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Dear Mr. Fantasy: Do you overturn that trade?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As a general rule, I oppose the overturning of trades.

It's against the spirit of Fantasy Football. The appeal is in running your team your way. It's in outmaneuvering the competition en route to a championship. Trades are a big part of that and getting two sides to agree to one is difficult enough without getting the whole league involved.

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Worst of all, though, is the precedent it sets. The first time your league overturns a trade, it basically declares, "Hey, if enough of us don't like it, we can just make it go away." From that point forward, every trade is subjected to a higher level of scrutiny that's sure to end in controversy. After all, the only teams that win in a trade are the two making the trade. Putting the decision in the hands of all the losers establishes a conflict of interest, to say the least.

So yeah, an overturned trade should never, ever happen. No matter how lopsided it appears to be, no matter how drastically it alters the road to the championship, overturning it does more harm than good in the long run.

But I say that as someone who plays either with other Fantasy writers or with the same group of guys I've known from the beginning -- people whose knowledge is well established and whose motives are never in question. I say that from a position of privilege.

Sometimes I forget how the other half lives.

This trade was just accepted: Brandon Marshall and Chris Johnson for Steven Jackson and Brandon Gibson. Is it veto-worthy? -- @lepard2099 (via Twitter)

SW: This is why NFL teams conduct exhaustive interviews with general manager candidates and don't just hand the keys over to anyone who expresses an interest by the water cooler one Thursday afternoon. They want to make sure they have a guy who knows the players, who makes rational decisions and who, above all, is committed to winning.

This just looks like Rams fan gone batty.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to remember that not everyone assesses players the same way I do and that what looks like an overspend on paper may actually be someone's only chance of meeting a need. Hey, I've been on the wrong end of that gamble before. I'm not saying every trade I've made has been a stroke of brilliance. But the difference is, for every trade I've made, I could defend my position. In no way is this trade defensible.

Jackson has scored double-digit Fantasy points in one game this year. One. As disappointing as Johnson has been, he's at least done it three times. And with his 195-yard effort at Buffalo last week, he's averaging 11.3 more rushing yards per game than Jackson. While he's on the rise, with matchups against the Colts (twice), Jaguars (twice) and Jets coming up, Jackson is on the decline, losing more and more carries to Daryl Richardson every week. Not one factor -- be it age, workload, big-play potential, recent performance, upcoming schedule or historical precedent -- works in Jackson's favor in this deal.

The other half of the deal is arguably worse. Gibson may be the go-to guy in St. Louis with Danny Amendola sidelined, but then again, his disappearance in the second half last week may indicate he's just one of the many. And how much is the go-to guy in St. Louis worth anyway? It's not like it'll lead to double-digit targets every week, which is pretty much what Marshall gets. He has more 100-yard games this season (three) than Gibson has in his entire career (zero).

The two sides aren't close. They're not even close to close, and it's obvious enough that I ddon't really need to provide an explanation. Perhaps the guy who made the deal should give one.

How do you overturn it without establishing a precedent? That's a tricky one. Maybe any newcomers to the league -- and I would hope this guy qualifies -- should have a two-year probationary period during which the commissioner reviews all of their trades and, if he suspects anything fishy, puts them up for vote. Of course, the commissioner in that scenario would have to be a rational, well-trusted individual whose nose for fishiness isn't so easily triggered. Also, the established members of the league can't have a history of making fishy trades themselves.

Hopefully, they don't. Trades like this one, if they happen over and over again, are grounds for expulsion.

Should I drop either LaRod Stephens-Howlings or Vick Ballard for Ryan Broyles? I need a reserve wide receiver. -- @cras2020 (via Twitter)

SW: This inquiry opens up a whole range of philosophical questions. How much of a priority is having a reserve? Do you ever really need one?

Sure, a good one is a luxury that keeps you from having to comb the waiver wire when one of your starters is on bye, but there's a difference between stashing a guy because he's worth stashing and stashing him ... just because.

Your bench actually serves two functions. The more obvious one is to provide your starting lineup with a reserve pool, but perhaps the more important one is to prevent players from going to someone else. Broyles may meet that first function by giving you an extra wide receiver, but is he worth safeguarding from the rest of the league?

Personally, I don't think much of him. I didn't see the need to put in a waiver claim for him in any of my leagues. I understand Nate Burleson is out for the rest of the season with a broken leg, but I suspect Titus Young will be the prime beneficiary of that injury. He was the one everyone was predicting to have a breakout season back in August, remember. Maybe Broyles will see a corresponding uptick in production, but nothing that would separate him from Kevin Walter, Kevin Ogletree, Devery Henderson or any of those other fourth-tier wide receivers I could pluck off the waiver wire whenever the need arose.

Compared to Stephens-Howling and Ballard, he's small potatoes. Each is currently the starting running back for his respective team, and each showed last week that he has some potential in the role, with Stephens-Howling rushing for 104 yards at Minnesota and Ballard rushing for 84 against Cleveland. Granted, neither is expected to start the rest of the season -- Beanie Wells and Donald Brown should return eventually -- but for the foreseeable future, they're the kind of players you can plug into your lineup any given week.

And, more to the point, they're the kind of players who wouldn't last a day on the waiver wire.

I understand you may have an injury situation that forces you to carry a backup wide receiver for the time being, and my vote in that case would be to drop Stephens-Howling since he has a bumpy schedule ahead and some competition from William Powell. But again, that's only if you have an immediate need.

At 7-0, I just got a huge trade offer. I would give A.J. Green and Brandon Pettigrew for Eric Decker and Jimmy Graham. What do you think? -- @MEstep33 (via Twitter)

SW: At 7-0, I don't think you should rock the boat too much. This offer looks like the kind you might consider if you were 2-5 and had to gamble to have any hope of getting back in the race. The potential rewards are huge. If Decker continues his pace from the last few weeks and Graham returns from his ankle injury to post numbers much like he had last year, you'll have two high-end starters for the price of one. But if not, you'll have dealt an undefeated team a significant blow.

Most Traded Players (as of 10/24)
Player # of trades
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans 2,427
2. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams 2,143
3. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans 2,084
4. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins 1,962
5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins 1,901
6. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals 1,809
7. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions 1,778
8. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders 1,766
9. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions 1,763
10. Doug Martin, RB, Bucs 1,745

Right now, you have the best wide receiver in Fantasy in Green. Even a Calvin Johnson apologist like myself wouldn't argue with that. Green is highly targeted by quarterback Andy Dalton, a prime red-zone target and, like Johnson, freakishly talented. If by clinging to Green, you'd be forced to start scrubs at other positions -- a combination that, together, wasn't amounting to many victories -- then yeah, breaking him into two or three solid players might be the preferred way to go. The goal is to win, after all.

But you seem to be doing a good enough job winning already, and I'm guessing your team wouldn't be 7-0 if Green was the only good player you had. As deep and as talented as I can only assume your team is, your goal shouldn't be to acquire more players, but better players. That's the only possible way you can improve. Trading Green seems like it'd be a step in the wrong direction.

Should I give up on Cam Newton for Brandon Weeden with Ryan Fitzpatrick on a bye week? -- @garybdiver (via Twitter)

SW: As in cut him? That's a bit short-sighted. He's had a rough go of it so far, but the rushing yards have more or less been there for him. It's like he has a one-touchdown head start over every other quarterback most weeks.

That could be a big deal if he's able to make any headway with his passing over the next 10 weeks. He's in for another rocky afternoon at the Bears this week, but with matchups against the 32nd-ranked Redskins pass defense, the 31st-ranked Buccaneers pass defense, the 25th-ranked Chargers pass defense and the 22nd-ranked Raiders pass defense in his future, he's destined to finish the year better than he started it. You wouldn't want him to put up 30-plus points for someone else those weeks.

Besides, it's not like your alternatives are destined for the Pro-Bowl. Fitzpatrick has thrown a bunch of touchdown passes, but he's an interception machine whose yardage is all over the place. If you place your trust in him every week, you're going to sink as often as you swim. Weeden has put together some respectable numbers because the Browns have so often had to play from behind, but his upside has its limits. If a 20-point game is the best-case scenario for him, he's a liability at quarterback.

I like Weeden's matchup better than Newton's this week, so if you can afford to roster both, have at it. But if your only way of adding Weeden is to cut Newton, you should just bite the bullet and hope Newton's unique skill set baffles the Bears defense.

Which two of Randall Cobb, Brandon Lloyd and Vick Ballard should I start this week? -- @Alex_Nesselbeck (via Twitter)

SW: You'll want to keep an eye on Greg Jennings' status over the next couple days to see if he has a chance of returning from his groin injury this week. Granted, Cobb might play a big role regardless since he's more of a Wes Welker-Darren Sproles type in the Packers offense, but adding another target to the mix only complicates the situation.

Frankly, I think Lloyd is the odd man out either way. He has proven to be unreliable in his first year with the Patriots. His inability to pull down the deep ball -- his longest catch this season is only 27 yards -- has forced Tom Brady to revert to tried-and-trues like Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, making Lloyd just a peripheral part of the passing game. You still have to respect his big-play potential -- and, obviously, anyone is capable of scoring any given week in that offense -- but when you have such favorable alternatives, why roll the dice?

Cobb's and Ballard's matchups this week are simply too promising to ignore. Against the 22nd-ranked Jaguars defense, Aaron Rodgers should be able to get involved everyone involved in the passing game -- Cobb, Jennings and whoever else the Packers trot out there. After the disappointment of Week 6, Ballard showed with his 84-yard performance last week that he is capable exploiting weak defenses. He'll have another chance to carry the load against the 25th-ranked Titans run defense this week.

Who would you view as the top starting quarterback on my team each week: Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton? I've started the wrong one all year! -- @Felix824 (via Twitter)

SW: Well, that's bound to happen when you have so many alternatives. I don't mean to sounds snarky. It's just reality. The sport is too unpredictable for you to pick right 100 percent of the time. That's part of what makes it interesting.

One surefire solution is to rid yourself of the excess, either by trade or some other means. Granted, by doing that, you'd commit yourself to all of a quarterback's bad starts, which wouldn't be such a bad deal if it was Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, but with this trio, you likely wouldn't come out ahead. You'd just avoid the frustration of seeing one of your benched quarterbacks outperform your starter.

So then, you've chosen the slightly less dramatic tact of picking your pony and riding him through thick and thin, and to a degree, I can get behind the philosophy. Chasing the points is a strategy destined for failure. With this caliber of quarterback, though, I don't know that you can afford to just ignore the matchups.

Your go-to guy should be Dalton. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis doesn't have game-breaking ability, so the Bengals will be inclined to keep the ball in the air whenever possible. And with A.J. Green at their disposal, they'll be pretty successful at it. OK, maybe not against the Steelers' first-ranked pass defense, but against everybody else, the consistency speaks for itself.

Flacco should no longer be an option for you. He's a fine backup quarterback for most Fantasy teams, but his highs and lows seem to have little to do with matchups, which is often a case for a quarterback on a team with an opportunistic defense and a strong running game. Sometimes, he just isn't needed.

Rivers isn't in the best position to succeed, but he certainly throws a lot. You can trust him to take advantage of the good matchups. He has multiple touchdowns in four of his six games, let's not forget.

So when should you start Rivers over Dalton? This week, with Dalton on bye, is obvious. I'd also opt for Rivers in Weeks 9, 15 and 16, when Dalton is facing Denver, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Rivers is facing Kansas City, Carolina and the Darrelle Revis-less Jets.

Is Percy Harvin a sufficient offer for Willis McGahee or LeSean McCoy? I need a running back, and I have Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Williams at wide receiver. -- @ccaylor10 (via Twitter)

SW: A couple things bother me about this question. First, you rattle off your wide receivers like they're something to be proud of. I wouldn't say you have unsurpassable depth at the position. With Maclin stuck on the Michael Vick Experience and Williams one bad week from going back on the waiver wire, are you sure you can afford to give up Harvin? He and Marshall form a nice little one-two punch. I understand you have to give something to get something, but if you're filling one problem by creating another, you might as well stand pat.

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My second issue is that you think you even have a chance at McCoy with that offer. I'm not trying to pick on you. I've seen enough lopsided proposals involving McCoy that I'm beginning to think the Fantasy playing-community has developed a faulty perception him. He's one of the four of five transcendent running backs in the league. He gets all of his team's carries. He's heavily involved in the passing game. He's capable of breaking a big play any time he touches the ball. I understand he's been a little underwhelming based on where he was drafted, in part because of Vick's struggles, but he has scored double-digit Fantasy points in five of his first six games. Plus, with matchups against the Falcons and Saints over the next two weeks -- both in the bottom five against the run -- he's about to take a big leap forward.

Harvin is a fine player and all, but if we were redrafting today, McCoy would still be a top-five player for me. Too much upside, too much reliability. Don't get me wrong: If you can pull it off, it's a great deal, regardless of what kind of depth you have at wide receiver. I'd even be willing to trade Marshall for McCoy, if it came to that.

McGahee is a much more plausible return for Harvin, but I'm not sure it's quite enough, especially if you're creating a need in the process. McGahee has been a pleasant surprise, but at age 31, he's playing on borrowed time. Even if he doesn't get hurt, you have to suspect the Broncos will lean more and more on the arm of Peyton Manning. He's the focal point of the offense, after all. If McGahee is limited to only 15 carries per game, he'll have to break a few long ones to make up for the loss of Harvin. I'm not sure he's geared for that.

Here's a thought: Why not offer Maclin for McGahee? It might be a long shot, but it's worth a try.

I'm 3-4 and need to make a move. Would you try to trade Jamaal Charles and Eli Manning for Robert Griffin III and Doug Martin? -- @coorc5 (via Twitter)

SW: At 3-4, you're still very much in the hunt, so you shouldn't make a move unless you're confident it'll help you. And while I can envision a scenario in which this deal would ultimately improve your team's bottom line, it's a greater leap than I'm willing to take.

First of all, Griffin would have to continue to perform at the rate he has so far, outscoring Manning by about five Fantasy points per game. Maybe he will -- I wouldn't put anything past him at this point -- but with the toughest portion of his schedule coming up (including a game against the Steelers, two against the Eagles, two against the Cowboys and one against the Ravens), it's hardly a guarantee. In Manning, you know exactly what you have: a near-elite quarterback who's about the best you can do at the position other than Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. You can be confident he's not the one letting you down.

The other requirement for this deal to pay off is for Martin to assume goal-line carries in Tampa Bay and become a much more consistent performer over the final 10 weeks of the season. Again, it's possible. The goal-line carries appear to be inevitable after LeGarrette Blount's struggles last week, and Martin does have some favorable matchups down the stretch. But in Charles, you're giving up one of the few running backs capable of putting up 20-25 points any given week. If we redrafted today, he'd be the first of these four players off the board even if Griffin would technically project to score more points.

Because you're 3-4, I'll assume Charles and Manning are your best two players, and giving up your best two players for a pair of rookies is dangerous, to say the least. I'm not saying it's wrong, but in your position, I'd probably be looking to make subtle tweaks rather than a massive overhaul.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Facebook . You can also follow Scott via Twitter @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders limited by hip injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday due to a hip injury, reports the Denver Post. He's fully expected to start Sunday's game against the Raiders.

Denver, which will clinch a first-round bye with a victory, is a two-touchdown favorite.

Playing with Peyton Manning, Sanders has set career highs with 95 catches for 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns. He caught five balls for 67 yards and two scores in the Week 10 win at Oakland.


Jets add RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) to injury report
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) The Jets added running back Chris Ivory to the injury report Thursday, saying he was limited by a hamstring injury, reports ESPN.com. Ivory, who's battled hamstring problems in the past, leads New York with 792 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

The Jets are 6-point underdogs in Sunday's season finale at Miami. Ivory was held to 62 rushing yards on 16 carries in the Week 13 home loss to the Dolphins.


Lions WR Calvin Johnson returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Lions wideout Calvin Johnson, held out Wednesday due to an ankle injury, returned to a limited practice Thursday ahead of Sunday's NFC North showdown at Green Bay. Johnson caught six passes for 82 yards in the first meeting with the Packers.

Update: Lions RB Joique Bell 'should be fine' for Sunday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:19 pm ET) Lions running back Joique Bell (Achilles) practiced fully Thursday after being limited Wednesday and "should be fine" for Sunday's game at Green Bay, reports the team's website. Earlier reports indicated Bell's status was in doubt, especially after coach Jim Caldwell replied, "We'll see," when asked if Bell would be able to play.

Bell leads Detroit with 800 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns, including five in the past four games. The Lions are 7.5-point underdogs in the game for the NFC North crown.


Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles limited Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was limited in Thursday's practice with hamstring and ankle injuries, per the team's website. He'll play Sunday against the Chargers in a game with playoff implications.

Kansas City is a 3-point home favorite.


Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe still sidelined
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:05 pm ET) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe missed his second straight practice Thursday due to a shoulder injury. Bowe sprained his shoulder in the Week 16 loss at Pittsburgh.

His status is uncertain for Sunday's home game against San Diego.


Falcons WRs Roddy White, Harry Douglas back at practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) Falcons receivers Roddy White (ankle) and Harry Douglas (foot) returned to practice Thursday ahead of Sunday's division-deciding game against Carolina. While wideout Julio Jones (oblique) remained sidelined, he's expected to start opposite White with Douglas serving as the No. 3 receiver.

Atlanta is a 4-point home favorite to capture the NFC South.


Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph not looking good for Week 17
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph remained unable to practice Thursday due to knee and ankle injuries, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It appears he'll miss his second straight game Sunday against Chicago, with Chase Ford getting another start.

Minnesota is a 6-point home favorite.


Bengals WR A.J. Green (arm) returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) Bengals receiver A.J. Green (bruised bicep) returned to a limited practice Thursday, reports the team's website. Green now seems likely to play Sunday at Pittsburgh with the AFC North title at stake.

Even in an injury-plagued year, Green leads Cincy with 61 catches for 959 yards and six touchdowns. How effective he'll be Sunday night remains to be seen. But Green's return to practice is good news for the Bengals, who are 3.5-point underdogs.

In the first meeting with the Steelers, Green exploded for 11 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown.


Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray out sick Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:48 pm ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray won't practice Thursday. He was sent home because he's sick, reports the Dallas Morning News.

Murray, who underwent surgery Dec. 15 on his broken left hand, is fully expected to play Sunday at Washington after getting 22 carries in the Week 16 blowout of the Colts. Dallas is favored by 5.5 or 6 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


 
 
 
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