Fantasy football: Buy, sell candidates as time is right to pursue trades

George Kittle and Aaron Rodgers offer high upside, while DJ Chark and Mark Ingram may have peaked through Week 3.

When it comes to fantasy football trades, I personally have no moratorium period. If the deal feels right, I’ll pull the trigger even before the season starts.

But most people I speak with are much more conservative. Folks typically want to see how the first few weeks go before shaking things up, especially when it involves potentially moving players who were selected in the first half of their draft. That’s the smarter way to play it.

Now that Week 3 is in the past, however, many leagues are about a quarter of the way through the regular season. Most of the best preseason sleepers have been revealed as studs or proved to be busts. Undrafted players who’ve surged early have been scooped up, leaving the waiver wire a much less attractive way to upgrade a roster midseason than it was for most of September.

All that means now is a great time to start thinking about wheeling and dealing with other league managers. One of my favorite ways to do that is to shop a player who is unexpectedly excelling. It’s a gamble, to be sure, but I always feel more comfortable with a player who has a track record of success and could be playing better early in the season.

Read on for a few buy/sell recommendations I would either pursue or look to move in the trade market.

Buy: George Kittle

The San Francisco 49ers tight end is on a bye this week, but now is the perfect time to chase him if you can do without him for Week 4. He currently ranks 10th in TE scoring in PPR leagues with 11.2 per game, so it’s not as if he’s doing poorly. However, he was one of three TEs going within the first four rounds of most league drafts and clearly is underachieving.

If his league manager is growing impatient and has other needs, there’s a lot to like about his upside. The Niners are tied for seventh in offensive touchdowns with nine, but Kittle has none. He’ll get his eventually. He ranks tied for eighth in TE targets, catching 17 of 21 passes thrown his way. Of the nine TEs with 20-plus targets, he ranks third in catch percentage.

Sell: DJ Chark

In the preseason, was anyone expecting a Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver to be the eighth-best scorer at the position through three weeks, especially if they had the added benefit of knowing starting quarterback Nick Foles would get hurt early in his team debut? If they somehow predicted all that, I doubt the player they would have fingered to do it would be this 2018 second-round pick.

Chark has a touchdown in each of the Jags’ three games this season, plus 277 yards from 15 catches. To put it another way, his stats already are better than he posted in 11 games as a rookie. He caught 14 of 32 (43.8%) targets a year ago, but has hauled in 15 of 18 (83.3%) in 2019. Those 18 targets also are unimpressive for a WR at this stage. Look for him to settle somewhere in between there the rest of the way and for his touchdown pace to dramatically decline. Now is the perfect time to ship him out for someone more stable.

Buy: Aaron Rodgers

In recent years, Rodgers has been doing the heavy lifting for the Green Bay Packers while the team’s defense does little to hold up its end. This year, so far, it’s been the opposite. Green Bay is dominant with a capital "D" and Rodgers is, well ordinary from a fantasy standpoint.

Don’t be deterred. This is still one of the most talented players to ever take the snap in the NFL. There’s nothing apparently wrong with him physically or mentally. He’s got four TD passes and zero turnovers. His receiver group is as talented as it was a year ago. With the Packers at 3-0 and rolling, have faith that Rodgers will have some big games and could be an upgrade over more middle of the road QB options.

Sell: Mark Ingram

When Ingram shouts "Sunday is coming!" with a look of glee in that commercial, he’s acting as the embodiment of how those who drafted him feel right now. In his first year with the Baltimore Ravens, he currently ranks fifth in points among RBs and, has two 100-yard rushing games and punched in five touchdowns already.

I’m here to remind you that the fun won’t last. Ingram typically posts a healthy yards per carry mark of 4.5 or so; he’s at six yards per attempt right now. He’s nearly halfway to his career-high 12 touchdowns two seasons ago for the mighty New Orleans Saints offense. The fact that he isn’t generally a major factor catching passes hurts him in PPR formats. Also, don’t underestimate the potentially greater role for fellow Baltimore RB Gus Edwards as the season rolls on; quarterback Lamar Jackson will tote the ball plenty of times too, ya know.

See if you can parlay him for an elite player at another position, if you’ve got enough depth at RB.

Scott Fontana