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The Buy Low Report: Lindsay is a League Winner

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

Phillip Lindsay

The RotoViz Buy Low Machine reveals that Denver has a mouthwatering running back schedule on the horizon.

BLM_RB_11-13

Following their Week 10 bye, Denver has the fourth strongest schedule for the ensuing three weeks (the usual Buy Low Machine methodology).

BLM_RB_10-16

If we adjust the tool to look even further ahead, we can see that Denver pops as having the number one strongest running back schedule for the rest of the season, with every single remaining matchup being favorable from the Buy Low Machine’s perspective.

Detractors of Lindsay will site Royce Freeman’s return as a knock on the University of Colorado Boulder running back’s value, but use this narrative to your advantage, because the effect of Freeman’s return is likely overblown.

Lindsay, the workhorse score leader in this year’s class, has continued to outproduce competing backs Freeman and Devontae Booker. Understandably, given the draft capital Denver spent on Freeman and Booker, it took some time for Denver to commit to Lindsay, but it has become ever more apparent that Denver is willing to lean on Lindsay, as they were not afraid to increase his usage to a workhorse level in Freeman’s absence in Week 8 and Week 9.

 

lindsay splits

His touch totals look to be game script independent, too, which reinforces the idea that Denver is committed to him. In contrast, Freeman’s carry totals have dropped in losses, and Booker is less involved when Denver is ahead.

Lindsay continues to split the receiving game work with Booker, but I expect Lindsay’s share of the rushing attempts to usurp Freeman’s before season-end. Given Lindsay’s production relative to his teammates’ and his usage trends, his volume should continue to trend upwards.

As the lead back in Denver, Lindsay will be the beneficiary of an ideal second half schedule. Use the return of Freeman, Denver being on bye, and Lindsay putting up his lowest PPR output of the year1 in Week 9 as buying leverage for a player that could cement his status as a league winner in the final weeks of the season.

Juju Smith-Schuster

Like Lindsay, Smith-Schuster has an exploitable playoff schedule. Michael Dubner tweeted that the Buy Low Machine pegs Pittsburgh’s playoff schedule as the second lightest for wide receivers.

The Buy Low Machine is certainly on to something with these matchups, too, as factors outside of those considered in the model suggest the spots are ideal. In Week 15, Pittsburgh will face New England at home in what will certainly be projected as a shootout between two offensive powerhouses. Pittsburgh passes more at home, and the Game Splits App reveals that Ben Roethlisberger’s splits in home games with a Vegas total over 50 are stark.

BigBenHomeHighTotalSplits

Roethlisberger has averaged 45 pass attempts and more than two passing touchdowns in similar games throughout his career, suggesting that projections will be sky-high for Pittsburgh receivers in Week 15 versus New England at home in a game that surely will field a 50 plus point total.

To finish the fantasy season off, Pittsburgh heads into the dome at New Orleans for a game that should produce fantasy fireworks. The Saints versus the Rams produced 80 points this past week and divvied up fantasy goodness to everyone involved. A similar outcome is probable for Pittsburgh versus New Orleans in Week 16.

The RotoViz Screener reveals that Smith-Schuster’s efficiency has dipped compared to last year.

Juju Split

From a target market share perspective, Smith-Schuster has also hit a valley relative to the volume he was seeing to start the year.

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 12.10.22 PMGiven his prolific production history, Smith-Schuster’s volume and efficiency are highly unlikely to dip below their current marks, and evidently are at minimums for the year. Expect Smith-Schuster to rebound in at least one of these categories.

Send out feelers for Smith-Schuster now, then capitalize if he underproduces again in what project to be difficult matchups these next few weeks. He has the looks of a fantasy playoffs all-star who is certainly an easier buy than Antonio Brown.

Tyler Boyd

A.J. Green’s foot injury creates a massive opportunity for Cincinnati’s other pass catchers. Green leaves behind 26 percent of his team’s targets and 40 percent of their air yards.

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 12.14.43 PM

Tyler Boyd, who has emerged as a dual threat alongside Green this year, is certainly the most obvious candidate for a volume increase. Courtesy of the RotoViz Screener, Boyd is averaging 24 PPR points in the four games this year he has garnered nine or more targets, compared to only 11 PPR points in the four other games in which received fewer than nine targets.

BoydSplit

Boyd will be the clear number one target in the offense while Green is out, as the next closest target share on the team goes to Joe Mixon. The Green news solidifies Boyd as a league winning pick.

It would be foolish to expect all of Green’s targets to transfer directly to Boyd, though. The most likely scenario is that Cincinnati increases their team run tendency and distributes Green’s targets out to all relevant pass-catchers. But even a small increase will bolster Boyd’s value, as was mentioned. It is unlikely Mixon’s value changes relative to his recent production, since Giovani Bernard is slotted to return and suck up the running back passing game usage.

If the Boyd owner is not budging, then taking shots on C.J. Uzomah or John Ross via waivers or trade throw-ins are my preferred alternate ways to attack this situation. Uzomah and Ross will get increased looks with Green out, and we know that both are capable of impressing. Given that the timetable on Green’s return is sketchy, Uzomah or Ross could carve out a consistent role in a flourishing offense.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scandling’s direct competitor for playing time and targets, Geronimo Allison, was placed on injured reserve this week. Valdes-Scantling has averaged 14.5 PPR points over his last four games with Allison out. Expect the rookie’s role to only expand further as he continues to develop with Aaron Rodgers.

Mike Evans

I mentioned in last week’s Wide Receiver Game Level Similarity Projections that Evans sees true WR1 volume with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. If for whatever reason an owner is sour on Evans or Tampa Bay’s offensive situation as a whole after Evans posted only a single catch on ten targets last week, understand that Evans is a top-12 overall WR who has consistently dominated in air yards and target share with Fitzpatrick. If there is any buying opportunity, capitalize.

Week 8 Buy Low Review:

Find last week’s Buy Low Report here.

Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski’s back kept him out in Week 9. His injury adds more risk but lowers his price.

Jack Doyle: Was on bye last week, so nothing has changed. T.Y. Hilton remains a buy, as well.

Kenny Golladay: I am legitimately concerned about Golladay’s volume. Marvin Jones looks to be the receiver to own, as Jones has out-targeted Golladay in four of the last five games.

Courtland Sutton: He did not post a huge box score in Week 9, but Sutton still carries immense upside.

  1. Excluding when he was ejected in Week 3.  (back)

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