CBS: In the Trenches: Owners should seek last-minute deals

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
By Michael Fabiano

Blockbuster deadline deals aren't prominent in pro football (no, Tampa's acquisition of QB Tim Rattay isn't a blockbuster), but such trades are advised in Fantasy Football.

CBS's default trade deadline is Nov. 22, so the time to make a last-minute deal is now. Owners atop their division should look to make a "George Steinbrenner move" and acquire a player who can increase their chances of a championship, much like the one the Boss' New York Yankees made back in 2000 when it dealt Ricky Ledee to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for David Justice.

Justice went on to slam 20 home runs and knock in 60 in 275 at-bats in the Bronx and was imperative to the team's World Series championship win over the New York Mets.

Owners who are in the hunt for a postseason berth and have depth at a certain skill position should look to make a trade from that depth in order to improve a weaker position for the stretch run. For example, a team that has a number of solid wide receivers but lacks a reliable No. 2 back should attempt to deal multiple wideouts and a lowered-tiered back in exchange for a stud back. With the end of most Fantasy Football regular seasons so close and no more bye weeks on the horizon, it's advised to deal that depth in order to piece together the best possible lineup for a run at the title.

So now the question that owners need answered is simple: Who should I look to target as the trade deadline nears?

Here are 16 options and the reasons owners should consider them in possible trades:

Mike Anderson/Tatum Bell, RB, Denver: No one but head coach Mike Shanahan knows whether Anderson or Bell will see more carries from week to week, but both are on pace to rush for 1,000-plus yards and can be valuable flex starters the rest of the season. The Broncos face a New York Jets defense that ranks 29th vs. the run this week, a depleted Baltimore defense three weeks later and the 31st-ranked Buffalo defense in what would be most Fantasy Football semifinals. Since neither is a true featured back, the price to acquire one shouldn't be exorbitant.

Drew Bledsoe, QB, Dallas: Bledsoe has been a pleasant surprise for owners this season and the schedule bodes well for his chances to finish up strongly. The veteran quarterback faces horrid pass defenses in Denver (28th), the New York Giants (25th) and Kansas City (29th) in three of the next five weeks, then battles a Carolina defense that has been vulnerable to the pass at times in Week 16. Bledsoe's teammate, WR Terry Glenn, should also be targeted in potential trades.

Tom Brady, QB, New England: Brady doesn't have a favorable schedule after his next two starts against New Orleans (26.9 PPG) and Kansas City (21.9 PPG), but the fact that New England's defense has been decimated due to injuries and will force the offense to come from behind should mean enormous numbers for the Super Bowl hero. He is on pace to throw for an incredible 4,551 yards (that's six fewer than Peyton Manning recorded last season) and has a chance to lead owners who aren't Bob Kraft to a title.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami: Brown, who has been the league's best rookie back after 10 weeks, will rush for 1,200 yards on the nose at his current pace. The Dolphins schedule includes several teams with bad run defenses like Cleveland (28th), Oakland (19th), Buffalo (31st) and the New York Jets (29th), so look for Brown, even with RB Ricky Williams in the backfield mix, to post some nice stat lines down the stretch and be a solid No. 2 back or flex starter.

Marc Bulger, QB, St. Louis: Bulger's shoulder looked fine after 40 passes and 304 yards in a 31-16 loss to Seattle this past weekend, and his schedule dictates that he'll use it quite a bit the rest of the season. The Rams face bad pass defenses in Houston (22nd), Minnesota (26th), Philadelphia (24th) and San Francisco (32nd) in four of the next six weeks, so he should produce some serious numbers. WR Torry Holt will be tougher to acquire but should also be targeted.

Laveranues Coles, WR, N.Y. Jets: Problems at the quarterback position have hurt Coles all season, but it's still hard to overlook the number of weak pass defenses on the schedule. The Jets face Denver (28th), New England (31st) twice and Oakland (23rd) in four of their next six weeks, so Coles will have his chances to produce. It won't take a blockbuster to acquire him, and the move could bear fruit based on the level of the opposition.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona: Whether it's Kurt Warner or Josh McCown at the quarterback position, Fitzgerald has been able to produce without a problem. The former Heisman runner-up could be difficult to acquire in some leagues due to his increased value, but he'll be worth it against bad pass defenses like St. Louis (27th), San Francisco (32nd), Houston (22nd) and Philadelphia (24th).

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay: Much like Fitzgerald, the price will be great to acquire the veteran in a potential trade due to his incredible level of production this season. Still, it's worth a shot when you consider that he faces inconsistent defenses in Atlanta (twice), New Orleans, Carolina and New England in five of his next six weeks. To make him even more attractive was the performance of QB Chris Simms, who made our own Phil Simms proud in a win over Washington.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle: Hasselbeck has been a bit unreliable at times, but he should be a nice source of statistical production in the weeks to come. The veteran faces several weak pass defenses in San Francisco (32nd) twice, the N.Y. Giants (25th), Philadelphia (24th) and Tennessee (18 pass TDs allowed) in five of the next six weeks and should aid owners in their quest for a championship run. WR Darrell Jackson, who is expected to return soon, could be acquired at a discounted price due to his knee ailment and should also be targeted.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston: Johnson has recorded 13 receptions in two starts since his return from an injured calf, and that level of success should continue based on some weak opponents on the schedule the rest of the season. The talented wide receiver faces some of the league's most vulnerable defenses from Kansas City (29th vs. pass), St. Louis (27th), Tennessee (18 pass TDs allowed) and Arizona. Owners whose league runs into the final week of the NFL's regular season would also have Johnson against San Francisco.

Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City: Johnson has a few favorable opponents in Houston (32nd vs. run) and New England (23rd), but his skills, the loss of RB Priest Holmes and a dominant offensive line in front of him makes L.J. an attractive acquisition. He proved in the second half of last season that he can produce on the same level as LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander, and his price tag won't be as high.

Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore: We all know the Ravens quarterbacks have been terrible this season, but Mason is still on pace to finish with 94 receptions and 1,093 yards. His lack of touchdown production is a concern, but owners in leagues that reward points for receptions can do worse than to acquire the veteran. Mason faces bad pass defenses from Houston (22nd), Denver (28th), Green Bay (16 passing TDs allowed) and Minnesota (26th) in four of the next six weeks, so he should produce some nice numbers to finish what has been a disastrous season in Baltimore.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington: It's unbelievable to think that Santana, not Randy, was the better Moss to choose in drafts. The New York Jets outcast is on pace to finish the season with 1,662 yards and nine touchdowns at his current pace, and those numbers will be more than acheiveable as he faces Oakland (23rd), St. Louis (27th) and the N.Y. Giants (25th) in three of the next six weeks. Moss will cost quite a bit in a trade, but owners who need an impact receiver and can't afford the likes of a Steve Smith should still look to make the move.

Jimmy Smith, WR, Jacksonville: Smith isn't pleased with his decreased role in the offense, and the Jaguars need to have him more involved if they're to make it into the postseason. As a result, owners who need a wideout might be able to land the veteran at a bargain-basement price. Smith should start to produce at a greater level in contests against Tennessee (18 passing TDs allowed), Arizona, San Francisco (32nd) and Houston (22nd) -- four teams that have struggled against the pass.

Roy Williams, WR, Detroit: Williams silenced the critics who said he was "soft" with a three-touchdown performance in a 29-21 win over Arizona. One of the league's most talented wide receivers, Williams has a chance to finish his second pro season with some impressive stat lines against inconsistent defenses in Atlanta, Minnesota, Green Bay and New Orleans. Regardless of whether it's Jeff Garcia or Joey Harrington under center, Williams should be prominent in the pass attack for head coach Steve Mariucci.

* Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was forced to throw a lot of dinks and dunks in the absence of WR Terrell Owens in Monday night's 21-20 loss to Dallas. That does not bode well for his chances to produce the rest of the season. Though he does face some weak pass defenses over the next several weeks, McNabb has lost his vertical threat in the offense and will struggle to record consistent numbers with Greg Lewis and rookie Reggie Brown as his two best options at wide receiver. What's more, McNabb was injured at the end on the contest and is not close to 100 percent. Should his team fall out of postseason contention, head coach Andy Reid might decide to end McNabb's season far before Week 17. Owners who have McNabb should either look to make a trade now to improve the position or look to the waiver wire for another option.
* Cowboys RB Marion Barber started ahead of Julius Jones in Philadelphia Monday night, but don't be shocked if the latter regains the top spot on the depth chart sooner than later. Barber came close to a fumble in one series and then did lose the football late in the contest (he was able to recover when the ball bounced back to him), and that could cost him playing time as soon as next week. Head coach Bill Parcells isn't a fan of players like Jones whose injuries keep them off the field, but he's also not thrilled when his running backs can't hold on to the ball. As a result, owners who have Jones on their roster shouldn't panic at this point.
* The Cleveland Browns continue to lose, but head coach Romeo Crennel has decided to stick with QB Trent Dilfer for at least one more week. Rookie QB Charlie Fyre waits in the wings, but it appears Crennel wants to ride out the storm with Dilfer rather than make a switch at the position. The decision should be considered a positive for owners who have WRs Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards, who have a better chance to produce with Dilfer at the helm rather than the inexperienced Frye. Dilfer, who has been inconsistent all season, should be considered no better than a reserve.
* Vikings WR Nate Burleson recorded a mere two receptions last weekend against the Giants and a number of bumps and bruises could be part of the reason for his lack of production. He has compiled five receptions, 36 yards and one touchdown since his return from an injured knee and there's a chance head coach Mike Tice could decide to limit or rest Burleson when his team heads to Green Bay to face the Packers on Monday Night Football. Outside of leagues with 12-plus teams, Burleson no longer warrants a roster spot.


Dennis Morgan, Bangor, Maine: Who should I start: Brett Favre or Jake Plummer?

M.F.: Plummer faces a formidable N.Y. Jets pass defense so start Favre, who has found great success against NFC North foe Minnesota in recent seasons.

Erik Blandore, Baton Rouge, La.: Should I start Aaron Brooks or Steve McNair?

M.F.: Brooks has been inconsistent all season, but he's still the better option based on a matchup against New England's 31st-ranked pass defense.