the 49ers this year, perhaps even the lion's share of the touches. Conversely, Tarik Cohen led the Bears in receptions last year and has a defined role in Matt Nagy's offense. Even if rookie David Montgomery becomes the primary back, Cohen will still see his touches. Chicago will even use both players together.

Coleman has the higher upside given what he can do in a Shanahan offense, but his role remains somewhat uncertain and the 49ers don't lack for viable alternatives in the backfield. Cohen probably has the higher floor given how the Bears use him. I'd lean towards Coleman unless your roster doesn't afford you adequate stability elsewhere to absorb the risk.

A thousand times yes. Michael Thomas ranks as one of the very best fantasy players in any format while Stefon Diggs plays in a Vikings offense determined to run the ball and has missed games in each of his four NFL seasons. Kenyan Drake does offer some value as a starting running back, but the Dolphins don't have a lot of talent around him and could feasibly move on from him at any time.

It should go without saying that Odell Beckham is off the table here. Tyler Lockett has too much value to trade for Hunter Henry by himself, and though I just advocated for selling on Hilton, he probably does as well. Donte Moncrief will begin the season as the Steelers' No. 2 receiver, so he might offer enough value for your rival's backup tight end. Dante Pettis is a high-upside option but worth the sacrifice for Henry.

Odell Beckham has the highest upside of any player in this trade, but Antonio Brown should still see a high volume of targets with the Raiders and Edelman projects similarly in the post-Gronk Patriots offense. If you need another starting wideout, this trade makes sense.

-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH

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