Scouting Report: RGIII tops NFL's All-Sell-High Team
It's time to turn your early season surprises into more reliable players
There are signs RGIII, Tony Gonzalez and other tantalizing stars will tail off
It's an important waiver week; the decisions you make may have to stand a while
The waiver wire is so September. October is the time to improve your fantasy football team with trades. Last Friday, we told you how you can do it by buying low, so this week's Scouting Report goes the other way: The All-Sell-High Team.
It is a lot easier to buy low than it is to sell high. After all, these guys are carrying you. It is tough to give up the savior you know for the devil you don't. It may look dangerous, but capitalizing now on some of your early surprises can really pay off by the end of the season, especially through fantasy crunch time.
We jump into it fearlessly here:
QB -- Robert Griffin III, Redskins: This is a tough one to list, because he is so darn tantalizingly productive, but his Week 5 concussion reveals a bit of reality that is about to be rushed the rookie's way, Cam Newton-style. It is one thing to star against second-division clubs. It is another to carry the torch against contenders.
RGIII was knocked out against the Falcons (5-0) and now must face the 4-1 Vikings, the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, and the Steelers during the next three weeks. After the vulnerable Panthers in Week 9, he comes out of his bye week with a gauntlet of the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants (again), and Ravens. Those defenses are all decidedly more physical than the Falcons.
The time to sell RGIII is now, because you can still get an elite player for him, despite having picked him in the later rounds on draft day. Even the struggling Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton would be a decent return right now.
RB -- Alfred Morris, Redskins: If RGIII's upcoming schedule stiffens, you have to assume the same goes for his rookie back. Morris is the fifth-best RB in standard, non-PPR formats right now. That gives him great value in deals. Only Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Stevan Ridley and Ray Rice have been better.
We should assume that Morris won't finish in the top 10, much less the top five. LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden and Trent Richardson should pass him. And, as many as 15 other backs may, too: Reggie Bush, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Doug Martin and maybe even Chris Johnson among them.
You might not be able to trade Morris straight up for another back, because it just might not make sense for either team, but you drafted him as a backup anyway. Turn him into a QB, WR or an elite TE.
RB -- Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: Unlike the two rookies above, he's a tricky move because he's a veteran coming off serious injury. We've seen him be a star and we've seen him become worthless due to season-ending knee surgery. In order to deal him, we need to find an owner who is sold on Charles' health.
You can point to his massive amount of carries in recent weeks to suggest: "See, he's Charles in Charge!" But, that's also among the reasons why you should sell now. He's never been a workhorse like this before or started more than 10 games in a season. Also, a bye week looms in Week 7. Peyton Hillis (ankle) can get healthy by Week 8 and go back to what was supposed to be a timeshare. The Chiefs have had to go to their backup QB (Brady Quinn) due to injury, so the offense could struggle, especially since the Bucs have the fourth-best run defense in the NFL right now.
There are too many variables that point to selling Charles before trouble, if not disaster, strikes.
WR -- Reggie Wayne, Colts: It is all too easy to forget that the league's most-targeted receiver is 33. Amazing. He sure isn't showing his age. The problem is, Father Time always wins -- especially as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, even with a bye week thrown in there. Yes, Andrew Luck looks like the boss and the Colts are a pass-happy team that makes Wayne a star, but you scored big already on a receiver you trusted on draft day when others didn't. Chances are fairly slim that you drafted Wayne as a starter. Turn this good fortune into a younger elite receiver or another talent at QB or RB, the more consistent and important positions in fantasy.
TE -- Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: Like Wayne, Gonzo is defying the laws of nature. Thirty-six-year-olds just don't play tight end, much less star at the position. Gonzalez has been one of the monsters behind the rise of Matt Ryan as the highest-scoring player in fantasy. But, Julio Jones (hand) hasn't been 100 percent yet and Gonzalez has scored a higher percentage of his touchdowns in the first half of a season. Through his lengthy career, he's averaged a TD almost every other game in September and October. In November, he's averaged around one every third game. Gonzalez is sure to slow down, so if you can turn his hot start into Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski or even Vernon Davis, you should do so.
K -- Greg Zuerlein, Rams: He's the highest scoring kicker right now, but the suggestion here is that he shouldn't even be owned in a standard league. He hasn't had his bye week yet and the schedule toughens for a Rams team that has lost its leading receiver (Danny Amendola -- shoulder) for the season and hasn't proved to be consistent with its running game.
You should own these 14 kickers over this promising but sure to slip rookie: David Akers, Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Justin Tucker, Jason Hansen, Blair Walsh, Shayne Graham, Sebastian Janikowski, Matt Prater, Garrett Hartley, Robbie Gould, Alex Henery and Mike Nugent. You might even want to throw Lawrence Tynes and the Chargers' kicker (now Nick Novak, eventually Nate Kaeding) into the mix, too. Zuerlein just won't finish in the top 10, so if anyone buys kickers, sell or just cut him for one of the above.
D/ST -- Minnesota Vikings: Like kickers, getting any kind of value for your "new money" at defense/special teams is tough. You cannot count on this unit down the stretch, though. Week 10 and beyond, the Vikings play the Lions, have a bye, meet the Bears and Packers on the road and battle the Bears again. Those are crucial weeks and you don't want to have questions about your defense. By contrast, a suspect-looking defense like the Patriots' faces Buffalo and Indy at home before going on the road to play the Jets and Dolphins. That's a much more intriguing four weeks-worth of opponents during crunch time. Turn the Vikings into the Pats, or another more certain contender that plays defense.
Last week's All-Buy-Low Team:
QB -- Tony Romo, Cowboys
RB -- Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
RB -- Darren McFadden, Raiders
WR -- Dez Bryant, Cowboys
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, Giants
TE -- Antonio Gates, Chargers
K -- Nick Novak, Chargers
D/ST -- Pittsburgh Steelers
And, if you play in those one-off salary-cap games at places like FanDuel, DraftDay and DraftKings, here are some cheaper underperforming players who can help fill out a roster this week:
QB -- Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
RB -- Shonn Greene, Jets
RB -- Vick Ballard, Colts
WR -- Andre Johnson, Texans
WR -- Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
TE -- Antonio Gates, Chargers
FLEX -- Doug Martin, Buccaneers
K -- Alex Henery, Eagles
D/ST -- Buccaneers or Patriots
There was some turnover at the RB position around the NFL and in fantasy, due to injury, so we try to make sense of an important week on waivers. The ensuing Week 7 is the heaviest bye week of the season (six teams out), so the decisions you make about your roster now might have to stand for a little while.
1. RB Alex Green, Packers: He assumes the starting role with Cedric Benson (foot) out at least six weeks, and perhaps for the season. Green is a justified pick-up, but the likelihood is that the Packers go back to their pass-happy ways and relegate the running game to a mere change of pace. Green is not a great play against the Texans this week.
2. RB Vick Ballard, Colts: Like Green, Ballard becomes a starter due to injury, as Donald Brown (knee) is out at least two weeks. Ballard would be more intriguing if the Colts' offense wasn't pass-oriented like the Packers', and if he wasn't facing the Jets' run defense, which has been abused on the ground, but that's more the results of the rushing offenses that New York has played. This Colts line shouldn't be expected to impose it will as well as the Texans (Arian Foster) and 49ers (Frank Gore) did.
3. RB William Powell, Cardinals: Like the two units above, Arizona's offense struggles to run the ball, and Ryan Williams (shoulder) is out for the season. Also, Beanie Wells is sidelined until at least Week 12. Powell, if he can fully wrest feature-back duties from La'Rod Stephens-Howling, can be a viable starting fantasy RB in deeper leagues.
4. D/ST Miami Dolphins: This defense has been quite a surprise and it draws an inconsistent Rams team at home. It's a good week to stream them if you have a defense on bye or in a tough matchup. That should be the limit of this defense's potential this season, though, it is a streaming option.
5. RB La'Rod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals: If he wasn't banged up, he'd be a better option than Powell (above). LSH is the better receiving back and the Cardinals don't have a line-'em-up-and-run-it-at-them offense. Consider him a sleeper, but Powell is the better play this week against a suspect Bills run defense.
6. D/ST St. Louis Rams: Like the Dolphins, they've been a surprise, but they're a much better play at home. Consider them a risky streaming play at Miami -- even if that Dolphins offense shouldn't scare anyone.
7. RB Jahvid Best, Lions: The tide has really turned on his perceived fantasy value now that his return can be imminent. A few weeks ago, no one wanted him. Now, suddenly, it seems many in fantasy are expecting him back and to even start in Week 7. He won't. Yes, he 's going to be an exciting talent in a potentially potent offense, but he will begin his season as a mere third-down back and will need Mikel LeShoure to falter or get injured before real fantasy value comes his way.
8. RB James Starks, Packers: His fantasy-worthy days appeared to be over, but Benson's injury and Green's uncertainty as a second-year back in a pass-oriented offense give Starks some value as a potential stashee. Even if he winds up a starter, he will be a low-end option. Your bench spot is better served with someone with a higher ceiling.
9. WR Josh Gordon, Browns: Greg Little's drops and the Browns' slew of banged-up WRs allowed Gordon to step forward against a battered Giants secondary. Gordon is now dinged, too, so don't expect much this week against the Bengals. He still needs a lot to go right for him to have true fantasy value again this season. You might be better off taking a flier on the in-the-doghouse Little.
10. K Phil Dawson, Browns: He has the right formula for a fantasy kicker: a good running game and a QB who figures to struggle sticking the ball in the end zone. But there are too many other more promising kickers to consider and bye weeks tend to leave some of the elite out there on the waiver wire as they come off their bye. Don't bother with this one. Look elsewhere.
1. RB Ryan Williams, Cardinals: There was tons of promise here, but now it appears that he will never be healthy. He still wasn't over his torn patella tendon, so consider him on the Cadillac Williams career path ... to fantasy oblivion.
2. RB Cedric Benson, Packers: He's not worth burning a roster spot, unless you're in one of those rare fantasy football leagues with IR spots available. Usually those are keeper leagues, in which Benson is worthless. There's just a slim chance that he can impact fantasy again coming off his current LisFranc issue. Those aren't just season-threatening injuries; they're career-enders.
3. WR Danny Amendola, Rams: He was headed for a great sleeper season and now a second consecutive season-ending injury makes him nothing more than a journeyman long term. If you want a sleeper in the Rams' offense, Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson are your best bets. They are mere bye-week replacements at this point, though.
4. K Garrett Hartley, Saints: A bye week sends him to the waiver wire, but picking him up again should help you set-and-forget your kicker position the rest of the season. New Orleans still has a productive offense that can do wonders for a kicker's totals.
5. RB Andre Brown, Giants: Not only was he a Week 3 flash in the pan, he's dealing with a concussion and has the additional headache of Ahmad Bradshaw proving to be dominant and David Wilson showing promise. Brown belongs on the waiver wire now and has a great chance of not being worthy of coming off it the rest of the way.
6. RB Jackie Battle, Chargers: Ryan Mathews has proved to be healthy and capable of carrying the load, but you should be reminded that Battle is still the goal-line back. In the right matchups -- not necessarily this week -- he will be good for a rushing TD, or two.
7. K Robbie Gould, Bears: Unlike Hartley, Gould has a great defense to get him excellent field position and FG opportunities, and a less potent QB to punch the ball into the end zone. He's another kicker on bye who can solve that position for you from Week 7 on out.
8. WR Jerome Simpson, Vikings: That was a frustrating performance in Week 5, but reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. His back injury is not as debilitating as once thought. Simpson belongs on rosters, so stash him if you can this weekend.
9. RB Mark Ingram, Saints: He has to be the biggest waste of talent in football. Ingram is marginalized in a stubborn pass-happy offense and stuck behind receiving back Darren Sproles and veteran grinder Pierre Thomas. Ingram would be a star in a different situation on another team. Remember, he was a starter over Trent Richardson at Alabama, where their three-year numbers are very similar. That said, Ingram doesn't warrant any fantasy consideration. He's just too ignored in his team's game plans.
10. WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI: Jay Cutler is eventually going to make this guy a star, so be cognizant of him off waivers next week if you need a flier at the WR position. With such attention going to Brandon Marshall -- and Devin Hester and Earl Bennett looking like has-beens -- Jeffery has the potential to really break out down the stretch.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Thursday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).