NFL Trade Speculation: 5 Trades That Would Be Awesome for Fantasy Football
With each passing day, NFL speculation grows in intensity.
Franchise tags must be in place by Mar. 5.
The height of free agent mania goes up until the draft
And, of course, the draft start April 26th.
Anything can happen.
But while anything can happen, from a fantasy football owner's perspective, what would be the ideal trades to happen?
I've proposed five scenarios that I think would be awesome for fantasy football.
The first proposal has a fair chance of happening but the remaining proposals are highly unlikely to happen for various reasons.
Nevertheless, if these deals were made, then fantasy football in 2012 just might be the most fun. Ever.
Who's ready to dream?
1. Redskins Trade Up to Get Robert Griffin III
The Rams are holding their second overall pick hostage for the highest ransom.
With RG3's strong combine showing, some team will likely give up what the Rams want.
RG3 to Miami wouldn't be a bad destination, but with Dolphins head coach—and former Packers offensive coordinator—Joe Philbin having ties with free agent quarterback Matt Flynn, it seems unlikely that Miami will invest a lot of draft picks for one player.
Cleveland, which would have likely taken RG3 at No. 4 if the Rams planned to keep their No. 2 pick, is entertaining a deal to move up to No. 2 but it's uncertain if they will make a serious offer or if their offer will best a Redskins proposal.
On the surface, RG3 to Washington isn't a good move fantasy-wise. The Redskins have no serious receiving threats for Griffin to target.
Santana Moss will be 33. And Jabar Gaffney is, well, Jabar Gaffney.
They could pay, say, Vincent Jackson and/or Steve Johnson very handsomely to play catch with Griffin.
Along with Roy Helu in the backfield, Washington would suddenly become a fantasy offense worth noticing next year.
2. RB C.J. Spiller to Cleveland
Let's face it: Cleveland is a fantasy wasteland, and Buffalo having both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller share carries in 2012 is a fantasy nightmare.
We can correct two fantasy problems with one move: Buffalo trading Spiller to the Browns for, say, a second-round draft pick in 2012.
This would allow Jackson to be the undisputed No. 1 back in Buffalo, while Spiller would be the undisputed No. 1 back in Cleveland.
Cleveland has two first-round picks this year, so losing a second-round pick for a young player with solid all-around skills like Spiller isn't really a loss at all.
Spiller is worth a second-round pick. He was a top 10 pick just two years ago and played well in Jackson's absence late in 2011.
The seemingly consensus mock draft pick for Minnesota at No. 3 is offensive tackle Matt Kalil. And if Washington does trade up to get the Rams No. 2 pick to take Robert Griffin, Cleveland would most likely be able to take receiver Justin Blackmon with their No. 4 pick.
Imagine the Browns with Spiller in the backfield and Blackmon as receiver. Colt McCoy would automatically become a better quarterback with some legitimate offensive weapons.
Cleveland would no longer be a fantasy wasteland, and fantasy owners would no longer have to deal with the dreaded running-back-by-committee in Buffalo.
3. RB Jonathan Stewart to Cincinnati
Anybody see Cedric Benson lately?
Word is he fell off a cliff in 2011.
Though Benson did gain 1,067 yards last year, he clearly had no juice. He cracked 100 yards only three times all season, averaging just 61.3 yards in his other 12 games.
And it's no secret that the Bengals are looking to upgrade from Benson, who is a free agent.
Sure, Cincinnati could take a back with one of their two first-round picks—like Lamar Miller—but there's a better option that would cost the Bengals less than a first-round pick while giving them first-round pick production.
In Carolina, the Panthers have not only invested $43 million in DeAngelo Williams, they also use quarterback Cam Newton on designed running plays.
While it's debatable whether Carolina will expose Newton to injury by running him as much as he did in 2011, the Panthers would nevertheless like to get more from their $43 million investment in Williams.
Clearly, then, Stewart is just the maraschino cherry on top of the Panthers' ice cream sundae.
And I dislike maraschino cherries.
So here's another scenario that will kill two birds with one proverbial stone.
Stewart averaged 8.9 fantasy points per game last year—an impressive number considering his limited role on the team. He pounded out 761 yards on just 142 carries—an amazing 5.4 yards per carry.
In fact, Stewart has never averaged less than 4.3 yards per carry in any of his four seasons.
He also had four touchdowns—just two less than Benson, despite having about half the carries.
Stewart also caught 43 passes for an additional 413 yards (8.8 yards per catch) with another touchdown.
Stewart will turn just 25 this year, so he could be the young all-around back the Bengals need to complement quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green.
Like the Browns, the Bengals also have two first-round picks this year. Cincinnati could send a second-round pick to Carolina for Stewart. Then the Bengals could save their first-round picks for other needs like offensive line or anywhere on defense.
In return, Williams would get to use his special skills in Carolina without another RB vulturing his touches.
It would be a win-win for everybody.
Including fantasy owners.
4. RB Beanie Wells to Atlanta
As a bonus for reading this article, let me be the first fantasy football analyst to tell you to avoid Michael Turner at all costs in 2012.
While I was lukewarm on Turner as late as a couple weeks ago, I nevertheless thought Turner still might have one more decent season left in the tank—perhaps a value pick in the fourth or fifth round.
But last week, Falcons coach Mike Smith set off all kinds of fire alarms in my head when he said that Turner would get fewer touches this season.
Excuse me while I grab a fire extinguisher. Already a mediocre fantasy back because he doesn't catch the ball much out of the backfield, having an aging Turner now share touches is fantasy poison.
Smith touted Jacquizz Rodgers, but at 5' 6" and 196 pounds, I don't believe the small Rodgers is physical enough to be Turner's heir apparent.
That's where Beanie Wells would come into play.
Last year, Wells finally lived up to his potential, finishing with 11.9 fantasy points per game—good for 15th among running backs.
But Wells had some luck involved in his 2011 season when rookie RB Ryan Williams—Arizona's second-round draft pick—was out for the year with a knee injury.
Williams should be back this season. And Wells and Williams in a running-back-by-committee situation would be a killjoy.
But Williams as the featured back in Arizona would be joy.
In order to do that, Arizona could trade Wells to Atlanta. Due to his injury history, Arizona could net a third-round draft pick.
It would be a high-risk, high-reward deal for the Falcons.
Wells is under contract for two more years at a very reasonable salary. If he stays healthy, Wells would easily outperform what the Falcons would give up to get him.
Turner and Wells could be the Falcons' version of the Giants' "Thunder and Lightning" in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Like the Giants' situation, Wells too would get the majority of carries, preserving Turner's legs.
Once again, instead of two muddied backfields, the fantasy world would get two clearer backfields.
Which is always a good thing.
5. QB Matt Cassel or QB Kevin Kolb to the Jets
What's more, Sanchez has a rift with teammate Santonio Holmes.
Also not very good.
Since the Jets are kicking the tires on Manning, the team appears to be siding with Holmes rather than Sanchez.
But I have serious doubts that Manning would want to play for Rex Ryan and his dysfunctional team.
However, I could see Manning wanting to play for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli.
Imagine an offense with Peyton Manning, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Jonathan Baldwin and Jamaal Charles.
Can you say "fantasy bonanza"?
And with the Chiefs underrated defense, the Chiefs could become legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
The only thing that might be in the way is QB Matt Cassel, whom head coach Romeo Crennel gave a lukewarm endorsement by saying Cassel would be the team's starting quarterback "until we get another quarterback on the team."
Crennel also said that the team would be "crazy" not to pursue Manning.
That means the Chiefs would need to unload Cassel and his stiff contract onto another team.
Like the Jets.
Cassel would be a clear improvement over Sanchez. And that might make Santonio Holmes a more viable fantasy option.
Kevin Kolb would be also be a clear improvement over Sanchez, and the Cardinals would be another excellent fantasy destination for Manning.
An Arizona offense with Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Beanie Wells/Ryan Williams would be another fantasy bonanza.
The Cardinals would need to ship Kolb and his hefty contract to the Jets to make this dream come true for fantasy owners.
It's unlikely the Jets would want to assume either Kolb's or Cassel's contracts even though both players represent upgrades over Sanchez.
But if they did, fantasy football could be spectacularly fun in 2012.