It’s August 23rd, 2013. You and your buddies sit down to draft; you’re wearing football jerseys, drinking beer and talking about how your friend Scott went 0-14 the previous season. It’s the first round. You go with Doug Martin. “Yes,” you say to yourself. “I’ve got one of the surest bets in all of football.”
You’re not one to take two straight backs – in fact, your plan in 2013 is to load up on some stud receivers and hope to hit on a fifth- and sixth-round running back. So in the second, you get Julio Jones, a third-year receiver with more talent than arguably any other wideout not named Calvin in the league.
Randall Cobb is your third-round choice, and you follow it up with Reggie Wayne. That’s Martin, Jones, Cobb and Wayne. Not a bad group. Not bad group at all.
It’s October 22nd, 2013. You’re reading this article because you drafted Doug Martin, Julio Jones, Randall Cobb and Reggie Wayne. Each of those players are essentially out for the season. Even Scott, who hasn’t won a game since 2011, is laughing at you.
You need help. You need it bad.
That's what this column's for. Take a look at some guys that may be able to plug some of your giant lineup holes as you try to tape together your team for the remainder of the season.
Add Harry Douglas
Did you see that one coming? No? Well, neither did I.
The Julio- and Roddy-less Falcons were forced to feed Harry Douglas the ball on Sunday, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. The Falcons receiver caught seven balls for 149 yards and a score, and was clearly Matt Ryan’s favorite target.
Moving forward, it’s probably not smart to overvalue Douglas as a full-blown WR1 or WR2, but he’s certainly worth a roster spot due to process of elimination. Roddy White, who’s been mostly used as a decoy this season, missed his first game of his career on Sunday, but expect him to steal targets once he’s back in action. Douglas is numberFire’s 26th-ranked wideout from here on out this season.
Buy Eddie Lacy
Lacy needs some sort of membership for this weekly column, as I’ve called him out multiple times in the past. Please, do yourselves a favor: Get Eddie Lacy.
The Packers receivers keep going down, and this week we saw it again with the unfortunate hit on tight end Jermichael Finley. Let’s hope that Finley recovers back to 100 percent, and clearly, not because of football – that situation is one that reminds us all that the game we love is, in the end, simply a game.
With Finley now sidelined indefinitely, Randall Cobb out until the end of the regular season and James Jones fighting a PCL sprain, the Packers are going to be forced to rely on their ground game even more. Advantage Eddie Lacy.
Lacy’s been fantasy relevant, sure, but it’s not due to volume. According to our analytics, Lacy ranks seventh in the league among 70-plus attempt runners in rushing net expected points (NEP). This metric, NEP, shows us how well a player is performing above or below expectation in the form of real – not fantasy – points. Lacy’s abilities have sandwiched him between Alfred Morris and Arian Foster.
The Packers have a nice schedule the rest of the way, facing the Vikings, Bears, Eagles, Giants, Vikings, Lions, Falcons, Cowboys, Steelers and Bears. None of those opponents should scare you.
Add Mike James
Well, if the scenario in the intro is somewhat like yours, you may be looking for a Doug Martin replacement. Perhaps his backup, Mike James, is a guy to target.
It shouldn’t shock you if James is completely worthless as he steps in for The Muscle Hamster. After all, the Bucs rank 17th in rushing efficiency on a per play basis this season, and have performed almost five points worse than an average team in terms of rushing net expected points. Doug Martin wasn’t all that good in fantasy, so why Mike James?
Well, opportunities to get a starting running back off the waiver wire don’t come often. Though James may end up failing miserably from a real football standpoint, there’s a chance he gets a high volume of touches, allowing for a decent fantasy play. I’d look to add him as a Martin owner, but if you’re looking at a potential championship, trading for another back would be the best route to take.
Add Darrius Heyward-Bey
Heyward-Bey is owned in just 3.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues, so he should be out there for you to snag. With Reggie Wayne’s injury, DHB becomes the wideout opposite of second-year T.Y. Hilton, and should see more targets as a result.
Coby Fleener could see an increased role in the offense, but so could LaVon Brazill. LaVon missed the last four games due to a suspension (failed multiple marijuana tests), but is a big-play, explosive receiver that could end up filling some of the Reggie Wayne void. He’s a worthwhile add in deeper leagues.
Add Jordan Reed
Reed’s been a nice tight end streamer this season, but after Week 7, he’s now in TE1, plug-and-play territory. As our own Drew Angel pointed out in his Reed piece yesterday, the Redskins tight end ranked third in efficiency per target and first in catch rate among relevant tight ends entering Week 7. This isn’t a fluke – the Redskins are already looking to trade Fred Davis, Reed’s tight end teammate, and they’ll continue to rely on Reed in the passing game.
Buy Chris Johnson
I mentioned this one last week, and it's looking even more favorable in Week 8. Though CJWhateverK hasn’t been very effective this season running the ball, he’s got a slate of matchups after his Week 8 bye that should make any fantasy owner smile. Find the disgruntled Johnson owner, trade with him, and get numberFire’s 19th-ranked running back from here on out (remember, Johnson has a bye this week).
Sell DeAngelo Williams
Another one who’s consistently talked about in this column: DeAngelo Williams. He’s been better efficiency-wise than he has at times during his career, but with Jonathan Stewart coming back (eventually) and Mike Tolbert getting red zone looks, there’s no reason to invest heavily in Williams.
Oh, and you and I have scored as many times as DeAngelo this year. Can’t say I didn’t warn you here and here.
Buy Trent Richardson
I had a bunch of analogies running in my head about buying the disappointing Trent Richardson. Is it like purchasing a car without wheels? Is it like buying an Xbox game, knowing the disc is scratched? Perhaps it's just a warranted slap in the face. That's probably it.
As bad as Trent Richardson has been this year (the sixth-least efficient runner in the league according to our analytics), it would seem like it can't get much worse. It's a little frightening, too, considering Donald Brown is outperforming him, and Ahmad Bradshaw was one of the most-effective runners in the league for the Colts before his season ended.
But Richardson is a decent buy-low candidate right now because owners may look for anything in getting rid of him. Anything. If I'm in a league (which I am), I'd look to send some lowball offers and see if any of them work. Two bench players for T-Rich? Why not?
Sell Stevan Ridley
The numbers say that Ridley’s value through the rest of the season is that of the 25th-ranked running back. Players like Darren McFadden and Zac Stacy rank better than Ridley. And, when you look into his situation, it makes sense. The remaining schedule could be a tough road, and Ridley will see teammate Shane Vereen return from injury in November. Because Ridley’s had two straight games with double-digit fantasy points, including a monster one against New Orleans, this could be a great sell-high moment.
Add the Saints Defense
The Saints will face a Buffalo offense this week that’s allowed at least seven fantasy points to opposing defenses since Week 3. The Saints, too, have been effective defensively, scoring double-digit fantasy points in two contests this season. It’s also in New Orleans, so you know that place will be rockin’. The Saints are a solid streaming defense for Week 8.
Sell Jacksonville Receivers
If you can get enough for Blackmon or Shorts, I think it’s fine to sell them. What’s “enough”? Well, we have Blackmon as our 22nd-ranked receiver through the rest of the year, and Shorts is a WR4 to our algorithms. Some of this is a result of the position being deeper, but much of it has to do with their upcoming schedule. Do you really want to trust garbage time points each week with these wideouts?
Buy Le’Veon Bell
Of all 40-plus attempt rushers – 46 of them – Le’Veon Bell ranks eighth-best in rushing net expected points. He’s actually one spot ahead of the aforementioned Eddie Lacy. Can his efficiency continue? Absolutely.
The Steelers are not only getting more cohesive up front, but have a fairly soft upcoming schedule, facing Oakland, a beat up New England defense, Buffalo and Detroit. Bell’s seen 16, 16 and 19 attempts since returning from injury, and he’s got good PPR value, catching eight passes in those three contests. I’d look to acquire him.
Add Jake Locker
Locker’s played in five games this season, and is averaging 18.12 standard fantasy points per contest. That includes a five point stinker in Week 1 against the Steelers, too. Removing that would raise his average to a nice 21.25, which is close to third-best in the entire NFL.
Don’t think that this will necessarily keep up, but like his teammate, the upcoming matchups are attractive. If you’ve got a deep enough bench and are looking to have a quarterback streamer – one to replace, say, Sam Bradford – Locker isn’t a bad addition.
Bench C.J. Spiller
This is clearly a “wait until something happens” situation. If you own Spiller, there’s no need to trade him – you’re only going to get a half eaten bologna sandwich and maybe a Capri Sun in return. Even if you love Capri Suns, it's not worth it.
Spiller played just 14 offensive snaps last week, and has only been playing about a quarter of them over the last couple of weeks. While it’s been injury-related, it’s turning into a Roddy White-like situation where you can’t trust him until he shows you something. Stick with Spiller on your bench though – he’s the kind of player that can help you down the stretch.
Add Carson Palmer
The unfortunate play of Nick Foles, the season-ending tear for Sam Bradford and the groin injury to Jay Cutler could have you looking for a quarterback this week. And although Carson Palmer isn’t a long-term play, he does have a very nice matchup in Week 8 against the league’s worst pass defense in the Falcons.
An average secondary would have surrendered 65 fewer real points through the air compared to Atlanta this year. They rank 28th against fantasy quarterbacks, having allowed at least two touchdown passes in every game this season. And folks, it’s not as though they’ve played stiff passing competition. They’ve faced the Rams, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets and Bucs.
Carson Palmer is a high-end QB2 this week according to our metrics.