In re-draft leagues, odds are that your league’s trade deadline has already passed, but in dynasty and keeper leagues, most trade deadlines are later in the year. I’m a big proponent of this, as it allows bottom-dwelling teams to sell of their top talent to playoff contenders in exchange for high-upside keepers or future draft picks, similar to the MLB trade deadline. This column will be the most helpful to the teams that are out of it this year, and are looking towards the future, but there’s info in here for everyone. I won’t waste your time with guys like Trent Richardson or Randall Cobb, who are likely impossible to acquire, no matter the price. Likewise I’m omitting guys that are clearly over the hill like Steven Jackson and Greg Jennings. If you’re a struggling team holding on to either of those two, you’re going to be rebuilding longer than the Browns.
He’s struggled with injuries so far this year, but that might be a good thing, as his price has never been lower. The knock on Locker has always been accuracy, and while he’ll never be confused with Drew Brees, he’s shown improvement over the last two years, and he’s also been hurt by some receiver drops. What he lacks for in accuracy, he makes up for in athleticism. Locker has the ability to scramble that can give you an extra 3-4 points every game, and on the goalline he has the size to sneak it in. This is not even to mention his weapons. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Jared Cook and Chris Johnson all come with their own issues, but there is a lot of talent to work with there. Locker has the talent and situation to be a top 10 QB as soon as next year.
With his contract expiring at the end of this year, it’s looking more and more like Reggie Bush’s days in Miami are numbered. The question at this point becomes who takes over, Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller? Thomas has been getting far more looks this year, but in his limited work, Miller has looked explosive. It’s likely going to be a RBBC situation to start next year, but, barring some Romeo Crennel logic, the more talented player usually gets the most work. My bet is that by the end of 2013, Miller is the no-doubt RB1 for Ryan Tannehill’s young offense.
Anyone who has Garcon on their roster this year is probably fed up with him. After signing a huge contract to play with a rookie phenom, Garcon has played a grand total of one healthy quarter before getting hurt and missing a large portion of the season. Between Weeks 1 and 12, Garcon attempted to play in three other games and amassed a total of 7 receptions for 49 yards. With dynasty leagues, emotion often comes into play, and owners will get rid of talented players just so they don’t have to deal with their issues anymore, similar to NFL teams. Well this is a perfect time to buy Garcon. Even the three games he struggled through, Garcon’s overall stats would be 51/803/6 over 16 games. Not WR1 stuff, but not terrible given his injuries. RG3 has been throwing to guys like Aldrick Robinson, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson, and he’s still putting up absurd stats. Giving him someone like Garcon over a full season should lead to fantasy goodness for years to come.
When the Colts drafted Allen and Coby Fleener after picking up Andrew Luck first overall, it was clear they were trying to copy the Patriots Gronk/Hernandez strategy. At first, it looked like Fleener was the one to own, given his chemistry with Luck from their college days, and both ends’ numbers were similar through Week 8. Then Fleener got hurt, and Allen has slid nicely into the TE1 role for the Indy offense. When both guys are healthy they will eat into each other’s production for now, but the future looks bright. Reggie Wayne won’t be around forever, Donnie Avery is perpetually injured, and youngsters T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill are deep threats but won’t challenge the TEs for targets underneath. Within a year or two, both TEs should be worth starting, but I see Allen taking the Gronk role. He’s more athletic and Luck has looked at him more in the redzone, while Fleener is more of a safety valve. If you can acquire Allen for an aging starter like Gates or Witten, I would pull the trigger.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Sir Robert. I think he’s great for the league and I hope he has a long and exciting career, and breaks Peyton Manning’s 2010 record for commercial appearances in a single game. But his value may never be as high as it is right now. His passing numbers are on pace for 3600/23/6 along with 934 yards and 9 TDs on the ground, putting him in the running for QB1 on the year. Let me take you back all the way to 2011, when a rookie QB set the league on fire with his arm and legs, and came in just behind Rodgers and Brees in fantasy points. That young QB’s name was Cam Newton. One year later and he’s currently QB12, and has struggled to handle the expectations placed on him after his amazing rookie year. Now I think RG3 has shown more maturity both on and off the field than Cam, but he will face similar struggles with defenses adjusting to his style, and he too suffers from a lack of weapons. If Griffin is your only QB, then you’re likely set for years to come. But if you also have a guy like Josh Freeman or Andy Dalton and you can flip RG3 for a C.J. Spiller or Percy Harvin, then I would consider making that move.
This article is littered with Redskins, which is a function of a young and dynamic offense being coached by a father-son tandem that is determined to ruin your fantasy team. Morris was likely a free agent after Rookie Drafts in all but the deepest of Dynasty leagues, as Washington’s backfield was already crowded with Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower. But Hightower was cut, Royster and Helu weren’t 100% healthy, and Morris had a monster Week 1 out of nowhere, going for 96 yards and 2 TDs. He’s been a solid RB2 for most of the year, and if you have him, you’re likely in playoff contention. Despite all that, I would not feel safe if I was relying on Morris to be my RB of the future. Everyone knows that Shanahan-led offenses have absolutely no loyalty to their backs, and Morris was only a seventh round pick, so the organization doesn’t have much invested in him either. He’ll likely be RB1 on the depth chart in August, but as we’ve seen time and again, that means next to nothing to the Shanaclan. I would try to flip Morris for a back with a higher upside even if they don’t have a starting job yet, like Kendall Hunter or Ben Tate.
After being drafted 10th overall as the second WR off the board in 2009 (after the bizarre Heyward-Bey pick that was made when people just joked that Al Davis was dead), Crabtree entered the league with high hopes. Along with Vernon Davis, Crabtree was supposed to provide Alex Smith with the weapons he needed to truly become an elite QB. Four years later, we’re still waiting. As a dynasty owner who drafted Crabtree, you’ve likely gotten rid of him already, trying to pretend like that pick never happened. If you bought “low” on Crabtree after 2010 or 2011, you feel like you just bought a used car without a Car Fox. Well now is probably the highest his value will ever be. The Niners offense looks rejuvenated with Kaepernick under center, and Crabtree is on pace for career highs in catches and TDs. Even if you can only get an upside rookie like Mohamed Sanu or Alshon Jeffrey, it’s better than relying on Crabtree for four more years.
His falling out with Aaron Rodgers has been well-publicized, but his athleticism will undoubtedly rope in at least one other owner in your league. If you’re going to sell, make sure to do it now rather than after the year, where Finley will likely part ways with the Packers, crushing any value he has left. A touchdown in Week 11 has made his season less of a complete failure, so if you can pick up a future pick along with a project TE like Rob Housler or Taylor Thompson, don’t hesitate, pull the trigger.
Rookie Draft Picks
The 2013 draft class is shaping up to be the weakest in years. It doesn’t have the top-level talent that was there in 2011 and 2012, and the teams at the top of the draft will likely not be in the market for skill-players outside of a big reach at QB. We’re at least a year away from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay debating Marquise Lee and Johnny Manziel, so most 2013 rookies will either be projects with tons of raw talent like Stephen Hill this year, or mediocre players drafted into good situations like Alfred Morris. Neither option is appealing if you’re looking to build your dynasty team into an actual dynasty, so the urge to trade these picks will be strong. But don’t make a move just yet. If you need to throw in a pick to make a trade that will help you with the playoff push, go ahead, but otherwise hold off until the offseason. The names Matt Barkley and Justin Hunter don’t sound appealing now, but come March, they’ll be all over ESPN, artificially inflating their worth in fantasy leagues. That’s the time to make the move. Even if you flip a 2013 first for a 2014 first, it’s a win in my book.