Selling high and buying low in fantasy football, take two!
My last column dealt with trading players whose fantasy values were at their highest point. Now this week it is time to talk about the reverse, trading for players whose fantasy values are at their lowest point.
The three players below were probably taken in the first four rounds of most fantasy drafts. But they have each gotten off to slower-than-expected starts, so now could be the time their owners are ready to move them for a reasonable price. And if you do not have to give up equally talented players to acquire them, by all means do it.
So here are three players to trade for in fantasy leagues now while they are cheap:
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (WR)
A.J. Green owners in your fantasy leagues might be totally discouraged that he is constantly being double-covered and locked down by secondaries, and because quarterback Andy Dalton has had a harder time finding him downfield than Jimmy Kimmel has finding time in his show for Matt Damon.
Forget about Green topping the 100-yard mark in any game over the past month. This premier pass-catcher has failed to even have a 70-yard outing over the past four weeks. Defenses are ganging up on Green, and Dalton is connecting with his main man less half the time when he aims for him (22 receptions on 46 targets in past four games).
But this is not the first time Green has been keyed on by Pro Bowl cornerbacks and double-teaming safeties, nor has Dalton’s scattershot accuracy stopped Green from being a top-five fantasy WR before. So this is the perfect opportunity to trade for Green while he is actually affordable.
His fantasy value will not be any lower, so the time to jump on him is now.
Four of the next five defenses Green will be running routes against (Buffalo, Detroit, Baltimore, Miami) are ranked 16th or lower in pass defenses. That should help Dalton locate him and fatten up Green’s stats. Get Green now before he has a 150-yard, two-touchdown game that makes him untouchable again.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (RB)
Maurice Jones-Drew is not running the same way he did when he won the rushing title in 2011, and it is not just because he is facing eight-man defensive fronts while his offensive line is in tatters.
Jones-Drew looks a step slower and is just not hitting the holes as hard as he used to when he was a 1,400-yard bowling ball with stubby, powerful legs. He has just one TD in five games and has not come close to rushing for 100 yards in any of them.
There is a decent chance that MJD could be dealt before the trade deadline considering Jacksonville is 0-5 and has a better chance of being demoted to the Canadian Football League than winning the Super Bowl this year. If that happens, that could put an extra pep in Jones-Drew’s slowing step.
If Jones-Drew gets traded to a contending team, it would work wonders for his fantasy value.
The poor guy was running behind a below-average offensive line as it was, and then Jacksonville traded one starting tackle (Eugene Monroe) and lost the other to a season-ending injury (Luke Joeckel). And any other team in the NFL would provide more scoring opportunities inside the red zone than Jacksonville currently does. The Jaguars only average 10.2 points per game, lowest in the league.
Acquiring Jones-Drew now if you are a fantasy owner is a risk, though, because if he does not get traded, then you are stuck with a running back whose fantasy worth (and speed) are equal and possibly worse than New York’s Brandon Jacobs. Jacksonville is not going to get much better, and Jones-Drew is not going to get much faster, so his fantasy value will remain stunted if he stays there.
But if you can buy low with Jones-Drew—Eli Manning and a kicker, perhaps?—grabbing him is worth the gamble. You can never have enough running backs in fantasy football, and if he ends up with a high-scoring team with a solid offensive line, Jones-Drew could be a short-term fantasy stud once again.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (QB)
RG3 is not running the way he used to. He is not throwing the long ball the same way, either. And Griffin is throwing more interceptions and making more mental mistakes than he did during his rookie campaign.
Yet, Griffin has not been as bad fantasy-wise as he has been football-wise. For the all the guff he has taken from the media and disgruntled fans, Griffin is averaging 300 passing yards per game. He also has six touchdown passes and 72 rushing yards in his first four games, which is nothing to crow about unless you are Josh Freeman or Blaine Gabbert.
One thing that is painfully obvious is that Griffin should be able to rack up above-average passing numbers against the pitiful defenses in his own division. The NFC East is the worst division in the NFL, and the pass defenses of the Dallas Cowboys (31st), Philadelphia Eagles (29th) and New York Giants (20th) will not be keeping Griffin in check.
And Griffin’s immediate upcoming schedule is more attractive than Katherine Webb when she is eating a cheeseburger. Three of Washington’s next four games are against Dallas, Denver and San Diego. Denver is ranked dead last in pass defense, while San Diego is 27th, so the 300-yard games should keep coming for RG3.
Griffin should keep averaging 275 to 300 passing yards a week, so if he can get his touchdown total up to two a game and start rushing for 30 to 50 yards each Sunday, he will be back to being a top-10 fantasy quarterback. And coming off a bye should mean he is more focused and his balky knee will be well-rested.
Trade for him before he goes off on Dallas.