Buy Low Sell High: Week 2
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 while they’re still affordable, 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
Wide Receiver | Cardinals
I have been a huge John “Smokey” Brown fan since he entered the NFL. His athletic measurables profile similarly to T.Y. Hilton, and no one has questioned his route-running talent or game-breaking ability. Health has been the only question for Brown thus far in his NFL career. He has struggled with countless soft tissue injuries, and his weekly health has sometimes been complicated by the sickle cell trait. Cardinals HC Bruce Arians had some harsh words for most of their WR corps in the preseason, driving down his ADP even further. If Week 1 is any indication, Smokey is in tip-top shape, and his injury issues appear to be under control.
Brown played 84% of the offensive snaps against the Lions, more than any Cardinals’ WR not named Larry Fitzgerald, a clear indication that he is fully healthy. Brown was targeted 9 times, but unfortunately only caught 4 of them for 32 yards. Carson Palmer’s dreadful Week 1 performance is more to blame for that inefficiency than Brown. With David Johnson out for 2 to 3 months, the Cardinals’ passing game is going to have carry the team if they want any chance of staying afloat in the playoff race. Johnson also leaves behind 7.5 targets per game, which will be redistributed amongst the pass-catching options, raising all of their target floors. Brown was the PPR WR26 in 2015 before injuries robbed him of his 2016 season. Brown could easily surpass that finish and land amongst the every-week WR2s in fantasy. His return to the spotlight could occur this week against the laughable Colts defense, so buy him soon while he is still on the cheap. – Hunter Gibbon
Wide Receiver | Redskins
Pryor’s ADP was fantasy WR16 at the end of the preseason. He’s projected to be the top receiver in a Washington offense piloted by 2016 fantasy QB5 Kirk Cousins, the first real QB Prior has had since his 2015 conversion to WR. Expectations were high for Terrelle Pryor owners entering the Redskins’ Week 1 matchup with the Eagles, so his WR33 performance was slightly disappointing. He caught 6 passes for 55 yards without a TD, and less observant owners will focus only on his single-digit fantasy point total. But true to expectations, Pryor was Cousins’ go-to pass catcher in Week 1, when he was targeted 11 times (tied with Antonio Brown for 6th-most among WRs). I expect Pryor to continue seeing high volume and to do more with it moving forward. – Matt Foreman
Running Back | Panthers
I spent the entire offseason doubting Christian McCaffrey’s ADP and role in the Panthers offense. Jonathan Stewart promised to maintain a large portion of the offense. Cam Newton had never thrown to his RBs and old habits tend to die hard. However, Carolina’s game plan as it pertains to McCaffrey was a welcome surprise in Week 1. He played 70% of the Panthers snaps in a game they dominated from start to finish. A positive game script would theoretically favor the early-down back in Stewart, but McCaffrey out-snapped him almost 2:1. It was clear that Carolina drew up multiple plays for him and Newton seemed more than willing to target him. Many of the writers at Gridiron Experts believed in McCaffrey even before Week 1.
He showed some signs of inexperience, including a lost fumble, and Ron Rivera had some interesting comments about McCaffrey’s playing time. Use these to your advantage to get McCaffrey on the cheap. You don’t need me to tell you that he is an electric talent with big-play ability. However, the most appealing thing about his workload is the built-in receiving floor. 5 to 7 targets and 10 to 13 carries seems like a safe weekly projection, attached to an offense that led the NFL just two seasons ago. Stewart will still have fantasy value, but Week 1 made it clear that the Panthers know that McCaffrey is their most valuable offensive weapon and they plan to use him as such. – Hunter Gibbon[the_ad id=”72096″]
Quarterback | Patriots
Ever heard of this guy?
He’s possibly the greatest quarterback of all-time and a fantasy football treasure, coming off of one of the worst games of his illustrious career. Brady completed less than half of his passes and failed to throw a touchdown pass in the Patriots’ 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time in a regular season game since week 5 of 2013. After one week of football, Tom Brady is fantasy QB19. He looked uncharacteristically inaccurate on several throws, out of sync with his receivers, and perhaps even old (he did turn 40 shortly before the start of the season).
In case you need to be convinced that this was a fluke performance for Brady (you shouldn’t) instead of the new normal, note that even in a bad game, he had no turnovers, was without go-to receiver Julian Edelman, lost Danny Amendola mid-game to the concussion protocol, had his dominant tight end expertly blanketed by All-Pro safety Eric Berry, was sacked three times by a relentless Chiefs’ pass rush and under pressure from it on several other dropbacks. After Week 1, Brady is primed for a bounce-back performance. If you can find a Brady owner who’s overreacting to his opening night fantasy egg, move aggressively to get him now, because no one’s going to be selling after he blows up in Week 2 against the Saints, who ranked 29th (out of 30) in pass defense after opening weekend. – Matt Foreman
Players to Sell
Quarterback | Vikings
The Vikings looked good in a convincing 29-19 victory over the Saints on MNF, led by former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford, who made several impressive throws while putting up 346 yards passing and 3 TDs. He was fantasy QB3 for Week 1. He’s on pace for 5,500 yards and 48 TDs.
But some perspective is required. Bradford torched a Saints’ defense fielding six new starters (that’s over half of the defense), which has finished at or near the bottom of the league in yards and points allowed for three straight seasons. Did he make some impressive throws? Without a doubt. And WR Stefon Diggs, TE Kyle Rudolph, and RB Dalvin Cook are legit fantasy weapons. But in the four seasons in which Sammy Two Sleeves has played 14 or more games, he has finished as fantasy QB16, 20, 23, and 24. I actually like Bradford to finish closer to the QB12-16 range this season, but he’s a matchup-dependent weekly play, and not reliable enough to be a QB1. Find someone who’s still riding the high from Bradford’s revelatory MNF performance and cash in. – Matt Foreman[the_ad id=”63633″]
Running Back | Bills
Hear me out before you light the comments sections on fire. Yes, LeSean McCoy is one of the top-5 most talented RBs in the NFL. His game film is unmatched outside of David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott. McCoy produced a top-5 PPR RB performance against the New York Jets in Week 1. In fact, he’s put up back-to-back RB1 seasons in fantasy points per game in Buffalo. There is a key difference in 2017, however. The Bills are going to be much worse this year than they have been the past two years.[the_ad id=”58835″]While 7-9 and 8-8 finishes are not ideal, they indicate a team that was competing for a playoff spot and playing in a positive game script at least half of the time. The 2017 Buffalo Bills have made it abundantly clear that they do not plan on remaining in playoff contention. All 4 members of an above-average secondary and their entire receiving corps either departed in free agency or were traded away in August. They have installed an offensive system that runs counter to QB Tyrod Taylor’s strengths. It is entirely possible that the Buffalo Bills will not be favored in a single game this season outside of their Week 9 rematch with the Jets. No matter how talented McCoy is, owning an injury-prone, 29-year-old RB on a potentially abysmal team is not an encouraging proposition. Not to mention the Bills made it clear in Week 1 that Mike Tolbert will be featured on the goal line, cutting into an already low TD projection. If you can retrieve a first-round value in a McCoy trade, perhaps obtaining a solid WR1, I would be willing to pull the trigger. – Hunter Gibbon
Running Back | Patriots
Gillislee is fantasy RB2 after Week 1, his 3-TD opening act eclipsed only by Kareem Hunt’s monster game on the same Gillette Stadium turf (RIP). Following a preseason of constant speculation about the distribution of work in the New England backfield, Bill Belichick left little doubt that the Pats plan to use Mike Gillislee in a role similar to the one formerly held by LeGarrette Blount as the short yardage and goalline back. In 2016, Blount finished as fantasy RB7, rushing for over 1,100 yards and a league-leading 18 TDs. Gillislee’s 2017 role might be similar, but it will not be the same. Last year, Blount was 2nd in the entire league in rushing attempts. In Week 1, Gillislee logged 15 carries, which was 16th among RBs. Meanwhile, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Dion Lewis combined for 19 touches, and there are still people in Boston who believe Rex Burkhead could ultimately lead the backfield in touches this season. It’s hard to picture Mike Gillislee out-carrying Zeke Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, Dalvin Cook, Jay Ajayi et al. The key in trade discussions is to sell Gillislee as “2017 LeGarrette Blount.” In reality, Gillislee will score some TDs, but he’ll fall short of Blount’s 2016 numbers. – Matt Foreman
Tight End | Falcons[the_ad id=”72106″]Don’t get me wrong, Hooper is athletically gifted and intriguing young prospect playing for a dominant NFL offense. In dynasty leagues, I would be looking to hold on to Hooper for his long-term potential. In seasonal leagues though, selling high on his incredibly efficient Week 1 performance seems like a no-brainer. Hooper was the second-highest scoring PPR TE in Week 1 (and #1 in standard scoring), putting up 20.8 PPR points on 2 receptions for 128 yards and a TD. He also played on almost 80% of the Falcons snaps, an encouraging sign.
Now for the bad news. Those 2 receptions came on only 2 targets and the 88 yard TD that propped up his fantasy day came on a completely broken coverage. Yes, Hooper demonstrated his athleticism on the long-TD, but it is not a repeatable play. There are simply too many talented mouths to feed in that Atlanta offense to expect weekly TE1 production from Hooper. Yes, there will be more big weeks like Week 1, but most members of the mediocre TE middle-class provide the same potential. Being attached to the high-scoring Falcons offense boosts his fantasy potential, but it is hard to view him as a consistent TE1. He does have a prime Week 2 matchup, so I won’t blame you if you wait one more week to sell. After that, do not hesitate to move him for assets at the more valuable RB and WR positions. – Hunter Gibbon
Bonus: Buy High
Running Back | Packers
Ty Montgomery is an every week RB1 with league-winning potential. There is no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. He logged 23 touches on a whopping 90% of the Packers snaps. He also graded out as PFF’s #1 rated pass-blocking RB in Week 1. What were the two primary concerns with Montgomery in the offseason? Oh yeah, pass-blocking and playing time. Every single box has been checked for the converted WR and I believe he is about to unlock his massive David Johnson-like potential. Do not hesitate to go out and pay 3rd or 2nd round value for him in every single league in which you don’t own him. His fantasy explosion should come as early as this week against an Atlanta defense that struggles against pass-catching backs. Go buy him right now, because there is no chance his owners will trade him afterward. – Hunter Gibbon