A major difficulty fantasy owners face each year is figuring
out which players will be the sole stud at their position
on their respective teams. Not every NFL team has this
situation settled, and injuries can make the decision even
tougher. The fantasy owners able to figure out the more
difficult to determine position battles will know, when
drafting and then during the season, which players to get
and which to avoid.
We don't have to hesitate to think about who the top player
is for many parts of a lot of offenses. Terrell Owens is
the top WR for the 49ers, Peyton Manning is the only quarterback
in Indianapolis and Priest Holmes is keeping the ball in
Kansas City. Those guys are drafted early and often in
fantasy leagues. The difference between winning and losing
in fantasy football, however, often comes down to choosing
the players who will emerge from a group vying for the
spotlight, or taking a chance on an emerging star.
The following are situations you should avoid if at all
possible. You cannot count on these players from week to
week. That does not mean that all of the players are complete
dogs statistically, and it doesn't mean that you are not
starting these players. Indeed, you are probably forced
to play one or more of the players from the following groups.
Simply, these are players in situations to avoid if
you can. That means that it may be wise for you to
trade players from these groups for other players on the
Titans running game: Eddie George and Robert Holcombe - In
last week's dismantling of the Panthers, George got 18
carries to Holcombe's 16, but Holcombe gained more yards.
This could be a shift toward Holcombe or simply another
slow day for Eddie, but either way, you should look elsewhere
for fantasy production. The Titans are a passing team now.
Jets running game: Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan - Like
George, Martin is slowing down. He still gets the majority
of the carries, and can have decent games, but there is
no reason to expect him to break out for a 100-yard, multiple-touchdown
game anymore. Jordan might just get more carries as the
year wears on, and he steals the touchdowns. Neither will
help you from week to week.
49ers running game: Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow - Yeah,
that was a big game against the Bucs, but San Francisco
has still failed to feature a primary runner this year.
If either of these guys gets the ball full-time, he can
be a stud, but this mix-and-match carry schedule won't
bring you any consistency.
Bears receiving game: Marty Booker, Dez White and David
Terrell - The quarterback situation here is also undecided,
which really affects these receivers. White has stepped
forward in recent weeks, but not enough to count on. Booker
is a bust so far this year, and Terrell has yet to make
a move. You can't count on any of them.
Eagles receiving game: James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and
Freddie Mitchell - This team reads nearly the same as Chicago,
except the Eagles have a stud at quarterback when he is
healthy. Thrash is the bust, Pinkston the player who has
shown something recently, and Mitchell yet to make a move.
None of these players will help you win from week to week.
Redskins running game: Trung Canidate, Ladell Betts,
Rock Cartwright and Chad Morton - Injuries have set
back the timetable for sorting through this mess in the
backfield, but suffice it to say that it isn't worth
your time to sift through the remains of the day.
Browns receiving game: Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Andre' Davis
and Dennis Northcutt - The two quarterbacks have their
favorite targets, but that inconsistency aside, this unit
has what is essentially four very good second receivers.
None is a flat-out stud, and so none of them are a great
commodity in fantasy football. One of them is always having
the hot hand, but the problem is that you start the guy
a week or two too late and keep him in the lineup longer
than is ok. Stay away from these guys.
Patriots running game: Kevin Faulk, Mike Cloud and Antowain
Smith - Cloud caught lightning in a bottle two weeks ago,
but the team has failed to give him enough carries since
to remain electric. Faulk and Smith have been fighting
for carries all year. Unless the team sticks with one back,
don't start these players.
Here are some similar team circumstances that should soon
produce a #1 player:
Eagles running game - Westbrook gets more touches
and fantasy points each game
Steelers running game - Bettis will get the starting
gig for the first time this season
Lions receiving game - Rookie Charles Rogers will
return as the top player
Colts running game - Edgerrin James will solidify
Packers receiving game - Donald Driver is getting
more involved after the injury layoff
Texans running game - Domanick Davis will dominate
if he can get goal-line carries too
Vikings running game - Michael Bennett will push
the others aside once he is completely back
Here are some emerging top players to trade for now:
Steve Smith - He is currently the top receiver
for Carolina, not Muhammad
Marc Bulger - It's his team now
Travis Taylor - Boller is locking in on him
Terry Glenn - Glenn is growing statistically under
the tutelage of Parcells
Keenan McCardell - Keenan is starring out from
under Jimmy Smith's shadow
Joe Levit, based in Boston, writes for www.cnnsi.com and www.thehuddle.com. He is a member of the
Pro Football Writers of America and a devoted Detroit
Lions fan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.