I have to admit, this column went better than expected in its first week of publication.
I didn’t get any hate mail, nobody sent me angry tweets, and best of all, I got a few things right.
That said, I also got a few wrong.
Nobody’s perfect, not even an esteemed fantasy football analyst such as myself. But we all strive for perfection, and that’s why I write this column: for you to hoist that trophy high after week 16.
The injury bug hasn’t been too tragic this year, but Santonio Holmes going down for the season definitely hurt a few teams, including one of mine. Greg Jennings is battling a bad groin, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both nicked up, and Hakeem Nicks has been ruled out once again with a bad knee.
I recommend benching all of the above players in week five.
If you are someone who drafted the likes of Nicks or Jennings as one of your fantasy studs, don’t lose hope. There are still guys you can grab who can fill in admirably for your All-Stars in the next week or two.
Here are a couple wideouts that you can replace with your injured stud.
Dominic Hixon, New York Giants (owned in 6.9% of ESPN leagues)
Hixon filled in very well for Nicks last weekend, surpassing the 100-yard mark. With Nicks out again and Ramses Barden unlikely to play, Hixon will see a lot of balls this Sunday against Cleveland.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers (owned in 48.9% of ESPN leagues)
In Jennings’ absence, the talented Jones will see more targets. Even with Jennings on the field, Jones has been solid. He has now caught four or more passes in three of four games, as well as three touchdowns.
Jeremy Kerley/ Stephen Hill/ Chaz Schilens, New York Jets (owned in 27.2%/19.2%/0.2%)
Meet your new starting receiving corps in New York. The team has also signed WR Jason Hill, but I don’t expect him to see action right away. Of the three, Hill has the most upside, but Kerley may be your best bet overall.
Maybe you haven’t had the injury bug come up and bite you, but your team still isn’t producing. Tony Romo can’t complete a pass to the right team, Chris Johnson can’t run for more than two yards at a time, and Braylon Edwards hasn’t had that breakout season you knew was coming.
I’m guessing here, but if you predicted a breakout year from Braylon, it’s probably too late for me to help you.
But I’ll still try.
These are the guys you should be buying low on right now. The key to winning your fantasy football league is going for an early trade on a guy who appears to be struggling, but who you know will produce. Here they are.
Rivers is having a down year by his standards, throwing for over 250 yards just once so far in 2012. As long as Norv Turner keeps airing it out, Rivers will be fine. I expect him to bounce back this week in New Orleans.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Forte is off to a slow start, maybe due to the fact that he has battled a bum ankle in the early going of 2012. I love Forte to have another good season, and when healthy, he plays a huge role in Chicago’s offense.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
Run DMC is finally healthy, and now underperforming. He has had two DMC-like games, and two injured-DMC-like games. I do believe that the star running back is healthy, so I’m betting that he is headed toward more 20-point games than 5-point games.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
Bradshaw returned to his role as the main ball carrier for New York last week, and seems to be over his injury. He received 16 touches to Andre Brown’s six.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
The fact that Andrew Hawkins (who?) has more fantasy points than Johnson in half-PPR leagues is sad. It is also why you may be able to get him cheap. Arian Foster cuts into Andre’s value, but his numbers will perk up.
Malcolm Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers
Floyd was one of my sleepers coming into this season, and started out hot. Since week two, he has underperformed, but I like Rivers to improve and Floyd is one of his favorite targets.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin appears to be healthy again, and should get involved in the offense right away. With DeSean Jackson playing well, Maclin may see more single-coverage than he has in the past.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Seems like I’m putting all my eggs in the Chargers’ basket, but there is no way Gates stays in the #28 slot for fantasy tight ends. I also like Brandon Pettigrew to end up in the top eight fantasy TEs by the end of 2012 (currently 13th).
In order to buy one of the above players, you’ll have to give up some talent as well. Buy low, sell high- it’s simple economics, but how do you decide who is destined to fall off the fantasy leaderboards?
Well, I’ll tell you.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton has put up big numbers so far this season, and has three-straight elite performances. However, Dalton’s big numbers have come against lesser teams, and the schedule gets tougher.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
Sorry, Reggie, still not a believer. I don’t see Bush making it through the season healthy, as he has already had to play through an injury. Even if he doesn’t get nicked up, his production will slow.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos
McGahee has been boom-or-bust this year, with two 100-yard performances and two duds. Denver has been feeding him the ball regularly, and I doubt that he can take all those hits and maintain his burst. McGahee isn’t young at 30, and will likely decline as the season wears on.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
See Dalton, Andy. I still like A.J. to be a low #1/ high #2 receiver this year, but he won’t finish atop the WR rankings like he is now.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
I love Bowe, but hate Matt Cassell. A wideout is only as good as his quarterback is at getting him the ball. Expect a decline.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
This one hurts me a little. I took Gonzo in several leagues this year, knowing that the ageless wonder would reel in everything thrown at him and get consistent looks in the red zone. While that is still true, I’m not sure the 36-year-old can keep up this pace. I still expect him to be a top five TE, but not number one.
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