Hello Fake Footballers! My name is Asher Molk, and I am really looking forward to helping you win your fake football leagues via smart and savvy trading. I realize it’s only the second week of football and many owners are unwilling to trade after one game, but believe me, they are plenty of owners already in panic mode! “Buying Low” and “Selling High” is quite a simple economic principal: give away commodities while their perceived value is greater than their actual value, and try to acquire commodities while their perceived value is lower than their actual value. In other words, trade bad players after good games for good players after bad games! Here are a few trends and nuggets of wisdom I encourage you to follow whilst trading:
-Smart owners look beyond the box score. The naïve owner will look at Shonn Greene’s Week One fantasy score and see 94 yards and a touchdown- a very solid 15.4 fantasy points! The smart owner is able to dig deeper and see that he averaged under 3.5 yards per carry, fumbled twice, didn’t catch a pass, and carried the ball 27 times because the Jets were up 20 at halftime and 27 by the 4th quarter. Are the Jets likely to be up by that many points most games to give enough carries to a below-averagely talented runner? Probably not. If this sounds time-consuming, don’t fret- I am here to do the work for you and help you look beyond the box score!
-A major trend in my articles (and hopefully on your fantasy teams) will be getting rid of averagely-talented players: plodding running backs who don’t make anyone miss or contribute in the passing game (see Turner, Michael), or wide receivers who offer nothing after the catch (see Bess, Davone), etc. More importantly, you will be trying to acquire explosive, dynamic talents who are capable of changing the game every time they touch the ball (see Harvin, Percy). TALENT IS MOST IMPORTANT!
-Trading away two decent/good players for one great player is almost always a great idea. Usually, the person getting the one better player wins the deal.
-NEVER lead with your best or final trade offer! Instead, start small, even offer deals they probably won’t accept to start with. This doesn’t mean offer Mason Crosby for Lesean McCoy, 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 Victor Cruz or Antonio Brown just because you think Sebastian Janikowski will average 1 more point per game than Garrett Hartley.
-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.
Give me a follow on Twitter: @AsherMolk. Without further ado, your Week One Buy Lows and Sell Highs:
Dez Bryant, WR, DAL- Does it feel like déjà vu all over again? Last year, owners spent a 4th round draft pick on Bryant, expecting the leap to elite status in his sophomore year. He didn’t quite get there, failing to clear 100 yards in any game while often disappearing for the second half. This year, after being the “MVP” of Cowboys camp according to beat writers, owners again spent a 3rd or 4th round pick on the former Oklahoma State star. Having the hype built up all offseason, owners were likely expecting more than 4 catches for 85 yards and 0 touchdowns, and surely they were fuming as Kevin Ogletree (8-114-2) and Miles Austin (4-73-1) both turned in superior fantasy performances. The former may have begun to inspire Laurent Robinson-like nightmares in the heads of Bryant owners. My take? Ogletree’s emergence would be good for Bryant. Defenses fear Bryant more than any other Cowboys player, and if secondaries were forced to cover Ogletree consistently, it would only leave Bryant more single coverage. We want talented, game-breaking players who are huge red zone targets on our fantasy teams. Dez Bryant fits the bill perfectly. Some owners may see him as a mid-to-high end WR2, and I believe his actual value is much higher than that.
Antonio Gates, TE, SD- Owners who watched Sunday night’s tilt between the Chargers and Raiders may be even more frustrated than those who simply saw Gates’ paltry 4-43-0 box score- Gates dropped a very catchable touchdown pass and appeared to injure his ribs. Lets get to the silver lining: Gates returned to the game, and appears to be a lock to play in Week Two. He had two more targets (8) than any other Charger, and will continue to be Philip Rivers’ most trusted option both between the 20s and the red zone. He has moved incredibly well all preseason, and there seemed to be no lingering effects from his bothersome foot. With Rivers’ offensive line looking…well, offensive- Rivers will be looking short and intermediate to Gates for the foreseeable future. Gates has always produced when he’s been on the field, and with Rivers surrounded by new (save for Malcolm “Made of Glass” Floyd) and untrusted personnel, Gates will see targets aplenty. Package someone with Jacob Tamme or even Jermichael Finley to acquire Gates and don’t look back.
David Wilson, RB, NYG- Not a great way to start a rookie year. After fumbling early in the season opener against Dallas, Wilson was seen crying and being chewed out by the New York coaching staff on the sideline while being rendered a non-factor the rest of the game. Naïve owners will see a solid effort from Ahmad Bradshaw (93 total yards and a score) and think he’s locked in as the bell cow back. Not so fast: beat writer Ralph Vacchiano commented that Bradshaw looked like an “old 26 year old” who “didn’t hit the line of scrimmage” and brought back memories of “the later years of Brandon Jacobs”. Keep in mind that this is a running back that’s had chronic foot and ankle problems requiring multiple surgeries. New York did not spend a first round pick on Wilson for nothing, and we saw how explosive he is in the preseason. Color me surprised if the Giants backfield is not a full-blown committee by Week Seven, in which case Wilson will be a strong flex play. If Bradshaw’s foot and ankle problems were to crop up again, we would have a very solid RB2 with upside on our hands in Wilson, and you may be able to acquire Wilson for next to nothing right now.
Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC- Blackmon’s place in this column actually has more to do with the perceived progress of Blaine Gabbert. We always know Blackmon could play, and so did the Jaguars who traded away multiple picks to acquire him with the fifth pick of the draft. My main question was whether Gabbert could get the ball to the talented rookie, and if preseason and Week One is any indication I say yes. An absolute beast with the ball in his hands a la young Anquan Boldin, Blackmon is a perfect fit for an offensive system in which the ball is supposed to be out of the quarterback’s hand quickly (a perfect fit for Gabbert, mind you). Blackmon put up 10-136-1 in under seven quarters of preseason play, and I would probably take the “over” on 70 receptions for him this year. He isn’t quite up to the talent level of AJ Green and Julio Jones, but I can see Blackmon putting up very solid WR3 numbers. I promise you there are owners who see him as bench fodder- go get him.
Kevin Smith, RB, DET- Let me preface this by saying I really like Kevin Smith as a fantasy football player. For now, he is a three-down goal line back for an explosive offense- aka, the jackpot. But there are a few reasons I recommend you to sell him right now (and I don’t blame you if you want to hold him). First off, Mikel Leshoure is coming off of his two game suspension after this week. The Lions will want to see what their 2011 second round pick has to offer, and he will quite possibly cut into Smith’s early down and goal line work immediately. If Jahvid Best were to find his way back onto the field by midseason, Kevin Smith would be reduced to playing the “Pierre Thomas” to Best’s “Darren Sproles” and Leshoure’s “Mark Ingram”. That would put Smith on the brink of fantasy irrelevancy. Secondly, take a look at Smith’s injury history: he has been hampered by ankle problems his entire career, and even tweaked it again this preseason. The last game Smith has to create some breathing room between him and Leshoure will be against the vaunted 49ers defense- not exactly optimal proving grounds. Don’t give him away for a bunch of reserves, but I wouldn’t hesitate to shop him at all.
Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ- Another reminder: we want our fantasy running backs to be talented runners who make people miss, see passing down work, are their team’s main goal line option, and operate within an explosive offense. How does Shonn Greene check out on those counts? A whopping 0 for 4- in other words, guaranteed inconsistency and frustration for fantasy owners. See my statement near the beginning of the article that summarizes why you cannot be expecting Shonn Greene to be your weekly RB2. I compel you to get rid of him, especially in PPR leagues. How much credibility has that 2010 2-game playoff stretch really earned him? Clearly, way too much.
Jermichael Finley, TE, GB- The rare exception to selling talented, game-breaking players, Finley may again be doomed for inconsistency. Two years ago, he was Aaron Rodgers’ darling before he went down with a torn meniscus. Expectations were high for Finley upon his return last year, but a combination of Jordy Nelson dominance and a boatload of dropped passes dashed any hopes of meeting those expectations. Week One turned out to be a decently solid fantasy day for Finley (7-47-1), but he again committed a drop and a half while Randall Cobb broke out for nine catches. The writing on the wall has been there since training camp, and it appears to be coming to fruition- Cobb is only going to be more involved in the offense. With a healthy dose of Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings sprinkled with James Jones and the hard-charging Cobb, how many passes is Rodgers really going to commit to “Butterfingers” Finley? He remains a talented player on a great offense, but I would try to ship him off to the biggest Packer fan in your fantasy league in a package for Gates, Hernandez, Gronkowski, Graham or any WR/RB value and be comfortable starting even Jared Cook or Kyle Rudolph.
Frank Gore, RB, SF- Three years ago, I would have never put Frank Gore on any sort of “sell high” list. But three years is an eternity for a running back- especially ones that have taken as many hits as Gore has. After a hot start to 2011, Gore averaged a mere 3.49 yards per carry from Week Nine through the end of the season. 29 year old running backs almost always fade later in the year- just ask Michael Turner (or Gore himself). This season does not project to be any different, especially with the additions of goal-line horse Brandon Jacobs (due back before midseason) and second-round dynamo LaMichael James. Keep in mind that explosive second year player Kendall Hunter will only become more involved, and Gore may be rendered to a 29 year old early down back without passing down work or goal line carries. If he tops his Week One output sometime this season, it probably won’t be by much. Sell him to a believer who doesn’t know the history of 29 year old running backs.