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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Off Tackle - Week 5
John Tuvey
October 6, 2010
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When you’re in eight leagues and your day job involves breaking down the fantasy prospects of every player for every game, it’s inevitable that football is never far from your mind. And since many of the same dilemmas I encounter are ones you the readers bump up against as well, I thought it might make sense to share some of my thought processes with you. There’s no rhyme or reason to the topics to be discussed here, other than at some point they popped into my head, kicking to the side lyrics from some obscure ‘80s song (“hush hush/keep it down now/voices carry”) and commanding my attention.

TRADE WINDS

The topic of trading is dominating my brain this week, and not just because as I write this the fantasy football landscape was already tweaked by one deal (Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks) but could be flat-out rocked by another (Randy Moss to the Vikings?) by the time you read this.

It’s also because a multitude of trade offers have passed across my desk in the past week or so—some unsolicited, some instigated by me.

I will freely admit that, while I can rock a draft and own the room in an auction, trading is not my strongest suit. It’s no mystery why, either: I tend to overvalue my own players.

This malady isn’t mine alone; in fact, for the most part every fantasy player overvalues their own players to some degree. You hand-picked them, drafted them or scooped them off the waiver wire, so there must be something about them you like.

The dogs, the ones you’re trying to unload, you still see that upside that caused you to draft them. The studs... well, you’re not going to give them away.

So when you offer up an underachiever for an underachiever, you run the risk of your potential trading partner seeing the downside of your underachiever while clinging to the upside of their own. And attempting to point out the folly of their incorrect evaluation is a slippery slope; go too far and you’re calling them out as a fantasy GM—the ultimate insult.

Good luck consummating a trade now.

At least we’re in the bye weeks, when lineup options are stretched thin and owners get desperate. Target the 1-3 guys who can’t afford another L and might move a quality player to fill two lineup holes. But be kind; they love their players almost as much as you love yours.

THE RECEIVING END

It’s much easier to be reactionary on the waiver wire if you have a free agent acquisition budget; if you’re stuck with a waivers process based on your record, and you’re a winning team, you’re sifting through the dregs each week.

So you might have missed out on Brandon Lloyd and Mark Clayton, two deep sleepers whose target numbers (40 and 41, respectively) suggest they’re legit. And after Davonne Bess blew up on Monday night, unless you were following the advice of my esteemed colleague JUMbo you may have been late to the party on him as well.

Using an array of targets, snaps, catch percentages, and yards-per-catch averages, as well as simple deductive reasoning, I humbly submit a few guys you might be ahead of the curve on—or target as buy-low candidates.

Danny Amendola, Rams - With Sam Bradford fifth in pass attempts, there’s room for more than one sleeper receiver in St. Louis. Consider Amendola a poor man’s Bess: he’s 18th among wide receivers in targets, catches 78% of the passes thrown his way (9th among WRs), and picks up an additional 5.5 yards after the catch (22nd among receivers).

Steve Johnson, Bills - Don’t look now, but Ryan Fitzpatrick might just be turning into a viable bye week option. In two starts he’s averaging more fantasy points per game than Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, and Matt Schaub among others. Who’s he throwing to? Thus far it’s been Johnson, who ranks 41st in targets (right between Devery Henderson and Randy Moss), is averaging 15.2 yards per reception (23rd among WRs) and is picking up 6.3 yards after the catch (10th among wideouts).

Brandon Tate, Patriots - If you have a chance to make a speculative move, Tate would be moving into the starting spot vacated by Randy Moss should the trade with the Vikings go down. You’ve seen his open field skills on his two kickoff return touchdowns, and he ranks third among wideouts by catching 87% of the balls thrown his way. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez will obviously pick up some slack, as will Danny Woodhead, but Tate is the most likely candidate to be on the business end of any down-the-field shots Tom Brady might take.

Mike Wallace, Steelers - Someway, somehow, despite having Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch throwing the ball his way, Wallace ranks fourth among wideouts in averaging 23.4 yards per reception. You have to believe that number will only go up now that Ben Roethlisberger is at the helm. Like Tate and Bess, Wallace is on the bye this week. That’s likely to tweak his trade value down or maybe even make him expendable for a team desperate to plug some bye-week holes.

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