Settling an argument
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The other day while I was contemplating life without Adrian Peterson (I came up empty in all four of my fantasy drafts), I got an intriguing text message.

Of course, it was from my buddy Ben.

Ben has lived quite a life. On a whim, he went to South America for seven months earlier this year. This was about a year after studying abroad in Cuba for a semester.

I assume he'll be going to the moon next.

These days he's living in Boston, working as a photographer and doing Ben things. But that's neither here nor there.

On this day, he was looking for fantasy football advice.

We're in a league together and another player offered him a pretty interesting trade. He'd be giving up Ray Rice and Reggie Wayne for the backfield duo of Stevan Ridley and Matt Forte.

"Who's getting the better deal?" he asked me while simultaneously taming a pride of lions.

"Not you," I told him.

Ben seemed surprised. Apparently some other owners had told him the exact opposite.

"Present your case," he said matter-of-factly from his perch atop Mount Kilimanjaro.

So here it is in four easy steps.

1) Rice is too valuable

Every year there are a few players I wouldn't trade for anyone. They're just too important.

Rice falls under that umbrella.

A perennial top-five talent with breakaway speed and a nose for the end zone, Rice IS the Ravens' offense. His 3,689 yards from scrimmage the last two seasons are easily the most in football.

Each of the last four seasons he's been over 1,100 yards rushing and 450 yards receiving. Over that span, he's produced 40 touchdowns (33 rushing, six receiving, one passing). Simply put, Rice is incapable of having a bad season.

The concern with Rice coming into this season is that Bernard Pierce figures to be more involved in the offense than he was last year. That's valid but I think there's more than one way to look at it.

Sure, Rice probably won't exceed 300 carries. In fact, he's only done that once in five NFL seasons (2011). But now that Pierce is penciled in as the change of pace guy, Rice can get himself a little more rest and really maximize his potential.

While other bell cows will be breaking down from exhaustion, Rice will still be gashing teams for five and 10-yard pickups. I'd expect his per carry average to skyrocket with Pierce as his No. 2.

And even if Pierce does makes a dent in Rice's carries, Rice will still be getting most of the goal line work. He scored nine touchdowns to Pierce's one last season.

So rest easy, Ben. The superstar you've been coveting is already right in front of you.

2) Wayne is better than you think

If the trade was Ridley and Forte for Rice I'd have to think about it. But Wayne too? That's a deal breaker.

Who cares that Wayne turns 35 in November? He was a MONSTER last season. The future Hall of Famer (at least in my opinion) finished sixth in catches (106) and seventh in receiving yards (1,355).

And it's not like he came out of nowhere. Wayne has been doing this for a decade with absolutely no sign of slowing down. He's topped 1,000 yards in eight of his last nine seasons. Six of those years Wayne eclipsed the 1,200 yard plateau with his best season coming in 2007 (career-best 1,510 yards). Last season was the fourth time in the last six seasons Wayne has reached the century mark in catches.

It's eerie how consistent this guy has been. Check out his yards per catch averages over the last four seasons.

2009: 12.6

2010: 12.2

2011: 12.8

2012: 12.8

Wayne, who is 14th on the all-time receiving yards list, has quietly been one of the best receivers of his generation. And with second-year stud Andrew Luck feeding him passes on the regular, I don't see Wayne dropping off in 2013.

Come on, Ben. You shouldn't be trading Wayne. You should be holding on for dear life.

3) Forte's a bust

It's true. Forte is and always has been, hugely overrated.

Forte might as well be Vanilla Ice. They're both one-hit wonders.

I'll give Forte credit for his brilliant rookie season in '08 (1,238 yards, eight touchdowns). But what have you done for us lately?

Not much. His carries are down (236.5 rushes per season since 2009), he hasn't been a threat near the goal line (just 18 rushing touchdowns in his last four seasons) and his yardage totals have been disappointing to say the least. He's still searching for his second 1,100-yard season.

Forte supporters would argue that the sixth-year back is one of the premier pass-catchers among NFL running backs. I would agree but after two years in a row of watching his yardage total dip (career-low 340 receiving yards last season), even that aspect of his game is headed in the wrong direction.

Forte's not getting any younger. His best years are behind him and that's kind of scary because his best years weren't all that great to begin with.

4) It's too early

Ben, I'm looking at your team right now. You don't need this trade.

It's Week 1, bro. Right now, your team is as perfect as it's ever going to be.

You don't trade just to trade. That's silly. Trading is about making your team better. And you won't know what areas of your team need improvement until you've actually seen them play a few games.

So keep this proposal in your back pocket. Injuries happen. Maybe Arian Foster will go down and you'll need another half back. In that case, the combination of Ridley and Forte would probably be better than having to use Rice and whoever is left on the waiver wire (Felix Jones? No thanks). But at least give your current team a chance before you do something crazy.

I'm sure Ben will come to his senses eventually. I mean when has he ever done anything crazy?




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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