Buy and Sell — Week 6
October 12, 2017 | Scott Cedar
In this other sport called “baseball,” the Cleveland Indians—my Cleveland Indians, the best team in baseball, winners of 33 of their last 37 games, destined to avenge their 2016 World Series loss—just got bounced in the first round of the MLB playoffs. I’m sure there’s some witty tie-in I could use about how they peaked too early, and this is a buy/sell column, and timing is everything in both, etc…. but who cares anymore. Here are some buys and sells heading into Week 6, and screw the Yankees.
In 2016, Ryan finished as QB2, captained a historically explosive offense, and took home the MVP while coming this close to a Super Bowl. Despite the dream season, Ryan was panned all offseason as the 2017 poster child for regression. The problem with slapping that label on someone is folks equate “regression” with “bad.” Really, regression just mean Ryan would be worse, and given how he played in 2016 there was a lot of room to get worse and still be a very good quarterback.
So with Ryan sitting at QB21 in points per game, I think it’s a mistake to just say he’s regressed back into a bad quarterback. Ryan’s completion percentage and yards per attempt are still above his career averages. He’s throwing a few more interceptions, but the only real issue thus far has been touchdowns. His touchdown rate—an unsustainable 7.1% last season—is now sitting at just 3.7%, well below his career average.
It seems people expect him to fall back to his disastrous 2015, but that season was as much of an outlier as 2016 was. He always throws for 4500 yards. He always throws for 25 touchdowns. He’s finished as a top-8 quarterback five times in the last seven years. And his schedule is about to open up, coming out of the bye with matchups against Miami, New England, and the New York Jets.
(Check the temperature on the Julio Jones owner, too.)
With the Cardinals trading for washed up Adrian Peterson to replace washed up Chris Johnson, there’s a short buying window for Ellington.
The Cardinals have a bad offensive line. They have a bad running game. They seem to know all of this, because through five weeks they have by far the highest pass/run ratio in the league. That’s been a boon for Ellington, who ranks 1st among running backs in targets and 2nd in receptions. In fact, despite rushing just 13 times all season and yet to find the end zone, Ellington is 14th among running backs in points scored (PPR) since David Johnson’s Week 1 injury.
As for Peterson, he hasn’t been good in two years and this offensive line doesn’t seem likely to Benjamin Button him. The Peterson trade may signal to some that the Cardinals are looking for a fix at running back. I don’t think this cuts into Ellington’s very valuable role even a little, so if his owner is scared by the new addition, pounce.
I mentioned the Cardinals have by far the highest pass/run ratio in the league. The Giants are second, and well above the third place team. Like the Cardinals, the Giants’ offensive line is offensive and the running game nonexistent. With the Giants’ receiving corps going Spinal Tap Drummer over the weekend, we’re left with a team that needs to pass but has no one to pass to. Quite the predicament.
Evan Engram is certainly a buy coming off an 0fer; he’s their most talented weapon until Sterling Shepard gets out of his walking boot. But given the crap line and crap receiving corps, I think Vereen benefits most. He only played 33% of the Giants’ snaps last week, and both Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman had some success, but that was against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Going forward I see a ton of dumpoffs coming his way, meaning he’ll be racking up touches. He’s going to be especially valuable in PPR, but could get enough touches to help even in standard scoring.
I loved Will Fuller this offseason. He’s dynamic, he’s got a great pedigree, and when healthy, he produced bigly in his rookie season. Fuller’s big play ability matches up perfectly with Deshaun Watson’s playmaking, and he’s a great complement to DeAndre Hopkins. But I feel reasonably confident he’s not going to continue to score on 66% of his receptions.
It’s been fun to watch Houston’s offense blow up over the past three weeks, but lost amid the excitement is the fact that it came against New England (most passing yards allowed in the NFL), Tennessee (8th most), and Kansas City (6th most). This passing game is going to slow down. Factor in that Fuller’s skillset renders him an inherently boom/bust player, plus the injury history, and now is a good time to try to cash in on a guy you grabbed late in drafts or off waivers.
I see a lot of folks excited about Shepard due to the aforementioned decimation of the Giants’ receiving corps. I suppose Shepard is in line for big volume when he comes back, but I’d take this opportunity to sell.
First, I don’t think Beckham’s absence is a good thing for Shepard. In Weeks 1-2, when Beckham was injured, Shepard scored just 4.5 receptions for 33.5 yards, translating to 8.5 PPR points per game. He’s a very talented slot receiver, but he’s not the type of receiver who can be the feature of an offense. Most slot receivers aren’t. Remember how that offense looked the first two weeks of the season? They scored 13 points, which somehow undersells how abysmal they were. Shepard will grab a bigger piece of the pie, sure, but it’s going to be a smaller pie. And a yucky pie at that.
Second, Shepard has already injured this ankle twice. He’s a smaller guy. He doesn’t seem like a great bet to last the season, especially on an increased workload.
Finally, it’s unclear how much time Shepard will miss (if any), but his upcoming schedule is @ Denver, vs. Seattle, bye. A player you can’t start with confidence until Week 9 is not a great use of a roster spot, especially in the midst of bye weeks. If someone else loves his bump in volume, let them have it.
Happy shopping. Any questions, hit me up on Twitter @scedar015. And really, screw the Yankees.