Thank goodness there's this guy in the league who's willing to trade.
Uh, that's you.
Yes, bye weeks are a great time to swing a deal. In fact, it's the ultimate opportunity if you believe in allowing the schedule to influence your moves. After all, there's no worse matchup than: Bye.
Today, I focus mostly on players who have byes in the next three weeks, and why this so-called nuisance can actually help you make a franchise-improving transaction.
Steal him/deal him
Vince Young, Titans. Yeah, I know he's been generally fantasy-unfriendly in his NFL career. I'm not advocating making him your long-term starter. But if your regular quarterback is on a bye in the next three weeks, Young has the type of matchup (Broncos, Cowboys, Jaguars) that warrants making him your replacement. And here's the best part: Denver and Dallas are both great against the run, so the Titans will have to throw more than usual in those games.
Shonn Greene, Jets. As the Jets' defense improves, the schedule softens and the focus turns to resting LaDainian Tomlinson for the playoffs, we're going to see more and more of Greene. It's awfully early to be talking about the playoffs, but seeing a Bills team already in disarray this week certainly satisfies the first two criteria. Heck, maybe you could get Greene and Young in one fell swoop by offering Favre.
**Marion Barber**, Cowboys. Jimmy Johnson suggested the Cowboys dump the committee approach last week and, sure enough, Barber's 17-carry effort appears on the surface to have been a product of just that. Alas, numbers can lie. What it indicated is that Barber probably will dominate the carries in games where the Cowboys are in control most of the way. But given the fact five of the team's next six opponents (after this week's bye) are the Titans, Vikings, Giants (twice) and Packers, those comfortable wins could be few and far between.
Thomas Jones, Chiefs. He and Barber are in similar situations -- touchdown-scoring backs being asked to share touches with a more electrifying sidekick. This usually is not the type of relationship that makes fantasy owners happy. Where these guys differ is in the schedule. Jones likewise has a bye this week (which could make him available), but then the Chiefs play a whole bunch of winnable games, the type that should allow them to focus on ball control, as they did in last week's win over the 49ers.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals. Had Sebastian Janikowski made his last-second chip shot last week and the Cardinals had a bye this week, I'd say it would be 50-50 that Max Hall would be quarterbacking the formerly Kurt Warner-led attack next time out. Alas, two more tough pass defenses (Chargers, Saints) could only turn up the heat on Derek Anderson in the next two weeks, setting up Hall's debut for Seattle after the Cardinals' Week 6 bye. So I must ask: Would you have exhausted your high pick on Fitzgerald had you known Hall would be at the helm?
Michael Crabtree, 49ers. Mike Singletary has given up. Resurrecting the ancient Jimmy Raye and featuring a run-first approach has produced both a losing and boring brand of football -- not exactly what the defensive-minded Singletary had envisioned. There's nothing uglier than that combination. So now in comes someone with no experience (Mike Johnson) and instructions to open things up. Crabtree wouldn't have held out all of last preseason if he'd seen this day -- and a schedule featuring seven below-average pass defenses in the next eight games -- coming.
**Steve Smith**, Panthers. Yep, you've seen this name before. And, nope, you didn't do anything about it. I'm guessing, in fact, you laughed all the way up the standings as Smith hauled in touchdown passes in each of the first two games. Well, I'm not here to apologize. Just to point out last week began a stretch of three games against Top 10 defenses in my ratings (Bengals, Saints, Bears), followed by that dreaded bye. I'm sensing the laughter is dying down.
Play him/sit him
Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders. Here's the definition of a gunslinger: Someone crazy enough to fling 11 balls in Darrius Heyward-Bey's direction in a single game. Yep, it happened last week in Arizona. Get this: Heyward-Bey actually caught three, accounting for 49 of Gradkowski's 255 passing yards. And that was on the road against a pass defense that's done far better through three weeks than this week's opponent, the Texans.
Donovan McNabb, Redskins. I'd love to see McNabb ride into Philly and take the town by storm. I'm guessing even some of his former teammates wouldn't mind witnessing it. But emotions aside, this is a below-average offense going on the road -- where the Redskins just lost to the Rams -- and facing an above-average pass defense. Only a fringe fantasy starter to begin with, those facts point toward a below-average performance for the homecoming hero.
Justin Forsett, Seahawks. I considered the Seahawks' new workhorse as a "Steal Him" candidate until I saw a bye and the Bears' run defense upcoming. But that is sandwiched by this week's visit to St. Louis and four consecutive matchups with run defenses I rate 24th or lower. First things first, give me 17 carries against the Rams and, well, it sure beats what Peyton Hillis is going to do with 10 plunges into the rugged Bengals defense.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots. Fred Taylor's inevitable injury created a rush to the waiver wire to get the dependable Green-Ellis, and I certainly applaud the move. But that doesn't mean you need to rush him into the lineup. In fact, the schedule indicates this wasn't a good short-term move at all, with a bye on the Ravens' powerful run defense on deck. And this week's foe -- Miami -- can be a handful to run against.
Danny Amendola, Rams. The wideout hasn't scored a touchdown yet, but give me six catches on a regular basis (he's done it twice already) and he's bound to get there eventually. Heck, Sunday at home against a Seahawks defense that allowed 455 passing yards and two scores last week seems like a logical choice.
**Mike Wallace**, Steelers. Projecting which players will perform better in the second half of the season than the first can be a difficult task, but it's a no-brainer where Wallace is concerned. Throw out last week's fluky 46- and 41-yard touchdown connections with Charlie Batch. Most of Wallace's big numbers are going to come after Ben Roethlisberger returns, and we know for a fact that won't be this week against the mighty Ravens pass defense.