Let's make a deal!
I needed a tight end.
The season had not started, I was happy with my team, but with nice depth at other positions, I felt I might be able to upgrade at tight end. One of the other teams in the league had two top-10 tight ends, so I sent a quick note.
"Notice you have two good tight ends. What would you want for Gonzo?"
We were still days away from the start of the season and because Tony Gonzalez (who had gone in the 10th round area in ESPN drafts) had been the second tight end he took, I assumed that was the guy whom he valued least.
His email back:
"Tony for Jamaal Charles?"
Mine back to him:
"You want me to trade my second-round pick -- a top-10 running back -- for your 10th-round tight end? I'm gonna send this to my TV boss. We now have the first "C'mon, man!" of the season.
So the deal doesn't get done.
Flash forward to now. Our league is a PPR league. Thanks to some questionable play calling, Charles has had an up-and-down year, scoring 124 points and being the No. 12 running back on the year. Tony Gonzalez, meanwhile, has put up 154 points, he's currently the highest-scoring tight end in our league and, because the fantasy gods have a sense of humor, I played Tony G's owner this past week. His team was the highest-scoring in the league, mine was second. Eleven receptions for 122 yards and two scores later, he was still in first and I'd been waxed. Next time, Berry, just politely decline the offer, eh?
I still think it was a terrible trade offer at the time, given their relative market value (before games had been played), going off draft position and perceived depth (or lack therof) of the two positions. But not only is it a fair deal today, I'm not convinced Gonzo's owner would make that deal now. Certainly he wouldn't have wanted to do it before Monday night, when Charles got back on track after a few subpar games.
It's an important point to remember as we enter the week before the trade deadline. Which wide receiver do you want?
Wide Receiver A: 9 games played, 540 yards, 5 touchdowns, 80 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring.
Wide Receiver B: 9 games played, 585 yards, 4 touchdowns, 79 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring.
Fairly close, right? A has one more score and 45 fewer yards, B has 11 more receptions (I didn't list that), 45 more yards and is only one point off the pace. There is no real difference in their remaining schedule, in the offense around them or in the level of quarterback talent that is throwing to them.
Which guy do you want?
I actually don't care which you choose; the fact that you're thinking about it is the point.
Because while player B, Larry Fitzgerald, might be tough to pry away in a deal, player A, his teammate Andre Roberts, is available in 58 percent of leagues. No, you wouldn't trade Larry Fitzgerald for Andre Roberts. Fitz has a longer track record, gets many more targets (also didn't list that, on purpose) and frankly, is just a better football player.
But it's also not an insulting offer. And if you got that offer -- Roberts for Fitz -- you'd reject it disgustedly. I can't believe you'd mention them in the same sentence, you'd sneer. And I'd tell you we've only got seven weeks left. At some point, you gotta believe that Roberts is this good or Fitzgerald isn't. Now, I do think Michael Floyd is coming on, I think Fitz is too talented to not be better than he has been (but still, he's not returning what you spent on draft day) but still, interesting, no?
My podcast co-host Nate Ravitz got into an argument like this a few weeks ago on the show where I said I'd rather have Denarius Moore the rest of the year than Larry Fitzgerald. He disagreed and we put it on the board. I like my chances to win that bet quite a bit.
So yeah, I'd trade Larry Fitzgerald to get Denarius Moore if given the opportunity. In fact, here's a list of wide receivers I'd rather have the rest of the year than Larry Fitzgerald: Moore, Randall Cobb, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker and Mike Wallace (even with Byron Leftwich throwing him the ball); all of whom were drafted significantly later than Fitzgerald but all of whom have outperformed him so far this year. I believe they will continue to do so.
And with that in mind, here are 10 other trades I'd make.
1. Trade any quarterback not named Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Peyton, Ryan, Griffin III or Luck to get Carson Palmer. I think Palmer and Matthew Stafford are a wash, so if you want to include him on the list, that's fine. Palmer has a nice schedule going forward but honestly, it doesn't matter. It's such a bad team defensively that they are going to continue to throw, throw, throw and he's got some good pass-catchers. Already with more fantasy points on the season than the likes of Cam Newton or Tony Romo, this is not a fluke. But of course, I only trade for him if I can't just pick him up. He's still available in 30 percent of leagues.
2. Trade any running back not named Arian Foster, Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson for Jamaal Charles: You know I believe in his talent as strongly as I dislike his coaching staff, so for me this boils down to schedule. Weeks 14 through 16, the Chiefs face Cleveland, Oakland and Indy, all 21st or worse against the run. Week 17 (which ESPN standard leagues use as the second week of the championship matchup) is a tough matchup with Denver, but given the state of the AFC West, there's a very good chance they've clinched at that point and maybe Jamaal is running against backups
3. Trade Marshawn Lynch to get LeSean McCoy: Lynch currently is outscoring McCoy by almost 30 points (on one more game, but still) and Lynch isn't playing behind a brutal offensive line or with a backup quarterback. But Lynch faces Miami, Chicago, Arizona and San Francisco in four of the five games out of the bye this week. There is a nice matchup with Buffalo in there and Lynch is pretty much matchup-proof anyways, so this is close, but with Nick Foles at quarterback I believe the Eagles will rely on the run a bit more and there will be a regression to correct the lack of touchdowns. I feel McCoy finishes strong.
4. Trade Andre Johnson to get Randall Cobb: One of them is a huge part of high-powered offense. And one of them watches Arian Foster run. Not only would I do this deal, I don't think it's close.
5. Trade Philip Rivers or Tony Romo to get Josh Freeman: Averaging over 21 fantasy points a game since his Week 5 bye, Freeman has turned into what we all thought he could be (and wasn't) after his rookie year. Fantasy playoff games against a reeling Eagles defense, the Saints, Rams and Falcons. Honestly, I think the Rams are the toughest game on that schedule and you can still throw on them.
Five in general:
6. I'm selling Ahmad Bradshaw: If I can get top-20 running back or wide receiver value, I make the swap. I have concerns about his health, his effectiveness (three straight games of less than five fantasy points), the emergence of Andre Brown and, while I think Eli will be better, there's a chance I'm wrong about that, too, and if someone is offering 60 cents on the dollar for Eli, I'm making that deal too.
7. I'm also selling Stevan Ridley: Wait until after this week (he'll have a real good game against Indy), but assuming I can get top-10 value for him (he's currently sixth among running backs in fantasy points), I do it. In fact, I'd settle for top 15. Check out his schedule starting in Week 13: Miami, Houston, San Francisco, at Jacksonville, at Miami. Other than the Jags, that's four of the top seven run defenses he'll face in his final five games.
8. I'm buying Brent Celek: And I'm guessing it won't cost very much. He's actually still out there in a bunch of leagues (32 percent available) and look at his schedule in Weeks 14-17: at Bucs (11th-most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends), Bengals (sixth-most), Redskins (second-most), at Giants (have given up the second-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends). Plus, I expect Foles to lean on Celek a little more than Vick did while he has the job.
9. Try to get Lawrence Tynes. Did I really just recommend a kicker here? Yes, I did. Very quietly, Tynes is having a fantastic season, with 113 fantasy points. More than his teammate Victor Cruz or first-rounder LeSean McCoy, for example. If not him, pick up Blair Walsh. And as we've discussed on the podcast, just because we say ignore kickers in preseason doesn't mean you should in-season. At this point you can see who is having a good kicker season and who isn't and it is something you can count on. Both of these guys should be grabbed off their bye if folks waived them this week or I'd even make a small trade for Tynes if I could.
10. I'd trade Jermichael Finley for a bag of doughnuts: Or a small Slurpee. Or for my roomie to give me the remote for a half hour. He shouldn't be on a roster in a 10-team league. Or a 12-teamer. And I can't imagine how desperate I'd have to be to start him. Ugh.
You may not like some of the trades above. In fact, you might vehemently disagree with some of them. And because we're talking trades, invariably, the veto comes up. So now, a few ranty words about the veto.
I hate, hate, hate the veto. It's the coward's way out. If I was suddenly made the ruler of all things fantasy, there would never be a veto except in cases of obvious, provable collusion. And in that case, only the commissioner or host website for the league should wield that power.
Understand these two key things: The art of negotiating is a skill in fantasy. That's part of running a fantasy team. A huge part, in fact. It's a skill that is admired and sought after in real-life general managers, so why should this be any different?
And second, it is not your job to coach someone else's team. I don't care if you think that tight end isn't nearly enough for that quarterback/running back combo. The only thing that matters is that the guy getting the tight end thinks so. Everyone should be allowed -- encouraged, in fact -- to coach their own team. Even if it's stupidly.Because I have news for you. No one ever knows. I remember one of the first email flame wars I got into about a trade I made just after the draft one year, still in the preseason. In my longtime league with all my college buddies (a dynasty league), I traded a package of players for, in essence, Brett Favre, then one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy. It was a depth-for-a-superstar deal, perfectly legit, but the league went nuts because the only quarterback the guy was getting back was a recently promoted backup who had just got the job because the starter had been injured in preseason.
I argued the point of the deal was to give him depth at running back and wide receiver, which is what the guy said he wanted. He was happy, I was happy, what's the issue? On and on they complained. Until about Week 3 or 4, when they realized the backup quarterback I had dealt, Kurt Warner, was embarking upon his 1999 "Greatest Show on Turf" season, and would be better than Favre would ever be.
No one has argued about a trade in that league since.
I'll say it again. As long as both teams feel the deal helps their team, regardless of whether you agree, it MUST GO THROUGH. I especially can't stand the people who block a trade just because it doesn't involve them or because it's part of their "strategy" to block other teams from improving. That's the coward's way out and you're a scummy, spineless punk if you do that.
I've said it before, will say it again. Win on the virtual field, not by manipulating the rules.
Time now, as always, to get to Love/Hate. Usual caveats apply: This is not a pure start/sit, please consult my rankings throughout the week for specific questions on which player to play over another one, a shout out to John Parolin and ESPN Stats & Information and a reminder to watch "Fantasy Football Now" on Sunday morning, 11 a.m. ET on ESPN2. And now, like Jermichael Finley on a fantasy roster, away we go.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 11
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Take me down to Shootout City, where points are plenty and the players are pretty. Stafford's back to being the guy you drafted. Almost 700 yards and six touchdowns in his past two games playing in a dome, Stafford starts a stretch with three straight indoors.
Carson Palmer, Raiders: Every week I list him here, every week he makes me look good. Now, he gets the Saints at home. It's one of those that is so obvious, it probably won't work out. But when a guy who is averaging over 41 pass attempts a game gets the 31st-ranked pass defense and he'll have to face an opposing offense that is sure to put up points against the Raiders' 31st-ranked scoring defense? Yummy.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills: Never less than 18 fantasy points in any home game this year, the Dolphins can be thrown on (28th in the NFL against the pass) and thrown on, they will be. On the road, the Dolphins have given quarterbacks an average of 16 fantasy points this year, and that sounds about right to me. If you need a guy outside the top 10, I like Fitzpatrick on Thursday night.
If you're desperate: If you're going to be a NFL quarterback making your starting debut, it doesn't get cushier than against the Washington Redskins. After a full week of first-team reps, Nick Foles should be solid again the Skins' porous secondary. Not sure yet who is starting for the 49ers on Monday night, but as I've said all year, if Colin Kaepernick were to get the job, he'd be a top-15 quarterback easy, and he'd flirt with the top 10 thanks to the rushing. Had more fantasy points than Peyton Manning last week in relief of Alex Smith. I know, he burned you last week, but I could see Ryan Tannehill bounce back Thursday night with a double-digit effort.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 11
Philip Rivers, Chargers: The addition of Danario Alexander has certainly helped but the continued presence of Embattled Coach Norv Turner (now his legal name) has not. There's only one quarterback with more turnovers this year than Rivers and he had six (not a typo) turnovers when he played Denver in Week 6 this season. And if you think Rivers has just gotten unlucky, consider this Next Level stat: Eight of Rivers' 12 interceptions this season have been because of an under- or overthrown pass, tied for most in the NFL. On the road against a red-hot Broncos secondary, I'm avoiding if I can.
Matt Schaub, Texans: It's hard to trust him unless you are in a league that gives points for standing around watching Arian Foster run all over a team. What? If Schaub and AJ can stand around doing nothing on company time, I'm allowed to re-use a joke.
Joe Flacco, Ravens: As one of my Twitter followers called him, Joe is a fantasy Flacco-mole. He has been so inconsistent this year that one of the reasons I have him on the hate list is the fact that he played so well last week. No way he does that two weeks in a row. Especially on the road against the Steelers in the Sunday nighter. Pittsburgh held Robert Griffin III to 11 points and Michael Vick to 12 in their past two home games against NFL-caliber passing offenses. (Sorry, Chiefs fans. But not as sorry as you are, I'm sure.) With no Big Ben, the Steelers know their defense will have to carry them here and Baltimore will try to run with Ray Rice (235 yards from scrimmage and 3 TDs in two games against the Steelers last year) to control clock and take the crown out of it. Hard to see Flacco as a top 15 guy this week.
Running backs I love in Week 11
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Ray Rice, Ravens: See Flacco, Joe. Don't get cute. You're starting him.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots: An obvious name against the Colts, I'm just putting him here because I have him ranked at four overall this week, ahead of big names such as LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Trent Richardson and Frank Gore, among others, so you may actually have a tough choice here. By the way, fun stat here courtesy of The SWAN, Zach Jones: Only Arian Foster has more goal-to-go rushes this year than Ridley.
C.J. Spiller, Bills: No Fred Jackson for Thursday night's game, and his ability as a pass-catcher should equal a huge night. Am I trying to reverse jinx him because Adam Schefter owns him in our War Room league and I'm playing him this week? Damn right. He's gonna have a monster game. No way Schefty loses to me. He's got this in the bag.
Steven Jackson, Rams: Ran hard against San Fran and is now 14th in the NFL in yards after contact per rush among qualified runners. Jets have allowed 556 yards after contact, most of any defense in the league.
Marcel Reece, Raiders: Just one fewer target this year than Darrius Heyward-Bey, according to Stats LLC, he's a huge part of the passing game (15 catches the past two weeks) on a team that throws. He's also got a great matchup and everyone else is hurt. The light, as they say, don't get any greener. Very solid RB2 this week.
Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, Dolphins: Embarrassed after being benched for his fumble, this is a gut call that Bush comes out roaring and this is the matchup to exploit. As for Thomas, at least eight touches in every game since the Dolphins' bye week, he actually got more work than Bush last week after Bush got benched. As I said, I like Bush in this game but Thomas will still get work and, against the Bills' 32nd-ranked run defense, that's more than enough to make him a decent flex play tonight.
If you're desperate: LaRod Stephens-Howling is the Cards' run game, such as it is, and you can run on the Falcons (They allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs). On the turf in the dome, LSH just needs to break one. I expect Arizona to try to get him in space to do just that as there are only three teams that have allowed more rushing plays of 20-plus yards than the Falcons. He does have a rushing touchdown in two of his past three. In that same game, I have lots of reasons to recommend Jacquizz Rodgers, but how about just the fact that he's not Michael Turner? Mark Ingram has only one touchdown this entire season. Total gut call here, but on Sunday, I say he gets No. 2.
Running backs I hate in Week 11
Michael Turner, Falcons: After resisting Turner for weeks I finally got sucked in and started him last week in a salary cap league. And of course he proves I've been right all along on him. Got three easy shots at touchdown against the Saints. Couldn't convert. Yes, New Orleans is playing better, but come on. If you can't do it against the Saints? I'm going to go Next Level to describe how bad he is. Did you know Michael Turner has picked up nine first downs on 20 rushes when needing two or fewer yards this season? That Turner's 45.0 percent conversion rate is the third worst among players with 10 rushes in such situations, and is his lowest rate since joining the Falcons? In other words, he's terrible in important, short-yardage situations. If he's not good at that, what is he good at? Ugh.
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars: Apparently, you need more than just all the touches. You need talent and an offensive line.
The Steelers' running backs: With Rashard Mendenhall practicing fully on Wednesday, this makes a muddled situation muddleder. Or more muddledier. The muddlediest? It's actually not as bad a matchup with Baltimore as you might think, and with Ben Roethlisberger not playing, I can see them relying on the run game more. I just don't know who that is right now. If we get some clarity, ignore this, but for now it's a three-headed monster that's too tough to call for you to trust any one guy.
Wide Receivers I love in Week 11
Denarius Moore, Raiders: Apparently I'm all in on Oakland this week. Usually the kiss of death. Sorry gang. Have him as a top-10 play.
Calvin Johnson and Titus Young Lions: Not that you weren't ever considering not starting Calvin, but putting him here because he always crushes the Packers. Ten touchdowns in nine career games against Green Bay, he's worth the price in salary cap/pick-a-player formats. As for Titus, Matthew Stafford has a 69.6 completion percentage against extra pass-rushers, third best in the league. And the Packers' defense sends extra pressure on 41.4 percent of dropbacks, fourth-most in the league. Consider that while knowing that Stafford has thrown 30 percent of his passes (12-of-40) against added pressure to Young, compared with 13.1 percent of his passes against standard pressure (36 of 274).
Lance Moore, Saints: The only Saints player you're not starting against the Raiders is the punter.
Randall Cobb, Packers: Six scores in his past five and the one game he didn't score in, he had over 100 yards, so there's not a hotter wideout in the league. Only reason I am including him is I have him at 13 overall, ahead of a lot of other big names, so it might be a decision for you. Check the ranks; yes, I'd start him ahead of all those guys. I've gotten a lot of questions about Jordy Nelson's return and if I am worried about that. His reception percentage (45-of-57, 78.9 percent) is second best in the NFL. And only three teams have given up more pass plays of 20-plus yards than Detroit. Cobb's speed in the open field, on turf, will be a big factor here.
If you're desperate: The success of Danario Alexander just goes to further prove my point that Robert Meachem is terrible. Anyway, I expect Champ Bailey to be on Malcom Floyd, which means Rivers will be looking Alexander's way when he's not feeding Antonio Gates. At least 11 fantasy points in three of the past four for Cecil Shorts; it's a terrible matchup, but that's what junk time is for. Speaking of junk time and catchup mode, you saw Andre Roberts' stat at the top of this column, right? The Chiefs have allowed an NFL-worst 7.3 yards after catch this season and Andrew Hawkins averages 7.5 yards after catch per reception, second in the NFL among qualified wide receivers.
Wide Receivers I hate in Week 11
Torrey Smith, Ravens: You know I love his talent and he's coming off a huge week, but hard for me to put him in my top 20. As John Parolin notes, this season Smith has been targeted at about the same rate (7.0 targets per game compared with 6.2 last year), but the completion percentage is down (49.2 percent, fifth worst out of 79 qualified wide receivers). Flacco has overthrown Smith on 27.0 percent of his total targets this year, with only Blaine Gabbert-to-Justin Blackmon having a higher overthrow percentage.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers: Champ Bailey. Floyd was lucky to get 60 yards against him last time.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: Hasn't scored since Week 4, I wonder if the Bengals will do what they did against the Giants and have Leon Hall shadow Bowe everywhere because, frankly, he's their only threat in the passing game. I also wonder if it matters if they do that. On a short week after a heartbreaking overtime loss, I don't see a lot of fight left in the Chiefs.
Tight Ends I love in Week 11
Antonio Gates, Chargers: As good as the Broncos have been against the passing game, they've allowed tight ends to beat them, and Gates had his best game of the season against them in Week 6. Have him at No. 3 overall, highest among my fellow rankers.
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals: Ranks sixth among tight ends with 32 catches on passes 10 yards or fewer. Chiefs have the highest yards per attempt allowed on those type of throws. Given that Gresham is the second-most targeted pass-catcher on the team
Brandon Myers, Raiders: Practiced fully Wednesday. See Moore, Denarius.
Jason Witten, Cowboys: Obvious name included here just because I really like this stat I found: In the past three weeks, Tony Romo is 33-for-39 targeting Witten for 265 yards and 12 first downs, the best completion percentage of any player with at least 20 targets.
If you're desperate: He disappointed last week, but Andrew Luck does like Dwayne Allen and he's going to need to throw against the Patriots. You know Scott Chandler is always a red zone threat and Dolphins are allowing 69 yards a game to opposing tight ends. Rob Housler has at least 50 yards in two of the past three games and the Falcons give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Tight Ends I hate in Week 11
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Vernon Davis, 49ers: I have him 10th as of this writing and I think that might be too high. Don't feel good about it at all. He hasn't scored since Week 3, hasn't had more than three fantasy points in a game since Week 5 and the Bears are tied for the fourth-fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. He's just not a featured part of the offense these days, so you're just hoping for a touchdown.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions: Packers allow fewer than 50 yards a game to opposing tight ends and have given up only three touchdowns to them all season. He caught a touchdown last week but you can't count on that and he has been under 40 yards in four of the past five. Stafford's just not looking his way.
Jermichael Finley, Packers: Death, taxes, Jermichael drops.
Defenses I love in Week 11
Denver Broncos D/ST: 28 points last week, 28 points the week they last faced Rivers this is a hot defense playing a team that will once again be without Jared Gaither on the offensive line, which is bad news for the Bolts.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST: This week's automatic start by virtue of playing the Chiefs is
If you're desperate: For all the jokes, the Redskins have actually been a passable fantasy defense at home, averaging six points a game, and now they face a rookie quarterback behind a fairly poor offensive line. The Eagles allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. I kind of like the Rams' defense this week. Playing at home, against Mark Sanchez; the Jets have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Defenses I hate in Week 11
That's all I have this week. Good luck in Week 11!
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Fantasy Football Week 11
After a couple of spotty games, Calvin Johnson is looking the Megatron his fantasy owners remember. What will he do this week against the division rival Packers?
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Bell Injury Blog
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