There’s a long list of underperforming stars in the 2014 fantasy football season. Running backs like Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Chicago’s Matt Forte have not lived up to their lofty status as first-round picks. Same goes for receivers such as Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Green Bay’s Randall Cobb and Houston’s Andre Johnson. And New England quarterback Tom Brady and Carolina’s Cam Newton have also posted sub-par numbers through the first three weeks of the season.
And right about now, the quarter-way mark of the season, many owners are contemplating a trade to either jumpstart their winless squad or spruce up what could be a championship lineup.
Currently owners are especially nervous when it comes to the running back position. According to CBS Sports, running backs are currently the players tied to the most trades. Detroit’s Reggie Bush, San Francisco’s Frank Gore, Minnesota’s Matt Asiata and Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles are the most popular among owners participating in CBS’s fantasy leagues. You can make a case for why each represents both good and bad trade value, but it’s clear owners are looking to make moves now before their season or an opportunity is lost.
The best practice is of course to buy low and sell high, however, waiting another week might not hurt owners. Still if an owner feels it’s necessary to make a trade after Week 4, there are several players they should think about selling off, and many they should stick with for the long haul.
Here are seven players that owners should consider trading between Weeks 4 and 5. Some of them have been top performers, but they might not keep up that production throughout the season.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
After three games, no running back has been more consistent and explosive as Murray. He’s racked up three consecutive games of 100-plus yards and scored three touchdowns, while boosting his value in PPR leagues with eight receptions. Murray’s riding the best run of his four year career, but take a closer look at who Dallas faces over the next 12 games of the season. Five of their next 12 games are against teams ranked no lower than No. 12 against the run, and before the fantasy season ends the Cowboys have three more games against division rivals New York and Washington, both of whom have better rushing defenses than their numbers currently reflect. There’s also the question of whether Murray can stay healthy, a problem owners have faced with him in the past. Murray’s trade value might be at its peak right now, and you can certainly squeeze a fellow owner for a huge trade package for him.
Knile Davis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Davis has benefitted greatly from Jamaal Charles’s early injury woes, scoring three touchdowns and obliterating Miami on the road for 132 yards in Week 3. But Charles is expected to return this week, and there’s no doubt the Chiefs will go to him early and often. In deeper leagues Davis might be used at the flex or even No. 2 running back, but with Charles back in the lineup his value will drop significantly. Trading him now to an owner desperate for another RB is the way to go.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
It seems almost blasphemous to suggest owners should trade Sanders since he leads Denver in receptions (25), targets (33), receiving yards (334) and yards per catch (13.4). But he’s yet to score a single touchdown, with all but one of Denver’s receiving scores going to tight ends. Not to mention Wes Welker’s return, which will likely draw production away from Sanders. Yes, in Welker’s return Sanders’ targets were almost double, 15 to 9, and Sanders totaled 11 receptions for 149 yards. But once Welker’s in playing shape and into the groove of the season, Sanders numbers will decline. Owners can easily land a top flight running back, maybe from an owner frustrated with Green Bay’s Lacy, for Sanders.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Obviously Garcon relies on whoever is under center in Washington, and after Thursday’s debacle against the Giants it might not be Kirk Cousins for long. Still Garcon represents a ton of value in PPR leagues, as he’s currently third in the league with 24 receptions. You might have to package him with someone else, but it could be a reasonable deal if you need a quarterback and a receiver-desperate owner has a top passer sitting on their bench.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Overall the Patriots offense has struggled, and unfortunately for Brady he has to live up to his own highly-perched bar. Before the season began Brady wasn’t a highly targeted quarterback in most drafts, but you still figured he’d be a steal in the fourth or fifth round and steadily provide 20 points to your lineup. But right now Brady is an average quarterback, and even with Fantasy Pros ranking the rest of the Patriots schedule as the 10 th easiest, an owner can sell Brady off for a better RB or WR and by the end of the season be happy with the results.
Cam Newton, WB, Carolina Panthers
He’s only played in two games, and Newton’s greatly improved his accuracy, but his fantasy value has always relied more on his ability to throw AND rush for touchdowns. The Panthers are clearly protecting Newton’s injured ribs and going forward they’ll limit his carries to avoid aggravating the injury or creating a whole new problem. Offering Newton up now could bring back a huge package, and if you’re in a dynasty league you could land a top receiver or running back to play this year and even a high draft pick.
Larry Donnell, TE, New York Giants
Donnell’s emerged as Eli Manning’s go-to pass catcher in the red zone, and he’s presently tied for second in the NFL with four touchdowns. Donnell’s totaled 25 receptions for 236 yards and those four scores, putting him on pace to snag 16 TDs by season’s end. But keeping up that kind of production is highly unrealistic. That would put Donnell in the same air as Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson. And the Giants still have tough games against Seattle, San Francisco and NFC East foes Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas. All of those squads will make the proper adjustments to limit Donnell and Manning. Donnell’s probably reached his peak trade value, but don’t sell him off for anything less than a top 10 receiver.