Fantasy Football 2019: Players You Need to Target Before Trade Deadlines
The NFL trade deadline was a disappointment, but the fantasy football trade deadline doesn't need to be.
Deadlines in fantasy leagues can be fruitful for contending teams. If a team owner has the foresight and finesse to find value, it's possible to gobble up worthwhile talent set to have an upswing in production during the season's second half, which converges nicely with the fantasy playoffs.
Some of the players fantasy owners should target are buy-low candidates. Some might vary in price depending on the knowledge and demeanor of the potential trade partner.
But all of these players are worth seeking out on the trade market as their value should only rise. Given the opportunity for deals, the impending fantasy trade deadline remains the second-most important roster-forging moment behind drafts.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen isn't the flashiest player—which could make him a nice buy opportunity.
The baseline stats don't tell the whole story, but they could help in talking down prices. After all, Allen only has 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions for a ho-hum Buffalo Bills team that is winning games but isn't in the spotlight.
But fantasy owners know better when it comes to quarterbacks who can take off. Allen also has 247 yards and four scores as a rusher this year. As such, he's put up at least 16 points in seven games already with more than 21 twice.
Even better, Allen has a favorable schedule ahead. His next two games are against teams in the top 11 in points allowed to quarterbacks. As the weather gets colder, Allen is going to see plenty of chances in gritty games to pull it down and run.
Remember, production is production, even if it is a passer running.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins breakout star Terry McLaurin might be one of the tougher players to add from this list.
But that's presuming fantasy owners pay attention to the Redskins and McLaurin's last few games haven't depressed his value.
McLaurin had just 2.1 points in Week 7 and 7.9 points each of the last two games entering a Week 10 bye. His quarterback situation has fluctuated from Case Keenum to Colt McCoy to rookie Dwayne Haskins. His team has won a single game.
Yet the rookie averages 15.5 yards per catch with 50-plus targets and five scores. He's scored in double digits four times, including outings of 23.5 and 26 points. Over the second half of the schedule, in the NFC East alone, he gets shots at Philadelphia and New York Giants teams that are in the top three in points allowed to wideouts. He put up 23.5 against the former in Week 1 and missed the first game against the latter.
McLaurin, rookie or not, should continue to be a steady option, especially if his rapport with college teammate Haskins continues to grow.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, San Francisco 49ers
If Kyle Shanahan wanted Emmanuel Sanders, fantasy owners probably should too.
Over two games with his new San Francisco 49ers team, Sanders has been targeted 14 times, catching 11 of those for 137 yards and two scores.
Compare that to his Denver tenure, where he scored twice in seven games.
Indeed, Sanders figures to heat up even more in his new offense for his undefeated team. Despite his recent production, fantasy owners might undervalue his massive upside. His connection with Jimmy Garoppolo should only strengthen, and he gets at least two gimme matchups against New Orleans and Atlanta teams that struggle against wideouts. The rest of the slate isn't bad either with Shanahan to script the game plans.
Volume assured, Sanders is a big-play artist yet to hit a ceiling with his new team.
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
It might be wise to pounce all over Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III while he still has the reputation of a guy who took an ill-advised holdout and watched his value plummet.
Gordon is slowly rounding back into form, and a struggling Chargers staff would be silly not to use him more. His first two games back from his holdout in Weeks 5 and 6 were 7.8-point affairs followed up by one more single-digit performance.
But over the past two weeks? Outings of 11.4 and 25.9 points, the latter his first stab at 20 or more carries this season. He averaged a clear four yards per carry and scored twice in Week 9, also catching three passes.
Assured looks in scoring range and clearly heating up, Gordon has two matchups against a Kansas City defense that allows the fourth-most points to running backs, and the rest of the outlook is decent. But Gordon's availability for reasonable trade pricing won't last much longer.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
It would be wise to gamble on Oakland Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs has feasted at times this year, scoring highs of 24.3, 29.3 and 24 points. But he's also thrown out showings of 9.9, 4.4 and 10.1 points.
So go the ebbs and flows of a rookie on a .500 team. Volume figures to increase as temperatures drop. Since the Week 6 bye, Jacobs has caught five passes in three games, almost besting his six receptions through five games before the bye. Over those three games, he's had 21 or more carries twice.
The rest of the way, Jacobs gets five games against teams in the top 12 in points allowed to opposing backs, including a shot at No. 1 overall Cincinnati. Downplaying his rookie status and the team around him might make him an incredible value buy via trade.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
It's always a big gamble to lean into New England Patriots running backs given Bill Belichick's fondness of committee approaches. At times, it seems like he's trying to mess with fantasy owners.
Even so, Sony Michel should have a monster end-of-season stretch.
It might prove easy to talk a trade partner out of Michel not only thanks to Belichick, but also because he's averaging 3.3 yards per carry with six touchdowns.
But the volume arrow is clearly pointing up. Starting in Week 4, Michel has handled 16 or more carries in five of six games. He's scored four of his touchdowns over that span.
New England's season-ending stretch near the fantasy playoffs reads like a who's who of struggling defenses, as Michel should feast on Kansas City, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Miami defenses. He's touchdown-reliant, yes, but Michel looks like the usual Patriots breakout back.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don't undersell the importance of volume at quarterback.
It might look like Jameis Winston's days as the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to an end. Fantasy owners can weaponize that in trade talks, though, along with his 16-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
But look at it this way: Winston sits in a volume-happy Bruce Arians attack with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard, to name a few of the quarterback-uplifting talents who flank him. He's almost bound to stumble into epic production.
Winston has attempted 40 or more passes four times over his last five outings. Yes, he had a game where he tossed one score and five picks, but he scored 19.3 and 20.2 points in the following games.
Over the second half, Winston doesn't have a scary matchup left. In fact, he's got a few incredibly good ones, including Arizona (first in points allowed to passers) and Atlanta twice (third).
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, A.J. Green is about as risky as it gets. The Cincinnati Bengals star has yet to take the field this year and played in just nine games in 2018.
The first time Green touched a training camp field this year, he suffered an ankle injury that required surgery. Combined with his injury history, that should make it easy to grab him via trade.
But think back to 2018, where Green's nine games resulted in eight showings of 50-plus yards (he got hurt early in the ninth) and six touchdowns. While some fantasy owners might recoil at the idea that rookie Ryan Finley will be his starter the rest of the way as opposed to Andy Dalton, Green has regularly been the sort of player immune to a quarterback change.
This is obviously a big leap of faith. But keep in mind Green is making a comeback for a winless team because he's a free agent after the season, and his schedule—with a handful of opponents among the top 12 in points surrendered to wideouts—is superb.