Value Up-Value Down: Week 5

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Two of life’s greatest aspects are anticipating an upcoming event and food. One of the best moments you can experience is combining the two and trying out a new restaurant that your friends rave about. The beginning of the fantasy football season is nearly the same phenomenon. Let me explain.

Looking forward to the upcoming fantasy football season gets the juices flowing. You get so amped up to arrive at the fantasy football “restaurant” that the excitement itself is fulfilling. Sometimes, however, disappointing events can occur, temporarily ruining your experience. You hear this restaurant has the greatest steak dish of all times. By the time you show up, you are famished, so you order the soup first. The soup shows up at your table and you take a sip.

“Ewwww,” you think to yourself. Is this place really as good as you’d hoped it would be? Utter disappointment fills your body even though your full experience is not over. You’ve already given up on this well respected restaurant before the main dish is even served. Well, a bad appetizer at a great restaurant is the equivalent of a bad start to a good fantasy football team. We are only through four weeks and some people are already jumping ship. You haven’t even made it to the fantasy football entree yet, the first four weeks have just been a disappointing appetizer. Please, don’t give up.

Face it, most of the time a restaurant is raved about, the place turns out to be excellent. Your juicy, savory meal finally makes it to your plate. You take one bite; immediately, your faith in humanity is restored. Now you remember why you were so impatient on the drive over. This place rules! Well, my example can be your currently disappointing fantasy football team. Don’t rush to dump all value your fantasy team has to offer. Instead, take advantage of other owners still relying on players’ draft position to determine value. Look to trade some of your underperforming or inconsistent players for surprising up-and-comers. For only by staying optimistic will your crappy appetizer turn into a delectable overall 10-3 type meal.

All that being said, here are some players whose values have changed significantly since this time last week. Remember I try my best not to be so obvious with the players I choose.

Value Up:

Philip Rivers – So Phil Rivers is a has-been, huh? Through four games, including two against top ten ranked defenses, Rivers has thrown under three touchdowns just once. He’s sporting a hefty 11:2 TD to interception ratio. The thing I find most encouraging is he’s utilized all his different weapons. One week it’s Eddie Royal and the next it’s Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates. Rivers has proven in the past that once he gets hot, he has the ability to sustain it over an extended period of time.

Darren Sproles – Look who woke the sleeping giant (okay I can’t even type Sproles and giant in the same sentence with a straight face). All last week, I tweeted (@RSanders85) that this was the week Sproles would finally produce for his owners. Guess what: Brees didn’t forget about the little guy. He’s clearly supplanted as the #3 option in the passing game and the preferred back used in the red zone by Sean Payton. Sproles is, and always was, a top 10-12 PPR RB. Don’t expect that to be his last 7 reception or 100 yard receiving game of the season.

Le’Veon Bell – In a triumphant return, Le’Veon found pay dirt twice. See what happens when a back with any resemblance of talent steps foot into the Steelers’ backfield? The other backs proved Bell has zero competition as long as he is healthy. Expect the one man show to continue for Pittsburgh, making Bell a legitimate top 15-20 RB in all formats moving forward.

Isaiah Pead/Benny Cunningham/Zac Stacy – Good job, good effort Daryl Richardson. Coach Jeff Fisher gave Richardson every opportunity to run away with the lead back job, but like the rest of the offense, he stunk it up. I guess 2.7 yards per carry wasn’t enough through 42 carries. Now, Fisher says he’s leaning towards using the dreaded RBBC. It’s anyone’s guess as to who emerges from here. In the short term, my guess is Benny Cunningham offers the most value for just week 5. Over the course of the season, I think one of Pead or Stacy emerge as the best back in St. Louis. I’m just not quite sure which one to recommend.

LaGarrette Blount – I hadn’t even considered using the term “explosive” in the same sentence with LaGarrette Blount, aside from maybe his right hook, before this week. After watching Blount look like he was shot out of a cannon in his 47 yard TD run this week, I’m back on board. For the second consecutive week, Blount led the Patriots in rushing and has looked like by far their best back. Bill Belichick is watching the same thing we are. Blount doesn’t fumble at the rate Ridley does which could force the coach’s hand. It is very possible we are witnessing the former fantasy wasteland LaGarrette Blount becoming the Patriots’ lead back.

Wes Welker – Welker’s value was already up after his hot play and commercials, but now it is through the roof. Formerly known as just a possession receiver, Welker now finds the end zone every week. Here are his TD by week: 2, 1, 1, 2. Clearly this Broncos team is poised to be one of, if not the, best offense in history. As the move-the-chains guy along with the added red zone responsibility, he is absolutely elite. Don’t go trading him for guys such as Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald who were drafted ahead of him.

Robert Woods – E.J. Manuel has made his decision: Robert Woods is his wide receiver of choice. Woods has had one week of under 10 points in a PPR so far and it was against the #3 ranked Jets defense. With eight targets in each of the past two weeks and Stevie Johnson’s hamstring injury flaring up, Woods is an absolute must-add if he’s available. Should be more of a WR 1A and 1B type situation for the Bills instead of a clear #1.

Marlon Brown – Guess who found the end zone once again? If you’re keeping score at home, that’s now 3 TD in four games. If you were worrying about Jacoby Jones coming back, literally every week has eased that concern more and more. Although Jones practiced today, when he returns he will be nothing more than a deep threat and kick returner. Meanwhile, dancing in the end zone is where you will be able to find Brown.

Jeremy Kerley – Santonio Holmes was diagnosed with a hamstring injury and could “be looking at a month” of inactivity. Stephen Hill’s status is “up in the air” for Monday’s contest with a concussion, and the New York Post is already reporting he’s not expected to play. That pretty much leaves Jeremy Kerley as the last man standing. While he’s not a big guy or extremely talented, he should be looking at a healthy amount of targets from Geno Smith. In a PPR, you could absolutely do worse.

Delanie Walker – Lets not write him off just because he plays for a Titans team turning to Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least the next four weeks. Walker has gone for at least 40 yards or a TD in every game so far this season. I’ll admit it’s not great, but it’s definitely usable in a deeper league. If you’re hurting at tight end because of Kyle Rudolph or Heath Miller’s byes, give Walker an extended look.

Coby Fleener – Fleener bounced back from his second awful game of the season with his second solid game. In a one tight end system with his college quarterback, Fleener presents too much upside to be left of the bench. Andrew Luck will continue his way in the end zone, and at 6’6, he will continue to find him.

 

Value Down:

Colin Kaepernick – Does 49ers’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman realize Kaepernick is his quarterback and not Alex Smith? The way they’ve been calling plays lately, it’s hard to tell if he actually comprehends this. Seemingly doomed to run a dink and dunk type offense led by Frank Gore, Kaepernick needs to show his big play-making ability again before we can trust him. As an offense gets more conservative, the players involved in the passing game have their upside evaporate. To make matters worse, I tweeted a stat earlier this week that shows Kap clearly favors the right side of the field. When throwing to the left size of the field, of all the zones (short, medium and long), Kaepernick’s highest QBR is 26.9 throwing short. Talk about being easy to game plan for. You can essentially cut off half the field. It’s only a matter of time before his opponents figure out the same thing.

C.J. Spiller – Spiller’s value is down even further this week after another injury. He was given a full workload this week (23 carries) and couldn’t produce (77 yards). I mean even Fred Jackson got injured this week and Spiller still couldn’t gain some value out of it. With every passing week, it’s looking more and more like 2013 may just be a lost season for the once highly sought after Bills’ back.

Doug Martin – Zero touchdowns since week 1 even though he’s received 100% of the team’s red zone carries? 3.4 yards per carry for the season? A rookie quarterback now running the show? Combine all of the above and you have a recipe for disaster. If you drafted Doug Martin number two overall, it’s time you temper your expectations. You’ll be lucky if he ends up as a low end RB1. I’d be more comfortable valuing him as a high end RB2 moving forward considering the state of that miserable offense/team/organization.

Joique Bell – Still worth stashing, Bell took a back seat to the show Reggie Bush put on against the Bears this week. Bush still is injury prone so Bell is obviously a must-own. However, as long as Bush is healthy, it looks like Bell may need to get into the end zone to provide owners with solid value. Considering how hard it is to actually predict touchdowns on any given week, I don’t recommend starting Bell as long as Bush is on the field.

T.Y. Hilton – Three duds in four games? Didn’t see that one coming as I was one of the highest analysts on T.Y. preseason. Hilton seems like he’s being used as purely a deep threat. Hilton will have his big games when he unleashes a big play, otherwise will probably provide a dud. I trust Luck to have plenty of big plays up his sleeve, but I can’t trust Hilton from week to week. If you are inserting him into your starting lineup from here on out, you’d better start praying.

Hakeem Nicks/Reuben Randle – The Giants’ offense has just been disgusting. Considering the lack of production from Eli Manning over the last year and a half, I would avoid the whole passing game minus Victor Cruz until further notice. Manning will most likely break out of this slump soon in some fashion, but then again, he is still playing behind the same horrific offensive line for the next 13 weeks. For that reason, I’m feeling timid towards everyone involved.

Kyle Rudolph – Well, any hopes of consistency pretty much went down the drain after a 2 REC, 6 YD performance with Matt Cassel. We knew Rudolph didn’t have a chance with Ponder at the helm, and now we realize that won’t happen with Cassel either. Nothing to see here but a tight end that needs to score to have any value. The yards will absolutely not come in bunches. Stay away if at all possible.

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