Welcome back for another year of Buy Low Sell High. As I spoke about on the couch this week, the best buy low, sell high deals will make you doubt yourself when you make them. This week, the best buy low deals might actually be buy highs and the best sell highs might actually be sell lows. Draft position persists in fantasy players’ heads well past Week 1, and it can help us offload players who are likely to not come close to delivering value based on the Week 1 reveal, and it can help us get players who are clearly worth more than their draft position still come at a discount from their true value as fantasy players always want to see another week or two before completely adopting the new status of the underdrafted player. Let’s run down the “buy high” and “sell low” specials, along with a few traditional “buy low” and “sell high” specials.
Willie Snead IV, NO - Snead was going in the 6th-10th round range, but after Week 1, it’s hard to say he has less value than Brandin Cooks, who was going in the 2nd-3rd. That isn’t to say Cooks isn’t going to be worth that draft capital. If you can get Snead for a receiver who went well ahead of him but seems likely to underperform like Golden Tate or Eric Decker (maybe even Demaryius Thomas, and of course Sammy Watkins), it’s an easy call.
C.J. Anderson, DEN - Anderson should be a first-round pick if we drafted today, and you should be willing to give up second-round value for him in a heartbeat. Maybe even Todd Gurley or Adrian Peterson. As long as he stays healthy, Anderson is going to deliver the big year we all expected last year.
Spencer Ware, KC - Ware won a lot of matchups for people last week, but there will be some fixation on the snap split between him and Charcandrick West. Ware was so much more productive that we shouldn’t expect that split to remain static. Even when Jamaal Charles returns, Ware should maintain a large role. Consider him close to DeAngelo Williams value, ie don’t trade him unless it clearly improves your lineup and be willing to trade for him if you don’t lose much edge from your front line starters.
Sammy Watkins, BUF - Watkins foot is not 100% and it is clearly affecting him. He is not in an offense that allows him to be anything but the #1 focus of pass defenses. If he doesn’t have his usual quickness/speed edge, it is going to be crippling for the Bills pass offense, and Watkins will be taken out of the game. The Bills best bet at this point might be to deploy him as a decoy. These issues don’t get better without rest, and even in that case, they don’t get THAT much better. Watkins for someone like Michael Crabtree or Willie Snead IV is a steal right now.
Devonta Freeman, ATL - The RBBC in Atlanta is here to stay. Freeman could still recoup something close to draft value if Tevin Coleman suffers multiple injuries that cause him to miss time again this year, but that’s about the only hope for Freeman drafters. Coleman is more explosive on the outside and he has vastly improved as a receiver. Perhaps Freeman could become a buy low once this reality is absorbed into the fantasy football mass consciousness, but for now, you should try to package him with something else to get Doug Martin or C.J. Anderson.
Dez Bryant, DAL - Don’t sell Bryant just because, but be willing to deal him if you can recoup second round value. Dak Prescott isn’t going to take many chance downfield (he did take two to Bryant that were almost converted), and he shouldn’t have to with Dallas’s great running game. Bryant looks like he did before his injury, so there is a chance he becomes a buy low soon. If Josh Norman follows him around the field this week, maybe very soon. For now, I would deal him Alshon Jeffery, Amari Cooper, or Mike Evans straight up without blinking.
Demaryius Thomas, DEN - Thomas is at the intersection of two worries. His hip sounds like an issue that isn’t going to go away and probably limit his effectiveness on certain parts of the route tree. The bigger problem before the injury was reported is that the Broncos aren’t going to have near the 2015 pass volume of almost 38 attempts a game. Emmanuel Sanders also seems better suited for the timing routes that Trevor Siemian is most comfortable throwing - as pointed out by Matt Waldman. Thomas for Sanders straight up might be a good deal.
Todd Gurley, LA - I have to give it up to my fantasy industry nephew Matt Harmon, who cautioned us that it could get worse in the Rams offense this year. The Rams didn’t even make enough changes to keep from tipping their plays off to the 49ers defense. The team is demoralized, and instead of the hope that Jeff Fisher is fired and maybe this organization gets into the 21st century, Fisher is now lined up for an extension. Gurley survived a brutal two-week stretch against the Bengals and Cardinals last year, but the 49ers aren’t nearly the equal of those teams. I might sweeten Gurley with something extra to turn him into C.J. Anderson or Le’Veon Bell. If I can get Doug Martin plus for Gurley, I’m listening.
Doug Martin, TB - Martin was outstanding in Week 1 even though the stat sheet didn’t reflect it. He forced a ton of missed tackles and got everything he could against a Falcons defense that was much better against the run than the pass. Martin also reeled in five dumpoffs in what is hopefully a sign of things to come in PPR leagues.
John Brown, ARI - Brown wasn’t as involved as we’d hoped in Week 1, but his conditioning is probably coming along as he missed most of the preseason with a concussion. His snap count will certainly trend up from the 35 he got in Week 1.
Kenneth Dixon, BAL - Dixon is a stash for deeper leagues as the one back in the Ravens backfield who could play on all three downs. He was impressive in the preseason before getting hurt, and once he’s healthy he will have a role and chance to pick up where he left off.
Josh Doctson, WAS - Doctson is no Beckham, but he can be almost as effective in the red zone. Kirk Cousins is going to face a lot of zone defense if the Steelers’ success playing bend but don’t break defense in Week 1 in any indication, and he’ll need players who can win at the catch point to offset that in the red zone. Doctson can do that and he was healthy enough to play and even catch a ball in Week 1. His physical talent and skills when the ball in the air are unquestioned, it’s just a matter of his staying healthy and Washington deciding to use him enough to leave his mark.
Tyler Lockett, SEA - Lockett is not going to be a safe start for now because of the Seattle wide receiver rotation and Russell Wilson’s ankle injury. The Seahawks offense opened up as the year went on last year, and it’s not a stretch to see that happening again this year. Lockett is too good a talent to keep held down for long, and the Seahawks will adjust their gameplan and usage accordingly if they are rational. This might be one to wait until the Seahawks Week 5 bye to try to get Lockett before he gets hot.
Mohamed Sanu, ATL - Sanu benefited from a busted coverage for his largest gain. He did have an acrobatic touchdown catch, but it looks like he is going to mainly operate in the short passing game, where he has company with the Falcons two good pass catching backs, Jacob Tamme, and rookie TE Austin Hooper who will come on in time.
Latavius Murray, OAK - Murray is still a functional runner between the tackles and he should get first shot at goal line carries, but Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are both outstanding backs in space and in the passing game, and they are going to limit Murray’s involvement in the offense compared to how featured he was last year. As these young backs grow up, Murray’s fantasy value will shrink.
Melvin Gordon III, SD - This one is tough because Gordon looked stronger and faster than last year, and in another situation, he might be primed for a huge breakout. On the Chargers without Keenan Allen, who still didn’t feed Gordon when they were up three scores, it probably means more teases when Gordon does on track in between the down games when they fall behind or bog down on offense. Gordon is still a dynasty hold, but he’s a redraft sell if you can leverage off of the two touchdown game.
Carlos Hyde, SF - In a repeat of 2015, Hyde and the 49ers had a surprisingly good opening game, controlling the action to feed him for more than 20 carries and multiple scores. Hyde’s injury certainly was a big part of his downfall last year, but the team’s inability to put together a credible offense was too, and Blaine Gabbert didn’t exactly instill confidence in that arena. It might be hard to sell high on Hyde because everyone is aware of his trajectory last year, but it’s worth a shot.
Demarco Murray, TEN - Murray and the “smashmouth” part of the Titans offense didn’t get out of neutral against the Vikings, but he still salvaged a great fantasy day with two receiving touchdowns. That is not going to happen most weeks, and the reality is that Derrick Henry looked like a more dynamic runner after the catch. Sooner or later this backfield is going to be split, or even tilt towards Henry. If Murray has some trade cachet on the heels of a good fantasy bottom line in Week 1, maybe he can be the back in a package to trade up to a more reliable weekly RB.