The fantasy stonks market is always a fun one to evaluate. Buy/Sell articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to buy those that are cold and sell the hot. Buy-low, sell-high is the motto but also, sometimes it is ok to buy-high if you aren't buying as high as it could be. This sounds unintelligible but it makes sense in my head.
Now, three weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-3 or 1-2 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.
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Players to Buy
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Three weeks into the season, we have two dud games from OBJ and one stud game. That ratio should ideally be flipped given his late third-round/early-fourth price tag in drafts. Unfortunately, there are negatives that will persist throughout the season (assuming he stays in Cleveland) and they include his QB and target volume via the offense. The Browns have been one of the most, if not the most efficient team at running the football and that will continue to limit the passing offense from a volume perspective. Baker Mayfield has only thrown 46 passes totals over the past two weeks. For reference, rookie Joe Burrow threw the ball 61 times in one game against the Browns alone. Along with the volume issues, Baker Mayfield has been one of the least accurate passers in the league thus far in 2020 in terms of "throws on target". He ranks 4th-worst in the NFL at 70.9%.
However, there is a bright side for the Browns' top receiver. He is now fully healthy after offseason hernia surgery and remains one of the most talented individuals in football who can turn nothing into something, whether it be in the middle of the field or outside. His target share is just over 25% and there is no way the rushing attack will be as efficient moving forward. While the Browns will lean more run-heavy than pass relative to the rest of the league, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt rank first and second in the league for rushing yards over expectation. Also, the Browns have yet to play in a "normal" game. They were blown out by the Ravens in Week 1 where Beckham was inaccurately targeted 10 times then over the past two weeks, the reason Mayfield was capable of throwing so infrequently was due to their cupcake matchups versus the Bengals and Washington. The Browns held a respectable lead throughout both games, leaving Beckham with just six targets in each outing. He will be closer to the eight target per game range moving forward and could see a significant boost in the upcoming matchups of Cowboys, Colts, and Steelers.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
The Texans' schedule thus far: Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers. Those teams respectively rank, 5th, 10th and 3rd in team defense according to 2020 DVOA. While three games is a small sample, those three teams in order were 14th, 5th and 3rd last year. Hard to mash together a tougher start to the year for Houston. In the meantime, Watson is QB21 on the season behind Derek Carr, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the recently benched Mitchell Trubisky. Watson will undoubtedly return to some semblance of form over the next few weeks as his schedule immediately opens up. The games up until their Week 8 BYE are Vikings, Jaguars, Titans and Packers. All four teams rank below average in DVOA this year, with the Jaguars and Packers towards the bottom of the barrel.
Watson has finished as QB5 (2019) and QB4 (2018) over the past two seasons and was first in QB points-per-game his rookie season prior to a season-ending knee injury. He will perform significantly better even without his number-one target, DeAndre Hopkins in town. While Hopkins did help Watson ascend to top-tier QB status, Watson deserves credit as well and is working with an interesting receiving corps that has remained shockingly healthy through three games. Specifically, there is no guarantee that Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks remain healthy for a large chunk of the season but you can't predict injuries (ignore Fuller's hamstring flare-up two weeks ago). With Watson's mobility and the Texans' defense doing him no favors, he is a sure-fire top-10 QB the rest of the way. The first month of the season should be considered a blip.
Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons
Hill’s snap% (34) was the highest since Week 12 last year and he led the team in RB targets (3) His targets+rushes last week (12) is more than double Weeks 1 and 2 combined (10). He is not some uber-talented RB he just happens to be the best one on a team that is desperate for production outside of their receiving corps. The Falcons have struggled to run the ball since Devonta Freeman's knee injury in 2018 and did their best with a "Hail Mary" signing of Todd Gurley this past offseason but that might be what they expected through three games. Hill is creeping up the depth chart and could very well take over soon if Gurley is to miss time or if he continues to flop as a receiving back.
Hill has a solid RB profile with a good build and solid hands to operate in the passing game. If he were to take over, no more than back-end RB2 production should be expected but given that he is widely available on waivers or for cheap, there is little-to-no risk to acquiring right now despite a breakout performance this past Sunday against the Bears.
Players to Sell
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
Singletary played the second highest snap-rate of his career last week versus the Rams but it came as a result of Zack Moss's toe injury. Yet, even as a workhorse, Singletary had a good, yet unspectacular game to justify any change in his season-long role. Moss will be returning soon given that this injury is not long-term and should eat into Singletary's workload. Moss is a different type of back than Singletary and will be leaned on in short-yardage and passing situations which are extremely valuable as we know.
The Bills want a shared backfield and that is why they drafted Moss so high and incorporated him early-on. Singletary has found success this season but has been matched up against two of the worst rush defenses in the league in the Rams and Dolphins (25th and 31st in DVOA). He was unspectacular versus the stout Jets run defense that ranks 3rd. Singletary should remain the lead back but his build is more-so that of a change-of-pace back who is a jack-of-all-trades rather than a master of one due to his frame and athleticism.
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
If we are buying one RB on a team (Hill) that means that we're selling another. Despite two fantasy-viable games from Gurley early-on, he just does not have the juice to hold onto his job if Brian Hill continues to play well. Gurley was drafted in round three across the board presumably as the workhorse in Atlanta and that has not been the case. In two of three games thus far, Gurley has only played half of the team's snaps and is a complete non-factor in the passing game. He has seven targets through three games, five of which came in game one where he accrued on yard on two receptions.
Gurley is no longer the Gurley of yesteryear as his arthritic knee is limiting his range of motion. This sort of hinderance on an athlete is debilitating and on top of it, the nerve issue could cause severe pain at any point in the season, resulting in missed time for the former MVP-caliber RB. The matchups over the next two weeks are spectacular and if you want to wait until after to sell, go ahead, but I would get rid of him sooner rather than later. Don't want to get caught holding the hot potato too long.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
As a caveat, do not sell until *after* the Falcons game this Monday. The Packers have a Week 5 BYE which leaves you plenty of time to field offers on Rodgers through that two-week period. Rodgers was fantastic in September and should remain a solid start throughout the entire season. The Packers' offense is off to their highest-scoring start ever with outings of 37, 42 and 43 points thus far. This offense probably remains towards the top of the league, however, even with the return of Davante Adams, it is tough to say that they will remain utterly dominant given how exploitable the teams they've faced thus far are. Not to call out Rodgers for stat-padding but they definitely have stuck it to the defenses they've faced thus far with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams running all over the Lions then Rodgers tearing apart a Vikings/Saints Defense that is a far-cry from recent years (both outside top-10 in DVOA).
The matchups throughout the rest of the season are not even very daunting but given that Green Bay wants to run the ball heavily with their deep, talented backfield, passing touchdowns may not be as plentiful as they have been. Rodgers, now 36, is not running as often as he has in the past. With only five carries through three games, Rodgers' rushing ballast may not exist moving forward.
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