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Exploring trade options

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It's funny how some fans can't seem to see the forest through the trees. Take, for example, the Jaguars' loss on Sunday to the Patriots. While some fans see a team moving in the right direction that played the defending Super Bowl champions, and lost; others see a loss and want to call for people's jobs.

Fantasy football is really no different in that people will drop a player based on one bad game (Allen Robinson – traded, not dropped). Or they will pick up a player because he had a great game, regardless of how little he has to do with the offense (Travis Benjamin – ONE big play every week so far). Let me be clear when I say that fantasy football is a marathon, not a sprint. Streaming players only works if they are fantasy-roster bubble players to start with. If you cut a guy like Julius Thomas because he is hurt, someone WILL pick him up and sit on him. Same with Dez Bryant.

Be patient, look at the matchups, and explore trade options before you cut someone that is roster worthy! Let's take a look at some players you should target on the trade market this week.

Jeremy Hill: Hill is the Bengals' No. 1 RB, make no mistake about it. But after back-to-back disappointing fantasy weeks, his owners may be more willing to deal him ahead of Week 4. Hill is a legitimate top-10 fantasy RB, and two games does not a fantasy season make. See if you can steal him before he goes back to being the best RB we all know he is.

Michael Floyd: Floyd looks like he is ready to be the Cardinals' No. 2 WR behind Larry Fitzgerald, and Carson Palmer looks better this year than he has in a long time. Even though Floyd only had 1 catch for 12 yards on Sunday, he was targeted 5 times. John Brown was a breakout candidate entering the season, but that now looks more like fiction than fact. Floyd is going to be erratic with ups and downs, but he is poised for a breakout within the next few games.

Julius Thomas: When Thomas hits the field for the Jaguars, he is going to instantly be a target monster for Bortles and OC Greg Olson. Up to now fantasy owners have been holding on to him waiting for a payoff, but those zeroes start to become an eyesore after a little while. He is expected to return in either Week 4 or Week 5, so now is the time to target him before the news turns to his return date.

Philadelphia Eagles players: The Eagles have been nothing short of a disaster this season, from QB to FS, and everyone in between! With that said, I really do think there is too much pressure for the coaching staff not to pull out all the stops and try to turn this ship around before it gets multiple people fired. DeMarco Murray, Jordan Matthews and Sam Bradford all have high-level skills that will translate into starting-caliber fantasy stats if they can just move the ball. They should all be dirt cheap heading into Week 4, and would be worth a low-ball trade offer to see if the owner bites.

Winners

Andy Dalton – Bengals: Dalton silenced his critics this week in a big divisional game as he threw for 383 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, while adding another 10 yards and a TD on the ground. Dalton puts up QB1 stats throughout the season, yet he gets no love from the national media or the big-box fantasy websites. I told you to start him, and hopefully you listened!

Blake Bortles – Jaguars: If you are someone who likes to stream QBs rather than set it and forget it, Bortles offered you pretty good value off the waiver wire this week. I told people he would be a sneaky play this week, and he was just that as he threw for 242 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT against the Patriots. He barely missed out on the QB1 rankings, but for people who stream QBs, or look for cheap players in daily fantasy leagues, Bortles was well worth playing this week!

Tyrod Taylor – Bills: Taylor keeps proving why he should be owned in most fantasy formats with his weekly output. This time he was able to put up 277 passing yards, 3 TDs and no INTs against a Dolphins defense that has been underwhelming this season. Did you know that Taylor is owned in under 40 percent of fantasy leagues, but ranks in the top 5-7 QBs so far? Yes, it's 3 games into the season, but why are you rolling out Sam Bradford and saying how you hate fantasy football when there are better options on the waiver wire?

Devonta Freeman – Falcons: Freeman got the start with Tevin Coleman out, and he made the most of his opportunity by rushing 30 times for 141 yards and 3 TDs. As if that wasn't enough, Freeman hauled in 5 passes for another 52 yards to finish this week as the #1-ranked fantasy player. Not the best RB, mind you, the best player overall! The Cowboys defense ranked #1 against the run heading into Week 3, so Freeman proved he is more than capable of handling 3-down duties. The question now becomes can he perform at the same level (3 TDs is unrealistic) against the Texans in Week 4?

Alfred Blue – Texans: I had Blue in a few leagues to start the season, but I cut him after Week 2 when he finished with 6 yards on 5 carries. As it turned out, it was a week too early! Blue got 31 carries against the Bucs on Sunday and turned that into 139 yards and a touchdown. Is Blue THIS good? No. Will this create a controversy in Houston with Blue and Foster? No. Chalk this up as the Bucs defense letting him get away and consider him a low-end RB2 play in Week 4 if Foster is out.

Allen Hurns – Jaguars: Hurns is holding pretty solid WR3/flex value through 3 games, finishing this week with 70 yards and a touchdown. Everyone knows Allen Robinson is the No. 1 WR in Jacksonville, but Hurns tends to fly under the fantasy radar as he is owned in roughly 10 percent of fantasy leagues out there. Hurns currently ranks in the 30-35 range for fantasy WRs, which puts him in that WR3 position. He is a prime example of fantasy owners looking at names instead of stats!

Rueben Randle – Giants: Just when fantasy owners gave up hope on Rueben Randle being a sleeper WR this season, the Giants' No. 2 WR busted the Redskins secondary up for 7 catches, 116 yards and 1 TD on Thursday night. My opinion of Randle hasn't changed though, as 41 of those 116 yards came on a fluke play. My bet is he will remain inconsistent, and thus impossible to predict with any accuracy on a week-to-week basis. He is a boom-or-bust play in fantasy football.

Jimmy Graham – Seahawks: Graham did exactly what I knew Graham would do this week as he reeled in 7 of 8 targets, gaining 83 yards and scoring a touchdown. The Seahawks are going to get Graham more involved, so fantasy owners shouldn't be worried about his production. But I will also say that the Bears defense is one of the worst in the NFL these days. Graham is still a top-end fantasy TE, no matter what defense he is going up against.

Minnesota Vikings defense: The Vikings not only held the Chargers to 14 points, they were also able to total 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 recovered fumble and 1 defensive touchdown. With the Vikings being owned in just a small percentage of fantasy leagues, not many people got to enjoy the spoils of this week's victory. Next week the Vikings take on the Broncos, putting them as far down the fantasy defense list as you can get right about now for Week 4.

Losers

Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Big Ben was able to complete 20 of 24 passes on Sunday against the Rams, but was only able to manufacture 192 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT out of the effort. To add injury to insult, Roethlisberger suffered a bone bruise and a sprained MCL, which is likely to keep him out 4-6 weeks (with 6 weeks probably being more realistic). Michael Vick steps into a starting role and clearly showed on Sunday he is a shell of his former self.

Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: The 49ers are looking as bad on offense as they are on defense, and Kaepernick hit a new low in Week 3 as he totaled 113 yards of offense (67 passing and 46 running), ran for a TD and threw 4 INTs. Kaepernick is owned in 70 percent of leagues out there, but he currently ranks in the 20-23 range for fantasy QBs this season. It's time to cut bait and pick up Taylor if you own Kaepernick.

Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks: Lynch exited the game early with hamstring troubles, but that isn't where the disappointment ended. Fantasy owners watched as their first round draft pick ran the ball 5 times for 14 yards against the Bears' leaky defense. Coach Pete Carroll said Lynch's injury is "nothing to be alarmed about," but hamstrings have a way of lingering. Fans and owners have to hope the Seahawks were just being cautious in a game they couldn't have lost if they spotted the Bears 21 points.

Alfred Morris – Redskins: The dynamics of fantasy football is changing as the NFL goes towards more of a running back by committee approach rather than pick one guy and let him be their bell cow. Morris is owned in a vast majority of fantasy leagues out there, and started in a good majority of those leagues, but was only able to provide his owners with 19 empty yards on Thursday night. Matt Jones is looking better than Morris through 3 games, but may have cost himself the starting job with his fumbling problems. This is a situation that is going to be frustrating until one person is named "the" RB in Washington, D.C.

Mike Wallace – Vikings: Wallace is one of those fantasy players that is owned more for name recognition than on-field production. Wallace has put up three unimpressive games to start the season, finishing with lines of 6/63/0 (Rec/Yds/TD) in Week 1, 3/38/0 in Week 2, and 3/49/0 in Week 3. Adrian Peterson is running the show in Minnesota once again, so the passing game is little more than a set-up for the run. I wouldn't count on Wallace being much more than WR depth or a low-end bye week play for fantasy owners.

John Brown – Cardinals: Brown's fantasy season usefulness may have already come to an end with the resurrection of Larry Fitzgerald and the reemergence of Michael Floyd into the offense. Brown finished Week 3 with 3 catches (on 5 targets) for 62 yards and no TDs. Brown could have had a TD, twice, had he not dropped the first one and gotten tackled on the 2-yard line a play later. If you want to keep Brown as a handcuff to Fitzgerald or Floyd, then you must understand he is 3rd on the WR depth chart and thus a risky fantasy play.

Jordan Cameron – Dolphins: Cameron has long been one of those fantasy TEs that does very well, until he suffers a concussion or other injury. This season he moved to Miami and I had high hopes now that he has Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball to him, but that hasn't been the case. This week he saw 8 targets, but only managed to catch 3 of them for 16 empty yards. Next week the Dolphins take on the Jets, who have allowed just 3.2 PPG to fantasy TEs (4th-best in the NFL).

Tyler Eifert – Bengals: After opening the season as a top-end TE1 for fantasy owners, Eifert was held to no catches on 3 targets by the Ravens this week. We all know that TEs are boom-or-bust most weeks, but I don't think anyone expected him to go 0-3 on Sunday. Eifert is still a strong play going forward, and now might be the perfect time to buy low on him.

New England Patriots defense: Many fantasy sites around the world were touting the Patriots as a strong fantasy play this week because they faced the Jaguars, but that prediction didn't work out quite as planned. While the Patriots did hold the Jaguars to 17 points, they also managed to sack Blake Bortles just twice and intercept him once. The lack of defensive stats put the Patriots fantasy defense in the low-end Def2 rankings for the week. Maybe this will make fantasy sites stop looking at the Jaguars as a punchline to their bad joke.

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