Success in fantasy football isn’t about being the smartest or having the most research, it’s about being bold. It’s about having the guts to make the right moves at the right time. It’s about answering the door when opportunity comes knocking. After Week 1 starts this Thursday, the pieces will start to move quickly, so be prepared. Here are a few players to buy low and to sell high prior to — or immediately following — Week 1.
Matthew Stafford – Stafford is currently being drafted as the eighth to 10th quarterback in most fantasy leagues, based on last season in which he threw for 4,967 yards. Something is wrong there. Any quarterback throwing for around 5,000 yards each of the last two years should be a top five fantasy quarterback. His 20-to-17 touchdown to interception ratio leaves definite room for improvement, but given the Lions’ pass-happy offense, as well as the addition of Reggie Bush as a backfield pass-catching option, expect Stafford’s touchdown numbers to eclipse the 30 mark and flirt with 40.
T.Y. Hilton – A standout rookie receiver last year, who had 861 yards and seven touchdowns. He features sub-4.40 speed and precision route running. He is currently listed behind Darrius Heyward-Bey on the Colt’s depth chart, but expect that to change quickly. A brilliant preseason will yield great dividends for Hilton, so trade for him before he becomes a household name early on.
Danny Woodhead – Guess who quietly became a top-25 fantasy running back last year sitting behind both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen in New England: Danny Woodhead. Believe it. Don’t be scared that he is listed behind Ronnie Brown on the Chargers' depth chart. Woodhead will see immediate action in third down situations and will be the first in line to receive the bulk of the carries once Ryan Matthews almost assuredly goes down with an injury by halftime of Week 1. Woodhead currently carries an extremely low price in the fantasy market and could be influential down the road.
Justin Blackmon – The easiest and smartest choice as a buy low candidate, Blackmon’s stock has dropped dramatically due to a four-game suspension to begin the season. But take a step back. Were you really thinking of starting Blackmon in the first four weeks of your season? I bet not. Blackmon showed flashes of brilliance last year, so grab him in your league before he returns from suspension. A mid-year breakout for Blackmon would not shock at all, and he can be had for next to nothing.
Dwayne Bowe – Is a monster. Bowe has three 1,000-yard seasons in his six-year tenure in the NFL. He also turned heads in 2010 with a 1,162-yard, 15-touchdown season. His success was despite terrible quarterback play in Kansas City. Now with the perpetually underrated Alex Smith at the helm in Kansas City, and no other wide receiver talent to be found, expect Bowe to be — at the worst — a top-15 wide receiver. Possibly even a top five option by the end of 2013.
Alfred Morris – By all accounts, Morris’ 2012 season was an anomaly, but for some reason, some Morris supporters believe that this effort is repeatable. Don’t buy it. The change to a zone-blocking scheme may not be kind to Morris, and I don’t like holding a running back who is known as only a two-down back. In the end, I’d rather have Matt Forte, Steven Jackson or Maurice Jones-Drew. It would be easier to make that move now rather than later in the season.
Eric Decker/Wes Welker – Fact: Peyton Manning is the most accurate and intelligent quarterback in the NFL. Fact: The Broncos will have the most potent passing attack in the league. Fact: Welker and Decker will both suffer in this offense. Demaryius Thomas is the only receiver physically capable of standing out in the offense, leaving Decker and Welker to cannibalize each other’s production. By year’s end, neither will be a top-15 wide receiver simply because there are not enough targets to go around. Expect both to be solid, but be smart and trade out of them before their stock drops.
Deangelo Williams – He might be the most frustrating fantasy player in the NFL. As soon as I gave up hope on him last year, he posted a 220-yard, two-touchdown effort to close out the season. Now, Jonathan Stewart is on the Physically Unable to Perform list — meaning he is out for at least the first six weeks of the season — so Williams will spearhead the rushing attack in Carolina. Although he is a solid play in the short term, look for him to return to his frustratingly inconsistent form by mid-season. Save yourself the trouble and trade for a more consistent, long-term option when you can.
Julio Jones - Don’t get me wrong, Jones is a fantastic receiver. I just don’t buy into the idea that he is a top five receiver in the league. He is often out-paced by an older and more consistent Roddy White, who is being drafted about 10 picks later than him. Jones is great, but I’d rather have Larry Fitzgerald or even Andre Johnson, and with some good old fashion negotiating, you may be able to milk Jones’ hype for even more.
Cecil Shorts – Shorts is a flash in the pan – nothing more, nothing less. He will have a solid four weeks while Blackmon is out, and then slip slowly into relative fantasy obscurity. Blackmon is bigger, faster and more physical, and it will start to show this season. Shorts won’t post 1,000 yards and he won’t have more than six touchdowns. Trade him while there are still some people that think he will.