IDP Buy Low / Sell High - Week 11
by Anthony Borbely
November 15th, 2012

This is going to be listed as a buy low for contending teams, but rebuilding teams can read the third paragraph and apply it to their situations. The individual player write-ups will be written from the point of view of a contending team.

With many leagues nearing their trade deadlines, there are contenders looking for that final piece to their championship puzzle. I am going to list several players that a contending team should target if they have a hole or two to fill. Many of the players are nearing the end of their careers and a team that is not in contention should be looking to move them. Others are replacement level players that are in great situations and offer a short term solution for a contender that has a hole to fill, but they have little if any value to a team looking to the future. There also could be a handful of underachieving players that you can buy on the cheap from a frustrated owner.

Although I am listing this article as one for contending teams, rebuilding teams can use the opposite approach. Just sell high on these players. One thing to add is that you do not want to get stuck with a player that offers you nothing for the future, so don't be overly stubborn regarding the value you want in return. The closer you get to the trade deadline, the less flexible you can be. This is obviously only for players you absolutely do not want to have on your roster next year. If there are players in this article that a rebuilding team should hold, I will mention it.

I want to add that you may see players listed that have been written about in recent weeks, but with trade deadlines fast approaching, I believe contenders need to see the top buy-low players available right now for a relatively cheap price and it is better to repeat a handful of them than to avoid repeating and thus list players that are not as important to go after.

Buy Low (Contending Teams Only)

DL John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons: It seems like Abraham has been a buy low candidate at the trade deadline for a few years now and that should not come as a surprise given that Abraham is 34 years old and that is an age when most pass rushers are already declining. Last year, Abraham entered the trade deadline as a player that appeared to be on the decline, but still one that could help a contender. This year, Abraham is playing much better than he was last year and even with his advancing age, the cost to acquire Abraham is higher than it was last year. Still, a rebuilding team has little reason to hold Abraham and your main negotiating point is his advancing age and the fact that very few pass rushers post solid numbers when they are 35 years old, which Abraham will be next year. If you need a quality defensive lineman for the stretch run, Abraham is arguably the most reasonably priced one on the market. I also would not hesitate to overpay a little if need be, but he should not cost all that much.

DL Kyle Vanden Bosch, Detroit Lions: We move from one 34-year-old defensive end to another, but the similarities stop there. While Abraham is playing at an extremely high level and posting top ten fantasy numbers, Vanden Bosch is probably a DL3 at best right now. But there are still some good reasons to go after Vanden Bosch. First, it is always beneficial to have a solid backup for your defensive linemen because that is arguably the toughest position to find on the waiver wire. Second, Vanden Bosch should be cheap to acquire give his age. But the biggest reason is that Vanden Bosch has a great schedule during the fantasy playoffs with games against the Packers in week 14 and the Cardinals in week 15. Those are two of the worst pass protecting teams in the league and opposing defensive ends have posted some huge games against those two teams. If you play matchups with your defensive linemen, then you should give serious consideration to Vanden Bosch.

DL Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers: Smith has always been a tackling machine and even at age 34 he has the second most solo tackles among all defensive linemen, trailing only J.J. Watt. In addition to the high tackle numbers, we could always count on Smith to give us 5-7 sacks every year and combined with his ridiculously high tackle numbers, it made Smith a borderline DL1. This year has been a different story as Smith has incredibly failed to record a sack. Despite that, Smith is still posting borderline top-20 numbers and that is probably his floor. I can't imagine Smith going the entire year without a sack and he has some favorable matchups with respect to sack opportunities against the Bears, Rams, and Seahawks, plus a game against the Patriots, who are tops in the league in tackle opportunities allowed. If you choose to go after Smith, you should use his zero sacks as a key point in your efforts to keep the price down.

LB London Fletcher, Washington Redskins: I wrote earlier that it seemed that John Abraham was a prime buy low candidate in past years (which he has been), but that is nothing compared to Fletcher. He is 37 years old and has been a player that rebuilding teams have been wanting to move before the wheels fall off. This is the 3rd or 4th year into that plan and here we go again. Fletcher is 37 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. I know we have been down this road before and eventually Fletcher has to decline, but right now he is playing at a very high level and given his age, he should be a player that rebuilding teams want to move. Normally I would say that Fletcher's cost would be low given his age, but he is playing at such a high level that it may cost more than we may want to pay. In this case, I think it's fine to pay a little more, namely because Fletcher is probably the only top-10 caliber linebacker that you can find right now that won't cost you an arm and a leg. When I say buy low, it doesn't always refer to just the cost alone; it often refers to the cost compared to the alternatives, which in this case are similar LB1s.

LB Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears: Urlacher got off to a slow start this season, largely because of problems with his knee. In his first five games, Urlacher only had 15 solos and failed to reach double digits in fantasy points. Even worse, you could see on the field that Urlacher was having problems moving and did not have the explosiveness that made him one of the league's premier linebackers for the last decade. However, the Bears had their bye in week six and that totally changed Urlacher's season. In his four games since then, Urlacher is averaging six solos per game and has reached double-digit fantasy points in all four games. Urlacher is 34 years old and his knee issues have to be concerning for the long-term, which is exactly why a contender should be targeting him. Rebuilding teams should be wanting to move Urlacher and although he is not nearly the player that Fletcher is, he also won't cost anywhere close to the same price. This is more of a target for owners that need a LB3 type than those that need a stud.

LB Paris Lenon, Arizona Cardinals: Lenon is another oldie but goodie that keeps on producing solid fantasy numbers, but he is 35 years old and rebuilding teams have little reason to hold for the long term. But Lenon should be a top target for contending teams for a few reasons. First, Lenon has been very productive and is currently posting LB3 numbers. Second, Lenon should be among the cheapest productive linebackers on the market, largely because of his age and the fact that he has always been considered a journeyman. Last but not least, Lenon has a very favorable schedule during the fantasy playoffs with games against the Seahawks, Lions, and Bears. Lenon is among the best value players on the market and should be near the top of your list if you are looking for a low-cost starting linebacker.

DB Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings: Winfield has long been one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the league and is arguably the best fantasy cornerback of the last decade. Despite being 35 years old and having clearly lost a step, Winfield is still posting mid-level DB1 numbers. That being said, Winfield is getting up in years and rebuilding teams generally do not want to hold 35-year-old cornerbacks when their objective is to build for the future. Winfield is the rare DB that I would pay above market value for, largely because of his consistently high tackle numbers. He is currently third in fantasy points and that is the one thing that could make the cost of acquiring Winfield higher than most of us would want to pay, especially given his age. But in this case, I would not pass on Winfield because it costs a little more. Just don't go overboard.

DB Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After years of strong fantasy production while playing cornerback, Barber has moved to safety this year and has been a top-10 fantasy defensive back for most of the season. This comes as a big surprise given the position change and the fact that Barber is 37 years old. He looked old and slow last year and it appeared that his days of fantasy relevance were over. The Buccaneers have one of the worst pass defenses in the league and it's fair to question whether Barber will be a starter next year. My guess is he will not and that along with his advanced age has to be mentioned when you are looking to trade for Barber. I can't imagine a rebuilding team wanting to hold Barber and that should keep his price reasonable.

DB Yeremiah Bell, New York Jets: Prior to the start of the season, I thought Bell's fantasy relevance was more or less gone as his play had declined steeply over the last couple of years. Bell was a stud DB1 for several years and annually was posting very high tackle numbers. He posted at least 80 solos in each of the last four years, including a whopping 100 in 2007. Bell is on pace to post 85 solos and with his numbers over the last four years, there is definitely a strong market for Bell. He is 34 years old and I think the chances of Bell starting next year are probably no better than 50-50. When you combine that with his advancing age and declining skills, rebuilding teams have no reason whatsoever to hold Bell. Contenders should take note of the fact that Bell faces the Titans and Chargers in week's 15 and 16 and both are borderline top-10 matchups for safeties. The best thing about Bell is he should be very cheap for a contending team to acquire.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to borbely@footballguys.com.

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