Buy Low Sell High: Week 9
The 2017 NFL Trade Deadline was surprisingly eventful with actual fantasy football ramifications. Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles to compete with LeGarrette Blount for touches on an explosive offense. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers to be their QB of the future. Kelvin Benjamin was traded to the Buffalo Bills to bolster their league-worst WR corps. Duane Brown was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in an attempt to salvage their bottom-3 OL. All of these moves could shake up the fantasy landscape, just like you could shake up your league with a mid-season blockbuster of your own. By now you know whether or not you are a contender, pretender, or somewhere in between. No matter where you find yourself, there is a trade out there that could 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”).
WR | Titans
Rookie WR Corey Davis has been battling hamstring issues since Week 2, and without him, the Titans’ passing offense has produced unremarkable results. Davis is athletic, big-bodied (6’3”, 210 lbs), and is the all-time leader for major college football in receiving yards. Coming out of the draft, people described Davis as a “touchdown juggernaut.” And while rookie WRs often do not excel for fantasy purposes, the Titans’ need for playmaking at the WR position is about to intersect with Davis’ talent, route running, and physicality. The Titans took him at #5 overall for a reason, and it wasn’t to take a back seat to veterans and learn from the bench. In his first NFL game, Davis led all Titans’ pass catchers with 10 targets – which he turned into a solid 6-69 stat line – despite playing only 65% of the team’s offensive snaps. Davis has the ability and opportunity to be the Titans’ #1 WR and an upside fantasy WR2 in the second half of the season. He is currently unowned in 70% of Yahoo leagues and 76% of ESPN leagues, and with a less-than-ideal matchup against the Ravens looming for his return this week, Davis owners would likely command very little in a trade. What are you waiting for? – Matt Foreman
RB | Eagles
On a blockbuster-filled trade deadline day, the Miami Dolphins trading Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles may have been the most surprising. Ajayi seemingly fell out Adam Gase’s good graces and was quickly shown the door. Fortunately for Ajayi and his fantasy owners, Philadelphia could be the perfect landing spot for the talented young RB. Now may not seem like the ideal time to trade for Ajayi: his value has presumably risen due to the new landing spot, meaning you will have to pay more for him now than you would have a few days ago. However, if Ajayi performs as well as I expect him to, his value will quickly surpass where it currently stands.
The Eagles VP of Football Operations said on Tuesday that LeGarrette Blount will remain the Eagles’ lead back. I do not believe that for a second. Blount played less than 50% of the Eagles snaps in every single game outside of their rain-soaked Week 8 blowout victory over the 49ers. He was barely a lead back before Ajayi came onto the scene. Additionally, Ajayi holds a massive advantage over Blount in the passing game. Ajayi already has 48 receptions through 34 games, while Blount only has 50 in 104 games. Ajayi caught 73 passes in his three seasons at Boise State. Blount caught four passes in his two seasons at Oregon. All of this does not mention Ajayi’s far superior athletic and talent profile. Even in a worst-case scenario, Ajayi and Blount split the early-down carries and Ajayi gets every single passing situation snap. I believe the cream will rise to the top as soon as this Sunday. Before long, this could be a 70-30 split in favor of Jay Ajayi, skyrocketing him to league-winning RB1 potential. – Hunter Gibbon[the_ad id=”72096″][the_ad id=”63198″]
RB | Seahawks
Now is the perfect time to pick up Eddie Lacy. I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.
The Seahawks brought in former All-Pro LT Duane Brown after their Week 8 shootout win over the Texans to solidify their leaky offensive line. This is an instant upgrade to a unit which has been in shambles for years. What’s more, the coaching staff seems to think the ‘Hawks’ use of a committee backfield this season is one of the reasons the running game has yet to produce as well as in recent years. “I think I’ve held them back a little bit by spreading it around quite a bit and trying to figure that out,” head coach Pete Carroll said. Right or wrong, this means we’ll be seeing more early-down work by one guy out of the Seattle backfield, and that guy is Eddie Lacy. “Going to see a lot of Eddie this week,” Carroll said.
Given how Lacy has looked thus far while averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to keep the job for the last eight weeks of the season. But given that he has never averaged fewer than 4.1 yards per carry in any season, it’s equally fair to expect significant improvement from Lacy with an upgraded offensive line and increased opportunity. – Matt Foreman
WR | Chargers
You don’t need me to tell you that Keenan Allen is a special WR talent. A skilled route-runner with spectacular short-area quickness, Allen has been productive in the majority of his healthy NFL starts. The past four games have not been his most productive outings, however, creating a potential buying opportunity. Allen has 70 or fewer yards and 11 or fewer PPR points in four straight games, relegating him to a WR2 option after a superb start to the season. Not to mention he is on bye in Week 9 and faces the worst possible fantasy WR matchup when he returns against the Jaguars in Week 10. While those facts may seem daunting, they can be used to your advantage.
Trading for Keenan Allen is primarily a move for established fantasy contenders who feel confident about their playoff chances. Teams that are 6-2 or 7-1 can afford to have Allen ride the bench for the next two weeks, while teams fighting for a playoff spot may not be so fortunate. If you are one of those contenders, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Allen could have a late-season explosion and win you a fantasy championship. Allen is 5th in the NFL in targets, but only 13th in fantasy points. As long as that volume is there, high ceiling fantasy weeks should follow. Additionally, if you exclude the Week 10 matchup with Jacksonville, the Chargers face the 3rd-easiest Pass Defense Efficiency SOS for the rest of the season. Their fantasy playoffs schedule includes Cleveland, Washington, Kansas City, and the New York Jets. It does not get much easier than that. Now is the time to buy Keenan Allen, and your patience may just be rewarded with a fantasy championship. – Hunter Gibbon[the_ad id=”73965″][the_ad id=”66090″]
Players to Sell
RB | Falcons
Devonta Freeman was drafted as a top-5 RB, so his fantasy RB10 performance thus far has, like the Falcons’ offense as a whole, fallen short of expectations. In his last three games, Freeman has averaged 11 carries for 60 yards rushing with zero touchdowns. Meanwhile, teammate Tevin Coleman has averaged nine carries for 43 yards in the same span, indicating that the Falcons are comfortable with a near 50-50 split in the backfield moving forward. For a guy who is supposed to be an RB1, that’s “not good enough. Not nearly good enough,” as Coach Eric Taylor would say. Moreover, the Falcons’ RBs have a difficult fantasy Strength of Schedule the rest of the way. The arrow appears to be pointing down for Devonta Freeman’s 2017 fantasy outlook, so if his owners can still get RB1 value for him in return, I recommend doing so. – Matt Foreman
RB | Ravens
After such a crazy sports weekend, it is easy to forget about the Ravens’ 40-0 shellacking of the hapless Miami Dolphins that occurred last Thursday night. The major storyline coming out of that game – outside of Matt Moore still being really bad – was the breakout of Ravens’ RB Alex Collins. He piled up 113 yards on 18 carries, finally capitalizing on the explosive ability he had shown in previous weeks. While this may seem like the beginning of a late-season fantasy breakout in the vein of 2016 Jordan Howard, I am not buying it.
Collins is a below-average athlete on a stagnant offense with little-to-no passing game usage. The outlook does not seem so bright when I put it that way, does it? First of all, Collins is below the 50th-percentile in every major athleticism metric, including a truly horrific 3rd-percentile Burst Score. Burst Score takes into account a prospect’s Vertical Jump and Broad Jump to get a measure of how explosive the player is. This means Collins is less explosive than 97% of NFL RBs. Not great, Bob. This lack of athleticism could be supplemented by playing on a great offense or receiving considerable passing game work, but Collins has neither of those factors working for him. The Ravens are 24th in the NFL in Offensive DVOA and Buck Allen and/or Danny Woodhead (expected to return in Week 11) have a monopoly on the Ravens passing game work. Collins’ breakout performance was a result of a perfect game script and an incompetent opponent. Sell now, before he comes crashing back down to earth. – Hunter Gibbon[the_ad id=”73518″][the_ad id=”61518″]
QB | Chargers
After 8 games, Philip Rivers is fantasy QB11. Statistically, he has been a fringe QB1 thus far, so the Chargers’ Week 9 bye presents a nice “sell high” opportunity. A closer look reveals that Rivers is actually only QB16 by fantasy points per game and that he has a difficult remaining fantasy Strength of Schedule (21st among QBs). Rivers has also failed to score more than 15 fantasy points (standard scoring) in three straight games, which included matchups with the Patriots and Raiders, two of the worst fantasy pass defenses in the league. After their bye week, the Chargers play Jacksonville and Buffalo, so Rivers will face the best and 4th-best fantasy pass defenses in consecutive weeks. The short-term is not bright for his fantasy value, so it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Sell Rivers as a QB1 with enticing matchups for the fantasy playoff weeks (WAS, KC, NYJ), and do it before his value is too low to make him an attractive trade target. – Matt Foreman
RB | Cowboys
Alfred Morris owners are in one of two situations:
- You are an Ezekiel Elliott owner who held Morris as suspension insurance.
- You beat the Ezekiel Elliott owner to the punch and now have an extra starting caliber RB for next-to-no cost.
Surprisingly, I am calling for both types of owners to test the Alfred Morris trade market. No matter what Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett or Jesus Christ is telling you, we have no idea how the Cowboys intend to divide their backfield touches after Zeke’s suspension. In fact, the most likely scenario is a full-on committee, perhaps including former undrafted free agent Rod Smith. The fantasy world has decided that Morris is the RB to own, though, raising his value above the others. At his peak, Morris is a between-the-tackles grinder with zero passing game chops. During his 4 years in Washington, Morris had 47 receptions in 64 games. McFadden or Smith should dominate passing work in an offense that is likely to become more pass-heavy in Zeke’s absence. Morris is currently priced at his ceiling with nowhere to go but down. I believe he can be traded for other RBs with more secure roles and usage.
Now, to address each type of owner individually. If you are not the Zeke owner, your course of action is obvious: Target the Zeke owner relentlessly and use their panic to rob them blind. If you are a Zeke owner, you are probably wondering why in the world you would even consider trading Morris. It is admittedly more complicated. If Morris is one of only two startable RBs on your roster, moving him would assume a lot of risks. If you have any depth at the position, however, I don’t think you could ever get more return on your Morris investment than you can right now. Target the RB-needy owner in your league and swing Morris’ unknown role for more consistent and known commodities. Take shots on secondary options with secure roles like Alvin Kamara, Tevin Coleman, or Chris Thompson. Or a package of high upside WRs like DeVante Parker, Corey Davis, Devin Funchess, Nelson Agholor, or JuJu Smith-Schuster. Regardless, Morris would have to perform at his ceiling and win the majority of the Cowboys backfield touches to return his current value. That could happen, but I am willing to bet on the variety of alternatives and sell him before it’s too late. – 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.