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East Coast Offense: When to Deal a Superstar

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Dealing Adrian Peterson

I got into a heated debate on our Sirius XM show (RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today, XM 87, Sirius 210 11 am 2 pm) with one of my producers when I advocated for dealing Adrian Peterson, and it brought up an interesting issue, namely: in what circumstances should you deal a healthy star player who's produced consistently year after year?

While I'm not overly down on Peterson, I am concerned about the Vikings poor play and also his lack of involvement in the passing game. But the person asking the question our other producer is down on Peterson. She watched the Bears game on Sunday night and has serious doubts about his ability to maintain his usual pace. The question then is whether one should take one's own observations of that sort seriously and act on them, or whether one should soberly consider the consensus rankings for a player and use restraint. (As of Tuesday night, RotoWire has Peterson at No. 1 on its running back board, and I'd be shocked to see him outside of the top five on any site.)

My argument is that it's your team, and if you're down on a player and you have some reasonable basis for it then yes, go ahead and deal that player, so long as you get rough market value for him 95 cents or more on the dollar. If you want to deal Peterson straight up for Calvin Johnson, Darren McFadden or Aaron Rodgers, go ahead. You don't need anyone's permission to do it. There are no sacred cows in fantasy football. Moreover, it's important to trust your instincts in this game. If you observe something, you should be willing to act on it. That's how you test your abilities, and it's the only way to get better. Relying on expert advice and cheat sheets is fine when you first start out, but at some point, you need to make your own evaluations.

Finally, the best time to deal a player is when no one has serious doubts about his abilities. The moment your player is questionable with an injury or losing carries, it's too late. You'll never get 95-cents plus in any serious league. So if you're worried about Peterson, go ahead and see what he'll fetch his market value is still likely to be high.

Buy Lowest Revisited

Here is the list of struggling players I recommended you buy two weeks ago:

Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams (Cam Newton won't get all the rushing TDs), Roy Helu, Jr. (after Ryan Torain's breakout), Tony Romo (after his meltdown), Percy Harvin, Mike Williams (TB), Ben Roethlisberger, BenJarvus Green-Ellis (after Stevan Ridley's breakout), Steven Jackson (even I have a hard time with that one, but now's the time to buy), Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree.

Most of them have had an uptick in value since, and it's not because I have some special gift of prophecy (though I do in fact have that gift), but that most of them had two things in common: (1) strong past performance and/or a big investment in them by their respective teams; and (2) disappointing performance to that point. If you pick 10 who fit that criteria, and throw in a couple with good raw skills and a foreseeable opportunity, it's almost impossible for them collectively not to outearn their current cost.

Here are a few for this week:

Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Daniel Thomas, LeGarrette Blount, Shonn Greene, Peyton Hillis, Mark Ingram, Roy Helu, Jr., Mike Williams, Brandon Lloyd, Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Earl Bennett (still out, but could be Bears' No. 1 when he returns), Roy Williams, Demaryius Thomas, Denarius Moore and Vernon Davis.

Things to Take Away from Week 6

The Cowboys-Patriots game was shocking in its low score but utterly predictable in its outcome with the Cowboys finding a way to lose late.

Jay Cutler is a top-10 NFL quarterback that merely needs some protection. He's better in real life than Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub and Matthew Stafford. He's in roughly the same tier as Eli Manning and Tony Romo.

The Packers left the door open for a backdoor cover all day, but the Rams refused it at every turn.

Aaron Rodgers has a 122.5 passer rating on the season, slightly higher than Peyton Manning's single-season record. Rodgers is by far the all-time leader in that category, too.

Cam Newton will be valuable all year due to the rushing touchdowns and his terrible defense, but his passing output has predictably returned to earth the last two weeks.

Now that the Vikings refuse to throw to Adrian Peterson out of the backfield, is there any difference between him and Michael Turner? On a similar note, why don't the Jaguars ever throw to Maurice Jones-Drew anymore? You'd think a rookie QB would benefit from having a top receiving back as a check-down.

The Niners won on the road against an undefeated team despite their quarterback averaging 3.9 yards per attempt.

Before the season Eli Manning got into hot water for putting himself in the same class as Tom Brady. Through six games, both players are tied for second behind Aaron Rodgers at 9.1 yards per passing attempt, and while Manning has 11 TDs and 5 picks, Brady has 16 TDs and eight interceptions. Manning has been sacked three more times for 49 extra yards lost and fumbled four times (2 lost). But based solely on year-to-date performance, i.e., what they've done since the comparison, Manning's statement hasn't been proven ridiculous.

If the Falcons beat the Lions this week, I hope Mike Smith claps Jim Schwartz on the back like Rafael Nadal hitting a forehand winner.

Things to Look for in Week 7

Can the Bears protect Cutler for the second straight week?

Will the Jets be able to handle the Chargers at home after a very ugly win against the Dolphins?

Will Brandon Lloyd make an immediate impact even if A.J. Feeley's the quarterback?

Will Carson Palmer start and/or be turned loose against the Chiefs?

Will the Lions bounce back at home against a desperate Falcons squad that travels poorly?

Beating the Book

Steelers -3.5 at Cardinals

I thought maybe the Steelers had turned the corner a couple weeks ago, but after seeing them life and death against the Jaguars at home, I don't think that's the case. The loss of James Harrison and a decimated offensive line are serious concerns, and even Mike Wallace is questionable with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals are probably below average, but coming off a bye and getting more than a field-goal at home, they seem like an easy call. Back Arizona who wins outright.

Cardinals 20 19

Last week we won with the Bucs to go 4-2 in this forum, 8-3-2 on the week and 45-41-4 overall. We were 10-7 in this forum last season and 40-27 over the four years of the column (we skipped Week 17 in 2007). From 1999-2010 we've gone 1565-1387 against the spread (53%, not including ties). The full article comes out Wednesday night.

Surviving Week 7

I had the Ravens last week, but it didn't matter much since virtually no one was knocked out of your survivor pool.

Let's take a look at this week's slate:

Team Opponent % Picked* Vegas ML** Vegas Odds
COWBOYS Rams 48.60% 600 86%
SAINTS Colts 32.80% 900 90%
Ravens JAGUARS 9.90% 345 78%
Packers VIKINGS 3.00% 400 80%
RAIDERS Chiefs 1.40% 190 66%
Steelers CARDINALS 1.00% 185 65%
LIONS Falcons 0.70% 170 63%

Home Team in CAPS
* according to
** average of the two moneylines

Looking at the numbers, it's between the Saints and Packers. The Saints have a 90 percent chance of winning, according to the Vegas moneylines, but 33 percent of pools are on them. In our hypothetical 100-man pool, if the Saints were to lose, there would be 67 people left. If you had 10 units heading into Week 7 and avoided the Saints, you'd have 14.9 units afterwards. On the other hand, if the Packers lost, there would be 97 people left, and you'd have barely more than the 10 units you started with. So the payout for the Saints losing is about 1.5 to 1 compared to the Packers losing. However, if you believe Vegas' odds, the Packers have a 20 percent chance to lose, while the Saints are only at 10 percent, i.e., Green Bay is twice as likely to go down and only offering a 3:2 payout. So clearly, the Saints are the better value if you subscribe to these numbers.

That I've also used the Packers makes it moot for me, but I imagine some of you have them still available.

One other consideration to keep in mind as your pools thin out it's important to look at what teams the other remaining survivors have already used. In one of my pools, there are only six of us left, and four have used the Saints. So I know for a fact that at most only one other person will be on them. But if, for example, no one had used the Saints, but everyone had used the Cowboys, that would be enough for me to switch my pick. (Not that that would ever be the case with Dallas not drawing easy early matchups so far, but you get the point).

So my pick is the Saints this week. If I had used the Saints, my next pick would be the Packers, then the Ravens, then the Cowboys (given how many people are on them).

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full article comes out Thursday night.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Chris_Liss