Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market. Players' values, like stocks, rise and fall throughout the season. Sometimes, the players go on hot streaks, while at times they hit cold spells.
For fantasy owners, the trick is to figure out when a player has reached his peek, when a player is primed for a breakout, and when it's time to cut your losses. Those determinations can help fantasy owners make transactions that ultimately could lead them to the league title.
Following are three players that fantasy owners should consider trading. These players already have overachieved this season and their value likely will not rise any higher. If you can swing a deal to fill a hole in your lineup, it could pay dividends later in the year when your current fantasy stud doesn't produce like he used to.
Steve Smith (WR – Carolina Panthers) –Smith has taken the league by storm in his return from a broken leg he suffered last season. In six games, he has 39 receptions for 596 yards (15.3 avg.) and seven touchdowns to lead all NFL wide receivers. He has 17 more catches than the Panthers' second-leading receiver and six more touchdown grabs.
When evaluating his performance, it's important to note that Smith has faced sieve-like pass defenses for most of the season. Miami, Arizona, New England and Green Bay all allow more than 200 passing yards per game.
It's fair to say that in the Panthers' final 10 games, Smith will face an uphill climb. Only the Atlanta Falcons, who Carolina plays twice in the stretch, rank in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. The other seven teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who the Panthers also face twice, currently have an average pass defense ranking of 8.7 among 32 teams, allowing 178 passing yards per game.
Smith likely will have a few more breakout games, but if your team has other, more pressing needs, it could be wise to deal the talented wideout.
Brett Favre (QB – Green Bay Packers) –Unless you have a few Packers fans in your fantasy league, it could be tough to find a suitor for Favre, given that his supporting cast has fallen apart from injury.
In any case, it's worth a try because the future doesn't look bright for Favre, who is among the top-five scorers in most fantasy leagues. With injuries to wide receivers Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson, not to mention running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, Favre is left with a bare cupboard.
Although Ferguson could return in a few games, it might not make a huge difference in Favre's production. The Packers' starting running back is Tony Fisher, who rushed for two yards on five carries last week at Minnesota, while seldom-used Antonio Chatman and Andrae Thurman will take turns opposite wide receiver Donald Driver.
With 14 passing touchdowns, 1,571 passing yards and a career-high 66.7 completion percentage this year, Favre has played remarkably well considering the Packers' offense lost standout guards Marco Rivera (Dallas Cowboys) and Mike Wahle (Carolina Panthers) this off-season.
But with the Packers' personnel losses coupled with a schedule that includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, Favre will be hard-pressed to maintain his current success.
Willie Parker (RB – Pittsburgh Steelers) –Parker could be another tough sell. Most fantasy owners recognize that his carries have been limited since Jerome Bettis returned from injury three weeks ago. In fact, during the first three games of the season, Parker averaged 21.3 carries per game compared to the 16.3 carries he has averaged the past three games.
But despite Bettis' resurgence, as well Verron Haynes' solid running and the presence of Duce Staley, Parker remains the primary rusher for the Steelers, who boast one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL.
Ultimately, though, Parker cannot be expected to produce as he did in the first two weeks of the season, when he gained 272 total rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. He has scored only once since then, and his scoring opportunities will continue to decrease as long as Bettis receives the lion's share of the red zone touches.
Parker did rush for 131 yards on 18 carries last week against the Bengals' on-again, off-again rush defense. But those performances likely will be few and far between the rest of the season as the Steelers face a bevy of teams with stout defenses, including the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts.