What an exciting Sunday of football Week 3 delivered. We had a Hail Mary, multiple overtimes and it was topped off with a heavyweight clash between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots that lived up to the hype.
Then with all the good comes the bad. I’m talking about Matthew Stafford, who is single-handedly making me wish I slept through August. You see, I put my trust in the wrong guy, and if Stafford plays 100 more years he’ll never be on my fantasy team again. He’s really putting the screws to me and I’ll never forget it.
Despite the fantasy nightmare that is Stafford so far this season, a new week means more trades. Though things are getting so bad in my one league, it’s getting to the point where I’m trying to put lipstick on a pig. It’s still early, though, so I’m not going to stop firing trade offers until they read me my last rights.
Now here are the players I’m advising to buy low and sell high on after Week 3.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina – I believe a couple of things. I believe the Panthers have a few talented running backs but only one stud – Stewart. I also believe that Cam Newton is a much better quarterback when Stewart is on the field.
I think Stewart helps Newton for two reasons. First, the Panthers run the ball much better with Stewart than without him. As good as Newton was last year, he’s still developing as a pocket passer. He’s not ready yet to just drop back and fire 40-50 passes a game. That isn’t when Newton is at his best. He’s most effective when the Panthers are running the football and he can throw off of it.
Second, Stewart is Newton’s security blanket in the passing game. Last year Stewart caught 47 passes, and most of them were on checkdowns. When Newton is going through his progressions and nothing is available, he often checks down to Stewart. When Stewart isn’t on the field I feel like Newton is forcing more balls into coverage.
I understand Stewart’s ceiling is limited because of the presence of DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. Still, I believe once Stewart is healthy he’s going to see the most reps. Williams had a chance to play a lot with Stewart sidelined, and every time I see him run I wonder why he’s making so much money. He’ll get carries, but Stewart will get more.
If you play in a points per reception league, I would strongly recommend making a move to get Stewart now. He didn’t play on Thursday because of the short week, but he should be ready to go on Sunday. Stewart is an important part of Carolina’s offense, and I believe to Newton’s success as well. I see him being the Panthers’ main ballcarrier going forward.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee – I’m always nervous with players like Britt because I’m afraid we get blinded by “bursts of talent.” A lot of players display bursts of talent, but for one reason or another never put it all together for consistent stretches. I’m still not sure if we can trust Britt but once again I’m buying his talent.
Britt is coming back from a knee injury and a one-game suspension, but on Sunday he started to finally show the physical skills that can make him an elite receiver. Britt didn’t have a huge game – catching six balls for 55 yards – but he showed some explosion and separation from defensive backs. Now that could just be because Britt was playing the pathetic Detroit Lions, but I think it also shows that he’s almost back to full strength and ready to have some big games.
I was really high on Jake Locker this summer, and while growing pains are to be expected, he finally looked like the dual threat fantasy weapon I envisioned him to be against Detroit. Again, I’m sure the Lions defense had something to do with it, but I expect Locker to only get better as the season goes on.
I think now is a good time to go out and get Britt. Nate Washington had a big game on Sunday but he actually plays better with Britt in the lineup. Also, Britt suffered a minor ankle injury on Sunday but it doesn’t sound like anything too serious. Although it could help you land him at a cheaper price this week.
The Titans offense has gotten off to a slow start, but I expect it to improve in the weeks ahead, at least the passing game. I wouldn’t pick up Chris Johnson if he were on the waiver wire right now. He’s just been atrocious.
I would start sniffing around Britt to see what owners are asking for him. If you’re deep at running back and can dump a guy with limited upside like Frank Gore for Britt, I would do it.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Washington – Hankerson is a guy I liked going all the way back to his college days at Miami. That’s saying a lot considering his quarterback was Jacory Harris. If you can notice a receiver is talented when Harris is throwing him the ball, that’s high praise.
Hankerson was raw coming out of college but it looks like he’s finally starting to come around and pick up the Redskins offense. After scoring on a 68-yard pass two weeks ago, Hankerson started Sunday in place of the injured Pierre Garcon, catching four balls for 56 yards.
Now those numbers won’t blow you away, but the Redskins went predominantly to the run in the second half. I thought watching Hankerson that he gained confidence as the game went on and Robert Griffin III felt more comfortable in him as well. Also, Hankerson did an excellent job as a blocker in the running game. I think all that bodes well for him in the future.
When Garcon comes back, he’ll obviously be the top target in the Redskins passing game. I’m not disputing that fact. However, at this point in the season I like to be on the lookout for young, talented receivers that can help me later in the year. I believe Hankerson has a shot to be one of those guys.
Some owners picked up Hankerson once it was announced he would be starting for Garcon. Others will likely pick him up off the waiver wire this week. Either way, Hankerson is a guy I would hang onto and see what happens with him over the next month. He could be big for you down the stretch.
If you’re working out a multi-player trade, try and get Hankerson thrown in like you don’t really want him. That’s an old trick of mine to get bench players I believe have future upside. The Redskins are going to score a lot of points this year and I see Hankerson being their second-most valuable fantasy receiver behind Garcon.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England – Last week I suggested trading for Greg Olsen – a player coming off a one-catch performance – as a replacement for Hernandez. If you did, Olsen rewarded you with a nice game on Thursday night. This week I’m telling you to now trade for Hernandez, a guy who is currently injured.
I actually traded for Hernandez last week, and I’ll tell you why I did. I already have Jimmy Graham. While that’s not as enticing as it used to be, my thinking was, get Hernandez now and then I can play both guys later in the year; one at tight end and one in the flex. I thought it was worth the gamble to get two elite tight ends, even if I can’t play one right away. I just didn’t realize Graham was going to stop catching passes.
Here’s my main reason for making the trade: players are almost never out for as long as first reported anymore. Hernandez is supposed to miss 6-8 weeks, right? So by my crazy gorilla math that means 3-4 weeks. Fred Jackson was originally supposed to miss 1-2 months and he’s already returning to practice this week. I don’t believe Hernandez is going to miss two months.
I think it depends on the league, your team and the owner who currently has Hernandez, but I would certainly look into trading for him. It may stink putting him on your bench for a while, but who’s on your bench now? Jonathan Dwyer? At least in a couple of weeks you have an elite fantasy player you can plug in. I would look into it.