Week 4 Fantasy Football Trade Targets: John Brown is the WR to Own in Baltimore
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: John Brown
- John Brown and Cameron Meredith highlight the top Week 4 fantasy football trade targets.
- Lamar Miller has probably played only to his floor with a featured back workload so far this season.
- Meanwhile, Andrew Luck's reluctance (or inability) to throw downfield is very bad news for T.Y. Hilton investors.
Fantasy owners who have started the year 0-3 are undoubtedly beginning to enter panic mode. It’s time to take advantage of your vulnerable friends and make a league-winning trade.
The NFL’s ridiculous non-guaranteed contracts and salary cap have made player-for-player trades fairly rare over the years, but it’s a market that can be exploited in fantasy by focusing on both potential mistakes in popular public opinion and season-long trends.
Let’s break down some of Week 4’s top fantasy football trade targets, as well as players you should consider selling sooner rather than later.
Top Fantasy Football Trade Target
John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been one of the league’s best offenses over their past eight games dating back to last season.
Ravens points scored last 8 games:
Average: 32 PPG
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 25, 2018
One driving force behind their return to glory is improved play from Joe Flacco, but their new-look receiving core has also helped matters this season. Michael Crabtree (15-155-1), Willie Snead (12-142-1) and John Brown (12-222-2) have seen 26, 19 and 23 targets, respectively.
While the offense’s target share is muddled, Brown has played some of the best ball of his career while emerging as Baltimore’s most-talented pass-game option:
- Brown has the fourth-most air yards in the league, trailing only Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones.
- Brown is one of seven players with multiple 40-plus yard catches this season.
- Brown is averaging a career-high 18.5 yards per reception.
Flacco is averaging four-year highs in touchdown percentage, yards per attempt and quarterback rating through three weeks. He’s also averaging a smooth 100 additional passing yards per game this season compared to last.
Smokey Brown (23.2) joins Tyreek Hill (20.2) as the league’s only wide receivers with an average target depth of more than 20 yards (minimum 10 targets) this season.
Go get the marquee playmaker on one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses before it’s too late.
Honorable Mention Trade Targets
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
Miller joins Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott as the only running backs to play at least 160 snaps this season.
Fantasy’s cheapest featured back hasn’t found the end zone on the ground through three weeks, but his status as the PPR RB24 probably reflects his floor with Deshaun Watson under center:
- Miller with Watson (9 games): 13.9 PPR per game, 88.8 total yards, 0.4 TDs
- Without (9 games): 9.9 PPR per game, 66.1 total yards, 0.2 TDs
The Texans’ undisputed No. 1 running back still has three relatively cozy matchups against the Colts, Cowboys and Bills before backup D’Onta Foreman (Achilles) is even eligible to be activated off the PUP list.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
The Action Network senior editor Chris Raybon and I discussed Hunt’s troubling pass-game usage during our Week 3 recap on The Action Network NFL Podcast. Hunt has only one reception for five yards (and a touchdown) this season after racking up at least three catches in 14 of 17 games last season (including playoffs).
The idea that gunslinger Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes isn’t all that fond of checking down to his running back passes both the eye and analytics test: Mahomes’ average target depth of 12.2 yards far exceeds Alex Smith’s pedestrian rate of 7.9 yards last season.
Hunt’s 53-455-3 receiving line in 2017 proves that he’s capable of reaching great heights as a receiver, and it seems unlikely he averages 3.2 yards per carry for much longer. His status as the lead back in the league’s highest-scoring offense has earned him three touchdowns over his early season “slump,” indicating Hunt might still has an untapped ceiling for 2018.
Cameron Meredith, WR, New Orleans Saints
Meredith was a popular breakout candidate entering each of the past two seasons after the former Bears receiver posted a 66-888-4 line in 14 games with Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer and Jay Cutler under center in 2016. But a torn ACL in the 2017 preseason prematurely ended his Year 3 campaign.
The Saints were happy to scoop up the gifted 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver. Meredith didn’t play until Week 3, but head coach Sean Payton clarified that it wasn’t due to a health setback: “More than anything else, it had to do with just the reps … [Meredith] was behind coming off of training camp. From a health standpoint, he’s doing good. It’s just getting up to speed.”
Meredith played 25 of 34 snaps in the slot this past week and worked ahead of every receiver except Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr.
Trade for Meredith before his inevitable Week 4 breakout against B.W. Webb and the Giants’ porous pass defense.
Cam Meredith is about to BALL in NOLA pic.twitter.com/MaUPLpWH2h
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) April 6, 2018
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Fantasy Football Players to Sell
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have undergone a makeover on offense through three games, as Andrew Luck simply hasn’t been asked to make the same types of downfield throws as we were used to seeing from 2012-16:
And the Colts are like, "nothing to see here." pic.twitter.com/vSzk2Ur9E6
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 25, 2018
The situation is dire enough that the Colts turned to backup Jacoby Brissett to attempt the game-ending Hail Mary in Week 3.
Unsurprisingly, the absence of a consistent deep ball has negatively impacted one of the league’s premier field-stretching receivers. Hilton is the PPR WR24 through three weeks thanks to two touchdowns inside the 10-yard line, but there’s reason to believe we shouldn’t expect the same week-to-week upside moving forward:
- Hilton’s yards per reception from 2012-16: 15.8 (16th among 195 WRs with 100+ targets)
- Yards per target from 2012-16: 9.0 (12th)
- Hilton yards per reception in 2018: 10.5 (57th among 84 WRs with 10+ targets)
- Yards per target in 2018: 5.6 (69th)
Hilton will carry a decent floor as long as he averages double-digit targets per game, but it’s time to trade the alleged fantasy WR1 before it’s too late.
Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins handed Wilson the fifth-most guaranteed money among free-agent wideouts this offseason. His overall PPR WR9 finish in Week 3 demonstrated some of his playmaking ability, although the performance was deceiving considering we probably won’t see Wilson throw many more 52-yard touchdown passes this season.
More concerning was Wilson’s low spot in the wide receiver rotation during DeVante Parker’s first game of the season.
- Kenny Stills: 91% snaps and 5 targets
- Parker: 75% and 3
- Danny Amendola: 70% and 3
- Wilson: 23% and 2
- Jakeem Grant: 20% and 3
Don’t waste your time with the No. 4 or 5 receiver on the league’s most pass-adverse offense through three weeks.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
With Josh McCown under center from Weeks 1 to 13 last season, Anderson was top 10 among wide receivers in standard scoring and top 15 in PPR. Only Tyreek Hill created a higher average rate of separation than Anderson among wide receivers with 100-plus targets in 2017, and there seemed to be little doubt about who the Jets’ No. 1 receiver was entering 2018.
Enter Quincy Enunwa.
The Jets’ No. 1 receiver from 2016 missed the entire 2017 season with a neck injury, but he’s easily worked as rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s featured target through three weeks:
- Enunwa: 29 targets, 31% target share, 26% market share air yards
- Terrelle Pryor: 14, 15%, 26%
- Anderson: 10, 11%, 20%
- Jermaine Kearse: 8, 11%, 8%
There were offseason rumblings that the Jets weren’t happy with so much of the offense going through Anderson, and new coordinator Jeremy Bates apparently took those concerns to heart.
Ditch Anderson and let someone else in your league wait for an Anderson breakout that probably already came and went last season.