- Trade deadlines are looming in fantasy football leagues. We give you names to consider on both sides of the divide before the window to make moves closes.
With trade deadlines looming, it’s crunch time on the open market. Owners on the playoff bubble have precious little time to improve their teams for the stretch run. Those who have already clinched, or in good position to do so, should be looking to cash in depth to improve their starting lineups for the postseason. With the waiver wire a bit picked over, a trade is an excellent way to shore up your roster.
The general goal when assessing trade prospects is to buy low and sell high, but there are times when buying high and selling low makes sense, as well. And, as always, you want to be a trustworthy and responsible trade partner. No one likes the owner in their league who regularly offers terrible trades or goes into trade talks looking to make an unbalanced deal.
Looking at multiple factors for a trade target, such as schedule, potential floor and ceiling, and health of surrounding teammates, will serve you best. You’ll see references to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) metric in this column, which we rely on heavily to determine weekly matchup strength. As the season progresses and more data is available, aFPA becomes even more reliable, thanks to its rolling 10-week data.
Each week, I’ll take a look at the top players to target, and those you should aim to sell to get the best value moving forward. Here’s this week’s crop of players.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees is behind his typical pace, averaging 17.36 fantasy points per game through eight games. That would be his lowest mark since 2007, and the first time since 2010 that he didn’t put up at least 20 fantasy points per game. The Saints have leaned on their run game more than ever in the Brees era, and it’s impossible to argue with the success they’ve had riding Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Still, this is Drew Brees. He’s a top-tier quarterback, one that you can count on regardless of matchup. This is a guy I want under center for the fantasy playoffs. As a bonus, the Saints play the Falcons twice and the Jets in the fantasy postseason, teams ranked 17th and 31st in aFPA against quarterbacks, respectively. Understand, however, that you’re not going to steal Brees. He will cost you, but it will be worth it.
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Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
The Panthers rookie played 82% of the snaps in Week 9, leading the offense with 15 carries, a career-high 66 rushing yards, and the first touchdown on the ground of his career. His uptick in touches possibly stemmed from Jonathan Stewart’s two fumbles, but McCaffrey proved that he can handle the workload. He has already shown his talent as a receiver, leading the Panthers in targets and receptions this season, hauling in 54 of 72 for 406 yards. With Carolina in a battle for control of the NFC South, McCaffrey should see plenty of work moving forward, and is a priority trade target for me, especially in PPR formats.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars
With Leonard Fournette inactive in Week 9, Lee was a focal point of the Jaguars offense, catching a team-high eight balls for 75 yards and a touchdown. That makes three games in a row with at least 72 receiving yards for Lee, and there may be no end in sight. In Weeks 12 through 16, the Jaguars face four teams ranked 20th or worse in wide receiver aFPA. Lee should be attainable in a trade, especially if his owner in your league is strong at receiver.
Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals
Since becoming the Bengals starting tight end in Week 3, Kroft has a 93% snap rate, taking the field for 315 out of 337 Bengals plays. In that time frame, Kroft has scored the third-most fantasy points among Andy Dalton’s weapons, and he’s second on the team in targets behind A.J. Green. Cincinnati’s opponents during the fantasy playoffs average an aFPA of 12.3 to opposing tight ends, which bodes well for Kroft’s production. Kroft doesn’t have a monster ceiling, but he has been a consistent mid-tier to low-end TE1 all season. That reliability makes him quite the fantasy asset.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
Tennessee’s third-year quarterback was able to throw for 218 yards with two touchdowns against the Ravens’ fourth-ranked pass defense in Week 9, numbers that are more impressive than they seem on the surface. Mariota finally has a healthy Corey Davis, giving him a solid arsenal with the underappreciated Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. The Titans remaining schedule features the 23rd-, 25th-, 26th- and 27th-ranked defenses against quarterbacks in aFPA.
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
Things are unraveling in Tampa Bay, with Jameis Winston out due to a shoulder injury, and Evans serving a one-game suspension for fighting. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the foreseeable future, more change could be coming to the offense. If you’re trying to move Evans, target an owner who is already safely headed to the playoffs. They’ll likely be more willing to take a chance on a player who, while risky, could provide a major boost when it matters most.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
Green Bay is a shell of its former Aaron Rodgers-led self as we approach Week 10. We saw last week what Jones’s workload looks like in a game where the Packers trail throughout, and it isn’t pretty. In the loss to the Lions, Jones played just 34% of the snaps and got just five carries. Jones’ workload is diminishing as this team falls behind, and the need to toss the rock grows. The Packers could do a whole lot of trailing the rest of the season with Brett Hundley at the helm. On top of all that, the Packers face the two top ranked run defenses in aFPA in Weeks 15 and 16. This may be your last chance to move Jones.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
Productive tight ends are a hot commodity this season, as there is a large gap between the top tier and the rest of the pack. Rudolph is consistent relative to his fellow non-elite tight ends, ranking 11th in fantasy points and 12th in targets this season. Normally I wouldn’t suggest dealing a high volume tight end, but with Stefon Diggs back in the mix and a brutal remaining schedule, Rudolph’s fantasy numbers could slip. In Weeks 14 and 16, Minnesota faces two tough opponents on the road, the second-ranked Packers and third-ranked Panthers, who average an aFPA of just 8.2 to opposing tight ends. With Diggs and Adam Thielen eating up a ton of volume, it will truly be touchdown-or-bust for Rudolph.