Buy/Sell/Hold Report #1
BUY D'Andre Swift, RB, Lions
Swift has already established himself as Detroit’s passing-down back. He’s run a pass route on 44% of QB Matt Stafford’s drop backs and tallied 10 targets through 2 games. Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson have combined for a 37% route rate and just 4 targets. Swift has been good in the passing game, too, hauling in 80% of his targets and averaging 9.4 yards per catch.
So there’s a nice fantasy base here, especially in PPR leagues. If Swift can just capture a moderate ball-carrying role, he’d be in business.
That shouldn’t be too difficult considering the competition: a 35-year-old Adrian Peterson and the underwhelming Kerryon Johnson, who’s now averaged just 3.5 yards per carry since the start of 2019.
It’s no surprise that Swift hasn’t immediately taken over as the lead back. He’s a rookie who didn’t get OTAs or preseason and missed a chunk of August with a hip injury. But if he settles in and starts to show the skill set that made him the 35th overall pick of the draft, he should emerge as Detroit’s lead ball-carrier. Even 10-12 carries per game -- plus that pass-catching role -- would make him a solid fantasy starter.
BUY A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Green has seen elite usage through 2 weeks. He’s tied for 4th among WRs in targets and leads the entire NFL in air yards.
The production hasn’t followed. Green has caught just 8 of 22 targets (36.4%) for 80 yards (10.0 YPC) and 0 TDs. Those are abnormally low marks for any receiver. They’re especially out of line for Green, who owned a career 58.7% catch rate, 14.8 yards-per-catch average and 10.5% TD rate heading into 2020.
Now, that A.J. Green probably isn’t coming back. He’s 32 and has dealt with a plethora of injuries. But it’s also safe to expect his efficiency to rebound significantly going forward. Remember that he missed all of 2019 and is playing with a rookie QB after a COVID-shortened offseason.
If Green and Joe Burrow can get on the same page -- and this type of usage continues -- Green will be a big-time fantasy asset the rest of the way.
BUY Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
It’s been a rocky start for Robinson, who’s sitting outside the top 50 WRs in fantasy points and reportedly asked the Bears for a trade last week.
Those trade demands have subsided, though. And Robinson’s usage has been just fine. His 18 targets through 2 games are tied for 10th most among WRs.
The problem? QB play. Only 47% of Robinson’s targets have been deemed catchable by Pro Football Focus. (He’s caught all of those.) Mitchell Trubisky isn’t playing that poorly. He’s completed a decent 59.4% of his passes. And 65.6% of his throws have been deemed “on target,” per Pro Football Reference.
In other words, Robinson has just been unlucky to see a bunch of Trubisky’s bad throws so far. That’ll normalize. And remember that Nick Foles is hanging around if Trubisky bombs.
We still like Robinson to flirt with WR1 production this season. See if you can acquire him now on the cheap.
BUY D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars
Chark ended 2019 poorly with 42.4 yards per game over the final 5 weeks. He’s barely kept his fantasy value afloat through 2 games this year, scoring once on 3 targets in the opener and taking his 4 targets for 84 yards in Week 2.
Seven targets in 2 games certainly isn’t going to cut it. It’s just an 11% target share — 4th highest on the team. Chark handled a 21% share in 2019.
Of course, a 2-game sample isn’t much to go on. There’s a case for a turnaround here, starting with the play of Gardner Minshew. He’s building off a promising rookie campaign, having thrown for 7.9 yards per attempt and a 75.4% completion rate thus far.
Chark’s playing time hasn’t taken a hit. In fact, he leads all Jags pass catchers in routes run (67). And now comes a weak spot in the schedule that includes upcoming dates against Miami, Cincinnati, Houston and Detroit. Thursday’s matchup with the Dolphins is well timed, as the Fins will be without top CB Byron Jones.
We’re probably not seeing the 2019 version of Chark this season. But for a limited time, you can likely capture similar upside at a major discount.
SEPTEMBER 24 UPDATE: Chark was ruled out of Thursday's game against Miami with back and chest injuries. With the potential to miss multiple weeks, we'd only chase Chark at an extreme discount.
BUY T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
It’s been a nightmare start for Hilton, who’s tallied just 7 catches for 81 yards through 2 weeks. He’s dropped several balls, including a would-be long TD against Minnesota.
But the good news here is that — at least for now — Hilton’s healthy. And that’s not something we can say for the Colts offense overall. They’ve already lost key RB Marlon Mack. TEs Jack Doyle and Trey Burton have been sidelined with ankle and calf injuries, respectively. Then in Week 2, we saw emerging playmaker Parris Campbell go down with a PCL injury. He’ll miss at least 3 weeks on IR — likely more.
So it’s Hilton, rookie Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal atop the WR depth chart.
Hilton buzzed throughout training camp and earned praise from Philip Rivers. Now, is T.Y. the same guy we saw a few years back? Nah. But with volume as fuel — and the drops set to level off — Hilton should start performing closer to his draft-day expectation. A Week 3 home matchup with the Jets looks like your last chance to buy low.
BUY Jamison Crowder, WR, Jets
You might have seen Crowder in our “Guys Who Can Win You a Fantasy Championship” article just before the season. Well, he went out and racked up a 7-115-1 fantasy line against Buffalo in the opener, garnering 13 targets in a game that saw no other Jet exceed 7. Crowder drew a 37.1% share of Sam Darnold’s pass attempts that day.
Since Sam Darnold returned from his mono-driven spleen issue in Week 6 last season, Crowder has seen 23.9% of Jets targets. He scored as WR15 in PPR over the final 12 weeks of last year, and then he ranked 8th in Week 1 of this season.
And then he hurt his hamstring.
That can be a scary injury for a wideout because of the chance for recurrence. But it also presents a potential “buy” window for a guy we know to be Darnold’s clear #1 receiver … on a bad team bound to face plenty more negative game scripts.
It should be early enough in the season for you to be able to absorb the hamstring risk in your WR corps. So see if you can pluck Crowder from an unwitting league mate before the veteran returns.
BUY Evan Engram, TE, Giants
Through 2 weeks, Engram leads all TEs in routes run. Seeing 7 and 8 targets so far is encouraging, but it’s also a mini victory that he’s healthy in the early going.
The same can’t be said for a pair of key teammates. You know Saquon Barkley’s done for the year with an ACL tear. While that hurts the offense’s overall scoring chances, it’ll likely help stabilize Engram’s target volume. So will Sterling Shepard’s recent toe injury that landed him on injured reserve.
This unit’s down to Engram, Darius Slayton and Golden Tate, who made his debut in Week 2 after missing the opener with hamstring trouble. With the defense performing like a bottom-feeder, Engram should continue to see consistent opportunities.
As expected, he’s played ~51% of his snaps out of the slot so far. His versatility makes tough on-paper matchups look less daunting. The Giants Week 3 opponent — San Francisco — isn’t ideal, but their pass rush certainly takes a step back without Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas.
SELL Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
These aren’t the 2019 Vikings. Those Vikings had an efficient offense and a strong defense. That helped Cook to a RB2 finish in PPR points per game.
The 2020 Vikings are a mess on offense. They rank 30th in yards, 20th in points and 25th in Football Outsiders DVOA through 2 weeks. The defense is just as poor, sitting 29th in yards allowed, 31st in points allowed and 20th in DVOA.
It’s all bad news for Cook. The offensive struggles figure to hurt his efficiency. (We don’t put too much stock in 2 games, but his yards per carry is sitting at a career-low 4.3.)
The leaky defense will put the Vikings in lots of negative game scripts and force them to abandon the run. Cook should at least remain involved in the passing game -- although it’s worrisome that he’s totaled just 4 targets through 2 games.
None of this is to say you should look to unload Cook for whatever you can get. He’s still a top fantasy RB -- especially with the injuries to Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley.
But you also shouldn’t expect Cook to approach last year’s fantasy production. If you can find an owner who thinks he will, see if you can swing a trade. Just make sure not to leave yourself too weak at RB. Shipping Cook for a RB like Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon or Kenyan Drake -- plus an upgrade elsewhere -- would make sense.
SELL Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns
We’re just 2 games into the 2020 season, but we already have a good idea of what the Browns backfield will look like.
Cleveland was chasing the Ravens throughout the opener. That led to a busier game for Hunt, who played 49% of the offensive snaps and handled 13 carries and 6 targets. (Nick Chubb played 48% of the snaps, carried 10 times and saw 1 target.)
Week 2 showed us the Browns backfield in positive game script. In the win over the Bengals, Hunt played just 34% of the snaps vs. Chubb’s 62%. Now, Hunt still ripped off a big game: 101 yards and 2 TDs on 12 touches. But we obviously can’t bank on that type of efficiency. And note that Hunt was out-touched 21 to 4 by Chubb through 3 quarters.
So it sure looks like Chubb will open games as Cleveland’s clear lead back and remain there in positive and neutral scripts. Hunt will get a boost when the Browns are playing from behind -- but that can be tough to predict.
Expect volatile weekly production the rest of the way. There’s nothing wrong with deploying Hunt as a RB3 or flex. But you might be able to get more in return for him right now. He’s currently sitting 8th among RBs in PPR points and 9th in non-PPR.
SELL Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens
Ingram leads Baltimore RBs in snaps so far. He has carried 10 more times than 2nd-round rookie J.K. Dobbins through 2 games and garnered 3 of 4 RB pass targets to this point. He’s also coming off his 1st rushing TD, against the Texans. That’s why it’s time to look into selling.
We know this backfield will be frustrating to fantasy owners. OC Greg Roman said after Week 1 that the team wants it to be that way. (“We like to keep people guessing.”) Makes sense for them. Makes headaches for us.
We’re just 2 games in -- both victories -- and we’ve already seen Dobbins go from 2-TD scorer in the opener to #3 in carries Sunday. Even in leading the backfield so far and tripling Dobbins in targets, Ingram has run fewer pass routes each week than the rookie.
At best, the veteran will continue to hold a tenuous lead in a backfield committee. But there’s also room for him to give way to Dobbins, or simply find himself muddled in a hot-hand rotation.
The rash of Week 2 injuries coinciding with Ingram’s TD affords the perfect opportunity to sell the veteran at a profit. Just make sure it doesn’t leave you short on RB options.
SELL Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams
WHAT?!? Didn’t Higbee just show us why we drafted him? Well, kinda.
Before his 3 red-zone TDs at Philadelphia in Week 2, Higbee established himself as a key red-zone target late last season. He finished 4th among TEs in red-zone looks for 2019 and tied for 5th in end-zone looks, according to Pro Football Focus. That came despite Higbee not emerging as the Rams’ lead receiving TE until the season’s 2nd half. But there’s reason for concern.
Higbee ranks 7th among all TEs in snaps played through 2 weeks. But he sits tied for just 31st in routes run, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s tied with Mo Alie-Cox and behind players such as Rob Gronkowski, Robert Tonyan, Ryan Izzo and Dan Arnold.
Some of that is the Rams running the ball more. Higbee leads the position in run-blocking reps so far. But he also sits tied for 2nd-most pass-blocking snaps.
Higbee has run a route on 73.6% of pass snaps so far, down slightly from his 78.6% rate over that 6-game hot streak to close last season.
His target share has taken a bigger dive. Higbee drew 24.5% of Goff’s attempts over the final 6 contests of 2019. He has seen just 15.5% through 2 games this year.
We’re definitely not saying he’s doomed to disappoint you from here on out. We are saying, though, that the 3-TD game at Philly in close proximity to the hot finish of 2019 could allow you to sell Higbee at greater than his true value. And you don’t get many such windows at TE.
HOLD Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys
We love CeeDee Lamb around here. Perhaps the rookie is already supplanting Gallup as the #2 wideout in Dallas. We’re also fans of Amari Cooper, who looks like the #1 so far (tied for 2nd in the league in targets).
But Gallup sits just 63rd among WRs in PPR scoring after 2 weeks. We’ll go ahead and bet that he finishes higher.
Gallup finished last season 18th among all wideouts in PPR points per game, 23rd at the position in targets, and right with Cooper in target share over their healthy games. He has opened this year with just 10 targets through 2 contests.
We expect Gallup to have more down volume games, but we also expect him to enjoy some strong performances. It’s certainly worth noting that the 3rd-year wideout has also averaged 21.6 yards per catch on his 5 receptions so far and easily leads all Cowboys in average depth of target. Gallup sits 5.5 yards ahead of Cooper in that category and more than 9.0 ahead of Lamb.
Continuing that trend would mean more production per catch for Gallup, and thus the ability to produce even on fewer opportunities. We’ve also already seen him lose a long Week 1 catch to a questionable offensive PI call.
Hang on to Gallup for now as we watch this Dallas offense develop.
HOLD Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
Dallas Goedert is a problem. He’s out-targeted Ertz 17 to 14 through 2 games and recorded more air yards. It’s probably enough to keep Ertz from being an elite fantasy TE in 2020.
But he does still look like a rock-solid weekly starter at a position with few rock-solid options. Despite Goedert’s expanding role, Ertz has still played 90% of Philly’s offensive snaps and run a pass route on 82% of QB Carson Wentz’s drop backs. His 14 targets are tied for 8th among TEs.
If you can find a buyer willing to pay TE3 price for Ertz, go ahead and deal him. Otherwise, hang tight and feel comfy plugging him into your starting lineup each and every week.