With six weeks now in the books, we're inching closer to do-or-die time for some fantasy squads. If you're sitting with only one or two wins, a trade might be your best way to swing for the fences and position your team for a late season run. I'm not sure there are a ton of easy options to target in those time of trades at the moment, but there are several players I like looking for and a few who could make nice bait. I'll get to all of that and your trade questions below.
Now, let's see what the market has to offer.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: This might seem a bit counter-intuitive since reports are swirling about Le'Veon Bell's possible return, but sometimes zigging when the rest of the fantasy world zags is crucial to gaining an edge. Conner's owner could be panicking over Bell's possible return and looking to shop the bruising back. Or, said owner could get REALLY panicked when Bell does return (maybe during the bye). It's hard to say what Bell's workload will be if he does return, making this move pure speculation. History has shown the team will ride Bell as a true workhorse (like they've been doing with Conner during Bell's absence), but there have been rumblings that Conner may have earned himself a role no matter what. Do not move heaven and Earth to acquire Conner, but if the price is right it could be worth a shot.
The Browns passing attack: It is undeniable that Baker Mayfield has given the Browns passing attack a spark since he became the starter in Week 3 against the Jets. Mayfield's impact is evident on game film and in the raw numbers. The Browns averaged about 185 passing yards per game in the 2.5 games pre-Mayfield versus 307 per game with Mayfield (this is a rough number counting Mayfield's half versus the Jets). Mayfield only has a 2.6 percent touchdown rate right now, well below the league average, but he's had numerous big plays dropped by his receivers and several close calls. Per PFF, 9.8 percent of Mayfield's passes have been dropped this season -- the highest rate in the NFL. This is to say, touchdowns could be coming in bunches and soon. The Browns face six beatable pass defenses over the next seven weeks (they have a bye in Week 11). Mayfield and co. are coming off a disappointing performance against the Chargers, but face the league's best get-right secondary in Tampa Bay this weekend. After that, they face the Steelers, Chiefs, Falcons, Bengals, and Texans. The main players to target are Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku. Over the last three weeks, Landry owns a 22 percent target share and 21 percent air yards share, while Njoku clocks in at 23 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Try to get them now before they potentially catch fire during this favorable section of the schedule.
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders: Richard was emerging as a PPR option with a reliable, albeit low, weekly fantasy floor over the last few weeks. His stock could be rising even more with Marshawn Lynch possibly suffering a serious groin injury. Lynch is getting MRIs during the team's Week 7 bye, so now is the time to either find Richard on waivers or swing a trade for him. Doug Martin is still on the team and could factor into the mix, but he's barely seen the field this year. Richard can run between the tackles and is an able pass-catcher out of the backfield. Oh, and the Raiders are pretty bad right now meaning they're likely to be in pass-heavy game scripts, which favor Richard over Martin. The upside isn't tremendous because you'd still be acquiring a likely committee back on a low-scoring team, but in PPR leagues Richard could become a weekly low-end RB2 or flex play if the chips fall in his favor.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: On the surface, it appears Thomas broke out of his slump over the last two weeks. He's totaled 162 yards and two touchdowns in that span; so, what's the problem? For starters, both of his touchdowns have come in the final moments of garbage time. Making matters worse is that he managed that production on just an 11 percent target share. That is not the type of volume that foretells future success. He has a favorable schedule coming up, so perhaps you can use that as a bargaining chip as well.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: It is unlikely anyone will jump at McCoy in a trade offer because, well ... Bills. But, he is coming off a decent performance, and perhaps you can use Josh Allen's injury to your advantage (honestly, who else are they going to give the ball to?). I wasn't feeling strongly about many trade away candidates this week, but this might be one of your only chances to unload McCoy reasonably before things in Buffalo get worse.
Trade Calls Hotline
I wanted to answer this question because Sarah is a long-time Twitter #pal, and I think it's a good question for players in more casual leagues. The allure of having players from your favorite team on your fantasy team is strong. After all, fantasy is about having fun, and what's more fun than watching your team essentially score twice (once in real life, once in fantasy)? That being said, this is a trade I would absolutely say no to. Rodgers for Newton is pretty even, with you coming out slightly ahead I'd say, but Ridley for Hill is nonsense. Hill is one of fantasy's best receivers and plays 88 percent of the snaps for the Chiefs. Ridley, on the other hand, has had some good touchdown luck -- but will struggle to sustain that considering he plays just 52 percent of the snaps for the Falcons. As tough as it might be, remain objective and stay the course with Newton and Hill.
Trading for injured players is a risky venture, but to do so when you're giving up an ascending player is unwise. Michel is carving out a reliable and potent role as the between-the-tackles hammer for the Patriots. Fournette might be weeks away from returning still! Plus, even if Fournette returns sooner, he's already aggravated his injuries once by returning too soon, and his running style isn't one that invokes ideas of "caution" or "careful." Hold steady with Michel.
It's always nice to try and swing two-for-one trades in your favor, but this is not a move I would make. Gordon is the engine driving the Chargers offense. He has a 22 percent target share and three receiving touchdowns on the year, which are the exact same figures as Evans. Gordon alone has more total yards (745 to 739) and total touchdowns (nine to six) than Evans and Clement combined. He's in a more favorable committee than Clement, too. I just don't see a way where you come out ahead by giving up Gordon here.
If the manager with Ingram goes for this, yes, absolutely. You might have a hard time getting Ingram away from him or her, though, after they waited a month to see Ingram play. It might be a better play to wait a week, and hope the outcomes flip for Diggs and Ingram, since Diggs had a quiet day against the Cardinals this week.
You can absolutely say no. Simply getting more players does not make this a good trade by any means for you. Johnson is averaging around 3 yards per carry and being largely ignored in the passing game. Olsen just returned from a foot injury. Lindsay is in a three-headed committee. Zeke, on the other hand, is averaging over 23 touches per game and is second on his team in targets. Do not be fooled by the quantity of players on the other side of this bargain.
*-- Alex Gelhar is a freelance fantasy writer for the NFL and a full-time law student. You can find him on Twitter @AlexGelhar or stressing out on his couch during the Brewers-Dodgers NCLS series. *