Week 14: Bargain Hunter
Its the most wonderful time of the year and no I'm not talking about Christmas. It is playoff time in fantasy football. Now it becomes more critical than ever to exploit favorable matchups and do whatever it takes to win. This Week 14 Bargain Hunter column is designed to give salary cap owners (and standard fantasy owners to a lesser extent) an edge by helping them find the best bargains in all of salary cap football. All of the dollar values used in this column are based off Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues.
I outlined my general strategy when it comes to salary cap football at the start of the season and it bears repeating here. First of all, all of the advice that I and almost every other fantasy analyst gives is a guess. It is often times an educated guess, but regardless, still a guess. We have no idea what is actually going to happen most of the time, but based on all of the evidence we have at our disposal, we do our best to provide you with our observations and predictions that will hopefully benefit your fantasy team. The bottom line is that it ultimately is your team. Make the decisions with your lineup that you feel most confident about and that at the end of the day, you can live with when you look in the mirror.
When it comes to assembling a salary cap football team, I always build around a stud quarterback and a stud tight end. The reason why is simple: their performance (barring a major injury, which is impossible to predict) is the easiest to project and they are worthy investments despite their high prices. An elite quarterback like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and even Robert Griffin III is more likely to produce big fantasy stats than a running back or wide receiver, who are impacted more by weekly matchups than nearly any other position. The same goes for elite tight ends like a Rob Gronkowski (who suffered a freak injury really), Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten. They are a major part of their team's offenses and give you a major advantage over all of the other options at the position and are worth their high price nearly every week.
You can find cheap bargains at the running back and wide receiver position. That is where this column comes in handy. Often times you will be left with a slot or two to fill and very little money left if you budget effectively and that is where this column will help you find productive players with low dollar values, who will help augment your high-priced studs.
Once again, like I say every week, FFToolbox.com is the ultimate resource to help give yourself the best chance to win in fantasy football. I am a company man afterall. The site has everything, from up to the minute player news throughout the week and on Sunday morning, to weekly rankings that you can customize to your league's scoring system, to strategy articles (like this one) that are designed to give you an edge in your league. Another great feature that FFToolbox provides is the weekly podcast, which is availble to download on ITunes. With the Tuesday podcast already in the books, we will have our Week 14 preview podcast on Thursday night. You can also get at us with your lineup questions on Twitter, at @fftoolbox or you can follow me @GeorgeBissell to have all of your fantasy football questions answered.
This Week 14 Bargain Hunter article features -- Bryce Brown, Pierre Thomas, Antonio Brown, Chris Givens, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Pettigrew and Jacob Tamme. --
This may be the easiest call in the history of Bargain Hunter. Considering the fact that Bryce Brown has been mentioned in this space for the last three weeks, I won't bother explaining why he should be in your lineup. The impressive numbers speak for themselves: Brown is a top-10 must-start fantasy running back the rest of the season, however he still remains one of the best bargains in all of salary cap football.
Brown is still valued outside the top 25 running backs in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, priced at just $9.89. It goes without saying, but the combination of value and elite production makes Brown an absolute must have this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who despite ranking as the NFL's top run defense, have been merely pedestrian from a fantasy standpoint -- allowing the 18th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season).
Despite returning two weeks ago, Darren Sproles has yet to receive a carry in a game for the New Orleans Saints; the Saints having turned to veteran Pierre Thomas a season-high 14 times for 84 yards last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Thomas has not made a major fantasy impact -- scoring just one touchdown so far this season -- but if he is going to continue to get the majority of the work for the Saints then he should be a productive option from a fantasy standpoint that is worth a gamble at just $7.25 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues this weekend.
One of the hottest fantasy commodities on draft day, Antonio Brown's 2012 season will go down as a lost one for his fantasy owners. In the final month of the season he has a chance to make a major impact (especially in salary cap leagues, where his value is so low right now that he is a solid bargain as a low-end number three option).
For the paltry price of just $6.21 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, owners can pick up Brown as their number three wideout and hope that with Ben Roethelisberger finally back healthy and under center this weekend, that his production picks up. Brown, who missed the last three weeks with an ankle injury, returned healthy last weekend and was prouctive catching five passes for 58 yards. Assuming both he and Roethlisberger are good to go, it is hard to see any downside in Brown (especially at that low price).
Chris Givens was a player touted often in this column and on the FFToolbox podcast earlier this season; and with Danny Amendola banged up, he has seen a substantial increase in targets in the St. Louis offense and has capitalized on them in the last two weeks. Over the last three weeks, Givens ranks 15th in the league at the wide receiver position with 27 targets, 14 of which came last week against the San Francisco 49ers' stout defense.
The rookie wide receiver has showcased big play ability all season long, but now with Amendola injured he has developed into more than just a deep threat for the Rams. Valued at $8.11 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, Givens is the 47th most expensive wide receiver and is one of the better bargains out there as St. Louis takes on the Buffalo Bills (have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season) in Week 14.
Aaron Hernandez was featured in this space last week and frankly he has been all season for the simple fact that when he plays, he produces (especially in the red zone). Hernandez has only played in five full games this season, but in those games he has racked up 27 catches for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a solid eight catches for 97 yards on 13 targets last weekend.
With Julian Edelman landing on injured reserve and as long a Rob Gronkowski is out, Hernandez will continue to see plenty of looks from Tom Brady in the New England offense. Valued at just $8.39 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, Hernandez is one of the best bargains in salary cap football at the tight end position and deserves to be in your lineup this weekend against the Houston Texans.