By Matt Citak
We are in Week 9 of the NFL season, which means we are beginning to near the end of the fantasy football season. With many fantasy leagues starting their playoffs in Week 14, that means there are only five games left to solidify your spot in your league’s playoffs. November is also important for fantasy purposes because it is the month that majority of leagues have their trade deadline.
With only a week or two left to pull off a blockbuster trade, here are CBS Local Sports’ Fantasy Football Buy-Low Trade Targets.
QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
This might seem a bit surprising considering the Panthers just traded away top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, but with his value down following the trade, now is the time to go after Newton. The seventh-year quarterback has proven before that he can produce as a top fantasy quarterback without a lot of talent surrounding him in the Carolina offense. Newton still has rookie running back Christian McCaffrey to target in the passing game (who is another interesting player you should try to acquire before your deadline), along with developing third-year receiver Devin Funchess. Not to mention Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen is expected to return following the Panthers’ Week 11 bye. More than anything, the trade of Benjamin should result in Newton relying on his legs more, which will result in more rushing stats for the veteran quarterback. If the person in your league that has Newton is trying to unload him, I would quickly jump at that opportunity before it’s too late.
RB Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles
The fact that he just got traded to Philadelphia this week, along with the Eagles having their bye next week, means Ajayi will be useless for fantasy purposes until Week 11. This could result in fantasy owners scrambling to unload him before the trade deadline. If this is the case in your league, then do not hesitate to make an offer for Ajayi. The Dolphins rank 30th in the NFL in run-blocking, while the Eagles rank 7th. Philadelphia’s offense is also one of the highest-scoring units in the league, averaging 29.0 points per game, while Miami’s ranks dead-last with 13.1 points per game. Ajayi should see plenty more scoring opportunities now that he’s with the Eagles, and remember, situation is vital when it comes to fantasy football. Despite some early-season struggles with the Dolphins, Ajayi has still forced 23 missed tackles on just 138 carries this season. The 24-year-old back could have a potential breakout with his new team.
RB Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings
McKinnon is by no means a true buy low candidate, as he has received at least 14 carries in each of the last four games, along with at least three receptions, and has been playing well. It is clear that as long as Sam Bradford is out, the Vikings plan to revolve their offense around McKinnon, between his abilities as both a runner and a pass-catcher. Since Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in Minnesota’s Week 4 loss to the Lions, McKinnon has at least 99 total yards from scrimmage in three of four games, including two games with over 120 total yards and a touchdown. While Latavius Murray did shine in Week 7, that seemed more like a mirage than anything. In Week 8, McKinnon played the fourth-most snaps of any running back. Murray will still get some carries each week, but McKinnon is clearly the guy to own in this backfield. It may cost you some talent, but do your best to get McKinnon on your team.
WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You might see Evans’ name on this list and laugh. However fantasy owners tend to have a short memory, and despite Evans having a very strong season so far, he hasn’t been what we typically expect from Mike Evans. The 6-foot-5 receiver is yet to top seven receptions or 95 yards in a game this year, something he did three separate times by Week 9 of last season. A big reason for this has been the play of quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has had moments of greatness this year, but is currently fantasy’s 18th-best quarterback, behind the likes of Josh McCown and Jacoby Brissett. While that is certainly worrisome, you have to believe that Winston and the Buccaneers offense, currently 19th in the league in points per game, will get back on-track sooner rather than later. When that happens, Evans is going to erupt. Go for Evans while his value is even slightly lower than normal.
WR Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Trivia question. Can you name which wide receiver is second in the NFL in targets over his last two games? How many of you guessed Marvin Jones? None of you? Well it’s true. In Detroit’s last two games, Jones has had 25 passes thrown his way (trailing only Amari Cooper’s 29), catching 12 of them for 224 yards and a touchdown. Golden Tate was active in both of those games, and despite catching 14 passes over that same span, saw 10 targets less than Jones. It is clear that Matthew Stafford trusts Jones and is once again relying on him to catch his downfield passes, similar to what we saw towards the beginning of the 2016 season. Considering the Lions’ struggles with the run (currently ranked 28th in the league with 82.1 rushing yards per game), Detroit has been and will continue to lean heavily on Stafford and the passing game. Expect a big second half from Jones, Stafford, and Tate.
TE Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
The “buy low” period may have already passed for Graham, as he is coming off his most productive game of the season in Week 8. The tight end caught four-of-five targets for 39 yards and two touchdowns, making it his third consecutive game with a touchdown. Graham got off to an incredibly poor start in 2017, finishing Seattle’s first two games with four receptions for nine yards. However since Seattle’s 12-9 Week 2 win over the 49ers, Graham has either caught a touchdown or had over 60 receiving yards in every game. Given the struggles at the position, Graham is still 7th among tight ends in points, despite his horrid start. The Seahawks just acquired Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown, which means the entire offense is poised for a better second half as Russell Wilson will now have more time to operate in the pocket. Graham is finally healthy, and with a solid offensive line protecting Wilson, the tight end could easily hit double-digit touchdowns.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.