Buy/Sell/Hold Report #2
BUY D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions
Swift ranks 6th in PPR points through 4 weeks, despite checking in just 31st in carries -- 1 behind teammate Jamaal Williams. That might make Swift seem like a “sell-high” candidate. Frankly, that’s why we’re buying.
The upside on Swift was never huge carry volume. It was the receiving. And he sits 2nd among all RBs in targets -- closer to leader Najee Harris than to #3 Chase Edmonds.
Swift’s 11 targets of Week 1 look like an inflater on his overall numbers, but that week represents just his 2nd largest target share through 4 weeks. And his smallest target share to this point -- 13.9% in Week 2 -- would have ranked 4th among RBs last season.
In short, Swift boasts as strong a target outlook as any RB in the league. And although the groin injury he brought into the season has rendered him questionable every week, Swift has yet to miss game time for it.
If he’s on your team, you’ve been enjoying strong PPR production to this point, and it should keep coming. If he sits on another roster that’s solid at RB, check to see if that manager views Swift as a “sell.”
BUY Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams
Workhorse backs: Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara … Darrell Henderson?!?
Granted, we’ve only seen Henderson for 2 full games this season. But he’s been a workhorse in that limited sample. Check out the usage in those 2 games:
- 92% snap rate
- 72% route rate
- 30 of 34 RB carries (91%)
- 3 of 3 carries inside the 5-yard line
- 7 targets (10.4% share)
Sony Michel is still hanging around, but he didn’t help his cause with a lost fumble in Week 4. He didn’t record a touch after that gaffe.
It remains to be seen if Henderson can hold up in a workhorse role. But if he does -- in this high-scoring Rams offense -- he could produce as a top 10 fantasy RB the rest of the way.
The cherry on top is an upcoming schedule that features the Seahawks, Giants, Lions, Texans and Titans. All 5 of those teams rank in the bottom half of the league in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA.
BUY Damien Harris, RB, Patriots
Blame the matchups for Harris’ duds the past 2 games. Week 3 brought a Saints squad sitting 3rd in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings and 6th in adjusted points allowed to RBs. Last week, he drew a Bucs defense that’s been shutting down RBs for the past few years. They rank 11th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA and 7th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs through the first 4 weeks of this season.
Harris was productive in easier matchups vs. the Dolphins and Jets in the first 2 weeks, compiling 162 yards and a score on 39 carries. And now the schedule is about to get really sweet. He gets the doormat Texans in Week 5, a middling Cowboys defense in Week 6 and a rematch with the Jets in Week 7.
On top of that, Harris might be set to surprise in the passing game the rest of the way. He caught both of his targets for 30 yards last week, New England’s first game of the season without pass-catching back James White. Even more importantly, Harris led Patriots RBs with 17 routes on 50 pass plays. That 36% rate isn’t great -- but it might be enough to feed Harris a few targets per game. And that would make him a much more reliable weekly fantasy play.
See if you can pry Harris from a frustrated owner in your league before Sunday’s game vs. Houston.
BUY Michael Pittman, WR, Colts
Pittman’s numbers leave you wanting more.
Among WRs, he’s top 20 in catches (23) and yards (279) — but he hasn’t found the end zone.
A few near misses in the red area have really suppressed Pittman’s value. In fact, he’s 0 for 5 in end zone targets this year (0 drops).
Sure, T.Y. Hilton might return over the next few weeks. But at this stage in his career, we believe the 32-year-old (in November) brings little beyond name value. So don’t expect Pittman’s strong 25.1% target share to suddenly fade. He actually ranks 8th among all WRs in Expected Fantasy Points through 4 weeks. The usage has been awesome.
As long as Carson Wentz can stay on the field (hold your jokes… we know), Pittman should quickly rebound to post WR3+ numbers. Plus, he shouldn’t cost much to acquire.
SELL Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
There are 2 basic types of “sell” candidates. One is the guy producing fantasy numbers well above what his usage and/or other indicators say he should be delivering. That’s the player you want to move before his bubble bursts. The other is Prescott.
We entered the season believing big time in the Dallas offense -- and we still do. The Cowboys sit 4th in the league in scoring, 3rd in total yards and 6th in yards per play. And only Patrick Mahomes and Matthew Stafford have tossed more TD passes than Prescott. We’re not expecting him or the offense to crash. So why sell?
First of all, those 10 TD passes have Prescott just 12th in fantasy points at the position. Derek Carr, Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold are among the QBs who have outscored him so far. We’re not betting on any of those 3 finishing the season ahead of the Dallas QB in fantasy points, but they stand as prime examples of how flat the scoring is at the position. Even now, you can find starter-level fantasy production at QB well beyond the top shelf.
Secondly, there is a bit of a bubble to Prescott’s fantasy scoring so far. He sits just 19th in our expected fantasy points metric so far. He ranks 20th in the league in pass attempts and has seen his rushing production crash. Prescott sits tied for 8th in attempts and just 19th in yards.
His rushing volume stands right in line with previous years, so maybe he rebounds in that area. But Prescott’s 3.2-yard average sits well below any previous season, and Pro Football Focus has graded him much worse as a rusher than in any other year. That makes sense coming off last year’s ankle injury. Even a good-running Prescott was a strong candidate for TD regression from his 9.3% career rate.
Even if you believe he has room to regress positively in that area, that comes with space for negative regression on his 7.5% passing-TD rate. That number would have ranked among the league’s top 3 every year since 1973 -- more often checking in 2nd or 1st.
Finally, the Cowboys have followed up their league-high Week 1 pass heaviness by leaning strongly in the other direction. Through 4 weeks, Dallas sits just 14th in the league in pass rate in neutral situations, according to RBSDM.com. By game, the team has ranked 1st, 27th, 31st and 22nd. So these Cowboys aren’t looking to go pass-heavy. An improved defense (so far) and 1 of the league’s easier schedules -- according to Sharp Football -- look ready to support that approach.
Prescott has the receiving talent around him to continue producing at above-average levels. So if you find a tepid trade market, don’t feel compelled to move him for whatever you can get. And we probably wouldn’t bother pursuing 1-for-1 QB moves. But it’s worth seeing whether you can package the Dallas QB in a deal that can improve your team elsewhere.
SELL Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
The last 2 weeks have brought 2 of Edwards-Helaire’s top 5 fantasy outings as a pro. So why sell him now?
Because his usage hasn’t changed. In fact, Edwards-Helaire set season lows last week in snap rate (52%) and route rate (46%). RB Darrel Williams, meanwhile, played a season-high 36% of the offensive snaps and tallied a season-high 10 carries.
We don’t expect Williams to overtake Edwards-Helaire. But he might continue to play more than you think. And Williams sure looks like he’s the Chiefs’ goal-line back. He’s received all 3 of the team’s carries inside the 5-yard line through 4 weeks.
So Edwards-Helaire isn’t getting those all-important goal-line opportunities. And his passing-game role has been underwhelming. He’s totaled just 8 targets this season -- tied for 41st among RBs.
Add it all up and Edwards-Helaire ranks 18th in our Expected Fantasy Points metric. He’s a RB2 going forward that might net you RB1 value in a trade.
SELL Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Falcons
Patterson is fun to watch. He’s explosive, fast, versatile … and yeah, he’s been crazy productive so far. He sits at RB3 and WR5 in PPR scoring.
There’s no doubt: He’s the biggest surprise so far this fantasy season.
What Patterson lacks, however, is staying power. He’s played only 34.4% of Atlanta’s snaps and has scored 5 times on just 47 touches. His catch rate is a bloated 85.7%.
So, unsurprisingly, Patterson leads all RBs and WRs in fantasy points above expectation (34.86). Simply put, he’s playing well over his head.
Look for regression to set in shortly, making Patterson an ideal sell-high coming off Sunday’s 3-TD game vs. Washington.
SELL Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles
Week 4 finally gave us the kind of game we were hoping for when we drafted Goedert: 5-56-1. That’s why we need to try to get out now.
Goedert has been targeted on slightly less than 11% of Eagles pass attempts through 4 games. Actually, let’s get more specific ...
Goedert has seen a 10.96% target share so far this season.
Last year, when he missed 5 games and left 2 others early, Goedert finished with 10.87% of the full-season target share.
Seventeen other TEs finished last season with larger target shares than what Goedert has drawn so far this year.
Zach Ertz is still around. That hurts. Philly also found a #1 WR in the 1st round of this year’s draft. Jalen Reagor -- the 2020 first-rounder -- is playing a bigger role this time around. Even fellow 2nd-year wideout Quez Watkins has stepped up.
Philly’s QB only exacerbates the issue for Goedert. Hurts’ passing has been OK overall. He’s currently 15th among starting QBs in Pro Football Focus passing grade. But if you break it down by distance, Hurts’ weakest grades for 2020 and so far in 2021 have come in the range where Goedert’s average depth of target sits: “short,” 0-9 yards.
Goedert’s 2 TDs this season have him 8th at the position in PPR scoring, even though he’s tied for just 17th in receptions (with Ertz, among others) and tied for 18th in targets. It’ll take at least an Ertz injury or trade to unlock Goedert as a consistent option. Even then, we’re not sure how high the ceiling goes.
Goedert is worth selling aggressively.
HOLD Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
Samuel’s 28-490-3 line includes a massive season-long pace of 178 targets. He’s posted TDs from 79 and 76 yards out, with the latter surfacing last week vs. blown coverage. Samuel sits 3rd among WRs with 26.7 fantasy points above expectation.
So, sure, he probably won’t finish the season as fantasy’s #3 WR as he is right now. But we don’t anticipate his role changing much, even if he’s benefited from the odd situation surrounding Brandon Aiyuk. Dating back to 2020, Samuel’s seen 8+ targets in his last 6 healthy games. Just going by the eye test, he still looks like an elite run-after-catch asset.
The pause with Samuel is his injury history. He struggled with a variety of leg injuries at South Carolina and missed 10 games over his first 2 pro seasons. The positive: He’s stayed off the injury report through the first 4 weeks.
Unless you’re deep at WR and receive a strong offer, be happy to ride out Samuel’s breakout season.