Playing fantasy sports and playing the stock market have a lot in common. In both you need to keep your finger on the pulse of the market and always try to know when to buy low and to sell high. You never want to pay more than market value, and getting in early on an emerging talent can absolutely make your portfolio… or in this case, your fantasy roster. With that philosophy in mind, ETB sorts through Week Three results and takes a look at a few of the players who’ve experienced significant gains and losses in their value.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: It took Carson Palmer a couple of weeks to round back into form after undergoing a similar proceedure last season, so hopefully McNabb’s near-flawless day against the Lions isn’t just a fluke but evidence that he’s starting to get comfortable with his surgerically repaired knee. Even if the embattled Iggles field general only performs against weak secondaries, he’ll face plenty of ’em with the Giants on the docket this week and dates with the Jets, Vikings, Cowboys (twice), Saints, and NYG again on the horizon. Right now, it looks safe to start him without much consternation.
Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: The emergence of McNabb did wonders for Curtis’ stock this weekend, which was as low as it’ll be all season coming into his effortless 11 receptions, 221 yards, 3 TD showcase against the Lions. He’s clearly a superior talent to Reggie Brown, and McNabb has noticed. Curtis is a gritty player with good wheels who’s as comfortable burning guys deep as he is making tough catches over the middle, which means he should stay consistent if given enough looks.
Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit Lions: Jones has reported no ill effects from his limited action Sunday, and appears poised to go full tilt for the remainder of the season. He’s a dynomite flex play right now, and should approach strong RB2 status as the year progresses. This is the last week you’ll be able to buy low.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins: In the days leading up to Sunday, HC Cam Cameron said they needed to run more and get Ronnie Brown more involved. Mission accomplished. Brown was the clear focal point of the offense and he proved he’s capable of carrying the load. Meanwhile, his fellow RBBC Chatman didn’t get a single touch. That’s fantastic news for Brown owners everywhere.
Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers: Vincent Jackson is emerging as a consistent option on the other side of the field as Antonio Gates. The hardest part of the schedule is behind him and Philip Rivers finally showed he’s capable of delivering the ball consistently against a tough Green Bay defense on Sunday. At this point, consider Jackson an every-week WR3 play and a good bet to match or top his 6 TDs from last season.
Houston Defense: Holding Peyton Manning to 1 TD pass is no small feat, especially when their offense was handcuffed most of the game by sloppy play. They have a number of favorable matchups on the docket and Mario Williams is emerging as a legit playmaker. We’re comfortable rolling with the Texans in all favorable matchups right now, and that certainly wasn’t the case heading into the season.
Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers: Now that James Jones and Greg Jennings are healthy alongside the always-steady Donald Driver, the Packers figure to have a very strong corps of receivers. The team’s running game is very much a work in progress, too, and the Pack still have some very favorable passing matchups on their schedule (DET twice, MIN twice, DAL, OAK). Favre looks rejuvenated, like he (finally) has faith and hope in his supporting cast again, and still has one of the best guns in the league.
Shaun McDonald, WR, Detroit Lions: If the Lions keep passing this much–and there’s no reason to think they won’t–and if Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams continue demanding this much attention, McDonald could have a very strong season, something like what Brandon Stokley did for the Colts in 2004 as the third WR (68 receptions, 1,077 yards, 10 TDs). Those are pretty lofty numbers for a guy who’s technically still fourth on the depth chart, but right now he’s on pace to top that. Don’t count on it happening, but if he’s somehow still available in your league you have to add him immediately.
Laurence Maroney, RB, New England Patriots: It appears that Laurence Maroney will need to score from 5+ yards out or he’s not going to find paydirt. It really sucks, because strategically there’s no reason Maroney shouldn’t be getting those goal-line carries. He’s more than capable of picking up short yardage, and he should be rewarded for doing all that hard work between the 20s. I often get the impression in New England that they go out of their way to make sure no individual players have huge statistical seasons because that means they’ll have to pay them huge contracts. Randy Moss owners just told us to shut up.
Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Teammate Kevin Curtis (above) is clearly the WR1 in Philly at this point. If Reggie Brown can’t figure out how to shake a CB in single coverage, he can’t be on your fantasy team. Give him a few more weeks before cutting him outright, but watch the games and see if he’s doing anything to warrant a roster spot. So far he hasn’t, and if he can’t produce more than 2 catches for 23 yards against the porous Lions secondary, who can he beat?
Deuce McAllister, RB, New Orleans Saints: His value was already pretty low with the Saints’ offense sputtering through the first two weeks of the season, and then came his second tear of the ACL in three years Monday night against the Titans. He’s done for the year, and there’s a chance he may never return to the field; even if he does, his best days are clearly behind now at just 28 years old. Owners who invested a likely 7th – 8th round pick on McAllister will have to live with the 92 rushing yards, 4 catches for 15 yards, no TDs, and 1 Fumble Lost they got on their investment. Aaron Stecker will likely take over the “Deuce” role in the Saints offense, but his value is pretty minimal with the team struggling.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: It’s time to let a shadow of doubt creep in. It’s not time to panic or dump your stud RB on the cheap, but it’s time to get a little concerned. As the probable second-overall pick in your fantasy draft, Jackson’s numbers are about as dismal as Tony Kornheiser’s long-term prospects on MNF: 233 yards rushing, 8 receptions for 57 yards, 2 Fumbles Lost, no TDs. His quarterback isn’t playing at full strength, his offensive line is having trouble adjusting to the season-ending injury to LT Orlando Pace, and now he’ll miss at least two or three games with groin problems. On one hand, now is a great time to propose some lowball offers to his desperate owners; on the flipside, are you truly ready to pay the price for a guy with so much going against him?
Patrick Crayton, WR, Dallas Cowboys: That broken finger is bothering Crayton more than he’s letting on. He dropped two passes outright on Sunday night–one was a sure TD and one led to an interception. Terry Glenn (below) may or may not return to action after having his knee scoped almost two weeks ago, but if he does Crayton has thus far failed miserably in his quest to secure permanence as the team’s WR2, and would be fighting with rookie Sam Hurd for looks if Glenn is healthy.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: You can’t say we didn’t warn you. For those who chased last year’s dazzling numbers, I have some lovely real estate in central Florida you’ll want to check out. I’ll send you a brochure.
Cincinnati Defense: Ugh. Don’t start them again. Ever. They’re terrible. Let’s move on.
Marc Bulger, QB, St. Louis Rams: It’s almost like the formerly elite fantasy QB is playing through some sort of ailment, say, a few broken ribs. Sporting a paltry 69.8 QB rating heading into this week’s road game in Dallas, Bulger has thrown for just 651 yards and has more INTs on his ’07 resume (3) than TD passes (2). He’ll be without his top running back for the next few weeks, and figures to be throwing it quite a bit, but the Rams offense just isn’t clicking and owners have to be getting impatient for some kind of return on their third- or fourth-round investment. Nearly impossible to trade him right now, too.
Tatum Bell, RB, Detroit Lions: So long, fantasy relevance. That sound you heard when Kevin Jones crossed the stripe in the first quarter on Sunday was Bell’s stock hitting rock bottom. He had one game where he was worth starting, Week One, and that’s it for 2007. A strong showing before KJ’s return could have made this a more solid timeshare situation, but Mike Martz and the Lions coaching staff obviously have little faith in him and hardly even attempted to establish him on the ground. Right now he’s no better than a bottom-third handcuff, and a poor one at that.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland Browns: Edwards has scored two weeks in a row, and numerous other sites are touting him as a potential top-tier fantasy WR. His value will never be higher, so now’s the time to see if you can’t move him and land a solid WR1 in a more reliable offense.
Shaun Alexander, RB, Seattle Seahawks: After word came down yesterday that Alexander is playing with a broken bone in his wrist, his “sell high” value took a hit. The truth is that not many wise fantasy players are that enthralled with him anymore, but we all know there are unwise fantasy players aplenty out there…
Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins: As we mentioned in our Week 3 Hangover, Brown traditionally has his best games of the year against the Jets, so it’s up to you to gauge whether or not that massive 211-yard, 3-touchdown performance on Sunday was a sign of things to come or a flash in the pan. Us, if we can get a Tier 1 RB, we’re trying to move him today.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers: He’s starting to get more involved in the offense, and the schedule loosens up in the coming weeks… right after he sits out the next two weeks with a partially torn MCL. Our guess is he can be had for next to nothing.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: The third-overall pick in the 2004 draft is off to a very slow start, failing to top 100 yards receiving or score a TD three weeks into the season. There’s also rumors floating that he’s unhappy in HC Ken Whisenhunt’s new system. Pay no attention to either: he’s going to get his as the season progresses and the Cards face some weak pass defenses.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Warrick Dunn is still getting the bulk of the carries in Bobby Petrino’s offense, but we sense an ever-so-slow shift towards more touches for the quick second-year back. Right now he’s more effective as a third-down platooner, but he’ll be “the guy” when–not if–Dunn misses some time with injury. He can probably be had on the cheap right now, and is a pretty decent gamble to pay off in the second half of the season.
Terry Glenn, WR, Dallas Cowboys: It’s not a definite that he’ll even return to the field this fall, but he could be back as early as Week 7 vs. Minnesota, or more likely against Philadelphia after the team’s Week 8 bye. The ‘Boys offense is looking prolific after hanging 34+ points on all three of their opponents so far, and if Glenn comes back and is effective he’ll be a nice flex play. You ccould still wait a week or so, but put him on the Watch List at least.