I bought a new car this week.
Now, I am not the type of guy to just show up to some flashy car dealership and buy the first shiny piece of metal I see.
Rather, I take my time. I spend hours researching.
In fact, I made the decision to buy a new car nearly a year ago. I started saving part of my paycheck each month. I began researching everything about cars: gas mileage, average price, reliability and safety. Oh, and I also asked my wife what she wanted (too little, too late?).
When all was said and done, I went with what I thought suited us best, for the best price (scroll to the bottom to see what I got). For me, it’s all about value.
The same drawn-out research proves very useful in fantasy football circles as well. For what more do we want than the player that offers the best value?
That is the essence of Red Light, Green Light: finding value.
As a reminder, my Green Light players are guys I think you should pick up for the long haul, if you haven't already.
Yellow Light players have shown nice potential, but still have red flags that limit me from going all in on.
Lastly, Red Light players are guys whom I think you should avoid, despite a great performance in one game.
So with that said, here are this week's picks.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hartline made my Week 3 Yellow Light list after catching ninr passes for 111 yards against the Raiders in Week 2. I cautioned readers about Hartline’s future performances, given the unreliable play that should be expected from rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Still, I conceded that Hartline would be worth an add in PPR leagues, given his high catch count. Hartline’s Week 3 performance coincided with my skepticism, as he caught only one pass despite having nine targets. However, Hartline shocked the fantasy world in Week 4, going bonkers on the Arizona Cardinals' secondary, racking up 12 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown. It is worth noting that Hartline was basically uncovered on an 80-yard touchdown pass, which would temper his fantasy numbers considerably. But even without the catch, Hartline would have satisfied many a fantasy owner with an 11/173/0 stat line. What matters most to me, despite the fact that a rookie quarterback is throwing to him, is that Hartline has led the Dolphins nearly every week in targets. And when that translates to being third in the NFL in total targets and first in receiving yards, it is hard not to make you a must-add on any PPR roster, and worthy of serious consideration in standard leagues as well.
Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis Rams
Kickers are not supposed to make my Green Light list—especially rookie kickers. But rookie kickers are not supposed to be as good as Greg Zuerlein. Not only did Zuerlein set a record this past week by kicking two field goals longer than 57 yards in the same game, but he is a perfect 12 for 12 on field goal attempts this season. That is impressive. The Rams know how to move the ball, but sometimes struggle to get it into the end zone, which makes a perfect recipe for success for the rookie. If you are struggling at kicker, look no further than Zuerlein, also known as “Legatron.”
James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Jones makes the list this week because he is expected to start in place of Greg Jennings for the foreseeable future, as Jennings nurses his way back from a second groin pull. And what do you do when you have one of Aaron Rodgers' starting wide receivers on your fantasy team? You start ‘em. Always.
Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions
Best could be returning off the PUP list as soon as Week 8. Tim Twentyman of the Lions’ website said he thinks that when Best returns, he will take on a role similar to that of Darren Sproles' of the Saints. That makes a lot of sense, because that is exactly what Best was doing before he suffered a season-ending concussion a year ago. In fact, Best was a PPR monster (much like Sproles), with 27 catches, 677 total yards and three touchdowns through six games in 2011. That’s about 19 points per game in PPR leagues. If he can come close to mirroring that fantasy production at any time this season, he would be a waiver-wire steal. With Week 8 just around the corner, now might not be a bad time to snatch Best up and stash him on your roster. The Lions have already given up on Kevin Smith, and while Mikel Leshoure impressed in Week 3, last week’s performance was rather forgettable. I bet the Lions are itching to have Best back and contributing in a big way on Sundays. The first word of Best’s return off the PUP list will send owners scrambling to pick him up. Get him before that happens.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Washington Redskins
A handful of wide receivers have seen their targets rise steadily from Week 1 to Week 4. None have seen as dramatic of an increase as Leonard Hankerson (with 0, 3, 7 and 11 targets, respectively), as he is starting to become a very reliable target for Robert Griffin III. While Hankerson has benefited from the absence of No. 1 wideout Pierre Garcon—who returned this past week—he should still be able to contribute some start-worthy numbers the rest of the season as one of RGIII’s go-to guys. If anything, Garcon’s presence may help to detract attention away from Hankerson, giving him more opportunities to get open.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
Wright is another receiver who has seen his targets rise since the start of the season (with 6, 8, 11 and 11). He has led the Titans in targets for the past three weeks, but has also has some bad drops. That makes me more hesitant to add Wright before Hankerson, as Wright will also have to battle a little harder for targets when Kenny Britt is fully healthy. Wright is still worth a look for those desperate at the wideout position.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Roberts is tied for the league lead in touchdowns (four) and is looking more and more like the clear-cut No. 2 receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. But Kevin Kolb is nowhere near an elite passer, so that makes it hard to trust Roberts week in and week out. He is worth a speculative add coming off his monster performance against the Dolphins this past week (6/118/2 stat line), but curb your enthusiasm until he shows a little more consistency.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots
Bolden busted out for 148 yards on just 17 total touches, including a touchdown, this past week versus the Bills. But by no means has he unseated starter Stevan Ridley (who did pretty well himself, with 22 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns versus the Bills). Ridley is the more talented back and will get the bulk of New England’s rushing attempts going forward. Bolden, despite the impressive performance, will just disappoint you like countless Patriots running backs have in the past if you start him. Don’t be fooled.
Jackie Battle, RB, San Diego Chargers
Battle got the start for San Diego this past Sunday, as the Chargers brass was trying to send a loud message to Ryan Mathews in response to his fumbling woes. Battle capitalized on the opportunity, scoring two rushing touchdowns. However, the 29-year-old back only gained 39 yards on 15 rushes (2.6 yards per rush), which won’t turn any heads. In fact, the Chargers gave Mathews some action as the game wore on, which he used to show that he is the more talented back. Mathews gained 61 yards on just 14 carries and added two catches for 21 yards. With the Saints' awful rushing defense on tap for the Chargers this coming week, you can bet San Diego is going to be feeding the ball to a humbled Mathews a lot more. Battle just simply isn’t reliable enough to start even at the flex spot, given his lack of talent.
Domenik Hixon, WR, New York Giants
Hixon delivered in a big way with Hakeem Nicks out of the Giants lineup this past Sunday, catching six passes for 114 yards against a respectable Eagles secondary. However, the week before, it was Ramses Barden who stepped up in place of Nicks, delivering 9 catches for 138 yards. Who will it be in Week 5? Hixon? Barden? Rueben Randle? Your guess is as good as mine. Hixon is not worth taking the chance on, though.
*For those of you that are interested, we ended up purchasing a dark gray 2010 Ford Escape XLT. Pretty sweet ride if you ask me!
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