Desperation can breed opportunity — especially among fantasy football owners who are barely treading water in the race to make the fantasy playoffs.
Consider all the factors. While every league has one or two teams that are sitting pretty atop the standings and a team or two that likely has mailed it in, there are slew of squads jockeying for positioning as we enter the fantasy regular season home stretch. These teams can’t afford another loss, and owners are scrambling to do everything possible to keep their weekly lineup competitive.
Enter into the fold another massive bye week — six NFL teams are off this week, and with them a long list of fantasy difference makers. These elements all add up to a recipe that may cook off as a trade that pushes your team over the edge.
The Colts, Texans, Patriots, Chargers, Vikings and Redskins are all off. Targeting players on these squads who also fall on fantasy teams in your league where owners may be getting desperate is a good strategy to make a deal happen. Obviously you’ll need to make sure you have options to start this week in their place, but then you’ll be set for Week 11 and beyond.
Here are some players that may come at an especially discounted price.
1. Arian Foster, RB, HOU. Everyone knows just how fragile he can be, and to highlight that red flag, he left the Texans’ Week 9 game with a groin injury. Reports are still not totally clear, but many are suggesting that he’ll be fine after the bye, but owners who’ve grown accustomed to his big stat totals each week will be sorely missing him this Sunday. You buy him knowing that he could go down with a more significant injury at any point — but then again, that is why he can be such a true trade value at the moment.
2. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND. After a slow start to the season, Hilton has blossomed into a truly elite fantasy receiver, especially in PPR formats. However, his Week 9 audition vs. the Giants was sort of underwhelming based on his stat lines in previous weeks — totaling just three catches en route to 71 yards and a TD. Those still equate to solid numbers in most formats, but owners who are anxious about getting the “W” this week may be a little more willing to pull the trigger on a desperation deal.
3. Keenan Allen, WR, SD. Perhaps one of the biggest busts to date, Allen followed up a breakout freshman NFL campaign with a sophomore slump. Now on a bye, Allen’s value has never been better — not that he’ll definitely blow up for elite numbers after the bye, but he does draw some savory matchups vs. Oakland, Baltimore, New England and Denver down the stretch.
4. Ryan Mathews, RB, SD. Injuries have derailed most of Mathews’ season, but the running back is due back after this week’s bye and welcomed by the Oakland Raiders. It helps that the Changers’ other running back options have flamed out, paving the way for Mathews to reclaim his No. 1 role pretty directly.
5. Shane Vereen, RB, NE. The New England running back situation is sure to continue causing major headaches, but there has been a pattern in recent usage. Jonas Gray is used more frequently in situations where the Patriots run up an early lead and want to play smash-mouth, clock-killing football. Vereen is called on in tighter games where it matters most, especially in passing situations. After this week’s bye, the Patriots draw the Colts, Lions, Packers and Chargers over the next month — all squads that can hang with New England enough to keep Vereen’s usage at the forefront.
6. Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS. Back last week after a lengthy injury hiatus, RGIII was fairly mediocre vs. the Vikings in terms of real-life play, but not too shabby in the fantasy department — and that was against a Minnesota squad currently ranked fourth vs. the pass. Now he gets a week to get in better sync with his offense before devouring matchups vs. the Buccaneers, Colts, Giants and Eagles in four of the next six weeks.
7. Andre Johnson, WR, HOU. A three-point performance last week in PPR formats vs. what should have been a cake matchup in the Eagles has many people suggesting Andre has mailed it in this. Lacking chemistry with Ryan Fitzpatrick, AJ has been increasingly frustrating for owners who are expecting much higher returns. But Houston has made the announcement that AJ was pulling for — promoting Ryan Mallett at signal-caller just in time for a very savory schedule the rest of the season.
8. Pierre Garcon, WR, WAS. After combining for just 12 PPR points in the past two weeks, Garcon has quickly found himself in the fantasy doghouse for many owners. Combine that with this week’s bye, and you have great value potential for a WR that fairs much better with RGIII under center. Some juicy upcoming matchups add to the appeal.
9. Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN. After a sports hernia surgery on Sept. 25, Rudolph has been lost in the injury abyss. He is due to return in Week 11 for a team that is really struggling to find reliable receiving weapons. Cordarelle Patterson continues to frustrate management, Greg Jennings is not the player he once was and the running back situation is a work in progress until Adrian Peterson perhaps comes back.
10. Philip Rivers, QB, SD. Fresh off a minus-2-point performance in which he tossed just 138 yards and three picks, Rivers just has to bounce back after the bye. He draws the Raiders at home — a great elixir for any fantasy QB who may be struggling. He has proven most of this season that he can be a truly elite fantasy option — and he should regain some of his swagger after the week off to regain his composure.
Who are you targeting in fantasy trades at the moment? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!