The trade deadline is kind of like when one of your favorite restaurants closes. If you’re warned about the closing, you try to get as many plates in as you can before it does. And when it does, you’re forced to rely on what you’ve got. For me, it’s mostly turkey sandwiches and granola bars.
There’s no more feeling lazy and just ordering from your favorite restaurant instead of making a turkey sandwich. You have to make a turkey sandwich.
Half of the redraft fantasy leagues out there have probably already seen their trade deadline pass. Unfortunately for them, I’ve got to cater to the ones that still allow trades. But starting next week – and I promise – this column becomes strictly an add, drop or bench one. No more buying, and no more selling.
Let’s get at it.
Add Bobby Rainey
Fortunately, I mentioned last week that Rainey had more potential than teammate Brian Leonard. Unfortunately, I didn’t tell anyone to start him against that awful Falcons defense.
No, Rainey’s not going to lead the league in fantasy points each week, but his 30 carries and 163 yards are telling as to how the Buccaneers are going to use him. Remember, Mike James saw 28 touches against the Seahawks the week before he got hurt, so potential volume is certainly there – it didn’t just come against Atlanta.
The Bucs upcoming schedule is no walk in the park. They’ll face Detroit this week, who has an underrated rush defense when adjusted for strength of schedule. They rank third in the league in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points, and haven’t given up a rushing touchdown since Week 4.
After that, Tampa Bay will see the tough Panthers defensive line, an average Bills rush defense and a potentially tough one against San Francisco.
Rainey has zero matchups through the end of the fantasy season that rank worse than 15th in the league in adjusted rush defense. He should be added for volume purposes, but don’t expect Week 11 again.
Add Nate Burleson
Burleson’s one of the sneakiest adds of the week, considering he’s been out since Week 4 with an arm injury. You remember the pizza story, right?
Don’t underestimate what Burleson can do for your fantasy team. Before his injury, the Lions wideout saw six, nine and nine targets in his first three games of 2013. As a result, he had 19 receptions for 239 yards.
Not only that, but Burleson’s remaining schedule, even if he doesn’t play this week against the Bucs, is really favorable. The Lions get Philadelphia in the first week of the fantasy playoffs – Week 14 – and follow it up with a matchup against an average Ravens secondary and the Giants.
Burleson is only owned in 2.9 percent of ESPN.com league because of his injury, and should be added this week in most formats.
Sell Ray Rice
I mentioned Rice in my start/sit last week, but not because he’s been a stellar runner this year. His opponent, Chicago, couldn’t stop this kid from the Little Giants from running all over them. Seriously. The Bears have allowed at least 123 rushing yards to opposing running backs in every single game since Week 6. They’re depleted defense is awful at stopping the run.
That’s why, if you own Rice and can find someone who’s buying into this performance, it may be a good idea to sell him. He’s still the second-least efficient rusher in the NFL according to our Rushing Net Expected Points metric, and although some of his upcoming matchups look juicy, Rice is by no means an automatic top performer in those good matchups.
Rice is a low-end RB2 from here on out according to our metrics, but with a lot of risk.
Add Delanie Walker
Not only does Ryan Fitzpatrick seem to love Delanie Walker, and not only has Delanie Walker been a legitimate tight end stud over the last couple of weeks, but the Titans schedule is softer than an old banana from here on out. And, if you look at the fantasy points against metric for the tight end position, no player at the position has a better slate in Weeks 14 through 16, the fantasy playoffs.
Walker and his 18 targets in two games should be added in most league formats, especially considering he’s playing such a volatile position.
Buy Dwayne Bowe
If you caught any of the Broncos and Chiefs game on Sunday night, chances are you saw Alex Smith throwing two-and-a-half yards downfield to his receiver. And, more than likely, it was off target.
Yes, Alex Smith had a pretty bad passing game against a pretty bad pass defense, going 21 of 45. But he did target Dwayne Bowe 14 times, totaling 26 over the Chiefs last two games. Though Bowe only caught four of them (awful), the volume alone brings a lot of potential.
The Chiefs upcoming schedule, too, looks nice: San Diego (28th against the pass), Denver (22nd), Washington (18th), Oakland (21st), and Indianapolis (24th) are there opponents through the end of the fantasy season. Be prepared for a lot of Bowe, even if Alex Smith struggles to throw the ball downfield.
Sell Ben Roethlisberger
Hopefully the weather for the game at Heinz Field didn’t distract you, forcing you to bench Big Ben, because boy did he deliver.
Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards and four scores against the leaky Detroit secondary on Sunday, the best performance of his fantasy season. Though the Steelers' offense is trending upwards, it was just the third time all year where Big Ben has thrown more than a single touchdown pass in a game.
That’s why, if there’s a way, you should sell Ben before things inevitably regress. The Browns, Ravens, Dolphins and Bengals are the Steelers next four opponents, all teams ranking in the top 15 in pass defense.
Add Montee Ball
Ball isn’t going to take over Knowshon’s spot in the Broncos offense, but does provide nice waiver wire upside late in the season. Denver used him a bit near the goal line against the Chiefs, and he scored two touchdowns on eight carries. Not only would he be a handcuff, but he still provides potential flex spot abilities if the Broncos do indeed prefer him down the stretch close to the opponents’ end zone. He’s worth a flier if he’s available on your wire.
Add Rashad Jennings
I’ll be honest – after watching Rashad Jennings in Jacksonville a year ago, I couldn’t see a reason as to why he would be fantasy relevant in Oakland. But I was wrong. Really wrong.
Jennings is a top priority add this week if he’s still available on your wire, as he continues to surprise in Oakland’s offense. Our fearless leader, Nik, has been pushing this for weeks now, and while I’m late to the party, at least I’m here.
The best part about Jennings’ value is that it’s not going to disappear when Darren McFadden returns from injury. At least, that’s what head coach Dennis Allen says.
Running backs with this type of value don’t come often, so get him off the wire, especially if you’re in need of running back help. According to our efficiency metrics, Jennings has been a top-10 runner since becoming the lead back in Oakland.
Sell Marques Colston
Guess who’s back. Back again. Colston's back. Tell a friend. (And then trade him to that friend.)
Colston’s put together his best two fantasy performances of the season over the last two weeks, and now has 12 catches over that span. Considering how up-and-down his season has gone, now’s a good time to unload him.
And it’s not just because of his previous performances, either. The Saints upcoming schedule, aside from this week against Atlanta, is brutal for the passing game. Three of their final four fantasy-relevant games are against Carolina and Seattle. You really want part of that?
Sell Colston if you can. If not, hope and pray Brees continues to target him.
Buy C.J. Spiller
I like to call moves like this one “power moves”. Spiller’s been a bust this season, and did nothing to help that label this past week with a six-yard rushing game. And with a bye upcoming, his rest of season ranking here at numberFire looks dreadful.
But there’s hope. If you’re locked in for a playoff spot, giving some of your depth for Spiller isn’t a bad idea at all. The Bills schedule from Week 13 through Week 16 consists of some of the worst rush defenses in the league, including Atlanta, Miami and Jacksonville. Tampa Bay, the other contest, hasn’t been fantastic at stopping runners at times this season, either.
Don’t go crazy for Spiller if you’re in the playoff hunt and haven’t locked anything up, as he’ll miss this week and leave you with just one game before the postseason begins. But I’m fine with a 9- or 10-win team going for the speedy Buffalo Bill.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Fitzum combo is off to a decent start thanks to a fortunate late-game touchdown toss from Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday night.
As I’ve said many times here before, Fitzpatrick is part of the “mediocre passer but can get things done with his legs” mold. He showed that off against the Colts, rushing for 26 yards.
That’s why he’s in fantasy discussions. It’s not because he’s a fantastic passer. In fact, if you watched the game against the Indy, you may have thought that Fitzpatrick was Alex Smith in bearded disguise given the way he was dinking and dunking.
No, he’s not the most phenomenal passer out there, but there may not be a better schedule for a quarterback down the stretch. Guys, Fitzpatrick will face Oakland this week, Indianapolis again in Week 13, then Denver, Arizona and Jacksonville. As I mentioned in my streaming article (linked above), you’ll need a fill-in for Fitzy against the Cardinals if you’re looking to stream your way into the championship, but sincerely, Fitzpatrick has a shot at being a low-end QB1 in his other contests.
If you need a quarterback, go ahead and add the bearded man who’s available in 98 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Add Mychal Rivera
Though the spelling of his first name is questionable, Rivera could provide late-season tight end production for your fantasy squad. In Matt McGloin’s first start, Rivera saw six targets, the most he’s seen since Week 4. As a result, he caught five balls for 54 yards and a score.
At this point in the season, there’s no “wait and see”. Rivera is an athletic tight end, and could turn into something for a tight end-needy team. The way I look at it is if you don’t pick him up this week and he performs well again, you’re bound to miss out on him for Week 13. If you can drop someone who’s not producing on your bench for him, you might as well.
Buy Cecil Shorts
The amount of Cecil Shorts ranting I’ve seen on Twitter this week equals the amount of Cecil Shorts ranting that’s gone on ever, all added together.
He’s had two bad weeks in a row, but there are two reasons for it: Alterraun Verner and Patrick Peterson. Cornerback matchups have gotten in the way of Shorts’ success, contributing to his low volume.
I’m expecting a bounce back for the Jags clear number one wideout, though he will see Joe Haden in Week 13 and Verner again in Week 16. Outside of those matchups, you’ve got to like what you see upcoming.
Don’t throw a guy in your starting lineup out there for him, but if your trade deadline hasn’t hit, giving a couple of no-name bench players for Shorts is a smart call.
Add Justin Hunter
I was going to write about another rookie wide receiver, Markus Wheaton, but because Emmanuel Sanders’ foot injury isn’t serious, I decided to go with Hunter.
All of the Titans. Give me all of them.
I’m a fan of targeting rookie wide receivers off the wire late in the season, as this is the time of year the talented first-year guys at the position start to bloom. And like I noted with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Titans schedule is a cake walk, giving Hunter some potential.
The rookie out of Tennessee saw just one target in Week 11, but did get seven of them in Week 10. As the Titans move forward, I’d expect Hunter to see a bigger role considering the weapons they have – Nate Washington – in the receiving game. I have to note to keep tabs on his health situation, as he is experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
Add the Ravens’ defense
If the Ravens are available – which they are in about 46 percent of ESPN.com leagues – you should add them for this week’s game against the turnover-friendly Geno Smiths. And if you’re looking to stream defenses the rest of the season – which you should be – you should read this article that looks at the best ones to add through the rest of the season.