Buy, sell, or stay. You’re always doing one of those three things with every player on your roster. Often, the decision is easy (say, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t passed for 400 yards in a game yet…SELL! SELL! SELL!). But even more often players who were drafted at high positions are struggling, and it’s difficult to gauge if they’re trending downwards and should be moved, or if there’s a buy low opportunity.
Since we provide a public service with everything from fantasy football to dry cleaning (please direct all your dry cleaning requests to intern Kyle Smith), we’re here to help. Each week we’ll explore a handful of scenarios and puzzling players, and suggest potential trades.
Usually three players will fit into that handful, as is the case this week. But sometimes there could be more. We’re crazy like that.
SELL: Darren McFadden
The book is out on the Oakland Raiders. They have one dynamic play-maker, and it’s Darren McFadden. The problem for Run DMC owners is that defensive coordinators have figured this out too. They’re forcing Oakland to beat them through the air by playing eight defenders in the box on a regular basis. Carson Palmer hasn’t made defenses pay, and thus the Raiders spend a lot of time playing from behind, forcing them to abandon the run game completely.
Through two games, McFadden is averaging 27 yards per game and a putrid 2.1 yards per carry. He has yet to score a touchdown, and he hasn’t broken off a run longer than eight yards. McFadden already had a reputation for struggling in goal-line situations, which limits his value even further. His 10 touchdowns in 2010 are by far his career-high. The final straw for me with McFadden is how brittle he’s been over the course of his four-year career – not once has he played more than 13 games. Those in PPR leagues should take a slightly different approach to the 25-year-old, because he’ll continue to see a ton of looks in the flats as Oakland receivers struggle to find separation.
Players I would target in a McFadden trade: Reggie Bush, Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
BUY: Larry Fitzgerald
Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have very different approaches to running the Arizona Cardinals offense. Skelton likes to use Larry Fitzgerald as his primary target, which leads to throws often forced into coverage. Kolb prefers to use Fitzgerald as a decoy while trying to take advantage of the openings created elsewhere. The table below splits Fitzgerald’s production between Kolb’s nine starts last year and Skelton’s seven.
The results of this experiment seem to drastically favor Skelton as the Cardinals went 5-2 when he started last season and 3-6 in Kolb’s starts. With Skelton on the shelf for the next couple weeks, Kolb went under center in Week 2 and as a result, Fitzgerald only had one catch for four yards. So the time is right to try prodding the Fitzgerald owner in your league and see if you can land Larry on the cheap. Skelton should only be out one or two more weeks with an ankle sprain and once he comes back, expect top five production from Fitz again.
Players I would trade away to get Fitzgerald: Marques Colston, Dez Bryant, Roddy White, AJ Green
BUY: Dennis Pitta
The continued development of Joe Flacco has yielded some unexpected surprises on the Baltimore Ravens offense. The primary beneficiary of Flacco’s maturity and Baltimore’s pass-happy offense has proven to be Dennis Pitta. Through two games this season he ranks first among all tight ends with 24 targets, which places him fifth among every offensive player in the league.
He’s a big target at 6’4″, and his blocking is good enough that John Harbaugh trusts him to be on the field for every down. You may be lucky enough to find Pitta on your waiver wire, (he’s owned in 33%/24% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues) but if not, it will be well worth your time to invest heavily in him. Having an elite tight end gives your team a huge advantage, as there are only two or three (if you include Vernon Davis or Aaron Hernandez) first tier tight ends in the game. Pitta has the ability to join that group, which is why I’m very high on him.
Players I would trade away to get Pitta: Jason Witten, Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, Tony Gonzalez