May 14, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By David Sabino
Five Faces in New Places
Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton: David Zalubowski/AP

Keeping with the theme that it's never too late to start thinking about fantasy football, here are five fantasy football faces who bring increased value with them to their new address:

Nate Washington, Titans: He forced his way into fantasy lineups last season as the third receiver in Pittsburgh by catching touchdowns in three straight early-season games. He's a deep threat and as a starter should click for at least twice that many scores with Kerry Collins, who still throws a great deep ball.

Bobby Engram, Chiefs: The longtime Seahawk and Chief suffered through an injury-plagued 2008 but starts fresh in Todd Haley's explosive aerial attack with Matt Cassel at quarterback. He's shown he can be the poor man's Wes Welker (or at least Steve Breaston) by catching 94 balls in 2007.

Derrick Ward, Buccaneers: The only true backup to gain 1,000 yards last season, Ward should reach that number again, although behind a much less accomplished offensive line. The Bucs want to run so even if Earnest Graham steals 40 percent of the carries, there are enough to go around.

Kyle Orton, Broncos: The forgotten man in the Jay Cutler trade, Orton inherits a much more explosive supporting cast in the passing game (Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler) than he ever had in Chicago. Plus he'll benefit from training at altitude the in the comfy confines of the AFC West, which will add a few yards onto his suspect arm strength.

Justin Griffith, Seahawks: He doesn't have any value himself, but his arrival in the Pacific Northwest makes Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett much more attractive. Over the last five years (three in Atlanta and two in Oakland) Griffith has been offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp's lead blocker and each time his teams ranked in the top 10 in rushing.

When is it time to wait until next year?

When I left the SI AL-only auction in early April with a pitching staff that included James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Gavin Floyd, Jensen Lewis, Joakim Soria and B.J. Ryan, it seemed like pitching was going to be a team strength. However after six weeks of games (including a foray into an ether-world where I actually believed that Jose Contreras could be a quality starter), my pitching staff stands with my league's worst ERA and WHIP. That leads us to today's big question. When is it time to wait until next year in a keeper league?These are the factors that you should think about when assessing your team's performance and whether of not to try to hang around.

1. Why is your team in its current predicament?

Is it flawed, slumping or just not that good. If you had a squad that included B.J. Upton, Jimmy Rollins and Russell Martin, you'd think that you're pretty good, but so far this year, you're probably floundering in the nether-regions of your standings. However, baseball is the ultimate game of averages and for as many horrible games those players have, they've shown that they can bounce back. So before trading a Rollins, remember that he's going to turn it on at some point and you'll hate yourself when he does and he's no longer on your team. If you took a lot of chances that haven't panned out, perhaps it's time to look to the future.

2. Is help on the way?

Lots of last place teams just got a boost from the return of Alex Rodriguez. Adding a player of that caliber will instantly shoot you up the standings. So will the returns of Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, the aforementioned Soria and many other disabled players. However, if you have no difference-makers ready to contribute, it may be time to pack it in.

3. Do you have a chance?

What's your best-case scenario if every break turned out in your favor from this point on? Do you think you have a chance to win your league? Are there teams that have already opened up a huge lead over the rest of the teams. How many teams would you have to leapfrog to get into the middle of things. In roto leagues, how many categories can you realistically make up ground in?

4. Is it worth it?

The key to playing for next year is to acquire players who you want for next season at bargain values. Do they exist? There may not be any players worth dealing a Carlos Lee, Brian Fuentes or Carl Crawford for. You should go through every team's roster to determine who you value the most. If you find someone you really want, don't wait, make the deal, because chances are, you're not the only one in your league thinking about next year.

5. I've made my trades, so now what?

When you finally decide to play for next year, then do it. Don't worry about where you finish this season, put all of your energy into next year. Does your league have farm players? Trade for as many as you can. Can you save waiver wire pickups? Then make sure all of your pickups are useful next year too. There's no shame in finishing out of contention. The shame comes when you perennially finish out of contention.

If you're looking to '10 in a keeper league... to the waiver wire to pick up Chris Coghlan of the Marlins. The versatile speedster's future began when Freddi Gonzalez committed to him as an everyday player by demoting Cameron Maybin. Coghlan will likely qualify (in 20-game eligibility leagues) at second, third, and the outfield next season giving him extra appeal.

The Switch Has Been Turned Off

Dodgers first baseman James Loney and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto went deep for the first time last night thus removing them from the following list of hitters who are usually known for power, yet stand this morning with a big goose-egg in that stat column. Loney's teammate, catcher Russell Martin, wasn't as fortunate:

Player 2009 At-Bats 2008 HR total Last Home Run
David Ortiz, Red Sox 123 24* Oct. 16, 2008
Bobby Abreu, Angels 113 20 Sept. 24, 2008
Russell Martin, Dodgers 107 14* Oct. 1, 2008
B.J. Upton, Rays 106 16* Oct. 26, 2008
Eric Hinske, Pirates 52 21 Oct. 26, 2008
Garret Anderson, Braves 51 15 Sept. 20, 2008
* - includes postseason home runs
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