Baltimore Sun

Fantasy Fodder: Time to start thinking playoffs

Two months into the fantasy season, the cream of the crop is rising to the top in most leagues. Fantasy trade deadlines are coming up fast, and the playoffs aren't far behind them. Hopefully your team is in good shape when it comes to postseason positioning.

Five of my six teams are in first place right now, so I'm already thinking about the playoffs. (The other squad? Dead last, and I don't want to talk about it.) But if you're on the bubble, you're probably stressing over potential moves you can make to get your team into the playoffs.


Either way, you should be frantically negotiating trades to improve your squad. Yes, even if your team is undefeated and sitting pretty atop the standings. Your mindset should be a little different than your desperate opponents, but you shouldn't be standing pat. Here's why.

Unless you're in a league that gives an award for finishing first in the regular season -- for the record, I hate those leagues -- you're not going to win anything for cruising into the playoffs. Instead, if you know you're going to get in, you need to be looking to acquire players who have juicy matchups in the playoffs (like a quarterback who is sure to scorch the Jaguars secondary or a back who will run rampant on the Bills defense).


Forget playoff seeding. Real-life matchups are more likely to determine who wins your league than who you play in the first round of the playoffs. Why do you think you often see something like a No. 7 seed playing a No. 4 seed in the championship game?

That's why it's important that you don't get too confident with where your team is right now.

Remember, many of your fellow owners are desperately trying to get into the playoffs, so take advantage of that desperation and make a move that might cost you a win or two in the regular season, but will pay off big when it's money time. Trust me on this one. I'll be trying to upgrade all five of my first-place teams in the coming weeks by trading away roster depth for more studs.

Fantasy penthouse:

David Garrard (260 passing yards, four passing TDs, one rushing TD), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (112 rushing yards and two scores), Calvin Johnson (nine catches for 101 yards and three TDs), Antonio Gates (five catches for 123 receiving yards and one touchdown)

Fantasy doghouse:

Matt Moore (194 passing yards, one touchdown, three interceptions), Jonathan Stewart (14 carries for 30 yards), Randy Moss (one catch for eight yards), Vernon Davis (one catch for 12 yards)

Start 'em or sit 'em:


Jay Cutler, Bears: Start 'em. He's no longer an every-week start, but you've got to like his chances of bouncing back against the Bills.

Michael Vick, Eagles: Sit 'em. Vick is expected to return from a rib injury Sunday, but he still should be in a lot of pain. I'd wait a week and see if he survives Sunday before starting him.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: Start 'em (if DeAngelo Williams sits out again). Stewart was a disappointment last weekend, but he could break out against the Saints. Note: I might just be trying to convince myself this.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks. Sit 'em. I don't like his matchup against the Giants.

Patrick Crayton, Chargers. Start 'em. This Cowboys castaway could put up 100-plus yards and should find the end zone against the Texans.

The wire:


LeGarrette Blount is worth sacrificing a first-ranked waiver priority. ... Anthony Gonzalez could be a solid fill-in for Austin Collie. ... Danny Woodhead has put up double-digit fantasy points in four out of the past five weeks. ... Second-year quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman put up big numbers last week. ... Running back Keiland Williams might be the next man up in D.C. ... Mike Sims-Walker has had some brutal weeks, but he shouldn't be left on the waiver wire. ... Stash Chargers deep threat Vincent Jackson on your bench. He'll be back for the fantasy playoffs.

There's a man down:

Dallas Clark is out for the year, but Jacob Tamme, who had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Texans, is likely available. ... Kenny Britt (hammy) could be out a few weeks. ... DeSean Jackson (head) thinks he'll be a game-time decision. ... Minnesota's Sidney Rice is reportedly nearing a return. ... Oakland's Zach Miller (foot) probably won't be effective if he plays. ... Ryan Torain has a hamstring injury. ... Do not play Donald Driver (quad) until he actually is healthy enough to record a catch. ... DeAngelo Williams (foot) could be held out again, giving Stewart another opportunity.

You make the call:

Which player would you rather have going forward this season: Drew Brees or Matt Ryan (this one isn't as easy as you might initially think)?

Reader question of the week:


None this week. If you guys don't start giving me fantasy football questions in the comments section below, I'm going to bench you for Rex Grossman.

Extra point:

If you own Randy Moss, you're stuck right now. He has little value on the trade market, but he is too talented to cut loose, especially with him likely to get another fresh start once he is claimed on waivers this week. Wait it out, see where Moss ends up and re-evaluate from there.

My weekly Fantasy Fodder column will run

in some fashion on the Virtual Vensanity blog every Wednesday. E-mail your fantasy questions to, Tweet them to or leave them in the comments section below. Carrier pigeons are also acceptable.