For many of us, this is it. One last chance to strike a deal, one last chance get our teams in position for a title run! If you’ve been reading this series the past few weeks I’ve been advising a few players to go after with an eye towards winning that one week. Some of you may still be in “must win” mode so by all means feel free to hit me up on twitter (@tradefantasy) for one-off trade questions. This week however, we’re going to focus on players to target with favorable playoff schedules. For the vast majority of fantasy leagues, the fantasy playoffs run from weeks 14-16 so those are the match ups we’ll be focusing on. There are several players at certain positions that don’t need to be traded for so while Brock Osweiler has a very favorable slate during that time frame, we’ll be skipping over guys like that. There’s a lot to cover this week so lets dive right into it!
Cam Newton QB, Carolina Panthers
This one may seem somewhat obvious since he’s been a Top 5 quarterback to date but while Cam has been excellent lately, he’s also put up some duds this year causing some owners to distrust the ex-MVP. Coming off his best game of the year in Week 10, Cam’s price will be up in the low WR1, high RB2 range given the lack of scarcity at the position combined with his recent performances. That’s a fair price when you consider what he brings to the table both through the air and on the ground. Striking a deal for Cam may not be possible in all leagues, the situation needs to be favorable for it to work. After the past two outings Cam is red hot so ideally you’ll need to find an owner who obtained a backup plan at QB when Cam was struggling early on in the season. Take a look at the Cam owner’s roster, if you think you can help him out, maybe take a swing at making a deal? In weeks 14-16 the Panthers face the Vikings, Packers and Buccaneers all at home in Carolina. Minnesota is a tough match up but they can be beat as exhibited by Kirk Cousins in Week 10 where he put up over 27 points against the Vikings defense. Week 15 the Panthers draw the Packers very beatable pass defense (currently middle of the pack vs opposing QB’s) followed by a dream championship match up at home vs the Buccaneers (bottom 10 vs. opposing QB) who were just beat for 365-passing yards and two touchdowns by the combination of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. If he can survive the Minnesota match up it should be smooth sailing thereafter.
Tyrod Taylor QB, Buffalo Bills
It seems odd to to recommend a player who was just benched for a rookie but that’s exactly what I’m doing! Taylor took the job back by default after Nathan Peterman threw a whopping 5 interceptions in the 1st half of their Week 11 matchup vs. the Chargers. It’s clear that Peterman isn’t ready to play at this level so it looks like Tyrod’s job rain or shine! He put up a nice outing posting 196 total yards along with 10 points worth of touchdowns – 1 passing, 1 rushing. Week 14,15 and 16 the Bills will face the Colts, Dolphins and Patriots who currently rank as the 8th, 13th and 2nd most generous defenses to opposing signal callers respectively. He’s tough to trust but we all know what Taylor is capable of. If the benching humbled him enough to correct his play, he could be sneaky good from here on out. It’s hard to ask for a better three-game stretch of opponents in the playoffs.
Dak Prescott QB, Dallas Cowboys
What?! How could I possibly put Dak on this list after his past two games? Well for starters, Dak has been a Top-5 quarterback despite the poor outings and should get Tyron Smith (LT) back for this upcoming Thanksgiving Day match up. The running game doesn’t concern me as much as I thought it might when Ezekiel Elliot was finally suspended, Alfred Morris actually ran pretty well on Sunday night. The problem really appears to be Dak not getting the time he needs and is having to force throws too early or in off balance positions. If you watch the film, Dak didn’t play poorly Sunday night, despite what the box score may say. The talent is clearly there and his schedule is going to get much easier over the next few weeks. Most importantly during the playoffs, he’ll face the Giants and Raiders before heading to Seattle. Both the G-men and Raiders are Bottom-12 vs opposing quarterbacks and the Seattle secondary is officially decimated by injuries after having lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. I’m targeting my panicked Dak owners in all leagues before the trade deadline hits!
I’m admittedly writing this before kick-off Monday night so we don’t know how Coleman is going to perform against Seattle. The Seahawks haven’t exactly been kind to opposing backfields having allowed the 4th fewest points on average to the position so barring injury, not much should change with this recommendation. Freeman is still the back I’d prefer when healthy but if you can get your hands on either back you’ll be in good shape once the playoffs roll around. The Falcons will face off against the Saints, the Buccaneers and then the Saints one more time. The Saints have been middle of the pack against opposing RB’s all season but that number appears to bolstered a bit by the competition they’ve faced. Granted, they have faced some talented backs at times but they have all performed to a decent level against this defense – aside from LeSean McCoy in Week 10. The New Orleans rushing attack is far more intimidating than their rushing defense. The Buccaneers have been Bottom-10 vs. opposing backfields all season despite having a strong linebacking corps. If Atlanta can get it together on offense you could be looking at two league winning running backs. At this point in the season, that’s a “big if” but when you weigh out the risks vs. the rewards going after one of these Atlanta backs makes a lot of sense. Their prices should be moderate given the offensive struggles, so maybe kick the tires and see what happens.
LeSean McCoy RB, Buffalo Bills
I wish I had written this article a week ago when McCoy was coming off back-to-back abysmal outings in weeks 9 and 10. Unfortunately if you want to land McCoy this week, you’ll be paying top dollar after he just ripped the Chargers for 126 all-purpose yards and two scores. I realize he is going to cost you, but given his week 14-16 schedule I think he’ll be worth every penny. The Bills get Indianapolis and Miami at home in weeks 14 and 15 before traveling to New England to face the Patriots. All 3 opponents are currently Bottom-12 in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. He’ll be tough to land after last week so get ready to pay up. That said, you might just catch an owner who wants to sell high after Shady put up stinkers in the past 2 out of 3 match ups. Given their playoff schedule, I’d say it’s worth a try.
Kareem Hunt RB, Kansas City Chiefs
What happened to Kareem Hunt? He started out so hot only to have fizzled out over the past few weeks. At least that’s the perception. Here’s the deal, Hunt hasn’t fizzled out, he just set such a high bar for himself in the first three weeks that he feels like he’s been a let down. He’s scored less than 10 PPR points only once this season when he put up 9.8 points vs Denver in Week 8. If you take away Hunt’s Week 1 explosion, he’s still averaging over 16 PPR points per game, last I checked that’s pretty good! I’ve seen countless owners jumping ship but much like I’ve advised over the past few weeks – I am buying! He had 21 touches last week in what should have been a dream match up but from what I saw on the film, the Giants defense played up a bit more than they had been all season. It also doesn’t help that the Chiefs offense as a whole may have come back down to earth. It’s amazing to think the Giants actually beat the Chiefs this past week given how terrible the G-men are at football. Hopefully this loss will wake Andy Reid up a bit and he’ll get back to feeding Hunt as many touches as he can possibly handle. Alex Smith has performed admirably but its time to get Kareem back on track with some big games down the stretch. The Chiefs Week 14-16 opponents are the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins. Oakland and L.A. are both Bottom-5 in average points allowed to opposing backfields and Miami is Bottom-12. The best thing about these match ups is that all three will be in Arrowhead where the Chiefs traditionally play their best football.
Jay Ajayi RB, Philadelphia Eagles
As good as Jay Ajayi has played in his two weeks with Philly on limited touches, it makes you think he’s got to start carrying the mail very soon. As frustrating as it is to see the likes of Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner scoring touchdowns out of this backfield, this timeshare actually plays to your advantage in trade negotiations. Since we don’t know that the Eagles will ever actually give Ajayi the full workload, there is some risk to acquiring him but you have to think the Eagles went out and got him so they could have that dynamic play-maker who can handle the full load of work in their backfield. We still have a few weeks for the Eagles to figure out Ajayi’s usage before he hits a very nice playoff schedule. His Week 14-16 opponents are the Rams, Giants and Raiders. The Rams and Raiders are 4th and 5th most generous to opposing running backs and the Giants are 15th most generous – nothing scary at all.