I've never understood how a guy could offer up daily trade recommendations on talk radio, yet have no idea how to complete a deal as a fantasy general manager. The latter clearly isn't as easy as dialing up a phone number, but three simple steps can get the job done:
1.) Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your roster. If your team can't afford to give up anyone of value, then stop kidding yourself: You're not going to get a deal done.
2.) Find a rival who needs what you can offer, and who can offer what you need. The former is as important as the latter. Don't go after someone's running back if that guy needs a quarterback, but all you have to offer is a wide receiver.
3.) Never send out a league-wide message announcing one of your guys is on the trade block. That effectively cuts his value in half.
Of course, the best way to make a deal is to dangle an attention-grabbing name. That lets your potential trade partner know you're serious about getting something done. This week I suggest four trades, all of which are schedule-friendly and include at least one intriguing name.
Steal him/Deal him
Why Rodgers? Because nobody's schedule in the next six games (Vikings, Jets, Cowboys, Vikings, Falcons, 49ers) is as drastically more difficult than his first six games (Eagles, Bills, Bears, Lions, Redskins, Dolphins) in terms of pass defenses faced. And he'll throw at this brick wall basically without a running game to support him.
McCoy's upcoming schedule of run defenses (Titans, Colts, Redskins, Giants, Bears, Texans) is so much easier than Turner's (Bengals, Buccaneers, Ravens, Rams, Packers, Buccaneers), it will be no surprise if he outscores the Atlanta standout during your run to the playoffs. Getting Bowe and Kansas City's cream puff schedule over that stretch is just icing on the cake.
Trade Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson for Knowshon Moreno and Hakeem Nicks. The key here is finding a rival who slobbers over hook-ups and is thinking long-term, because Vick and Jackson obviously aren't going to help you anytime soon. But I like the big picture as much as the snapshot, as the Eagles' schedule becomes much easier to run against (note the aforementioned McCoy acquisition) than pass against. Meanwhile, look for Moreno to be a second-half sleeper as he faces a soft collection of run defenses that will be even softer as they devote five and six defenders to stopping Denver's powerful passing game.
Trade Ronnie Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw and Pierre Garcon for Calvin Johnson. Ah, quantity for quality, the ideal fantasy swap. And here's the best part: I have to believe your rival will think this is a joke, with you giving up three legitimate fantasy starters for a guy who has struggled a bit this season. So the key will be in convincing this rival you're serious without tipping him off to Miami's monster upcoming schedule (you flat-out cannot start Brown in most of these games). That leaves you surrendering two guys you drafted as backups for a legitimate star in Johnson, who goes up against three of the league's worst pass defenses (Redskins, Bills, Patriots) in his next five games.
Play him/Sit him
Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos. If I taught you anything last week (remember the Buster Davis tout?), it was to be bold. This, my friends, is bold. But I see the Broncos scoring at least four touchdowns against the Raiders, and Tebow has become the team's chief weapon inside the 5-yard line. So give him two touchdowns ... it sure beats what Donovan McNabb is going to do in Chicago.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins. Did I say McNabb? Yes, I did. The only way the Redskins are going to win in Chicago is to force Cutler into mistakes and play keep away on offense. New back Ryan Torain makes the latter a possibility. The Bears are far better against the pass than against the run, so this opens the door for a very conservative game plan.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs. Yeah, I know. You've seen his name here before. And you're going to keep seeing it here as long as: A.) Fantasy owners are unconvinced he should be starting, and B.) The Chiefs keep playing awful run defenses like those of the Texans (last week) and Jaguars (this week). No team's offense is more predictable -- the Chiefs will run, run, run until they fall behind, then pass, pass, pass. Against the Jaguars, they might never fall behind.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants. The bullish Giants back is making a nice comeback after a rather embarrassing early-season effort. It's gotten to the point where, in many fantasy leagues, both he and Bradshaw are starting. Uh, that's asking for double trouble this week in Dallas. The Cowboys are so strong against the run, I'd have to consider sitting Bradshaw. I guess that tells you what I'd do with his backup.
Earl Bennett, WR, Bears. It's taken six weeks, but the Bears' passing game is starting to come into focus. Johnny Knox has become an every-week fantasy starter, Devin Aromashodu should be waived and Devin Hester can only help you if you employ the Bears' defense/special teams. That leaves Bennett, who has played his way not only into the Bears' lineup, but also onto fantasy rosters. The next step is to find the right matchups (like Sunday's against the Redskins) and give him a fantasy shot.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys. There's something to be said about being the guy who "discovered" a fantasy star. If you drafted the talented Bryant, no doubt you envisioned him bursting onto the fantasy scene as your rivals asked, "How'd he know about him?" Well, that hasn't happened. It still might, but until Bryant has his next big game, you have to sit him. Look at it this way: If he breaks out this week while you have him on the bench, you can feel good about getting him back into the lineup next week.