It’s November and it’s week 9 in the NFL.
We’re roughly halfway through the regular NFL season and just five weeks remain until (most) fantasy playoffs begin, in Week 14. We’re also past the NFL trade deadline, and none of the league’s terrible defenses made upgrades that should downgrade any of the below match-up based trade targets and sells.
I also have a few names scattered in here that are simply targets/sells based on recent performances, like Kenny Golladay (a buy) and Tarik Cohen (a sell for the third straight week – maybe you finally pull the trade you’ve been wrangling for DJ off). And, before you yell “Cohen is amazing, why would you trade him?”, the answer is that no one is “untradeable”. You just have to find the right price.
For example, last week I almost pulled off a Zeke/Cohen for DJ/CMC swap. He had his finger on the trigger, but then went bow hunting in Wisconsin’s Northwoods and had no service. Alas, I’ll be trying to sell Cohen again this week. Seven touches ain’t no way to earn double-digit fantasy points on a weekly basis.
Anyway, everyone is available for the right price. Maybe not Todd Gurley right now. But even Todd… I’d sell Todd for Zeke and Melvin, wouldn’t you?
How Did We Do?
Last Week’s Buy Low List:
- Doug Baldwin did not tap his toes on an easy TD pass. That would have buoyed his day, but it would still have been a bummer. I’m not sure there are enough opportunities for Baldwin to emerge as the WR1-type player we’ve come to see in past years, but the Hawks are a November/December team, and so is Wilson. I’m holding to see how this plays out.
- Josh Gordon was a buy, but didn’t do too great (just 5 points). Maybe if he would show up on time, Bill wouldn’t get so mad!
- David Johnson’s usage was better this week – but he still was held in check thanks to a weak-sauce offense.
- Phillip Lindsay missed the top ten mark in his first week as a feature back, but he was still a solid RB2. He’ll be serviceable the rest of the year, and I personally like him more when the Rolls Royce is out of the shop. Freeman takes a lot of the grinding work, leaving Lindsay lighter fronts and favorable opportunities compared to the every down usage.
- Sterling Shepard caught just half of his eight targets last week, but still has a favorable schedule coming up.
- Gronk – what, you think I’m not still buying Gronk? Well you’re right. He looks like his back is killing him. I wasn’t able to trade for him in any leagues anyway, since everyone knows I love him so much.
And the Sell High List:
- Tarik Cohen – He scored in every October game. That will change. If you still have him, I’d still recommend selling. That’s all I have to say on Cohen — except this — 14 of his 18 PPR points came on the long TD.
- Tyrell Williams had a bye.
- James White did James White things, but I told you not to sell him for anything but a true first round talent. Sony Michel looks to be returning this week, so White still has a lot of trade value, and likely will see a dip in usage as we hit the colder months and Bill shifts to the ground.
- Deshaun Watson was added to last week’s sell high list AFTER his outstanding Thursday night Week 8 performance. Why? Because he lost Will Fuller and his splits without him are rough. But they traded for Demaryius Thomas, so I’m back on the #WatsonSZN train.
I’m Buying Turkey Jerky for Thanksgiving, and These Primed Playoff Winners:
Before I go into players, I’ll just touch on the “best remaining schedules” for positional groups. This takes into account all games from now to the playoffs. Obviously, the 3 weeks of playoff schedules are of more importance, but only if you get there. These groups/players have the best overall remaining schedules. Next week, I’ll look specifically at Weeks 14-16.
Let’s just start by saying this: The Ravens remaining schedule is like running the hurdles without hurdles. They’re going to cruise. It’s going to be a point-fest. I love every Raven remaining.
First, of the quarterbacks in the top 4, only Drew Brees is rostered in more than 50% of ESPN leagues. Joe Flacco and Derek Carr are the others. I guess Carr may be out, so it could be whoever John Gruden can find to play QB — maybe… Colin Kaepernick? How fun would that be?
That leaves just Brees and Flacco. Starting this weekend, Flacco has a ridiculous slate of six straight games against teams in the bottom nine against QBs. Ride Flacco’s six “plus match-ups” (plus a bye in week 10) to glory. Brees also has a great schedule, with only @Dal and @Car outside the top 10. That said, Brees is known for putting up poor games in good situations, so you never really can tell with him.
For ball carriers, there isn’t a magical run like Flacco’s but his running backs (Alex Collins, Ty Montgomery, and Buck Allen) all have the same tasty slate from weeks 11-15: Cincinnati (7), Oakland (4), Atlanta (5), KC (2) & TB (9) are all mouth-watering match-ups. I love Alex Collins to continue the rushing dominance, so this really sets up well for him.
I’ve said it on Twitter, but I think Ty Mont is more likely to be used in the slot than the backfield, but others compared him to the Danny Woodhead signing. Either way, if he has RB designation for the Ravens, he’ll be a value play in PPR leagues.
Outside of Baltimore, the Packers and Cardinals are two backfields to target, as their schedules open up as the year closes. Aaron Jones took on lead back duties last week and fantasy twitter rejoiced. He has 3 match-ups against bottom five teams, including the first week of the fantasy playoffs. His final two weeks leave something to be desired, but if he’s the star we hope he is in Green Bay, he’ll be a “start your studs” guy by then.
David Johnson has been the bane of my existence as an owner, but the trade target I’ve put the most bids in for this season. I’ll continue that trend, as he has four match-ups against bottom six teams after the bye this week. He also gets the Chargers and Packers on the road, neither of which truly scare me from fantasy starts. DJ is going to get teams into the playoffs, and then in weeks 14/15, he’ll win playoff games for people against Detroit (6) and Atlanta (5).
The receivers are a bit harder to track, as some teams are great against the WR1 and others are better at shutting down the whole offense. In general though, here are a couple guys with nice schedules. New Cowboy Amari Cooper has the chance to shine in the back half, if he can catch the ball. He’ll see Philly twice (6), Atlanta (3), NO (1), and gets TB (2) in week 16. If Dallas gives him the chance, he’s going to win leagues.
John Brown. I want the Smoke Show. He’s healthy, and he’s top-ten in air yards. He’s about to see a slate of atrocious defenses and he’ll single-handedly carry Flacco to a top 10 ROS performance.
Michael Thomas, and to a lesser extent, Tre’Quan Smith, are two players to benefit in the same way as Brown. Brees’ easy slate means an easy one for them, as well. Thomas hasn’t shined in the past few weeks, so he might even come at around 85% of his true cost.
The only other guy worth mentioning is David Njoku, who’s a bit banged up, and just dropped a bagel on his owners. With the offense shifting hands again, it’s not certain what Njoku’s role will be moving forward, but we do know that the teams left for the Browns to play can’t really guard the TE spot. Bold prediction: Njoku finishes the year as a top 6 TE, from currently outside the top 10.
I’m Also Buying These Guys to Bust Their Slumps:
Kenny Golladay went from late-round flier to early season darling to Harry-under-his-invisibility-cloak, all in 8 weeks. That said, his paltry target share the past two games is more than likely a fluke, rather than a new trend, as he still ran more routes than Golden Tate in both games. Also, lost in the Golladay fuss is Marvin Jones Jr. who just had 100+ and two scores last week. That usage is about to climb, and you know the Lions will be in a negative script much of the rest of the year. Stafford hates to lose, so he’ll be slinging it.
The Rams have been a bit quieter the past few weeks (excluding Gurley) but that’s coming to an end with the big shoot-out with the Saints this weekend. Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are both great targets. Kupp has been sidelined for several weeks now, but was posting top-10 numbers — thanks to his red zone prowess — before he went down.
Similarly, Cooks had been in the upper echelon, catching no less than five balls for no less than 87 yards in weeks 1-4, before an injury knocked him out of the Seattle game. In weeks 5-8, he totaled only 9 catches for 191 yards and just one score. He was still heavily targeted in each game, but Goff being a bit off, plus great play from Jaire Alexander, Chris Harris, and Richard Sherman have limited him the past three weeks. He gets NO and KC in two of his next three, so now is the time to get him.
Cam Newton is one other guy to mention. He’s past his bye, and five of his eight remaining games are against bottom five teams, including 2 vs. TB. Both weeks 15 and 16 are money match-ups. If you’re sitting at 6-1 or 7-0, think about targeting the premiere playoff QB for people with byes — Cameron Newton.
As mentioned, I’ll take a deeper look at weeks 14-16 next week, as those games win you the big bucks and now is the time to target the best options!
I’m Selling Few People This Week:
Tarik Cohen was featured two weeks ago, as well as last week, and guess what — he’s still a sell high! He had just 7 touches last week, but the scampering play-maker turned that into 80+ yards and another TD (that’s four straight games). Scoring is unsustainable. I know, I’ve said this several weeks in a row now, but Cohen is due for a big bust of a week.
Eric Ebron makes the “Sell High” list again, because he’s still a top 5 TE (in terms of points) and some owners may not realize the impact Jack Doyle has on him. With Doyle back in the lineup this week, Ebron’s snaps dropped below 20%, while Doyle was on the field for 75% of plays. This is a bit further skewed than the averages with both healthy, (Ebron played ~36% of snaps in weeks 1-2). Add in the fact that Doyle has double the targets in the games they both play, and well, you gotta sell.
Deshaun Watson is back on the “Sell High” list. Why? Because Will Fuller went out for the year with a torn ACL, and the splits with and without Fuller for Watson are pretty stark — albeit from a small sample size. In his 4 NFL games without Fuller, Watson averages 115 fewer yards, 1.5 fewer TDs, and 12 fewer fantasy points per game. His yards per attempt also drops from an upper-echelon 8.75 yards to just 5.98 (below the league average). He may not need the speedy WR, but I’m selling after that 5 TD performance if I can.
NOTE: I wrote this before Demaryius Thomas was added. I don’t fully stand by it, but Thomas isn’t the deep threat Watson needs. That said, he’ll take more underneath routes and DeAndre Hopkins will get more air yards — should be fine for Watson — so, take this all with a grain of salt!
As always, go tell your friends… or don’t.