With the annual trade deadline coming up next week, what used to be a quiet time of year with little player movement has become something much more critical for the short-term value of a franchise in position to make a title run. If you stink this year and you know it, getting value for some of your assets can be a key component of building to the future.
What makes things so unusual this season is that there are so many teams that appear to be on life support just seven weeks (and, for some, just six games) into the season while others are running away and stockpiling too many wins to be ignored…or potentially stopped.
While the Patriots are no surprise atop the AFC East, with Buffalo at 5-1 and giving the Pats everything they could handle when they met earlier this year, the division has already become a two-team race. The Dolphins are clearly in tank mode and the Jets could move assets if they choose. Either one could be ripe for the picking if draft picks are involved.
In the AFC North, the other three teams aside from Baltimore have a combined record of 4-15. While the Steelers likely won’t trade any key assets and the Browns haven’t lost in the division, yet, they’re all on fumes and could be open to trading a player or two for draft equity – especially the hapless Bengals.
In the AFC West, the Chargers are a shocker at 2-5 and four of those are conference losses that kill any tie-breaker hopes at this point. They aren’t likely to be sellers but have some mid-roster talent that could be moved for the right price. The same goes for Denver, where Emmanuel Sanders could command a mid-round pick to a contender.
In the NFC East, nobody is running away with the division, but the Giants (2-5) and Washington (1-6) are hopelessly mired in less than mediocrity. Both have shown the willingness to move players in the recent past, so nothing is beyond the question here.
Coming off losses to Green Bay (6-1) and Minnesota (5-2), the 2-3-1 Lions could be in selling mode if the price is right. Last year, they showed no loyalty to Golden Tate, so anyone on the roster would appear to be available if the right offer comes along.
In the NFC South, Tampa Bay (2-4) and Atlanta (1-6) appear dead in the water and could be subject to making moves as well.
Back in the day, it was argued that Pete Rozelle’s ideal world would include every team finishing 8-8. Seven weeks into the 2019 season, it’s easy to see the haves from the have nots.
In the AFC, aside from the Patriots holding down their typical spot, you’ve got stalwarts Kansas City (5-2), Baltimore (5-2) and Indianapolis leading the charge with upstart Buffalo in the mix (5-1).
In the NFC, the battle is even more intense with San Francisco (6-0), New Orleans (6-1), Green Bay (6-1), Minnesota (5-2), Seattle (5-2) and Carolina (4-2) leaving 2018 division champions Dallas (4-3), Los Angeles (4-3) and Chicago (3-3) on the outside looking in at the class of the conference.
Whether or not the NFL trade deadline sets records for player movement next week, the stage has been set for teams in contention to make the big move that turns them from potential contenders to legitimate Super Bowl hopefuls.
Here is the Week 8 Fantasy Market Report:
Dalvin Cook – There were injury concerns with Cook after his first two seasons were shortened by injury, but through seven games, it can be argued that he can make a case to be the MVP – not a fantasy MVP, the league MVP. He has five 100-yard rushing games and is on pace to rush for 1,650 yards, catch 50 passes for 500 more yards and score 18 touchdowns.
Hunter Henry – It appeared like 2019 had the potential to be another lost season for Henry, but, in his two games since coming back from missing four games with a patella injury, Henry has caught 14 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. In a season when the top fantasy tight ends are struggling, Henry has come out of the gate strong in his return and will likely be leaned on by Philip Rivers more heavily as the Chargers fight to save their season.
Lamar Jackson – Sometimes fantasy points are earned in different ways. In his first four games, Jackson was averaging 278 passing yards and threw 10 touchdowns. Over his last two games – both wins – he showed what made him the fantasy darling of 2018, rushing 33 times for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson is on pace to throw for 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns. His scrambling is always a concern because defensive players are large men with bad intentions came at him at high speed, but Jackson is proving himself to be an elite quarterback capable of huge things on a weekly basis – whether using his arm or his legs.
Josh Jacobs – It’s hard to imagine that a guy like Jacobs can fly under the radar with the kind of season he’s having. But, perhaps the bye week came in between, over the last two games, Jon Gruden has saddled up his rookie and let him ride. He has 47 carries for 247 yards and two touchdowns and is averaging more than five yards a carry. If he stays healthy, Gruden is going to make him the focus of the offense – win, lose or draw.
Allen Robinson – The Bears offense has been hot garbage much of the season, but Robinson has been the shining light among the struggle. He is averaging seven receptions a game, has never been targeted less than seven times in any game. While the Bears have lost their last two games, it hasn’t been because of Robinson, who has caught 17 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Those are every-week starter numbers.
John Brown – There are players who are the centerpiece of fantasy lineups and there are those guys who are the workhorses that help build the overall point total. Brown is one of those guys. He has five or more catches in five of six games and 69 or more receiving yards in five of six as well. He’s not going to be the guy who singlehandedly wins weeks for you, but he’s a guy you want in your lineup.
Todd Gurley – Much like David Johnson last year, if not for his propensity for scoring short touchdowns, Gurley has been a pedestrian fantasy back and it hasn’t been due to the lack of trying. In his last five games, his average yards per carry have been 3.9, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4 and 2.3 with just one carry of his 68 going for more than 12 yards. Those who invested heavily in Gurley have no option but to stick with him, but his dominance is clearly gone…at least at this point in time.
Zach Ertz – He was drafted to be a weekly stud, whether in a TE-mandatory league or not. The reality has been much different. In 2018, he had eight games with more than 80 receiving yards. Through seven games this season, his high for yardage is 72 and he has just one touchdown. Nobody will bench Ertz because he is capable of huge things, but, do date, they haven’t come with any regularity.
Larry Fitzgerald – In his first three games of the season, Fitzgerald had a pair of 100-yard games and two touchdowns. While he still is the team’s leading receiver and is being targeted more than any other Cardinal, but, the reality is that, after a pair of 100-yard games to start the Kyler Murray era, in the last five games, he has caught 23 passes for just 222 yards and one TD, which came in Week 3.
Kerryon Johnson – Johnson was drafted to be a full-time fantasy starter, but, through six games, he has topped 50 rushing yards just once and has just nine receptions. Those who drafted him fell almost compelled to play him, but, in his last two games – losses to division rivals Green Bay and Minnesota – he had just 18 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown – not the kind of numbers you want from a fantasy starter.
Andy Dalton – His only saving grace has been that he rushed for three touchdowns, but his passing numbers have been brutal, despite being behind in most games and needing to throw. After throwing for 729 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games, he has just four TD passes in his last five games and has done nothing to merit being in fantasy lineups anymore.
Delanie Walker – For years, Walker has been the centerpiece of the Titans offense. But, after scoring two touchdowns in Week 1, he has been all but invisible. He hasn’t scored since and, in his last four games, he has just five catches for 57 yards and no TDs. In Sunday’s game, he was on the field for just five plays and the results have been obvious.