As we head into the homestretch of the fantasy football regular season, it is a good time for teams on the path to the postseason to add players to their roster who can help successfully navigate the club to a title.
This week's Fantasy Foresight article wants to help in this arena by noting seven trade candidates whose playoff schedules should give them multiple weeks' worth of high-upside potential at the most critical time of the fantasy football season.
Each running back and wide receiver listed below has a minimum of three green-rated matchups (green being a designation of a favorable matchup) in Weeks 13 to 16. In the case of the quarterback on this list, he has three matchups that contain at least three green-rated defenders in the opposing team's secondary.
In addition to the favorable trade candidates, each positional section details players whose fantasy playoff schedule is highly unfavorable and therefore can be used as trade options.
Also included are four players whose Week 8 successes or struggles will continue this season, two players whose fantasy performances in Week 8 will not serve as a barometer for the future and four waiver-wire candidates ahead of Week 9.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers(four green-rated matchups during fantasy playoffs)
Starting either member of this tandem in the fantasy playoffs might seem difficult at first because, when healthy, they are the epitome of a platoon backfield setup.
That fear should diminish when noting that, during the Week 13 to 16 stretch, the Panthers face four teams that currently rank in the top 10 in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs: the Minnesota Vikings (No. 6), New Orleans Saints (No. 9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 5) and Cleveland Browns (No. 4).
With Williams out with an injury and Stewart posting run-of-the-mill numbers (14 points in his last two games), the trade price could be low enough to make that fear disappear entirely.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (three green-rated matchups)
Jackson has rushed for more than 50 yards in a game only one time this season, yet he still came into Week 8 with RB2 fantasy credentials (ranked 19th in running back points). He wasn't able to play on Sunday due to an injury and is on a bye in Week 9, two factors that could make him available for dimes on the dollar.
That value will be compounded by games against the very weak Cleveland, Green Bay and Oakland run defenses in Weeks 13, 15 and 16.
Running backs to consider trading away due to multiple red-rated playoff matchups (red indicating a difficult opponent): Marshawn Lynch (three red-rated matchups), Ryan Mathews (two red-rated matchups)
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (three green-rated matchups)
There may not be a better workhorse wide receiver in the NFL today. Hilton is one of only three wide receivers to post at least five receptions in eight games (Antonio Brown and Golden Tate are the other two) and one of only six wideouts with four 100-yard receiving games.
Hilton is moved around in the Colts' offense quite frequently, but Washington, Cleveland and Houston (the Colts' opponents in Weeks 13, 14 and 15, respectively) have seven green-rated players among their starting and nickel cornerbacks, so Hilton's upside potential should be tremendous no matter whom he lines up against.
Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (three green-rated matchups)
The loss of Victor Cruz should send plenty of additional targets to Randle and Beckham, so pass volume likely will not be an issue for them.
Having a high number of attempts when facing the likes of Demetrius McCray, Jason McCourty and Bashaud Breeland (the three green-rated cornerbacks on Beckham's Week 13-15 schedule) or Blidi Wreh-Wilson, David Amerson and Janoris Jenkins (three green-rated cornerbacks on Randle's Week 14-16 schedule) ought to make these two terrific wide receiver depth options for the postseason.
Wide receivers to consider trading away due to multiple red-rated playoff matchups:Alshon Jeffery (two red-rated cornerback matchups), Pierre Garcon (two red-rated cornerback matchups)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (three highly favorable playoff matchups)
It took Stafford a couple of games to get adjusted to life without Calvin Johnson. Since then, he has racked up 624 passing yards and four touchdowns in the past two weeks. Johnson should be ready to go by the time the Lions face the abysmalChicago Bears pass defense in Weeks 13 and 16, as well as the mediocre Tampa Bay secondary in Week 14, so the sky should be the limit for Stafford during the playoffs.
Quarterback to consider trading away due to multiple red-rated playoff matchups:Colin Kaepernick (three tough playoff matchups)
Week 8 performances that will continue
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
The Jacksonville Jaguars came into their Week 8 contest against the Dolphins with only three healthy cornerbacks on their roster. This should have allowed Tannehill and the Miami passing attack to post awe-inspiring numbers against a defense that came into this game ranked 30th in passing yards allowed per game, but they fell far short of that goal.
Tannehill's 196 passing yards were tied for the 11th fewest of his career, and his 89 yards on short passes (defined as aerials thrown 10 or fewer yards downfield) was the lowest total in that category in his 2014 campaign. It is hard to expect things to get better in the next few games, when Miami faces the tough pass defenses of San Diego, Detroit, Buffalo and Denver in Weeks 9 to 12.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans
During the preseason, fantasy owners bought into the idea that Sankey would eventually get enough playing time to warrant a potential starting role on their fantasy team. Sankey is now getting plenty of carries (51 during the past four weeks), but those carries have generated an incredibly low fantasy point impact (18 points in those four games).
The main culprit looks to be a lack of breakaway skill, as Sankey has only seven rushes of 10 or more yards, a mark that ranks tied for 30th out of 34 running backs who currently have enough carries to be listed as a qualifier. With a bye in Week 9 followed by three potentially tough road matchups in the ensuing next four weeks (Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston), Sankey may be hard-pressed to improve his fantasy production.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
It can sometimes take a while for a player to change fantasy owners' minds about whether he belongs in the starting lineup. That certainly looks to be the case with Sanu, as he was started in only 26.7 percent of leagues this week, despite coming into the game ranked 13th in wide receiver fantasy points.
After posting 125 yards on five receptions against Baltimore, Sanu now has more receiving yards per game in seven starts (76.1) than Randall Cobb (72.3), Kelvin Benjamin(71.4) or Alshon Jeffery (70.4). If Sanu is on your team's bench, put him in the starting lineup and keep him there at least until A.J. Green returns from his injury -- and strongly consider keeping him there after that.
Week 8 performances that won't continue
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Jackson returned to double-digit point territory with a 12-point showing against the Lions, but it was in spite of, rather than because of, the Falcons' run blocking. Atlanta's front wall gave Jackson good run blocking (loosely defined as not allowing the defense to disrupt a rush attempt) on only 33 percent of his carries. That is well below the 45 to 50 percent mark that is considered a good game average and was compounded by Jackson's atrocious 4.3 good blocking yards per attempt (a measure of production on run plays with good blocking).
The Falcons' offensive line has been destroyed by injuries, and the subpar backups now in place are unlikely to greatly improve upon this performance the rest of the year.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz's fantasy owners (owned in 55.6 percent of ESPN leagues) have to be frustrated by his lack of usage, but that type of thing is par for the course in a Chip Kelly offense.
Only one time in Kelly's six seasons as Oregon's playcaller did the Ducks complete 40 or more passes to an individual tight end. Sending a lot of targets to a tight end is simply not a part of the Kelly system, and Ertz's pass-catching skills, as impressive as they are, will not change that.
Four waiver-wire pickups to make
Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots (owned in 8.8 percent of ESPN leagues)
What is it going to take to get the deep threat for the white-hot Patriots passing attack owned in more than 10 percent of ESPN leagues?
Since Week 4, LaFell ranks second on the Patriots in vertical receiving yards (those tallied on throws 11 or more yards downfield). With potential shootout games against Denver (Week 9), Indianapolis (Week 11) and Green Bay (Week 13) in the near future, it stands to reason LaFell's fantasy value will continue to skyrocket
Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (3.8 percent) Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (16.4 percent)
Fantasy owners have by and large shut off the idea of putting a Jaguars player into the starting lineup, but these two both have metrics that indicate they should be the exceptions to that rule.
In Allen Robinson's case, the metric is fantasy points on vertical passes. He has tallied 35 points at this depth level since Week 2, a total that ranks 20th among wide receivers and puts him ahead of Roddy White (29 points) and Torrey Smith (29 points) in this category.
In Denard Robinson's case, his 8.2 GBYPA in his two starts stands out, but what really catches the eye is how effectively he is operating in the wide variety of run-play types Jacksonville has in its playbook. That should not come as a surprise given that Robinson ran a complex system during his days as Michigan's quarterback, and it bodes well for his being able to continue to post quality fantasy totals as Jacksonville's top running back.
Kyle Orton, QB, Buffalo Bills (1.7 percent)
Since he took over as Buffalo's starter in Week 5, Orton has posted 17.8 fantasy points per game.
To put that into perspective, that mark is higher than Jay Cutler (17.5), Cam Newton (16.3), Nick Foles (15.7) or Matt Ryan (13) has posted during that time frame. Orton should be owned in every league that starts two quarterbacks.