Players to target, trade early
Jamaal Charles likely to struggle with poor team and facing many solid defenses
Panthers' need to prepare Cam Newton may cut work for DeAngelo Williams
Kenny Britt appears in the midst of having a breakout year with Titans
Right now across the web, thousands of fantasy pundits are telling you not to overreact to Week 1. In some cases, they're right. Maybe Cam Newton was criminally underrated heading into his rookie year, but he's not going to play the Cardinals every week. You shouldn't be trying to deal Chris Johnson for anything less than full value. And yes, Cadillac Williams is the must-add of the week.
However, there are also cases where what appears to be an overreaction to Week 1 is actually the proper reaction. Even though we've only seen 60 minutes of football from each of the following guys, I'm already trying to trade the ones I own, and would be trying to move the others if I had them in any of my leagues.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- Let me set one thing straight first: I'm not saying you should go out and trade Charles for 70 or 80 cents on the dollar. This is a guy who was generally a consensus top-five pick just a week or 10 days ago, and he should still be treated as such. But the concerns of those of us who had him outside the top five came to the fore in the Bills' drubbing of the Chiefs on Sunday. The 2010 Chiefs were a fluke bound to regress across the board in '11. Charles' ability as a pass catcher keeps him on the field at all times, except at the goal-line, but a running back on a winning team simply gets more chances than one on a losing team. Further, the Chiefs still have two games with the Chargers and single games against the Lions, Vikings (with their full-strength defense), Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets and Packers. Charles will have his share of big games this season, but if I own him, I'm reaching out to owners of other backs who figure to rank between about six and 10 this year, specifically Rashard Mendenhall owners, who may have soured on him after he struggled against Baltimore. I'd also check in with Chris Johnson owners to see if they're jittery about the effect his holdout will have this season.
Reggie Wayne, Colts -- Wayne's value won't be any higher the rest of the season than it is right now. The Colts looked atrocious in their Week 1 loss in Houston, but Wayne was able to pile up 106 yards and a touchdown with the Colts forced to throw the ball the entire second half. With Peyton Manning out indefinitely, it's time to divest yourself of all Colts on your roster. Wayne is the only one who is still carrying anything near his value with a healthy Manning, thanks to Week 1 numbers that are better than his team's performance will likely allow most weeks. Luckily, that performance, coupled with name recognition, should keep the trade lines open. Like Charles, you shouldn't be giving him away, but target receivers around his draft position who may have struggled in Week 1. Vincent Jackson immediately comes to mind, and I'd also consider Anquan Boldin, who didn't struggle but who carried a lower price tag during draft season.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Panthers -- The Cam Newton show both during and after the game provided some Gob Bluth-style misdirection for the performance of Williams and Stewart to go under the radar. The two combined for just 56 yards on 19 carries and three catches for 20 yards, even as the Panthers moved the ball well (albeit the overall numbers are a bit inflated by the 77-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith). While the Panthers looked like a more exciting team than we thought they would be, the fact remains they aren't a terribly good team. Head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski both came from San Diego, a team dominated by its passing game the last few seasons, and it stands to reason that they'd start leaning on Newton as early as possible to get him ready for the next few seasons, when they'll actually be able to compete in the NFC South. Unlike Charles and Wayne, you're not going to be able to pull off a megadeal with either Williams or Stewart as the centerpiece. However, Williams can be a decent-sized bargaining chip in a multi-player deal, while Stewart is a nice depth back to include as part of a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 trade.
Mike Tolbert, Chargers -- Is it just me, or did Tolbert look like a different man catching the ball in the opening week than he did last season? The bruising Charger had nine catches, more than one-third of his total from last season. Production like that will keep Tolbert a fixture in one of the league's most prolific offenses. Yet I can't shake the feeling that, like Wayne, now is the time to explore dealing Tolbert. Ryan Mathews looked explosive when he had the ball in space, and I think we're finally starting to see what he can really do. Yes, Tolbert will be involved, and he'll probably be a solid flex play most of the season. It's also unrealistic to expect him to be as big a part of the passing game all season as he was against the Vikings, especially considering what Mathews was able to do each time he caught the ball (three receptions, 73 yards). You can also capitalize on Tolbert's three-touchdown game, as well as a zero-score game for Mathews, and convince an owner in your league that Tolbert is far and away the guy to own in San Diego's backfield. While I think he'll be productive the rest of the year, he's also a textbook sell-high guy after Week 1.
On the flip side, here are two players I'm upgrading for the rest of the season after their respective Week 1 games.
Kenny Britt, Titans -- Third-year receiver? Check. Competent quarterback? Check. Go-to weapon? Check. Britt has knocked off the entire checklist for a breakout season, and his Week 1 explosion will not be an anomaly. Britt had five catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars, looking like the best player on the field for the Titans. While that is not true, he certainly will benefit from the presence of the man who is the Titans' best player, Chris Johnson. When Johnson gets going, this offense will surprise some people and help the Titans push for a wild-card spot in the AFC. Resist any sell-high deals on Britt. He's breaking out before our eyes. Of course, if someone is higher on him than is reasonable and comes at you with an offer that includes an elite receiver, everything changes.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins -- It might seem nutty to be high on a player who tumbled down draft boards during the preseason and missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury, but Miami's loss to New England showed just how important Thomas can be to the Dolphins offense. Without a true inside runner, Dolphins running backs, primarily Reggie Bush, managed just 39 yards on 13 carries. On a key series that began at the Patriots' one-yard line with the Dolphins trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Lex Hilliard was stuffed for a loss of a yard on first down, and Chad Henne threw two incomplete passes to Brandon Marshall before they settled for a field goal. They never had the ball again with a chance to tie. When Thomas comes back, they'll be counting on him to be that inside runner who can pick up the tough yards in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Additionally, Bush has trouble staying healthy in perfect conditions, let alone when he's asked to do a ton of running between the tackles. Thomas will see his fair share of carries simply to keep Bush, one of Miami's top weapons in the passing game next to Marshall, on the field all season.
Feel free to hit me with your trade questions on Twitter, @MBeller.