Fantasy Football Week 8: What We Learned

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson
Oct 27 2013 Detroit MI USA Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson 81 is tackled after the catch by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr 39 during 1st half of a game at Ford Field Mike Carter USA TODAY Sports

Mortgage your high-end running backs, if you can.

I’ve considered this for a good while, and now that we’re one short month away from the first week of the fantasy postseason in many leagues, it’s time to act.

It shouldn’t be news to you that all but a few running backs considered elite in August are posting maddeningly inconsistent production, making the early-round wide receiver draft strategy look more prescient by the day. Take a look at the squads leading your various leagues and you’ll see a common theme throughout: Top-end receivers delivering consistent fantasy production are peppering those rosters.

I’m not telling you to trade Adrian Peterson for Eric Decker, or Marshawn Lynch for DeSean Jackson, straight up. I would say, however, don’t reflexively buck at any trade offer in which you acquire a top-flight wide receiver. I’d rather scrape by at running back for the remainder of the 2013 season than rely on waiver wire receivers or those who don’t see more than a few targets a game.

Do what you can to mortgage your backs this week. That might involve asking for a top-12 receiver and a middling running back option with some semblance of upside, like Zac Stacy, who will likely take on a bigger role in the Rams’ offense. The best trade targets after Week 8: Victor Cruz, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas — who hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards since Week 1 — and to a much less likely extent, A.J. Green, whose quiet September drove owners to the madhouse.

First and foremost, you must identify league mates who still value highly-drafted running backs. They’re out there, trust me. I’ve already found a few in my various leagues.

I would put Jamaal Charles on something close to a no-trade list though, since his involvement in the passing game has produced amazingly consistent production, even on days in which fantasy’s top runner can’t get anything going on the ground. It would take a whopper of a trade offer for me to even consider parting with Charles.

  • Yesterday’s historical performance is why you should never lose patience with Calvin Johnson. I’ve seen quite a few questions about trade offers being bounced back and forth involving Megatron, mostly following his quiet Week 4 and Week 6 outings. I was baffled. Why would someone who invested a first rounder on Johnson want to sell low on their prized pass catcher? Put together Johnson’s unholy size-speed combination with a glut of targets in a pass-happy offense and you have the strange mixture of consistency and out-of-this-world upside. He’s now posted 27 and 37 fantasy points in back to back contests, with a fairly soft schedule ahead. Congratulations if you were among those who “bought low” on Megatron.
  • A Detroit Lions side note: Joseph Fauria isn’t ready for fantasy football prime time, it seems. I whiffed on my suggestion to consider Fauria against the Cowboys this week, believing that the Lions’ decision to part ways with veteran tight end Tony Scheffler meant Fauria was due for an opportunity spike. I was wrong. Fauria played a grand total of 15 snaps against Dallas, running seven pass routes. Brandon Pettigrew, meanwhile, played 79 snaps. Fauria is a boom-bust red zone threat until further notice.
  • Don’t lose your mind over Marvin Jones. Yes, he had a fantasy day for the ages yesterday with 122 yards and four touchdowns, and yes, he’s unbelievably fantasy’s No. 11 wide receiver through eight weeks. Consider this though: Jones ran 13 pass routes in Sunday’s blowout against the Jets, meaning he scored 2.8 fantasy points every single time he ran a route. He remains the team’s No. 3 receiver and has run an average of 19 routes per game. I’d snag him if I could, of course, but don’t blow your entire free agent budget on a guy whose career day appears to be very much a fluke.
  • Here’s your friendly reminder to acquire T.Y. Hilton sometime this week. The Colts had their bye week last week, giving us extra time to pursue a guy I see as a top-12 receiver for the remainder of 2013. I’ve listed the reasons here. It’ll only take one huge stat line to permanently remove Hilton from the trading block.
  • Add LeSean McCoy to the list of running backs I’d mortgage this week, in exchange for an elite pass catcher, or two borderline elite receivers, or a big-time receiver and a middle-of-the-road runner. McCoy, the guy who carried your team and looked to be fantasy’s most valuable player through the season’s first month, has now compiled less than 100 yards in four of his last five games, including yesterday against a heinous Giants’ front seven. It’s the likely loss of Michael Vick that hurts McCoy’s value the most. Vick said after yesterday’s game that he heard his hamstring “pop” against the Giants. With Nick Foles sidelined with a concussion, it could be Matt Barkley’s show for a little while. I’d actively shop McCoy throughout this coming week, being careful not to sell myself short in a panicked capitulation.

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