We’ve got a late edition Talkin’ Trades this week, as John Solis and I spent most of the week trapped in the lab putting together the debut episode of our new podcast The Solis Report. Please check it out if you love canned laughter, awkward comedy, and a smattering of football talk!
Now let’s take a look at how we can take advantage of some changing player values after a dramatic Week 1.
There are a few options you may have gotten cheaply in drafts that have put up top numbers in Week 1, particularly Matthew Stafford and Marcus Mariota. If they are a second or even third option on your roster, this is a nice window to flip them to a team that’s had a disappointing start at the position.1
Sell Marcus Mariota
Mariota finished Week 1 as the QB11, and had an enticing 24 yards rushing to go with three passing TDs. However, he benefited from huge yards after the catch from Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown. Using the Stat Explorer, we can see that his passing volume and efficiency were still among the lowest in the league. His expected points were only 27th among QBs.
Sell or Buy Tom Brady
This can go either way, but we’re perched on a game that will have a large impact on how we perceive Brady. A tanking Miami team gave up the highest point total the Ravens have scored in their history. Brady is likely to add Antonio Brown in a game that could boast unlimited points. Going into Week 3, we could feel like we’re entering a new Randy Moss-type era in New England, so you can either sell the high potential points, or you can buy before that spike.
Hold Matthew Stafford
Stafford turned in the QB3 performance in Week 1, but probably doesn’t have a hot market just yet. People are anchoring to their negative outlook on the Lions coaching staff. Maybe a T.J. Hockenson team would be interested in the stack, but generally I think it will be a tougher sell, with people fading the volume because of the extra drives in OT, and a possibly unsustainable rushing total (22 yards). There is nervousness about the Lions being too conservative, but new OC Darrell Bevell is already showing signs of better efficiency and creativity than the unemployed Jim Bob Cooter. While healthy, the Lions may quietly have their best receiving group in a long time.
It’s only been one week, and injuries to Derrius Guice, Joe Mixon, and Tevin Coleman are already shaking up the RB landscape. While there’s nothing wrong with rolling with Giovani Bernard or Chris Thompson, my favorite way to play this situation is to trade these short term starters to Zero-RB teams that are getting cold feet after a slow start.
If you have Adrian Peterson or Bernard, go ahead and test the market for those high-upside committee members like Miles Sanders and Justice Hill.
Buy Miles Sanders
In particular, Sanders led the Eagles in snaps, but produced 7.6 fantasy points below expectation.
Drawing conclusions from small samples of efficiency stats is a double-edged sword, but in this case, we are happy to get a fantasy outcome that conforms to people’s doubts about the Eagles backfield (that it’s a messy committee), and possibly overlooks the solid usage (Expected Fantasy Points of 11.3). Any time we can get an RB with double-digit expected points at a discount, that’s exciting, but doubly so when it’s a rookie in his first NFL game.
Despite enormous hype for Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s high volume offense, uncertainty about the WR depth chart depressed the prices of all the WRs.
While there’s some risk that Andy Isabella works his way into the rotation at some point to cannibalize the target share, every Cardinals WR is a buy right now. Hopefully managers are interested in selling the fluky high volume of the OT game, because the big highlight to me is that the team may completely marginalize the TEs in the receiving game. Maxx Williams and Charles Clay combined for just two targets against the Lions. If this continues (which seems more than possible, given that they are two of the most oft-injured players in the league), the target pie for the WRs is going to be massive, even if the overall pace and pass attempts drops from Week 1’s unsustainable 54 passes.
BUY KeeSean Johnson and Christian Kirk
The best bang for your buck is likely to be Kirk and Johnson, who each racked up double-digit targets, but failed to hit 50 yards receiving, compared to a 100-yard game and TD for Larry Fitzgerald. Murray will probably continue to have some bumps along the way efficiency-wise, but there is great upside for both WRs, and if Fitzgerald wears down as the season goes along, then the sky is the limit.
Everyone “knows” that rookie TEs have trouble producing fantasy stats, but what does that even mean? There’s too much hand-waving about “learning curves” and “slow development” and not enough explanation of why rookies don’t produce. The basic problem with rookie TEs is that they simply don’t play much. If they play, the produce, just like any other player.
BUY T.J. Hockenson
Sometimes you have to buy high. Hockenson is going to be available in some leagues because of how cheaply he went in drafts. Lots of managers love to flip a TE to gain a starter at another position, because they can always stream the onesie position. If the Hockenson team in your league has a viable starter at TE already, consider making a solid offer, despite the rookie’s monster debut of 131 yards and a TD. If he puts up another game like this, he’ll be unattainable. The other way to play it is to wait a week and hope for a down game. But the bottom line is that Hockenson was not just any old first-round TE — he was the eighth overall pick, with guys like Ed Oliver and Devin Bush still on the board. He played 71% of Detroit snaps in his first NFL game. For perspective, Travis Kelce played 74% of snaps. Vance McDonald played 72%. Rookie TEs stink because they don’t play. Hockenson is playing a ton.
Image Credit: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire Pictured: T.J. Hockenson
- Possibly an Andrew Luck team, or a panicking Cam Newton team. (back)