Last Chance Buys

Brian Malone



Every player has a price. For many, that price is about to go up and it may not come down again for years. Before the off-season ends, you should try one last time to grab players you believe are about to see a long-term value spike. You may not get another buying opportunity for weeks, months, or years. Here area  few of my favorite “buys” at this moment in time:

Devin Funchess, WR CAR

Targets are reliable – per-target efficiency is fleeting and unpredictable. Funchess is going to get many, many targets, especially in the red zone. Better yet, the Panthers’ first four opponents are the Jaguars, Texans, Saints and Buccaneers, all bottom-12 pass defenses in 2014.

In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin showed us what an “inefficient” receiver can do with a glut of targets, posting mid-WR2 numbers despite paltry efficiency numbers. And he showed us production cures all as he jumped from a seventh-round startup pick in 2014 to a third-round startup pick in 2015 (before his ACL injury).

I’ll let the draft experts weigh in on whether Funchess or Benjamin is more talented. Regardless, there can be little debate Funchess is going to get a big workload. And he’d have to be historically inefficient to not produce at least high-end WR3 numbers with the number of targets (especially red zone targets) he’s in line to receive.

Even if you aren’t a Funchess fan, it’s worth trying to acquire him for his early season “breakout.” If you don’t believe in him long-term, you could even to consider trading him during the Panthers’ bye week at a premium.

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Calvin Johnson, WR DET

calvinjohnsonI debated including Johnson because he’s so obvious. When he’s on the field, he’s still the best receiver in the game. It won’t take long for dynasty owners to forget about his injury-riddled 2014. His early season schedule is actually pretty rough, but the only real concern is another injury.

Presumably, a contending team already owns Johnson in your league. But if the owner is at all worried about making the playoffs, toss a market-value offer out there and see what happens. If the owner is even close to contention by the middle of the season, Johnson will be untouchable yet again.

Jordan Matthews, WR PHI

I’m actually a little lower on Matthews than the consensus – I rank him #26 overall, while August ADP puts him at #24. But he’s going to put up some big weeks to start 2015, so if you want in on Matthews, now’s the time to buy.

Looking more closely, his schedule is ripe for exploitation. Matthews and the Eagles face the Falcons, Cowboys, Jets, Redskins, Saints and Giants in their first six matchups. Four of those teams had bottom-10 pass defenses in 2014 and only the Jets were better than average. Yes, defenses change quickly, but none of the Eagles’ early opponents appear to have made major strides since 2014.

Matthews also looks to be on the field early and often. He played almost exclusively out of the slot in 2014, which meant Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin each saw at least 200 more snaps than Matthews (note the snap differential continued into the second half of 2014). Matthews will keep his slot role in 2015, but with Zach Ertz possibly on the shelf to start the season, the Eagles will have three wide receivers on the field almost every snap.

Extra opportunities and weak defenses are a recipe for success. Matthews will take advantage of both.

C.J. Anderson, RB DEN

Dynasty owners are a conservative bunch. We don’t like players who come out of nowhere and we like to see someone produce for more than one season. But we don’t need two full seasons to jump in head first, just some production in two different calendar years. (Exhibit A, Cordarrelle Patterson after week 1 of 2014.)

Anderson captured our attention with a strong 2014, but he’s still being treated like a potential one-hit wonder. After a few strong weeks to start the season, I believe everyone will see him as a 24-year-old RB1 and his trade price could double if I’m right. Consider this – Anderson is consistently drafted ahead of DeMarco Murray in re-draft leagues, but the 27-year-old Murray went earlier than Anderson in four out of six August dynasty mocks. If Anderson and Murray score at the same rate early in 2015 (as I expect they will) their value paths will cross very quickly.

Anderson’s schedule isn’t as favorable as Matthews’. He draws the Ravens in week one and the Lions in week three, each who boasted top-five defenses in 2014. But Anderson averaged more than 3.5 receptions per game as a starter in 2014, so he should make up for any tough rushing matchups with a decent PPR floor.   Oh, and don’t forget the Broncos added top-notch run blocker Evan Mathis to the offensive line this August. They’re going to run the ball and do so effectively.

Isaiah Crowell, RB CLE

Alex Mack is healthy. Terrance West appears to be solidifying his role as a backup. And Duke Johnson is questionable to play in week one because of a concussion. Josh McCown is playing quarterback. Crowell, whom many considered the most talented back in the 2014, hasn’t had any known off-field issues since he entered the league. Everything points to a strong 2015 for Crowell – or at least a strong start to the season.

The schedule is a mixed bag. Crowell gets the Titans in week two and the Raiders in week three. After that, well, it doesn’t look good. Crowell is a risky quick-flip asset if you don’t believe in his long-term prospects. But if you want to invest, do it now. A few strong weeks can take root in an owner’s mind, making Crowell a tough buy even if he struggles in the middle of the season.


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