The problem with players with falling values is that it doesn’t mean that they don’t have some value, even potentially significant value on a fantasy team that is still competitive. While I could spend endless hours breaking down each situation or scenario toward determining when the appropriate time is to cut or trade a falling-value player, ultimately it’s up to you the coach to make that determination. Many variables are in play and and you must be objective about your team’s prospects for the current year and the year to come. Once you trade away a player, you’ll likely not be getting him back.
First realize that players that are falling in value most likely are falling due to age. Aging dynasty players such as Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson or even Tom Brady are likely to have a much softer market. You’ll be dealing with teams that are clearly in the thick of a championship run and you must also consider your own team’s potential before moving forward. It’s far better to allow a player to age gracefully or retire off your roster if you’ll be making a strong championship bid. The last thing you want to do is trade away an aging player and find him playing against you in the last game of the year with a ring on the line.
Tread carefully and know that the term “falling” in this article is related to their stock value this year as compared to kick-off in 2012.
As this pool for this list is much deeper, I’ll be highlighting only those that are more noteworthy.
As I pointed out in Part I of this series, the need for a top quarterback is a great one. In most cases, at least unless you have substantial depth in other positions, your team will likely only perform as well as is your starting quarterback situation. Unlike other positions, the quarterback can play well into his late 30’s and still be effective as long as their system supports their age. Most quarterbacks don’t reach their fantasy potential until their later twenties and a quarterback like Tom Brady (34) can still have significant value for three to four years to come, keeping him off of this list.
Peyton Manning, IND
There may be only a 50% chance that Manning takes another snap under center, ever! News on his neck should be refreshed shortly as new results will soon be available but the Colts will be facing a nearly $30M payment to Manning in March should they wish to keep him under center for 2012. As the Colts also have the inside track in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, it’s very possible that Manning opts for retirement and allows Luck to take over under center. I think it’s likely that Manning allows for a restructuring to stay with the Colts if for no other reason to mentor a new incoming quarterback, but I’ll be at least somewhat surprised if he still isn’t under center come Sept. I’m also very intrigued as to just how the Colts would be performing with Manning THIS year given their current state. A large part of me wants to see him back for the final four games but the Colts have too much to lose in that scenario. Either way, the value is out of the Manning balloon.
Philip Rivers, SD
Nothing to be overly concerned about yet, but Rivers has not been the same. His receivers have been banged up all year and there are ongoing rumors that Rivers is playing hurt. Owners must hope so. Regardless, Rivers’ value as an elite quarterback is in question. With head coach Norv Turner’s days all but over in San Diego, Rivers will likely be learning a new system in 2012. If you traded for Rivers in 2011, you’re none too happy.
Michael Vick, PHI
Vick just never panned out in his highly-rated quarterback status that he was fully carrying in fantasy drafts prior to 2011’s kick-off. He’s shown flashes but once again has been terribly inconsistent and injury prone, reminding everyone of the Vick of old in Atlanta. He is what he is and he’ll never carry that value again. As the leader of the “Dream Team”, he’s been a huge disappointment and will be a risky pick in 2012.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF
This year, many entered 2011 with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their QB1. He too has been a disappointment in 2011 and is no better than a low-teens QB2 player. Buffalo’s offense just isn’t dynamic enough to vault Fitz into the top ten and he’ll carry little value into 2012.
Colt McCoy, CLE
McCoy hasn’t been good this year. And the Brows shockingly have realized that they still need to upgrade their receiving corps. Really?!? Much like Ryan Fitzpatrick above, McCoy doesn’t have the skills to put a team on his back. There’s a lot to like about the kid, but the chance that he’s replaced by mid-season next year is rising by the week.
Tim Tebow, DEN
If there was ever a case for a quarterback to stick because he’s a legitimate fantasy producer, Tebow is it. Tebow can put up a good fantasy score all the while making the quarterback position look horrific. I have noted improvement in the last two weeks but it won’t be enough to save his job with Elway clearly looking for the future in 2012. Tebow just doesn’t have enough value now to trade him unless the Broncos don’t add another quarterback.
Sam Bradford, STL
Oh oh. Bradford doesn’t have much of a team around him but he’s looked shockingly pedestrian when compared to last year. The Rams made a huge mistake by not significantly upgrading their receivers in 2011 and the failed addition of Mike Sims-Walker was as much a reach as any move in 2011. The Rams must add receiving talent early (likely in the first round) in the draft or as a free agent (Dwayne Bowe anyone?) and give Bradford some chance at being successful. Mismanagement by the Rams brass, more than anything, is sucking the value out of Bradford.
Kevin Kolb, ARI
We said it before the season kicked off and I’ll say it again here: Kolb hadn’t proven that he could be a long term starter before he arrived in Arizona and nothing has changed. Larry Fitzgerald owners (of which I am one in multiple leagues) badly want him to be the answer but the arrows clearly aren’t pointing up for Kolb. The best you can hope for is a late season resurgence that restores some confidence about the possibilities in 2012. In all likelihood you’re going to have to carry him into 2012 as a very shaky QB2 with your eye on a back-up QB2 just in case.
Game over for:
Curtis Painter, IND
Charlie Whitehurst, SEA
Donovan McNabb, MIN
Jahvid Best, DET
I fully expect that Best will give it one more try in 2012 but there’s little way he remains the same back or that he doesn’t suffer yet another concussion. It’s tough for these players because football is all they know and how does one walk away from a dream like that over something like a concussion? I stayed away from Best entirely because of his major concussion while at Cal and I don’t see a happy ending to Best’s NFL career.
Michael Turner, ATL
It’s been a slow leak in value for the Burner and he’s held up better than I expected in 2011. He just won’t hold much value to all but teams in a very competitive fantasy situation. He’s not overly active in the passing game and his carries are bound to drop next year. He still has value but options will be limited.
Chris Johnson, TEN
Unless he can channel the Chris Johnson of 2009 for the remainder of 2011, Johnson’s value will continue to slide. He’ll be a major risk-reward play in 2012 and you’ll still have opportunity to get good value in trade, but can anyone really say what CJ will be next year? You’ll not get what he’s worth potential-wise so your best bet is to hang on unless another coach is willing to over-pay for him. He makes for a great buy low candidate in the future if he fizzles over his last five games. Or is he?
Daniel Thomas, MIA
When on Sirius-XM’s Fantasy Drive a few weeks ago, I gave in that Thomas had started to impress me. Early on the best I thought could be hoped for was a Mike Alstott type of back who isn’t a prototypical carry-the-load back, but one that shines inside the 10 yard line. He’s not built anything like Alstott, but I thought with Miami’s offense, he could be that type of back. Outside of weeks two and three, he just hasn’t shown any level of dynamic or ability. He’s the same single dimensional back that I saw all through my research during the draft.
Jackie Battle, KC
My super-sleeper from four years ago just hasn’t produced with his opportunities. The only thing he’s proven is that he’s much more suited in a situational role. He’s one to move NOW if you still can, otherwise he’s likely to have no value in 2012.
Ryan Grant, GB
It’s unknown what Mike McCarthy is thinking about Grant. He’s in the last year of his deal and has been soundly outplayed by James Starks. Moreover, Green Bay just doesn’t rely on their running game and any back in that offense is a risky start. Starks is a better inside runner, has better burst and has much better hands than does Grant. If not for McCarthy’s belief that you MUST have two good backs, Grant’s run as a Packer would likely be over. Fantasy value wise, that is the best outcome but we won’t know until well into 2012.
Delone Carter, IND
Nearly every expert I came across, NFL and in fantasy, were on the Delone Carter train. I didn’t see it in college and there was no way I was buying it in Indi. In my most recent dynasty draft, I drafted Donald Brown over Carter when I had the opportunity, only to see Carter go a few picks later. Carter is the prototypical down-hill short yardage back that most were trying to make into the next Ray Rice. Brown has solidly outplayed him as the season progressed and with Addai likely to depart in the off-season, Carter’s days will be spent in a situational role unless Brown pulls up lame again – a definite possibility. Once again, the single dimensional back just can’t have much more than a limited role unless that single dimension is extremely noteworthy (Michael Turner).
Knowshon Moreno, DEN
Can’t stay healthy and doesn’t run tough enough inside to be anything more than a third down back. Denver understands full-well what Moreno is and will be addressing the position in 2012.
C.J. Spiller, BUF
Please don’t make me say it again. If he’s going prove us wrong here, he probably has another 1-2 games. Not likely.
Peyton Hillis, CLE
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And there’s also a Madden Curse. Game over for Hillis in Cleveland.
Montario Hardesty, CLE – Just can’t stay healthy
Toby Gerhart, MIN – Nope, he’s no John Cappelletti
Ryan Torain, WAS
Reggie Wayne, IND
He blew up in week 12. Hurry! Trade him!
Marques Colston, NO
He’s a tough player not to like. He’s got great size, hands and isn’t afraid to make the tough catch. But his knees have taken his explosiveness and there aren’t enough balls to go around in that offense. He still has value as a flex player but it’s falling quickly.
Mike Williams, TB
His last two weeks have dispelled the ghost of Michael Clayton, so he’s got that working for him. He’s going to need to pick it up throug the remainder to retain his value. Even should that occur, he’s likely fallen a good two rounds in drafted value.
DeSean Jackson, PHI
Anyone really have a soft spot in their heart for head cases? I don’t.
Sidney Rice, SEA
He can’t stay healthy and he plays in that underwhelming Seattle offense. Oh, and there’s the fact that he has Tarvaris Jackson throwing to him. Strike three! Seattle will have a new quarterback under center in 2012 so his value may rise again, there’s still hope.
Julio Jones, ATL
It’s tough to list Jones on a falling value list as a rookie, but given how hyped he was coming into 2011, you have to. He’s had a tough time with his hamstrings and if Jones is going to make good on his potential, it’s going to have to be as a deep threat. Hammy’s are notoriously quirky once injured and the bloom is off this rose, at least for now.
Miles Austin, DAL
Nagging injuries and the arrival of Laurent Robinson likely adds up to a reduced role in 2012. His quality catches may increase, but he’s going to have to settle into a new role.
Braylon Edwards, SF
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But there’s always more smoke after the fire has gone out.
Call a priest:
Steve Smith, PHI
Ramses Barden, NYG
Eddie Royal, DEN
Donald Driver, GB – He’s 83 years old
Jacoby Jones, HOU – Had his chance, never emerged
Roy Williams, CHI
Jermichael Finley, GB
What a disappointment! Save one game where he caught three Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes and he’s been nearly invisible. That offense is just too prolific. He can score big any week but predicting when and where is a fool’s errand. He may be tradable if you have depth but only if you can get good value for him.
Jared Cook, TEN
A hot name heading into 2011, he’s shown flashes but not enough to keep the fire lit. He doesn’t have enough value to trade away so you have to hang on and hope. Never a fun thing to do with a TE2.
Dallas Clark, IND
Talk about invisible! Peyton Manning really does make that much of a difference and don’t expect Clark to really put himself out there for the rest of 2011, at least not at full speed. Just too little to play for given his age.
Zach Miller, SEA
System kills the once bright star.
Marcedes Lewis, JAX
The high ranking from me this past off-season was questioned and I have to admit that I had him WAY too high. I thought he’d reproduce his 2010 season in 2011 in that offense but poor quarterback play was too much to overcome. That and a big payday.
Lance Kendricks, STL
Just forgotten in that offense for the most part. He still has upside. Maybe into the top 30.
He’s dead Jim:
Todd Heap, ARI
Martellus Bennett, DAL
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff