By Alex Gelhar, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
I want to start this column off this week with a reminder: Recommendations on players to trade do not, by any stretch, mean that I believe or am suggesting the said player is going to fall off or be useless in the coming weeks.
Some people seem to be misinterpreting how this column, and trades, work. Ideally, both teams benefit, perhaps with your haul coming out a bit ahead.
But in reality, the optimal way to work on and execute trades is sending non-essential players from our squad to a team who needs that player/position in exchange for a position that will improve your squad. This is why one-for-one swaps involving the same position always baffled me. What is there strategically to gain there? You’re basically flipping a coin and hoping it lands on heads. This is why I find backlash to trade away recommendations so comical. No, the fact that Nick Chubb has performed well in consecutive weeks has not made me regret recommending trading him. That’s an isolated and improper analysis of how trades work. What if you’d traded Nick Chubb in a package for Russell Wilson? Or DeAndre Hopkins? Trades are not made in a vacuum nor does their impact end after one week. Just keep that in mind as we roll with this column for as long as the season, and the pandemic, allows.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s take a look at some trade for, trade away, and hold candidates heading into Week 4 of the NFL season.
Trade for … Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
The Allen Robinson breakout game finally arrived. And more could be on the horizon with Nick Foles taking over under center. Foles threw three touchdowns in basically a quarter as the starting quarterback, while Mitchell Trubisky has thrown six in 11 quarters. Foles was a boon for Robinson, as the duo connected on four-of-six targets for 54 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter alone. Robinson is an immensely talented receiver who can thrive with even mediocre quarterback play. If Foles provides even slightly better than that, Robinson could get on a course to push for a WR1 finish in 2020.
The market: The market is a bit all over the place for Robinson. He was traded for the pair of Christian Kirk and James Robinson. He was paired with Todd Gurley and shipped off for JuJu Smith-Schuster and Josh Jacobs. He was stacked with Ben Roethlisberger and traded for Josh Allen. He was paired with Daniel Jones and traded for Tom Brady and Allen Lazard. And he was involved in several large trades involving five or six players as well.
Trade away … James Conner, RB, Steelers
After an extremely tilting Week 1 performance, Conner has bounced back with consecutive 100-yard, one-touchdown games. But those numbers are a bit misleading. Conner’s total was aided by a fourth-quarter 59-yard run in Week 2, and beating a porous Texans run defense in Week 3. He hasn’t looked great, and the team started giving touches to rookie Anthony McFarland in Week 3. McFarland hadn’t played an offensive snap through the first two weeks but was on the field for 13% of the snaps in Week 3. Conner also was pulled near the goal line for Benny Snell Jr. on one series, which was extremely concerning.
Conner could remain a workhorse for the Steelers, as he’s in the last year of his contract, but there’s also a chance this morphs into more of a committee. Conner’s stock will be high right now after a couple of strong weeks, so it might be worth shopping him and seeing what you could get in return.
The market: Conner’s market is a bit of a mixed bag right now. He was paired with Tyler Lockett for Ezekiel Elliott and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Conner and Smith-Schuster were sent for OBJ and Nick Chubb. Conner and Sammy Watkins were traded for Allen Robinson. In another league, Conner and Stefon Diggs were shopped for Aaron Jones. Conner was also moved in exchange for Josh Allen and D’Andre Swift.
Hold … Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
Allen started the season off slowly (four catches, 37 yards in Week 1), but has been building steam ever since Justin Herbert was forced under center for the Chargers. His targets have jumped each week (eight to 10 to 19) and his production has climbed as well (4-37-0 to 7-96-0 to 13-132-1). There might be a temptation to shop Allen, as Tyrod Taylor could return at quarterback, and the Chargers face some good-ish defenses in the coming weeks (at Buccaneers, at Saints). However, starting in Week 6, the Chargers enter a stretch of four consecutive weeks facing suspect secondaries: Vs. Jets, at Dolphins, vs. Jaguars, vs. Raiders.
It would make sense for the Chargers to stick with Herbert as he’s provided a slight boost to the offense overall, especially for Allen’s production. But even if they flip back to Taylor, that favorable schedule bodes well for Allen to stay hot. I’d hold pat with Allen under the hopes that the Chargers offense continues to feed him, and he takes advantage of a favorable mid-season schedule.
The market: It appears that the market for Allen is still a bit down, even after his massive Week 3 performance. He was paired with A.J. Green in exchange for Michael Thomas and Phillip Lindsay. He and Dallas Goedert were traded away for Hunter Henry and A.J. Brown. Allen was traded straight up for rookie CeeDee Lamb in one league, and for David Johnson, James Robinson, and Cooper Kupp in other leagues. Allen and Raheem Mostert were traded for Corey Davis and Miles Sanders.
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar