Don’t be afraid to trade underperformers

We’re headed to Week 6, nearly the halfway point. Now the questions come. Do you hold onto a big name or do you move him in a deal? It’s the toughest decision fantasy owners have. I drafted Player X in the first round and while he’s not had his normal production, he’s still a stud. But now here come these new guys who are tearing it up. Do you make a deal that means cutting ties with your 2011 franchise player and hitch your success wagon (I don’t know what a “success wagon” looks like but I’d like to see it) to someone who’s been great for five weeks? Let’s examine three potential deals and see.

“Hey Jason, I’ll trade you Michael Vick for Cam Newton.”

I take that phone call and say thank you very much, let’s put the deal through. Blasphemy you say? Newton has been worth more points than Vick. Carolina is going to continue to throw the football. Barring any more games played in swamp water (Jacksonville), I know Newton is up for 300-plus yards passing and at least two total TDs every week.

What clinches it for me is that Newton is the Panthers’ top option on the ground in the red zone. When the Eagles get close, Vick isn’t getting those carries, his damage is done in the open field. But Newton can (and has) run it in from 10-15 yards out. He’s impossible to tackle. If you’re STILL not satisfied, ask yourself this question: Who has a better chance of making it through the season healthy? I thought so. I ride with Cam.

“Hey Jason, the Jets stink. But I wanted to talk to you about a trade. I’ll give you Chris Johnson for Fred Jackson.”

As my friend Adam Rank would say, I hang up right away and throw my phone in the lake so no one can call me with that again. (Unless it’s an iPhone because replacing those things is expensive). Jackson is a superstar this season. His offense lights it up. It’s one of those chemistry years for the Bills, and I ride that all the way through.

As good as Johnson is, he’s just as likely to have a 130-yard week as he is a 60-yard week. The Titans’ offense has started to come back to earth a little bit, and Jackson is simply the more consistent guy. A keeper league would be a different story, but I have no problem turning this deal down (unless they threw in a No. 1 WR, too).

“Hey Jason, boy the Jets really stink. But would you be interested in Roddy White if you gave me A.J. Green?”

This is really hard to do. Catching passes from Red Dalton has been much easier than anticipated (and yes, I’m picturing Andy Dalton surrounded by his Bengals teammates, who are all bouncers from the Double Deuce) and success as a rookie WR isn’t easy. That being said, Roddy White is going to turn back into Roddy White again soon. But, will it be the Roddy White who could rip off monster nine-catch, 150-yard, two-TD games? Or will it be less considering the impact of Julio Jones becoming a huge target (hamstring injury notwithstanding)?

In the end, I say I’d do it because no one else is getting the targets like Green in Cincinnati and suddenly it’s more crowded in Atlanta. There’s enough support in Cincinnati (Jermaine Gresham) to make sure teams can’t always roll their coverages to Green, but not enough to cut into his production.

So there you have it. I’ll take the newbies in all three of those scenarios. You can’t stay in love with big names if they’re not giving you what you need. An emotionless fantasy owner is a successful fantasy owner (and will probably be piloting a “success wagon,” which I’m starting to visualize now – sort of very Michael Landon-esque, smiling from under a rancher’s hat with needed supplies in tow). And, of course, if someone approaches you with a trade like that – try to skim another starter if you can, because you can always get more. The ones reaching out always give up more. But straight up? Yes, go for it.

See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT.  He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily.  Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca.  He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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