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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

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