Fantasy football has been compared to the stock market. And while I’m no expert in stocks and bonds, explaining the concept of sell high and buy low is pretty straight forward.
Basically, you have to figure out if the hype, or on the contrary, a negative narrative surrounding a player, is real or not.
Sell High: You have rostered a player who has looked studly in the first few weeks of the year. You establish that said player has overachieved and already reached their ceiling, therefore you will sell off to improve your team in another area.
Buy Low: There’s a missing piece that will take your roster to the next level. You have targeted a player who got off to a slow start. You believe this player, based on a variety of data and maybe a little instinct, is playing way under their capabilities. Therefore, you try to acquire them at a low(ish) cost.
There are grumblings in the fantasy industry about whether “buying low” and “selling high” actually exist. They do, simply because everyone values players differently. Plus, people just like attention, therefore they say things even if they know it’s not true.
At some point, whether it’s because of an abundance of injuries or severe underperformance, the sunk cost fallacy becomes too much for an owner to bear and they are fine cutting bait with a player.
On the other end, there are some owners who will hang tight and go down with the ship.
With a mix of persuasion and persistence, you could make an early season move that will catapult your squad. Here is one player from each position to either sell high or buy low.
QB – Derek Carr – Sell High
It’s likely Carr was drafted either really late, or not at all in your redraft leagues. It’ll vary. He’s definitely a weekly starter in Superflex, a roster stash in 1 QB dynasty leagues, etc.
Either way, by now, he’s been streamed off of waivers, and if you’re the one who’s rostering him, sell now!
There are team’s out there relying on quarterbacks who have been disappointing like Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill and Trevor Lawrence.
Carr has been a model of consistency to start the year. He’s thrown for two touchdowns in every game and at least 382 yards each week, all while averaging right around 24 fantasy points per game. This puts him easily as a top 10 fantasy quarterback.
ELITE throw from Derek Carr 🎯
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2021
Why Sell High
Carr has been in the NFL since 2014 and has not finished as a QB1. In fact, last season was statistically his best season yet, and he still didn’t finish Top 12. His blistering start gives owner’s who lack consistent quarterback play some hope. You can easily sell to those league mates Carr having a very safe floor, and the fact he’s leading the league in yards right now.
Some people lose sight that it’s the quarterbacks that use their legs who are a must-own. Carr is the antithesis of this, scoring just six rushing touchdowns in his career. As much as he has a safe floor, his ceiling is capped.
The last area you can convince owners is the weapons. He still has Darren Waller, the second best tight end in the league, trusted veteran Hunter Renfrow, and two second year breakout candidates in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards.
This will all work as long as your trading partner doesn’t look up the Raiders’ upcoming schedule. They play some pretty solid defenses, starting with the Chargers, Bears and Broncos.
Honorable Mention: Kirk Cousins (Sell High); Joe Burrow (Buy Low); Trevor Lawrence (Buy Low)
WR – Laviska Shenault – Buy Low
Shenault was a lot of people’s under-the-radar value in drafts with an ADP in the seventh round. It was assumed Trevor Lawrence would gravitate toward a particular player and Shenault was the likely candidate.
There’s a lot to like about Shenault, including big play potential. In 14 games last season, he had 58 catches as a rookie, but what really intrigues owners is his touches from the backfield (18 carries). He was overshadowed by solid rookie wide receiver years from the likes of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk, to name a few.
Owners with Shenault will look at his output so far and cringe. In Week 2 alone he had 2 catches for -3 yards. He’s averaging only 7.3 yards per catch so far and just 4.7 air yards per target in 2021. It’s no surprise a large chunk of his catches are near the line of scrimmage, but fantasy owners would certainly like to see him stretch the field a bit more.
Why Buy Low
Here are a few reasons to buy Shenault low:
- He is playing with a brand new head coach and a brand new quarterback in a brand new system. To think it would take off right away probably wasn’t fair to begin with.
- Although he only has 13 catches for 95 yards, he has 21 targets, which is nearly a 18% target share for the Jaguars. Not great, but not awful.
- His next few matchups are spicy. The Jaguars play the Bengals, Titans and Seahawks in three of their next four weeks – all secondaries that have already been torched this season.
Adding on to all of that is Shenault’s most recent shoulder injury, which he played through in Week 3. This makes some owner’s who want stock in Sehnault a bit wary, but that’s what makes him cheap.
A lot of owners hate clogging up roster spots with players who are questionable and have already struggled to start the year. This will make him even easier – and cheaper – to acquire. Owners are likely using him as their WR4/5 right now and also didn’t draft him until at least the sixth or seventh round in redraft. All of this makes it easier for owner’s to part with Shenault.
In Dynasty, you probably had to give up a future first round pick this offseason to roster him. However, right now all it may take is a second round pick. I’d obviously start a little lower, say, two future thirds. Either way, it may be time to buy low right now!
Honorable Mention: Tyler Lockett (Sell High); Marquise Brown (Sell High); Robert Woods (Buy Low); Calvin Ridley (Buy Low…this may be too tough still)
Running Back – Antonio Gibson – Buy Low
There are so many buy low and sell high candidates at running back it was tough to choose. So I had to think of it in terms of my rankings and who I like personally. That would be Antonio Gibson of the Washington Football team.
The expectation coming into the season was that Gibson would be utilized more in the passing game as well as dominate the backfield touches. But it’s been a hullabaloo since Week 1 when starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went down.
Gibson has gone from 23 total touches, to 15, to 13 in the first three weeks.
His 73 yard touchdown catch this past week against Buffalo in the first quarter saved what was otherwise a tough day at the office. Right now he finds himself among a thicket of players like Nyheim Hines, Chase Edmonds and Mike Davis at number 21 overall in PPR leagues.
GO, GIBSON, GO.
Antonio Gibson goes for a 73-yard TD! #WashingtonFootball
📺: #WASvsBUF on FOX
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/eB6NShoVY2
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
Why Buy Low
Here’s the conundrum if you want to buy Gibson, though. Owners likely invested at least an early to mid second round pick on him. And in terms of dynasty, he’s considered a top 8 running back. So expectations are high. Here are a few ways you can convince a Gibson owner to sell:
- He is still not being utilized in the passing game. McKissick isn’t going anywhere.
- Taylor Heinicke, although a fun story, is not a great compliment to Gibson’s fantasy production. And who knows if Fitzpatrick comes back healthy this year.
- Washington likely won’t be very good this season, so there will be negative game scripts, McKissick will take a bunch of snaps away. Plus, if Gibson gets banged up even in the slightest, it’s likely Washington errs on the side of caution and rests their stud.
When you tell an owner this, in the back of your mind, you should be telling yourself that all of those bullet points don’t matter. Talent trumps everything.
You’re still going to have to pay a premium for Gibson, but offering a highly productive wide receiver from the first few weeks – like Tyler Lockett – along with a running back like Myles Gaskin or James Conner, might do the trick. At least in redraft.
In Dynasty, that offer, plus a first round pick, would be at least a starting point. Go get Gibson!
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Taylor (Buy Low…good luck); Kareem Hunt (Sell High – if he’s your RB3/4); Melvin Gordon (Sell High); Damien Harris (Buy Low)
Kyle Pitts – Tight End – Buy Low
Let’s be honest, there’s not really a tight end to sell high unless you’re giving up the likes of Travis Kelce, Darren Waller or TJ Hockenson. You’d be paying way more for them and would likely hurt your team more than help.
The only other candidate I was considering to “Buy Low” would be George Kittle, but I feel like that’s too obvious. Plus, I think it’s simply not a good move for Kittle owner’s to consider trading him. It’s a bit up for debate, but I still believe Kelce is in a tier of his own, and then Waller and Kittle are in the next tier.
The tight end position is weird. Every week there’s someone who finishes in the Top 5 that comes out of nowhere. Case in point Tyler Conklin of the Vikings in Week 3.
It’s hard to find a consistent tight end.
Depending who you talk to, Kyle Pitts has either been disappointing to start his career, or about as expected. He was being drafted as TE5 in redrafts, and was a very high pick in dynasty rookie drafts.
Why Buy Low
He’s ranked TE15 in PPR formats and the raw numbers of 11 catches for 139 yards seems pedestrian. And they are, don’t get me wrong. But here are a few things to think about while trying to barter for Pitts to be on your roster:
- He is still ninth target for tight ends (17).
- He is seventh in yards (139).
- For tight ends with at least six catches on the season, he is third in yards per reception at 12.6.
- He’s still the second option on his own team
So these are just some surface numbers. Nothing overly analytical about them. But it shows that Pitts is involved in the Falcons offense, but that’s just the problem – the Falcons offense. They have no run game and Matt Ryan is a shell of himself. Not a great recipe, but maybe Atlanta starts figuring things out.
Tight ends are notoriously slow to develop in the NFL and many thought (myself included) Pitts would transcend this concept. Personally I think he’s on the cusp of a few breakout weeks, so try to get ahead of the game.
In redraft, you may have to give up a tight end and another asset to snag him. Sell off a Dalton Schultz after his two touchdown game, and a wide receiver like Tyler Boyd or Christian Kirk as a starting point. Keep in mind you’ll end up needing to give more.
In dynasty, Pitts’ stock likely hasn’t dropped a ton, but enough where he is not nearly as expensive. It’ll take two first round picks and whatever tight end is on your roster to get the owner’s attention. Then you can barter form there.
Try to pull it off, because Pitts szn is coming!
Honorable Mention: George Kittle (Buy Low…if you can); Dalton Schultz (Sell High); Dawson Knox (Sell High); Robert Tonyan (Buy Low)
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