Amid the entertainment a fantasy season can bring, I'm guessing you've been surprised by at least these two things:
- The waiver wire is a seemingly bottomless pool of riches.
These two observations conspire to make draft night one of the most overrated events on the fantasy calendar. More often than not, the owner who makes the best in-season moves will beat the one who drafts the best roster. With that in mind, my advice today: If these final four weeks of the fantasy regular season will determine your playoff fate, glance away from the big picture and instead focus your attention on the next two matchups.
Consider this: Would you be better off playing an average fantasy performer in each of your next four games or going with someone who has great matchups the next two weeks and then discarding him after that? On my road to the postseason, that's a no-brainer. The latter requires some work, but remember what you've learned from your initial fantasy experience. Two weeks from now, chances are you'll either be able to pluck a better-than-average player off waivers or talk a rival into giving up a guy who has disappointed but who has a couple of attractive matchups ahead. So this week I will use the schedule to identify some two-week wonders, offering up as trade bait guys who will be no better than average the rest of the season.
Steal him/Deal him
Vince Young, Titans. Yeah, I've heard the argument: If Tom Brady and Brett Favre can't make Randy Moss happy, there's no way Vince Young will. Frankly, that's hogwash. The Minnesota experience exposed the real Moss as someone who doesn't like to be bothered moving the chains. He's an all-or-nothing kind of guy ... exactly the type of quarterback Young is. And nobody faces a weaker lineup of pass defenses in the next month than the Titans.
Kyle Orton, Broncos. Things are falling apart at the seams for the Broncos. Some believe a bye week came at just the right time, but I see it as just having pushed the club that much closer to Denver's next snowfall. To make matters worse, the next time the Broncos will see a below-average pass defense, we'll be in the fantasy playoffs. The problem: You won't be if you try to sneak through with Orton at the helm.
Jahvid Best, Lions. With the Lions' offense picking up steam and two of the four worst pass defenses on the schedule in the next two weeks, Matthew Stafford couldn't have picked a worse time to do down for the rest of the season. Unless, of course, you own Best and you're waiting for his next explosion. With two weak run defenses (Bills, Cowboys) awaiting and a backup quarterback looking for a helping hand, the wait's about to end.
LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers. When you e-mail your rival and offer Blount for Best, I know what the response will be: Who else do you want? When the answer is a simple "nobody," you're one click away from acquiring a guy who could lead you to wins in each of the next two weeks while giving up only an overrated part-time back who's about to run into four above-average run defenses.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars. You might not have noticed because he's been on everyone's bench for about two months, but Sims-Walker turned back the clock to 2009 when we last saw the Jaguars before their bye. Now here's the best part: As bad as that week's opponent (Cowboys) is against the pass, this week's foe (Texans) is even worse. And up next is Cleveland, which is another of the league's pass-defense weaklings. This sleeper could be the fantasy MVP of the next two weeks.
Jacoby Ford, Raiders. After his monster performance against the Chiefs, there was a mad dash to the waiver wire for the blossoming rookie this week. If you won that race, well done. Now do the smart thing and sell while the price is high. Not only can Ford not help you this week (the Raiders have a bye), but then comes a trip to Pittsburgh, followed two weeks later by a jaunt to San Diego. Even if the guy isn't a one-week wonder (I'm guessing he is), nobody will face a tougher collection of pass defenses just when you need him to be at his best.
Play him/Sit him
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks. For some inexplicable reason, the Seahawks let Lynch run 11 times last week in a game that was 35-0 before Seattle fans had put their umbrellas away. But I'm not complaining. If he's going to get basically all his team's carries this week against the Cardinals' weak run defense, I'm glad Pete Carroll tipped me off to it last week.
Mario Manningham, Giants. The Cowboys have gone so far in the tank, Giants starters figure to play less this week than in Seattle. But that doesn't mean they're going to stop scoring against a team they have come to despise. So who better than to pour it on than a second-stringer who's going to be on the field well after most of the Giants' usual fantasy stars have discarded their helmets?
Percy Harvin, Vikings. He's banged up, his head is hurting, he no longer has Moss to occupy the opponent's top cornerback, his quarterback can't seem to do anything right until the final four minutes, and he's up against the league's best pass defense. What do you think you should do with Harvin this week?