Every week the "Fourth & 1 Debate" is brought to you from some of the best fantasy football websites across the Internet. This weeks question is: What Are Your Top Buy Low / Sell High Candidates Headed Into Week 4?
LB Brandon Chillar brings down Matt Forte
- Matt Forte - Matt Forte was a model of consistency last year, averaging 107 total yards, 3.9 yards per carry and scoring 12 times, so it's hard to imagine the 2nd year back continuing at his current disappointing pace. His 2.5 yards per carry could be the result of Chicago's offensive line this year, but Forte will be the clear choice at the goalline and his scoring potential makes him a great guy to target in trades right now.
- Calvin Johnson - Calvin Johnson is another guy who will likely pick up his TD production in future weeks, and seems to be a great 'buy low' candidate. Judging by his performance in week 3, rookie QB Matthew Stafford looked like he may be getting a little more comfortable, and Johnson is a potentially dominating receiver who will continue to see a multitude of targets each week.
- Tim Hightower - Hightower is a fine player, but I think his preceived value is little higher than his actual fantasy value for a couple reasons. For one thing, his overall numbers are currently inflated by his 12 catch for 121 yard game against Jacksonville in week 2. Hightower is currently averaging over 10 catches per game, and this is probably the result of Kurt Warner playing cautiously as he continues to recover from his hip injury. Another threat to Hightower's future value is of course rookie Chris Wells, who looks like a significant potential upgrade to the Cardinals running game.
- Santana Moss - Over the past three seasons there has been a real discernible pattern with Santana Moss that has him going berserk in 2 or 3 weeks, but mostly representing an inconsistent and fairly mediocre option for the majority of the time. For example, last season, he had three terrific games where he had 140 yards or more, but also had 7 games of 55 yards or less. Fresh off his 10 catch 178 yard week 3 performance, this seems like a great time to trade Moss.
My top two buy-low candidates right now have to be Tom Brady and Ray Rice. Brady will soon get back to tossing 2-3TDs weekly and Ray Rice is just far too cheap to pass up on given his upside. There is major risk attached to Rice's name heading into Week 4, but that's why he is a great buy-low candidate and not a "guaranteed stud" candidate. Rice has top 10 fantasy RB upside if starting. It could take a couple weeks for Rice to get starter-type touches in Baltimore, but I firmly believe that Rice will eventually be the main man.
As for my sell-high candidates, I have to go with Cedric Benson and Kevin Smith. I think Benson's value is at an all-time high and fantasy owners should strongly consider taking a lateral step into a safer player. Same goes for Smith, who faces CHI, PIT, MIN, BAL and AZ in five of his remaining 12 games in 2009. Smith, who could actually miss Week 4 against the Bears due to a shoulder injury, also plays in an offensive attack that could be passing their way back into many outings this season, which is bad for that Lions' rushing attack... Sell-high and don't look back.
Two players I'm looking to buy low on are Terrell Owens and Roddy White. Both WRs have performed below expectations so far this season, and if the owner is struggling out of the gate either of these WRs could be had for cheap.
Owens last week put up zero points and obviously isn't apart of the Buffalo Bills offensive plans, yet. The Bills didn't bring Owens to Buffalo for him not to get targeted. Look for Owens to have a great second half of the season, as the Bills finally look to the guy they once gave the key to the city.
White on the other hand just happens to have better players around him this year. The addition of TE Tony Gonzalez has limited the amount of targets White usually would see. But, if the Atlanta Falcons want to win, White is going to have to be apart of their offensive plan.
Brett Favre is a guy I'd look to deal now. He's coming off a dramatic win, he face's his old team in the Green Bay Packers this week, and now is the time to sell Favre at a high peak. We all saw what happened to Favre last season in the second, and in a tough division, Favre, in my opinion, is primed to crash and burn once again.
Brandon Jacobs might not be a guy you're willing to deal, but it's starting to look like he's going to be splitting more carries with Ahmad Bradshaw. Over the first three games of the season Jacobs has rushed the ball 58 times to Bradshaw's 35. Jacobs, at this point in the season, is a guy you might still be able to deal for a lower tier one type running back
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
He's the obvious "buy low" at this point in the season. Forte hasn't lived up to his top-five draft stock just yet, but savvy owners are looking ahead at Detroit this week and expecting a significant improvement. If the Forte owner in your league is a cynical Eeyore, take Forte off their hands. They don't deserve him. Fill Forte's owners heads with dark clouds by talking up Cutler's command of the offense and his preference to hurl the ball down the field rather than check down to the running back, where Forte got plenty of passing yards last season when Kyle Orton was under center. You can also play up his knee injury last week as his potential downfall. As one of the most dependable running backs of 2008, it's hard to see Forte staying out of the spotlight much longer.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants Eventually, the world will spin back onto its proper axis, and the Giants will return to a run-based offense. Either that or Eli Manning will turn into a pumpkin. Take your pick.
Thus far, opponents have focused on stopping the run game and forced Eli to win games through the air. Moving forward, that won't be the case, and Jacobs will become the running back we know and love. If you can convince Jacobs' owner that he's losing too many touches to Ahmad Bradshaw this season and that the Giants aren't able to run it like they did in 2008, you should find yourself with one hell of a deal.
Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins - Moss started off hot last year and managed to get a touchdown pass from Jason Campbell almost every game through the first half of the season. Sadly, Washington's taken a step back this year, and without the support of a solid run game, Moss was frigidly cold until he faced the Lions.
If he burns up the Tampa Bay secondary for another big week in Week 4, it'll be the perfect time to cut your losses and sell. Talk up his 2008 season and Washington coach Jim Zorn's need-to-win situation, and Moss will seem like a deal. He isn't.
Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens - Old Man McGahee can't keep up this pace. Ray Rice is still getting fair share of the touches, and Le'Ron McClain is waiting in the shadows of this offense for his chance to take over at the end of the season.
Whether it's general age, wear and tear or his annual leg injury, eventually McGahee will fall out of favor. That's when you'll be glad you sold him while he was one of the top running backs in fantasy and on pace to set touchdown records.
All you have to do is point to the fantasy point totals to get a high price tag on McGahee. Don't mention that part about the annual leg injuries.
For me, a great buy low is LaDanian Tomlinson. Many people were sour on him prior to the season and these first few weeks coupled with injury concerns probably have some owners itchy to find anyone willing to take him off their hands. While there is still some risk surrounding him heading into Week 4, you can tell by the news that it is only a matter of time before he reclaims his starting role for the Chargers. Just remember, his “down” year last season saw him rush for over 1,100 yards and 11 TD, plus his 400+ yards in the passing game. If someone is selling, I certainly would listen.
As far as sell high candidates, for me it’s going to be Dallas Clark. I know it sounds weird, but does anyone really expect him to be able to continue at the pace he’s set for himself over the first three weeks (18 catches for 284 yards)? Sooner or later Anthony Gonzalez is going to return to the line-up and that is quickly going to reduce Clark’s role. I’m not saying Clark is going to crash and burn, but why not cash in on him while his value is at it’s highest? If there is someone high on him to the extent that they are willing to deal Jason Witten or Antonio Gates, tight ends that everyone would have agreed preseason to have more value than Clark, I would make the deal.
- There are a number of good Buy Low options as several stars have yet to score a TD. Running Backs Matt Forte and Steve Slaton are candidates, but prying a Running Back that was selected in the first round away from someone is a tall order.
- A player that I would target is Carolina's Steve Smith, who shockingly is becoming the "other" Steve Smith. He has just 190 yards through three games. What's worse is 131 of those yards came against Atlanta in Week 2 meaning he has just 59 yards in his other two games. A reason that Smith could be acquired is the horrific play of his Quarterback, Jake Delhomme, who has 7 INTs and 2 Fumbles through three games. His poor play has caused people to question Smith's value, which opens the door for you to swoop in and nab a WR1 for below market value. Smith is too talented not to come around.
- Everybody expected Matt Ryan to make a huge leap this year, but it's the other Sophomore Sensation Joe Flacco that's lighting up the league. Flacco is seventh in passing yards with 839 and tied for 4th with 6 passing TDs. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Matt Schaub are the only other guys with at least 800 yards passing and 6 TDs. I don't see a major fall from grace, but I don't see him keeping up his top five fantasy QB ranking either. His fantasy value will likely never be higher. The weather is fine now, but later in the year when it gets cold and sloppy, the Giants will rely more heavily on their ground game.
- Another player I’d consider moving is Mario Manningham. His value is also extremely high as teams scrambled to grab him as a waiver wire gem. There are a few things that will be going against him going further. Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon will be returning from their injuries. They won’t take his starting gig, but they well likely take some of his targets. Also, if you check your calendar it’s October. It’s nice nice, but once the weather gets cold and sloppy the Giants will shy away from the passing game a bit and utilize their powerful rushing attack.
This buy-low candidate might not be one for long - the St. Louis Rams' Donnie Avery (ribs). The second-year wideout missed a big chunk of the preseason because of a stress fracture in his left foot. Well, that time off caused him to miss valuable time executing in the team's new West Coast offense. After three weeks, he should be feeling more comfortable. He'll become the top option for quarterback Kyle Boller, who is expected to start this week; wideout Laurent Robinson (fibula) is done for the year because of a fractured fibula. Boller has a bigger arm than injured Marc Bulger (shoulder), which should complement Avery's big-play prowess nicely. Try to pry him away from another owner; he might even be available on the waiver wire if an impatient owner ditched him.
An honorable mention for a player to buy low goes to the Cleveland Browns' Braylon Edwards. Recently crowned starter Derek Anderson throws a much better deep ball than Brady Quinn; it was Anderson who was at the helm for most of 2007, when Edwards caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. It's a risk, but if you're swinging for the fences....
As for a sell-high candidate? We'll stick in the AFC North and go with the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco. The sophomore has 839 passing yards and six touchdowns through three weeks - an average of around 280 yards and two scores per game. The Ravens' first three opponents: the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers and the Cleveland Browns. Not exactly the epitome of fine defense. On tap are the New England Patriots, the Cincinnati Bengals (underrated) and the Minnesota Vikings. This'll be more of a test of Flacco's mettle than his first three games. Sure, Flacco has been given more leeway this year than when he was just managing games last year, but this team still wants a balanced approach. You aren't going to be seeing Flacco chucking the ball around as he did in Weeks 1 and 3 regularly. His value likely won't be higher this year than it has been.
- Tim Hightower – Hightower has been doing well especially for PPR league players. But there is no doubt that Chris Wells is a huge upgrade over Hightower and the coaching staff has already stated Wells will continually be brought into the offense more each week. Sell Hightower high and you’ll win the playoffs later.
- Willis McGahee – Mr. Injury prone looks like a stud on paper and no doubt has done a great job thus far. But he is such a huge injury waiting to happen and Ray Rice gets to many carrier for this free for all not to come to an end for McGahee owners.
- Roddy White - It's just three games, but Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White’s numbers are down dramatically. He held out at the beginning of training camp and missed nine days before reaching a six-year, $49 million contract extension. Look for White’s numbers to increase as the season progresses.
- Chris "Beanie" Wells – He is the best (fastest and strongest) RB in Arizona and it’s only a matter of time before he is handling the full / majority of the carries. You could probably get him off the wavier wire in shallow leagues.