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Fantasy Football Running Back Trade Targets - Buy/Sell for Week 5

Jonathan Taylor - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

In this article, we'll take a look specifically at running backs you should be buying and selling ahead of Week 5. Here at RotoBaller, we also have a recurring trade targets article for all positions that can be found here.

We'll dissect the running back landscape by looking at opportunity share. That can help us understand who has underperformed and who has overperformed thus far. Which guys have the safest roles but just haven't hit (buy low), and which guys have been getting lucky with a smaller opportunity share (sell high)?

Let's dive right in and which backs you should be buying or selling as we roll into Week 5 of the NFL season!

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Underperforming RBs to Target in Trades for Fantasy Football

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

JT has been ruled out for Week 5, but it sounds like it was close and he'll be able to suit up for Week 6. This is where you need to pounce. Not only is he currently injured, but he's underperformed relative to the high expectations this season.

He was drafted as the overall RB1 this season after rushing for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns a season ago. After a very promising Week 1 in which he got a career-high 38 opportunities and scored 27.5 PPR fantasy points, Taylor hasn't eclipsed 12.1 points in each of the last three games. In fact, he's been held to single digits in two of his last three games, and currently finds himself as the RB23.

We heard all offseason from head coach Frank Reich that the Colts wanted to get satellite back Nyheim Hines more involved, but that hasn't been the case thus far through four games. In fact, Taylor is actually being used even more than he was in 2021.

Per PlayerProfiler, he has a higher snap share (76.6% vs. 68.6%), greater opportunity share (77% vs. 70.8%), and more weighted opportunities (18.4 vs. 16.6) this season than last season. He's also averaging more targets per game (4.0 vs. 3.1) than in 2021. So long as that ankle injury isn't too bad (which it doesn't appear to be), you should be sending an offer to the JT manager to see if you can acquire him on the cheap.

Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

I know, I know, you're reading an article written by the number one Najee Harris fader this offseason and I'm now suggesting you consider trading for him. You'd be correct, I was fading Najee, but I was fading him as a first-round draft choice. Now, after underperforming for four weeks, you can probably acquire him for much cheaper.

Someone recently asked me about the following trade and whether or not I'd consider it. They were receiving Najee Harris and giving away Damien Harris and Elijah Moore. I had to think about it for a minute because I'm not much of a Najee guy, but then I came to my senses.

This is a great deal on the Najee side if you're in need of a feature or "anchor" back. Also, Damien Harris and Moore were going in Rounds 7-10, imagine thinking you could get a first-round guy in Najee for that duo.

Now, he's no longer number one in snap share and opportunity share like he was his rookie season, but he's still top-seven in both with a 71.2% snap share and 79.3% opportunity share. The hope here is that new starting quarterback Kenny Pickett can take this offense to another level that Mitch Trubisky could not. The sustained high usage and the possibility of seeing a more efficient offense under Pickett should have us buying low on Najee Harris while he's ranked as just the RB26 through four games.

Other: Joe Mixon is currently the RB14 despite having a top-five snap share and opportunity share amongst running backs. As the Bengals' offense gets better, expect Mixon's fantasy production to follow.

 

Overperforming RBs to Trade Away for Fantasy Football

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny is a really good runner, there's no questioning that. The issue with Penny has always been his lack of usage in the passing game, his injury-riddled past, and Seattle's relatively lethargic offense under Pete Carroll. The lack of usage in the passing game has continued this season. Through four games, Penny is averaging just 1.3 targets per game.

However, Seattle has upped its tempo in Weeks 3 and 4, averaging over 60 plays per game whereas in Weeks 1 and 2 they were running under 50 plays per game. And for now, Penny has stayed healthy and has fended off rookie Kenneth Walker, but can that last?

He had a big game against the Lions in Week 4, rushing for 151 yards and two scores. However, this game featured 93 total points. The Lions are giving up a ridiculous 35.3 points per game. The next closest team is allowing 28.8 points per game, and that's the Seahawks.

Outside of last week's 28.7-point eruption, Penny had fewer than nine fantasy points in each of his first three games. With Penny, we need a couple of things to go right each and every game. The Seahawks need to play a sub-par run defense, Walker needs to not be very good, and Penny needs to score at least one touchdown. Otherwise, his output might look rather bleak.

Here's an interesting stat pull to chew on. Penny has played 41 career NFL games. He didn't score a touchdown in 31 of those games. In those 31 games, not even once did he produce double-digit fantasy points. Sure, he's been a part-time player most of his career, but it's clear he requires touchdowns to return value.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Why on earth would you want to sell King Henry after two straight 23+ PPR-point performances? Well, there are a multitude of reasons if you look at the peripherals here.

For starters, yes, Henry is averaging 5.5 targets per game in his last two games. But if you look more closely, he ran just eight routes per game. That's a target rate of 68.8%, totally unsustainable. In fact, he's only running 7.3 routes per game through four games this season, five fewer than his per-game average in 2021. So don't let the 11 targets in his last two games fool you.

Additionally, his snap share (62.9% vs. 70.9%), opportunity share (79.3% vs. 85.7%), and weighted opportunities (16.1 vs. 20.4) per game are all down from a season ago. The Titans also just lost their up-and-coming number one wideout in rookie Treylon Burks (turf toe) for a couple of weeks which certainly won't help the offense.

Don't forget about Weeks 1 and 2, where the King finished with fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points. He's done so in 50% of his games this season, whereas, in 2021, that happened just 12.5% of the time.

If the Titans aren't playing with the lead, Henry could fail to eclipse this number more often than not, so why not take advantage of his last couple of big games and get a big return in the form of an elite wide receiver (Ja'Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyreek Hill) or elite tight end (Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews).

Note: He hasn't necessarily "overperformed," but consider trading away Melvin Gordon III. Prior to Javonte Williams' injury, he was essentially being phased out of the offense. Now, based on necessity, he'll be thrust into the "feature" role, but he hasn't been all that great this season and he's had a bit of a fumbling issue. Take a look at this chart (not great):

Also, the Broncos will utilize Mike Boone (as they did in Week 4 when Williams went down) and they just signed veteran Latavius Murray, who looked pretty good last week, even scoring a touchdown for the New Orleans Saints.

Leverage his "feature back" status while he hasn't yet played a game in that capacity.



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