Trading is one of the most riveting and rewarding elements of the fantasy sports experience. Draft day is a holiday in my eyes, but trades are the best test of a fantasy manager's acumen. More importantly, it's simply fun to wheel and deal and work the market for talent in a given league.
Through drafting and the waiver wire, an imposing roster can be built, but it's often the case that the attrition of the season leaves rosters in need of an infusion of talent and balance. Trading is the best means to significantly augment a team deep into the season.
There is assuredly an art to trading, on which AJ Mass deftly details. I often find that trading in an IDP league is a distinctly different science than in a traditional league. The main difference being that the pricing is often skewed in favor of offensive talent, with defenders being viewed as secondary considerations. Use this to your advantage when looking to make deals, and target top defensive talents and some of the key upside commodities discussed below.
By offering offensive depth for defensive studs, you can significantly improve your starting roster without sacrificing starting-caliber assets. If you have a glut of respectable runners or receivers, or simply find that you'll never be sitting Drew Brees in favor of a surging backup like Josh Freeman or Carson Palmer, don't be afraid to leverage that depth and consolidate your roster by acquiring elites on the other side of the ball. Place greater value on the defense than the market in your league might, and it's likely you'll end up with a more dangerous roster heading into the make-or-break playoff stretch.
Front Four: The weekly word on the world of defenders
Trade Targets: Let's discuss some of the top trade targets to consider as the deadline approaches at each of the major defensive positional categories.
Defensive line: At this famously fickle and shallow position, it's wise to seek out some potential second-half stars.
Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers: While Johnson is possibly more famous for his huge contract than his impressive production, it's going widely unnoticed around the league that he is on pace for a career season. Johnson has five sacks in the past three games and has some choice meetings on the horizon against suspect lines and sloppy quarterback scenarios. Looking ahead to games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the final stretch confirms that Johnson is an ideal talent to target. Johnson's resurgence as an elite pressure provider could be due to the team finally allowing him to rush solely from his most comfortable role and dueling with right tackles.
Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos: An injury scare last week has deflated Dumervil's value a bit and could make him a nice investment for the playoff stretch. As the premier lineman on the team leading football in sacks, such discounts are welcomed.
Cary Williams, Baltimore Ravens: Entering Week 10, opposing quarterbacks were completing 70.5 percent of passes targeted to the receiver Williams was covering. That's an absurdly high rate, one that will invite more targets his way. This is the rare situation where poor performance is leading to opportunity for statistical production.
Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints: It's no mystery that the Saints secondary is historically generous to opposing passing games, which has afforded Jenkins a great deal of work corralling receivers on the second level. Many have avoided this defense due to the poor overall results, but some choice production is emerging from Jenkins due to the fact they simply can't stay off the field.
Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings: The steady vet is enjoying a renaissance campaign. Thanks to regular duties covering the opposition's best receivers, the targets and tackles are quite consistent.
Von Miller, Denver Broncos: There might not be a hotter commodity to pursue than Miller. He grades as the top rusher according to Pro Football Focus' signature Pass Rushing Productivity metric. Is it possible that he could blank you like he did in his one-tackle outing in Week 8? It is. Is it possible, and even likely, that he produces a multisack game that could sway your entire matchup one week? It is. Pursue Miller as aggressively as he chases quarterbacks.
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers: While college stats are in the past and aren't always great indicators of pro production, it remains amazing that this kid averaged 15.92 tackles per game during his junior season at Boston College. That's just silly. Now that he is manning the middle for the Panthers, a role he could serve for the next decade, he is back to his double-digit ways on a regular basis. If it takes a depth receiver or tailback to acquire this super rookie, don't hesitate to close the deal, as the potential for elite production is remarkably high.
Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings: It's pretty simple to suggest that you should go after the leading tackler in the NFL. But if you combine his rogue disappointing Week 10 and his bye week, you could do well in pursuing Greenway now, as his price might be in the perfect valley for value.
Mining for Matchups: Sometimes the trade market isn't so fertile or active and you have to really dig to find the right acquisition via the waiver wire or free agency. Streaming for production isn't a bad idea if you are finding it difficult to get consistent results from your defensive roster. One valuable tool for accessing quick and reliable research is our fantasy points against index. The "vs. D/ST" section of the tool provides simple yet valuable information on the most fallible offenses in the league. For IDP purposes, it can serve as a quick reference when seeking out the most turnover-prone or weakest protection schemes in the game.
Unsuspended: After a lengthy suspension, former fantasy star D.J. Williams of the Denver Broncos is back with the club and could return to relevance down the stretch. In deep leagues, he could make for a valid stash, but generally he merits attention as a possible addition in the coming weeks if he can earn back his job as the middle 'backer on a surging defense. The New England Patriots acquired Aqib Talib from the Bucs to solidify a suspect secondary, so getting on the field shouldn't be an issue for the talented, if mercurial, corner as he returns from suspension. Fantasy impact could be a few weeks off, but like Williams, a valuable role could materialize for the stretch run.
Bargain bin: Defenders available in more than half of ESPN leagues
Defensive end Will Smith of the Saints, and not of West Philly or Bel Air fame, ranks favorably in many advanced metrics this season. As the Saints engage in regular shootouts, it should provide Smith with lots of chances to pursue opposing pockets. The Cleveland Browns' Jabaal Sheard has had a somewhat quiet sophomore season after posting a promising rookie effort, but some inviting matchups are on the way. The Bucs' Michael Bennett has some serious upside this week facing a sloppy Carolina protection scheme. Safety Ryan Clark has been racking up strong numbers for more than a month for the Pittsburgh Steelers and faces a Baltimore Ravens offense more prone to pass than ever before. Madieu Williams could be eying his second pick of the season facing a green rookie in Nick Foles. Somehow, Bucs 'backer Lavonte David remains available in almost 70 percent of ESPN leagues. With Ray Edwards getting released from the Falcons, Kroy Biermann has legitimate shot to see a significant surge in snaps and sack production.
Week 11 Ranks: Top 30 linebackers, linemen and defensive backs
So that we're working from agreed parameters, we'll use what many consider traditional scoring modifiers for an IDP league: Tackle - Solo (1), Tackle - Assist (0.50), Sack (3), Interception (3), Forced fumble (3), Fumble recovery (3), Touchdown (6), Safety (2), Pass defended (1), Blocked kick (3).