We’ve finally hit the home stretch. We’re double-digit weeks into the fantasy football season. We’re now at the point where every game is of the utmost importance. The difference between a win and a loss can mean the difference between 1st and 4th place, or between making the playoffs and missing them completely. To make sure that you’re in the best shape to make a serious postseason run, I’m going to give you a few potential trade targets to buy or sell. Free agent fill-ins and stopgaps can save a season, but they’re not going to turn an above-average team into a dominant one.
Let’s start with quarterbacks.
Buy: Andrew Luck – QB – IND: Luck might be a little to obvious for this list. He leads the league in passing yards and TD, so he’ll cost you a pretty penny, but his matchups in week 14 (vs. Texans) and 15 (@Cowboys) are hard to beat. The Texans have allowed almost 300 yards per game and 18 passing touchdowns. The Cowboys secondary has played much better this season, but if their offense can’t get back on track, they’ll fall back into the habits that made them a sieve against the pass in 2013. Even so, they’ve only been mediocre at stopping the pass this season.
Buy: Drew Brees – QB – NO: The Saints 4-4 record may have some owners down on Brees, but he’s been consistently above average this season. He finishes the fantasy year against the Bears and the Falcons. Each team is miserable against the pass, especially since the Bears lost Tillman for the season.
Buy: Matthew Stafford – QB – DET: Stafford has been a consistently good QB for several years, but has never been a world-beater like Brees, Rodgers, or Manning. This year has been no different, although his numbers have dipped a bit in the absence of Calvin Johnson. Well, Johnson’s back, the Lions are deep in the playoff hunt, and Stafford will get to face two lackluster pass D’s in Minnesota and Chicago during weeks 15 and 16, respectively. Minnesota hasn’t allowed a lot of passing yards, but they’ve still given up 14 TD passes. I like Stafford’s odds to dominate fantasy playoff season.
Sell: Ben Roethlisberger – QB – PIT: Big Ben is having a stellar year, having thrown 22 TD and just 3 INT. He’s lighting up fantasy scoreboards, and playing at a top 5 QB level. He’s taking teams to the fantasy playoffs, but his owners might find themselves in quite the quandary come the fantasy Super Bowl, when he takes on the Chiefs, who have allowed fewer than 200 yards per game this season. Roethlisberger is coming off of his best two games of the year, and is an ideal sell-high candidate. Give up Roethlisberger for Stafford straight up, and you’ll benefit, but you can probably get another valuable piece along with Stafford in return.
Which running backs should be targeted or avoided when it matters most?
Sell: Arian Foster – RB – HOU: This one pains me to write, as I’ve got Foster on my biggest money league roster. However, the fact of the matter is, Foster will face the Colts and the Ravens in weeks 15 and 16, and both teams are holding teams to an average of fewer than 100 yards per game. I’m not saying that you need to panic and sell at all costs, because Foster is one of the best, and Houston doesn’t abandon their running game against the toughest of opponents, but these simply aren’t good matchups. Compound that with Foster’s injury woes, and it’d be wise to at least feel out the market and see what you can get.
Buy: Ronnie Hillman – RB – DEN: Two weeks ago, I labeled Hillman as a must-buy in any format. I’m not backing off of that statement. He’s done everything he can to earn the starting role after Montee Ball gets back on the field. He plays in one of the greatest offenses of all time, and he’ll be facing two generous run defenses in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs (San Diego and Cincinnati). Beware that his week 14 opponent is the Bills, who have only allowed 3 rushing scores all season, but with the threat of ball taking his carries away, Hillman’s price should make that week 14 matchup well worth it.
Buy: Mark Ingram – RB – NO: Like I mentioned in regards to his teammate, Drew Brees, Ingram will get the fortune of facing the Bears and the Falcons during the fantasy playoffs. The Bears are a middle of the road run defense, but I absolutely love mark Ingram against the Falcons in your fantasy Super Bowl. The Falcons have allowed 13 rushing TDs on the year, which is a league-worst. Stacking Saints in your super bowl lineup is a great idea, especially considering they should be hungry and fighting for a real playoff spot near the end of the year.
Now how about the guys that catch the ball?
Buy: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb – WR – GB: Both of these guys are studs, and they’ll be tough to pry away from their owners, but the Packers get to play Tampa Bay during the fantasy Super Bowl, and Tampa has the worst pass D in the league, allowing just shy of 300 yards per game, and at least 2 passing TDs each game.
Sell: Doug Baldwin – WR – SEA: Baldwin’s stock isn’t nearly as high as it was 2 weeks ago, seeing as he’s coming off of two mediocre games, but he still has the distinction of being the top wideout on a quality passing team. If Baldwin is a regular in your starting lineup, it could come back to burn you in the super bowl, as he’ll go against the 49ers. The 49ers have the stingiest pass defense in the league, and they’ve earned that distinction with Aldon Smith on the sidelines all year. Smith will return next week, forcing San Francisco’s opponents to get rid of the ball even quicker. If you can find a way to flip Baldwin for a guy like Hillman, you should find yourself very comfortable when the season’s on the line.
Good Luck, and happy trading!