Tom Lorenzo, Senior Editor RotoExperts.com
I realize that all anyone wants to talk about right now is Tim Tebow, so I guess I’ll kick off this trade target piece with my take on Tebow. I think first we need to start with discussing Tebow’s true value. I’ll go out and say that he’s a Fantasy starter, but, in a given week, he’s probably no better than the 10th best option. That’s it. The 10th best. Again, this isn’t to say he should not be owned in all leagues, but I think we need to temper our expectations for “The Kid,” as his teammate Eric Decker refers to him.
Tebow is a valuable runner, trapped in a tight end’s body, who happens to play quarterback. His throwing mechanics are awful, yet affective. If you watched him last week you know exactly what I’m talking about. His two best passes came on a dump-off to Knowshon Moreno, which went for a 28-yard TD, and a one-handed, beautiful catch by Brandon Lloyd, which went for 20 yards. You can’t take those stats away from Tebow, but if you did he would have been 2-of-8 for 31 yards. Those are some ugly numbers. Again, you can’t take away from the fact that he had two total touchdowns in one half of football, but it’s worth noting that if you’re buying into Tebow you’re essentially buying into his legs, not his arm.
I like adding Tebow in all formats, but really I think you’re buying on him just so you can turn around and sell him. His name carries a ton a value, even more so than his game. He’s not a terrible option to start from week to week, but there are 10 other quarterbacks, at the very least, who I would take over Tebow on a given week.
Since you may have missed out on grabbing Tebow off the waiver wires, let’s take a look at 10 players who I think are buy-low options heading into Week 6.
There are plenty of Fantasy owners who have already reached their breaking point with Rivers, who was dubbed as one of the Top 5 quarterbacks in Fantasy Football prior to the start of the season. Unfortunately, Rivers has been a bit of a disappointment, having scored the 11th most Fantasy points among quarterbacks. The problem for Rivers this season has been two things. First, he hasn’t been able to limit his turnovers. As of this weekend, he’s tied for the league lead with seven interceptions. The second problem is, San Diego has been a much more proficient running team, lead by Ryan Mathews. I supposed I can point out a third flaw, in the fact that he hasn’t had his top target, Antonio Gates, available since Week 2. Now, however, is the time to snag Rivers while you can. The Chargers will come out of the Week 6 bye healthier, with Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd also needing some extra rest. The schedule doesn’t necessarily read favorably for the Chargers, but when they get Gates back, possibly in Week 7, I expect to see Rivers’ numbers really take off. Now is the time to buy low.
I know the “breakout year” hasn’t quite materialized for Ryan, but we need to remember that there are still 11 games left on the schedule for the Falcons. A schedule, I might add, which looks fairly favorable going forward. Ryan has the talent and the weapons to take off, but it’s been an interesting start for the Falcons who still seem to be trying to figure out what their real identity is offensively. I can’t sit here and call Ryan a Top 10, must-start from week to week quarterback, at least not at the present moment. But I can tell you that once he starts clicking, along with Roddy White and Julio Jones, he could find himself as a true QB1, who at the moment could probably be had for a WR3. Not a bad swap, if you ask me.
Johnson has mightily drifted from being a Top 5 talent to not even making Scott Engel’s list of the Top 10 running backs overall. Ouch. To be fair, Johnson has looked much better over the past two weeks, but he’s not even close to being a top-tier running back. The good news is, Johnson has his lead blocker Ahmard Hall back in the lineup, which will certainly help going forward. He and his teammates also have the Week 6 bye working in their favor, so they can watch, re-watch and re-re-watch game film in order to correct the issues they’re having in running the ball. I’m not saying here that you should give up a top-tier talent, like LeSean McCoy, to get Johnson, but you should certainly explore some trade offers. There are plenty of Fantasy owners who are already giving up on Johnson, and I think that’s a big mistake.
Mendenhall has also been an early season bust, carrying the ball 58 times at a 3.0 yard-per-carry clip. Not exactly what you were hoping to get from a second-round talent. There are a few reasons for optimism here, though, and it starts with the Steelers schedule. Aside from Baltimore, San Francisco and, maybe, Cincinnati, the Steelers face few challenges defensively, against the run. You also have to take into account that Mendenhall, and the Steelers offensive line, for that matter, has been playing banged up. Another week off for Mendenhall to heal, and you’re looking at Arizona in Week 7. Yes, please!
I know it’s tough to buy into a rookie running back who is averaging 43.5 yards per game and who isn’t even the most dynamic running back on his own team, but I’m fully sold on Ingram as a second-half sleeper. One thing we know for sure about Ingram, he’s the goal-line back for the Saints. He’s also the most durable runner on his team. I know Darren Sproles is exciting, but he’s not a lead running back. He’s never carried the ball more than 93 times in a season, and he’s well on his way to besting that number by Week 8. Sproles, in all reality, is a change of pace back who can catch balls out of the backfield. Ingram is still trying to figure out the pro game, but once he does he can easily have a LeGarrette Blount-type of impact in the second half of the season. Don’t sell the farm for Ingram, but if you can get him at a reasonable price, I think you have to pull the trigger.
Bryant has also been a huge disappointment this season, and already Fantasy owners are trying to sell him for a bag of nickels. I’ll tell you this much, I’d not only buy him for a bag of nickels, but I’d also toss in a bag of dimes, not to be confused with, well, you know. Bryant has struggled with a quad injury for most of the season, but he appears to be fully healed, coming out of the Week 5 bye. Throw in the fact that Miles Austin also seems to be healthy, and the Cowboys now have a potent one-two punch at wide receiver. With Austin, Bryant and Jason Witten all on the field, opposing defenses aren’t going to be able to focus solely on shutting down one, let alone all three of these guys. Take the shot on dealing for Bryant, especially since he’s the one Dallas receiver who can be had at a reasonable price.
I know what you’re thinking; Curtis Painter is his quarterback! I know, but Wayne right now can be had for 50 cents on the dollar, and while his numbers are subpar by Wayne’s standards (22/332/1), he’s still 6th in the NFL in total targets with 46. That means, while we aren’t looking at WR1 stats over the first five weeks, we’re at least seeing WR1 target numbers. True, Pierre Garcon seems to be Painter’s go-to guy, but he won’t sustain this level of play. Wayne, on the other hand, projects better in the long-run. With Wayne’s price-tag at a seven-year low, grab Wayne while you can, especially as the Colts’ schedule starts to lean in their favor.
I know I said earlier that all of Tim Tebow’s value is in his legs, but it’s worth noting that in the final three weeks of the 2010 season Tebow threw two of his four touchdown passes to Lloyd. Not bad. Tebow did lean on Lloyd in the final weeks of 2010, which is actually good news for his Fantasy value, but the issue here is whether or not he can actually turn targets into catches. We’re already seeing some downgrades for both Lloyd and Decker, but I wouldn’t quite bail on Lloyd just yet. As I said, he’s going to be the go-to target for Tebow. His value isn’t going to be as high as it was during the Lloyd-Orton 2010 heyday, but he will remain as a valuable WR2. Now if he gets traded, that’s another story. He could wind up somewhere where he instantly turns into a WR1.
If you’re sitting on a 4-1 or 5-0 record, and the 1-4 owner in your league is dying to make a splash, since he wasted a third-round pick on Gates, I think there’s no harm in targeting someone like Gates in this instance. If you can play off the desperation of the Gates owner and have some space to hold onto an injured tight end, when Gates returns in the next few weeks you’re looking at getting the league’s most potent tight end for the Fantasy Football playoff run. This is when you make that big upside move. I continue to get questions from owners asking if they should drop Gates. Drop him? That’s how desperate some have become. Keep that in mind as well when making your offer. You don’t need to give up an RB1 or WR1 to get Gates, like you would have had to if he were healthy.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS DEFENSE
It’s almost hard to fathom that the Steelers are the 22nd-ranked Fantasy team defense. It’s not that the Steelers are giving up a ton of points, and they have a respectable eight sacks on the season, but the problem is with the secondary. The Steelers have intercepted just one pass and recovered just one fumble. That’s terrible, five weeks into the season. But did you know, the Steelers have allowed just 5.6 yards per pass and a league-best 174 yards passing per game? They just haven’t had that on the field success translate into Fantasy success. Here’s some good news, though. Aside from the Patriots, and maybe the Ravens, the Steelers’ remaining schedule lines them up against young, often inconsistent and sometimes underwhelming quarterbacks. Look at the names: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton (twice), Colt McCoy (twice), Blaine Gabbert, Kevin Kolb, Sam Bradford and Matt Cassel. I think they can definitely make up for lost time!
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