September 22, 2011

With two weeks in the books, most fantasy owners should have a good idea of their teams' strengths and weaknesses. Sure, you think you know where you'll be strong and where you might struggle heading into the season, but there's nothing like the perspective a few weeks of actual football can provide. If you're anything like me, from that perspective comes a steady stream of trade ideas designed to use some of the surplus in one spot to fill holes in another.

When checking out all the teams in my leagues for possible trade partners, one common theme emerged: wide receivers seemed more desirable trade targets than running backs. No matter what my teams needed on paper, I found myself designing trades to land a top 10 receiver.

And why not? We've been hearing the last couple seasons about how the NFL is becoming a passing league, and everyone expected that evolution to continue this year. Well, my friends, it has only been two weeks, but if 2011 doesn't go down as the year of the passer, I will be more shocked than I was when the Indians won the 1989 AL pennant (that happened, right?).

Passing and receiving stats are already off the charts. Of the record 172 touchdowns in the season's first two weeks, 104 have been through the air. There have been 23 300-yard passers. To put it another way, out of 64 quarterback starts this season, 36 percent have ended with the QB topping 300 yards. It's not just Tom Brady and Drew Brees, either. Cam Newton has thrown for at least 400 yards in each of his first two starts in the NFL. Ryan Fitzpatrick has seven touchdown passes. Rex Grossman is a tick under 300 yards per game. If you can't throw the ball in today's NFL, odds are your name is Tarvaris Jackson.

The dominance of the pass has, of course, led to receivers stealing the spotlight on Sundays. Running backs have eclipsed the 100-yard mark 13 times this season, compared with 25 receivers piling up triple digit receiving numbers. Similarly, 25 receivers have multiple touchdowns this year. Only nine running backs can say that, and one of them is short-yardage beast John Kuhn. We have officially reached a point where, outside of the truly elite running backs, star receivers are more bankable in fantasy leagues.

That's the reason why receivers have looked like better trade targets. They are better trade targets. It's time to sell your shares in running backs and convert them to receiver stock. As always, let's be clear. This does not mean you go out with your mind dead set on trading someone like Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy. It doesn't mean you deplete your roster of backs so you're left with Tim Hightower as your No. 1 runner. You still need to fill those starting spots, and you want the best possible guys in there.

What it means is that the points are in the receivers, and that's where your resources need to flow. With the prevalence of two-back systems and the rash of injuries already hitting running backs, the next man in line will be ready to step and fill your roster holes. Top tier receivers are scoring at a rate we've never seen in the NFL. Quite simply, running backs in today's fantasy game can't go toe-to-toe with receivers. The balance of power has shifted. Go get yourself some firepower.

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