Now is the time for wheeling-and-dealing with your roster

Week 1 in fantasy football isn't about taking chances. But that shouldn't stop you from being a little creative when it comes to your lineup and, in the bigger picture, reshaping your roster. That's right. Just because you liked a guy last month doesn't mean you have to suit him up for the opener. Just ask Antonio Bryant.

Your best shot at beating your opponent this week is showing up with the best possible roster, and in turn submitting the best possible lineup. We can use the schedule to accomplish both goals. There's no need to wait until the frauds expose themselves and sleepers awaken your rivals who were asleep on draft night. The time to act -- whether it be plucking a player who was undrafted, offering up a too-good-to-turn-down trade, or simply making a key lineup decision -- is now.


Jay Cutler, Bears. Chances are the much maligned quarterback was drafted as a backup, so the price should be cheap. After he lights up the Lions this week, he'll have established himself as a legitimate fantasy asset … and maybe even a spot starter against some upcoming softies. Steal him.

C.J. Spiller, Bills. The Week 1 matchup is intriguing, and the highly touted rookie might even put up some good numbers. But, bang, then comes the Packers, Patriots and Jets - all Top 10 run defenses - and there goes his value. Deal him now, especially if you can get Darren McFadden or Jerome Harrison in return.

Joe Flacco, Ravens. His stock went up with the acquisition of a third big-name wide receiver (T.J. Houshmandzadeh). But by the time he's been humbled by the top two pass defenses in the fantasy game in the first two weeks, you're going to wish you had dealt him for Cutler (and more) when you had the opportunity. Deal him.

Malcom Floyd, Chargers. He was treated with such disrespect on fantasy draft day, you'd never have known he opens the season as a high-scoring and the most dependable wideout. He could explode early on against a lineup of pass-defense weaklings. Steal him, even giving up Terrell Owens if you have to.


Darren Sproles, Chargers. Look at the season-opening schedule: Chiefs, Jaguars, Seahawks, Cardinals, Raiders, Rams … stop me when you see someone who will hold the Chargers under 27 points. Now complementing a rookie who is bound to be brought along a bit slowly, I expect Sproles to post his best numbers right out of the gate. If he was undrafted in your league, add him.

**Ricky Williams**, Dolphins. For a backup back on a team that wants to throw more this year, Williams sure got a lot of love on draft night. And he might even help his fantasy owner this week at Buffalo. But then comes three run-stopping heavyweights, after which you're going to wonder why you've left Sproles sitting on waivers for so long. Drop him.

Jabar Gaffney, Broncos. The Broncos won't see a Top 20 pass defense until the second Sunday in October, which should allow Kyle Orton to put up some fantasy-worthy numbers. And if he does, the likely beneficiary is Gaffney, who now stands as the club's top receiver. If by chance he got overlooked on draft night, add him.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ravens. The No. 3 receiver on a team that runs a lot and faces the third-toughest collection of pass defenses this season. If that's not enough to convince you the former star has lost almost all his fantasy value, consider this: He was just waived by a Seahawks team that employs one of the weakest collections of wideouts in the NFL. Drop him (in a heartbeat if Gaffney, Laurent Robinson or even Patrick Crayton is available).


Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers. If you drafted him, you might have one opportunity to play him all season. That would be Sunday at home against the Browns. He certainly has a lot more potential in the opener than Shonn Greene. Play him.

Felix Jones, Cowboys. Based on where they've been getting drafted -- they went consecutively in one draft I saw -- it appears the fantasy world has no idea what to expect from the Jones-Marion Barber tandem. So with Washington's tough run defense on the other side of the ball, this is the perfect time to explore other options. Sit him.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers. The second-year rising star clearly already understands how to handle the preseason -- by exerting as little energy as possible. When Vernon Davis screamed at him to get his butt in gear recently, you know it light a fire under the former college star. That's not what Seattle's weak pass defense needed. Play him.

Wes Welker, Patriots. Yeah, I know. Great story. But so is the rise of the Cincinnati defense, especially against the pass. It says here: Let Welker prove he's back to his old self, then play him. Not vice versa. Sit him (right next to Anquan Boldin).

Dave Del Grande, aka Mr. Fantasy, offers free advice about your fantasy football team via e-mail at

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