Grand Theft Roto: Take advantage of bye weeks
It's time to play "Fun with Homophones."
Now, before any of you read that too quickly and start writing angry letters to the editors, homophones are two words that sound the same but have completely different meanings.
So when Mountain Dew urges you to "Do the Dew," they're having fun with homophones.
When you complain about your glass of Pinot Noir being too oaky, it's a "wine whine."
If your sister is dating Kansas City's stud young receiver, you could say "Bowe is her beau."
Go ahead. Try your own.
However, with the NFL entering Week 4 and six teams dormant, the only homophone you need to know as a fantasy footballer is that byes equal buys.
Quick, tell me how many games a fantasy football owner can lose in a week if he comes up one point short. Now tell me how many games he can lose in a week if he comes up 51 points short.
Yup, the answer is "one" either way.
Yet it's easy to overreact to bye-week woes and make short-term moves to try and avoid losing one game, only to weaken one's team for the rest of the season. In my main league, I have Ronnie Brown, Joseph Addai and Julius Jones all sitting for the week, and Willie Parker's knee will knock him out for Sunday's game.
I could freak out and sell Addai now, just when he's waking up, to try to patch my lineup, but why would I do that? Sitting at 3-0, the worst case scenario is I end up at 3-1 with three backs all past their bye week for the year, which might be even more important than getting a win if Parker's knee becomes a lingering concern. In fact, while I am fielding offers that I think might help my team long-term and for this week, if they don't work out, I might go out and see what other players I like are sitting this week and add them to the team to make my squad more potent from Week 5 on.
Maybe you have Calvin Johnson and Reggie Wayne sitting this week or you're staring at a lineup which will be missing Brandon Jacobs on a bye and Brian Westbrook nursing an injury. My urging is rather than selling out your future to try to get a win now, consider becoming a buyer. It's not that different than punting a category in fantasy baseball, except it's even safer in head-to-head football leagues because this one loss can't affect the other games negatively.
Granted, if you're winless on the season, you can't afford to lose again. But if you feel good about your team, buying players on bye weeks has so many advantages, you'd be foolish not to try and do it. Let's see which other players should be targeted.
J.T. O'Sullivan, QB, 49ers: In a year when injury and ineffectiveness have sent Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson tumbling down the positional rankings, while Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler have climbed like Sir Edmund Hillary, I've been on O'Sullivan's bandwagon since he won the job in San Francisco. Quarterbacks in Mike Martz's system become instant fantasy commodities and the fact Martz brought the kid with him from Detroit and then turned him loose to beat out Alex Smith was a real harbinger of production to come. O'Sullivan ranks 11th in ESPN leagues in terms of fantasy points for quarterbacks, and that's with a one-point outing in Week 1. While I'm not ready to start J.T. every week, having him for the fantasy playoffs -- the Niners play the Jets, Dolphins and Rams in Weeks 14 through 16 -- would be delightful. Seeing as he's owned in less than half of ESPN leagues, he shouldn't cost a ton.
Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos: Owned in only 40.3 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittman is in the top 25 among running backs in terms of fantasy production. He has touched the ball 12 times in the red zone for the Broncos, as many times as all the other backs on the team combined, and one more time than all the wide receivers on the roster. The Broncos' offense is one of the top 5 squads in the league and that's not changing anytime soon, so Pittman should keep on racking up scoring opportunities each game. He's the type of low-cost investment you can and should be making to cover your bye-week needs without compromising your team going forward.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: I know I wrote about selling McFadden just three weeks ago, but I think he's a guy worth shopping right now for different reasons. The Raiders are the NFL's answer to Amy Winehouse and as of this writing, Lane Kiffin is still the coach. The one thing a rookie running back needs less than a crowded backfield on a bad team is a midseason coaching change that could change everything and anything. Looking at his fantasy point total, McFadden appears to be a productive back. But he has been anything but consistent, and his situation seems to be getting even less predictable.
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Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins: As a Patriots fan, watching Miami handle my home team Sunday hurt. But believing that Fasano will continue to be the highest scorer among all fantasy tight ends would end up hurting a lot more. Fasano was great in Week 1 and Week 3, but didn't score a point in Week 2. In case you didn't get the hint earlier, I'm not a fan of inconsistent performers. When the Dolphins play a team that isn't starting a defense full of narcoleptics, the middle of the field won't be so wide open and Fasano will return to mediocrity. But right now, he looks like a world-beater, so see what kind of value he has on the open market.
I followed my own advice a week ago and went fishing for Joseph Addai in multiple leagues. In one of my ESPN leagues, I was able to deal Brandon Jacobs and Owen Daniels for him. Obviously, I knew going into the week that Jacobs had looked better than Addai, but I felt Addai was going to improve. Meanwhile, watching Ahmad Bradshaw's Week 2 outburst had convinced me that the Giants were going to spread the wealth a little more than I first estimated.
I'm the first to acknowledge that one week doesn't mean anything, but I wonder if I'd have gotten an acceptance e-mail if I'd made the offer after Addai scored twice and Derrick Ward got twice as many red zone touches as Jacobs.
I love Addai's playoff matchups, and I think this could be a Grand Theft Roto by the time December rolls around.
Until next week, don't just win your league. Steal it.
Shawn Peters is a fantasy baseball, football and golf analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him your own grand theft rotos by clicking here.