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Week 9 Trade Targets for Keeper Fantasy Football

Dave Major breaks down the players you should target in your fantasy keeper leagues.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy
 Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy

Oct 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) takes a handoff from quarterback Matt Barkley (2) during the third quarter of the game at Lincoln Financial Field. The New York Giants won the game 15-7. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Target: LeSean McCoy

Entering week eight, LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing by 107 yards. And of the top 50 running backs this year, only Alfred Morris has more yards per attempt. Morris is gaining an average of 5.2 yards, while McCoy has earned 4.9 yards per carry. McCoy has also been trusted with the ball more than any other back; he had 141 carries through week seven.

For the season, McCoy is averaging 91.6 yards rushing, and 3.1 catches for another 35.6 yards. He has three total scores on the year. The fifth year vet has never had fewer than 40 receptions in a season, and boasts a career mean of 4.7 yards per carry.

The Eagles are in turmoil, however, and the early season hype has faded like an old Polariod. Michael Vick has missed two of the last four games, and was pulled because of an injured hamstring in the other two. Re-aggravating that muscle pull on Sunday could spell more bad news for the reeling team. Vick said he felt a pop on his final play before leaving. If the last hamstring injury was minor and caused two missed starts, logic would suggest even more missed time is coming. Backup Nick Foles is out with a concussion, and rookie Matt Barkley is the only passer left standing.

McCoy gained 514 total yards through Philadelphia’s first three games. And for the next five, he has totaled only 504. The recent quarterback shuffle could work as a double-edged sword for his value. The team could see the reason to lean more heavily on the back. But the offense could also continue to struggle. The Eagles have not eclipsed a possession total of 26 minutes and 14 seconds since week five. McCoy’s fantasy owners may be nervous due to his recent decline in production, or understandably because of the quarterback uncertainty. The timing is ripe; go get some.

Target: Doug Martin

Few rookie rushers have had as much success as Doug Martin in 2012. The former Boise State Bronco was given the ball 368 times for 1,926 total yards. 1,454 yards of those came on the ground, and 472 through the air. He was gaining 4.6 yards per attempt in year one. Through six games of play this year, Martin has 456 rushing yards (3.6 yards per carry), and 12 receptions for another 66 yards.

Alex Marvez of FoxSports1 said that Martin could miss anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months because of his recent shoulder injury. It was reported that the 5-foot-9 back tore the labrum in his shoulder, which would effectively end his season. However, the Buccaneers have not confirmed such a diagnosis, and still hold hope for a late-season return.

Martin’s 22 NFL games provide a smaller than ideal sample size. His first 100 yard rushing game didn’t come until week seven last year, and he eventually earned five that season. So far in 2013, Martin has rushed for 100 yards only once. Tampa Bay fans surely remember LeGarrette Blount’s 1,000 yard rookie season, which came on 5.0 yards per run in 2010. Objects may be closer than they appear. Blount, now with New England, has never returned to that level of production, and is largely regarded as a disappointment.

Perhaps Martin will never regain his rookie form, or maybe the best is yet to come. Aggressive owners will realize the opportunity presented here, and make a play for a potentially strong investment. This first round pick from 2012 could come cheaply.

Target: Giovani Bernard

The first running back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft was not Eddie Lacy or Montee Ball. It was Giovani Bernard, the proud driver of a minivan in last summer’s Hard Knocks. Bernard was the 37th overall pick last April, and Cincinnati coaches have been very excited about the young player’s skill set. Head coach Marvin Lewis was asked about a possible comparison between his 5-foot-9, 208 pound back, and Ray Rice, who is 5-foot-8 and 212 pounds. The coach offered, “What everybody doesn’t understand, when you look at Ray Rice when he was a young player, this guy is already a little taller, a little heavier.” Lewis went on to suggest similar potential to that of Doug Martin and Maurice Jones-Drew.

Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said the little man can be “a unique back with the skill set that doesn’t have to be a 25-carry guy. He can be a 10-15-carry guy, catch eight balls, whatever it is, to help us out and make us more diverse.” Gruden also evaluated that “he’s got great hands and makes people miss on the second level.” Bernard has already recorded gains of 23, 27, 28, and 31 yards.

Through eight career games, Bernard has rushed for 282 yards (3.9 yards per carry), and caught 26 passes for 242 receiving yards. He has added four total scores, which have lit up the scoreboard for excited fantasy owners. Entering week eight, the rookie was 12th among all running backs in standard scoring. Over the last two weeks, Bernard’s touches and yards have dropped considerably. In weeks one through six, he averaged 13.3 touches for 73 yards and 0.7 scores. In the last two games, he has gotten 9 average touches for 43 yards and no touchdowns. Surely this is too short a timeframe to get concerned about his long-term value. But many owners sweat these short-term struggles, especially when their fantasy team is in peril. In a re-draft league, an owner may be smart to unload this 2013 committee member. But in a keeper league, there may be few better times to buy low on the future of this exciting stud.

Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and yahoo.com.

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