Fantasy Football 2012: Jonathan Stewart and Top Trade Targets
Many fantasy football enthusiasts will tell you that one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby is swinging a trade, donning your best Monty Hall garb and negotiating a deal that you hope will put your team over the top and propel your squad to championship glory.
A big part of making a "successful" trade is knowing the right time to target players, getting players at a reasonable cost who are about to take off. Just like when drafting your team, it's all about value.
With that in mind, here's a look at a few players that savvy fantasy owners should be looking to acquire, as while their value may be relatively low right now it's not apt to stay that way for long.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Not a lot has gone right for the Carolina Panthers in 2012, and with quarterback Cam Newton slumping and the team stuck in the NFC South cellar, head coach Ron Rivera is looking to give the offense a boost by changing things up in the backfield.
As Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer reports, Rivera is eschewing the committee approach he has been using at running back between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and for the second straight week the 25-year-old Stewart will draw the start at tailback. Rivera said:
I want to see one guy pound and get a rhythm, then see the other guy pound and get a rhythm. To me it’s hard for a back to get a rhythm when you’re coming out every other play. So just looking back at some of those things philosophically and saying, look, this is what we have to do.
The Panthers rank a fairly respectable 13th in the NFL in rushing. If Rivera follows through with his pledge to allow the fifth-year pro to get rolling, then Stewart could be an outstanding value for the many fantasy owners with a need at the running back position.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
There may well have been no more hyped wide receiver in all of fantasy football this summer than Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, but to this point in the season his production hasn't neared that hype, and some fantasy owners may be becoming impatient.
The second-year pro has hauled in 30 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns through seven games. While those numbers barely place Jones inside the top 25 fantasy performers at his position, head coach Mike Smith told The Observer's Jonathan Jones in a separate report that he feels Julio Jones has taken his place among the NFL's elite wideouts:
He didn’t have an offseason so I think that he’s much more comfortable this year than last year just in terms of how we do things and how the NFL works, the sequences in practices, how the offseason goes. Julio is a very talented receiver and he’s learning a lot in my mind from two really good receivers in Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. They’re great mentors for him.
It's also worth noting that Jones is tied for the team lead in targets with tight end Tony Gonzalez, and while he's not going to come cheap it may be possible to pry Jones away from his owner in exchange for a decent WR and an upgrade at another position. A risky play, to be sure, but one that could pay off huge down the road.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets
Sometimes when making trades in fantasy football it can be next to impossible to get "big name" players such as the aforementioned Jones for anything resembling a reasonable price, but if you're willing to dig a little deeper the values are still there for the taking.
With top wideout Santonio Holmes sidelined by a season-ending foot injury, second-year pro Jeremy Kerley has stepped into the role of No. 1 wide receiver for the New York Jets, and Kerley is relishing his increased role, according to Dennis Dillon of Sports Illustrated:
The talent (in the NFL) is so even, you've got to find something that separates you even a little bit, and you have to put major emphasis on that. I'm not really a down-the-field, stretch-you-out type of guy, so I make sure my short-yardage game is what I try to perfect. It's something I work on very hard.
The 23-year-old ranks among the top 15 players at his position in the NFL in both targets and fantasy points over the past three games, and with Kerley showing no signs of slowing down it's possible that he can be acquired on the cheap from fantasy owners who erroneously view his recent upswing in production as a fluke.
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