Fantasy football is a game of skill with a decent hunk of luck, but in the end proper data analysis is the only route to consistent domination. Having said that, I’m all for giving a slight boost in draft value to players you personally love and even factoring in who you will get to watch live via local broadcasting or the nationally televised games when setting your lineup. The key word being slight.
Yet I digress, outside of the minimal injection of fun-based management decisions you have to be a heartless GM. Player X may have just single handedly put the team on his back to lead you to victory and Player Y did disgrace himself and screw you over, but you must put emotion on the backburner and manage based on the discrepancy between the market value and actual value of players. The disparity between perceived expected ROS contribution and the less flexible and more realistic true value is what elite fantasy managers thrive on.
Perhaps the numbers do lie occasionally, but in the long run this strategy works. I’ll get off my podium and hit you with some buy low/sell high candidates. Keep in mind, these are not pure declarations that I like or dislike a guy, but rather a belief that you can gain aggregate value with them in a trade.
Antonio Brown – WR, Steelers – Yes, Brown has been solid so far this year but he has only scored in one game and is coming off his weakest stat line of the season. Antonio is not really a red zone target, so I’m not expecting an influx of tuddies, but he is an elite possession receiver. Even a slight discount, or even just paying market value, would be money in the bank. I loved Brown heading into the season and my love has only grown.
Alfred Morris - RB, Redskins - Roy Helu Junior has certainly improved and will continue to get touches in the hurry up offense, but Alfred Morris is still the big dog. Even with Helu blowing up for three touchdowns A-Mo almost crossed the century mark last week. Can’t hurt to ask around and check if the Morris owner is freaking out about an imaginary full fledged timeshare.
Chris Johnson – RB, Titans – The basis of this article came together because I wanted to write about CJ. While he has voiced his desire to get red zone carries, I don’t think that will happen. Don’t even expect a massive breakout or sizable increase in YPC. However, his stock has hit rock bottom and people don’t give enough credence to the fact that he just faced off against the stout Chiefs, Seahawks, and 49ers the last three games. He is simply CJ and the CJ2K that we know and love is gone, but he is a lead back and the Titans are finally looking at him in the passing game. Not only are managers eager to sell but add a bye week discount and you can get Johnson for pennies on the dollar. Plus, he does have a decent schedule. Don’t love the dude but if you are smart you can turn a decent rb wr combo into an elite reciever and a high reward RB in Johnson. Take a shot.
Giovani Bernard - RB, Bengals - The law firm is still an inferior back and Gio is still a surprisingly talented runner who reminds me of mojo. With Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy taking the spotlight, Gio has lost some of his allure. I love the kid, but love the fact that he has great hands and is powerful in the redzone even more.
Tom Brady – QB, Patriots – I’ll admit, Brady didn’t look sharp against the Jets last week and his mediocre numbers are actually decent indicators of his performance. Still, Tom is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live. Gronk is back, Amendola may be a nice tool health permitting, and he is getting more comfortable with Dobson and Thompkins. Regression to the mean my friends. Brady didn’t forget how to be a QB and I say you should buy him while his owner is overwhelmed with delusions of collapse.
Cecil Shorts – WR, Jaguars – The sprained SC joint is unnerving, but he is supposedly feeling better everyday. You know who leads the league in targets? Yup. Defenses are more concerned with Blackmon and that means Shorts will continue to be a high volume receiver. Small sample size but check what he did the second half of last year if you don’t think he has the skill to get it done.
Greg Olsen – TE, Panthers – Admittedly I have loved Greg Olsen for a while, but it appears as if his foot injury is feeling better after practicing in full Tuesday and Wednesday. Take away the last couple weeks where he was hobbled and you have a very solid tight end. Cam trusts him and Steve Smith is another year older. Lafell is a good blocker but that is about it. Be a bit more patient though as Tampa Bay is very stingy against opposing tight ends. Fingers crossed he is quiet this week and gets back to 100% with over a week to recover after the Thursday night game. Wait for it and then strike when Olsen owners are feeling vulnerable.
CJ Spiller – RB, Bills – Marrone is an idiot and has refused to just give Spiller a week off to rest. Instead he has gotten a handful of touches every week since hurting his ankle. Ridiculous. If you are cruising right along and can take a slight gamble now is your chance to buy a first round talent on the cheap. Will he get healthy sooner rather than later? I don’t know to be perfectly honest. But the price is right for teams with 5 or more wins that have some value to play with and can be patient.
Trent Richardson – RB, Colts – Speaking of first round busts, T-Rich has burned many including myself. The talent is there but the issue is his unfamiliarity with the playbook, Donald Brown’s emergence, and his fumble last week. Same concept as Spiller. Buy if you want to make a high risk high reward investment. Richardson is simply a wounded giant and the potential is there.
Knowshon Moreno - RB, Broncos - The Robin to Peyton Manning’s Batman has been a top 5 running back so far this season. He is an incredibly safe and productive back in both the passing game and in the red zone. While I do like Moreno ROS, his value has peaked. He has averaged less than 3 yards a carry the last two games and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ronnie Hillman started getting more touches. Hillman has looked great in limited run, averaging 4.6 YPC, and Denver should try and keep Moreno fresh for when it really matters in the playoffs. This doesn’t mean you should be freaking out and sell Moreno, but rather that you should test the trade market and see if you can cash in.
Antonio Gates - TE, Chargers - Gates is a lumbering but once great tight end who has been slowed down by bum feet. Supposedly this is the healthiest he has felt in years. While I don’t doubt that, he simply isn’t the player who once dominated the middle of the field. The great hands are still there but with his injury history I would move on to safer pastures if possible. The buzz is all positive, but you can still get more value via trade than you paid in the draft.
Jacquizz Rodgers - RB, Falcons - Quizz is a powerless back whose value is almost entirely tied to looks in the pass game. Yes, owners are well aware that Steven Jackson is finally expected back, but following two straight multi TD games you can still sell him as a very expensive handcuff. Originally Atlanta said they would bring Jackson back when he was more than 100%, so I’m not as nervous about him as most seem to be. Rodgers gave you a wild ride but get out before the market crash.
Harry Douglas - WR, Falcons - Yes, he just blew up against the Bucs, but he wasn’t getting guarded by Darrelle Revis and I still think he is the 4th option in that offense once the dust settles. Someone in your league may be buying. Get greedy and sell that ketchup popsicle.
Coby Fleener - TE, Colts - Reggie Wayne is down for the count and Fleener posted a solid line against the Broncos, but I’m not expecting a jump in value. I don’t necessarily think that Wayne’s departure will benefit Fleener that much. Factoring out the one final first half drive against Denver he has been a dud in October. Realistically he doesn’t have much trade value if any, but at this point you may be able to include him in a multi player deal to upgrade at tight end if he is your starter.
Sidney Rice - WR, Seahawks - Sid the Kid is supremely talented, but that does not make him a reliable fantasy option. Seattle is a run first offense and with Percy Harvin’s return on the horizon, Rice will continue to be a high risk, medium reward player but with even less looks. Coming off his 3 catch, 50 yard, 1 touchdown performance against Arizona, now is the time to try and get literally any value. He is averaging less than 5 targets per game and you simply don’t want to rely on him.
Let me know if you think I’m an idiot or a genius in the comments or if you want to pick my brain about anything. Also, you can follow me on twitter @HisDudenessOfNY.