In this first edition of Trade Calls I'll help you identify three players to ship out based on good Week 1 outings, and three players to target in a trade that you can get at value right now. It's high time for overreactions from Week 1 performances, whether a player exploded in the stat sheets or laid an egg for your fantasy squad. So let's look at some ideal targets to consider negotiating for ahead of the Week 2 slate.
SELL HIGH: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
All credit to Rotoworld's Rich Hribar here as his tweets about Todd Gurley were one of the first things that caught my eye on Tuesday morning. He pointed out that Gurley faced fewer stacked boxes on Sunday against the Colts than he did in 2016, yet was only able to manage 2.1 yards per carry. Fantasy owners might be overlooking just how inefficient Gurley was because he got volume, produced as a pass-catcher and found the end zone. But the fantasy stats don't always tell the whole story. It was a dream matchup for Gurley against a Colts defense that was gashed by running backs last season in Week 1 and he ran for just 40 yards on 19 attempts. It may be time to start seriously questioning Gurley's ability to create for himself, and given the matchup, he should have been more efficient with his voluminous workload.
After favorable matchups in Week 2 and Week 3, Gurley will be hard to trust for a string of eight straight weeks, one of which includes a bye. His opponents during that span include the Cowboys, Seahawks, Jaguars, Cardinals, Giants, Texans and Vikings. He should be able to provide a safe-ish floor via the passing game even if he can't get it done on the ground, but that schedule is far from welcoming.
BUY LOW: Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bryant was the Steelers' clear No. 2 receiver as he was on the field for 46 snaps, or 85 percent of the team's offensive plays. For context, Antonio Brown played 48 snaps. Bryant did see six targets which was third on the team behind Brown (11 targets) and what was an outlier performance for tight end Jesse James (eight targets). He was Roethlisberger's intended target on his only interception of the game, for what it's worth.
There's a good chance that it takes a few games for Roethlisberger and Bryant to get their timing back in sync. Bryant's return to training camp was delayed (remember that day in early August when his pads were taken from him?) and while he did play in two of the Steelers preseason games, Roethlisberger only played in one. So having to knock off some rust should be expected after such a long layoff, but Bryant is a unique talent at his position and has the potential for some huge games this season.
Some folks are already jumping ship on Bryant, which is the wrong move after just one game, but it signals that he's clearly an ideal buy-low target, before he inevitably blows up.
SELL HIGH: Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots
Gillislee was on the field for just 28 percent of New England's offensive snaps -- he touched the ball on 15 of his 21 plays, so his touch rate was high. But James White out-snapped him by a longshot, nearly doubling his teammate's playing time. Rex Burkhead also had some bad luck on his opportunities on passing plays, one of which was in the end zone. Burkhead actually took the first few backfield snaps for New England on their first drive while Dion Lewis only played six snaps after heavy utilization in the preseason. We can guess all we want, but there's really no telling how the team plans to rotate this committee going forward. Plus, Tom Brady didn't throw a single touchdown pass against the Chiefs, which is an outlier not likely to repeat often. If he starts slinging deep touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks or finding a rhythm with Gronkowski in the red zone, these backs, including Gillislee, could straight up ghost owners some weeks.
If you own Gillislee, you likely drafted him somewhere around Round 6 and you have a Week 1 RB1 on your hands from the middle rounds. You can move that mid-round pick now for great value elsewhere if you're thin at wide receiver or another position.
BUY LOW: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
The volume is the first good sign, as Crowell had just two games with over 16 carries last season. In both of those contests, he ran for over 100 yards, and one of them was during a fantasy-irrelevant Week 17. Despite the fact that Cleveland fell behind early due to a Steelers' special teams touchdown on a blocked punt, the team stuck with the run in the first half. Crowell only had six touches in the second half, but two of them were receptions which accounted for 50 percent of his yards from scrimmage in the game.
Which leads me to my next point: Crow can catch. He totaled 40 receptions on 52 targets last year for 319 receiving yards. And now, he's not competing for third-down work with Duke Johnson since the team converted the latter to a full-blown slot receiver. Johnson didn't take a single snap from the backfield last week. Crowell should remain on field in negative game scripts which will keep his weekly floor at a respectable level. In fact, he was on the field for 75 percent of Cleveland's third downs in Week 1.
With rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer getting a feel for the NFL game, it makes sense that Cleveland will continue to employ a run-heavy scheme early in games. The team made offensive line upgrades to protect Kizer and have a more stable ground attack, and coach Hue Jackson is a run-first coach by nature.
All of these factors point to Crowell maintaining a high-volume workload throughout the season, and now is an appropriate time to buy low, considering his inefficient Week 1 outing and an unfavorable matchup against Baltimore in Week 2 that probably has some owners squirming.
SELL HIGH: Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Following Tarik Cohen's breakout Week 1 performance, it looks like we might have a split backfield in Chicago going forward. For anyone who drafted Jordan Howard at his Round 1 asking price in redrafts, that's not something you want to hear heading into Week 2. Howard still out-snapped Cohen by a count of 35 to 27, but it's clear that the Bears want Cohen to be a big part of their offensive game plan going forward. Cohen led the team in targets (12) and receptions (eight) in his debut, and the Bears lost wideout Kevin White for the season with a scapula injury. Now the offense is thinner than ever at wideout, and Cohen could provide some value in that aspect. Cohen took 19 percent of his snaps either in the slot or out wide in Week 1 and saw three receptions from those non-backfield locations.
Drops were an issue for Howard last year, as he posted a 21.6 drop rate on his 46 targets, a league-worst mark. He's due for some regression as a pass-catcher in the weeks to come (he caught three of his five targets in Week 1) and committed an ugly drop near the goal-line late in the game. If the team can't trust Howard as a go-to pass-catcher out of the backfield in negative game script situations, his fantasy ceiling may be capped. But you can still get some good value for him considering he scored a touchdown against the Falcons and was Week 1's RB12 in standard scoring.
BUY LOW: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
With the loss of David Johnson to injury, the Cardinals offense will not be the same. Someone has to pick up the slack, and a committee backfield comprised of Kerwynn Williams, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington and whomever else isn't going to come close to combine for the production Johnson left behind. The superstar running back saw 120 targets last year and there's no way all of those are distributed to this committee.
The most obvious player to pick up the slack is veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He already led the NFL in receptions last year with 107, and that number could see a major uptick with Johnson sidelined. Fitzgerald had 150 targets of his own in 2016 and saw 13 on Sunday against the Lions. As Carson Palmer's most reliable receiver, Fitz is set up for an unbelievable workload as a result of Johnson's injury. He'll be a PPR monster for sure, but could also see an increase in touchdown opportunities.
Johnson scored 20 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2016, and four of them were through the air. He scored three times on his 14 red zone targets, while Fitzgerald scored four times on his 21 red zone targets. The production that Johnson provided last year for the Cardinals' offense was astounding, and since Fitzgerald plays 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps, he's an obvious buy-low candidate given his inevitable high-volume workload.