Any league worth its unique URL has a mid-November trade deadline. Sports need caps on roster moves for continuity, mental health of their athletes, and competitive balance. Fantasy football just needs to prevent last-minute collusion that affects season-end payouts. As your deadline no doubt approaches, the home stretch becomes everything. We’ve explored the art of gentleman’s agreements in weeks prior, and now your window for an impact guy is closing.
Here are five workable players that should blossom in December, benefit from soft matchups, and that more importantly, are most likely available. Get on the horn and make it happen, ace. Your December depends on it.
1) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck was drafted as a questionable backup, and he’s been burning a hole on the bench for his owner as his yardage, attempts, and completion percentage skyrockets. His asking price isn’t high because there isn’t a great demand for quarterbacks even in deeper leagues, and his owner will never commit to him for the home stretch because of the rookie stigma.
The reality is that he’s performing at a top 10 level and in a fearless offense. More importantly, Luck’s home stretch includes the porous New England and Buffalo passing defense, and best of all,a potential Week 16 Fantasy Championship date with the hapless Kansas City Chiefs just as Luck’s team battles for a wild card playoff berth. This is an opportunity if you own an elite quarterback like Tom Brady to get Luck and then some skilled talent for Brady.
2) Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Wait until Tuesday for this one. This is what will happen: Pittsburgh is No. 1 against the pass in the NFL, and the team’s going to smother Bowe because he’s the only reliable target on the Chiefs. Bowe’s owner will lose patience when he’s left with six fantasy points, and his guy doesn’t come through on national television. The reality is that Bowe’s 82 targets are tied for seventh in the NFL, and he has no depth chart competition in Kansas City. He’s a top 10 fantasy play you’ll be able to start in the WR2 slot.
3) Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and his receiving corps are treasured commodities that you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg for. A big reason for this is because Denver’s home stretch is well-documented: mouthwatering matchups for a team that will be jostling for playoff positioning await (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Baltimore’s broken dreams D, and Cleveland in Week 16). Use perception to your advantage and get a top 15 running back for the Flex: McGahee’s enduring legacy is that he tore his ACL and MCL in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, and somehow, agent Drew Rosenhaus made McGahee a first-round draft pick that has never been an upper echelon NFL performer. There’s this collective fear that he’ll get hurt at some point because of his legacy—kind of like how we all gasp every time a Mad Men character approaches an elevator. McGahee is solid, has been a good soldier in Denver, and will be a big part of their offense, despite the Manning air show.
4) Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson’s health is a liability, and Greg Jennings won’t be himself this season. Moreover, Green Bay left you hanging in 2011 when they went 15-1 but put the clamps on the offense to preserve playoff energy down the stretch. They’re the best team in the NFC, but they don’t even lead their own division. Randall Cobb—the all-purpose former Kentucky quarterback—is a top-10 fantasy football receiver folks are playing in the slot reserved for the third-string starter. He was a late draft flyer that’s paid huge, and as a result is probably an excess cog on an opponent’s rotation. I like Packers receiver James Jones for lots of the same reasons, but Cobb is performing on another level.
5) DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Look, the Dallas Cowboys are a miserable collective of unhappy and dysfunctional professionals. Pretty soon, their playoff hopes will close and that will make the final weeks of the season an individual audition for Jerry Jones’ new Spike reality series, Who Wants To Keep Their Job? The ‘Boys are 28th in the league running the ball, putting down a miserable 83.4 yards a game. Murray may have cost someone a first-round draft pick because of his limitless ceiling, and he looked special opening night—gashing the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in New York. Despite missing the last month, Murray still leads the Cowboys in rushing with 330 yards. His early season failures that killed the depth of your opponent are not your problem. His reputation as an injury-prone tragedy is your advantage here.
Deep Cuts: Week 8
I’d start these players Sunday with confidence in leagues with at least 10 owners. To be painfully obvious, never bench a stalwart fixture, but work these guys in if you have a shaky spot in your lineup.
- Philip Rivers,QB, San Diego Chargers
- Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers
- Joel Dreessen, TE, Denver Broncos
- Danny Amendola, FLEX, St. Louis Rams
Photo via @TeamAndrewLuck/Twitter