Ding! Ding! Ding! Stock Watch is back for Week 4! It has been a whirlwind September, and as usual the NFL is chalk full of surprises (49ers, Steelers, Chiefs, Dolphins, etc.). With the NFL season in full swing, there is a lot to talk about, so let’s delve a little deeper into who’s hot and who’s not while we check in on our NFL fantasy football stock prices. Enjoy!
^ ^ ^ STOCK RISING ^ ^ ^
E.J. Manuel, BUF - I never thought I would see the day that a Buffalo Bill QB starts off Stock Watch, but here we are. There were a couple other options for me to choose from when selecting a QB for this section (Locker, Pryor, Newton, Etc.), but I landed on the first year Florida State standout for one reason, CONSISTENCY. All three of Manuel’s performances to start off his rookie campaign have been within five points of each other. It just doesn’t get more consistent than that. Simply put, the kid isn’t setting the world on fire, but he also isn’t making mistakes, with his lone interception coming against a stout Carolina defense. So far, Manuel is 64-108 with 4 TD’s and 1 INT. Not jaw dropping, I know, but this is Stock Watch, not an MVP voting. I wouldn’t suggest starting Manuel, but if you have room, stash him on your bench (or keep a close eye), and let’s see where this goes.
Jonathan Franklin, GB - Here we go again. My promise to you, as readers, is that you WILL NOT see a Packers RB on Stock Watch yet again next week. If you are able to overlook Franklin’s devastating fumble in the 4th quarter on Sunday, you can not help but notice a player who rushes for over 100 yards on his first touches of the year. Especially when the Packers RB’s are thinner than runway model. Keep a close eye on Eddie Lacy’s return, as he should reclaim his job possibly week 5 following Green Bay’s bye week. Even after Lacy’s return, Franklin should theoretically still have some value as the Packers third down back.
Ryan Broyles, DET - Just when it looked like Nate Burleson was going to have a season that has long been expected of him, he fractures his arm in two places during a car accident early Tuesday morning and is out indefinitely. Step in Broyles, the former 2nd round pick out of the University of Oklahoma. Broyles has been praised for his precise route running and his above average hands, which should work out quite nice in the slot alongside Megatron. With Stafford looking sharp, and Calvin Johnson being consistently doubled, there sky is some serious upside on the second year WR. If you are in a PPR league, and Broyles is available, don’t even think twice. Pick him up and pray those surgically repaired knees hold up. While you are at it, throw in a good word to the guy upstairs for Detroit as a whole. They could use it.
Jordan Cameron, CLE - Raise your hand if you picked Cameron as the second ranked TE for 2013...Anyone? No? I didn’t think so. No one is surprised to see Jimmy Graham holding down the #1 spot, but after 3 more TD’s on Sunday, and what looks to be an at least serviceable QB throwing the 3rd year TE the rock, maybe the Browns didn’t trade their best player?? I realize that one of his TD’s came on a fake field goal, which likely won’t happen again, but there is no arguing with Cameron’s 2013 production through three games...20 receptions (on 31 targets!!!) for 269 yards and 4 scores. What is even better is that Cleveland won’t face a pass defense ranked better than 14th until week 8 at Kansas City. In other words, if you are looking to sell high, i recommend waiting until after week 7. No punch line, that’s just good advice there.
Chiefs D/ST, KC - Can’t say I expected to be praising the play of the Chiefs D/ST at this point in the season, but this is why we love fantasy football, right?! However, I can’t help but feel like I should have known better after looking at all the facts. Andy Reid is a fantastic coach, great teacher and has completely changed the culture in Kansas City (Nobody wants to change the BBQ culture, so calm down). Tamba Hali is an absolute beast on a d-line that leads the NFL with 9 sacks. When healthy, all Eric Berry does is make plays, and anytime he gets his hands on the ball, he COULD! GO! ALL! THE! WAY! This Defense is exciting and most importantly is the #1 ranked defense heading into week 4. So how is it possible that the Chiefs D/ST is owned in only 41.9% of ESPN fantasy football leagues? You won’t find a #1 ranked anything on the waiver wire the rest of the year, so if you have the room, and Reid’s boys are available, take advantage.
v v v STOCK FALLING v v v
Colin Kaepernick, SF - As a Seahawks fan, I am not sure what I enjoy more, putting Kaepernick in the stock falling section, or kissing my biceps as I am doing it. With all (most) bias aside, the second year San Francisco QB has not resembled the player that we had become accustomed to seeing the second half of last year including the playoffs. After a dreadful week 2 in Seattle, Kaepernick once again looked flustered and unsure of himself Sunday (AT HOME!!!) against the Colts. With that said, Kaepernick had an unbelievable week 1 against the Packers and a closer look at the numbers, shows that he was 27-39 with 3 TD’s and 0 INT. Weeks 2,3? 26-55 0 TD’s and 4 INT’s. So which QB can we expect to see going forward? The dynamic playmaker? Or a QB who seems to be standing barefoot on hot coals in the pocket? Reluctantly, I lean towards the playmaker. If your fantasy team needs QB help and you can acquire Kaepernick cheap, pull the trigger.
C.J. Spiller, BUF - If you drafted Spiller in the first round, I must first clarify that I am not an adequately medically licensed for your particular situation, and I recommend you seeking professional psychological help. In what looked to be the season where the 4th year Clemson product would finally stake claim to Buffalo’s RB1 duties, has instead proved to be more of the same. This once again looks to be a RB by committee situation for the Bills, nothing less, nothing more. So I expect similar numbers to what C.J. has amassed over the last two years...the occasional monster game, with the uncanny ability to come crashing back to Earth the following week. However, with such great upside (and Fred Jackson’s injury history), I would love to be able to get my hands on Spiller at the right price and plug him into my flex position. Tread lightly my friends.
Dwayne Bowe, KC - I am man enough to admit that through 3 weeks, I have completely missed on Bowe. After 6 years of mediocrity (at best) at QB in Kansas City, I really thought that Bowe would flourish with Alex Smith under center. I realize that Alex Smith is no Peyton Manning, but he has been able to get the ball to his wideouts in the not too distant past. Perhaps this is a repetition problem. Let’s hope so. But after 3 weeks with 90 yards and only one score to show for it, I suggest they figure it out quickly. There is no reason that Bowe can’t turn it around this year and for this reason, I love Bowe as a buy low option if you can afford to stash him on your bench for a few weeks. If that isn’t enough, from week 11-14 (fantasy stretch run/playoffs depending on your league set up), Bowe doesn’t play a pass defense ranked better than 30th. Yeah, you read that right. Championship!!
Tony Gonzalez, ATL - Nothing lasts forever, and in this case, I hope I am wrong. I have loved watching possibly the greatest receiving TE of all time career unfold over the last
16 years. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, and owners, he hasn’t been able to come down with more than four catches in any one game this year and it isn’t getting any easier. The next two weeks Atlanta will host the Patriots and the Jets who boast the league 6th and 7th ranked pass defenses respectively. I wouldn’t panic yet, as Tony should still be servicable, but there is no denying, especially with this years (all of the sudden) depth at TE, that the future HOFer’s value has taken a big hit. On the bright side, the Atlanta TE still has 19 targets on the season, so there is some upside here, but Gonzalez’s ceiling seems to be limited as father time seems to be FINALLY catching up to him.
Steelers D/ST, PIT - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. At 0-3, this hardly resembles the Pittsburgh squad that we have come accustom to. As a Seattleite, that’s fine by me. Yeah, I am still bitter about 2005, so what?! But in all seriousness, what has happened to the once vaunted Steelers defense? Coming into the 2013 season many had this same defense ranked inside the top 10, but after 3 weeks, they sit in 30th ahead of only the Chargers and Giants. The problem hasn’t been their 3rd ranked pass defense, but rather their run defense which has been gutted to the tune of over a hundred yards rushing in each game it has played. If the Steelers can’t figure out how to stop the run, it’s going to be a long season in Pittsburgh.
When considering the flex position in fantasy football you do not often hear about tight ends. This is largely because until the very recent past, tight ends simply have not scored that much. While there has been stand out studs at the position for a long time, the drop off is usually pretty huge. For a comparison, in 2007 the top tight end was Jason Witten with 156.5 total fantasy points. All but six tight ends failed to score more than 100 fantasy points that year. The idea you could find a tight end on the waiver wire that you could successfully start at flex was laughable at best. However, in 2011, the fantasy points leader at tight end was Rob Gronkowsk,i with 240.9 points, and 11 tight ends broke the century mark. That’s remarkable, to say the least. It’s worth mentioning that tight ends’ numbers dipped in 2012, but that was largely due to injury and does not follow the upwards trend in the numbers we’ve seen for the last 6 years.
The start of the 2013 season indicates that this could be a crazy year for fantasy tight ends. After week two the #1 tight end, Jimmy Graham, is the #12 flex player overall. There are three tight ends in the top 20, while eleven are averaging in the double digits. Lucky for us, most of these tight ends were drafted very low or not at all. This offers the unique opportunity to snag one of them and see if they can compete with some running backs or wide receivers you are considering at flex.
Jordan Cameron is owned in 69% of ESPN leagues, but he’s the #6 overall tight end. Through the first two weeks of football Cameron seems to be the only person that can catch these errant balls Brandon Weeden keeps slinging around, and that is going to be even more important now that Trent Richardson has been shipped off to Indianapolis. Of the 47 completions Weeden has managed, 14 of them have gone to Cameron. He leads the team in receptions and is second in targets. There are going to be a few more to go around, too. It’s unclear who the Browns are planning to replace Richardson with at the moment, but it’s doubtful that he will absorb all of Richardson’s 11 targets. He also caught Weeden’s only touchdown thus far. Cameron has the most receiving yards on the team with 203. #2 is Davone Bess with 85. Things will get even better when Josh Gordon comes back and brings with him another legitimate receiving threat. Cameron’s role in this offense is huge, and it’s not getting smaller any time soon.