Fantasy Football Advice
We’ve reached the point in the season where most fantasy football leagues impose a trading deadline and maybe even freeze rosters for the remainder of the year. That means you better hustle to improve your team for the playoff push before it’s too late.
The best way to do this is to look at the remaining schedules for each NFL team. It can help you identify possible free agent candidates and trade targets.
It can also help you to know which of your players you should be prepared to deal. Here are three teams that have beneficial schedules from this point forward, and two others who will be hard pressed to produce big fantasy numbers.
ST. LOUIS: I know it’s hard to get too excited about a team that eked out 13 points against Cleveland. But the Rams' poor record is due in part to a gauntlet of a first-half schedule, which has eased up considerable lately and should only get better.
Their next four games are against mild, mild NFC West opponents, followed by a Week 15 game against Cincinnati, which just lost its best cornerback for the season. It might be hard to pry Steven Jackson away from his owner considering how hot he’s been lately, but you might convince somebody to give up Brandon Lloyd.
And, if you’re desperate at quarterback, consider Sam Bradford off the waiver wire.
DETROIT: There could be some serious buy-low candidates on the Lions after their debacle against Chicago. They do have some good opponents left (New Orleans and Green Bay twice,) but those teams aren’t known for their defensive prowess. That means a frustrated Matthew Stafford owner should be on speed dial.
I would still stay away from their running back situation until, or if, Jahvid Best returns, but Detroit's got some sneaky wide receivers along side of Megatron who could be had off the waiver wire. Titus Young and Nate Burleson might not seem like fantasy starters, but in the final few weeks of the season when other players start dropping with injuries, you could do worse.
JACKSONVILLE: I know that you probably think that I’ve lost my mind here, but hear me out. The Jaguars have played one of the most daunting schedules in the league so far this season, but all of that is about to change. The Jags have some horrendous defenses left to play (Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Cleveland), and all of their offensive skill players should see their numbers rise.
Yes, that means that Blaine Gabbert should be on your radar in the closing weeks, as should whatever wide receivers show themselves to be his main targets. But the most useful Jaguar piece, Maurice Jones-Drew, is obviously the guy you want, so be prepared to spend heavily to get him in the fold.
CINCINNATI: The uphill portion of the Bengals schedule actually began last week with their game against Pittsburgh. It continues with two more against Baltimore, another against the Steelers, and a matchup with Houston before the season is over.
The only saving grace is a two-week breather against the Rams and Cardinals in Weeks 15 and 16, but by then, the damage might be done if you’ve been starting too many Cincinnati players. Add to that the fact that Cincinnati's best fantasy weapon, wideout A.J. Green, is dinged up, and you should be very wary about the surprising Bengals from here on out.
PHILADELPHIA: As if things weren’t bad enough in Philly after the embarrassing loss to Arizona, the schedule is about to get really gritty. It starts this week at the Giants, and includes contests down the stretch with the Patriots, Jets and the rejuvenated Cowboys.
It was already time to start jumping ship with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin, three former fantasy superstars who have been bedeviled by injuries, ineffectiveness, and, in Jackson’s case, insubordination. It might also be time to think about doing the unthinkable and trading LeSean McCoy, before his inevitable decline begins. Maybe you could swap him for Jones-Drew.
Take a close look at the schedules of all the remaining NFL teams before you settle on your roster for the rest of the season. It could make the difference between a title and a tantrum.