With the off-season coming to an end, it’s time to start preparing yourself for week 1. Ah, it’s such a relief to have the season opener in sight. Now that the blood is rushing for fantasy football, let’s take some time to analyze whose value has shifted recently. I am assuming you, the reader, are well informed so I don’t want to be redundant from articles you have already read. My goal every week will be to try and stray from the obvious. With that being said, here are players whose values have seen shifts in the last week (both good and bad):
Pierre Garcon – Garcon has declared his injured foot/toe “100 percent.” Obviously, this is a big relief because many people avoided him due to injury concerns. Even though he played injured most of last season, Garcon was on pace for 1013 yards and 6.4 TD. If he is 100% and plays 16 games, there is no doubt in my mind he is a top 10 fantasy WR. He has clearly established himself as RGIII’s favorite target. Garcon’s value is on the rise because not only is he healthy, RGIII has been declared the week 1 starter. After a summer full of rumors surrounding RGIII’s ACL surgery, those concerns have too been put to rest. “The boys are back in town” in Washington and the fantasy community needs to take notice. Value Garcon as an elite option on Monday Night Football this week and beyond.
Le’Veon Bell – How can a player with a foot injury have an optimistic outlook? Well, when you hear the word “Lisfranc” the immediate first thought is “season over.” Bell went down in the pre-season for a second time and the L-word starting surfacing. Slowly, reports started surfacing that it actually was no more than a foot sprain. Though a foot sprain is still no walk in the park, it’s a serious upgrade from what it could have been. Jim Wexell posted on Twitter that Bell feels so optimistic that he expects to make his debut in week 2. Even if Bell doesn’t make week 2, the fact that he was able to avoid the PUP is encouraging. People who stashed Bell not knowing what to expect may reap more benefits than expected. If he comes back by week 3-4, you probably found yourself a steal in your draft. Assuming the owner is still worried about his foot, target him in a trade right now.
Darren McFadden – I don’t want to dwell on McFadden because overall I am pretty down on him overall but the news that Terrelle Pryor is starting helps. There is no doubt in my mind that over the past few seasons it’s been proven that having a running QB helps RB production. Going from Matt Flynn, an immobile QB with a jello arm, to a mobile, strong armed play maker is a definite upgrade. Regardless of Pryor’s accuracy issues, he gives the offense an element it did not possess with Flynn. At the very least, this should open up a little space for McFadden which I did not envision him having at all with Flynn in charge.
Zach Sudfeld – Gronkowski avoiding the PUP was a real bummer to Sudfeld owners. Had he landed on that dreaded list, Sudfeld would have been the lone receiving tight end option until at least week 6. So why is his value on the rise? We learned that Belichick plans to use Sudfeld as the “move option” at tight end. What is the “move” spot? The role Aaron Hernandez played last season. Hernandez was a borderline TE1 option despite being the second most talented at the position on his own team. With a lack of elite receiving options this season on New England, this now means Belichick plans to have a role for Sudfeld even when Gronk returns. So while you may not get 6 weeks of “full” playing time, you now may get 16 weeks of a solid tight end. No longer do you have to worry about dropping Sudfeld the second that the NFL’s best TE returns.
Andre Brown – Andre Brown went down with a broken leg in the final pre-season game. In itself, it was a disappointing enough outcome to fantasy owners who expected a double digit TD season from the Giants’ situational back. Now we come to find out that he wasn’t even placed on the PUP: instead, he was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Unfortunately, now he’s not even allowed to return until week 8, whereas the PUP is week 6. I’m not sure whether the Giants are just being cautious or maybe it’s a worse break than we originally thought. I’m not a doctor and don’t claim to be. All I know is at worst he is going to miss at least two more weeks than originally thought and I’m starting to get bad vibes about Brown’s 2013 outlook.
Vick Ballard – Chuck Pagano confirmed Monday that Ahmad Bradshaw will play in week 1 against the Raiders despite the foot injury. When the Colts went out and signed Bradshaw, it was obvious that they didn’t have faith in Ballard as a lead back. However, Bradshaw’s foot injury in training camp opened the door for possible heavy early season work. With Bradshaw being declared healthy enough to play, Ballard is barely feasible as a FLEX play. Maybe the Colts blow out the Raiders and he gets late game work. Either way, Ballard owners were hoping for a few weeks of the backfield to himself before Bradshaw was back. That will not happen so just stash him until further notice. Bradshaw’s foot will probably break down at some point so Ballard still holds value.
Jeremy Kerley – Those who took a flier on Kerley in PPR leagues probably assumed he was going to be the team’s #2 WR. Somewhat surprisingly, Santonio Holmes has gotten himself into playing shape and is listed as a starter on the team’s week 1 depth chart. Coming off a season plagued by the L-word (Lisfranc), I didn’t expect him to be ready early in the season. He says he’s ready so Rex is fine with throwing him into the fire as a starter I guess. In most situations, I don’t take the word “starter” to heart. “Starter” is usually in name only and I still prefer the more talented player. The problem with that theory in the Jets’ offense is this: their quarterbacks aren’t good enough to sustain consistent production for multiple receiving options. On other teams I would still feel good about Kerley coming out of the slot. Besides Sanchez clearly had chemistry with him. With Sanchez injured, that means he doesn’t even get that aspect to use for his upside argument. Although I have no faith in Santonio Holmes’ outlook, the limited snaps in a terrible offense leave Kerley with virtually zero value in any league.