Fantasy football projections in March are always a moving target, but if you’re paying attention now and your opponents are not, you may just catch them sleeping and win a championship in December.
This is a great time of year to offer a trade that *sounds* like an awesome deal for your trading partner, but is actually tilted in your favor. Take advantage now, while you still have an advantage.
With some of the free agency pieces falling into place, now is the time to capitalize on the confusion.
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Here are five guys to make an offer on today.
Aldon Smith, OLB
OK, I love Aldon Smith. I love his motor. I love his story. You may not love him if you’re in a tackle-heavy league. But if you’re in a big-play league (one that gives 4, 5 or 6 points for sacks), you’ll fall in love with Aldon Smith too.
Fantasy players tend to gravitate to the linebackers who derive their points from tackles. It’s smart. Linebackers can be very predictable (unlike fantasy wide receivers, kickers, defensive backs, etc.) Aldon may turn in the occasional zero tackle, one assist, no sack performance. But he also has an upside as high as anyone in IDP, including JJ Watt.
The seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft is such a force at OLB (but let’s face it, he’s a defensive end masquerading as a linebacker) that he put up 14 sacks in his rookie season, 19.5 the following year, and 8.5 in a half a season last year as he ran into personal demons and sought help for alcohol addiction.
Some people would look at Smith’s rehab stint as weakness and a character flaw. I look at it with admiration for a 24-year-old who was on top of the world, but realized he needed to sort out his personal life, and put sobriety first. That shows me character. That shows me strength.
When he got out of rehab, Smith was his usual monstrous self. He could be a tremendous buy-low candidate in 2014. And if you feel like I do, you’ll cheer for him on Sundays for more reasons than just fantasy stats. You’ll cheer for him because he’s easy to love.
Damontre Moore, DE
The New York Giants grabbed Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, adding depth behind Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck.
Tuck was “insulted” by the Giants’ contract offer, and took his services to Oakland. Tuck’s payday looks like Damontre Moore’s opportunity.
Moore didn’t shine in 2013, but never really had the opportunity. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn’t rush his new rookie into the lineup.
But look at Moore’s snaps as the season progressed. He didn’t crack single digits until week 13. Then his snap counts went 17, 15, 20, 16 and 34.
Maybe there was a reason the Giants “insulted” Justin Tuck. Maybe they’re comfortable with Damontre Moore rushing the quarterback.
Go ahead and toss out a low-ball offer to the Damontre Moore owner. He didn’t light the world on fire in his rookie season. But now he has a clear opportunity.
Nick Roach, MLB
Hey, last year when the Oakland Raiders were cutting players left and right, taking dead money hits on their salary cap, you thought, “This is a team that has a plan for 2014,” right?
Maybe they don’t.
The Raiders have fumbled the first week of free agency. They signed (then “un-signed”?) Offensive Tackle Rodger Saffold to a 5-year, $42.5 million contract. They paid Justin Tuck. Despite being rumored to be in the hunt for Darrelle Revis, he went to the Patriots.
One thing the Raiders have done right is to sign an undrafted free agent, bit-player linebacker from the Bears and turn him into a reliable tackle machine.
If you ask most IDP players to name their top 20 linebackers, most people would omit Nick Roach’s name – not because they don’t have any love for the Oakland ‘backer, but because he doesn’t get the attention other linebackers get.
Quick trivia question: of the 1,074 snaps the Oakland Raider defense faced in 2013, how many happened with Nick Roach on the sidelines?
Correct answer: zero.
IDP fantasy football is all about opportunity. Roach has found his in Oakland. And with so many other needs, it’s unlikely Roach gets unseated by another linebacker.
If the Raiders continue to swing-and-miss on free agency, chances are their opponents will be running a lot of plays against the Oakland defense, including a lot of clock-killing running plays at the end of games. Roach will be right there, cleaning up plays, shining for the Raiders. He could shine for your fantasy team too.
Kevin Minter, MLB
I’m getting redundant saying it. Fantasy football is all about opportunity.
Let me crank up the time machine and transport you back to this time last year. Arizona Cardinals Linebacker Daryl Washington was coming off a year where he finished number one in most fantasy IDP leagues. Karlos Dansby was sitting on his ass after being cut by a dysfunctional Miami Dolphins front office.
The Cardinals drafted Kevin Minter in the second round and brought the discarded Dansby in to play the middle. With Washington serving a suspension, Dansby was a stud, and finished in the top 3 in many IDP leagues.
Minter got one snap. It probably wasn’t what he was hoping for.
But what does it say that the Cardinals let Dansby get away, signing a contract with the Browns in the first week of free agency?
A hole has opened in the middle of the Arizona defense, and it has Kevin Minter’s name all over it.
I’d love to quote NFL statistics about Minter, but the truth is he had one forgettable snap in 2013. I’m sure whoever owns Minter in your league is well aware he didn’t do anything in 2013. Those guys are hard to hold onto in March and April, and if you make any sort of offer for him today, his owner may not be clued in on Minter’s opportunity and be willing to dump him. A late-round rookie draft pick might get the deal done. Can he do what Dansby did next to Washington? Who knows? But think about the risk/reward here and make an offer for Minter.
Donte Whitner, S
OK, I’ll say it. Donte Whitner is a bit of a dipshit.
The former San Fran safety made headlines in November after being fined a second time for an illegal hit. The distraught defender announced his plans to drop the W from his last name, and go with Hitner.
Hmmmm. Hitner. Hitner. Hitner. Where has human history heard a name like Hitner before? Oh, I don’t know, maybe that douchebag who gassed millions of Jews. So maybe choosing a homonym for your name that mirrors one of the biggest monsters since humans descended from apes was a bad life choice.
OK, rant over.
Whitner reversed course on the name change and yes, will remain Donte Whitner.
Now let’s talk football.
Whitner was a great defender against the pass and was equally effective sneaking into the box and defending the run. But here’s the thing: you may have heard the San Francisco 49ers defense is pretty good.
What that means for IDP is there are 7 guys playing in front of Whitner who didn’t let a lot of plays past them. When you’re playing behind a brick wall, the tackle opportunities just aren’t there.
Cleveland has a respectable defense, but Whitner slides right into the role that made TJ Ward (who left via free agency) a Pro Bowler. He stands to see more action in Cleveland.
Plus, he’s excited as hell to be a Brown. He grew up in Cleveland. And something happens to a guy in the first year he plays for the team he grew up cheering for.
Whitner will probably make headlines this year for his excellent safety play, not for being an idiot. He’s a solid buy in your league.
Next article: FakePigskin.com pulls back the curtain on how your fantasy hosting site determines position eligibility – and what’s likely to change about that in the future.