Fantasy Doctor: Trading Foster loaded with risk

Posted Oct. 31, 2012 @ 10:40 a.m.
Posted By The Fantasy Doctor

Every Wednesday, The Fantasy Doctor ponders fantasy football dilemmas and prescribes advice with an eye on helping you win. Email your fantasy questions to fantasydoctor@pfwmedia.com.

I am at 7-0, thanks in part to Arian Foster. But looking at the Texans’ cushy schedule and weak division, I'm already worrying that they could lock up the division early and rest Foster around fantasy playoff time. Might it be worth trying to pull off a blockbuster trade as I look (way) ahead to the playoffs?

— Reed 

I understand the logic, but I see several potential obstacles and risks in dealing Foster. Among them:

• The risk of Foster resting down the stretch hurts his trade value. Most experienced fantasy owners would likely build such risk into their trade offers. In short, you might get a bunch of 60-cents-on-the-dollar proposals. Which leads to my second point:

• Can you get something close to equal value for such an outstanding player? You’re going to want at least one elite player in return for Foster. I’ll guess there are only a handful of rosters that have the players you are targeting, and even then, you have to come to agreement on a deal — which is easier said than done, as I’m sure you know.

• Even if the Texans clinch the AFC South, they could still be in a fight for homefield in the AFC postseason. The Texans clinched the South in Week 14 in 2011. At the time, they had a 10-3 record, and it looked like they had a clear shot at one of the top two seeds in the conference. Well, they proceeded to lose three in a row, and they landed the No. 3 seed. This earned them one home game (a wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati), but they had to travel to Baltimore in the divisional round.

The Texans’ second-half schedule is no cakewalk. After Sunday’s game vs. Buffalo, four of their next five games are on the road, including a Dec. 10 meeting with New England.

Yes, the Texans are in great shape right now. But that can quickly change.

• Foster has delivered some monster late-season games in the past. A season ago, with the Texans having the division title locked up, Foster racked up a combined 267 rushing yards and two TDs in Weeks 15 and 16.

Here’s my advice: Keep Foster. Target Ben Tate, his backup, in trade. Overpay a little if you must, and you likely will, but what does it matter? He’s worth more to you than anyone else as it is. If you can’t acquire Tate, pick up Justin Forsett. This way, you’re addressing the risk of Foster sitting late in the season, and you’re keeping one of your foundation players in the fold. Those players are tough to replace.

You are wise to plan ahead for the postseason, but there have to be other productive — and safer — ways to do so.

Dear Doctor,

I have the option to trade either Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller for Antonio Brown. I have RB depth and need a WR/flex player, but don't know which to give up. Jackson gets a few more touches, but Spiller has more big-play ability. Thanks for your help.

— Matt

I think you have correctly diagnosed the situation. Both Spiller and Jackson get a good deal of work in the running and passing games. Personally, I might be less inclined to deal Spiller because of his upside. I’ll also say this: both of the Bills’ backs are legit fantasy starters, and Brown hasn’t been a huge TD threat. If you are convinced Brown can be a difference maker for your club, perhaps you make the deal. However, I think he’s more of a No. 2 fantasy wideout, and both Jackson and Spiller can be No. 1 backs on any given Sunday. 

My receivers are Victor Cruz, Marques Colston, Demaryius Thomas and Miles Austin. My running backs are Arian Foster, Ryan Mathews, and Rashad Jennings. Would I benefit long term by trading Austin for Willis McGahee?

— Chad

This seems like a reasonable deal. To me, Austin is the fourth-best of a strong quartet of wideouts. McGahee, the lead back for a Denver offense that’s really rounding into form, would be no worse than your third running back.

Both players have favorable schedules down the stretch. Austin, who’s slated to face Washington (No. 32 vs. the pass) twice and New Orleans (No. 30) once in the last six weeks, has a slightly better slate, which only helps his marketability if you try to make a trade.

I'm in a dynasty league and am considering trading Carson Palmer and LeGarrette Blount for Christian Ponder. Ben Roethlisberger is my starting quarterback.

Also, should I consider trading Reggie Wayne while he's hot? My team is very weak at RB and I'm uncertain how much longer he will be able to play at a high level. My RBs are Felix Jones, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, Jonathan Dwyer and Beanie Wells. Does it get much worse than that?

— Kris

Because it’s a dynasty league, I could possibly see dealing Palmer for Ponder, but as I’ve previously noted, Palmer has the better schedule going forward this season. I like Blount, but Doug Martin has really started to take his game to another level of late.

Were you to try and deal Wayne, you would emphasize that 1) he has been targeted more than any other player entering Week Nine and 2) he has a really favorable upcoming schedule. Five of the Colts’ next six opponents, including Miami on Sunday, are No. 22 or worse in passing yards allowed. (Indianapolis does face Houston twice in the last three weeks, however.)

If trading Wayne, you have to get a running back better than the ones you have. In that case, a deal makes sense. If you hold onto him, though, it wouldn’t be a bad outcome. While Wayne turns 34 in November, he’s racking up 14.0 yards per catch, his best average since 2008. He’s still playing at a high level. 

Hey Doc,

After a sweeping round of losses across all of my leagues this past week, I badly need a win to have any playoff hopes, so just a few quick questions for you (all non-PPR leagues, if that helps): 

1. Pick two: Eric Decker, Antonio Brown, Steve Smith, DeSean Jackson

2. I badly need help at tight end. Aaron Hernandez is injured and on bye. My backup is Martellus Bennett. It looks like I may need to hit the waiver wire. Who do you see as the best option, at least for this week: Bennett, Brent Celek, Jermaine Gresham, Greg Olsen, Brandon Pettigrew, Scott Chandler?

3. Seahawks D/ST or Cardinals D/ST?

Thanks for your help!

— Steve

My answers to your questions:

• I’d stack your WR options this way: Decker, Smith, Jackson, Brown. Decker has caught at least one TD pass in four consecutive games, and Smith and Jackson have excellent matchups. Brown is also an above-average starter, but I prefer the other wideouts this week, with Smith getting the nod over Jackson for the second spot in the lineup. Decker’s a must-start.

• Bennett has tailed off after a strong start. He’s replaceable, given the depth of talent available on the waiver wire. Celek, Pettigrew and Gresham are the best of the options, I’d say, with Celek getting the nod on the basis of the matchup. The Saints’ pass defense is porous.

• I prefer Seattle’s defense to Arizona's.