Buy Low Sell High: Week 1
Football is back! We haven’t seen a meaningful NFL snap since the Falcons’ historical collapse in Super Bowl LI, and after 214 days of waiting, hand-wringing, over-analyzing football in shorts, and dissecting our fantasy drafts, Week 1 will finally kick off Thursday night as the Chiefs visit the Patriots in Foxborough to kick off the 2017 season.
In addition to our weekly Tradespotting podcast, we will provide weekly buy low/sell high recommendations throughout the season. Below, you’ll find players to target while they’re still affordable, or whose stock we expect to rise moving forward (“buy low”) — and others to consider trading away while we feel their values are either near their high points or soon to trend in the wrong direction (“sell high”).
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WR | Steelers
Martavis Bryant was my #1 draft target this season, and I believe he’ll be the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year for 2017. If you targeted Martavis this offseason, recency bias worked in your favor, because for many, he was out of sight, out of mind following his season-long suspension. When we last saw Bryant on the field (in 2015), he was WR15 in fantasy PPG, and he’s been a nearly touchdown-per-game player during his brief career.
WR | Vikings
All signs point towards Stefon Diggs as this year’s’ breakthrough elite WR talent. An argument could be made that he would have ascended last season, if not for lagging injury problems that severely limited his effectiveness. Diggs only missed 3 games throughout the season, but his play was affected by the groin, knee, and hip problems that caused him to miss those games. Before his groin injury occurred in Week 4 against the Giants, Diggs was dominant. Between recovering from the groin injury and injuring his knee in Week 11, Diggs was dominant. Clearly, durability is a concern, but Diggs himself has taken responsibility for his nagging injuries and has taken the steps to correct it. With Minnesota facing the 4th easiest Passing Defense Efficiency schedule through the first 8 weeks according to Sharp Football Stats, Diggs should start out white hot this season, and I don’t think it will stop. Buy now before his owners become too attached to the NFL’s newest WR1. – Hunter Gibbon
QB | Colts
This one’s tricky. We know Luck will be out for this week’s opening game against the Rams, and we also know the Colts opted against placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would have prevented him from playing (or practicing) during the first six weeks of the regular season. Beyond that, we don’t know much, except that the timetable for Luck’s return is uncertain. But when he does play, Andrew Luck is an elite fantasy QB. If you have the roster flexibility to stash him for a few weeks, Luck is the type of fantasy difference-maker who can you win games later in the season. – Matt Foreman
RB | Ravens
My love for Danny Woodhead has no limits. The most underrated pass-catching back in the NFL has gone from a trendy early-4th round pick to forgotten late-5th rounder over the last two weeks. A minor hamstring injury held him out of the “all-important” Week 3 preseason game, and fantasy drafters panicked. Do not be one of those fantasy owners. The hamstring issue is behind him, considering he has already returned to practice in preparation for Week 1. In 2016, Joe Flacco targeted his running backs 142 times and Dennis Pitta 121 times, or 263 short-to-intermediate targets. Lingering offensive line concerns and a lack of between-the-tackles talent in that backfield (sorry, but not sorry Terrance West) should force the Ravens to continue their pass-happy ways. Woodhead is the perfect option to pick up 100+ of those vacated targets and rack up weekly PPR points. Use this market downturn to buy in on a player with proven PPR RB1 upside. – Hunter Gibbon
RB | Bears
I think Jordan Howard is a very good player on a very bad team. After his Pro Bowl rookie season, opposing defenses were already likely to gameplan around stopping Howard this year. When you consider the loss of the team’s #1 WR Cameron Meredith for the season, a Bears’ offense piloted by either Mike Glennon or rookie Mitch Trubisky, with no real weapons in the passing game, will surely fail to command respect from defensive coordinators. I expect stacked defensive fronts and fantasy regression for Howard this season. Multiple members of our staff picked him as their Bust RB of 2017. If you can find a trade partner willing to pay for his ADP as a top 10 fantasy RB, make a deal. – Matt Foreman
WR | Chiefs
Since the departure of Jeremy Maclin, analysts have touted Tyreek Hill as the Chiefs WR1. Some have claimed that he has an Antonio Brown skill set. Playing for an inconsistent offense at best, the evidence does not support those claims. No one will argue against Tyreek Hill’s speed, explosiveness, or inherent big play ability, however his history of production leaves much to be desired. Hill has never been the number one receiver on his team, dating back to college. For players attending major programs with elite competition, college production is less important (see Martavis Bryant). Hill is a different story. He spent his final college season at West Alabama, not exactly a premiere program. His 2016 production was propped up by unrepeatable big play frequency, which is sure to regress in 2017, despite an increased target share. If Hill proves to not be up to the new role in the first few weeks of the season, his value will plummet. Sell now, before TyFreak is revealed to be TyFluke. – Hunter Gibbon
RB | Texans
Overall, I actually prefer the fantasy outlook for the Texans’ skill position players with either Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson at the helm over Brock Osweiler. Unfortunately, I’m just not a big believer in Lamar Miller. In 2016, Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards for the 2nd time in his career. But it took him 52 more carries than it did the first time, and his yards per carry average was the lowest of his career. In March, Texans’ Head Coach Bill O’Brien expressed interest in cutting down on Miller’s workload. In April, the team drafted rookie RB D’Onta Foreman in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. Foreman may not become the Texans’ RB1 as a rookie, but he can contribute immediately, and will almost certainly eat into Miller’s goalline work. It’s time to trade Miller while there are still people out there who believe he will be the bell cow of the Houston offense. – Matt Foreman
QB | Buccaneers
The hype train started early for Winston this offseason and has not stopped rolling since. His final ADP was QB8, above players like Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, and Ben Roethlisberger. Newton has an overall QB1 performance on his resume. Cousins has back to back top-6 finishes to his name. Big Ben pilots the most explosive offense in the NFL. Jameis Winston has finished QB13 and QB16 in his first two NFL seasons. One of those things is not like the others. Yes, the Buccaneers invested in DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard over the offseason, a sign that they could move to a more pass-first approach. However, assuming they will make that shift immediately is purely speculative. Tampa Bay found success in the second half of 2016 when they rededicated to running the football and pulled in the reins on Winston. There is no doubt that he can make every throw in the book, but his decision-making has often been highly questionable. There is no indicator that the coaching staff will change the game plan that worked for them in late 2016. Sell Winston for one of the QBs below him in ADP plus a productive WR or RB, before the market realizes he will not rise above the QB middle class. – Hunter Gibbon