I am sure that many of you, like I, have been eye-balling this week for a while now. The cruel taste of injury, defeat, and Key Stone Light is fresh on our lips and now we are greeted with the one thing that can make this situation even worse. Bye weeks. In my own league, due to a heap (not Todd) of unfortunate circumstances, I am starting Texans FB/TE James Casey in my RB2 slot this week. I cannot explain the pain this causes me when I look at my team…I’m fairly certain it has already taken a month off the end of my life. Enough about me, let’s talk about YOU! Your league, especially if it’s 12 teams or deeper, has teams in similar situations. This makes the trade market even more volatile, as injuries, byes, and most importantly, the record of the team you’re dealing with all impact how a deal is made. Let’s check out some players and trade situations of note heading into week five, as well as a strategy to try out if your team is in need of boost.
Atlanta Passing Game: The two biggest pieces of the Atlanta passing game haven’t provided the type of returns that fantasy players were hoping for. Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez have been great, but the fantasy point totals of Matt Ryan have been lagging and Roddy White has been solid, but unspectacular. Look at the numbers a bit deeper and you’ll find a great reason to rip open that Velcro wallet of yours and buy these two Falcons. Matt Ryan has thrown a whopping six touchdowns this season, with only ONE to a wide receiver (Big Tony G has been bellied up to the touchie buffet). Ryan’s yardage totals have actually been decent, as he’s thrown for more yards than Eli, Vick, Schaub and Fitzpatrick. When the touchdowns starts pouring in, you better be there with your bowl and spoon.
Try this: Acquiring Roddy White may be difficult because he still carries great name value and hasn’t been too bad this year. I would talk to the owner of White and play up the Julio Jones situation. Casually ask White’s owner what he thinks about Jones’ big week and strong start to 2011. If there is even a hint of anxiety, start with a package like Jeremy Maclin or Brandon Marshall and Ryan Grant. Let them know that this new found “depth” will help them through bye weeks, while you take on Roddy’s “risk.” As for Ryan, see if a hot QB like Freeman or even Fitzpatrick will give the other owner a desired change at QB, while you pick up a nice value.
Ryan Torain: Old Shanny and the ‘skins running game have spun a dangerous web for fantasy players. Getting involved in this situation may seem like a good idea, but listen to my boy Short Round when he says, “Bad move, Doctor Jones!” Everyone is giddy because there seems to be a lead back available on the wire, but check yourself before you…you know the rest. Hightower is banged up but not dead, Helu is still on the team and Torain’s health issues have been well documented. If you were able to snag Torain this week off the wire, attempt to dump him now at his peak value.
Try this: Check out which teams in your league will be crushed with bye weeks in week six. Torain is on bye this week, but could fill in for those teams. McGahee, Chris Johnson, Matthews, Wells, etc.. will all be on byes, so see if their owners are looking ahead to that dilemma and would like to purchase Torain fresh off a big game. See if you can weasel yourself a nice WR2 out of the deal.
Brandon Marshall: This guy has struggled since the Dolphin’s week one shootout with New England, and recently lost Chad Henne for the year. Some, maybe most, would argue that this isn’t much of a loss, but I don’t want any part of this situation. Miami has averaged just a hair over 200 passing yards per game in weeks 2-4, and now they are starting Matt Moore. No thank you. Attempt to rid yourself of Marshall at once.
Try This: When attempting to trade a player in this situation, focus on the player’s total stats when presenting him to a potential trade partner. Despite his struggles since week one, Marshall is still 15th in the NFL in receiving yards. Play up that stat in trade talks and see if you can swipe a mid-level RB in return (aim for a Blount type, but be flexible) before this guy’s value plummets further.
The “Drop Kick”: This is a little strategy I began using this week in my league. If you’re in a deep league or aboard the “Injury/Bye Week Express” as I am, it can be a creative way to manipulate your roster to give you more options. I am a subscriber to the idea of not drafting a kicker if my draft is more than one week before the start of the season, and the “Drop Kick” strategy functions the same way. The idea is that kickers are kickers, and attempting to pick the best one each week is like trying to pick a song at a Karaoke bar…no matter which one you pick, it will probably suck. By dropping your kicker early in the week and adding one additional position player, you have the chance to stumble upon a player whose value increases due to breaking news later in the week. It doesn’t seem like much, but one practice set back/suspension/press conference remark can drastically change the way a player is viewed. In a world where teams are hammered by injuries and byes, any opportunity to snag a player who can contribute should be taken advantage of. Employ the “Drop Kick” to be ahead of the curve…
Try this: Drop your kicker. Now. This is the easy part. Then, stroll over to your league’s waiver wire and get your search on. Look for players who may gain value as the week progresses. Situations such as Rashard Mendenhall’s Injury, Cedric Benson’s impending suspension, or the void left in the Texan’s offense after Andre Johnson’s hammy explosion, all provide opportunities to take a flier heading into the weekend. Keep an eye on any breaking news involving the player after Thursday-Saturday practices/treatments, then re-evaluate your squad on Sunday morning. As you set your lineup, pick the least valuable player on your bench, cut him, and add your kicker for the week. If the player you add is equally as meaningless on Sunday morning as he was on Tuesday, then give him the axe and add whatever kicker is available. No big deal. If your squad is in desperation mode, an additional lottery ticket each week may be worth the work.
Now get out there and kick some ass this weekend. If you do try the “drop kick” strategy, make sure you set your alarm, drop an Advil or six, and remember to add a kicker. I’m talking to you, West coasters…that 10 a.m. start comes early after closing down the local watering hole on Saturday night.