By: Chuck Merlis
With the NFL season almost halfway over, it is time for fantasy football owners to take stock of their teams and make any necessary alterations to them.
The key to acquiring players in fantasy football stems from the basic principle of buy low, sell high. It is crucial while making fantasy acquisitions that one’s record is considered.
Established below are three tiers of fantasy football win-loss records, and the players that team owners with those records should target.
Target Players For 7-0, 6-1, and 5-2 teams:
For teams with five, six, or seven wins, getting into the playoffs is almost guaranteed. These teams should target low-risk, high-reward players that can help fantasy managers make a late-season push to a championship.
Marquise Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Brown was placed on the Injury Reserve (IR) list by the Cardinals coming into week seven. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks due to a foot injury sustained in Week six. Before his injury, Brown ranked fifth amongst all receivers, averaging 18.25 fantasy points per week through the first six weeks of the season. Brown could serve as a bonafide WR1 when he returns in November, just in time for a championship push.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Patterson, the receiver turned running back, has proven himself as a viable RB2 in fantasy football leagues over the past two seasons. Going into week five, the Falcons placed Patterson on the IR, however, he is expected back at some point this season. Patterson averaged 14.7 fantasy points. Fantasy managers with the capital to lose a few games in the short term could target Patterson to help put their team over the edge come playoff time.
Target Players For 4-3 and 3-4 Teams:
Teams with three or four wins are middle-of-the-pack teams in the hunt to make the playoffs. These teams should address individualized team needs. This means trading positions with player surpluses in exchange for positions your team lacks. These fantasy managers should target established players whose production has declined but still are on the field for a high percentage of snaps.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Samuel took fantasy leagues by storm last season, averaging over 21 points per game. Samuel finished 2021 as the second-ranked fantasy football receiver, only behind Cooper Kupp. Through seven weeks of the 2022 season, Samuel has found the end zone twice and is averaging 14.35 points, a decrease in production from last year. The good news is that Samuel has not been on the field for below 79% of snaps this season, and while trading for him would still require giving up assets, he is not at peak value. It is not as if Samuel has lost any skill from one season to the next; he has just gotten off to a slower start than expected. Samuel could be the difference between watching the playoffs from the outside and being in the playoffs.
AJ Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Brown was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles leading up to the 2022 season. The Eagles, who gave up a massive haul of draft picks to acquire him, hoped Brown would serve as a bonafide WR1. In 2022, Brown averaged 14 points a game and hauled five touchdown passes while only playing in 13 regular season games. In the first six weeks of the 2022 season, Brown averaged just over 15 points per game and hauled two touchdown passes. While Brown is averaging more points through the first six games of this season than he did last season, fantasy managers who drafted him in the first or second rounds of their drafts were hoping for a more significant jump in production. To this, he is WR16 and has yet to ascend to being a clearcut WR1 on any fantasy team. Just like Samuel, assets will have to be given up to acquire Brown, but his price has substantially dropped from just a few weeks ago. Acquiring Brown could solidify your team as a playoff-caliber team.
Target Players For 2-5, 1-6, or 0-7 Teams:
It is time to face reality; your season is most likely over. Still, who is to say you have to go down without trying? Suppose you are trying to pick up some garbage-time victories. In that case, you should target highly drafted, highly talented players who are vastly underperforming and hope those players miraculously turn their season around.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Harris burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2021 as a bonafide RB1, ranking as the third top running back. He averaged over 17 points a game and scored ten touchdowns. He was drafted top ten in most fantasy leagues in 2022; fantasy managers looked for him to build on his immediate success in the league. To this point, he still needs to do so. In 2022, Harris is averaging 10 points a game and has scored just three touchdowns. Harris is ranked as RB22 for the 2022 season, and his trade value has never been lower. For teams looking to throw spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks, putting faith in Harris to turn around his sophomore slump could be the right move.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Like Harris, Pitts is in his second season in the NFL. His rookie campaign was inconsistent, but at the end of the season, Pitts ranked as TE6 in fantasy leagues. While he hauled in only one touchdown, he averaged just over ten points. Pitts, a middle-round draft pick in many leagues, was expecting to take a jump in the 2022 season and become a top-tier tight end. He still needs to do so. Through the first six weeks of the season, Pitts has averaged just over six points per game and is TE22 in fantasy football. Pitts is undoubtedly a talented player, destined to hit his stride eventually. For teams with nothing left to lose, it could be trading for him and hoping he breaks out sooner rather than later.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders
McLaurin was expecting a breakout season. McLaurin averaged over 12 points in the 2021 season and ranked as WR25 in fantasy leagues. Unlike previous years where McLaurin was a mid-round draft, McLaurin was drafted in the second or third rounds of 2022 fantasy football drafts. Through week six of the 2022 season, he is averaging just over 12 points a game and has snagged two touchdowns. While his 12 points a game this season are proportional to his 12 points a game last season, he is no longer matching his value based on where he was drafted. He was expecting a significant jump in fantasy production but has failed to do so. Fantasy managers struggling to get their teams going this year can look to him in the hope of him finally meeting his projected value.
There are nuances to every fantasy football team and every fantasy football acquisition. Numerous other players could and should be targeted for fantasy owners looking to improve their teams. These recommendations are meant to suggest who is available and who could be available at a reasonable price.