Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson left it all on the field Sunday. Like, literally. He could tell his left middle finger was injured at some point during the game in New Orleans. And when he took the glove off his hand, his eyes couldn’t believe the truth. Still inside the glove, the tip of his finger was missing, down to about the first knuckle. Doctors later performed surgery to shave the bone and prevent infection. Johnson’s fingertip was not reattached. Insert new and hilarious fantasy team names here.
Leaving it all on the field is something you should believe in, in any sport. Fantasy football owners are often too cautious to make trades. Some owners play the slow and lazy game, figuring they will win or lose with the team they drafted. Others play the quick and knee-jerk game, assuming all their ailments can be cured through free agency. There are modest values to each strategy, but trades are a critical element for a healthy league and a competitive team.
My drivers’ ed teacher taught us a lasting lesson at sixteen. Commonly, the most dangerous car on the road is the hesitant driver in the middle of an intersection. As a fantasy owner, the moment you can recognize the correct course of action is the exact time to step on the gas. Owners who form solid conclusions, and wait to be proven correct, are often taking a far more significant risk than those quick to the trigger. Owners make this mistake every season in every league, whether they come clean or not.
Would you rather lose because you were later proven right, or win based on your own solid beliefs and evaluations? Once you’ve discovered the right move, make it happen.
Buy Reggie Wayne
Wayne is a beast. If you don’t recognize this, you can get up now. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. This is his 13th season, and he’s done nothing but average 15.75 starts, 81 catches, 1,089 yards and 6.5 scores. Since 2003, he’s played in every game, for an average of 89 catches, 1,200 yards and 7.4 touchdowns. His worst statistical season since ’03 was 75 catches for 960 yards. But that was for a three-headed Colts team, led by Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, and Dan Orlovsky. Cut him some slack.
Wayne is also an older beast; he’ll celebrate his 35th birthday in Week 11. Many astute keeper owners (and re-draft owners alike) would prefer to disassociate with a player too early than too late. It’s the cause behind Wayne’s falling ADP (47 in 2013). But there are few receivers more reliable than Wayne. After three games this year, he’s only seen 23 targets for 18 catches, 205 yards and a score. If you need a rental starter to win this season, Wayne is a good option. The advent of Trent Richardson can do nothing but help Wayne’s value moving forward. Buy low before owners notice he’s still alive.
Sell Arian Foster
Foster was the consensus number one overall player in 2012 fantasy re-drafts. Finally, Adrian Peterson was not in the way, recovering from his now-legendary ACL surgery. Peterson’s ADP was 19, meaning aside from a few outliers, every single fantasy owner got it wrong. Foster is now recuperating from his own injuries, and his value is falling faster than a defender against an Eagles’ 80-second scoring drive. I’d hate to see what would happen if they retired someone’s number.
The vegan Texans rusher has been battling a strained calf since May 28, and an aching back since early August. Head coach Gary Kubiak has admitted his error in not giving backup Ben Tate more carries. This came after an offseason of announcing a planned timeshare at the position. Tate is in a contract season, which would intuitively seem the last time to showcase an impending free agent. Maybe the Texans are just really great guys, and want Tate to earn big money with Cleveland next year.
In actuality, Tate has consistently produced better numbers than Foster. Foster’s yards per carry have steadily declined since 2010, from 4.9 to this season’s 3.9. Tate is currently flashing 6.8 yards per carry, but Foster is still being given 19 touches a game to Tate’s 11.7. Maybe Kubiak will make good on his earlier statements, and the results should be enough to motivate. Tate’s departure might get Foster more touches next year, but not even that can help Foster’s poor output on the field. Foster will likely be a 2014 second-rounder, in a tier that includes such retreads as Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. That choice will become a hot debate among re-drafters next August. A Foster owner absolutely should move him as soon as possible.
Hold Lamar Miller
This past offseason, the Dolphins made the decision to part ways with Reggie Bush because of their belief in second-year back, Lamar Miller. After two seasons, Bush had cost only $10 million, while rushing for 4.7 YPC and 12 total touchdowns. Miller was given little opportunity last year, rushing 51 times for 250 yards (4.9 YPC) and one trip to pay dirt.
In 2013, head coach Joe Philbin has continually insisted an a committee backfield, unless “one guy is breaking tackles left and right and taking the ball a long way, and the other guy is not being productive.” Backup Daniel Thomas is a career 3.5 YPC rusher (3.1 this season), with 5 fumbles in his 28-game career. Miller broke a 49-yard run in week three’s game against Atlanta, to bring his career average to 4.6 YPC. Several Miami writers have seen the obvious and reported about Miller’s upside. It’s a matter of time before Miller puts more defining moments on tape, and forces Philbin’s hand. Until then, Miller is an upside player expected to prove it soon. Hold onto Miller; the future is bright.
Stats and fantasy draft data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and myfantasyleague.com.