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updated: 9/23/2011 12:00 AM

Fantasy football: Here's how to stay afloat

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  • Fantasy football owners of Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles don't have to give up on the season. Our fantasy football expert, John Dietz, says there's time to work a trade if you can match your depth to another owner's needs.

      Fantasy football owners of Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles don't have to give up on the season. Our fantasy football expert, John Dietz, says there's time to work a trade if you can match your depth to another owner's needs.
    Associated Press

  • Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) could have another big weekend as the Bengals faces the 49ers.

      Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) could have another big weekend as the Bengals faces the 49ers.
    Associated Press

  • With quarterback Tom Brady on a roll, New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, above, and his fellow receivers are racking up a lot of points for fantasy football owners. John Dietz expects Branch to have another good game this weekend.

      With quarterback Tom Brady on a roll, New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, above, and his fellow receivers are racking up a lot of points for fantasy football owners. John Dietz expects Branch to have another good game this weekend.
    Associated Press

 
 

Fourth grade.

Our family is at a block party and we're playing football.

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During one play, I take a knee to the gut and immediately begin hobbling toward my parents.

Gasp. Gasp. Can't breathe.

Gasp. Struggling for air.

Gasp

And I pass out.

Just before losing consciousness I remember thinking I was going to die. Of course, all that had happened was I had the wind knocked out of me for the first time, but here we are 31 years later and I still remember that experience.

And I'm guessing this is how fantasy football owners of Jamaal Charles (and to a lesser extent, Steven Jackson owners) are feeling now. With the Chiefs' running back out for the season, that gaping hole in your roster has left you gasping for air.

How are you going to replace Charles' yards? His touchdowns? The massive point totals that were surely coming your way?

Well, it won't be easy but giving up isn't an option.

The waiver wire is exceedingly thin -- Willis McGahee and Darren Sproles may be the best options, and they are only available in about 12 percent of cbssportsline.com leagues -- so your best bet is to engineer a trade.

First, find your team's strengths. Do you have a glut of solid wide receivers or two high-end QBs? Then, scour your league's rosters and see which team needs help at those positions. Hopefully they will be stacked with running back talent and willing to trade a Michael Turner or Jahvid Best for Matthew Stafford or Tony Romo. Or how about getting one of those tailbacks for Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks or Greg Jennings?

If you can't pull off a big trade like that, go knock on the door of the James Starks owner. He is quickly becoming the main man in Green Bay and could be a top-15 tailback by season's end.

But now -- BEFORE Starks becomes a fantasy star -- you might be able to trade an overachieving WR like Devery Henderson or Jordy Nelson for Starks.

If that fails, grab Indy's Delone Carter, who is backing up Joseph Addai. Carter, a rookie from Syracuse, won't help right away but could be piling up decent numbers by mid-October.

No matter what road you choose, the best advice I can give is to hang in there for now. There's always a player like Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount who pops up mid-season and helps teams make unlikely playoff runs. If you can stay afloat until then, the postseason may still be in your future.

My teams:

A nice bounce-back effort in my unit league as LeGarrette Blount (15) and Matt Ryan (21) paved the way to a 60-46 victory. In regular league, I scored the third-highest points for the second straight week only to play the team with the most points (again!) in a ridiculous 177-149 final. I'm 0-2 but total points determine the fifth and sixth playoff spots, so thank God for that.

Good bets

•Packers D/ST at Bears. Sure Green Bay has lost safety Nick Collins, but the Bears are using duct tape to hold that offensive line together. Jay Cutler gets sacked at least five times, and the Packers force 3 turnovers.

•Patriots WR Deion Branch at Buffalo. This isn't an overreaction to Branch's 8-catch, 129-yard day in Week 2. More accurately, it's just that when Tom Brady is throwing for 1,000 yards a week, ANY Patriot is a good play.

•Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams vs. Jacksonville. With 17 carries for 43 yards, Williams has been a massive disappointment but I say he puts up 130 and a TD against a team that will be lucky to be on the field for 24 minutes.

•Bengals WR A.J. Green vs. San Francisco. Wow, is this rookie good. He snared 10 balls for 124 yards against an undermanned Broncos secondary. Now he gets a unit that saw Miles Austin run for miles and miles and miles

•Texans RB Ben Tate at New Orleans. With Arian Foster hobbled, Tate (261 yards from scrimmage) is turning into a star. Get him in your lineup.

•Broncos QB Kyle Orton at Tennessee. Brandon Lloyd is expected to return, which bodes well for Orton. Watch for 2 TD passes and 250 yards.

•Titans WR Nate Washington vs. Denver. After quietly putting together two solid games (67 and 99 yards), Washington may be sitting quietly on your waiver wire. Pick him up -- he's going to make some serious noise this week.

•Jets WR Plaxico Burress at Oakland. Going with a hunch here. Burress didn't see much action in a 32-3 win over Jacksonville. I think Mark Sanchez hits his red-zone target this week.

•Ravens QB Joe Flacco at St. Louis. Horrendous last week (15 of 32), Flacco rebounds with at least 2 TD passes.

•Chargers RB Ryan Mathews vs. Kansas City. There will be plenty of points to go around against the Chiefs, who have already allowed an unsightly 89 points.

Bad bets

•Bears D/ST vs. Packers. Only the Lions (huh?) and Patriots have more points than Green Bay (72). There are better second-tier options for a D/ST this week, including Carolina (vs. Jax), San Diego (vs. KC) and Arizona (at Seattle).

•Bills WR Stevie Johnson vs. New England. I have a bad feeling about Johnson, who is nursing a groin injury and averaged just 62 yards per game last season against the Pats (with 1 TD).

•Jaguars WR Mike Thomas at Carolina. Avoid all Jaguars except Maurice Jones-Drew until further notice.

•Giants WR Mario Manningham at Philadelphia. It won't be easy for anybody to get open against the Eagles and although Manningham is a threat to explode in any given week, this just doesn't feel like the one.

•Rams RB Steven Jackson OR Carnell Williams and QB Sam Bradford vs. Baltimore. Jackson owners should hope their prized tailback sits this one out until his groin is 100 percent. The Ravens are no tonic for ailing skill-position players.

•Colts WR Reggie Wayne vs. Pittsburgh. Garbage time is the only time Wayne picks up any meaningful stats. If you can dupe an owner into taking Wayne for ANY sort of upgrade, do it now.

•Cardinals RB Tim Hightower at Dallas. A risky call, but the Cowboys totally shut down Shonn Greene (10-26) and Frank Gore (20-47) in Weeks 1 and 2.

•Falcons QB Matt Ryan at Tampa Bay. I'm going to ride this horse until Ryan proves me wrong. He just isn't the same quarterback on the road as he is at home, having thrown just 9 TD passes with 7 INTs in his last seven away from the Georgia Dome.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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