F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote in a 1936 article for Esquire entitled "The Crack-Up," that "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
You probably never thought those words would apply to fantasy football. But trust me, they do. Because while I believe very firmly that fantasy owners shouldn't tinker with their teams until they have a better grasp of their own players a few weeks into the season, I also believe that it is never, ever too early to make a trade.
Maybe that's some first-rate intelligence. Or maybe, like many owners, I just can't help myself when it comes to tinkering. Whatever the case may be, there is a good chance you have already made a trade, considered a trade or watched as someone in your league got the wheeling and dealing started.
No matter when you make your first trade, you absolutely, positively don't want to get ripped off. And that's where I come in to help, as I reprise the weekly trade value chart. Now, you'll have a handy guide to ensure you are maximizing value with every trade you make.
And that's definitely some first-rate intelligence, folks.
The Trade Chart
|Trade Value for Top 100 Players|
|1||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||RB||30|
|2||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||RB||30|
|3||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||RB||30|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||RB||30|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||RB||29|
|6||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||TE||29|
|7||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||WR||29|
|8||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||QB||29|
|9||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||RB||28|
|10||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||QB||28|
|11||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||QB||28|
|12||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||WR||28|
|13||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||WR||27|
|14||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||WR||27|
|15||Arian Foster||Houston Texans||RB||27|
|16||Zac Stacy||St. Louis Rams||RB||26|
|17||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||WR||26|
|18||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||WR||26|
|19||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||RB||25|
|21||Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||WR||25|
|22||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||QB||24|
|23||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||QB||24|
|24||Le'Veon Bell||Pittsburgh Steelers||RB||23|
|25||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||WR||23|
|26||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||RB||23|
|27||Randall Cobb||Green Bay Packers||WR||22|
|28||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||WR||22|
|29||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||TE||22|
|30||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||WR||22|
|31||Andre Ellington||Arizona Cardinals||RB||21|
|32||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||TE||21|
|33||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||WR||20|
|34||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||WR||20|
|35||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals||RB||20|
|36||Victor Cruz||New York Giants||WR||19|
|37||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions||RB||19|
|38||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||QB||19|
|39||Toby Gerhart||Jacksonville Jaguars||RB||18|
|40||Keenan Allen||San Diego Chargers||WR||18|
|41||Ryan Mathews||San Diego Chargers||RB||18|
|42||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||TE||18|
|43||C.J. Spiller||Buffalo Bills||RB||17|
|44||Larry Fitzgerald||Arizona Cardinals||WR||17|
|45||Ray Rice||Baltimore Ravens||RB||16|
|46||Rashad Jennings||New York Giants||RB||16|
|49||Ben Tate||Houston Texans||RB||15|
|50||Torrey Smith||Baltimore Ravens||WR||15|
|51||Emmanuel Sanders||Denver Broncos||WR||15|
|52||Trent Richardson||Indianapolis Colts||RB||14|
|53||Jeremy Maclin||Philadelphia Eagles||WR||14|
|54||Michael Floyd||Arizona Cardinals||WR||14|
|55||Robert Griffin III||Washington||QB||13|
|56||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||QB||13|
|57||Roddy White||Atlanta Falcons||WR||12|
|58||Michael Crabtree||San Francisco 49ers||WR||12|
|59||T.Y. Hilton||Indianapolis Colts||WR||12|
|60||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||TE||12|
|61||Kendall Wright||Tennessee Titans||WR||12|
|62||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||RB||11|
|63||Percy Harvin||Seattle Seahawks||WR||11|
|64||Joique Bell||Detroit Lions||RB||11|
|65||Chris Johnson||New York Jets||RB||10|
|66||Cordarrelle Patterson||Minnesota Vikings||WR||10|
|67||Shane Vereen||New England Patriots||RB||10|
|68||Marques Colston||New Orleans Saints||WR||10|
|69||Eric Decker||New York Jets||WR||9|
|70||Wes Welker||Denver Broncos||WR||9|
|71||Terrance Williams||Dallas Cowboys||WR||9|
|72||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||TE||9|
|73||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||QB||8|
|74||Golden Tate||Detroit Lions||WR||7|
|75||Julian Edelman||New England Patriots||WR||7|
|76||Reggie Wayne||Indianapolis Colts||WR||7|
|77||Bishop Sankey||Tennessee Titans||RB||6|
|78||Stevan Ridley||New England Patriots||RB||6|
|79||Sammy Watkins||Buffalo Bills||WR||6|
|80||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||QB||6|
|81||Mike Wallace||Miami Dolphins||WR||5|
|82||Cecil Shorts||Jacksonville Jaguars||WR||5|
|83||Lamar Miller||Miami Dolphins||RB||5|
|84||Fred Jackson||Buffalo Bills||RB||5|
|85||Steven Jackson||Atlanta Falcons||RB||5|
|86||Anquan Boldin||San Francisco 49ers||WR||5|
|87||Pierre Thomas||New Orleans Saints||RB||4|
|88||DeAndre Hopkins||Houston Texans||WR||4|
|89||Darren McFadden||Oakland Raiders||RB||4|
|90||Maurice Jones-Drew||Oakland Raiders||RB||4|
|91||Darren Sproles||Philadelphia Eagles||RB||4|
|92||DeAngelo Williams||Carolina Panthers||RB||4|
|93||Knowshon Moreno||Miami Dolphins||RB||4|
|94||Riley Cooper||Philadelphia Eagles||WR||3|
|95||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||QB||3|
|96||Danny Woodhead||San Diego Chargers||RB||2|
|97||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||TE||2|
|99||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||QB||2|
|100||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||QB||2|
Just to be clear before we get into any analysis, the numbers you see above are meant to represent a player's value in a trade. So, if a player is worth a trade value of 30, whichever players you get back in the trade should, in theory, at least equal 30 or exceed it.
It's also important to note that these values are currently being assigned based on my fantasy rankings heading into the season. Once the games begin, I'll consider very seriously a player's VORP (value over replacement player—more on that here) alongside his upside. But for now, these values are strictly about upside.
Okay, we got the boring stuff out of the way. Let's get to some theoretical trades based on the chart above.
Let's say you really need wide receiver help and you can dangle Jamaal Charles because you have awesome running back depth.
Based on the value chart, one trade you could make is to add Pierre Garcon (value of 16) and Michael Floyd (value of 14). Last year in standard-scoring leagues, Charles scored 295 fantasy points, making him the top running back. Combined, Garcon and Floyd scored 282 points. Floyd seems likely to see his value bump slightly as his role increases in the Arizona offense, while the addition of DeSean Jackson in Washington will slightly diminish Garcon's value, so their combined point total should be around the same this year.
In other words, the fantasy points in this trade add up, and you could justify making this deal.
But c'mon—Charles is giving you a ton of value at one slot in your lineup, while to maximize the value of Garcon and Floyd you need to take up two slots. Maybe your wide receivers are so horrible and your other running backs are so strong that you can justify this deal. The value chart says you can find a way to be okay with making the move.
But personally, I think if you are giving up any of the top 25 or so players on this chart, you should be trying to get another player in that range.
Let's use the above example again to make some other more viable trades in exchange for Charles:
- Calvin Johnson and any receiver outside of the top 100
- A.J. Green and Riley Cooper
- Dez Bryant and DeAndre Hopkins
- Julio Jones and Mike Wallace
- Jordy Nelson and Julian Edelman
Don't you feel way better about these deals? Maybe you aren't getting two startable players each and every week like you'll get with Garcon and Floyd, but you are maximizing your value at one starting place by nabbing players like Megatron, Green or Bryant.
And you can't tell me that you wouldn't make that Jones and Wallace deal in a second. Imagine the potential upside for you there.
The key takeaway here is this: You can use the trade value chart however you like, based on whatever your philosophy may be. The idea here isn't to suggest that the numbers on this chart represent absolute values, but rather give you a starting point when trying to determine the value you are getting back in a potential move.
For example, I'd generally recommend you always try to exceed the listed values when making a trade. If you are dealing Peyton Manning (value of 29) and need help at running back, see if you can't snag Giovani Bernard (20) and Ben Tate (15), for example.
Likewise, I'd generally recommend you don't dip below the value of your players represented on the chart. If you are stacked at wide receiver and really want that elite tight end, don't deal Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith for Jimmy Graham. Even though Graham maximizes the value at one position, you are giving up way too much to get him.
Yes, Graham had 211 fantasy points last year, better than all but three receivers (Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Megatron). But Cobb had 71 points in six weeks of action, which equates to 189 points in a 16-game campaign (and would have been good for eighth last year among wide receivers, for what that's worth). Add in Smith's 132 points, and the pair totaled 321 fantasy points.
It's really hard to justify making a move for Graham if you are giving up that level of potential output.
Let's single out a few players now. Wes Welker, for starters, is worth very little at the moment given his four-game suspension, so now might be a great time to go out and get him if you don't mind waiting for him to be eligible to play.
On the other hand, now is either the best or worst time to deal Emmanuel Sanders. In one sense, his value in a trade has never been higher in his career. With Welker out, Sanders is clearly the third option in the passing attack behind Demaryius and Julius Thomas. He could be set to explode in the first four weeks.
In another sense, we actually have no real grasp on his value yet. He might not take advantage of this opportunity. He might not ever have the naturally defined role that Welker has or Eric Decker had before he bolted to the New York Jets. You could be sitting on the shiniest piece of fool's gold in fantasy football and could get a huge return for a potential bust (or at least a player whose value hasn't actually increased).
Andy Behrens of Yahoo Sports leans toward this argument:
I tend to side with the first argument—Manning and this offense made Knowshon Moreno an RB1 last year, for heaven's sake—so if you can get Sanders on the cheap, do it, do it, do it! Michael Fabiano of NFL.com tends to agree with me:
And in case you were wavering, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com should soothe you with the following tweet:
Of course, if a Welker owner in your league is pretty weak at wide receiver, now might be the perfect time to dangle Sanders in his face and demand a king's ransom in return.
A Reggie Bush or Andre Ellington could be coming back your way if you play your cards right.
The opposite of Sanders' situation during the preseason is the case of Bishop Sankey. After failing to really seize the starting gig in Tennessee, it's hard to forecast much value for the rookie running back. Yes, his value seems likely to go up given the fact that Shonn Greene is a pretty mediocre running back and Sankey will get his shot to earn the starting gig.
But until we see that happen, well, Sankey's value is pretty low. If you can afford to sit on him, you can get Sankey at a really reasonable price right now, at least in my opinion.
As you can see, however, a poor preseason hasn't caused me to completely dump gasoline all over the value of Robert Griffin III. Things with Jay Gruden may have been rocky thus far, but with Garcon, Jackson and Jordan Reed catching passes, Alfred Morris pounding the rock and what appears to be a strong relationship already between Gruden and RG3, he could be in line for a really big year.
Consider the following, from Les Carpenter of Bleacher Report:
In turn, Gruden has been authentic in his assessments of Griffin’s transition to a pocket passer. He notes publicly his quarterback’s successes in mastering new fundamentals while simultaneously grasping a different offense. And he freely acknowledges the things Griffin does that frustrate him, like an occasional insistence on trying to make every play in training camp a touchdown or challenging tacklers rather than avoiding contact.
Nothing is hidden. Everything is clear.
'I think (RG3) feels a fresh start with a new staff,' backup quarterback Kirk Cousins had said a few days before. 'He likes this staff.'
On the couch, Griffin nods.
'To have them is a blessing,' he says.
His value is probably a bit lower than even I have it, but I think he's a player who could have a really big year. No, he probably won't be encouraged to run for 815 yards and seven touchdowns like he did in his rookie season, but his passing numbers could also be career highs this year.
I'm not getting off the RG3 bandwagon just yet. If his owner in your league has buyer's remorse after drafting him, however, you might be able to get him on the cheap. It's something worth considering.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy questions and make some corny jokes, too. It's more fun than a trip to the Kentucky Derby with Wes Welker.