Three weeks are in the books, and the fantasy world has been repeatedly smacking the snooze button on this season. Fantasy team owners everywhere (including myself) have told themselves, “Ah it’s just one week, Foster will get healthy soon,” or “Chris Johnson is about to break out, I can feel it.” We kept hitting the snooze button, hoping for just one more week so our first round picks would wake up. Well, folks, week three got me beginning to think we may not see the light at the end of the tunnel for some of these players. Dig up your draft board from this year. How many of those first and second round running backs would you be happy to own right now? Mendenhall? CJ2K? Gore? Foster? Ya, me either. This week, let’s take a step back from attempting to time the running back stock market, and focus on improving our wide receivers. As the running back landscape gets shakier by the week, every team could benefit from an improved set of pass catchers.
Hakeem Nicks: Nicks is a great trade target at the moment. He struggled against the tough Philly secondary in week 3, which may make him attainable at a more reasonable price. Although he always comes with the risk of injury, Nicks is still the top target for Peyton’s dorky little brother (team lead in targets by 10) and faces a juicy parade of pass defenses in the upcoming weeks. ARZ, SEA, BUF, MIA, and NE are wrapped up around the Giant’s week seven bye, and that sounds like points to me.
Try this: Attempt to rid yourself of a running back that is underperforming (or not performing). This may be a good spot for the old “pupu platter” discussed in week two’s Smash Back. Throw out a package of Knowshon Moreno and a high end WR2 or maybe try to throw Tolbert in with a decent wide out and see how close you can get. I’d also try to dump a guy like Shonn Greene or Beanie Wells here as well. Start low and work your way up to something reasonable.
Miles Austin: After watching the Monday Night circus put on by the Cowboys offense, I am really trying to get my mitts on Miles Austin. With Monday evening full of bad routes, miscommunication, and horribly timed snaps, I fully expected Jerry Jones to install a red and white striped tent over Cowboys Stadium. Seriously, I was waiting for Romo to swing a screen pass out to the bearded lady while Tashard Choice swallowed a sword. It is obvious that Miles Austin is sorely missed in this offense, and Tony Romo doesn’t trust the fill-in wide outs one bit. In addition, whether it was injury driven or not, Dez was not himself either. Austin had a humungous game prior to his hammy injury and will be right back at it in week six. Hopefully Austin’s owner is strapped with other injury concerns and gets antsy enough to fork him over.
Try this: Find the team that owns Miles Austin and check out their matchups in weeks four and five. Analyze those matchups and pick out areas where Austin’s owner will struggle. Maybe they play a 3-0 team in week four, and then have a couple wide receivers on bye in week 5. Exploit that in your trade talks with Austin’s owner and see if that sways them to dish Austin to you. If you can survive without a wide out for two more weeks, offer up someone like Steve Smith (car). Add in the Cam hype factor and maybe you can squeak out Smith and a throw in for Austin if the other owner is in a tight spot.
Antonio Brown: Brown has been quietly lurking in the shadows for quite some time now. With young guys like D. Moore, E. Decker, and AJ Green getting all the attention, Brown has been getting his T-Boz on and creeping onto the fantasy scene in the Steel City. Brown is a mere four targets behind Mike Wallace on the season. Four. Granted, he hasn’t turned them into colored scarves or rabbits just yet, but that will come. Don’t sit around and let this guy be on someone else’s roster when he blows up.
Try this: This is a classic case where I like to shell out a guy who just had a great week for a guy who is about to break out. Any of this week’s top waiver adds will be a great starting point. Torrey Smith, Victor Cruz, Brandon Pettigrew are all names to start with. The guy who has Brown deep on his bench will likely be blinded by the recent production of one week flashes like Smith and Cruz. Start there and try to snag this emerging wide out.
Sidney Rice: Sidney Rice is alive! After missing weeks one and two with a shoulder issue, Rice had 8 grabs for 109 yards in week three, proving that Tavaris Jackson can’t suck the fantasy life out of every player, try as he might. Rice was target 10 times, which is a nice sign, but the most important factor here is that he wasn’t listed on the Seattle injury report for week four. The “stench of Seahawk” is still stuck to the offensive players in Seattle, so this week may be your best chance to acquire this Seattle wide out.
Try this: The team that owns Rice had to make other plans at WR for the first two weeks of the season, so it is quite possible that they have acquired some depth at that spot. If Rice is amongst a hoard of other wide outs on that team’s roster, bring that point up in trade conversation. Ignore the fact that Rice now has some value and emphasize that the team is stacked up at WR and a little weak at another position. Check to see what RB/TE/QB on your roster is of interest for the other owner and attempt to swing a deal that addresses a need for them, and gets you Rice, who will dominate the targets in Seattle.
Keeper Conundrum: This one goes out to all of my brothers and sisters in keeper/dynasty leagues. At 0-3, or perhaps an underwhelming 1-2, it’s easy to look at the loaded rosters in your league and start conjuring up ways to dump one of your star players for a tantalizing package of keeper prospects. Every time you’ve watched Chris Johnson get bottled up for a one yard loss, you’ve inched closer and closer to throwing in the towel on your season. I have witnessed this in my league already this season and would like everyone to take a step back from their computer, or put down the iPhone, and understand that it’s only been THREE WEEKS. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly is a time to pull the plug and start analyzing other options, but now is not that time. Every league has a team that makes the playoffs with the 2nd lowest point total, or the team that has 74.6 points against per week for the season….why can’t that be you? Whether it is through bye week good fortune or simply luck, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine even the worst of teams scraping out a few wins during the first few bye weeks and clawing their way to the middle of the pack. Give it a few more weeks for the standings to officially shake themselves out. Then teams will be in full playoff “buy” mode, and if your team still sucks, you can finally change that cute Corgi puppy calendar over to 2012 and dump some gasoline on your fire sale.