torrey smith ravens Investment & Opportunity: AFC North

 

By DFW Contributor – The Captain

This is the seventh release in a series of articles where I will be going division by division looking for a buy & sell on each team. Here are a couple things to keep in mind: I will deal with players like stocks rather than focus on strategies. As a general rule, this will about production relative to ADP with a focus on players who will not lose value.

Baltimore Ravens

Buy Torrey Smith
Smith is the type of player that I generally find myself avoiding. His game logs last season just scream inconsistency and I could pass on him as the boom-bust type like a Vincent or Desean Jackson. But looking a little deeper there are a number of things here to like that I believe he is being undervalued overall and is a solid buy. First, he was a rookie coming into the year with a very short offseason. That is a critical time for young WRs so expecting him to produce right out of the gate would have been a lot to ask. After seeing little action the first two weeks, he suddenly became Joe Flacco’s top option starting in week 3 having at least 7 targets in 9 of the remaining 14 games. I expect that not only to continue into 2012 but to see those targets increase and post top 20 production this season and even higher moving forward. With the other receiving options on this club in Boldin, Dickson/Pitta and Rice, Torrey Smith is the clear favorite to lead the team in receiving for the forseeable future.

Sell Joe Flacco
We have read the offseason reports about how good Flacco believes he is as a QB. But there are a number of things that will hold him back from ever being a fantasy starter. While many teams have moved to the vertical game, Baltimore is still “old school” in that they believe in defense and ball control. They do not have a myriad of receiving weapons (and wont) for Flacco to utilize. It isn’t any accident that Flacco’s numbers have been nearly identical to one another over the last 3 years. For a fantasy owner, Flacco is “safe” because you know exactly what you are going to get. Aside from one huge week last season, the rest of his year was just average. He makes for a good backup option but if you can sell him to a QB-needy club for a 1st rd pick, do it. There is almost always an option on the waiver wire who can be just as productive on a given week…or a cheaper one to acquire in trade.

Cincinnati Bengals

Buy Jermaine Gresham
We have only just started to scratch the surface with Gresham and there was an immediate connection between he and Dalton. He saw no fewer than 5 targets in every single game last season. While I like Jones and Sanu, Gresham is the 2nd best receiver on that club behind AJ Green and should take another step forward this year. Rather than invest early on someone like an overrated/overvalued Jermichael Finley, I would rather wait several more rounds and add Gresham who is every bit as talented and can be just as productive. I am not confident that Gresham offers top 5 upside, but he is solidly in the top 10 and is going to provide production every week. I feel a lot more secure with him than the likes of Cook or Rudolph who are going in roughly the same range.

Sell BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Going to start with a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but if you can’t spell a player’s name you shouldn’t own him. In this case the name is a bit of a mouthful, but I am giving no passes. It is amazing how some of the simplest names people can’t get right. Anyway, there seems to be this sentiment out there that Green-Ellis is going to have a very solid season this year based on his past performance as well as his presumed role as the #1 in Cincinnati. While his performance in the past has been solid, I also prefer to keep into perspective that he played in New England. I am not a Patriots fan but I absolutely believe that Bill Belichick is the best head coach in the NFL and by no small margin. He excels at personnel knowledge and scheming to their skill sets and I believe that Green-Ellis was a beneficiary of that system. Moving to an offense with lesser talent, poorer coaching, and the worst ownership in the league my outlook is not nearly as rosy as most and I would sell him even for less than value if it meant getting an upside player who I really like on the exchange.

Cleveland Browns

Buy Brandon Weeden
If you look around the net, you will see precious few knocks on Weeden’s game. The talent is most definitely there and it is almost laughable that there are people who would rather give Colt McCoy another year at the helm. Even more shocking is that the sentiment is coming from some of my fellow Browns fans. Late last month, B&E did an excellent analysis on Weeden which you can find here if you need any proof of his abilities. The primary knock on Weeden is his age as he is coming into the league turning 29 later this year and while that can be viewed negatively there is also something to be said with the maturity that comes with it. Now consider for a moment many of the top tier QBs in the league are already 30+: Brees, Brady, Vick, Roethlisberger, Eli, Peyton, Rivers, Romo, etc… You can count on less than one hand the QBs who are fantasy starters who are at or under Weeden’s age (Rodgers, Stafford, Newton, Ryan). While Weeden doesn’t compare favorably to any of these guys in terms of his skills – he is most definitely capable of producing as a high end QB2. Given his going rate as a late 2nd/early 3rd rookie pick or outside of the top 25 QBs in startups – he costs next to nothing. It is almost scary just how low he is going (behind the likes of Gabbert, Alex Smith, Kolb…).

Sell Josh Gordon
I am a Cleveland fan but rarely do I consider that to interfere with my view of players in dynasty terms. Admittedly this season I am optimistic about the offense with the additions of Weeden, Richardson, and Gordon and I am struggling to come to terms on whether my view isn’t being tainted my my fandom. Honestly, I want to recommend to sell no one at all becaue I don’t think there is anyone being overvalued. In the interest of finding someone I went with Gordon. In leagues which use blind bid waivers, he is going for a premium…so much so that owners are investing 100% of their budget to get him rostered. This topic came up this week with one of our members who was asking me about what it would take and I advised that if he wanted him he was going to need to spend 75-80% minimum and still could expect the possibility of being outbid. Right or wrong, there is a lot of hype right now around this kid and while I tend to want to believe it an owner should also recognize when there is a willingness to overpay. I’d want an early/middle future 1st minimum but chances are good with the hype followed up by a lot of the positive comments from the organization that that is merely a starting point in discussion.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Buy Rashard Mendenhall
I probably should advise Mike Wallace here based all of the negative sentiment he is getting right now. I’d be a buyer but most of his owners are going to still hold out for a substantial return. Mendenhalls’s value has taken a number of justifiable hits but he has now dropped into “buy” territory. His production is mostly tied to the volume of carries that he receives because the talent is definitely in question. He had issues of tentativeness coming out of college which have never been properly addressed or corrected and at this point should be expected to continue through the rest of his career. But he is only now 25 years old…even if he misses the entire year he isn’t exactly pushing on to the end of his career. He is likely going to be a free agent after this year and he still has plenty enough going for him that someone will be willing to sign him to be their lead back. With the injuries likely to put him on the PUP to start the year, positive outlook for Redman, and uncertainty of his future club the cost is likely to be lower than his future production.

Sell Antonio Brown
Plenty of owners already liked this kid. With the new contract and the Mike Wallace snubbing by the organization, those owners are even more giddy. I completely understand the positive outlook those owners HAD but definitely can’t agree if indeed Mike Wallace holds out. Mike Wallace has been a top 10 WR the last two years running and if he sets foot on the field in week 1 then 2012 will make his 3rd. I have no idea where the shortcomings are in his game that some are identifying. He is falsely mislabeled a “one trick pony” but has a lot more versatility than he is getting credit for catching 72 passes on 114 targets and ws much more than just a deep threat… That is a better ratio than the supposedly more well-rounded Brown (69 on 124). The Steelers do not have a WR to replace Wallace’s presence and it will directly impact Antonio Brown. If I was absolutely confident in Wallace’s return, Brown is a hold. But with the uncertainty and likely future departure of Wallace, I’d rather sell Brown where he is being valued for a WR like Steve Johnson or Marques Colston who are going in the same range of a draft but whose production is not tied to other players on the club.