Week 10 buy-low/sell-high options in the fantasy stock market
We’ve officially reached the halfway point for every player in the league. While some have played nine games, most are sitting at the eight-game mark. You have to know when to adapt to the trends in fantasy football, and while Jay Ajayi has proved me wrong, Michael Thomas has proved me right.
There have been a lot of strong calls in the Fantasy Stock Market this year. Selling Will Fuller and Demaryius Thomas, buying Odell Beckham Jr. and Amari Cooper when their costs dipped down well below what should have been their market value. The aforementioned Michael Thomas was in the buy column last week, where I said to get him before people catch on that he’s a borderline WR1. After Week 9, here is his pace: 122 targets, 94 receptions, 1,146 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those numbers would have amounted to the No. 10 wide receiver last year, behind Calvin Johnson and in front of Larry Fitzgerald.
The Fantasy Stock Market is where you come to find out who you should buy or sell while their value is suppressed or inflated. Some players may have had a few down weeks, and they will remain there, but you won’t find them here. Let’s take a look at which players should you be targeting as we head into Week 10.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
It’s been a rough season for the Panthers, and Benjamin is no exception. The issue hasn’t been with him, though, as we have him graded as our No. 17 wide receiver, right behind Beckham. Cam Newton has not been the quarterback that we came to adore last year, as he’s completing just 57.7 percent of his passes, and his touchdown rate is at just 3.8 percent, which is a career low for him. So, why are we buying him? Because Newton has been to a dark place before and come back from it, and because he’s a veteran at this point and we know what to expect. The fact that Newton has struggled as much as he has, and Benjamin sits there as the No. 19 wide receiver anyway, should give you hope. Before the last month, Benjamin himself had never gone through a four-game stretch without a touchdown, but here we are. His owners are flustered and are likely to sell for 60 cents on a dollar. The structure is there for Benjamin, as he’s seeing plenty of targets. Even since the game against the Vikings where Cam Newton vowed to never leave Benjamin catchless, he’s peppered him with 40 targets over his last five games. Benjamin hasn’t been all bad, either, as he’s reached at least 70 yards in each of the last four games. The touchdowns are coming, and this week against the Chiefs might be the game where everything turns around.
Perceived stock value: High-end WR3 who isn’t the player we thought over the first two weeks.
Actual stock value: High-end WR2 who is still the No. 19 WR despite Newton’s struggles. Touchdowns are coming.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
I don’t often advocate you going out to trade for a quarterback, especially one coming off a game in which he looked awful, but there’s always an exception to the rule. It seems that everyone on this planet knows about Drew Brees’ home/road splits, but for some reason, Roethlisberger’s splits continue to fly under the radar. Over the last three years, he averages 30.5 fantasy points at home, while averaging a very pedestrian 17.4 fantasy points on the road. He’s simply not the same guy, especially in a tough matchup. By trading for him, you have to understand the strategy here. You are going to trade him away in just a few weeks when your trade deadline comes. The reason you want him is because the banged-up Cowboys visit him at home this coming week, and then he’ll have two road games against the Browns (who have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in 15 of 17 games), and the Colts (who have allowed 14 passing touchdowns in their last six games). After that, he’ll return home to face the Giants. So this is more about playing the matchups and getting him for the best stretch his season, and then trading him away. So this is a warning – he will be in the sell column in just a few weeks.
Perceived stock value: A guy who is playing hurt, and hurting his team in the process.
Actual stock value: Mid-tier QB1 who plays horrible in tough road games. Short term fix for streamers.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens
This is a chance to get in before the storm hits, as Dixon is trending in the right direction. After hurting his knee in the preseason, Dixon was struggling to get onto the field with Terrance West playing well. But after West struggled against the Jets before their bye week, head coach John Harbaugh said that they needed to get Dixon more involved. He played a season-high 28.6 percent of the snaps in Week 9 against the Steelers, while West played 41.1 percent. The touch differential wasn’t very big, as West touched the ball 16 times, and Dixon touched it 11 times. Neither of them had success, but Dixon looked spry, breaking three tackles on his nine carries, while West has broken two tackles on his last 23 carries. As a matter of fact, after West played really well against the Redskins (24th graded run defense) and Raiders (23rd graded run defense), he’s really struggled with the workhorse role, totaling 127 yards on 46 carries (2.76 YPC). Dixon runs angry, refuses to go down, and is more physically gifted than West. He is just what the Ravens want/need, and not to mention, they spent a fourth round draft pick to get him this year. For a running back, that’s considered decent equity in today’s NFL.
Perceived stock value: Borderline waiver-wire material, just a handcuff to West.
Actual stock value: RB3/4 who could win fantasy leagues if he gets the starting job. Trending upward.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Have you been able to watch Carson Palmer play this year? If you have, you likely understand why Nelson is here. There have only been two games this season in which Palmer provided more than one wide receiver with value and those games were against the Buccaneers and the Panthers, two of the worst pass defenses in the league. As we’ve seen with DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson this year, bad quarterback play can ruin a wide receiver, especially one who relies on deep targets. Nelson’s average depth of target is a ridiculous 19.0 yards downfield this year, which tells you that Palmer will need time in order for plays to develop with him. Not only has Palmer been sacked 12 times in the last two games, but they also just lost their starting left tackle Jared Veldheer for the year, who had been graded as a top-17 tackle by PFF. Starter or not, Nelson is the No. 4 option at best in this offense, behind David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. If you were able to snag him off waivers, sell now before the hype train stops.
Perceived stock value: Strong WR3 in his new starting role.
Actual stock value: An extremely volatile WR4 who will cost you more headaches than celebrations.
Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Let me start by saying that I have no idea what you’ll be able to get for Robinson, but from the questions that I get on my Twitter handle, it’s likely more than you should. After two decent performances, it’s time to cut the cord with Robinson in redraft leagues (I consider him a buy-low in dynasty). Some say that the volume is there and that the production will follow, and while I’m usually of the same mindset, it’s not the case with Robinson. Blake Bortles has not given us any reason to think that he’ll turn things around because of a good track record (like Newton), but he’s given real pause to the question of whether or not he’s even an average starting quarterback in this league. Think about it – it took Robinson 27 targets over the last two weeks in order to produce a combined line of 13/146/1. There are plenty of wide receivers in the league who have put up that total in one week, and they don’t need 27 targets to do it. The upcoming schedule is the nail in Robinson’s coffin, as he will play against the Texans (No. 7 ranked in pass coverage), Lions (Darius Slay), Bills (Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby), Broncos (Aqib Talib), Vikings (Xavier Rhodes), and then Texans again. It’s best to just avoid the headache of wondering what Bortles will look like in the coming weeks.
Perceived stock value: WR1/2 who is regaining his form, just needed to be patient.
Actual stock value: Borderline WR2 who has required 27 targets in order for him to get back into the WR2 conversation. One of the toughest remaining schedules.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Let’s start this by saying that Diggs isn’t the problem here; rather, it’s the consistency of the entire offense. After a 13-catch effort, it’ll be easy to find a trade partner for Diggs, as they can recall his early-season dominance with back-to-back 100-yard games. That was the time when fantasy players were treating him as a low-end WR1, only to be followed by three games with fewer than 50 yards. He dealt with an injury that caused him to miss time, which is what some will point to in order to justify the lull in production. The issue during that span was that the Vikings didn’t need to throw the ball very much, and they have been getting Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the offense. Sam Bradford has also never created a consistent option in fantasy football, which should concern you. Looking at what was different over the last two weeks – the Vikings were down for the entire game against the Bears, and were then in a matchup against a Lions defense who is ranked as 23rd in pass defense, and were without their top cornerback Darius Slay. Looking forward, Diggs will see Josh Norman and the Redskins, Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals, Slay and the Lions, and then Morris Claiborne of the Cowboys. Diggs is a great talent, but his consistency, or lack thereof, doesn’t warrant high-end WR2 value, which is what you can get in a trade.
Perceived stock value: Low-end WR1/high-end WR2 now that he’s healthy.
Actual stock value: Low-end WR2 who is going to have ups and downs in a Sam Bradford-led offense.