Buying or Selling Fantasy Football's Slumping Studs

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystSeptember 23, 2013

Buying or Selling Fantasy Football's Slumping Studs

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    We're three weeks into the 2013 fantasy football campaign, and some trends have already developed this year.

    Even with a slow(ish) start, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is still a top-five fantasy back in standard-scoring systems.

    The Philadelphia Eagles offense has been a fantasy goldmine, with tailback LeSean McCoy, quarterback Michael Vick and wideout DeSean Jackson all at or near the top of their respective positions.

    However, it's not all sunshine and puppies.

    A number of players who were high-draft picks in fantasy leagues this year have fallen flat, leaving their fantasy owners scrambling for the liquor cabinet as they ponder whether to weather the storm or cut bait.

    Which is it? Should fantasy owners ride it out or hit the "eject" button? Should they consider buying these slumping stars while the price is low, or would even that minimal investment be wasted?

    Let's take a look!

Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    In Week 1, it appeared that fantasy owners who drafted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to be their fantasy starter were going to be handsomely rewarded.

    Against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick topped 400 yards through the air, tossing three touchdown passes in the process.

    Since then, the bottom has fallen out.

    Over the past two games combined, Kaepernick has thrown for 277 yards, while throwing three interceptions and no touchdown passes.

    He's also lost a fumble in each of the past two games.

    Granted, many passers struggle in Seattle, and Kaepernick didn't have tight end Vernon Davis against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.

    However, the absence of top wideout Michael Crabtree has clamped a lid over the San Francisco passing game in two of three games. It would be folly to expect that to change on a short week against the St. Louis Rams Thursday, especially with Davis iffy again (at best).

    You can't drop Kaepernick, but if you have any sort of other options, you can't start him at this point either.

     

    SELL

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

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    Through three games this season, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ranks 25th in fantasy points, behind the likes of Geno Smith of the New York Jets.

    Brady is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, less than Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns and Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs.

    I'm pretty sure those are both signs of the Apocalypse, so you may want to get your affairs in order.

    While you're repenting, see if you can commit one more sin by stealing Brady in a trade.

    Simply put, the New England passing game has been jacked up. No Rob Gronkowski. No Danny Amendola.

    However, both of those players have returned to practice on a limited basis, and both could be back in the lineup in the next couple of weeks.

    Not only would their return be a huge boost for the Patriots' aerial attack, but rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins looked better in Week 3 than in their drop-filled Week 2 nightmare against the New York Jets.

    Brady will be fine. Getting him for 60 cents on the dollar would be even better.

     

    BUY

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots

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    Last year, Stevan Ridley rumbled for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    In 2013, the only rumbling where Ridley is concerned has come from his fantasy owners.

    Through three games, Ridley is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. He has yet to find the end zone.

    Even worse, after losing a fumble in Week 1, Ridley has been mired in a full-blown committee in New England.

    In fact, in the Patriots' Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ridley had fewer touches (12) than LeGarrette Blount (14).

    In fantasy football, it's all about opportunity.

    With Blount poaching carries on the ground, and Brandon Bolden in Shane Vereen's passing-down role, those opportunities just aren't there for Ridley right now.

    Glue him to the bench until the situation changes.

     

    SELL

David Wilson, RB, New York Giants

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    The good news is, New York Giants running back David Wilson is coming off his best game of the year.

    The bad news is, that game resulted in all of 39 rushing yards and barely got Wilson into positive fantasy points for the season.

    So, this is an easy decision, right? Cut the bum loose!

    Not so fast my friend!

    Granted, the 2013-14 season has gotten off to about as bad a start for Wilson and the Giants as is humanly possible.

    Two Week 1 fumbles got Wilson the hook. Since then, head coach Tom Coughlin appears to have roughly the same level of confidence in Wilson that most Americans have in Congress.

    Still, even in the disaster that was New York's 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Rotoworld saw a glimmer of hope with Wilson.

    Look beyond the box score and the usage numbers were actually promising for Wilson; [DaRel] Scott's playing time only received a bump because the Giants were in pass-oriented comeback mode. Wilson ripped off several impressive runs when he wasn't getting hit in the backfield, and had a 17-yard TD negated by a penalty at the line.

    The fact is, if the Giants are going to regain some modicum of respectability this season, they're going to have to at least try to run the ball.

    Given that you can get Wilson for free in some leagues, and for a bag of store-brand tortilla chips (you don't even have to spring for Doritos) in many others, Wilson is worth a stash in the hopes that Big Blue turns things around.

     

    BUY

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    The writing was on the Wall(ace) with this one.

    As far back as training camp, there were rumblings that the chemistry between Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and free-agent acquisition Mike Wallace wasn't developing as quickly as many would have liked.

    Sure enough, in his first three games with the Dolphins, Wallace has sandwiched one huge game between two stinkers.

    That big game came after Wallace complained about his usage in Week 1, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.

    Granted, Wallace has always been a streaky fantasy asset. Home run wideouts usually are.

    However, after Wallace's next huge game (and there will be one), wise fantasy owners should look to unload him.

    Tannehill isn't going to force the ball to Wallace, and their salaries aside Brian Hartline remain the top passing target in Miami.

     

    SELL

Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons

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    Over the past five years, there hasn't been a more consistent wide receiver in fantasy football than Roddy White.

    So far in 2013, White has been consistently invisible.

    After topping 90 receptions and 1,200 yards in each of the past three seasons, White has seven grabs for 56 yards in three games this year.

    It's not like it's White's fault. The 31-year-old suffered a high-ankle sprain in the preseason, and he just hasn't been right since.

    However, White is slowly rounding back into form, and the Falcons have a bye week coming up in Week 6.

    Assuming for a moment that White can return (more or less) to form starting in Week 7, savvy fantasy owners can potentially get half a season of WR1 production for pennies on the dollar.

    If the White owner in your league is struggling, now is the time to strike.

     

    BUY

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Well no wonder the Atlanta Falcons are 1-2.

    Actually, the Falcons' problems go deeper than just slow starts by wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez, but those slow starts are of more concern to fantasy owners.

    Last year, through three games, Gonzalez reeled in 21 passes for 214 yards, including a touchdown in each of those contests.

    This year, Gonzo's numbers are down across the board: 11 catches, 93 yards, one score.

    This has led to an inevitable question. At 37, has Father Time finally caught up to Gonzalez?

    Yes and no.

    Frankly, expecting Gonzalez to top 90 receptions and 900 receiving yards again in 2013 wasn't exactly reasonable.

    With that said, White's injury is affecting Gonzalez as much as his age.

    The Falcons can trot White out there as a "decoy," but opposing defenses know just as well as we do that Roddy White isn't healthy. That allows them to roll more underneath coverage in Gonzo's direction.

    His numbers may not get back to their 2012 levels, but expect a rebound from Gonzalez once a healthy White returns to the field.

     

    BUY