Buying Low on Early Fantasy Football Duds
Early Buy Low Options for Fantasy Football
Drafting the best team before the season starts is one thing, but (as is the case in “real” football) it is the adjustments you make along the way that ultimately determine your fate. This is where you need to take the emotion out of decision making and refusing to dismiss a player because of a disappointing two game stretch.
These players came into 2013 with some big time expectations but have yet to live up to them. It is important to remember that this group of players are just as talented as they were at the beginning of this season, they are simply off to slow starts and may be available at a significant discount. The odds are good that the owners that have been let down by these starters are struggling and may be looking to make a move, putting you in the perfect position to increase the overall talent level of your roster. Ideally, you’ll be able to center a trade around sell high candidates from your roster in order to land one or more of these buy low options.
That isn’t to say that these players are going to be easy to acquire, just easier than they should be. It is important to remember that the fantasy football season is now essentially 14 weeks long, as the first two weeks are now in the past. These players can help you more moving forward than many players that they are currently ranked behind (I’ll give you a handful of such players at the bottom of each slide), and fantasy football is a game where the successful owners are the ones looking through the windshield, not the rear-view.
Buying Low on Tony Romo
Tony Romo has yet to find a groove, but the opportunities have been there (fifth in total number of drop backs) and his past tells us that the statistics will follow. Following a week in which he was crunched between linemen, he had a rough fantasy week against a talented Kansas City Chiefs team at Arrowhead. Is that really a good reason to dismiss his consistent fantasy production (averaging over 4,500 passing yards and 28 touchdowns in his last three seasons in which he played at least seven games)?
We are only two weeks into the season, but we have gotten a decent idea as to what defenses are going to excel at stopping the pass - and none of them are on the Cowboys schedule. The NFC East as a whole has shown no ability to slow down the pass, and with the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints also on the schedule, Romo’s best fantasy days of 2013 are yet to come. He’s got a talented group of pass catchers and a coaching staff that clearly trusts him to air it out (91 pass attempts thus far), a combination that I trust very much in the long term.
Players Romo will out-produce that are currently ranked ahead of him: Matt Schaub, Alex Smith, and Sam Bradford
Buying Low on Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson has touched the ball 38 times for 156 yards and zero touchdowns this season, not exactly the numbers we were expecting after a very impressive rookie campaign that saw him 1,317 yards and 12 scores. Before you get too worked up about the poor showing thus far, don’t rule out the opponents (Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens) or the impact that the suspension of Josh Gordon has played in the Cleveland Browns' ability to threaten defenses vertically.
Brandon Weeden (thumb) is expected to miss at least one game, which should ensure an increase in touches for TRich. If you trusted the talent of the Browns back before the season, the increased workload should be seen as a great opportunity. Three quarters of the NFC North are on the schedule over the next four weeks, and that's another great way for a running back to develop a rhythm. Richardson didn’t come out of the gates fast last season (45 carries for 113 yards in three of his first four games), but he got stronger as the season progressed. He’s simply too talented to give up on this early and I like him as a top ten back sooner rather than later.
Players Richardson will out-produce that are currently ranked ahead of him: Daryl Richardson, Rashard Mendenhall, and Knowshon Moreno
Buying Low on CJ Spiller
The Buffalo Bills will take last week’s comeback victory on the shoulders of rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, but they know that their long term success will hinge on their ability to run the ball and take the pressure off of their young signal caller. Fred Jackson has cut into C.J. Spiller’s workload in a big way thus far (56/44 percent touch split in Spiller’s favor thus far), but as the season progresses, I expect the role of the 32-year old veteran to gradually shrink.
Playing in upstate New York makes running the ball a necessity as the colder months approach, potentially the reasoning behind Spiller’s early season “pitch count”. Buffalo has a string of five consecutive strong pass defending teams on the schedule, so your window to buy low could very well be closing soon. Look at your preseason rankings - where did you have Spiller ranked? Are fewer early season carries really going to make you change that in a big way? He thrived in warm weather last season (over 140 yards per game) and spends two of the final three fantasy weeks in Florida. Send an offer to the Spiller owner and see if you can’t acquire the elite talent at even a minor discount.
Players Spiller will out-produce that are currently ranked ahead of him: Jackson, DeMarco Murray, and Darren McFadden
Buying Low on Lance Moore
If you’re a Lance Moore owner, you probably don’t need to hear the stats (three catches for 38 yards). Coming off his first 1,000-yard season, Moore has been a disappointment in every sense of the word, so what has changed?
In a word, nothing. Moore is exactly who we thought he was: a streaky receiver that plays with an elite quarterback that will turn in just as many poor games as he does top 20 performances. It just so happens that the stinkers have come to start the season, something the savvy owner will realize is part of Moore’s repertoire but may cause the casual fantasy player to panic. This, my friends, is when you pounce.
11 catches for 203 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Those are the cumulative statistics from Moore’s worst five games during his breakout 2012 season. Do a little math and that means that for nearly one third of the season, he averaged 2.2 catches for 40.6 yards. Three grabs for 38 yards doesn’t seem so bad anymore, does it? The New Orleans Saints still rely heavily on the pass game and play little defense, the perfect formula for producing multiple fantasy studs. You may have to swallow a few more of these performances as the season goes, but safe money is on better days ahead.
Players Moore will out-produce that are currently ranked ahead of him: Based on my WR3 projection, I like him to out-produce about 30 receivers he’s currently ranked behind. They include: Cecil Shorts, Andre Roberts, and Santana Moss
Buying Low on Torrey Smith
We all know that Torrey Smith can stretch the field and that Joe Flacco can throw the deep ball with anybody in the league, so why the slow start for the Baltimore Ravens' burner?
He’s faced two pretty stout defenses in the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns that have made him their focus when it comes to pass defense. This is a new role for Smith and will take some adjusting too, but Flacco has shown faith in his top receiver and has targeted him 22 times in two weeks despite the blanket coverage. The injury on opening night to Jacoby Jones also gave defenses one more reason to shade their safety over Smith’s way, but as Marlon Brown continues to gain experience and prove a viable chain moving threat, I expect teams to respect him and thus play a bit looser with Smith.
The Ravens have expressed confidence in Bernard Pierce following the Ray Rice (strained hip flexor) injury, but the offense will count on the passing game now more than ever should their stud tailback miss extended time. The scoring has always been a bit hit or miss (went through a five game scoreless streak last season), but with a nice target count, the touchdowns will eventually follow. The Ravens are coming up on a nice three game stretch of weak pass defenses and end the fantasy season with three straight favorable matchups.
Players Smith will out-produce that are currently ranked ahead of him: Brian Hartline, Stevie Johnson, and Hakeem Nicks