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The New Reality, No.73: Buy In or Sell Out

Team Direction, Week 4 Producers, Digging Deep on the Waiver Wire

A big part of dynasty (and fantasy football as a whole) is taking a stand whether we believe what we have seen to-do will continue or not. This could be from week-to-week, year-to-year, or in dynasty from a 'previous-to-future' general sense. The one-month point of the season is where taking stock of your roster and team situation is key.

Diagnosis

I like to use myfantasyleague.com as my dynasty league hosting site for a number of reasons. One of which applies to in-season team management is using their 'Power Rankings' statistics. In head-to-head formats it is easy to get lost in the binary 'did I win or lose' weekly outcome. The Power Ranking information also includes key data like:

Potential Points: This is my favorite way to distribute rookie draft position for non-playoff teams. This uses best ball concepts to score your optimal lineup each week. 

Efficiency: This shows the difference between your potential points and your actual starting lineup each week.

Max PF: Your best weekly score

Coulda Won, Woulda Lost: The games in flux due to lineup decisions

All-Play Record: Your Win-Loss record if you had played every team in the league each week.

Each of these categories provide a second-level sense of how your team is faring within the league. Potential Points and All-Play are the most global data points. Deep teams of talent have more difficult lineup decisions, so their potential points can be higher and can see a lower efficiency mark as a result.

Teams with a strong win-loss record and a low all-play mark point to a fortunate schedule. Same thing with a low rank in potential points being low (or a high efficiency) can point to a team being 'maxed out' even pushing all the right buttons weekly. 

After four weeks I like to check in with team direction. A 4-0 or 3-1 mark with low Power Ranking metrics (or a lack of depth for the upcoming bye weeks plus injuries) can point to returning to the pack. On the flip side, A slow start but strong secondary metrics point to a rebound coming.

Week 4 is the first time I start exploring 'team direction' trades in my dynasty leagues. For teams where it was a planned building season and the opening month produced a 1-3 or 0-4 start, shopping those flip candidates or situational producers is a to-do list item. Those points hurt a team like this for the long haul through draft position - depending on the league format and how draft position is established. Shopping starting caliber players as the bye weeks start, ahead of potential selling competition a few weeks from now, is an optimal strategy in this case.

Another element of team strength is the injury front. A slow start could be attributed to missing a core asset or two early in the season (or for the entire year). Teams down Keenan Allen and Sammy Watkins are in a different scenario with the same record than a team without LeVeon Bell and Rob Gronkowski.

Week 4 Big Producers

Ben Roethlisberger: Best fantasy day of the season (QB2 for week). The Steelers offense looked like a different team after their Week 3 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia. LeVeon Bell infuses the offense with a new (and much needed) element. Roethlisberger is also one of the biggest home-road split quarterbacks in recent years, as well as taking advantage of subpar pass defenses.

Matt Ryan: Top quarterback of the week and has enjoyed an optimal schedule to open the season. The Panthers defense struggling is more the story than Ryan projecting to continue his top numbers for much longer. There is not much beyond Julio Jones among the wide receivers and tight ends.

Matt Jones: The bruising Washington back had his best game of the season (RB8), running through defined holes for one of the first times this season against a porous Cleveland run defense. If looking for an exit, this is the week to shop Jones off your roster with one of the most difficult upcoming months in matchups for running backs on the horizon for Washington.

Jerick McKinnon: With Adrian Peterson out, McKinnon had his best game of the season (RB12) on Monday night. McKinnon looks the part of a lead back. Will he be in Minnesota's plans beyond 2016? I recommend asking for a 2017 1st if dealing away McKinnon with the buy recommendation as a future 2nd plus another small piece.

Fozzy Whittaker: The Carolina pass-catcher has two top-15 PPR weeks over the last three games. Carolina is looking like a consistent come-from-behind team from a game script perspective this year, but Jonathan Stewart is projected to be back. The most you can expect from Whittaker in the trade market is a future 3rd.

Michael Crabtree is a top-5 PPR producer this season, capping his first month with a season-high WR2 finish and his fourth straight game over 13 PPR points. His teammate Amari Cooper has finished in the WR40-50 range each of the past three weeks as Crabtree has become the focal point of the Oakland pass game. The Raiders schedule has not been overly easy of the first month versus wide receivers and remains tepid for the next four games. Outside of Denver midseason and possibly Houston, look for Oakland's receivers to continue to be rock solid plays. I do project Amari Cooper to get a stronger split of the duo's numbers going forward.

Julio Jones hit the stratosphere in Week 4 with the historic 12-300-1 stat line. This was after a dud in Week 3. The road is about to get much tougher for wide receiver matchups for Jones with by far the most difficult duo of matchups the next two weeks in Denver and Seattle. The finishing two months is rosy for Jones, however, this season. 

Steve Smith has posted his best two games of the season in back-to-back weeks. As a result, Mike Wallace as suffered with performances outside the top-45 in the same contests. Smith looks 'back' physically by my game-watching eye and still the clear No.1. Wallace turns into an upside flex option, capable of a deep touchdown any given week, but the biggest impact is Dennis Pitta, who will be more of a fringe TE1/2 play instead of a top-10 option if Smith were out of the picture.

Jimmy Graham looks physically back, like Steve Smith, and has posted back-to-back TE3 weeks. The historical formula for a top-producing tight end is paired with a top quarterback (check, Russell Wilson) and an offense without a dominant WR1 (check, Doug Baldwin is a de facto No.1). Graham is already up to TE6 for the season in PPR despite two lackluster weeks to start and I project a top-4 finish for Graham as he and Rob Gronkowski climb up the ranks over the final three months.

Kyle Rudolph has been one of the bigger surprises in fantasy this season. He and Greg Olsen are the only tight ends to post top-12 production each week. Rudolph fits the Jimmy Graham criteria for top tight end production, but to a much lesser degree. Sam Bradford is a serviceable, but not a top option at quarterback. While Stefon Diggs is a sturdy, but not red zone-oriented, lead receiver. Rudolph's market value does not match his production, however, has getting even a future 2nd is difficult in start-1TE formats without scoring premiums. 

Waiver Wire Deep Diving

Joique Bell: Jordan Howard is the clear lead back (more than 90% of snaps in Week 4), but Bell looked better physically than I expected in his first NFL action in a while as Howard's backup. Bell is now an injury away from spot starter designation, at least until Jeremy Langford returns in about a month. Bell is a priority pickup in deeper leagues especially.

Daniel Lasco saw his first action of the season in Week 4 and looked the part with lateral explosion. The Saints are a 'by committee' backfield, but Tim Hightower and Travaris Cadet both took a playing time hit to accomodate Lasco's infusion. Lasco is on some medium-depth waiver wires and he would be my add, dropping Cadet or Hightower if needed.

Ricardo Louis: With Josh Gordon in treatment and unlikely to return to Cleveland's lineup this season, plus Corey Coleman out for the time being, Louis continues to see strong snap numbers behind Terrelle Pryor. Louis has strong athleticism and is passing Andrew Hawkins for playing time of late.

Tyreek Hill: The speedster is a running back and wide receiver hybrid player for Kansas City and continues to grow his role. Hill would benefit with an injury to Jeremy Maclin or Chris Conley. Hill is the 'playmaker' mold making his offensive involvement tough to project, but he is an athletic talent already seeing signficant snaps in his initial month in the NFL.

Eddie Royal, C.J. Spiller: Both are previous producers to a high level in their careers and seeing more opportunity of late. Kevin White sustained an ankle injury in Week 4 and Royal is by far the best talent beyond Alshon Jeffery left on the Bears receiver depth chart, on a team likely to play from behind most weeks. Spiller looks like the No.2 back behind Christine Michael in the near term with Thomas Rawls out and Alex Collins more depth than committee option at this juncture.