Trading is an essential part of surviving a fantasy football season, and each week I'll offer up a few players I'd look to trade away or trade for. But, before we start, a quick preface on trading theory. Rather than looking at every trade as a player-for-player transaction, look at the big picture when trying to find trading partners. Identify your roster's strengths and use those as offers to fill weaknesses. It's much easier to build up to an exchange with a league member when you can break down the benefits for each, instead of blindly throwing out (or asking me) player for player inquiries. Think strategically and you'll end up with better, more satisfying trades. The always great JJ Zachariason discussed this idea in more depth on a recent episode of The Late-Round Podcast, which is an excellent listen.
Now, let's see what the market has to offer this week.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans: Normally, I operate under the mindset that I'm not going to trade for a quarterback. There are 32 in the league and most leagues only require 10-12 in a given week. That allows for plenty of viable fantasy starters to be found on the waiver wire. However, I might make an exception for Watson if the price is right. Watson has been a far cry from the week-winning dynamo who stole our fantasy hearts last week, but there are reasons for optimism. Will Fuller's return has sparked a big jump in production for Watson. In Week 1 (sans Fuller), Watson completed just 50 percent of his passes for 176 yards, one touchdown and one pick. He averaged a frightening 5.18 yards per attempt. Since Fuller's return. Watson is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes while averaging 347 yards, two touchdowns and one pick per game with a whopping 9.65 yards per attempt. In fact, over the last two years, Watson has averaged 29.4 fantasy points per game when Will Fuller plays -- versus 18.0 FPG when he is out. The Texans are a bit of a mess right now, but this trend is encouraging for Watson's fantasy outlook. I'm not suggesting he'll recapture that 2017 magic, but he looks like he could be getting pretty close.
Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots: Edelman can't return from his suspensions until the Patriots Week 5 tilt against the Indianapolis Colts, but the time to make a move for the wily veteran is now. The Patriots passing attack as currently constituted is abysmal. Which is a strange thing to write considering the Tom Brady-Josh McDaniels-Bill Belichick brain trust is intact. While others may fawn over the potential of Josh Gordon, the savvier move might be to swing a trade for Brady's old reliable.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions: Johnson might be harder to pry from your league-mates after his performance Sunday night, but I still think it's worth a shot. Johnson was a revelation for the Lions, gashing the Patriots defense with silky smooth moves en route to becoming the first Lion to rush for 100 yards in a game since Sir Reginald Alfred Bush did so back in 2013. He led the backfield in playing time (44 percent) and tied with LeGarrette Blount for the lead in touches (18). The Lions may foolishly stick with their committee approach for a few more weeks, but this could be the start of something special with Johnson. Try to get him now before he heats up even more.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: If you had Hunt last year, odds are he won you your league, or at the very least carried you into the postseason. Sadly, his odds of doing so again in 2018 seem long. Patrick Mahomes' arrival has stripped Hunt of one of his most valuable fantasy assets: passing game work. With check down champion Alex Smith under center last year, Hunt was third on the team in targets, averaging right around four per game. So far in 2018, he's seen just three targets, tied for sixth on the Chiefs with such luminaries as Demetrius Harris and Damien Lewis. Mahomes' arm strength and the addition of Sammy Watkins have turned the Chiefs into one of the league's most exciting passing attacks with a propensity to sling the ball downfield. This is bad news for Hunt's weekly floor. Add in that the Chiefs defense is a sieve and will keep them in plenty of shootouts, and Hunt's upside is looking bleaker and bleaker. I'd try to flip him after his two-touchdown performance last week. Touchdowns are fickle beasts to rely on, and they might be the main source of Hunt's fantasy output moving forward.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders: If you only looked at Nelson's final stat line from Week 3 (6 catches, 173 yards, one touchdown) you might think he had a phenomenal game. In reality, Nelson had a phenomenal six minutes. With 9 minutes left to go in the first quarter, Nelson had already racked up 139 yards and his touchdown, and then largely disappeared the rest of the game. Nelson's a cagey veteran and can blow up for games like this. Trusting the Raiders passing game is not wise at this juncture. Derek Carr has thrown multiple touchdowns in just five of his last 18 games, while Nelson hadn't crossed the century mark since December of 2016.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: I know what you might be thinking. As a Packers fan, how could I possibly advocate trading away Rodgers? Easy. This is fantasy, not real life, and injured Rodgers is barely putting up points ahead of quarterbacks you can find on the waiver wire. It's an arbitrary measurement, but Rodgers has finished as a top-10 QB just once this season, and his other highest finish was QB12. He's still Aaron Rodgers and that name will mean something on the trading block. With plenty of startable quarterbacks still hanging around as free agents (Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, etc.) it could be extremely valuable to cash in on Rodgers' name value now before he aggravates his injury any more (as he nearly did in Week 3).
Trade Calls Hotline
I love David Johnson and have since he was a draft prospect from Northern Iowa. But Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, is ruining DJ for fantasy. He's not being used as a pass-catcher in creative ways, and the Cardinals offense is lackluster (and that's putting it EXTREMELY nicely). Christian McCaffrey is a focal point of the Panthers offense and has quickly put C.J. Anderson to bed as nothing more than a backup to spell the younger workhorse on occasion. If you can get CMC for DJ, do so in a heartbeat.
As you can probably infer from my analysis for Watson above, I'm not really keen on trading him at the moment. Especially for someone like Jay Ajayi. In a normal circumstance, sure, I'd absolutely advocate trading a quarterback for a running back. But right now, with Watson ascending and Ajayi injured and part of a committee on an offense that is struggling to move the football, he's far from an ideal target.
-- Alex Gelhar is a freelance fantasy writer for the NFL and a full-time law student. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar. No, he will not share his New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest beers with you. But if you're in Wisconsin and want to buy him one he'll gladly join you and talk football (or law).