Buy Low Sell High: Week 2
Fantasy Football drafts are only one key piece to the puzzle that helps you put together a winning franchise. Even if you completely nailed it on draft day, you will still need attentive in-season management to bring home a title. Hitting on key waiver wire adds is a big part of it but, the true art to winning leagues left and right is aggressive trading tactics.
Each week we are going to bring you a few players who present great value as buy low candidates and which players you might want to cash in on and sell high.
Deshaun Watson was one of the most heavily debated quarterbacks heading into this season. Some saw his value as that of a potential league-winning shoo-in for QB1 status. Others pointed to the small sample size of his seven games last season and warned of the regression that would surely follow.
Week 1 was, unfortunately, a win for the “Small sample size” crowd as Watson turned in his worst fantasy performance as a starting quarterback completing 17-of-34 passes for only 174 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. The silver lining was that Watson looked spry rushing for 40 yards, which was fourth most in the league amongst QB’s, after recovering all offseason from a torn ACL.
While the stats don’t look great, there is more to his performance than meets the eye and all the key factors are still there that could help Watson repeat his success from last season where he had the highest average fantasy points per game amongst QBs. Watson’s 11.6 average intended air yards tied for 3rd most in the league in Week 1 per Next Gen Stats. This is pretty much on par with the 11.2 average intended air yards he put up last season which led the league. The big plays will come and the bonus you get from Watson’s rushing ability provides a rather safe weekly floor. Buy now before Watson potentially puts up a monster game against the Titans this week who got roasted by deep-threat, Kenny Stills, last week.
Now, I’m going to be straight up with you guys on this one. I was not high on Funchess at all coming into the season. I own zero shares across the board and even wrote about him as a regression candidate in our “Receivers Who Could See a Decrease in Targets” article. A big reason for that was the fact that tight end Greg Olsen was returning and has dominated the target share as Cam Newton’s favorite weapon. With news of Olsen re-fracturing his foot in Week 1, Funchess once again finds himself in a favorable position and I’m buying.
Last season, Funchess finished as the WR21 in PPR leagues in a similar situation. He will now move up to the second read for Cam Newton in the passing game behind Christian McCaffrey. Funchess is coming off a disappointing Week 1 performance of only recording 3 catches for 41 yards which makes him a great player to target who will definitely see better days ahead. What people may not realize is that Funchess still saw a 51.25% share of the Panthers air yards in Week 1 according to Next Gen Stats, which ranked 5th in the league. Always a threat in the red zone, Funchess could repeat his 8 TD performance from last season and provide solid WR2 value going forward.
Contract years have a way of inspiring the best performances out of players in the NFL. Tevin Coleman just so happens to be in one of those this season and he may be able to leverage more opportunity than usual going forward. Fellow Falcons RB, Devonta Freeman, was recovering all offseason from spraining his knee late last season and didn’t make it through the Week 1 season opener against the Eagles. While things look promising that Freeman avoided another serious injury, one has to believe Coleman should be expected to get more run going forward to help preserve Freeman.
Coleman didn’t handle a huge workload in Week 1, accounting for 10 total touches but, he did manage to find the end zone. This is a perfect situation to buy low while Freeman’s health is still in limbo. Coleman finished as the RB22 last season in PPR leagues and was the RB19 in 2016. At worst, you get a high-end flex and borderline RB2 in Coleman when Freeman is on the field. If Freeman can’t fight through these nagging injuries this season, however, we could see Coleman have a career year.
The workload was there last week for Rex Burkhead to succeed as he saw 19 touches against the Texans. The performance left a lot to be desired unfortunately as he only managed 69 yards from scrimmage. Burkhead was questionable coming into the week with a “minor tear” in his knee so the fact he was able to handle such a large workload is a great sign.
Jeremy Hill is done for the season after tearing his ACL in Week 1 which will help free up some space in a crowded backfield going forward. Burkhead also didn’t see his normal heavy usage in the passing game in Week 1 which will likely change going forward. While rookie Sony Michel is nearing a debut after sitting out the first week, it would seem that some time to get re-acclimated with the offense would be in line.
Burkhead should continue to see a heavy workload and garner those valuable red zone touches that helped make him a sensation last season. Buy now while he is coming off an unusually inefficient performance and you could net a solid RB2. The fact that Burkhead’s draft capital wasn’t too high and the crowded nature of the backfield should make him a rather easy player to target in trade talks this week.
If you were one of the people who took a Lambeau leap of faith with Randall Cobb around the 8th-9th round in fantasy drafts and actually started him in Week 1, congratulations! Cobb played a key role in Aaron Rodgers’ incredible comeback story, totaling 9 catches for 142 yards and 1 TD. The receiving yards were the most in a regular season game in Cobb’s career and it marked his first game over 100 yards since Week 5 of the 2016 season.
Cobb came into Week 1 looking dicey after being out most of the preseason with an ankle injury. He hasn’t played a full 16 game season since back in 2015 and only has one season of over 1,000 receiving yards in his career. While this game had the looks of Randall Cobb circa 2014, it will likely wind up being his best game of the season. Cobb is an easy sell on an Aaron Rodgers powered offense (assuming Rodgers will play) and although he led the Packers receivers this week, Davante Adams is still the teams WR1. Try and sell Cobb as a high-end WR2 this week, you’ll likely never get a better return for him all season.
Adrian Peterson turned back the clock in Week 1 handling 26 carries for 96 yards and a TD while adding 2 catches for 70 yards. At the end of the day, it was a solid performance for fantasy owners who took the risk starting Peterson in Week 1 but, we can’t overlook the sub-par 3.6 YPA Peterson totaled on the ground. A workload of this size and a game script where the Redskins can lean on the running game can’t be expected each week and Peterson sure as hell won’t be a regular candidate for such high receiving yardage totals.
There is still some name value with Peterson as a potential future Hall of Famer and you can try and spin that in trade talks this week. We saw this from Peterson last season when he finally started getting solid touch totals in Arizona, he just couldn’t hold up to the workload. Running backs are always a premium on the trade market in fantasy leagues. I would target league-mates nursing Le’Veon Bell’s holdout or someone who lost Jerick McKinnon perhaps as possible trade partners and see if you can’t package Peterson up with another player and potentially secure a more consistent, high-end RB2 or WR2.
I know it’s a hard thing to do after nailing a late round draft pick or early season waiver wire pick up to turn around and sell them after their first big game but, sometimes that is the best time to do so. James Conner is all the rage after a dominating Week 1 performance where he led the league with 135 rushing yards on 31 carries. He also showed off his chops in the passing game with 5 catches for 57 yards. But let’s be real here, the whole “Le’Veon Bell who!?” talk should probably stop.
Conner showed us in Week 1 that he is likely a bonafide RB1 in Bell’s absence, as DeAngelo Williams has shown us before. The thing is, this is most likely and always has been Bell’s backfield when he decides to return. I love James Conner and his story but, for fantasy football purposes, we don’t know how long he is going to be given an opportunity in this backfield.
If you snaked Conner before a Bell owner could get him, I would especially be throwing out gaudy offers to see if you can get them to bite after last week’s breakout. If you are a Conner and Bell owner, I would still be shopping Conner while Bell’s return is still a complete mystery. Conner’s value will likely never be higher but will be back to virtually nothing once Bell returns. The only thing that seems certain with the entire holdout situation is that Bell will return by Week 10. It could be next week, it could be Week 10. Only he knows… and to be honest, I don’t even know if he knows.
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