Fantasy Football Stock Report for NFL Week 4
Three weeks have gone by in the 2012 NFL season, and while some things have gone more or less according to script, there have been plenty of unexpected surprises. They include one of the wildest endings to an NFL game I can ever remember, with the Hail Mary at the end of Monday night's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks that's the talk of the town.
The madness has trickled down to fantasy football as well. Here's a look at the rising and falling stocks of a number of players who left fantasy owners jumping for joy, and others tossing their laptops down the steps.
They don't bounce, by the way. Believe me, I know.
Stock Up: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led his team to the playoffs last year. But in the Bengals' conservative offense, Dalton's success on the field didn't translate to fantasy football. The former TCU star was barely cracking the top-15 fantasy performers at his position.
After a horrific start to the season, Dalton's statistical production has picked up significantly over the Bengals' last two games. With consecutive 300-yard outings under his belt, Dalton currently finds himself among the top-five fantasy quarterbacks.
Stock Down: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
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The wild ending to the Monday-night game aside, something is seriously not right with the Green Bay Packers' offense.
Through three games, the Packers' record-setting offense from 2011 has sputtered, averaging only 19 points a game, while lurching their way to a 1-2 record.
That production (or lack thereof) has also adversely affected the fantasy value of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
A first-round pick in the majority of fantasy-football drafts, the eighth-year veteran has averaged less than 250 passing yards a game, thrown only three touchdown passes versus two interceptions and ranks an anemic 23rd among fantasy signal-callers.
Stock Up: Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
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Many fantasy-football owners drafted Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles early in 2012 with hopes that the fifth-year pro was fully recovered from the ACL injury that cost him most of last season. They hoped Charles would return to his top-five fantasy form of two years ago.
However, after two poor performances to start the year, those hopes appeared to be fading.
That was until Week 3, when Charles gashed the New Orleans Saints for nearly 300 total yards, including a 91-yard touchdown scamper where Charles certainly appeared to be back to his old self.
Granted, one huge game doesn't erase all concerns about Charles' surgically repaired knee, but that explosion shot Charles into the top 10 at his position and reasserted his status as a weekly fantasy starter.
Stock Down: C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
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When Fred Jackson went down in the Buffalo Bills' season opener, running back C.J. Spiller stepped into the void, reeled off two long runs against the Jets and was off to the proverbial races.
At the time, fantasy owners who spent a speculative mid-round pick on the third-year pro had to feel like they won they lottery. It's those types of picks that win fantasy championships.
Now, it appears the ride may be over as quickly as it began.
Spiller was knocked from Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns with a shoulder injury. With Jackson reportedly set to return to practice this week, Spiller's injury may open the door for Jackson to either reclaim his job outright or start a time-share that could kill the fantasy value of both backs.
Stock Up: Alfred Morris, RB Washington Redskins
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When it was announced that rookie running back Alfred Morris would open the season as the starter for the Washington Redskins, many fantasy owners just rolled their eyes. They expected the Shanahanigans would ensue, and soon enough, Morris would be on the bench.
To this point in the season, that hasn't been the case.
Granted, Morris' 263 rushing yards and No. 15 ranking at his position in fantasy points aren't eye-popping numbers, but he has found the end zone three times and averaged more than 20 carries a game.
Combine that with the small price it took to acquire him, and so far this season, Morris has been one of the biggest fantasy values at the running-back position. And winning in fantasy football is all about value.
Stock Down: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
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It's a popular school of thought in fantasy football that wide receivers break out in their third NFL season. Given his considerable talent, many proponents of that philosophy drafted Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys expecting big things.
So far, those expectations have gone for naught.
Through three games this year, Bryant has yet to record either a 100-yard receiving game or reel in a touchdown pass. The 23-year-old is barely inside the top-50 fantasy performers at his position.
Stock Up: Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
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Many fantasy-football pundits (myself included) saw St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola as a sleeper candidate entering the 2012 season, believing that a healthy Amendola would regain his status as quarterback Sam Bradford's favorite target in the Gateway City.
However, few could have predicted (at least with a straight face) that Amendola would enjoy the fantasy success he's had so far this year.
Buoyed in large part by his 15-catch, 160-yard explosion in Week 2, the fourth-year pro is a top-five fantasy wideout to this point. But Amendola has been fairly consistent, scoring at least 12 fantasy points in each game this season in point-per-reception leagues.
Actually, teams that drafted Amendola late may want to consider selling high, while that huge Week 2 game still inflates his overall ranking. The return you'll get on your investment is likely about as high as it's going to get.
Stock Down: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
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Entering the 2012 season, it was more or less a fantasy toss-up in Philadelphia between wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. Some drafters preferred Jackson's speed, while others went for the consistency they hoped Maclin would offer as Michael Vick's underneath target.
It's been no contest so far.
Plagued by a nagging hip injury since the beginning of the season, Maclin has only managed one good game and missed Week 3's loss to the Arizona Cardinals altogether. With his health in question and the Philadelphia offense looking woefully out of sync, Maclin's fantasy value is in freefall right now.
Stock Up: Martellus Bennett, TE, NYG
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If you look back at the fantasy-football draft in your league, then I can guarantee there's a name not listed among the tight ends who were chosen, unless your league features very deep rosters.
That name is New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett.
I'll bet he's on a roster now, though.
Entering the 2012 season, the fifth-year pro had four career touchdown receptions, a total that he's nearly matched through three games this season.
Bennett has scored in every game this year, while reeling in 15 passes for 185 yards—good enough for second in fantasy points among players at his position.
These performances haven't been fluky, either, given the number of targets he's seeing, so there's no reason to think that things are suddenly going to take a turn for the worse.
Stock Down: Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
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While fantasy owners have been pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Martellus Bennett, those hoping for a return to glory for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates have just been left holding the bag to this point.
The 10th-year veteran, who has already missed one game this year due to injury, has made only seven catches for 65 yards in his other two games combined.
That gives Gates fewer fantasy points than such luminaries at the tight-end position as Clay Harbor of the Philadelphia Eagles and Craig Stevens of the Tennessee Titans.
If you have no idea who those players are, that's exactly my point.