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Fantasy Roundtable - Week 5

Various staff members will share their views on a range of topics each week in discussion format. Feel free to eavesdrop.

Quick Links to Topics:

QB Changes
Eli Manning
Buccaneers’ Offense
Kevin Jones
Buy Low, Sell High?

QB Changes

Maurile Tremblay: We’ve seen a few QB changes already this year. Marc Brunell took over for Patrick Ramsey in the first week of the season, and now it looks like Alex Smith will take over for Tim Rattay and Vinny Testaverde will take over for Brooks Bollinger. (The Bears, Ravens, and Cardinals have also had QB changes, but those were due only to injury.) What current starter will be the next to find himself benched? J.P. Losman, Joey Harrington, Kurt Warner, somebody else?

Jason Wood: Warner’s in a different situation from the other guys you mentioned since he’s out with an injury. But even when he returns to health I could see Denny Green sticking with Josh McCown, so I guess my vote goes to Warner.

Maurile Tremblay: That would kind of mirror the Ramsey-Brunell situation in Washington. Ramsey came out of the game with a neck injury in week one, then Brunell outperformed him.

David Yudkin: I think Warner will get the job back on his return. McCown looked good on Sunday night, but the Cardinals can't play the 49ers every week.

Dave Baker: I say the next guy to lose his job will be Losman. The Bills are struggling for wins and must make a move to have any chance at making the playoffs. Plus, it can be disastrous to allow a young QB to continue to fail. Best to remove him now. After a decent start, Losman is 28 for 66 passing in the last three games, with no touchdowns and two interceptions, and only 263 yards passing. That's 263 yards passing combined in three games. Broken down, Losman has averaged 9/22/87 as a starter in those weeks, without a single touchdown. He’s also fumbled twice. It's time to put in Kelly Holcomb, both for the sake of the team and for Losman's psyche.

David Yudkin: I agree that the Bills need to change something, whether it be their playbook or Losman; 115 yards passing per game will not get it done in today's NFL. The Bills have been so conservative on offense that teams don't have to defend the pass. With Losman passing in mostly must-pass situations, the pressure has been too much for him and has hindered his progress.

Chris Smith: Another vote for Losman. The dude has been horrible so far this season despite a good running attack and a pair of talented receivers. He is too erratic to be an NFL quarterback and the Bills have a viable veteran backup to plug into the starting lineup. I expect the Bills to go with Holcomb very soon.

Cecil Lammey: If Kelly Holcomb comes in for Buffalo it shouldn't last for long. J.P. Losman is their future and the Bills need to open up their offense instead of handcuffing him. Adam Schefter has reported that several Saints players told him that it seemed as though Losman was confined to an offense that doesn't use his strengths (scrambling, making plays with his feet).

David Yudkin: In Houston, David Carr probably has no competition and has a new OC to hopefully rework the offensive system, but I'm not holding my breath that the Texans will morph into the Rams. In Detroit, Harrington has show very little over his career and given the talent level the Lions have, I think his days are numbered even if Garcia can't go.

Jason Wood: I would've said Joey Harrington before the season started, but with Jeff Garcia on the shelf, I think the Lions are stuck with him.

Will Grant: It’s true that with Garcia gone, the Lions have limited options. But at some point you have to ask how a guy with that much offensive talent around him can consistently finish near the bottom of the league in passing. At some point, if Garcia isn't ready, expect Orlovsky to get the chance to start. I think that 9 wins will be enough to take the division for the NFC North, and Mooch would put the water boy in at QB if he thought it would get him a win.

Maurile Tremblay: I think we'll at least see Orlovsky get more playing time in the second halves of games when Harrington has been effective in the first half. From there, if he has a good second half or even just a good fourth quarter, he may get a chance to start the following week.

Cecil Lammey: Jeff Garcia should be returning from injury soon, although you hear conflicting reports about his leg and a badly sprained ankle. Joey Harrington and the Lions offense is in shambles, so either Garcia or Orlovsky should get a chance fairly soon.

Chris Smith: I believe Harrington has a longer leash than people think. He’s playing very poorly right now, but I think the Lions will give him every chance to get things turned around before turning to Orlovsky, who’s a rookie, or Garcia, who’s coming off an injury.

Eli Manning

Maurile Tremblay: Peyton's little brother has put together two nice games in a row. What's his outlook for the rest of the season? Personally, I like what I've seen from Manning quite a bit. I don't think the last two games were a fluke. He has good awareness in the pocket, he sees the field well for a young QB, and he's got a very good arm and good mechanics. He obviously won't keep throwing 4 TDs every week, but I think he's more likely than not to finish as a top 10 fantasy QB if he stays healthy all year.

Dave Baker: With six touchdowns in the last two games and nine on the season, it's hard to complain about Eli. But I am not sold yet. He has yet to complete 60% of his passes in any game and I think he's played against questionable defenses to this point. I believe Manning will struggle in the next few weeks, as I see better defenses in Denver and Washington. Manning does have some excellent weapons around him and it's tough to argue with his performance so far, but I just don't trust him to put up good numbers the rest of the way.

Jason Wood: Manning has done everything Giants fans could hope for. We knew the kid was tough after last season, and we knew he had the picture perfect mechanics or he wouldn't have gone 1st overall. What we're starting to find out is that he appears to have the poise to make plays. As an Eagles fan, I've watched Manning's play intently and have to say, the kid is solid. Sure his completion percentage could be better but I've seen him make so many different throws on the money, I believe that will come with time.

Chris Smith: I don't think he'll continue to perform at his current pace. He has faced some questionable defenses through this run he'll begin to struggle if he can't start completing more than 60% of his passes. That said, the Giants' offense is playing with confidence, and Eli Manning is doing much better than I had anticipated after watching him struggle last year. I do believe he'll be a legitimate fantasy starter from here on out.

Cecil Lammey: I think the key is that Tom Coughlin is really opening things up on offense and allowing Eli to spread the ball around. A lot of people expected the Giants to run a conservative offense this year, but instead we're seeing lots of big plays. Eli is developing a great rapport with Plaxico Burress and I think his outlook for the rest of the season is bright.

David Yudkin: The Giants ran a very conservative offense last season, so like Cecil mentioned, a lot of people (myself included) expected more of the same this year. When I saw the Giants play last year, they seemed to baby Manning and try their best to limit his role in the offense. Obviously, that's changed. Part of it, though, is that Manning has had the good fortune of going up against the Rams and Chargers in consecutive weeks. Looking ahead over the rest of the Giants' schedule, I only see a few games that should yield big numbers. He's probably worth a weekly start, but I think most fantasy teams that have him also have someone else worth starting. I wouldn't bench McNabb to start Eli, but I might sit Brooks or Vick. I think a lot will depend on how well the Giants do from here on out. I think they are overachieving at the moment, and at some point I think they will come back to Earth.

Buccaneers’ Offense

Maurile Tremblay: So far Joey Galloway has been Brian Griese's favorite target in Tampa Bay. Will that change as the season wears on? If you were offered Joey Galloway for Michael Clayton straight up (in a redraft league), would you take the deal?

Cecil Lammey: I would hang on to Clayton and here's why: Galloway is old and injury-prone while Clayton is young and determined. Clayton is also a more versatile receiver than Galloway. Galloway’s best route is a go route down the sidelines, while Clayton can run be effective on short and intermediate routes, down the sideline or over the middle. Galloway’s success should also draw more attention from opposing defenses, which will open things up for Clayton.

Dave Baker: I heard a little chatter about Galloway this offseason and I didn't buy it one bit. It sure looks like I was wrong to this point. But in my opinion, Michael Clayton is too good not to see more passes thrown his way soon. Galloway is 33 years old and will be 34 before this season is over. He was also shut out completely against Buffalo. So while Galloway represents great value for anyone who drafted him, I might consider trading him now since his price will never be higher. Would I trade Galloway for Clayton straight up? Absolutely. Admittedly, Clayton is without a touchdown this year (he had seven last year), but he's been targeted about as much as Galloway. Galloway can put up some spectacular numbers at times, but I don't think he'll keep it up the rest of the year and I still think Clayton ends up a more valuable WR at the end of the season.

Chris Smith: When healthy, Galloway has had many good seasons in the NFL. But his durability and consistency have always been in doubt, and I expect his early season success to actually help Michael Clayton as the season wears on. Defenses won't be able to key on Clayton. I would take Clayton over Galloway from this point on, and now is a great time to try and swing a deal to land Clayton. He will have a chance to be a strong fantasy option down the stretch this season.

David Yudkin: In 13 games since coming back from injury last year, Galloway has been targeted 76 times. In those games, Clayton has been targeted 87 times. More recently, both guys seem to be getting almost the same amount of targets. In the games that Galloway and Clayton have both played in together, Galloway has 49 catches for 732 yards and 8 touchdowns (9.32 fantasy points per game), while Clayton has 60 catches for 884 yards and 5 touchdowns (9.11 fantasy points per game). We're rapidly approaching a full season's worth of games with these two playing together, and it doesn’t look like Clayton is the CLEAR choice as a better fantasy option. Based on youth, ability, injury history, and logic, Clayton would be the guy you would want to have on your fantasy squad, but it’s not the slam dunk some people think it is.

Marc Levin: Yudkin always has the stats handy. I’m not sure how much last year’s stats matter, though. The 2005 offense, running the heck out of Cadillac Williams, is a lot different from last year’s offense. The Bucs haven’t been in a come-from-behind situation yet, but when that happens, I think Clayton is they guy they’ll turn to. Galloway and Clayton may have a similar number of targets over the course of the year, but I think Clayton will end up with the greater production. I would definitely trade Galloway for Clayton straight up right now.

David Yudkin: I don't disagree with you, Marc. I threw in last year's numbers to try to expand the sample size. But even if we stick just to this year, Clayton has 19.6 total fantasy points on 26 targets while Galloway has 50 fantasy points on 30 targets. Moreover, the Bucs have had three games against poor pass defenses so far (MIN, GB, DET), and Clayton has yet to have a big game. I'd still rather have Clayton over Galloway from here on out, but if Galloway continues to outperform Clayton over the next two weeks, I’d want to revise my vote.

Marc Levin: Also relevant is the fact that Clayton has seen his share of double coverage in the early going while Galloway has often found himself matched up one-on-one. Anyway, while we’re on the subject of Tampa Bay’s offense, what’s Michael Pittman’s role going to be after he had such a good game last week? Is Gruden going to lessen Cadillac’s workload and give more touches to Pittman?

Will Grant: I don’t think so. Gruden has been clear in several interviews that he’d give Caddy every chance he could handle this season. In Gruden's mind, you don't know if the kid can handle 400 carries unless you give him a chance to hit 400. I think you'll see Pittman in spot duty this season, but Caddy is going to get the majority of the touches for the rest of the way.

Marc Levin: Maybe, but I think you can also interpret Gruden’s remarks to reach the exact opposite conclusion. Gruden planned to run the heck out of Cadillac to see what he could handle, and once they found his upper limit, they’d roll things back and start working Pittman in more. Well, it looks to me like they found Cadillac's upper limit: he now has two separate injuries (slight hammie strain and slight foot strain) and now they are working Pittman in.

Maurile Tremblay: I think things could change on a game-by-game basis. When Cadillac is perfectly healthy, I think he'll keep getting the ball as long as he's effective. I don't think the Bucs will make it a point to limit his touches the way a baseball team might limit someone's pitches. But if he starts to lose his effectiveness, whether from overwork or from injury or from whatever, Pittman can step in and be productive. So I think the Bucs will do pretty much what they've been doing -- run Cadillac until it doesn't work, then turn to Pittman.

Cecil Lammey: It's clear that Gruden needs to mix in Pittman. He has been successful both running and receiving the ball and deserves a few more touches. But he shouldn't cut into Caddy's touches that much (barring injury). Most of Cadillac's yards come in the 4th quarter. The Bucs are extremely committed to the run, and Williams will be the main man so long as he can stay healthy.

Kevin Jones

Maurile Tremblay: Kevin Jones had just twelve carries last week, and only four in the second half while Artose Pinner had six. Any insight on the RB rotation in Detroit going forward? Is this the time to trade for Kevin Jones if you can buy him low, or are fantasy owners better off avoiding him?

Jason Wood: I drank the Kevin Jones Kool-Aid this year as most of us did; and I'm paying the price early as he's been a non-factor. I can tolerate a slow start if it's because the team simply hasn't been in the position to get him enough carries; but now that it appears he's been benched or platooned despite being healthy, I'm becoming concerned. Ultimately the whole Lion offense needs to prove itself. One might think the Pinner carries were a means to motivate KJ; but three games into the season, should a starting tailback really need motivation like that? I'm keeping him out of my starting lineup until I see a solid performance or two.

Michael Brown: I think there have been a variety of reasons why Jones is struggling out of the gate, not the least of which has been the absence of Cory Schlesinger. Far too often, we fail to recognize the fullback as an integral part of the running game, and Schlesinger is one of the very best. As for why Jones was benched, I can't understand that one. The Bucs’ run defense has shut down some very good backs already this season, and Jones' performance in Sunday’s game seemed as good or better than anyone else's thus far this year. I believe these next few weeks are the last opportunities you'll have to get Jones on the cheap this year. After playing the Bucs this past week, he gets the Ravens next weekend and then Carolina in Week 6. After that, he really only has maybe 3 tough matchups in the final 12 weeks of the season (Weeks 8, 12, and 17). Additionally, if Jeff Garcia can return from his injury sometime in the next 2-4 weeks, he'd be an instant upgrade over Joey Harrington, and would benefit the offense as a whole.

Cecil Lammey: As a Jones owner I am admittedly nervous, but ultimately I think he’ll be fine. He started off very slow last year and put together a string of great games to finish the '04 season. Garcia coming back would help. Schlesinger coming back will definitely help.

Chris Smith: It cannot get much worse for Kevin Jones and the Lions’ offense. The entire unit has been out of synch and I expect the Lions to focus more on jump-starting the rushing attack over the next month to take some pressure off the fading Harrington. The one concern I had about Jones before the season started was the Lions’ weak offensive line, and that has indeed been a problem. Hopefully the line will gel as the year goes on. I still expect Jones to put up several 100-yard efforts this season.

David Yudkin: I was not as high on Jones as most were. My concern was that the numbers that were being projected for each individual Lions player, added together, would yield an unrealistic improvement in terms of total yardage and TDs scored by the team as a whole. So far, that concern appears to have been valid. I don't think all is lost, however, and I think at this point Jones might be a decent “buy low” candidate. Something has to change in Motown; the Lions have too much talent on offense to be this anemic forever. The problem is, I'm not sure how a lowball offer would fly with a Jones owner, as you basically are trying to steal a first or early second round pick for a song.

Buy Low, Sell High?

Jason Wood: David mentioned Kevin Jones as a possible “buy low” candidate, and I think it’s a valuable exercise at this point, with four weeks in the bag, to assess which players are off to anomalous starts and which are likely to maintain their current levels of production. What guys would you be urging people to trade for (your “buy low” candidates), and who would you urge people to trade away (your “sell high” candidates)?

Chris Smith: Good question. Here are some of the guys I’d be looking to buy. You can probably get Eric Moulds off the waiver wire in your league. He has started badly before and should turn it around, at least somewhat before this season is over as long as the quarterbacking situation improves. Mike Williams of the Lions should get better as the season wears on and is now likely in the starting lineup. Reggie Williams is catching most of the balls thrown his way for the Jaguars and will see more chances to make plays as this season wears on. Thomas Jones has been somewhat injury-prone in the past, but even if he stays healthy, Cedric Benson should get more playing time as the season progresses – especially if the Bears fall out of playoff contention (although the NFC North is a fairly weak division). Trent Green has nowhere to go but up. And Andre Johnson has too much talent not to elevate his play.

As for the guys I’d be looking to sell, Joey Galloway is off to a sizzling start, but in reality is the number two receiver on this team and he will fall off from this pace. Eli Manning hasn't faced overly tough defenses yet and cannot help but fall off after this amazing start. In addition, his last name of Manning might encourage another owner to overpay for him. To go along with Manning, Plaxico Burress isn't as good as the numbers he has been putting up, and the Giants will be running into tougher defenses going forward. Thomas Jones has never been able to stay healthy throughout a whole season, and Cedric Benson will likely earn more playing time as the season progresses. Stephen Davis, I’d be looking to trade: DeShaun Foster may get more and more reps since he has been more explosive than Davis. Finally, I would trade Michael Bennett right now for whatever I can get for him. He's garbage

Maurile Tremblay: I would target Willie Parker if his owner thinks Duce Staley will significantly eat into his carries. I would also target Tony Gonzalez if his owner is frustrated with his slow start. Nate Burleson and Joe Horn are a couple guys who've missed time with injuries, but could do well going forward. (Burleson was disappointing in the games he's played so far, but I still think he's got a lot of talent.) Some people appear to be frustrated with Priest Holmes right now. He's playing well, though, and should continue to get the majority of the carries in the league's most explosive rushing offense.

As for my “sell high” candidates, Keenan McCardell isn't going to get enough targets going forward to live up to his current pace. Antonio Gates will get some of the red zone targets that have gone to McCardell so far. Eric Parker is playing well. Reche Caldwell played well last week and should get a few more targets. And Vincent Jackson is finally healthy and could start to get some looks. Overall, there just aren't enough balls to go around to support McCardell as a decent fantasy WR2, which is how many owners may currently be viewing him. I also think Stephen Davis has already played his best games. DeShaun Foster is the more talented runner, and will get a larger fraction of the carries down the stretch.

Chris Smith: Great call on McCardell. Now is the time to sell him and it should be possible to get great value back in return.

David Yudkin: Buy, buy, buy: Brett Favre can single handedly score more in a half than most QB score in a full game. The Packers haven't been able to move the ball on the ground and their defense can't stop anyone. I'd still look into what it would take to get Daunte Culpepper or Trent Green, as at some point both of them should do much better. To go with Favre, I think Robert Ferguson should put up decent numbers and should be a decent fantasy WR3. Drew Bennett is better than his #47 ranking, as is Reggie Wayne at #44. I will go to the grave insisting that Priest Holmes will be a top producer once the OL gets healthy and the offense gets on track. He'll be top five the rest of the way. If his owner is getting impatient and is willing to let him go, make an offer. I'd also try to get Mike Anderson if the price is right. I think he's found a place as the guy in Denver, but he's still a risky acquisition. And Tony Gonzalez is better than the #25 ranking he has at the moment.

Sell, sell, sell: Drew Bledsoe is currently the #5 QB. Does anyone really think of him as a Top 5 QB? Has he ever been considered a Top 5 QB? I can't see Stephen Davis lasting the entire season, and his value is mostly derived from TDs. He’s another player hovering around the Top 5 that won't be that high after 16 games. I also think Fast Willie Parker will lose key carries to Bettis and some plays to Staley, so I don't see him being the Top 5 darling he was the first couple of weeks. At WR, Plaxico Burress, Keenan McCardell, and Santana Moss likely had their moments in the sun for the season, and I'd probably try to shop them while their value is at a high point. If you haven't already, unload the one week wonder tight ends while they are still in the mind of other owners and before they end up as waiver wire material again.

Chris Smith: My assessment of the Packers’ offense differs from David’s. While I agree that Favre is capable of putting up big numbers, I believe there are caveats to be wary of. The team is imploding around him; the offensive line has been leaky, and the running game has been non-existent. If teams start teeing off on Favre, ignoring the poor rushing attack, he may find it difficult to avoid the injury bug this season. At the very least, I wouldn't want to overpay to land Favre and owners who have him aren't likely to give him up for cheap. Moreover, Robert Ferguson is simply not a very good football player. He lacks polish in his route-running, he doesn’t come back for the football, and he’s not tough over the middle of the field. Donald Driver will be the number one receiver in Green bay, and I think Antonio Chatman could emerge as the number two guy.

David Yudkin: Well, everything is relative. Ferguson was on the waiver wire in many leagues, so you should be able to pick him up for next to nothing; and despite his deficiencies, he’s been able to put up some decent stats so far this year.

Chris Smith: It’s true that Ferguson can be gotten cheaply, but I believe the best bang for your buck is Chatman, who is a better player.

Marc Levin: I agree with Chris. Chatman had more targets than Ferguson in the Monday night game and Ferguson often seemed to lose concentration on the ball. If you are going to spend on one of these guys for your WR4 or WR5 spot, Chatman is likely still free off the waiver wire while Ferguson will cost you a player, and Chatman could easily end up with the better stats.

Maurile Tremblay: I’ll name a final player who doesn’t really fit into the “buy low” category because I don’t think you can get cheaply right now. So call him a “buy high” candidate. But I think Carson Palmer is going to put up great stats all year. If you can convince his owner to outsmart you by selling high, do it. He is worth buying high. And that will wrap it up for this week. Thanks, guys. See you next week.

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