Fog Bowl: Deadline dealings
By Andy Behrens
November 14, 2007
It's just sitting there above the standings in your public league, unsympathetic and cold:
"The deadline to complete trades in this league is Friday, Nov 16."
So after Friday, opportunities to improve your team will be severely limited. No pressure.
Sure, there might still be a few useful players dropped by desperate owners. Or maybe somebody like John Beck, JaMarcus Russell or Michael Bush will exceed all reasonable expectations and achieve fantasy relevance.
Not likely, though.
If you're either struggling to make the playoffs, or simply terrified that your broken running backs (Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson) and receivers (Plaxico Burress, Marvin Harrison) won't be useful in the final weeks, then a deadline trade is the appropriate course of action.
We've already covered the NFL's more user-friendly defenses and their end-of-season opponents. That discussion can be found here. The shortest possible version is this: New England, Cleveland and Cincinnati really have excellent schedules in the fantasy playoffs. Green Bay does, too.
For those who care, speculation on what the Patriots might do in the final weeks can be found here. Another summary: If they won't rest their starters in the fourth quarter of a game they lead 38-0, why would they do it in Weeks 15 and 16?
The end-of-year subject we haven't addressed yet is who, exactly, to trade away. The community of fantasy experts has no shortage of recommended buys, but we don't generally offer a corresponding number of sells. If you're going to make a deadline deal for players with favorable year-end match-ups, you're probably going to have to trade talent. It's best, obviously, to flip players who have difficult schedules in the final weeks.
With that in mind, here are the Week 14-17 schedules for the NFL defenses allowing the fewest yards per game:
You might notice that I've skipped over a few teams – notably the Giants and Cowboys – in order to include the Packers. Green Bay is allowing 5.3 fewer points per game than New York, and 5.9 fewer than Dallas. They've also contained the three highest-scoring fantasy running backs this season: Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson. And every week, the Packers seem to injure another top-tier player.
Looking at the schedules above, you'll notice that the Jets, Dolphins and Rams all face elite defenses during Weeks 15 and 16. Those are the Yahoo! public league playoffs. It's unlikely that you've been successfully riding Thomas Jones, Jesse Chatman and Steven Jackson all year, but, um … you'll want to continue not riding them to the fantasy championship. If you're an 8-2 Torry Holt owner, shop for deals. In the most important weeks of the fantasy season, Holt faces two defenses – Green Bay and Pittsburgh – that are stingy when it comes to allowing fantasy points to receivers.
The Texans face tough passing defenses in Weeks 14 and 16. Oakland doesn't appear to be a buffet of fantasy goodness, either. (Not that you needed an expert to tell you that). This is a terrific time to move Justin Fargas. In Week 11 he faces the Vikings, a team that limits all opposing RBs who aren't Ryan Grant. The Colts have exceptionally nice match-ups in Weeks 15 and 16, but they face two tough run defenses in Weeks 14 and 17.
Pittsburgh is the most interesting end-of-season case. If you're a .500 team trying to sneak into the playoffs, you should be looking to acquire Steelers. You need to win immediately, then fret about Weeks 15 and 16 when they arrive. The Steelers will get the Jets (25.3 PPG allowed), Dolphins (28.6) and Bengals (27.9) in Weeks 11-13. Those defenses don't get turnovers, they don't keep anyone out of the end zone, and they allow as many yards as their opponents require. (Well, OK, the Bengals get turnovers from Steve McNair, but that's it. And they won't see him again this fantasy season).
But if you've clinched a playoff spot already, you may need to think differently. Pittsburgh has a terrific match-up in Week 16 at St. Louis; Weeks 14, 15 and 17 aren't so simple, however. Depending on your roster alternatives and your league's playoff schedule – and those are huge variables – you have to consider moving the Steelers who've carried you all season. Not for scraps, obviously, but for stars who'll face a more user-friendly schedule.
The playoffs are not the time to be burdened by a sense of loyalty.
They're also not the time to be burdened by Cedric Benson. In Weeks 13-16, Benson will face four defenses – the Giants, Washington, Minnesota, and Green Bay – that allow fewer than 100 rushing yards per game. Benson himself has only gained 100 yards on the ground once this season, despite averaging 19.8 carries per week.
You probably can't deal Benson for anything too valuable at this point, of course. It's just my civic duty to point out his failings. Benson would gain more yards in Week 11 steering a Rascal directly at Lofa Tatupu than he will by running away from him.
No, you can't trade him in your fantasy league after Friday, but I can complain about Cedric all year.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Wednesday, Nov 14, 2007 4:04 pm, EST