The Home Stretch
THE REGULARSEASON is almost over for most fantasy leagues, so stop talking smack about howyou drafted Randy Moss a round after Reggie Brown. With trade deadlineslooming, it's time to steel your roster for the playoff drive, and that meansdealing for players whose teams have soft opponents in Weeks 12 through 16.
The mostappealing schedule belongs to the Browns. In those critical weeks Clevelandfaces teams with three of the six worst scoring defenses in the league: theTexans, Jets and Bengals. The Browns' other two games are against the Bills,who are 29th in yards allowed, and the Cardinals, whose middle-of-the-pack Dcould almost qualify as a "stiff test." Even a second-tier skill playerlike Joe Jurevicius (below) will have a chance to produce.
Look at the listof Cleveland's opponents, and you'll find even more attractive offensiveplayers to pick up for the stretch run—in part because the Browns, through nineweeks, have given up a league-worst 412 yards per game. The Cardinals shape upparticularly well: In addition to taking on Cleveland in Week 13, they meet the49ers, Seahawks, Saints and Falcons, and each of them has a defense ranked inthe bottom half of the league. Then there are the Bengals, who face the Brownsin Week 16—for many, title-game week. Leading up to that game, Cincinnati hostsSt. Louis and then visits San Francisco, both bottom-third defenses.
Need more rostersto scour? Start with the Buccaneers. After Washington in Week 12, Tampa Baywon't face any defenses in Weeks 13 through 16 stiffer than the 15th-rankedTexans. The Packers should also put up big numbers against the Lions, Raiders,Rams and Bears—only the Cowboys in Week 13 have a top defense. And here's atricky but tempting proposition: The Dolphins are slogging toward a potential0--16 record, but in Weeks 13 and 14 they face the Jets (30th-ranked defense inthe league) and the Bills.
Teams to avoid?How about the Eagles and the Chargers. Philadelphia sees three top 10 defensesin Weeks 12, 14 and 15; San Diego, meanwhile, faces the Ravens (third), Chiefs(13th) and Titans (second) in Weeks 12, 13 and 14. Those aren't the kind of D'syou want to see with your season on the line.
His 109 yards andTD against the Chiefs—he's Denver's first 100-yard rusher sinceSeptember—solidify him as the replacement for the slumping, injured (andpotentially suspended) Travis Henry.
The door opensfor the former starter for as long as Adrian Peterson stays out with his kneeinjury.
The lastCardinals tight end to make two touchdown catches in a game was St. Louis'sDoug Marsh in 1983.
Two runs for twoyards won't make you pick him up—until you realize that he's a Priest Holmesinjury away from starting.
The rookie fromRutgers got mixed reviews subbing for Steven Jackson. Now, with Jackson healthyagain, Antonio Pittman appears to be the better change-of-pace back for St.Louis.
Rhodes's rosterspot could be in jeopardy with former third-stringer Justin Fargas's ascent toa starting job.
Brian Billick hasto do something to help his offense, and the obvious change is to replaceMcNair with Kyle Boller.
After RyanGrant's three strong games, it's time to jettison Green Bay's second-roundpick.
DICK WHIPPLE/AP (YOUNG)
Young, an undrafted rookie from Texas, cemented his starting job against K.C.
DIAMOND IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES (JUREVICIUS)