Over the past few days, I’ve been perplexed as to how much the press has flocked to Bryce Harper’s defense. Right said Fred was too sexy for his shirt. Is "The Kid" too sexy to hustle? If merely 5% of the rumors I’ve heard about the Washington Nationals right fielder are true, it makes it very hard to root for the guy. CJ Nitkowski’s piece nails it. Of course, all of this Jonathan Papelbon hate works well for the fantasy investor trying to spot market flaws. The mercurial closer continues to be the most reliable, consistent, and undervalued source of saves on the rotisserie market. I can’t help but think disdain for his personality is what’s driving his price down. It’s certainly nothing in his repertoire. While others chase the elite relievers in the early rounds, and the steep opportunity costs that come packaged with them, just be patient and wait for Papelbon, who is often still on the board in the 10th and 11th rounds (2014 ADP was 132). He’s there later than he should be every year.
Alas, baseball is winding down and football is in full swing, so let’s move our attention to the latter.
Sifting through the free agent chaff
If you have dead space on your 14-team roster, Brice Butler is a $1 stash and hold option. With 4.39 speed in Dallas, he has the upside you covet in deeper leagues. Time will tell if he can learn the playbook enough in time to become a factor before Dez Bryant returns from injury.
Those of you from Buckeye country are already well familiar with Devin Smith, who was on the field for 63 snaps and caught three of nine targets in his NFL debut. The burner from Ohio State should see his role increase as he becomes more familiar with the route tree in New York. He’s still available in some 12-team leagues and is worth an immediate pickup but remains a slight desperation flex play in the short term. A very high ceiling here if he continues to get targets. Keep in mind veteran Jeremy Kerley caught six of 11 targets and a TD in Week 3. I targeted both as handcuffs to Eric Decker. Brandon Marshall should get the attention from the best opposing corners, creating decent matchups for Ryan Fitzpatrick. David Gibson, who breaks down game-tape better than anyone else I know, had this to say:
"Devin Smith has elite speed and an uncanny knack for tracking the ball and making circus catches. This makes him ideal for taking the top off a defense, teams that want to cheat a safety up in the box to support the run will give up the deep ball when Smith is on the field. He is fearless when tracking the ball. While this contributes to his ridiculous yards per catch stats, it will also lend to his exposure to injury at the NFL level."
Joique Bell has devolved into a slow plodder good for 1-yard and a cloud of dust coupled with limited touches. That’s not going to get it done. The Chronicles of Theo Riddick is worth a look as a marginal flex option in 14-team leagues. The Lions inept offensive schemes spell 2nd half deficits in which the Lions will have to throw to catch up. Add in a thoroughly banged up Matthew Stafford who will be looking to unload the ball quickly and you have a potential PPR bailout here if you’ve got a hole to plug.
There are many traps that can befall you when looking for an edge. One of those is the "team giving up the most points to (insert position here)." And yet, I am going to go to that well here due to the one-week wonders created by the beloved Oakland Raiders: Tyler Eifert, Crockett Gillmore and Gary Barnidge. This week, Martellus Bennett ($4,500 in DraftKings) and the Chicago Bears host the men in black and the price is right.
Karlos Williams ($3,400 in DK) looks great on tape. In fact, to my eyes, he appears to have more burst and top end speed than Slim Shady McCoy. The latter is dinged up and it’s looking more as though the rookie will get the start. Lock and load him into your GPP lineups this weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs cornerbacks haven’t been able to stop anyone this year. Andy Dalton ($5,900) isn’t exactly Aaron Rodgers ($7,900), but the Bengal is still set up for a nice fantasy matchup and A.J. Green ($7,600) owners must be licking their chops. Marvin Jones ($3,900) is also worth a look for those seeking players with a little less ownership.
Double check the inactives Sunday morning but my gut tells me that Arian Foster ($7,000) won’t be ready against the Atlanta Falcons, making Alfred Blue ($3,900) an inexpensive option with a great matchup.