Buying or Selling: Which Fantasy Players to Trade and Which Players to Trade for
We're only just now entering the third week of the 2012 NFL season, and I've always been the sort to advocate a measure of patience from fantasy football owners, as knee-jerk or panic trades and player drops can quickly sink a season.
However, you can use the Chicken Littles of your league to your advantage, acquiring under-performing players on the cheap that should turn it on later this season.
On the flip side of that coin, however, you also have to know when it's time to cut bait on a player while you can still get something in return, as the last thing your fantasy squad needs is an anchor around its' neck.
These players can be hard to identify, so here's a look at a handful of guys I'm either targeting or trying to deal, as well as at least one player, who, quite frankly just has me confused.
Buy: Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was taken in the first round of many fantasy football drafts over the summer by teams hopeful that with nearly a year to recover from the torn ACL that wiped out almost all of his 2011 season, the fifth-year pro would return to his top-five fantasy form of 2010.
To this point in the season that hasn't been the case, and after gaining only 109 total yards in two games and leaving last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills with soreness in that surgically repaired knee, many of Charles's fantasy owners are wringing their hands right now.
However, head coach Romeo Crennel told Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star that Charles lack of action last week was actually due to a knee bruise, and the 25-year-old put in a full week of practice this week.
With a tasty matchup on tap against a New Orleans Saints defense that has been shredded against the run so far this season, not only is Charles a good buy-low candidate, but now is the time to act if you want to acquire him on the cheap.
Sell: Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
I'll confess that I shied away from Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden in fantasy drafts this year, and while I may have been right in that regard, it was for the wrong reasons.
It was the fifth-year pro's durability issues that scared me away from McFadden, but to this point in the season, McFadden's health hasn't been the problem.
What has been the problem is the Raiders' run game, or more importantly, the lack of one.
The zone-blocking scheme of new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has gone over like a lead feather with the Raiders, and after gaining only 54 yards on 26 carries so far this season, if you can find an owner in your league still willing to pay a low-end RB1 price for McFadden, pull the trigger.
Buy: Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
After a rookie season in which Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith averaged nearly 17 yards a reception and scored seven touchdowns, big things were expected from Smith in 2012, especially in the new up-tempo passing game implemented this year by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
However, to this point in the season, Smith has been whisper-quiet; the fleet-footed receiver has only four catches in the season's first two games.
That may be leading some of Smith's fantasy owners to be becoming impatient with the speedster. If you can pry him from one of those nervous nellies at a reasonable price, by all means do so; this is a dam that's going to burst sooner or later.
Sell: Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos
Much like Torrey Smith, many fantasy owners expected big things this season out of Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, assuming that the third-year pro would thrive as quarterback Peyton Manning's underneath target with the Broncos.
With that said, much like Smith, those hopes have gone for naught to this point in the season, as Decker has been the forgotten man in the Broncos passing attack, with Manning targeting fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas significantly more often.
Decker has at least managed at least four catches and over 50 yards in each game, which should leave him with enough fantasy value for prescient team owners to deal him while he still has some.
The Enigma That Is Chris Johnson
I'll freely confess that I don't know what to do where Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is concerned.
The fifth-year pro has been absolutely abysmal running the ball this year.
Actually, with 21 yards on 19 carries, abysmal would be an understatement.
If you try to sell him right now you're not going to get more than pennies on the dollar, and if you're looking to buy, you'd be crazy to pay more than that.
The best advice I can offer is that if you can acquire him ridiculously cheaply, go for it in the hopes that he and the Titans can rebound, and if you already own him, hang on hoping for the same.