In fantasy football, it is easy to be seduced by the winning teams in the NFL. Groups like the Giants, Steelers and Bengals are posting big numbers, and wins, most weeks. But even though a lot of fantasy production comes from those teams, developing a myopic view of some of the losing squads could mean you miss out on some important opportunities to add strength to your starting lineup, or build depth with outstanding backups who serve as key bye-week fill-ins.
There are bargains to be had on bad teams, or even just ones who have lost more than they have won. Let’s take a look at the 14 teams in the league with losing records at the moment, and I will identify one underrated player, one buy-low guy and one potential waiver pickup from each team that could help your squad right now. Losers first:
Underrated: Jabar Gaffney – With Andre Johnson out, Gaffney becomes a more viable fantasy threat. He will get most of the receiver looks from Carr.
Buy-low Bargain: Domanick Davis – He has scored only one touchdown and kept a low profile playing for the winless Texans, but this Houston hero is the perfect player to nab now and enjoy moving forward in the season.
Potential Pickup: Corey Bradford – Bradford is not at all consistent from week to week, but he does make a big play now and then to rate a decent fantasy game. He might help during a bye week if you are desperate.
Underrated: Kevan Barlow – Despite less-than-stellar stats, Barlow is a guy worth shuffling into flex slots in lineups, because you are nearly guaranteed to get some yards.
Buy-low Bargain: Brandon Lloyd – With the quarterback change Lloyd owners know their man will suffer. Offer them something very low for Lloyd and see what happens.
Potential Pickup: Frank Gore – It is still only a matter of time before Gore becomes the primary back.
Underrated: Anquan Boldin – Boldin is third in the league in receiving yards with 543.
Buy-low Bargain: J.J. Arrington – Although he hasn’t shown much this season, Dennis Green will keep giving him an opportunity to excel. Perhaps he will turn out to be a second-half deal for some owners.
Potential Pickup: Josh McCown – He has thrown for 779 yards and four scores the last two weeks.
Underrated: Robert Ferguson – Brett Favre is going to keep throwing it to Ferguson, who has the talent to do a lot with the football. If he has finally grown up, this could be a solid season for Robert, and any owner who deals for him.
Buy-low Bargain: Ahman Green – If opposing defenses suddenly must respect the passing game again, perhaps Green can find some running lanes. You won’t get him for a better price either way.
Potential Pickup: Tony Fisher – With Najeh Davenport out for the season, Fisher is in line to steal carries when Green is healthy and take over for him should he remain ineffective or stay hurt,
Underrated: Derrick Mason – Despite atrocious play at QB, Mason can be used as a third fantasy wideout.
Buy-low Bargain: Todd Heap – He started slow but got a touchdown and over 50 yards last weekend.
Potential Pickup: Mark Clayton – Clarence Moore is doing less, so it is time to see what Clayton can contribute.
Underrated: Lamont Jordan – He has scored three touchdowns for fantasy owners.
Buy-low Bargain: Jerry Porter – Could do well catching Moss’s scraps.
Potential Pickup: Courtney Anderson – Collins has targeted him often, and for scores.
Underrated: Nate Burleson – Burleson has been a bust so far this season, but his 15.5 yards per catch shows what he his capable of when healthy. He will still be the top receiver on the team this season.
Buy-low Bargain: Daunte Culpepper – Sure, he has 10 picks and only four touchdown tosses, but can you honestly see him staying at the bottom of the fantasy quarterback rankings? He hurt someone else so far. That doesn’t mean he will do in your club.
Potential Pickup: Travis Taylor – He has found new life in Minnesota. With 215 yards and two touchdowns in only four games, Taylor can suffice as a third receiver in bye week substitutions.
Underrated: Thomas Jones – Find an owner who is otherwise stocked at RB and see what it takes to get Jones, now that he is injured. He has been the Bears’ only star this season.
Buy-low Bargain: Cedric Benson – Because he hasn’t been truly involved yet, Benson is a commodity ready to explode.
Potential Pickup: Mark Bradley – After finally catching the starting gig, Bradley is the other option in the Bears passing game. Use him when all other options are unavailable.
Underrated: Marshall Faulk – He is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this year, and would be a terrific sudden starter should Steven Jackson be injured.
Buy-low Bargain: Isaac Bruce – That toe won’t keep him out forever. You can likely get him for next to nothing now and he can be a great third WR later.
Potential Pickup: Shaun McDonald – He has 22 receptions for 258 yards this year. While Marc Bulger continues to pass in abundance, expect McDonald to keep reeling in the passes.
Underrated: Antowain Smith/Aaron Stecker – Stecker has more upside, but either of them could be a real boost for an owner who needs production at the position.
Buy-low Bargain: Joe Horn – When he is healthy again, he will play big for some owner.
Potential Pickup: Az-Zahir Hakim – Hakim is a hard worker, and can make things happen once he has the ball in his hands.
Underrated: Ben Troupe – Troupe has fewer catches and yards than tight end teammate Erron Kinney, but Troupe has scored three times, Kinney not once.
Buy-low Bargain: Chris Brown – He is avoiding injuries and still has big-play ability.
Potential Pickup: Tyrone Calico – He could take off at any time. It is always nice to have big potential on your bench.
New York Jets
Underrated: Laveranues Coles – With a veteran to receive passes from, he can be a fantasy factor.
Buy-low Bargain: Curtis Martin – Martin scored two times last week, but had done nothing previously.
Potential Pickup: Doug Jolley – He got involved at the instant Vinny Testaverde became the team’s QB.
Underrated: Lee Evans – Evans can make the big play, but is only half of the equation.
Buy-low Bargain: Eric Moulds – This veteran can be a solid number three for you now that he has a quarterback who can get him the ball. He is a big target in the red zone.
Potential Pickup: Kelly Holcomb – His receivers have talent, and he seems able to deliver.
Underrated: Keenan McCardell – Though not a “name” fantasy player, he has five touchdowns on the year so far.
Buy-low Bargain: Reche Caldwell – Caldwell could become the team’s top receiver again at any time.
Potential Pickup: Eric Parker – Parker already has 240 yards receiving but is not on many rosters.
Hire Joe Levit for corporate or client appreciation events at fantasyfootballspeaker.com. His fantasy football columns appear on SI.com and thehuddle.com. Joe, a PFWA and FSWA member, writes about the NFL for patriotsinsider.com and is a fantasy football analyst on radio. He is the creator of the Sleeper League and FF Hold ‘em League concepts.