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Fantasy Football Week 3: Examining Trade Value for This Year's Top 100 Players

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) in action in the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Here's a pretty good rule to follow when trying to determine a player's fantasy value following a big week. One good game might be an anomaly. Two good games could be a fad. But three good games in a row is almost always a trend worth respecting. 

Just two weeks into the season, it can be hard to know whether certain hot players are better put in the fad or trend department. Some guys you know you can trust—Travis Kelce, Derrick Henry and Kyler Murray, for instance, have already proved to be top fantasy options. Their value is secure. 

Other players are trickier to evaluate. When it comes to trading them away, or acquiring them in deals, a bit of patience may be your best best. 

Of course, the helpful trade guide is always here to lend a hand, as we attempt to provide a general idea of how you should be valuing your players. Any players not listed have a trade value of one. And as always, may the fantasy points be with you!

                     

Trade Value: 15

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1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

                 

Trade Value: 14

2. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

               

Trade Value: 13

3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints 

5. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

6. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

7. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

8. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

              

Trade Value: 12

9. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

10. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

11. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

                    

Trade Value: 11

12. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

13. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

14. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

15. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

16. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

17. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

18. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

19. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

20. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

21. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

22. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

               

Trade Value: 10

23. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

24. Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

25. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

26. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

27. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

28. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

29. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

30. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

31. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

32. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

33. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

34. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

35. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

                                          

Trade Value: 9

36. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

37. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

38. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

                    

Trade Value: 8

39. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

40. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

41. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

42. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

43. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

44. Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

45. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

               

Trade Value: 7

46. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

47. Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams

48. Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

49. Ty'Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens

50. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

51. Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots

52. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

53. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

54. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions

55. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

                                   

Trade Value: 6

56. Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans

57. Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants

58. Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets

59. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

60. Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

61. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

62. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

63. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

64. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks 

65. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

                         

Trade Value: 5

66. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

67. Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons

68. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

69. Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals

70. Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

                                            

Trade Value: 4

71. JuJu Smith Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

72. Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

73. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

74. DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

75. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

76. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

77. William Fuller V, WR, Miami Dolphins

78. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

79. D.J. Chark Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

80. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

81. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

82. Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team

83. Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

                 

Trade Value: 3

84. Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

85. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

86. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins

87. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

88. Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

89. Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

                

Trade Value: 2 

90. Melvin Gordon III, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

91. Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

92. Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

93. Myles Gaskins, RB, Miami Dolphins

94. Mark Ingram II, RB, Houston Texans 

95. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

96. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

97. Matt Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

98. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

99. Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams

100. Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

                       

What if I told you that Kelce was the most valuable player in fantasy football last season and is on pace to be in the running for that honor again this year.

You might scoff, because Josh Allen led all standard-scoring fantasy leagues in points last year, while Alvin Kamara was the top non-quarterback scorer. In terms of overall fantasy points, Kelce finished 17th. 

But the argument for Kelce is that he offers more value at the tight end position than any other player offers at their respective position. 

Let's say you are in a 10-person fantasy league. That means that every week, 10 tight ends must be started. Thus, to compare how much value a player like Kelce offers, you need to look into how many more points he gets your team per week than a player who shouldn't be started at tight end (aka a player outside the top 10 in scoring). In this case, the best such player is the Buffalo Bills' Dawson Knox, 11th in points scored at tight end. 

Per week—and yes, it's only been two weeks—Kelce is scoring a whopping 15.9 more fantasy points than Knox. You are getting incredible return at tight end if you roster Kelce. The only player in football currently scoring more points per week than the top possible replacement player at his position is Henry, averaging 16.7 points more than No. 21 running back Damien Harris (No. 21 is the top replacement player at running back because you must start two running backs per week, and hence, a 10-person league has 20 guaranteed starters at the position). 

And no, it's not a fluke. Last season, Kelce scored 11.7 more points per week than the top replacement tight end. Nobody had a better mark in football, with Kelce clearly beating out Davante Adams (10.8) and Alvin Kamara (10.2). Also, in a reminder of why you can sit and wait on a quarterback in your draft (at least in one-quarterback formats), Josh Allen finished just 5.7 points per week better than the No. 11 quarterback. 

The point of this conversation is to remind you that fantasy value goes beyond just the overall number of points a player scores in total. When looking at trade proposals, you need to consider how much of an edge that player gives you compared to the field. A player like Kelce consistently gives you more of an advantage at tight end than almost any other player, at any other position. And that's why he's No. 2 on this list. 

Why is Christian McCaffrey No. 1, then? Because he still has the potential to be even more valuable at running back than Kelce at tight end, given that he's also one of the best wide receivers in football. A healthy McCaffrey is a fantasy anomaly. Just ask the fantasy players who rostered him in 2019. 

Speaking of running backs, when trying to forecast the overall value of young, unproven players at the position, one good metric worth monitoring is how many touches they are getting. For fantasy players, the more, the merrier. 

Through two weeks, for instance, Ty'Son Williams has 27 total touches (22 carries, five receptions). Averaging 13.5 touches per week isn't great, but he also plays on a run-heavy team and has emerged as the top option. You should be valuing him in the low-end RB2 to high-end RB3 range right now, even if Latavius Murray lurks. 

Najee Harris? Thirty-two touches through two games. And Elijah Mitchell is at 38 touches through two contests, both on very solid offenses that will grind it out on the ground.

Aditi Kinkhabwala @AKinkhabwala

A week after #Steelers rookie Najee Harris was the only running back in the #NFL to play every one of his team’s offensive snaps, he played 53 of Pittsburgh’s 56 snaps.

JJ Zachariason @LateRoundQB

Damien Harris running back rush share and target share over the first two weeks: Week 1: 79.3%; 7.9% Week 2: 69.6%; 3.6%

But then there's Michael Carter, on a very poor Jets offense. At 18 touches through two games, it's fair to not be sold on him just yet, even as a buy-low candidate. One would imagine the New York Jets will be playing from behind quite a bit, hurting his chances at seeing too many 20-carry games. 

Even Javonte Williams, in a clear timeshare with Melvin Gordon III, has 29 touches through two games. 

Mike Klis @mikeklis

Melvin Gordon 41 snaps (59%), Javonte Williams 28 (41%) Gordon 13 carries, 31 yards Williams 13 carries, 64 yards Gordon 2 receptions, 38 yards Williams 1 catch, 10 yards #9sports

If you can pry either Williams, Harris or Mitchell free for a reasonable price, make your move. Carter remains on the periphery of relevance, however. 

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