Fantasy: 5-minute guide to surviving a trade deadline

Here is my annual “Five-Minute Guide to Faking Your Way Through A Fantasy Trade Deadline,” a piece that was largely inspired by the fake book, Quantum Physics For Dummies.

Now, I’m not saying mastering the principles of quantum physics and brokering creative trades for the playoffs are similar occupations, requiring the same skill set.

However, if given the task of explaining the “molecular construction of the universe” or the “art of cultivating a 3-for-1 blockbuster” to my 90-something grandma (or 30-something wife), they’d probably have a better grasp of splitting an atom than why owners should covet Andy Dalton as much as Drew Brees for Weeks 13-16.

Quarterbacks: 10 Easiest Slates For Weeks 13-16

1. Andy Dalton, Bengals (@ SD, IND, @ PIT, MIN)
2. Matthew Stafford, Lions (GB, @ PHI, BAL, NYG)
3. Aaron Rodgers/Scott Tolzien, Packers (@ DET, ATL, @ DAL, PIT)
4. Nick Foles, Eagles (ARI, DET, @ MIN, CHI)
5. Peyton Manning, Broncos (@ KC, TEN, SD, @ HOU)
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys (OAK, @ CHI, GB, @ WAS)
7. EJ Manuel, Bills (ATL in Toronto, @ TB, @ JAX, MIA)
8. Eli Manning, Giants (@ WAS, @ SD, SEA, @ DET)
9. Tom Brady, Patriots (@ HOU, CLE, @ MIA, @ BAL)
10. Alex Smith, Chiefs (DEN, @ WAS, @ OAK, IND)

Four Quick Rules Of Trade Engagement — Weeks 12-13

1. Be the instigator in all trade talks.

2. There’s nothing wrong with exploiting friendships to make mutually beneficial trades before the deadline.

3. Always be willing to sacrifice talent on the bench for a proven star.

4. Actively seek out the owner who cannot afford to be in ‘Bye Hell’ this week (Philadelphia, Seattle, Cincinnati, Buffalo).

Quarterbacks: Five Most Difficult Slates For Weeks 13-16

1. Drew Brees, Saints (@ SEA, CAR, @ STL, @CAR)
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (NO, @ SF, @ NYG, ARI)
3. Geno Smith, Jets (MIA, OAK, @ CAR, CLE)
4. Kellen Clemens, Rams (@ SF, @ ARI, NO, TB)
5. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (STL, SEA, @ TB, ATL)

Speaking Of Quarterbacks …

With 12-, 14- or 16-team leagues that start only one passer, there is no plausible excuse for having a two-fer combination of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton during the playoffs.

No matter who you choose from one week to the next, you’re just wasting valuable points on the bench for that particular Sunday/Monday — especially when another viable playoff or championship contender has an obvious need at quarterback for the stretch run.

Maximize your points at the core starting slots!

Trade Strategy: The 2-For-2 Schmoozola

Ever hear of a “1-4 vs. 2-3” trade?

This setup rewards owners who have a healthy respect for one another, and frankly, don’t have a lot of time to dicker and deal.

Simply put, this involves a 2-for-2 swap where Owner A gives up the best (#1) and worst player (#4), while Owner B surrenders the second- and third-best players of a deal (#2, #3).

In real terms, say I wanted to ship Matthew Stafford (3,198 yards passing, 23 total TDs) to a friend with solid depth at receiver — but one who needs a big-time quarterback.

We’d simply give him/her one premium quarterback (Stafford) and one top-20 wideout (Torrey Smith, Denarius Moore) for one premium receiver (Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown) and one rock-solid “backup” quarterback, like Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Russell Wilson.

The result: A win-win trade for both parties, satisfying one weakness apiece and replenishing other positions on the back end.

The 1-4 vs. 2-3 Method works for any positional trade combination — just make sure Owner A is clearly forsaking the best and worst players in the swap.

Three More Rules Of Trade Engagement

1. Don’t sugarcoat your roster weaknesses.

2. Don’t move heaven and earth for a wide receiver outside the top 20 targets — dating back to Week 7.

3. Don’t let established flex starters sit on your bench during the playoffs. The golden rule: If they’re not automatic plays for Weeks 14-16, use ’em as fodder for a blockbuster trade.

4. Don’t trade for a running back in a time-share situation, unless it’s completing the RB-RB handcuff.

Trade Strategy: The ‘All-In’ 4-For-1 Blockbuster

Let’s use my homeboys league as an example here:

Heading into Week 11, I was in a three-way tie for first place in one division — with all three clubs owning the league’s best record, as well.

For that league, where Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton are the quarterbacks, neither running backs Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray (95 total yards, one TD vs. New Orleans) nor Packers wideout Jarrett Boykin (14 catches, 21 targets, 203 yards for Weeks 10-11) are regular starters, making them excellent trade pieces for the stretch run.

My thinking: After the Week 12 byes, Dalton, (the No. 4-ranked passer predating Sunday’s effort against Cleveland), Murray, Bell and Boykin would be significant assets for a 4-for-1 trade for Weeks 13-16, in search of one last difference-maker for the playoffs (Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Rob Gronkowski, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham).

Bottom line: For championship-contending teams blessed with supreme depth, the 4-for-1 blockbuster is a moral imperative at the trade deadline … because, as we all know, bench depth means jack squat once the playoffs begin.

Tailbacks: 10 Easiest Slates For Weeks 13-16

1. Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller, Bills (ATL in Toronto, @ TB, @ JAX, MIA)
2. Ben Tate, Texans (NE, @ JAX, @ IND, DEN)
3. Eddie Lacy, Packers (MIN, @ DET, ATL, @ DAL)
4. Ray Rice, Ravens (PIT, MIN, @ DET, NE)
5. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (@ GB, CHI, @ BAL, PHI)
6. Alfred Morris, Redskins (NYG, KC, @ ATL, DAL)
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (@ CLE, HOU, BUF, TEN)
8. Lamar Miller, Dolphins (@ NYJ, @ PIT, NE, @ BUF)
9. Matt Forte, Bears (@ MIN, DAL, @ CLE, @ PHI)
10. Chris Johnson, Titans (@ OAK, @ IND, @ DEN, ARI)

Do Your Homework, Dammit!

I’m always chagrined with owners who pose lazy questions on Twitter like:

**Who should I trade Drew Brees for?

**Which top-10 receiver has the easiest/hardest schedule down the stretch?

These queries are usually the calling card of a fantasy owner who refuses to look at their league rosters/standings … as a means of figuring out:

1) Which playoff hopeful needs a quarterback for the final five weeks?

2) Which owner desperately needs a victory this week — and cannot afford to be saddled with byes involving players from the Bills, Bengals, Seahawks or Eagles?

3) Is there a way I could block a title contender from making a momentum-changing trade?

Jay Clemons
can be reached, day or night, via Twitter at @FOX_JayClemons.