Buy Low Sell High: Week 5
As the season rolls along and trends begin to come and go, more windows open on the trade market. Whether teams have been decimated by injury or players have just flat out underperformed, you can strike gold by attacking key players on those teams.
A great part of being 25% through the season is that it’s a bit easier to identify big games as outliers or actual upside that is tied to consistent performance. Tarik Cohen, for example, had a huge game last week but we know he will likely remain an inconsistent contributor. On the flip side of that, Jordan Howard makes for a solid buy low based on a disappointing outing in a prime situation.
Let’s take a look at a few players who you should be targeting this week to buy low and who you should be considering selling high!
The fastest man in the league has been kept in check the last two weeks. Hill hasn’t topped 55 yards receiving or found the end zone in the last two games. Despite his down numbers, there was still some positive takeaways from these games.
Hill saw a season-high 13 targets against the Broncos last week as Pat Mahomes attempted a season-high 45 passes in their victory. Fellow wideout Sammy Watkins also came away from the game with a hamstring injury and is questionable for Week 5. Watkins has averaged 6 targets per game over the last three weeks and his absence could open up more deep looks for Hill.
Hill has also looked flawless on special teams as a punt returner and is always a threat to take one to the house in those situations. This gives him a slight bump over your average deep threat type of wideout.
Hill does have a tendency to be boom or bust, however, as he also had five games under 55 receiving yards last season. He balanced that out with four games over 100 receiving yards last season and six games with a reception over 50 yards.
Hill obviously won’t be dirt cheap since we have seen the game-breaking ceiling he offers. Pat Mahomes is the real deal though and it’s a match made in heaven pairing him and Tyreek on the same squad. The Chiefs will remain one of the league’s highest scoring offenses all season and it’s a great idea to try and buy low on Hill any chance you get. You may have a two-week window here as the Chiefs will get their toughest test yet this coming week against the Jaguars.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Another top-tier wideout who has been a bit up and down to start the season is Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants offense as a whole is still trying to click and OBJ has been no exception. We have seen some solid yardage games so far this season as Beckham has crossed the 100 yard mark twice, but he’s also had games of only 51 and 60 yards this season and has yet to find the end zone.
The targets have still been there as Beckham’s average of 11.3 targets per game ranks 6th amongst wideouts. While Beckham is currently seeing a career-low of 10.7 yards per reception, his 7.8 receptions per game mark a career-high per pro-football-reference.com. His 82.8 yards per game are also actually up from the 75.5 ypg Beckham was seeing last season. This all still puts OBJ on pace for 124 receptions and 1,324 receiving yards this season.
The only thing we’ve been missing this season from Beckham are the TD’s and while that is a big part of his value as a player who saw double digit TDs in each of his first three seasons, he’s still providing a solid floor. Buy low on the league’s highest paid wideout while he has been a slight disappointment. You won’t get many opportunities to buy low on a talent like OBJ.
As mentioned above, last week’s game against the Bucs set up perfectly for Howard to go out and run the ball 25-30 times as the Bears led 38-3 at halftime. That didn’t come to fruition however as Tarik Cohen went on to out-touch Howard 20-11. Cohen nearly doubled his season touch total last week as he came into the game with only 22 touches. It’s hard to imagine a similar scenario playing out going forward.
Howard has been as solid as they come on the ground the last two seasons, averaging 264 carries, 1,217 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and 7 TDs per season. While his production has been a bit lower this season (3.2 YPC), he is still averaging 16 attempts per game and with a much-improved offense, Howard shouldn’t have a hard time increasing his production back closer to what he had done in the past in John Fox’s predictable and out-dated offense.
Something that hasn’t been spoken of much this season also is how much better Howard has looked in the passing game. Howard is currently on pace for 40 receptions this season which would beat his current career-high of 29 set in his rookie season. While not an eye popping number by any means, you pair 40 receptions for right over 300 reception yards on top of 1,200 yards rushing and you have a very solid RB1 on your hands.
Howard’s best days are still ahead of him this season. Send out offers for the perennially under-valued bulldozer as he left a sour taste in owners mouthes as the Bears head into their Week 5 bye.
The Browns dramatic season continued last week as they put up 42 points and still managed to lose in overtime against the Raiders. Meanwhile, Njoku had his best game of the season catching 5-of-7 targets for 52 yards. Adding a TD is all it would have taken to push Njoku close to a top-5 finish. This is the world we live in when it comes to the tight end position this season.
Njoku has yet to have that big breakout game this season, but signs point to it coming soon. Njoku has seen his reception yards increase each week this season. He has also seen exactly 7 targets in 3-of-4 games this season. Njoku’s 23 targets this season is also good enough for top-8 amongst tight ends right above Kyle Rudolph.
Also worth noting, after being only a part-time player and splitting snaps at tight end last season, Njoku has jumped up significantly this season. His 82% snap share is second on the team behind only Jarvis Landry (90%) according to DailyRoto.
There is plenty of room to grow here for Njoku statistically as he and Mayfield continue to build a rapport on an up and coming Browns offense. The only concern is that no Browns tight end has a single look in the red zone so far this season. With Mayfield’s progression and the offense taking a step forward as a whole, I would expect this to change. Even if Njoku doesn’t command a big red zone role, he could still crack the top-10 at the position. Half of the tight end’s in the top-10 last season scored 6 or fewer TD’s.
With the tight end position being a complete crapshoot week in and week out, Njoku could work his way into a top-10 finish when all is said and done. He also should come relatively cheap as he has yet to breakout this season. If you’re dealing with injuries to O.J. Howard or Evan Engram, Njoku is a good player to target who won’t cost you a very valuable player at another skill position in return.
After a slow start to the season, Sterling Shepard has managed strong performances in back-to-back weeks. Over the last two weeks, Shepard has caught an impressive 16-of-17 targets for 157 yards and 2 TDs. This is all the more impressive considering his higher-priced comrade, Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to find the end zone this season.
There is a reason one player is a buy and one is a sell this week, however. Shepard has seen a nice boost in production with Evan Engram absent with a sprained MCL. Engram shall return in the near future and was a solid threat to Shepard’s workload in the middle of the field during the first two weeks of the season.
Another negative to Shepard’s long term value is the amount of usage Saquon Barkley is seeing in the short passing game. Barkley is currently 2nd on the Giants with 27 receptions on 35 targets.
If this were a higher octane offense, there would be plenty of room for Shepard to flourish. But with Eli Manning still struggling to move the ball and the Giants currently ranking 29th in the league in offensive points scored per pro-football-reference.com, Shepard will likely struggle to keep up with steady production. This will become even more difficult when Engram comes back and the two are fighting for the 3rd and 4th spots on the target totem pole.
Shepard is a talented receiver who has shown some big game potential in his career. Based on his last two weeks of solid performances, you should get a solid return if you package him up with a Flexworthy running back.
Cohen had a career-game last week totaling 174 yards from scrimmage and 1 TD on 20 touches. Cohen’s value has obviously never been higher which makes this a no-brainer when it comes to shopping him around.
Before last week’s blow up, Cohen was only able to amass 22 touches over the first three weeks combined. This isn’t going to be a likely scenario where Cohen is suddenly a threat to Jordan Howard as the main ball carrier. Of Cohen’s 174 yards last week, only 53 came from rushing attempts. The other 121 yards and the TD came in the receiving game.
This game is a pretty obvious outlier for all Bears offensive players. The team isn’t going to put up 48 points every week and Mitchell Trubisky will likely never throw 6 TDs in a single game ever again.
Cohen was drafted amongst the top end of the pass-catching running back corps with the likes of Chris Thompson and Duke Johnson, showing what the general consensus was of his value coming into the season. While this game is a testament to Cohen’s big play ability, it’s also going to come with many more games like we have seen from Cohen to start the season where he struggles to reach 10-12 touches per game.
There is always a market for running backs, especially ones like Cohen with heightened value in PPR leagues. Sell him off for a more consistent player so you don’t have to deal with him blowing up on your bench or sinking your Flex spot when he busts.
This is the second time this season that Conner has made our sell high list. Originally it was due to the fact that Le’Veon Bell could step foot into the building any day and slide right back into his starting role. While that situation seems like it has gained a little clarity this past week with reports of Bell returning to the team during their Week 7 bye, a whole new issue has arisen. James Conner simply isn’t performing.
After breaking out for 192 yards from scrimmage and 2 rushing TD’s in Week 1, Conner has combined for only 204 YFS and 1 TD in Weeks 2-4.
Conner’s workload has been very inconsistent over the last three weeks and his 3.7 yards per attempt this season have left something to be desired even when he is getting the ball.
People were expecting a carbon copy of Le’Veon Bell when they grabbed Conner and rode his Week 1 breakout but he has come crashing back down to earth ever since.
There is still a slight chance the Steelers trade Bell and Conner retains a role all season. Even if that were to happen, Conner is shaping up as more of a dicey RB2 this season as opposed to the high-end RB1 he was touted as. Given so much uncertainty, the possibility of Conner being relegated to a handcuff only role by mid-season and the fact that he was either a last round draft pick or early waiver pickup, it would be best to move him now while he still has borderline RB1 starter-worthy value.
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