With last week's adoption of a fourth team, I got the unique joy of going 0-4 in fantasy last week across my leagues.
There are a number of drawbacks to playing more than one or two fantasy leagues (notably, you can barely remember which players you have on which team and you have pretty much no idea who is on your opponents' teams each week) but the silver lining is supposed to be that it's extremely difficult to lose everywhere at once.
These are trying times to be a fantasy football columnist. However, not all is lost.
We're now at the point in the season where we have a pretty good idea of how your team measures up to the rest of the league and your individual players rank overall. Which means it's trading season.
Look to the players you can most easily replace from your starting lineup (usually a WR, but not always if you drafted or have been adding RBs, QBs, or TEs aggressively), and ship them off to upgrade a position of comparative weakness.
A few other notes to remember when looking at the trade market:
- Don't forget about upgrades to defenses and kickers, which you've probably noticed at this point can easily be the difference between winning and losing each week.
- If you can move a dependable WR for a dependable RB, do it, even at the high levels. I love Victor Cruz for the rest of the year, but if I can move him and some other parts for Marshawn Lynch, I'm doing it. Receivers are by and large replaceable due to sheer numbers alone and the fact that touchdowns can skew their numbers so heavily (see: Royal, Eddie), a dependable running back meanwhile is gold and there's rarely a guarantee a handcuff will come close to the starter's production.
- Don't over-complicate trades. While you may think you've worked out a perfectly-balanced trade by getting minor upgrades at three positions and a bench player with potential for a solid starter and all of your former starters, a nine-player fantasy trade scares everyone off and are rarely agreed to. Everyone has talked themselves into liking most of their starters by this point (whether it's advisable or not), don't waste your time on large deals.
- Keep an eye on Weeks 14-16 if you have good reason to believe you'll be in your league's playoffs. If you're making a big trade for a RB, QB, or WR, take a quick look at their ESPN page and see how their opponents those weeks rank against the run and pass. It may be the final push to get you to agree to a deal or the final reason to decline it, but you'll want to know if you're trading for a running back who will be bottled up against good run D when you need him most.
It's a little thin this week, so feel free to check out Week 6 for more options -- I stand by every should and could be added, and upgrade Kris Durham to should be added.
(For our purposes, we'll be categorizing players each week as should be added, could be added, or if you're desperate. The number of players we take a look at will vary each week depending on injuries and their realistic usefulness in the weeks to come -- no adding players for the sake of meeting a minimum.)
Should be added
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
I have no idea how he's doing it, but I'm assuming it's a mixture of steroids and magic. But whether syringes or farm animal sacrifice were involved in Jacobs' resurgence, it appears for real. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry against a solid Bears run defense and did so without a long outlier to skew the numbers (his longest rush was 16 yards). He's the Giants starter for the foreseeable future and New York faces teams that are just okay against the run the next two weeks before their bye. If he and Zac Stacy are available in your league, I'm going Stacy. But if your choices this week are just Jacobs or Randle at RB, I like Jacobs. Just keep in mind he's a running back over 30 (read: a potential injury waiting to happen). But if he's healthy this week and next, I'd start him in my lineup.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Take out a 14-yard run, and Randle averaged 0.3 yards per carry last week after coming in for DeMarco Murray who (I know you'll be shocked) was injured. Not exactly inspiring numbers, especially when the Cowboys' offense has already had a propensity to abandon the run this year when they run into adversity. Murray's status is up in the air pending the results of an MRI, but it's likely Randle will get the majority of the work in the Dallas backfield for at least a week or two. The Cowboys face four teams in the bottom half of the league against the run in the next four weeks (they rank 16th, 29th, 18th, and 21st in average opponent's rushing yards at this point), so Randle is worthy of an add. But I'm not sure if he's much more than a mediocre Flex play until he proves otherwise.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers
The only thing that kept Boykin from leading this column is that I could see the Packers making a trade for a WR in the next week. Aaron Rodgers is going to need someone to pick up the slack with Randall Cobb expected to miss several weeks and James Jones banged up. While the top beneficiaries will certainly be Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and Eddie Lacy, Boykin will gain some targets and is a good enough athlete to make the most of them. He may not be a solid fantasy play long if the Packers make a move for another receiver, but at least for this week he's a Flex starter.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller has 19 targets in his three games this season, and has 70-plus yards on six catches in each of the last two. Pittsburgh's problems have been on the ground, not through the air. And honestly, the market for tight ends on the waiver wire since Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, and Charles Clay burst on to the scene has been pretty thin. If you need help at the position during bye weeks, Miller is your best bet and if he keeps up his current pace, he may be worthy of a starting job.
Could be added
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
He looked pretty, pretty good while throwing for 296 yards and three scores (no picks) plus a rushing touchdown against Tampa Bay. Up next, he draws the aim-for-Mo-Claiborne Cowboys D, then (if he's still the starter) the Giants pass defense he beat for 197 yards and two scores in a partial game last week when he came in for the injured Vick.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
The Titans would be foolish not to trade Britt with several high-powered offenses in need of solid receivers and Britt a free agent unlikely to return at the end of the year. The Packers, Patriots, 49ers, and Lions could all use a receiver, and if any of them acquire Britt, he becomes a high-end Flex play or potential WR2. I think by this time next week, he'll be at the top of everyone's waiver wire adds list because someone made a move for him. You could look really smart buying low here, and I don't see any reason Tennessee should keep him in their disappointing passing offense.
If you're desperate
Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions
Nothing screams 'can't keep this up' quite like five touchdowns on seven catches on the year. Yeah, he's huge and he'll be a redzone target for Detroit going forward, but he's the goalline back of tight ends. You can't depend on production from someone who depends on redzone targets to produce. The Lions have too many receiving options, and once Calvin Johnson is back, they like the fade to him in the endzone. I'd only add him if he's the only option available at tight end and you have to have a plug-and-pray starter.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Feel free to drop Marlon Brown and pickup Jones if you made the opposite move when Jones went down earlier this season. But there wasn't a ton to love about Jones production before his injury. He's an okay receiver who will have some catches for 40-50 yards per game and a touchdown every now and then, but I'd rather gamble on Britt than get boring-but-dependable numbers from Jones. He's just a low-ceiling play.
Josh Davis is a WFAA.com web editor, formerly covered the Texas Rangers for WFAA.com. and is kinda obsessed with fantasy sports. He has no professional expertise in fantasy sports, but finds it funny that anyone claims they do.