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By Matt Savoca, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
Welcome to the Week 9 edition of Trader’s Alley for the 2021 fantasy football season. We’ve reached the midway point of the fantasy football season. By this time, you should know your fantasy team like the back of your hand and be familiar with your roster’s strengths and weaknesses. With tons of injuries on the field over the past two weeks, and a few big names set to return, many teams’ offensive identities are in flux, which means we need to stay diligent with our trade offers, all to help ensure we have the best possible starting lineup as we make the playoff push.
Below is my Trade For and Trade Away recommendations heading into Week 9. In addition to this article, don’t forget to use the 4for4 Trade Evaluator to try and mine even more value out of your moves. And remember, these recommendations are just the beginning of your fantasy trade considerations. Every league and every team is different.
These are three players who I’m interested in this week.
Trade for DJ Moore
Things haven’t been pretty for the Carolina Panthers over the last few weeks. After a 3-0 start, the team lost superstar Christian McCaffrey, quarterback Sam Darnold turned into his past, turnover-prone self (and is now in concussion protocol), and both primary wide receivers, including Moore, became staples in our Breakout Receiver Model, which highlights players under-performing their production expectations. Moore continues to be peppered with opportunities but hasn’t had a ceiling performance in over a month, averaging just 61.8 yards on 9.5 targets per game over his last four contests. After three straight top-12 wide receiver performances from Weeks 2 through 4, Moore has finished outside the top-20 at his position every week since.
But even with that drought in mind, I’m still extremely bullish on Moore going forward, as he ranks fifth in the NFL in target share and seventh in air yards share. His 70.4% catchable target rate ranks 80th among wideouts and at least partially explains his lack of production, but Moore also ranks top-five at his position in yards after the catch, averaging 3.0 yards after the catch per target. Moore can make the most of an imperfect situation the rest of the way, especially because the Panthers have the easiest remaining schedule for wide receivers in the NFL, according to the Hot Spots tool.
Trade for Travis Kelce
The Chiefs may have technically earned a victory in Week 8 against the Giants, but the collective football world has hit the panic button on the previously prolific team, who have become a volatile, turnover-prone shell of themselves in recent weeks. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown at least one interception in seven straight games, with three multi-interception games during that span. And Kelce himself has had two egregious fumbles himself in recent weeks. But the underlying metrics suggest the Chiefs offense is likely still one of the elite offenses in the NFL and has the potential to get back to its premium status this season, despite a brutal rest-of-season schedule that includes exactly zero teams who currently have a losing record.
The Chiefs still rank top-10 in the NFL expected points added per play, an advanced metric that calculates how much more productive an offense is compared to the league average. They’re top-10 in series success rate, which tracks a team’s ability to turn a first down into a new first down or touchdown, and Mahomes himself still ranks top-eight in the NFL in completion percentage over expectation. Kelce is still seeing elite-level opportunity, ranking third at his position in expected fantasy points per game, despite ranking ninth in targets per route run, and a staggeringly low 14th in red-zone targets.
The Chiefs are likely to actively work to get Kelce more opportunities in the coming weeks, especially in Weeks 9 and 10 when Kelce gets two plus matchups against the Packers and Raiders. Kelce is at his most-attainable trade value in years, and the next classic Kelce ceiling game is happening extremely soon.
I want him on my fantasy roster when it happens.
Trade Elijah Mitchell
With the 49ers ravaged by injuries all season long on offense, Mitchell, a late sixth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, has been a revelation for the middling San Francisco offense. In just five games played, Mitchell already has three top-15 fantasy performances and had back-to-back 100-yard performances in Weeks 7 and 8. Mitchell led the NFL in rushing a week ago, and now ranks top-five at his position in opportunity share. His 5.4 yards per touch is top-15 among all backs as well, and even the 49ers’ strength of schedule looks just average, if not above-average, for the rest of the fantasy season. So why trade away Mitchell now, when he’s seemingly taken over the San Francisco backfield?
The simple answer is competition.
Mitchell’s backfield-mates are finally getting healthier around him, as JaMychal Hasty has already returned to action, and Jeff Wilson, Jr. is now practicing for the first time this season and should make his season debut sometime in the next two weeks. On top of that, George Kittle, the 49ers’ premier tight end, is also nearing a return to action. The 49ers are at risk of losing their next two games, facing the Cardinals and Rams in back-to-back weeks, which should also put Mitchell in much less-advantageous game scripts than the previous two weeks. Personally, I’m making the call that this week is the peak of Mitchell’s trade value, as he’s already out-performing his expected fantasy points by nearly 5.5 points per game over the last five weeks. Mitchell can almost certainly be used in a package deal to acquire a sure-fire top-10 ranked running back.
A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position in middle school, Matt has been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, he loves to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone.
More from 4for4.com: Eight stash candidates ahead of Week 9