With Week 1 of the NFL season in the books, it’s very easy to overreact on what took place over the weekend. The goal here is to highlight a few players who have seen their stock rise and fall which ultimately leads to buy-low and sell-high trade targets in fantasy football.
I’ve also highlighted a few players I’m concerned about, a few I would rather hold than trade and a few players I would cut my ties with. You’ll also see the top 10 players traded in CBS Sports fantasy football over the past 24 hours.
Keep in mind that some of the buy-low and sell-high candidates mentioned below don’t need to be moved. They are simply suggestions as their fantasy stocks have changed despite just one game on their 2021 NFL resume. I’m a big believer in 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 package deals if it means landing the best player in the trade. If you’re loaded at wide receiver, why not consider moving Antonio Brown or Brandin Cooks in a package deal if Calvin Ridley is coming the other way?
Fantasy football trade talk: Who to buy and sell after Week 1
Here are the players I’m looking at one way or another in trade talks heading into Week 2.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
I have concerns about the offensive line like everybody else, but Zack Martin is expected to return this week, which is a positive for the offense. The Cowboys also look like they’ll be a pass-happy team as the defense still has a few holes, which will force them to throw more than maybe they want to. Keep in mind this isn’t the recipe for success as much as we may want it for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Dallas is 4-11 when Dak throws the ball more than 40 times. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said he called 28 runs Thursday night against Tampa Bay and that Dak checked out of 12 of those plays based on the look.
I chalk last week up to a tough matchup against the best run defense in the league over the last two seasons. Ezekiel Elliott was superb as a blocker and played over 80% of the snaps. I know Jerry Jones didn’t give him a $90 million extension to be a good blocker. He still has a lot to offer and he’s linked to what will most likely be a top five offense. If you don’t want to buy, fine. I can’t blame you for being hesitant. But now isn’t the time to sell. Zeke was never a top five back for me but he’s still an RB1 and he’ll have his moments.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Harris only had 45 rushing yards in his NFL debut and only caught one of his three targets for four yards. However, that one target came inside the red zone, and he played 100% of Pittsburgh’s snaps. That’s pretty remarkable to think about considering it was his first NFL game. Harris was the first RB to play 100% of his team's snaps since Christian McCaffrey in 2019. It’s rare to see, and it’s confirmation that Mike Tomlin will indeed ride their first round pick, which is more than enough reason to buy on his top-10 potential.
Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans
The Titans were pathetic on offense in Week 1, which was one of the more surprising takeaways for me. Credit to Arizona for the pressure they were able to generate on Ryan Tannehill and the offense, especially Chandler Jones, who finished with five sacks (three in the first quarter). But let’s keep in mind this was their first game without Arthur Smith and first with Todd Downing calling the shots. Tannehill and Julio Jones haven’t spent much time together, and it showed. There was a disconnect and there were a couple drops as Julio was only able to reel in three of his six targets for 29 yards. This may not be a top-10 offense like it was in each of the past two seasons, but the secondary has issues and I believe we’ll see some big-time performances from everyone in this offense. Now is the time to buy Julio, especially with head coach Mike Vrabel calling him out. His WR1 days are likely over, but he can be a fine WR3 on your team.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan says Trent Sherfield earned a spot on the roster, which is why we saw more of him in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. As hard as it is to trust the words that come out of Shanahan’s mouth, I do believe Sherfield has earned a role. He looked good in the preseason and he’s someone I’ve been taking shots on in deep leagues. However, I still believe in Brandon Aiyuk’s skillset. There’s really no comparing the two, and while you can’t trust Aiyuk in your starting lineup right now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on his manager. He’s probably never going to be cheaper than right now, after was dealing with an injury throughout camp. That to me is the reason he’s been “outplayed” and the reason we saw more Sherfield than Aiyuk in Week 1. If you believe, check in.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
I’m not going to lie, I have concerns about Matt Ryan and his offensive line. They were absolutely owned Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan didn’t have much time to deliver the ball, but he found a way to throw eight times to Kyle Pitts. The rookie tight end only had four catches for 31 yards, but he had eight targets, tied for the third-most at the position.
Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets
This is a cheap buy and one you may not need to do, as he could be on your wire after this week. Carter only played 16 snaps in his NFL debut, but that was just one behind starter Tevin Coleman, who can be released. Ty Johnson led the way for New York with 35 snaps, but I believe the fact that Carter was as involved as he was in Week 1 is bad news for Johnson and Coleman. It may take a few weeks, similar to how long it took Cam Akers last season. Akers was a buy-low candidate for me week in and week out last season, almost to the point where I questioned if I should bother suggesting buy-lows anymore, but it paid off. It won’t take much to grab Carter and it may pay off like it did with Akers a year ago.
Melvin Gordon busted a 70-yard touchdown and finished with 101 yards, but he played behind rookie Javonte Williams. Gordon may never fully go away, but it was Williams who finished with more snaps, carries and touches. Gordon had the long TD run late in the game, but Williams closed it out. I think it’s very telling that Williams was the lead in Week 1 and was sat in Week 3 of the preseason game, because the team saw everything they needed to see from the player they traded up to draft. It’s important to have running back depth, especially midway through the season, but I’m buying Williams and selling Gordon.
Mark Ingram, RB, Houston Texans
Can you get anything for Mark Ingram? Probably not, but I would try. Even if that meant packing him and a couple other players for the best player in the deal. I’m all about quantity-for-quality trades if you can get the best player in return. Ingram’s 26 carries were the second-most in Week 1, and he finished third in touches. I think we can all agree this will almost certainly be an outlier game for Ingram and the Texans. I have a few shares, because he was cheap and I figured he’d be the lead. It’s hard to ignore volume and opportunity in fantasy football. That said, if you can package Ingram with someone else for a stronger piece, do it. Four different running backs in Houston finished with double-digit snaps and three had touchdowns. Phillip Lindsay received a red-zone rushing attempt that he converted into a touchdown, and David Johnson had a red-zone look that resulted in a score as well. Ingram is the lead, but this backfield will be a mess and I don’t think we can count on the Texans being up in games where they run the clock out like they did in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Don’t be surprised if DJ has the big game this week against the Cleveland Browns. If you’re in a shallow league, leave Ingram on the wire.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
I like Brandin Cooks. I think he’s a great wideout, and he’s the only wide receiver you can feel great about starting from Houston. He was a terrific value and I’m totally fine keeping him considering his ceiling. This is a team I believe will be playing from behind often and even though they weren’t in Week 1, Cooks finished with five catches on seven targets for 132 yards. The volume should be there all season, which is why I don’t think he’s a must-sell. He was very affordable on draft day so he could be your third or even fourth wideout, depending on the makeup of your team. I would still make him available to my leaguemates. Unfortunately, he has a concussion history, and he could get traded at any moment, which could hurt his stock. He’s not a must-sell, but consider it. Could you get Calvin Ridley for Cooks and Gordon? Maybe not, but I’d certainly try.
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I love what Antonio Brown can do on the field. He’s so darn smooth and it was on full display in Week 1. The Bucs are going to be a top offense and Brown will get his. It may not be consistent, but he’ll have moments like he had in Week 1 when he racked up 121 yards on five grabs. There are just a lot of mouths to feed in TB and I don’t believe they’ll be in a lot of shootouts like they were against the Dallas Cowboys. I understand that Brown is looking like an amazing discount from where you drafted him, but make him available in your league. If you can get a WR1 or WR2 on a pass-happy team for Brown, I’d do it. He only played 72% of the snaps and his seven targets were the same amount as Leonard Fournette and just behind Chris Godwin and Rob Gornkowski. Mike Evans won’t always have dud games.
It’s very unlikely that you can buy Trey Sermon in dynasty leagues, but now is the time to try. Even with Raheem Mostert ruled out for the next eight weeks, Sermon’s stock is down. Elijah Mitchell received the start over him in Week 1 and looked good running the football. Kyle Shanahan has a history of running back roulette, but I believe Sermon has an RB2 ceiling in this offense.
I’m extremely concerned about James Robinson and the fact he only had five carries. As expected, Urban Myer is going to be extremely frustrating and seems to be obsessed with his former college player Carlos Hyde. It was Hyde who led the team in carries with nine and also caught two passes. Robinson acted as the pass catching back as he reeled in three of his six targets for 29 yards. That may not be a bad thing if Trevor Lawrence is going to throw the ball 50-plus times, which may be the case considering how bad this Jacksonville defense is. That said, it doesn’t seem like Robinson will sniff last year’s usage.
I’m concerned about Michael Pittman, and I’d cut my ties with Parris Campbell if I had any. Campbell was playing with the second- and third-team offense when T.Y. Hilton was healthy, and I think some thought an injury to the vet would open the door for Campbell. That wasn’t the case in Week 1, as he only caught one of his three targets. He played 48 snaps compared to Zach Pascal’s 69 and Pittman’s 74. He seems like an option in the passing game only when the Colts play three-wide, which may not be often. This is a team that would like to run the football and my concerns for Pittman is just that. Carson Wentz looked at Pascal twice in the red zone, which he converted into two touchdowns, but it was mostly just a bunch of dump-offs to his running backs. Nyheim Hines led the team in targets with eight and Jonathan Taylor caught six of his seven targets. Don’t be surprised if they are the leading receivers on the Colts.
Winston had a fantastic debut with the Saints, as he threw for five touchdowns — not bad for a guy who only threw the ball 20 times. Marquez Callaway only received two of those targets as he had a very quiet 14 yards on one catch. Keep in mind that he was lined up against Jaire Alexander, one of the best shutdown corners in the league. I’m slightly concerned about Callaway moving forward as he may not be a guy who can beat top coverage, but he’ll be a player in the second half when Michael Thomas returns. Callaway will be the deep guy in this offense, which is appealing.
Jefferson only had three targets in Week 1 but hauled in two of them for 80 yards and a touchdown. He played 32 snaps compared to Robert Woods’ 42, and DeSean Jackson only had 14 snaps. Matthew Stafford is really good for this Rams’ offense, and now that they have a capable QB, we could see Jefferson take a big leap in year two. If something were to happen to Cooper Kupp or Woods, Jefferson would be a top-25 wideout.
Chris Meaney is an award-winning sports writer, producer and host. He’s the host of Mean Streets, FTN FAAB Cast, Fantasy Hockey Picks & Bets and FTN Live where he covers NFL, MLB, NHL & NBA. Meaney has been working in the in the fantasy sports industry for 10 years plus years making pit stops at The Athletic, The Fantasy Footballers, Anthem Sports & Entertainment, Fantrax, TQE, NBA Fantasy, LineStarApp, Newcap Radio and more.