Another week is in the books, and for me that means back to the trading table. We’re in the middle of prime trading season right now, as owners have a good grasp as to what kind of teams they’ve been dealt.
For me, these next 3-4 weeks are always the most crucial to building my roster. By Week 10 I usually have a good idea of what my team is going to look like for the end-of-the-year run. That’s not to say I won’t make any more deals, but I like to have the meat of my team in place so I’m not scrambling later on.
So the next couple of weeks will be critical when it comes to acquiring the right players at the right time. Hopefully some of my advice will help out and put you in position to make a run at a fantasy title in a couple of months.
Now here are the players I’m advising to buy low and sell high on after Week 5.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville – Remember during the preseason when Blaine Gabbert looked good and some were getting excited? Then level-headed folks like me had to remind everyone that the preseason is nothing more than a glorified practice.
I beg people all the time not to pay attention to preseason football, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Defenses don’t game plan, corners aren’t pressing receivers, quarterbacks aren’t forced to go to their second and third reads, etc. It’s so hard to judge a quarterback based on how he looks in preseason. How hard? Ryan Leaf was once the highest-rated passer during the preseason.
Now with the Jaguars offense struggling, it may seem odd that I’m recommending going out and getting Jones-Drew. However, if history is any indicator, when Jacksonville’s offense hits rock bottom, Jones-Drew’s workload increases.
What Jones-Drew did last year on that pitiful offense was remarkable. In my opinion that was one of the most impressive seasons ever by an NFL running back given what Jones-Drew had around him.
I’m not expecting a repeat performance of 2011, but Jones-Drew is one of the few backs in the NFL that still gets most of his team’s touches. When the Jaguars are totally outclassed like they were on Sunday against the Chicago defense, that might not matter, but it’s a big factor when Jones-Drew plays less formidable defenses.
Looking ahead, Jones-Drew gets to face weaker rush defenses in the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets over the next two months. So while the Jaguars offense is going to struggle until it finds a new quarterback, I think now is a good time to buy low on Jones-Drew.
I’m sure some owners are going to look at Jacksonville and want to sell Jones-Drew this week. To be honest, I can’t say I blame them. But again, when you factor in his touches and easier upcoming schedule, Jones-Drew makes for a nice sneaky pickup right now.
I certainly wouldn’t give up a haul to get anyone on Jacksonville’s offense, but if a disgruntled owner is looking to dump Jones-Drew and the price is right, I would take a shot on him.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia – I have to admit I have some weird infatuation with Maclin. I really don’t know why considering I grew up a Dallas and an Oklahoma fan, but for some reason I’ve always loved Maclin.
On paper, Maclin has only had one good fantasy game this season – the opener against Cleveland. However, I believe he’s only really been 100 percent healthy for two games because of his hip injury (Cleveland and Pittsburgh).
If you look at the two games when Maclin was at full strength, he caught 12 balls. He didn’t gain a lot of yards against Pittsburgh but he did draw a pass interference penalty on a deep pass that would have been a touchdown and just missed a score when he stepped out of bounds before getting into the end zone on the next play.
I’ve always believed that Maclin is the Eagles’ best overall receiver. He’s better than DeSean Jackson at running routes in the middle of the field, so he’ll see more targets most weeks, especially with Michael Vick not having time to throw behind Philadelphia’s porous offensive line. Remember, Maclin runs more intermediate routes, while Jackson tends to run the deeper posts and fly routes down the field.
The other thing I like about Maclin is that the Eagles’ schedule shapes up well for him. Philadelphia gets some generous pass defenses coming up like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati. Those are some bad secondaries that Maclin should be able to feast on over the next couple of months.
Right now, I’m looking to get a third receiver that can help me down the stretch. Say you have a Roddy White and Victor Cruz but you need that third guy to really get you over the hump. If that’s the case I would take a strong look at Maclin. I think he’s one of the best buy-low players in fantasy football right now. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh – This is kind of a gut call. I’ve been waiting for Wallace to put up a stinker so I could put him on this list. I think Sunday’s two-catch, 17-yard performance would qualify as a stinker.
There are going to be some people who look at Rashard Mendenhall’s game against Philadelphia and think the Steelers are back to being a running team. I’m not one of those people. I certainly believe Mendenhall gives Pittsburgh more balance, but, in my opinion, the Steelers offensive line will still struggle to run block most weeks. The Eagles simply can’t stop the run. So even if Pittsburgh is more balanced, they aren’t going to be able to just line up and pound the ball at defenses.
I see Wallace having some monster games in his future. Take a look at who the Steelers have coming up: Tennessee, Cincinnati (twice), Washington, New York Giants, Kansas City, Baltimore (two) and Cleveland (two). Those are some bad secondaries that a speed receiver like Wallace can torch.
Again, even if the Steelers are more balanced on the ground, Wallace will still have plenty of opportunities in the passing game to make plays down the field. I love Wallace going forward against that schedule.
Another thing I want to point out is the most overrated unit in the NFL is the Steelers defense. Only Michael Vick could make them look good again. Remember, this is the same group that couldn’t lay a hand on the lead-footed Carson Palmer. If anyone believes the Steelers are going to win with defense and the running game, they’re stuck in 2006. It isn’t going to happen.
Wallace is a player I would strongly suggest going after this week. I think when you look at how the Steelers are built, combined with his remaining schedule, Wallace is in store for a huge second half of the season.