The general consensus in the fantasy world seems to be that you must “buy-low” on a high-profile player who is struggling but has a proven track record of success, and “sell-high” on a low-profile player who is outperforming his projections, insisting that there will be “regression to the mean.” However, the idea of “buying high” and “selling low” can be quite profitable. For example, you may be able to practice the buy-high strategy on a legitimate player who is in the midst of a breakout, knowing his owner hasn’t fully bought in yet, or you could sell-low on a name-brand player who is showing signs of decline that others may have yet to notice.
Here are the top buy-highs and sell-lows as we approach the halfway point of the fantasy season.
Buy High: Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
Despite this past week’s hiccup against Kansas City, Derek Carr has been rock solid this season, posting an average of 18.8 fantasy points per game while averaging 37.8 attempts per game, third in the league. Carr is working with the No. 1 ranked pass blocking offensive line evidenced by a 140.2 PlayerProfiler efficiency score, and has also been remarkably efficient himself, posting a +9.4 (No. 10) Production Premium. What makes Carr even more enticing is the fact that his defense has shown zero signs of improvement from last season, which should help sustain his passing volume. While his schedule at the moment appears difficult, Carr faces the Chargers in San Diego in Week 15 before a home date with Indianapolis Week 16, and his high passing volume should continue to provide a nice floor for fantasy owners.
Sell Low: Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
A year after posting career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback rating, Carson Palmer has been a disappointment this season, throwing only 7 touchdowns in 5 games despite averaging 37.6 attempts per game and 5.8 red zone attempts per game. To make matters worse, Palmer owns a 60.6% completion percentage, ranked No. 27 in the league, and is completing only 24-percent of his passes that travel at least 20 yards in the air. This contributes to his -15.8 (No. 29) Production Premium. Palmer will visit Seattle and Los Angeles during the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, has already shown signs of wear and tear while closing in on 37 years of age, and at this point it seems silly to do anything but hand the ball to David Johnson when the offense is inside the 10-yard line. Palmer is a classic example of why you shouldn’t pay for a career year, especially for someone at his age.
Buy High: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
DeMarco Murray may have left a bad taste in owner’s mouths last season, and the Titans have not shown much evidence of being a good football team (no, surviving the Browns at home doesn’t count.) Therefore it may be a good idea to see if Murray’s owners are completely sold, or are still concerned that Derrick Henry could potentially steal touches. Murray has posted a 77.7-percent (No. 5) Opportunity Share, and a 72.3-percent Snap Share, which leads all running backs. He also plays for a team averaging 29.6 rushing plays per game propelled by a highly efficient run blocking offensive line evidenced by a 139.7 (No. 4) rating on PlayerProfiler. Furthermore, Murray continues to be an underrated asset in the passing game, with 24 receptions and 172 receiving yards, ranked 4th and 10th in the league among running backs, respectively. Buy-high on exotic smashmouth.
Sell Low: Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
One of fantasy football’s biggest disappointments, Lamar Miller was supposed to take off after signing a big deal with the Houston Texans. It took Miller 6 weeks to finally produce, and it came against the hapless Indianapolis Colts. Few running backs have touched the ball more but have done less with it than Miller, as he has posted a -16.5 (No. 52) Production Premium as well as averaging 4.4 yards per touch (No. 39). Making matters worse, Brock Osweiler is the quarterback for the Houston Texans. Without the threat of a downfield passing game, Miller has had little opportunity for breakaway runs, as only 3 of his carries have gone for 15 yards or longer, and while evading 27 tackles on the season, Miller has posted only a 19-percent (No. 48) Juke Rate. A major argument for Miller in the preseason was the fact that he would allegedly receive more opportunity with the Texans, but his fantasy points per opportunity metric sits at .93, which ranks 24th in the league. His fantasy points per opportunity metric last season? It was .93, ranking 24th in the league. Creepy. See if someone else was fooled by Miller’s impressive week 6 effort.
Buy High: Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
Mike Evans is the quintessential buy-high candidate, as he possesses the perfect blend of talent and opportunity, but isn’t considered a household name in the fantasy community just yet. Evans has been targeted a whopping 60 times through 5 games, and has been the intended target on 29.4-percent of the Buccaneers passing plays this season on a team that averages 44 attempts per game. While Evans’ +15.7 (No. 23) Production Premium is well above league average for wide receivers, he is averaging 6.8 air yards per target, ranking second in the league, which combined with his ridiculous target volume could help mitigate his relative lack of efficiency. Finally, Evans upcoming schedule is No. 3 ranked for wide receivers, and he gets to face New Orleans, Dallas, and New Orleans to close out the fantasy season. Go get this stud before he blows up this week against San Francisco.
Sell Low: Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
Fantasy gurus can’t seem to quit Michael Floyd, but every year he seems to disappoint, and this year has been no different. For starters, he has only played 60.7-percent of the Cardinal’s offensive snaps, and is only averaging 6 targets per game with a 38.9-percent catch rate, ranked 89th in the league. For someone who profiles as the kind of player who can make contested catches downfield with a 113.2 Height-adjusted Speed Score (94th-percentile) and a 10.09 Catch Radius (65th-percentile), Floyd is averaging only 4.8 air yards per target, 50th in the league, and carries a -16.1 (No. 73) Production Premium. He has also dropped 11-percent of his targets. A recognizable name combined with inefficiency, lack of opportunity, and a declining quarterback are the perfect ingredients for a sell-low candidate.
Buy High: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
After unfairly being considered a disappointment due to lack of opportunity, Kyle Rudolph is finally receiving the opportunity he deserves. Playing every offensive snap thus far, Rudolph has commanded a 23.4-percent target share, 3rd in the league among tight ends, and has received 40% of the Vikings’ red zone targets. While he has displayed some efficiency concerns with a -1.8 production premium (22nd in the league) and a 56.8% catch rate (40th in the league), Rudolph is ranked 6th in the league in air yards per target with 4.6, and with a 10.06 catch radius (64th percentile) there is no reason to believe he won’t continue to be a prime red zone threat this season. Coming off a bye, now is the optimal time to pursue Kyle Rudolph.
Sell Low: Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
A few years ago, Julius Thomas was considered one of the top touchdown scorers in the league at the tight end position. Unfortunately, Peyton Manning is no longer his quarterback. Thomas possesses all of the physical attributes you look for in a tight end, with his Height-adjusted Speed Score, agility score, and catch radius ranking in the 70th percentile or above, but he has simply not been put in a position to accrue fantasy points this season, accruing a 13.2-percent target share while having yet to receive a single red-zone target. His Production Premium, which sits at +11.4 (No. 11) suggests that better days could be ahead, but it’d be nice if he played more than 73.1 percent of his team’s offensive snaps. This, combined with the fact that he is tied to an inaccurate and unreliable quarterback in Blake Bortles, makes it advisable to see if an owner in your league will bite on the name.