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Fantasy & Reality: Grasping the current trade market

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Here's the first thing you need to know if you're angry with Chris Johnson or Philip Rivers on your Fantasy team: If you drop them, someone in your league will rush to pick them up. By that rule of thumb alone, you can expect someone, somewhere in your league to show interest for them in a trade. So don't cut them outright even if the sight of their stats in your lineup makes you sick.

Of course, the trade route isn't any prettier. The values of these guys have grossly changed since early September. So while most owners would gladly take a flier on either Johnson or Rivers off waivers, not quite as many owners would want to give up a player from their team for him, especially a good one.

Johnson's value is at a staggering all-time low. So far this season he has one 100-yard game, one touchdown and a slew of criticism (including some from me back in late September). But owners still have some interest in him because of the success he's had in the past. But the concerns are not only that he won't play big again this season but that his opportunities are shrinking because of Javon Ringer's improved play and near-equal playing time. Last week Ringer saw just about as much playing time as Johnson, including when the Titans went into their two-minute drill and again late when they tried to grind down the game clock. As long as Ringer plays well when given the chance, Johnson has an uphill climb to regain the every-down role he's been paid to have.

Rivers has also seen his star fade thanks for a number of reasons. He's not getting a lot of time in the pocket to throw, and when he does throw there seems to be some zip missing from his passes. Obviously his accuracy is called into question as he's been up and down every week. For instance, his toss to Antonio Gates' back shoulder in the end zone against the Chiefs was magnificent and he hit Curtis Brinkley on a go-route perfectly, but several other throws he made, including several to Vincent Jackson, were off. Rivers hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns in a game since Week 2. Fumbling snaps doesn't help.

What can you get for these guys? Interestingly enough, the move to make is to trade busts for busts. Not only are Johnson and Rivers disappointing, but so are DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Marshawn Lynch, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Felix Jones, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Reggie Wayne and Santonio Holmes. Obviously they're not the only ones. If you're weak at receiver and have Chris Johnson, deal him for the bust receiver with the most upside. If you're weak at running back you could deal Rivers for, well, Johnson. Make the most of your own bust by trading him for a player who has also disappointed but does have some potential to come back to life.

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Of course, we're not saying Johnson and Rivers are useless for the rest of the season. But the one with the better chance to rebound is Rivers, not Johnson. One big reason for it is his schedule: He's got two tough matchups left (they come in Week 15 and 16) and faces the likes of Broncos, Raiders (twice), Bears and Packers in Week 9. Five of his final nine games come against Bottom 10 pass defenses in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. That will help.

Updated Trade Value Chart

A couple of weeks back, we debuted our Fantasy Trade Value Chart, used to serve as a baseline guide in making trades in Fantasy leagues. We're updating it heading into Week 9. Basically we tiered the prominent players at the four significant Fantasy positions and gave them a simple numeric value. If the player(s) you are offering have a total value equal to that of the player(s) you're getting, then the deal is reasonably fair.

Remember, if you and your trading partner differ on the value of a player, you could always come to an agreement and value the player accordingly. And if your trade values are off by a point or two, the trade is close enough or a toss-in away from being good. If a player isn't listed here, his value is no better than that of the lowest-valued tier. Finally, the tiers were put together not based on year-to-date production but perceived value of the players.

Fantasy Trade Chart
Tier Standard PPR 2QB Tier Standard PPR 2QB
Top 5 QB 10 10 16 Top 5 WR 12 14 12
Excellent QB 8 8 12 Very Good WR 8 10 8
Very Good QB 4 4 8 Good WR 4 8 4
Good QB 2 2 6 Average WR 2 4 2
Top 8 RB 12 12 12 Top 5 TE 8 10 8
Very Good RB 8 10 8 Very Good TE 6 8 6
Good RB 4 6 4 Good TE 4 6 4
Average RB 2 4 2 Average TE 2 4 2


Quarterbacks
Top 5 Excellent Very Good Good
Aaron Rodgers Matthew Stafford Ben Roethlisberger Philip Rivers
Cam Newton Eli Manning Tony Romo Ryan Fitzpatrick
Drew Brees   Matt Schaub Matt Ryan
Michael Vick     Mark Sanchez
Tom Brady     Josh Freeman
Running backs
Top 8 Very Good Good Average
Arian Foster Michael Turner Darren Sproles Chris Johnson
Fred Jackson Steven Jackson LeGarrette Blount Peyton Hillis
LeSean McCoy Beanie Wells Rashard Mendenhall Felix Jones
Matt Forte Ahmad Bradshaw Cedric Benson Mark Ingram
Ray Rice Maurice Jones-Drew Shonn Greene Jahvid Best
Adrian Peterson Ryan Mathews DeMarco Murray Jonathan Stewart
Darren McFadden   Jackie Battle James Starks
Frank Gore   Willis McGahee  
    BenJarvus Green-Ellis  
Wide receivers
Top 5 Very Good Good Average
Calvin Johnson Dwayne Bowe DeSean Jackson Brandon Marshall
Wes Welker A.J. Green Andre Johnson Sidney Rice
Steve Smith Jeremy Maclin Miles Austin Deion Branch
Mike Wallace Marques Colston Brandon Lloyd Nate Washington
Greg Jennings Larry Fitzgerald Pierre Garcon Darrius Heyward-Bey
  Hakeem Nicks Victor Cruz Mario Manningham
  Roddy White Steve Johnson Antonio Brown
  Anquan Boldin Dez Bryant Percy Harvin
    Vincent Jackson Eric Decker
    Santonio Holmes Reggie Wayne
    Jordy Nelson Plaxico Burress
    Julio Jones  
Tight ends
Top 5 Very Good Good Average
Jimmy Graham Fred Davis Vernon Davis Brent Celek
Aaron Hernandez Tony Gonzalez Jermichael Finley Heath Miller
Jason Witten Greg Olsen Owen Daniels Dallas Clark
Rob Gronkowski Brandon Pettigrew Jermaine Gresham Dustin Keller
Antonio Gates   Jake Ballard Scott Chandler

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Saints CB Brandon Browner impressing teammates, coach
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner is having a positive impact on not just the secondary, but the entire defense. At least that's the view of defensive backfield mate Kenny Vaccaro.

"Browner's a good dude, leads by example, talks when he needs to talk," Vaccaro told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's real serious, kind of keeps everybody level headed and knows what we've got to work for. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what to do."

Sean Payton echoed those sentiments.

"He's competitive," he said. "He's driven and certainly one of the things we talked about this offseason through the draft, through the acquisition of players is the makeup and making sure that this is something we felt like was a plus and certainly with him we feel that that is a strength of his."

The Saints are Browner's fourth team in six seasons in the NFL.


Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans working way back from injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:37 pm ET) There was a bit of a discrepancy Thursday in regard to the practice participation of Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Chip Kelly said before the session that Ryans would be a full-go despite him being just seven months removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon. Ryans did practice, but he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not a full participant.

Ryans missed half of the 2014 season with the injury, but contributed to 45 tackles in eight games before going down.


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez optimistic as offseason rolls on
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) A stronger arm, greater familiarity with the offense and more confidence has Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez feeling quite good these days.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery two years ago that affected him early last season. He expects to be better in 2015, especially if given an opportunity to play over newcomer Sam Bradford.

"First thing, physically, I feel so much better," he told the team website. "The farther it gets away from surgery and all the reps I've had, all the rehab on through, it can only get better and stronger. So this is definitely the best I've ever felt. And then as far as the scheme, every rep, every time we sit down and watch film, every meeting, that can only help with my growth as well."

The chance to play is one reason why Sanchez chose to return this offseason to the Eagles.

"Were there other opportunitites? Absolutely," he said. "Did they look potentially good, better, similar, maybe worse? Potentially, yeah, there was some stuff out there. But when I factored it all in, I just felt this was the best spot for me. I enjoy playing for coach Kelly, I love this system, I love the tempo, I love the pace."

Sanchez also expressed a desire to remain on the team for which he threw his highest completition percentage of his career in 2014. He hit on 64.1 percent, by far a personal best.

Chip Kelly has seen a difference in Sanchez.

"I think you can see it in how he's performing out there now," he said. "He's also not learning an offense again. ... He is really comfortable in terms of the scheme."


Ravens waive/injured Julian Wilson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Ravens waived/injured cornerback Julian Wilson on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. Wilson suffered a broken leg on the first day of rookie camp and will miss the season.

Saints' Anthony Spencer works ahead of Junior Galette Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Saints linebacker Anthony Spencer worked ahead of Junior Galette in the team's base 4-3 defense, a run-heavy look that featured just three linebackers, ESPN.com reports.

"However it came out, we’re not worried about depth chart now," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’re putting in a defense, we’re all working hard together and getting to know each other, our teammates and what we got. But I know both those guys can play, so we’re excited about 'em."

Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 but has managed just 24 total tackles and a half-sack in 14 games over the last two years while dealing with a major knee injury.

"I think sometimes there are tougher positions to evaluate at this time of year," coach Sean Payton said, when asked to give his early thoughts on Spencer. "But I think, No. 1, he can affect the passer. ... He’s an edge player, I think he’s very good at fitting the run, and I think he can affect the passer."


Report: Bryant participates in drills despite unsigned franchise tender
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:46 pm ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took a huge risk by participating in a limited portion of his team's organized team activities on Thursday, because he has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender, sources told Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Bryant, who wants a long-term deal, has made a number of appearances at the Cowboys' offseason conditioning program but Thursday was the first day he participated in meaningful on-field work.

Bryant and the Cowboys need to work out a long-term deal before July 15 or he would be forced to play the season under the franchise tag, which would pay him $12.8 million.

In 16 games last year, Bryant caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.


Browns' Josh McCown not bothered by 'game manager' label
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Browns quarterback Josh McCown brushes off the negative connotation around phrases like "game manager" and "building around the quarterback," per the team's website.

"That stuff doesn't bother me," McCown said after Tuesday’s OTA. "We're trying to win a championship. You can call it what you want to call it. I just want to win football games. That's my main focus. I understand who I am and how I want to go about winning football games. That's the key for us."

Coach Mike Pettine understands why McCown was attracted to Cleveland as a potential landing spot this offseason.

"I think he sees that as potentially a way to win football games," Pettine said. "I think virtually any quarterback in the league, if we said, ‘Hey, we want to get you in second-and-5 and not second-and-11. We want to get you in third-and-2 and not third-and-8,’ I think they’d all be appreciative of that."

McCown also had praise for his new offensive line after getting to work with the unit.

"I knew they were physically good, you see it on tape, but these guys are so smart," McCown said. "It's rare to get a group of five guys that can really see the field the way they do. I've said this all along, they were a big reason why I wanted to come here. After being with them now the last five or six weeks, had I known it was this good, I might not have even had to take a visit (before signing). They're really sharp. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with them."


Jaguars' Denard Robinson ready for second try as kick returner
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Jaguars running back Denard Robinson is getting a shot at being the team's kick returner this offseason, a role he hasn't performed since early in his rookie season, but he's ready for the challenge, ESPN.com reports.

"Anything they ask me to do, I’m doing," Robinson said. "Now I feel more comfortable [returning kicks] than I was my rookie year."

General manager David Caldwell has said that while Robinson will get work returning kicks, he'd still have a significant role on offense. The running back hasn't dwelled on the comment.

"You just go out there and do yourself," Robinson said. "Do your thing and have fun and get better every day."

Robinson averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 135 rushes last season while racking up 582 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Jaguars are expected to use rookie T.J. Yeldon as their primary runner in 2015.


Jaguars' Toby Gerhart feels for first time since last September
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart is expected to fill an H-back role after the team selected T.J. Yeldon in the second round, but he's worried less about his role and focusing on the fact that he's back to full health, ESPN.com reports.

"It’s feeling good," Gerhart said of the ankle that bothered him all of last season. "I feel healthy for the first time since last September. Feeling good and excited to go out there and be healthy and fresh this spring and show what I can do and compete."

Gerhart's new role will open him up to be a bigger part of the passing game.

"I’m learning the F [H-back] and running some of that and also taking just as many reps at tailback and competing and just trying to be the best I can be and see what happens," Gerhart said. "A lot of it so far has been a lot of routes and stuff like that, not so much iso downhill, more get me out in the flat, get me in pass pro and get out. It’s exciting to move around and we’ll see what happens."

Gerhart averaged just 3.2 yards on 101 carries last season while scoring two touchdowns. His average of 9.3 yards per reception represented a season high.


Eagles' Walter Thurmond moves to safety
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:20 pm ET) The Eagles have made a lot of moves to improve their defense this offseason, one of which was to bring Walter Thurmond aboard.

Most thought he would play cornerback, but Chip Kelly announced Thursday that Thurmond has moved to safety, per nj.com.

Thurmond said the coaching staff approached him about the idea some time ago, giving him the option to compete at either position. 

"It was a couple weeks ago, just after the draft, they asked me how I would feel about moving to safety,'' Thurmond said. "They said I could stay and compete at corner, or I could move to safety and compete there. After drafting three corners, even though some of them might be safeties, they thought it would be better for me at safety. I'm good with it. I just want to play."

The move is intriguing given that Thurmond has never played a game at the safety position, but he isn't concerned too much about that.

"I've played it in practice, but never in a game,'' Thurmond said. "In this defense, though, it's not much different than playing in the nickel.''


 
 
 
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