It’s funny how things work out in life. You switch out tight ends one week and your crafty decision nets you six additional sweet, sweet fantasy points. Some weeks you pick up a new defense with a juicy matchup and they give up 42 points. Sometimes the fantasy world works in mysterious ways. So here I am, writing a weekly column on how to take advantage of panicked owners with hurt or underperforming players, and the crown jewel of my own team ends up in a crumpled heap on the sidelines. Yes, you guessed it: I am a Jamaal Charles owner. As I promised in the very first installment of the Smash Back, I’ll be honest with you. With a close loss in week one and the Charles debacle on Sunday, I stand at 0-2. So now, I won’t be just giving out fantasy advice…I’ll be working WITH you to get out of this rut. There are 11 more regular season weeks for us to make somebody pay….so let’s get to it.
Here are some players to target and tactics to try as we attempt to fight our way out from under the heap of injuries that week two so kindly bestowed upon us:
Chris Johnson: “CJ2K” has asked to be referred to as “CJ2.3” until he brings his yards per carry average above that horrendous 2.3 mark. As it turns out, that time will be sooner rather than later. Johnson’s brutal week two performance came at the hands of the stingy Baltimore defense, and a lighter schedule of defenses is on the horizon for the Titans. 27 touches last week means he will still carry the load and Denver and Cleveland in weeks three and four will boost the slumping running back’s stock considerably.
Try this: Grab the attention of the worried Chris Johnson owner and offer up a nice little package of a low end RB1 (let’s say, maybe Frank Gore) and a mid-level wide receiver (someone like Mike Sims-Walker). Start low here and attempt to get Johnson at a discount due to the low production. If you are a Charles owner, be a little more aggressive in attempting to get yourself a replacement stud.
DeAngelo Williams: My next target this week is DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart is still a factor, as always, and Williams has received a grand total of 17 carries through two weeks. Additionally, the Panthers schedule doesn’t magically get lighter. So what the hell are we even talking about? Killa Cam won’t need to throw for 762 yards every single week, and the Panthers will run the rock more in those cases. However, that’s not the only reason for an upcoming increase in production. You didn’t let the 17 year old in the blue Best Buy polo shirt talk you into that new 60’’ plasma so you could watch grainy re-runs of Bonanza, did you? I expect Carolina to get their new $43 million investment more involved.
Try this: I always like starting low in trade talks, but especially in cases like this. Williams has hosed his owner for two weeks so see if a WR2 and hot TE will get the ball rolling. Something like Harvin and Chandler. Don’t go nuts here, but attempt to sneak away with Williams if your stable of running backs is getting dangerously thin.
Antonio Gates: Anytime a player of his caliber throws up a goose egg, you should always gauge the panic level of the player’s owner. Despite the donut in week two, Gates is still second in targets among San Diego receiving options and will get back to being a fantasy monster this season.
Try this: Tap into the Gates owner’s panic by starting with a mid-level WR, coupled with a hot new receiver fresh off of the waiver wire. Hopefully Gates will come your way, as the bright week two performances of Santana Moss and Eric Decker blind your trade partner.
General Trade Strategy: Here are a couple of quick suggestions about wheeling and dealing with the other folks in your league. Just a little something to think about before you make that nerve racking mouse click on the “propose trade” button.
– When attempting to trade a player from a position of depth, always make sure that player is in your starting lineup. For example, you’ve got an excessive amount of mediocre wide receivers and you’re looking to flip one of them. Whether you actually plan on starting him or not, put the player in your lineup. It’s a serious mental difference when your trade partner clicks on your team page and thinks they’re trading for a “starter.”
– Trade talks beginning to get serious? Scan the other team’s roster for some throw in players. Often times, the other owner is so focused on the main players involved, that they will easily part with a low value bench player to get a deal done. Players who are out for a few weeks or high on upside are great for this purpose if you’ve got the roster space.
Finally, if you are not a Charles owner, thank your lucky stars and then immediately hop on your phone/email/league message board/walkie-talkie and start making fun of the poor bastard that does own Charles. I can ensure you, I’ve received text messages from 75% of my league in the last four days. Some were witty, some annoying, and none should be repeated in a public forum. As much as it stings for me right now, this type of interaction makes fantasy sports awesome. I love dishing it out as well (I wore out the inbox of Ryan Grant’s owner in my league last year), so I have to take it occasionally. Use these last couple days before the start of the “Jamaal Charles Revenge Tour” to have some fun interacting with the other teams in your league…it makes getting that ‘W’ on Sunday much, much sweeter.