We’ve hit Week 9 of the 2013 NFL season, which means the fantasy football campaign has entered its second half.
This time of year brings with it the trade deadline in many fantasy leagues, one last chance to improve teams before the push for the playoffs.
With that in mind, here are a handful of players to target. Some of these bounce-back candidates may have disappointed to this point in the year, but that’s only served to drive down their asking prices.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
After passing for over 4,800 yards and tossing 34 touchdown passes a year ago, another big season was expected of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2013.
So far, the Golden Boy has been a dud. Brady has thrown only nine touchdown passes this year, including just two over his past four games. The 36-year-old is on pace to throw for his fewest yards in a season since 2008.
However, the New England receiving corps has been decimated by injuries the early part of this season. Wideout Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski are back now. The play of rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins has improved.
Brady isn’t going to flirt with 5,000 passing yards in 2013, but there’s reason to think that a healthy New England offense will improve in the second half.
If you have a surplus at another position but are looking to get better under center (looking at you, Michael Vick owners), then Brady should be at the top of your target list.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
It’s sort of a misnomer to label San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers a “buy low” candidate.
After all, the 31-year-old ranks fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. Rivers has been one of the more pleasant surprises in 2013.
However, since many fantasy owners drafted Rivers as a backup this year, those teams may be looking to move him to fill needs at other positions.
It’s worth taking the pulse of the Rivers owner in your league to find out.
It isn’t just because of Rivers’ production to this point in 2013, or the fact that the 10th-year veteran has managed to cut down on the turnovers that wrecked his past two seasons.
San Diego’s schedule during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16) includes the Giants, Broncos and Raiders, a trio of favorable fantasy matchups.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
This was supposed to be C.J. Spiller‘s year.
New head coach Doug Marrone was going to take the training wheels off the fourth-year running back. This was the year that potential met production. Spiller was a top-five pick in some fantasy leagues.
To this point, no dice.
An ankle injury has limited Spiller to 362 yards on 90 carries. The 26-year-old ranks outside the top 30, per FF Today, at his position in standard scoring leagues this year.
In a year filled with running back busts Spiller has been one of the bigger ones, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mike Rodak of ESPN reports that for the first time in almost two weeks Spiller practiced Wednesday. It’s still up the air whether he will play in Week 9, but if nothing else, the decision to shut Spiller down until he’s healthy appears to have him headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, it’s also meant zero production for Spiller’s fantasy owners recently. Many are in a position where they can’t afford to wait for Spiller’s return.
Take advantage of that, acquire Spiller on the cheap and stash him away.
He could be huge down the stretch.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
To be blunt, the running back position has been a hot mess in fantasy football in 2013.
Leagues everywhere are littered with underperformers. Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins is one of them.
Blame a shaky offensive line in Miami. Blame the coaching staff’s stubborn insistence on a timeshare with the much less explosive Daniel Thomas.
Whatever the reason, Miller has only 343 rushing yards and a pair of scores on the season, ranking him 35th among running backs in standard-scoring fantasy leagues.
With that said, though, Miller is coming off his best game of the year, picking up 112 total yards on 21 touches against the New England Patriots.
Miller has averaged 4.5 yards on the ground this year. If the Dolphins have seen the light about getting him the ball more, the second-year could be set to post the RB2 production we expected at the beginning of the season.
You may want to act quickly. A second straight solid showing Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals would only serve to jack up Miller’s asking price.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
There are two types of Rob Gronkowski owners.
Those who have come this far and are hanging on to the bitter end, and those who have just about reached the end of their ropes.
Some of these owners struggled along through Gronkowski’s six-week absence to begin the year. They no longer have the margin for error to absorb the two catches for 27 yards that Gronkowski put up in Week 8.
Now is the time to hit those owners with a trade offer.
A big part of the reason that we picked Brady to bounce back this year is Gronkowski’s return to the lineup. With Jimmy Graham battling a nagging foot injury, Gronkowski is in great position to be fantasy football’s top tight end from here out.
He won’t come cheaply, but paying a lot to get even more is still buying low.
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