Week 7 buy-low/sell-high options in the fantasy stock market
Week 6 is in the books; stock prices have risen, stock prices have fallen. There are some players out there who you should consider “blue-chip stock,” which is stock that will always give you solid return on your investment. These are the players who have essentially no risk, and arguably, their stock price can’t get any higher, like LeSean McCoy.
You won’t come to the Fantasy Stock Market and find me telling you to sell blue-chip stock. But why, isn’t that the point, to sell high? There is a point where you need to realize you’ve reached the top, and no matter what stock you trade for, it likely won’t be enough. No, here in the Fantasy Stock Market, we are going to sell some players who have reached their peak and won’t offer consistent production going forward, as well as buy some players who we know have the potential to be blue-chip type stock if something small changes in their situation. Let’s talk about what stock to target, shall we?
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Some may scoff at the sight of Green in this piece, but if you would have reached out to the Green owner after that Week 4 games against the Dolphins, asking to trade for him, you would’ve gotten laughed at. But now, he’s an attainable piece after coming up short on the stat sheet with four catches for 50 yards against the Cowboys, and then six catches for 88 yards against the Patriots. Before going too hard on Green, take a look at what opposing No. 1 wide receivers have done against those teams.
|Player||vs. DAL||Player||vs. NE|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||4/73/0||Michael Floyd||3/61/0|
|DeSean Jackson||3/40/0||DeAndre Hopkins||4/56/0|
|Alshon Jeffery||5/70/0||Terrelle Pryor||5/48/0|
So when you judge Green, try understand how he did against his level of competition. What you want to look for is targets — he’s averaged 10.0 per game. You look for receptions — he’s averaged 7.0 per game. And then you look for yards — he’s averaged 101.0 per game, which ranks second in the NFL to only Julio Jones. Green is the elite wide receiver we all know and love, and he’s cheaper than he’s been in a long time. Oh, and he plays the Browns this week.
Perceived stock value: Extremely volatile WR1
Actual stock value: Elite WR1 who has had tough matchups
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
If you aren’t able to pry Green away from his owner, a good alternative to target in a trade would be Maclin. It’s obvious he would be cheaper, but just how cheap is the real question. After posting just 230 yards over his last four games with no touchdowns, owners are essentially giving up on Maclin. Despite his lack of production, the foundation is still there for Maclin, as he’s totaled at least seven targets in four of his five games this year, and averages 7.6 of them per game, which ranks 21st among wide receivers. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Maclin is a WR1 in fantasy, but for a guy who averaged 8.0 targets last year, and finished as the No. 15 wide receiver in PPR leagues, we aren’t far off. On top of that, the Chiefs are throwing the ball more this year, as Alex Smith is averaging 38 attempts per game, which puts him on pace for 608 attempts this season. By comparison, he’s never thrown more than 508 passes in his career. If you think Tyreek Hill is going to score double the touchdowns that Maclin is, don’t trade for him. But positive touchdown regression is coming for Maclin, and he’ll be a much more reliable WR2/3 going forward.
Perceived stock value: WR3/4 who isn’t scoring
Actual stock value: WR2/3 who still has a solid foundation and is due for positive regression
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
This was a tough one to swallow for me, but after much internal debate, Rodgers is a buy-low candidate. You don’t have a 1.6-percent career interception rate by being bad at football. You also don’t throw 3.87 touchdowns for every one interception over your career without being great at football. It’s reached rock bottom for his stock, as I saw his name and stats plastered on the TV next to Johnny Manziel’s Monday morning. Yes, it’s gotten that bad. But let’s take a look at the positives. He’s starting to throw the ball more (42 and 45 attempts the last two weeks) because the Packers defense has been and will likely continue to be awful. By comparison, there were just four games in 2014 and four games in 2015 where he threw more than 39 times. In his four games outside of the Vikings matchup (who don’t allow much in the way of points), he’s thrown nine touchdowns and also ran for one. If you tell me a quarterback is at rock bottom by scoring 10 touchdowns in four games, it’s a good sign. You cannot have the resume that Rodgers does, and not get a pass from time to time. He struggled in two straight games, and is in a serious slump, but I’m betting that he’ll come out of it soon, and you should too. His upcoming schedule goes like this: Bears, Falcons, Colts, Titans and Redskins. If you can get him at a major discount, now is the time.
Perceived stock value: Low-end QB1 who is barely startable
Actual stock value: Top-five QB who has hit a bump, but his schedule will get him back on track
Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
It was comical to see Ajayi have the game of his life against the Steelers in Week 6, because nobody in their right mind was playing him in fantasy for that game. There were some leagues that Ajayi was on the waiver wire, and rightfully so. Arian Foster was due to come back this week, and Ajayi had totaled no more than 42 yards rushing in any single game this season. There was little room for hope, outside of another Foster injury. The reason you should be selling Ajayi despite his big game, is because everything that needed to go right for him this week, did. Foster was limited and played just 11 snaps in this game, the Steelers were without their best run-stopping defensive end Cameron Heyward and inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Dolphins offensive line held up, and the Dolphins had a lead the whole game. Shall we go through and find how many of these things are likely to repeat themselves? Ajayi may have been a talent you’d want on another team who was in another situation, but in Miami, he’s not worth what you can get for him right now.
Perceived stock value: RB2 who has overtaken the Dolphins starting job
Actual stock value: Flex option who will have very little value in games where Miami is the underdog
Cameron Meredith, WR, Chicago Bears
“Wait a minute, you want me to sell a wide receiver who has seen 27 targets over the last two weeks, and is the No. 2 PPR scoring wide receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr. over the last two weeks? You must be crazy!” Well, sure. However, if I would’ve asked you who Meredith was two weeks ago, not many would have known his name. It’s because he’s an undrafted free agent who had caught 17 passes in his career before Week 5. This isn’t saying that Meredith cannot be an exciting player who makes a name for himself in the NFL — this is rather stating that there is no way he continues this pace of outproducing Alshon Jeffery. A lot of times, I can gauge where a player’s trade value is based on the questions I receive on Twitter, and from what I’ve been hearing, Meredith is considered a legit every-week WR2 with top-10 upside. Keep in mind that Brian Hoyer has attempted 92 passes over the last two weeks, second to only Joe Flacco in that timeframe. If you know anything about John Fox, it’s that he will go back to the run, especially after losing back-to-back games against the Colts and the Jaguars. Is Meredith going to offer value when Jay Cutler comes back? Most likely, yes. But is it near the value that Meredith is worth right now? No.
Perceived stock value: Strong WR2 with the sky being the limit
Actual stock value: WR3 who has benefitted from high volume, gameplan
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
I put Ryan down here at the bottom hoping nobody would notice. Jokes aside, do you think that Ryan will finish the year with 5,533 yards, 40 touchdowns and nine interceptions? No? Okay, I’m glad we got that out of the way. While Ryan’s demise was greatly exaggerated in 2015, his emergence to the top is of similar proportions. I’d been a fan of Ryan for some time, because he was one of those quarterbacks who improved every year in almost every major statistical category in his first five years, but he had plateaued over the last four years, averaging 282-294 yards per game and around 26-32 touchdowns per year. While that’s not bad, we are talking about low-end QB1/high-end QB2 numbers, not elite No. 1 quarterback-type numbers. His yards per attempt sits at a ridiculous 9.9 on the year, which is 1.6 yards more than the next-closest regular quarterback (Philip Rivers). Ryan’s previous career high was 7.7, so we look to be in for some serious regression. Now sitting at six games played, it may be a steep decline. Let me explain. If we were to say that he would finish with 8.0 yards per attempt (which is elite), what would his numbers look like for the rest of the season?
|Matt Ryan (1-6)||6||143||210||9.9||2075||345.8|
|Matt Ryan (7-17 proj.)||10||265||390||7.0||2725||272.5|
|Matt Ryan (expected)||16||408||600||8.0||4800||300.0|
The chart above represents what Ryan has done over the first six weeks, his projected, and his season “expected,” and it’s important to keep in mind that I even gave him an increase in pass attempts, as he’s only averaging 35.0 per game, which would put him on pace for 560. After raising the “expected” to 600 attempts and 8.0 yards per attempt, I simply subtracted what he’s done through the first six games, leaving the “projected” column. As you can see, it’s only natural to project a spike in Ryan’s numbers, though I’m not sure many know how big of a spike it could be. And we haven’t even talked about his 7.1 percent touchdown rate, which is leaps and bounds higher than his previous career high of 5.2 percent.
(And if you want to call gambler’s fallacy on that chart and say that Ryan has already banked his to-date production, projections going forward still don’t believe in what he’s done thus far.)
Perceived stock value: The best fantasy quarterback out there
Actual stock value: Mid-tier QB1 the rest of the season