Whenever you’re contemplating a trade, it is crucial to check out the fantasy playoff matchups of your potential acquisitions. Fantasy playoff start dates vary from league-to-league (most leagues start in either Week 14 or 15), but they are an absolutely vital piece of information. I would rather have Donald Brown against the Saints defense than Arian Foster against the 49ers. That’s not to say I would trade Foster for Brown – but I wouldn’t want to neglect that information either.

Both of my recommendations this week have great fantasy playoff schedules. Doug Martin has dates with New Orleans and Atlanta, while Antonio Brown will be seeing San Diego, Cleveland, and Baltimore over the final five weeks.

BUY: Doug Martin

Martin has had fewer than 15 carries in each of Tampa’s last two games, leaving fantasy owners to ponder whether a time share is coming with LeGarette Blount. I think the presence of Blount – who has reportedly made the adjustments Greg Schiano wanted to see – will actually be the key to getting better production out of Martin. Not only will Blount serve as good internal competition, but he will be able to give Martin some much needed rest. As we see below, in the first three games of the season when Martin had 20+ touches against the Panthers, Giants, and Cowboys – ranked 23rd, 24th, and 11th respectively in yards per carry against – he wasn’t very productive. With less of a workload and fresher legs against the Redskins and Chiefs – ranked 14th and 26th – he responded much better.

DOUG MARTIN

Games

Yards per carry

Yards per reception

20+ touches

3

3.4

7.33

Less than 20 touches

2

5.2

16

These performances should help the Bucs define roles for Martin and Blount as the “thunder and lightning” of this offense. It wasn’t very long ago that Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn both posted productive years as the original RB duo in Tampa.

The complementary work done by Blount isn’t the only reason I’m high on Martin. The Bucs still have a total of four matchups with New Orleans and Atlanta this season, and both of those defenses rank in the bottom three of the entire league in YPC against. The Bucs also have the chance to be a very imposing rushing attack. Center Jeremy Zuttah is the only player on the offensive line shorter than 6”5, and he’s 6”4.

The table is set for Martin to show off the dynamic skill set that made him a first-round draft pick in April.

Players I would give up to acquire Doug Martin: DeMarco Murray, Shonn Greene, Darren McFadden, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis

BUY: Antonio Brown

Although he has been very effective for Pittsburgh’s offense, Brown has yet to post the big numbers fantasy owners we were all hoping for back in August. He ranks 44th among receivers in fantasy points, yet he has received the 20th most targets. A more even balance between those two numbers is coming.

There’s no reason to doubt Brown’s play-making ability after the catch. He is perhaps the most electric player on the Steelers, prompting the club to name him their primary punt returner. He currently sits sixth among NFL receivers in yards after the catch with 188 this season, yet his longest catch of the season is just 27 yards. That ranks 90th in the league and leads me to believe that Brown has been unlucky not to have longer receptions. The Steelers will continue to give Brown opportunities, and eventually he will start to break into the end zone and as he continues to bust off long runs after the catch. He has just one touchdown this year, which isn’t indicative of his actual on-field production, as he has drawn at least two pass interference calls in the end zone this season.

Expect Pittsburgh to continue with their pass-happy offense, as they won’t want to put Rashard Mendenhall under too much pressure early during his return from ACL surgery. Also expect Mike Wallace to continue to draw a good portion of the coverage on the other side of the field, meaning the path is clear for Brown to have a fantastic remainder of the season.

Players I would give up to acquire Antonio Brown: Michael Crabtree, Brandon Lloyd, Brian Hartline, and Anquan Boldin

If you have any trades that you’re pondering, feel free to post them below and I’ll give you my two cents worth.