Of all of the many wonderful things that come with being in a fantasy football league—draft day, setting my lineup each week, trash talking my friends—I think wheeling and dealing and trying to make trades is my favorite.
I love low-balling an owner to get negotiations started, pretending as though I value certain players more highly than I actually do to get a bigger return on the deal and finding creative ways to push a trade through. I love the negotiating, the hand-wringing, the sheer tension as a deal slowly takes place.
But like everyone else, I always wonder nervously if I'm getting the most bang for my buck in the deal. That's why, each week, I write an updated trade value chart for fantasy football owners that they can use as a handy guide to ensure they aren't getting ripped off.
Before you go all Moneyball on your next trade offer, make sure you consult this chart.
Notes: The top 100 players were determined by using the current ESPN standard-scoring league rankings, calculating each player's "value over replacement player" (VORP for short) and by projecting a player's value for the rest of the season.
VORP was calculated by determining how many additional (or fewer) points per week a player scored compared to the best bench player at his position in 10-team leagues (No. 11 quarterback and tight end; No. 26 running back and wide receiver, taking the flex into account).
Any player not listed has a trade value of 1. Remember, this is only a guide—your team needs and areas of strength should always determine any potential trades.
Ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Manning is no longer the most valuable player in all of fantasy. Nope, he's now tied with Jamaal Charles with a VORP of +11.7, meaning he's been worth an additional 11.7 fantasy points per week compared to the No. 11 quarterback, Michael Vick (Charles is worth that much more over the No. 26 running back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis).
So why is Manning still atop these rankings? Because last week was a blip on the radar, for one thing, but also because he's still averaging 6.3 more fantasy points than the second quarterback on the rankings, Drew Brees.
Speaking of Brees, his consistency—just one week with less than 16 fantasy points—keeps his value high. Ditto for Aaron Rodgers, as I believe he'll improve after several mediocre weeks, even without Randall Cobb.
As you can see, I think quarterback value really condenses after that. The No 4. quarterback, Cam Newton, and the No. 11 quarterback, Robert Griffin III, are separated by just six value points. Michael Vick's injury history drops him down the list, while Colin Kaepernick is free-falling at this point.
Now would probably be a good time to buy low on him or Russell Wilson. You may be tempted to sell on Matt Ryan, but hold off—even without Julio Jones, he should still be a top-12 quarterback this year.
Running Back Notes
Let's just put it out there—if you have Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Arian Foster or Reggie Bush, you would be pretty crazy to trade them unless Manning, Brees or Graham were coming back in the deal.
The running back position has been so wacky this year, those seven players are really, really valuable this season.
But let's say you really nailed your running back selections but are are weak at quarterback and wide receiver, so you're willing to deal a player like Charles or McCoy to improve your team across the board. What should you try to get in return?
- Cam Newton and Alshon Jeffery
- Aaron Rodgers and T.Y. Hilton
- Tony Romo and Andre Johnson
- Andrew Luck and Eric Decker
- Russell Wilson and Josh Gordon
Those are a few examples of the type of value a top running back warrants in return in any trade at this point in the season. If you are going to deal a consistent runner, make sure you are dramatically improving at two positions, or seriously improving at one and moderately improving at another.
As you can see, I haven't given up on players like Ray Rice, Doug Martin or C.J. Spiller just yet, but their value continues to slip. DeMarco Murray's injury—and his history of injuries—drops his value, while Stevan Ridley gets a big bump after finally performing like the runner people thought they were drafting in the second or third round.
Wide Receiver Notes
There are no superstars at wide receiver right now. The difference between the top receiver in the overall fantasy rankings after seven weeks, DeSean Jackson, and the No. 24 player, T.Y. Hilton, is 6.3 points per week.
That's the same as the difference between Manning and Brees, or just slightly more than the difference between the top running back, Charles, and the No. 8 running back, Reggie Bush (difference of 5.9 fantasy points per week).
There's a reason there isn't a wide receiver in the top 10 on my trade value chart, and why there are only eight wide receivers in my top 25, compared to 12 running backs. There is crazy depth at the position, but very few players who have proven to be incredible values like a Manning, Charles or Jimmy Graham.
If you have wide receiver depth, I highly recommend you try to package players at the position to upgrade at running back or quarterback, where the very top performers are more valuable compared to others at their position.
Tight End Notes
This is how good Graham has been—even after being held catchless and registering zero fantasy points, he still has a VORP of +8.9. That's pretty crazy. Like Manning, he was rendered human this week, but his value is still crazy high.
Last week was probably your chance to sell Graham at an all-time high value, as you'll get a lot less after his scoreless performance the week he heads into a bye. But let's say you have a backup you think can produce like Jermichael Finley and want to upgrade at other positions heading into Week 8.
What are some examples of players you could get in exchange for Graham?
- Victor Cruz and Willis McGahee
- Larry Fitzgerald and Stevan Ridley
- Matt Ryan and James Jones
- Russell Wilson and Justin Blackmon
- Eddie Lacy and Denarius Moore
I know that some of the deals may seem a bit outrageous for folks who traditionally value the other positions more than tight end, but when you consider that Graham still has more fantasy points than every wide receiver and all but two running backs, it changes your tune.
At this point, I think Julius Thomas is locked in as my No. 2 most valuable tight end. Rob Gronkowski will come back at some point and have a lot of value, but until we see him in action, he can't be higher than No. 3.
After the top three, the rankings condense quite a bit. After two mediocre weeks, you might be able to buy low on Jordan Cameron, while veterans like Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis are still very valuable commodities.
Defense/Special Team Notes
A third defense makes the list! GASP!
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs defense continues to grow in value. With a VORP of +11, the Chiefs defense has been one of the most valuable fantasy commodities at any position, surprisingly. Five weeks with 16 or more fantasy points will do that.
It's hard to imagine that remaining sustainable, however, hence a trade value of just six.
The consistency of the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans keeps them on this list. The Seahawks have scored nine or more points in every week, while the Titans have dipped below that mark just twice, scoring five and six points in those games.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions and offer trade advice to pair with this chart. I can't see into the future, but I'm crafting a souped-up DeLorean to cheat in my fantasy leagues.
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