Buy Low/Sell High: Week 6
As detailed during Episode 11 of the Tradespotting podcast, Week 5 was simply not a great fantasy week for Hunter Gibbon. Serious injuries to two of the NFL’s biggest stars, Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt, were accompanied by a plethora of minor injuries to DeVante Parker, Terrance West, Sterling Shepard, and many more (Luckily, Hunter had the reuniting of The Shield to lift his spirits). However, these are the reasons why trading is such an integral part of fantasy football. We are here to offer you the same encouraging words Hunter has been telling himself: You are never stuck with your team, no matter what misfortune has befallen it. Go out and make some moves, my friends! Save your season!
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”). The following are Matt and Hunter’s week 6 Buy Low, Sell High Players for week 6!
WR | Raiders
What do Brice Butler (DAL), Robby Anderson (NYJ), and Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT) have in common? They each have more fantasy points than Amari Cooper. Cooper was drafted as a WR1, and through five weeks of the 2017 season, he hasn’t even been a top-50 fantasy WR. His stats are pathetic. He’s averaging 23.6 yards per game. He has had less than 10 yards receiving in three straight games. Cooper’s fantasy value is at an all-time low, but the good thing about hitting rock-bottom is that things can only get better. If you need inspiration to restore your belief in Cooper, consider his pedigree. He was a dynamic player against top competition at arguably the best program in college football, and the #4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Cooper eclipsed 130 targets and 1,000 yards in each of his first two pro seasons. He was fantasy WR24 as a rookie and WR12 in his second season. Fantasy players understandably felt like the sky was the limit for Cooper. And the thing is: it still could be. Cooper didn’t suddenly forget how to play football. According to Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio, he was wide open without so much as a look from interim QB E.J. Manuel on five different plays in Week 5. The Raiders’ remaining strength of schedule ranks as the third-easiest for wide receivers. And surprisingly, QB Derek Carr will return to play this week from what was initially reported to be a 2-6 week injury. Amari Cooper is mired in the deepest valley of his pro career, but I believe that the peaks are coming. If you wait until after his first big game of 2017, it will be too late to buy low on Cooper. So the question is: do you want to take a leap of faith? – Matt Foreman
WR | Redskins
Jamison Crowder was one of the most popular mid-round fantasy picks during the offseason. The departure of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon left a plethora of targets open for the taking. Crowder was highly efficient and productive in 2016, so many (including myself) believed that an increase in volume would raise his ceiling in 2017. None of these projections have come to pass. The entire Washington passing attack looked out of sync throughout the preseason and extending into Weeks 1 and 2 of the regular season. When Kirk Cousins and Co. finally produced against the Oakland Raiders, Crowder was not brought along for the ride. Currently averaging an unbelievably bad 5.2 fantasy points per game, many of Crowder’s owners are surely considering dropping him. Coming off of Washington’s bye week, there will never be a better time to pounce.
I refuse to ignore an entire season of efficient production in favor of an injury-ridden 4 game sample. Sample size indicates that a return to his 2016 form is more likely than continuing his 2017 spiral. The bye week has given the entire Washington offense the chance to not only get healthy, but also time to get on the same page and continue to right the offensive ship. Crowder has still played a minimum of 73% of the snaps in each of their 4 games, despite his injury problems and rumors of Ryan Grant stealing his job. On Wednesday, Coach Jay Gruden stated that Crowder is one of their most talented skill position players and vowed to get him more involved in the offense. Washington faces the 4th-easiest Pass Defense Efficiency SOS for the remainder of the season and their run game continues to be a mess. A major bounce-back should occur for Cousins, Crowder, and the entire Washington passing attack. Don’t miss your window to acquire a proven producer at near-minimum price. – Hunter Gibbon
RB | Cowboys
This is a lottery ticket, plain and simple. While I’m not normally an advocate of using a roster spot on handcuffs, this isn’t exactly that. It is entirely possible that Ezekiel Elliott’s stellar Week 5 performance was his last game for a while. I won’t delve too deeply into the legal details, but suffice it to say that a decision is expected from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week, and if the court rules in the NFL’s favor, Elliott could start serving his six-game suspension as early as Week 7 (Dallas has a Week 6 bye). Should that happen, Alfred Morris will immediately become the feature back in a good offense behind an elite offensive line. Considering the potential upside, it’s borderline shocking that Morris is available in 92% of Yahoo leagues and 93% of ESPN leagues. If the ruling goes in Zeke’s favor, any potential suspension would become an issue to worry about in 2018. In that case, you can drop Morris just as quickly as you added him. No harm, no foul. That makes Morris the best kind of lottery ticket: a free one that could pay huge dividends. – Matt Foreman
Todd Gurley was one of the most valuable players in fantasy through the first four weeks of the season. Sean McVay’s new offensive system placed the uber-talented RB in situations for success. Gurley dominated the Rams’ opportunity share, lead the Rams in targets, played nearly every snap, and produced in every facet of the game. Then Week 5 against the Seahawks happened. Tavon Austin was inexplicably given 6 carries and 5 targets. Gurley’s snap rate dipped to 76% and his box score looked eerily similar to most of his disappointing 2016. Much has been made about the incredibly difficult schedule the Rams face for the rest of the season, and many Gurley owners are worried that Week 5 was the beginning of the end.
The Rams schedule concerns have been overblown and Gurley’s 2017 usage is much more valuable than his 2016 usage ever was, no matter what Week 5 may have shown. Their next nine opponents are as follows: JAC, ARZ, NYG, HOU, MIN, NO, ARZ, PHI, and SEA. Based on name value alone, all of those teams, excluding the Saints, look like incredibly difficult matchups. However, the Texans just lost two of their best players, the Cardinals have been more vulnerable to running attacks without Calais Campbell, and the run defenses of the Giants, Jaguars, and Seahawks are considerably weaker than their pass defenses. Suddenly, that schedule seems more favorable than difficult. Additionally, Gurley has already received 6+ targets in 3 of 5 games. In 2016, he only received 6+ targets once in all 17 games. His Week 5 usage was assuredly a blip on the radar, not a trend. The fact that the Rams lost the game should be more encouragement to return to Gurley’s Weeks 1-4 usage. If the Gurley owner in your league has been spooked by SOS talk and his Week 5 dud, now is the time to make your move. – Hunter Gibbon
Aaron Jones looked dominant against Dallas in Week 5, and his 19-125-1 line made him fantasy RB4 for the week. And even though RB Ty Montgomery returned to practice this week, there are reports that Jones may remain the Packers’ starter regardless of Ty Mont’s status. It’s hard to argue that Jones is now the favorite for early-down carries, but it’s important to remember two things: (1) In fewer than four games, Montgomery is still a top-20 fantasy RB after five weeks, and (2) despite being a converted wide receiver, Ty Mont is actually built like a running back at 6’0” 220.
Ty Mont’s production as Green Bay’s starting RB is not a fluke, and he isn’t going to disappear. This has the makings of a committee backfield moving forward, and that’s without considering potential future contributions from rookie fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams. It’s also worth noting that Green Bay’s remaining schedule is the 4th-toughest for fantasy running backs. Jones is clearly a talented runner, but I suspect that his schedule and workload will prevent him from achieving RB1 status the rest of the way. I recommend selling Aaron Jones to anyone who thinks his Week 5 performance will be the new normal, and specifically, to worried Ty Mont owners (like Hunter). – Matt Foreman
Cameron Brate has been a valuable fantasy starter in three of the Buccaneers’ four games thus far, which is more than all but five or so TEs can say. As a matter of fact, he is currently the PPR TE6. Many were pounding the table for Brate as a sleeper in the offseason, citing his rapport with Jameis Winston and his ability to play the slot with rookie O.J. Howard on the field. Through four games, all of those predictions have come true, but I believe it will be short-lived. With Tampa Bay’s new weapons getting acclimated to the offense and Doug Martin’s triumphant return from suspension (boy, did he look amazing), Brate’s opportunity could get squeezed as early as this week.
First of all, Cameron Brate is a truly awful athlete, “boasting” a 34th-percentile 40-yard dash time and 38th-percentile agility score, according to PlayerProfiler.com. Those numbers would not be as concerning if Brate had traditional TE size, but he weighs in at 235 lbs. Essentially, if you combine Evan Engram’s lack of size with Kyle Rudolph’s lack of athleticism, you get Cameron Brate. That is the worst of both worlds, folks. Additionally, Brate has played less than 60% of the snaps and been out-snapped by O.J. Howard in every game but one thus far. Do you think a 1st round rookie tight end will become more or less involved in the offense as the season progresses? My money is obviously on more involved. As I mentioned before, Doug Martin’s return should make Tampa Bay a little more run heavy and DeSean Jackson’s role should continue to grow as he gains trust with Winston. So in summary, Brate is an unathletic, undersized TE with a 1st round rookie breathing down his neck, on an offense with an increasing number of talented players vying for opportunities. Keep these facts to yourself, find a TE-needy owner in your league, and sell Brate for more valuable assets. – Hunter Gibbon
After Week 2, I wrote that Alex Smith was bound to come back down to Earth after his impressive performances to open the season. I predicted that Smith was likely to relinquish his overall fantasy QB1 status after Week 3, which he did when Tom Brady threw for 378 yards and 5 TDs against Houston. However, much to our collective surprise, Alex Smith is once again fantasy QB1* after strong performances in Weeks 4 (QB6) and 5 (QB4). If you didn’t see this coming, you’re not alone. After all, even in his best fantasy season ever, Alex Smith still did not finish as a QB1. In the Rest of Season Rankings at FantasyPros, Smith is still getting no respect, as he’s projected to finish as a middle-of-the-pack fantasy QB. At this point, I actually think it seems stunning but perhaps likely that the 12-year veteran and former #1 overall pick will finally buck that trend and finish as a top-12 fantasy QB. But he will…not…finish…as…QB1. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Trade him now, while you can still offer other coaches the chance to acquire fantasy QB1. – Matt Foreman
*This makes my list of the top 10 phrases I never thought I would write.
RB | Cardinals
On Tuesday, Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. His short-lived stint with the Saints could not have gone worse. He struggled to generate consistent yardage on the field and clashed with Sean Payton off the field. There is no doubt the Saints are better off moving forward with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara leading their backfield. (Speaking of Ingram and Kamara, both are incredible buys this week. Both RBs have top-20 potential for the rest of 2017 with Peterson out of the picture. We discussed Ingram in last week’s article.) Peterson’s new home is desperate for a between-the-tackles runner after Chris Johnson and Kerwynn Williams fell flat on their faces in their attempts to replace the irreplaceable, magnificent, beautiful David Johnson. We miss you, David. While this situation may seem like a significant upgrade, you should not be so sure.
Adrian Peterson simply does not have “it” anymore. AP has rushed for more than 4.0 YPC in just 4 of his last 16 games, and injuries have haunted him in two of the previous three seasons. Peterson is an aging back who has clearly lost his agility and explosiveness, and he has never been involved in his teams’ passing games. RB Andre Ellington has the passing-down work all to himself and the Cardinals are the most pass-heavy team in the NFL. One could argue that Chris Johnson and Kerwynn Williams could be blamed for that, but their awful run-blocking offensive line is the true problem. Arizona has the 3rd-worst run blocking line in the NFL according to Football Outsiders. For context, the Saints have the 7th-best. Peterson’s perceived value will never be higher than it is now. People are drawn to the unknown, to the situation that has yet to let them down. Peterson still carries name value and there is at least one owner in your league who still believes. If you made the mistake of drafting Adrian Peterson, there will not be a better week to get back some of the value you lost. – Hunter Gibbon