The Buy Low Report: Keenan Allen Can Erupt

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 buy 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. 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.

Buy Low

Keenan Allen

Owners who drafted Allen at his August WR6 ADP are supremely disappointed thus far with his overall WR22 production through six weeks.1 Allen has had a letdown in the box score and in opportunity relative to the blistering end to his 2017 overall WR3 campaign. Blair Andrews pointed out that Allen “ranks 31st in total expected points, after ranking ninth through the first six weeks of 2017.”

Allen is underproducing because uber-back Melvin Gordon and sidepiece Austin Ekeler have been stealing his volume.

Gordon + Ekeler Target Market Share

Allen Target Market Share

2017 Week 10 – Week 17

0.209

0.294

2018 Week 1 – Week 6

0.304

0.270

Allen’s near 30 percent market share towards the end of last season has taken a hit because the running back market share in Los Angeles has skyrocketed by ten percent to an absurd 30 percent of Phillip Rivers’ targets through six weeks.

It seems reasonable to expect this massive running back market share to regress towards what has been the norm in Los Angeles for the last two years, simply because this inflated volume is an outlier in Gordon’s career and coincides with him hitting peak (outlier) efficiency relative to his prior.

Year

Gordon Target Market Share

Gordon reFPOEPA

2015

0.06

0.04

2016

0.10

0.25

2017

0.14

0.06

2015 – 2017 Average

0.10

0.12

2018

0.22

0.28

In fact, the last two weeks have signaled that Gordon’s receiving game usage has already begun to dial back. Gordon averaged a 17 percent target market share the last two weeks – five percent below his season average.

The hypothesis that a regression in Gordon’s target share will spike Allen’s target share proved true these last two weeks, as Allen posted his highest market shares of the season at 35 percent in Week 5 and 29 percent in Week 6. Allen’s elite market shares the last two weeks did not directly translate to his box scores, though, because Los Angeles needed very few pass attempts relative to their average to dispatch of Oakland and Cleveland in two blowout victories. Despite the massive target share spikes, Allen still saw only nine and six targets. Expect Los Angeles to return to normal passing volume in upcoming weeks and in turn for Allen’s market share to generate some box score noise.

Allen is a career slow-starter, too, which gives further reason for optimism. The RotoViz Game Splits App reveals that Allen’s usage and efficiency have dramatically increased in the second half of the two complete non-rookie seasons he has played.

KA1KA2

From Week 11 onward last year, Allen was second only to Todd Gurley in non-QB PPR points.

Allen has been perennially underrated in the fantasy community because of the fallacious “injury-prone” tag that got placed upon him, but I suggested that Allen had upside to lead the league in targets this year and that his WR6 ADP was appropriate. Using Allen’s career efficiencies, his upside projected him for over 330 PPR points.

The arguments for Allen used in this piece and my prior piece suggest that Allen’s stock is bound to rise in the upcoming weeks. The Buy Low Machine agrees, as well, as it indicates Los Angeles has a light upcoming schedule for wide receivers.

KABuyLow

If the target share Allen accrued the last two weeks persists, the sky is the limit for his fantasy value.

Christian Kirk

Kirk does not have much to speak of from a production standpoint to start the year, but the rookie has quietly been leading his team in opportunity since Week 3.

Player

Target Share

Weighted Opportunity Rating

PPR

Ricky Seals-Jones

0.17

0.45

29.6

Larry Fitzgerald

0.18

0.42

23.1

Christian Kirk

0.22

0.49

55.2

Cort Smith highlighted how Kirk’s 20.1 breakout age primes him for NFL success and that Arizona was a great landing spot.

We are seeing that opportunity develop for Kirk already as he notably has passed Larry Fitzgerald in the pecking order. It makes sense, too, since Kirk and Josh Rosen connected in the preseason and their connection and tandem development as rookies should be central to the evolution of Arizona’s offensive identity for years to come.

A pleasant surprise has been the nature of Kirk’s usage. The Texas A&M grad spent most of his time in the slot in college and was projected to have just a meager presence before Fitzgerald’s retirement – as Fitzgerald had previously owned the slot in Arizona. Kirk’s aDot of 9.2 matches Fitzgerald’s aDot of 9.8, but it has been apparent that Arizona wants to scheme plays for Kirk downfield. The opening play of Arizona’s Week 5 win over San Francisco was a deep pass to Kirk that resulted in a 70-yard touchdown for the rookie. Fitzgerald looks like an afterthought in the offense sooner than the fantasy community expected, and it is encouraging to see Kirk used as more than just a slot man.

Arizona has displayed historically anemic offensive production to start the year.

Given the acceptable quality of personnel Arizona has, expect these extreme trends to regress; it would be disrespectful to statistics and to Arizona to project them to continue this way. Kirk will be a direct beneficiary of the positive regression and should see his opportunity increase further as his rapport with Rosen grows stronger. Since indications are that Kirk can be a quality NFL starter, buy him in fantasy before all these signals translate to the box score.

Josh Gordon

The Gordon hype train has been conducted by just about everyone in the fantasy community at some point. The newest co-conductors are none other than Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. To leave RotoViz for a moment to take a quick trip down narrative street, let’s look at the sequence of events that transpired this past week.

Brady made an Instagram post signaling his preference for Gordon.

TB_IG

Low and behold, Gordon led New England in targets the next day with a 25 percent share – a massive spike from the nine percent share he saw in Week 5.

The pro-Gordon trend continued after the game, too, as Belichick declared that “…his role is expanding weekly and we’ll just see how it all plays out.”

Is it that crazy to expect Gordon to lead New England in targets the rest of the season? When avoiding the numerous narratives attached to him, the numbers do suggest it is a possibility.

In Gordon’s breakout 2013 campaign, he garnered a massive 28 percent target share in the 14 games he played. In his limited action last year, Gordon amassed a 26 percent target share from DeShone Kizer and remarkably ended with the fifth highest weighted opportunity rating,2 all after basically walking on off the street with no practice because of his suspension.

For all the criticism Gordon truthers get, the data does show that Gordon has been a target hog in the limited samples we have to go on. Brady does not have a history of locking into a single target, but a 25 percent market share is a reasonable projection for what could be New England’s top target.

If the Gordon owner in your league is scared that the troubled receiver might have lost the prolific talent he previously displayed because he has not had a blowup fantasy game yet, swoop in with trade offers because we know that volume is a skill. Impressing Belichick and Brady is no easy feat, but is one that provides immense upside. It was many years ago, but Gordon finished with 315 PPR points in his 14-game 2013 season.

Lower Owned / Waiver Wire Buys:

Ito Smith

Jermaine Kearse

Jalen Richard

Week 5 Buy Low Review:

Find last week’s Buy Low Report here.

Ronald Jones: It looks like Peyton Barber is taking the lead. Look to buy Jones if Barber’s opportunity slips in the upcoming weeks. It was a positive to see Jones used in the passing game.

Carlos Hyde: Hyde failed to impress in the box score, but that was true of all Cleveland players not named Njoku in their blowout loss to Los Angeles last Sunday.

Robby Anderson: An even stronger buy now that Quincy Enunwa is out. Check out the second question on the Fantasy Football Report from this week for more in-depth discussion of New York’s receiving landscape.

John Brown: Brown was less needed as a downfield threat in Baltimore’s blowout victory. He still is the receiver to own on his team.

Jarvis Landry: Still a buy. His efficiency will regress back to his norm.

Donte Moncrief: Proceed with caution as Jacksonville looks like they might be in trouble as a whole.

 

  1. I am speaking from personal experience here.  (back)
  2. on a per game basis  (back)