Fantasy Football 2013: Early Buy-Low Candidates

By Adam Pfeifer
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports


Guys, I have some horrible, horrible news.

My beloved C.J. Spiller didn’t play very well on Sunday.

Yes, it hurts quite a bit, but I’m not worried. And guess what? You shouldn’t be either. In fact, a lot of big names struggled to get going in Week 1, frustrating fantasy owners everywhere. In all honesty, I am glad that many of them produced little fantasy value this week, as it allows me to attempt to acquire them on the cheap, especially if they continue to disappoint. Take note of this, guys and girls. Buying low is one of the better strategies you can perform in fantasy football, and their are plenty of candidates to target right now.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: Johnson had a quite outing in Week 1 against the vicious Steelers defense, averaging a putrid 2.8 yards per clip, and was only targeted once in the passing game. He did have an impressive 25 carries, but saw a possible touchdown vultured from not Shonn Greene, but Jackie Battle. This week, he gets his second difficult matchup in a row against one of the best run defenses in football in the Texans, who held Ryan Mathews to just 2.5 yards per carry on Monday night. I think if Johnson struggles in this game, it will be the perfect opportunity to buy him low. Remember, last season Johnson rushed for just 45 yards over the first three games, panicking fantasy owners everywhere. However, he did eventually finish the season as the number twelve fantasy running back. The offensive line is much, much better, and Tennessee will have to feature him in the passing game more if they want to have success. Keep an eye on this matchup, and if he struggles, go get him.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots: Ridley’s fumble-itis may be the best thing to ever happen for opposing fantasy owners. Against the Bills on Sunday, Ridley, who had some issues with ball security in the past, put the ball on the ground twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown. After those two fumbles, Ridley was benched for the entire second half, as he watched Shane Vereen play a huge role and post his first career 100-yard rushing game. However, Vereen played that contest with a broken wrist, and has now been place on the short-term injury reserve list, which will keep him sidelined until at least Week 11. Simply put, Ridley, despite his fumbles, has to be the guy for the Patriots. If Vereen were healthy, I firmly believe that Ridley’s value would take a massive hit, but because he isn’t, Ridley is still considered a running back two. The Jets run defense was terrible last season, and I think he bounces back on Thursday night. And even if he doesn’t, you can potentially buy him even lower.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns: Fantasy owners were likely disgusted when they saw that Richardson rushed for just 47 yards on only 13 carries on Sunday. Not exactly the heavy workload that many had in mind for T-Rich in 2013. However, fret not, as the Browns were just easing him in slowly after some offseason bumps and bruises. Cleveland, and especially Norv Turner, have big plans for their featured back, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts seeing 25-28 total touches per contest, which will result in monster fantasy production. His matchup against the Ravens this week isn’t as scary as people think. This defensive unit isn’t nearly as elite as it once was, and in two games against his division rival last year, Richardson totaled 240 total yards and a score.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Man, people were probably expecting a 145-yard, two-touchdown performance in a potential shootout against the Giants on Sunday night. However, due to suffering a mild foot sprain and consistent double teams, Bryant was held to just four catches for 22 yards on eight targets. I’m not worried, though, as the Giants, who are obviously very familiar with Bryant and the Cowboys, likely just game-planned around shutting down Dez first and foremost, which is probably why running back DeMarco Murray caught an impressive eight balls. As for the foot, Bryant practiced fully on Thursday, and as long as he is out on the field, he has top-three upside for the rest of the season. Quarterback Tony Romo has a crazy rapport with his number one wideout, starting from the second half of last season and up until the preseason. If you can get Dez for less than what he is worth, it’ll be the equivalent to stealing.

David Wilson, New York Giants: Wilson owners probably need to repair the damage to their house caused by his two fumbles. After opening the 2012 season with ball security issues, Wilson wasted no time reminding the world, putting the ball on the ground twice, and ultimately being benched by head coach Tom Coughlin. Combine that with the fact that the Giants brought back a familiar face in Brandon Jacobs, and Wilson owners are likely almost over the edge. Good. I’ll take advantage of that, and you should too. It’s clear that Wilson is by far the most talented back on the team, and Coughlin stated that “we need him.” I don’t see Jacobs taking over goal line duties, so with Andre Brown still sidelined, it’ll be Wilson getting the majority of the carries. You know, unless he fumbles again. I mean, seriously. How about a pair of gloves or something?

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

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