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Playing the Market: Penny Stock Options for 2014 Fantasy Football

Since the end of the Super Bowl (technically about 5 minutes into the second quarter) I’ve had a little more free time on my hands. Well, significantly less than anticipated as shoveling has become an exhausting weekly habit here in Michigan of late.

I decided to take advantage of this window of opportunity and see a movie or two. So I took in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” about a week ago (for the record I enjoyed it but not as much as “American Hustle”). And that got me right back to thinking about fantasy football.

Of course, that is probably due to the fact that I have a limited knowledge of the stock market and an unhealthy obsession with anything and everything football related.

Without boring you more than necessary with details of the movie (if you wanted those I’m guessing you’d go see the flic) there are quite a few references to “penny stocks.”
The term seemed vaguely familiar to me but as stated earlier I am no Gordon Gekko.
As the name would have you assume, they are very cheap stocks without a huge chance to turn a profit but the chance is there nonetheless.
You see where I am going with this.

My fantasy football soaked mind immediately began thinking of players that would fall under that category. They are the late round or very cheap auction fantasy draft prospects that represent little risk but big reward potential for 2014.

So without further ado (and I get that we’ve had plenty of ado)…some penny stock players for 2014.

Joseph Fauria

, TE, DETROIT: Most of the talk surrounding the hiring of new head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has centered around their ability to improve quarterback
Matthew Stafford

Lost amid this train of thought is the impact that their arrival could have on second year tight end
Joseph Fauria
As an undrafted free agent last season, Fauria had a surprisingly effective rookie campaign. While he finished with only 18 receptions for the year Fauria made them count as seven went for touchdowns. At 6’ 7” and 255 pounds he was an excellent compliment to wide receiver
Calvin Johnson

when the Lions got deep inside opponents territory.

Fauria was targeted 30 times last season with 14 of those targets coming in the red zone and six of those ending in a touchdown reception. As the season wore on Fauria saw a valuable increase in playing time and finished the season having played 312 snaps.

Detroit is likely to let former starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew test free agency before making a team friendly (read: lowball) offer to retain him. Pettigrew has struggled with untimely drops but is a solid blocking tight end and would fill that role should he remain in Detroit.

The Lions will be searching for a seam-stretching pass-catching option at tight end and looking within the organization will be the starting point for the new coaching staff. Being on the roster already will give Fauria the opportunity to throw his hat into the ring immediately.

Further enhancing his potential is the fact that the man calling the plays is very familiar with an offense that utilized a tall, athletic tight end. New OC Lombardi recently stated, “The playbook that we’re starting from is the Saints’ playbook.”

That playbook featured throwing the ball to 6’ 6” tight end
Jimmy Graham

a total of 141 times. While Fauria is a far cry from the talent that Graham is and needs to improve on his blocking moving forward he will see plenty of targets.

Fauria could be a steal in 2014 fantasy drafts as he’ll be an excellent value pick. Look to grab the kid from UCLA late in drafts and expect solid TE2 or even low-end TE1 numbers.

Toby Gerhart

, RB, FREE AGENT: After years of seeing his fantasy value stunted as the handcuff to All World running back
Adrian Peterson
Gerhart is set to hit free agency. At least he should hit the market unless the Vikings are willing to overpay a bit to keep their primary insurance policy for Peterson.

Gerhart has been the consummate foot soldier since entering the league back in 2010 as a reserve player for Minnesota and will finally get the chance to battle for a number one running back position.

Gerhart is coming off of a season in which he saw only 199 offensive snaps (a career low) and averaged 8.2 yards per carry in games in which he carried the ball five or more times. During his time in the NFL, Gerhart has carried the ball 276 times averaging 4.7 yards per carry and scored five rushing touchdowns. He’s also proved capable as a receiving threat having hauled in 77 receptions for 600 yards and three scores.

His fantasy value will depend solely on where he signs for 2014 and what his expected role will be. Gerhart will turn 27 this year and it is make it or break it time for the young man from Stanford. There is still a lot of tread on his tires as he’s only averaged 281 snaps per season over his career and flashed number one running back potential when called upon.

It’s only February and until Gerhart actually signs a deal we can only wildly speculate on his fantasy value. Hey, wild speculation is right in my wheelhouse so why not?

Should he decide to resign with the Vikings then his value remains status quo and he’s a must add for
Adrian Peterson

owners, case closed.

The 49ers have been mentioned as a potential landing spot due to Gerhart’s former association with San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh from their Stanford days. His value would be minimal out west as well with a crowded backfield situation that includes
Frank Gore

Kendall Hunter

and a returning from injury
Marcus Lattimore

Gerhart’s stock climbs exponentially should he head to a team such as Cleveland, Jacksonville (should
Maurice Jones-Drew

price himself out of a return) or even Oakland.

Gerhart has the pedigree to be a number one running back as he racked up over 3,500 yards and 44 touchdowns during his college career at Stanford. In 2009 alone, he posted 1,871 yards on 343 carries with 28 rushing scores.

It is his time to shine.

The kid has NFL talent and has sneaky good fantasy potential in the proper scenario. Monitor where he lands and be ready to pull the trigger in the mid to late rounds and get solid RB2 value with upside at a position of value in drafts.

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