Buy Low Sell High: Week 4
Three weeks down, 13 more to go! This is the point in the season where trade negotiations will really start to heat up. Teams that have started out with a 0-3 skid are prime targets for trade partners as they will feel more desperation than those who have already accomplished that first win. Generally, I like to start at the bottom of the standings and work my way up, sifting through each team to find weaknesses in the opposing team’s offense and see where I can steal value.
A key to successful trading is really recognizing the needs of other teams and pairing that with a strength of yours. If you’re loaded at running back, look for teams whose rosters are built the opposite or have suffered early injuries and see how you can maybe turn two matchup based flex-worthy players into a solid, every week RB2, WR2 or even potentially a low-end WR1 or RB1.
It’s also telling to see where players lay on opposing rosters. Everyone has different perceptions of individual player value and sometimes you can score some gems at a lower price simply because the other team had them on the bench instead of in their starting lineup. This is an obvious sign that the owner of that player doesn’t value them very high.
With team depth charts solidifying and performances being less likely tied to a fluke and more likely a true representation of what we can expect going forward, here’s a few guys you should be either buying low or selling high:
Wide Receiver | Chargers
Williams was a non-factor last season as he had his rookie campaign derailed by injuries. Finally producing for both fantasy teams and the Chargers alike, the former first-round draft pick has broken out through the first three weeks.
Williams is currently third on the team in both targets (15) and receptions (11) behind Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon. His 189 receiving yards are second only to Allen (219) and Williams is also currently leading the team with 3 receiving TD’s. Williams has been a proven field stretcher for gunslinger Phillip Rivers, averaging 17.2 yards per reception and owning the longest reception on the team so far this season, a 42 yarder just this past weekend.
Mike Williams is still running slightly behind Tyrell Williams according to DailyRoto.com‘s snap share analysis. Each week, Mike has seen his snap percentage grow, however, from 53.66% in Week 1 to 67.31% in Week 3. Mike Williams has also been much more effective than Tyrell with his touches. Mike Williams is averaging 3.19 fantasy points per target (6th best amongst all wideouts) compared to Tyrell’s 2.02 per PlayerProfiler.com. The edge in red zone usage also goes to Mike Williams with 3 opportunities to Tyrell’s 1 this season.
It’s likely we will see Mike Williams officially surpass Tyrell in total snaps as the weeks wear on which should lead to increased opportunities for Mike Williams in the future. He has already provided value as a top-20 WR in fantasy football through the first three weeks but is still seen as more of a WR3/Flex option. Buy now before his value skyrockets even more. The Chargers have the 6th easiest strength of schedule going forward according to FantasyPros.com which will only help Williams’ cause as a solid second-year breakout candidate.
Wide Receiver | Bucs
The Buccaneers have had a surprisingly hot start to their season and one of the key contributors so far has been second-year wideout, Chris Godwin.
Godwin began to see heavier usage towards the end of last season and was touted as a sleeper favorite in this season’s fantasy draft. He has not let down his faithful as he has totaled 13 receptions for 171 yards and 3 TD’s through the first three weeks. Godwin has been a focal point for the Bucs offense in the red zone especially this season, as his 6 red zone opportunities tie Peyton Barber for the team lead per DailyRoto.com and also ties for 4th most amongst all wideouts.
It certainly has helped that Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for over 400 yards in each of the first three weeks of action, but what is promising about Godwin’s outlook is that there is still room for him to grow on this offense. Godwin is only averaging 56.57% of the team’s snaps so far this season which puts him behind Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and even Adam Humphries when it comes to receiving options. Godwin has simply made the most of his opportunities and should garner more playing time as his performance dictates.
Godwin presents a Cooper Kupp-esque value currently thanks to his red zone usage but at a discounted price based on a lack of previous performance. As a 95th percentile SPARQ athlete, I think Godwin should have no problem carving out a solid role as the teams WR2 this season and his value should continue to grow over the coming weeks regardless of who is under center. A lack of a solid running game should keep Godwin busy in the red zone all season, making him a great buy at his current WR3/4 price tag.
Running Back | Ravens
Collins hasn’t been locked in as a three-down back like many had hoped when they drafted him this season. Buck Allen continues to be a thorn in Collins’ side as Allen has out-produced Collins so far in fantasy. The silver lining here is that Collins is clearly the more talented back between the two, and that’s coming from a hardcore Buck Allen truther right here.
The thing about fantasy that you have to remember sometimes is that talent isn’t everything. Opportunity will rule over talent and that is partially what is happening here. Collins simply isn’t seeing enough volume as his 34 rushing attempts this season put him below other running back by committee members such as Royce Freeman (36), Isaiah Crowell (38) and Dion Lewis (39).
Also worth noting when comparing the two is that while neither back is lighting it up on the ground yet this season, Collins has managed 3.4 rushing yards per attempt this season compared to only 2.0 YPA for Allen. I expect Collins’ YPA to rise closer to the impressive 4.6 YPA he managed last season.
It’s been a bit of a slow start for Collins but he has progressively gotten better each week and the time to buy is now. Allen has garnered some decent hype and while he will be a threat to Collins’ overall ceiling at times, there should be enough opportunity in this backfield for both players to have success. Collins can be had as a low-end RB2 right now who will likely return high-end RB2 or even low-end RB1 value when all is said and done this season.
Running Back | Lions
A rookie running back I am targeting currently in fantasy trades is Kerryon Johnson. This isn’t absolute bargain basement price since Johnson is coming off the Lions first 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush did it back in 2013, but it is a value based on the potential of what’s still to come.
Johnson is slowly working his way to the top of the pile in a crowded backfield. Through three weeks Johnson is leading the Lions with 29 carries for 161 yards for a very solid 5.6 YPA. Johnson has even managed to put a dent in Theo Riddick’s role in the passing game by catching 10-of-12 passes for 52 yards.
Johnson has proven not only the most versatile back the Lions have, but the most productive as well. He has even shown well in pass blocking, something that can be a huge hurdle for rookie running backs. He just needs a boost in volume to realize his true potential, something that may come after his impressive Week 3 performance.
The only thing missing so far is that first career touchdown, but that should come soon as the Lions as a team are still looking for their first rushing TD of the season. The price will just keep going up as Johnson continues to solidify a role as the teams top running back. You can still buy Johnson as an affordable Flex option right now but he could return solid RB2 value, especially if he can pick up more of a role in the red zone going forward.
Running Back | Packers
Aaron Jones was back in action after a two-game suspension and it didn’t take long for him to re-establish himself in the backfield. Jones led the Packers in both carries and rushing yards in Week 3 going for 42 yards on only 6 attempts (7 YPA).
Jamaal Williams failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to secure lead back duties while Jones was gone. Williams is only averaging 3.8 YPA and 45 yards per game so far this season and has yet to find the end zone.
Last season, Jones proved that he provides much more of a spark to this running game compared to Williams. Jones averaged 5.5 YPA last season on 81 carries with 4 TDs compared to Williams’ paltry 3.6 YPA on 153 carries and 4 TD’s as well.
Jones boasted the second highest breakaway run rate (percentage of carries of 15 or more yards) in the league last season. More of the same should be expected this season, making Jones a solid big-play threat who will feast if he is given solid opportunity. In the two games Jones played last season where he was given a 75% opportunity share or better, he finished as a top-5 RB each time per PlayerProfiler.com.
Jones looked impressive but his overall fantasy performance in Week 3 left a lot to be desired for a player who has been just sitting around taking up bench space. Send out offers to impatient owners and reap the benefits of having one of the leagues best big-play threats at the running back position on one of the top offenses.
Running Back | Jets
The “Revenge Game” narrative was alive and well last week as Isaiah Crowell tagged his former team, the Cleveland Browns, for 2 TDs. This was enough to mask the fact that Crowell ran for only 34 yards on 16 attempts (2.1 YPA) which makes it his second week in a row under 3 YPA. This has been somewhat balanced out overall by the fact that Crowell now has multiple TD’s in 2-of-3 games this season.
A big problem for Crowell going forward is that the TD’s will not always be there to save him. With 4 TD’s through three weeks, Crowell is already halfway to his career high of 8 rushing TDs. Bilal Powell is outproducing Crowell greatly in the passing game and this should keep Crowell in a similar role that he had in Cleveland as a game flow dependent two-down back. Crowell never managed a 1,000 yard rushing season in Cleveland and barely managed to crack 200 rushing attempts for the first time last season. Volume will remain tough to come by consistently for him as long as Powell is around.
There will be plenty of peaks and valleys with Crowell this season and he’s a good bet to bust any week he doesn’t score a TD. It’s best to try and sell at peak value with Crowell each time he has a decent game. Package him up with another mid-tiered player and see if you can’t secure a more consistent WR2 or RB2 or even perhaps a low-end RB1 based on who you’re pairing him within trades for your fantasy lineups.
Tight End | 49ers
Kittle has been a consistent contributor on offense for the 49ers this season but the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo for the season could cause a dent in value going forward. C.J. Beathard is set to take over at quarterback and though he and Kittle were also college teammates at Iowa, that didn’t necessarily translate to fantasy success for the two last season. In their 5 games together with the 49ers last season, Kittle only managed 12 catches for 146 yards and no TDs.
Kittle has assumed more of a full-time role this season on offense compared to last year but he hasn’t been able to find the end zone just yet which is clutch when you’re looking for value at tight end. Marquise Goodwin is also barely making his way back to action which will be another threat to Kittle’s overall workload.
We have seen positive enough performances from Kittle yardage-wise this season to where he has garnered mid-level TE1 status. I wouldn’t be so sure he is able to keep that going with Beathard under center, however, and with the tight end market consistently being as bleak as it is, you may still get decent value out of Kittle on the trade market. It may be worth packaging Kittle with a mid-tiered WR or RB to try and upgrade your TE services to maybe Kyle Rudolph or someone who offers more consistency and upside going forward.
Quarterback | Bucs
Fitzpatrick is the first player to ever throw for 400 yards in three straight games but despite that, he may still be on a rather short leash. We touched on Fitzpatrick a little last week in Buy Low Sell High as DeSean Jackson was a recommended sell high player then. Jameis Winston is set to return to the Bucs this week after his most recent suspension and despite throwing for over 400 yards last week, Fitzpatrick started to regain his classic form pairing 3 TDs with 3 INTs. We have also seen Fitzpatrick’s QB rating and yards per average decrease each week so far this season.
It seems every year we see Fitzpatrick work his way into starts and he does surprise us with these flashes of dominance every so often. But at the end of the season, we are still looking at a guy who has a career QB record of 51 wins and 71 loses and a career average of only 207.5 yards per game. This is Fitzpatrick’s 7th team in 14 seasons. If he was capable of being a solid, franchise quarterback, he would’ve been one already.
Fitz looks primed to remain the starting QB for now, but things will get tense pretty quick if/when he starts to falter as Jameis Winston will be standing on the sidelines awaiting his opportunity to lead this team again.
Quarterbacks are one of the toughest players to sell on the trade market. Luckily with Fitzpatrick though his value has never been higher and people are buying into him as a legitimate QB1 right now. I would target teams who are struggling at QB or maybe just lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the season to see what you can get out of Fitzmagic before he is relegated back to the sidelines and becomes a flat-out drop in fantasy football.
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