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by Nick Ercolano
November 15, 2018
Every other Thursday, we're going to be breaking down my top trade targets for Week 11 of 2018 fantasy football. Looking at some guys you should be selling high or buying low based on their recent production in comparison to their rest of season value.
Let me know down below who your favorite buy-low, sell-high guys are!
1. John Brown - WR, Baltimore Ravens (Noah)
John Brown is a guy who can't possibly get cheaper. Last week, he was on bye, and before that, he combined for a 6/45/0 line through two games. People are already beginning to sour on JB, as he's only 77% owned in Yahoo leagues, so it's the perfect time to buy.
Despite his recent struggles, he gets one of, if not, the best schedules you could ever ask for at the receiver position. From weeks 11 on, he gets the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers, and Browns, who allow the 10th, 11th, 3rd, 14th, 2nd, 13th, and 4th most points to the position, respectively. In other words, Brown is ready to tear some shit all the way up. Also, despite his recent struggles, he's seen 7 or more targets in 6/9 games, and 6 or more in 7/9 (last time he saw less than 6 was week 6). The Ravens have thrown the ball on 64% of their plays this season, and over their past 3 weeks, have ranked 3rd, chucking it 69% (nice) of the time. Sure, you could say this is a small sample, and the teams they played over that span (Saints, Panthers, Steelers) can score, but again, looking at their upcoming schedule, I'd venture to say that ATL, KC, TB, and LAC can put up big numbers, who they play in weeks 13-16, the heart of the fantasy playoffs.
On top of his schedule, Brown has actually prove he can produce. He's finished as a top 20 receiver in 3 games, and top 40 5 times. I know top 40 isn't great, but for the price you'll pay for him, you'll get an equivalent return on investment. Also, looking at the corners he faced in games where he was held outside of the top 40, ALL of them ran a 4.42 or faster 40 time, outside of Joe Haden, who PFF ranks as the 22nd best coverage corner. Also, looking at the corners who held him outside the top 20 (finished WR37 and WR33), Bradley Roby ran a 4.39, and in week one, Tre'Davious White was on him. Again, in the upcoming weeks, I don't think anyone poses a threat to JB. Next week, he gets the Bengals, who Desean Jackson (similar skillset) lit up for 3/68/1 two weeks ago and Tyreek dropped 7/68/1 in week 7. If you wait a week on Brown, it might be too late.
Other interesting things about him: he leads the team in air yards (1,160) and is 4th in the league in that category, and ranks 3rd in aDOT among WRs with 15 or more targets (17.3, only trails DJax and Kenny Stiils). As for counting numbers, he's still on pace for 60/1,068/7 (119 targets), and that's with his toughest matchups behind him.
Overall, you're getting a guy, who at one point, was widely regarded as a WR2, for dirt cheap. Honestly, my only concern would be the possible QB change, but even if Lamar Jackson (or RG3) aren't good fits for Brown, investing in him is well worth the risk, as he could provide league-winning value down the stretch.
2. Larry Fitzgerald - WR, Arizona Cardinals (Noah)
Two Cardinals over the past 2 weeks on a buy low list? I never thought I'd see the day.
Unlike the young, spry, David Johnson, we're taking a look at one of the older guys in the league, Ol' Larry Fitz. After starting the year tragically, with just one top 50 finish in his first 6 games, it looked like he was dust in the wind. Since then, though, he has finished no lower than WR30, ending weeks 8-10 as WR24, WR8, and WR29. Now, I'm not gonna say Byron Leftwich becoming he OC flipped this ship around, as it's been a small sample, but he's a hell of a lot better than Mike McCoy.
Through Larry's last 3 games, he has averaged 10 targets, 6 receptions, 64 yards, and has scored in 2/3 contests. Obviously, Larry looks to be their #1, and running routes out of the slot, he gets a ton of looks against mostly subpar corners. Why he's a buy-low, though, is because he put up somewhat of a dud this week in a game many thought would have breakout potential. Facing the Chiefs, it was unfathomable that the Cardinals would be able to keep it within 500 points, but Arizona's defense had other plans. Since they weren't in full catch up mode all game (they were trailing, but not a blowout), they didn't throw as much as expected, which resulted in Fitzgerald only posting a 6/50/0 line. There are two things about this performance, though, which make him a quality buy low.
Firstly, Larry runs the majority of his routes out of the slot, typically facing lower-tier corners. The Chiefs, however, boast one of the best slot corners in the league, Kendall Fuller (PFF's 19th ranked coverage cornerback). Interestingly enough, he held Jarvis Landry to the exact same line (6/50/0) the week prior and Emmanuel Sanders to 4/57/0 in Week 8. For further proof for y'all who doubt me, he held Tyler Boyd to 3/27/0, and Edelman to 4/54/1. What I'm trying to say is, Fitz wasn't the issue this week, it was the fact that the Chiefs have been solid against slot WRs, mostly impart to Kendall Fuller.
The other thing that was promising in Week 10 was that Fitz saw 10 targets. Leftwich seems to recognize he's their best receiver, and Josh Rosen is treating him as such. He's seen 6 RZ targets over the past 3 weeks and paces the team in RZ (9), and EZ (6) looks. He's also run 34 or more routes the past 3 weeks, something he hadn't done since week one.
All in all, Fitz looks to be healthy and is being treated as the team's #1 WR. As for his schedule, it isn't as butter as John Brown's, but he gets OAK, LAC, GB, DET, ATL, LAR, SEA (only Detroit and Seattle rank bottom 15 in points allowed to the position). If you need a WR that can push you to fantasy glory, Fitz is you man, as he's a lock for 8+ targets (has received 8 or more last 4 games) and a threat to score, dominating his team's looks in and around the end zone.
For reference, over the past 4 weeks, he's on pace to see 152 targets, turning them into 92/924/8, and after this down week, the price you're going to have to pay for him won't rival his true value.
3. Sony Michel - RB, New England Patriots (Noah)
As Justin Timberlake once said, "Might sound crazy but it ain't no lie, baby, bye, bye, bye". Not many people know this, but he was actually talking about Sony Michel.
This past week, Michel returned from what appeared to be an exploded knee, and to many owners' dismay, he disappointed. Now, if there's a guy in your league who owns Michel, I guarantee he wants to send his ass to a land far, far away. How do I know this? Well, in my main league, I own Sony Michel, but I'm not gonna let these past couple weeks overshadow the type of player he is. Last week, he totaled 31 yards, put up donuts in weeks 8 and 9 while sitting out, and totaled 35 in week 7 against the Bears (when he got injured). Now, he's going on bye, another week of zeroes. For the past 4 weeks, he's been a headache, and I guarantee if someone in your league is on the fringe of making the playoffs and is in desperate need of a RB, they'll take whatever they can get for him. This, my friends, is when we pounce.
Before his injury, in his 3 games when he finally started getting work, he was averaging 22 carries, 109 yards from scrimmage, and 1.33 touchdowns. In other words, he was a GD menace. Over that span, he scored and totaled 106 or more YFS in each contest. Sure, he doesn't get many targets, but if you're getting 20+ carries and goal-line work in one of the league's best offenses, you don't really need to (I mean, it would be nice). There isn't much to say for Michel production-wise, as he's proven he can convert on the goal line and make good use of his carries (4.72 YPC over that span), the only real issue here is his health.
Now, I know what you're gonna say: "but, but, Rex Burkhead is back". Listen, the guy isn't going to come in, demand 15 touches, and relegate Sony to riding the pine. In week 2, Michel's first game, Rex played 25% of snaps, totaling 6 touches. A week later, he didn't see a single carry and had just 2 receptions (Michel had 15 touches). This was the game he left with the neck injury that landed him on the IR, but he sustained that in the 4th quarter. Burk simply wasn't in the gameplan once Michel entered. Let's say, for the fun of it, that Burkhead does return and Belichick wants to roll him out there. Is there any reason to believe, with his health, he'll be able to sustain 10 touches a game? He reportedly had a tear in his knee entering the season, suffered a concussion, and landed on IR with a neck injury. Even last year, Burkhead only played in 10 games. Sony's knee isn't 100%, I get that, but when a guy who is more banged up than him, who is clearly the backup, returns from IR, it shouldn't be expected that he'd all of a sudden take the job, or even cut into it enough to ruin Michel's value.
Overall, the price you're paying for Michel is nowhere near his value. If you can afford to acquire him knowing you won't get him this week, as he's on a bye, then go for it. He's a locked-in RB2 when he's out there, as he showed earlier this season, and if you can bring him in for anything less than that, go for it.
1. Derrick Henry - RB, Tennessee Titans (Nick)
2. Allen Robinson - WR, Chicago Bears (Nick)
Da Bears, da Bears, da Bears, da Bears. Are frauds.
This kinda fake news hype will happen to you when your previous seven games have been against, Arizona, TB, Miami, NE, NYJ, BUF, and Detroit. Are you shittin me? Well, looks like your luck has run out. Robinson is coming off of a game where he caught 6-of-8 targets for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns. That's fantastic for those of you that probably didn't play him. But, that was just the first time since Week 2 Robinson has eclipsed 7 targets, 5 catches OR 65 receiving yards.
Fantasy players, as they usually do, will go all in on this thing called recency bias. They're going to paint this picture in their heads since Mitch is playing so well (or at least scoring a lot of FPs) and Robinson is FINALLY healthy, this is what they've been waiting for.
Nah. I'm here to tell you, it's a facade. A foogaze. His recent success is almost 100% due to his running ability and the ridiculous schedule they've been gifted over the past seven weeks. Unfortunately for Robinson, this is far from predictive for his future fantasy success. The rushing is great for Trubisky's fantasy floor, but listen, he's still literally PFF's 31st graded QB in passing, and 18th in FO's DVOA amongst QBs. He's connecting on a ton of deep balls, against bad pass defenses, but it's going to be much farther and fewer between going forward, especially for Robinson.
The schedule might look easy at first glance, but I'm not so sure it is when you consider the matchups Robinson will take on as the #1 outside WR for Chicago. I know he just ate up Detroit, but that'll happen Darius Slay is out, and he's expected to be back for their Week 12 rematch. That's a week after he'll find himself lined up cross Xavier Rhodes. You might also think of the Giants as a terrible team overall, and they are, but it's on the road, and Giants have quietly allowed just the 5th fewest FPs to WRs on the year. The Rams in Week 14 will have Talib back, which is a MASSIVE upgrade to this secondary and downgrade to opposing WRs. GB at home in the playoffs does look fantastic, and I wouldn't bet against Robinson having a good one here, but Jaire Alexander has been every bit of the 1st round capital talent the Packers used on him, and Robinson has a mediocre 4-61 in their first matchup. SF also looks good, but again, it's on the road and for one reason or another (Sherman), they've allowed the 4th fewest FPs to WRs on the right side. And the whole reason I included the FPs vs right WRs is obviously that Robinson runs the majority of his routes on the outside.
Selling Robinson comes down to his CB1 matchups plus the fact that I don't trust in Trubisky being able to statistically perform through the air against defenses that don't rank amongst the worst in the NFL.
3. Kenny Golladay - WR, Detroit Lions
This one hurts to say, but it's the right thing to do. When Golden Tate and his 26% target share got shipped to Philadelphia, everyone assumed this was going to be at worst, a small bump in Golladay's volume. In the wideouts first game separated, Golladay saw just four targets. On Sunday, Golladay had a major bounce-back game, and that's why I'm telling you to get out of the Golladay game while you can. He caught 6-of-13 targets for 78 yards and a score. From a fantasy perspective, you're thinking cool, this is what we're going to have. But, that 78 yards on 13 targets is wildly inefficient, and the bigger picture here is that I think losing Tate who has been Stafford's favorite weapon for nearly four years is going to be a much bigger loss to this offense then people realize. They've looked really bad since his departure, albeit they were playing at CHI and at MIN, but it's not like their schedule lightens up, and that's the problem.
But going back to Golly's Week 10 numbers, Marvin Jones actually left this game with about 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, while the team was down 34-10. So you're talking no other weapons, and now strictly garbage time, of course, he's going to put up numbers. In that fourth quarter alone, (remember Golly went 13-6-78-1), Golladay saw 6-of-13 targets (46%), caught two of them for 30 yards and his touchdown. So, the large, large majority of his production came with MJ sidelined, in garbage time. Jones is day-to-day with a bruised knee so that won't be the case in Week 11 and onward.
3. Corey Davis - WR, Tennessee Titans
This is a tough pill to swallow. If you have Corey Davis rostered, you've likely had to hold on for weeks as nobody else wanted his ass. Well, he finally showed a glimpse of relevance this past week, pounding the Pats to the tune of 7 receptions, 125 yards, and a score. He finished the week as the WR5, and facing the Colts next week, everyone will have him ranked as a top 20 option. This has happened earlier this season with Davis, where in Week 4 he put up a 9/161/1 against the Eagles, just to finish outside of WR55 for the following three weeks. If there's one thing consistent about Davis, it's his inconsistency.
What's interesting about CD's production this year, as well, is in his only two games he finished as better than a WR2, he faced defenses that allow the 9th, and 18th most fantasy points to the position (Eagles and Pats). From here on out, here are the ranks for the defenses he faces (in terms of FP's allowed to the position): Indianapolis (25th), Houston (22nd), New York Jets (8th), Jacksonville (32nd), New York Giants (27th), and Washington Redskins (17th). As you can see, only ONE defense ranks outside the top 16 in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position, which, in layman's terms, means he's got a tough road ahead.
On top of his shitstorm of a schedule, he's in an offense that wants to run the ball. They rank 2nd to last in pass percentage this season (51%), which is due to their elite defense, allowing 16.8 points/game, the lowest mark in the league. This defense, paired with their running attack, has led them to average 18.7 points/game, 28th most in the NFL. Now, you may be asking, why does this matter? Well, you see, the only games that Corey Davis has been relevant (inside the top 30 at the position) were when Tennessee scored AT LEAST 25 points, well above their average. In week 4 against Philly, they put up 26 and Davis was the WR4, week 9 in Dallas, they dropped 28 and CD was WR27, and last week, against the Pats, they dropped a light 34, and Davis finished as WR5. It's easy to see what makes Davis usable in fantasy: he needs a plus matchup in a game where Tennessee is putting up points. In their remaining games, they only play ONE team who ranks inside the top 10 in terms of points scored/game (not counting week 17 since real ones don't play FF that week). They get the Colts (6th most points/game), the Texans (16th most), then the Jets (23rd), Jags (29th), Giants (26th), and Redskins (27th), meaning they'll likely let their defense rock out, which is at Davis' detriment.
And lastly, I get the volume argument. He's 2nd in the league in terms of team target share (31.3%) and has seen 10 or more targets in 4 of 9 games, but guess what? He's finished as a WR3 or better 3 times. The guy has gotten 10 or more looks MORE TIMES than he's been a viable fantasy option. In fact, he's finished outside the top 50 in 5/9 games, meaning over half the time, he's completely useless. He can get all the targets he wants, but in an offense that throws the ball 31 times a game, 2nd least in the league, with a quarterback that can't feel his fingers, I don't care if you have a 50% market share. When you're 2nd in the league in target share, but 34th in fantasy points per game through 9 weeks (he has passed his bye), maybe you shouldn't be expecting regression to the mean, but instead, live with the fact that this offense just may not be able to support a WR2.
4. Marlon Mack - RB, Indianapolis Colts (Noah)
Y'all might hate me for this, but if selling Mack is wrong, then I don't wanna be right. At this point of the season, with playoffs right around the corner, people are buying, and buying high. Let me paint a picture for you. I would tell you to close your eyes, but then you wouldn't be able to read this.
Alright, imagine I told you that there was some runningback who played in an offense who throws the ball 63% of the time, the 11th highest percentage in the league, is on the field for 54% of snaps, and doesn't dominate 3rd down/passing work. What if I also told you he's battled hamstring and foot issues that caused him to miss 4 games and leave early/be limited in 2 others? Upon first impression, I'd bet this guy doesn't sound too valuable. Can you guess who I'm referring to? Well, if you're some type of psychic or football genius, you'd know I'm talking about Marlon Mack.
There's a funny thing called recency bias, and we're all a victim to it. Mack is an exceptional case of that phenomenon. After missing week one with a hamstring injury he dealt with all offseason, he was limited in week two, commanding 30% of the team's snaps, and then missed weeks 3, 4, and 5 with another hammy issue. Like the Wu Tang Clan, hamstrings ain't nothing to fuck with, as we've seen with Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook this year. In no way am I saying it's a lock for Mack to go down again with the same injury, but I'd feel a whole hell of a lot safer having a guy who's had a clean bill of health all year.
When he's been on the field, though, he's produced. Just looking at his numbers in weeks 6-8 (bye week 9), you'd think he's a locked-in top 10 option, posting 90+ YFS in all 3 games, including an outing where he totaled 149 and 159 yards. Well, I'd tell you to slow down with that top 10 talk (dope alliteration) and look at who he played those weeks. Week 6, he totaled 93 YFS on 13 touches against the Jets, who allow the 13th most points to the position, Week 7, he totaled 159 YFS and 2 scores against the Bills, who allow the 8th most points to the position, and finally, in Week 8, he totaled 149 YFS and 2 scores against Oakland, who allow the 5th most points to RBs. In the other two games he's played, he's finished outside the top 40 at the position, facing the Redskins, who allow the 23rd most points to RBs, and last week, against the Jags, who give up the 8th least fantasy points to the position. As you can see, he takes what defenses give him, which is not something that will be helpful in making your push to the fantasy championship.
Over the next 6 weeks, he faces ONE defense who ranks top 10 in fantasy points allowed to the position. From week 11 and beyond, he gets the Titans (allow the 4th least), Miami (4th most), Jacksonville (8th least, also limited him to 38 YFS last week), Houston (19th most), Cowboys (9th least), and Giants (14th most). As you can see, his only plus matchup is week 12 when he gets the Dolphins and Week 16 isn't all that bad when he gets the G-Men, but you're going to need to make it to your championship for that to even matter, and with his previous matchups, he's not going to be the one helping you reach that pinnacle.
Don't get me wrong, Mack is by no means a bad fantasy option. He's still a RB2 in my eyes, just not the fringe RB1/high-end RB2 many view him as. Ship him off for a guy like Joe Mixon or David Johnson and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
by Noah Pires
December 13, 2018
by Noah Pires
December 12, 2018
by Nick Ercolano
December 10, 2018