If you’re like me, chances are your fantasy football trade deadline is quickly approaching, and if you haven’t already pulled the trigger yet…what are you waiting for?
Unless you have the best record, the most points by a good margin, and a solid core of rushers and receivers, your team can still benefit to stand from a solid, late season trade. A trade that, on paper, benefits your partner as much as you, all the while knowing that your needs come first. Today, I’ll post my biggest future busts of the season and also throw in some sleepers that you can snag from another team for cheap. Excuse me now if I post the entirety of the Lions team, as I truly believe they are still only destined for 8 or 9 wins. That has nothing to do with my allegiances to the Packers, either. Note: stats are compiled with non-PPR scoring settings.
Matthew Stafford, DET – Sure, he posted good numbers against Denver on Sunday, but come on–the medical cart in Detroit is bound to have a great fantasy season with this guy taking the licks he does. Stafford is notoriously injury prone, and we saw a little bit of that against Atlanta two weeks prior. His 19/4 TD:INT ratio looks stellar right now, and in most formats Stafford is 5th in scoring among QB’s, so his value won’t get any higher, folks. While he does face some susceptible secondaries down the stretch (including GB twice), the injury risk is just too much for me to overlook at this point. Try and deal him for top ten RB or elite, possibly struggling WR and run with it.
Eli Manning, NYG – Like deli bagels, and well, any other respectable food out there, Little Brother goes bad toward the end of the season, and with his inflated numbers you could be sitting (and relying) on a lemon to get you through the season and into the playoffs. I don’t like the sell as much as Stafford up there, and QB’s aren’t necessarily the most urgent position to downshift at, but of Eli’s four 30.0 plus fantasy point performances this year, three have come against the Dolphins, Seahawks, and Cardinals, teams not widely known for their defensive prowess. Also, if Ahmad Bradshaw remains dinged up, that could put a damper on the G Men’s offensive game plan, and Eli’s not exactly what you’d call cool under pressure. He’s 6th in QB points right now, but I could see him sliding out of the top 10 by season’s end.
Tavaris Jackson, SEA – This sounds silly, and in smaller leagues you can probably just pick him up, but what’s gotten into the former Vikings wunderkind? His receivers are finally healthy, the team is bad and Jackson airs it out a ton, especially late in games. In his last three games, he has two 300 yard performances, and in the other game he was injured. Jackson would make a great bye replacement, but keep him around for the insurance, especially in leagues where bonuses are given out for yards thrown.
Matt Cassel, KC – This goes without saying. This team is hot, yet he still has less points than Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb. If you have a guy like Joe Flacco or Matt Hasselbeck, promote Cassel, roll with him for the rest of the season and try to get value at other positions before the bye weeks disappear!
Jahvid Best, DET – This is difficult considering his current head bruise, but start looking for owners desperate for RB help and throw them out a line. If you could score a solid possession receiver (especially in leagues where you start 3 WR), why not? Best, like our boy Stafford up there, is oft injured, and his injuries even date back to college. Youtube search “Jahvid Best Cal concussion”…I’ll wait. Now combine that with Best’s two concussions this year and you’ve got a cross eyed tailback rushing uphill against some stout run defenses the rest of the way. Just tell your trade partner about his 4.6 YPC. And throw in something about his “grit”, too. That always helps.
DeMarco Murray, DAL – Now, if you’re gonna hock a guy, no one is more marketable than Mr. Better Than Dorsett and Emmitt, OMG! DeMarco Murray. He rushed for 253 against the Rams in a real blue collar day, followed up by a first half performance against the Eagles that read 8 rushes and 74 yards. Murray wasn’t even involved in the second half because of the blowout, but when he was in he looked fresh and inspired. So what’s wrong here? Felix Jones will be back soon, and you just can’t rely too much on rookies down the stretch. I think when Jones returns from the ankle injury, you’re looking at a 50/50 timeshare to start, and you definitely want to unload Murray before that happens. Possibly for a low No. 1 WR or a guy like…
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC – MJD’s stock hasn’t been lower as people will be quick to point out that he only has two 100 yard games, the Jags will be playing from behind, and really, anything coming out of North Florida is toxic right now. A guy who was a first round pick in a majority of leagues has fallen to 13th among RB’s, so now would be the time to inquire about his services on the bye week. You know what looks good to me? Two back to back games against the Colts and Browns, who both play less than inspiring ball against the run. You could package a guy like Murray or Best and a no. 2 WR and get MJD with good value.
Chris Johnson, TEN – Oddly enough, I’d advise picking up Javon Ringer as much as I would taking a gamble on Chris Johnson here. Before the season you could argue it was Johnson, Peterson, Foster and no one else among the league’s elite, but Johnson’s YPC and overall production have been awful and he’s blaming it on the blocking. Oops. Even if he doesn’t turn it around and return to his automatic 25 points per game production, Johnson fantasy owners are more than likely beyond the point of frustration and likely to make rash moves. Take a stab and see what comes back.
Pierre Garcon, IND – This can’t come any quicker as Garcon has found himself in the top ten for WR points but has had three lackluster games in a row. Indy’s offense is a mess right now, but the truth is that only SEVEN WR’s have more points than Garcon, something you have to exploit. I say this because of Garcon’s 79.5 points, 52 of them came in two games. On six catches. Ouch.
Greg Jennings, GB – Listen, I love Jennings, and up until this point I have been made a fool for scoffing at him for likes of Brandon Marshall, but the Packers passing attack in hitting on all cylinders and Jennings has found himself 5th in WR points at this juncture. My main issue that dates back to drafting is that there are far too many willing and able hands in Green Bay, and what happens when the Pack’s offense does finally become human? There should be at least a couple of Green Bay fans in your league that would salivate at having this guy.
Victor Cruz, NYG – Remember when he had something like 8 touchdowns  in his first preseason game a year ago? His position rank is 12th right now and with Hakeem Nicks’ hamstring causing him issues, Victor’s stock couldn’t be higher. However, Hicks shouldn’t miss more than a game, and when he and Manningham are together, Cruz will be nothing more than a glorified deep threat who connects on a fifth of his deep threat bombs (also see Torrey Smith). Eli’s flustered demeanor will also hurt his value.
Eric Decker, DEN – The former Minnesota standout is 11th in points and has Tim Tebow ducking him passes. Have you guys watched Tebow the last two weeks? How many times can I say Tebow before you trade this guy immediately? As a former University of Florida student during the Tebow era, I love me some Tebow, but this Tebow has become painful to watch as of late.
Roddy White, Julio Jones, ATL – I’m blaming White’s lack of top tier production on Julio Jones. That’s right, the rookie’s bum hamstring has failed to open up options for White, who admittedly has been banged up himself. However, when both guys are at a hundred percent, look for White to come close to a 100 recYd every game and Jones to be a solid No. 2 option down the stretch. Jones might be back this week against Indy, but definitely in two weeks, so keep an eye out on this emerging passing attack.
Malcom Floyd, SD – I’ve always liked Floyd’s ability to get open on first down and have a knack for the endzone, but it’s slowly becoming apparent that Vincent Jackson and his bad attitude are about take a tumble, opening up Floyd to be Rivers’ new favorite WR target. Of course, Antonio Gates will still be Rivers’ favorite, but the way he throws it around there isn’t any reason to believe Floyd will improve from this 19 catches and one touchdown.
Jonathan Baldwin, KC – This guy may be completely off your radar (especially if you didn’t see last night’s Chiefs win), but the rookie out of Pitt is a huge target for the rebounding Cassel with great hands and an ability to find targets with Dwayne Bowe doubled. He missed the first five games of the season when tough guy Thomas Jones broke Baldwin’s thumb in a fight (Baldwin started it), but since his return he’s compiled 6 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in two games. Expect those numbers, especially the receptions, to keep inflating. Most can just pick him up, but you can easily ditch your 3rd RB or bye week TE for this gem.
Tony Gonzalez, ATL – As much as I like the Atlanta receivers, this is more of a value trade for me. Gonzalez is 5th in TE points right now and wasn’t even a top ten projected tight end for the season. Unlike baseball, shallow positions in fantasy football don’t really matter that much, because unless you have two of the top guys, tight end is a crap shoot anyway. His brand name and four scores should garner some interest in your league, so take a shot and see what you can get.
For the reasons stated above, I don’t normally advise trying to improve too much at TE, unless someone starts offering you Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. However, if you are looking for value, Vernon Davis is having too awful of a season in San Francisco for such a physical specimen, while Jake Ballard is slowly emerging as a guy guaranteed 6-7 points a week in New York. Still though, temper your expectations here, because chances are you probably have your favorite guy anyway.
Detroit Lions – It’s a Detroit wholesale this week! Get your busts hot and steamy with this overachieving DST unit with household names and talk show recognition. Only two teams have given up more rushing yards than the Lions this season, and while that will adjust with their bye week, you can’t help but notice that Detroit is ranked 2nd in DST, only behind Ray Lewis & Friends. Oh, and check out the upcoming schedule. Games against the Bears, Packers (twice), Saints, Chargers, and Panthers will surely knock around this defense and have you wondering, “what happened?”
Pittsburgh Steelers – I own them in one league, and boy has it been rough considering you most likely took them in the 3rd or 4th round. However, even with the rash of injuries, take a chance on them because of their ball-hawking ability and the unit finally coming around and forcing turnovers. Don’t go too crazy unloading skill players for them, but remember this: come fantasy playoff time, Pittsburgh plays Cleveland twice and is home against the Rams.
The weather is turning and it might finally be time to start thinking about how that’ll effect guys like Mason Crosby and Stephen Gostkowski, especially in leagues with missed FG penalties. Hate ’em or love ’em, the difference between a bad kicking day and good kicking day can be around 15 points. You’d probably be reaching in trying to get other positions involved for kicker trades, but look at your waiver wire. A guy like Nick Novak of the Chargers is still perfect for his attempts, kicks in perfect weather and has an offense that is hard to slow down. If you’re sticking with guys like Robbie Gould, Rian Lindell, or Alex Henery, you could probably play it by week and pick up a guy with a favorable matchup each week.
All stats compiled with CBSsports.com
Joe Leininger lives in Jacksonville, FL via the greater Philadelphia area. He dabbles in all things sports, pro wrestling, and television, and more of his work can be found at The Playing Field Blog and DestiGeddon.