Week 6 buy-low/sell-high options in the fantasy stock market
Fantasy football is a maddening thing, when you think about the ups and downs that fantasy owners go through every week. Whether it’s winning a matchup because last-minute replacement Sammie Coates goes off for 139 yards and two touchdowns, or that you lost a matchup by 1.5 points only to find out that Coates dropped five passes in that game.
It’s amazing what the ebbs and flows of the fantasy season can do to a fantasy player’s value, but that is where champions are made. That is where you need to take advantage of the situation, and buy-in when others are selling. That is what we do here every week in the fantasy stock market. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but which of those fish should you be aiming for, and more importantly, which one’s should you be selling before their value comes back down to reality.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
As of right now, you can get a true workhorse running back for a fraction of what his cost should be. Sure, Miller hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, but what he has done is touch the ball 115 times, and that’s despite the Texans essentially giving him a bye in Week 5 against the Vikings, where he touched the ball just nine times. Despite that low total, he ranks No. 3 in touches, behind only Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. You shouldn’t chase touchdowns in fantasy football, but you should chase touches. His 101 carries are 80.8 percent of their team’s carries, and his 14 receptions are 63.6 percent of the running back receptions.
There were plenty of concerns about Miller heading into last week, and I could’ve essentially written this piece before their Week 5 game was played, because you could have seen the outcome a mile away. The Vikings were going to beat them in Minnesota, and there were already Miller owners willing to sell before this game. He was going to be in this article last week, until I looked at the schedule. This is your last chance to get in before his price goes back to first-/second-round territory, because they are playing the Colts in Week 6, a team that has allowed every running back that has started against them to total at least 15.7 PPR points. There is no other running back who has carried the ball more than 54 times and not scored, so there is positive regression coming. His schedule following his Week 8 bye is also very enticing.
Perceived stock value: Low end RB2 who can’t score touchdowns.
Actual stock value: Mid-tier RB1 whose volume will lead to touchdowns in better matchups.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
Crowell is another running back who is coming off a down week. While one bad game doesn’t typically dictate a “buy-low,” the perception on Crowell was definitely a show me again-type situation, because he’s burned fantasy owners over the last two years, with big performances mixed in. That’s something you need to take advantage of as a fantasy player, because this year is different. Coming into the season, I liked Duke Johnson (admittedly more than I should have) and Crowell, simply because Hue Jackson was going to operate a run-first offense. Throughout his last four coached teams, they ranked top seven in rushing, and top five in rushing touchdowns.
So while some wondered if Crowell was the real deal, you should take advantage of his bad game against the Patriots. Coming into Week 5, Crowell had averaged 5.2 or more yards per carry in every game, and had scored in three of them. He’s done it by breaking tackles, as his 4.0 yards after contact ranks second to only Le’Veon Bell. Because of that, he has been graded as the sixth-best running back by PFF. He also ranks sixth in PFF’s Elusive Rating, which takes into consideration missed tackles, yards after contact, as well as carries and receptions, as he sits behind only Eddie Lacy, Duke Johnson, Jordan Howard, David Johnson and Christine Michael. This is definitely using the past to your advantage, and grabbing a running back who has carried the ball at least 12 times in every game. To put that into context, there are just eight running backs who have carried the ball at least 13 times in every game.
Perceived stock value: RB2/3 who may have played over his head in the first few weeks.
Actual stock value: High-end RB2 who has gotten large volume in even poor game scripts. Will get even better once McCown is back on the field.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
It’s extremely odd to think about trading for a player who has been downright awful through the first five weeks, but if there is anyone who deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Manning. He’s now graded very poorly by PFF in three straight games, but if there is something positive you can take from that, it’s that he hasn’t had four straight since way back in 2006. He’s going through a bit of a cold streak, but if you actually look closely, his numbers are mostly in line from where he’s been over the last two seasons in Ben McAdoo’s offense — he’s just missing the touchdowns. Below is a chart of Manning’s most important stats as a quarterback since taking over McAdoo’s offense.
As you can see, he’s been almost the identical quarterback, but his touchdowns just haven’t been there. That is literally the only thing different about his performances. It’s not as if we are talking about a rookie quarterback; we know what we are getting with Manning. If he continues with the path that he’s been on the last few years, he’d close out the final 11 games of 2016 with anywhere between 25 and 30 touchdowns. And we haven’t even talked about the fact that he has more talent around him than he’s ever had, especially at wide receiver. While most will be scared to snag Manning right now, you won’t find a better buy-low at the quarterback position.
Perceived stock value: Borderline droppable, better to stream quarterbacks.
Actual stock value: Low-end QB1 who could be a top-five QB from this point forward.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
Just one year after grading out as PFF’s second-worst receiver (223rd of 224 graded), Adams has stepped up and played well through the first four games. Well, on the stat sheet anyway — he’s still graded as the Packers’ worst receiver through five weeks, a tell-tale sign that you should sell while you can. Sure, Adams has scored 36 fantasy points through four games, leaving him as a top-30 wide receiver on a points-per-game basis. The issue with relying on that production is that it’s all been touchdown dependency, as he now has three touchdowns through four games, putting him on pace for 12 this season. That type of production will raise some eyebrows and give you some ammo in trade talks. What most fantasy players do, is head to the player’s profile and see that he’s scored 8.3 or more standard fantasy points in all but one game, and think he could be a WR3 or flex-type player. Of course it always helps to sell the fact that he plays with Aaron Rodgers.
Looking closer, he’s topped 54 yards just once in his last 12 games, and that’s despite seeing 67 targets over that span. Sure, he’s going to have touchdowns from time to time — again, he plays with Rodgers. But you don’t want to chase touchdowns in fantasy, you want to chase volume and yardage, something that Adams has been lacking to this point. Rodgers has been intercepted twice on 23 targets when throwing at Adams this year, while being intercepted just once on his other 70 targets to wide receivers. It’s only a matter of time before Randall Cobb starts to find the end zone on a regular basis.
Perceived stock value: WR3 who is playing better than Randall Cobb
Actual stock value: Bye week option who remains touchdown dependent.
Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
One big game is a good way for a wide receiver to get overhyped — see Travis Benjamin just a few weeks ago. Now it’s Coates’ time. After a monster performance in Week 5, I’ve been getting plenty of questions about Coates and whether or not he is a WR2 from this point forward. While the results have been promising over the last couple weeks, don’t forget Coates isn’t close to his team’s No. 1 option. In fact, Coates is the No. 3 option (at best) in his offense, and will start to lose targets once (a) Eli Rogers gets healthy and back on the field and (b) Ladarius Green does the same, not to mention (c) Coates’ dropping passes.
The Week 5 matchup was perfect for Coates and his strengths, as the Jets allowed a massive 16.6 yards per catch to wide receivers coming into this game. If you watched the game, it should have been a lot bigger for Coates, as he saw 11 targets and dropped four of them (could be five, if we were being hard on him). That is more drops than any one team had in Week 5, which should make you question how much they’ll trust him going forward. He is worth something, just like Benjamin, but this is the fantasy stock market, and we sell stock when it reaches its high point. When Coates is being debated as a WR2, we’ve reached his high point. If you can get that value, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
Perceived stock value: WR2/3 in a high-powered offense.
Actual stock value: Boom-or-bust WR3 who has reached his peak in value.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
There is a bit of nostalgia with certain fantasy players, and with that comes plenty of ownership, as well as loyalty. But this is where it ends for Gates, as Hunter Henry is the new sheriff in town, and he is better for the Chargers offense. Truth be told, Gates could catch another five touchdowns this year, but he may do that while totaling just 300 yards receiving. Through five weeks, Gates has only played in three games, yet he has been graded as the No. 45 tight end of the 58 who have played at least 25 percent of the snaps. Some fantasy football players will attribute Henry’s strong Week 5 game to Gates “getting worked back into game shape,” but if you watch him on the field, he’s an old man among young athletes. When looking at fantasy production, Gates has scored 10.5 and 13.0 PPR points in his last two games, but over 50 percent of that production has come from his two touchdowns. As a matter of fact, he has yet to top 30 yards in a game this year, while Henry has topped 60 in each of the last three games.
I understand that you aren’t going to get a whole lot from trading Gates, but there are so many other owners frustrated with their tight end situation this year, that you can probably get more than you think. When putting together a trade, don’t make Gates the centerpiece of the trade, but include him in a trade with someone else, where the other owner feels they may have solidified their tight end spot by grabbing “Antonio Gates.” I put that in quotes because he is no longer the Antonio Gates that you remember, but now just a low-end TE2 option that will have to score in order to make it into the top 12 options that week.
Perceived stock value: Low-end TE1 who has scored more than 10 PPR points in each of his last two games
Actual stock value: Low-end TE2 who needs to score in order to be startable.