The old adage "buy low, sell high" is almost meaningless in the context of fantasy football. Few owners were going to trade you Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady on the cheap last week. The same goes for LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Darren McFadden. In fact, making profitable trades in leagues with experienced owners is difficult in all fantasy sports, but especially in football where small samples and high week-to-week variance make values more nebulous and people therefore more risk-averse. You can make positional trades – I have an extra RB, and you have too many good WR – but those aren't trades for pure profit as they work for both owners solely due to context.
But there are still some players you can acquire via trade – or waivers – and who as a group should yield more than their collective cost. These are the players who have been so disappointing they're actually available on the cheap or for free now that they've been dropped. Chris Johnson before Week 4 fits into that category. And Michael Turner before Week 3. Here are some players to target this week who might pan out later in the year:
• Vincent Brown – he's out for another two weeks at least but Malcom Floyd is injury prone, Antonio Gates looks old and Robert Meachem simply hasn't caught on. He could be the team's top target in the second half.
• Jonathan Baldwin – Dwayne Bowe's still the No. 1, but there are rumblings that Matt Cassel could be replaced at QB, and often the backups perform much better with the backup QB with whom they see more practice reps. Also, Baldwin was a first-round pick last year, and the Chiefs need to see what they have in him.
• David Wilson – A trendy sleeper in the preseason, Wilson has fallen to third string behind Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown. But both players have dealt with injuries in the recent past, and Wilson – who looked like one of the most explosive kick returners in the league on Sunday night – could see his talents used on offense before too long.
• Jacob Tamme – He's still Peyton Manning's first read at tight end, and there should be a lot to go around in Denver.
• Matt Flynn – in two-QB or QB-FLEX leagues, go get Flynn who has been outstanding when given the chance in Green Bay and who was brought in to be the starter before Russell Wilson (5.9 YPA, 4 TD, 4 INT) had a good preseason.
Sometimes, the best time to invest in a player is after his stock has already gone up but before it has peaked. These players will cost you, but they can still return a profit.
• Trent Richardson – I see him as a top-five back. He's fast, he can break tackles, he gets the goal line carries, he catches passes and even picks up the blitz. I'd deal Roddy White or Jamaal Charles for him.
• Cam Newton – His defense will keep him shooting it out, and he's been a top-5 QB since he came into the league. I'd deal Robert Griffin III or Matt Ryan for him.
• C.J. Spiller – The Bills run block well, and there should be enough touches for him to be a top 10 or 15 back even if Fred Jackson stays healthy. I'd deal Matt Forte for him.
• Michael Turner – I'm sure plenty of pundits who prematurely predicted his demise are urging you to sell high after a big week against the Panthers. I'll take the other end of that deal. If you want Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd in a non-PPR, Frank Gore or Willis McGahee for him, I'd pull the trigger.
Sports Bar Sunday
I write this with the caveat that I moved into a new house Saturday and DirecTV isn't installing the dish until next week. That means I had to watch the games at a sports bar. That means I was drunk for part of the game-watching as you cannot sit at a bar for six hours and order brunch only. (You're done with brunch in 20 minutes, and then you're taking up a space).
Moreover, the sports bar I wanted to go to was on Washington Blvd., and because of a preposterous triathlon Sunday morning – I mean seriously what kind of sociopaths are doing a triathon on an NFL Sunday – it was impossible to cross Venice Blvd. to get there. So I went to a sports bar I had been to at night after softball games on Pico called the San Francisco Saloon. The problem with the SF Saloon is though they have 10 TVs, they were all tuned to the Niners-Jets game. Even had that game been the second coming of 1981 Chargers-Dolphins playoff contest – which it most assuredly was not – it wasn't going to suffice for Sunday game-watching.
But I noticed a bar/restaurant across the street that was open at 10:30 am called Freddy Smalls. They had only two TVs, but I got to focus on two different games Falcons-Panthers (after Jets-Niners went south) and Patriots-Bills, and they made some kind of brisket, egg and potato breakfast dish that crushed anything I've ever eaten at a sports bar – the notable exception being Sonny McLean's on Wilshire – which has the drawback of being a Red Sox/Pats bar (and is always packed when the Pats play the early game).
In any event, I mention the foregoing as a disclaimer as I did not see most of the games, and I definitely didn't see the Sunday night game when the Giants boldly threw downfield to convert on fourth and inches only to give it right back on the next play with a senseless pick in the end zone. And even if I did see it initially, I've wiped clean any recollection of Ramses Barden committing offensive pass interference while already in field-goal range, or Tom Coughlin playing for the 54-yard field goal on third down, apparently confusing Lawrence Tynes with Sebastian Janikowski.
All that said – here's what I did observe in Week 4:
Week 4 Takeaways
• Ahmad Bradshaw ran well, has always been an excellent blocker and caught the ball well out of the backfield. Andre Brown looked good in limited action, but is not immediately a threat to Bradshaw's job. Given the explosiveness David Wilson showed on kickoffs, I'd imagine the Giants will want to work him into the offensive game plan as well.
• Last week it was Barden, this week it was Domenik Hixon. Eli Manning is capable of making any of these guys into productive receivers and in fact, has four different 100-yard receivers this year (Barden, Hixon, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz). I doubt that's happened very often over a full season on the same team, let alone in four games. Cruz is top-five in fantasy and probably isn't too far off in real life, given his quickness, hands and knack for getting open and running after the catch.
• I know Santonio Holmes was hurt on the play, but you simply cannot just fling the ball onto the ground until you've been touched down or the ref blows the whistle. The only exception to this is if you're dead (and even then it's cowardly). Plus I'm pretty sure someone I was playing had the 49ers' defense.
• I don't know what it is about facing a tough defense in a 38-14 blowout, but it really seems to work for Chris Johnson.
• Stevan Ridley should be a top-10 back except that the Patriots either limit his snaps or get undrafted free after Brandon Bolden involved. It was nice to see Tom Brady still throwing into the end zone up 14 points with four minutes left. That was the Brady I paid for in the Stopa Law Firm auction.
• I started C.J. Spiller over Ridley in one league, and while I regret the result, I'm okay with the decision. Spiller was the No. 1 back in the league heading into Week 4 despite missing three quarters, and he got eight carries (including a goal-line one which he fumbled) and two targets in a blowout. Just before the game there were some Bills beat writers speculating Spiller would be used solely as a decoy, but unless the writer gives his reasons beyond the obvious, you can safely ignore him. Team beat writers know many more facts about their teams than I do, but that doesn't make their speculative predictions any more reliable.
• Incidentally, this game was very similar to last year's in New England when the Bills went up 21-0 and lost 49-21. When Tom Brady solves this defense, he solves the living crap out of it.
• One defense Brady didn't solve at home was solved on the road by Ryan Tannehill. Maybe he'll be Big Ben to Andrew Luck and Griffin's Eli and Philip Rivers. Very happy I plunked down $500 on Brian Hartline for biggest receiving yardage game of the year at a million to one. The 253 has a decent chance to hold up.
• Green Bay was so upset about getting cheated by the refs in Seattle that they crushed a winless team at home by one point. I heard they got cheated again on a should-have-been Darren Sproles fumble, but when you're life and death at home with a team that lost to Carolina, Washington and the Chiefs, you're not doing anything special. So much for the added motivation angle.
• Green Bay spreads the ball around so much that it hasn't had a 100-yard receiver this year. The Giants, by contrast, have five (including Victor Cruz twice).
• A.J. Green demonstrates yet again why you want your superstar receiver to be the only game in town and deal with the added attention than have Roddy White with whom to share targets and occupy defenders.
• Matt Ryan will get credit for his great comeback win over the hapless Panthers in the Georgia dome, but that game was nearly over until he hit on a hail mary to midfield that set up the final drive.
• Michael Turner is not washed up and never really showed signs of being washed up, so I never understood why everyone was so excited about Jacquizz Rodgers this year.
• I actually started Jackie Battle in my Vegas league, but that says more about how bad my team is than my fantasy insight. I would assume Ryan Mathews is a good buy-low target, but you probably can't get him cheaply, and he'll probably get hurt or fumble again.
• Jeremy Maclin was non-existent coming off the hip injury. I always assume if they're probable and playing, they're fine, but maybe I need to downgrade them more. I sat DeSean Jackson for him in one PPR league (same one I sat Ridley for Spiller).
• Trent Richardson looked like a superstar Thursday night. Forget about the stats, he was fast enough to beat the Ravens defense around the corner for a score, pushed defenders back for extra yards after contact and seemed to have excellent hands. He even looked good picking up the blitz. As I said, I'd consider him a top-five back right now, ahead of Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch.
• Brandon Weeden looked awfully competent in Baltimore, delivering accurate balls, making decent decisions for the most part and playing behind what seemed like a pretty good offensive line. Greg Little's drop on a perfect throw with the Browns playing catch-up against a tough rival on the road was beyond inexcusable. Phil Dawson (and Connor Barth) are ridiculously good kickers from long range.
• Anquan Boldin's one of those receivers you have to throw to even when he's not open. Either that or cut him because he's never open.
Things to Look for in Week 5
• The Eagles off three narrow wins and a blowout loss travel to 1-2 Pittsburgh
• Tom Brady draws Peyton Manning at Foxborough
• The winless (yet favored) Saints host the 3-1 Chargers
Beating the Book
Line: Falcons -3 at Redskins
The Redskins are nothing special, but they're probably not a league doormat, and I'll take them at home against a Falcons squad that was life and death against the Panthers last week in the Georgia Dome. Back Washington.
Prediction: Redskins 27 – 24
Last week we lost with the Bills to put us at 2-2 on the season in this forum and 31-30-2 overall. Last year we went 10-7 in this forum and 124-125 overall. Over the last five years we've gone 50-34 in this space. You can read the full Week 4 column here.
Surviving Week 5
Last week, no favorite of note lost, so virtually everyone who was alive in your pools last week is still around. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team||Opponent||%Taken||Vegas ML**||Vegas Odds|
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
These numbers are going to be more skewed and less important this year as many people's pools have ended early, and more second-chance ones are worked into the polling. That means that many people taking the Giants are those who are starting from scratch, and a far lower number have them available in pools that started at the beginning of the season. In any event, assuming you had every team from which to choose, I'd rank them 49ers – tough team on both sides of the ball against a soft Bills defense – Giants – home against an inexperienced Cleveland squad, Texans – arguably the best team in the league, but they have to travel and then Packers – should handle the Colts, but tougher to do in Indy. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full article comes out Wednesday night.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @Chris_Liss
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