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Reality Check: Buy-low and sell-high candidates

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Buy low, sell high ... by now, everyone's pretty familiar with the concept.

So then why do so few get it right?

I'm generally uncomfortable labeling a player a buy-low or sell-high because it can vary so much from league to league and circumstance to circumstance. Plus, it's often more of a hindrance than a help to Fantasy owners, who take it as an edict to overhaul their rosters.

But as I assess trade possibilities in each of my leagues, I so often find myself gravitating toward the same players that I'd be doing you a disservice by keeping it to myself.

Here's what you need to remember: It's not "buy at all costs" and "sell at all costs," but buy low and sell high. That second word is just as important as the first. In many cases, the sell-high is actually the better player than the buy-low. The label has nothing to do with how one player compares to another and everything to do with how he compares to himself. Actual value vs. perceived value -- when the two don't match up, you have a chance to capitalize.

A chance, not a mandate. If the goal is to use market misconceptions to improve your team's standing, then you need to make sure the deal does just that. And I do mean make sure.

It all comes down to going rate, which you can gauge with the help of Dave Richard's Fantasy Trade Value Chart (Week 7 edition can be found here). Generally speaking, a one-for-one deal isn't the best way to nab a definitively better player. While you could potentially get Steven Jackson for Stevan Ridley -- which, as I note below, could pay off in the long run -- a true buy-low wouldn't require you to pay that price. An owner who's legitimately suffering from the loss of Jackson may settle for an offer of Alshon Jeffery and Zac Stacy, hoping to stop the bleeding there. And that's the way to buy low.

As long as you're not bleeding yourself, it's not like you'll miss the extra player. The waiver wire abounds with breakout candidates, many of whom nobody sees coming. In the weeks ahead, you'll find an adequate bye-week replacement, if that's all you'd be looking to replace.

Maybe another Jackson owner would pass on that offer. Maybe he'd even laugh in your face. But under the right circumstances, most would at least have to consider it.

And the same goes for the sell-highs. Knowshon Moreno should buy you an awful lot on the trade market right now. Could he and Trent Richardson land you Jamaal Charles from an owner desperate to fill his flex spot? It's not so far-fetched, really.

If the guy (or gal) doesn't go for it, oh well. You tried. No harm in keeping Moreno for yourself. What you don't want is for him to coerce you into a lesser deal, such as Frank Gore straight-up for Moreno, which would be no one's idea of a sell-high.

You shouldn't go into any buy-low or sell-high scenario thinking deal or bust. Even if you come away empty-handed, you'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you've done your due diligence.

Now then, let's get started ...

Buy-lows

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: As you may have heard, Julio Jones is out for the season. The Falcons are built to throw, so somebody has to be on the other end of those Matt Ryan passes. As a four-time Pro-Bowler himself, White is the obvious choice. Fortunately for the discerning buyer, his value isn't evident just yet. An ankle injury dating back to the preseason has rendered him useless so far. Now that his hamstring is hurting as well, he'll get a chance to rest the ankle, which he admits he should have been doing all along. You may get nothing from him for the next 2-3 weeks, but he shouldn't cost much more than a bench player.
Better in the long run than ... Alshon Jeffery, Anquan Boldin

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Right now, Johnson owners are feeling like they should have known better than to draft a notorious underachiever in the second round, but you'd be happy to take that problem off their hands. Johnson's 3.1 yards per carry aren't too surprising when you consider he's had to face the Steelers, Texans, Jets, Chiefs and Seahawks -- all top-six defenses -- so far. His matchup against the 49ers this week isn't much better, but then after a bye in Week 8, it's smooth sailing. Four of his next five opponents rank in the bottom five against the run, and the one that doesn't is Oakland.
Better in the long run than ... Frank Gore, Fred Jackson

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Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: Though he's thrown for just one touchdown in his last three games, Griffin showed signs of regaining his 2012 form at Dallas last time out, more than doubling his previous season-high with 77 rushing yards. After surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in January, his rehabilitation is ongoing, but now that he's regarded as a backup in most Fantasy circles, you can afford a little optimism, especially with favorable matchups against the Broncos, Chargers, Vikings, Eagles, Giants (twice), Falcons and Cowboys ahead. As long as you don't give up a must-start quarterback for Griffin, you've done well for yourself.
Better in the long run than ... Tom Brady, Russell Wilson

Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: Like White, Jackson should benefit from the loss of Julio Jones, and like White, he hasn't endeared himself to his Fantasy owners just yet, having sat out the last three games (four weeks) with a hamstring injury. This week will make it four. Considering the initial timetable was 2-4 weeks, he can't be too far from returning. Yes, the Falcons are built to throw, but Jackson is a good enough receiver to inherit some of Jones' targets. Plus, he's more likely to get the ball at the goal line now that a Jones fade route is off the table. Your third (or maybe even fourth) running back and a spare receiver could get the deal done.
Better in the long run than ... Ryan Mathews, Stevan Ridley

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: When the Chargers went without downfield threat Malcom Floyd for the first time in Week 3, Philip Rivers looked like he might be in trouble, throwing for just 184 yards. In three games since, he's averaged 349.7. The reason? Rookie Keenan Allen has more than picked up the slack, averaging 100.7 receiving yards in those three games. With his targets going up each week his role appears secure, and looking ahead at the matchups, he'll only get to do more with it going forward. Three of his next four opponents rank in the bottom 10 against the pass, and the one that doesn't is Jacksonville.
Better in the long run than ... Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Though Edelman's production has gone down the last couple games, his targets haven't, which suggests he's still the closest thing to Wes Welker in the new-look Patriots offense. Granted, that may only last for as long as Danny Amendola is out, but ... um, hello? Did you see what happened to him Sunday? First game back from a groin injury, and he comes away woozy. Even if he's back in relatively short order, I don't know that he gets first dibs. By then, Tom Brady will have everyone else's timing down. I've seen Edelman get dropped in some leagues, so he may cost you next to nothing.
Better in the long run than ... T.Y. Hilton, Kenbrell Thompkins

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: The biggest impediment to Jones-Drew this season hasn't been Jones-Drew, but Blaine Gabbert. Without so much as the threat of the pass, opponents have no reason to take their eyes off the three-time Pro-Bowler. But a couple developments over the last two weeks have significantly altered Jones-Drew's outlook. Gabbert hurt his hamstring, allowing the halfway competent Chad Henne to play quarterback, and former fifth overall pick Justin Blackmon returned from a four-game suspension to put up 326 yards in two games. The impact on Jones-Drew showed just this past week, when he had his best game of the season against the Broncos' top-rated run defense. Maybe he's not washed up after all.
Better in the long run than ... Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Nobody doubts Rodgers is a stud, but particularly those owning him for the first time may have forgotten exactly what that means. Three straight games with just one touchdown pass have brought him down to Matt Ryan level pretty quickly. But remember: He had a couple rough patches last year as well, throwing a combined three touchdown passes in Weeks 1-3 and a combined two in Weeks 12-14 and still finished as the No. 2 quarterback in Fantasy. Eddie Lacy has given the Packers a running game in recent weeks, but it's not like he's stealing touchdowns. Rodgers will still get his. Between the injuries to his receiving corps and the recent shortage of touchdowns, Rodgers has given his owner reason to think twice if you offer up your top quarterback and second running back.
Better in the long run than ... Philip Rivers, Tony Romo

Sell-highs

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: I don't doubt Moreno has the talent to continue doing what he's been doing, but Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman haven't exactly gone away. They don't block as well as Moreno, which is kind of important with Peyton Manning at quarterback, but the Broncos like them enough to give them carries whenever possible. When the game is in hand and passing is no longer necessary, they usually come in for Moreno. The Broncos are sure to have more games like that, as powerful as their offense is. Plus, Moreno hasn't exactly been a model of health over the years. I'm not saying you dump him for a second-tier back, but maybe you capitalize on this opportunity to upgrade.
Worse in the long run than ... Alfred Morris, Doug Martin

Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Rookie Mike Glennon may have a future as the Buccaneers quarterback, but you can't expect him to be the quick study Andrew Luck was last year. In Week 6, he did exactly what you'd hope he'd do against the league's second-to-last pass defense, throwing for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and he may do fine against the 26th-ranked pass defense this week. But looking ahead to the Panthers (twice), the Seahawks, the 49ers and, yes, the Saints, he's going to have plenty of weeks where you can't trust him to get the ball to Jackson, which means you can't trust Jackson. Maybe you should cash in on the former Charger while you can.
Worse in the long run than ... Marques Colston, Mike Wallace

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: Relying mostly on short passes and yards after the catch, Bradford has been piling up touchdowns over the first few weeks, ranking sixth among quarterbacks in standard CBSSports.com leagues. But much of his success came against teams that struggle against the pass, such as Atlanta, Dallas and Jacksonville. Looking ahead, six of his next 10 opponents rank in the top 10 against the pass. And without any sort of long game, he's unlikely to buck the trend. He's probably just a backup for you anyway, but with his value presumably at its highest right now, you may be able to dupe someone into believing he's a starter.
Worse in the long run than ... Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger

Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders: Most likely, Moore will remain a productive Fantasy option all year just because the Raiders have no one else to catch the ball, but the rate at which he's been scoring touchdowns is simply too good to be true. Terrelle Pryor has thrown five touchdown passes this season. All but one have gone to Moore. That can't last. If the rest of your league values Moore as no better than a high-end flex option, then maybe you should stick with him. But his No. 11 ranking among wide receivers in standard CBSSports.com leagues so far has the potential to inflate his value.
Worse in the long run than ... Hakeem Nicks, Justin Blackmon

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: The main appeal of Bernard on Draft Day was the possibility of him overtaking the plodding BenJarvus Green-Ellis down the line. But six games into the season, Green-Ellis doesn't appear to be going anywhere. So how much can Bernard really do with 15 touches per game? So far, he's the 12th-ranked running back in standard CBSSports.com leagues, but he's been scoring touchdowns at a rate I'm not confident he can sustain, especially since three of his next five opponents rank in the top seven against the run. You certainly wouldn't want to undersell him, but now might be your last chance to pair him with another player and get a Matt Forte or Marshawn Lynch type.
Worse in the long run than ... C.J. Spiller, Eddie Lacy

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: After several weeks of iffy production, Fitzgerald's Week 6 performance may have been just enough to get the Fantasy-playing world back on board. Better strike while the iron is hot. It's not that Fitzgerald will be bad exactly, but looking ahead to his matchups against the Seahawks (twice), Texans, Colts, Titans and 49ers -- all top-10 defenses against the pass -- the 100-yard games will probably be more the exception than the rule with a struggling Carson Palmer throwing him the ball. Right now, he still has the price tag of a stud receiver.
Worse in the long run than ... Josh Gordon, Andre Johnson

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: Of the 10 quarterbacks owned in 100 percent of leagues, Luck has the fewest touchdown passes with seven. Given the Colts' going game plan this year -- playing good defense and controlling the clock -- that doesn't figure to change. They don't want to get in a shootout, and in today's NFL, a shootout is the only way for a quarterback to stand out. Given his ownership percentage, a lot of people still have faith in Luck, and his name value should fetch a decent return in Fantasy. Provided you have even an adequate backup (check the waiver wire just to be sure), you might as well test the waters with him.
Worse in the long run than ... Russell Wilson, Michael Vick/Nick Foles

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Remove Jonathan Stewart from the equation, and suddenly Williams is a respectable Fantasy option again. Funny how that works. But add Stewart back to the equation, and most likely, no one's laughing. Most likely, no one's biting on a trade either, so in these last couple weeks before Stewart returns from an ankle injury, you should probably be shopping Williams. He hasn't been productive enough for you to bother dealing him straight-up, but pair him with a fringy wide receiver, and you may have a shot at an Eddie Lacy or Antonio Brown type.
Worse in the long run than ...
Le'Veon Bell, Zac Stacy

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Scott via Twitter @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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