Players to trade for while you can
With four consecutive multi-passing touchdown games, Freeman is no longer an underrated fantasy option. Yet he might be just that or, more specifcially, the Bucs quarterback might be available for less than he's worth because for many fantasy owners he remains primarily a reserve option. One quick glance at several of my leagues today show that Freeman is not an obvious starter for anyone, rather a highly-potent reserve sitting behind the likes of Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning. Maybe the former Kansas State star was drafted that way or has that role after being a bye week replacement, but seemingly he has that role at least in half of fantasy leagues according to my eyes and data from MyFantasyLeague.com. Rather than keep hoping Michael Vick turns it around or playing some QBBC with guys like Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco, go get Freeman. Unless the other owner is stubborn or loves having a valuable asset sit on his bench, offer up one player at another position you can spare and that said owner needs, plus one of your current QBs. Oh, by the way, Freeman's schedule isn't so bad except for Week 15. Then it gets amazing, thanks to the Saints defense.
Unless you've owned the Colts rookie runner - or caught the highlight of his upside-down, game-winning touchdown dive a couple of weeks back - you might not have noticed that he's been rather effective. Ballard certainly runs hard and as was speculated during the preseason, actually appears to be a better fit for the Indy ground attack than Donald Brown (who might miss another week with his knee issues). Ballard is not a home run threat, but a dual one, having proven to be a viable pass catcher in addition to a tough runner. That combination makes him a potential RB2 starter in future games at Jacksonville (Week 10), Buffalo (12), Tennessee (14) and at Kansas City (16). Should Brown return then yes, then we're looking at more of a RBBC, but if Ballard rocks it Thursday night, the argument against him not being the lead back becomes thinner.
Stop rubbing your eyes. Yes, Peyton Hillis is on this list (could have been Shaun Draughn, but I only had room for one of KC's backup runners). This is a pure speculative call and one more about the upcoming schedule and being scared of Jamaal Charles' health going forward than about touting either of the Chiefs' other options. Over the weeks on the FFToolbox podcast I expressed concern about KC overusing the slight runner and one coming off a major injury. Well, I haven't had to make those charges in recent weeks because Charles' touches have dropped a bunch, as has his production. At this point I'd rather be selling Charles than owning him, though with one caveat: Kansas City running backs have a nice, nice schedule when the fantasy games mean the most. Week 14, at Cleveland. Week 15, at Oakland. Week 16, Indianapolis. Those three opponents currently rank 26th, 21st and 25th against the run. That's what we covet, not so much Hillis and Draughn, but by the time we get to the fantasy playoffs, they could the Kansas City backs left standing, err, running.
Everytime we think Ryan Mathews is ready for the bell cow role, the Chargers limit his touches or get Ronnie Brown or Jackie Battle more involved. At least that's what happened last week when Mathews received only 13 carries in a romp over Kansas City. By the way, this is the mantra you should repeat whenever in the vacinity of a Mathews owner before coming in and making a play for the runner facing the easiest strength of schedule going forward. Other than Pittsburgh in Week 14, San Diego's upcoming games are against run defenses ranked in the bottom half of the league, including Baltimore, Carolina and the NY Jets (Week 16, 29th vs. run). Of the higher end runners, Mathews offers the nice combination of upside, rock star future schedule without the pay through your nose price. Sure, you never know what Norv Turner might do with his skilled back next, but Mathews is a risk worth taking.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
One thing I admired about the Oakland Raiders during the final years of the Al Davis era is that even with so much dysfunction, the team's effort (especially at home) was there. No matter the record, the Raiders have been a tough late-season out for opponents. Not sure much has changed with new coach Dennis Allen (I mean that in a good way). Depending on the high-ankle sprain recovery for running back Darren McFadden, the Raiders may lean on their passing game for whatever offense they can muster. Wide receiver Denarius Moore leads the receiving corps. Fine, you already knew that, but the deep threat still slides below the radar as a weekly WR2 option in some circles. This season Oakland plays at home in weeks 13, 14 and 15 against Cleveland, Denver and Kansas City. You're looking at two games Carson Palmer can throw against and one game (Denver) where the Raiders might be on constant catch up mode. Yeah, that works for me. Darrius Heyward-Bey is also worth a speculative addition for the same reasons.