Week 10 Buy, Sell, Hold for Keeper Fantasy Football

Andre Ellington
Oct 27 2013 Phoenix AZ USA Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington 38 carries the ball during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at University of Phoenix Stadium Matt Kartozian USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever used a real estate agent, to help find an apartment or house? From some experience, it goes a little like this. You tell them your interests, and they make it look like they’re listening. Then they drive you around to a bunch of places they can’t get rid of. It’s in their prerogative to unload these units that have been kicking around for weeks with no takers. The great units are easy to fill. The lesser ones, well, you do the math.

Eventually, you learn your lesson, and try different agents until you find one who actually listens to you. You find one who actually works towards finding what makes you happy, works towards closing things out with you. After all, the agent doesn’t earn commission on all the trips driving you around town and to Burger King. Agents earn commission from closed deals.

Before long you learn who your first choices are, for when you need to go back to an agent who’ll help you find your next place.

Freelancers learn this lesson quickly in life. One needs to be the best in order to work consistently. Even a great worker with one quirk about them could still remain a hirable asset. But they may be the fifth, sixth, or tenth call on a list of highly skilled friends. Be the best. Be a friend. Chances are, your most recent deal will not be your last.

Buy Aaron Rodgers

Does anything need to be said in this section? He’s injured; go get him. Aaron Rodgers is the consensus top quarterback in keeper leagues, and has been the top passer taken in re-draft leagues for four years in a row. Remember when he was fantasy’s second overall pick in 2012? The last time another passer was taken first (according to average draft position) was 2009, when Drew Brees was coming off his first 5,000 yard season. And that was also after Rodgers’ first season starting for Green Bay, when he threw an ungodly 13 interceptions (gasp!). Rodgers was the fourth quarterback taken that year.

Since then, he has remained the top passer selected in every season, while throwing double-digit interceptions just once (11 in 2010). Outside of 13 interceptions in his first year as a starter in 2008, and 11 in 2010, he has thrown seven, six, and eight picks each season. He has four so far this year, which would have him on pace for eight again.

But he is injured, and everything is different now. Fantasy juggernauts have fallen. Title hopes have changed around the world. Your league may be upside-down as a result. The Rodgers owner may decide to hang up the cleats and play for next year. Or next next year. Or maybe he wants to keep alive his championship run for 2013.

Whether or not that’s the case, there will never again come a better opportunity to buy Aaron Rodgers. That is a pretty safe assumption for a player who has missed only two starts since assuming the role. And one of those was a voluntary benching in week 17, in order to rest for the playoffs. You may have heard of Matt Flynn. That was that game. If you ever hope to own the 29-year-old, number one quarterback in your keeper league, the bell is ringing. Your time has come. He could give you a playoff spark this year, or he could solidify your lineup for 2014. Put him in coach, he’s ready to play (in week 12 or so).

Sell C.J. Spiller

People tweeted, and people hollered. People didn’t understand. Some called me crazy this summer. On the Fantasy Pros aggregate ranking site, I gave Spiller the lowest rank of any writer. I told them what I’ll tell you. I spelled out for them my favorite metric of all. And it’s a simple one.

Durability is the most underrated stat in sports.

The cliche goes that a player’s most important ability is their availability. The same couldn’t be truer in fantasy. A fantasy stud isn’t going to score a whole lot of points from the sideline. If you’ve won a championship with Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Danny Amendola, or anyone in a Panthers uniform, then you’ve gotten there because of the depth you used to overcome those voids. Be honest.

C.J. Spiller has missed action again this year, and the script is nothing new. He has never started more than 11 games in a season. He has four starts and eight games played this year, but he also has been limited in many of those games. He’s been struggling with ankle issues for much of the season. Spiller has taken 201 snaps this year, to starter Fred Jackson’s 384. And Jackson’s no model of consistency when it comes to health.

Spiller was the seventh-highest drafted player this past August. Jackson was 160th. Not only was Jackson the 43th running back drafted, he was the fifth Jackson. Yes, even D’Qwell Jackson, an individual defensive player, was drafted nine spots ahead of his brother-by-another-mother. Remember this lesson in the future; always draft D’Qwell Jackson.

Buffalo is the new Carolina backfield; these immense talents effectively cancel out any fantasy value. The injury comparisons are just the cherry on top. It’s a shame, based on what these guys are able to do when healthy and productive.

Last year, Spiller ran 207 times for 1,244 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. No running back managed a better average gain than Spiller; he was tied for first with another guy, named Adrian Peterson. In addition, Spiller caught 43 passes for another 459 yards and two scores. So far in 2013, he has 102 rushes for 478 yards and a trip to pay dirt. Spiller has also made 16 receptions for 75 yards this year. There is still some great perceived value for this stud, and owners would be wise to shop it while they can.

Hold Andre Ellington

Cardinals starting running back Rashard Mendenhall may be able to return week 10 from a toe injury. He missed his first game of the year in week eight against Atlanta. In his stead, rookie Andre Ellington stepped up to run 15 times for 154 yards and a touchdown. That was an average of 10.3 yards per attempt. Of all 2013 running backs with at least eight rushes, no one is averaging better than Ellington. He is gaining 7.7 yards per carry on the season.

The sixth round pick from Clemson has 43 rushes this season for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Ellington also has made 22 receptions for another 198 yards and a score. Mendenhall has run 92 times for 271 yards and three touchdowns, while making 10 grabs for another 66 yards.

In college, Ellington played four years and earned a career average of 5.5 yards per rush. He scored 33 touchdowns while running 3,436 yards. His junior and senior years were both 1,000 yard seasons. Ellington also made 59 career receptions for 505 yards and two scores. The starter he replaced was C.J. Spiller, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry in school, and earned just one 1,000 yard season.

For 2013, Mendenhall isn’t going anywhere. Coach Bruce Arians said that when the starter returns healthy, “I’m sure he’ll resume his role.” But the sixth year veteran is not under contract beyond this season; Arizona has Mendenhall on a one year, $2.5 million contract. Ellington will continue to light up the highlight reel as a committee back for the rest of the season. And the opportunity is there for him to grab the 2014 starting job by the horns.

Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, myfantasyleague.com, and profootballfocus.com.

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