I’ve never exactly been a tremendous athlete. Growing up, I played several sports — mainly baseball, basketball and lacrosse — but I never played for an official school team or anything like that. The only one I tried out for was my middle school basketball team, and I didn’t quite make the cut. I decided to pursue other interests, but I still loved to play the occasional pickup football game or go to the local gym and shoot hoops to let off steam.
I’ve also been extremely lucky in regards to injuries throughout my life. Aside from the typical bumps and bruises, the only major injuries I’ve suffered are a couple concussions and a broken finger. I have no clue what it feels like to tear your ACL, dislocate your shoulder or break your femur, that’s for sure.
Professional athletes, on the other hand, are gladiators. No matter what sport they play, these men and women put their bodies on the line for the love of the game and for our enjoyment. On top of that, they’re in peak physical condition and are capable of accomplishing athletic feats most of us can only dream about when we put our head on the pillow at night.
So, when these athletes suffer terrible, season-ending injuries, it’s absolutely crushing. All the hard work they put in on a daily basis seems to go right out the window as they lie in pain. You saw it last week with football stars Saquon Barkley, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and many more. These players put everything they have into competing for a championship, and unfortunately they’ll now become sideline spectators for the rest of the 2020 season.
Most of us watch these unfortunate injuries on TV and empathize with the players. We wish them a speedy recovery so they can return to the field as soon as possible. Health should always be the top priority, after all. But there is a small minority that seems to care more about fantasy football than the reality right in front of them. They rejoice because the injured player was on their opponent’s team, or they mourn because the injured player was their top draft pick entering the season.
Trust me, it’s easy to get addicted to fantasy football. It’s one of the great modern inventions, after all. We all love football, and we embrace every aspect of the fantasy season. But we should never lose sight of the fact that athletes are humans, too. They have families of their own. They have goals they yearn to achieve. We shouldn’t treat them like robots that put up statistics on our phones every Sunday afternoon.
Week 2 was a tough week for most people, but nobody had it harder than the human beings who sustained heartbreaking injuries on the field. Let’s wish them the best and hope they return to the field sooner rather than later. The game simply won’t be the same without them.
Now it’s time to play a little “Buy or Sell.” This week, I’m focusing on quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.
BUY: Matthew Stafford (QB, Detroit Lions)
I was pretty high on Matthew Stafford entering the year, and I know I wasn’t alone. The Lions signal-caller missed significant time in 2019 with a back injury, and his return thus far this season has proven a little shaky, as he’s thrown an interception in each of the first two weeks and has registered a mediocre 17.2 fantasy points in each matchup.
Stafford owners might have their hand on the panic button, so now is your chance to pounce. Kenny Golladay, Detroit’s No. 1 receiver and Stafford’s go-to target, has missed the first two weeks due to injury but is on track to return Sunday against Arizona. And after the Lions’ Week 5 bye, they get to face soft pass defenses like Jacksonville, Atlanta and Minnesota. Stafford is an excellent buy-low candidate.
SELL: Mitchell Trubisky (QB, Chicago Bears)
When Mitchell Trubisky was named Chicago’s starting quarterback over Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, we all laughed. How could you not? However, Trubisky has led the Bears to a surprising 2-0 start while simultaneously pleasing fantasy owners.
Believe it or not, he’s the QB14 through two weeks of the season. To top it all off, he’s got a tasty matchup this Sunday against the horrid Atlanta Falcons defense. Since this article is only biweekly, I’m telling you now: Start Mitch this week, and then sell him immediately. His value will probably never be higher after Sunday, and those of us who have watched Bears football over the years know he’s likely to soon regress.
BUY: Joe Mixon (RB, Cincinnati Bengals)
If you’re a Joe Mixon owner, you’ve got to be frustrated. And if you’re a Mixon owner in dynasty leagues, you’re scared that history is repeating itself. Just like last season, the Bengals running back is struggling out of the gate. After registering only 6.1 Points Per Reception (PPR) fantasy points in Week 1, Mixon had a decent showing last Thursday against Cleveland, but still nowhere near the RB1 production you’re expecting as his owner.
In fact, Mixon is all the way at RB37 in PPR leagues right now. Folks, I’m here to tell you that things will get better. While Giovani Bernard can be a threat to Mixon’s volume in the pass game, expect coach Zac Taylor and QB Joe Burrow to come to their senses and feed Mixon the rock more often. The Bengals went 2-14 last year, and Mixon still managed to produce at a high level as the season went along. He should be the focal point of that offense, so if you need a running back right now, it’s worth a shot to throw a trade offer at the Mixon owner in your league.
SELL: Leonard Fournette (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Heading into the season, the Tampa Bay backfield was Ronald Jones’s to lose. After two weeks of the season, well, it looks like he may have already lost it. Leonard Fournette, who was picked up by Tampa prior to the season after Jacksonville released him, balled out last Sunday against Carolina, rushing for 103 yards and two scores against a bad Panthers run defense.
It’s clear that Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians likes Fournette’s game, but should you trust him to give you reliable RB2 production in your lineup each week? I’m leaning toward no. Jones will get his fair share of carries, and you know Tom Brady still wants to push the ball through the air with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Fournette will have the occasional big game, but I’d sell him while his value is high and look for a more consistent option in return.
BUY: Will Fuller (WR, Houston Texans)
Full disclosure right off the bat: I can’t quit Will Fuller. I’ve liked him ever since his Notre Dame days, and that hasn’t changed since he’s been with Deshaun Watson and the Texans. However, the guy is infamous for his injury history, and rightly so. He misses time almost every year. He even left last Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue but returned, amassing a grand total of zero catches.
I’m thinking Fuller is an ideal buy-low candidate right now. The upside can’t be denied. After all, he was targeted 10 times in Week 1, catching eight balls for 112 yards. Houston faces a tough Pittsburgh defense this week, but the schedule looks beautiful after that — Minnesota and Jacksonville are on the horizon. I wouldn’t blame you for proceeding with some caution here, but I’m confident Fuller will put up big numbers in the coming weeks.
SELL: John Brown (WR, Buffalo Bills)
John Brown has been an underrated fantasy receiver for years now. In 2019, he put up double-digit fantasy points in all but two of his games. 2020 has been no different. Brown has been the overall WR9 in standard and PPR leagues through two weeks this season, playing an important role in Buffalo’s hot start to the year.
The difference between last year and this year, though? The Bills have an improved Josh Allen at quarterback and the explosive Stefon Diggs at receiver. While Diggs hasn’t cut into Brown’s target share too much so far, I don’t expect that to continue through the entire season. Brown could soon become a boom or bust WR3 or flex option, so you might as well sell high now if you’ve got depth at receiver and need a running back.
Thanks for reading. For more takes, find me on Twitter @Chris_Hayes8.