Week 16: 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 16 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, every bit 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 16 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 16 Bargain Hunter article features -- Chad Henne, Bryce Brown, Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams, Danny Amendola, Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez. --
With a healthy Cecil Shorts in the fold, Chaf Henne is set up for a monster game against the New England Patriots in Week 16. The Patriots secondary could be without rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, which forces Kyle Arrington (who got burned by Michael Crabtree for the game-winning touchdown last weekend) into a starting slot.
It is also worth noting that the last time Henne faced the Patriots during his time with the Miami Dolphins was Week 1 of the 2011 season in which he torched New England for 416 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Henne is a relative bargain for salary cap owners in Week 16, valued at just $10.55 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues.
It's easy to forget how good Bryce Brown looked in his first two games as the Philadelphia Eagles' starting running back after back-to-back atrocious weeks (which likely doomed fantasy owners who rolled the dice and put him in their starting lineup). Even after two bad weeks, I urge fantasy and salary cap owners to stand by Brown in Week 16 when he faces the Washington Redskins, a team that has been relatively stout against the run this season (the sixth-best run defense in the NFL), but have given up a ton of points this season. Washington has held just two teams to less than 20 points in a single game all year, one of them was the Philadelphia Eagles (six points) back in Week 11.
I realize that all of the stats I just rattled off would make Brown seem like a less appealing play, but let us remember that he did not start in the previous meeting between these two teams and that at just $7.93 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, very few players in that price range have the upside that Brown does. This one is more of a gut call than anything, but I believe that Brown will deliver for his fantasy and salary cap owners this weekend.
This is one of the easiest calls I've made all season. Reggie Bush deserves to be in your salary cap lineup facing a Buffalo Bills defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and have given up 22 rushing touchdowns this season, the most in the NFL by a wide margin. Bush is a no-brainer start here, especially when his value is extremely low in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, where he will cost you just $9.86 this weekend.
A lot of fantasy owners have been down on Bush this season. I don't think that is entirely fair and a lot of it has to do with pre-season expectations. To illustrate my point, here is a classic Player A/Player B scenario. 216 carries for 1,086 yards and 6 TD...Bush 2012: 200 carries for 895 yards and 5 TD
Player A: 216 carries for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns
Player B: 200 carries for 895 yards and five touchdowns
Both of those stat lines are pretty similar right? Player A is Reggie Bush in 2011 and Player B is Reggie Bush in 2012. The only major difference between the two years is receptions, where Bush has been less of a threat in the passing game for the Dolphins in 2012. Otherwise, Bush hasn't been that different of a player this year, we just need to realize that he is what he is and that will never be an elite fantasy performer.
Over the last month of the season, head coach Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have begun to figure things out on the offensive side of the ball. Cam Newton has looked incredible and now DeAngelo Williams is starting to get involved as well, racking up 256 total yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns in the past two games. Williams should be in line for another productive game against the Oakland Raiders, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, in Week 16.
Fantasy football is the ultimate "what have you done for me lately game." Recently, bias is more prevalent in fantasy football than any other fantasy sport and while we cannot overlook the fact that Williams did almost nothing for the first 13 weeks of the season, he has been productive of late and is worth the risk in all Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues where he is valued at $9.48.
As a slot receiver enthusiast, one of my favorite players in the entire league from a fantasy perspective is Danny Amendola. He is the ultimate slot machine and a point-per-reception league monster when he's on the field. I have major question marks about his long-term durability and his inability to stay healthy makes him a gamble over the course of an entire 16 game season, but I am willing to reccomend him this weekend as one of the best bargains in salary cap football, valued at just $9.31.
Amendola wil be the beneficiary of a tasty matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the worst pass defense in the NFL, which has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season.