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The Buy Low Report: Robinson on the Rise

Trading is one of the most enjoyable and difficult aspects of fantasy football. The Buy Low Report is here to help. Every Wednesday, this article will identify and analyze players who are ideal targets as well as players who are strong sell candidates.

The primary methodology for buying and selling players in fantasy football comes down to volume.1 Expect “buy volume, sell efficiency” to be a tenant of this column.

Where efficiency does play a key role in player valuation is that prolific efficiency can spur higher usage in the right situations – think of the career trajectories for players like Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, or DeAndre Hopkins. Identifying circumstances where a player’s productivity gives him a shot at greater volume in the near future is a key aspect of playing the trade market.

The players discussed will predominantly be ones that are highly owned, as unowned players fall into the pickup market instead of the trade market.2

Buy Low

Allen Robinson

Robinson is a popular buy low candidate this week and for good reason. Robinson has soaked up a whopping 54 percent of his team’s air yards – the second highest rate in the league – but has only turned those air yards into 28.4 PPR points.

His air yards share does not tell the full story, though. Robinson’s second overall air yards share has given him only 236 air yards thus far – a mark outside the top-12 for wide receivers. The former Jacksonville receiver also failed to catch a touchdown in the first two weeks on only one redzone target.

It is blatantly obvious that Robinson is the only deep threat in the Matt Nagy offense. Robinson can really be considered the only middle threat, as well, for that matter. The disparity in the aDOTs of Chicago pass-catchers through the first two weeks is striking:

Player

aDOT

Market Share Air

Allen Robinson

11.2

0.54

Trey Burton

6.0

0.15

Taylor Gabriel

4.2

0.13

Jordan Howard

1.2

0.03

Tarik Cohen

0.8

0.01

As Mitchell Trubisky progresses this season – as second year quarterbacks under intelligent coaches tend to do – expect him to air it out more. Chicago’s defense3 took over from the very beginning of each game this year which translated to positive game scripts that did not call for any form of aggressive aerial attack. Neutral or negative game scripts should result in an uptick in Robinson’s fantasy scoring. Even in positive game scripts, though, it seems likely that Nagy will expand his offensive approach to take more risks, stretch the field more, and target Robinson in the red zone.

Air yards volume is sticky, so buy Robinson before he finds pay dirt and before Chicago has to air it out.

Kareem Hunt

The 2017 league leader in rushing, rookie of the year candidate, and fantasy league winner Kareem Hunt has been left in the shadows of Patrick Mahomes’ limelight. Hunt has severely underperformed the expectations of his first-round ADP to start the season.

The most concerning part of Hunt’s usage is that he has only two targets in the first two games in which Kansas City averaged 40 points. Mahomes has a colossal 12.08 aDOT and seems to scoff at the idea of checking down. In the red zone, Hunt has not seen heavy usage either, as Kansas City has called 11 pass plays and three run plays.4 Kansas City has scored ten touchdowns in Mahomes’ first two real starts and every single one of them has come through the air.

Mahomes might be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but Kansas City’s passing efficiency is bound to regress. Surprisingly, Kansas City has the third highest run rate in the league this year at 48 percent. All the fireworks have been in their passing game because they have the second most passing yards per attempt and far and away the highest passing touchdown rate. Kansas City’s passing numbers have been generated through efficiency, not volume. This efficiency is unsustainable, and the run rate of this Andy Reid offense suggests that passing efficiency regression will result in more work for Hunt.

Andy Reid’s offense can continue to be highly productive, but it does not fit his coaching profile to utilize his running back at this low of a clip. It is only a matter of time before Hunt starts getting the call in the red zone and as a chains mover between the twenties once Mahomes regresses from his 18.2 percent passing touchdown rate. A regression in Mahomes’ overall passing efficiency should result in more targets for Hunt too. It is well known how Andy Reid likes to involve his backs in the passing game.

Hunt proved how gifted of a player he is with his performance last year. Reach out to an unhappy Hunt owner and test the waters for what could become an uber-talented workhorse running back in an elite offense.

Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief

The Jacksonville offense has been surprisingly fast and pass heavy to start the year. The team’s neutral and plus or minus 6 point paces are up more than a second from last year. Even more surprisingly, Jacksonville has a 60 percent pass rate in two games which they lead throughout. Last year, Jacksonville had the lowest pass rate in the league at 50 percent. It is a small sample, but history suggests this pass tendency adjustment is independent of Leonard Fournette’s absence. Last year, Bortles averaged more attempts per game when Fournette played.

BortlesFournetteSplits

Jacksonville’s wide-receiver-by-committee members are the direct fantasy beneficiaries of increased passing volume. The receiver trio of Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief, and Dede Westbrook have nearly split the work to start the season.

Player

Target Share

Market Share Air

Weighted Opportunity Rating

aDOT

RACR

PPR

Keelan Cole

0.15

0.23

0.38

10.7

1.33

33.0

Dede Westbrook

0.15

0.15

0.33

7.2

1.48

28.1

Donte Moncrief

0.19

0.39

0.55

14.6

0.22

15.8

The first way to approach this situation is to recognize that Moncrief has noticeably higher target and air yards volume than Cole and Westbrook. As such, follow the volume and feel free to buy low on Moncrief before he starts producing.

The second approach is to recognize that Cole has demonstrated that he is the best wide receiver on Jacksonville since his emergence last year. Cole’s RACR relative to his aDOT leaves Westbrook and especially Moncrief’s efficiency in the dust. If Cole continues to outproduce his teammates, he is likely to garner a higher volume role.

However, especially since he dominated with a 27 percent target share in Marqise Lee’s absence in Weeks 14-17 last year, it is alarming that Cole has been unable to command the dominant share in the receiver committee already. Do not count Moncrief out.

I recommend both Cole and Moncrief as buy lows in the emerging Jacksonville passing game. Westbrook is the odd man out in that he is neither the most efficient nor the highest volume wideout on the team.

John Brown

Brown is a clear buy-low candidate based on his air yards profile.

Player

Target Share

Market Share Air

Weighted Opportunity Rating

aDot

PPR

John Brown

0.15

0.33

0.46

19.1

32.7

Willie Snead

0.15

0.14

0.32

7.9

25.3

Michael Crabtree

0.17

0.20

0.40

10.2

23.4

The Baltimore receivers all have similar volume, but Brown is the clear standout with a massive 19.1 aDOT and 33 percent share of air yards. Baltimore’s finishes in pass attempts per game the last five years are as follows:

Year

BAL Pass Attempts / Game Rank

2018 Weeks 1-2

3rd

2017

11th

2016

1st

2015

1st

2014

16th

2013

7th

Brown looks like the receiver who is the most likely to capitalize on Baltimore’s high pass volume.

Ricky Seals-Jones

Seals-Jones quietly has the fifth highest target market share and weighted opportunity rating and third highest market share of air yards for tight ends after the first two weeks. Seals-Jones ranks second on his team in these categories as well. Cort Smith uncovered Mike McCoy’s favorable historical usage of tight ends which suggests Seals-Jones’s volume will be sustainable as Arizona’s offense progresses.

Target Share

WOPR

MS Air

Value

0.20

0.49

0.28

TE Rank

5th

5th

3rd

Team Rank

2nd

2nd

2nd

Being in a bottom-tier offense caps his upside, but it is not unreasonable to expect Seals-Jones to find the end zone as one of the top pass-catching options on his team. Volume is scarce at a thin position like tight end, so Seals-Jones deserves to be on fantasy radars. Acquire him before he has a blow-up game like last year.

Lower Owned / Waiver Wire Buys:

Phillip Lindsay

Tyler Boyd

Antonio Callaway

Courtland Sutton

Week 2 Buy Low Review:

Find last week’s Buy Low Report here.

Travis Kelce: The buy window closed immediately and is likely slammed shut. Mahomes was, justifiably, the talk of Sunday. Kelce was the beneficiary of the young quarterback’s explosion with a 29.9 PPR point performance.

Jarvis Landry: Landry is the fantasy beneficiary of Josh Gordon leaving Cleveland. Landry ceded some volume to Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway5 but remains a strong buy candidate despite being in a chaotic Cleveland offense. Landry maintained his newly heightened aDOT and his 23 percent target market share from this week seems like his floor.

Quincy Enunwa: Enunwa again dominated target volume with a 27 percent share for 11 targets. There is no reason to expect Enunwa not to continue to be featured.

Tevin Coleman: The best case scenario for Coleman’s fantasy value transpired as Devonta Freeman is out for some period of time. Coleman is a locked in top-15 running back until further notice.

Rashaad Penny: The upside is low for the Seattle backfield. Penny out-carried Chris Carson this week but will not be relevant unless he explodes in the passing game.

Austin Ekeler: Ekeler’s efficiency suggests he will continue to have low-end starter standalone value with infinite upside if Melvin Gordon misses time.

T.J. Yeldon: Locked in starter volume in Fournette’s absence.

Phillip Lindsay: Still a buy. Out-touched Freeman both weeks.

Nyheim Hines: Still a buy. Will have a pass-catching role in what has a chance to be a high-scoring offense.

Bruce Ellington: Irrelevant now that Will Fuller has returned.

  1. It has been proven ad nauseam that volume not only drives fantasy success, but that volume is also the most predictable piece of a player’s valuation. A player’s efficiency is mercurial relative to his volume and without a proven track record efficiency should be downplayed. I choose to look at efficiency as a binary entity when buying and selling in fantasy football: Can a player perform at an adequate enough level such that his volume will translate to the box score?  (back)
  2. Check out the Weekly Waiver Report for intel on the best pickups every week and combine that knowledge with trade tips from this series to become the ultimate in-season owner.  (back)
  3. nice trade, Chuckie  (back)
  4. All three carries went to Hunt.  (back)
  5. Both are strong waiver-wire adds.  (back)

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