INDIANAPOLIS --- Trading is the best part of fantasy football during the season. Nothing beats the draft, but for me, trading is a close second. Figuring out when to buy low and sell high is the sweet science of fantasy football.
Often the best way to set yourself up for a fantasy championship is to trade away depth for more strength at a starting position. In my league of record, I traded Brandon Marshall and Joique Bell last week for Randall Cobb to a team in desperate need of a running back. I felt good about my depth behind Bell with Mark Ingram and wanted to upgrade from Marshall to Cobb.
NFL.com fantasy guru Michael Fabiano just traded Demaryius Thomas and Russell Wilson to America's Team for Peyton Manning. Why? Fabiano is loaded at receiver even without Thomas and has Josh Gordon coming back too. He felt good at WR and gets an upgrade at QB.
Here's the key though: these decisions aren't just based on previous results. Far too often fantasy managers are swayed by recency bias. In my case, I actually believe Marshall will bounce back, but the biggest reason I pulled the trigger was Cobb's FANTASY PLAYOFF SCHEDULE! Cobb and the Packers red hot offense plays three struggling defenses in weeks 14-16: Atlanta, Buffalo, Tampa. Analyzing schedules preseason for your fantasy draft is silly, but at this point, it's very important.
With that in mind, here are 10 players to trade for:
Colts...any of them...seriously...not just because I work for the team --- Indianapolis has provided fantasy gold all season. It will be hard to snag Andrew Luck, but if you can get Ahmad Bradshaw, T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne or Trent Richardson at the right price, then DO IT. The Colts have two attractive fantasy playoffs match-ups weeks 14 and 15 at Cleveland and home against Houston. Week 16 at Dallas isn't great, but it's not that bad either.
Saints QB Drew Brees --- After a slow start to the season, the Saints schedule really opens up the 2nd half of the year. Four of the next five are at the Superdome, and during the fantasy playoffs Brees gets juicy match-ups: Carolina, at Chicago, Atlanta. I have Brees in one league. If other owners are like me, they've struggled to this point (mine is 4-4). Others may have worse records, because if they have Brees, it's likely they spent a 2nd round pick on him and haven't received the return on investment they expected (top-3 fantasy QB numbers). Now is the time to go get Brees.
Lions RB Joique Bell --- Bell owners are probably frustrated with him, after not getting much from what appeared to be a fantastic match-up in London against the Falcons with teammate Reggie Bush out. He didn't reach double-digit fantasy points. You might be able to acquire him cheaper than ever right now with Detroit on a bye. His role is safe too, even when Bush comes back from injury. Bell was productive the first two weeks of the season with Bush around, and he gets Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and at Chicago weeks 14-16. Combine that with the crazy state of the RB2 position in fantasy football this season, and he's worth trading for during the stretch run. Calvin Johnson's return will only help open up the running game as well.
Lions RB Reggie Bush --- Don't trade for banged up players if you need wins now to make the playoffs. Don't assume anything. But if your playoff spot is pretty safe and you need a RB, Bush is a guy (especially in PPR leagues) that might be worth acquiring for the same schedule reasons listed above.
Giants RB Rashad Jennings --- I'm making a play for Jennings in my league, because he was a stud before he went down with an injury. The team that has him too is 3-5 and has little room left for error. These are the kinds of situations fantasy owners can capitalize on midseason. Jennings is probably not playing this week, but when he comes back, it's a huge boost to the Giants offense. Andre Williams hasn't done enough to take Jennings touches. He also proved he's match-up proof with solid stat lines weeks 1 and 2 against Detroit and Arizona. He's a top-10 RB1 when healthy this year. It might be worth the gamble to set up for the fantasy playoffs.
Saints RB Mark Ingram --- But good luck getting him now...red hot and that same great schedule as Brees second half of the season.
Washington RB Alfred Morris --- Personally, I think the return of Robert Griffin III will help Alfred Morris. It certainly didn't hurt the last two years when he rushed for almost 2900 yards and 20 touchdowns. Washington also gets the Giants and Eagles weeks 15 and 16. If you can afford the stash Morris until after the week 10 bye and need a RB, he's another guy to target.
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin --- With Percy Harvin gone, he's the clear WR1 in Seattle. The schedule from weeks 12 to 16 has my mouth watering too: Arizona, at San Francisco, at Philadelphia, San Francisco, at Arizona...all plus match-ups for WRs.
Packers WRs --- For the same schedule reasons I mentioned in the intro to the column. Did I also mention Aaron Rodgers has 6-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio this year?
Giants WRs --- Good flex guys to target are Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle. Randle might give you more weekly consistency and targets, but you can't ignore ODB's touchdown upside so far already after Victor Cruz was lost for the season. Weeks 13-16: at Jacksonville, at Tennessee, Washington, and at St. Louis...pretty good. Not this week though against the Colts, with Vontae Davis in the lineup.
Bonus - Browns WR Josh Gordon --- If he's on a winning team in your league already, good luck getting him. But if he's on a team that has to win now, he can be had. Don't forget we're talking about the #1 WR in fantasy football last year (and he has an upgrade at QB in 2014).