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Dynasty Stock Market: Price Checks

The weekly Dynasty Stock Market features not only buy and sell candidates, but provides player features, draft projections, trade values or a variety of other relevant topics each week to make sure we’re covering everything our premium content followers are demanding.

This week, we’re featuring some regular price checks.

Dynasty fantasy football is all about one word – VALUE. Although some would disagree, I feel player values are almost constantly changing, due to a variety of events. These could include injury, poor play, off the field occurrences, or team dynamics and performance.

Periodically, I closely examine my rankings at each offensive skill position and make the necessary adjustments based on all the factors mentioned above, while watching as many games as possible. What will follow is a log of adjustments that have been made, including players who are moving up the rankings as well as those sliding down. While I will not include every player that changes, I will focus on the players making the most significant moves in either direction. These are players who I feel are experiencing a price (or value) change in dynasty leagues:

Price On the Rise

Christian Ponder, QB MIN
Moves from QB21 to QB16

Vikings sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder was just one of the strong class of rookie signal callers a year ago. While Cam Newton was taking the fantasy world by storm and Andy Dalton surprisingly led the Bengals to the playoffs and pushed Carson Palmer out the door, little attention was left for the Vikings own rookie quarterback. Minnesota began the 2011 season with Donovan McNabb under center, but gave Ponder his chance after six mediocre weeks of McNabb. Ponder was solid, but not spectacular in his ten games as a starter. His numbers were good enough to make him the QB17 over that span of games. While this likely gave his owners hope of good things to come, it was not enough to cause him to stand out among the top young quarterbacks in the game, especially as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and other much hyped rookies entered the league. In short, Ponder has been overlooked by the majority of dynasty owners.

With his team off to a surprising 2-1 start in 2012, Ponder’s dynasty value is on the rise.

Each game of this young season has seen Ponder improve and make good use of his top receiving threats, wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph. In week one, Ponder accumulated 270 passing yards, but was not able to connect for a touchdown pass. In week two, his fantasy stats jumped as he threw for 245 yards and two scores. Finally, week three was his best fantasy week despite passing for fewer than 200 yards, thanks to his two passing touchdowns and one additional touchdown on the ground.

With deep threat wide receiver Jerome Simpson returning from suspension this week, Ponder has even more room for improvement. With Adrian Peterson and Harvin getting much of the attention from fantasy owners, Ponder could still be had at a very fair price.

Other Quarterback Risers: Eli Manning, Jake Locker

Mikel Leshoure, RB DET
Moves from RB33 to RB20

It has been a long time coming for the NFL debut of Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, but we all finally witnessed that in week three against the Tennessee Titans and he did not disappoint. Leshoure was surprisingly drafted by the Lions in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. At that time, the concerns regarding Jahvid Best’s long-term health were just beginning and Leshoure was a top rookie pick in fantasy leagues. Quickly though, Leshoure suffered a torn left Achilles tendon and his rookie season was over before it began. With a full year to recover and Best dealing with more severe health matters, expectations for Leshoure were growing, as was his dynasty stock. It took a slight hit this spring when he was twice arrested on marijuana related charges – this drew a two game suspension from the league and eliminated Leshoure’s chance of opening the season as the Lions starting running back – that honor went to Kevin Smith, who performed well in the first two weeks of the season.

Smith’s performance made week three even more of a mystery. Early reports were that the team would get Leshoure involved in the offense right away. Then, later in the week, the news broke that Leshoure would be the starting running back. Still, fantasy owners were cautious about using Leshoure, for fear that Smith would still dominate the carries. Instead, we saw the complete opposite. Smith did not touch the ball and Leshoure rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown and saw his dynasty value skyrocket in the process.

My move of Leshoure from RB33 to RB20 is due almost exclusively to the Lions need for a workhorse runner and their willingness to hand that job to the second year back from Illinois. While I love Leshoure as a trade target, his price is likely very high coming off his breakout game. The Lions passing offense is likely to click at some point soon, which could result in a quiet game from Leshoure. This would be the best time to pounce and make an offer.

Other Running Back Risers: CJ Spiller, Reggie Bush, Ben Tate, Lamar Miller, Michael Bush, Pierre Thomas, Alfred Morris, Andre Brown, Daryl Richardson

Demaryius Thomas, WR DEN
Moves from WR11 to WR6

Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas came into the NFL with high expectations after being chosen in the first round by the wide receiver needy Broncos. In his first two seasons, Thomas has flashed amazing talent, but has also dealt with serious injuries. In two partial seasons in Denver, Thomas has totaled 54 catches for just over 800 yards and most importantly, six touchdowns. The ceiling was already high for the big athletic wide receiver from Georgia Tech, but that ceiling was blown away when the team signed future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning this off-season. The value of both Thomas and fellow wide out Eric Decker quickly grew and they both became very difficult to acquire in trade.

So far in 2012, Thomas has lived up to the hype. He scored touchdowns in each of his first two weeks, while totaling thirteen catches and 188 yards. His week three performance was a disappointing three catch for 34 yard game against the Texans, but his value remains on the rise.

A few days ago, I was asked on Twitter about a couple of potential dynasty trades. The first was Demaryius Thomas for Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The second was Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a second round rookie pick for Thomas. Considering each of these offers quickly told me that it was time for me to reevaluate Thomas’ ranking. Specifically, I had Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant ranked very high based on age and that dangerous word – potential. Thomas is almost as young as Bryant and is already showing us what he can do, while Bryant posts letdown after letdown.

Other Wide Receiver Risers: Victor Cruz, TJ Graham, Lance Moore, TY Hilton, Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline, Donnie Avery, Danny Amendola, Ramses Barden, Golden Tate

Martellus Bennett, TE NYG
Moves from TE28 to TE12

There have long been criticisms of Giants tight end Martellus Bennett. During his years with the Dallas Cowboys, he was criticized for a lack of maturity, along with his unsure hands. In the shadow of Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, fantasy owners were unsure what to expect when Bennett was signed by the Super Bowl champions. It was clear there was a need as the Giants top two tight ends suffered serious injuries during the Super Bowl. When Bennett signed with the team, his dynasty stock immediately began to rise, thanks to the expected opportunity to start in the top offense featuring quarterback Eli Manning. But, not all news can be positive, especially in the off-season when fans are desperate for any taste of gridiron action. Reports surfaced during minicamps that Bennett was out of shape and his weight had ballooned. I am still unsure if these reports were true and it doesn’t matter now – what matters is his performance on the field.

Bennett is currently the TE5 in most leagues after scoring a touchdown in each of his first three games with the Giants. His catches and yards have also increased each game. Even with receiving threats such as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, Bennett seems to have found his place in the offense. He has totaled 15 catches for 185 yards and is getting red zone looks each game.

Obviously, Bennett’s price is on the rise, but he still makes a good target if you are in need of a tight end. Starting with a second round rookie pick and a prospect would open the door for negotiations to acquire Bennett.

Other Tight End Risers: Dennis Pitta, DJ Williams, Jordan Cameron, Heath Miller

Price Chopped

Philip Rivers, QB SD
Moves from QB11 to QB13

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has been a long time top performer at the quarterback position. In his six full seasons as the Chargers starting quarterback, he’s finished as a top five quarterback twice and had three other seasons inside the top ten. The Chargers have earned a reputation as tough to deal with when it comes to contracts, be it for their own free agents or other top available players. Over the years, the team has lost players like LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner and Drew Brees. Yet somehow, they were always able to reload and stay successful and competitive. This past off-season, they lost their top wide receiver over the past several years when Vincent Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Veteran tight end Antonio Gates, while still with the team, has lost a step due to age and injury and is not quite the offensive threat he once was.

Although only three weeks into the season, Rivers has already managed to be labeled as inconsistent. An average week one led to a very strong week two when he threw for nearly 300 yards and tossed three touchdowns against the Titans defense. Then came week three where Rivers could not even manage 200 yards against a Falcons defense missing one of their top defensive backs. Rivers was held to less than ten fantasy points and sent his owners over the edge.

I have seen many people whose opinion I respect voice concern we may never see the same Rivers as in past years. While he is only 30 years old and quarterbacks routinely have success into their mid thirties and beyond, Rivers has few offensive weapons and his team is struggling overall. Maybe things improve when talented young wide receiver Vincent Brown returns later this season, but that could be too little, too late when it comes to his fantasy value. If you can move Rivers for another quarterback in the same tier, like Tony Romo or even Michael Vick, you can still compete this year. Another option would be to target a young player you believe in, like Jake Locker, in a possible deal to give your rebuilding team some youth at the position.

Other Quarterbacks Chopped: Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler

Donald Brown, RB IND
Moves from RB39 to RB42

Colts running back Donald Brown has earned a label that is very dangerous for fantasy owners – mediocre. When assessing dynasty rankings and rosters in my leagues, there are many players who fall into this category. These players are not reliable or talented enough to be routine starters for your team, yet they have too much value to outright drop for fear they finally break out. Brown was drafted in the first round in 2009 as the replacement for Joseph Addai. In three seasons, Brown was unable to unseat a declining Addai. After the team was completely overhauled, the starting running back job  was handed to Brown.

Through three games, Brown has shown he does not have the goods to maintain his dynasty value. Even a week one rushing touchdown and a week three long reception could not push Brown over twelve fantasy points in PPR leagues. Brown currently sits at RB29 and has been outscored by players like Shaun Draughn and Matt Forte, who has only played in one and a half games. With the young Colts offense already relying on the passing skills of rookie Andrew Luck, I see little hope for improvement for Brown. In fact, well known NFL scout Greg Cosell and our own Steve Wyremski have stated that rookie Vick Ballard is the most talented running back on the team and will be starting by the end of the season.

I cannot even recommend selling Brown because I doubt anyone is willing to make a deal for him at this time. If you can get a second round rookie pick, accept it quickly. Meanwhile, take this chance to inquire about the trade cost of Ballard in your league.

Other Running Backs Chopped: Chris Johnson, David Wilson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Beanie Wells, Michael Turner

Robert Meachem, WR SD
Moves from WR56 to WR58

In his four years in the high powered New Orleans Saints offense, wide receiver Robert Meachem established himself as a deep threat capable of catching a long bomb for a touchdown on any play. It is surprising to some that it hasn’t been wide receiver Marques Colston or Lance Moore or even tight end Jimmy Graham that have been the touchdown leaders for the Saints the past few years, but it is none other than Meachem himself. He scored 23 receiving touchdowns on 141 catches during his Saints tenure – this is what the San Diego Chargers thought they were getting when the signed Meachem to replace wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

Instead, Meachem is an almost invisible member of an offense desperate for playmakers. In week one, he caught his only two targets totaling 49 yards. He followed that so-so performance with a goose egg, zero catches on four targets. He did improve slightly in week three when he grabbed four catches for 43 yards. He has yet to score a touchdown for the Chargers. None of these statistics tell us he deserves to be starting for your fantasy team. In fact, he is in the same “tease” category as the running back Brown, mentioned above.

The two spot fall Meachem incurred in my rankings this week is not a good representation of his disappointing season thus far, mostly because I was already soured on him and had him ranked much lower than many others. Don’t be surprised to see his name listed again among the “chopped” next time I address my rankings changes. If you are a Meachem owner, and sadly I am in one league, make a move for a disappointing rookie you might still like, such as AJ Jenkins of the 49ers or Mohamed Sanu or the Bengals.

Other Wide Receivers Chopped: Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Damien Williams, Randy Moss, Santana Moss, Jacoby Ford

Antonio Gates, TE SD
Moves from TE12 to TE16

I’m sorry Chargers fans. I promise this was not planned. Four positions and three of your key players are being chopped. It does speak to the poor start for the team, at least in fantasy terms. The good news, at least for Chargers fans, is that the team is winning and leading their division. Now, back to the bad news that is Antonio Gates. Many credit his emergence for the rise in popularity of the “joker” tight end position and the added importance placed on the tight end position in fantasy football. I’m not sure if all credit should go to Gates, but I am sure he has been a tremendous player for years and years. Gates took over as the starting tight end for the Chargers in 2004. Since then, he has finished as TE1 three times, TE2 twice and has three other finishes inside the top seven.

This year seems to be a different story early on.

He has already missed a game, something that has been rare in the past and has also yet to score a touchdown. Looking at overall fantasy points scored, Gates ranks as the TE33 currently. Judging only by average points per game, which is fair considering he was out week two, and he is still outscored by 24 other tight ends. Among the players outscoring him are the Kevin Boss, Anthony Fasano, Scott Chandler and even fellow Charger Dante Rosario.

At age 32, this is the rapid decline that happens to so many athletes. Until further notice, Gates is no longer a fantasy starter at tight end. I recently conducted a very informal Twitter poll asking fantasy players to choose from Gates and Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, While it is clear that Bennett has outplayed and outscored Gates this year, I thought Gates’ name value would still carry some weight. I could not have been more wrong. Every person who responded chose Bennett and many commented it was not close. Gates is another player who you are not likely to receive very much value for. I am sure he will still have some big games this year and when he does, take that chance to potentially move him off of your team.

Other Tight Ends Chopped: Taylor Thompson, Dustin Keller, Jacob Tamme

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanMc23

Ryan McDowell
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stolenmeat
9 years ago

Is there ever going to be a better time to buy-low on David Wilson? I’m thinking not.

Chuck Gordon
Reply to  stolenmeat
9 years ago

If the Wilson owner in your league has a redraft mentality then you may be able to pry Wilson on the cheap. Any Wilson owner with a dynasty mentality will realize that it is way too soon to give up on him. Good luck!

stolenmeat
9 years ago

where can we find your updated rankings?

stolenmeat
Reply to  Ryan McDowell
9 years ago

thank you I didn’t realize that they were being updated since Armon Binns doesn’t appear in the WR rankings as best I can see.

Sensei John Kreese
9 years ago

These are my favorite articles on Dlf, please keep these coming Ryan!

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