By Matt Kelley (@Fantasy_Mansion)
Special to Yahoo Sports
Fantasy league trade deadlines are approaching. This week, we look at one buy-low candidate and one sell-high player, as well as a sneaky waiver wire add, based on advanced stats and metrics on PlayerProfiler.com.
Buy-Low: Carlos Hyde
Hyde is more than meets the eye and the one all-terrain NFL running back that no one talks about.
The 49ers’ inauspicious 0-8 start resulted in a -8.66 Game Script, the lowest in the league. PlayerProfiler’s Game Script metric illustrates the average point differential in any minute of any game throughout the season. Scripts under -5.0 are catastrophic, particularly for a running back. Positive game script fuels running back touches in the second half as teams grind out the clock (just ask Todd Gurley), while negative script strangles second half opportunities as teams flip over into comeback mode (just ask Isaiah Crowell).
Even as San Francisco started 0-4, Hyde was a top-20 fantasy running back each of the first four weeks of the season. Brian Hoyer kept the team competitive, evidenced by heartbreaking overtime losses to the Rams and Colts. Desperate 49ers coaches then benched Hoyer in favor of C.J. Beathard, replacing close losses with blowout losses. Beathard’s 4.5 Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (AY/A), which accounts for touchdowns and interceptions, ranks No. 31 among qualified NFL quarterbacks. Moreover, his 72.3 True Passer Rating, which accounts for receiver drops, and his 24.4 Total QBR fall outside the top-32 qualified QBs. After an underwhelming college career, Beathard is clearly out of his depth at the NFL level.
As the losses continued to mount, a faint glow pulsed in the San Francisco fantasy void. Despite Beathard’s inability to sustain drives, and as double-digit deficits nullified running game opportunities, Hyde commanded touches in the team’s few high leverage situations and found creative ways to score fantasy points in all phases. Even in the darkest depths of an eight-game losing streak, Hyde’s 21.5 PPR points in week 9 shone like a beacon in a fantasy abyss.
Amazingly, Hyde is achieving a fantasy RB1 season while playing in the worst possible situation for a running back. To sharpen the context, San Francisco’s 60.5 run blocking efficiency grade on PlayerProfiler ranks outside the top-20 NFL teams. Hyde is succeeding behind a below-average offensive line with pure tackle breaking ability and elusiveness, evidenced by his 20.7-percent Juke Rate. Given the dire circumstances, Hyde’s season is more impressive than Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott, who are riding a wave positive Game Script and a strong supporting cast to top-5 fantasy RB seasons.
In the face of a demoralizing season, Hyde has emerged as one of the NFL’s truly special all-purpose backs that win all phases. Yet, the fantasy community is devoid of Hyde buzz even while he ranks No. 2 in targets and No. 1 in goal line carries among NFL running backs. Hyde has been grinding out fantasy points awaiting a savior…
Welcome to San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo has the keys to unlock Hyde’s potential. In a small NFL sample, Garoppolo was outstanding filling in during Tom Brady’s infamous “Deflategate” suspension. He has the ability to sustain drives, elevate Hyde’s red-zone touches, and will lift all skill position boats in the San Francisco harbor. Given Hyde’s 65.1-percent RB Opportunity Share, the team’s unheralded primary back stands to benefit most.
True Completion Percentage
True Passer Rating
Adjusted Yards Per Attempt
Jimmy Garoppolo 2016 Advanced Stats on PlayerProfiler.com
Prime Trade Target
Hyde’s standalone efficiency and primary back role suggests effective quarterback play would vault him into the top-5 fantasy running back conversation in the second half of the 2017 season. Go acquire Hyde before fantasy league trade deadlines.
Sell-High: Kareem Hunt
Like two ships passing in the night, Hyde’s fantasy outlook is brightening just as Hunts is fading. Since October 1, Hunt has been out-produced by Hyde, Mark Ingram, Jerick McKinnon, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara.
Don’t blame Andy Reid. Don’t blame Alex Smith. Don’t blame Charcandrick West.
Blame Kansas City’s overmatched offensive line, whose 47.8 run blocking efficiency grade ranks below San Francisco on PlayerProfiler’s Data Analysis Tool. As with Hyde, running backs can overcome bad run blocking with high leverage touches in premium fantasy point-scoring situations.
Hunt’s 84.6-percent RB Opportunity Share is top-3, but unfortunately, he leads in the league in empty calorie touches. Hunt’s 37 targets and 21 red-zone touches both rank outside the top-10 qualified NFL running backs. His two goal line carries, which ranks outside the top-25 RBs, is the greatest fantasy indictment. After ringing up multiple long touchdowns in September, without easy touchdown plunges, Hunt failed to score in the month of October.
Hunt’s college workload capped out at 262 carries in 13 games at Toledo in 2016. Extreme usage strictly between the twenties is particularly problematic for a medium-built rookie running back whose body is unfamiliar with the rigors of a 16-game schedule in the National Football League. Ruh-roh.
Get Out Now
There is some good news. Hunt is still perceived as an elite fantasy running back. The Hunt brand is thriving across fantasy football leagues even as Kansas City is unknowingly setting him up to fail in the second half of the season. Lacking a multi-season track record of fantasy RB1 production to buoy his perceived value, trade Hunt now for an iron price before his value collapses.
Late Sleeper: Tre McBride
Trading Hunt could open a roster spot for Tre McBride for those of you in deep leagues. Who the **** is Tre McBride?
From Burst Score to Catch Radius, all of McBride’s workout metrics on PlayerProfiler.com reached the 69th percentile (nice!) or above at the NFL Scouting Combine. Based on size (6-foot, 210 pounds), college production, and athleticism, his prospect profile is a close analytical match to Pierre Garçon.
Last Athlete Standing
After losing Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, and Zach Miller most recently to injury, the Bears called McBride’s number throughout October. He posted a 65-percent-plus Snap Share in Weeks 5-8. Before the team’s bye, he translated his exceptional athleticism into big plays, posting three receptions for 92 yards on his way to posting a top-20 fantasy WR week at New Orleans.
Stash McBride in fantasy deep leagues now in hopes of a sustained breakout. He’s owned in zero of leagues so he’s surely available.