Buy Low/Sell High: Week 4
The difference between the quality of the on-field NFL product in Weeks 1 and 2 and what we saw this past weekend was striking. Scoring was up from 20.2 and 20.1 PPG to 25.1 PPG. There were several fantastic games with exciting finishes. An increase in no-huddle offense allowed for teams with struggling OLs to drastically improve their offensive output. While not every player achieved their long-awaited breakout (looking at you Terrelle Pryor), many were able to get off the schneid and reinstall some hope in their 2017 outlooks. Many of those players were identified in our Week 3 article, and hopefully, the positive trend will continue.
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 who are cheaper now than they were on draft day, 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”).
Buy Low/ Sell High
Check out Matt and Hunter in this week’s Tradespotting podcast dedicated to Start’em Sit’em.
Also check out our DRAFT Contest here
Running Back | Steelers
Fantasy draft season concluded with Le’Veon Bell as the near-consensus #2 overall pick, finishing with an ADP of 2.3. Through three weeks, Le’Veon is “only” fantasy RB15, making him a slight letdown for his owners, at best, and an expensive RB2, at worst. But as bad as the Steelers’ offense has been thus far, Bell is only a few points away from being a top-ten fantasy RB. This demonstrates his absurdly high floor: even when he struggles, Lev is still a high-end RB2. Each week, he has scored more fantasy points than the week prior, and the Steelers’ offense is simply too talented to stay down for long. With a tough AFC North showdown in Baltimore looming this weekend, the time is now to try to pry Le’Veon away from his current owner. If you pay anything less than top-shelf RB1 price for him, you’re getting a deal. – Matt Foreman
Tight End | Jets
It is entirely possible that ASJ is still available on your waiver wire. If so, stop reading this for a moment to go pick him up. Though, any TE needy owner should have had the foresight to pick him up one of the last two weeks. If you were unable to obtain the uber-talented Jet, don’t give up the pursuit. Starting immediately after his suspension, Seferian Jenkins played 76% of the snaps and tied for the team lead in targets with 6. Clearly, he is going to be an integral part of the weekly gameplan for the Jets and one of the rare pieces that they care to develop for the future of their franchise.
Running Back | Buccaneers
This one’s pretty simple: Doug Martin is suspended for his team’s first 3 games. Due to Hurricane Irma, the Bucs had no game on opening weekend, so his 2017 debut has now been pushed to Week 5. Your goal here is to try to catch a Doug Martin owner sleeping. By this time next week, the fantasy community will be anticipating (and discussing) the imminent return of Muscle Hamster (or Dougernaut, whichever). At the moment, he is still an afterthought for many coaches. And even if the Doug Martin owner in your league is paying attention, he or she may not have the luxury of patience and might be desperate to win now. Martin battled injuries and off-field issues in 2016, so it’s easy to forget that he had a Pro Bowl 2015 season in which he was fantasy RB3. If you have room on your bench for an RB who won’t play until Week 5, but one who has huge upside, go get yourself a Dougernaut. – Matt Foreman
Wide Receiver | Broncos
Demaryius Thomas is one of the most talented draft prospects in NFL history and has had a highly productive career. In 2017, however, it appears that he has been overtaken as the Broncos lead target by Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders and Thomas were close to a near split in opportunities and fantasy points last season. Through the first 3 weeks of 2017, Sanders has out-targeted Thomas 29 to 25, including accounting for 45 more air yards. This apparent minor role change could result in trade market discount worth looking into.
Top-24 scoring PPR WRs without a TD yet: Thielen, Garcon, Demaryius and of course, Julio.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) September 25, 2017
It also means that Sanders and Thomas can both be valuable fantasy assets in 2017. Per Rich Hribar on Twitter, Demaryius is one of only four top-24 PPR WRs who has yet to score a TD. Thomas is a proven TD-maker, which indicates that he has much bigger weeks to come once TD variance turns his way. As if his high floor, stable target share, and history of production weren’t enough, the Broncos face the 2nd easiest Defensive Pass Efficiency SOS for the remainder of the season. All signs point towards a high floor-high ceiling WR1/2 season, but his mediocre performances thus far may have his owners looking to sell on the cheap. – Hunter Gibbon
Running Back | Redskins
Chris Thompson is fantasy RB3. He is averaging a ridiculous 13 yards per touch. But he is one of only two RBs in the top 18 with fewer than 40 touches. DeMarco Murray (RB18) has 39 touches, but the other RBs all have well over 40. In three games, Thompson only has 27 touches – an average of 9 per game. There is no way that Thompson can finish as a top 10 fantasy RB, much less in the top 5, with such low volume. And his volume is not expected to go up. Thompson has a lengthy injury history, and the Redskins’ coaching staff seems focused on keeping him on the field for 16 games, something that has only happened once in his four NFL seasons. Chris Thompson is a good player, but at his current usage rate, he’ll be hard-pressed to achieve even RB2 status by season’s end. – Matt Foreman
Quarterback | Patriots
I will continue the hot takes this week after suggesting you sell LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman the past two weeks. Brady is obviously not a sell-high because I think his performance is about to drop off, although he is unlikely to put up his Week 3 total of 35.7 points too often. In fact, Brady should have to throw more than ever considering how bad this New England defense has proven to be thus far. Selling Brady in 2017 has less to do with “selling high” and more to do with the value of the QB position relative to the more scarce RB and WR positions. In my opinion, Tom Brady’s name value and red-hot performances in Weeks 2 and 3 make him the perfect trade piece to improve at the more important positions.
Through Week 3, Alex Smith is the QB2, Carson Wentz is the QB6, Trevor Siemian is the QB9, and Jared Goff is the QB11. 4 fantasy starters who went mostly undrafted. You should not need much more proof that the QB position is relatively meaningless in single QB fantasy leagues, but I’ll provide it anyways. Yes, Brady scored 35.7 fantasy points in Week 3. However, Case Keenum scored 28.6, Jacoby Brissett scored 27.8, Blake Bortles scored 27.6, and Brian Hoyer scored 26.2. All of those QBs could be found on the waiver wire. Sure, you can argue that Brady is going to score more fantasy points more consistently than the scrubs I just listed, but the point remains. You can find cheap QB production on the waiver wire every week by merely streaming the matchups. The same simply cannot be said about WR and RB. We all know this, yet we are still tempted by the thought of having Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers on our roster. If you can flip the molten hot Tom Brady for a consistent, proven RB1 or WR1, do not hesitate to pull the trigger. – Hunter Gibbon
Wide Receiver | Rams
I’m a Sammy Watkins fan. When he’s healthy and engaged, he’s fun to watch. I have been pulling for the guy to succeed since he entered the league. Injuries and poor QB play have limited him since his promising 2014 rookie season in Buffalo, but as it turns out, a surprising preseason trade to the Los Angeles Rams and a pairing with QB Jared Goff may have been just what the doctor ordered for Sammy to finally realize his full potential. Fresh off a prime-time shootout with the 49ers in which Watkins went 6/106/2 – now that he finally seems to have found his groove – pushing you to trade him is not something I take lightly. I mean…did you see this catch? Still, I can’t imagine a better time to “sell high” on Watkins than following his breakout on TNF. Did you know the Rams currently lead the league in points per game? Crazy, for sure, but unlikely to hold up for the rest of the season. After the Rams visit Jerry World this weekend, Watkins will face Richard Sherman, Jalen Ramsey, Patrick Peterson, Janoris Jenkins, and Xavier Rhodes in 5 of his next 6 games (he’ll also play Sherman and Peterson each again later in the season). That is an absolute murderer’s row of CB matchups, and reason enough to trade Sammy Watkins before he stops producing like a WR1. – Matt Foreman
Wide Receiver | Titans
Rishard Matthews has outperformed expectations in every opportunity he has been given in his NFL career. Whether in Miami, last season in Tennessee, or through the first three weeks of 2017, Matthews has been a real-life difference-maker and a fantasy producer. Matthews has had double-digit fantasy points in two out of three games so far, including an impressive 20.7 against the vaunted Seahawks secondary in Week 3. With Corey Davis ailing and Eric Decker yet to assert his position in the offense, Matthews has been the Titans de facto No. 1 WR. How long will that last? I do not anticipate his role or production to continue as the NFL season progresses. His days as a trustable fantasy starter are numbered.
The Titans made it clear that they weren’t happy with their 2016 pass-catching corps during the offseason. They drafted Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Jonnu Smith (who is already showing his potential) in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft and signed the aforementioned free agent Eric Decker. Does that sound like a team that wants Rishard Matthews leading them in targets? Competition for targets can be okay if one plays for New Orleans or Green Bay, but the Titans are the 6th most run-heavy team in the NFL through 3 games, after being the 3rd most run-heavy in 2016. Once Corey Davis gets healthy and/or Eric Decker becomes more acclimated in the offense, Matthews will be sharing targets with 3 to 5 other legitimate players on any given week. In an offense that wants to run the ball and slow down the game, the target pie these players will be splitting is not very large in the first place. If you can get an every week fantasy starter for Rishard Matthews coming off of his performance against Seattle, it would be wise to make that deal. – Hunter Gibbon