Fantasy Football Trade Etiquette: Matthew Berry’s 6 Rules, When is Your Word Final?

Trades can get messy. Exhibit A: this conversation about a trade taken from an ESPN message board.

Matthew Berry jumped on a soapbox this week to talk about trade etiquette, and the transgressions he points out got me thinking. Most leagues really don’t talk about the rules or ethics of trading outside of whether to allow vetoes. And maybe we should. Continue reading

How to Evaluate a Fantasy Football Trade

Every league has its issues, but I’ve never come across a league that didn’t have a problem evaluating trades. Whether you’re trying to figure out what to offer another team or debating whether a trade is “fair,” there is no perfect method.

Every league is different — different sizes, different scoring systems, different starting rosters. And every team manager evaluates players in their own way.

As a result, no one can agree completely on whether a deal is fair. That’s why every trade is a negotiation, both with the team you trade with and the league itself.

Of all the questions I talk about with fantasy football buddies, even the ones in other leagues, I get the most questions and discussion about the fairness of trades or whether a trade offer makes sense.

And so I thought it best to share a couple of tools that I use to evaluate trades in a completely neutral way. These tools are completely free, and once you try them, I think you’ll find they make assembling a trade offer easier as well. Rather than calling up a buddy and having to talk through trade options in your head, these tools can help you find what should be considering a good offer before you go to the bargaining table.

But before we get to the tools, a quick aside on vetoing trades.

WHEN TO VETO A TRADE

There are several schools of thought when it comes to vetoing a trade. The two extremes are the most common.

On the one hand are the folks who say a trade should never be vetoed as long as it’s agreed upon by both trade parties. In that system, it’s up to the league to kick out any members who abuse the trading system or who get taken advantage of in trades all too often.

I don’t believe in that practice much because it opens the floor for complaints and because throwing a member out of a league is never a painless process.

The other end of the spectrum requires the league to vote to approve all trades, which gives any league member the right to veto any trade for any reason. These leagues get riled up over the slightest trade variables, and it can really ruin a good fantasy football league when trade arguments get heated. League members will always abuse the veto.

I think the ideal system is somewhere in the middle, but here’s my general rule of thumb: you should be able to defend your trade to the rest of your league with solid reasoning. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be making the trade.

Buy lows and sell highs are going to happen. Really, they’re encouraged by even this fine fantasy site. So don’t get caught up in the heat of an argument over trades that may help a good team get better and lose sight of how a trade helps both teams.

That said, it’s often helpful to have a neutral third party to evaluate trades. Not only do a neutral opinion help you decide what a reasonable offer would be before you send it, but it’ll also help you look at a trade from an outsider perspective if you’re a commissioner or if you’re trying to decide if a veto is necessary.

2 TOOLS TO EVALUATE TRADES

Paid tools and league-site specific tools (Yahoo!, etc.) exist, but I have found these two free tools to be perfectly satisfactory. And for the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to the free ones that anyone can use.

1. My standby for the past two seasons has been KFFL’s Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer.

KFFL Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer

It’s not much in the looks department, but KFFL’s trade analyzer gets the job done. You simply enter the players on either side of a trade, choosing the range in the alphabet in which their first name falls to shorten the list of names to choose from at each spot.

Unlike other tools, KFFL does a little more thinking for you by also taking into consideration the starting roster and size of your league.

It feels a little more complete to provide this sort of info when evaluating a trade, but I still wish that KFFL would consider incorporating a FLEX position as an option on the roster. So far, I’ve simply ignored flex postions as a part of my starting roster when entering the form, but for leagues in which you start 2 RBs and a FLEX position, having that third running back to start in the FLEX can be extremely more valuable.

KFFL doesn’t ask for any type of scoring notes, but neither does the other tool I’ll talk about. It starts to get really tricky to look at trades once you start talking about various scoring systems, so I understand the reasoning behind not including it. But if it ever did…that would be awesome. If the league uses PPR scoring, for example, wide receivers would be much more valuable.

I really do like what KFFL brings to the table. The output they give to evaluate a trade tells you not only the most valuable pieces being exchanged, but who’s “winning” the trade and how severe the difference is. In the end, KFFL will give you a definitive answer on whether Team 1 or Team 2 should reject the trade or approve of it as a very fail deal.

KFFL Trade Analyzer Output

Analysis of Frank Gore for Darren McFadden and Plaxico Burress

In my experience, KFFL tends to be pretty conservative on how it rates players, not giving much credit to players on the rise as compared to a stud who’s not performing up to their expected level. But I still love you, KFFL. Good work.

2. The new kid on the block that I’ve also been using late this season is Fantasy Football Nerd’s Trade Analyzer.

Fantasy Football Nerd Trade Analzyer (Beta)

It’s only in beta — and to be honest, maybe I shouldn’t be telling you about it yet — but I already find what Fantasy Football Nerd is building very useful.

FFN’s tool is much faster to input players with a search box and arrow buttons to place a player on either side of an offer. Once players are entered, the analyze button gives you an almost instant answer on who has the better end of the deal.

Since Fantasy Football Nerd doesn’t take into consideration any data on league size or starting positions, it’s hard to say that its trade values are as complete as KFFL’s trade tool, but it is nice to get the quick answer, even if it’s a quick and dirty answer.

I also like that they give a numerical value on exactly how much more valuable the winning side of the trade is.

Fantasy Football Nerd Trade Analyzer Output

Sample analysis of trade of Frank Gore for Darren McFadden and Plaxico Burress

Also on the plus side, the Fantasy Football Nerd tool lets you know that the winning side is getting “the better end of the trade by XX points over the course of the rest of the season.” So you know that their trade tool is looking at how a player will do the rest of the season and not just how they are currently valued. The rest-of-the-season (ROS) value is always what I care about more in a trade than how much a player is worth at that given moment.

Then again, some people may not want something like this out there giving away that “buy low” and “sell high” edge.

HOW TO USE THESE TOOLS

I find myself using both of these tools on a regular basis to put together and judge trades. Fantasy Football Nerd’s analyzer is a nice, quick way to build a trade when you’re trying to put together an offer, and once you’ve got the basic idea together, KFFL is what I feel is the most fair way of judging whether the other owner will think you’re crazy or not for sending it.

KFFL’s analyzer is also the best indicator as to whether the other owners in your league will burn you alive for making that trade. But don’t take it as gospel since KFFL can be a little stingy when it comes to studs versus up-and-comers, as I said before.

As a commish, I’d make KFFL’s Trade Analyzer a regular part of my tool set. When the league starts to get upset about a particular trade, it can sometimes quiet the masses by providing a soothing, “This trade is fair” response. It can also help in challenging an owner to defend a trade when it seems more sloppily assembled.

If you can’t defend a trade by discussing player values, you don’t deserve it, and these tools should help you make a great deal.

For those of you not so concerned about fairness as you are about winning (okay, all of us), I’d definitely bookmark Fantasy Football Nerd’s Analyzer to quickly survey any trade offers you receive and figure out whether to accept.

While it’s in beta now, the FFN analyzer is only going to get better, and Fantasy Football Nerd has already demonstrated a great ability to synthesize a number of opinions and give an unbiased consensus opinion through their weekly rankings.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK

Neither of these tools are perfect, and as each evolves, I’d love to hear your feedback on which works best and if you have any interesting ways of using them. I’d also like to hear about any other tools you use when evaluating trades or putting together a trade package. Tell me all about them below in the comments or drop me a note.

Happy trading!

Thank you Murray much, Week 7 Pickups

If you were hurting for a tight end, Week 7 is the week to snatch one up off the waiver wire. Don’t sleep on these options.

Tight End Party

FRED DAVIS (Redskins)
With Chris Cooley shattering his finger (ouch) on Sunday, Davis stands to see a lot more passes his way in this Redskins’ offense. Assuming John Beck takes over, he may have less of a tendency to throw a cannon downfield like Rex Grossman was prone to do.

JAKE BALLARD (Giants)
The Giants found themselves a tight end this season. After two solid weeks of top-10 production, Ballard is a must-add for any tight end needy team. He’s on bye this week, which might make him more costly to grab in a popular bye week, but I believe he’ll be worth the sacrifice.

LANCE KENDRICKS (Rams)
An early-season sleeper of mine, Kendricks finally flipped the switch this week and had a nice game with 70+ yards. We, of course, would like to see more out of him before we buy-in completely again, but he’ll cost you a lot more to add once he goes off for a big game. We’ll have to see how Brandon Lloyd changes the passing game in St. Louis and how much of a drop it takes while A.J. Feeley fills in for Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain).

Rest of the Field

DEMARCO MURRAY (Cowboys)
Felix Jones will miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, and in his absence, Murray got the majority of carries. He’ll likely share time with Tashard Choice, but he faces a very nice schedule, starting with the Rams in Week 7.

CARSON PALMER (Bengals…RAIDERS!)
It looks like the Raiders have managed to pry Palmer out of the Bengals’ hands. While he’s faded as a starter in recent years, Palmer’s a big upgrade over Kyle Boller and possibly even an upgrade over Jason Campbell. We can’t be sure how he’ll do until we see him hit the field, but with Oakland’s receiving talents (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore) are hitting their stride and a running game to take the pressure off him, Palmer could have immediate QB2 value. I’d stash him for now until we know the trade is final and until we see him in real game action.

GREG LITTLE (Browns)
He started for the first time on Sunday, and Colt McCoy targeted him plenty. While the Browns aren’t the most potent of offenses, it never hurts to own a team’s No. 1 guy.

JEROME SIMPSON (Bengals)
A.J. Green’s getting a lot of attention in Cincinnati, but Simpson’s had a couple of nice weeks as well. If you’re looking for a WR3 with upside, take a chance on Simpson.

ARRELIOUS BENN (Bucs)
Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams has been a disappointment thus far, as has the entire Bucs’ passing game. But Benn’s shown promise with the few touches he’s received. In the last two weeks, he scored big against the Saints and had another near touchdown negated by penalty. He had a quiet first few weeks as he was returning from his injury last season, but now his run after the catch ability looks 100 percent. If you’re looking for a WR3 on the rise, Benn’s looking like a nice grab. Just note that he’s a boom-bust guy. You’ll have to play matchups with him.

MARK CLAYTON / DANARIO ALEXANDER (Rams)
Brandon Lloyd’s arrival in St. Louis makes Mark Clayton’s return from the PUP a tad less exciting. It also demotes Danario Alexander to a specialty role again. Still, both receivers should find a way to have an impact, and the Rams schedule gets easier down the stretch. Clayton was Sam Bradford’s favorite target before his injury last season, but unfortunately, it’ll be A.J. Feeley under center for several weeks until Bradford’s back on the field. We can’t be sure who Feeley will favor, but it’s likely we see Lloyd and Clayton as the starters in St. Louis after a few weeks. Alexander, for now, is back to being a stash in redraft until we know how much he’ll see the field with these two back, but he’s still got a huge ceiling when he’s healthy.

DEMARYIUS THOMAS (Broncos)
With Lloyd moving on to the Rams, Thomas should become a starter alongside Eric Decker. He’s returning from a broken finger he suffered in the preseason. Thomas has had a hard time staying on the field, but his measurables make him a worthy gamble. I wouldn’t drop Eric Decker for him, but I’d gladly stash him and hope for the best if all other waiver wire options were taken.

The League S03E02: The Sukkah never trades

Trades. Every league wants trades. They keep the league competitive and promote inspired conversation between league members. But it’s very difficult to maintain the culture that allows for them within a league because they are the most dangerous version of in-season gambling.

Play a trade well…and you’ll have the envy and hatred of the rest of your league. You’re team will be better, stronger, and more playoff-bound, but you’ll have to endure plenty of ridicule from those who feel you unfairly improved your team through a trade.

And make the wrong play? Well, if you lose on a trade, you’re just going to be apologizing for the rest of season to your league as they lose to the monstrosity of a team you allowed your trade partner to create.

Much like the delicate rain forest ecosystem, trading is hard to sustain. Eventually, the trading parties dry up. Fewer teams are willing to trade, and those that want to trade fear getting screwed by the other party or being mocked by the rest of the league for making a bad deal.

It’s a true test to the type of league you have if you can pull your league out of that nosedive to no-trade land. And this is where we find the league in the second episode.

When we last left the league, they were locked out of their own draft while Dirty Randy and Rafi filmed a porn inside Andre’s apartment. Now they have to deal with the consequences.

Jenny’s hitting the streets (and park bench advertisements) again as a real estate agent. Ruxin’s tasked with getting Baby Geoffrey into the best Jewish prep school.

That leaves Pete tasked with successfully fixing the league by encouraging trades to balance the teams they autodrafted. But no one trusts Pete…or anyone else in the league, and why would they when your league is tossing out trades like Dwayne Bowe for Owen Daniels or Owen Daniels for LeSean McCoy and Tolbert (A little much, no?).

Unfortunately for Jenny, her first park bench ad for her return to the real estate game becomes the bed and motorboat of choice of a homeless man. Jenny tasks Kevin with evicting him, but Kevin confessing to the homeless dude that it was “that time of the month” only makes things worse.

Kevin ends up following Ruxin’s example to get the problem solved, which is never a good way to solve a problem and come out clean.

Since the draft, Andre’s noticed a few strange things in his apartment…but he hasn’t caught on to what went on in there. Even though the rest of the league is disgusted to even enter his place, he only picks up on the hints when he contracts thrush through “immaculate infection.”

Andre threatens the league with an offer: he’ll trade any player to anyone who’ll give him info about what went on in his apartment during the draft.

The ultimatum scares Kevin, always the weakest of the league, as he fears Ruxin will cave to Andre about “Sexfest 2011″ to benefit from the trade. And upon hearing what the rest of the league did, Andre might, in anger, confess to Ruxin that the draft order was falsified when his name was drawn first overall.

The fear leads Kevin to allow Ruxin to throw his Sukkot, a Jewish harvest festival, in Kevin’s own backyard. Ruxin’s own house had to be ruled out because he was captured by Google Earth spray-painting a swastika on a pothole to get the city to fix it.

The Sukkot starts to get a little more like Festivus when Pete proposes an airing of grievances to reestablish trust in the league (even though the lies continue).

Once the ruse of truthliness is complete, Pete launches into an eight-way trade proposal, balancing the teams and filling all the position holes the autodraft created. It’s actually quite impressive. Bravo, Pete. Bra-vo.

In the process of Pete’s trade genius-ary, we get a glimpse of the full league roster, including the strangers we’ve never seen before. There’s Jenny, Taco, Kevin, Pete, Ruxin, and Andre plus the mysterious twosome of Chuck and Ted.

Will we ever meet Chuck? Or Ted? One can only hope they make as great a first impression as Dirty Randy…and they better have really good excuses for drafting from afar all these years. Live drafts are the only way to fly.

With the fantasy football work done, the league gets to the Sukkot-ing, but the party is destined to fail as soon as everyone sees how deeply involved Taco is. He’s made plans to host “Taccot,” his own combination Jewish festival and shroom rave after the Sukkot in the same tent, but he’s not content to keep the party elements at bay until the rave begins.

For starters, he volunteers his weed as the “plants” for the lulav tradition in the Sukkot ceremony, despite Ruxin’s groans. Oh, the bitter herb. Luckily, the representative from the Jewish prep school Ruxin is trying to impress doesn’t realize what she’s working with during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the trades have all gone through. Pete’s happy to see that everyone’s teams have improved, but Kevin comes to tell him that Andre has declined his trade with Pete. Andre wants to take Pete’s place as “patient zero” of the league this year, the one who benefits from others misplaced trust, and he does so by screwing the master himself.

As Taco’s intruding on the festivities continues, Taco sends Ellie to put a “sukkah” DVD that he made in honor of the festival, we’re smart enough to know where this is going.

Instead of Taco’s DVD, Ellie finds the first copy of the “Sacko” porn Dirty Randy filmed in Andre’s apartment, and Ellie plays it for the masses at the Jewish ceremony on the outdoor screen.

Ruxin’s hopes of Geoffrey going to private school? Ruined. At least he’ll be able to hold his own in the preschool fantasy league.

Memorable quotes from Episode 2:

TACO: “What if she’s in a terrible accident one day, and someone has to tell them how to put her titties back together?”

TACO: “Woah! He is motorboating those fakies.”

TACO: “It’s like a Jewish Bonnaroo?”

RUXIN: “Yes, minus the patchouli and underlying sadness.”

RUXIN: “I’ve called the city 100 times, but they do not care about the plight of the upper-middle class white suburban male at all.”

KEVIN: “We do not get our periods at the same time.”

RUXIN: “Does a man ever tire of looking at the sunrise…when he’s balls deep in Kevin?”

RUXIN: “It’s like you trolling around the bar looking for a hand jibber, every once in a while, someone says ‘yes.'”

TACO: “I was in the room. There was so much semen.”

RUXIN: “And second, if I did look inward, which I won’t, I think we would find that my Judaism is the least objectionable thing about me.”

JENNY: “Problem plus swastika equals problem solved.”
RUXIN: “Tell that to the Jews.”

ANDRE: “This is not about me. I am the accuser. ‘Cause I know there be a witch in this town, and you’re all suspects, you cowpokes. And this dark city of Gotham’s got a gloomy cloud…’cause I’m gonna ride my horse right down Main Street.”

HOMELESS GUY: “She’s the floating muse, a dreamscape of femininity.”

KEVIN: “I’m not going to be trade-raped by my own wife.”
JENNY: “I’d be so gentle.”

KEVIN: “Maybe he’s like a menstrual medium.”

JENNY: “Are your brain and mouth connected, Kevin?”
KEVIN: “Sometimes.”

TACO: “Taccot is an ideal plane of existence where the 12 tribes of Israel come together with people who are high on mushrooms and groove to Aphex Twin.”

What is Aphex Twin, you ask? This…

http://youtu.be/5Az_7U0-cK0

PETE: “We’ve crossed the distrust horizon into the land of no trades.”

JENNY: “You are the patient zero of distrust, Pete.”

RUXIN: “Wait — an eight-way? But Andre’s sister’s not even here.”

TACO: “I like kickers. They’re the toughest.”

ANDRE: “It’s like a useless Good Will Hunting.”

RUXIN: “I’m keeping her and her family of conquistadors away until Geoffrey’s acceptance into the school.”

ANDRE: “I didn’t realize that sukkah was a high holy day.”

JENNY: “You promise me. Never smoke the lulav, okay?”

TACO: “Let’s get blazed, mother-sukkahs!”

KEVIN: “‘I’m Baby Geoffrey Ruxin. I’m in the cul-de-sac, son!'”

And just because you’ve been good, here’s the full version of Ruxin’s Shiva Bowl Shuffle from the season premiere.

Jamaal Charles owners: How to replace your stud running back

If you lost Jamaal Charles on Sunday, you don’t have a lot of options. He was your first round pick, and unless you play in a very small league, it’s unlikely you have someone else of Charles’ caliber on your roster to pick up the slack.

You also aren’t going to find many first-round quality players on the waiver wire. So at this point, you are left with the desperation options.

It’s time to beg, borrow, cheat, or steal.

One note before we start — you don’t have to do these in this order. Begging is for the worst off of the Charles’ owners, but all of us could benefit from “stealing,” even if we didn’t lose Charles. In fact, “stealing” is probably a good place to start for the majority of you. That’s why I put it at the end…

BEG

A trade is the fastest way to fix your roster when you face a catastrophic injury like losing Charles. You won’t ever have as strong a team as you had before, but just like getting burned on a bad investment, you have to take stock of what you have, package your assets, and sell off what you can to improve your net worth (in this case, your team).

Now I’m assuming you’re in dire straits without Charles. You might not have another running back capable of even RB2-quality production. Maybe you were rotating a stream of flex-level running backs in alongside Charles. Maybe the only other stud on your roster was your top-5 quarterback.

If you can field a respectable roster in Week 3 without Charles, hold off and move on to the less drastic strategies below. But if you’re rocking back and forth in the fetal position while screaming “Jamaaaaaal. WHY?!?,” stay with me here…

Hopefully, you drafted some good depth at at least one position. It’s probably safe to assume it’s not running back, so let’s pretend you have a little extra talent at quarterback or wide receiver.

It’s time to start talking to every owner in your league who has a hole at wide receiver or quarterback and a running back worth starting every week. Package what you have and shop it.

Start your negotiations by making a reasonable offer, but if that goes south, beg. Beg like you’re life depended on it. Play the pity card, and maybe someone will grant you a chance at their prize running back.

Target the owners of Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, and Shonn Greene, who may be disappointed in what they’ve brought to the box score so far. You don’t have the luxury of being disappointed in them. You just need high-ceiling starters.

Chris Johnson would be the first player I’d target. Foster or Jackson might come at a discount since they are currently injured, and Greene owners might be convinced that he won’t rise to the occasion this season either.

For the right price, I’d take a chance at Greene.

Float your starting-quality backup quarterback out there packaged alongside one of your WR2 or WR1-level wide receivers. If you feel good enough about your QB2, try offering your stud-level starter to the guy that drafted Peyton Manning.

It’s a great time to trade Matthew Stafford to the highest bidder if you smartly drafted a quality alternative in case Stafford didn’t make it a full 16 games. Maybe you’ll miss out on his breakout season, but you could end up with a fantasy stud to replace what you lost in Charles.

BORROW

If trading for a stud or potential stud doesn’t work, it’s time to look at the lesser options and “borrow.”

You’re not actually borrowing in this situation. You’re still trading, but you’re looking at the potential to upgrade this player down the road.

If left with no other options, go ahead and look at trading depth for depth. Maybe you could deal a backup tight end, WR3, or your backup quarterback to give yourself some more depth at running back.

Nabbing someone like Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, or Ryan Grant could still prove valuable. Don’t write anyone off. But don’t take any terrible deals either just to add a running back to your squad. You have to get a decent value for the package you put together. A bad trade would pretty much sink your season.

You might try to sneak a deal for a promising up-and-comer.

Make a play for Ben Tate whose owner may not need his opportunistic play for the next several weeks while Foster heals up as much as you could. Look for James Starks, who is rising in Green Bay. Maybe the rest of your league hasn’t noticed yet. Finally, it pays off to have a guy in your league who lives under a rock!

While getting a running back out of the deal would be preferred, it’s okay to consider a trade that upgrades your other positions. Anything that improves your team will help, and maybe that additional strength at quarterback or wide receiver could be turned into running back depth at a later date.

While you might not start these running backs right away or have no need for the additional depth at another position, these players are good to have. You can hold onto them for now, start them when they have decent matchups, and maybe somewhere down the road, they’ll have a big enough game for you to deal them again.

On that next trade, that’s when you might land a stud to replace Charles.

CHEAT

Okay, I realize most people don’t want to cheat. But some do. And I feel it’s my duty to cover this even if I don’t wholeheartedly endorse it. In fact, I’ll despise you if you pull it off. But hey, we’re in it to win it. So here goes…

This one’s the hard one. You might not have a chance at swindling an owner in your league, and even if you do, you might not get this trade past the rest of the owners in your league. But…rumors and misinformation might be a decent way to get a fantasy starter off another owner.

All it takes is a text, presumed to be a forward from Twitter, with “RT @AdamSchefter” in front, and you could have another owner thinking they need to sell high. (Kidding, of course. Who would do that?)

Haven’t you always wanted to be “that guy?”

You could make a play for Matt Forte by talking up Marion Barber’s upcoming return and his ability to vulture every touchdown from Forte the rest of the way. It is possible, even if it’s not probable. So it’s not a lie, MOM!

Sure, you still have to worry that it comes true, in some part, but Forte’s a decent recovery from losing Charles.

Steven Jackson owners might be willing to believe he’ll never be healthy again this season. He looked slow in the first game of the season, didn’t he? Might as well get a decent value for him rather than deal with his questionable status all season long.

Ryan Mathews certainly isn’t going to get enough touches to be worth anything in San Diego. So what if every analyst out there seems to believe he’s the better back. Tolbert is clearly the guy that’s going to get all the fantasy points, right?

Use rumors and speculation to your advantage, and you just might “negotiate” your way into a nice consolation prize.

But yes, if you pull this off, several people in your league will call you out for it. You’ll be cursed for the rest of the season, and you probably won’t even make it to the championship game due to karma. All wins have their price.

STEAL

There’s not going to be a lot on the waiver wire, but there’s enough. Now that you’ve lost Charles, it’s time to take everything you can and “steal” value for free off the wire.

First, your Kansas City replacements. Unfortunately, they’ll cost the most and probably produce the least.

Thomas Jones + Dexter McCluster + Le’Ron McClain

I covered this in this week’s waiver wire post, but Jones probably assumes the lead back duties here. He’s not exciting; in fact, he’s looked totally finished so far this season. But he’s the guy listed second on the depth chart, and he’s likely to get the goal line looks, at least initially.

Jones is the running back I’d try to pickup first, but don’t break the bank to get him. He’s not worth it, especially with how lackluster the Chiefs offense has been thus far. Thomas Jones is not going to spark anything for them.

Dexter McCluster’s been used as a gadget guy by the Chiefs and has gotten more touches than Jones so far this year up until Charles was injured. With his ability to act as a receiver or running back (not to mention his eligibility as both a WR and RB on some fantasy sites), McCluster may actually see the most productive touches in Charles’ absence. He’ll also come at a lower cost than Jones if you’re having to bid on McCluster in a FAAB.

The dark horse in this is Le’Ron McClain. We’ve seen him take more than his fair share of the work during his time in Baltimore, and now he’s in the mix in Kansas City.

Jones is old, and McCluster is undersized. So the bulk of the workload could easily land in McClain’s lap. Again, he’s not going to blow the doors off anyone, but he could be productive if the Chiefs pick themselves up off the floor.

Assuming you miss out on Jones and McCluster, stash McClain. You never know.

And here’s where the real stealing comes in. If you have the roster space, I’d claim every single decent handcuff back still on waivers that you can. That list includes Deji Karim in Jacksonville, Kendall Hunter in San Francisco, Delone Carter in Indy, and Michael Bush in Oakland.

Bush and Carter have carved a role of sorts on their offenses for now with the potential to do more, especially if there’s an injury. Hunter’s not getting a lot of touches, but he certainly looks like he could do plenty with them after leading the league in rushing during the preseason. And Karim will continue to protect Maurice Jones-Drew’s long-term health by taking a few touches each week until MJD suffers a setback or another injury.

If they’re out there, I’d go get Willis McGahee, who could end up winning John Fox’s favor if Moreno can’t stay healthy, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who still might be the most productive back on the Jets, first.

You’re goal with these backups is to be first in line to benefit when the next devastating injury hits fantasy owners. And in the meantime, you can tell your tale of woe over a campfire to the rest of your league to scare them into trading you for their own handcuff.

It’s not going to make you any friends, but this strategy is an act of desperation.

And if you can’t “steal” your way back into fantasy relevance, well…you better start trolling the waiver wire and maximizing every spot on your roster. You’re going to need every point you can get the rest of the way.

RIP Jamaal’s ACL. Pour some out for your homies’ knees. And fingers crossed this doesn’t happen to any other first-round picks this season.

http://youtu.be/dqHKf5NuVtg

And seriously, what’s going on in KC? Charles is their third ACL tear this season.

5 Player Moves the NFL Owes Fantasy Football (And Me)

The first few days of NFL free agency are like sitting in Santa’s lap. You can ask for anything you want with the assumption that you’ll get it. And I do that every year.

Ask for things in free agency, that is. Not sit in Santa’s lap.

Since the NFL left us cold and alone for a whole offseason only to now bombard us all with free agency madness like we’re an ex-girlfriend waiting on-stage at Jerry Springer for a mystery announcement, it’s only fair that they see to it that these player moves happen just as I asked for them.

Some of these transactions require several planets and a few Belichicks to align in order for them to happen, but the NFL owes me, right? They can’t go Bad Santa on that.

1. Vince Young to Minnesota Vikings

I’ll admit that I’m a Longhorn. As such, I give VY more credit than he’s probably due. But he’s still a winning quarterback, and it doesn’t seem right for a winning quarterback to get cut loose by the team that drafted him and have a problem finding a reasonable starting gig with another franchise.

Minnesota has no quarterback right now. Rather than trade for McNabb and take their chances with a veteran who might fall apart too early for Christian Ponder, their rookie quarterback-of-the-future, to take the reins, why not put a player on the field that could really win a few games for you?

Young might even be able to fill in for more than one-year stint. Much like the Eagles did with Vick and Kolb, having a developed prospect waiting in the wings a little longer after he ripens isn’t so bad. Now Kolb’s some valuable trade bait.

Leslie Frazier seems like a reasonable coach, and there’s enough leadership in place to make sure that VY will be successful transitioning into his second starting job.

I can’t see VY in Minnesota being a bad fit, especially after hearing about VY and Adrian Peterson practicing together this offseason. During their college years, I always wondered what life would have been like if Adrian Peterson and Vince Young had ended up in the same backfield.

Now I’d like that dream to be made a reality.

2. Matt Leinart to Seattle Seahawks

I felt silly just typing that, and it’s not even that far-fetched since we’ve now heard that the Seahawks are chasing him. At this point, I have a strong feeling Leinart isn’t going to amount to anything unless Pete Carroll works some USC magic on him.

You’d think being paid to play football would be just another day at the office for Leinart, but apparently, he’s missing something else that he had in college. Perhaps it’s the hot tubs?

Maybe Carroll can get him back on track and make a decent No. 2 if not starter out of Leinart. If nothing else, Leinart would provide an interesting story line for Seahawks’ games besides “Can just give them Andrew Luck now?”

3. Braylon Edwards or Roy Williams to Chicago Bears

The Bears need a big receiver for Jay Cutler to make sweet, sweet aerial love to this season, and I don’t care too much about who that is.

Roy Williams will already be in play as soon as he’s released by the Cowboys. And he did have one great season in Martz’s offense during his time in Detroit. But Edwards has a similarly checkered past and need to prove himself.

Either big wideout would be a win for the Bears, and I’d like to see one of the two of them get a shot at being the No. 1 in Chicago. If that doesn’t work out, then I’ll take Malcom Floyd as a consolation prize.

Just give Cutler a shiny new toy. Is that so much to ask?

4. Steve Smith (CAR) to New England Patriots

Steve Smith has had it rough in Carolina these last few years. Since Delhomme, they haven’t been able to get any kind of stability at quarterback, and the Panthers are headed into a rebuilding phase with a new head coach and another new quarterback.

Smith deserves a chance to play for a contender again before he retires, and the Patriots could be that contender if they could work out a trade with Carolina. I have a feeling his passion for the game and desire for a championship would fit in perfectly within Bill Belichick’s organization.

And what new head coach wouldn’t take a piece or two of the Patriots’ draft pick war chest for a veteran they won’t have much longer? Smith’s not going to do them a lot of good while Carolina develops Cam Newton, and the Patriots could give the Panthers some draft picks to build the future wide receiver corps.

On the Patriots side, Smith would be an upgrade at wide receiver and a fighter–literally at times.

5. Kyle Orton to Miami Dolphins

Orton’s on the trading block already, and rumor has it that Miami is one of the teams looking to acquire him. I don’t think I have to sell too hard on this one.

In Miami, Orton would take the team in the right direction, whether Chad Henne ever develops or not. At least they’d be able to move forward as an offense. And Orton would be reunited with Brandon Marshall, who had success with Orton in Denver.

Orton’s got a little more left in the tank than a veteran like Hasselbeck, and he’s got plenty to prove after being ditched by both Chicago and Denver.

So Dear NFL Santa, let’s make these moves happen. If nothing else, they’ll make for a more exciting 2011 season.

If they don’t happen, I’ll have to pretend to hold a grudge against you when the season starts…and we both know I’m not going to be able to keep that up for long.

What free agent signings or trades do you still want to see happen? Sound off in the comments.