Heath Cummings provides his analysis for some key fantasy players and an outlook for their production during the remainder of the season.
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With the trade deadline in most leagues just days away, it’s time for another installment of trade advice. While it’s impossible to offer advice for every team without knowing who they have or what they need, I’m going to at least provide some names for you to target, and some names for you to look to shop in the following three categories below:
Just Getting In
(Players that will help you weeks 12-14. These targets are predominantly for teams sitting on the playoff bubble that need a push to sneak into the playoffs)
Matt Ryan: Ryan’s five-interception performance this week may have opened the door to trade negotiations, and if so you need to jump on it. He only has one tougher-than-average pass defense left on his schedule and his next two match ups are as favorable as any quarterback in the league.
Matt Schaub: Schaub is no longer a buy-low after his five-touchdown game against the Jaguars, but he’s likely someone’s second quarterback and they may be looking to sell high. Schaub finishes the season with six straight games against below average pass defenses.
Frank Gore: Gore belongs in this category and this category only because his playoff schedule is brutal. Still, if you’re desperately seeking a seat at the table and your regular season ends after week 13 he’s a prime target. Gore looks to be in for a monster week 12 performance.
C.J. Spiller: Spiller is the only impact back in the league with a better schedule over the next two weeks than Gore and his playoff schedule is slightly better as well. He’s going to cost you more, but his big play ability could easily propel you into the playoffs.
Hakeem Nicks: Nicks has finally recovered from his nagging injury and looks ready to contribute on a full-time basis. With the Giants schedule over the next three weeks I’d inquire about both Nicks and Victor Cruz, but assuming Nicks is the cheaper option snap him up and ride him into the playoffs.
Eric Decker: Once again we’re looking at another combination situation, and choosing the cheaper option. Decker and Demaryius Thomas are both in store for a strong finish to the regular season and a big fantasy postseason. Thomas is worth more but his recent success may make him nearly impossible to trade for.
In It To Win It
(Players with the best matchups weeks 14-17. These targets are predominantly for teams that have more or less secured a playoff spot and are just trying to get their playoff rosters set)
Cam Newton: Newton has had an up and down sophomore campaign, but all signs point to him finishing the year on a good note. His playoff schedule is very favorable and match ups against Atlanta and New Orleans give a high probability for shootouts.
Daniel Thomas: Thomas is turning into a decent RB2 candidate and is most likely stashed on someone’s bench. His playoff schedule is very inviting and the best part is that he’ll likely have assumed an even larger role by that late in the season.
Chris Johnson: Johnson has already experienced his resurgence, and won’t come cheap, but he’s worth it. The Titans took a long time to figure things out on offense but they finally have and Johnson will have some very suspect run defenses to feast on down the stretch.
Steve Smith: For the same reasons I mentioned regarding Newton I’m very high on Smith in the fantasy playoffs. He’s also probably very cheap right now, but there’s no doubt he still has the ability to torch a poor pass defense or pile up yardage in a shootout.
Justin Blackmon: A day late and a dollar short right? Not necessarily. Blackmon probably isn’t going to match his week eleven performance but as bad as he was in the first ten weeks you shouldn’t have to pay full price for that performance. Blackmon’s final three games come against poor pass defenses and the Jaguars will want to give their first round pick every opportunity to shine.
Jason Witten: Witten’s come on strong since returning from his injury and will probably come at a premium, but he’ll be worth it. Witten’s playoff schedule is loaded with teams that have struggled with tight ends and the Cowboys will continue to throw the ball all over the field.
(Players whose values are currently higher than what I expect their production will be for the remainder of the season)
Josh Freeman: The Buccaneers offense has been rolling but things are about to get much more difficult. His next three games come against above average defenses and as good as Freeman has been this year he’s still shown an ability to put up a stinker. He’s coming off a string of games against sub-par defenses and is due for a regression.
Tom Brady: Based on his recent performance Brady’s value should be as high as any quarterback in the league right now. Try to find someone that isn’t scared off by the loss of Rob Gronkowski and cut a deal. Even before the Gronkowski injury, Brady’s December looked tough with the toughest schedule in the league in weeks 14-16.
Ray Rice: Rice’s value has been decreasing slowly the last couple of weeks but it’s about ready to fall off a cliff. The Ravens face above average run defenses in their next five games with their only decent match up coming in week 17.
Adrian Peterson: Peterson’s a beast that can find success against just about any defense but even he will struggle with the challenge that is presented by his final six games. What makes it worse is the Vikings lack of success in the passing game lately. Expect stout run defenses with eight the box the rest of the season for Peterson.
Brandon Marshall: If you can get anything close to value for Marshall I’d move him now. This isn’t so much about Jay Cutler’s injury (although that doesn’t help) as it is Marshall’s upcoming schedule. The one situation where I would hold on to Marshall is if you’ve just about wrapped up a playoff spot and have your playoffs in weeks 15-17 when his schedule lightens up.
Vincent Jackson: Jackson has exactly one favorable match up remaining on his schedule and the rest are really not good at all. Jackson’s value should be sky high right now and it’s time to move him for another #1 receiver or a package of players.
Heath Miller: I’m guessing you aren’t going to get much for Miller at this point, but you never know until you ask. Miller still has the numbers to look like a #1 tight end but until Ben Roethlisberger returns he’s not going to put up anything close to those numbers.