We may be only one-seventh of the way through the fantasy regular season (for those in leagues who play 14 weeks of regular season action), but that is enough to start the juices flowing for true trade-aholics like myself.
While many saner fantasy “experts” would urge patience and caution before jumping into the trading market, I’m recommending that all owners to channel their ninja senses and go for the trade-button jugular.
This is mainly because of what is lining up to be a major value wave among the ranks of fantasy elite after the first two weeks of action.
Below are players who should figure heavily into trade discussions sooner rather than later.
1. Matt Forte. A horrific start for the Bears second-year player has many whispering about a sophomore slump. What many may overlook is that Forte started the season against two very solid run defenses and has weathered a period of transition in the passing game as Jay Cutler and company work to define their roles. Forte will burst back into the fantasy scene this week against a Seattle defense that has been shredded on the ground (most recently by Frank Gore). If you’ve been slow to trading in the past, this is the one opportunity you don’t want to drag your feet on. Many may be slow to deal him so early in the season, but then again, people who drafted Forte are likely facing an 0-3 start to the season — plenty of reason to panic.
2. Steve Slaton. The Texans have been on an offensive roller coaster ride so far this season, but Slaton has been the one constant — constantly stale. Two weeks, two excessively poor performances. Slaton is a harder case to judge (than Forte), in my opinion. He faced one of the most under-rated defenses in football in the Jets in week one, and ran against a stingy Titans defense last week … one that was much more susceptible to the pass than the run. His three fumbles are worrisome, as are comments from coach Kubiak that the Texans should have considered Cedric Benson this offseason. Regardless, Slaton is too talented not to turn it around at least somewhat, and has a slate of games now schedule-wise that he should be able to exploit (Jaguars, Raiders, Cardinals, Bengals). He’s too bargain-basement not to throw some offers out for at this point, I just worry that he sees more struggles this season that Matt Forte will.
3. Clinton Portis. I said before that these are players who should be involved in trade discussions, and Portis is an interesting case. Everyone considers the name Portis to be synonymous with consistency from a fantasy standpoint, and for years that was the case. He did tank it as the season progressed last year and has been mediocre at best in 2009. His stats against the Rams last week was disheartening, but he still should rebound mightily against the Lions this week. After that, however, I would recommend floating his name around your league to see what interest is out there. If Portis does light things up in Week three, he could be a solid bartering piece for you to land a younger, long-term option for the rest of the long haul.
4. Aaron Rodgers. It pains me to say this in public, but I have severe concerns for Rodgers after watching my beloved Packers after two weeks of action. The O-line and the overall pass blocking is atrocious. He spent more time in the grass last week than my push mower does in a month. If this keeps up, the biggest question about Rodgers won’t be how many TDs he chucks or yards he passes for, but how long until he is hampered by a major injury. This week, the Packers, and Rodgers in particular, should fare pretty well against the Rams. However, after that, the team hits a tough part of the scheduling starting with a Week four Monday night game against the Vikings. I would strongly consider dealing Rodgers after this week for a under-rated fantasy QB such as Matt Ryan.
5. Michael Turner. Drafted in the top three of most fantasy leagues, Turner has put up pedestrian numbers the first two weeks of the season. Considering his campaign last year and the slow start to 2009, he should be a buy-low candidate, right? Not so fast. First, he’s basically a non-factor in the Falcons passing game, limiting his value in PPR leagues. Secondly, his big saving grace last year were the 17 rushing touchdowns. This year, the addition of Tony Gonzalez along with a more prolific passing attack in general will logically eat away at Turner’s scoring opportunities. Will he still have big games? Sure! Will be he one of the top three scoring running backs in fantasyland? I’m not so sure.
6. Pierre Thomas. Pierre was primed for big numbers until bitten in the preseason by the injury bug. He sat on the sidelines and watched Mike Bell garner all the stats and attention that Thomas was due. In a weird twist of fate, Bell is now the one injured and Thomas is on the verge of headlining the rushing game. A good time to buy Pierre and hope that he starts fast out of the gates to keep Bell at bay.
7. Anthony Gonzalez. As most anyone who watches football knows by this point, Gonzalez’s promising 2009 season was sidetracked by a sprained PCL. He’ll be out another month or so. However, when he does come back, Gonzalez has the makings of a solid sleeper receiver in an offense geared towards the pass. If you are in a dynasty league, you should definitely be making some offers for AGonzo. However, even in redraft leagues for the right price, the young Colts receiver would be a good player to stash away for a rainy day when your team is making a push for a playoff spot.
8. Joe Flacco. After two weeks of play, which QB has 500 yards passing and five touchdowns? No one would have guessed that Flacco would be in this category. There is a reason for that — the Ravens have always been a run-first, pass-second offense. Flacco adds a new dimension to the offense, but the Ravens have several able-bodied running backs in Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain and a lackluster group of receivers. Flacco’s numbers will slip in the near future, and now may be a good time to deal him for a Matt Ryan or even a Matt Schaub, if you can.
9. Tim Hightower. The Cardinals running back has been a statistical fireworks display in PPR leagues thanks to a ton of receiving yards and opportunities in the offense. However, Arizona will be a different team when Anquan Boldin is on the field and fully healthy, limiting Hightower’s numbers in the passing game. Also, the Cardinals will continue to inject more and more of rookie Beanie Wells into the offensive scheme. Depending on which players you can get for Hightower, he may be a guy worth dangling in trade talks.
10. Knowshon Moreno. It was bound to happen sooner rather than later for the most talented running back on the Broncos roster. Moreno, a rookie, was given 17 carries and capitalized for 75 yards along with two catches for 22 additional yards through the air. This may have gone unnoticed in mostly redraft leagues due to lack of touchdowns … something that will change as Moreno has more and more opportunities to flash his talent on the field.
Want more sound fantasy advice? Check out ninja ep’s Week 2 recap, a box-by-box review of each Week 2 game with individualized fantasy analysis, charts and analysis on points allowed by position after Week 2 and a detailed discussion on the NFL’s most targeted players after two weeks of play.