November 22, 2011

One of the best things about being in the sports industry is, well, you get to be around sports. You get to watch it constantly -- for business, of course! -- and think about it, write about it, be consumed by it. It just makes your job even sweeter when you're given a weekend like this past one, started off by Tebow Time and completed with the electric return of Sidney Crosby, who in one single period re-established himself as the best player in hockey.

Of course, our job here isn't simply to point out the sublime, it's to point out value. Value, for us, is defined as any opportunity in which public perception differs greatly from the statistical truth; to put it another way, value exists where most people are wrong. Come with us: we'll bring you value.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants (89 percent owned)

Manningham had a few good weeks recently, right up until the putrid goose egg he laid against the Eagles. The semi-redundant Manning to Manningham connection has suffered this year, thanks in some part to the emergence of Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard. The other part is not as nice: while Manningham is third on the team in targets, he has a paltry 53.1 percent catch rate, a rate only envied by Pierre "Scissorhands" Garcon. In seven out of 10 games, Not So Super Mario has scored less than six points and has yet to score above 15. You deserve better, my friend.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills (82 percent owned)

Fitzpatrick started off hot this year but has been dismal in recent games against the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins. He has put up just 20 points in his last three weeks combined, including back-to-back sub-six performances, leading many people to believe that he had been kidnapped and replaced by Matt Saracen. It gets worse: In the last six weeks, he has thrown 11 interceptions. As a result, the Bills are fading in the wrong direction, most likely toward Canada. In fact, Fitzpatrick now ranks 18th in total efficiency added among all starting QBs after being in the top 10 for the first nine weeks of the season.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans (86 percent owned)

Being as frank as possible, his value takes a big hit with Matt "Mr. Hot Tub" Leinart replacing Matt Schaub. Daniels has just two games with more than 10 points and has yet to score 15 in any given week. Add in four weeks below four points and you've got a TE ready for the dropping. Despite the fact that Daniels shares targets with two other tight ends (Joel Dreessen and James Casey), he still has some upside: he leads the Texans with 55 targets, so you're somewhat justified in keeping him around if you don't want to pull the trigger on an out-and-out drop.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (13 percent owned)

Ponder has shown some rookie growing pains -- did you see his suit on Draft Day? Get thee to a tailor, kid! -- but the signs have been more promising than anything else. He has 55 points in his four starts, scoring above 13 in three of those. While Ponder is in no way an every week starter, people are scrambling for replacements as they reach the playoff stretch in their fantasy leagues. You can count on Ponder for 10-plus points almost every week and he should be started on a matchup basis, particularly now that AP may be out for longer than expected.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (42 percent owned)

We've mentioned him before, but Gaffney is one of the best fill-in receivers you will find. He is one of the most consistent receivers in the league, having put up between four and 12 points for each of the first nine weeks. After a 17-point performance against Dallas, which included a huge late-game TD, Gaffney showed he has the potential to produce big. He leads all receivers on the Redskins with 69 targets and has a solid catch rate just under 60 percent. Unfortunately, Gaffney's overall value will take a slight downgrade if Santana Moss returns in Week 12, or if Rex Grossman goes back to realizing that he's an awful QB.

Marion Barber, RB, Bears (20 percent owned)

You hate to be playing a backup running back, but Lovie Smith has shown whom he prefers in goal line situations, perhaps in an evil GM Jerry Angelo-fueled plot to keep Forte's salary demands down. He's rocking a dismal 29 percent success rate, but thanks to five TDs in seven games this year, the most manly Marion you know has actually contributed almost four points to the Bears' offense above league average -- good enough for 11th among all running backs. Barber has scored eight-plus points in all but two of his games since returning from injury and with Cutler out, you can expect an even heavier dose of the Forte-Barber combo in Chicago. Just don't expect him to look pretty doing it. Yikes.

Nik Bonaddio is the CEO of numberFire, a sports analytics platform that provides algorithmic modeling for sports. You can follow him @numberfire. Keith Goldner is the Chief Analyst at numberFire. You can follow him @drivebyfootball. And don't forget to visit numberFire on Facebook.

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