Buy Low, Sell High

Navigate the murky trade waters of fantasy football with our help by making sure that you know more than your trade partner when negotiation time comes around. After a crazy week one, sort through the hype and find the bargain, especially in the volatile Running Back and Tight End positions. 
Is Week One Worth A Gamble? Buy Low, Sell High


The first-most and best piece of advice when evaluating early roster moves after the almost feverous excitement of a new NFL season is this: slow your roll. A common major pitfall for owners can be the delusion that every "break out performance" and every first week dud is a sure sign of things to come. That said, let's look at the two groups of players (TE's, RB's) most prone to illusory "break out" performances. From there, we can search for legitimate buy low/sell high needles in the haystack of hyperbole.

"Break Out" TE's
It has been dubbed "The Week of the Tight End" So let's start with fantasy's most combustible group.
Week one saw 13 tight ends reach double digit fantasy points in standard scoring leagues with 7 of those TE's owned by less that 50% of ESPN fantasy players. Is the NFL ushering in a new era of high scoring tight ends? A more likely answer to this phenomenon is the nature of the position itself.

Typical tight ends are read zone targets and safety outlets for QBs. Therefore, TE's rely on TD's for most of their points, otherwise accruing low volume targets for low volume yards. So, if a tight end can score one or more touchdowns by exploiting a major hole in a particular defense (i.e. Tyler Eifert up the seem of a porous Raider's defense on identical 8 and 13 yards patterns) or finding some room on a broken play or via blown tackling (i.e. Austin Seferian Jenkins), touchdowns will follow. However, if these somewhat inconsistent and situation dependent opportunities are limited, a TE's output will often be negligible. That is why consistency is the best quality to look for when evaluating the potential of a tight end. The boom/bust is simply too hard to predict. Players who reacted strongly to last year's week one Top 10 TE list that included Vernon Davis, Zach Ertz, and Anthony Fasano, did not fare well. It is better to consider tight ends in the context of their offensive situation to predict sustained success.

So, let's look at some tight ends that might still be available below their season long value:


Jason Witten - Again, look at the situation. Dez Bryant's injury leaves a red zone gap that will most likely be (and already has been) filled by Tony Romo's favorite target over the years. Owners can feel the enjoyment of a temporary spike in production without the looming dread of a dropoff, since Witten figures to factor heavily in the Dallas offense even after Dez returns. One caveat is that, with such an established name, owners will not likely move Witten without fair compensation.

Eric Ebron - A superior athletic talent and first round draft pick may finally payoff on his potential. Ebron's buy low value is increased by the abundance of big games this past week. With so many 2 TD games from unestablished TE's, Ebron missed some of the hype (and may even still be available on waivers), but might be a better bet in the long term.

Tyler Eifert - The Eifert Tower was mentioned above as the beneficiary of bad Raider's defense and single coverage from a nickel corner in the red-zone. However, this trend may continue as A.J. Green draws double coverage and Jeremy Hill demands linebacker attention. With Jermaine Gresham exiled to Arizona, the spotlight is Eiferts.


Austin Sefarian-Jenkins - Sefarian-Jenkins' production was inflated both in terms of yards and touchdowns. A broken play and some god-awful tackling led to a 41 yrd touchdown, without which, Sefarian-Jenkins stats would have looked much closer to Eric Ebron's who is in a more consistent offense with a better QB. Coupled with the return of Mike Evans (who has a TE's red zone capabilities himself) the coming weeks might be the best time to sell high on ASJ.

Travis Kelce - Kelce is a great option at TE and legitimate top 3 performer at the position. However, if you are able to leverage his outlier week 1 performance, coupled with what is likely to be a strong follow up performance against weak Bronco's D (4th most points allowed to TE 2014) for a high ranking flex position player, go for it. Three factors: 1 Kelce is not Gronk. 2 Jeremy Maclin will eventually need to figure into the offense. 3 Kelce's early schedule featuring Denver and Chicago (top 5 in points allowed to TE) turns brutal later in the season, especially in the playoffs (Buf, SD, BAL each in bottom 12 in points allowed). This is not to advise trading Kelce immediately, but if you can, turn his inflated start into something better long term.

The second most volatile scoring position in the NFL is the running back. As is well documented running backs are often a part of a committee, dependent on strong offensive line play, and highly subject to their week by week opponents. Break out running backs can easily capitalize on a perfect storm of injuries to a lead back, a favorable defensive matchup, and extra red zone carries, only to fall back to earth the following week when none of these conditions are met. The operative word again is consistency. Last season, in the first two weeks, Knowshon Moreno, Giovani Bernard, Darren Sproles, and Kniles Davis found themselves in the top 5 of weekly performers. It could have been legitimately argued that Sproles (in a new role on a new team), Moreno, and Bernard might sustain their success, however the opposite was true. That said, here are some RB's that might be had at bargain value due to recent developments and some that might be best to sell high after week 1 hype.


Arian Foster - Latest injury news had Foster as a potential factor as early as week 3. With uncertainty surrounding Foster, now might be time to snag a player that has consistently found his way into RB top 10.

Le'Veon Bell - Bell's suspension may have placed him in buy low situation already. However, owners reacting to Deangelo Williams strong game against a Patriots team that was much more interested in stopping the passing game, might be even more uneasy about Pittsburgh's bell cow. If that is the case, this is a perfect opportunity to get a bargain on Bell who almost certainly figures to fall in the top 5. As for Deangelo Williams, Bell is much more viable in the passing game and a more patient, yet bruising back whose place in the offense should not be threaten in his hiatus.


Sell high is always contingent on "what can I get for this player?", but if you can trade on the wow factor of surprises like Carlos Hyde, Chris Ivory, or Ameer Abdullah and secure a running back you think will be more consistently productive, go for it. Otherwise, stick with the players you felt good about coming into the season. Running back is an inconsistent position and it is difficult to gauge any major changes after one week.

Outside of fantasy's two most combustable groups, it is important to reiterate the opening point: that the NFL is radically changing league, especially in the short term, so it is best to stay the course. The best players tend to rise to the top as the season progresses, but there is no sure thing. Calvin Johnson led the week 1 in points in 2014 and seemed on track to pay off high draft positions and prices, only to have a season marred by injury, ultimately a disappointment. The second highest scoring receiver in week 1 of 2014 was Allen Hurns, who seemed to be a waiver steal, but failed to sniff the top 50. Meanwhile Odell Beckham Jr. was injured coming out of camp and was dropped in many leagues because of impatience. Stay the course (your team did not significantly improve or decline after one week outside of serious injury) and come back to Fantasy 4'um to check on buy low/sell high developments as the season moves along.

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