- Everything you need to craft a winning fantasy football lineup in Week 8.
Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups for the week, kick up your feet, and enjoy the football. Let’s get to it.
The James Conner-Le'Veon Bell situation is one of fantasy football's most confounding, and could swing championships in every single league, depending on how it turns out. For now, Conner is in control, but things could change in an instant. Bell could return at any minute and completely derail Conner's season. Bell could return, but the Steelers could decide to ride with the guy who has been there all season. Or, Bell could come back and the team could go to a split backfield.
This is most interesting from Conner's perspective, given that he's actually playing. If you're a Conner owner, what would someone have to offer you in a trade for you to give him up? Conversely, what would you be willing to part with to acquire Conner?
Michael Beller (@MBeller): Conner is on my most important team, and I’m not trading him for anything short of a fellow elite RB1. You know why? Because that’s exactly what he is. I don’t believe for a second that we’re going to see Bell in a Steelers uniform at any point this year. Sure, he’s going to show up eventually and sign that franchise tender, but that doesn’t mean he’ll actually suit up for the team. Put aside the acrimony on both sides for a second and focus on the fact that Conner has been one of the most productive backs in the league this year. Bell has an elite track record, but Conner's got 453 yards on 103 carries, 26 receptions on 35 targets for 257 yards, and seven touchdowns. That's a 16-game pace of 1,208 rushing yards, 69 catches, 685 receiving yards, and 18 TDs. Those look an awful lot like the numbers that a certain disgruntled star running back who went to Michigan State would put up in a typical season. The Pittsburgh offense hasn’t skipped a beat without Bell. And then, of course, there is that acrimony. Conner is entrenched as Pittsburgh’s starter and one of the 10 best fantasy football assets.
With that in mind, I’d give up almost anything to acquire him. I’m not trading Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt or Saquon Barkley for him, and I’d have to think long and hard about trading Alvin Kamara or Adam Thielen for him. Anyone else? I’m sending them packing if I’m getting Conner in return.
Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX): There are a few angles we can attack this problem from if you picked up Conner at the start of the season. Let’s say you drafted Bell, saw the writing on the wall, and grabbed Conner as insurance. The acquisition saved your season, but trading away his production at such a scarce position this season would cripple your squad. Cross-positional trades are the preferred method to making deals, but you’d need a viable replacement for Conner to continue the season. A WR1/RB2 combination offer for Conner would be a fair place to start negotiations. If you don’t have Bell, it’s possible you’re stable at the running back position. If so, identify your positional weaknesses and address them in your trade requests.
On the flip side, I’m honestly not sure it’s a situation I want to buy into given its uncertainty. However, I’d try to minimize risk by offering a cross-positional trade. I’d be comfortable offering a fringe WR1 plus a player from another position. If it’s possible to get through the negotiations without a loss at RB, then you’ve offset the acquisition risk. While the demand for a running back in return is more likely, the most I’d be willing to part with is an RB2. High-end running back production is difficult to find (read: nonexistent) and I’d rather pass on the possible upside, despite the great season Conner has put together so far.