Fantasy football: 5 running backs to target in buy-low trades

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Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (C) should provide high-end RB2 or potential RB1 production for fantasy football owners in upcoming weeks. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Ezekiel Elliott is among the five running backs I recommend as a target in a buy-low fantasy football trade entering Week 6 of the NFL season.

Buying low, a common fantasy football strategy of trading away players to get underperforming stars in return, can help you form a very strong team down the stretch.

Players I recommend buying low on were mostly selecting early on in fantasy football drafts, got off to a slow start to the season, but should rebound strong and provide your team with great value.

I typically try to trade away players that I think are over-performing — or sell high — in a buy-low trade. While risk is involved in this strategy, as the struggling players you get could continue struggling, the reward for being correct in your assessment is worth it.

Each of my buy-low options most likely will require a different level of value in assets to trade away to add them to your roster. Elliott is among the options you can probably get for a moderate price from another fantasy owner in your league.

The Dallas Cowboys running back owned a very high average draft positions in previous season, but was a third- or fourth-round pick this off-season.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is one of my favorite players to target in fantasy football trades entering Week 6. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI

Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott averaged 83 yards from scrimmage and scored just once through his first five games, but the Cowboys’ early schedule featured a lot of brutal matchups against top rush defenses.

His workload continues to increase, despite the presence of talented running back Tony Pollard on the depth chart. Elliott logged a season-high 22 touches in Week 5. He totaled 21 touches in Week 4.

Elliott ranks just inside the Top 28 for fantasy points among running backs, which means he provided low-end RB2 or flex value so far. Look for the veteran to provide fringe RB1 value in several upcoming games.

The Cowboys have a tough matchup with the Eagles in Week 6, which means you could wait another week for his stock to dip even more if you don’t want to give up too much in a potential trade. The Cowboys will then face the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in Week 7 and Week 8, respectively.

The Lions allowed the most rushing touchdowns and third-most rushing yards and fantasy points to running backs so far this season. The Bears allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and seventh-most fantasy points to running backs.

The Cowboys will get a Week 9 bye, but then don’t face another defense that ranks inside the Top 5 for fewest fantasy points or rushing yards surrendered to running backs for the rest of the season.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) is dealing with an ankle injury, but isn’t expected to miss a large chunk of time this season. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI

Jonathan Taylor

Elliott won’t require a ton of asset-surrendering in a trade, but Taylor comes with an expensive cost. The Indianapolis Colts running back was the No. 1 overall pick in my fantasy drafts, but is somewhat of a bust so far.

Taylor exploded for 161 yards and a score on 31 carries in Week 1. He then failed to eclipse 71 rushing yards in his next three games and sat out in Week 5 due to an ankle injury.

Taylor said he planned to play in Week 5, before he was held out, which is a sign that he will return soon. When he does come back, I expect a return to elite production.

The Colts don’t have a ton of easy matchups on their schedule, but also face just one defense that ranks inside the Top 5 for the fewest rushing yards allowed and another that ranks inside the Top 5 for the fewest fantasy points allowed to the position.

He also doesn’t have a bye until Week 14, meaning he could provide you with value for every other game this season. The Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6. Taylor totaled just 63 yards against the Jaguars in Week 2, but totaled more than 200 yards against the Jaguars in 2021. He also erupted for 253 rushing yards and two scores in a 2020 contest against the Jaguars.

Taylor also started the season slow in 2021, with an average of 57 rushing yards per game and no touchdowns through his first three games. He went on to run for 1,640 yards and score 20 touchdowns over his final 14 appearances. Much better days are ahead for the Colts star.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) will get several favorable fantasy football matchups over the next several weeks. File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

Joe Mixon

Mixon was likely a late first-round or second-round pick in your fantasy football draft. The Cincinnati Bengals running back provided Top 20 production for his fantasy stock owners through five weeks.

Look for the veteran running back to be a Top 10 option down the stretch. The Bengals will battle the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons in their next two respective games. Those defense each rank inside the Top 12 for allowing the most rushing yards to running backs.

The schedule gets even better after that, with games against the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers. The Browns allowed the third-most fantasy points and fourth-most rushing yards to the position through five weeks.

The Panthers allowed the sixth-most fantasy points and seventh-most rushing yards to running backs. Mixon should be a great play for the next several weeks. His schedule also features just one tough matchup, a Week 13 meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs, before another friendly matchup in Week 14 against the Browns.

Go get Mixon this week before his value skyrockets.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) struggled to start the season, but is likely cheap in a fantasy football trade. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI

Najee Harris

Harris and Taylor are probably the most frustrating players for fantasy team owners who selected them in the first round of their drafts.

Harris was drafted to be an elite RB1 play, but produced like a matchup-dependent flex play through five games. He failed to eclipse 74 rushing yards in any of his first five starts. He also found the end zone just twice.

Harris continues to get a decent workload, with at an average of about 16 touches per game. I expect those touches to increase for the second-year running back, who led the NFL with 381 touches last season.

His upcoming schedule doesn’t include any overly friendly matchups, but does include just two games against teams that rank inside the Top 5 for the fewest points allowed to running backs.

Harris just faced the Buffalo Bills, one of the toughest defenses against opposing starting running backs. His next game is against the Buccaneers, who allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to the position through five games.

His value won’t get any lower now or after next week, which makes right now the ideal time to send a low offer to his stock owner in an effort to acquire him in a trade. I would use him as a matchup dependent RB2 if you have the luxury of two other solid options at the position.

If he gets back on track, he could provide RB1 value and be a league-winning asset.

Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is one of my buy-low fantasy football targets. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI

J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins showed off elite RB1 fantasy football talent last season, before he sustained a season-ending knee injury. He made his 2022 debut in a Sept. 25 win over the New England Patriots. The Baltimore Ravens running back received just seven carries and ran for 23 yards in that game.

Dobbins recorded 17 touches for 63 yards and a score in Week 4. He logged just eight carries for 44 yards in Week 5. I think now is a great time to target Dobbins in a trade.

The Ravens will face the New York Giants in Week 6. The Giants allowed the eighth-most rushing yards to running backs through five games, but the Ravens schedule is even better moving forward.

The Ravens will meet the Browns in Week 7. They will get another great matchup in Week 11 against the Panthers.

Dobbins’ future schedule includes just one game against a team that ranks inside the Top 5 for the fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Dobbins likely won’t be expensive in a trade, but is another player who could produce like an RB1 down the stretch.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady looks for a receiver during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on October 9, 2022. The Buccaneers beat the Falcons 21-15. Photo by Steve Nesius/UPI | License Photo

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