Fantasy Football Stock Watch
Jonathan Impemba tells you who to buy low this week and who to sell high
With the first quarter of the NFL season over, now is the time that fantasy owners need to identify which players have struggled to meet expectations but still have the upside to turn their seasons around and which players have exceeded their expectations and can be used to acquire multiple pieces to improve their overall roster. Given the lack of overall depth at the position, and the injuries/suspensions to some of the NFL’s best I have targeted the running backs who I feel are the best buy-low and sell-high candidates for Week 5.
Eddie Lacy, RB GB -- There is no denying that last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year came into this season with much hype as evidenced by his top 10 draft position. Unfortunately, those who drafted Lacy must be wondering what they have gotten themselves into as he has struggled through the first quarter of the season averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and only one touchdown. The glaring difference between Lacy last year and this year is the number of carries he is receiving each game. In 2013 he had carried the ball 20 or more times in 10 games whereas he has yet to reach that 20-carry plateau through four games this season. The Packers lack of commitment to the running game is largely due to the impressive start their passing attack is having behind Aaron Rodgers. So with everything that is explained above you must be asking why should you try and acquire Eddie Lacy. The obvious answer is that he is the primary back on a high-powered offense. He also has strong job security and a solid pedigree. If you can find an owner who needs to make a move to improve their team, you could do a lot worse than a running back of Lacy’s caliber. I think there is some definite upside here with Lacy, and though he may not repeat the yardage totals or be the workhorse that he was last season, he should see plenty of opportunities to score.
Andre Ellington, RB ARI -- As an owner, I rarely find myself selling a running back given the lack of available talent at the position. I aim to acquire as much depth as possible. A player such as Andre Ellington came into this year with much hype and was being drafted among the top 50 players, so why would an owner be willing to move him after three weeks you may ask? Well for one, Ellington has yet reach the end zone which can drive some owners crazy, and despite his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to display that skill. You couple those factors with his ever present foot injury and you find yourself with a risk/reward player who could potentially be had for a bargain. With Carson Palmer expected to be back soon and the receiving threats of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, things could open up for Ellington and the running game as teams will then have to respect the passing attack. The Cardinals still have to face the vaunted Seattle defense twice this season which is a tough match for anyone, but if you can look past those two games you will see that they also have the luxury of facing the defensively challenged NFC East, the AFC west and the Atlanta Falcons who just allowed Matt Asiata to gain 100 total yards and three touchdowns. Ellington has been a solid RB2/Flex play for those who drafted him, but given the right match up he has the ability to provide RB1 type stats on any given Sunday.
Chris Ivory, RB NYJ -- You might not know it but Chris Ivory, with 274 yards on 50 carries (5.4 yards per carry) is the sixth leading rusher in the NFL through four weeks. His owners are likely wondering at this point why I would suggest selling him if he is doing so well and to that question l would suggest taking a closer look at the Jets weekly box scores which paint a different picture. Up until this week Ivory has shared carries pretty evenly with Chris Johnson, with Ivory getting 50 carries to Johnson’s 41 through four games. Another look over the box scores will shed some light on the fact that of Ivory’s 274 yards, 71 of them came on a single run which, while you can’t take away the fact that he hit a home run, he was averaging just 3.4 yards per carry prior to that. Though I do not think Ivory is a must sell or in danger of losing his role as the Jets lead back, they do face some formidable run defenses the rest of the way. With the Jets offense ranking in the bottom half in scoring, touchdown opportunities are scarce. With the injuries and suspensions to some of the league’s top backs, some owners are likely desperate for a running back with Ivory’s current production. With some negotiation on your part, they may even be willing to pay a little more to get it.
Matt Asiata, RB MIN -- Asiata has been the primary benefactor from the Adrian Peterson deactivation and he exploded in Week 4 rushing for 78 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons. With that type of fantasy output, it is difficult to imagine his value being any higher. With the injuries to some of the league’s best backs and the bye weeks upon us, now might be the time to see what you can get for him. The emergence of Jerick McKinnon is another reason I feel now might be the time to move on from Asiata. McKinnon, the Vikings third-round pick in 2014, carried the ball 18 times for 135 yards in Week 4 and should see his role in the offense expand going forward. The Vikings investment of a third round pick has me believing McKinnon could be the future at the position for the Vikings and given the uncertainty of Peterson’s future with the organization, they will likely want to see if he is capable of carrying the load. The Vikings also find themselves up against some tough run defenses in the coming weeks which makes Asiata no more than a low end RB2/Flex play going forward. If you were fortunate enough to steal Asiata from a Peterson owner, now might be a good time to dangle that carrot in front of him to see what type of return you can get.
Well there you have it folks. Those are the players I would attempt to acquire and the players I would look to move on from at this point in the season. Good luck in Week 5.