Whether you’re buying or selling, here’s a list of players to consider making a move on before it’s too late.
Players to Buy
Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL)
Dak Prescott attempted 58 passes in Week 1, but Ezekiel Elliott was limited to a combined 15 carries and targets. This is highly concerning usage, but there’s at least some hope that it was game-plan specific. The Bucs are a horrible matchup for opposing running backs, and the Cowboys wisely shied away from jamming Zeke up the middle. The good news? Per the RotoViz Strength of Schedule Streaming App, Elliott has the No. 2 easiest schedule of any RB from Weeks 2-9. Go get him.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
Aaron Rodgers arguably played the worst game of his NFL career on Sunday, and the Packers’ offense really struggled as a whole. Jones, my No. 4 player in redraft leagues this season, totaled seven touches for – wait for it – 22 yards against the Saints. It’s unlikely that Jones is being shopped in your league, but it’s worth checking in on. If you roster Jones, this “buy” label should serve as your reminder to remain patient.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
Here’s where I think we’re at with Gibby – he still isn’t an unquestioned bell cow, but Washington is clearly using him whenever he’s on the field. This should help explain it. In Week 1, Gibson played 36 snaps and saw 20 carries plus five targets. JD Mckissic played 20 snaps and saw one carry and one target. McKissic is still stealing some playing time, but Gibson is the RB that Washington features in the offense. Buy!
Najee Harris (RB – PIT)
Bills-Steelers was one of the weirder games of the weekend. Harris didn’t erupt in his first game in the league, but it doesn’t matter. He played on all 58 offensive snaps. Every. Single. One. Fantasy football is a volume game. Don’t overthink it. Buy Harris.
D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)
The second-year RB was on the field for 63 snaps (compared to 32 for Jamaal Wiliams). This playing time distribution should be acceptable for Swift managers, especially since his role should continue to increase moving forward. In PPR leagues especially, Swift could be a screaming value. He hauled in 8-of-11 targets for 65 yards and a score against the 49ers. Those receptions will make him wildly fantasy relevant if similar usage continues.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – CLE)
The Browns didn’t play OBJ in Week 1, but don’t panic as they were being cautious. Perhaps we shouldn’t bet on Beckham producing a meaningful role early in the season, but I like his chances at finishing strong. If that’s a profile that fits your team, then go get him.
Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL)
The highest-drafted tight end ever enters the NFL with a locked-in prominent role within his team’s passing offense. Pitts is often described as a unicorn, a player who we all think can overcome the mostly negative history of rookie tight ends in fantasy football. In addition to his own talent, the case for Pitts lies in how much volume he could see post-Julio Jones trade. His offensive environment is also positive, headlined by the underrated Matt Ryan and the forward-thinking Arthur Smith. We knew Pitts’ season had a volatile range of outcomes, leading to 41 yards on three receptions. The good news is he still had eight targets, which is impressive for a rookie. It’s time to buy the dip.
Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN)
Chase’s prospect profile was so high-end that the training camp reports of him struggling were truly difficult to comprehend. An early declare who broke out at a young age in college (while also playing with other alpha receivers), Chase is set up nicely as a rookie. His built-in rapport with Joe Burrow was on full display in Week 1. The LSU duo connected for five receptions, 101 yards, and a touchdown on seven targets. Rookies only improve as the year goes on. “Buy” Chase as his value could only increase from here.
Sony Michel (RB – LAR)
The former Patriot received just one carry in Week 1, and it came late in the fourth quarter. There were reporters entering the weekend that Michel was still learning the playbook, and that’s apparently what happened here. As expected, the Rams’ rushing attack looked good, so Michel could have some low-end RB2/FLEX appeal if things break right for him at some point. The time to buy low is now.
Players to Sell
James Robinson (RB – JAC)
The 2020 undrafted free agent legitimately won people championships last season, so he’s someone we want to root for. Robinson’s value fluctuated throughout the offseason, but things seemed to be on the rise once Travis Etienne (knee) went down. Enter Urban Meyer. It’s fair to question his NFL coaching chops following an embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Texans. Jacksonville never really had a chance in this one, which is still stunning to say, but Robinson was underutilized. He played on 46 offensive snaps while Carlos Hyde played on 25. Furthermore, Robinson was actually out-carried by Hyde. A lot of Hyde’s carries came with the game no longer in doubt, but still. It’s worth remembering that J-Rob lived off volume as a rookie. If he doesn’t have that, then he simply can’t be viewed as highly.
Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI)
Arizona gave Chase Edmonds and James Conner a near 50-50 split in Week 1. As expected, Edmonds was the preferred pass-catching option, while Conner played more when the team got close to scoring opportunities. If this continues, then Edmonds likely won’t return draft day value. Perhaps managers should consider selling before his stock drops any further.
Michael Carter (RB – NYJ)
The Jets’ offense was remarkably uninspiring against Carolina, and the three-headed rushing attack failed to produce any meaningful fantasy results. Carter is the preferred long-term play out of the trio, but it’ll be impossible to trust him early on. He still makes for an interesting bench stash for now, but appearing on just 16-of-65 offensive snaps isn’t a good start.
Melvin Gordon (RB – DEN)
The final stat line looks tremendous – 101 yards and a score on 11 attempts while mixing in for three receptions and an additional 17 yards. Those numbers were highly inflated by a 70-yard scamper, however. It was a great run that really opened an opportunity for Gordon managers to trade him away and profit. As the season moves along, this backfield should trend more and more towards Javonte Williams, just as we expected entering the year. The Jaguars and Jets are two appetizing matchups to try and sell would-be-buyers on.
Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
The Week 1 upset over Jacksonville was inspired, and perhaps Cooks will “volume” his way to a solid fantasy campaign. For me, I’m looking to cash in on 132 yards against a woeful Jaguars secondary.
Player to Hold
Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC)
This could be one I end up regretting because we don’t want to overreact to one week. However, there’s a new coaching staff in LA, so there’s certainly a chance they’ll use players differently than the previous regime. For Ekeler, that meant receiving zero targets in the passing game. The good news is he was used at the goal-line en route to rushing 15 times for 57 yards and a score. Perhaps this was matchup-based? But it’s still strange. If similar usage continues in Week 2, then Ekeler will be an easy sell candidate. He needs those receptions.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)
The second-year wideout received a whopping zero targets in Week 1. This certainly wasn’t what fantasy managers were expecting, and it’s troublesome that Shanahan has a history of putting receivers in the doghouse (think Dante Pettis). Aiyuk isn’t a “sell” because we’d be trading him at his lowest point. He also isn’t a “buy” because there is some risk involved until we figure out what’s going on. For now, hold.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC)
Mecole Hardman played on 45 snaps in Week 1, which trailed Tyreek Hill (57) and Demarcus Robinson (48). Hardman was well ahead of Byron Pringle (11), though. This is still a narrow target distribution in KC as Hill and Travis Kelce accounted for 22 of Patrick Mahomes‘ 36 looks. Hardman’s role continues to grow, at least. Don’t drop him just yet.
Trey Sermon (RB – SF)
If the Sermon manager is looking to sell in your league, then he should be considered a “buy.” It was a whirlwind day of emotions for 49ers running backs. First, Sermon was deemed a healthy scratch. It appeared as if Raheem Mostert was about to have a huge performance, but he lasted just two carries before getting hurt (again). Elijah Mitchell is positioned to lead this backfield right now, but Mostert’s injury should keep Sermon active on game days for the time being. He has the talent to carve out a role in this offense.
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