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According to the Data: Players You Should Sell High

Jonathan Bales

Jonathan Bales

Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. In addition to RotoWire, Jonathan also provides content to the New York Times, Dallas Morning News, DallasCowboys.com, and NBC.

The first few weeks of the NFL season are a great time to acquire value in fantasy leagues. With nave owners overreacting to the first couple of games, you can (and should) jump on underperforming studs. Similarly, it's a great time to "sell high" on players that have thus far outperformed their initial projections. Here are a few of Week 1's finest that you should consider moving if the price is right.

Sell High

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

Johnson is obviously an elite talent and you shouldn't trade him unless you can secure comparable value, but something tells me Johnson isn't going to keep up his dominant Week 1 performance. To be more specific, that 'something' is target rate. Johnson was targeted on 34.5 percent of his pass snaps on Sunday. Even in the 2008 season in which Johnson caught a career-high 115 balls, he was targeted on just 26.9 percent of his pass snaps. The takeaway here is that Johnson probably won't average 10 targets for the rest of the season, and he surely won't maintain the 80 percent catch rate he posted on Sunday. Plus, Johnson boasts that star name that will undoubtedly boost his market value in your league.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets

Sanchez tore up the Buffalo Bills and suddenly looks to have some young weapons outside in Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. What people aren't discussing is how Sanchez really overcame the presence of Tim Tebow, who was on the field for 10 offensive snaps. For seven of those, Sanchez wasn't on the field. Look, I know Sanchez looked great on Sunday, but he isn't good enough to make up for lost time. If he continues to lose over 10 percent of his snaps, especially those critical ones in the red zone, his fantasy value will tumble.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

If you were shrewd enough to draft Morris or (more likely) picked him up on waivers, it isn't too soon to let him go. While it's true Mike Shanahan can make a fantasy star out of just about anyone, that's kind of the point. Roy Helu or Evan Royster could really take over at any time. Despite the fact that late-round rookie running backs have great upside (seven have finished in the top 12 since 2008), look for an owner who is weak at running back and cash in on Morris's big first week.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions

People sure can overreact to a couple of touchdowns. Don't forget that Smith has averaged all of 3.96 yards-per-carry over his career, and the Lions have a talented running back in Mikel LeShoure that will soon be back in the mix. Smith has some added worth in PPR leagues, but his value is probably already at its peak.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers

The 49ers were never trailing in their win over the Packers, yet Frank Gore saw only 16 carries. A player that hasn't totaled more than 4.29 yards-per-rush over the past two years needs a heavy workload to score quality fantasy points, but I don't think Gore will see that workload this season. At an average of 16 carries and a more realistic 4.29 YPC figure, we're looking at barely over 1,000 total yards in 2012. That's not awful, but you're basically getting what you paid for with Gore, even in a best-case scenario. Move him to a running back-hungry owner for a player with greater upside.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens

Pitta played on 44 snaps against the Bengals. He was targeted on seven occasions, catching five of them for 73 yards and a score. The problem is that, with seven targets in 44 snaps, Pitta's target rate of 15.9 percent dramatically exceeds his career mark of 9.4 percent. That's geek talk for "Pitta won't get so many opportunities moving forward." With Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and fellow tight end Ed Dickson all getting their piece of the Ravens' offensive pie, now is a good time to sell Pitta.

Not So Fast: Players to Retain

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins

One of the reasons I love RGIII this year is that he is "slump-proof." With so many ways to beat defenses, his risk isn't as great as you might imagine, even for a rookie passer. Plus, mobile quarterbacks tend to outperform their draft slots. Since 2001, quarterbacks who have rushed for at least 15 yards per game have jumped 3.9 spots from their preseason quarterback ranking. Those quarterbacks improved upon their preseason fantasy rank 58.4 percent of the time, i.e. quarterback rushing yards are undervalued by the general fantasy public. You can exploit that.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

Cobb played on 38 of the Packers' 72 snaps against the Niners. While Cobb's nine targets won't be a permanent fixture in his fantasy repertoire, it's interesting to note that he lined up in the backfield an incredible 19 times. With the lack of a running game in Green Bay, Cobb could very well become a Percy Harvin-esque do-it-all player for the Packers. And how about this stat - Cobb ran for 61 yards after the catch on Sunday, but totaled only 77 yards receiving. That means the average depth of his nine targets was only 1.8 yards. That's not necessarily great news, unless of course you get a point for each reception.