Let’s play a little buy, sell, or hold and take stock of some highly rated fantasy players in this year’s draft.
Julio Jones: Hold
Jones was the top WR in fantasy until he went down in week 5 with a foot injury. When healthy, Jones is without a doubt one of the most physically gifted receivers in the league. But he’s missed 14 games so far in his three year career. That leaves Jones a tier below the truly consistent elites: Calvin, Dez, Demaryius, A.J. Green, and Brandon Marshall. Those guys miss games too, but not nearly as many as Jones. For a player with so many previous injuries, it’s surprising that Jones finds himself still being drafted at the tail end of the teens. Until we get a better idea how healthy Jones is, we have no other option but to hold on his stock. If healthy, it’s a strong buy.
Antonio Brown: Buy
Brown is the one guy that seems to always get left when people discuss the best fantasy WRs. He’s easily a WR1 and much more reliable than he gets credit for. Brown is an absolute stud, most valuable in leagues that reward receptions, which he racks up better than almost anyone. But his value is not limited to PPR leagues. His 110 catches for 1500 yards and 8 TDs puts him top 20 overall status, but for some reason Brown slips to the late 20’s/early 30’s in most drafts.
Larry Fitzgerald: Sell
I’m not selling Fitzgerald’s ability; I’m selling his situation and more importantly, his QB Carson Palmer. If only Fitzgerald had a legitimate QB, he’d easily be a top-5 WR every year–he’s that talented. Too bad he’s stuck with Carson Palmer, who’s on the wrong side of 30, and a shell of his former self. Larry Fitz hasn’t cracked the 1,000 yard mark since 2011 and Michael Floyd even led the Cardinals in receiving yards last season. Put Fitz on the Pats and he’s a 1500 yard guy. But until that happens, he’s just another supremely talented WR with a below-average QB.
Frank Gore: Sell
I don’t know anyone on earth who’d buy the 31 year old RB’s stock. He’s the least sexy consistent 1,000 yard back, and he’s got to fall off sooner or later. He’s been getting so many carries for the past seven years. It’s just a matter of time before Gore falls of the running back cliff. For a few years, everyone was waiting for it to happen to Michael Turner. Now, it’s Gore’s turn. He’s been steadily consistent, but this may be the year his YPC finally drops sub 4.
Dolphins RBs: Sell
Definite sell on Knowshon Moreno, who showed up to training camp for his new team out of shape. Moreno benefited more than anyone from Peyton last year. Moreno saw most of his large gains against teams preparing for the pass, only putting six guys in the box. Even if Moreno wins the starting job in Miami, which is unlikely, I wouldn’t expect much success. More likely to start is Lamar Miller. Even with a new offensive coordinator coming over from the Eagles, and the Dolphins likely to adopt a hurry-up offense, I’m still down on Miller. He could be a decent RB3 or RB4, but we’re talking about a player who hardly topped 700 yards and had a YPC of just 4 flat.
Riley Cooper: Buy
Cooper had a good rapport with Nick Foles last season, and without DeSean Jackson and an inevitable Jeremy Maclin injury, Cooper could be Foles’ top target this season. Cooper had nearly 850 yards and 8 TDs last season. It wouldn’t be out of the question for him to top 1,000 yards. Whether he increases on his TD total is tough to say, but with more targets, his yardage should easily improve.
Stevan Ridley: Buy with Caution
This guy could be a top-10 RB easily, and he’s being drafted in the 6th or 7th round in most leagues. The only problem is he fumbles. Sometimes, a lot. Last year Bill Belichick was pretty patient with Ridley, but eventually benched him in week 10, after three straight games with a fumble. He had seven TDs in a five game stretch before being benched last season and was consistently getting double digit rushing attempts. Shane Vereen isn’t an every down back and with LeGarrette in Pittsburgh now, Ridley is the most talented back the Pats have. In the 7th round, Ridley is definitely worth a shot.
Ray Rice: Hold
Rice is another RB in the middle rounds that could be a huge steal. Obviously, any owner who takes him realizes that Rice will miss the first two games for his suspension. And that’s why we hold. If Bernard Pierce plays out of his mind in those first two weeks and puts in good enough performances, he could snag the starting job. If Pierce is mediocre though–more likely to happen–then Rice should easily return to the team as a starter. That’s no guarantee that he’ll be good. After all, he just turned in the worst season of his career, rushing for just over 600 yards on over 200 attempts. His 3.1 YPC was the worst of his career by far. Rice is only 27 though and few RBs in the middle rounds have as impressive a pedigree, as Rice.