Halfway through the fantasy football season, and you’d expect the free agent pool to be drier than a piece of dandruff in the Sahara. That there wouldn’t be major swings in player values after we’ve had seven weeks to sort things out.
That isn’t the case. Check out some of these major movers heading into Week 8:
Stock Up (Waiver wire pickups)
Jon Kitna, DAL. I’ve mentioned it plenty of times before. Opportunity trumps talent when it comes to player value. Kitna isn’t a bad quarterback, just one with minimal opportunity the past couple years. Until now. He’ll take over a high-octane offense for at least the next six to eight weeks. He was slow to start when taking over for Tony Romo Monday night, but fell into a nice rhythm.
David Gettis, CAR. Someone needed to start producing in the Panthers passing game, and rookie Gettis took the lead this past week to the tune of eight catches, 125 yards and two TDs. It is ways too early to think he’ll be an every-week option, but could be a nice stash in dynasty leagues or if you are really thin at WR in redraft formats.
Darren McFadden, OAK. Not considered 100 percent healthy heading into Week 7 and still battling Michael Bush for carries, McFadden still exploded for 196 total yards and four TDs against the Broncos. One would think that moving forward, McFadden will have the edge in that backfield and should be a nice fantasy start moving forward.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF. Considered a decent plug-and-play option when the matchup was favorable, no one expected Fitzpatrick to explode the way he did against a typically stout Baltimore defense. However, 374 yards and four TDs later, Fitzpatrick isn’t to be taken too lightly anymore. One big benefit for him is that he’s typically airing it out in garbage time.
Steve Johnson, BUF. Chicken or the egg situation here. Is Johnson a viable fantasy option because of Fitzpatrick’s emergence, or vice versa? Either way, Johnson has been lights out the past couple weeks he’s played, and is amazingly still available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Blair White, IND. Peyton Manning has shown that he can make just about anyone a viable fantasy receiver if given enough opportunity. Blair’s opportunity stands to improve drastically with the loss of Dallas Clark for the season and Austin Collie indefinitely. He’s available in 93 percent of Yahoo leagues and is a worthwhile snag in all formats.
Carson Palmer, CIN. Not a pushover in terms of team defense, the Atlanta Falcons allowed Palmer to throw for more than 400 yards and three TDs on Sunday.
Jordan Shipley, CIN. One of the main beneficiaries of Palmer’s big day. Six catches, 131 yards and a TD are a good indicator that this rookie has a bright future in the NFL. Snag now in all dynasty or keeper formats especially.
Kenny Britt, TEN. There was little doubt that Britt had the talent to explode onto the fantasy scene, and he did so to the tune of seven catches, 225 yards and three TDs against a Philadelphia defense that hasn’t been horrible against the pass this year. Notice, however, that Kerry Collins was the QB in this game for Tennessee. Collins is much more of a true passer than Vince Young, who is just as likely to tuck and run with the ball as pass it. I personally don’t see Britt coming near these numbers with Young back under center this week, but even a third of those stats is fantasy gold.
LeGarrette Blount, TB. He didn’t produce gaudy numbers Sunday, but look beyond the boxscore. He carried the ball 11 times to incumbent starter Cadillac Williams’ four. He totaled 72 rushing yards on those carries, a 6.5 yards per carry average, compared to Cadillac’s three yards per touch. Blount may not be a dynamic pass catcher out of the backfield, but his youth and skillset is undeniable. Just be wary of his off-field issues.
Thomas Jones, KC. Much to the expectations of chinstrapninja nation, Jones has carved out his own share of carries and stats from the Chiefs offensive scheme, and while Jamaal Charles has contributed each week regardless, it hasn’t been as impressive as Jones … especially last week as Thomas ran for 125 yards (his second-consecutive 100-plus-yard rushing effort) and a TD against Jacksonville.
Tom Brady, NE. Not sure if it was my ominous preseason bold prediction or the recent loss of Randy Moss, but Brady has been pedestrian at the QB slot much of the season – especially lately. He managed just 159 yards and one TD while getting sacked a season-high four times for the Patriots this past week. While he will still produce some nice games moving forward, don’t expect him to be a top 5 QB the rest of the way, as many originally expected.
Brett Favre, MIN. A primetime game returning to Lambeau against the Packers. The stars were aligned for Favre to shed the proverbial monkey on his back and come out slinging this past Sunday night. However, he came up flat with three very costly interceptions and managed just 213 passing yards and one TD. Increasing injury woes don’t help the situation.
Kevin Kolb, PHI. Despite decent play at times during Michael Vick’s absence this season, Kolb is soon to lose much value with Vick’s impending return. Even if Vick isn’t the sole signal caller, Kolb won’t produce enough in a part-time role to be worthwhile as a fantasy starter.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR. You’d expect more out of DeAngelo by now, especially in a Week 7 matchup with the Niners in which Carolina got the W. One would expect an improving passing game to open up the running lanes, which may happen moving forward, but the immediate returns aren’t looking too promising at the moment.
Miles Austin, DAL. Even when Tony Romo was healthy, Austin was a wildly streaky fantasy option. Now that Romo is out for an extended time period and replaced by Jon Kitna, things are looking a little more bleak for Austin.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI. A truly elite talent at receiver, Fitzgerald’s value has taken a huge hit with horrific quarterback play. There is no quick fix to the Cardinals’ pass-catcher concerns, so Fitzgerald will be a very inconsistent option at best.
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT. After averaging more than 100 yards on the ground the first four games, Mendy has looked mortal the past two. Some speculate he is tentative with a sore shoulder. Others wonder if it has more to do with the return of Ben Roethlisberger. Either way, Mendenhall has been mediocre at best the past two weeks. A matchup with the Saints could be a good bounceback opportunity for him this week.
Brandon Lloyd, DEN. One catch, even if it is for 47 yards as was the case for Lloyd in Week 7, isn’t going to cut it for your starting fantasy receiver. It illustrates the point I tried to make a little bit ago about teams spreading the wealth, and with two very talented rookie receivers on the roster that will get more love as the season progresses, I would be looking for buyers for Lloyd at this point in the season.
Who are your stock up players? Stock down options? Waiver wire gems? We’d love to hear about them!