Fantasy Football Week 3: Buy Low, Sell High Trade Options for Redraft and Dynasty
The first two weeks of the 2022 NFL season are complete, making this an ideal time for fantasy managers to review how players are faring and make some necessary adjustments.
Some players are off to blistering starts and posting unsustainable numbers. These talents are ideal trade bait for managers looking to maximize their return on investment and sell while their value is likely at its highest.
Other players have stumbled out of the gate despite their talent or situation suggesting they could be thriving. These players could be trade targets for managers looking to roll the dice on a bounce-back performance coming down the pipeline soon.
With that in mind, here is a look at three players you’ll want to sell high and three you will want to buy low before Week 3 kicks off.
Snap counts are courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Sell High: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
With an average draft position of 64th, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has thus far returned plenty of value to managers who took a chance on him in the fifth round or later. He’s off to fantastic start to the 2022 season, with his 38.2 points good for the fifth-most at the running back position.
Managers may want to use this red-hot streak of performances to cash in, as it is unlikely that CEH can continue this torrid pace. The Kansas City back has a history of availability concerns—he missed 10 games during his first two seasons—and ho-hum performances.
Heading into 2022, Edwards-Helaire averaged only 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. He’s currently at 7.7 YPA, a figure likely to regress to the mean. His two touchdowns this year both came through the air in Week 1 and nearly matched his total of three receiving TDs over the previous two seasons.
If you can find a rival manager willing to pay market value for Edwards-Helaire, it would be a great time to move the back.
Although Edwards-Helaire is only 23 years old, the 2020 first-round pick could be a risky hold in dynasty leagues.
Not only has he been inconsistent during his first two seasons, but there are some notable talents lurking behind him on the Kansas City depth chart.
Rookie Isiah Pacheco, who could be the Chiefs’ future after a breakout training camp, is already making waves. While he’s opened the regular season as a depth option, the Rutgers product has shown glimpses during mop-up duty.
With Pacheco waiting in the wings and a potential regression to come, it could be a shrewd move to ditch Edwards-Helaire at his current value.
Buy Low: Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers was a popular value pick this year for managers looking for a starting-caliber RB in the third and fourth round of their redraft leagues. After two disappointing performances to open the 2022 campaign, many have likely sent him to the bench and could be ready to give up on him entirely.
Head coach Sean McVay cited a lack of rhythm for Akers’ limited involvement in the opener. It seemed that the coaching staff wanted to get the back more involved in Week 2, putting him on the field for 27 snaps after he earned just 12 the previous week.
While Akers had a pedestrian performance—he gained only 44 yards on his 15 totes and caught two of his three targets for 18 yards—he had a much more even share of the workload against the Atlanta Falcons. After Darrell Henderson Jr. saw 55 snaps in Week 1, the starter only had 35 this past Sunday and saw seven fewer touches than his backup.
Expect those snap and touch numbers to continue trending in Akers’ direction. He’s the most talented back on the Rams roster and should have plenty of big outings before the season wraps up.
It should only be a matter of time before Akers becomes the dominant RB in this platoon. He’s coming off an impressive playoff run in which he returned from an Achilles tear—notably after missing only five-and-a-half months—to contribute 172 yards on 67 carries and an additional 76 yards on eight receptions in four games.
The 23-year-old is certainly capable of huge fantasy output. He had two games of 130-plus rushing yards late in his rookie season (including the playoffs) and seems due for a slump-busting performance soon.
Shrewd managers should swing a trade for the back before he breaks out this year and establishes himself as L.A.’s bell cow for the foreseeable future.
Sell High: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas went from one of the generation’s best fantasy wideouts to a player who frustrated managers to no end over the last two seasons. The New Orleans Saints star followed up a record-setting 2019 campaign by only playing seven games during an injury-plagued 2020 season before missing last year entirely.
Thomas finally got back on the field in Week 1 and looked like the player he was three years ago. He scored 22.7 points—the eighth-most among wide receivers in the league that week—after catching five of his eight targets for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up with a similar showing, hauling in six of nine targets for 65 yards and a score.
It’s unlikely that Thomas will be able to continue producing at this rate. Thomas has a career high of nine TDs during a single season, a mark he reached three times with Drew Brees as his quarterback.
Factor in that the Saints are likely to run the ball at a higher rate moving forward (they faced double-digit deficits in both games) and that Alvin Kamara will be returning from injury to eat up touches, and Thomas will likely be at best a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 in most of the remaining weeks.
Thomas could continue to be a major injury risk after missing such an extended stretch due to his ankle issues. He dealt with a hamstring injury in the offseason but was able to shake it off to suit up these past two weeks.
He’ll be on the wrong side of 30 next season and may not have enough left in the tank to help dynasty managers have sustained success.
At this point in his career, Thomas could be best utilized as a trade chip to return some draft picks or younger talent with more upside.
Buy Low: Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears
Darnell Mooney was one of the surprise breakout wideouts from the 2021 season and one of the few bright spots during an abysmal Chicago Bears campaign. He greatly outperformed Allen Robinson II, the team’s incumbent star receiver, due to his strong rapport with rookie signal-caller Justin Fields.
Mooney was expected to improve upon an already impressive performance—he had 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns on a whopping 140 targets last year—after going into 2022 as the team’s clear-cut WR1.
Managers who were hoping to see at least a similar showing this year have been gravely disappointed. Mooney has caught two of his five targets for a total of four yards across two games.
Despite the utterly horrid start, there is reason to believe Mooney can get back on track.
Week 1 was played in monsoon-like conditions that made it exceedingly tough to do anything but run the ball—the Bears ran it 37 times and attempted just 17 throws—and only running back David Montgomery had more than one catch for Chicago in the game.
The rainy weather at Lambeau Field again favored the ground game in Week 2. Fields only threw the ball 11 times on the night, completing seven in a disheartening 27-10 loss.
With that brutal stretch in the past, Mooney and the Bears will have a chance to air it out against the Houston Texans in Week 3. Matt Ryan passed 50 times for 352 yards and a score against this opponent in the opener, meaning Fields could throw more in this game than he has in the past two weeks combined.
Mooney is a terrific pickup for managers in dynasty leagues. He’s only in his third season as a professional and has yet to reach his ceiling.
The 24-year-old steadily improved in each of his first two seasons after being selected in the fifth round of the 2020 draft.
If Fields develops into the star Chicago believes he can become—the team gave up an additional first-rounder to move up and take him last year—Mooney will benefit heavily. The battery worked well together last season and could further build their rapport as the cornerstones of the Bears offense in the years to come.
Sell High: Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Waller has been one of the league’s top performers at the tight end position through two games. He has scored a total of 28.9 fantasy points, ranking behind only superstars Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.
While Waller has been one of the game’s best TEs since bursting onto the scene in 2019, there is reason to suspect the seventh-year veteran will soon fade from the spotlight.
He’s already seeing fewer targets than he became accustomed to as one of the Raiders’ top pass-catchers over the last three seasons. His 16.2 percent target share in the opener was well below the 48.6 share that Davante Adams—the star wideout Las Vegas acquired early in the offseason—saw against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Although Waller saw 20.5 percent of the targets on Sunday, it came during a relatively quiet day from Adams, who caught just two of his seven looks but did find the end zone.
With the Raiders off to an 0-2 start, the team will likely try to get Adams more involved to turn things around. That could further eat into Waller’s workload and relegate him to a clear-cut third option behind Adams and Hunter Renfrow.
Waller hit the first major snag of his Raiders career last year when he missed six games with ankle and knee injuries. While it was the first time he missed a significant stretch of action since establishing himself as a critical part of the offense, it could be a sign of things to come.
The tight end missed a string of practices in August while nursing a hamstring injury. Now 30 years old, it’s possible that Father Time is beginning to catch up to the veteran.
While the dearth of quality tight ends will still make Waller a fantasy-relevant option, dynasty managers may want to get ahead of his decline and ship him off while he’s still at the top of his craft.
Buy Low: Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys had a setback when it was revealed that starting QB Dak Prescott would be sidelined for a stretch while recovering from a hand fracture suffered in Week 1. Dallas' passing attack looked anemic in the opener despite Prescott playing most of the contest, and it wasn't much better in Week 2.
Dalton Schultz was one of the few consistent performers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The tight end was targeted nine times and caught seven balls for 62 yards. With Prescott out, it seemed that Schultz would continue producing as a safety valve.
That didn’t come to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals, as Schultz saw only four targets. He finished the game with a mere 18 yards on two catches.
That showing, a PCL injury that could sideline him in the short term, and a lack of any touchdowns could have some managers hitting the panic button. Schultz has scored the 16th-most points at the TE position despite being the sixth-highest-drafted player at the position on average.
With reports surfacing that Prescott could return as early as Week 4, smart managers will want to find a way to acquire Schultz on the cheap before he busts out with his starting QB back in the fold.
Schultz has been the Cowboys’ top TE since early in the 2020 campaign and improved in each of his two seasons as the starter. He posted career marks in receptions (78), receiving yards (808) and touchdowns (8) last year and could still reach new highs in 2022 despite the sluggish start.
Given he’s only 26 years old, the fourth-round pick in 2018 has plenty of tread left on his tires as well. He may not finish out his career in Dallas after the organization failed to extend his contract this offseason, but Schultz—who is currently playing on the franchise tag—will eventually be paid as a starter and continue to serve as a TE1 wherever he lands.
There’s no reason to believe Schultz will fall off any time soon, making him a top TE to target in dynasty leagues.