Commentary

Grand Theft Roto: Trade deadline deals

Updated: November 18, 2008, 1:03 PM ET
By Shawn Peters | Special to ESPN.com

As you're reading this, you are less than 24 hours from the trade deadline in ESPN public leagues. As of noon ET Wednesday, Nov. 19, all you trade addicts and swap heads will have to go cold turkey, and believe me, no one is looking for cold turkey a week before Thanksgiving.

So I'm keeping it short and sweet, faithful GTReaders. Because every minute you spend reading this column is a minute you lose in terms of burning up the phone lines, sending e-mails and making offers. Here are a bunch of deals I would do right away, depending on situation and disposition. For clarity's sake, I'm going apples for apples, or at least position for position, even though dealing one quarterback for another usually doesn't work. Consider these the building blocks for getting your own deal done.

Chris Johnson
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesChris Johnson has slowed a little but draws three great matchups from Weeks 13 to 15.
If you're already in the playoffs, trade Marion Barber for Chris Johnson.

Barber is coming off a huge outing and his next two games -- at home against the Niners and the Seahawks -- are about as appetizing as it gets. But as Tony Romo gets more comfortable, the Cowboys will throw more often, and at some point, Felix Jones will come back to leach some touches, maybe just in time for your fantasy playoffs. That's when the Cowboys play the Steelers (in Pittsburgh), Giants and Ravens. Meanwhile, Johnson continues to get the bulk of the Titans' carries and watches his schedule get cushy in Week 13 -- his one nasty matchup, Week 16 against the Steelers, is a home game. Between schedules, the impending winter weather and the fact that the Cowboys are a passing team that can run while the Titans are a running team that recently proved it can pass, I'll take the dread-headed guy in Nashville over the dread-headed dude in big D.

If you need to win out to make the playoffs, trade Cedric Benson for Warrick Dunn.

They both are owned in only about half of ESPN leagues and are considered "shaky" starting running backs at this point. The difference is Benson is still on the rise in terms of ownership and esteem, having scored a respectable 29 fantasy points in his past three games, while Dunn managed only one carry in the previous two weeks before scoring 11 fantasy points this past Sunday against the Vikings. However, Dunn is now the starting back in Tampa Bay, with Earnest Graham likely out for the season and Cadillac Williams not yet ready to play a significant role. That means that, with the exception of goal-line duty, it's fair to expect Dunn to touch the ball 15-20 times, either on handoffs or throws. And look at the Bucs' next two opponents: the Lions and the Saints. We're talking about a near guarantee of double-digit performances by Dunn if he stays on the field for both games. Meanwhile, Benson sees the Steelers and the Ravens over the coming two weeks. I'm pretty sure that qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Benson won't get you into the playoffs if you aren't there yet. Dunn will.

If you don't mind loving a loser, trade Eli Manning for Tyler Thigpen.

I know I hyped Peyton's little brother a few weeks back, and really, he hasn't played too poorly, having thrown six touchdowns and only three picks in the three games since. However, his yardage has remained depressed, and that's because the Giants, right now, have the most formidable three-headed attack since Cerberus. (I know, I'm a big, fat Greek mythology/Dungeons and Dragons nerd.) After showcasing the ability to rush for more than 200 yards as a team against the Ravens, Tom Coughlin is going to make opponents prove they can stop the rushing attack. That means fewer opportunities for Manning. Sure, he'll still throw a few scores, because the Giants will put points on the board as they continue to look like the defending Super Bowl champs they are. However, if you don't mind winning fantasy games by starting a guy who never seems to win real-life games, Thigpen is the man. The Chiefs play the Bills, Raiders, Broncos, Chargers and Dolphins through Week 16. Buffalo is the only team on that list that isn't allowing 12 fantasy points or more per game to opposing quarterbacks, while Miami, Denver and San Diego all are giving up more than 13 a game. Thigpen and the Chiefs will be behind in games, will throw often and will give you a fighting chance in your playoffs.

If you believe in catching lightning in a bottle, trade Laveranues Coles for Kevin Curtis.

Yes, I know the Jets have a nice schedule, and Coles, the 23rd-highest-scoring wide receiver in ESPN.com standard leagues, still has scored one more point than teammate Jerricho Cotchery. But the Jets seem to have realized that with all that money they spent on the offensive line, they should at least try running the ball before they tell Brett Favre, "Chuck it to somebody." On top of that, Coles has averaged only four targets per game over the past three weeks, tying him for third on the team behind Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller. Compare that to Curtis, who finally is back after sports hernia surgery and has become the apple of Donovan McNabb's eye. McNabb might not know the NFL rules pertaining to ties, but he does know Curtis has been open enough to justify 30 targets over the past three weeks, including three receptions in Sunday's overtime. Remember, this is the same guy who caught 77 passes for 1,110 yards last season, so this isn't a fluke. This is McNabb getting his security blanket back, and once they start hooking up on deeper patterns, it's fair to expect a few more scores. Coles might be your third receiver, but there's little chance of him blowing up and becoming a must-start going forward. Curtis has that potential in spades. In fact, if you wanted to deal Marvin Harrison or Torry Holt for Curtis, I wouldn't get mad at you, either. I might just nod slowly.

There you have a quartet of deals you should be able to pull off between now and the deadline. All I ask in return is that in 24 hours, once the trading season has officially ended, you all send me your single best grand theft roto of the year using the link below. Now, I want only one steal per customer, and anyone who writes one of those 500-word e-novellas will not be considered. Go short, sweet and to the point, and then, in next week's sign-off for the season, I'll print a few of the best thefts from you, the readers, as an honor roll.

So what are you waiting for? By noon Wednesday, if you haven't stolen your league, you'll have to go win it the boring way.

Shawn Peters is a fantasy baseball, football and golf analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him your own grand theft rotos by clicking here.

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