By Jeff Melbostad
Welcome back to DFW’s own Buy Low, Sell High, Hold Steady article. Each and every week we cover a number of players who fall into each category based on current values, performance, and player trends. Player values are of the utmost importance to the fantasy football community. And striking on a player when his value is low or high makes all of the difference in the world. These concepts are especially true in dynasty leagues where player values stretch out over a much longer period of time. So while we’ll focus on some immediate news and production remember that in dynasty we can’t overreact. One game (or even a few games) a career does not make, but it does definitely give us an idea of what to expect. And we’re off:
Christian Ponder, QB MIN – People have been doubting Ponder since he was somewhat unexpectedly drafted by the Vikings at number 12 overall. It has taken a while for him to get his bearings but right now this kid looks legit. He’s an intelligent guy who knows how to play within the system. The poise and athleticism are definitely there. His fantasy stats aren’t off the charts just yet throwing for only 824 yards and 4 touchdowns through four games. But he’s the only starting quarterback left who has yet to throw an interception and you need to jump on guys like this before their fantasy potential is fully realized. The buzz surrounding Ponder has already started a bit but if you strike now you should still get him at a discount and watch him bloom into his full potential.
Doug Martin, RB TBB – After coming out of the gates rock solid in both week 1 and the preseason Martin has been struggling the past few weeks. That said he’s a young running back and the team is still willing to feed him the rock as their workhorse. Sure his carries dropped off from 24, 20, and 19 the previous three weeks to only 8 in week 4 but that’s more fodder for you to use when buying low. Have patience with the young man. He’s a stud in the making. I don’t think LeGarrette Blount is a true threat to his playing time, especially long-term. While he does seem to be the favorite for goal line work at this point, use that to your advantage and try to buy Martin from an impatient owner.
Antonio Gates, TE SDC – The big TE is back in as a buy low for the second straight week. He’s only caught 10 passes for 124 yards and no touchdowns this season which is very underwhelming for Antonio. But let’s not forget that this guy is an absolute stud. I have no doubt he’ll rebound as the season goes on. He’s a bit of an injury risk and has a tendency to get nicked up (already missed one game this year) but at his current price he’s worth the risk. At age 32 many feel it’s time to bail on Gates because of this lack of production and him always getting dinged. Find that guy in your league and get a stud TE on the cheap.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT – With Mendy likely returning to action in week 5 this is your last chance to buy him. While I can’t guarantee he’ll return to the bell-cow role (at least right away) the other backs on the roster have been mediocre enough to ensure he’ll get more than his fair shot. Mendy is still deceivingly young at age 25 (incidentally the same age as guys who seem younger like Spiller and Ray Rice) and has plenty left in the tank in my opinion. Get him now before his owners demand starter prices. I think if you wait to see how he performs you’ll end up paying a lot more than you would right now.
Chris Johnson, RB TEN – We saw our first signs of life from CJ2K in week 4. I know that’s exactly what many of us have been waiting for. If you’re not sold on Johnson long-term then now is a great time to sell while his believers have something to hold onto. Up to this point he’s given no reason to look at a potential sell but with a good game under his belt (157 total yards) there’ll be many who think this is the start of his return to form. Let’s not forget, though, that the Titans’ offensive line is still awful and Johnson has been throwing his teammates under the bus repeatedly during his struggles. That’s not something players or the franchise take lightly. If you’re not a believer in his turnaround then get what you can now.
Brian Hartline, WR MIA – Guaranteed targets equal guaranteed production. And Hartline has seen a massive amount of them in 2012. Through four games he’s been thrown at 48 times and only Victor Cruz and Dwayne Bowe have been targeted more. That’s reason for major optimism. Add to that the fact that he put up some rather ridiculous stats in week 4 (12 catches for 254 yards and a touchdown) and people are looking to acquire this kid. But let’s face it Hartline is a replaceable talent. If he were the monster he looks like in 2012 we’d have seen production (or at least flashes) before now. He’ll be solid this year because of the quantity of targets he’s getting but if Miami has a shot at a legit WR or two in the offseason he can easily be relegated to backup duty. Sell high in dynasty. He’s probably a hold in redraft though.
Michael Turner, RB ATL – Turner’s stats the past few weeks have been great. He’s got 326 total yards and 3 touchdowns through four games. The Burner even caught his first ever receiving touchdown last week against Carolina. This type of production is more than most were expecting this year. Turner is one of those players that is rapidly nearing end of life. Because of his production you’ve got people who are trying to win now looking to buy. That’s more than we could’ve said coming into the season. As such now is your last time to get value for Turner before the end. Find the team in your league that needs that one final RB to make a run and sell this man.
Anquan Boldin, WR BAL – Boldin is another guy that is putting up good stats as an aging player. He had 9 catches for 131 yards last week which is great production for owners. Still, it’s clear through the first few weeks that this is now Torrey Smith’s team at the WR position. Boldin is old and being slowly replaced so now is the time to move him. Flacco is on fire but should return to his average ways too as I alluded to in last week’s article. The time to act is now. Get this guy off of your roster while he still holds value.
BONUS SELL – New York Jets – An entire team you say?! Why yes. I haven’t ever featured an entire team before but after getting beat 34-0 by the San Francisco 49ers the offense reached a new low. Almost as low as fellow DFW writer Quinn Miller’s IQ in fact. The Tim Tebow rumors are swirling and the Jets’ best playmaker Santonio Holmes is now out for the year. Some young WRs will get playing time but they’re sure to remain inconsistent and keep us all guessing on this team. Especially if Tebow takes over. We’ve seen him make solid WRs like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker look mediocre. Imagine what he can do to a group of young, unproven talent. Sell them all if you can.
Payback is sweet Mr. Miller.
Andre Johnson, WR HOU – This makes Andre’s third subpar week in a row. He started off strong in week one but has since posted 3, 2 and 3 catches in respective weeks. If it wasn’t for his touchdown in week three it’d be really ugly. But don’t hit the panic button just yet. Andre is as beastly a talent as there is in the NFL. He’ll get his regardless. Don’t do anything hasty and move him while some may see his value as down. He’ll produce very good numbers going forward. The Texans have just had a lot of success with their running game and have been ahead in games with no reason to pass. Once they get in some closer games with better competition he’ll rack up the targets and catches.
Jordy Nelson, WR GBP – Where has this guy been? He had a very good week 4 but other than that he’s been very disappointing. Especially when you consider how much time Greg Jennings has been missing due to injury. Is that the real issue at hand here? Is Jordy not ready to be a team’s number 1 receiver? Can this be attributed to the overall struggles the Green Bay offense has been having? These are questions many fantasy footballers are asking but I wouldn’t take any of them too much to heart. Despite my slowness in coming around on Jordy he is as talented as his stats the past few years would indicate. He’s a big, strong receiver who makes plays after the catch and is spot on in his route running. Add the fact that he has Aaron Rodgers throwing to him and you have nothing to worry about here. Stay the course on Jordy and you will be rewarded. Regardless of whether or not Jennings is there short-term or long-term Jordy is good enough to be the top dog in Green Bay.
Ryan Mathews, RB SDC – I’m not sure anyone knows what’s going on in San Diego at the running back position right now. After long touting Mathews as their workhorse back he gets hurt, fumbles, and a workhorse he is no longer? After not starting in week 4 (reportedly due to his fumbling issue) he received just 14 carries. Meanwhile, Battle rumbled for two touchdowns and had more carries. And now the Chargers have listed Battle as the top RB on their official depth chart. All that being said I just don’t buy it. Mathews is talented. By far the most talented back on the roster. It’s impossible to imagine him not regaining the lead back role. Still, his injury prone label has proven true time and again. He’s at the low point in his value because of it and because of his splitting carries and depth chart shake up. Hold him and wait until he returns to workhorse duty. He puts up stats in bunches when he gets all of the carries. Even if you’re hell bent on selling Mathews now is simply not the time.
Cedric Benson, RB GBP – Normally I’d tout an “over-performer” like Benson as a sell high candidate. He’s definitely putting up better numbers and getting more work than even his biggest fans expected. But I’m really starting to come around on him being the answer at RB in Green Bay. The coaching staff seems to have bought in and forgotten about any possibility of utilizing the other backs on the roster. Now don’t get me wrong, I obviously don’t think he’s a long-term prospect. But your team could do worse if you need some help at RB or Flex for this season. If you can get a young prospect or solid draft pick for him then by all means do so. But at the current value I see him carrying he’s a definite hold because his production will mean more to your team now than the probable return will both now and in the future.
Hold for Dummies – Julio Jones, WR ATL – This should go without saying but Julio’s two “bad” games in the first few weeks do not affect his value at all. This is a really young and really talented guy who happens to have another really talented WR and an all-time great TE starting along with him. His stats may fluctuate but there should be no doubt in your mind that he’s one of the most coveted assets in fantasy football. He’s a big play machine that will win you games. Don’t even think about moving him. And make no mistake I did call you a dummy if you considered it.
Another week is in the books. These are just a few guys that, in my opinion, you should be looking at this week and deciding what to do with them. Whether you have them on your roster or are thinking about acquiring someone the buy low and sell high philosophy is a powerful one. And one you should always look to take advantage of.
Obviously the final decision on these players (and others) is up to you. If you have thoughts on these guys or opinions that differ I’d love to hear them. Hit us up in the DFW forums or post a comment and I’ll respond in kind. Differing opinions is what makes fantasy football fun after all.