11 Buy or Sell Fantasy Options

Note: This column appears on the front page of the NFP, but I wanted to make it available in the Total Access Pass as well.

Today we’re going to take a look at six players that are about to hit a favorable stretch in their respective schedules and five players that are about to run into a brick wall.

And that’s one of the big keys to pulling off a successful trade. Owners need to look ahead and determine which stocks are primed to heat up and which ones are ready to bottom out. Past performances are important in evaluating a player’s worth, but you can’t get caught up in the hype machine. I watched rival owners go crazy trying to land Lions running back Jahvid Best after his Week 2 explosion against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Does anyone actually think that is a smart move? Who buys stock when it reaches its max value?

Suckers. That’s who.

The schedule is about to heat up for...

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears: Jay-Cut’s next three games (Seattle, Washington, Buffalo) come against defenses that rank in the top-eight in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. He missed last Sunday’s game at Carolina due to a concussion he suffered in Week 4 at New York during the Giants ten-sack feast. Current owners may be a little nervous about the Bears’ offensive line.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: One of the hottest properties in the business right now, wait until next week to make a move for Lynch, because there’s a good chance he’ll struggle this Sunday at Chicago against the Bears’ third-ranked rushing defense (78.6 yds/gm). After his current owner begins to think that adding the former Bill was a mistake, lowball him in an effort to get a deal done. Following Week 6, Lynch will play four of his next six games (Arizona, Oakland, Arizona, New Orleans) against defenses that rank in the top-five in points allowed to opposing running backs.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Week 5 was the first time this season that Charles saw more carries than veteran Thomas Jones, but that isn’t the real reason we like his upside moving forward. After dates with the Texans (Week 6) and Jaguars (Week 7), Charles will play three of his next four games (Buffalo, Oakland, Arizona) against defenses that rank in the top-four in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. He’ll continue to split carries, but Charles should see enough burn to rack up some reliable fantasy totals.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: During negotiations with the current Johnson owner, be sure to mention A) He’s currently ranked 23rd in scoring among fantasy wideouts (standard scoring), B) He’s only found the end zone once this season, C) Houston is now a “running team” with Arian Foster (this is a partial lie) and D) He’s got an ankle injury that has been hindering his performance. As you’re spewing this crap from your mouth, keep in mind that three of Johnson’s next five games (Indianapolis, Jacksonville, NY Jets) come against defenses that rank in the top-nine in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers.

Braylon Edwards, WR, New York Jets: Despite the return of wide receiver Santonio Holmes from suspension, Edwards recorded a season-high 11 targets Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings. Let me be clear that this guy won’t produce elite-level numbers, but he can add some quality depth to your current WR unit. The upside is that over Edwards’ next five games, he won’t face a single defense that ranks in the bottom-ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Instead, he’ll take on the Broncos, Packers, Lions, Browns and Texans, with a bye scheduled for Week 7. Edwards has a great opportunity over the next few weeks to make a serious splash.

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers: Not only is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back in the mix, but Miller will play four of his next six games (Miami, New Orleans, New England and Oakland) against defenses that rank in the top-ten in points allowed to opposing tight ends. Remember, this guy finished in the top-eight in scoring among fantasy TEs last year with Big Ben at the helm. Expect his numbers to start climbing.

These guys could be in for some trouble…

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: Big-play wide receiver Randy Moss is gone, but the more troubling news is that Tom Terrific’s upcoming schedule isn’t very friendly. The three-time Super Bowl champion is about to begin a five-game stretch that features four showdowns (Baltimore, San Diego, Minnesota and Pittsburgh) with defenses that rank in the bottom-six in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Mr. Gisele will still produce, but if you have a solid QB2 and can move Brady for a good value, now is the time to pull the trigger.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins: Not only are Brown’s carries way down this season (72 rushes through four games in ’09, 48 rushes through four games in ’10), but the Dolphins have been showing more of a commitment to the passing game this season (57.4% pass to run ratio) than they did last year (53.2% pass to run ratio). In addition, five of Brown’s next six games come against the Packers, Steelers, Ravens, Titans and Bears. Four of those teams rank in the bottom-seven in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this year. The team that doesn’t fall into that category (Chicago) currently ranks third in the NFL in run defense (78.6 yds/gm).

Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers: You won’t get much in return for Jackson (if anything at all), but just be sure to mention the fact that he is coming off a 115-yard performance (11.5 YPC) on the road against the Redskins. Owners in need of RB help may be interested since Jackson finally stepped up to the plate and delivered a respectable performance. The real reason you want to capitalize on the best outing of Jackson’s career is because he’s about to hit a brick wall. After this week’s showdown with Miami, B-Jax will take on the Vikings twice, Jets and Cowboys. All three of those defenses rank in the bottom-ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this season.

Terrell Owens, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: T.O. is hot on the streets right now. He currently leads the NFL in targets (60), ranks eighth in scoring among fantasy wide receivers and has racked up an outstanding two-week stat line that consists of 17 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. So why not fleece another owner for everything Owens is currently worth? You can’t expect this type of production to continue, because after T.O. comes off the bye in Week 6, he’ll face the Falcons, Dolphins and Steelers in consecutive weeks. Keep in mind that Atlanta and Miami both rank in the bottom-nine in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts this season.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: Witten has been a disappointment this season, but with Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley possibly out for the year, you may be able to take advantage of his name-recognition and move him for a good price. And what better time to do so then right before Witten begins a six-game stretch in which he’ll play four defenses (Minnesota, New York twice, Detroit) that rank in the bottom-eight in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.

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