Fantasy football’s Black Friday: Value buys you can’t afford to overlook and sell-high candidates to consider moving
Ever wonder what happens to people on the third Friday of November?
The sweetest, most motherly among us turning into savage beasts fighting other shoppers for the last Tickle Me Elmo or Cabbage Patch Kid on Black Friday special clearance — grasping for toys like a bluegill gasps for breath when pulled from a pond.
For many, especially in these stressful economic times, it’s because getting the right presents at the right price can seemingly make or break the holiday season.
It is officially the third Friday of the fantasy football season, and although it seems earlier than ever, consider today Black Friday in your fantasy leagues. The window for great value is soon to close on certain players. For others, a significant drop in value may as close as Sunday’s games. Someone is going to make the right deal today or tomorrow that will catapult them to a fantasy championship.
Who should be on your shopping list? Who should you sell in the process? Read on …
First, I need to revisit the fundamental trading advice … buy low, sell high. There are exceptions to the rule, but as long as you trade a high-value player at his peak for a low-valued guy ready to vault into fantasy prominence, you will find the necessary bones to pull off a decent deal.
Now, it is important to realize and remember that not every player whois producing great numbers at the moment is a sell-high candidate.
Some, such as Michael Vick, in my opinion, are guys who should continue to play major roles on fantasy rosters moving forward. And not every struggling player is a smart buy-low option. Jonathan Stewart has been downright disappointing through two weeks of play, and until DeAngelo Williams starts to produce or somehow gets injured, it doesn’t appear that Stewart has much long-range value … unless you can get him cheap enough.
Buy low now
Ray Rice, BAL. Targeted as a top-four player in most every fantasy league draft this summer, Rice has been very disappointing so far. Look quick at his stats through two weeks and you’re likely to panic. However, though, that he’s played two very tough run defenses to date: the Jets and Bengals. This weekend, the Ravens take on the Browns, which is a recipe for fantasy rebound across the board for Baltimore. Don’t expect too many savvy owners to give up on Rice this early without demanding solid payment in return, and even they may balk. However, Rice has top-four potential and could be worth the price as long as you don’t sell your entire team for him.
Joe Flacco, BAL. As disappointing as Rice’s numbers were the first two weeks, Flacco’s have been even more dire. Again, he’s played against really tough defenses and is overseeing a team that is still learning to gel after the offseason acquisitions of Anquan Boldin and, much more recently, TJ Houshmanzadeh. Flacco has the guts (played hurt most of last season and still produced solid fantasy numbers), football savvy and now the weapons to emerge as a solid fantasy option. The Browns game this weekend will be a good jumping off point … this may be the cheapest you can get Flacco this season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. This is the hardest situation to gauge, and my gut is torn down the middle whether to classify MJD as a buy-low or a sell-high at the moment. Two very pedestrian games in the books, and people are nervous about MJD. His ankle injury, which kept him out of preseason action, has been hampering him during the regular season so far … even restricting him during practice this past week. This Sunday is judgement day for MJD’s value. He plays against the same Philadelphia defense that allowed Jahvid Best to channel his inner Barry Sanders. If MJD is going to break out of his funk, it will be this week. However, if his ankle is truly affecting him as more and more reports suggest, he may struggle yet again this coming weekend, which would majorly deflate his value. So, buyer beware … seller beware. If your team is really struggling and you think the risk of dealing for MJD at this point may be the one thing that ricochets you back into the playoff conversation, and you can get MJD cheap enough, than perhaps you should take the risk. Just be sure to remind the current MJD owner about that ailing ankle and that if MJD struggles against the Eagles’ horrible run defense, the value and offer will drop accordingly.
Brett Favre, MIN. Four turnovers in one game, including three interceptions, greatly marred Favre’s fantasy value and has many wondering if he’ll continue to struggle moving forward. His receiving corps is in shambles with Sidney Rice out at least four more weeks, possibly the whole season, and Percy Harvin dealing with injury/headache demons of his own. However, Favre has a way of elevating the play of those around him when the stakes seem to be the highest. At this juncture, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the 0-2 Vikings and the slipshod Favre than when they play Detroit this weekend. Expect Favre to bounce back, even if he has to throw mostly to Visanthe Shiancoe and Adrian Peterson.
Johnny Knox, CHI. The only thing we learned about the Bears receiving corps is that it is really unpredictable. Jay Cutler and Mike Martz give receivers in this group much value, but one needs to emerge as the go-to guy for that value to translate into consistent fantasy points. The three-headed monster (Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Devin Hester) may be slowly eroding, however. After a nice Week 1, Aromashodu landed in the coaching staff’s dog house because isn’t “versatile” enough. He was on the field for only one play last week, and reports from Chicago have Aromashodu looking more and more like the odd man out in Bears-land. This enhances the appeal of both Knox and Hester … although Knox seems to be the guy who has the best overall upside. The Bears will likely be passing a lot against Dallas on Sunday, and it is very likely that Knox will emerge as a viable fantasy star.
Shonn Greene, NYJ. After blowing people away during the NFL playoffs last year, much was expected of the young Shonn Greene. However, LaDanian Tomlinson was brought into the fold and has taken the lions’ share of carries and ultimately stats into his corner. Except, notice last week’s carries numbers. Greene actually had a few more than Tomlinson. The potential loss of Braylon Edwards to knucklehead-itis may force the Jets to run more than ever, giving Greene a bigger window to display his abilities. I wouldn’t offer a whole lot for Greene just yet, partially because his schedule overall is still very tough moving forward, but if you can snag him cheap enough, it may be a smart idea to move now.
Michael Crabtree, SF. Trouble in Niners-land has eroded away Crabtree’s value. He was almost a nonfactor in Week 1 and obviously was in Mike Singletary’s dog house in Week 2, getting just one reception, albeit for 32 yards. The Niners need Crabtree to channel his inner abilities and provide a consistent weapon in the passing game, and Crabtree is too talented not to rebound at least a little. Considering he can be had really cheap in most formats at the moment, it isn’t a bad idea to test the trade waters and see if you can snag him before his goes off on some unsuspecting defense.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR. For two weeks running, Williams has easily out-carried Jonathan Stewart, which is perhaps the silver lining in what has been an overall cloudy, under-impressive start to the season. The Panthers have always done one thing well, and that is run the football. With all the transition in the passing game and now rookie Jimmy Clausen under center from play one this week, expect Carolina to hand it off more than ever and attempt to ride the run on the back of Williams.
Tony Romo, DAL. The Cowboys are a mess across the board. Their defense is sloppy, their running game almost non-existent. Their passing game has been erratic. The only consistently solid piece has been Miles Austin through two weeks. Romo has a ton of targets in that offense, and once the team gets over its collective mental miscues, expect Romo to produce solid fantasy QB numbers — at the very least much better than the 13th-best stats among QBs that he currently has exhibited.
Felix Jones, DAL. Tagging along for the ride with Romo, and for the same reasons I list Romo here, Jones is a decent buy-low guy at the moment. The Cowboys need to re-establish their run game and refind the spark they had offensively in the playoffs. Jones provided much of that spark while handling a majority of the carries. He’s Jerry Jones’ pet project and the owner will do all he can to get Felix ample playing time. This is a personal opinion, but I think Marion Barber is getting extra carries as a showcase move by the Cowboys, hoping to elicit some trade offers for Barber. If Marion is dealt, Felix Jones’ value skyrockets. Even if Barber does stick around, he always seems to find his way onto the injury report. Considering how cheaply you can land Felix at this point, you should try to roster him and wait out the early season Cowboys funk.
LeSean McCoy, PHI. Basically an unknown quantity in terms of NFL ability heading into this season, McCoy’s usage in the Philadelphia offense has been sporadic at best, especially in Week 1 while Kevin Kolb was still Qbing and Michael Vick was a defacto extra RB out of the backfield on a number of plays. Vick’s ascension into the top QB slot could help McCoy carve out a better piece of the playbook, and he responded well last week against Detroit with a monster game. However, that inconsistency aspect concerns me, and considering certain proven commodities such as Ray Rice and DeAngelo Williams can be had on the cheap at the moment, it may be a good time to move McCoy, although his coming matchup with Jacksonville isn’t too bad, either.
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. What? How can I have the same guy on both lists? Let me explain. As I mentioned previously, Jones-Drew really has me torn at the moment, and I expect something big to happen this weekend depending on how he fares against Philly. Either he tears things up and everyone moves forward expecting elite stats the rest of the way (making him, at the moment, a great buy-low), OR he has another mediocre game playing on a gimpy ankle, letting us all know he is worse off than first expected and that we should re-adjust our expectations. In this case, he could be a key sell-high guy. Which way will it go? So hard to say, which brought me to ride the fence and put him on both lists. Call me a coward, but I just couldn’t commit to a side.
Darren McFadden, OAK. Very few players have impressed the way McFadden has this season, reviving lost hopes of glory for his much-hyped career coming out of college. And, he’s earned that praise, playing extremely well through two weeks, scoring an impressive 26 points in PPR leagues against a typically stout Tennessee defense in Week 1 and 16 more in Week 2 vs. the St. Louis Rams. However, the key downer for McFadden moving forward is the return of Michael Bush, who was slated to take over the lead back role before breaking his thumb. He’s now listed as probable for Week 3, and will be making his presence known sooner or later.
Jahvid Best, DET. This won’t be a popular suggestion among some of the Ninja faithful, but let me explain for a moment. It is easy to look at the record-setting 50-plus-point fantasy game in Week 2 and salivate uncontrollably, but let’s look a little closer. Receiving totals for any back are hard to sustain on a consistent basis. While Best averaged 4.6 yards per carry against the Eagles defense, don’t forget he averaged a paltry 1.4 yards per carry (on 14 carries, mind you) against a more meaty defense in Chicago on Week 1. Why is this important? Why am I being such a buzzkill? First, it is hard to rely on any rookie at any position to be a consistent fantasy play. When you start a running back, you’re banking on consistency and upside. Best has the upside, the consistency has yet to be proven and is nearly impossible for a true rookie. Also, it appears that the Eagles run defense is really bad. The Bears run defense … really good. I mention this because Best now faces a Minnesota defense known for run-stopping ability. Then the Packers defense. And a numberof other tougher matchups later in the season. I’m not saying Best won’t have good games, but right now after his monster performance, you can almost deal him even-up for a Ray Rice … a much more proven player at this point in his career. In a dynasty league, it would be harder to move Best, but in a redraft, if you can get a proven top-5 back for Best, then I’d do it.
Tim Hightower, ARI. Currently the 20th highest ranked fantasy performer of all positions through two weeks, Hightower has done his best to prove he deserves at least a share of the carries in Arizona. Beanie Wells, who admitted recently that he had a torn meniscus and subsequent surgery, is due back as early as this week. While he may not get a majority of the carries right off the bat, it looks as though he and Hightower will share the load moving forward, greatly reducing Hightower’s value short of another Beanie injury.
Austin Collie, IND. Collie’s value had peaked after an 11-catch, 163-yard performance in Week 1. Last week, he was a more pedestrian 4-for-25, although he did notch his second TD of the season. The problem with Collie, despite all his personal ability and playing with such a great quarterback is that he’s only one of many clamoring for Peyton Manning’s attention. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are both easily more favored targets for Manning, and Pierre Garcon has the ability to be third in line, making Collie a player that will have breakout games from time to time, but not consistent enough numbers to start with gusto on a week-to-week basis.
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA. Through two games, Hasselbeck has scored more fantasy points in standard scoring leagues than Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and a host of other QBs that were easily ranked ahead of him prior to the season. However, a closer look at the stats show that while he had two TD and just one pick in Week 1, he followed up with three picks and just one TD in Week 2. That sort of inconsistency is what will make Hasselbeck nothing more than a bye-week filler in the best scenarios, and if you have another owner in your league who is struggling at QB, Hasselbeck could make some nice sell-high bait for improvements at other positions on your roster.
Which players are on your buy-low shopping list right now? Which are you looking to move? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you want more individualized help with a trade, feel free to drop us a line at our open forums or to me directly via e-mail.