After months of preparation and patience, Week 1 of the NFL season is nearly here, bringing with it the start of the fantasy football season. But even with the season just days away, the fantasy landscape is always changing. Here are a handful of players entering Week 1 of the fantasy football season that present an optimal opportunity to buy low or sell high.
Since expectations vary across fantasy managers, there could be a window for you to acquire some of these players at a value. All of these candidates are in a position to exceed expectations this season.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
It’s not like we haven’t seen AJ Dillon succeed already. Just last year, with Aaron Jones playing in 15 games, Dillon was the RB23 in PPR scoring while averaging 10.9 PPR/game. Recording 224 total opportunities, he was just 2.4 touches/game behind Jones (15.7).
Yet, there is a substantial difference in their expected value, partly as there seems to be a misunderstanding surrounding Dillon in the notion that he lacks upside in PPR leagues. Dillon caught 34 of 37 targets for 313 yards and two scores last season. That’s 4.54 PPR points per game.
In 2021, Dillon had three RB1 finishes, all coming when the Packers made a more concerted effort to get the ball in his hands. That effort should continue in 2022, starting in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Dillon brings solid RB3 value, but his season-long projection is likely to go up once people see the volume that he’s likely to receive. It’s worth buying low on Dillon before the big games happen.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
It took some time, but when the sun finally rose, the Sun God Amon-Ra St. Brown shined brighter than any player last year. St. Brown totaled 51 receptions in his final six games on a whopping 67 targets for 560 yards and five touchdowns.
On a per-game basis, that’s 11.2 targets, 8.5 receptions, 93.3 yards, 0.8 TDs, and 25.2 PPR/game. From Weeks 13-18, the only wide receiver to outscore him was Cooper freaking Kupp.
However, this also came when the Detroit Lions lacked depth. In the 13 games in which St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, and T.J. Hockenson were on the field, St. Brown averaged 6.8 targets, 5.3 receptions, 50.6 yards, 0.23 TDs, and 12.81 PPR/game. That argument persisting all offseason has dropped his value.
With that said, I have a hard time fathoming the Lions putting the genie back in the bottle. Rookie Jameson Williams will not be ready anytime soon, and where St. Brown operates is right where Jared Goff likes to target — the short-to-intermediate area of the field. St. Brown is as strong as they come and can bounce off tackles, as evidenced by his above-average 1.74 YPRR.
St. Brown likely went too late in your draft and is being selected at least a tier behind his actual value, presenting a buy-low prospect that will be in your starting fantasy football lineup all year.
Allen Robinson, WR, Los Angeles Rams
For the first time in his career, Allen Robinson has an above-average QB. That sounds like an odd statement because his past production reflects a player who’s been in top-tier aerial attacks. Robinson is one of the most underrated elite receivers in the NFL, and while he struggled last year, the blame should fall more on former Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy than on Robinson.
After averaging 152.5 targets, 100 receptions, 1,198.5 yards, and 6.5 TDs in 2019 and 2020, Robinson was the WR82 last year (12 games). The notion by many is that Robinson is “washed,” and that last season showed he’s not a top player anymore. I couldn’t disagree more and have Robinson several rounds above his ADP in my rankings. There’s more than enough volume in the Los Angeles Rams’ offense for Robinson to bounce back.
In his nine games alongside Kupp, Robert Woods averaged 7.7 targets, five receptions, 61.8 yards, 0.56 TDs, and 15.9 PPR points a game. That’s a 17-game pace of 130 targets, 85 receptions, 1,050 yards, 10 TDs, and 250 PPR points, which would have been good enough to make him the WR12, just ahead of Mike Williams.
If Robinson or the Rams’ offense struggles in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills and his value drops even lower, great. He’s already a prime buy-low candidate but would become an even better value should a manager in your league get spooked after one poor performance. Robinson is a WR with a top-15 upside that can be had for a fraction of that value.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
I get it. The Houston Texans likely won’t be a fun team to watch or win many games. That doesn’t mean there can’t be value. Davis Mills is underrated as a QB, and Dameon Pierce has started to skyrocket in value. But Brandin Cooks is still, for some reason, not getting the respect that he deserves.
Cooks has finished as a top-20 WR in points per game in six of his last seven seasons, and he accumulated over 1,000 yards and exactly six touchdowns in each of his two seasons with the Houston Texans. Last year, Cooks posted new career-highs in targets (134), catches (90), and receptions per game (5.6). He averaged nine targets and a 25.5% target share in his last four starts from Mills.
I get that he isn’t the flashiest player, but Cooks might be the most underrated wideout in fantasy and remains a perennial buy-low target.
Who are some fantasy football sell-high Week 1 candidates?
Actual value vs. perceived value is also something fantasy managers need to have the pulse on, as it cannot only tell you when to buy low but also when to sell high before the floor crashes out. Here are three players that could be worth selling before their value drops.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Look, I love Javonte Williams. But he’s absolutely being overvalued right now and is a sell-high candidate for me in fantasy football. Williams is being viewed as a low-end RB1 with top-six upside. I would agree with that assessment if it was still March and Melvin Gordon hadn’t returned to the Denver Broncos yet. Many reports say that this backfield will be a 55/45 split, if not dead even at 50/50, just like last season.
There’s no reason Gordon should be going 80 picks later than Williams in drafts when they finished 23rd and 24th in points per game last year, with Gordon on top. At cost, Gordon is the better value, though Williams has the higher upside. If there is someone in your league that wants Williams and views him as an elite RB with top-16-overall talent, I’d make that trade and sell high while I still can.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
As a player, Diontae Johnson is a pleasure to watch. Playing in 16 games last season, he had a career year, reeling in 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing with 16.7 PPR/game (ninth-best among receivers). His 169 targets were tied with Davante Adams for second behind only Cooper Kupp (191).
The issue is that Johnson lacked efficiency. He was 77th in fantasy points per target (1.6) and 93rd in yards per target (6.87, minimum 25 targets). It was volume and scoring format that helped Johnson. Recording a team-high 28% target share across all Pittsburgh pass catchers and 43% target share among the team’s wide receivers, Johnson was a WR2 (top 24) or better in 69% of his games in 2021.
What worries me is that the floor could be dangerously low for Johnson. While they have had flashes in the preseason, quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett are total wild cards. Is either of them an upgrade over Ben Roethlisberger?
I’d certainly hope so, but they could turn out to be very inconsistent, and as of right now, the Steelers’ offensive line looks like a massive liability.
A reduction in passing percentage could impact Johnson more than any other fantasy asset in 2022, as his value came from volume, not efficiency. His production will likely fall somewhere between his 2020 and 2021 seasons, placing him in the mid-to-low WR2 range. That said, he is viewed by many as a high-end WR2. I’d be willing to sell high on Johnson and look for more upside in a player like Gabriel Davis (another buy-low candidate).
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
For the last two seasons, David Montgomery has been a reliable running back in fantasy. In 2021, despite missing four games, he was the RB19 in PPR formats. It was the second year in a row in which Montgomery saw 75% of his team’s RB snaps. Over the last two seasons, Montgomery has averaged a jaw-dropping 21.1 opportunities and 20.3 touches per game.
The problem for Montgomery is he’s on a bad team that’s likely to have a bad offense, and there is concern that Montgomery’s massive volume could drop in 2022. In games without Justin Fields (five), Montgomery averaged 20.4 rushes, 5.2 targets, 96 yards, and 19 PPR/game (323 total points). In games with Fields (eight), Montgomery averaged 15.6 rushes, 3.6 targets, 83.8 yards, and 13.4 PPR/game (228 total points). That’s an alarmingly different split.
Montgomery makes his value via volume, as he doesn’t perform that well in efficiency metrics. Last season, amongst RBs who played at least eight games, Montgomery was No. 7 in expected fantasy points. However, he was one of the least efficient RBs with over 100 touches at -2.06 FPOE (fantasy points over expectation). In fact, he has yet to finish a season with a positive FPOE.
If his efficiency stays the same and he loses carries to Fields and up-and-comer Khalil Herbert, Mongtomery could fall from a solid mid-RB2 to a questionable RB3. Fantasy managers could move Montgomery for a consistent player in a higher-upside offense such as Dillon, or potentially a lesser-known quantity with higher upside like Travis Etienne Jr.
With less than a week until the 2022 NFL season kicks off, we’ve published updated fantasy football outlooks for 200 players. Search the table below or filter by position and team for detailed fantasy insight so you can win your fantasy football draft! Additionally, don’t forget about our Fantasy Football Draft Kit, which is packed with more information and proprietary research.