You waited for what seemed like forever for the NFL season and fantasy football. You drafted a solid team on paper, but you've started 0-2 and your best friend's wife took you out to the woodshed last week. Is it time to panic? It might be if you have Larry Johnson, but there are different avenues to take in order to make your team competitive. The first is to be diligent on the waiver wire and make smart transactions. The second is to make trades that improve your roster without upsetting overall positional depth.
While I always preach about the importance of waivers (and will continue to preach about it), trades can also be a very important part of your fantasy success or failure. With that in mind, I've listed five players that owners should look to acquire and five players that owners should sell now before their value hits a wall.
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Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans: Am I nuts to want a quarterback with one touchdown, three interceptions and a passer rating of 66.4 after two weeks? Not if I can land him at a discounted price due to his recent struggles. Look at the Saints schedule down the stretch: Brees will face Tennessee (248.5 passing YPG allowed), Atlanta (2 - 207.0 passing YPG allowed), San Francisco (215.5 passing YPG allowed), Houston (217.0 passing YPG allowed) and Tampa Bay (224.0 passing YPG allowed), and there could be a shootout with St. Louis in there as well. Head coach Sean Payton is too smart for this horrid offensive attack not to improve, so Brees should reverse his fortunes soon.
Thomas Jones, RB, N.Y. Jets: There are 29 runners in the NFL that have more fantasy points than Jones, a list that includes Sammy Morris, LenDale White and DeShawn Wynn, but the veteran should do a 180-degree turn for the better over the next few weeks. The Jets face teams with porous run defenses such as Miami (2 - 178.5 rushing YPG allowed), Buffalo (2 - 177.5 rushing YPG allowed), Cincinnati (166.5 rushing YPG allowed) and Cleveland (171.5 rushing YPG allowed). The Jets will look to lean on Jones quite a bit in order to put themselves back into postseason contention, so look for him to post a few 100-yard performances and rebound off of a less-than-attractive start.
Laurence Maroney, RB, New England: Countless fantasy owners are down on Maroney, who has rushed for just 149 yards with no touchdowns and has fewer points than his immediate reserve, Sammy Morris, after two weeks. But with a favorable schedule ahead of him, Maroney should be far more productive as the regular season rolls on. The Patriots face Buffalo (2 - 177.5 rushing YPG allowed), Cincinnati (166.5 rushing YPG allowed), Cleveland (171.5 rushing YPG allowed) and Miami (2 - 178.5 rushing YPG allowed) over the next several weeks, and the New York Jets (126.0 rushing YPG allowed) and New York Giants (112.5 rushing YPG allowed) are on the late-season schedule.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis: Most fantasy owners would never trade Jackson, but there are those out there who are worried about his lack of solid numbers and will look to cut their losses. Jackson has been a disappointment to be certain -- he has rushed for a mere 118 yards with no touchdowns and two fumbles -- but there's no chance he won't improve down the road against the likes of Tampa Bay (119.0 rushing YPG allowed), Seattle (2 - 111.0 rushing YPG allowed), Cleveland (171.5 rushing YPG allowed), New Orleans (125.5 rushing YPG allowed), San Francisco (111.0 rushing YPG allowed), Atlanta (126.0 rushing YPG allowed and Cincinnati (166.5 rushing YPG allowed).
Lee Evans, WR, Buffalo: There are 101 wide receivers that have more fantasy points than Evans headed into Week 3. But this is what Evans is all about -- he'll post a few stinkers and follow those up with several monster performances. Impatient owners might want to cut bait now, however, so it's the perfect time to strike a deal. While New England (2) and Baltimore are on the schedule over the next few weeks, the Bills also face some bad pass defenses in the Jets (2 - 241.0 receiving YPG allowed), Dallas (303.0 receiving YPG allowed), Cincinnati (275.0 receiving YPG allowed), Cleveland (281.0 receiving YPG allowed) and the Giants (315.5 receiving YPG allowed).
Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina: Delhomme has more fantasy points than Peyton Manning, Bulger, and Brees after three two weeks, so now is the perfect time to deal him. He'll never keep up his current rate of immense production with Arizona (190.0 passing YPG allowed), Indianapolis (179.5 passing YPG allowed) and Jacksonville (117.0 passing YPG allowed) ahead on the schedule, not to mention contests against improved defenses from Green Bay and San Francisco. Another reason to trade Delhomme now is this week's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. In his past five starts against this NFC South rival, Delhomme has thrown for just six touchdowns with five interceptions.
Marc Bulger, QB, St. Louis: Bulger posted respectable numbers in Week 2, as he threw for 368 yards and one touchdown in a 17-16 loss to San Francisco. But what concerns me about the veteran quarterback is the offensive line in front of him. Bulger has lost T Todd Steussie and T Orlando Pace, and it showed as the Niners sacked him six times caused countless hurries in the contest. Bulger does have a favorable schedule down the line with starts against Dallas, Cleveland, New Orleans and Cincinnati, but I'd be worried that Bulger won't last the season. He's been prone to injuries in the past, and continued punishment could be in his future unless the line improves.
LaMont Jordan, RB, Oakland: One of the best draft values in fantasy football after two weeks, Jordan entered Monday night as the second-most productive back behind Edgerrin James based on points. He totaled 159 rushing yards against Denver and has 318 all-purpose yards and one touchdown headed into Week 3, but he could lose at least some of his workload when Dominic Rhodes returns from suspension in Week 6. What's more, Jordan must face some difficult run defenses down the line such as San Diego (2 - 112.0 rushing YPG allowed), Chicago (73.5 rushing YPG allowed), Minnesota (76.0 rushing YPG allowed) and Green Bay (98.5 rushing YPG allowed).
Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland: I doubt that Lewis' value will ever be higher than it is now after his incredible 216-yard, one-touchdown performance against Cincinnati. He looked a lot like the back that rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003, and owners should use that to their advantage in trade talks. The Browns still don't have a consistent pass attack despite Derek Anderson's five touchdowns, and the offensive line still has some question marks. With Baltimore (2 - 62.0 rushing YPG allowed), New England (56.0 rushing YPG allowed), Pittsburgh and (2 - 74.0 rushing YPG allowed still on the slate, Lewis' numbers are certain to be inconsistent for much of the season.
Randy Moss, WR, New England: I have to admit, I can't believe the start Moss has had this season. I liked him as a solid No. 2 fantasy wideout, but I never expected him to resemble the receiver who dominated opponents from his time with Minnesota. but after two weeks, Moss is the second-most productive wideout in fantasy football. The P-Men look a lot better than the rest of the NFL, so Moss should continue to produce nice numbers in what is a ridiculously talented offense. Still, if you landed Moss as a No. 2 or 3 receiver and can trade him for a top-five back like Joseph Addai or Frank Gore, I'd have to pull the trigger.
Waiver wire focus
Dallas defense: This unit stunk up Texas Stadium in its regular-season opener, but they bounced back to score 16 fantasy points against Miami and face Chicago next on the slate. San Diego had 23 points against turnover machine Rex Grossman and the Bears in Week 1 and Kansas City had 17 points in Week 2, so Dallas is a more viable option.
Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland: Anderson will never have a better stat line than one he produced last week (328 yards, five TDs), but how do you not take a chance on him in larger leagues or leagues that start two quarterbacks? He does have some hard opponents (Oakland, Baltimore, New England) in the next three weeks, so temper expectations.
Nick Folk, K, Dallas: How's this for a nugget: Folk, who didn't even win a roster spot with the Cowboys until the final week, has the second-most points in fantasy football with 23 after two weeks. He's made all four of his field goals and has 10 extra points behind what has become one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston: Jones is a raw but talented rookie, and the potential loss of Andre Johnson (he's listed as doubtful to face Indianapolis) would make him one of the top options in the pass attack for Houston in Week 3. He could be just a one-week option, but Jones is worth a look in deeper leagues that start three wideouts.
Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit: Jones, who is still available in 35 percent of NFL.com leagues, could make his return from an injured foot this week. Even if he is limited upon his return, Jones should have a chance to re-claim the top spot on the depth chart before midseason. He's should be claimed in all formats if available.
Joe Jurevicius, WR, Cleveland: Jurevicius posted just 44 yards in Week 2, but he also scored two touchdowns and seems to have a nice rapport with Derek Anderson. The veteran won't be consistent and is more of an option in larger leagues, but Jurevicius is better to have on your roster than some underachievers at his position.
Minnesota defense: The Vikings have posted the most fantasy points of any defense in each of the first two weeks of the season, and they're still available in some NFL.com leagues. This unit continues to make plays regardless of the opposition and has emerged as a solid No. 1 fantasy defense in all formats.
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston: While the potential loss of Andre Johnson for at least one week is cause for concern, it evident that Schaub is a perfect fit for the offensive attack of head coach Gary Kubiak. He's on pace to throw for over 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns, and he's still available in 20 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Roydell Williams, WR, Tennessee: A free agent in most fantasy leagues, Williams showed flashes of potential last week with four receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown against Indianapolis. The Titans don't have a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver, so Williams has as good a chance as anyone to claim that role for the rest of the season.
DeShawn Wynn, RB, Green Bay: What's with unknown Packer runners making a fantasy impact? Wynn won't be the next Samkon Gado, but his 50-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Giants proves he's well in the backfield mix. Look for him to share carries with Brandon Jackson until Vernand Morency returns from an injured knee.
I have been offered Carson Palmer and LaMont Jordan for Matt Leinart and Steven Jackson. Leinart is my only quarterback, but I have Jackson, DeShaun Foster, Brandon Jackson, Edgerrin James and Carnell Williams. Should I make the trade? -- Nick Williams, Australia
M.F.: This is a perfect example of what I discussed above. The other owner is looking to sell high with Jordan and buy low with Jackson. Foster, Brandon Jackson and Williams have all been inconsistent, so I'd pass on this deal and retain Jackson. As for Leinart, you should examine the matchups each week and look for another quarterback off waivers if needed. Unless it's a larger league, signal-callers like Jeff Garcia, David Garrard or Chad Pennington could be available.
Who should I start in Week 3: Brett Favre, Matt Leinart or Matt Schaub? -- M. Brenner, Seattle, Wash.
M.F.: None of these three quarterbacks has a favorable matchup -- Favre faces San Diego, Leinart is in Baltimore and Schaub faces Indianapolis (possibly without Andre Johnson). I'd start Favre out of the three unless Johnson is active, in which case I'd side with Schaub.