Numbers are fun to me. I can remember my Dad and I riding to church and giving each other mental math problems to figure out over and over again. Numbers (especially when there are dollars signs in front of them) have always been easy and straightforward to me. I remember my junior year project in U.S. History. It was our job to use $100,000 in fake money and invest it in the stock market over one month (still not sure what this had to do with history, but I digress). That project was fascinating to me as I blew away my classmates. I put more time and research into it then the rest of the class combined. And because of it, I blew away the competition, nearly doubling my money. Yet, it really wasn’t that hard. I just adopted the buy low idea. The thought behind it is that you have to find the low spot for a company’s value and assume it can only go up from there. Why buy a stock when it’s on top when you can get a better return on investment from finding the ones in the valley. Yes, this is where the fantasy analogy kicks in. Before I get to my weekly free agent finds I want to look at some players whose value is currently at a low point. Whether that means they’ve recently been injured, have had some tough matchups, or just haven’t yet produced, you can find some studs to target in trades. Here’s a look at 3 guys you should look to acquire from their owner who might be burnt out on them:
· RB Arian Foster
o Yes, in most leagues Foster was likely a late first or early second rounder in your draft. But, I get the feeling Foster’s owners are worried about his nagging hamstring injury that had him sit out week 3 and play injured this weekend. His last two weeks he’s put up a goose egg and 6 points. The time to buy is now! After being worked like a dog the first two weeks of the season, you had to expect an injury at some point. But as he now nears full health, he’s coming back into a very fantasy friendly stretch of games. In weeks 6-9 he faces bottom 15 fantasy rush defenses each game, and following a bye in week 10 he faces the 2nd worst defense in the league in a game against the Browns. Foster is primed to explode in the coming weeks so grab him pronto.
· WR Michael Crabtree
o The 49ers wide receiver is coming off a 5 catch disappointment against a beatable Eagles secondary. But don’t overlook a few important things that make him a prime trade target. First of all, he leads the team with 32 targets, that’s 8 a week through the first quarter of the season. He’s Kaep’s most trustworthy pass catcher. Secondly, Crabtree went to the locker room with an ankle injury in the first quarter of his week 4 matchup but came back and hobbled his way to those 5 receptions. His lack of production therefore shouldn’t be worrisome. Lastly, after a bye in week 8, Crabtree comes back to face 4 straight bottom 10 pass defenses. Go get the young wideout while he’s still “gettable”
· QB Cam Newton
o Superman hasn’t looked very super to start the year. The rib injury that forced him to sit week 1 has apparently been lingering. Newton has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in a game and hasn’t been running enough to keep his fantasy value. But as his health returns, he’ll return to the running, efficient QB we’ve come to know. He has yet to throw an interception this season, which shows great decision making from the injured pass thrower. Not to mention, he also has a great stretch of games coming up. In weeks 8-10, he faces three of the seven worst fantasy pass defenses in the league. Go trade from him now and thank me later when Superman returns to form and saves your lineup.
Every week before free agent finds, I want to look back at my hits and misses from the previous week’s free agent recommendations in a section known from this day forward as You’re Welcome/Sorry About That
· Lorenzo Taliaferro- 15 carries for 58 yards and a TD…You’re welcome
· Dolphins D/ST- 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, one TD…You’re welcome
· Larry Donnell- 7 receptions for 54 yards and THREE TDS…YOU’RE WELCOME!!!!
Sorry About That
· Jake Locker- ruled out because of sore wrist…Sorry about that
· Jeremy Kerley- 1 reception for 3 yards… Sorry about that
· Kirk Cousins- 257 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs…Yeah I’m really really sorry about that
Free Agent Finds
o Joe Flacco (owned in 18% of leagues)
§ Flacco is coming off a torching of the Panthers D to the tune of 327 yards and 3 touchdowns. Look for this trend to continue as Flacco and co. go into Indy and face the red-hot Andrew Luck led Colts. Prediction: 315 yards, 2 touchdowns
o Ryan Fitzpatrick (4%)
§ Fitz is likely never going to win you a week. But he is plenty sufficient to get the job done. He’s scored at least 12 points every week and is pretty efficient which limits turnovers. With the Texans going on the road to face a Demarco Murray-led Cowboys team, Fitz may be forced to throw if the Texans fall behind early. Prediction: 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
o Darrin Reaves (0.1%)
§ Reaves has suddenly found himself the starter in a depleted Panther backfield. Stewart and Tolbert were out before week 4’s matchup and DeAngelo was sent to the bench with an injury himself. Reaves’ upside may be limited but any RB in a starting role has to be given a close look in a league short on dependable RBs. Going up against a Bears run D that has allowed 100 yards or a TD to running backs in 3 of the 4 weeks this year, Reaves should be able to hit pay dirt. Prediction: 18 carries for 67 yards and a TD
o Jerick McKinnon (0.8%)
§ The Viking running back right now can’t be considered more than a speculative add. Yes he just had a monster game against the Falcons, putting up more than 150 all-purpose yards. But Asiata (for some unknown reason) remains the lead back in Minnesota and he’ll be getting all short yardage and red zone carries. McKinnon won’t be a starter on your team this week but if he can start carving his role in the offense, you could be looking at a nice spark in your flex spot come playoff time. Prediction: 12 carries 56 yards, 4 receptions for 27 yards
o Justin Hunter (77%)
§ First of all, Hunter is likely to be dropped in a large amount of leagues this week so expect that ownership number to plummet. The young wide receiver was a training camp star as reporter after reporter raved about his hands and athletic ability. But through 4 games, he leaves us wanting more. The targets are there (he’s had 26 through 4 weeks). I think this is the week his athleticism is put on display as Cleveland will look to shut down Delanie Walker and PPR monster Kendall Wright. Prediction: 6 catches, 71 yards and a TD
o Andrew Hawkins (12%)
§ Hawkins may still be a little difficult to own in standard, non-PPR leagues but even in those, I think he’s worth a bench spot. Hawkins had at least 6 catches in each game before the Browns’ week 4 bye. Furthermore, his yardage line each game thus far has been 87, 70, and 87. A guy that catches this many balls is bound to find himself in the end zone at some point or another, and this may be that week. Prediction: 8 receptions, 90 yards and a TD
o Heath Miller (12%)
§ Heeeeeeeeath’s name is likely to show up on just about every free agent recommendation article you read today, and for good reason. The tight end who only had 3 or 4 receptions each week previous, exploded for 10 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Miller will look to continue this trend against a helpless Jags defense that ranks second to last against TEs. Miller is easily Roethlisberger’s second favorite pass catcher behind the incredible Antonio Brown. Although the matchup is scary because they may just try to run out the game, expect Miller to do his damage early. Prediction: 5 catches for 51 yards and a TD
o Jace Amaro (1%)
§ Another week, another Jets pass catcher on the list. Hopefully this one works out better than Kerley. Amaro, the rookie out of Texas Tech was drafted to give Geno Smith a reliable option in the middle of the field. Through 3 weeks, it didn’t seem like they were on the same page as they only connected on 6 passes. However, in week 4 alone, Amaro nearly matches his season total, catching 5 passes for 58 yards. With an offense lacking much firepower, the Jets figure to find themselves down frequently which means passing, passing, passing. Someone on this team has to catch passes; this week I’m betting it’s Amaro. Prediction: 6 catches for 63 yards
o Eagles D/ST
§ Coming off an impressive defensive and special teams display in which the units combined for 3 touchdowns, the Eagles will be flying high in their home matchup against the Rams. With the long time backup Shaun Hill at the helm for St. Louis, expect Chip Kelly’s defense to bring the blitz early and often. The Eagles D will be seeking out the turnovers again and I believe they are primed for a top 10 week. Prediction: 17 points against, 2 INTs, 4 sacks
o Steelers D/ST
§ Every single defense to play the Jacksonville Jaguars this week has scored double-digit fantasy points. Pick the Steelers up and start them. Enough said.
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This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve