By this point in a fantasy football season, you probably have a decent idea of what your team is (or isn’t). As the Bill Parcells axiom goes, “You are what your record says you are.”
The difficult part is usually in finding help for your roster, as the waiver wire can look pretty bleak five weeks into the season. The known quantities who went undrafted have been snatched up by your fellow owners who all seem to have way too much time during the day (technically this applies to me, but I have an excuse).
And because bye weeks are now happening, any lack of depth on your roster can quickly become a real issue.
This means you’re left to contemplate a truly terrible reality: You might actually have to agree to a trade with one of your friends. These are the same people with whom you freely banter and socialize all the time. However, when it comes to fantasy football trade proposals, they turn into absolute monsters.
I recently had a friend propose a trade to me in which he claimed — with apparent seriousness — that he was “sweetening” the deal by including a kicker. After a truly awkward pause that lasted what felt like an eternity, I realized he wasn’t joking. Needless to say, the negotiations have gone nowhere, but if he’s reading this, I’m definitely still interested in trying to acquire George Kittle (more on this below).
Generally, 99 percent of all trade offers melt away under the most elementary analysis. Inconvenient aspects involving “facts” and “basic reality” get in the way of what really would’ve been a win for you.
But once in a long while, you and another owner actually have a player need that the other can fill, and vice versa. Remember, if you really have to agonize over the decision, that’s probably a sign that it’s actually a fair trade (try to avoid this, of course, but sometimes it can’t be helped). To help with your torturous trade sagas, here are a few quality players who might be smart to target at this point.
■ Matt Ryan, quarterback: This seems to happen every year, but Ryan is wildly undervalued in fantasy terms. He probably was drafted well after many other quarterbacks, yet is putting up comparable stats. Don’t overlook the fact that he’s not only in an offense with talented wide receivers and a struggling running game, but he also has to compensate for a struggling defense on a weekly basis. That means more passes, yards, and (hopefully) points.
■ Austin Ekeler, running back: Yes, Melvin Gordon is back and theoretically dooms Ekeler as a top option. But if you’re in a PPR league (or even one that’s half PPR), Ekeler remains a totally viable option. Despite losing playing time a week ago, he still managed 16 targets in the passing game, which places him second among all NFL players. Add in that the Chargers lost starting center Mike Pouncey for the season, and the traditional run game might not be breaking in Gordon’s favor. Ekeler might be on the field more and more as Los Angeles finds itself in longer yardage.
■ DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver: Yes, he’s a known superstar. Of course, he’s had fewer than expected targets and yards, so whoever has him in your league is probably pretty underwhelmed right now. Take advantage of this time and swoop in if you can. Hopkins is immersed in an offense that is finding its stride. Deshaun Watson is set to face some passer-friendly defenses in the coming weeks, and Hopkins will eventually break out. His baseline production is still quality, and he could be a league-winning receiver if he hits his peak.
■ George Kittle, tight end: Kittle already would have multiple touchdowns this season (instead of only one) had it not been for penalties, and he’s one of only two tight ends to have at least 50 yards receiving in each of his games this year (the other being Travis Kelce). On top of that, Kittle will face a friendly schedule over much of the rest of the season, including two games against the Cardinals (who are by far last in the NFL defending against tight ends).