Daily Haze, fantasy football, NFL, sports news

Dennis Green was right: They are who we thought they were (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_N1OjGhIFc).

Five solid weeks of data are available on defenses around the NFL, giving fantasy owners a good idea of favorable and unfavorable matchups for fantasy football the rest of the season. The defenses are what we now know they are.

Not too much is going to change on the defensive front between now and the fantasy playoffs. Trades are rare during the season in the NFL, so it is not like a struggling D is going to be able to go out and add anything of value. Plus, injuries figure to play more of a factor as the season progresses.

Being five weeks into the season has another advantage, too. While trades in the NFL are rare, trades in fantasy football are not. And it is trading season, people. Desperate owners are ready to make moves to get back into the playoff race. But if you are a contender, now is the time to make moves to get you through the playoffs.

For consistency’s sake, Weeks 14 – 16 are the standard playoff weeks in fantasy leagues. Consider these trade targets for those weeks:

1. The Dallas Cowboys
v. Giants, @ Bucs, v. Eagles

Not only is the playoff schedule very good, so, too is the rest of the way: @ Patriots, v. Rams, @ Eagles, v. Seahawks, v. Bills, @ Redskins, v. Dolphins, @ Cardinals. Consider Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten all strong buys.

2. Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos
v. Bears, v. Patriots, @ Bills

Tebow likely was the first player off 99 percent of waiver wires Wednesday morning, but many of his owners may have picked him up just to trade him. Get in the market. He started three games last season and the numbers speak for themselves (http://thehazean.com/2011/01/27/daily-haze-comparing-tim-tebow-to-other-recent-rookie-quarterbacks/).

3. Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins
v. Eagles, @ Bills, @ Patriots

Thomas’ owners likely are down on the rookie runner right now, and rightfully so. He has been banged up with a lingering hamstring issue. But he should get over it by the time midseason rolls around and this time spent rehabbing may save him a little for the end of the season.

4. Shonn Greene, RB, Jets
v. Chiefs, @ Eagles, v. Giants

Still kind of flying below the radar because of some lackluster yardage numbers, but the touches are there. The yards will follow and so, too, will the touchdowns. Nice playoff schedule there, and Greene typically finishes the season strongly.

5. Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals
v. Texans, @ Rams, v. Cardinals

Nothing sexy about Benson, but the schedule is nice. He is due to serve a three-game suspension at some point this season, so there is a little bit of risk involved. Those three weeks off, though, will save his body from a few hits.

6. James Starks, RB, Packers
v. Raiders, @ Chiefs, v. Bears

Trusting a Packers’ running back is like trusting a Saints’ running back. There is only one football to go around, and it goes through Aaron Rodgers‘ and Drew Brees‘ hands first. But with the weather turning to winter in Green Bay there could be more running of the football. Starks would be the beneficiary of that as the best running back in Green Bay right now.

7. Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
v. Patriots, @ Giants, v. Vikings

Never really bought into Moss as a fantasy prospect until this season. Finally, Moss has become a more reliable player. He was big hit or big, big miss earlier in his career. Rex Grossman is Rex Grossman, but he likes throwing to Moss. Fantasy owners should not care about the reality of the Redskins as an offense, just the production.

8. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
v. Texans, @ Rams, v. Cardinals

Most rookie receivers are not worthy of fantasy starts during their first season, but Green is a special talent. What he has been able to do so far this season with a fellow rookie at quarterback is nothing short of remarkable. Green is Andy Dalton‘s guy, too, so the chemistry between these two will only get better.

9. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
v. Falcons, @ Texans, v. Bucs

Some Saints’ fans will not own any Falcons, Bucs or Panthers on principle alone. Do not be one of those Saints’ fans, if you care about winning your fantasy football league. Smith is 32-years-old, but as we all saw last Sunday he still can get it done.

10. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
v. Bills, v. Ravens, @ Lions

It has been a bad start to the 2011 season for Gates, and the owner who drafted him in your league is likely ready to cut-and-run (Guilty! I already traded him in one league). He can be acquired cheaply right now and is worth a stash on the bench. Could be a difference-maker come playoff time if he can get his feet underneath him again.

Fantasy Notes

Good news for Saints’ fans, bad news for fantasy owners: LaGarrette Blount could miss this Sunday’s game with the Saints after suffering a knee injury in Week 5 … Tim Tebow was named the starting quarterback in Denver following the Week 6 bye. If for some reason he was not claimed in your fantasy leagues, go get him immediately … Greg Little earned a starting job in Cleveland at wide receiver and is worth a look in PPR leagues … Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert all hope to play after the Chargers’ well-timed Week 6 bye … Joseph Addai could miss a few games in Indianapolis, paving the way for Delone Carter and Donald Brown … The Falcons appear to be without Julio Jones this weekend after injuring his hamstring on Sunday night against Green Bay. Could be out through the team’s bye week … Rashard Mendenhall is not on the Steelers’ Wednesday injury report, so he should return this weekend.

Here are today’s great reads:

  • The Eagles have had their share of struggles this year. Michael Vick, too. But Vick is on pace for 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards this season. Fantasy owners should not care about the reality of the Eagles, as long as the players keep filling up the stat sheet. Just win baby. [ProFootballTalk]
  • More on Tony Romo’s favorable schedule down the stretch. Lots of great matchups for the passing game here, and that really helps Felix Jones too. Dude can catch some passes, too. Just acquired Dez Bryant in a keeper league, hoping to reap some of these rewards for myself. [Fantasy Douche]
  • Ryan Torain should take over this week as the starting running back in Washington with Tim Hightower’s shoulder a little banged up. What that likely means is that Roy Helu will lead the team in rushing this week. #mikeshanahanhatesfantasyfootball [Roto Arcade]
  • Big loss for the Texan’s defense this week: Mario Williams was lost for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. Sounds painful. The Texans’ D has improved and actually was more than service-able as a fantasy defense early in the season. Not so sure, now. [ESPN.com]

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