Your fantasy trade deadline is fast approaching, if it hasn’t already passed. Many leagues cut off trades in Week 11; some stretch the fun right up until kickoff of the first game on Turkey Day. Hey, nothing wrong with working the phones while the drumsticks and yams are cooling on the table.
So you may have time to pull off a few final deals to streamline your team for the playoff push. With that in mind, here are some players whose outlook over the next couple of months is bright—as well as a few you may wish to divest yourself of post-haste.
WORTH THE TOP SHELF STUFF
Case Keenum, QB, Texans
While the Texans are 0-3 since Keenum took over for Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates, he’s done more than enough to hang on to the gig. For starters he’s averaging around 25 fantasy points per game, with back-to-back three-TD outings. The Texans are also down a feature back, with their primary ball-carrier nursing four cracked ribs—a situation that has led to Keenam’s pass attempts increasing with each game he plays. Finally, fantasy owners will love the fact that Keenum will face the second-easiest schedule for quarterbacks. If he’s not in the free agent pool he’s somebody’s stopgap or bye week fill-in; make a lowball offer and acquire your starting quarterback for the remainder of the fantasy season.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants
A significantly tougher get now that he’s healthy—oh yeah, and he just rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on a league-high 30 carries; so much for easing him back into the lineup—Brown will nonetheless be worth coughing up a little extra for. There’s no competition for carries (Peyton Hillis’ fumble sealed that deal), and the Giants have one of the more favorable fantasy slates for running backs the rest of the way with upcoming dates against the Packers, Cowboys, and Redskins. See if the Brown owner in your league wants to sell high, because the opportunity he’s receiving will most likely allow him to outperform even those lofty expectations.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots
Ridley is coming off a bye week, so his owner already has a replacement plan in place—and maybe he’s forgotten that over the past month Ridley has been a top-five back, with six TDs to his credit. Vereen hasn’t been active since Week 1, but if he picks up where he left off and hits the ground running like Andre Brown did… well, he’s a top-five back as well. The Patriots’ remaining schedule isn’t without its bumps, but it does include the Browns and Dolphins in Weeks 14 and 15—a pair of extremely favorable matchups for running backs that should pave your path to the Shiva Bowl… or whatever you choose to call your title game.
Reuben Randle, WR, Giants
You shouldn’t need to overpay for Randle, given how mightily and publicly Eli Manning has struggled. And you can point out his minimal targets—a dozen over the past four games, with just three catches in three games and a shutout against the Eagles—to drive the price down further. But not only has Randle been productive with those targets—touchdowns in each of his past four games with a catch—he’ll also face the second-most favorable fantasy schedule for wideouts the rest of the way. And in the one stopper on his docket—the Seahawks in Week 15—he has a built-in workaround: as the Giants’ third receiver, he’s the least likely to draw Richard Sherman—which, in turn, suggests he’s the most likely to be open.
Pierre Garçon, WR, Redskins
Garçon has the Eagles this week and as good a finishing slate as any wideout with the Falcons and Cowboys on the docket. He’s also coming off a pair of 100-yard efforts and has as high a floor as any receiver with at least five catches in every game, at least seven in each of the last three, and double-digit targets in three straight, four of five, and seven of nine this year en route to the third-most targets among NFL wideouts. Your advantage as you seek to acquire him is that he’s not widely considered an elite receiver despite the aforementioned volume of targets—or that he’s top-16 in fantasy points per game, ahead of hotter commodities like TY Hilton and Victor Cruz.
YOU’VE HAD YOUR FUN, TIME TO MOVE ON
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, stop reading now. Luck is an elite quarterback who’ll be at the top of his position for a long time, and you don’t want to be parting with that. Redraft leagues, however, are only concerned about the next two months—and for Luck, the next two months look brutal. He’s had the decency to post 23-plus fantasy points in each of his last three games, so his value is plenty high. And going forward, he’ll face the Titans (third-fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks) twice as well as Cincinnati, Houston, and Kansas City—all of whom rank in the top 10 in that category. Not that Luck can’t have success against some—maybe even all—of those defenses, but why press your… um, luck?
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
Darren Sproles, RB, Saints
Lucky you, the Saints picked last week to absolutely blow up on the ground. Sproles, who looked to be fading into the background, scored twice; so did Thomas, who may be the most valued member of the triumvirate. Even Ingram, who has been mostly a bust since winning the Heisman, suddenly flashed signs of life. Their respective values won’t be higher this season, allowing you to divest of the headache that is the “which back gets the touches this week” game. They don’t face the Cowboys again, so “all three” isn’t an option. In fact, with two meetings against a stout Carolina defense during the fantasy playoffs, the correct answer may wind up being “none.”
TY Hilton, WR, Colts
Hilton has looked more than capable of stepping into the Reggie Wayne role in Indy’s offense, with 14-251-3 in the past two games. But here’s the problem: Hilton has two dates left with Tennessee, and that means two dates with Alterraun Verner. He’s not as well known as Darrelle Revis, but Verner might be even more of a shutdown corner. He has yet to allow a touchdown this year, and opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 23.8 when throwing at him. He’s held the likes of Andre Johnson, Antonio Brown, and other WR1s to a top end game of 76 yards. Wonder where Cecil Shorts (2-42) disappeared to last week? Verner had him. Hilton will see Verner in Weeks 11 and 13, so on the bright side he’s done with him by the time the fantasy playoffs start. However, Hilton will see the Bengals, Texans, and Chiefs in Weeks 14-16—a group that presents its own set of problems for WR1s.