Which is more of a thrill: Winning a big pot in Texas hold em or seeing your starting RB run for a 50 yard touchdown? I think the rush is similar in both instances and interestingly enough, I think there are more similarities between the two phenomenon.
No Limit Texas Hold Em and Fantasy Football have both spread like the plague in recent years and they both give you the opportunity to win money if you can outsmart your opponents. In poker we know that there are a variety of professionals who win consistently enough to make a living out of it. They can’t control the cards that come out of the deck and therefore are never a lock to win in any particular game or tournament, but by playing superior poker over long stretches of time, they nearly guarantee themselves success over the long haul. As crazy as it sounds, I think the same type of success ratios can be had in fantasy football. If you go all in and someone hits their miracle card on the river to beat you, you’re out of luck and if you drafted Javon Walker and Deuce McCallister on the same team (which I did in one league) you’re probably not going anywhere either; but if you do multiple leagues each year an you use superior tactics, you will have a good chance to win in most of your leagues. To do this, you must be strong in all aspects of the game including: drafting, waiver wire work, start and sit decisions, early season trades, and playoff preparation. With nine weeks in the books its time to restructure your lineup in order to stack the odds in your favor down the stretch and especially in the playoffs. To make this easier on you I have prepared a list of players who you should “Trade Away” and who you should “Trade For” with an explanation on each.
Players to TRADE FOR:
Jake Plummer– Plummer is a hot commodity right now, so you’re not going to get him cheap, but with some good match ups down the stretch and the inconsistency of other former star QB’s this season, Jake the Snake should be considered a top 5 QB the rest of the way.
Byron Leftwich- The Jaguars might have been a bit overrated headed into the season, but their remaining schedule has to be among the easiest in the league. After playing Baltimore this coming week the Jags will play on the road against Tennessee, Arizona, Cleveland and Houston and at home against Indianapolis and San Francisco. Their games against San Fran and Houston in weeks 15 and 16 should have you salivating for the fantasy playoffs. Leftwich, like his team, has been up and down, but he seems to put up decent numbers against weaker opponents and should post top 10 #’s the rest of the way. Leftwich is a guy you should get now and you should use him in a QB by committee if you have a big name starter exploiting some of his obvious schedule advantages.
Matt Hasselback- Thanks in large part to Shaun Alexander gobbling up the touchdown opportunities for the Hawks, Hasselback actually sits outside of the top 10 Qb’s right now. Expect him to bounce to the top sooner than later with games at home against the Giants, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Indianapolis and road games against San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Tennessee. With Alexander drawing more and more attention away from opposing defenses, Hasselback is one of the better options you’ll have at his position.
Donovan McNabb- With so many questions and doubts swirling in Philly, owners will be quick to get rid of Donovan, so you might want to get him cheap while you can. With or without T.O., The Eagles pass the ball more than any other team, so you know the guy is still going to get his. Philadelphia has home games against Green Bay, Seattle, and the Giants, and road games against the Giants, St. Louis, and Arizona. Consider McNabb a very safe option down the stretch and in the fantasy playoffs, but realize that the 350 yard/ 3 TD game may no longer exist.
Mark Bulger and Torry Holt- Steven Jackson has been a stud of late, so you’re probably not going to be able to pry him away from your opponents, but Bulger and Holt have given their owners headaches with their recent injuries. Off a bye and with a great schedule, the Rams will put up big points the rest of the way. Before Bulger and Holt went down, they were easily top 3 at their position and you should expect nothing less the rest of the way.
Brian Westbrook- (see Donovan McNabb above) If Westbrook’s owner is nervous about him amidst the Philadelphia pandemonium, deal for him right now. He will be featured in whatever run game they have and will probably lead the Eagles in receiving the rest of the way as well. With that schedule, Westbrook has tremendous value down the stretch.
Cedrick Benson- Now might be the best time to roll the dice on Benson. Thomas Jones has never been the most durable guy, but he’s amassed several different injuries in recent weeks and was unable to play in the second half on Sunday. Even if Jones is good to go next week, its unlikely that he’ll be able to make it through the season regardless, and Benson has earned his teams’ confidence the last two weeks. Chicago spent a lot to get Benson, but you won’t have to and he could be featured around the time of fantasy playoffs.
Tatum Bell- Bell has quietly amassed more points so far than Curtis Martin, Dominic Davis, and Fred Taylor, only his owners probably don’t have confidence in him since he only gets a few looks each game. Bell went off at the end of last year and I think he has a great chance to do it again. Its obvious that he has more ability than Anderson, but the Broncos are looking to save this guy for the stretch since he has had some durability issues. Bell should be relatively cheap and has the potential to pay huge dividends…Get him while no one is talking about him.
Kevin Jones- I know I know; Jones has been a bust and left the game early on Sunday with injury. Knowing this, you should be able to get KJ for next to nothing at this point. If Jones gets healthy, he still has games against Arizona, Minnesota, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and New Orleans. With the problems the Lions are having Jones likely won’t have too many monster games, but I think he can be a great flex or #3 RB. If you one of your starters has injury issues or you’re desperate for a #2, Jones might be able to fill the void and won’t cost you much in return.
Darrell Jackson- (see Matt Hasselback) If you are a lock to get into the playoffs, you might want to go get DJ. With that schedule, as long as he gets to full speed in a few weeks, DJ could be a monster in the fantasy playoffs. He could be on the waivers in some leagues and in others you won’t have to give much to get him, so let him warm your bench for you before helping you win your championship.
Derrick Mason- Mason hasn’t wowed anybody with his 1 touchdown so, like Kevin Jones, you shouldn’t have to give anything up to get the guy. Without many other weapons on the Ravens, Mason is getting about 10 balls thrown to him per game and is on pace for over 1000 yards. With home games against Green Bay and Minnesota in weeks 15 and 16, Mason could help you in the fantasy playoffs if you are having problems with your WR’s like so many people are.
Larry Fitzgerald- Fitzgerald is proving lately that he’ll find a way to put up big numbers regardless of how much attention he draws from opposing defenses. With the infamously weak NFC West schedules, Fitz is a must start from here on out and should be considered a borderline top 5 WR the rest of the way.
Players to TRADE AWAY:
Brett Favre- It’s a shame because if Favre was on a good team he’d still be one of the best out there. But his team has been decimated by injury and they weren’t good when they were healthy. Favre can still muster up the occasional big day, but with games at Philly and at Chicago coming up and with games at Baltimore and home against Chicago in weeks 15 and 16, Favre may not help you much down the stretch and especially in the fantasy playoffs. Currently he ranks #6 overall among all Qb’s in total fantasy points, so you should still get a nice return for Favre.
Kerry Collins- Remember what you thought about Kerry Collins before Randy Moss came to town? With Randy Moss hampered by injury, and the Raiders full commitment to running Lamont Jordan, Collins’ value is about the same as it was around this time last year. He’s still a top ten QB this season, but his inconsistency makes it hard to know when to start him and when to sit him. With 4 road games between weeks 11-16, its hard to think of Collins as a guy with upside down the stretch. You might want to package him along with one of your better reserves in order to get a more viable option.
Warrick Dunn- You need to get rid of this guy soon. He should have a nice game this week against Green Bay which gives you two weeks to trade him away before hitting a tough schedule with two games against Tampa Bay, at Chicago, and at Carolina. The Falcons are at Chicago and at Tampa Bay in weeks 15 and 16, crippling Dunn’s fantasy playoff value. Throw in a healthy T.J. Duckett to take his Td’s away and you should be offering Dunn up before you get to the end of this article.
Clinton Portis- The Redskins actually have a favorable schedule down the stretch and you should point this out to the other owners in your league when you try to trade Portis off your team. Portis has ability and currently sits just inside the top 15 at his position. Those numbers are misleading though considering much of his production was earned in one cup cake game against San Francisco where Portis ran for over 100 yards and had 3 td’s. It’s obvious that the Redskins system just doesn’t translate into good fantasy production for their feature running back. Portis can get you modest totals from here on out, but I think he’s overrated and you’d be better off with another player who has more home run hitting ability. Try packaging Portis with a decent reserve for a guy like Dominic Davis or Brian Westbrook.
Curtis Martin- C-Mart is currently #20 among Rb’s in total points, so you wouldn’t be lying when you tell the other owners in your league that he is a top 20 RB. There might not be much else to say here, but you have to take what you can get for this guy right now. C-Mart looks slow and as the season progresses, it might get worse. The Jets have no passing game to bail C-Mart out and their schedule gets ugly with games at Carolina, at Denver, at New England, and at Miami. Deal him while you can!
Joe Horn- Horn’s healthier and that could help you to get rid of him before he hurts your team down the stretch. The Saints have a bye this week, which wont help you, and then play at New England, at the Jets, home against Tampa Bay, at Atlanta, and home against Carolina in week 15. The team is in flux, Brooks is erratic, and Stallworth is actually stealing some of his thunder. Horn was the #2 overall WR last year, so don’t get rid of him for garbage; hopefully you can use his name and the fact that he’s healthy to land someone who has more potential.
Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne- Don’t get me wrong, these guys all have the potential to have some big games here and there. I am putting them on this list because I’m not sure if the Colts will need to play them much during your fantasy playoffs. As of writing this article, the Colts were still undefeated, and if they stay that way after playing New England, they can walk their way to home field advantage. This trio wasn’t exactly lighting it up anyway, so if you get good value for them and you have a good shot to get in the playoffs, let someone else sweat it out in weeks 15 and 16.
Randy Moss- (see Kerry Collins) Randy’s hurt and the other owners in your league know it, so you’re not going to get Steve Smith for him, but after scoring a TD this week, there will be an owner or two who find it too tempting not to give you good value in return for Moss. If this opportunity presents itself, you must trade Randy Moss off your team. Before his injury, Moss wasn’t giving his owners 1st or 2nd round value anyway, but this injury further complicates his situation the rest of the way. Last year, Moss played through injury, mostly as a decoy though, and wasn’t able to put up big #’s. It might be similar for the foreseeable future and that is a head ache you want to avoid having.