Week 12 buy-low/sell-high options in the fantasy stock market
What a journey it has been through the Fantasy Stock Market in 2016. We’ve gone through the ups and downs of the market, and if you played your cards correctly, you came out on top. But here we are, with just five weeks left in the season, and the trading floor is about to close up for the year. That’s right, this will be the last time in 2016 that the Fantasy Stock Market will be open for business, so let’s make it count.
If you knew that you were going to pull out all of the money out of your 401(k) in six months, would you invest in a 10-year bond? No. It’s similar in your fantasy league right now, as only the next five weeks matter. If you have a wide receiver who will play Denver twice over the next five weeks, you would probably want to sell him for pennies on the dollar. This is not the time to wait. Now is the time you go out and win yourself a fantasy championship. So for one last time, who should you be buying, and who should you be selling?
Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (at BAL, vs. PHI, at CLE, vs. PIT, at HOU)
At this point, the entire fantasy world should know about Giovani Bernard and his torn ACL. There are a lot of fantasy players who automatically realize that Hill now has significantly more value, but once they look at his schedule, they may get worried. If you are already in the playoffs and the Hill owner is fighting for a playoff spot, you need to make a push for him. The art of this trade relies on you letting that owner know about Hill’s upcoming games against the Ravens and the Eagles, two of the best run defenses in the league. The real value in trading for Hill has to do with his playoff schedule, where he’ll play against the Browns, Steelers and Texans. All three of those teams rank in the bottom-12 against fantasy running backs. What’s even more applicable to Hill is that they allow touchdowns. The Browns have allowed 13 rushing scores (most in the NFL), the Steelers have allowed 10 (fifth-most), and the Texans have allowed eight (10th-most).
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets (vs. NE, vs. IND, at SF, vs. MIA, at NE)
While the Patriots aren’t the greatest matchup for a running back, they also aren’t the worst for a player like Forte. We know that he sees plenty of volume (20-plus carries in five games) in the running game, but he’s also plenty involved in the passing game, which is where the Patriots struggle. Through 10 games, they have allowed 568 yards receiving to running backs, which is the third-most in the league. But the real treasure is beyond Week 12, when Forte plays the Colts and 49ers. Those two teams rank bottom-10 against fantasy running backs, as both of them allow over 20 fantasy points per game to them — that’s in standard leagues. Considering what is going on with the Jets, it’s quite possible that you can acquire Forte for less than he’s worth. He’s going to be an RB1 for the rest of the season, and you want him on your team.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills (vs. JAX, at OAK, vs. PIT, vs. CLE, vs. MIA)
This may seem obvious to some, but to others, it may raise an eyebrow considering McCoy just had surgery on his hand (he’s going to be fine and will play in Week 12). On top of that, McCoy hasn’t topped 12 fantasy points since way back in Week 6 against the 49ers. So when looking for a potential buy-lower-than-he-should-be, McCoy should be atop your list. If you own a lot of depth, now is the time to trade it away in order to lock up the potential RB1 for the rest of the season. Looking at their schedule, the Bills and McCoy are going to rack up a lot of carries against their remaining opponents. The Jaguars are allowing the sixth-most carries to opponents, the Raiders allow over 20 fantasy points per game to running backs, the Steelers have allowed 366 rushing yards on 68 carries (5.38 YPC) in their three games without Cameron Heyward (who is out for the year), the Browns have allowed the most carries and the second-most points per game to running backs, and then the Dolphins who have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards this season. Look for McCoy to close out the season extremely strong.
Other notable name: Gary Barnidge (the best ROS schedule among TEs and Josh McCown is the starter, at least for now)
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (at CHI, bye, vs. DEN, at KC, at JAX)
It’s been one heck of a season for Mariota, but it’s time that you cut the cord between him and your team. Sure, he’s been the No. 1 fantasy quarterback since the start of Week 5, scoring at least 16.7 fantasy points in every game, but it’s time we take a closer look. In that amazing stretch, he’s played against the Dolphins, Browns, Colts (twice), Jaguars, Chargers and Packers. That’s one of the best schedules to have, but going forward, he has what is likely the worst schedule among quarterbacks. In Week 12 he will head to Chicago to play against a Bears team that allows just 17.5 points per game while at home, compared to 27.6 points on the road. While that’s not great, it gets a lot worse. They have their bye in Week 13 and then play against the Broncos in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. If you’ve paid attention to fantasy points allowed, you’d know that you don’t start quarterbacks against the Broncos, as they allow just 13.7 fantasy points per game. And if you somehow make it through that game, the Titans will play in Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs in Week 15, one of the least friendly road games for a quarterback. On top of that, the temperatures in Kansas City will not be friendly to quarterbacks. It’s time to sell high on the second-year star.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at IND, vs. NYG, at BUF, at CIN, vs BAL)
If you’ve been here before, you would have traded for Roethlisberger at his low point. However, I did mention that he would be back in the sell column a few weeks later, so here he is. Though he has a great matchup that I do believe he’ll exploit in Week 12, this move is more about Weeks 13-15, which includes two weeks in your fantasy playoffs. He will play against a Giants team that has held nine of 10 quarterbacks to fewer than 16 fantasy points, which have included games against Dak Prescott (they are the only team to hold him under 18 fantasy points), Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton. That game will be at home, which is the one positive you can point out. So if he overcomes the Giants’ tough pass defense, you are onto Week 14 and 15, the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. And he plays two games on the road. I repeat, Ben Roethlisberger will play two games on the road to start your fantasy playoffs. Those matchups against the Bills and Bengals should be good ones for most quarterbacks, but as for Roethlisberger… no. Below is a chart of Roethlisberger’s games on the road this season. Keep in mind that the weather is only going to get worse for quarterbacks in Buffalo and Cincinnati.
Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (at BUF, vs. DEN, vs. MIN, at HOU, vs. TEN)
If you’ve tried to sell Robinson in weeks past, you were likely unsuccessful finding a suitor, but after three straight games with a touchdown, you may have better luck. If you were to break down Robinson’s season, it’s been a bit of Jekyll and Hyde, as he’s totaled just 7.8 points or less in six games, but scored 13.6 or more in three other games. That’s going to continue to be the case because of his quarterback, Blake Bortles, who is completing just 60.2 percent of his passes on the season, which ranks 27th of 35 quarterbacks who have played at least 25 percent of the snaps. On top of his quarterback issues, Robinson will play against two defenses that have yet to allow a wide receiver more than 98 yards this season. The Broncos have been a team to avoid in all formats this season, as they have allowed just one wide receiver to top 77 yards since Week 1. The fact that the Broncos have played against T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Tyrell Williams (twice), Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas, yet still have allowed only one 100-yard receiver (Brandin Cooks), is impressive. The very next week Robinson will play against a Vikings defense that has yet to allow a wide receiver to record more than 81 yards receiving. And if you somehow sneak by those two matchups, he plays against the Texans in Week 15, a team that has allowed 139 yards per game to the entire opposing team of wide receivers, which ranks as the third-lowest in the NFL. All it takes is one bad game to ruin your run for a fantasy championship, and you don’t want your championship run in Blake Bortles’ hands.
Other notable name: Rishard Matthews (if you read Mariota above, you understand why)