The trade deadline in Apex Fantasy Leagues is just two days away (November 6, 8:25 ET). Last week I discussed trade targets for teams that need help for the playoff push. Here, I’ll examine buy and sell candidates based on their fantasy playoff strength of schedule (SOS), using the RotoViz Buy Low Machine.
Owners near the top of the standings, that are very likely to make the playoffs, should aggressively target players with favorable schedules in Weeks 14-16.
Buy: Drew Brees
Playoff Schedule: CAR, CHI, ATL
If I find myself near the top of the standings late in the season, one of my favorite strategies as the playoffs approach is to sell off my depth in order to acquire an elite quarterback. This approach is especially effective if that elite QB happens to be on a team that needs a lot of help to make it to the playoffs.
This can be tricky in Apex leagues, since the trade deadline is a little bit earlier than most leagues, and there are still some bye weeks to endure, but if you find yourself dominating your league, and don’t mind possibly sacrificing a game or two down the stretch, doing whatever you can to roster Drew Brees may be the difference between an early playoff exit and first place cash. The Saints have had one of the most difficult QB schedules to date and Brees is still 6th among signal callers when it comes to fantasy points per game. Look for him go nuclear when it counts most.
Sell: Ben Roethlisberger
Playoff Schedule: CIN, ATL, KC
There is no better time to sell the Steelers’ signal caller than right now. Roethlisberger is coming off of a historic two week stretch, where he threw six touchdowns in both games. With another great matchup this week against the Jets, his value is at its peak. If you can afford to forgo Big Ben’s favorable regular season schedule and add an integral position player or package him for Brees, you would be doing yourself and your wallet a huge favor.
Buy: Le’Veon Bell
Playoff Schedule: CIN, ATL, KC
The Saints actually have the most favorable playoff schedule for running backs, and Mark Ingram is a fine buy, but going into the playoffs I want the players with the highest ceilings, and few running backs are as involved in their team’s offense as Le’Veon Bell. With just three total touchdowns on the season, Bell hasn’t found the end zone as often as owners would like, but there are reasons besides his second best playoff schedule to think that his touchdown total will increase down the stretch.
Le’Veon has the second most touches among running backs this year, but he is tied for 18th in touchdowns among the top 24 PPR backs. The average TD rate for the top 24 PPR backs on the season is one score once every 37.7 touches. Bell is scoring once every 66 touches. He’s not being ignored near the goal line, as he has 11 touches inside the opponent’s 10 yard line, the same number as Matt Asiata and Jamaal Charles. Bell has been really good this season, but his touchdown total should normalize, which may make him great enough down the stretch to win someone a league title.
Sell: Marshawn Lynch
Playoff Schedule: PHI, SF, ARI
From a consistency standpoint, Marshawn has been has been a bit of a headache for a player that is supposed to be in the upper echelon of fantasy running backs. Lynch has put up three games of 25 or more PPR FPs, but he also has three games under 10 PPR FPs. A dud in a playoff game from your RB1 can spell disaster, and the Seahawks schedule in Weeks 14-16 is the second most difficult in the league for running backs. The Seahawks defense hasn’t been as dominant as last year, and has led to less Beast Mode with a big lead and more passing all game. If you’re trying to land Le’Veon, Lynch might be the perfect bargaining chip after his big game against a bad Oakland run defense.
Buy: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb
Playoff Schedule: ATL, BUF, TB
Like our earlier trade targets, Jordy and Cobb are going to be expensive commodities, but as the playoffs approach, I’m willing to go all in, in order to give my team the highest ceiling possible. Depth doesn’t do us much good after the bye weeks and going against the other best teams in the league during the playoffs requires the potential for massive fantasy output.
There may be no other receivers with the upside of the Green Bay duo when you consider their schedule, talent, and QB play. The Falcons, Bills, and Bucs all rank in the bottom half of the league in PPR FPs allowed to wide receivers, averaging 38.3 points/game allowed to the position. The juiciest matchup just happens to land on championship week, against a Tampa Bay defense that allows 43.1 PPR FPs per game to receivers, the 2nd highest total in the league.
Sell: Jeremy Maclin
Playoff Schedule: SEA, DAL, WAS
Maclin has been amazing in 2014 and is coming off of back to back monster games, but his schedule is awful when it counts most, and there’s a really good chance that he is going to be relying on Mark Sanchez to get him the ball for the rest of the regular season. The Eagles have one of the most favorable schedules in the league for wide receivers over the next two weeks, and if you can find an owner that believes in what they saw out of Sanchez in the second half of Week 9, you might be able to deal for Cobb straight up, or offer a nice gift basket for Jordy.
Buy: Zach Ertz
Playoff Schedule: SEA, DAL, WAS
While Philadelphia’s playoff schedule doesn’t favor wide receiver production, it is the best case scenario for tight ends. The tight end position is inherently volatile, so unless you have Graham or Gronk on your team, it might be worth trying to land Ertz to maximize your ceiling, knowing that most tight ends have a low floor regardless of the matchup. If Sanchez has trouble getting the ball to his receivers against these defenses, Ertz may become a default option. All three of the Eagles opponents during the fantasy playoffs rank 11th or worse in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and the Cowboys are especially bad, ranked 31st against the position.
Sell: Julius Thomas
Playoff Schedule: BUF, SD, CIN
Selling a mediocre tight end can be a tough task, so I looked a bit further down the SOS ranks to find a movable commodity. Orange Julius has the 7th most difficult schedule for tight ends in the fantasy playoffs, and his heavy touchdown dependency already makes him a candidate to show some regression down the stretch. Thomas leads all tight ends with 10 touchdowns, but he is just 13th in targets and 12th in receptions. Scoring once every 3 receptions is a rate that is virtually impossible to maintain, and he could help land one of our elite playoff targets.