The trading deadline in many fantasy football leagues is this week or next week. If you want to pull off a Herschel Walker-like blockbuster involving multiple players and draft picks, you have less time to make a trade than Blake Bortles has to throw these days.
The fantasy values of players are fluctuating at this crucial juncture of the fantasy football year. If you are wheeling and dealing at the deadline, you need to get players for cheaper costs who could provide huge returns down the stretch.
Conversely, if you are selling off players, you want to trade guys whose fantasy values have reached their ceiling. Get the most bang for your buck now—or forever wonder why you stuck with one-week or one-month wonders instead of trading for surer things.
So here are players you should be dealing for or dealing away at your league’s trade deadline:
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (WR)
If you had a decent score on the math section of your SAT test, you should be able to figure this one out. While Calvin Johnson was either out or just playing the role of decoy because of his bum ankle, Tate had four 100-yard games over a five-week stretch.
That was because Tate was getting targeted by quarterback Matthew Stafford 10-plus times per game and was Detroit’s go-to guy. With running back Reggie Bush also missing many of the same games Johnson did due to his own injury, Detroit’s offense revolved around Tate.
But “Megatron” is back and appears healthy now, so Tate’s numbers have no choice but to go down a bit. He will not be thrown at as much and, therefore, will not have as many opportunities to pile up yards and score touchdowns. This is why Tate should be traded while his fantasy value is at its highest point.
Tate still managed to have 11 receptions for 109 yards this past weekend, while Johnson racked up 113 yards and a touchdown, but the bottom line is that Tate has only averaged 77.5 yards per game in the four contests when Johnson has been 100 percent. For comparison, Tate has averaged 120 yards and scored all of his touchdowns in the games when Johnson was not healthy or did not play.
Trade Tate, and a top running back or quarterback could be heading your way (just as long as your trade partner thinks Tate will keep seeing plenty of passes).
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (WR)
The only way Green’s fantasy value could get any lower is if he pulled a Chad Ochocinco and took his talents to the CFL.
Green has been hampered by a touchy toe all season long and has limped along to the tune of 381 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown has almost tripled those numbers. And while Green is back on the field and appearing close to 100 percent healthy, his fantasy worth is not at the level it should be because of his uneven efforts and the chance he could re-injure his toe a third time.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has not helped matters. His aim has been more off than a gunslinger with a patch over his eye shooting at John Wayne in a western. The pair has only hooked up successfully 23 out of the 41 times Dalton has targeted Green this year.
Do not have a short memory like fantasy owners who think Dallas’ DeMarco Murray can have 450 carries without spraining something, though. When everything is right, Green is one of the top five receivers in fantasy football.
Dalton will straighten himself and his passes out, and Green’s toe should get stronger. Green will be back scoring touchdowns and piling up 100-yard games faster than the Flash can chase criminals. Find out if the fantasy owner in your league is willing to trade Green for a cheaper than usual price and pounce on the offer if it is made available.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (RB)
While Adrian Peterson has been suspended, Asiata has been the power back and McKinnon has been the speed back (446 yards, 5.0 ypc) of Minnesota’s two-back attack. Neither has been a fantasy stalwart, but both have been somewhat useful during bye weeks as a fantasy team’s second running back or flex option.
Peterson could return now that he has reached a plea deal, though, depending on how everything shakes out with Commissioner Roger Goodell. So Asiata and McKinnon’s fantasy values would dry up faster than a spill touched by a Bounty paper towel if Peterson is cleared to come back.
Fantasy owners will not fetch much for Asiata or McKinnon on the trade market, but a desperate owner in need of a running back could trade a decent receiver or tight end for one of them. Heck, if you can trade one of them for a kicker or defense you need in a pinch, do it!
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (WR)
Johnson has been done in by a cavalcade of surrounding issues this season. He had weak-armed, should-be-backup Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to him, and he has had super sophomore DeAndre Hopkins making all the big plays for big gains while he was stuck as the possession receiver. This has caused Johnson to have no 100-yard games and only one touchdown so far.
With Ryan Mallett taking over at quarterback this week, however, Johnson’s fantasy value should be on the uptick. While Mallett is a mystery (since he has never started an NFL game), there is no mystery that he has better physical tools and a stronger arm than Fitzpatrick—and that will help Johnson get the ball more often downfield.
Johnson is not washed-up, and he still has juice left in the tank. The guy had 3,000 receiving yards over the past two years, remember? With Mallett throwing to him instead of Fitzpatrick, Johnson is primed for his first 100-yard game, so trade for him now before he busts out.
Michael Vick, New York Jets (QB)
I know Vick threw a gorgeous 67-yard touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know he has an above-average receiving duo in the newly-acquired Percy Harvin and the newly-healthy Eric Decker. And I know Geno Smith has no way in heck of winning the starting quarterback job back unless he has some blackmail material on head coach Rex Ryan.
The fact is that Vick is one scramble and one hellacious hit away from being knocked into next week (and then fantasy owners will have Smith or Matt Simms throwing to their receivers again). We know he is not built for the long haul. We know he is as brittle as a chocolate chip cookie, even though he plays recklessly (like he foolishly thinks he is as durable as Brett Favre was).
Vick is not going to get much on the trade tracker unless it is in fantasy leagues where two quarterbacks per week are active. Fantasy owners who use Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer, Carolina’s Cam Newton or Oakland’s Derek Carr as their No. 2 QB in these types of leagues might be interested by Vick, though.
Another reason to trade Vick now—while he is prospering and uninjured—is his upcoming schedule. The Jets next four games are against Buffalo, Miami, Tennessee and Minnesota, and all four pass defenses are ranked in the top 11.