Fantasy stock watch

Wednesdays here at the National Football Post are dedicated to analyzing the rising and falling stock values of key players from around the league. Our ultimate goal is to identify which fantasy players you should be looking to target via trade and which guys you should look to unload while their value is still high. Too often, owners look to trade players that are underperforming. But who is going to want to acquire a wide receiver that doesn’t catch any passes (like Dwayne Bowe, prior to Week 6)?

The key is to stay one step ahead of the curve by unloading the stocks that are about to crash and acquiring the stocks that are about to skyrocket.

But before we get started, here’s your motivational speech of the day. This one was requested by the NFP’s Wes Bunting, so if you have a problem with it, take it up with him at Wes.Bunting@NationalFootballPost.com.

ON THE RISE

Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel’s thrown six touchdown passes and only one interception over his last three games and is finally starting to get into a rhythm with No. 1 wideout Dwayne Bowe (6-108-2 in Week 6 at Houston). The big plus here is that the Chiefs’ upcoming schedule couldn’t possibly be more quarterback friendly. Over the next six weeks, Cassel will play four games against defenses that rank in the top-ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (Jacksonville, Buffalo, Denver, Seattle). The best part? You can probably find this guy on the waiver wire right now.

Recommendation: ACQUIRE as a solid QB2 for the rest of the season with QB1 potential. Pass on Cassel if you have an elite-tier QB like Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers.

Ray RiceRice should begin to make a move for the top of the standings over the next few weeks.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Through six games this season, Rice has only topped 100+ rushing yards one time (Week 5 vs. Denver) and has found the end zone just twice. That’s not what fantasy owners had in mind when they spent a top-five pick on the former Rutgers standout back in August. The good news is that his current owner is probably frustrated with Rice’s production, meaning you can probably swing a deal to land the Baltimore running back at a reasonable price. Now’s the time to do it because Rice is about to start a five-game stretch that includes three defenses (Buffalo, Carolina, Tampa Bay) that rank in the top-seven in points surrendered to fantasy running backs.

Recommendation: BUY, but make sure the current owner is frustrated with Rice. If he’s happy with the third-year back’s current production, you may end up paying too high of a price.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: After Sunday’s outstanding performance (5-146-1) it’s going to be tough to pry Johnson away from his current owner, so your best bet is to probably wait until next week (Detroit is on the bye in Week 7) when some of the shine has worn off from the Giants game. The reason you want to put Megatron on your radar is two-fold: First, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) is expected to make his return to the lineup in Week 8. Second, Johnson and the Lions are entering a five-game stretch in which they’ll face three defenses (Washington, NY Jets, New England) that rank in the top-five in points allowed to opposing wide receivers. In addition, the other two games during that span are favorable as well (Buffalo, Dallas).

Recommendation: BUY next week if you’re in need of help at the WR position. Garbage time stats are in full effect in Detroit this season.

Rashard MendenhallICONHe could be a bit pricey, but Mendenhall has a very nice schedule over the next six weeks.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: He’s currently the ninth-ranked fantasy running back in standard scoring formats, so it’s going to cost a pretty penny to acquire Mendenhall from his current owner. Just be sure to harp on the idea that Ben Roethlisberger’s return to the starting lineup will cut into Mendenhall’s carries. This isn’t true, but you’ll need to try and create some sort of leverage if you want to have a shot at completing this deal. The reason you should be willing to pay a higher price is that Mendenhall has upcoming games against the Saints, Raiders and Bills, who all rank in the top-nine in points allowed to opposing running backs this season.

Recommendation: BUY if you have the resources to swing a 2 for 1 deal. You’ll likely have to give up a RB and WR to make this thing happen.

Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers: You’ll need to sell Floyd’s current owner on the following two facts: First, that he’s battling a hamstring injury which will likely keep him on the sidelines in Week 7 and “could linger” for the rest of the season. Second, that Floyd’s role in the offense will be reduced once Vincent Jackson returns to action. As of now, it’s tough to tell what kind of impact V-Jax will have this season, but there’s no doubt in my mind that every Floyd owner in the country is worried about his return to the offense. The upside here is that San Diego’s upcoming schedule doesn’t feature a single defense that ranks in the top-half in the league in stopping fantasy wide receivers. However, the schedule does include games against the Titans, Texans, Broncos and Colts, who all rank in the top-half of the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts.

Recommendation: BUY, but there is no need to go overboard. The hamstring issue and Jackson’s impending return should lower Floyd’s value enough to get a reasonable deal completed.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: For an early to mid-round draft pick, Clark has been underperforming for owners through the first six weeks of the season. The Indianapolis tight end is currently averaging 8.5 fantasy points per game (down from 10.3 pts/gm last season) and has only found the end zone one time in his last four games. In addition, the Colts are headed for the bye in Week 7, meaning his current owner is already in the process of looking for a replacement. The upside here is that when Clark comes off the bye he’ll play three of his next five games against defenses that rank in the top-six in points allowed to opposing tight ends.

Recommendation: BUY, but don’t spend too much time trying to make this deal happen. If you need tight end help, there are always some decent options available on the waiver wire (ex: T ony Moeaki).

SLIDING DOWN

Chad HenneICONHenne's been rolling up some points lately, but he's got the toughest upcoming schedule of any fantasy quarterback.

Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins: There may not be a big market for Henne’s services at the current moment, but keep in mind that this guy has topped 300+ passing yards in two of his last three games and has thrown two touchdown passes in each of his last three contests. Those numbers should get a quarterback-starved owner to sit up straight in his chair. Just be sure to avoid mentioning that four of Henne’s next five games come against defenses that rank in the bottom-seven in points surrendered to opposing fantasy quarterbacks (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Chicago).

Recommendation: SELL if you can find an interested owner. Otherwise, look for another QB option for the coming weeks. Henne’s staring down the barrel of a very rough stretch of games.

New England Patriots Running Backs: Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis certainly aren’t sexy names, but both running backs are averaging 10.3 fantasy points per game or more over their past three contests. Owners in deeper leagues that need help at the running back position could be interested in that type of production. The problem for current owners is that the Patriots are about to play four-straight games against defenses that rank in the bottom-ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs (San Diego, Minnesota, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). In addition, veteran running back Fred Taylor (toe) should return to the starting lineup at some point in the near future, which will cut into the workloads of both Woodhead and Green-Ellis.

Recommendation: SELL as a flex option to an owner in need of RB help. Just like with Henne (above), if you can’t get a deal done, you may need to consider finding another option for the next few weeks.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins: Moss has been a very nice surprise for owners in 2010 as the veteran wide receiver currently ranks 18th in scoring among fantasy wideouts. He’s quarterback Donovan McNabb’s favorite target and through six weeks is averaging a healthy 8.33 fantasy points per game (standard scoring), so it shouldn’t take a lot of convincing to interest a rival owner who needs an upgrade at the wide receiver position. The main reason we recommend making a move is that the Redskins’ upcoming schedule features three games in the next six weeks against defenses that rank in the bottom-ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts.

Recommendation: SELL, but make sure you get a good deal in return. Moss has been a consistent fantasy producer this season.

Arian FosterICONTrading Foster after the Indianapolis game could yield a big return.

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Yes, we realize that Foster is the highest scoring fantasy running back through the first six weeks of the season. And you can bet that the other owners in your league are aware of that fact as well. But we advise Foster owners to take note that the Texans’ featured running back has only rushed for 96 yards over his last two games and has been held out of the end zone in three of six contests this year. In addition, Foster is averaging only 3.3 yards per carry over his past two games. That unfortunate trend could continue when Foster and the Texans come off the bye (Week 7) as three of their next five games (San Diego, NY Jets, Tennessee) will come against defenses that rank in the bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

Recommendation: SELL, but you may want to use him one last time in Week 8 when the Texans travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. This guy is the crown jewel of any trade, so if you put him on the block, make sure you aim for the stars.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami Dolphins: Much like Chad Henne above, Marshall is on a hot streak that has a good chance of coming to a halt over the next few weeks. But first, the leverage: Over his last three games, B-Marsh has hauled in 25 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the bad news: Four of Marshall’s next five games (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Chicago) will come against defenses that rank in the bottom-seven in points surrendered to opposing wide receivers.

Recommendation: SELL, but make sure you either target a 2 for 1 trade (where you get a WR and RB in return) or an elite-level player in return. Marshall’s stock is sky-high right now.

Aaron Hernandez, RB, New England Patriots: Hernandez’s value has been on the rise since the Randy Moss trade because the rookie tight end was expected to become a more integral part of the New England offense. So far, he’s off to a good start averaging 4.2 receptions and 64.0 receiving yards over his last four games. The problem is Hernandez has yet to score a touchdown and has an upcoming schedule that features showdowns with four defenses (Minnesota, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Detroit) that rank in the bottom-ten in points allowed to opposing tight ends over the next six weeks. The other two games during that time span come against the Chargers and Steelers, who are no slouches either (well, maybe San Diego is).

Recommendation: SELL, but it’s always a bit tricky trying to move a tight end when the talent pool is so deep. See what type of offer is out there, but don’t settle for below market value.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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