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Should You Trade Puka Nacua Before Kupps Return? Trade Value Sky High After Hot Start to Season

Morgan Rode Sep 19th 11:14 AM EDT.

The Los Angeles Rams were kind of looked at as an afterthought coming into the season. Los Angeles was coming off a 5-12 season and then saw star receiver Cooper Kupp get injured just a couple days before the season opened.

The Rams shocked a lot of people in week 1 with their 30-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks and then played tough in an eventual 30-23 setback to the San Francisco 49ers in week 2. 

The team’s biggest offensive star through two weeks has been rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua. Now, instead of being looked to as a rebuilding franchise, there’s a glimmer of hope behind Nacua’s strong start and the return of Kupp.

Nacua has emerged as a fantasy star, but many are now wondering how long he can keep playing at a high level, especially after Kupp returns. Let’s dive into a few different scenarios and see what you should do if you own Nacua or would like to add him to your roster.

Puka Nacua’s Immediate Stock is Extremely High

Through two weeks, you could make the argument that Nacua has been the league’s top wide receiver. During the preseason, you would have been laughed at had you predicted that. Now, Nacua is putting up similar numbers to Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill.

Nacua started his season with a 10-catch, 119-yard performance against the Seahawks. He was targeted a whopping 15 times.

Against a 49ers’ defense that many consider the most talented in the league, Nacua caught 15 passes for 147 yards. He was targeted 20 times.

What’s wild about Nacua’s numbers is that his longest catch of the year is just 21 yards. He’s simply being targeted early and often, and delivering time and time again, with 13 total first downs.

About the only knock on Nacua so far is that he has not scored a touchdown. But when you look at the team’s passing game as a whole, only one player has a touchdown catch, and that’s running back Kyren Williams.

If Nacua somehow went untouched in your league’s waiver wire last week, there’s no way he’s lasting there another week. If you need to bid on players, be prepared to throw a large number out if you want to grab the early season sensation.

If you were one of the lucky owners that scooped him up last week, you might be considering a trade. His value doesn’t seem like it could get much higher, although I thought the same after week 1. There’s also the return of Kupp on the horizon. If you don’t want to wait to see how Nacua and Kupp coexist, then this might be the time to cut ties. 

Nacua should move up quite a bit in our trade value chart before week 3, so check there and see what might be worth a fair trade. You probably didn’t draft Nacua, so keep in mind you are trading a waiver wire pickup when offers come your way. If someone is desperate enough for a wideout, you could definitely get a solid haul for the rookie. I’m always about building up depth while not losing anything at the position I’m trading away, so getting a receiver and then another skill player (or even two if someone is really desperate) is how I’d approach things.

Can Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp Both Excel on Field?

Many look to the return of Kupp as when Nacua will see his stock fall hard. I’m not so sure that’s the case.

Sure, a lot of Kupp’s game logs over the past couple of seasons look similar to Nacua’s first two games, but that doesn’t mean they will cancel each other out. Having both guys on the field could actually be beneficial to the Rams’ passing game, as opposing defenses can’t double multiple guys without leaving someone else open.

Of the wide receivers on the roster for the first couple games, I see it far more likely that a guy like Van Jefferson or Ben Skowronek sees their snaps dwindle when Kupp returns. Jefferson had just five catches for 33 yards and Skowronek is at just one catch and 10 yards through two weeks.

Tutu Atwell has also turned in a couple of strong efforts in the first two weeks, and Kupp, Nacua and Atwell could be the ones taking up all the snaps and targets when everyone is healthy. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has attempted 93 passes through two weeks, and given most of the team’s games won’t be blowouts, attempting 40 passes a week doesn’t seem all that out of the realm of possibility. After you factor in targets for running backs and tight ends, there’s still 30+ targets up for grabs, and Kupp, Nacua and Atwell could all average double digit targets a week.

While I do believe those three receivers can all be viable fantasy options, to expect Nacua to get 35 targets, 25 catches and 266 yards every two weeks seems pretty unlikely. I see Nacua more in the 8-12 range for targets and catches a game and 75-100 receiving yards a game. Those are still great weeks of fantasy production, but I don’t expect him to be a top-five option overall with those averages.

So to answer my question of whether Nacua and Kupp can both excel, I’d say yes. But to expect both guys to be up over 100 receiving yards and 15 or more catches a week is just not sustainable. Each guy will have their monster games, but it might come every three or four weeks instead of five straight contests.

Final Thoughts

So if I rostered Nacua, I’m either selling high right now or utilizing him all season. His stock before the arrival of Kupp isn’t likely to get much higher, and once Kupp returns, I wouldn’t want to sell a player capable of putting up the numbers Nacua did in weeks 1 or 2 unless you’re getting a guy like Justin Jefferson or Hill in return, and that probably isn’t happening.

If you like what you saw out of Nacua so far and believe he’s capable of consistent showings after Kupp returns, then by all means try and acquire him. Just know that most owners are going to make you pay up to get him. I’d personally wait until Kupp comes back and the two receivers play a couple games together. Nacua’s value should drop a little, at which time you could trade for Nacua at a lesser price.

#puka-nacua #cooper-kupp #rams
About the Author
Morgan Rode

Morgan Rode is a long-time fantasy sports player and has several years of experience as a sports writer. He lives in Wisconsin and loves all things Brewers, Bucks and Packers.

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