About this time of year, the questions start cycling through the minds of most fantasy owners. Should you make a trade? Is it too early to cut the guy you drafted in the sixth round? Fantasy Chop Shop will strip apart the latest NFL player news and trends, and provide counsel on roster management. Here you’ll find timely advice about when to “chop” (cut a player from your roster) and when to “shop” (buy or sell a player via trade). The Fantasy Chop Shop will run every other Wednesday through Week 13.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers
Smith has shown flashes but you can probably do better with one of the emerging young QBs that might be available on your waiver wire.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks
The Hasselbeck era in Seattle will be over by midseason.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Broncos
Another opportunity blown for Maroney. He’s averaging 1.3 yards per carry in Denver.
Leon Washington, RB, Seahawks
Seattle traded for Marshawn Lynch, which moves Washington another spot down on the depth chart. He’s not worth holding unless you get points for kick return yardage.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks
Forsett failed to capitalize on his opportunity to start. Now he’ll be relegated to third-down work. He’s probably not worth a roster spot unless you’re in a deep league. Since the Seahawks are on bye, this is a fitting time to cut him.
Earnest Graham, RB, Buccaneers
Tampa’s backfield depth chart will likely get turned on its head this week as the team tries to identify a RB of the future. Graham isn’t that guy.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns
Peyton Hillis is the man now. Harrison is an afterthought.
Maurice Morris, RB, Lions
Some reports suggested Morris might take some carries for Jahvid Best last week. Those reports proved false. You shouldn’t have picked him up in the first place but cut him if you did.
Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers
Sproles may have a sliver of value in PPR leagues but the Chargers just don’t seem to have much use for him at this point.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers
Naanee got off to a quick start but faded. He might re-surface later but if there’s a hot prospect on the wire, Naanee is safe to cut.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills
Somebody forgot to tell Evans the season started four weeks ago.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars
Scientific studies show that Sims-Walker owners are 47% more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Not really, but why not save yourself the agony. He’s just not worth it.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans
Jones is flakey. With Andre Johnson out last week, he should’ve stepped up. I don’t see how you can trust him.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans
The TE position is just too deep to hang onto Daniels, who is struggling to get separation from defenders.
Todd Heap, TE, Ravens
Heap hasn’t found the endzone. He’s expendable and nothing more than an emergency bye week filler.
Garrett Hartley, K, Saints
He went from postseason hero to regular season goat in eight months.
Lawrence Tynes, K, Giants
Tynes has a nasty case of the shanks, missing three out of six field goal attempts.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
Prior to Sunday night’s meltdown, Cutler was the third-rated QB in the NFL. Okay, so he’s not as good as what we saw in Weeks 1-3 but he’s also not as bad as what we saw in Week 4. If you’re weak at QB, go ahead and erase that nine-sack debacle from your memory, and try to get him at a discount. “Mad” Mike Martz will continue to go pass heavy and with upcoming games against the Panthers, Seahawks, Redskins and Bills, Cutler should have little difficulty regaining his confidence (and his fantasy production).
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys
If your team has started slowly and RB has been a trouble spot, target Jones for a trade. He’s likely to see a spike in carries this week and will hold onto the job as long as he can stay healthy. Jones could post RB2 numbers going forward. Team owner Jerry Jones has indicated there is a consensus throughout the organization that Felix “the Cat” needs to touch the ball more, making him a good “buy low” candidate.
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins
The ATV (All Torain Vehicle) is ready to take to the turf and make some fantasy noise. Is he durable enough to hold up? Time will tell. But he’s worth the risk if you can afford to trade away depth at another position to get him. Mike Shanahan absolutely loves this kid and who are we to doubt a coach that has discovered so many unheralded RBs throughout his career? Clinton Portis (groin) is hurt and has fallen out of favor. Bank on Torain being useful in all four of Washington’s approaching games (GB, IND, CHI and DET).
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Pulling off a blockbuster trade is an art form but it can be done. One target to look for is Ray Rice. Rice’s numbers have suffered due to a difficult schedule that included games against the Jets, Bengals and Steelers. He’s also been hobbled with a bruised knee but that injury shouldn’t be a long-term concern. Rice will benefit from a schedule that eases up over the middle weeks of the season. Plus games against the Saints and Browns in the fantasy playoffs are juicy. Getting him at a reduced price would be a coup because he still has the upside to finish among the Top 10 fantasy RBs.
Mark Clayton, WR, Rams
Clayton’s name doesn’t carry the cachet of a top receiver but he’s definitely playing like one. If the Clayton owner in your league is willing to bargain, act quickly. The ex-Ravens wideout has an excellent rapport with Sam Bradford and is getting a crazy number of targets, including five redzone looks. Clayton will continue to perform like a WR2 week in and week out.
Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, WRs, Steelers
Ward’s numbers have suffered without Ben Roethlisberger but brighter days are ahead. After this week’s bye, Big Ben will once again be under center and Ward will be back to his old self — catching 6-8 passes per week. Target him in PPR leagues this week while his value is still low. Wallace is equally enticing in standard performance leagues. He has posted a couple decent stat lines but is still undervalued.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
Palmer’s value was artificially pumped up on Sunday after he posted 371 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns. Those numbers don’t tell the full story. His 78-yard TD pass to Terrell Owens was largely the result of a defender falling down. Don’t buy into him as a legit and reliable starting fantasy QB. Somewhere along the line he lost his accuracy and zip. Shop him this week before he crashes back to reality.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears
I’ve voiced my distaste for Forte many times but it’s worth repeating. Forte is an ordinary RB behind a terrible offensive line. The only way he’ll make a contribution to your team this year is by catching passes. That won’t cut it. Pawn him off on someone who thinks he’ll be an acceptable RB2.
Braylon Edwards, WR and Dustin Keller, TE, Jets
Dustin Keller has been fantasy football’s #2 TE so far this season. Braylon Edwards has been a surprise WR. But the return of Santonio Holmes means QB Mark Sanchez will have one more mouth to feed. Keller’s value won’t completely disappear but I expect he’ll be more of a Top 10 TE going forward rather than a Top 3. Look for Edwards to suffer more significantly.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos
Many fantasy teams draft Orton as their backup and now he’s greatly out-performing the starter. If you’re in that situation, consider moving the QB who you intended to be the starter and putting your faith in Orton. Orton has a couple tough matchups coming up but after that it’s smooth sailing. Beginning in Week 7, Denver’s schedule features the Raiders, 49ers, Bye, Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, Chiefs, Cardinals, Raiders and Texans.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Don’t dump the younger Manning just yet. He has a favorable schedule coming up starting with a game against Houston this week followed by Detroit, Dallas and Seattle. Look for a bounce back.