Buy/Sell/Hold Report #1
BUY CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys
We all thought the Dallas offense was in big trouble when QB Dak Prescott went down. Then Cooper Rush went out and supported a 7-75 receiving line for Lamb on 11 targets. That constituted 35.5% of Rush’s pass attempts for the game, 36.8% of his completions and 31.9% of his passing yards.
Lamb has garnered 11 targets in each game so far, 30% of the team’s total pass attempts. We’ll see whether the number stays up in that range once Michael Gallup returns, but that’s certainly not an unprecedented range for a team’s lead wideout. And growing his target share was arguably the biggest question facing Lamb entering the season.
Still, while he’s delivering (so far) on that front, the production has yet to arrive. According to Pro Football Focus’ numbers, there is no WR in the league with a larger negative gap so far between “expected” PPR points and actual PPR points.
The Lamb drafter is certainly feeling that lack of points through 2 weeks. And the 7-75 receiving line of Week 2 likely wasn’t enough for a lot of them to feel vindicated, placing Lamb just 24th among PPR wideouts for the week.
We don’t know yet how soon Prescott will return, though the Cowboys were encouraged enough to keep him off IR. And Rush showed Sunday – plus last year at Minnesota (325 yards) – that he’s not a zero. To us, Lamb looks like he should at least be fine on volume the rest of the way, with the ceiling of a guy drafted among the top 8 WRs.
BUY Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers
Trey Lance’s season-ending ankle injury sucks. But it doesn’t suck for Aiyuk.
The return of QB Jimmy Garoppolo figures to mean more passing – and more efficient passing – in San Francisco. Remember that Garoppolo owns a 68% completion rate and 8.4 yards per attempt with the ‘Niners. Lance wasn’t gonna hit those marks this year.
Of course, we’ve already seen what Aiyuk can do with Garoppolo. After escaping the doghouse early last season, Aiyuk racked up 47 catches for 730 yards and 4 TDs on a 21% target share over his final 11 games. He ranked 16th among WRs in PPR points and 13th in non-PPR over that span.
And, while the production hasn’t been big yet this season, the usage has been strong. Aiyuk has run a route on 97% of pass plays and garnered a 21% target share.
He looks like a WR3 with upside the rest of the way. See if you can acquire him for cheaper than that.
BUY Chris Olave, WR, Saints
We’ve already seen rookie WRs Drake London and Garrett Wilson break out. Olave is next.
He’s already a full-time player in this Saints offense, running a route on 84% of pass plays through 2 games. And he’s seen 21.6% of the team’s targets – behind only Michael Thomas’ 23.0% share.
Even more exciting is that Olave compiled well over 300 air yards in Week 2, becoming just the 5th player to do that in a single game since 2016. The other 4: Mike Evans, Marquise Brown, Julio Jones and A.J. Green. That’s good company.
Simply put, Olave is playing a big and valuable role in this Saints passing game – despite being just 2 games into his NFL career. Throw in the impressive prospect profile and this guy has big upside the rest of the season.
Get him before the breakout.
Buy Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams
Entering Week 3, Higbee ranks 2nd among TEs in target share (26%). He's posted a pair of useful fantasy lines (9 and 14 PPR points).
And he’s done so without scoring. In fact, last week vs. Atlanta, Higbee was target twice in the end zone. It’s no wonder that, per PFF, he ranks 1st at the position in expected fantasy points.
TDs figure to come eventually if the usage keeps up. And the lack of scores should only help lower the price on Higbee in a deal.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Allen Robinson — coming off a dud of a Rams debut vs. Buffalo — posted just a 13.8% target share in Week 2.
Even when WR Van Jefferson returns over the next few weeks, Higbee figures to stick in the TE1 mix. Look to trade for him now if you’re in need of a weekly starter at TE.
SELL Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
We discussed some guys above who haven’t scored up to their “expected” fantasy points so far. Well, Chubb sits 4th highest among RBs in scoring over his expected fantasy points to date, across formats. That’ll happen when you’re coming off a 3-TD game. And we like Chubb the player primarily because he’s capable of such spike weeks.
Through 2 weeks, though, Chubb now ranks 1st among RBs in PPR points vs. 9th in expected PPR points. And, key to this discussion: Kareem Hunt ranks 18th in that category.
It was Hunt with the big Week 1 fantasy line, thanks to a pair of TDs. Chubb finished 19th among PPR backs for the week, despite rushing for 141 yards. And that’s kinda the rub with Chubb.
It’s not that we expect him to fall off. It’s that he’s sharing quite a bit with Hunt, including the red zone. Chubb ranks 4th among RBs in red-zone opportunities so far, with 8. Hunt has 7. If we believed the Browns were set to average anything near 28 points per game the rest of the way – as they have through games against the Panthers and Jets – that red-zone share would be less of an issue.
Do you think this Cleveland offense will score at a top-5 rate for the season? Neither do we.
That doesn’t mean you just unload Chubb for whatever you can get. But we’d bet you can get a large return on fantasy’s current lead RB scorer.
SELL Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire is sitting 5th among RBs in PPR points through 2 weeks, returning big value on his 6th- or 7th-round price tag.
But he’s done it all through efficiency. He scored twice on just 10 touches in the opener and then averaged 9.3 yards per carry and 11.0 yards per catch in Week 2. You don’t need us to tell you that none of that is sustainable.
Edwards-Helaire ranks just 37th among RBs in carries (15) and 21st in targets (7) so far. Pro Football Focus has him 33rd at his position in expected PPR points.
That’s much closer to the level of scoring to expect going forward than his current RB5 standing. This is a 3-back committee in Kansas City, with Edwards-Helaire failing to top a 44% snap rate or 38% route rate in either game so far.
If you can get more than low-end RB2 value for him in a trade, cash in.
HOLD Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars
Why bother holding Etienne? Honestly … because it’s really all you can do with him for now.
His trade value will be minimal at best.
Dump him outright? You could. But what are you getting for him there this week? Darrel Williams? Josh Palmer? You’re almost definitely giving away ceiling if you send Etienne to waivers right now. And worse, you’d be giving away the ceiling potential to a league mate who stashes him for next to nothing.
Of course, we need role alterations if Etienne is to actually pay off for anyone. To that end, ESPN’s Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco says “it’s a little early” to give up on Etienne. He adds: “Doug Pederson is still working through getting the ball distributed to the playmakers. His philosophy is to exploit matchups as much as possible, so there will be games when Etienne is more involved.”
We’ll need to see at least 1 of those games before inserting him into fantasy lineups. But it’s not like he has sucked when actually given opportunities. Etienne is averaging 6.6 yards per touch through 2 games. He could easily have scored twice in Week 1, but Trevor Lawrence over threw him in the end zone, and then Etienne dropped a high throw from 3 yards out.
One game like that where those connections succeed, and we’re either talking about a big boost in trade value or more optimistic for an opportunity boost. So let’s try to be patient a little longer and see what happens vs. the average-to-weak LB corps of the Chargers, Eagles and Texans over the next 3 weeks.
Hold Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions
St. Brown is riding a streak of 8 straight games with 8+ catches.
He enters Week 3 with a 33.8% target share, trailing only — you guessed it — Cooper Kupp.
Wild, wild stuff.
Now, clearly, St. Brown won’t catch 145 balls this season. But that doesn’t mean he's an automatic sell-high.
The former 4th-rounder turned in a buzzy training camp, building off his strong end to 2021 alongside Jared Goff. St. Brown’s strengths in the short and intermediate ranges truly mesh well with Goff. Just consider that the duo has combined for an elite 74.7% catch rate since the start of this historic 8-game stretch.
With D’Andre Swift already battling an ankle injury, T.J. Hockenson looking less and less likely to take another step forward and Jameson Williams’ return date still unknown, this environment looks ripe for sustained production. Enjoy the ride with St. Brown.
HOLD D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers
It’s been a rough start for Moore. It’s been a rough start for the entire Panthers offense. And that’s the problem.
Here’s where Carolina ranks in some key metrics through 2 games:
- 30th in plays
- 29th in pass attempts
- 30th in pass yards
- 29th in Pro Football Focus passing grade
It’s been a low-volume offense with a low-volume and inefficient passing game. Tough for Moore to produce in that environment.
The good news is that he’s run a route on 100% of pass plays and garnered a 21.4% target share. So if this offense gets going, so will Moore.
We’re admittedly not sure the offense will get going with questionable play-calling and QBing – which is why Moore is a hold, rather than a buy.
But it’s not like Moore hasn’t produced in bad situations before. He finished 17th among WRs in PPR points last year on Carolina’s 29th-ranked passing game.
Don’t sell low on a guy talented enough to produce even in a crappy spot.
Hold Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons
We know you’re wondering what the hell to do with Pitts right now.
He’s struggled through the first 2 weeks. But it’s striking to see the early returns on the preseason TE3 in ADP:
10 targets (16.9% target share)
It’s worth noting that Pitts faced a pair of strong TE defenses. Both the Saints (his Week 1 opponent) and the Rams (his Week 2 opponent) ranked top-10 in fantasy points allowed to the position in 2021. It’s just a one game sample, but L.A. also shut down Dawson Knox in the season opener (2 targets, 1 catch, 5 yards).
At this point, you’re not selling low on a guy with Pitts’ talent and opportunity for a larger role. He’s simply not going to return adequate value. And you'll be losing a potential difference-maker for the road ahead at a position where few such guys exist.
If there’s a silver lining here: Pitts’ route rate actually increased from 72% vs. New Orleans to 91% last week. (You can find a ton of awesome nuggets like this in our weekly usage articles.) After blocking on 20% of his passing down snaps in the opener, that number dropped to 8.6% in Week 2.
Sure, there’s still a long way to go for him to meet ADP expectations. Just resist any urge to sell him for pennies on the dollar.