Before we get into this week's edition of Trade Calls, a note about last week and the process. If you read this column for Week 4, you'll remember I suggested trading away Kareem Hunt after his two-touchdown game in Week 3. Hunt, as you likely know if you watched Monday Night Football, followed up that performance with another gem, racking up over 175 total yards and a touchdown.
Now, I'm not bringing this up to spin it and substantiate my take or anything of that nature. I wanted to bring this up to remind all of you that we need to collectively approach trades differently. They are typically not like-for-like or week-to-week transactions. Ideally, trades improve both teams. This is important when you read about the players I recommend trading away in this space each week. This is not me saying I think these players are garbage or will suddenly become busts. I'm trying to take an analytical approach to suggest times for you to maximize the value of your players and benefit your team on the open market. In a perfect world, those players still perform well … just not as well as the players you trade for them! Hopefully, by the time this season is over, we'll advance the idea of trading in fantasy football a bit.
Now, let's see what the market has to offer this week.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers: As it stands right now, the Packers seem unwilling to diverge from their tried-and-true backfield committee. Since Jones returned from suspension, each back in this committee averages between 31 and 35 percent of the snaps per game, and have totaled between 17 and 19 touches. Watching these games, it's clear Jones is just different. He's more explosive and creates more for himself. That's likely why he's averaging over 6 yards per carry since returning. In fact, since the start of last year, Aaron Jones leads all running backs in percentage of carries to gain five-plus yards (43%). Aaron Rodgers was vocal about wanting Jones to get more opportunities last week, and the second-year back led the group in snap share (38 percent) and touches (12). The window to acquire Jones could be closing soon. Don't wait until he has a breakout game to make a move for him.
Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns: On the surface, Callaway hasn't done much this year. He's amassed just 10 receptions for 155 yards and one score. Yet, if you look more closely at his last two games there are many reasons for optimism. The rookie wideout has seen 19 targets the last two week (25 percent share) while receiving 41 percent of the air yards. A blow-up game is not far off for the youngster, especially with Baker Mayfield now under center, a player unafraid to throw the ball deep or into tight windows. The Browns have a tough matchup against the Ravens this week but then play the Chargers and Buccaneers in back-to-back weeks. Those are two games in which Callaway could catch fire.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Odds are you won't be able to pry Cook away from the owner who likely took him in the first or second round of your draft this summer, but this is a player I'd check the price on. Perhaps whoever drafted him is souring on Cook's "pitch count" as he works his way back from injury. Or maybe he/she is panicking after the Vikings' 1-2-1 start. All I'm saying is it would behoove you to do some due diligence here. If Cook is being offered up for cheap, go for it. This Viking team will likely get right soon, and when they do, a healthy (fingers crossed) Cook will be set for a massive workload.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants: Please, please, put down your torches and pitchforks. Again, remember what I wrote above. I'm not suggesting OBJ is bad or a bust or anything of that nature. However, I think there's a case to be made for at least seeing what type of offers he'd bring in on the trade market. Through four weeks he's in the top 10 in the league in targets (45) and receptions (31), but ranks 16th in receiving yards (331) and he hasn't found the end zone yet. What's potentially troubling for OBJ's rest-of-season outlook is his air yards profile. Beckham cruised past 130 air yards in each of the first two games, but has been in the 70s in Weeks 3 and 4. This isn't by itself a fantasy death knell, but given what we've seen from Eli Manning in recent weeks, his self-proclaimed anti-risk approach, and what the stats say, well, it could be hard for Beckham to reach his weekly ceiling. Especially if he's not getting targeted near the end zone, as he's logged just one target inside the 10-yard line this season. Now, the Giants have attempted just five passes inside the 10 (and five rushes as well), but that is not an encouraging stat on its own either. Beckham is still a phenomenal player receiving heavy targets who can overcome a subpar situation. All I'm suggesting is it doesn't hurt you to float his name out and see if anyone bites.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Collins may not be living up to the lofty offseason sleeper expectations many analysts bestowed upon him (myself included), but he's off to a solid start. He's seen about 54 percent of the backfield touches and has three touchdowns on the year. There's just one problem and its name is Buck Allen. Allen and Collins are sharing backfield work pretty equitably, but Allen has a slight edge in some key stats. He's seen nine more targets than Collins and has received one more handoff inside the 5-yard line, too. The Baltimore offense is a well-rounded and potent attack (fifth in points, 10th in yards), so Collins will still be a decent option for the rest of the way. If you have the depth at running back, though, it might be a good time to try and flip Collins to a team in need of a rusher.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: These last two picks are forcing me to relive takes from this summer, but part of being good at fantasy football is not holding on to past notions and adjusting as the league reveals itself to us. What we've learned this year is that Miller just isn't getting it done. He's averaging a paltry 3.9 yards per carry, has seen a measly 10 targets, and has scored one touchdown in four games. There's a case to be made for MIller kicking it into high gear if Deshaun Watson and co. return to even semi-2017 form. But something feels different about Miller this time around. Plus, Alfred Blue played a bigger role than we want to see last week. I have no idea if Miller is going to rebound or slide into a committee. Either way, it might be time to cut losses and back away from the table here.
Trade Calls Hotline
I would not. Mixon's timetable to return is murky at the moment, so I understand the appeal of going after Bernard. But, trading away a top-level player at tight end is way too rich of a price to pay. Cook has been phenomenal this year and I think it has more to do with Jon Gruden's offense than some sort of early-season magic (plus, Cook is a good player despite what the memes and Tweets might say). I'd look to add a runner off the waiver wire or ask for more than just Bernard if you're parting ways with a player of Cook's caliber at this point in the season.
While pairing running backs on the same team isn't often a good idea, getting the Ingram-Kamara duo certainly merits consideration. Plus, now is a decent time to sell high on Ridley. The rookie has looked fantastic and will remain a part of this offense moving forward, but he's still third in the pecking order in terms of playing time and trails Julio Jones in air yards by a significant margin. As long as you have other wide receivers to play regularly and are comfortable with the risk that Ingram might take some time to get into "football shape" and contribute, I'd say go for this.
*-- Alex Gelhar is a freelance fantasy writer for the NFL and a full-time law student. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar. He's excited to cheer on his beloved Milwaukee Brewers in the postseason for the first time since 2011. *