Flipping through channels earlier today, I caught a glimpse of a lion on the prowl. It moved stealthfully through the African brush before charging at a herd of gazelles, snatching up one of the weaker animals for its breakfast.
And as I sit down to write this post, one where I planned to outline some buy low, sell high candidates, I can’t get that image out of my mind.
Fantasy owners, as a whole, have one glaring weakness – impatience (mixed with a splash of fickleness). Especially owners of teams that have struggled out of the gate. Especially owners who are facing some bye week issues and desperately looking for a lifeline much like the gazelle looks for a way to escape the lion’s claws.
Using that approach, here are a few buy low, sell guy candidates heading into Week 6.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR. He’s been on these lists before, and I know some are wondering when he’ll actually break out. Some are concerned about the faltering passing game in Carolina. And the surprising abandonment of a running game that has been the signature of the Panthers’ offense for some time now.
But bye weeks can be good times to sit back and reflect, and I’m sure the Panthers as an organization will be thinking quite a lot about how to right the sinking ship. The only weapon they have is their running game.
Steve Smith may be back by Week 7 (after the bye) and rookie Jimmy Clausen will have some time to work on mechanics and receiver rapport away from the glare of gameday.
The clincher for me, in terms of why I’d want to snag Williams now, is the upcoming schedule. After this weekend’s bye, DeAngelo will draw matchups with San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. That’s four straight games to get the running game back on track. Plenty of other savory RB matchups on the docket include Cleveland, Seattle and Arizona (which comes in Week 15, the first of most leagues’ playoffs).
And the lion/gazelle metaphor? Teams who own DeAngelo are likely to be struggling at this point in their season. They know DeAngelo won’t be playing this week due to a bye, and they’re likely scrambling for a player to fill in their starting lineup’s gaping hole. You stealthfully sneak in and offer what they want, and then pounce with no turning back.
Brett Favre, MIN. I continue to flip-flop on Favre’s value this season … almost as much as he flip-flops every year on retirement.
However, Favre finally has a legitimate receiver, could potentially gain another in a couple weeks when Sidney Rice may come back and has his bye week behind him.
Owners are likely stung by Favre’s late-game interception against the Jets, but fantasy-wise, he was solid against a fairly good Jets defense (even without Revis). Concerns about injury also have owners cautious.
However, this week’s potential gunslinging clinic with Tony Romo and next week’s emotional return to a banged up Green Bay bode well for Favre’s immediate value.
Felix Jones, DAL. The lack of a TD last week may have helped Felix slide below the radar screen in your league. However, he has shown over the course of his career that he can break long runs and be a playmaker, as shown by the 7.4 yards per carry and 105 total yards against Tennessee last week.
He is also going to contribute in the passing game, coming off a four-catch showing against the Titans. There is little doubt that Jones gives the Cowboys offense more spark and he has some great matchups coming up, including some juicy ones during the fantasy playoffs.
Just be warned that he may find some struggles the next two weeks vs. the Vikings and Giants run defenses.
Mike Wallace, PIT. Wallace hasn’t been a slouch the first several weeks of the season, but he hasn’t been a consistently elite option, either. That will change with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, as the Steelers offense regains balance and Wallace takes his career to the next level.
Greg Jennings, GB. An afterthought moreso than anyone would have expected through the first five weeks of action, Jennings has been a disappointment for the injury-riddled Packers. Looking back over the past two seasons, Jennings’ stats have dropped as a whole with the emergence of Jermichael Finley.
However, Finley is now out for the regular season and Aaron Rodgers, if healthy, will need to lean heavily on his remaining playmakers.
Donald Driver will also see an uptick in attention, but Jennings arguably could be the better value right now, especially if rookie James Starks can provide the Packers some spark in the running game when he comes off the PUP.
Matthew Stafford, DET. Injured the entire season so far, Stafford has watched as Shaun Hill has risen to fantasy prominence in a young, talented Detroit offense. Soon enough, Stafford will return to action and inherit an offense that can take him very far in the fantasy stratosphere.
Aaron Hernandez, NE. The loss of Randy Moss and Tom Brady’s chemistry so far with young TE Hernandez bodes well for the rookie moving forward. One major fantasy site suggestions that Hernandez will lead the Patriots in receptions the rest of the way. I’m guessing Wes Welker will be in that conversation somewhere. Still, Hernandez is a great option in both redraft and dynasty leagues moving forward.
Tim Hightower, ARI. Crazy thought here, but Hightower was all over the field back when Beanie was injured. Hightower offers a different sort of a skillset than Beanie, most importantly a presence out of the backfield for a young QB who needs a consistent dump-off option.
Beanie is the future of the franchise, and Arizona will do what it can to get him involved in the game plan, but his 1.8 yards per carry on 20 touches against one of the league’s worst run defenses is cause for concern, and Hightower is sitting pretty, waiting for his chance to prove his worth.
I wouldn’t offer much for Hightower, especially because he’ll be in timeshare moving forward until Beanie’s next injury, but owners will likely have Hightower as an afterthought, especially this week as the Cardinals are on bye.
LeSean McCoy, PHI. I’ll get roasted for this, but in any redraft league, I’d be considering a move for McCoy if you can obtain a Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson in return. Likely, you will be able to based off McCoy’s numbers to date, especially in PPR formats.
However, three things concern me about his value moving forward.
First, Michael Vick will eventually be coming back for the Eagles. Prior to taking over as lead QB for Philly in Week 1, Vick was used heavily in the running game, getting a Kolb handoff and bolting forward without even a brief hesitation to throw the pigskin. If Kolb continues to show improvement, I see the Eagles returning to this type of situation … call it a QB by committee if you will … and I see McCoy’s carries and even receptions out of the backfield taking a hit accordingly.
Secondly, the Eagles obtained Jerome Harrison this past week to bolster dwindling depth behind McCoy. The thing is, Harrison has plenty of NFL experience and can move the chains on his own, as shown the end of last season in several record-breaking games. Why pound the young phenom McCoy into the dirt every play if you can spell him with a talented backup?
Lastly, the Eagles schedule is riddled with running back landmines, especially during the typical fantasy playoff stretch, where Philly faces the Giants and Vikings in Weeks 15 and 16.
Brandon Lloyd, DEN. It’s hard to argue against the stats through five weeks. Lloyd has been a beast (in a good way), especially impressive in yards after the catch. My concern is the wide variety of talented weapons in the Broncos arsenal, including two very able rookie receivers that will continue to get more and more action as the season progresses. In all, there are four other solid pass catchers outside of Lloyd, and that competition for plays will make Lloyd an inconsistent option as the season wears on.
Austin Collie, IND. An injured foot has slowed Collie moreso than any defender this year so far. However, even as Collie heals and returns, he’ll be in a very similar situation as Lloyd. Pierre Garcon is slowly returning to the fold and Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark both deserve plenty of their own attention from Peyton Manning. Collie will continue to have big games from time to time, but consistency is an issue here. If you can move him for a more consistent option, I would recommend doing so.
Tom Brady, NE. Brady is a pigskin icon who has found ways to produce regardless of his situation. The loss of Randy Moss won’t render Brady totally useless, and I’m sure he’ll find plenty of other options to fling the ball to. Still, one has to wonder how the loss of Moss will affect Brady overall.
However, my biggest concern for Brady moving forward is a brutal schedule. The next three weeks, he has Baltimore, San Diego and Minnesota. He also has Pittsburgh, the Jets and Packers on the horizon.
David Garrard, JAX. Don’t look now, but Garrard has nine TDs through the first five weeks. However, more than half of them came the past two weeks against the horrible Bills passing defense and a mediocre at best Indy secondary. Garrard’s weapons continue to disappear in stretches and there are plenty of tougher matchups in the coming weeks. Move him now if you can.
Matt Forte, CHI. His gaudy numbers this season are very enticing, indeed, especially in PPR leagues. Plenty of backs have posted solid seasons based on their involvement in the passing game, and Forte could fall into that mold.
However, I just can’t get excited about a back that has struggled overall as much as Forte in actually running the ball. Sure, his 22 carries for 166 yards and two scores last week against the Panthers was awesome. But look at the four weeks prior to that. He averaged just over 2.5 yards per carry during that stretch with no rushing TDs.
Meanwhile, Forte’s passing numbers have actually been backsliding lately. His seven receptions for 151 yards and two TDs in week one through the air was amazing, but his receptions dipped to five in Week two and he hasn’t broken two catches in any of the last three contests.
This all suggests that Forte will be a very streaky player depending especially on matchup. His bread and butter games so far came against Detroit and the Panthers. The other three weeks (against the Cowboys, Packers and Giants), he scored a total of 25 fantasy points … 16 of which came in Week 2.
Sure, there are still some juicy matchups on tap, but look further down the road, when Forte faces arguably the hardest running back matchups in the league during fantasy playoff time … the Patriots, Vikings and Jets in Weeks 14, 15 and 16.
Who are your buy low and sell high candidates heading into Week 6?