Moss deal offers lure of mystery

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So, the real question should be: As a fantasy owner, which side are you on?

Personally, I don't see any reason why Moss cannot average 6 catches, 91 yards and .66 TDs over Minnesota's next 12 games. Even at 33, Moss still possesses the rare physical gifts of a Hall of Fame receiver in his relative prime, especially when pressed into jump-ball duty in the red zone. And as a bonus, the Sidney Rice-less Vikings absolutely need Moss to take the pressure off Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe -- a revelation that will surely boost Moss' fragile psyche in the short term, while making him feel wanted perhaps beyond this season.

Of course, it probably helps that Moss has seamlessly moved from one superstar QB (Tom Brady) to another (Brett Favre) in just 24 hours; and even though Moss and Favre have never played one NFL down on the same club, it's reasonable to think they'll develop great on-field chemistry, sooner than later. (Moss and Favre used to share the same agent, Bus Cook.) Speaking of Favre, if you've been stashing him on your bench, with the hope he'd awake from his season-long slumber before Rice's return (Week 8?), this is your lucky day, my friend. With Peterson, Harvin, Shiancoe and now Moss in the mix, Favre simply cannot fail as a fantasy starter, beginning Week 6 against Dallas. He's even a decent play against the Jets on Monday night, with or without Darrelle Revis suiting up for Gang Green, and with or without Moss having extensive knowledge of the Minnesota playbook.

To clarify, being super-positive about Moss' change of scenery doesn't mean he's untouchable in the trade market. True story: While writing this topper for today's Clicks, a fellow owner from a CBS league offered me Brandon Lloyd (25 catches, 454 yards, 1 TD in 2010) for Moss, straight up. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to take the Lloyd offer and run, but chose to stand pat on the belief that Owner B would make one last pitch to obtain Moss; and sure enough, a second offer of Lloyd and Marques Colston for Moss was simply too strong to ignore.

In a nutshell, that's the allure of Randy Moss. The idea of his great unknown, even after a zero-catch outing in prime time, still has plenty of value.

There are two versions of a classic "sell high" trade in fantasyland. The first one involves bankable superstars who would fetch a fair price at any time, regardless of their stats for the previous week. The second grouping focuses on modest names who've suddenly come into a great deal of fantasy fame, whether on their own merit or if they're the direct beneficiaries of a teammate's untimely injury or benching. This mini-section deals with the latter, as we brainstorm some creative ways to aim high with the following studs:

Dustin Keller **1-for-1: Keller for Dwayne Bowe Verdict: Right now, this one seems like a blowout for Keller (19 catches, 254 yards, 5 TDs), but I refuse to believe that Todd Haley and Charlie Weis cannot maximize Bowe's tremendous physical gifts. Plus, I'm still having flashbacks to Keller's five games of 0-1 catches last year.

Mike Tolbert**1-for-2: Tolbert for Thomas Jones/Mark ClaytonVerdict: This trade wouldn't have made any sense last week, but now that Tolbert (100 yards, 1 TD in Week 4) has demonstrated his worth with a healthy Ryan Mathews roaming the sidelines (and collecting garbage-time touches), it's time for fantasy owners to project his value with an offense that might tally 25 points per game from this point forward.

Kyle Orton**1-for-3: Orton for Matthew Stafford/Justin Forsett/Zach Miller Verdict: With Orton aceing last week's Tennessee road test (341 passing yards, 2 TDs), there'll be no more doubting his standing as a starting fantasy QB. Orton (1,419 yards passing in four games) appears to be a more viable option than Tony Romo, Jay Cutler or Brett Favre. (more on Favre later)

Darren McFadden **2-for-3: McFadden/Kellen Winslow for BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Jonathan Stewart/Vernon DavisVerdict: Assuming McFadden's hamstring tweak from Sunday is a minor malady, fantasy owners should feel empowered to demand a lot for the only stud rusher to crack the total-yardage century mark in all four games. He's finally reaping the rewards of being the fastest, most athletic runner on the field -- every week.

LaDainian Tomlinson**2-for-1: Tomlinson/Greg Jennings for Maurice Jones-DrewVerdict: The frustrated MJD owner would probably characterize this offer as an absolute heist. But Jones-Drew has registered 100-plus total yards in two games and multiple touchdowns once (Week 4 vs. Indy) -- encouraging numbers that portend future greatness (for him, at least).

1. Never let a 1-3 or 0-4 owner control the tone of trade negotiations, especially when dealing with superstars. Before he/she submits an offer, let them know which one of their star players "absolutely, positively" must be included the proposal. Bottom line: A team not destined for the playoffs should never have the hammer when haggling.

2. It's never too early to start planning for the playoffs. No one likes to lose at any point during the season, but if you're sitting at 4-0, it might behoove you to sacrifice Week 5 or 6 for the sake of landing stud running backs or wide receivers, via trade. Simply put, 1-3 owners cannot assume the risk of getting killed from bye weeks; in turn, they might consider forsaking a quality player on a bye for the chance to post servicable lineups until Week 10.

3. Before trading Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson -- hypothetically speaking, of course -- make sure there are no other stars in the blockbuster. The value of AP or CJ alone is enough to tilt a seismic deal in Owner B's favor, so don't fall for some sob story about Owner B needing a top-12 qurterback or top-15 receiver to balance out the deal. Bottom line: Any Peterson or Johnson-centric trades must be, for all intents and purposes, a 3-for-1 blockbuster, with two throw-ins to consummate it, when applicable.

1. Peyton Manning vs. Kansas City 2. Drew Brees @ Arizona 3. Matt Schaub vs. N.Y. Giants 4. Shaun Hill vs. St. Louis 5. Tony Romo vs. Tennessee 6. Kyle Orton @ Baltimore

Here are the 20 best available free agents for 12-team, standard-scoring leagues: 1. RB Mike Bell, Eagles (the next in line after LeSean McCoy)2. QB Kevin Kolb, Eagles (for obvious reasons)3. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (traded on Tuesday) 4. RB Ryan Torain, Redskins 5. TE Brandon Pettigrew, Lions 6. QB Sam Bradford, Rams 7. WR Lance Moore, Saints (three TDs in the last two weeks)8. WR Jabar Gaffney, Broncos 9. WR Davone Bess, Dolphins 10. D/ST New England Patriots11. RB Derrick Ward, Texans (Arian Foster's new backup, apparently) 12. TE Tony Moeaki, Chiefs 13. QB Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders 14. D/ST Seattle Seahawks 15. QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers 16. PK Graham Gano, Redskins 17. D/ST Kansas City Chiefs 18. WR Danny Amendola, Rams 19. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills 20. WR Stephen Williams, Cardinals (ended up one badly overthrown, shoulda-woulda-coulda-TD away from fantasy glory in Week 4 -- courtesy of Derek Anderson)

This is a reminder to everyone that I'll be hosting a two-hour chat on Facebook at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday -- just like last week, and just like I'll do every week until mid-December. Just to clarify, I can still be bothered with lineup-related 4 a.m. Tweets during the week. But for the Facebook chat, you're guaranteed to get an answer within five minutes of the question going public -- or your pizza's free!

1. Frank Gore vs. Philadelphia 2. Arian Foster vs. N.Y. Giants 3. Chris Johnson @ Dallas 4. Cedric Benson vs. Tampa Bay 5. Jamaal Charles @ Indianapolis 6. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Buffalo 7. Ray Rice vs. Denver (tentative pick, contingent on Ray-Ray practicing Wednesday/Thursday/Friday)

A receiver is only as good as his quarterback and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch; and these "Targets" should factor heavily with owners when choosing to snag (or drop) a talent in PPR leagues. It goes without saying, owners must bookmark this link and refer to it every week. Here are the wideouts averaging at least 7 targets per game:

1. Roddy White, Falcons -- 50 targets 2. Terrell Owens, Bengals -- 48 3. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins -- 46 4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 45 5. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 45 6. Mark Clayton, Rams -- 41 7. Brandon Lloyd, Broncos -- 40 8. Anquan Boldin, Ravens -- 39 9. Austin Collie, Colts -- 39 10. Calvin Johnson, Lions -- 39 11. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 39 12. Steve Smith, Giants -- 37 13. Jabar Gaffney, Broncos -- 34 14. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 34 15. DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 33 16. Hakeem Nicks, Giants -- 33 17. Eddie Royal, Broncos -- 32 18. Danny Amendola, Rams -- 31 19. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- 31 20. Santana Moss, Redskins -- 31 21. Louis Murphy, Raiders -- 30 22. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 29 23. Malcom Floyd, Chargers -- 29 24. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 29 25. Mike Thomas, Jaguars -- 28

Nineteen wide receivers garnered 10 or more targets in either Week 3 or 4, but only two wideouts tallied 10-plus targets in both games: Brandon Lloyd, Broncos -- 28 Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- 21

1. Reggie Wayne vs. Kansas City 2. Brandon Lloyd @ Baltimore 3. Marques Colston @ Arizona 4. Miles Austin vs. Tennessee 5. Larry Fitzgerald vs. New Orleans 6. DeSean Jackson @ San Francisco 7. Hakeem Nicks @ Houston 8. Dwayne Bowe @ Indianapolis

@saintjonah says: Trade propsed: I send Ray Rice/Greg Jennings and get LaDainian Tomlinson/Ryan Mathews/Malcom Floyd. Rice and Jennings have been letdowns so far. What's your take?

Answer: If only I could find a league where the other other owners were serving Rice and Jennings on a silver platter! All kidding aside, I'm not saying this is a bad deal for you -- given the Chargers' explosive offense and LT's newfound quicks in the open field -- but you'd be giving up the best running back and receiver in this blockbuster, essentially placing the burden of victory squarely on the shoulders of the rookie Mathews, who has yet to amass 67 total yards or one TD in any of his three games.

@BobbyOSheaVSL asks: I'm deep at RB and was debating between grabbing Terrell Owens or Michael Bush? Who would you take? And would it be worth dropping John Kuhn or Mike Tolbert for Bush? I've got Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, Matt Forte and Knowhson Moreno rotating between RB2 and the flex spots.

Answer: I sincerely doubt you'll be dropping Tolbert (100 total yards, 1 TD in Week 4) in the immediate future, so that leaves three men -- T.O., Bush, John Kuhn -- vying for one spot. And frankly, the choice is pretty clear: As much I mock Owens for being a shell of his former fantasy self, the enigmatic one had 10 catches, 220 yards and one touchdown last week -- while running on thick, dense grass. There's no way, in good conscience, I could recommend against that type of prodigious production.

@davdchapman -- If Jay Cutler's out (in Week 5), I'll need to pick up a QB among Alex Smith, Vince Young, Matt Cassel, David Garrard, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford or Bruce Gradkowski. Your thoughts?

Answer: At first blush, the rookie Bradford (944 yards passing, 6 TDs) seems like the ideal choice against the sad-sack Lions; and for the most part, you'll probably be satisfied with his Week 5 output. However, I believe Smith and Gradkowski will post slightly better numbers against the Eagles and Chargers, respectively. But that's just me: I usually have a hard time trusting rookie quarterbacks as bye fill-ins.

@BryanWinklerwonders: Still like Darrius Heyward-Bey? Should I try to exchange Clinton Portis for him? I have Ryan Torain.

Answer: Just because I track Heyward-Bey's targets (24 combined in Week 2-3) doesn't mean he's a starting consideration. As much as I love DHB's speed and athleticism, as much I appreciate the Raiders' aggressive play-calling on the road, Darrius is a classic wait-and-see stashee for your fantasy bench. Nothing more, nothing less -- at least right now.

As for Portis, I loathe dumping quality backs, especially when possessing the 1-2 handcuff (Torain). If I were you, I'd exhaust all means for keeping or trading Portis to a RB-starved club before giving him the heave-ho. After all, DHB will still be there in free agency come Sunday morning. Give yourself 3-4 more days for Portis bartering.

@MoharvII asks: When do we start believing in Brandon Lloyd? He's put up three really good games, plus he's No. 2 in receiving yards. All while sitting on my bench.

Answer: Mo, I can't speak for you or the group, but I have been a Lloyd believer since the preseason, upon hearing the Broncos coaches and players rave about his development in Denver's highly progressive passing game. That isn't to say I envisioned five catches for 117 yards/1 TD in Week 1, or that he'd be targeted 28 combined times in Weeks 3 and 4. But put it all together, and the speedy, athletic Lloyd has blossomed into a No. 1 receiver for PPR leagues and No. 2 in standard-scoring leagues ... which means, he should ONLY be an automatic non-starter for you in Week 9, Denver's bye. Other than that, he's a sure bet for either 10 catches, 100 yards or one touchdown from this point forward.

If you have the Week 5 roster space to spare, here are some unheralded bye-week gems to pluck off waivers ASAP instead of entering a bidding war for their services next week:

WR Brandon Tate, Patriots (the Pats' new No. 2 wideout?)PK Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots D/ST New England Patriots QB Chad Henne, Dolphins WR Davone Bess, Dolphins PK Dan Carpenter, Dolphins WR Mike Wallace, Steelers PK Jeff Reed, Steelers RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks WR Mike Williams, Seahawks WR Deion Branch, Seahawks D/ST Seattle Seahawks

For what it's worth, here's my perfect lineup for Week 5: QB Peyton Manning -- Even 3-0 Kansas City will be no match for the Colts at homeRB Arian Foster -- The Giants' defensive mojo from Week 4 doesn't make the flight to Houston RB Chris Johnson -- Herein lies the birth of yet another 100-yard rushing streakWR Reggie Wayne -- Look no further than last week's stellar day (and the 19 targets)WR Larry Fitzgerald -- Could draw 15-17 targets against New Orleans RB/WR Frank Gore -- Stands to benefit from five straight middling run defensesTE Zach Miller -- The Raiders' most reliable target, primed for 100 yards vs. San Diego PK Nate Kaeding -- My favorite kicker, week-in and week-out D/ST Saints -- Simply follow the trail of the NFL's worst two-headed QB situation: Derek Anderson/Max Hall