The window for trading is rapidly closing, and may already be shut in some leagues. If your league’s trade deadline hasn’t passed, though, you should not be complacent. A trade now could make all the difference in the fantasy playoffs.
Looking at multiple factors for a trade target will serve you best, including schedule, potential floor and ceiling, and health of surrounding teammates. You’ll see references to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA) in this column, which we rely on heavily to determine weekly matchup strength.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens
The Ravens’ back has been in the sell column a few times this season, but now he’s a player who fantasy managers should consider acquiring. He just finished a tough stretch of matchups against the Titans, Saints, Panthers and Steelers, all teams within the top nine in running back aFPA, and still managed to average 12.1 PPR points per game. Baltimore’s schedule softens up for the rest of the season, with no defense ranking better than 14th in running back aFPA, and three opponents sitting 30th or worse. If Lamar Jackson sees playing time, his dual-threat ability could open running lanes for Collins. With Buck Allen seeing fewer carries, a plus schedule, and the possibility of Jackson in the mix, Collins makes a solid buy-low candidate this week.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton put up a dud in the Panthers’ blowout loss to Pittsburgh in Week 10, throwing for 193 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Steelers shut him down on the ground, too, limiting him to 10 rushing yards. The silver lining is that was likely Carolina’s toughest remaining defensive matchup. They visit the Lions this week and host the Seahawks in Week 12. In Week 13, they get a matchup with the Buccaneers, the 30th-ranked defense in quarterback aFPA. In Weeks 15 and 16, they face the Saints and Falcons, teams ranked 32nd and 31st, respectively, ion the same category. Newton could be looking at his best six-game stretch of the season.
O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers
Week 10 was a disaster for the Buccaneers. Dirk Koetter took over the play-calling duties for a schizophrenic offense that racked up 501 total yards, but scored just three points. Part of that owes to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s four turnovers, but the team stalled in the red zone all too often. With that said, the yardage total does a better job of projecting future performance, and fantasy owners could be down on this offense after last week’s showing. Howard has been one of the most reliable tight ends in the league this season, and his consistent volume should be to your benefit come fantasy playoff time.
Matt Breida, RB, 49ers
Breida had a monster game on Monday night, totaling 101 yards on 17 carries, three catches for 31 yards, and two touchdowns in the loss to the Giants. His 20 touches were a season-high, and he appeared healthier than he’s been for most of the 2018 season. Why sell him when he’s finally the clear starter in this Niners’ backfield? Schedule. San Francisco’s matchups in Weeks 15 and 16 are against the Seahawks and Bears, teams that are ranked fourth and eighth, respectively, in running back aFPA respectively. If you have the depth at running back to deal Breida for a high-end wideout or another positional starter with favorable contests, it could be a difference maker.
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons
Hooped racked up 11 targets last week, tied with Julio Jones for the team lead. He took advantage, grabbing all but one of those targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. It was encouraging to see him get so many looks after totaling seven in his previous two games combined. That up-and-down nature is his reality, though, as a member of a very crowded receiving corps in Atlanta. He’s attractive enough to warrant attention in the trade market, and last week’s game could be the impetus another owner needs to deal for him.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
Henry has scored four touchdowns in Tennessee’s last three games. With Marcus Mariota healthy and playing much more efficiently, we should see an overall uptick in the production of this offense. Henry, however, is clearly second fiddle to Dion Lewis in the Titans’ backfield. Lewis out-touched him 22 to 11 last week, with the Alabama product playing just one-quarter of the team’s snaps. With no real passing game role and a dependency on touchdowns, Henry is a tough player to trust as a consistent fantasy starter. His recent touchdown binge could mask that fact.
Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys
Cooper is off to a good start in Dallas, catching 11 of 18 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown. That could have some owners looking to sell, but it would ignore the very different role has has occupied in Dallas, compared with what was asked of him in Oakland. He’s clearly the No. 1 option in the Cowboys’ passing game, and received multiple deep targets in the 27-20 win over the Eagles. Dak Prescott overshot him on those targets, but the fact that he’s getting those looks speaks volumes about how the Cowboys view him. All of the Cowboys’ remaining opponents are ranked 21st or worse in receiver aFPA, including a Week 16 tilt with the Buccaneers, the friendliest defense to receivers from a fantasy perspective this season.