An important aspect of fantasy football is getting ahead of the curve in player values. Dave Kluge has listed and highlighted some players who show a change in value and lets you know what to do with them in Week 5's "Three Up, Three Down" article.
How quickly we forget. After his 2020 rookie season, J.K. Dobbins was in conversations with Jonathan Taylor and D'Andre Swift as the best young running back in the NFL. He finished his season on an absolute tear. In his final six games, he averaged 88.8 scrimmage yards with seven total touchdowns. His 17.0 PPR points per game ranked as the ninth-best over that stretch. Dobbins’ hype train heading into his second year was hauling down a mountain with no brakes. Then, a brutal knee injury kept him off the field in 2021. But he is back now and picking up right where he left off. Two goal-line touchdowns bolstered his 22.3-point performance on Sunday, but the 23-year-old Ohio State product should only see his workload expand. PFF graded Dobbins as the best offensive player for the Ravens on Sunday. Despite concerns about his workload being monitored, he out-snapped Justice Hill 35 to 25 and out-touched him 17 to 10. Most injury experts have said that Dobbins will be brought up to speed over a four-week stretch, so we should see his usage peak around Week 6. Gus Edwards is also due back from injury soon, which could open up an opportunity to buy low on Dobbins if managers are concerned. Edwards tore his ACL less than two weeks after Dobbins and has yet to play since. Being four years older than Dobbins, his path to a full recovery could be a bit more precarious. Seeing how Dobbins has played over the last couple of weeks should squash any concerns about a setback in his recovery. This could be the last opportunity to trade for one of the league’s most explosive young running backs. Dobbins should be valued as a top-20 running back going forward.
Despite a few highlight-reel-worthy catches, George Pickens has yet to do much on the stat sheet. Through his first three weeks, Pickens had amassed just 65 scoreless yards on five receptions. Consider Week 4 his coming-out party. Pickens hauled in six-of-eight targets for a team-high 102 yards. He was the first Steeler to eclipse 100 receiving yards all season. And while it’s easy to write off that performance as an outlier, it’s likely more indicative of things to come. At halftime, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin decided to swap out Mitch Trubisky for first-rounder Kenny Pickett. Through his first three and a half games, Trubisky averaged 10.1 yards of depth on his targets. Pickett averaged 13.2. Where Trubisky targeted Pickens on 12.5 percent of his attempts, Pickett looked his way 35.7 percent of the time. So not only is Pickens drawing more targets with Pickett, but he’s pulling them deeper down the field. Pickens is a contested-catch specialist, regularly drawing praise from fans, staff, and media at camp this year for his ability to snatch balls away from defenders. Pickens exploded at the end of his 2020 sophomore year at Georgia, going for 261 yards and three touchdowns in his final two games. An ACL tear and character concerns caused him to slide in this year’s draft. But with an imposing 6’3” frame and 4.4 speed, Pickens has the makings to be an elite receiver in the NFL. If he’s still available in your leagues, pick him up immediately. If he’s already rostered, send some offers and see if you can snare a young rookie with a sky-high ceiling.
Death, taxes, Zach Ertz finishing as a top-five tight end. Outside of an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, Ertz has never finished below TE10. That 2020 season is the only non-top-five season Ertz has logged since 2017. While there were some concerns about his age, Ertz is still putting up elite numbers. His 31 targets as the fourth-most among all tight ends, behind only Tyler Higbee, Mark Andrews, and Travis Kelce. He’s turned those targets into 13.5 PPR points per game, placing him as the TE4 through four weeks. Ertz lacks a lot of traits that other elite tight ends possess. He’s not exceptionally big or fast. He struggles to break tackles. He doesn’t do a lot after the catch. But he’s developed into Kyler Murray’s security blanket and has a penchant for getting open in the short parts of the fields. This isn’t the same Zach Ertz who logged eight 100-yard games between 2016 and 2018. He doesn’t have that type of ceiling anymore. But at a position that is incredibly frustrating to stream, Ertz makes for one of the few plug-and-play tight end options. His role as Murray’s bail-out option provides him with a desirable floor. He’s caught six-plus balls in three straight weeks and makes for a weekly top-five tight end option going forward. Fantasy managers could be concerned about the looming return of DeAndre Hopkins. If you’re lucky enough to flip a hot name like Gerald Everett, Tyler Conklin, or David Njoku, make the trade for Ertz immediately.
After a blistering five-game stretch as a rookie, fantasy managers crowned Elijah Moore as the Jet’s WR1. Between Weeks 9 and 13 last year, Moore averaged 5.6 receptions, 84.6 yards, and a touchdown per game. He was the WR2 behind only Justin Jefferson during that stretch. This offseason, the team drafted Garrett Wilson tenth overall. They used their second-round pick on Breece Hall, a running back known for his pass-catching prowess. The team signed Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah to bolster their tight end room. Despite these additions, fantasy managers remained steadfast in their belief that Moore was the team’s WR1. Moore was getting drafted four rounds ahead of Wilson in fantasy drafts this offseason. Through the first four weeks of this season, that’s looking like it may have been the wrong call. Wilson has solidified himself as the team’s WR1. He leads the team with 35 targets. Hall and Conklin are tied for second-most with 26 each. Then we have Moore with 24 targets, followed closely by Corey Davis with 23 and Michael Carter II with 17. The Jets have attempted more passes than any other team in the league. Regardless, Moore has yet to score a touchdown or log more than 55 yards in a single game. With Zach Wilson back under center in Week 4, Moore saw a season-low four targets. Davis has been trending up for the last couple of weeks and pulled seven targets on Sunday. Moore looks like the Jets’ WR3 and is possibly behind Hall and Conklin in the pecking order. For managers who drafted Moore this offseason, he’s best kept on your bench unless things change.
In Week 1 against the Rams, busted coverage on a 3rd & 1 play-action led to a Gabe Davis touchdown. After his four-touchdown playoff performance, Davis became a polarizing sleeper option in fantasy drafts this year. Some argued that he would see a more significant role this season, while others pressed that his lack of production thus far wouldn’t suddenly change. That Week 1 touchdown ended the offseason debate in the minds of Davis’s touts. Since then, though, Davis has just 50 yards on four receptions. The aforementioned knock against Davis was his lackluster career target share. In both 2020 and 2021, Davis logged precisely 10.9 percent of his team’s targets. In the three games he’s played this year: 16.1, 10.5, and 8 percent averaging out to 12.1 percent on the year. The Bills have an uptempo and explosive offense, but that’s a thin slice of the pie. Davis was the WR56 as a rookie and WR58 last year. His production was highly volatile, booming on weeks where he could score a long touchdown and doing little in other weeks. While many predicted a role change for him this year, it appears he will remain an unpredictable boom-or-bust option. Given his lack of production, you probably can’t fetch a return for Davis on the trade market. He can’t be trusted in your lineup unless he can string together a series of productive games.
After a poor Week 1 performance, I didn’t want to overreact and add Kyle Pitts to this article as a “Trending Down” player. Following an equally disappointing Week 2, I still held off. Then Week 3 happened! Five catches for 87 yards. Things were looking up! But after logging a single catch for 25 yards, it’s time to address what looks like the worst pick in fantasy football this year. Through four games and with a clean bill of health, Pitts is PPR’s TE18. Being drafted in the second or third round is tough to stomach, especially when seeing how Tee Higgins, A.J. Brown, and others with similar ADPs are performing. Pitts is tied for 13th in tight end targets, being out-performed by guys like Cameron Brate and Tyler Conklin. Much like Moore and Davis, you can’t drop Pitts. His potential ceiling is too high. But going forward, it might be best to stash him on the bench and stream tight ends until this Atlanta offense can fall into place. Marcus Mariota has been disappointing to start the season. In the same way, a switch from Trubisky to Pickett vaulted Pickens’ value, a switch to Desmond Ridder could do the same for Pitts. Pitts is 6-foot-6 with blazing speed. He was drafted fourth overall and has all the makings to be a premier tight end in the league. Unfortunately, though, considering his usage and production, he can only be started in deep leagues right now.