Buy Low Sell High: Week 5
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”).
Wide Receiver | Falcons
A guy at my office stopped me on Tuesday to vent about his early-season fantasy woes. Chief among them? “Julio. Man, that guy is KILLING me. Hasn’t even score a touchdown yet! Worthless.” Seems like an overreaction, right? There can’t possibly be Julio owners out there already panicking and looking to sell…right? Well on Wednesday afternoon, I got this text (image)
Apparently, Julio owners are very upset that he has yet to find the endzone this season. And since the Falcons are on their bye this week, he won’t be scoring any TDs until Week 6, at the earliest. Receiving touchdowns are a low-frequency, high-variance statistic, making them particularly difficult to predict. A different player has led the NFL in receiving TDs every year of this decade. And yet, it’s not exactly bold to predict that Julio will score more than 0 TDs over his next four games. Although he is WR31 thus far, in seasons where he has played at least 14 games, Julio Jones has never finished worse than fantasy WR9. He was WR6 last year and WR2 in 2015. He is a WR1 and a consistent fantasy producer on a very good offense, and you can’t teach that. If the Julio owner in your league is rash enough to give up on him this early in the season, exploit the situation. – Matt Foreman
Wide Receiver | Ravens
I was a big Jeremy Maclin proponent during the offseason, and the results have been mixed through 4 weeks. Maclin has scored two TDs and leads the Ravens in targets with 20. However, 3 other Ravens have 18 or 19 targets (Watson, Allen, and Wallace), so he is not dominating the target share. To make matters worse, Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing attack has been about as bad as possible. Flacco is 32nd in the NFL in Yards and Yards per Attempt, in addition to owning a negative TD to INT ratio. A difficult schedule and Flacco’s lack of practice time in the offseason could be the primary causes for their struggles.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Ravens faced the 3rd most difficult Pass Defense Efficiency SOS through the first 4 weeks (Even though this is a small sample, the Jaguars, Steelers, and Bengals all appear to have legitimately good pass defenses). They face the 6th easiest Pass Defense Efficiency SOS the remainder of the season. In 3 of the next 5 weeks they go up against the Raiders, Dolphins, and Titans, all of which rank in the bottom 4 in terms of Pass Defense Efficiency. Despite this brutal start, it is not difficult to imagine a turnaround for Maclin facing a considerably easier schedule. Furthermore, with more time separating him from his back injury, Flacco’s attempts and efficiency are both set to improve. Maclin will benefit most from this improvement in his cemented role as the Ravens primary slot receiver, a role that Steve Smith Sr. excelled in during the last few seasons of his career. Maclin has demonstrated time and time again that he is a talented and productive WR in his own right. With the difficult schedule in the rearview mirror, Maclin is a potential WR2 for you will want on your fantasy team. – Hunter Gibbon
Wide Receiver | Steelers
Martavis Bryant has been one of my favorite 2017 breakout candidates since the preseason. Through four weeks, he’s only made me look good once – when he put up 3-91-1 (15 standard points) in Week 2 against the Vikings. On the stat sheet and on the fantasy scoreboard, he has been disappointing otherwise. However, Bryant has been inches away from connecting on long touchdown plays in two other games.
This is how close Martavis Bryant was to having two more HUGE fantasy weeks … they're coming. pic.twitter.com/hDJvAjcCEM
— Matt Franciscovich (@MattFranchise) October 3, 2017
Martavis has been excruciatingly close to scoring three long TDs in four games. Had he caught the two referenced above, Bryant would have TD catches of 75 and 40 yards added to his season total. While this isn’t an accurate way to project performance (it doesn’t account for potential changes in game flow, for example), let’s go with it for argument’s sake. Martavis has 25 standard fantasy points through four games. Add another 23 points for the two would-be-TD catches (75-yd TD= 13 pts, 40-yd TD = 10 pts), and he would have 48 points through Week 4. This hypothetical would make Martavis Bryant fantasy WR3 behind only Stefon Diggs and Jordy Nelson. It’s also worth noting that he leads all WRs in NextGenStats Average Targeted Air Yards with an average of 21.6 air yards per target. Though we can’t really count “air yards” and plays that didn’t happen, all of this tells me that Martavis Bryant is very close to a fantasy breakout. – Matt Foreman
Running Back | Saints
After Week 1, all three Saints RBs seemed destined for a tortuous season trapped in a 3-way timeshare. Much has changed over the three weeks since then. New Orleans seems all but done with the Adrian Peterson experiment. The future Hall-of-Famer has amassed single-digit carries in all 4 games, including a season-low of 4 against Miami last week. When Peterson has touched the ball he has not looked good either. The end is clearly near for the former fantasy superstar. Alvin Kamara is the talk of the fantasy industry after his breakout game in London, where he received in an incredible 10 targets. The Peterson disappearance, the Saints Week 5 bye, and the Kamara hype make Week 5 the ideal time to target Mark Ingram in trades.
Ingram has been the picture of consistency thus far in 2017, receiving double-digit touches and posting double-digit PPR points in all four games. The fact that his touches have increased every week (11 in Week 1, 12 in Week 2, 16 in Week 3, and 18 in Week 4) indicates that his upside has yet to be uncovered. Kamara was never a full-time player during his time in college and seems destined for the complimentary, yet still valuable Darren Sproles role in the Saints offense. This leaves 16 to 20 of the most valuable touches in all of fantasy for Ingram to gobble up every single week. Believe it or not, Ingram has posted back-to-back RB1 seasons, despite only averaging 16 and 18 touches per game. Finally, targeting players entering their bye weeks is an underrated strategy that puts pressure on owners facing bye week conundrums. With Peterson’s clear departure from the Saints weekly game and Ingram yet to have a true breakout performance, there absolutely will not be a better time to buy Mark Ingram in 2017. – Hunter Gibbon
Quarterback | Texans
It’s been quite a year for Deshaun Watson. After he led Clemson to an upset victory in the national championship game in January, the Texans traded up to No. 12 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft in April to select Watson with the hope that he would become their franchise QB. Though unheralded Tom Savage was named the team’s starter during the preseason, that didn’t last long. In Week 4, Watson’s 5 total TDs in the Texans’ 57-14 curb stomp of the Titans set an NFL record for most touchdowns by a rookie, and he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Watson looks like the real deal, and I think his future is bright. But there’s a chance that his trade value will never be higher than right now – he has the mystique of “potential” to go along with recent production (53 fantasy points in his last two games). There’s also the reality that Watson’s last two outings came against two of the league’s worst defenses: the Patriots (32nd) and Titans (30th). As the Texans face better defenses, Watson may become more of a matchup-dependent fantasy starter. With Week 4 injuries to Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota and Week 5 byes for Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins, Watson owners are sure to receive their fair share of inquiries. Explore the trade market, and see if you can move Watson for a stud at another position of need for your team. – Matt Foreman
Quarterback | Rams
Fresh off a cool 255-2-0 performance against Dallas, Jared Goff is a bonafide QB1 through four weeks of the season (fantasy QB10, to be exact). He is clearly improved and looks like a completely different player than the one who was under center for Los Angeles last season. With a rejuvenated Todd Gurley and receivers Sammy Watkins and rookie Cooper Kupp at his disposal, Goff and the Rams’ offense look like they’re here to stay. But as I noted in this space last week, the schedule is about to get brutal for the Rams’ passing game. I do not expect Goff to finish as a QB1, and though few may, now would be a great time to try to sell him high as a QB1 fill-in to an anxious Derek Carr/Marcus Mariota owner. – Matt Foreman
Running Back | Texans
Prior to his impressive Week 4 performance, Lamar Miller had been a major disappointment during his time in a Texans uniform. Miller was an incredibly efficient player during his time with the Dolphins and many believed that his efficiency would sustain with increased volume when he signed with Houston. This has not been the case, and Miller’s trade value has steadily decreased since the 2016 offseason. One notable fantasy performance should not erase an entire season of disappointment. Following his 29.1 fantasy point outing could be your last remaining window to sell a player who is clearly not suited for an every-down workhorse role.
Miller’s inefficient 2016 season and the beginning of the 2017 season for that matter is only one of the reasons why I would sell him for the remainder of 2017. D’Onta Foreman is coming. The rookie has seen double-digit touches in each of the last three weeks and Texans HC Bill O’Brien recently said that the team views Foreman as an every-down back. Considering that Foreman’s pass-catching ability was a major question mark coming out of the University of Texas, that statement should not be taken lightly. Miller’s TD opportunities were already limited and now Foreman is clearly the superior goal-line option. Also, Houston had a legion of scoring chances in their Week 4 explosion against Tennessee, a feat I don’t expect this usually unexplosive offense to repeat very often. More often than not, the Texans will be in low-scoring, smash-mouth football games with limited TD opportunities. Miller’s consistent workload should keep him in the RB2 conversation, but there is surely an owner or two in your league that believes DeShaun Watson can lead the Texans to weekly fantasy brilliance. Seek out that owner. Talk to that owner. Trade Lamar Miller to that owner for a price he will not return over the next 12 weeks. – Hunter Gibbon