I like to make fantasy football trades. Really, who doesn’t? We all look at other teams’ rosters, checking out who we might be able to snag without giving up too much, who can make our teams better, who someone might be too low on, etc. Fantasy football trades are fun. Each week, I’ll be writing a column describing some guys I’d be trading for and why. Usually, they’ll be “buy low” guys, but sometime they’ll just be guys that I might be higher on than most. This week, though, it won’t be easy to really buy low on anyone, outside of that occasional impulsive owner who thinks Calvin Johnson is the worst wide receiver in the world because he didn’t catch four touchdowns in week one. That being said, these are some guys you might be able to pry from an owner and can rely on for the rest of the season.
Eli Manning (QB, NYG) – Last season was the year of the “elite” talk. Is Manning an elite quarterback? Is he up there with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and co.? Manning proved he was elite by winning a Super Bowl, having the best season of his career, and finishing as the sixth best quarterback in fantasy football (just behind Matthew Stafford). This season, Manning can be expected to do more of the same, despite his seemingly average week one performance. The Giants are a pass-first team. Last season, Manning attempted more passes than Rodgers, who is on probably the most pass-first team in the NFL. He has two outstanding receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, and an up-and-coming rookie in Reuben Randle who can compete physically with any defensive back in the NFL.
If your starting quarterback is someone like Jay Cutler or Robert Griffin III, I’m looking at you. These are the perfect guys to use to upgrade to Manning. Cutler has had injury problems in the past, and he’s never been able to put up consistent starting fantasy quarterback numbers. Griffin had what could very well end up being his best game of the season yesterday, being that outside of Cam Newton last season, rookies generally don’t put up top NFL quarterback numbers every week. I’d ship out one of those guys and another chip who had a good week one, maybe a Stephen Hill or Stevan Ridley, to land the consistent Manning.
Steven Jackson (RB, STL) – Jackson does have some miles on him. He’s been heavily relied on to carry a St. Louis offense that hasn’t really been a threat anytime recently. Good news, folks: that’s not going to change. Jackson got 21 carries for 53 yards yesterday. While the output wasn’t very productive, he was going up against a tough Detroit front seven than can stop the run as well as just about anybody. The carries are the significant part of this equation. The Rams are continuing to treat Jackson as their workhorse back. Even better, he also had four catches for 31 yards. Jackson has always been a legitimate receiving threat, and that doesn’t show any signs of changing. I would be willing to deal someone like an Ahmad Bradshaw, Frank Gore, and maybe even Adrian Peterson for Jackson, just to ease my mind on injury concerns for the former three.
(RB, CLE) – If you haven’t seen the play where he blew up Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, go look it up. Coleman’s helmet flew five feet in the air after it left his head. Anyway, I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. Did you see the Browns stink up the field against the Eagles? Both teams looked really bad, but Brandon Weeden showed he is not NFL ready by any standards. Richardson, however, is, and Cleveland knows it. This is why he received 19 carries in his first NFL regular season action. While he only gained 39 yards on those 19 carries, he will have a very long leash even if he continues to struggle. The Browns invested a lot in Richardson and believe he has the ability to be a playmaker in the NFL. Much like Jackson, Richardson is just about the only real option on that offense. He’ll continue to get a heavy workload and doesn’t have to worry about a time share or losing goal-line carries. How many running backs can you currently say that about? Not too many. Again, similar to Jackson, trade one of the guys I mentioned above. I think Richardson’s value is probably pretty close to Jackson’s.
Marques Colston (WR, NO) – In a week in which the Saints were playing from behind while RG3 had his way with their defense, Colston managed to be the most targeted player in his offense and the fourth most overall in the NFL in week one (yes, even more than teammate Jimmy Graham). While most of the focus has been on Graham as the primary receiver in New Orleans, Colston becomes overlooked, yet again, as one of the most consistent receiver options in the NFL. Colston has at least 80 receptions, 1,000 yards, and seven touchdowns the past two seasons. There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again, especially if the Saints find themselves playing from behind more often. Colston finished 2011 as the 11th ranked wide receiver in standard scoring leagues, which is about where he should end up again this season. Other wide receivers worth trying to trade for Colston who should finish below him at the end of the season include Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon, and Reggie Wayne.
Brandon Lloyd (WR, NE) – If you watched their week one game against Tennessee, you KNOW Lloyd could have had a monster game. He was open downfield twice in the first half, and both instances would have ended up as touchdowns if Brady had seen him or been able to get him the ball. Two of Lloyd’s catches in this game were nothing short of incredible. New England is utilizing Lloyd in a downfield role, and it’s only a matter of time before he pays dividends for owners who knew it ahead of time. But outside of just being the biggest downfield threat the Patriots have, Lloyd are carving himself a major role in the receiving corps in general, and possibly the biggest one. In week one, Lloyd was targeted eight times by Tom Brady. That was more than Aaron Hernandez (seven), Rob Gronkowski (six), and Wes Welker (five). Can you imagine if Lloyd ends up at the top of that food chain? We’re talking possible Randy Moss in 2007 numbers here, people. Get Lloyd while you still can, even if you have to overpay.
Owen Daniels (TE, HOU) – Someone else who also got eight targets on Sunday was Daniels. Daniels should sound familiar to most of you because he was one of the best tight end options in 2007 and 2008. After just about disappearing from all of fantasy football relevance due to various kinds of injury issues, he came back in 2011 to put up respectable numbers of 54 receptions, 677 yards, and three touchdowns. Coming into this season, Daniels was somewhat of a question mark. Would he put up last year’s numbers? 2007-2008 numbers? Or get hurt again, thus putting up no numbers? Well, we found out what Houston thinks of Daniels, and he may just be able to put up big numbers again this season. The eight targets to Daniels in week one were the fifth most amongst tight ends. What is most interesting is the target split amongst Texans. Andre Johnson got 10, just two more than Daniels. Next in line? Ben Tate and Arian Foster with three each. It looks like this could be the Johnson-Daniels show in the Houston passing game this season. If you have a questionable tight end who put up numbers on Sunday, such as Coby Fleener or Greg Olsen, it might be a good idea to see if you could swap for someone who will be given every shot to put up big numbers.