In hockey, three goals is called a hat trick. In basketball, three 3-pointers is 9 points. In baseball, three home runs is a monster day. In football, three touchdowns is now known as a touchdonnell! Surprisingly, there have already been 6 touchdonnells through the first 4 weeks of the NFL season. Julius Thomas in Week 1, Antonio Gates and Brandon Marshall in Week 2, none in Week 3, and Jamaal Charles, Matt Asiata and Larry Donnell this past week. Congratulations to all fantasy owners that reaped the rewards of these players’ performances, and my condolences to those that had them on their bench.
Those of you that have read some of my other posts will know that I am not a big fan of projections. At their core, they are the fantasy sports version of fortune telling, and I don’t know about you, but I consider anyone that claims to be able to look into a crystal ball or use tarot cards to predict the future, to be full of sh*t. I have studied the art of sleight of hand since I was about 13 and I can guarantee you that what a few might think is “magic”, is not. It’s the result of countless hours of practice, routining and misdirection. With that said, it might surprise a few of you that I am about to shuffle a deck of cards and make a few predictions of my own. However, instead of pulling some numbers out of my
a** hat, I am going to use current stats to project future stats. It’s a little trick I like to call “on pace”.
It’s really very simple. If a player has 2 touchdowns in the first 4 games, then the laws of math say he is on pace for 8 touchdowns over 16 games. Sixteen games divided by 4 games played times 2 touchdowns (carry the one) is 8 touchdowns. Or a touchdown short of 3 touchdonnells. Now, this can prove to be a bit of an illusion early in the season. For example, through the first 2 games Julius Thomas had 4 touchdowns. That would put him on pace for 32 touchdowns. If he ends the season with 32 touchdowns, not only will I go buy a case of Zima and drink them, but I’ll go the nearest psychic and pay double to get my palm read… naked.
With a quarter of the season in the books (short of the 6 teams that were on a bye this past week), I feel this is the first point where the stats start to show some trends. It is still early and there will likely be plenty of misleading numbers, but I think this would be a good time to examine what we have and see if we can identify some buy low, sell high candidates.
Rashad Jennings – Rashad’s previous season high in carries is 163 which he accomplished last year in 15 games with Oakland. He currently has 81 carries in the first 4 games of this season. That puts him on pace for 324 carries. When I see that number I only see one of two things occurring, an injury or a reduced workload or perhaps both. Either way I’d grab Andre Williams if you have Jennings, or if you have a spare roster spot. I think we are going to see a slightly reduced workload, attempting to keep him fresh. I am high on Jennings this year. I love what I’ve seen so far and see him as a very good running back the rest of the season, but I think his value is at a high right now and if you have needs elsewhere he could provide you with some decent bargaining power.
Knile Davis – Davis looked good on Monday night in between Jamaal Charles‘ demonstrations of why he was the top ranked running back coming into the season. And he looked even better the last two weeks when Charles was out. Unforunately for Knile, Jamaal cannot be stopped by a high ankle sprain. While Davis still has a reasonable amount of value, he is much more valuable to the Charles owner. If I had him I would certainly look to make a deal with whomever has Charles.
Matt Asiata – After a 3 touchdown week, Asiata is looking good. However he better look in his rear view mirror because Jerrick McKinnon is bearing down on him with his explosive speed. While I think Asiata is very startable, do I think he will finish the season with 12 touchdowns? Nope. How about 444 yards receiving? Probably not. Now is the time I might try and package him with a wide receiver and try and upgrade one of my starters.
Jordy Nelson – How dare I include Jordy Nelson in this list. Let’s look at the numbers. He is on pace for 1836 yards which would be more than anyone in a single season except Calvin Johnson‘s 1,964 yards in 2012 and Jerry Rice’s 1,848 in 1995. Jordy looks good, but those are some lofty expectations. At this point he should be able to command a king’s ransom that could propel your team to the top. Strike while the iron is hot.
Steve Smith Sr. – Who could have predicted Smith’s rise to the top? Right now Steve Sr. is killing it. Right now might be the key. He is on pace for 1716 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. Steve is 35 years old. The most receving yards he’s tallied is 1,563 back in 2005 when he was 26 years young. He did score 12 touchdowns that same year. Did Smith find the fountain of youth? Did he get his hands on a flux capacitor powered time machine? Both scenarios are unlikey, as is his continuing to put up these kinds of numbers. SSSS. Sell Steve Smith Senior.
Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders is on pace to net 1,041 more receiving yards that last year. That’s quite the jump! There are a lot of mouths to feed in Denver, especially now that Wes Welker is back. I think Sanders will still be a good option moving forward, but not as good as he was the first 3 weeks. If I can sell high, which is legal in Colorado, I am doing it.
LeSean McCoy – McCoy and Charles were the consensus preseason top running backs. One of them, despite an injury, has looked good. The other, LeSean McCoy, has not. Actually he hasn’t look bad, he’s looked awful. Fantasy owners that drafted him as their top running back are not happy. The only thing worse would have been drafting Adrian Peterson instead. Let’s take a step back for a moment. LeSean didn’t all of sudden lose his skills. He’s on pace to rush for 768 yards. That’s 839 yards less than last year. With only 1 touchdown in the first 4 games, he is on pace for just 4 on the season. These numbers just don’t add up. While you won’t be able to get him at a huge discount, 80 cents on the dollar would be a nice bargain for one of the best backs in the game.
Eddie Lacy – Coming into the season everyone was saying how good Lacy was last year without Aaron Rodgers and how much better he was going to be this year with him. So far, so wrong. But I’m not buying it. He’s on pace for a measley 644 yards rushing. That’s about half of last year’s output and would put him between Cam Newton and Joique Bell last year. Lacy finally found the endzone last weekend. That puts him on pace for 4 on the season. He had 11 last year. These numbers scream buy low opportunity. Get ready for Eddie!
Reggie Bush – While I am not the biggest Bush fan (they went out of style in the 80s), I see value in him the rest of the season. I the last 3 seasons Reggie has averaged 1,026 yards on the ground. He is currently on pace for 592 yards. Unless he’s really getting shaved down, I see some value there and if you can bundle him in a deal, I say go for it.
Frank Gore – I think people are pretty down on Gore right now. Everyone is just wating for Carlos Hyde to usurp him. Well guess what, Gore’s a starting running back on a good team that’s on pace for 1,032 yards which is just about equal to his past 3 years average. He’s only scored 1 touchdown so far this season. Last year he had 9. Both years before that he had 8. I smell a couple of touchdowns in Frank’s near future. Seems like a good buy to me.
Joique Bell – In 2012 Bell caught 52 passes for 485 yards. In 2013 he caught 53 for 547. In 2014 he is on pace for 36 receptions and 292 yards in the air. That seems like quite the drop off. While I am not saying he will bounce all the way back, I think he could be in line for a minor correction and I wouldn’t mind that happening while in my lineup.
Brandon Marshall – Seeing Brandon Marshall in a buy low column makes about as much sense as ice cream in the winter. Or does it? Who doesn’t love a little ice cream year round? Marshall has averaged 1,248 receiving yards over the last 7 years. Last year he reeled in 1,295 yards. This year he is on pace for 576! He has been hampered by an injury, but I still think he’s got a good chunk of yards ahead of him this season. But ranked in the top 20 wide receivers so far, he’s not going to obtainable cheaply. So maybe he doesn’t belong in the “buy low” category. Perhaps he belongs in a “more to come” list.
Torrey Smith – Last year Torrey had 1,128 yards receiving. This year he has 138 through 4 games. That puts him on pace for 552. That’s less than half of last year’s output. I don’t know that he turns it all the way around, but there has got to be more in the tank, no? Torrey’s yards per catch (17.3) are on par with his career average (17.2), but his targets are down as he’s on pace for 84 while last year he saw 139. It seems like everytime Flacco throws the ball to a Smith it’s thrown to Steve. Considering Steve is in my “sell high”, perhaps the law of averages will even this puppy out.
Vincent Jackson – Jackson’s yards per catch is at an all time low at 10.3 yards per catch. His career average, like Torrey Smith, is 17.2 ypc. His targets and receptions are down a bit, but not significantly. What is down is his yards after catch. His career average is just under 4. This year he’s at 1.6. If Vincent can start picking up some extra yards after the catch, he could be a nice buy low candidate.
Demaryius Thomas – Demaryius falls into the same category as Brandon Marshall. In 2012 he caught 94 of 141 targets for 1,434 yards. The following year he caught 92 of 143 targets for 1,430 yards. These two seasons are nearly identical. Fast forward to this year and he is on pace to catch 69 of 144 targets for 752 yards. Targets on track, receptions down about 2 per game. But what’s really down is his average yards per catch. His career average is 15.2 and he is current average is 10.8. Lastly Thomas is on track to score 5 touchdowns. Last year he had 14 and 10 the year before that. If Demaryius is going to end this year like the last 2, I want him on my roster.
Keep’em If You’ve Got’em
DeMarco Murray – DeMarco Murray is on pace to rush for 2,136 yards and score 20 rushing touchdowns. Holy Cowboy Batman! 2,136 yards would be a single season record. Do I think he sets the mark? No. Am I selling high? Nope. I am riding this one out. Murray has looked great. He has fumbled once in each of the first 3 games, but he’s also run for at least 100 yards in each game. DeMarco Murray. More like DeMarco Hurry!
Antonio Brown – Antonio Brown is on pace for 116 receptions for 1,708 yards and 20 touchdowns. How’s about that for a good season. Do I think he finishes the season with those numbers? No. Am I selling high? Nope. I’m keeping Antonio and his karate kicks for the championship run. You’re the best A-Brown, no one’s ever gonna keep you down!
This post is intended for those considering a trade or those trying to figure out if they want to consider a trade. Math is our friend, but there are no guarantees. Feel free to examine the Excel spreadsheet yourself and see if you can identify any additional players of interest. The columns with labels that include “+/-” are the change between what the player is on pace to finish this season with vs how they finished last season. 2013’s stats are prorated to 16 games to make for an even comparison.
Wisdom. Power. Courage.