NFL Fantasy Mailbox - Week 5

Fantasy line-up and trade decisions can lead to stressful weeks when there are difficult choices to make prior to Sunday's fantasy contests. We've answered a few of your emails to help ease some of your fantasy dilemmas prior to week 5.

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Q : Jamal Lewis was my highest rated RB coming into the season. So far he hasn't produced. Will he turn it around and be worth starting regularly this season?

Layne N. - Rapid City, SD

Yes! Week 4 (although only the 3rd game for the Ravens) was an indication of things to come for Baltimore. Lewis was not 100% for the first two weeks of the season, which kept his play-count down and led the Ravens to a few atypical offensive schemes. It was evident against the Jets, however, that pounding with Jamal Lewis is their most effective offensive approach. Lewis recently went on record to say that he is refocused and will be more of a factor in weeks to come.

Q : Daunte Culpepper has a bye week on Sunday and I need to pick up someone from the waiver wire. I was thinking about grabbing Alex Smith for the Niners as I saw today he was named the starter. I am in a keeper league and felt he could serve both as a bye week replacement as well as a future keeper. Do you agree?

Jeff G. - Noblesville, IN

Smith is starting, but my guess is that you may have better options on the wire. Although it doesn't help your keeper dilemma, Josh McNown may be available and be a better play this week. Both QBs are going against tough defenses in the Colts and Panthers, but I like McNown's weapons and experience over Smith's (especially with Smith facing his first NFL start this Sunday).

Q : My main running backs are Rudi Johnson and Brian Westbrook. I grabbed Thomas Jones and Stephen Davis as backups in later rounds, but they have turned out as well as Johnson and Westbrook. Should I consider a trade or just keep them all for depth?...our league only plays two RBs each week.

Samuel C. - Tuscon, AZ

Thanks for the question Samuel. I would seek a trade for either Jones and/or Davis. Jones and Davis are at their absolute highest values in their careers (Davis has 6 TDs in four games!). I'm sure you will have no problem dealing for a wide receiver or quarterback depending upon your needs. Potentially try to grab Plaxico Burress for Davis while taking advantage of the owner's willingness to trade Burress while on a bye week. Good luck!

Q : Is Barlow worth keeping around at all? Is he a better hold or should I pick up DeShaun Foster, Tatum Bell, Cedric Benson, or Ricky Williams?

Zach V.

Actually, yes.  Barlow is worth keeping as a starting NFL running back, but may be better served as trade bait before dropping him (if you can't find a roster spot). With natural RB attrition and with the onset of bye weeks, there must be some teams in your league that need a starter at running back that would be willing to give you something in return.

I do, however, like Bell, Foster, and Benson all better than Barlow for the long term. It's only a matter of time before Foster takes over for Davis (in fact, Foster continues to get nearly the same yardage as Davis on just over half the touches...but doesn't have the 6 TDs of Davis). Bell is getting consistently more playing time and will produce even if not getting 100% of the carries, but could unseat the older Anderson over time. Benson is the most talented of the three, but Jones has to falter first (which makes Benson the most risky pickup unless in a keeper league).

Q : My team is made up of almost all Eagles. I have McNabb, Westbrook, Owens, and Akers. I barely survived week 1, but am 4-0 and rolling. Do you have some bye week advice? Thank you!

Monte D. - Philadelphia, PA

Wow! You're doing well, but be careful. Any team that used your strategy last season nearly ran the table, but watched in distress in week 14 (start of FFL playoffs) as Philly started to bench its stars. Yes, it is possible to have a team that is too good! Watch for your league's trade deadline and keep close tabs on the Eagles...although you may be happy for your favorite NFL team, your fantasy team may suffer a quick out in the playoffs.

Q : Is there anything worse than watching your team "rack" up 61 points and losing because Neil Rackers kicks 6 field goals in one game and breaks a long-held NFL record? What is the message?  What should I learn from this?

Todd P. - Indianapolis, IN

I'm sorry Todd, but I had to laugh when I first got your email. Anyone that has played fantasy football has at one point suffered the same fate. Hang in there. Maybe next time your team will be the one who pulls it out in a Sunday night game!

Rising Stock - Antonio Gates, Plaxico Burress, Jamal Lewis, Mike Williams, Josh McNown, Brian Griese, LaMont Jordan, Michael Pittman, Eddie Kennison, Shaun McDonald, L.J. Smith, Neil Rackers, Marcus Pollard

Falling Stock - Daunte Culpepper, Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Mike Nugent, Michael Bennett, Bobby Engram, Drew Bennett, Michael Clayton, Lee Evans, Travis Henry, Cedric Benson, Curtis Martin, J.J. Arrington

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