You drafted your team and it's looking solid. You peeked at the waiver wire to see if there were any under-the-radar adds to snag before Week 1. Now, the last thing you can do to improve your squad even further is to scan your leaguemate's rosters and focus on some ideal trade targets, as well as players you may want to cut ties with in return for better value. That's why this column, "Trade Calls" will come at you each and every week. It's pretty simple: I do the heavy lifting, you get some information and start making offers. So ahead of Week 1, here are some players to think about moving, and trading for.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks If there's anyone who has been campaigning on the "do not draft Thomas Rawls" platform this summer, it's me. His ADP is finally beginning to slip, but he's still a late-third round selection in 12-team leagues according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Rawls will eventually get back to full strength and should be the primary back in Seattle when he does. But as I've been saying all along, the team has no real reason to rush Rawls back into a high-volume role following his season-ending ankle injury nine months ago. Coach Pete Carroll recently confirmed this sentiment saying things like "We're making progress" and "don't want to rush him … we want to make sure we take care of him."
In the midst of an awakening, Christine Michael, now being referred to on Twitter as "C-Woke," was groomed all preseason with the first-team offense. There's good reason, now more than ever, to believe he'll see a hefty workload in Week 1 and possibly beyond. There are fantasy owners out there who still seem to think that Rawls is going to be a featured back in Seattle out of the gate and is, for lack of a better comparison, the second coming of Marshawn Lynch. Sorry to burst your bubble, but he's not. And Seahawks' fans get very sensitive about this. So if you know any diehard 12s in your fantasy league, look to them to welcome Rawls with open arms in a trade offer.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins There has been nary a positive report about DeVante Parker the entire summer. Dogged by hamstring injuries (on both legs, according to coach Adam Gase), Parker has been sidelined for a good part of training camp and only appeared in two preseason games. Gase has stated his displeasure with the way Parker is handling his injuries and it's clear that the team is concerned about their depth at wide receiver after drafting rookie Leonte Carroo and adding Justin Hunter just this week after the Titans cut him. Heck, even the Miami beat reporters are growing frustrated with the second-year receiver's oft-injured status. Parker has seemingly dealt with ailments of various kinds since he was drafted in 2015 and missing time in camp and preseason games with a new playbook and offensive system to learn will keep him from being immediately integrated into the game plan once fully healthy. A player with nagging injuries like those that Parker has had is a definite headache for fantasy owners. The potential to be a solid asset in fantasy is there, but if he can't get on the field then he's just burning a hole on your bench. Chances are someone in your league would be willing to deal for Parker based on his potential upside. Try to move him now -- you don't want the frustration that comes with owning a player like this all season long.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles As soon as the Eagles traded Sam Bradford away to Minnesota, all of Philadelphia's fantasy-relevant players' value took a blow. The outlook for the Eagles' offense was already in question, but now that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz will be the starter in Week 1, that questionable outlook has grown even dimmer. That includes the outlook for Ryan Mathews who projects as the Eagles' primary running back. You might argue that Mathews has a cake matchup against the Browns in Week 1, and you'd be correct there. But looking long term, it is worth considering moving the veteran running back for a higher-upside play. Mathews is not the most durable runner (he's played a full 16 games just once in six seasons) and if the Philadelphia offense struggles early on, they may look to get Darren Sproles more involved as a pass-catching running back in the vein of Danny Woodhead. And interestingly enough, the Eagles' offensive coordinator is Frank Reich (formerly with the Chargers) who made Woodhead a fantasy stud during his time in San Diego. Reich has already stated that he wants to find ways to get the ball in Sproles' hands, which should be a red flag for anyone looking for RB2 production out of Mathews. This backfield is likely to be a split situation but prior to Week 1, Mathews' perceived value may never be as high as it is now, so look to move him as soon as possible.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennesee Titans Yes, DeMarco Murray is the "starter" in Tennessee. Yes, Derrick Henry is an unproven rookie. Yes, much of Henry's preseason success needs to be taken with a grain of salt because not every defensive front he faced was of first-team caliber. But what he was able to do with his preseason touches was extremely impressive to say the least. He was the preseason's second leading rusher with 216 yards on 34 attempts, a 6.5 yards per carry average. The rookie plowed through piles, dragged defenders several yards after first contact, displayed his lateral ability to elude in the open field, scored three touchdowns and caught a few passes too. As Matt Harmon referenced in his uber-informative preseason realities write-up, Henry is simply too good to not be featured in Tennessee.
It's only a matter of time before the Titans' coaching staff recognizes that their offense will be shockingly effective when Henry is lined up in the backfield. He's a beastly presence that defenses cannot ignore, and he'll force mismatches on the outside for Tennessee's wideouts as opposing teams will look to flood the box with as many bodies as they can in an effort to slow Henry down. In the same vein as with Sproles above, Titans coach Mike Mularkey said the team will "find ways" to get his big rookie the ball which bodes well for Henry's opportunities to score fantasy points going forward. If you weren't able to draft Henry, look to wheel and deal for him in a trade.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins In the eight games that DeSean Jackson was healthy during the second half of the 2015 season, he averaged six targets per game and hauled in 30 receptions for 528 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in three consecutive weeks. In Weeks 10-16 D-Jax averaged 73.2 receiving yards per game and flashed the big-play ability he's known for. If he had been healthy for a full 16 games, he may have posted monstrous numbers. He's healthy now. He's also heading into a contract year and it may be the final big payday of his career as he's pushing 30-years-old so there's a little bit of added motivation there for him to A) stay healthy and B) have a solid season statistically. Maybe you shied away from Jackson on draft day because of his health issues and boom-or-bust tendencies on a weekly basis, which is understandable. But his schedule the first half of the season should not be overlooked. With matchups against some of the worst pass defenses in the league, Jackson is poised to have a strong start. Washington faces PIT, DAL, NYG, CLE, BAL, PHI and DET in their first seven games … the matchups for wide receivers don't get much juicier than that. And considering that Jackson's ADP wasn't too expensive, you can likely get great value on him in a trade offer.
Rashad Jennings, RB, New York GiantsRashad Jennings had a career-high 1,159 scrimmage yards (863 rushing 296 receiving) with 4 TDs last year yet still came as a bargain in drafts this summer. It's likely you can still get him in a trade for not too much in return. He's one of those un-sexy names that on paper doesn't decorate a roster well. So take advantage of that before it's too late, because he's going to have a solid season and profiles as an RB2 who was drafted in Round 9 or later, on average. With chatter that the Giants are moving away from the dreaded four-headed committee backfield they rolled out for the majority of last season, Jennings is automatically a more attractive option as a fantasy running back. Add to it that the team (finally) parted ways with goal-line "vulture" Andre Williams and all of a sudden Jennings is in line for those valuable goal-line touches in addition to being the primary back between the 20s. He's not a bad pass-catching back either, but Shane Vereen could soak up some of those opportunities when New York is trailing. Just for context, when the Giants wised up at the end of last year and used Jennings as their featured back in Weeks 13-16, he piled up 432 rushing yards in four games and accounted for 69 percent of the team's rush attempts. Jennings also received 10 of New York's 11 red zone rush attempts in that span. He faces favorable matchups against DAL, NO, WAS, BAL, PHI in the first eight weeks of the season.