20 Fantasy Football Players You Must Trade for Now
Your fantasy football league's trade deadline is looming.
For some of you, it may come as early as next week. Obviously, this creates an annual flurry of trade activity, and very obviously to your more seasoned league mates, this process can be exploited.
While others are partaking in the fevered process of attempted re-alignment, proposing trades which are the fantasy equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what is going to stick, know your targets and know where you place their value.
These are my top 20 eleventh-hour trade targets for owners looking to make a serious title run.
LeSean McCoy, RB Philadelphia Eagles
There is nothing I love more in fantasy football than an elite NFL running back in times of QB distress. There is distress in Philly regarding the turnover machine that Mike Vick has become, and the promising prospect that his backup, rookie Nick Foles, looked to be in the preseason.
(Much to my delight, and a surprising development after witnessing Foles, my fellow Austin-Westlake High School alum bomb at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine in front of scouts.)
Andy Reid may get fired. When he does, he will move on and be the Andy Reid of the future. What many will not realize is the career-changing effect he has had on Nick Foles through one short half-season.
I've seen it since Foles was 15. He is unbelievably smart. When I say that, I really mean it. I know smart people just like you do, and Nick Foles is the type of "smart" that is startling. It won't come off on camera, but that kind of stuff never does. Obviously.
Whether the increased involvement of LeSean McCoy comes via the public outcry, the owner, or the simple fear in Reid's heart that his ridiculous pass/rush ratio may actually need to come down, McCoy will become more involved. Regardless of the quarterback.
I actually like LeSean McCoy better for fantasy if Nick Foles is starting. I like the Eagles better as a team with Vick starting.
League mates may, understandably, feel dicey about the whole situation. Foolish league mates who expected 20 touchdowns again.
Make a move for McCoy and sell the fact that the entire offense is in disarray. Tell the McCoy owner Bryce Brown is getting the goal-line carries.
If I own Doug Martin, I am hitting up the Shady owner in my league like crazy right now. I'd give up Martin and a more expendable flex player like Donnie Avery for McCoy and an upside flex-type WR like Dwayne Bowe any day.
C.J. Spiller, RB Buffalo Bills
Well, this is the last week you have left to buy on any players given the trade deadline, but even if there were no trade deadline, it won't be long before the obvious becomes universally understood:
The Bills need to get the ball in C.J. Spiller's hands.
Not out of the slot, not in some weird package on a reverse. Real carries. Real carries behind an offensive line that is operating at a high-level in the run game.
We've seen what happens. We saw it to end last season and we saw it when Fred Jackson was out of action just weeks ago in 2012. The offense is provided a different kind of spark in Spiller.
He may need a few series to get warmed up, but the explosive plays will come.
Victor Cruz, WR New York Giants
Cruz has had a pair of single-digit fantasy performances for his owners over as many weeks, even as teammate Hakeem Nicks appeared hobbled and out of the game plan.
That is what the loser thinks. The winner thinks, what can I find out here? The answer is right in front of you. Cruz, like many NFL WRs is better when playing in a healthy, fully-operational tandem. He is better in a healthy tandem with backups than he is in a half-speed-effort tandem with Nicks.
This is due to Eli Manning's natural gifts as a timing passer. The ship will get righted in New York, and both WRs will be valuable down the stretch. Cruz will not come cheap, but this will be the cheapest you see him, which conveniently comes at the best time to trade.
Toss an offer for a Mike Wallace-type player as a feeler.
Denarius Moore, WR Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a terrific fantasy schedule for WRs to finish the 2012 season, and Denarius Moore has gone from being an off-and-on, one-trick-pony in 2011 to a jack of all trades in 2012.
Moore is being utilized in the red zone at an astoundingly increased rate when compared with last season, and he is showing that he is more than capable as an intermediate threat. Moore will be relied upon heavily in the absence of Darren McFadden.
Tony Romo, QB Dallas Cowboys
Romo's rest-of-season schedule against fantasy QBs is easy and his owners likely hate him and would deal him off for peanuts.
Romo has consistently shined down the stretch to end regular seasons. One look at his career game log illustrates this point. See if somebody is willing to part ways with Romo for a guy like Philip Rivers.
Marcel Reece, RB/FB Oakland Raiders
With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both nursing high ankle sprains, in steps Marcel Reece. Likely the most athletic "fullback" in the NFL.
Reece was a WR in college at Washington and is used most heavily in the passing game despite the brutish position that he plays.
Raiders fans have seen it for years, Marcel Reece has made explosive play after explosive play, typically on third downs. Reece will be the better fantasy player than Taiwan Jones in the absence of McFadden, and may even be the best runner to own in the event Goodson comes back first.
Someone picked him up off of your waiver wire, and may trade him for a WR like Kendall Wright or Cecil Shorts if they have a need there. You want Reece on your team if McFadden misses extended time.
Jamaal Charles, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Three games in a row with under 10 points may have the Jamaal Charles owner in your league spooked.
Just put the New Orleans Saints game on Game Rewind. Think about the fact that everyone in that organization wants to keep their jobs, and they understand that Charles is capable of accomplishing feats like that. To continue not featuring him would be career suicide.
His schedule through the end of the season is terrific. Make a move. Try something along the lines of Mikel LeShoure and Anquan Boldin for him.
Andre Roberts, WR Arizona Cardinals
Andre Roberts is the 24th-ranked WR in fantasy points per game while his teammate, the best WR in football, Larry Fitzgerald is ranked 27th for fantasy purposes.
Roberts started out the season extremely touchdown dependent, and still can be considered so to some extent, but we have seen in consecutive weeks that Roberts' targets are through the roof and that he is producing in the yardage department as well.
See if your trade partner can find a way to throw Roberts your way as a sweetener in any of the deals they've been working. Think about Roberts in your own head the exact same way you would think about Larry Fitzgerald in trade negotiations.
Stevan Ridley, RB New England Patriots
The Patriots have an upcoming schedule that dictates running the ball, and that is exactly what HC Bill Belichick will do.
Take advantage of others being spooked by the Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead Patriot Games that Belichick has begun to employ, much to their chagrin.
Stevan Ridley will have at least two monster fantasy performances to end this season that will single-handedly win his owners their weeks.
See if you can get a nibble on a Fred Jackson and Brian Hartline-type package.
Calvin Johnson, WR Detroit Lions
Not the easiest schedule to end things, but he is Megatron and it seems like the inter-galactic batteries that fuel his various modes of alien operation have been in recharge mode thus far in 2012 as opposed to full-on engage.
That seems to be changing, and Johnson's stats are deceiving. He has been touchdown deficient, but has still been more than serviceable as a low-end WR1 through the toughest fantasy streak of his career.
What the stats don't show is that Megatron should have four extra touchdowns. Four times in 2012, he has been tackled inside the opponent's 2-yard-line, with one bender-inducing instance occurring literally inches from fantasy paydirt.
The touchdowns will come. If you can move Randall Cobb with a player like Mendenhall, I would make that trade happen for Johnson every day of the week.
Jeremy Maclin, WR Philadelphia Eagles
His owners hate him and he has been terrible, but Maclin is an elite talent and things are bound to come together in some form. There may be a chance you could trade a player like Darius Heyward-Bey for Maclin at this point, as I saw occur in one of my leagues this week.
While I like Heyward-Bey, that is ridiculous. Toss a line at the Maclin owner and see if he's looking to cut bait on the cheap. Maclin has been mediocre so far, but you would rather have mediocre with upside, pedigree and history than without.
Dez Bryant, WR Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant gets kicked out of the mall for sagging his pants, hangs out with Delonte West and has put up three straight single-digit fantasy performances for his owners.
He didn't even come through on his own birthday in Week 9.
Needless to say, Dez's owners hate him. He is also banged up. This adds up to value in my eyes. Take the pulse of the Dez owner in your league and see if he may be open to talks about a player like Brandon Lloyd.
Percy Harvin, WR Minnesota Vikings
People are going to be scared that he'll be out for Week 10, then obviously for his bye in Week 11. After that, the Vikings schedule is no picnic to round things out.
If there is a 3-6 or 4-5 owner of Harvin in your league and you are 6-3 or better, make sure and let the Harvin owner know this.
Also let him know that he has to win out to make the playoffs and that Harvin isn't going to give him much help sitting out or playing hurt in Week 10 followed by a Week 11 bye.
Harvin is a matchup-proof, elite talent that any playoff-caliber fantasy team would be gaining to play in their WR3 or flex spot down the stretch run in a scenario like this. That is scary for the competition.
Carson Palmer, QB Oakland Raiders
I have Palmer as QB6 in my B/R Rest-of-Season Power Rankings. With McFadden out, the offense will open up and get away from the stagnant zone run-block game and into a timing and pace of game in which have shown they can thrive.
Palmer may be on your waiver wire. If so, I'll see you later. Click off this article and go grab him, even if you like your QB. You don't want your league mates owning Palmer against you given his upcoming schedule which I have assigned as one of the lowest matchup indexes of any QB's set of remaining tests.
If one of your league mates owns Palmer, he/she is not attached to him. Make a move and matchup-play your title run if you have managed through with a QB such a Mike Vick, Jay Cutler or Matt Stafford.
Joique Bell, RB Detroit Lions
Another throw-in option. The price tag will be higher this week, though after his Week 9 relative monster.
I have been telling my readers to roster Bell for weeks now, and I feel this is the first week that anyone has taken notice. Once you start Bell, especially in PPR, you will grow to love and value him as a flex.
If you're making trades this week, and feel the other side is desperate, see if they will throw in Bell. At this point, he is just some random flier that they picked up off of the waiver wire.
If he has a big week again, the price goes up even more...and he may vs. Minnesota.
The no-huddle, quick-attack neutralizes the pass rush.
Chicago Bears Defense
Think about this as a throw-in option.
It will be nearly impossible to keep up the ridiculous spree of defensive touchdowns and acts of fantasy terror they have deployed as a group thus far, but they are clearly the highest-upside D/ST week-in-week-out.
Upside is a very desirable option in a fantasy defense that is rarely ever seen at this level historically.
Your league mate have obviously noticed his D/ST contribution, but perhaps does not realize what a difference it has made in his season. As an example, I would trade Vincent Jackson and Andre Brown for Denarius Moore, Vick Ballard and the CHI defense.
Miles Austin, WR Dallas Cowboys
Solid 13 points per game, week in and week out. Austin has established himself as a dependable WR2 rock with a terrific upcoming schedule.
See if you can get him off someone's hands in a deal for Pierre Thomas or someone of similar ilk.
Hakeem Nicks, WR New York Giants
He's hard to trust, and he seems hurt. He is Hakeem Nicks, however.
Winning owners should target Nicks in hopes of a Week 11 return, and they should be trying to acquire the best WR on the Giants roster at a very discounted rate before what may be a monster run to end a pathetic season thus far.
Think Titus Young Sr. and Michael Bush or something silly like that. The Nicks owner just may take it. Make sure and tell him that No. 2 WRs have gone off against the Vikings in three straight weeks and Young Sr. is up next.
Dwayne Bowe, WR Kansas City Chiefs
Who knows who will be QB and who cares? Bowe, like Larry Fitzgerald, has shown he is capable of thriving despite horrible surrounding casts.
The Dwayne Bowe market is turbulent like that of Jamaal Charles. If you can catch it in a trough this week with the news of Matt Cassel drawing the start in Pittsburgh, make a play on Bowe for a James Jones-level player.
Andrew Luck, QB Indianapolis Colts
While he is certainly not a buy-low option at this point coming off of a series of fantasy monsters, Luck may be viewed by his owner as a "backup" still, since he was drafted as such.
Luck's schedule to end the season is the type that fantasy dreams are made of, minus his matchup vs. Houston in the fantasy semifinals, and the Colts will be playing competitively for a playoff berth.