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Trade Alert: 2020 Bounce-Back RBs

Which RBs should you be buying this off-season? @tristancook_ has you covered in this week’s “Trade Alert”

Welcome! If this is your first time reading this, the ‘Trade Alert’ article is a weekly piece that aims to identify players who are about to have a change in value. Whether that means an increase or decrease doesn’t necessarily matter, because the idea is to identify the player before the change and make the appropriate trade decisions. It’s obviously a task that is easier said than done, but hopefully, this article will help you make a few moves that can improve your roster, regardless of the situation your team is in.

As always, for reference, assume that the values I am providing, unless otherwise noted, are for 12-team, PPR leagues. For example, an “early” 1st round pick refers to 1.01-1.04, a “mid” 1st would be 1.05-1.08, and a “late” 1st is 1.09-1.12. Let’s get to this week’s players.

Because we have entered the fantasy playoffs, and many leagues have some type of trade deadline, the articles for the remainder of the season will have a slightly different format. Instead of moves to make in the immediate future, I will be highlighting trade strategies for the off-season. The off-season is generally a time where we see plenty of hype around incoming rookie picks, and we should use that to our advantage to go after players who have experienced a dip in value.

Since last week’s article was centered on WRs that have underperformed this year; this week’s article is going to focus on RBs that have had disappointing 2019 seasons. Not every player that has disappointed this year is in line to bounce back in 2020, but I expect these players to do so. One thing to note is that I am only suggesting acquiring these players if the price is right. They are not flat out “buys”. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Alvin Kamara

The first player on my list is Saints RB, Alvin Kamara. Currently, Kamara is a low-end RB1 on the season, so you could make an argument that he doesn’t belong in this category. However, Kamara is the type of player that you expect better from. Obviously, RB1 numbers are good, but Kamara has shown us that he can be a top-end producer. He can be a league-winner, and he has been far from that this year.

One of the biggest differences between previous years and this year for Kamara is his lack of TDs. Coming into this week, he only has 1 rushing and 1 receiving TD so far. Because of his atypical production numbers, Kamara’s value has somewhat decreased. You will certainly still have to pay a pretty penny to acquire him, but I think he is a player to check with the owner to see if he’s available. We have seen what Kamara can do, and if there is any type of discount, I’d strongly consider an offer.

Credit: CBS Sports

David Johnson

Next, I have a somewhat controversial name. Yes, I am advocating for trying to buy David Johnson shares. I know what you are likely thinking, and yes, I’m aware of how bad he’s looked this season. I am also aware of his age, usage, and contract situation. So why am I looking to buy David Johnson? Well, that would be because his value has tanked so dramatically, that you can get him for pennies on the dollar. 

I know that there is some significant risk that you will have to absorb with DJ if you add him, but I think the potential payoff is worth it. Johnson has looked old and slow at times this year, but I think there is a reasonable chance that his back injury is significantly to blame for his play this year. Johnson started the season off very strongly, and prior to his injury was looking like a very good fantasy RB. 

I am willing to take the risk with DJ at the right price. I find it unlikely that the Cardinals choose to resign Kenyan Drake, and unless they spend an early pick on an RB (which isn’t their biggest positional need), the starting RB job should once again belong to DJ. The price with DJ will likely vary greatly depending on the owner’s opinion of DJ’s outlook, but I think he could be had for a late 2nd or early 3rd, and I’d pay that.

Kerryon Johnson

My final bounce-back RB is Kerryon Johnson. Earlier this year, I discussed trying to acquire Kerryon; but, unfortunately, a mid-season injury forced him to the IR. His injury caused his value to drop, and I believe there will be a buying opportunity this off-season.

Of the RBs that I’ve mentioned here, Kerryon likely brings the biggest risk associated with an acquisition. No one questions if he has the talent, but Johnson has struggled with injuries so far in his career. Injury risk isn’t the only concern with KJ. There is a real possibility that the Lions look to add an RB in the offseason. If they choose to do so, Kerryon’s value will take a massive hit, but that may not be the worst thing for us as buyers.

Obviously, if the Lions add a big name RB in Free Agency (unlikely) or the draft (more likely), then I will be less optimistic about KJ’s future. But, the Lions have significant needs at other positions, and at worst I expect Kerryon to have to compete with a change of pace rookie RB in 2020. I am still a strong believer in Johnson, and if he’s able to shake the injury bug, the sky’s the limit. I’d wait until after Free Agency and the NFL draft before I look to acquire him, but keep him in mind as the off-season unfolds.

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