All fantasy owners will be thinking about how they can manage their own squads as the real NFL draft approaches. Akin to real general managers and NFL head coaches, fantasy managers are always trying to find value by selling high and buying low. I've assembled a list of 5 SELLS (some of which might appear as quite a shock) that should help your squad make the fantasy playoffs in 2012. Word of caution, when a player is a recommended SELL that does not mean you sell him for peanuts; it means sell HIGH and reap the benefits of getting rid of a player that does not play up to their 2012 expectations.
1. Reggie Bush : Reggie Bush had a career year last season with over 1,300 total yards and 7 total touchdowns. That yardage total is a little biased because of his 203 yard effort in week 15, but nonetheless credit is due. However it's not the yardage bias that scares me, it's the health. Prior to last season Bush had not played in 15+ games since his rookie campaign in 2006. Couple Bush's injury risk with his lowest career receiving yards/game total last season with a backup running back (borderline committee status) in Daniel Thomas chomping at the bit to show his toughness to the coaching staff, and it doesn't look like a promising gig for Bush next season. All of this and I haven't even mentioned a new head coach and the loss of a true number one wide receiver. SELL!
2. Laurent Robinson : The Jacksonville Jaguars recently agreed to terms with Laurent Robinson in a five year deal worth roughly $32.5 million, with guarantees for the former Dallas WR3 of at least $14 million. If you are thinking long term with Robinson, think again. He has an inexperienced signal caller at the helm and an aging running back in the backfield. His 11 touchdowns are a statistical anomaly; he attained 73.3% of all of his career touchdowns last season. Another striking statistic: those 11 TDs equate to one less than what his current QB Blaine Gabbert threw all last season. Robinson was a good acquisition for the Jaguars, but bad for your fantasy team. Don't consider him anything but a WR3/4 to be used strictly during a bye-week.
3. Frank Gore: It might be too late to sell Gore for anything better than a late round 2 or early round 3 draft pick. With the San Francisco 49ers appearing to slowly wean Gore away from a huge workload by pairing backup Kendall Hunter with the newly acquired Brandon Jacobs, I expect Gore to lose value fast. Gore did have an amazing five game stretch of 100 rushing yards or more that lasted until the start of November, but from that point on he only cracked the 80 yard mark twice. The 49ers also agreed to terms with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham this off-season, each of which should still show some impressive flashes, and could take just enough pressure off of the running game to give Gore a few good stat lines, but don't expect him to hang 5 straight 100 yarders (Gore hasn't had more than 5 in one season since 2006). Think of Gore as a RB2 at best and more realistically a FLEX by mid-season.
4. Wes Welker : SELL Wes Welker now with his stock sitting at 122 receptions, 1569 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns. Why? Because he's going to have a good season, not a great season. The Patriots have too many mouths to feed with only one QB serving dinner. With the addition of Josh McDaniels and Brandon Lloyd, look for more deep balls. Also, don't be surprised if Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth dig into a little of Welker's workload this upcoming season; obviously don't forget Gronkowski, Hernandez and Branch will get their needs met too. Additionally, it's a bit disturbing to see that he only caught three touchdowns after the week 7 bye-week. During that same stretch he also had five games of 51 receiving yards or less. I'm not willing to make the 31 year-old-to-be my WR1 based on that inconsistency and those many other offensive weapons.
5. Cam Newton: The rookie sensation accounted for 35 total touchdowns and over 4,000 yards passing last season. He won many fantasy managers championships, but that doesn't mean that you have to show a long term allegiance to the young stud. I'm not going to bore you over all the QB rushing statistics that came out last summer on the impossibility of Mike Vick repeating his 2010-2011 numbers, the most important thing to remember is that those numbers were not repeated. With that in mind, neither will Newton's 2011 numbers. The Panthers recently acquired Mike Tolbert to add to the already crowded backfield of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart with the thought most likely being to prevent Newton from gaining goal line carries and risking injury. Combine that with a receiving corps, led by Steve Smith, which looks severely weak. Trading Newton is not going to be in everyone's best interest (particularly if you have a good RB1); however, if you are in need of a good-to-great running back (especially now more than ever with the dreaded running back by committee diluting the league of every down backs), Newton is the perfect trade offer. Who knows, maybe some player named Dalton, Ryan, Griffin III, or Cutler could land in your lap late and make you forget all about Newton.
6. Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch , Steve Smith (CAR), and Jamaal Charles