Fantasy Football Week 5: Buy and Sell Stock Report
Four weeks have come and gone in the 2013 NFL season. Bye weeks are here, and with it come the trades.
Is your team in good shape? Now is the time to strike at the hearts of the desperate. Those who are 1-3 or 0-4 might be looking to right the ship. Use that to your advantage.
If you happen to be the one in dire straits, fret not—there are plenty of players who can be had cheaply. Here are this week's best and worst values in the fantasy football realm.
This article is intended to reflect a "stock market" situation, where you will want to buy a player in a trade at a perceived bargain or sell him for a nice return.
Buy: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
One week after posting a surprising stat line on the road against the Seahawks, Maurice Jones-Drew crashed back to earth with a brutalizing day for his fantasy owners.
The Colts seem to have ratcheted up a defense that was rather soft through the first two weeks.
After shutting down the 49ers on the road, Indianapolis cranked up the defensive intensity against the pitiful Jaguars offense, rendering Jones-Drew useless. He couldn't even muster a garbage-time performance like he did the week before.
Jacksonville's offense resembles a Sarlacc pit, where players are slowly and painfully digested. Jones-Drew might be its latest victim, but help is on the way.
Justin Blackmon makes his triumphant return this week and will try to boost Jacksonville's sagging offense however he can. He did a fine job in the second half of the 2012 season, and he should join forces with Cecil Shorts to form a promising receiving duo.
Hopefully that opens up the offense enough for Jones-Drew to see some space.
At any rate, any Jaguar skill player should come at a bargain. Jones-Drew still has the backfield to himself, for the most part—he played as many snaps as backups Justin Forsett and Jordan Todman did combined last week—and Week 3 proved there is still some juice left in that tank.
Sell: Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
San Diego took full advantage of the way Dallas was defending running back Danny Woodhead.
The Cowboys were content to leave a linebacker on Woodhead whenever he ran a pass route, and he toasted Bruce Carter on his two touchdown grabs.
Lost in the din of Woodhead's explosive Sunday was the fact that Ryan Mathews got more than twice as many touches as Woodhead on the day—23 to 10—and did a pretty good job with them. When Woodhead isn't scoring multiple touchdowns, he will be a big disappointment in your starting lineup.
Get what you can for him before that happens, especially in PPR leagues.
Buy: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
If you took a chance on Rob Gronkowski in your draft, it has been an excruciating and infuriating first few weeks of the season, unless you had the good fortune of also drafting Jordan Cameron.
Gronkowski appears healthy, and it seems like he is on the verge of coming back every week. But the latest rumors say he won't be back until Week 6, per Fox Sports' Jay Glazer. If true, that means he will miss another week. That will leave his owners high and dry, perhaps desperate after a poor start.
Now is the time to pounce if you are aiming to grab him. Leverage the rumors.
Sell: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
It was looking like another lost Sunday for receiver Dwayne Bowe's fantasy owners. The Chiefs were cruising toward an easy win in the later stages of the fourth quarter, and Bowe was stuck with three receptions for 24 yards.
Quarterback Alex Smith then found him over the middle, where Bowe spun away from listless tackle attempts by the Giants defense and ran into the end zone, salvaging his stat line and the day for many fantasy owners.
Bowe was actually open a lot throughout the day, but, alas, Smith is his quarterback. He is a fine game manager but always inconsistent when it comes to looking at his receivers downfield, let alone getting the ball to them.
If you have Bowe, try to package him while you can, perhaps to a desperate Danny Amendola owner.
Buy: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
It was going to be tough for Philadelphia to get anything going in Mile High Stadium last week.
The Broncos have a good defense, and the Eagles aren't used to the rarefied air in Denver, despite what Chip Kelly thinks about science.
Still, it was disappointing that quarterback Michael Vick was held out of the end zone before giving way to Nick Foles in dumpster-fire time—that rare time of the game that is even more meaningless than garbage time.
Vick still had a double-digit fantasy showing, thanks once again to his legs. He also avoided turnovers, which was a good sign.
His road gets a bit easier over the next several weeks. He gets to play the Giants and that soft defense twice in the next four weeks, following that up with more tasty matchups against Green Bay and Washington.
If you're interested in getting in on the big fantasy action, now is the time to buy.
Sell: Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
The Titans rolled the Jets last week, and receiver Nate Washington frolicked all through that secondary.
This was his second consecutive 100-yard performance, and this time he got into the end zone twice.
The second time was a bit of a fluke, though, as Washington ran a post pattern that took him straight into the umpire, who tripped Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie as he fell, allowing Washington to walk into the end zone.
Though Ryan Fitzpatrick did throw that nice, long touchdown pass to Washington after coming into the game for injured Jake Locker, he does represent a downgrade in talent. After all, why was he jettisoned by the Bills one year after signing a big extension?
The downgrade combined with the competition Washington faces for targets means you should sell while you can. Kenny Britt is on his way back from a broken rib—though rumors swirl that he will be traded, per ESPN's Adam Schefter—and Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright have emerged as budding stars in that offense.
Buy: Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
It has been a brutal few weeks for Ray Rice and his fantasy owners.
Rice injured his hip in a lackluster performance in Week 2 and then came back from the injury last week to be utterly shut down by the Bills. His running mate Bernard Pierce fared no better.
Both get a bit of a reprieve against a Dolphins defense that was torn asunder by the diminutive Darren Sproles in Week 4. They follow that up with games against Green Bay and Pittsburgh, both of which have soft defenses this season.
If ever there was a time to trade for the preseason consensus top-10 running back, it's now.
Sell: Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Did you know the Steelers defense was toying with a new brand of "no tackle" football last week?
That's what it seemed like at any rate, especially when Greg Jennings caught a short pass and spun out of two tackles for a 70-yard score. Jennings has had a nice career, but he's no spring chicken.
The fact Jennings scored twice on just four targets and three receptions screams "outlier" here. Matt Cassel shredded a weak Pittsburgh defense in London, but Christian Ponder will be back soon enough to render his receiving corps useless.
Buy: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
If a player has a lousy game in your starting lineup, don't tweet at him angrily.
Johnson has yet to score a touchdown in 2013, causing consternation among those who drafted him. Perhaps his owner is angry enough to let him go at a real bargain.
Sell: Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints
It was a banner night for Darren Sproles as the Saints put the hurt on the Dolphins.
Sproles had 142 combined yards and two touchdowns and could have had more had New Orleans chosen to really utilize him in the second half.
Miami had no answer for him.
His breakout performance was just what the doctor ordered for his fantasy owners after Sproles had a disappointing first few weeks. But can you count on this going forward?
Before Monday night, Sproles had just 228 combined yards and no touchdowns to his name for the 2013 season. Mark Ingram is coming back from injury, and the Saints spread the ball around to everyone not named Jimmy Graham from week to week.
In other words, Sproles might have a handful of big games, but consistency is going to be an issue. He won't be a bad option on your team—particularly in PPR formats—but you might be able to get a nice return in a trade this week for a more consistent option.