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With the dynasty off-season beginning, owners must shift their focus from the week-to-week decisions with hopes of winning the upcoming matchup to more of a long term view of the necessary steps to improve their teams. Near the top of each dynasty owners’ off-season “to do” list should be identifying players to buy or sell in the coming months. In the next few editions of the Dynasty Stock Market, division by division, I will share my opinions on players we should be buying or selling. I encourage you to list your own in the comments are below.
Often, when a fantasy buy and sell list is produced, the assumption is those players are “buy low” or “sell high.” I am sure many of the players I mention will fit into one of these two categories, but not all will. Some of the players I will be targeting as “buys” already have a steep price, but it is a price I am willing to pay, based on that player’s expected future value and level or production. The same is true for players on the other end. There are some players I will be selling, even at a low price, in an effort to rid myself of that player before their value completely bottoms out.
Here is a look at some players to buy and sell from the NFC West:
Colin Kaepernick, QB SF
Second year San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of the hottest names in fantasy football the past few weeks. Since he took over as the team’s starting quarterback in week eleven, he ranks as the QB8. If that was not enough, he posted one of the best fantasy games by a quarterback ever in the team’s playoff win over the Green Bay Packers, throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 181 yards and two more scores. His 181 rushing yards were the most all time for a quarterback in a single game. He has flown up dynasty rankings and draft boards and has been selected as a top ten passer in nearly all early dynasty drafts. Obviously, his value is very high, but I would still be buying. While he is being drafted in the range of quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford, his value seems to be much less. I have seen more than a few instances of Kaepernick being flipped for a mid first round pick in this year’s weaker than normal class. That seems like great value to me, especially for a team in need of quarterback help.
Kendall Hunter, RB SF
One player who falls in the “buy low” category for me is 49ers tailback Kendall Hunter. Hunter was not receiving as many carries as many imagined, mostly thanks to Frank Gore’s impressive season, then Hunter tore his Achilles, ending his season in week twelve. This was once thought to be a career ending injury, but in recent years, we have seen Demaryius Thomas and Mikel Leshoure successfully return from an Achilles tear, so there is hope for Hunter. As could be expected, Hunter’s dynasty value has tumbled and he has even been dropped in a number of leagues. Hunter is expected to be practicing in time for training camps and as Gore ages, expect a larger role for him.
AJ Jenkins, WR SF
It took a serious injury to wide receiver Mario Manningham for rookie AJ Jenkins to even see the field this season, as he did not make his NFL debut until week 14, and even then failed to record a reception, including the playoffs. Despite this, I think Jenkins is an excellent buy candidate. The 49ers took him in the first round and that quickly vaulted his dynasty stock as many assumed he would see instant playing time. The fact is though, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh rarely gives significant playing time to rookies. Viewing the depth chart alone makes Jenkins a good target. While Michael Crabtree has enjoyed a breakout role with Kaepernick at the helm, Randy Moss, Ted Ginn and Manningham are not imposing figures. I look for the team to increase Jenkins’ workload and he should see a much larger role in 2013. At his current price, he is easily worth a shot. He can likely be had for a third round pick in many leagues.
Russell Wilson, QB SEA
Another player who enjoyed a surprise season was rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who won the job from free agent Matt Flynn in the preseason. Wilson responded by finishing as the QB11, thanks in large part to his nearly 500 rushing yards. But, Wilson does not solely rely on his rushing ability, as some flashy quarterbacks have in the past. Wilson also set the rookie record for touchdown passes in a season. Much like Kaepernick, the other breakout quarterback over the past few weeks, Wilson’s value is very high right now and he is bring drafted as a QB1 in dynasty startup drafts. Also like Kaepernick though, his trade value still seems reasonable for many. He could possibly be had for a first round pick as well. Both of these young signal callers make great investments for dynasty owners.
Matt Flynn, QB SEA
The player on the wrong end of the Wilson breakout season was Seahawks backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who had signed with Seattle last off-season as the presumed starter. As we know, Flynn lost the position battle and played less in Seattle than he ever did in Green Bay behind Aaron Rodgers. Thanks to his free agent contract last year, he is now an overpaid backup and there have already been rumors that the Seahawks will listen to offers to trade Flynn. We saw this season there are a number of teams greatly lacking a reliable quarterback, so there is opportunity for Flynn to again step in as the expected starter for a team. He could be had from the waiver wire in many leagues, and would likely be very cheap in a trade, unless the Wilson owner wants to keep him as insurance.
Robert Turbin, RB SEA
Rookie Robert Turbin was a solid contributor for the Seahawks this season, rushing for over 350 yards and collecting another 181 yards receiving. Turbin should continue to prove to be a reliable backup for starter Marshawn Lynch and has the frame and ability to succeed as a starter, were Lynch to miss any action. Turbin’s value varies, based on what I have seen. If the Lynch owner also owns Turbin, he is unlikely to move him at all, barring a huge overpay. If the two are not paired up, Turbin could possibly be had for a second round pick.
Chris Givens, WR STL
Another surprise from this past season was the impressive play of rookie wide receiver Chris Givens. Like many rookies, Givens was slow out of the gate and rarely played until week four. He also missed one game due to a disciplinary issue. So, in the twelve games where he played significantly, he gained nearly 700 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns. That was good enough to rank him as the WR56 in PPR leagues. While those numbers don’t blow any of us away, it made him a solid flex option in his first season in the league, even though fellow rookie Brian Quick was expected to play the larger role. Only four other rookies outscored Givens in this stacked class, but many still have overlooked him. His price tag could be a second round pick.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald suffered through the worst season of his career. His 798 yards were the second lowest, only behind his rookie season. His 71 receptions was his lowest since 2006, when he missed three games. Finally, the four times he found the end zone were the worst career mark for one of the best wide receivers in football. Fitzgerald has displayed over the past nine seasons that he has all the tools necessary to make him one of the best, but he could not overcome the horrific play at the quarterback position. The Cardinals had four options at quarterback this season and each seemed worse than the one that came before. Whether it be Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley or Brian Hoyer, none could successfully and consistently involve the team’s best player in the game. Fitzgerald’s season high for receptions was nine, and that was way back in week three. He only eclipsed six catches once after week five. All in all, it was a terrible season for Fitzgerald.
As we look ahead, it is clear the Cardinals will have a new quarterback to go along with their new head coach. We are unsure of who might be throwing Fitzgerald passes in 2013, but it has to be better than what we have seen this past season – that alone makes Fitzgerald a strong buy low option. Fitzgerald’s off-season workout regimen has been well documented and he keeps himself in great shape year round. Although he will be 30 by the beginning of the 2013 season, he is one who could easily play at a high level for another three years.
Michael Floyd, WR ARI
Rookie Michael Floyd’s season was opposite to that of Fitzgerald. Early on in the season, Floyd rarely saw the field. In fact, it was week eight before Floyd began receiving regular playing time for the Cardinals. The second half of the season showed much promise, including his final game when he caught eight passes for 166 yards and a score. Floyd’s stock was very high during rookie drafts last year. He was the second wideout selected in most rookie drafts behind Justin Blackmon, so his owners are not going to be dumping him for little value. Instead, it will likely take a first round rookie pick, at least, to acquire the former Golden Domer.
Frank Gore, RB SF
49ers running back Frank Gore is coming off another impressive season, amassing nearly 1,500 total yards and scoring nine touchdowns. These numbers were good enough to place him as the QB10 in PPR leagues. Many, myself included, continue to expect Gore to succumb to a serious injury, yet he has actually been surprising healthy. In his eight years in San Francisco, he has missed a total of only twelve games. Although this is not the picture of health, it is less than many might assume. With that being said, Gore is turning 30 this year and few running backs remain in the top ten beyond that point. The 49ers have also drafted two young running backs, so Gore’s value is tough to nail down. It is highly doubtful you can acquire a first round pick for him at this stage, but if the offer is not good enough, there is a point where you just have to stick with the player until the end. As a Gore owner, I would send out some feelers to find a contending owner who may need some help at the running back position, but if that does not work, it may be best to hold him.
Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA
It may seem crazy to consider selling Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is coming off his best season ever, rushing for over 1,500 yards and scoring twelve touchdowns along the way, but that’s just what I’m doing. Lynch’s value is at an all time high as he is being taken in the second rounds of startup drafts. Although many of today’s top players in the league are showing the ability to extend their careers well into their thirties, I still view age as an important qualifier when considering a player’s dynasty value. Lynch will be 27 by the time he steps on an NFL field again, and although that is far from being old, it is also fair to assume that he has little chance of increasing his value from this point. So, if this is his high point of dynasty value, it could be the time to sell. I would not be in a hurry to dump Lynch, but would see if I could use him, likely in addition to another piece, to acquire a rookie like Doug Martin or Trent Richardson.
Sam Bradford, QB STL
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford disappointed his owners again this season, finishing as a low end QB2 in twelve team leagues. Although he did achieve career highs in passing yards and touchdowns, the fantasy numbers are just not there to back up how he is valued by some. Before the season began, I conducted some deep research into what I called “Quality Starts” at the quarterback position. While I had never been a strong believer in Bradford before, this data pushed me even further away. I look forward to conducting some follow-up research this off-season, but I expect similar results telling us that Bradford is not a reliable quarterback when it comes to fantasy football. If you can find an owners that is still a fan of the top overall pick from 2010, there are twenty or more other passers that I would gladly take in place of Bradford.
Brian Quick, WR STL
The wide receiver needy St. Louis Rams made raw rookie Brian Quick an early day two pick last season and many dynasty owners made him their first round pick, with the assumption that there would be plenty of playing time to go around. Instead, Quick was inactive for much of the season, only hauling in eleven catches on the season. He fell behind average talents like Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson on the depth chart. While it is usually not a good practice to give up on players after only one season, I am unsure if Quick has the ability to play in the league and unsure if the Rams will give him a chance. I expected his playing time to increase down the stretch, especially after the team was eliminated from playoff contention and their top wide receiver, Danny Amendola, was dealing with injuries, yet he still saw little action. Some owners may still believe in his ability or just value him based on being a high rookie pick a season ago. I would happily swap him for a second round pick at this point.
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