Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout the season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to offer insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.
This week, the QB List Staff was asked which players they are buying and selling ahead of Week 2:
Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): BUYING: J.K. Dobbins, RB (PIT); SELLING: Mark Ingram, RB (BAL)
Reasoning: Before you buy J.K. Dobbins, know that Mark Ingram isn’t going away. The team will almost certainly continue with a balanced committee approached during the early goings of the season. However, it cannot be overstated how key it is that the Ravens trusted the rookie Dobbins with goal-line work, and more importantly, that he delivered with two scores. Dobbins possesses the exceptional vision, strength, and acceleration that Ingram lacks at this point in the veteran’s career, and we already know Dobbins is a threat as a receiver. According to Graham Barfield’s Yards Created per Attempt metric which measures how many yards a running back is able to create for himself independent of his offensive line, Dobbins finished 3rd in the 2020 class with 5.04 YC/A. Dobbins was also the second most productive back in college behind Jonathan Taylor, according to Next Gen Stats.
@GrahamBarfield’s amazing Yards Created series has historically had a very strong predictiveness to NFL fantasy 3-year PPG. A model based on his past data shows the 2020 class based on his numbers 👀:
Dobbins – 10.5 PPG
Taylor – 9.6
Swift – 9.3
CEH – 8.4
Akers – 7.9 https://t.co/JGPHTWKBVZ
— David Zach (@DavidZach16) April 4, 2020
Ingram remains capable, but his days as a star tailback are behind him. The fact that Dobbins led the team in snaps at running back in his first game as a pro makes Ingram a sell. Before we get too carried away, OC Greg Roman has said that it could be someone different week to week as they like to keep teams guessing. However, he also admitted they would go with the hot hand, and right now Dobbins is heating up. He probably won’t fully take over the backfield until next year barring injury, but his execution in Week 1 could get him valuable snaps in the red zone for arguably the NFL’s most explosive offense. As for Ingram, he will still have value in this offense in the short term. He should command a larger snap share this week, and that should keep open the selling window to acquire something of value in return. But if you can offload him now for a starter or bench piece with upside, jump on the chance.
Dan Adams (@dadams0323): BUYING: Odell Beckham Jr.; SELLING: Austin Ekeler
Reasoning: Odell Beckham Jr. is a buy after he turned 129 air yards into just 22 receiving yards in Week 1, thanks to a bad drop and some bad quarterback play. But the air yards, and a very solid 10 targets, indicate that he’ll be heavily involved in this offense and should have more success in matchups that aren’t as difficult as the Ravens. Beckham was a let down last year and had an awful Week 1, which makes him a great target to try to buy low on. He’s still talented, this offense can still be good, and now with Jarvis Landry and David Njoku dealing with injuries, they may need to lean on Beckham even more going forward. Sign me up.
Prior to the season, I expected Austin Ekeler to see a dramatic decrease from almost seven per game he saw last season. Week 1 confirmed that with Ekeler receiving just one target despite playing on 75% of offensive snaps. New starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor has never been one to target his running backs and is essentially as different as you can get from former quarterback Philip Rivers, a stationary passer who loves to check down to his running backs. Ekeler also appears to have more competition than fantasy managers would like, as rookie Joshua Kelley had 12 carries to Ekeler’s 19. Even worse for Ekeler, Kelley out-carried him inside the ten-yard line with three carries to Ekeler’s one. Ekeler now appears to have a cap on both his receiving and touchdown upside, which makes him a clear sell for me.
Austin Ekeler right now pic.twitter.com/hgvtvimOm1
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 13, 2020
Brandon Miller (@BrandonMillerFB): BUYING: Austin Ekeler; SELLING: Nick Chubb
Reasoning: A great thing about fantasy football is that one person’s “sell” is oftentimes another person’s “buy.” Some might say that’s how trades are made! I don’t imagine the Ekeler owner in your league is itching to sell him, but if he or she is concerned about his lack of work as a receiver (one catch for three yards in Week 1) or goal-line back (one carry inside the 10-yard line compared to Joshua Kelley’s three), this is a good opportunity to pounce. I would be less inclined to aggressively pursue him in non-PPR leagues, but PPR players should put out some feelers to the Ekeler owner, as I see him charging toward fringe RB1-RB2 status in that format rest of season. The talent and locked-in workload (15-20 touches per game) will be there as long as he stays on the field. Get him now before he goes off against Kansas City this week.
In the 3 games that Austin Ekeler has played the Chiefs since Mahomes has been QB he has 28 targets pic.twitter.com/kpBIFNiOly
— Corey Buschlen (@FootballStock) September 18, 2020
On the flip side, Nick Chubb was widely regarded as an RB1 coming into the season, so if you can swap him out at that price tag, now may be the time to do so. Week 1 overreactions aside, the Browns’ backfield split (33 snaps apiece for Chubb and Kareem Hunt) should be a concern for Chubb owners. The negative game script did not favor Chubb in Week 1, but he has a quick “get right” opportunity on Thursday against the Bengals, a game that should produce, at worst, a neutral game script for Cleveland. I understand waiting one more week for the sake of seeing how Chubb fares in a better matchup, but I don’t see this near-even split going away anytime soon, nor do I see the Browns in a ton of positive game scripts this season. I would move him more toward RB2-territory rest of season rather than the RB1 he was considered to be just last week.
Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23): BUYING: Jamison Crowder; SELLING: Mike Evans
Reasoning: Jamison Crowder’s chemistry with Sam Darnold is apparent, and with limited options elsewhere in the offense, he should be getting even more opportunities going forward. Some people are still sleeping on him, and in a PPR league, he can be a solid WR3 with WR2 upside nearly any week.
Top 5 WRs (with at least 3 receptions) ranked in order of week 1 target share
1. Deandre Hopkins (43%)
2. Davante Adams (41%)
3. Jamison Crowder (39%)
4. Amari Cooper (38%)
5. Julian Edelman (37%) pic.twitter.com/jja5fude7B
— Fantasy Football Data Pros (@FFDataPros) September 15, 2020
For Mike Evans, soft tissue injuries can linger, and after dealing with one last season these may become more frequent for him. His game isn’t the short and intermediate routes; he excels downfield and there is still a question if Brady can accurately get the ball downfield to him on a regular basis. If he’s going to be a boom or bust type player in this offense, I’d rather take a shot on a guy like Robby Anderson and sell Evans now while his value is still high.
Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList): BUYING: A.J. Brown; Selling: Rob Gronkowski
Reasoning: Most A.J. Brown owners are probably worried after watching his Monday night performance and Corey Davis posting over 100 yards. It is understandable, but Brown will be fine. He had eight targets against a tough Denver secondary. He only had three games last season of at least eight targets. Volume was his biggest concern coming into his sophomore season, so if that usage sticks Brown will make his owners very happy. Recent news that Brown is battling a bone bruise in his knee and could miss some time may actually make it easier to acquire him. If you have a stable WR core and can wait on Brown to mend, he makes for an ideal target since a bone bruise is less likely to impact future performance than a soft tissue injury might. Many people were already expecting a regression this season from the Titans offense, but let’s not forget how good Brown was last season.
In 2019, AJ Brown ranked:
-3rd in yards per route run
-2nd in passer rating when targeted
-2nd in missed tackles forced per reception
-1st in yards after the catch per reception
-1st in yards after contact per reception
-1st in yards per target
among all 79 WRs with 50+ targets
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) December 30, 2019
Somehow, Rob Gronkowski was being drafted as a top 10 TE entering this season, but it doesn’t even look like he is the top TE on his own team. O.J. Howard and Gronk ran 19 and 21 routes respectively, but Howard out targetted Gronk six to three. Howard also received two red-zone targets compared to only one for Gronk. It appears that Howard is much closer to Gronk than expected, and if this continues, neither of them will be relevant for fantasy. If I had Gronk on a team, I would be looking for a potential replacement if this trend continues.
Ryan Heath (@QBLRyan): BUYING: Christian Kirk; SELLING: James Conner
Reasoning: While Christian Kirk didn’t light up the box score last weekend, the conditions around him that contributed to his perceived upside in drafts were all there. Even on just five targets, Kirk saw 38% of his team’s total air yards, suggesting he is being utilized deep down the field. Positive regression is coming this season for Kirk, as he’ll start catching more of those deep shots while defenses give increased attention to DeAndre Hopkins. Kirk is a very affordable piece of this high-octane offense and should be the primary beneficiary when Kyler Murray will be forced to spread his targets around a bit more. Plus, the upcoming schedule is mouthwatering.
Go buy low on Christian Kirk or fire him up in DFS this week:
*1 REC, 0 YDS on 5 TGT in W1, but 70 Air Yards and 14.0 aDOT
*Faces WAS secondary that allowed 55-yard reception to Jalen Reagor
*Next 5 matchups: WAS, DET, CAR, NYJ, DAL#FantasyFootball
— Frank Ammirante (@FAmmiranteTFJ) September 17, 2020
While James Conner practiced fully on Thursday, his fantasy managers shouldn’t think they’re in the clear. Conner is among the league’s most fragile running backs and was outplayed by the noticeably quicker Benny Snell last week even when he was on the field. This backfield could very quickly turn into a committee, while ankle injuries to running backs tend to linger throughout a season. If you can recoup anything close to Conner’s draft cost from an optimistic league mate after the positive news this week, do it immediately.
Jamie Sayer (@JamieSayerPL): BUYING: Mike Williams; SELLING: The Dolphins Run Game
Reasoning: Mike Williams seemed to be healthy on Sunday and was a constant target downfield for Tyrod Taylor. He saw nine targets and lead the team in air-yards percentage at 43% (11th in NFL), showing Tyrod isn’t afraid to air it out. He had one catch called back because of a defensive penalty and another ruled out-of-bounds, so his fantasy day could have been even better. Buy him while you still can.
Mike Williams just made one of the best out of bounds catches I’ve ever seen.
— Austin Pendergist (@apthirteen) September 13, 2020
On the ground, we have the Dolphins running game. Ew. This Miami backfield seems messy, as Myles Gaskin out-snapped both Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda by a LOT (63% of the total snaps for Gaskin, just 23% for Brieda and 14% for Howard). What? While I don’t expect this to continue moving forward, PFF had him as the much better back in Game 1. The Dolphins have already said all three will continue to see time and have a running-back-by-committee approach, so this backfield is even more of a headache than we thought it would be.
Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12): BUYING: Nyheim Hines; SELLING: Kenny Golladay
Reasoning: The formula is simple. Philip Rivers + a skilled pass-catching RB = PPR gold mine. I was buying the idea that Nyheim Hines could enjoy a lucrative passing down role in the Colts offense even before Marlon Mack’s season-ending injury. Now that it’s an even trendier take, I’m willing to bet on Hines as Austin Ekeler-lite in 2020–and I’ll try to be there with waiting arms for anyone looking to sell high on the back this week. Rivers’ propensity for dumping it off to his RBs isn’t going away. Jonathan Taylor is the RB1 in Indy, but I’m still buying Hines as a top 25 RB in PPR formats this season. If you don’t agree that Hines has some of the upside Ekeler offers, that’s fine. The alternative comp might actually be more appealing:
I’ve seen a lot of posts about Nyheim Hines not being Austin Ekeler, which is fine.
But zoom out a bit further.
What if Hyheim Hines can be PPR god Danny Woodhead? Woodhead was RB17 in PPR/GM from 2013-2016 under Rivers. pic.twitter.com/iGY3IxMkTf
— Fantasy Football Troglodyte (@FFTroglodyte) September 17, 2020
In Detroit, I’m starting to get the heebie-jeebies when it comes to Kenny Golladay’s status. The top pass-catcher for the Detroit Lions missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury that was initially considered mild by head coach Matt Patricia when it happened in practice the Wednesday before the season opener. But Golladay also didn’t participate in this Wednesday’s practice ahead of the Lions Week 2 tilt with the Packers. Call me crazy, but I’m sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop. Hopefully, this is an example of Detroit simply taking extra precautions with its star wideout, but I’m willing to sell Golladay this week at a slight loss to a fantasy manager with a stronger stomach than mine–especially if my team lost its first week as a result of Golladay’s absence. You might still be able to land nearly full value for Golladay as of Wednesday. Practice reports later in the week could quickly alter that terrain if he trends toward missing another Sunday.
Myles Nelson (@MylesNelsonPL): BUYING: Robby Anderson; SELLING: Raheem Mostert
Reasoning: Robby Anderson was in a bad situation in New York with the Jets. He dealt with a poor QB and was used pretty much only as a deep-threat target, making him a classic boom-bust play. Now he’s being targeted with a more varied approach in Carolina, with a more accurate QB and should be able to use his elite athleticism to make plays in open space. His ADOT declined from 15 yards in NY to 10 yards in Carolina, and if they continue to use him this way, I feel confident that he can be a legitimately good WR, certainly better than the Panthers mascot is at dancing.
Robby Anderson couldn’t believe the Panthers mascot was real life pic.twitter.com/1O3wftIsHT
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 16, 2020
In San Francisco, I’d love to buy in on Raheem Mostert because I think he’s the most talented RB on the Niners. But they showed last year with pretty much this same group that they are willing to just go with whoever the hot hand is any given week, and I expect that to continue to happen moving forward.
Mike Miklius (@sirl0inofbeef): BUYING: Devin Singletary; SELLING: Darius Slayton
Reasoning: Devin Singletary took an obvious hit in value when the team drafted Zack Moss. Here’s the thing though: I like what I saw in week one. Singletary played roughly 60% of the offensive snaps, he had nine carries (the same as Moss), and he was targeted seven times in the passing game. Assuming Josh Allen doesn’t typically rush 14 times per week, Singletary has room for his workload to grow. I still believe in Singletary’s talent, and I imagine managers who drafted him might be panicking early. It’s a great chance to buy low.
Most targets in Week 1 (RBs):
🔹 Nyheim Hines – 8
🔹 Alvin Kamara – 7
🔹 Devin Singletary – 7 pic.twitter.com/g40k6jY0EX
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 14, 2020
Staying in the east, Darius Slayton put up big numbers in week one, attracting attention from the fantasy football community at large. I don’t buy it though. Why not? Slayton is battling Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Saquon Barkley for targets. He also has a quarterback that I frankly don’t trust. Then, there is the issue of the awful play calling last week. Slayton might be useful week to week, but I am selling high if someone in your league wants to buy at the cost of a more proven commodity.
Have a question? Want to know more? Click the Twitter handle of any QBList.com writer above to reach out directly. We’re always happy to help out and talk football!
(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire)