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Peeking Ahead
David Sabino
November 10, 2008
As the season passes the midway point, some players are poised for a surge while others are ripe to be swapped
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November 10, 2008

Peeking Ahead

As the season passes the midway point, some players are poised for a surge while others are ripe to be swapped

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It's an intriguing moment in the fantasy season: The remaining schedule is short enough that you're able to reevaluate players based on their remaining opponents. This is the time to trade players facing a tough final stretch and acquire those for whom the sledding is about to get easier. One quarterback worth going after is Carolina's Jake Delhomme. He's been a middle-of-the-pack passer this year, but he is primed for a strong finish: the Panthers have a generally soft schedule, and three of their eight remaining opponents (Detroit, Denver and Minnesota) rank among the league's eight easiest teams to throw against. You should be able to swipe Delhomme from an unsuspecting owner's bench for not much at all, and you'll get a quarterback who's poised to give you several quality starts and propel you into the playoffs.

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After being held to just 49 yards on 19 carries by the Ravens on Sunday, he's a perfect buy-low candidate. Cleveland's offense is picking up—the team has more than doubled its scoring average, going from 11.5 through the first four games to 24 through the last four—and in November the Browns will face three foes (Denver, Houston, Indianapolis) who rank in the bottom 10 in rushing yards and rushing TDs allowed.

Here it's not so much the schedule as the situation. The rookie from Texas gained 106 yards on 18 carries last week against a Bucs defense that hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher this year. That, coupled with the injuries to Kolby Smith and Larry Johnson's off-the-field problems, set Charles up for a strong second half in Herm Edwards's conservative attack.

He already ranks in the top half of NFL kickers, with 66 points in 2008, and his production will only heat up as the weather turns cold: Minnesota plays six of its eight remaining games in domes and the other two in Florida.

Sure, he's a Pro Bowl--caliber player, but since New York's season opener he has had fewer than six catches and gained less than 82 yards in every game—all while alienating teammates with his antics. Over the next seven weeks Burress faces five of the league's stingiest defenses, so even if he somehow gets back in the team's good graces, he has a tough road ahead. It's worth seeing what you can get for him.

In Weeks 14 to 16, when fantasy leagues hold playoffs, he will face the tough Steelers, Giants and Ravens defenses, making Owens a prime candidate for a postseason slump. Use him as trade bait to pry a top player from a rival owner. Remember to include in your sales pitch: Hey, T.O. even caught a TD with Brooks Bollinger as his quarterback on Sunday.

For the first time in his 136-game career he was healthy but did not get a carry last week against the Rams. James is Arizona's leading rusher this season, but it's clear that rookie Tim Hightower has taken over in the backfield.

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