Week 1 has come and gone and fantasy owners are in a frenzy over who to add, drop and put on the trade block. Some players' trade value will never be higher, while others are ideal buy-low candidates meaning you should try to capitalize on the fear generated by a slow Week 1 outing for players who have positive outlooks for the season. That's why this column, "Trade Calls" will come at you each and every week. It's pretty simple: I do the heavy lifting, you get some information and start making offers. So ahead of Week 2, here are some players to think about trying to acquire on the low, and moving after a big Week 1 performance.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals Simply put, the Jets completely shut down the Bengals run game in Week 1. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard combined for 16 total touches and 61 yards from scrimmage. Bernard only received seven of those 16 touches which is surprising in a game script that favored a shifty change-of-pace back like Gio. But I'm confident in crediting this poor performance to the stellar play of the Jets defensive line more so than lack of ability on Bernard's part. On his rushes, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry with all but one of his rush attempts coming out of the shotgun formation. And it wasn't a case of usage either; Bernard was on the field for 28 plays compared to Hill's 29, so it was basically a 50/50 split in terms of playing time.
Remember that despite Jeremy Hill's volume last season (over 200 carries) Bernard was still able to finish the year as a top 25 running back in PPR formats and that was mainly due to his total yardage, racking up over 1,200 scrimmage yards. In fact, it was his second straight season with over 1,200 scrimmage yards and third straight with at least 1,000. This is a guy you want to target in trades as soon as possible. Bernard made Around the NFL's Chris Wesseling's list of top pass-catching backs too, which is a sign that fantasy owners shouldn't worry about his slow Week 1. In his article, Wesseling states, "From Week 1 through Week 17 last year, you could count on one hand the number of running backs who outplayed Bernard: Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley and Freeman."
Sounds to me like a player you want to buy low on while the time is nigh.
Michael Floyd, WR, CardinalsMichael Floyd hauled in three receptions for 61 yards against the Patriots in Week 1, and you can bet that his fantasy owners were clamoring for a touchdown that never came. Despite seeing three targets in the red zone in the fourth quarter, Floyd only caught one of them and he went out of bounds at the 1-yard line. The other two were well-defended by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler who was one of just six cornerbacks to notch two passes defensed in Week 1 according to Pro Football Focus. Butler blanketed Floyd all night in man coverage and the Arizona receiver struggled to get open against him. Obviously Larry Fitzgerald reaped the benefits working mainly out of the slot with his 81 yards and two touchdowns.
But don't let Floyd's slow Week 1 deter you from targeting him in a trade. He was Arizona's leading receiver from Week 8 on last year leading the team with 636 receiving yards and tied John Brown for the most touchdown receptions (four) during that stretch. With Brown still seemingly not 100 percent after dealing with concussion issues from the preseason, Floyd's volume should remain solid this week at home against Tampa Bay. And going forward he has some juicy matchups to take advantage of matching up against the Rams, 49ers (twice) and Jets in the next nine weeks.
If Floyd's owner is thinking about hitting the panic button on this Arizona wideout following his down Week 1 outing, make a move to buy low before it's too late.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins We already know that Jarvis Landry is a target hog. That status was cemented in Week 1 when he saw double the targets of any other pass-catcher on the Dolphins securing seven of his 10 targets for 59 total yards. The majority of his 10 targets were in the short-to-intermediate range, which is what we expected as the Seahawks have struggled to defend against passes underneath in short-yardage. But nearly every time Landry hauled in a reception, he was swarmed by the Legion of Boom, so let's cut him some slack on that front. Following a tough week against a formidable defense, it's time to buy low on Landry.
His owners may be scared off by the disappointing 5.9 fantasy points he posted in Week 1. But if Kenny Stills can't adjust his Ted Ginn-like drop issues and DeVante Parker can't get healthy, Landry will remain Ryan Tannehill's most trusted target and may have to force the ball to him in the red zone. Despite the notion that Landry's fantasy ceiling is capped in standard leagues because of his low touchdown totals (nine TD rec in his first two seasons combined), he was still Miami's most targeted player in the red zone in 2015 with 22. Add to it that he's one of the most dangerous wideouts in terms of yards after catch, 40 of his 59 yards came after the catch in Week 1, and you've got an ideal buy low candidate to target.
Last season, he opened the year with a similar bang, registering 30.2 fantasy points against the Vikings. In the six games following, he averaged 3.3 yards per carry with just one touchdown before bowing out for the season with a foot injury.
In Week 1 of 2014, Hyde posted 11 fantasy points on just seven touches with 50 yards on the ground and a touchdown. In the 12 games following, he averaged a mere 3.2 yards per carry while splitting the workload with Frank Gore. Hyde's season was cut short due to an ankle injury.
See what I'm getting at here? No? Allow me to simplify:
The 49ers rank in the bottom quarter of the league in Elliot Harrison's Power Rankings, even after a dominant performance against the Rams. But let's get real for a second -- domination of the Rams isn't much to brag about. San Francisco is not supposed to be very good this season, or at least not as good as the final score showed Monday night. The team's upcoming schedule does not bode well for Hyde's outlook going forward.
Hyde will face Carolina on the road in Week 2 followed by another away game in Seattle the following week. Toss in a Thursday night game against Arizona in Week 5 and another road game against the Cardinals again in Week 10 and you can understand why I'm advocating to move Hyde while his value is as high as it will probably be for the rest of the season. His durability history doesn't help matters either but don't mention that to the owner you're selling him to.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans Murray's Week 1 fantasy point total of 17 looks great and all, but if you dig a little deeper he didn't really have that nice of an outing. He averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, granted it was against a tough Minnesota defensive front. But if you own Murray, now is the time to put him on the block.
It's only a matter of time until beastly rookie Derrick Henry breaks out. I suggested trading for Henry in this space last week. That's because once he gets into a grove against an inferior defense, the split between Murray and Henry will absolutely even out. Henry was limited to seven touches in Week 1 which, given his pedigree and how we saw him dominate in the preseason, is criminal under-usage especially when you consider that the Titans had a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Did you see him make something out of nothing on a first quarter screen pass? That highlight is here, and embedded if you missed it. That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this kid can do. Seven total touches has got to be his absolute floor on a week-to-week basis so don't fret about his volume just yet.
The speedster exploded in Week 1 with two touchdowns and 143 receiving yards, which translated into 27.4 fantasy points in standard leagues-the highest total among wideouts in the opening frame. Over half of his fantasy points came on a single 98-yard touchdown reception in which he absolutely burned Oakland's defenders and sprinted down the sideline.
The fantasy gods won't always be raining good fortune on Cooks though, as Drew Brees historically spreads the ball around. In fact, last season marked the first year that Brees had a 1,000-yard wideout since 2012 (it was Cooks). With many a mouth to feed in the New Orleans offense (Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, Coby Fleener, Mark Ingram, Travaris Cadet), each player will have his ups and downs throughout the season. This was one hell of an up for Cooks, but the downs aren't far off.
Following a couple of great matchups against the Falcons, Giants and Chargers in the next three weeks, Cooks has a slew of unfavorable matchups coming up. From Weeks 6 through 11, the Saints face Carolina twice, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle. That's five unfavorable matchups in a six-week span and it's down the stretch of the fantasy regular season when you need as many good matchups as you can get for your squad. Look to put Cooks on the block in the coming weeks, before those bad matchups roll around.