Oftentimes, a single midseason trade can turn around a fantasy football season or lock in a winning squad as title-game bound. Regardless of current record, fantasy owners should never rest on their laurels, instead constantly pursuing elite-talent difference makers capable of giving them a weekly edge. The goal is to stack your roster with as much high-scoring week-to-week potential as possible. Here are 20 trade targets who could change your fortunes, or solidify you as a 2013 fantasy champ.
1. Robert Griffin III -- Washington's Week 5 bye came at an ideal time for RG3, who needed to study himself to fix his lower-body passing mechanics. He's been a fantasy asset to this point -- QB10 in per-game scoring -- but not quite the week winner owners drafted him to be. The Redskins' sieve-ish defense will continue to heap playmaking opportunities on Griffin, and his rest-of-season schedule is a cakewalk. He's going to be a shootout quarterback over the final 12 games.
2. Eddie Lacy -- Contrary to popular opinion, Mike McCarthy is an ardent believer in the run game. He rode Ryan Grant with great success in his prime, and tried riding James Starks and Alex Green the past two years, albeit to little avail. He's now going to ride Lacy. A Bettisian power back with light feet and passing-game chops, Lacy has 39 combined touches in his two healthy games this year and is coming off a 23-carry effort against Detroit, while backups Starks (hamstring) and Johnathan Franklin (fumbles) have moved to the backburner. Trade for Lacy before he reaches his peak, because he has double-digit TD potential over the final dozen games. Lacy could be an even cheaper target if he struggles against Baltimore's No. 6 run defense in Week 6.
3. A.J. Green -- A top-five NFL wide receiver talent, Green has averaged under 50 yards per game over the last month with one touchdown. Andy Dalton may be primarily to blame, but it's worth noting three of the four opponents rank top-14 in pass defense, and Green's score came against the one that doesn't. Green ranks fourth in the NFL in targets and has been pretty okay with Dalton the past two seasons. He's likely headed for a blowup stretch. Get him before it's too late.
4. Vernon Davis -- San Francisco's lone pass catcher capable of beating defenses at the second and third levels, Davis is on pace for the second highest YPR average (16.0) of his career and a career-most 15 touchdown catches. He's a genuine candidate to keep the TD pace as Colin Kaepernick's top red-zone option. The window to buy Davis will slam shut soon, because the arrow is pointing up both on his health and the Niners' overall offense. A full participant in practice this week for the first time since Week 2, Davis confirmed his hamstring woes are of the past on a 64-yard Week 5 touchdown sprint. Jimmy Graham is the only tight end I'd rather have going forward.
5. C.J. Spiller -- Spiller owners are disappointed in his to-date production, which is why their opponents should look to pounce. He's been a bit banged up and ranks 28th in fantasy running back scoring after being selected in the top five of most drafts. When Spiller has been 100% this season, he's averaged 21.3 touches per game despite overblown "committee" worries. Spiller, in fact, has been far more historically durable than Fred Jackson, missing zero games the past two-plus seasons while F-Jax has sat out twelve. At age 32 1/2, Jackson is a poorer bet to hold up physically than Spiller. Spiller has fantasy title-winning talent. He's the best buy-low running back in fantasy.
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6. Torrey Smith -- Smith is on pace to nearly double his previous career highs in receptions and yards, but his owners may be getting anxious because the touchdowns have yet to follow. On tape, it's clear Smith has emerged as a true No. 1-caliber receiver, running the full route tree and having earned Joe Flacco's trust. He's beating double coverage. Get Smith on your roster before the inevitable scoring binge catches up. He's going to be on a lot of 2013 fantasy championship teams.
7. Trent Richardson -- Familiarizing with the Colts' scheme and blockers hasn't proved seamless, but Richardson is inarguably likelier to get better than worse. He's still breaking tackles at an exceptional clip and will become more involved in the pass game as he continues to nail down Pep Hamilton's pass protections. Just one of Indy's next four games will be played against a top-20 run defense, creating a window for Richardson to catch fire before a potentially filthy second-half stretch. He will pile up scoring chances in the Colts' consistent, chain-moving offense. Current T-Rich owners were disappointed with his production in Cleveland, and are even more worried now.
8. Tom Brady -- Danny Amendola is back to full strength, and Rob Gronkowski will be soon. Currently 21st in fantasy quarterback points, TB12 offers top-eight upside the rest of the way.
9. Reggie Bush -- Bush has swapped two huge games with two slow ones and missed one in between, giving his owners anxiety. There aren't ten fantasy backs I'd rather have looking ahead.
10. Marques Colston -- Annual slow starter Colston is at it again, and there's nothing on his game tape that suggests he's hit a wall at age 30. He has at least 60 yards and/or a touchdown in 4-of-5 weeks. Colston and Darren Sproles will benefit statistically as defenses inevitably make more concerted efforts to contain Jimmy Graham. Colston is the premier buy-low receiver in fantasy.
11. Rob Gronkowski -- Gronk will miss his sixth straight game when the Patriots face New Orleans in Week 6. He still offers week-winning upside over the season's second half. If Gronkowski is trying his current owner's patience, offer two borderline fantasy starters for this certified stud.
12. Pierre Garcon -- Garcon ranks 15th in per-game fantasy receiver scoring, but I don't think that's the ceiling for Washington's go-to guy. RG3's early-season mechanics have been problematic, and there is room for lots of progression in Garcon's TD totals and yards-per-catch average. He's a fantasy WR1. Take advantage of an anxious owner who views him as a WR2/3.
13. Victor Cruz -- Cruz was the No. 1 fantasy receiver after the season's first month. He's turned in back-to-back slow games, creating opportunity for attentive, aggressive fantasy owners. Cruz has scored only one touchdown since Week 1. He's still on pace to finish as a top-13 fantasy wideout for the third consecutive season. Put in an offer ahead of Week 7 and see what happens.
14. Stevan Ridley -- Ridley has been one of fantasy's biggest early-season busts and can likely be acquired for pennies on the dollar. Despite zero slippage in his on-field play -- I actually think he looks quicker in and out of lanes this season -- Ridley is on pace for just 653 rushing yards without a touchdown after finishing 2012 with 1,263 and 12, respectively. Ridley can only be treated as a flex option at the moment, but offers high-end RB2 scoring potential the rest of the way if LeGarrette Blount's Week 5 lost fumble removes Blount from New England's backfield equation.
15. Colin Kaepernick -- Kap has been a fantasy dud since his Week 1 destruction of Green Bay for a variety of reasons beyond his control. Blowout victories that require Kaepernick to do less running and passing. Vernon Davis' hamstring. Facing Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Kaepernick probably isn't the top-five fantasy quarterback he looked to be against the Packers, but he's still a strong QB1 with a high ceiling and an arrow pointing up. Davis is 100% again, Mario Manningham is coming back in Week 7, and dynamic dual-threat Kaepernick is going to get better, not worse.
16. Larry Fitzgerald -- Hamstring woes and Arizona's inability to protect Carson Palmer have rendered Fitzgerald a four-week disappointment, but the smart money is on brilliant offensive minds Bruce Arians and Tom Moore getting things figured out. The Cardinals have passing-game personnel to go on a statistical tear at any moment. And there's an awful lot left in Fitzgerald's tank. He just turned 30 years old and beat Darrelle Revis for a game-winning touchdown two games ago.
17. Jay Cutler -- Cutler is playing career-best ball under pass-game guru Marc Trestman, and it still feels like he isn't being taken seriously. He's loaded with weapons and on pace for career highs across the board. Cutler is probably a QB2 on your opponent's roster. He can be your QB1.
18. Lamar Miller -- In a potential changing of the guard, Miller played a season-high 76.3% of the Dolphins' Week 5 backfield snaps, before a Week 6 bye. Daniel Thomas seems to be fading away. Miller was a top-15 running back scorer over the Weeks 2-4 stretch, and will have no trouble refinding that fantasy territory if Thomas goes from committee partner to change-of-pace back.
19. Heath Miller -- The Steelers aren't exactly brimming with passing-game weapons, and Miller was a featured player in OC Todd Haley's 2012 offense, quietly setting career highs in yards and touchdowns. He's now coming off a bye to get his surgically repaired knee back toward full strength. Miller can be penned in as an every-week low-end to mid-range TE1 moving forward.
20. Zac Stacy -- Keep an eye on Stacy's fantasy owner, who likely plucked him off waivers recently and doesn't value the rookie running back as more than a bench stash. Stacy is already a reasonable weekly flex play on a Rams team that needs him, showing an inability to sustain drives without a foundation running game. Stacy gets what's blocked and can add a little more with deceptive lateral steps. He's a candidate to average 18-plus carries per game the rest of the way.
My Top 15 Lottery Ticket "Stash" Running Backs
This assumes current part-time backs like Ben Tate, Andre Ellington, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Chris Ivory are already owned. Joique Bell is likely rostered in your league as well, but this is a reminder to pick him up quickly if he gets dropped during forthcoming bye-week crunches.
These backup running backs are worth rostering at the end of benches on the off chance the starter ahead of them misses game action. They are high-upside stashes.
1. Bryce Brown -- Has Darren McFadden-like running ability without the durability woes. Brown would ascend to RB1 value if LeSean McCoy suffered a multi-game injury.
2. Joique Bell -- Not quite Reggie Bush, but not too terribly far off. Bell combines outstanding versatility with bone-rattling power and tackle-breaking ability.
3. Roy Helu -- We saw what Helu was capable of when he ripped off three consecutive 100-yard games as a rookie and put the Raiders away off the bench in Week 4 with Alfred Morris nursing a rib injury. Because Helu would be an every-down back and not a two-down banger like Morris in the event of an Alf injury, you could argue Helu has more fantasy upside than Morris if Washington's starter got hurt.
4. Bernard Pierce -- A power back with plus vision. Early in the season with Ray Rice nursing a hip injury, Pierce showed the ability to handle 20-plus rushing attempts. He is a starting-caliber back.
5. Kendall Hunter -- Nifty change-of-pace back with outstanding burst. Hunter would likely lose goal-line carries to Anthony Dixon if Frank Gore went down, but would handle the vast majority of touches in San Francisco's backfield behind a lane-clearing offensive line.
6. Christine Michael -- Michael -- not Robert Turbin -- would be the favorite for early-down carries in Seattle if Marshawn Lynch missed time. Michael flashed top-ten NFL running chops in limited doses at Texas A&M and was one of the most talented runners I witnessed this preseason.
7. Jonathan Stewart -- He's expected back in Week 7 after spending the first six weeks on PUP due to double-ankle surgeries. When healthy, Stewart is a more dynamic and versatile back than DeAngelo Williams. DeAngelo owners should bail after Week 6, if they haven't already.
8. Michael Bush -- Not a supremely talented runner, but can play on all three downs. Every-week fantasy starter if Matt Forte went down.
9. Knile Davis -- Running back is playing a huge role in Andy Reid's Chiefs offense, racking up carries and catches. Kansas City is the only team in football whose target leader is a tailback.
10. Montee Ball -- The likely lead back in Denver if Knowshon Moreno suffered an injury. The Broncos view Ronnie Hillman as a change-of-pace player only. Ball would have more value.
11. Mike Goodson -- Goodson is a more talented ball carrier and receiver than Bilal Powell, and far more versatile than Chris Ivory.
12. Shonn Greene -- Don't like his running talent, but you could argue Greene is a better fit for Tennessee's offense right now than Chris Johnson, who actually manages ways to get less than what's blocked.
13. Jordan Todman -- Preseason star. Deep league type would at least be on the flex radar if Maurice Jones-Drew broke down.
14. Michael Cox -- Jumped off the tape this preseason. The Giants don't think Cox is ready to contribute on offense yet, but he may have to. David Wilson (neck) is out indefinitely and Da'Rel Scott has a multi-week hamstring strain. Definitely worth owning in all Dynasty leagues.
15. Mike James -- Would be the more talented half of a committee with Brian Leonard if Doug Martin missed time. Martin, by the way, is being overworked.
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