Buyer’s Market

Eric Olinger

The next few days in the dynasty fantasy world are unique. Most everyone has drafted for the upcoming season and optimism is at an all time high for every owner’s newly assembled rosters. While most owners will simply sit back and marvel at their rosters, the truly savvy owners will remain on the offensive. They will try one last time to acquire players at bargain prices. Whether it is due to injuries or circumstance, certain players are set to break out this season and once week one kicks off, their prices will rise. Let’s take a look at some players I feel we should all be targeting to better our teams before week one arrives.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI

We once believed Fitzgerald was quarterback proof – that was before we knew about the collection of garbage the Cardinals trotted out in 2012. Not even the great Larry Fitzgerald could survive the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. For the first time since his injury shortened 2006 season, he failed to break 1,000 yards on the season. This off-season the Cardinals cleaned house. The coaches were fired and the only quarterback still on the roster from last year is Lindley. The light at the end of the quarterback tunnel is former Cincinnati Bengal and Oakland Raider, Carson Palmer. Even though Palmer’s best days are behind him, he provides a huge upgrade for the Cardinals and new coach Bruce Arians. Look for both Larry Fitzgerald and wide receiver running mate Michael Floyd to be viable fantasy assets this season. Each of their values is at an all time low and now is the time to strike. In one of my leagues I was able to get Fitz from an owner who was hell bent on acquiring Tavon Austin in our rookie draft. Timing is your greatest ally.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAX

While Larry Fitzgerald was once quarterback proof, Maurice Jones-Drew has been “team proof.” His ability to produce incredible fantasy numbers on an absolute train wreck of an NFL franchise has been Barry Sanders-esque. Prior to 2012 he totaled at least 1,175 total yards every year he’s been in the league.

chart1He was on pace for over 1,300 total yards last year before going down with a Lisfranc injury. Now 100% healthy and ready to prove naysayers wrong, he’s being drafted in the RB2 range as one of fantasy’s greatest values. You may or may not know, but MJD hosts his own fantasy show on SiriusXM called “Running with MJD” and he is an avid fantasy player. Last year was the only time he has ever not drafted himself in the first round. This year he had the first overall pick and, staying true to form, he selected himself. With so many people interested in young boom-or-bust talents at running back this year, we have an opportunity to acquire a proven vet with a chip on his shoulder for pennies on the dollar.

givensChris Givens, WR STL

Just like the owner who gave me Larry Fitzgerald for the rights to select Tavon Austin, people are overlooking the player most likely to lead the 2013 Rams in receiving, Chris Givens. A second year player with above average talent in every area for a receiver, he showed incredible growth as 2012 progressed and quickly became Sam Bradford’s most reliable target. He often gets pigeon holed as just a deep threat, but was able to fill Danny Amendola’s role admirably when he went down with injury. The fact he is not a household name helps too. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Austin and tight end Jared Cook, but Givens is the Rams pass catcher to target after he picked up where he left off this preseason. He led all Rams with 156 yards and a touchdown on five catches.

Arian Foster, RB HOU

In four months,we’re going to look back at preseason rankings and ask ourselves what we were we thinking. Well, I won’t because I have not conformed to the mass hysteria of Arian Foster’s demise. I really don’t know where it started, probably in someone’s parents’ basement but it grew legs and eventually became the “skinny jeans” of fantasy football. By that I mean, it’s the in-style, but for no good reason. Too much has been made about his declining yards per carry average over the last couple years. He has yet to finish lower than third in PPR leagues in ANY of his seasons as a starter.

Of course there is concern when it comes to his workload, but the Texans get a healthy Ben Tate back this year to keep him fresh. He will no longer be asked to carry the ball 22 times a game. This should actually help rebound his yards per carry average because he’ll have fresher legs throughout the season. One of the reasons he is such an incredibly safe pick in fantasy leagues is because he is incredible in the red zone – he’s scored 47 total touchdowns over the last three seasons. Other factors bringing down his value is recent news from Coach Kubiak saying Foster won’t get a full work load in week one. Last year it was a hamstring injury bringing his value down and everything worked out ok. Who cares if he missed the preseason? Do you remember how many preseason carries LaDanian Tomlinson took each year? Zero. Proven workhorses don’t need unnecessary mileage on their tires.

Chris Johnson, RB TEN

There are plenty of reasons to pass on Chris Johnson. After all, he has been one of the most inconsistent headaches for fantasy owners over the last two seasons, but there are signs of things changing for the better. There were many times last season when he threw his linemen under the bus in a very non-team friendly manner. It paid off though, as the Titans added the best guard in free agency when they signed Andy Levitre from the Buffalo Bills. Then to bolster the other side of the interior line they drafted the best run blocking guard in the 2012 class, Alabama’s Chance Warmack. Chris Johnson has looked rejuvenated in the 2013 preseason by rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries – that’s 7.8 yards per carry. I’m not saying we see him rush for 2,000 yards again, but I would be shocked if he doesn’t approach 1,500 yards rushing this season. There is no way he should be getting drafted behind players like Lamar Miller.

Pierre Garcon, WR WAS

Quite simply put, he is the WR1 nobody is talking about. His ability and chemistry with Robert Griffin III should have him in the discussion with other mid to low level WR1s like Victor Cruz, Vincent Jackson and Roddy White. He started 2012 out on fire by catching four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he also suffered a foot injury and would miss six of the next eight games. He would play in the team’s final six games and lead the team in receiving over that span with 475 yards and three touchdowns. If you extrapolate his numbers from the final six games out over an entire season he would have finished with 88 catches for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, or 262.6 fantasy points. He would have finished ahead of Julio Jones as the WR11 in 2012 with those numbers.

Of course there are other players out there just like these guys. Everyone is filled with anticipation and excitement for the upcoming season. Go out and kick the tires on these and other discounted players. You won’t get them for a handful of nobodies but you have the opportunity to get them at a discount price. In the world of dynasty leagues it’s all about timing.

It’s time to go shopping!

eric olinger
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