With the ESPN trade deadline coming up in less than two weeks (Nov. 24th at noon ET), fantasy owners are running out of time to improve their teams via the trade route. Of course, there are always free agents to sign, but chances are Tim Tebow, DeMarco Murray and Michael Crabtree are gone in your leagues, and while Carson Palmer, Roy Helu and Laurent Robinson are available, they probably won't be winning you fantasy championships. It comes down to making smart trades.
Approaching trade talks with the main goal being to rob another owner is not a recommended course of action. For one, even if you do manage to pry a stud from a fellow owner for a collection of barely usable parts, it has a tendency to backfire with other league members. In most cases, you must part with something to get something, and that's where this blog entry comes in, focusing on dealing valuable players who have already provided their best statistics.
A few weeks ago, I targeted players to buy low, and in a few cases we've already seen positive signs from those players. That's a beautiful thing. Now let's focus on players to sell high on, though let me preface that your first concern should be fixing your team, not rooting against those you send packing.
Here are players to part with, and let's just say Matt Moore, Brandon Jacobs and Earl Bennett, a few of the Week 9 fantasy heroes, aren't eligible. Same with fellows such as Sam Bradford (bad), Jahvid Best (hurt) and Chad Ochocinco (nonexistent). To me, to sell high on a player, the value needs to be higher than normal, and his final season rank will be lower than it currently is.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Currently one point out of the overall top 10 for standard scoring and tied for seventh among quarterbacks with Eli Manning, Big Ben comes off a stretch of three consecutive 300-yard passing games and six touchdown passes. It's not exactly Steelers football, but two of the teams he skewered were the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, and everyone throws on them. Look, I like Roethlisberger. He struggled early in the season, averaging 10 points per game into Week 5, and now the Steelers are throwing far more. But here's the thing: Historically, Roethlisberger's worst month for completion percentage is December. His touchdowns per game are higher in October and November. Perhaps weather plays a role, or the Steelers just like to run more -- though don't necessarily buy low on Rashard Mendenhall -- but I couldn't help but notice Pittsburgh's pending schedule. The Steelers play the Bengals and Browns twice in the final seven games, and those teams rank sixth and third, respectively, in preventing fantasy points to quarterbacks. I don't see Roethlisberger keeping his current pace going.
Also selling: Can't say I expect production from Matt Schaub to really improve much even when Andre Johnson returns. The Houston Texans are runnin' wild! Also, investing in any rookie quarterback not named Cam Newton is not wise. More on that in a moment.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints: No running back is catching passes at his level this season -- not even LeSean McCoy or Matt Forte -- but it's worth noting the Saints reintroduced last year's leading rusher, Chris Ivory, into the fray recently, and I doubt this helps Sproles get rushing attempts. He has just 10 of them over the past two weeks. It's risky to presume Sproles will continue performing at this rate with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Ivory around, plus Sproles and his pals still have a bye week pending. That affects his value, too. Sproles is the No. 8 running back in fantasy scoring this season, but I think he ends up in the 15-17 range.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Health and schedule are the main factors for me on Jackson, and the team's 1-7 record doesn't help, either. Jackson played all 16 games last season, the first time he had done so since 2006, but he didn't close well, averaging 50 rushing yards in the final three games. Hey, the guy is 28 years old. The Rams are going nowhere, but have to face four top-10 defenses against the run (for fantasy purposes) in the final five games (49ers twice, Seahawks and Bengals), and the other game is against the Steelers. Plus, Jackson missed time earlier this season because of a quad injury and missed practice earlier this week with a foot issue, and he has just one game this season with more than 14 fantasy points, a 30-point explosion against the Saints. Be very careful here.
Also selling: It's a week late to move Beanie Wells at his peak, but I don't see him finishing the season in the top 12 among running backs, as he is now. I'd also see if you can persuade another owner that Reggie Bush will keep running so well; Daniel Thomas is Miami's running back of the future.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Ah, rookies. This one has been tremendous, entering Week 10 seventh in standard scoring among wide receivers. His quarterback, Andy Dalton, is also playing well, though he's not nearly as valuable in fantasy. The problem here is Dalton, Green and pals still have four games left with the Steelers and Ravens, top defensive teams, and another game with those pesky Browns, fantasy's top team against wide receivers. (That's hard to believe, isn't it?) Well, I'm more worried about Dalton than Green, but add it up and Green is an obvious choice to tail off some.
Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers: A few weeks ago I had quarterback Philip Rivers on the buy-low side, and that has looked good. But this is a case in which the inconsistent wide receiver scares me. Jackson went nuts for 32 fantasy points against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9, scoring three touchdowns and catching 141 yards worth of passes. But the Packers are the NFC version of the Patriots against the pass. I actually like the Chargers' schedule from here on out, but Jackson is too all or nothing to me. Yes, he's liable to blow up in one of your fantasy playoff weeks, but as the AFC version of DeSean Jackson, he has way too many dreadful performances. The Chargers receiver has five games of six or fewer fantasy points. He's sixth in season scoring at wide receiver solely because of the Packers game and Week 2, when he skewered the aforementioned Patriots for 29 fantasy points. He has scored 33 points in the other six games combined. Relying on the big games is dangerous.
Also selling: I seriously doubt Denver's Eric Decker finishes two points out of the top 10, given the Broncos' schedule and Tebow spending more time running than throwing. Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz and Pierre Garcon also seem unlikely to end up in the top 15, as they are now.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons: I hate picking on him because he remains productive at 35 years old, but check the game log and you'll see four of his five touchdowns came in the first four games. He scored on the college-like Indy Colts in Week 9, making now the perfect time to move him. Tight end is fantasy's deepest position. I talked about Jake Ballard, Jermaine Gresham and even Brent Celek recently as adds, but in leagues in which one can activate just one tight end, most teams have a starter and don't think about improving the spot. Well, see if you can move your starter, because sitting on free agency might be someone just as productive. Gonzalez is currently fourth in tight end scoring, an easy selling point, but not top 10 over the past month. You can leave that part out but still deal in good faith.
OK, best of luck in your trading pursuits for Week 10 and beyond!