Fantasy Football 2021: Best Trade Targets Entering Week 2
As the buy-low window opens in fantasy football leagues for star players and starters who had underwhelming Week 1 performances, managers should take advantage of early sellers.
You might be able to pry a player with league-winning upside from a desperate manager who overreacts to a season-opening dud. Some of the most notable players should get back on track in upcoming matchups, which will likely close their buy-low windows.
Don't wait for these potential fantasy stars to bounce back. Take a gamble on them while their stock has dropped and strike a deal for good value.
Here, we'll profile five of the best trade targets going into Week 2.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Fresh off an MVP season, Aaron Rodgers stunk up the joint against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. He finished 15-of-28 for 133 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions before the Green Bay Packers pulled him for Jordan Love in the fourth quarter.
According to ESPN's FPI rankings, which projects where a team stacks up with the rest of the league going forward, the Packers dropped 12 spots (h/t Seth Walder). If Green Bay significantly regresses from last year, it'll likely be because Rodgers' production plummets.
While Rodgers' Week 1 outing raised some alarms following a turbulent offseason, he'll likely bounce back against the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers in the next two weeks.
In his last four games against Detroit, Rodgers has thrown for nine touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 284 passing yards per game. After a home game against the Lions, he'll face the 49ers, who allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in Week 1.
If you're stacked at running back or wide receiver and need an upgrade at quarterback, make an offer for Rodgers while he's in a short-lived buy-low window.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys' passing offense looked electric against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener, but they averaged only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt. Ezekiel Elliott finished with 11 carries for only 33 yards, and fellow running back Tony Pollard accumulated more scrimmage yards than him (43-39).
While Elliott may have looked a step slow, give the Buccaneers credit. The reigning champions fielded the No. 1 run defense last season. In Week 1, the Cowboys lost their battles at the line of scrimmage, leaving their ball-carriers little room to run between the tackles or on the edges.
Four-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin also didn't suit up because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Once he returns to the lineup—the Cowboys removed him from the COVID-19 list Monday—Elliott should see bigger lanes on the strong side of the formation.
Elliott out-touched Pollard 13 to seven, so the latter isn't a threat to take over the Cowboys' backfield yet. The league's two-time rushing champion will have much better weeks ahead. He's still an RB1.
RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Aside from an 18-yard run that set up an early fourth-quarter touchdown, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris had an uneventful NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. He finished with 16 carries for 45 yards and one catch for an additional four yards.
The Steelers' revamped offensive line may need some time to jell, but it could gain some traction against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2. The Raiders allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs last year, and they don't appear drastically better in that regard this season.
On Monday, the Raiders played the Baltimore Ravens, who have already lost three running backs to season-ending injuries and whose offensive line also features new starters in multiple spots. Yet undrafted rookie Ty'Son Williams and Latavius Murray, who signed with the Ravens three days before the season opener, recorded a combined 122 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage.
Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's units have finished 18th or worse in rushing yards allowed in three of the past four seasons. Harris and the Steelers offensive line can use their Week 2 matchup against Las Vegas to springboard their ground game.
No other Steelers running back logged a carry in Week 1, so if nothing else, you can bank on Harris' touch volume. The rookie can also catch out of the backfield if the rushing attack stalls, which elevates his value in points-per-reception leagues.
WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Week 1, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hooked up with Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski for touchdowns. All three pass-catchers accumulated at least 90 receiving yards as well. Meanwhile, Mike Evans became an afterthought with only three catches for 24 yards.
Evans had fewer targets (six) than Godwin (13), Gronkowski (eight), Brown (seven) and even running back Leonard Fournette (seven), which raises some concerns. However, the three-time Pro Bowl wideout had a tough matchup with Dallas Cowboys lead cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Evans will continue to compete for targets within a crowded and talented pass-catching group, but he's still a top-10 fantasy wide receiver because of his red-zone presence. Last year, Evans caught nine of his 13 touchdowns with the offense set up inside the 10-yard line.
Evans has also earned the benefit of the doubt. He's eclipsed 1,000 yards in all seven of his seasons, and he's had at least eight touchdown grabs in each of his last three campaigns.
With Brady under center and still looking sharp, the Buccaneers should have plenty of red-zone opportunities this season. That bodes well for Evans' production moving forward.
WR Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears' aerial attack struggled mightily against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.
Quarterback Andy Dalton doesn't have the arm talent to stretch the field or the mobility to escape pocket pressure behind a shaky offensive line. As a result, the Rams logged three sacks and an interception.
While the Bears could use an offensive spark from dynamic rookie quarterback Justin Fields, Dalton did fantasy managers a favor with his predictable target distribution. Allen Robinson II lead the team with 11 targets, while wideout Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet tied for second with seven targets apiece.
Despite average or below-average quarterback play with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles under center over the past two years, Robinson has been a WR1 in fantasy leagues because of his volume and efficiency. He finished third in targets in both 2019 and 2020 and had catch rates of at least 63.6 percent in both seasons.
As long as Dalton continues to pepper Robinson with targets (and Fields does the same if/when he starts), the 28-year-old wideout will remain a safe fantasy option for managers in need of consistent production at the position. He also has a favorable Week 2 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, who allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts in Week 1.
TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens signed Mark Andrews to a four-year, $56 million extension last Monday, but fantasy managers didn't see the production in Week 1 that matched his new deal. He converted five targets into three receptions for 20 yards against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football.
The Raiders' pass rush may be partially to blame for Andrews' lackluster outing. According to Next Gen Stats, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson faced pressure on 54.5 percent of his dropbacks.
The Ravens' remodeled offensive line features three new primary starter, so it may need a few weeks to jell. As the season goes on, Jackson should have better passing performances than he did Monday (19-of-30 for 235 yards and a touchdown).
Once the offensive line settles down, Andrews should see an uptick in production as a prominent target in the Ravens' passing game. On Sunday, he'll face the Kansas City Chiefs, who allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends in Week 1.
Week 1 statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.
Maurice Moton covers is an NFL and Fantasy Football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.