Week 12: Player Upgrades
This Week 12 Thanksgiving edition of Player Upgrades takes a look at seven players whose fantasy stock is on the rise and should be targeted by fantasy owners either off the wavier wire or via trade. Fantasy owners should be sure to check out all of the excellent strategy articles and customizable rankings here on FFToolbox.com (yes, I am a company man) as well as download the FFToolbox.com Weekly Podcast, available on Itunes.
Matt Moore is not the sexiest name on the wavier wire (I think we can all agree on that), but the Miami Dolphins have won three straight games with Moore playing a key role in each of the victories. With a number of fantasy starter caliber quarterbacks injured (like Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb) and others (like Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel and now Jay Cutler) out for the rest of the season, Moore's fantasy value is without question on the rise. Over the last three weeks, Moore has thrown six touchdowns and just one interception.
Moore isn't the type of player who is going to carry your fantasy team to a championship, but he could turn out to be a valuable role player, which makes him worth picking up and at least stashing on the bench. Moore does have some flex-appeal down the stretch with several favorable match-ups against Dallas (13th against the pass this season), Oakland (20th), Philadelphia (11th), Buffalo (24th), New England (32nd) and one not-so-favorable match-up against the New York Jets (6th) to close out the season. Fantasy owners looking to fill their injury decimated roster should turn their attention to Moore this week.
I know what you're thinking. How can a rookie quarterback, who has turned the ball over five times in the past two weeks be mentioned in a Player Upgrades column? The answer is simple, with all of the injuries to fantasy starter-caliber quarterbacks and Cam Newton's overall ability, his stock is on the rise. Newton struggled in a loss to the Detroit Lions this past weekend, despite throwing for 280 yards; Newton threw only one touchdown and was picked off a season-high four times. On the bright side for fantasy owners, he did run for a pair of touchdowns (Newton now has nine rushing touchdowns this season).
Newton's stock is on the rise because of his extremely favorable schedule the rest of the way. Newton will face just one top-ten pass defense the rest of the way this season. With match-ups against Indianapolis, Tampa Bay (29th against the pass this season), Atlanta (26th), Houston (2nd), Tampa Bay again and New Orleans (19th) to close out the year, Newton should be able to rebound and turn in what will be an incredible rookie season. After struggling this past weekend, now is the time for fantasy owners to target Newton in a trade.
Player Upgrades has focused mainly on Carson Palmer's weapons (like Denarius Moore) in recent weeks, but now we take a hard look at the quarterback. Palmer's stock is on the rise due to his level of play and the injuries to other fantasy quarterbacks in recent weeks. First of all, it is pretty incredible what Palmer has already done. He has managed to come in mid-season, learn the playbook and actually win games, going 2-1 since taking over at the helm for Oakland.
Palmer threw for just 164 yards and a touchdown last weekend in a win over Minnesota, but also added a rushing touchdown to salvage what would have been an average performance. Palmer and the Raiders have an extremely favorable schedule to close out the regular season, which makes him a prime trade target for fantasy owners going forward. The Raiders close out the season with match-ups against Chicago (30th against the pass this season), Miami (25th), Green Bay (31st), Detroit (5th), Kansas City (14th) and San Diego (8th).
A fantasy darling in the pre-season, Blount has failed to live up to fantasy owners' expectations this year coming off a breakout rookie year. Blount had eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground only once this season (Week 4 versus Indianapolis) until this past weekend when he rushed for 107 yards and a score on 18 carries (the most carries he's had in a single game since Week 4 as well).
To be fair, most of the yardage and the touchdown came on a single play, when he plowed his way up the middle breaking six tackles on the way to a 54-yard touchdown. Still, that doesn't take away any of the luster on a great game for Blount. In the wake of a great game for an underwhelming fantasy player, there is always a fantasy owner or two who will be looking to sell high, therefore I recommend taking advantage and making a deal for Blount if given the opportunity. The reason why? Blount has several tasty match-ups in his near future in Week 12 against Tennessee (22nd against the run this season) and a pair of match-ups against Carolina (30th) in Week 13 and 16.
Nelson is having an incredible season for the undefeated Green Bay Packers. With a plethora of options in the Green Bay passing game taking away targets from Nelson, many fantasy owners don't view him as an elite fantasy option. The numbers this season suggest otherwise. In 10 games, Nelson has 40 receptions for 756 yards and nine touchdowns. Nelson's nine touchdowns are two more than his Packer teammate Greg Jennings and are third in the entire league this season.
Nelson has made the jump to the upper echelon of fantasy wide receivers this season and should be targeted in a trade in all fantasy leagues. Nelson was mentioned in the pre-season and throughout the early stages of the regular season in Player Upgrades and it is worth mentioning one final time that his stock has risen more than almost any player in the league this season.