FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Pick-up Joint: Week 10
John Tuvey
November 6, 2012
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Top Adds For Week 9
From MyFantasyLeague.com
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers 23%
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints 11%
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars 8%
Joique Bell, RB, Lions 8%
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints 8%
Total Week 9 Touchdowns: 2  
Top Drops For Week 9
From MyFantasyLeague.com
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers 38%
Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams 30%
William Powell, RB, Cardinals 22%
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers 20%
New York Jets DST 20%
Total Week 9 Touchdowns: 1  

Each offseason my esteemed colleague David Dorey breaks down the swings in strength of schedule, pointing out who fared well against tough (or easy) schedules and how that success (or failure) can be viewed in light of the new schedule in front of them.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this week’s edition of The Pick-Up Joint blows a whole lot of smoke up DMD’s… um, chimney by applying that same theory to this year’s slate. Maybe a player fared well against a tough schedule through the first two months of the season; with things getting easier over the second half of the season, this would be a great time to trade for them even if the price isn’t necessarily reduced.

YOU'VE HAD YOUR FUN

Maybe it’s cold to love ‘em and leave ‘em, but sometimes that’s the smartest way to play it. The following quartet of solid fantasy producers have all taken advantage of favorable schedules to roll up big numbers, but over the second half of the season their slates turn tougher. You’ve had your fun; now’s the time to take your fantasy points and run.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
You’re starting to see the wheels fall off already; after averaging 31 fantasy points per game through his first six full pro games, RG3 has a total of 29.8 in his last two combined. Moreover, Griffin racked up his points against the single easiest fantasy schedule a quarterback has faced; over the next two months, he’ll face the fourth-hardest. Griffin still has some value, and you still have a chance to cash in.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins
Just as the fantasy world was getting comfortable with Morris as the Redskins’ every-week back, no Shanahanigans involved, a couple things are going awry. First, Evan Royster returned to action and saw seven touches last week—the largest non-Morris workload a Skins back has seen this season. Second, and most important, Morris’s schedule takes a strong turn south. Over the first half of the season Washington faced the fourth-easiest schedule for running backs; the rest of the way, Morris and Royster will face the sixth-toughest. Wouldn’t be a bad time to divest yourself of Morris as part of a package deal, while he still has the look of a valuable fantasy back.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings
Harvin has been a PPR monster, single-handedly carrying what passes for a passing game in Minnesota. He’s also been facing the single easiest schedule for wide receivers—which is a serious indictment of the rest of the Vikings’ wideouts. From here on out Minnesota faces the fourth-toughest schedule for wide receivers. When you pile that on top of the ankle injury that Harvin says makes him a long shot to play this week, and the struggles of Christian Ponder, Harvin is looking at a serious uphill battle the rest of the way. If you can capitalize on what he’s accomplished thus far, this is a good time to get out.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers
Heading into this season Ben Roethlisberger said he wanted to get Miller to the Pro Bowl. And at the midway point Miller ranks second at his position in touchdowns and has posted the third-most fantasy points among tight ends. Since Pro Bowl voting has already started and wraps up in about a month—and Pittsburgh’s fan base is bound to stuff ballot boxes in Miller’s favor—he doesn’t have to do much more to secure his ticket to Hawaii. Good thing; after facing the easiest fantasy schedule any tight end saw over the first two months, Miller now gets the sixth-toughest the rest of the way. Heath has played his way into borderline elite fantasy status; sell high as his going gets significantly more difficult.

PAY FOR THE PRIVILEDGE

The rule of thumb is buy low, sell high. But sometimes it’s worth paying the premium price for premium production. The following are players who have put up quality numbers against tough schedules the first half of the season, so it would stand to reason that with a significantly easier slate from here on out that production will only increase.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Ryan has taken his game to the next level, posting top-five fantasy QB numbers through the first nine weeks—despite facing a schedule that’s in the bottom (harder) third of the league in difficulty. From here on out, no quarterback has a more favorable slate than Ryan. With his TD streak snapped and lower fantasy outputs in two of the past three games, some of the shine may actually be off his game. Go ahead and pay a little more; you’re getting an elite player with a very favorable playoff run.

Rashard Jennings, RB, Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t coming through that door any time soon. He’s already been ruled out for this week’s Thursday night game, and given that he wasn’t keen on playing under his existing contract when healthy there’s no incentive for him to tough it out if he’s nicked up. That leaves Jennings as the beneficiary of a schedule swing that sees Jacksonville leave behind the fourth-toughest schedule for running backs in favor of the third-easiest slate the rest of the way. Cover your bases and get MoJo as a throw-in, but odds are it will be Jennings capitalizing on the favorable schedule.

Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins
Hartline has been wildly inconsistent, with four duds and three fantasy helpers over the first two months of the season. He’s also been heavily targeted—71 in seven games—as he faced the toughest fantasy schedule for wide receivers. Safe to assume he’ll be similarly targeted the rest of the way, only now he’ll be doing it against the eighth-easiest slate for wideouts—a schedule swing you can capitalize on.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles
Through the first two months of the season Celek has been a fringe fantasy helper, ranking 14th in fantasy points at his position. He’s accomplished this despite facing the toughest fantasy schedule among tight ends—and, of course, Philly turning the ball over on such a frequent basis. Going forward, Celek has the third-easiest fantasy schedule for tight ends. Even if Michael Vick gets the hook, a young quarterback like Nick Foles would love to have a reliable tight end target. Either way, Celek’s fantasy future looks extremely bright.


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