Let’s take a look at a few players whose stat line doesn’t really reflect their draft position. Some players will be able to bounce back, some stats may be misleading and some players are in fact cooked in terms of value.
Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia – First off, I hate to say I told you so. Look back at the last dy-NASTY player value article. A fair warning was issued a week ago that if Michael Vick impressed against the Detroit Lions that coach Andy Reid would continue to start him. That offense has been designed around athletic quarterback play for a decade and Kolb doesn’t fit into that “roll out and gain 20 yards” mentality. It was obvious that Vick would impress against a porous Lions defense and that those numbers will most likely carry over against the struggling Jacksonville defense. Vick’s numbers will be impressive due to his skillful play but also due to set of perfect circumstances. If Vick had stepped in to play against the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets defenses then Kolb may still be the starter. But, the numbers are there due to the easy matchups and Reid did exactly what I thought he would.
Kolb’s value has pretty much hit rock bottom for this season and possibly next season as well. There are reports continuing to come in that several teams are calling the Eagles about Kolb’s availability. Reid reports that when it comes to the trade deadline that anything is possible. If I had to venture a few guesses as to where Kolb could potentially be traded, I’d have to include such teams as: Arizona, Seattle, Cleveland, Buffalo and possibly Minnesota. With such undetermined and unappealing factors playing into Kolb’s overall value, one thing is certain: this Kolb is overcooked. He currently only offers a small amount of immediate value due to the fact that Vick has to get injured or underperform to gain his job back. And his future could range from the Eagles bench to the Cleveland Browns. The stock has officially dropped out on Kolb.
Kevin Kolb Stock Status – ENRON (crash)
Steve Smith, New York Giants – What happened to all of those catches? What happened is that Smith can only catch what Eli Manning throws his way, and right now those looks are going elsewhere. Hakeem Nicks has stepped up in a big way, catching four of Manning’s six total touchdowns. Nicks seems to be the new Plaxico Burress chemistry-wise for Manning. While watching games, it seems that Manning is targeting Nicks inside the 20 and Smith for first down conversions. But not all hope is lost just yet. Though his stock is down, he himself is healthy and is still a factor in that offense. If Brandon Jacobs gets the trade that he may or may not have requested, the Giants will continue their transformation into a passing offense with Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw would draw more defensive attention underneath, leaving Smith on more single coverage. Additionally, if Nicks continues to perform at an elite No. 1 wide receiver level, defenses will have to plan for him accordingly. This also would help ease pressure off Smith. Advice: slow starts are not season-ruining circumstances. Hold tight and wait for Manning to start targeting his security blanket more frequently and more effectively.
Steve Smith Stock Status – APPLE (bounce back)
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati – Nothing is worse than using an early pick on an unproductive running back. Benson doesn’t seem to be running with the same ability as last season. A very telling indication was the New England Patriots matchup. Carson Palmer was spreading the ball around and had the passing game clicking on all cylinders. But, even then, with the defense paying attention to the passing game, Benson still couldn’t get going. Again, it’s very early in the season and nothing is impossible. Benson could find his stride again and still run for more than 1,000 yards. But I wasn’t terribly optimistic heading into this season about Benson to begin with. These stats could be a reoccurring weekly event. Defenses can play Cincinnati up close due to the fact that Palmer doesn’t have the arm he used to and there aren’t any speed demon receivers burning up the sideline. This means that the defense can play closer to the line of scrimmage, limiting the production of Benson out of the backfield. Keep a close eye on this one. He still should be a starter due to the fact that he’s the sole back and gets goal line work. But, if it’s Week 4 or 5 and Benson still hasn’t had an impressive performances, it may be time to find an alternative option.
Cedric Benson Stock Status – Blockbuster (hoping for a come back)
Ray Rice, Baltimore – Holy expectations Batman! Rice came into this season with fantasy owners expecting 2,500 total yards from scrimmage and more than 10 touchdowns. But so far, Rice has left a lot to be desired. He has yet to show the ability that he displayed on a regular basis last year in any given week. A few things could be the cause of such a shortage in production. Joe Flacco hasn’t really been the quarterback that people were expecting in terms of numbers so far this season. Defenses may be more worried about Rice performing than Flacco delivering at this point. But, in my approximation, it has more to do with matchups than team issues. The Ravens have already had to tango with the Bengals and Jets. Cincinnati offers a decent defense while the Jets offer perhaps the best. I have a feeling that Rice will be showing off his athletic ability more in Week 3 with by far the most favorable matchup for him so far this season. The Cleveland Browns are going to want to move out of town again once Rice finally catches on this week. Rice is still a matchup nightmare, an athletic freak and a true keeper. Keep playing him and already plan on bringing him with you into next season. Here’s a scary thought – if Willis McGahee leaves via free agency next season, Rice (who had an average draft position of four) would actually see a huge increase in value. Just sit tight, play him every week he’s healthy and the stats will come.
Ray Rice Stock Status – McDonald’s (always good)
Carolina Panthers Running Backs – Where are the dual 1,000-yard backs we saw last season? The offensive line is supposedly better and the quarterback play may not be great, but it’s a plus over last year with Jake Delhomme under center. The situation was supposed to be getting better in Carolina. The most frustrating part is that both of these guys are playing for their futures. DeAngelo Williams is a free agent at season’s end and would like to have a heavy stat line to equate to more money. Jonathan Stewart would like his stats to plead his case for the starting job in Carolina and a starter’s paycheck. But so far, they have produced nothing. This is probably something that will fix itself, but Williams is only strengthening my case to not be re-signed. The Panthers have needs elsewhere and that money could be used on bringing in help for Stewart next year. I still argue that Williams will be carrying the ball for a different team next season and that Stewart will be the main man in Carolina. In terms of both of their overall value, their stock is down collectively. Look for both to rebound. If you need a keeper, try to buy low into either stock. Both offer tremendous future potential as well as immediate bounce back.
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams Stock Status – Wal-Mart (future juggernaut)
The Detroit Lions’ Offense – By saying the Lions offense, I really mean Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best. That’s due to the fact that they themselves are the Lions’ offense. While Brandon Pettigrew had himself a nice game, this is dynasty talk. Tight ends shouldn’t be even mentioned in terms of keepers. Moving on, Best obviously has huge value now that he’s established himself in both the running and passing game. While Best is increasing his own value, he’s also impacting Johnson’s. More attention will have to be paid to Best in order to stop him from repeating last week’s huge numbers. This means less defensive attention to Johnson. Pettigrew’s aforementioned 100-yard game should also ease some attention away from Johnson. If Best and Johnson are both good starts now, let’s see what happens when Matthew Stafford gets back behind center. Both of these players should draw enough off each other to both be productive at the same time. Defenses will now have to respect the potential of the ground game and potential of the passing game.
Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best Stock Status – Microsoft (continues to rise)
Justin Forsett, Seattle – What happened to all that potential? Many had him pegged as a solid running back sleeper that could put up starting fantasy running back numbers. The situation in Seattle isn’t ideal, but then again it wasn’t last year either when Forsett was establishing himself as a potential threat. Maybe Pete Carroll drowned out his best running back by bringing in too many backups. Obviously, LenDale White, Julius Jones and Leon Washington haven’t been worth the moves made in order to get them. Carroll may have ruined his overall best offensive player’s potential. He’s still trying to establish a passing game based around rookie Golden Tate, a “has been” at quarterback with Matt Hasselbeck and a “never was” at wide receiver with Mike Williams. Regardless of the reasoning, Forsett’s value has plummeted. Keep him on your fantasy bench until he shows something. It’s been a complete disaster so far, and the potential starting of Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t improve the situation.
Justin Forsett’s Stock Status – British Petroleum (big mistake)