Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Week 12: Finding some Black Friday fantasy deals

Week 12: Finding some Black Friday fantasy deals

Tom Brady, who costs just $8,300, will face the Detroit Lions (2-8) on Thanksgiving.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tom Brady, who costs just $8,300, will face the Detroit Lions (2-8) on Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

As we mentioned in our previous post, philly.com will be launching its own private FanDuel fantasy football league, where readers will have the chance to win cash prizes.

Although the league won't start until next week, you can take a practice run by clicking HERE.

You can also click here for details on how FanDuel's fantasy game works.

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We will check in on Tuesday and let you know how we fared, and which readers had the best performances.

For now, we have a preview of this weekend's action, including our roster:

After 11 grueling weeks of teams still deciding whether they were contenders or not, things are finally starting to take shape in the NFL. We have learned that the Lions are still the Lions (and so are the Bills), the NFC West is a joke, and the Cowboys, Vikings, and Bengals are not who we thought they were.

The world of fantasy football is beginning to sort itself out too. Peyton Hillis is no longer an unknown that can make you look like genius in the FanDuel game. He is legit, and the increase in his price has reflected this.

Steve Johnson, who had no touchdowns through two weeks, was selling for next to nothing. Now, he has nine touchdowns through 10 weeks, and has become a really solid play. However, he is the seventh-most expensive receiver, and will cost you $7,200. That's more than Andre Johnson.

Coming into Week 12, bargains are becoming more difficult to find. In the spirit of Black Friday, we were hoping to find a deal or two, but this year's studs and breakout players are rounding into form and separating themselves from the pack - in both production and price.

Arian Foster may be the player of the year, but Michael Vick is making a late run at it. Neither was selling for much early in the season, but they have turned themselves into the fourth- and second-most expensive players, respectively.

On the flip side, there are many players who have not been having great seasons, but because they are who they are, they remain expensive. Drew Brees, who isn't having the year many expected, is the most expensive player despite having put up less points then Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

Some bargains are still out there, but they require a little more digging to find. Here are some of the players we've identified:

Bargains

QB - Mark Sanchez (CIN@NYJ) - $7,500

Sanchez is turning into a difference-maker in his second season with the Jets. Three weeks in a row he has led game-winning drives with his team trailing late, throwing for more than 300 yards twice and 299 in the other game. Facing a Bengals defense that allowed 35 points in the second half to the Buffalo Bills last week, Sanchez is a good bet to approach those numbers again.

RB - Mike Tolbert (SD@IND) - $6,200

Remember the Week 1 game that made Foster a star? That came against the Colts, and while running backs have not exactly reached those lofty numbers each week, they still have been productive. Tolbert takes his turn facing Indy in what should be a high-scoring game and should provide good value.

WR - Nate Burleson (NE@DET) - $5,000

It's the annual Thanksgiving Day blowout at Ford Field, which means good things for Burleson. The Lions have been a good source of fantasy talent at receiver mainly because they are behind so often and throw constantly to get back into games. Expect the Patriots to focus heavily on Calvin Johnson, which should leave plenty of room for Burleson.

TE - Jacob Tamme (SD@IND) - $5,300

Tamme rapidly became a useful commodity at the tight end position after replacing the injured Dallas Clark. It helps to have Peyton Manning throwing to him, but Tamme is reliable and has shown the ability to run after the catch. He is priced sixth among tight ends (not including the injured Antonio Gates and Clark), so he still costs a decent sum, but there is little worry about his production for the price.

K - Josh Scobee (JAX@NYG) - $5,300

Yes, Scobee is a kicker, and all kickers seemingly are one in the same. If you do your homework, however, you can at least not overpay for a kicker who will get you the same amount of points as a guy like Scobee, who will cost less.

DEF - Cleveland Browns (CAR@CLE) - $5,800

The Browns' defense has been surprisingly stingy this season, upsetting both the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. This pick, however, is all about the matchup: a capable defense exploiting an injury-riddled and woefully lacking Carolina Panthers offense. For one of the cheapest defenses, the Browns should deliver good results.


Every bargain is made by the performance of a bust. The reason we look so hard for under-the-radar players is to allow us to stock up on sure things at the positions we feel the most comfortable spending on. These "busts" can still be productive players, but they fail to live up to the sticker price. Here are this week's picks:

Busts

QB - Michael Vick (PHI@CHI) - $9,700

It's getting hard to bet against Vick, as he still turned in 19 points in what was widely deemed an average effort last week. Still, Vick has not thrown an interception on the season, and that seemingly has to end at some point. Saying he will struggle this week is no more than hedging on history, but regardless, there are better options at quarterback than Starship 7, who ranks only behind Brees in cost.

RB - Michael Turner (GB@ATL) - $8,000

Turner did little in last week's game before ripping off a long touchdown run at the end to get over 100 yards. Now, Clay Matthews and the Green Bay Packers come into the Georgia Dome. For what it will cost to own Turner this week, the production will not justify the expense.

WR - Terrell Owens (CIN@NYJ) - $7,500

T.O. called Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis an "average cornerback." Even if Owens is right, he is the one due for no more than an average performance against New York. With Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer hobbled with a foot injury, Owens is not worth his price tag.

TE - Marcedes Lewis (JAX@NYG) - $5,800

Lewis is the highest-priced tight end who will play this week, which is too expensive for our blood. When guys like Tamme, Zach Miller and Chris Cooley can be had for a few hundred less, it makes little sense to spend the extra to get a guy like Lewis. He has been valuable this season - we just don't see it this week.

K - David Akers (PHI@CHI) - $6,500

There is little more reason for listing Akers here than he is the highest-priced kicker. The Eagles are on the road against Chicago this week, against a strong Bears defense, and Akers has been known to struggle in windy environments. For these reasons alone, save your money and look cheaper.

DEF - Dallas Cowboys (DAL@NO) - $6,100

The return of the 'Boys has been greatly exaggerated. Head coach Jason Garrett is 2-0, including a big win on the road against the Giants in his debut, but should he really be earning tremendous accolades for beating the Lions? The same can be asked of the Cowboys' defense, which has underachieved all season long. Against a Saints team that is rounding into form, the Cowboys look like a bad bet.

As usual, we heavily considered the matchups, as well as the prices, before picking our roster. We were a bit out of character this week, picking several road players. But with Tom Brady playing in a dome against the Lions, it was just too hard not to. Not a bad price either...

We also have some money left over this week, which we usually like to avoid. However, after shopping around for a place to invest that $300, none of the moves really impressed us.

Here is our roster for Week 12:

QB - Tom Brady (NE@DET) - $8,300

RB - Frank Gore (SF@ARI) - $8,000

RB - Mike Tolbert (SD@IND) - $6,200

WR - DeSean Jackson (PHI@CHI) - $6,800

WR - Brandon Lloyd (STL@DEN) - $7,400

WR - Andre Johnson (TEN@HOU) - $7,000

TE - Jacob Tamme (SD@IND) - $5,300

K - Shayne Graham (NE@DET) - $4,900

D - Cleveland Browns (CAR@CLE) - $5,800

Salary cap remaining: $300

We'll be back on Tuesday to recap the weekend's action and let you know how our team did. We'll also be giving out our awards for the week's best bargains and the week's biggest busts, as well as the top performer of the week. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Be safe, eat a lot of Turkey, and enjoy some football.

Good luck.

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