Stock Watch with Hayes: A Foreign yet Familiar Fall is Here
Folks, fall is here.
I know, I know. Fall doesn’t technically begin until Sept. 22. But for all intents and purposes, autumn has arrived. Labor Day has come and gone, students are returning to the classroom and, of course, football is right at our doorstep.
Fall happens to be my favorite season of the year. I’m a big fan of cooler temperatures, warmer clothes, Halloween and pumpkin patches. But what truly sets fall apart, as you may have guessed, is the return of America’s most popular sport.
The NFL season began Thursday night, with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs battling the Houston Texans in primetime. Chances are, if you’re reading this column, be tuned in. I know I did. However, let’s not pretend there isn’t a humongous elephant in the room.
The elephant represents a lot of things. COVID-19? Absolutely. But it also represents the jaw-dropping demonstrations for racial justice we’ve seen throughout this country all summer long. It represents the unprecedented – yes, I said that word – political climate we live in, with a historic election just weeks away.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the concept of using sports as an “escape.” I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of that. I’m certainly guilty as charged. When the world gets scary, humans tend to recede back to what makes them comfortable. For me, that’s either sports or movies.
In 2020, well, there’s no escape. None of us have ever witnessed a year quite like this, and we all need to be listening, following, participating and/or leading. We need to meet the moment. We can’t just seclude ourselves and act like everything is fine.
But…we can also enjoy sports. For so many people, sports provide joy. They offer a sense of structure during the grind of our daily lives. At least in my mind, there’s not much better than getting home from a tough day at work, ordering a pizza and watching Monday Night Football.
Unfortunately, it grows more and more apparent every day that we live in a binary world. “You’re wrong, and I’m right” – it’s that simple. We talk past each other instead of talking to each other. We forget that two ideas can be correct at the same time. Nuance exists, after all.
This Sunday, when you’re watching NFL games, enjoy it! At the same time, remember that this isn’t a normal year. Keep protecting yourself and others against COVID-19. Keep fighting for racial equality. Keep following the news and staying educated as we barrel toward November.
No, this is no ordinary autumn. We’re all struggling to some degree, and things might not get any easier for a little while. But take care of yourself, and enjoy the football season. We’ve earned it.
Now, without further adieu, here are the players I’m buying and selling prior to the Week 1 slate:
BUY: Auden Tate (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)
Lost in the shuffle between fellow Cincy receivers A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and rookie Tee Higgins, Auden Tate has shown promise ever since late last season. Green and Higgins have been dealing with nagging injuries and may not have much of an impact Sunday against the Chargers, which leaves the door wide open for Tate. On top of that, Tate has shown a strong connection with rookie QB Joe Burrow throughout camp, and he’s received praise from coach Zac Taylor and Bengals beat writers. The arrow is clearly pointing up for Tate, who is owned in just 2 percent of Yahoo and 1 percent of ESPN leagues.
SELL: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, Green Bay Packers)
Many experts, including some of us at In-Between Media, were buying all kinds of stock in Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) beforelast season. To say he flopped would be an understatement.
MVS caught just 26 balls on 52 targets and two touchdowns in 2019. Heading into 2020, the departure of Geronimo Allison has prompted some MVS buzz once again. Don’t be fooled twice. Allen Lazard is the clear-cut No. 2 pass-catcher in Green Bay, and it seems unlikely he’ll receive many targets himself, given Aaron Rodgers’ affinity for No. 1 guy Davante Adams. If by some miracle Valdes-Scantling has a nice game in Week 1 against Minnesota, trade him as fast as you can. Chances are it won’t last.
BUY: Boston Scott (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)
If you listened to our “All-Ins” podcast a few weeks ago, you heard me say I’m very high on Eagles starting RB Miles Sanders. That is still true. But the Philly offense enjoys a juicy matchup this weekend against the Washington Football Team, and Boston Scott should be a key beneficiary.
Assuming he’s healthy (he dealt with a lower-body injury at the end of training camp), Scott could be targeted early and often out of the backfield by Carson Wentz. And unfortunately, as is the case so often in Philadelphia, a couple key receivers are banged up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott snags five or six catches and a score.
SELL: Frank Gore (RB, New York Jets)
It’s been reported out of Jets camp that ageless wonder Frank Gore could split carries with starter Le’Veon Bell. I’m not sure I believe that especially against a top-ranked Buffalo Bills defense in Week 1. The Jets invested a lot in Bell, and keep in mind that Gore is 37 years old. Sure, you can’t dismiss the possibility of a Gore “revenge game” against his old team to kick off the season, but the high likelihood of a negative game script for the Jets diminishes Gore’s value even further. Let him ride your bench this week while you wait for a more appetizing matchup.
BUY: Tyler Eifert (TE, Jacksonville Jaguars)
In case you haven’t heard, the Jaguars are going to be bad this season. That’s bad news for the team and its fans, but good news for a lot of fantasy teams! Since Jacksonville will probably be trailing in most games this year, it opens the door for the passing game to put up garbage time points galore for your team.
I think that will be true in Week 1 against the Colts, and tight end Tyler Eifert could capitalize. The oft-injured Eifert is healthy in 2020 and has shown good preseason chemistry with starting QB Gardner Minshew. Aside from DJ Chark, the Jaguars don’t have a ton of offensive weapons, so look for Eifert to reach the end zone in the opener against Indianapolis.
SELL: Jimmy Graham (TE, Chicago Bears)
No Bears tight end tallied more than 100 yards last year – total, for the entire season. And with the news that Mitchell Trubisky will once again be the starting QB in Chicago, I wouldn’t expect that streak to end anytime soon.
Many thought Nick Foles would beat out Trubisky for the job, but that didn’t happen, so Trubisky will get the nod in Week 1 against Detroit. Chicago employs many tight ends, including rookie Cole Kmet, so Jimmy Graham will face stiff competition for targets each week. He’s also 34 years old and has shown signs of decline for a few years now. While Graham is usually good for the occasional touchdown, don’t rely on it this week, as he adjusts to a new system with a new team. If you need to stream a tight end, it may be time to pursue other options.
Thanks for reading. For more takes, find me on Twitter @Chris_Hayes8.