November 10, 2009

With Clinton Portis is a daze in D.C., fantasy owners should prepare to swoop in and steal Ladell Betts in leagues in which the 30-year-old back is still available on the open market.

Fantasy owners can expect Washington to proceed with caution after Portis got his bell rung in last week's loss to Atlanta. Portis lost consciousness at one point, and with Washington's season already lost it seems likely he'll miss at least one contest, if not more.

This should leave the door open for Betts, who gained 70 yards on 15 carries in relief on Sunday. Up to that point in the season Betts hadn't been given more than four carries in any one contest. But fantasy owners are well aware of what Betts has accomplished in past seasons when filling in for Portis (five consecutive 100-yard games near the end of the 2006 season).

Next up the Redskins will face a Denver defense fresh off allowing Rashard Mendenhall a healthy 7.0 yards per carry on Monday night.

Here are a few other waiver wire candidates to consider...

RB Kolby Smith, Kansas City

In most leagues, Smith is available while Jamaal Charles is not. Now that Larry Johnson has been cut loose, both backs will be given a shot to step forward. Charles has been the better back so far this season, but in a limited role. Smith has proven capable of being Kansas City's featured back in the past, filling in for Johnson in the final months of the 2007 season. Smith, like Charles, is a capable receiver, and someone who could be a good complement fantasy back should he pull ahead in the Chiefs running back race.

WR Maurice Stovall, Tampa Bay

The arrival of rookie quarterback Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay has created opportunities for a few of the team's targets in the passing game. In the absence of Antonio Bryant on Sunday, Stovall stepped forward to catch three passes for 46 yards. Though held without a touchdown, Stovall did get seven looks from Freeman -- more than any other Tampa Bay receiver, including Kellen Winslow. Fantasy owners cannot expect Stovall to be a savior, or even a steady performer. But he has had respectable totals this season before (three catches for 80 yards in Week 2) and his apparent rapport with Freeman makes him worth consideration.

WR James Jones, Green Bay

Jones caught four of the six passes thrown in his direction, including a beautifully-placed 74-yard scoring strike on Green Bay's second play from scrimmage. With both Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley out with injuries, Jones has stepped forward and assumed a larger role in the passing game. It's been an important four-week stretch for the third-year receiver (205 yards, three scores) and will lead to more opportunities, even after Finley and Nelson return to the lineup.

Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:

RB Ray Rice, Baltimore

Yeah, yeah ... a tough buy. Still, Rice is worth putting together a package deal for. In fact, he just might be this year's DeAngleo Williams -- the difference-maker fantasy owners need down the stretch. Next up for Baltimore is a date with Cleveland, and in the all-important Weeks 13-15 Rice will feast on the NFC North. Fantasy owners can expect Rice to make the holiday season a joyous one.

RB Pierre Thomas, New Orleans

Rice too pricey for you? Give Thomas a thought. He has carried the ball 27 times over the past two weeks combined and caught five balls on Sunday against Carolina. As the weather turns, and the Saints hit the road, the offense will need to find more balance and keep the ball a little closer to earth. Since Thomas has proven to be the only capable ballcarrier in Saints camp it should mean increased touches in the final months of the year.

WR Earl Bennett, Chicago

The highlight for Chicago in its loss to Arizona may have been Bennett's performance (seven catches, 93 yards). Quarterback Jay Cutler threw to Bennett 11 times (not as often as Devin Hester but more than anyone else) and appears to favor Bennett in certain situations. Bennett has yet to score his first NFL touchdown but it will come, especially if he continues to get this many looks in the offense.

QB Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia

McNabb's poor performance against Dallas (two interceptions, several errant passes) was just a taste of what's in store for Eagles fans (and McNabb's fantasy owners) in the coming month. The Eagles will be on the road in four of the next five weeks, taking them to unfriendly places such as San Diego, Atlanta and New York. Might be best for fantasy owners to drop Donovan now before he sinks your team.

WR Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville

Sims-Walker has had a nice season, with three 100-yard games. But the road ahead is brutal for the Jaguar passing game, and now would be a good time to find Sims-Walker a new home. Over the next seven weeks the Jaguars will face four teams presently ranked among the top 10 in pass defense, including the next two weeks (Jets and Bills). Coming off a season-best 147 yards, Sims-Walker may have peaked.

WR Chris Chambers, Kansas City

Chambers exploded in the final minutes of Kansas City's loss to Jacksonville for two touchdowns, giving him three catches for the day and 70 yards. Too little too late. Chambers has been a disappointment for the past few seasons and this slight bump in production serves as an excuse to unload him. In seven games with San Diego this season Chambers caught just nine balls. Now a Chief, even if he assumes the team's primary role it will mean little, as Kansas City has failed to generate much offense all season. Someone in your fantasy league will see value in Chambers' recent change of scenery -- make that person your target for a trade.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for

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