Two weeks from Friday, most standard fantasy leagues will see their trade deadline come and go.
Considering that most fantasy trades take time to develop, now is the time to really assess your team and determine if you need to make some moves.
Notice that your team is weak at a certain position? Lacking depth in key areas? Think you are out of contention in your dynasty league, and looking to rebuild for 2010? Now is the time for action.
Obviously the mantra for most successful trading is to sell high and buy low.
Here are some position-by-position players to consider trading away or dealing for before the coming trade deadline.
Kurt Warner, ARI —Coming off one of the worst games of his career against the
Panthers last week (27-for-46 for 242 yards and five interceptions), Warner’s stock is very low at the moment. He’s 16th in scoring among all fantasy QBs. However, Warner has a really easy schedule coming up...one almost too easy for quarterbacks to have significant value.
However, the Cardinals offense is centered around the pass. With playmakers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to throw to, Warner’s numbers can’t continue to be this pedestrian. Warner’s best statistical outputs came against the three easiest teams during the first eight weeks: Jacksonville, Houston, and Seattle. Now after a game in Week Nine where the Cardinals match up with an up and down Chicago defense, Arizona then plays Seattle, St. Louis, Tennessee, Minnesota (yes, the Vikings are weak in passing defense), San Francisco, Detroit, and St. Louis.
Warner should be targeted the hardest in all redraft leagues. It is hard to imagine him having much value beyond this season, however. If you do land Warner, make sure to pick up Matt Leinart off waivers. If Warner does somehow struggle against cupcake teams like he did against Carolina, Leinart could see more action in an offense that is loaded with talent.
Alex Smith, SF —Warner too expensive for your wallet? Try Smith for a cheap source of stats the rest of the way. Smith has fared well since taking over the reins from Shaun Hill two weeks ago, and has a sexy-good slate of opposing defenses down the stretch. The Niners finish with Tennessee, Chicago, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, and Detroit. San Francisco’s young receiving corps is improving with time, especially rookie Michael Crabtree, who had six catches for 81 yards against the Colts.
Matt Schaub, HOU —It may seem crazy to deal away a player that has probably carried your team this season, and who is currently the second-highest fantasy scoring QB in the NFL at the moment. However, it is hard to imagine him keeping up his torrid pace. He lost one of his most trusted receiving options (tight end Owen Daniels is out for the season), and the Texans still have their bye on the horizon (week 10). Plus, Houston has some really questionable matchups in the near future, including two against the Colts in the next four weeks and Miami in what will be the championship game of many fantasy leagues. Questions about Steve Slaton’s availability moving forward thanks to issues with fumbles means that Schaub may see yet another hit in his receiving options.
Brett Favre, MIN —He is tied with Matt Schaub for the lead in QB touchdown throws this year. He is coming off a 33-point performance (in leagues where he earned six points per TD and one point per 25 yards passing) in his revenge match against the Green Bay Packers. After this week’s bye, however, the Vikings play a series of games against teams who are mediocre at best. Favre won’t be needed to carry the team—it
will be Adrian Peterson’s show for the foreseeable future. Plus, Favre followed this same pattern last season—playing great the first half of the season until injuries took their toll and slowed him the rest of the way. Not saying he’ll break down again this year—he does have a much better supporting cast in Minnesota—but there is always the possibility.
Ronnie Brown, MIA —Remember the mantra: buy low, sell high. Ronnie owners are seething right now after consecutive weeks of Ricky Williams stealing Brown’s thunder. Add in an unfavorable matchup for Miami this week in New England, and you have all the ingredients for a good buy-low stew. However, you can forget Ricky Williams after this week. The Dolphins play such a run-friendly slate the rest of the way, there will be plenty of stats to go around. Starting in Week 10, Miami plays Tampa Bay, Carolina, Buffalo, New England, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Houston. Brown, who is integral for the team’s wildcat scheme and catches his fair share of passes as well, will see much better days as the season progresses. Pounce now, or kick yourself later.
Beanie Wells, ARI —In redraft leagues, many are nervous that Tim Hightower will continue to eat away at Beanie’s opportunities. However, watching both players, it is obvious that Wells has so much more to offer in terms of explosiveness, big-play ability and all-around potential.
The Cardinals are struggling this season and need to find their identity. The passing game isn’t the cure-all it was last year, and it is just a matter of time until Wells becomes the team’s defacto go-to weapon. Too boot, the Cardinals have a sweet schedule the rest of the way, especially during the fantasy playoffs, where Beanie will be lighting up the fantasy scoreboard against the Lions and Rams, respectively.
Matt Forte, CHI —You trade players when their value is maxed out, and that is exactly where Forte is at the moment. There have been few players more disappointing this season as Forte—a consensus top-five pick in most fantasy drafts this summer. He has struggled against all except the easiest of opposing teams (the only decent games were against Detroit and Cleveland), and has a slew of challenging matchups as the season progresses. The kicker is looking ahead to the fantasy playoff weeks, where Forte plays arguably the toughest run defense slate in back-to-back contests with Baltimore and Minnesota.
Michael Turner, ATL —
It amazes me how much love this guy got in PPR leagues to start the season considering how uninvolved he is in the Falcons passing game. This year, he has just three catches all season, and has struggled to be the TD machine that defined his breakout campaign in 2008. He is coming off 151 yards rushing and a TD against the New Orleans Saints, but has a smattering of really tough defenses in the horizon. His Week 16 (typical fantasy championship) matchup with Buffalo is really juicy, but his play the rest of the fantasy regular season may doom any chances of you getting to that point.
Calvin Johnson, DET —Say what you will about Calvin’s recent injury woes and the inconsistent rookie play at quarterback for the Lions—the bottom line is that when Megatron plays, he produces. His last full game of action was a Week Four matchup with the Bears, in which he had eight catches for 133 yards. As soon as he returns to the field, expect instant dividends, and all signs are pointing towards a return this week. The remaining schedule is passing-friendly, and Calvin will finish the year ranked up where he belongs—among the WR elite.
Steve Smith, CAR —Has any player underperformed as hideously as Steve Smith this year? Like the much-hyped Carolina Panthers, Smith has been non-existent. He has found himself riding the fantasy pine in many leagues and even dropped by a few short-sighted managers. However, look closer to his performance the past two weeks—a 6-for-99 outing against Buffalo and a 3-for-56 (and a long-awaited TD) against Arizona this past week. The Panthers made a statement against the Cardinals, and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect the team to start riding that momentum to a much-needed torrid stretch. Smith will rebound, and he can be had at the moment for a few empty peanut shells.
Donald Driver, GB —Currently the 12th-highest scoring receiver in football, it is hard to expect Driver to keep up the pace for an entire season. Aaron Rodgers struggles to stay upright game in and game out due to a horrific O-line. Rodgers has also mastered the art of spreading around his passes (especially recently) and Greg Jennings, who has a much higher ceiling, is primed to cut more and more into Drivers’ production.
Steve Smith, NYG —After an amazingly torrid start to the season, Smith has cooled off considerably. He hasn’t scored a TD in four straight games and hasn’t had over 100 yards receiving since his Week Four matchup with Kansas City. The Giants are really spreading the ball around, and Smith will continue to struggle with consistency down the stretch because of that. Thanks to such a huge start, Smith still has plenty of trade interest in fantasy circles...but if you can swing him for Calvin Johnson or Steve Smith, then by all means, go for it.
Jason Witten, DAL —No one in their right mind would have expected Witten to be 16th among all tight ends at this point in the season in terms of fantasy scoring. A major reason for that was the emergence of Miles Austin. What makes Witten’s numbers so deceiving is that he’s scored just one TD all season. It isn’t that he’s not targeted in the offense—in fact, he’s tied for fourth in the league in receptions with Antonio Gates and Brent Celek. As Austin demands more and more attention from opposing defenses, the short passing game will get more breathing room and Witten will start notching some touchdowns. He’s about as cheap as he’ll be all season.
Jermichael Finley, GB —This is more a dynasty league suggestion than anything else, but Finley has proven that he’s the apple of Rodgers’ eye when it comes to tight ends on the Packers. Finley has been sidelined with a knee injury, and will likely miss this week’s contest against Tampa Bay. However, Finley will be explosive again when he returns and should be a top tight end for years to come if he can build off the momentum he started with a 6-for-128 performance against Minnesota in Week Four.
Vernon Davis, SF —Davis looks like a favorite of new QB Alex Smith. However, his stats are greatly inflated from his 7-for-93, three TD game against Houston during Week Seven. Since then, the team has welcomed rookie Michael Crabtree into the fold, and Crabtree continues to see more and more looks and action in the passing game. Davis will be affected the most by this. I’m not saying he won’t still have some solid games, just that they’ll sporadic moving forward.
Read more of this column and other in-depth analysis at www.chinstrapninjas.com , where I'm working to develop a comprehensive list of players you should target in trades, dump in trades and float feelers on.