Consider becoming a buyer to stay out of league's cellar

Commentary

October 27, 2005|By CHILDS WALKER

Halloween is always a good time for reckoning with your fantasy football team.

The real teams have played enough games that you have a feel for who's good and who isn't. You know which guys will play and how much. You have something resembling confidence in the surprise stars, and you can't just shrug off the busts like you could in Week 3.

That means it's time for fantasy contenders to shore up weaknesses and for mediocre teams to make a last stab at contending. I especially urge owners with good records to look for trade opportunities instead of standing pat. Complacency has been a bugaboo in some of my most disappointing seasons.

So here's a look at some targets for midseason acquisition and a few who could be sold while their value is high.

Buy

Tatum Bell: This guy may be the great breakout of this season (though he was also very good in limited carries last year). Bell is averaging an astounding 6.9 yards a carry while sharing duties with Mike Anderson, who's also a pretty good player. The best thing? Some owners remain wary because Bell isn't starting. A player performing this well will carry the ball more and more. Get him if you can.

Drew Brees: He emerged last year and has played pretty well against a brutal schedule. Brees has middling numbers so far, but the opposition should get easier, and the San Diego Chargers seem primed to score a ton of points. So if you're unsettled at quarterback, he might be an answer.

Trent Green: Green entered the season at the bottom of the first tier or top of the second tier of fantasy quarterbacks. Mark Brunell, Carson Palmer and Eli Manning have outperformed him, but like Brees, Green hasn't played badly. There's no particular reason he's thrown only four touchdown passes, so if you need a co-starter, he's still a decent option.

Reggie Wayne: Sure, the Indianapolis Colts are scoring more touchdowns on the ground than last season, and Peyton Manning seems to trust Marvin Harrison more in the end zone. But Manning could crank up the passing game at any moment. I wouldn't give up the farm to get him (or any receiver), but if his owner is disillusioned, Wayne would make a solid target.

Chester Taylor: Ravens fans know this story. Jamal Lewis isn't looking so good, and the offense has been better with Taylor on the field. He'd be a nice chit to own should Brian Billick give him a more equal share of the carries.

Ronnie Brown: He was overshadowed at first by college teammate Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, but Brown is coming on. He hasn't posted big touchdown numbers, but if you can get him now (especially in a keeper league), do it and enjoy his ascent.

Sell

Willis McGahee: I'm not saying you should trade him, especially not if your team is strong across the board. But I'd at least dangle McGahee if you're struggling. The Buffalo Bills are working him hard, and his yards per carry (4.2) are only OK. You might be able to get two good players for one featured back who seems uncertain to dominate in the second half.

Corey Dillon: He has scored five touchdowns, yes, but if you watch the New England Patriots, you see a back who's lost a step and a team that's grown more reliant on the pass. If anybody in your league thinks he's still an elite back, take advantage.

Priest Holmes: Same idea as Dillon, though Holmes has played a little better and is unusually good at the goal line. He also faces competition from an outstanding backup, Larry Johnson.

Donovan McNabb: He's tough and playing very well despite his painful chest injury. But fantasy football is about numbers, and McNabb is hampered. If you can get a good running back for him and you have a decent second quarterback, a trade might be in order.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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