Week 7: Bargain Hunter
FFToolbox is venturing into the exciting (and growing) world of salary cap football when we launch a new salary cap format this season. The major appeal of salary cap football is that unlike regular football, you are more like a true NFL general manager -- dealing with player salaries and trying to construct the best possible team for a set budget all the while competing against the rest of the fantasy universe (not just the other nine or 11 teams in your standard league). The key to winning in a salary cap league is simple, in theory: put together the best possible team for the budget that you have to spend. The advice in this column is based off the basic Yahoo salary cap format which requires you to start the following positions: one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense and one kicker using a $100 budget.
This Week 7 edition of Bargain Hunter -- featuring -- John Skelton, Vick Ballard, Felix Jones, David Wilson, Randall Cobb, Josh Gordon, and Scott Chandler is designed to help salary cap owners find a cheap, under the radar sleeper that will help their teams this weekend.
Don't forget to check out the rest of the great advice columns here on FFToolbox.com as well as the FFToolbox.com Weekly Radio Show, hosted by Ben Standig (@BenStandig on Twitter) Tuesday's and Thursday's at 7:00 p.m. For those of you who don't listen to the show, we do a "Sleeper of the Week" pick every show, so I'm going to list my pick for Week 7: Scott Chandler. Best of luck to all fantasy and salary cap owners in Week 7.
If you have any questions, feel free to follow me on Twitter @GeorgeBissell or FFToolbox @fftoolbox and send us your questions all season long.
While every elite quarterback in Yahoo! Salary Cap football leagues will cost upwards of $25, John Skelton (valued at a paltry $4.49) is the cheapest starting quarterback in salary cap football and it isn't even close. Throughout the year, you have heard the same mantra from me, I do not advocate skimping out on the quarterback position in salary cap leagues. Pay whatever it takes to get a Brady, Rodgers, Brees or Ryan; you want to pay for consistency. If you happen to be in need of a low-priced option at the quarterback position, there is no greater bargain than Skelton, who will take over the starting job in Arizona for the next six to eight weeks, while Kevin Kolb recovers from a significant rib injury.
Skelton will face the Minnesota Vikings on the road in Week 7 and while the matchup doesn't appear too enticing at first glance, a deeper look will reveal that Skelton may be a decent play. The Vikings have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season despite being ranked as a top-10 pass defense. Obviously RG3's monster game against the Vikings played a big part in skewing the statistics to make my argument, but the greater point here is, at $4.49 there really is no downside to Skelton in salary cap leagues.
Ballard underwhelmed in his starting debut in place of veteran Donald Brown, managing just 25 yards on eight carries against the struggling New York Jets defense last weekend. His poor numbers had more to do with Indianapolis falling behind early and abandoning the run, forcing rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to throw the ball 44 times. Ballard is a virtual lock to turn things around in Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns' porous run defense, which has allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and is ranked 25th against the run this season, giving up over 130 yards on the ground per game.
Ballard is a bargain in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues as a starting running back at just $4.07. Ballard has struggled this season, averaging a paltry 2.3 yards per carry this season, but if there were ever a week for him to turn it around, it should be this weekend against the Browns. At the bargain price of $4.07, I am willing to roll the dice with Ballard in a salary cap league.
With DeMarco Murray ruled out for Week 7, Felix Jones (coming off a solid outing in relief of Murray --18 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown -- against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend) will step into the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones' injury concerns and inability to hold onto the starting role in the past are cause for concern when thinking of him as a long-term investment, but as a one-week stopgap, Jones has immense upside and is a bargain at just $7.96 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues.
Jones will be the primary beneficiary of a tasty matchup against the Carolina Panthers, the 23rd ranked run defense in the league, which has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, in Week 7. Salary cap owners should look to Jones as a nice sleeper option this week worthy of an addition to their roster.
While many of his fantasy owners may have bailed on the Virginia Tech product after his early season struggles, part of me still believes that the mastermind Tom Coughlin is merely saving the supremely talented speedster for late in the season. Wilson had not seen more than three carries in a single game prior to last weekend when he got seven against the San Francisco 49ers. Fantasy owners are patiently waiting to see what Wilson could do with a solid workload and may finally get to see that this weekend against the Washington Redskins.
Valued at just $5.04 in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues, Wilson is the definition of a bargain (but a very risky play this weekend). The Redskins may be a top-10 defense against the run this season, but the blowout potential will be a major factor in Wilson's playing time this weekend. If the Giants get up big, it is hard to imagine them using Ahmad Bradshaw to run out the clock and risk an injury, which means that Wilson should see plenty of carries late. Sometimes you have to roll the dice in fantasy football, this is one of those times.
Aaron Rodgers torched the Houston Texans secondary for 338 yards and six touchdowns last weekend. While Jordy Nelson received most of the headlines for his three-touchdown performance, the most intriguing fantasy prospect in the Packers passing game may be Randall Cobb when you consider that he is the easiest target to acquire in a trade. Cobb hauled in seven passes for 102 yards on a season-high 10 targets in Week 6 and has racked up 256 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions over the past three weeks. Cobb has evolved from being just a vertical threat, to a weapon in the slot ever since Greg Jennings has been out with an injury.
Cobb's value in Yahoo! Salary Cap leagues has risen to $6.30 for Week 7, but when comparing him to other receivers in that price range, Cobb has the best upside of any in that group and represents a great bargain that will augment several high-priced stud wide receivers on any salary cap team.