With trade deadlines passed in most leagues, there’s not much in the way of buy low sell high action to take advantage of in Week 13. Instead, let’s take a look back at the best buy low, sell high moments of the season to see what we can learn from them.
Buy Low Moments of the Year
Colin Kaepernick, QB, SF (Week 5) - Kaepernick wasn’t good enough to beat out Blaine Gabbert, who was clearly the worst starting quarterback in the league. Why would anyone rush to the waiver wire to get him? A Chip Kelly offense and defense, that’s why. Kaepernick’s running ability and the poor San Francisco defense both enhanced his weekly ceiling. He’s been a QB1 since he took over.
Dak Prescott, QB, DAL (Week 2) - Prescott was quiet in a Week 1 loss to the Giants and Ezekiel Elliott looked mortal. It would have been difficult to project Prescott as a QB1 going forward, and near impossible to project him as one of the steadiest fantasy quarterbacks this season. He has been a top eight quarterback in most scoring systems since that game.
Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN (Week 5) - Exotic smashmouth bottomed out at 1-3 after a loss to the Texans that was Mariota’s second straight zero passing touchdown game. He’s only looking up at Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers since then. A run of Miami, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Diego, Green Bay, Indianapolis and Chicago fueled his run, while Minnesota in the season opener ended up being a tougher matchup than we realized at the time.
Jordan Howard, RB, CHI (Week 8) - Howard was about to get swallowed back into the Bears running back by committee, getting fewer touches than Ka’Deem Carey with Jeremy Langford poised to return the following week. Instead, Howard got the lead back work against Minnesota, rampaging for over 200 total yards in the upset win. John Fox wasn’t going to give up on his Stephen Davis reincarnation that easily.
Jay Ajayi, RB, MIA (Week 5) - Ajayi and the Dolphins running game was laughable one month into the season. They had been trying to use four different running back with an offensive line that had some players horribly miscast for anything resembling a power running game. Enter one Mike Pouncey to finally get the intended starting five on the field and a Steelers defense that was taking the Dolphins too lightly, and Ajayi posted an historic two-game run to spur a reforging of the Dolphins offensive identity. We should have listened to head coach Adam Gase when he admitted he made a mistake playing too many running backs early in the season.
Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (Week 3) - Freeman was mired in a running back by committee after two games, and seemed to be getting the less valuable part despite his superior 2015 campaign. Tevin Coleman had more receptions and the only rushing touchdown, and Freeman hadn’t yet flashed the form that made him the most valuable fantasy running back of 2015. Against New Orleans in Week 3, Freeman yielded three rushing scores to Coleman, but still had over 200 total yards and a touchdown of his own. He became the clear leader of the committee and also stayed healthier than Coleman over the rest of the fantasy regular season. Trust in elite talent once we see it.
Rishard Matthews, WR, TEN (Week 5) - Like Mariota, Matthews was being drug down by exotic smashmouth and the presence of Andre Johnson in the passing game. Matthews scored a touchdown in Week 5 against Miami and then went on to score in five of the next seven games, and put up a 122-yard effort in one of the two scoreless games. We won’t mock Mike Mularkey again.
Davante Adams, WR, GB (Week 7) - Adams disappointing 2015 left scars on many fantasy owners, but not on Aaron Rodgers. He seemed to win the #3 wide receiver job by default, and while he had scored in three of five games, he didn’t look like a core part of the pass offense entering Week 6. Adams had 31 or fewer snaps in two of the previous three games, but with the backfield depleted in Week 7, he was needed for the entire game and his ability to get open upon release allowed him to pile up 13 receptions in the unorthodox quick passing game. He hasn’t looked back, posting top five numbers in PPR leagues since then.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, CLE (Week 3) - The Browns had already gone through two quarterbacks in two weeks, and Pryor hadn’t produced offensive fireworks in a game with either of their top two quarterbacks. Rookie Cody Kessler was about to be installed, so Pryor’s prospects were getting dimmer, not brighter. He played some quarterback in Week 3, but more importantly had eight catches for 144 yards, showing great chemistry with Kessler. He has been a top 10 PPR wide receiver since then.
Jimmy Graham, TE, SEA (Week 3) - Graham was coming back from a patellar tendon tear, which usually a kiss of death for fantasy-relevant players. With only four catches for 53 yards in the first two games, Graham didn’t look like he was going to outproduce his 2015 campaign, when he was a spotty producer before the injury. Week 3 brought a 100-yard game, his second in his stint with the Seahawks. He has been the #2 tight end since then.
Sell High Moments of the Year
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL (Week 4) - It might have been hard to get top five quarterback value for Ryan after Week 4, so it’s understandable if you couldn’t trade him. A 503-yard, four-touchdown game is about high as one could get to sell at quarterback. Since then, Ryan has been the #9 quarterback, which is good, but not season-changing like his first four games.
CJ Anderson, RB, DEN (Week 2) - Anderson recaptured in his second half of 2014 form in the season opener, which got him drafted in the first round of 2015 fantasy leagues. He was a dud in 2015, but brought back to lead the Broncos backfield. Week 1 saw Anderson click with the Broncos running game and the promise of Anderson fulfilling his first-round promise. It was his best fantasy performance of the year and Anderson was on injured reserve by Week 8.
Christine Michael, RB, SEA (Week 7) - Michael inherited the starting role in the Seahawks backfield in Week 3, and he scored five touchdowns in the first three games in the role. CJ Prosise returned in Week 7 to play a small role in what we can now see was a bad omen for Michael’s “awakening”. He didn’t have more than 55 total yards in any of his four games and was eventually released.
Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL (Week 6) - Coleman was the #8 running back in PPR leagues entering Week 6 on the back of a big role as a receiver and multiple big plays. He ended up being contained by Seattle that week, and then hurting his hamstring in Week 7. If you got anything near RB1 value for him, you made one of the trades of the year.
Matt Forte, RB, NYJ (Week 3) - After much vigorous debate about the size of Forte’s role in the Jets backfield, he came out of the gate red hot, with 155 total yards in Week 1 and a highly visibly three score, 30 carry game in Week 2. Forte has only four scores since then, and he’s only gone over 60 total yards in half of his games. He has been a true boom/bust running back while the Jets have gone through trials and tribulations on offense.
Will Fuller V, WR, HOU (Week 5) - Brock Osweiler was still looking like a viable NFL starting quarterback entering Week 5, in part because of Fuller, who was a WR1 after four games. He and Osweiler had terrific deep ball chemistry and DeAndre Hopkins was keeping Fuller in single coverage. The Vikings and Broncos were looming in Week 5 and 7, and they subsequently sapped Osweiler and the Texans of all confidence in their passing game. Add in a hamstring injury for Fuller’s speed-based game, and we have a receiver who still hasn’t topped 10 PPR points since Week 4.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU (Week 3) - Hopkins had the look of a solid first-round pick after two weeks. Brock Osweiler was slinging the ball downfield, Will Fuller V was getting open deep to keep safeties from being obsessed with Hopkins, and Nuk had two scores and a 100-yard game in the first two contests. The Patriots exposed Osweiler in Week 3 and Hopkins was never the same, falling outside of the top 50 wide receivers on a points per game basis in PPR leagues over the next nine games. Beware the unproven quarterback.
Marvin Jones Jr, WR, DET (Week 4) - Jones was making a lot of people that predicted a 2016 breakout look smart after three weeks. He was the #1 receiver in PPR leagues after a 6-205-2 performance against the Packers. While his first two games were solid, Week 3 vaulted him up the rankings. A closer examination of his game revealed that his two long scores were on defensive breakdowns against a Packers secondary that later showed just how feeble they were without Sam Shields among others. Jones has been the #69 receiver on a points per game basis in PPR leagues since that outburst.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, CAR (Week 3) - Benjamin was the #1 fantasy receiver through two weeks, and that was despite coming into the season with less 100 percent conditioning and facing the elite Denver defense. We didn’t realize that the 49ers defense was going to be monumentally bad and Cam Newton was going to revert to the inconsistent form that marred his 2014. Benjamin has been the #48 receiver on a points per game basis in PPR leagues since Week 3.
Coby Fleener, TE, NO, (Week 7) - Fleener was another player that inspired a lot of debate in the preseason. His usage was as high as expected through six weeks, but his play was uneven. He did have two big games, which fueled him to a TE8 start through five games despite three duds. This was somewhat expected with the nature of the Saints offense and Fleener’s game, but eventually his role diminished to his level of play. He has been the #17 tight end since then, and not topped 11 points in a PPR league in the last six games.