With four weeks in the books, we are now 25% of the way through the season. Well, we would be if we were still playing a 16-game season. But it’s a 17-game season, which means we are not at the quarter point but rather, er, uh, 23.529% through the season.
The entire fantasy football season is a small sample size, but with that caveat, four games is enough to have a sense of where your team is strong and where it needs help. To determine what is unlikely to continue (I mean,
Derrick Henry Dalvin Cook Ezekiel Elliott Sam Darnold leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns) and what is not a fluke (Cooper Kupp has at least a 32% target share in every game this year). You also know your own team; have you gotten really unlucky this year, scoring a ton but always facing the highest-scoring team in your league? Or maybe the opposite: You know your team isn’t great, but you’ve lucked into some easy matchups where your opponent had a bad week.
Either way, whether you are 4-0, 2-2 or 0-4, you can always improve your team. The extra game this year means more teams are still in it — yes, even you 0-4 and 1-3 squads, which means those at the top of the standings shouldn’t get too comfortable. Long way to go.
So with trading season about to begin, as has become a tradition the past few years, it is now time for the 2021 edition of the Definitive Matthew Berry Guide to Trading in Fantasy Football.
1. Assess or create depth on your team
So you’ve decided to make a trade. Great.
Well, before you can acquire someone, you need to know what you can offer. What positions do you have depth at? Where are you weak?
“I have no depth!” you yell at the screen. “That’s why I need to trade,” you say. Because everyone is hurt. Fine. Then let’s create some depth.
Let’s say you have no running backs and only one decent WR, but you do have Kyler Murray. So let’s look at the waiver wire. The aforementioned Sam Darnold is available in 81% in ESPN leagues. He’s QB5 on the season and even though we all agree the rushing is unsustainable, he’s still in a fantasy-friendly offense surrounded by really good skill players and his next four games are the Eagles, Vikings, @Giants and @Falcons. Nice schedule. Daniel Jones is QB6 so far this year and has a bunch of likely high-scoring games on tap: @Cowboys, Rams, Panthers, @Chiefs. Taylor Heinicke, QB10 since he became the starter in Week 2, is 89% available. And there are more.
The idea here is you can grab a usable QB off the waiver wire and now you have Kyler Murray to deal. That’s not ideal, of course, but you can live with Darnold, Jones, Heinicke … maybe Cousins is available. Maybe Trey Lance is and he becomes the starter this week. Either way, while you’d rather have Murray, rolling with one of those QBs or the streamer of the week plus a legit RB 1 is a better option than wasting Kyler Murray’s big games while continuing to hope Myles Gaskin gets more than 5 touches a game.
This year, quarterback and wide receiver, in that order, are the easiest positions to fill from the waiver wire, so that’s where you can create depth for yourself. No one is going to trade for a waiver wire QB, but they’ll listen if you offer Kyler Murray. Same thing with Travis Kelce. Do you want to lose trade him or Darren Waller? Of course not, but you’ll get a lot for them and you can live with a Dawson Knox or Dalton Schultz type (Knox was a “Love” in last week’s column, remember; 30% of Knox’s targets this year have come in the red zone, highest among all TEs. He’s legit).
Once your new trade fodder roster is set, you should rank (at least mentally) the players on your team, by position and overall, so that you truly understand how you value everyone.
2. Assess everyone else’s teams
Don’t target one specific player. Yes, you’d like to have Derrick Henry. Everyone would. That’s too narrow a window. It’s much better to find teams that might have an extra running back to deal. Or conversely, a team that needs what you have a surplus of: good tight ends or a quarterback, for example. Ideally you’ll identify a few teams that are potential trade partners. Maybe there’s a 4-0 team in your league that is willing to part with a star for Christian McCaffrey. You hate to deal him, but if you’re 0-4 you don’t have the luxury of waiting until he’s back. You need to win now, and a 4-0 team can afford a hit for another week or two.
Understanding your objective is crucial before trying to trade. Are you in must-win-this-week mode? Or maybe you have massive injuries and just need to plug holes for the rest of the season. Or just trying to take a surplus and improve an area you see as a need? Are you 4-0 and looking down the road? Understand the objective because, as with our example from above, CMC makes sense for the 4-0 team, but (as of this writing) CMC doesn’t for the must-win-this-week team.
3. Marketing your player(s)
Don’t just send a bunch of cold trade offers out of the blue via the league interface. This has a high probability to just get turned down. Just seeing two players in an email often gets rejected ASAP with no counter.
You need to start a conversation, and there are many ways to do that: via the site messaging system, social media or email; or if it happens to be your significant other, taking them to dinner and, over dessert, casually bringing up the fact that their team is one good tight end short of unbeatable.
In general, I also don’t like the trade block or announcing to the league that “so-and-so” is available. I feel that devalues the player, like you’ve already announced you’re getting rid of him. The exception to that is if the player is truly elite and there are no questions about him. And even in that scenario, you need to be selective. The message is “I hate to do this, but my RBs have been ravaged by injury and I’ve got to do something. Patrick Mahomes is available. Make your best offer.” But I would not send that leaguewide. Send it just to the top three or four teams in the league, all copied on the same message. This creates a competition where the league leaders may or may not want Mahomes, but they sure don’t want their rival to get him. So you can play people off each other.
One final small marketing trick: Set your lineup so that the player you hope to deal is listed as a starter. That makes him seem more valuable than if he’s on your bench as surplus rather than a valued member of your starting lineup.
4. Connect with your potential trading partner(s)
So now your interest in doing something is out in the open, and it’s time to talk to specific teams to see if there’s mutual interest. If they responded to your feelers, great. You have a good starting point. If it’s a colder approach, make it loose and casual at first. “You open to talking trade?” or some such. You can be specific about your motive if you want. “I need a running back; you open to a deal?” Because if they aren’t, why waste your time?
Let’s say Ezekiel Elliott is on one of the teams you think has running backs to spare. Play it cool. Ask if they are open to dealing one of their running backs, rather than asking straight up for their top pick and best player. Work up to Zeke in the negotiation.
Now, if you are on the receiving end of a query like that, you are welcome to say no, of course. But answer. Ignoring a reasonable and polite inquiry is rude. And also, what are you doing? You in this league or not? Say yes or no, but just say something.
It’s perfectly fine to have multiple negotiations going on just so long as everyone is upfront. If, when you make an offer you say, “FYI, I sent offers to two other teams tonight,” no issue. Or, “I’m only talking you about this but I need to do a deal by Saturday, so if we can’t agree tonight I’m reaching out to others.” Whatever it is, just be clear about your timeline and whether the negotiating window is exclusive.
I sometimes like making it an offer that could go either way in order to open up negotiations. Earlier this week, I sent a text saying “You open to dealing Dalvin Cook? Or are you interested in Alexander Mattison? Let’s get these guys on the same team.” We’ll see if a deal gets done.
The idea is to open a dialogue where the other party has a choice of giving up an injury-prone superstar off a bad game, or acquiring someone of mine that, in theory, would be important insurance for his star. You never know what will pique someone’s interest. Your goal at this point is to get them to talk to you with an open mind. Then you can negotiate.
5. The Negotiation
Now that you’ve got a potential trade partner talking, your first question should be “What do you need?” You already know what they can do for you. Let’s find out what you need to do for them so you can craft a deal that helps you both.
It’s important to phrase that request as a way to help you help them. When I asked for trade pet peeves on Twitter, someone named Crosby Spencer put it excellently: “Someone says, ‘I’m interested in Player X, what do you want for him?’ Great. So now you want me to research your team to find a POTENTIAL match that MIGHT make you interested in acquiring a player I wasn’t looking to trade, all so you can turn me down if it’s not a Godfather deal?”
Make it as easy as possible for your potential trade partner. Not everyone has the same amount of time to obsess over it like we do.
Listen to what the other player needs. Really listen. The only way this will work is if it’s a two-way conversation about what you both need and want. Hearing their concern and enthusiasm about players is the best way to get something done, and even sometimes give you an advantage in negotiation.
Ask the potential trade partner to rank their players at the position you’re looking at. This allows you to do two important things:
A) Get a sense of how they value certain players, which might be different from how you value them. B) Inherently put them in a position where they have subconsciously devalued some of their players (whomever they rank lowest). Be prepared to reveal your rankings as well. Ideally, line up your players to match the player you want to trade to “equal” the player you want from them.
When negotiating, don’t treat your potential partner as if they are stupid. They are not interested in trading their one-week underperforming star for Frisman Jackson.
Don’t try to talk down the player you want to acquire and don’t oversell the guy you are dealing. Don’t lie about injuries or changes in value. Better to be honest, because they already know it (or will soon enough) and they will trust you more for it.
Don’t be afraid to lay out why you want to make a deal — help them understand what’s in it for you. “Yes, this player is in a RBBC but he’ll get the majority of goal-line work. However, he’ll never play for me because I have this backup that popped. And the difference between him and your top-20 wide receiver is clearly someone, so how can I fill in the gap?”
Except in rare circumstances where I desperately need depth, I want to be the one getting the best player in a deal. I try not to do 2-for-1 deals unless I am getting the one. But not all 2-for-1 deals need to actually be 2-for-1. If I am the one offering the two players, I will ask for a throw-in. These two guys for your stud and whoever you want to throw in. Or the worst wide receiver you have, etc. The 2-for-2 is weirdly more palatable than a 2-for-1, because there is a perception that they are “getting” something for their worst player.
You obviously want to accentuate the positive, but don’t sell it as steak if it’s hamburger. Better to sell it as the best hamburger available for the price.
Everyone is available. That must be your mindset, regardless of whether you are initiating or getting the trade offer. Never say “Sorry, Davante Adams is untradable.” Because look, if someone offered you Cooper Kupp, Travis Kelce and a throw-in for him, you’re obviously doing that deal. You can say it would take quite a lot to get Adams, you value him highly, but everyone is tradable in the right deal.
Being willing to talk about your best player has the added benefit of getting them to talk about theirs. If they think they can get Adams (“So what would you give me for Adams?”) and get them talking out about the idea of dealing, say, Kelce and Kupp, now they’ve started to accept the idea of trading those players and you can dial the deal back to a way where you keep Adams but still acquire Kelce. “That’s not enough for Adams, but what about X and Y for Kelce?” And now you’re discussing Kelce, not Adams. Make sense?
Put a time limit on it. “OK, well let me know by 10 p.m.” Otherwise, too many trades sit in limbo. It puts some urgency on the deal and lets the other person know you mean business. Also, the longer a deal takes, the less likely it is that it gets done. Doubt sets in and the excitement gets lost.
No is no. If you make an offer and the other person says no, you’re allowed one follow-up to say “Well, is there something else you’d consider for so and so? Could we keep talking?” But if the answer is still no, then you have to move on.
If the other person says they are negotiating with someone else, it’s fair to ask “Well, before you agree to a deal for Waller, will you give me a chance to beat it? Maybe I can, maybe I can’t, but this way you know you’ll get maximum value.” Gives you one last chance, gives you info on what others in the league are offering, and if it’s a no, at least you gave it your best shot.
6. Evaluating offers
There comes a point in the negotiation when it’s time to make a solid offer, or you have received one you need to accept or reject.
First, understand your goal is to improve your team with a focus on your starting lineup. You don’t need to “win” the trade for it to be valuable to you. You may deal a top-10 quarterback for a decent flex running back which, on the surface, means you “lost” the trade. But if that quarterback was never playing for you, this was the best available player to you and your starting lineup is better for it, then you “won,” too.
In addition to thinking about how the deal works for you if everything goes well, you also need to evaluate the floor. If everything turns horrible, how does the trade affect you? Did you deal too much depth? Are you now one random injury away from disaster? Everyone sees the upside; not enough people think about the downside.
As my late, great Uncle Lester used to say, “If you’re in a poker game with five other guys and each guy has $100 and you’ve won $400, it’s time to leave. You’ve already won most of the money.” He would also say “If you can get 80% of what you want in a deal, take it. Most guys screw it up trying to get the last 20%.” My uncle was one of the truly great negotiators who ever lived. Don’t get greedy. And remember, it’s only a good deal if both parties are satisfied. And if both people are happy but didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s probably as close to a perfect deal as you can get.
A deal is a deal as soon as both parties agree to it. I have been in negotiations where the person and I have verbally agreed to a deal, then I’ve gone to put it through on the site and they turned it down. “I had second thoughts.” No, we agreed. We’ve been negotiating for two days. A deal is a deal. A person’s word needs to mean something, and whether a deal was agreed to verbally, via text or email or through the app, it’s still a deal. Don’t weasel out on some technicality. All you have is your rep and your word.
A few parting thoughts
Understand that people are often dazzled by name value. Which often is different than actual production. Try to sell names. Try to acquire production. Odell Beckham Jr. is a name. Brandin Cooks produces.
You should begin preparing for trades well before you need to make one. Take notes during the draft or auction. Who expressed disappointment or had the last bid on a player you acquired? That should be your first call if you are dealing that player.
Don’t gloat. Even if you completely got the better of someone, say you think it was a fair deal. Assuming you are in a league with the same people year after year, the better you make someone feel about trading with you — and that includes after the deal is done — the easier the next negotiation will be. Plus, you never know when a deal will blow up in your face. Don’t make it worse for yourself by having been a jerk about it.
Don’t veto. Unless there is proof of collusion, every trade must be allowed to stand.
Everyone should be able to run their team the way the way they want to. Even if it’s not how you would do it. Even if it’s badly. Especially if it’s badly.
I’ve written extensively about being anti-veto for years, but seriously, the veto is the coward’s way out.
I featured an email a year ago from a guy named Mac Wake who told me he spent a week negotiating and was able to make a multiplayer deal to acquire Patrick Mahomes in his 2QB league. And it was vetoed by his league because “We want to create a market so others can make offers for Mahomes.” I’m like … what?? There was no market. Mac created it by negotiating it for a week. Just like anyone else could have done. So because Mac beat them and created an opportunity for himself to acquire Mahomes, they take the lazy, cowardly and pathetic way out? I don’t know any of them, but I hate everyone that vetoed that deal Mac’s league. You guys are everything that’s wrong with fantasy football.
Never veto. Full stop.
One last Uncle Lesterism. “The best way to double your money is to fold it up and put it in your pocket.” Sometimes the best trades are the ones we don’t make. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
And with that, let’s get to it.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 5
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (at Panthers)
Have I told you that I’m all-in on Jalen Hurts yet? I know I’ve said it on the podcast, in my columns, on The Fantasy Show, on SportsCenter, on other podcasts and elsewhere. But have I literally said it to your face? Because that starts this week. I’m going door-to-door, nationwide, to spread the good news of Jalen Hurts. And this is what I will tell you, should you be so kind to let me into your home: Hurts is QB3 on the season. And it’s a legit QB3. He has scored more than 20 fantasy points in every start this season. Even when he has looked terrible, he has scored more than 20 points. He’ll do it again this week against a Carolina defense allowing touchdown passes at the sixth-highest rate this season. Yes, I love me some Jalen Hurts. In fact, if you offered me Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray or Josh Allen in a trade for Hurts, I’d do it. But any other quarterback? No, thank you. (Just a fair warning when I stop by your house this weekend, in case we talk trades.)
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Lions)
Week 4 saw Cousins throw his first interception of the season, fail to throw multiple touchdowns in a game for the first time this season and fail to put up at least 22 fantasy points for the first time this season. A lot of that had to do with facing that Cleveland Browns defense. And, well, Cousins is a nice guy, and maybe he decided to throw some errant passes, too, so Baker Mayfield wouldn’t look so bad. Either way, in Week 5, Cousins faces a Detroit Lions defense that just gave up 209 passing yards to the Bears, which is like giving up 7,000 passing yards to any other team. Detroit is allowing a league-high 10.6 yards per pass attempt this season, and Cousins has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four of his past five games against the Lions. Despite last week, I’m back in on Cousins as a QB1 this week.
Others receiving votes: If you’re tired of hearing me talk about Jalen Hurts, can I interest you in a three-hour discussion on Trey Lance? No, Lance didn’t look great throwing the ball on Sunday — same as many a Hurts game — but he ran the ball seven times for 41 yards and, thanks to two big assists from Deebo Samuel, put up 20 fantasy points in a single half. Lance could be a big-play machine: 27.8% of his passes last week went for 15-plus yards (league average: 19.8%). If he starts for San Francisco this week, he’s a very viable streamer. … Cam Newton hasn’t been Carolina’s quarterback since Week 2 of the 2019 season, but he lives on in spirit in … Sam Darnold? Yes, Darnold leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns so far this season. And even if Darnold doesn’t score another rushing touchdown this season, he can put up points with his arm. He has passed for more than 300 yards in three straight games and is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt on the season. He should have another productive game this week against the Eagles. … Trevor Lawrence had a nice game last Thursday for the Jaguars. No turnovers and eight carries for 36 yards and a score. But it seems that solid fantasy performance has been lost in the news cycle to some other Jaguars story. Weird. If Lawrence limits his mistakes this week, he should put up nice numbers against that awful Titans defense that is bottom-10 in passing yards, yards per attempt and touchdown rate for the season.
Quarterback I hate in Week 5
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Browns)
Is it terrifying putting Herbert on the Hate list? No doubt. But it’s also terrifying starting any quarterback in fantasy right now against the Browns’ defense. I already told you how it held Kirk Cousins to a season-low performance last week. Don’t forget that a week before that, it held the Bears to 47 yards of total offense. The Browns bring a ton of pressure, and Herbert, for all his gifts, ranks just 22nd among quarterbacks in fantasy points per pass attempt when pressured. You’re likely still starting him this week, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a better option sitting on your bench. But lower expectations.
Running backs I love in Week 5
Damien Williams, Chicago Bears (at Raiders)
From the waiver wire to Matthew Berry’s Week 5 Love list. This is exactly what people refer to when they speak of the “American Dream.” Probably. Maybe. What I am sure of, though, is that Williams will get the bulk of the work while David Montgomery is out. Williams put up 15 fantasy points on just 10 touches on Sunday, and don’t forget that he has a track record as a productive fantasy back from his time in Kansas City. Williams opted out of the 2020 season, but in 2019 he averaged 12.8 PPG and ranked 10th among RBs in fantasy points per touch. He should be able to maintain that efficiency against a Raiders defense that just got torched by my ride-or-die Austin Ekeler and gives up the seventh-most points to running backs this season.
Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (at Seahawks)
Starting anyone worse than a top-tier, set-it-and-forget-it running back in a Thursday night game, especially playing on the road, is the stuff of fantasy nightmares. But I truly believe Henderson can be a set-it-briefly-become-nauseous-but-ultimately-feel-good-about-it back for you in Week 5. Seattle is allowing 31.8 fantasy PPG to running backs this season, second most in the league, and the most receiving yards to running backs. That sets up well for Henderson, who has played 91% of snaps in his two full games this season and has seen 11 targets in his past two games. Definitely not vomit-inducing.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Dolphins)
Fournette got 23 total touches Sunday night in New England, the most he’s had in a regular-season game since he was in Jacksonville in 2019. With Giovani Bernard hurt and Ronald Jones II still in the proverbial doghouse, Fournette is clearly the lead back in Tampa’s offense right now, playing on a season-high 81% of snaps last week. Meanwhile, the Bucs’ Week 5 opponents, the struggling Dolphins, have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season and have coughed up the second-most rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs.
Others receiving votes: Speaking of lead backs, that was Latavius Murray for the Ravens on Sunday. He had 18 carries compared to Lamar Jackson, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman’s 12 combined, and he quietly has now scored a TD in three of four games this season. The Ravens get the Colts on Monday night, and you know John Harbaugh will definitely try to get at least 100 yards on the ground. … Run defenses don’t come any better than Tampa’s, so don’t be too alarmed by Damien Harris‘ Sunday night performance of four carries for minus-4 yards. He’ll get back into the positive numbers this week against a Texans defense that is decidedly not Tampa-esque. Houston has allowed the sixth-most rushing yards and nearly 5 yards per carry to running backs so far this season. … The Eagles aren’t running the ball. At all. But they are still throwing the ball some to backs, and Kenneth Gainwell has emerged as their pass-catching back. When he gets the ball in his hands, he gains well. See what I did there? No, I will NOT apologize. Anyway, after grabbing six passes for 58 yards last week, Gainwell has deeper-league upside as a flex play. He now has at least eight touches in three of four games and last week saw a season-high 40% snap share.
Running backs I hate in Week 5
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. Rams)
So what do I hate more about Carson this week: his declining usage or his terrible matchup? I think I hate them both equally, actually! But let’s focus on the usage. You all already know about Aaron Donald. Despite his new contract, Carson has played fewer than 50% of Seattle’s offensive snaps in each of the past two games. Possibly even worse, he’s not being used in the pass game anymore, with just three targets total over the past three weeks. And if Carson is ruled out (he’ll be a game-time decision, as of this writing), Alex Collins and all other Seattle running backs would make this list as well.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (at Panthers)
You call him Miles Sanders? I call him Kenneth GainsPOORLY! (Can’t stop, won’t stop.) Over the past two weeks, Sanders has just 15 touches total and nine carries. Nine! Sanders also has the same number of goal-to-go carries this season as Gainwell. And even if he were getting a lot of usage, this isn’t a great matchup. Carolina has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Hopefully you have better options, and if not, there is always the chance he falls into the end zone or breaks a long one, but I just don’t know how you can trust his usage after the past two weeks.
Pass-catchers I love in Week 5
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Jets, in London)
By no means has Ridley been bad this season. He has double-digit fantasy points in every game and he’s WR20 on the season. But he’s not been … well, Calvin Ridley, for lack of a better term. He hasn’t been a fantasy superstar. But positive regression is coming. Over the past three weeks, Ridley is averaging more than 11 targets a game, and he has the third-most red zone targets this season. Meanwhile, wide receivers facing the Jets are averaging 12.0 air yards per target, seventh highest in the NFL. I’m calling it: This London game will be Ridley’s big 2021 breakout. I just hope he can get all his fantasy points back home and through customs.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Lions)
Same as his quarterback last week, Thielen had season lows across the board against the Browns. Same as his quarterback this week, I expect a big bounce-back performance against the Lions. Before the Cleveland game, Thielen put up 15-plus points in every game. He’ll get that again, and more, on Sunday against a Detroit team allowing a league-high 17.3 yards per reception to wide receivers this season. The Lions are also allowing passing TDs at the fifth-highest rate, and Thielen has an end zone target in three of four games this season.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (at Chiefs)
Quick, name the TE5 in fantasy this season? Did you guess Dawson Knox? Did you guess Dawson Knox because his name is bolded directly above this paragraph and you therefore assumed that had to be who I was talking about? Crap. I was afraid that would happen. Yet your guess was still correct. Knox opened the season with an 8.1-point performance against Pittsburgh, and that number has increased each week since, including a monster, two-touchdown performance in Week 4 against Houston when he went for 20.7 fantasy points. Knox was on the Love list last week, when I mentioned how many routes he had been running, and now I will mention that Knox has found the end zone in three straight games and his 23% target share against the Texans shows he can be a consistent part of an explosive Buffalo offense. He has a very good chance to see the end zone again this week in a game that has an over/under north of 56.
Others receiving votes: Zach Wilson played his first good game in the NFL last week and it so happened to be the game when Jamison Crowder finally got on the field. Seems like more than a coincidence! Crowder doesn’t quite make Wilson fantasy viable yet, but Crowder most definitely deserves flex consideration. After going off for 19.1 fantasy points and a team-high 29.1% target share last week against the Titans, this week he gets another positive matchup in the Falcons. … Entering Week 4, Marvin Jones Jr. was averaging more than nine targets per game. Then early in last Thursday night’s game, DJ Chark Jr. suffered an injury and it looked like it was setting up for a huge night for Jones. And so by game’s end he got … drumroll, please … three targets! The lesson, as always: The fantasy gods hate you. But Jones will be back in the mix this week because the fantasy gods absolutely love receivers who play against the Titans. Tennessee is tied for the most touchdowns allowed to wide receivers this season. … Zach Ertz: still a thing? Still a thing, apparently! Because he has a connection with my true love, Jalen Hurts. (Yes, I’m jealous.) Over the past two weeks, Ertz has 15 total targets and at least 12 points in each game. And Ertz’s Week 5 opponent, the Carolina Panthers, just so happened to give up two touchdowns to tight ends last week.
Pass-catchers I hate in Week 5
Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears (at Raiders)
Allen Robinson is WR60. Allen Robinson is WR60. Allen Robinson is WR60. Allen Robinson is WR60. Just let me type that sentence a few more times and then maybe it will finally sink in. Allen Robinson is WR60. Allen Robinson is WR60. No, still looks wrong to me. But it’s the truth. And while, yes, Robinson has been negatively impacted by Chicago’s offensive struggles, he’s not even the Bears’ top receiver this season. Darnell Mooney bests him in targets, receptions, yards and fantasy points. Allen Robinson is Allen Robinson, so he’ll probably eventually figure it out. But I don’t like the chances of it happening against a Raiders defense allowing just 9.9 yards per reception to wideouts this season and just one touchdown in four games.
Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (vs. Patriots)
Robinson and Cooks need to start a support group for elite receivers done in by horrific offenses. Let their pain help others. Despite a 35% target share last week, Cooks had just 9.7 fantasy points, good for WR51 on the week. The Texans rank 30th in offensive plays per game this season. They don’t have the ball enough to make even a high target share matter. And Cooks’ opportunities in Week 5 should be especially limited by a Patriots defense allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (at Panthers)
Why can’t we have nice things, Eagles? To be more specific, why can’t we have exactly two nice things? It’s great that Zach Ertz is fantasy-relevant again, but did you have to take Dallas Goedert from us? Goedert is averaging just 3.7 targets per game over the past three weeks, and his 11.6% target share for the season is fifth on the team. And Ertz has more total targets, red zone targets and end zone targets this season. Remember when Ertz was going to be traded any day, Goedert managers, and you were going to have a set-it-and-forget it tight end on your roster? Well, the “forget it” part held.