Hello Razzballers! Sorry the article is up late- I was experiencing some technical difficulties! This week, the “buy lows” and “sell highs” are heavily influenced by playoff matchups. Some of the sell highs are very talented and valuable players, but have brutal playoff schedules and other undesirable features. It’s becoming that time of year where you have to worry about playoff matchups, and I’m sure you can get a pretty penny in return for some of these guys. As usual, please give me and my colleague follows on Twitter- we will be more than happy to answer questions there as well as here: @AsherMolk and @BraudeM
ALSO: IN YOUR COMMENTS/QUESTIONS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHEN THE TRADE DEADLINE FOR YOUR LEAGUE IS. If most of your deadlines are passing, then there isn’t much point in continuing this column if you cannot trade anymore this year- I’d rather focus my efforts on helping you guys in other ways (matchups, start/sits, etc.) But if there are a decent number of people still trading, I will happily continue this column!
Buying low and selling high is quite simple: getting players whose actual value is more than their perceived value, and trading away players whose actual value is less than their perceived value. This works best on impatient owners who just look at box scores, and don’t actually watch players or pay attention to their situation.
Before we get started, there are a few common pieces of advice that I gave to many readers about trading and adding players. I’d like to share them with you:
- Trading away two decent/good players for one great player is almost always a great idea. Usually, the person getting the one (presumably better) player wins the deal.
- NEVER lead with your best or final trade offer! Instead, start small, even offer deals they probably won’t do to start with. This doesn’t mean offer Mason Crosby for Ryan Mathews, but you never know what a person may say yes to, it’s often quite surprising. If you lead with your best offer, you have nowhere to go but down. Start by being a little optimistic…
- If there are quality players on your waiver wire that you want but you do not know whom to drop, let go of your kicker and/or defense for that player. You can always make a trade to make roster space, or make a game-time decision on whom you want to drop. A lot can happen in a week, and you don’t want to miss out on the next Miles Austin or Brandon Lloyd just because you think Sebastian Janikowski will average 1 more point per game than Olindo Mare.
- Target owners who are close to the bottom of the standings – they are probably the most willing to do a desperation move in order to shake up their team. Also, make sure to target players the owner is likely frustrated with.
And we’re off with some playoff buy lows and sell highs:
Santana Moss, WR, WAS and Fred Davis, TE, WAS- I know its odd to like two pass catchers on the Redskins, but hear me out. As many of you remember, Santana Moss broke his hand in week 7, and hasn’t seen the field since. But when he was on the gridiron, he was one of the few bright spots in Washington this year. For the 5 games he played in full, he averaged a very respectable 4.6 catches for 57 yards with two scores as Sexy Rexy Grossman’s favorite target. There is a very real chance that he returns by week 12, and it’s all but a guarantee that he returns for the playoffs. In said playoffs, he gets the 32nd ranked pass defense in week 14, the 17th ranked pass defense in week 15, and the 30th ranked pass defense in week 16. With Leonard Hankerson limping to injured reserve, Santana Moss is the only playmaker at WR for the Redskins. At this point, you would probably have to give very little to acquire him. Heck, he may even be on the waiver wire. But it’s more than possible that he gives decent WR3 numbers down the stretch, and at a very low price. As for Fred Davis, he’s been a TE1 most of the year- in 5 out of 9 games, he’s had at least 80 receiving yards. More good news coming up: here are his remaining opponents’ ranks in regards to fantasy points given up to tight ends- 2nd most, 4th most, 8th most, 23rd most, 17th most, and 13th most. Moss and Davis are the only two dynamic pass catching options in Washington, and if nothing else, Rex Grossman and John Beck know this- Moss is averaging 8.2 targets per games he’s finished, and Davis is averaging over 7 targets per game this year.
Wes Welker, WR, NE and Aaron Hernandez, TE, NE- After a historic start to the season, Welker has come back to Earth. Having surpassed 46 yards just once the past 4 games, some impatient owners may think its time to sell. But this is why we target these kinds of owners- its very possible his superhuman September set expectations too high. The kind of paces he was on were unsustainable. Now is the perfect time to strike- the Patriots passing game is once again rolling on all cylinders. Defenses will now be forced to focus more on Gronkowski- his most recent hot streak can only help Welker. The cherries on top? The Patriots are obviously in the thick of the playoff race and won’t even get the opportunity to rest their starters in the fantasy playoff weeks. In weeks 13-16, they get the 21st, 9th, 20th, and 25th ranked pass defenses. He will be a top 3 WR1 during those weeks, and he may be available at a bargain right now. All of this applies to Aaron Hernandez (who has appeared as a buy low before) as well. Its becoming clear that Gronkowski is beginning to pass Hernandez in the pecking order, but that is subject to change. Tom Brady will throw to whoever is open, and Hernandez is capable of huge games because he creates matchup problems and unlike Gronkowski he never, ever blocks.
James Starks, RB, GB- Watch the Green Bay Packers play, and try to pry your eyes from Aaron Rodgers for a second (I know, its very tough). Take a second and compare how Ryan Grant looks and how James Starks looks, its like night and day- Grant looks like he is moving in slow motion compared to Starks. The Packers are not stupid, and they realize that Starks needs to be featured more in the offense. This is evidenced by their carry distribution since October: 37 for Grant, and 77 for Starks. Their reception distribution since October is equally telling: 4 for Grant, 16 for Starks. There are two more factors working in Stark’s favor- the weather and the schedule. Even Aaron Rodgers (probably) cannot keep the dial above freezing or maybe even above 0 once December begins- this will force them to give the ground game at least a few more opportunities per game. The schedule works in favor of that as well: in weeks 13-16, the Packers get the following ranked rushing defenses: 20th, 25th, 26th, and 13th. Starks will likely lose goal line duties to Kuhn, but look no further if you are searching for a fantastic flex option for the stretch run.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG- Before I get into this analysis, I want to say that I absolutely love Hakeem Nicks. He is an unbelievable talent with tremendous after the catch ability, athleticism and body control- he is an upper-tier WR1 on draft day and throughout the regular season. But there are a few causes for concern here. First of all, he has suffered the dreaded hamstring strain recently- something that is always prone to reaggravation. Secondly (and just as worrisome, if not more) is his schedule. In weeks 14, 15 and 16 he faces some tough pass defenses: the Cowboys (allowing the 9th least fantasy points allowed to wide receivers), the Redskins (6th least) and the Jets (2nd least)- it’s optimal to not have your WR1 on Revis Island in championship week. Usually, a plethora of targets and force-feeding can make up for some of these problems, but that’s yet another issue. Why force the ball to Nicks when Manningham, Victor Cruz, and even Jake Ballard are all playing at very high levels? Eli Manning knows this: on the season, he’s targeted Nicks only once more than Victor Cruz and only 3 more times than Manningham. This doesn’t mean go trade away Nicks for nothing, he is still a great guy to have. I’d just be trying to turn him into a more reliable option with a better schedule.
Frank Gore, RB, SF- Like Hakeem Nicks, I really do like Frank Gore. After a slow start, he lead many fantasy teams to W’s when he went 5 straight games with 100+ rushing yards and 4 scores. But he has almost identical problems to Nicks. He has a nagging ankle injury and a knee bruise, and the injuries aren’t likely to stop there- a 28 year old RB with the kind of tread on his tires and bruising running style are prone to dings and dents like this. His schedule isn’t exactly the easiest either: although he gets Arizona in week 14 (average run defense), he gets the top 7 Steelers run D in week 15 and the underrated 12th ranked Seahawks run defense in championship week. Also, Jim Harbaugh has publicly said that its possible that Gore’s workload could be reduced down the stretch, hinting that he has a lot of confidence (and rightly so) in explosive rookie Kendall Hunter. Again, do not undersell him- he’s got lots of value. But do not be afraid to pull the trigger if the price is right.
Steven Jackson, RB, STL- With the arrival of Josh McDaniels and the amount of wear and tear Jackson had been through, many folks (including myself) were a little down on Steven Jackson at the beginning of this year. But he rewound the clock, averaging over 100 total yards per game as the passing game sputtered. But the schedule becomes absolutely brutal from here on out (viewer discretion is advised): Seattle’s 12th ranked rush defense in week 11, then 21st ranked Arizona, 1st ranked San Francisco, 12th ranked Seattle again, 2nd ranked Cincinnati, and then 7th ranked Pittsburgh in championship week (and for good measure, 1st ranked SanFran again in week 17). Besides Brandon Lloyd, there is no semblance of any reliable passing game weapons on the Rams, which will allow defenses to dare St. Louis to beat them through the air. This is not a running back I would want to count on to carry me through the stretch run, even as an RB2. There are simply too many great rush defenses to overcome here.
Here are a few more tidbits:
Keep Buying/More Buy Lows- Mario Manningham, Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin, Roddy White, Jonathan Stewart, Michael Vick (very risky, but has the potential for dominance that could take you to the promised land), Cedric Benson (I hate his talent and I mentioned him as a sell high, but his schedule is a dream)
Keep Selling- Marshawn Lynch, Plaxico Burress, Jackie Battle, Maurice Jones-Drew
Stop Buying/Not Buying- Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews (still at least an RB2, but injury risk and playoff schedule hurts him), Robert Meachem, Harry Douglas, Jerricho Cotchery, Chris Ogbonnaya, Dwayne Bowe (Palko hurts), Brent Celek, Jacoby Jones, LeGarrette Blount, Vernon Davis (blocks way too much, one game with over 47 yards)
Stop Selling/Not Selling– Demarco Murray, Cedric Benson (see above), Tony Gonzalez, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Cam Newton, Michael Turner (hate to admit this one, but his schedule is really good…I’d definitely still deal him at any sort of decent price though), Arian Foster (he’s only on here for this: Don’t trade him for anything- Schaub’s injury doesn’t hurt his value much if at all), Carson Palmer, Denarius Moore, Antonio Brown, Chris Johnson (not convinced of turnaround, but the dreamiest of schedules)
If this is indeed my last article, it has been an absolute pleasure writing these articles, answering questions and hearing feedback- I am sincere in saying this. I know I wasn’t right 100% of the time, but I am incredibly appreciative of you guys being supportive, and I hope I have helped you all in some way. Hopefully I’ll write more this year, and happy trading!