Week 5 Stock Report
Each week I will highlight players and teams who have seen their value rise or fall during the previous week. I will also try to highlight players that have favorable schedules coming up that could give them a boost in value. Remember that you always want to sell high and buy low!
- San Diego Super Chargers
- Philip Rivers continues to show that you don’t have to have a pretty throwing motion to be an accurate quarterback in the NFL (take note Tim Tebow). Rivers shot-putted himself to a 400 yard passing game and even brought Antonio Gates back to life. Don’t look now, but Gates has put up three solid games so far this year. If you are hurting at TE, try to pry him away from an owner who probably has him sitting on the bench as his backup tight end. Even though Rivers is putting up a ton of yards, he doesn’t really have a top receiver that he leans on each week. I wouldn’t recommend using any Charger receivers in 10 or 12 team leagues.
- Danny Woodhead has proven so far this year to be a strong flex play in a PPR league. He is getting almost 8 targets a game, while still getting 5-9 carries a game. Woodhead isn’t going to blow you away with his rushing stats, but he gets enough combined yards rushing and receiving to make him a viable player to use even in large non-PPR leagues. The Chargers just placed Malcolm Floyd on the IR, which makes an already bad receiving core even weaker. Woodhead may be on the field even more as the Chargers continue to ride the hot hand of Philip Rivers. Woodhead has obviously earned the trust of Rivers, especially after his 2 touchdown performance in week 4.
- The Chargers have a dream schedule over the next five weeks. They play at Oakland, home against the Colts, at Jacksonville, bye week, and at Washington. Their two toughest opponents during that five week stretch are the Colts and the bye week. Woodhead, Gates, Rivers, and Ryan Matthews will all make solid injury/bye week replacements, or if a usual starter has a tough matchup, during this stretch of games.
2. Frank Gore
- It took the 49ers four games, but they finally remembered what made them successful the past two years. Frank Gore, their great offensive line, and monster defense have been the recipe for success for the 49ers. They came out against Green Bay in week one and threw the ball all over the field because the Packers were not going to let Colin Kaeperknick beat them with the read option. San Fransisco didn’t have a chance to run against Seattle because they got down early and Seattle’s defense was playing like a brick wall in that game. They had success running the ball against the Colts in the first half, and then got shut down in the second half. After the 1-2 start, the 49ers decided to depend on their running game again, and Frank Gore responded. With little talent at receiver, the 49ers are going to rely on their running game, mainly Gore, to get their season back on track.
- Over the next four weeks, the 49ers play Houston and Arizona at home and then the play on the road against Tennessee and Jacksonville. While Houston and Arizona have solid run defenses, the 49ers are playing them at home. Gore should be able to put up borderline #1 running back stats over that stretch. You may have to overpay to get him after his big game against St.Louis, but he could be worth that price if the 49ers continue to focus on the running game.
3. Tom Brady
- It didn’t take long for Tom Brady to start making receivers you never heard of before become fantasy relevant. While Brady hasn’t been putting up eye popping stats through the first four weeks, he has been getting more comfortable with his make-shift receiving core. The yardage is going to keep improving with Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski coming back from injuries, along with an increase in touchdowns. The defense for the Patriots took a big hit with the loss of Vince Wilfork. The Patriots defense has been playing well this season, against a soft schedule, but teams should score more against them with Wilfork out. This should lead to higher scoring games for the Patriots, which will include an increase in production for Brady.
- The Patriots play 3 of their next 5 games at home, which includes some great matchups at home (Saints, Dolphins, and Steelers). He has a tough matchup this week against the Bengals. Brady should put up average, but not great, stats on the road against a solid Bengals defense. If you want to try and trade for Brady before his stock gets too high, I would make a trade offer for him after the Bengals game.
4. Josh Gordon
- Gordon should be considered a high-end flex or possibly a solid WR2 due to favorable matchups over the next 3 weeks (Bills, Lions, Packers). Brian Hoyer has really opened up the passing game for the Browns, compared to what they were able to do with Brandon Weeden. Jordan Cameron is now demanding underneath attention from opposing defenses, and that will provide many downfield opportunities for Gordon.
- I am going to try and avoid saying the term “game manager” to describe either of these two quarterbacks. They are obvoiusly extremely talented and calling them “game managers” would be an insult. What we have seen from both of these guys, outside a great week 1 by Kaepernick, is that they play on run heavy teams and aren’t asked to carry their teams statistically. They don’t have many weapons at receiver, so their passing stats are severely limited. Wilson is lucky to crack 200 yards passing, and Kaepernick had his passing attempts way down against the Rams. Defenses have really focused on stopping the read option, which has really limited the damage that either of them has done running the ball. If Kaepernick and Wilson aren’t getting the rushing stats they were expected, their fantasy value takes a huge hit. Wilson is not putting up QB1 statistics and shouldn’t be relied upon as an every week starter. Kaepernick could see an uptick in his production once Vernon Davis gets back to 100%, but I doubt we will see a repeat of week 1 again this year. Until they get more talent at receiver, or there is a change in the offensive philosphy, both Wilson and Kaepernick are going to struggle to meet expectations that fantasy owners had for them at the beginning of the year. If you have one of these guys as your starter and you have a solid #2 QB, you may want to look to trade them for an upgrade at another postion.
2. Ray Rice
- It is officially time to start worrying as a Ray Rice owner. His stock is down for two reasons. The first reason is the injury. This hip injury has the potential to turn Rice into a weekly “Game Time Decision.” One of the most frustrating things a fantasy owner has to deal with is when a top shelf talent is playing at less than 100 percent due to injury. The Ravens don’t want Rice to re-injure his hip, so they will use him less during games. It puts owners in a tough spot when it comes time to settle on a starting lineup.
- The other reason that the stock for Rice is down is due to the Ravens play on the field. Before the injury, Rice was in a time share with Bernard Pierce. Most people expected Pierce to get on the field more this year, but not many thought it would be almost a 60/40 split between the two running backs. On top of the time share, the Ravens have had to rely on Joe Flacco a lot this year because they have been playing from behind. The Ravens don’t have enough weapons at receiver or tight end to spread out the defense, which has given Rice very little room to run. Rice hasn’t gained over 40 yards in the three games he has played in this year. You can’t bench Rice at this point, unless you play in an 8 team league (I don’t think those exist anymore). Just hope that the hip injury heals and the Ravens realize their best chance to win is to have Rice on the field.
**The Ravens made a trade to acquire LT Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Monroe will improve the play of the Ravens offensive line, it doesn’t fix the problems facing fantasy teams with Ray Rice. He is still dealing with a nagging injury and is in a time share with Bernard Pierce. The Ravens should be more effective offensively, which should lead to more production for Rice, when he is on the field.
3. Sam Bradford
- After this week’s match up against the Jags, the schedule gets ugly for Bradford. He also plays like Alex Smith, meaning he hasn’t challenged many secondaries downfield. With the non-existent running game, linebackers are staying back and keying on the short routes that characterize his passing ‘attack’. Bradford isn’t the most athletic quarterback, so he doesn’t produce any rushing stats. The Rams also have a below average offensive line that has given him almost no time to throw. It is tough to even recommend Bradford as an emergency bye week fill-in for quarterback.