Fantasy Football 2020: Players You Need to Target Before Trade Deadlines

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2020

Fantasy Football 2020: Players You Need to Target Before Trade Deadlines

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Although the NFL trade deadline has passed, fantasy football managers have a little more time to work out some deals within their leagues.

    Whether your team holds a top spot in the standings or you need a late winning streak to make the playoffs, this is the time to engage with managers who are willing to sell potential late-season boomers. 

    For the most part, we'll focus on buy-low options since top players are difficult to pry away from managers.

    Players coming off injured reserve, struggling with consistency or short on production in recent weeks could be had without giving up the core of your roster. 

    The list below highlights eight options. These players may fall on the trade block for good reason but offer great upside because of favorable upcoming matchups or a pathway to more targets and touches.

    As a reminder, the default trade deadline is November 14 for Yahoo leagues and November 21 for ESPN leagues. 

QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Before the Philadelphia Eagles went on a Week 9 bye, Carson Wentz had a disappointing performance against the Dallas Cowboys' abysmal defense, which gives up the most points leaguewide. He may have frustrated managers.

    If you need an alternative starting option at quarterback in case your lead player has a tough opponent, Wentz could slide into the QB1 spot for a few matchups in the second half of the season. He'll face the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks and Cowboys again. 

    The Seahawks rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and the Giants are in the bottom 10 for pass defense.

    On the other side of the bye week, the Eagles could see wideout Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc surgery) and tight end Zach Ertz (ankle sprain) return to action, which would give Wentz more weapons in the passing game.

RB Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

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    Al Drago/Associated Press

    On one hand, Antonio Gibson has eclipsed 50 rushing yards just twice in eight games. On the other, he's Washington's lead running back with five rushing touchdowns, and he's a factor in the passing game with 182 receiving yards.

    Because of his low rushing yard totals, Gibson remains in RB2 territory, though his upside in point-per-reception leagues should draw your attention. He splits pass-catching duties with J.D. McKissic, which puts a cap on his role as a receiver, but the rookie third-rounder has enough potential to blossom into a big-time contributor through the second half of the season. 

    In the next seven weeks, Washington will face two defenses that rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, the Detroit Lions (second) and Carolina Panthers (fourth). The club will also play against the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, teams listed 30th and 32nd, respectively, in rushing yards allowed per game going into Week 9.

    Some managers may put a running back with low-end rushing totals on the trade block, though Gibson could be a trade-deadline steal with Washington's schedule. 

RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Austin Ekeler (hamstring) doesn't have a set timetable for a return. Head coach Anthony Lynn said he could come back "later than sooner."

    If someone in your league has Ekeler and needs to rack up wins for a playoff push, offer a player with immediate value in exchange for the dual-threat Chargers tailback. Managers atop the standings can acquire Ekeler in hopes to see him produce big numbers in the fantasy postseason.

    In two out of four games this season, Ekeler accumulated at least 140 scrimmage yards. Assuming he regains a big role within the offense, the fourth-year veteran could provide RB1 production down the stretch.

    In December, the Chargers will face the New England Patriots, who rank in the bottom 10 leaguewide in rushing yards allowed. They'll also play the Las Vegas Raiders, who give up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs going into Week 9.

RB Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins placed Myles Gaskin on injured reserve with a sprained MCL, so he's going to miss at least the team's next two games.

    As a first-year starter for a squad that ranks in the bottom 10 in rushing, Gaskin isn't a flashy name. However, he's a PPR-league gem. Through Week 9's Thursday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, the Dolphins running back listed 13th in total touches (130).

    Gaskin will likely reclaim most of that workload upon his return. Miami had Jordan Howard as a healthy scratch multiple times before Week 9, and he led the backfield with 10 carries Sunday. Before the trade deadline, the Dolphins acquired DeAndre Washington, who will need time to acclimate himself to the offense.

    Gaskin recorded 80-plus scrimmage yards in four out of seven contests. If he misses just three games, the second-year running back will face the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, three defenses that rank in the bottom 10 in rushing yards allowed. The Dolphins' Week 16 opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders, allow the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.

WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals have three viable wide receivers in fantasy leagues: Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and A.J. Green. Managers should target the rookie who's the least-known playmaker within the trio.

    Don't worry about one wideout falling off the fantasy radar when or if running back Joe Mixon (foot) returns to action. The Bengals field a pass-heavy offense that ranks second in attempts.

    Midway through the season, Tee Higgins has been more efficient with his targets than Green, hauling in 33 of his 52 targets for 488 yards and three touchdowns compared to 31 receptions for 316 yards and zero touchdowns on 63 targets for the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout. 

    Although Green hasn't missed a game this season, he's battled a nagging hamstring injury dating back to the offseasonThe 32-year-old could struggle to play through a full season for a team that's probably not going to the playoffs. 

    Higgins has decent upside even though he's third on the team in targets. He's finished with 14-plus points in each of his last three outings in PPR leagues.

WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers have fallen to last place in the NFC West, and starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is on injured reserve because of a high ankle sprain. Brandon Aiyuk landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list before the team's Week 9 outing with the Green Bay Packers.

    If the manager in your league wants to sell Aiyuk's fantasy stock because of the issues listed above, send offers in an attempt to snag him. For starters, he's off the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    Before Aiyuk went on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he recorded 14 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets between Weeks 7 and 8. Keep in mind, Deebo Samuel is still battling a hamstring injury. Head coach Kyle Shanahan expects tight end George Kittle to miss up to eight weeks because of a fracture in his foot. 

    Aiyuk is likely to see plenty of targets down the stretch. Even with Samuel on the field in Week 7, the rookie wideout logged a career-high 115 receiving yards.

    Although backup quarterback Nick Mullens will start for the foreseeable future, Aiyuk's prospective opportunities offer some hope for managers in need of a solid WR2 or flex option.

    Furthermore, Mullens had a solid rapport with Aiyuk while the 49ers trailed the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8. They connected for a touchdown late in that game. The fourth-year signal-caller has completed 68.4 percent of his pass attempts, which bodes well for his receivers.

WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Quarterback Lamar Jackson and wideout Marquise Brown haven't quite clicked in their second season together. The speedy deep threat has finished with fewer than 43 receiving yards in four out of eight contests and has only two touchdowns for the season.

    Last week, Brown expressed frustration with his inconsistent target volume in a since-deleted tweet. He recorded just three receptions for 38 yards on five targets against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

    While some managers may panic about Brown's underwhelming sophomore campaign, you should roll the dice on a strong finish. 

    After Week 10, the Baltimore Ravens will play four consecutive defenses that rank within the top eight in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers: the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. The Jacksonville Jaguars' 28th-ranked pass defense (entering Week 9) will follow that slate in Week 15.

    We could see Jackson go on a hot streak late in the season, which bodes well for Brown and managers in dire need of wide receiver production closer to and during the playoffs.

TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    At this point in the season, you won't find many tight ends who provide consistent weekly production on the waiver wire. Managers will also hold top players at the position because of scarcity. 

    While Travis Kelce and Darren Waller are likely off limits, send some proposals to managers who may have some doubts about Noah Fant's long-term outlook. He's already missed a game because of an ankle injury and had to briefly leave Sunday's contest with the same issue. 

    This season, Denver Broncos tight end Nick Vannett has made four starts. Also at the position, Albert Okwuegbunam made notable contributions in Week 7, hauling in seven passes for 60 yards. He caught a touchdown pass in Week 8. 

    Yet Fant has the highest fantasy upside among Broncos tight ends. When he's healthy, quarterback Drew Lock looks to him as a top pass-catching option. The Iowa product lists second on the team in targets (46).

    In the remaining games, Fant faces the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers, three teams that rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.


    Fantasy points allowed provided by FantasyPros.

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