Buy Low Sell High: Week 8
How many skill position players can we lose to major injury in one year? Unfortunately, the 2017 NFL season seems intent on answering that question. (Good thing we told you to sell Carson Palmer last week, eh?) The silver lining? Your championship dreams should not die until your fantasy team is mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs. And after seven weeks, everyone is still alive. Regardless of your team’s current standing, become the shrewd GM you were meant to be – get out there and try to improve your team.
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”).
Players to Buy
WR | Redskins[the_ad id=”72513″]For whatever reason, Terrelle Pryor has been a colossal fantasy bust in D.C., and in Week 7, he ceded his #1 WR snaps to former first-round pick Josh Doctson. With Doctson finally healthy after battling Achilles and hamstring injuries for most of the last year, head coach Jay Gruden decided to give the former All-American the lion’s share of snaps at the X position against the Eagles – where Pryor usually lines up. Though his 5-39-0 line didn’t exactly jump off the paper, it’s promising to see Doctson getting starter’s reps for the first time in his young career. He flashed his big-play potential in Week 3 on an athletic 52-yard catch against the Raiders for his first career touchdown. According to Gruden, Doctson “has emerged” in practice, showing the coaching staff that “he deserves more reps.” If he continues to receive the snaps and targets of a starting WR, Doctson could immediately become a fantasy WR2, and perhaps even a fringe WR1. In short: everything Terrelle Pryor was supposed to be. If you act now, you should be able to acquire Doctson for free or cheap. – Matt Foreman
WR | Panthers
In a week full of abysmal offensive performances, Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, and the Carolina Panthers may have had the worst. The Bears only attempted 7 passes…and won by two TDs. After explosive offensive performances against the Patriots and Lions in Weeks 4 and 5, the world declared that the 2015 Panthers offense had returned. The fantasy fortunes of Newton, Funchess, and Benjamin rose in the process. However, the aforementioned offensive meltdown in Chicago has assuredly brought some anxiety back to Panthers’ fantasy owners. That anxiety should open up a brief buying window on a player who should return consistent WR2 value for the remainder of the season.
Benjamin has been easy to pick on during his time in the NFL. Critics have cited weight issues, speed issues, and claimed that Benjamin is nothing more than a lumbering big body. I myself have doubted his ability to be Carolina’s WR1. His consistent production when healthy and the incredibly favorable remaining schedule lead me to believe that he will be valuable regardless of what we think of his talent. Benjamin is a proven TD-maker. In his two healthy seasons (2014 and 2016), he averaged 0.50 TDs per game. Through 7 games this season, K-Benji* has only scored once, or .14 TDs per game. Major regression should be headed his way. His schedule should ensure that regression takes place. Their remaining 9 opponents are the 22nd-worst Pass Defense DVOA on average, including 6 top-10 matchups. Benjamin was featured as a Week 8 DraftKings pick, so the production should start sooner rather than later. No matter what you think of Benjamin, he is going to produce. So make your move now, before the TDs start pouring in. – Hunter Gibbon
*No one calls him this. I think Hunter made it up. Benji is a dog…and I must say, quite the incorrigible little mutt. – Matt
QB | Bills
Unless you have a top-tier fantasy QB, trading for Tyrod Taylor as a streaming option for the stretch run (and fantasy playoffs) is almost a no-brainer. In standard scoring, Taylor is only QB17 in fantasy points per game. However, that also means that Taylor is averaging 15 PPG, which seems much more respectable when you note that the Bills have faced three of the league’s stingiest fantasy pass defenses (CAR, DEN, CIN). As for the rest of the way? Buffalo has the easiest remaining strength of schedule for fantasy QBs, with stretch-run games against the Patriots, Chiefs, Colts, and Dolphins (twice). And thanks to his rushing ability – Taylor is 4th in rushing yards among QBs – he has a relatively safe weekly fantasy floor. Tyrod Taylor is a player to target now, who should cost you next to nothing, that could give you a big matchup advantage during the fantasy playoff weeks. – Matt Foreman
RB | Buccaneers
I love the Dougernaught (I hate that nickname. Martin, unfortunately, hates Muscle Hamster, which is a far superior nickname). His running style has been a joy to watch since he dominated in college on the blue Boise State field. Unfortunately, Martin has been a wildly inconsistent NFL player with two top-5 fantasy finishes and three outside of the top-24. Since returning from suspension in Week 5, he has yet to have a true breakout performance. Most likely viewed by his owner as an RB2 option, I believe the Muscle Hamster, I mean “Dougernaught,” will return to his top-5 RB status for the remainder of 2017.
Martin’s snap share has risen in each of his three games, from 33% to 53% to 60%. His touches have also risen in all three games, from 14 to 15 to 22. The fact that his snaps have risen every week despite the Buccaneers trailing for the majority of their last two games is particularly encouraging. It is likely that Martin could push for 30 touches if Tampa Bay finds itself in positive game script for the first time since he returned. His schedule improves considerably after matchups with two top-12 Run Defense DVOA teams in the Cardinals and Bills. Outside of two clashes with the stout Carolina defense, there is not a single imposing matchup in front of Tampa Bay. Martin is one of a handful of RBs with 30 touches in their possible range of outcomes, and he will never be cheaper than he is now. The hype has faded after his return, and though he will not be free, you should be able to acquire him for low RB2 value. – Hunter Gibbon[the_ad id=”73965″][the_ad id=”63198″]
Players to Sell
WR | Texans
Will Fuller has played in only three of the Texans’ six games in 2017, but he is the #1 fantasy WR by average points per game. Fuller has averaged a ridiculous 15.4 PPG in standard scoring formats, nearly 2 full points more than second-best (Antonio Brown’s 13.5 PPG).
On only 8 receptions, he has 5 TDs. That friends, is the very definition of unsustainable.
Fuller is averaging fewer than 5 targets per game, and while a player of his skill set is obviously capable of turning only a handful of targets into a viable fantasy week, that pales in comparison to teammate DeAndre Hopkins’ 10.8 targets per game. Fuller simply doesn’t have the volume of catches and yards necessary to produce a safe floor for your fantasy team on weeks when the touchdowns aren’t there (averaging 2.6 rec/51 yds). After taking advantage of bottom-half of the league pass defenses in Cleveland, Tennessee, and Kansas City for Fuller’s first three games back, Houston has the 4th-toughest remaining fantasy Strength of Schedule for WRs. If you can get WR1 trade value for Will Fuller, now’s the time to do so. – Matt Foreman
QB | Raiders
Derek Carr is not an every-week fantasy starter. He never has been, and outside of his Week 7 explosion, 2017 has been no different. Carr finished outside of the top-12 fantasy QBs in his rookie and sophomore season. However, his “breakout” 2016 season was not all that it was made out to be, despite the massive contract he received. In fact, it was thoroughly mediocre. Carr had less than 12 fantasy points in 6 out of his 15 games. If you were depending on Carr as your every-week starter, that means he essentially lost you a fantasy matchup 6 times last season. The games in which he did finish as a QB1 were largely TD dependent, considering that he only threw for 300 yards 4 times.
His efficiency metrics support the claim that he is entirely mediocre. In that 2016 “breakout” campaign he finished 21st in YPA, 16th in Total QBR, and 17th in completion percentage. His passing volume has also been skewed by a small number of pass-heavy games. The Raiders have allowed Carr to throw the ball more than 25 times in just 4 of his past 20 healthy games. Derek Carr was drafted as a top-8 QB in 2017 and his 30 point Week 7 fantasy performance will only support his believers claims that he is about to ascend to top-5 QB status. First of all, QB doesn’t matter in fantasy football outside of 2QB leagues. Secondly, even if it did, Carr is not worthy of every-week starter status. The Raiders have proven time and time again that they prefer to limit his pass attempts and he has yet to show anything more than mediocre efficiency. Find one of the Carr believers in your league and sell now for more valuable and consistent fantasy assets. – Hunter Gibbon
RB | Colts
Few running backs in NFL history have defied Father Time with such skill and grace as Frank Gore. After overcoming multiple ACL tears during his college career, Gore has been the paradigm of reliability as a pro, playing in 14 or more games in 11 of his first 12 pro seasons, and rushing for 13,387 yards (7th all-time) on over 3,000 carries. He is only 3 carries behind Barry Sanders for #6 all-time. Gore will likely reach that impressive milestone this week against the Bengals, but I think that may be the last significant achievement of his career. Since the Colts placed backup Robert Turbin on IR last week, Gore’s snaps and carries have decreased, and rookie Marlon Mack’s have increased. Though he has struggled at times this season, Mack has also flashed the speed and big-play ability that made him a three-time First Team All-AAC RB at South Florida. In the sunset stage of his great career, Gore is little more than a reliable plodder. He has yet to rush for more than 57 yards in any game this season, and is averaging a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry. Mack, on the other hand, is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. With Captain Andrew Luck seemingly no closer to returning to the field, the Colts have no reason not to loosen the leash on Mack to see what he can do for their stagnant offense, ranked 28th in yards per game and 27th in points per game. Since Mack out-snapped Gore for the first time ever in Week 7 (32 to 22), the Colts seem to agree. Gore is currently fantasy RB23, so sell him now, while you can still technically call him an RB2. – Matt Foreman
RB | Vikings[the_ad id=”66786″]Latavius Murray had his best game in a Vikings’ uniform in Week 7. Unfortunately for his owners, I believe it will remain his best game as a Viking in 2017. Prior to his 113-yard performance, Murray had looked dreadful. A SPARQ freak who has consistently underperformed his measurables, Murray was rendered entirely irrelevant by Dalvin Cook despite signing a 3-year, 15 million dollar deal in the offseason. After Cook was lost for the season, Jerick McKinnon out-performed him in every facet of the game for two straight weeks. Week 7 seemed to even the score between the two RBs, but I am here to inform you that McKinnon is still considerably more valuable for the rest of the season.
The game script set up perfectly for the Vikings against the hopeless Ravens’ offense. They led for the entire second half and the Ravens never even threatened the Minnesota defense. Murray is built better for the between-the-tackles work than McKinnon, so one would expect Murray to dominate touches in such a game script. However, McKinnon out snapped Murray 35 to 31 and received 14 carries to Murray’s 18. So, in the perfect game script for Murray, McKinnon was still the lead back. Not to mention, McKinnon received 2 red zone carries to Murray’s 3. Additionally, Murray received 0 targets, proving that he is completely absent from the Vikings’ passing game plan. Week 7 did not tell us that Murray is a fantasy starter. It simply told us that Murray and McKinnon will receive equal work in extremely positive game scripts, with McKinnon dominating in every other potential game scenario. McKinnon holds all the upside for the second half of the season while Murray likely just had his ceiling game for the year. Sell now and let him lose fantasy weeks for someone else. – Hunter Gibbon
Hunter is an Oklahoma City native who graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.S. in Mathematics. He has a penchant for analytics and views sports primarily through a statistical prism. He remains unbiased when analyzing and watching sports, but the Dallas Cowboys and OKC Thunder have a special place in his heart. Fantasy football has been a favorite pastime of his as long as he can remember, particularly the 16-team home league he commissions with his younger brother and DFS. Hunter is an avid writer, a professional wrestling fanatic, and a literature and television snob. If he isn’t watching Better Call Saul or Jane the Virgin, reading a novel, or watching Roman Reigns spear someone into next week, he is spending time with his wife and his dog in Yukon, Oklahoma.