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Superhero to Average Joe

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the John Travolta movie, Broken Arrow, his character Major Vic "Deak" Deakins says, "battle is a highly fluid situation." So too is fantasy sports and you must be able to adjust your thinking on the fly or deal with the disappointment of defeat.

When your player at the beginning of the season, who was "Superman", is now just an "Average Joe," do you keep running him out there in hopes of a return to his first-half form, or make the change needed to win a championship.

Will your offseason be filled with the "battle cry of the lost" - "But my team was so talented, what happened?" or smile from the knowledge that you out- coached your opponent and each day look up at the trophy sitting on top of your mantel?

Below are eight players who likely helped lead your team into the playoffs, but who are now pulling your team down. Will you continue to ride them, or make the switch to a player on the rise?

Of course, if you don't have a suitable replacement, then you will have to "dance with the one that brung you."

But if you have options, now might be the time to make a "career-defining" decision.

Dustin Keller (ADP 140) was all the rage early on, with five touchdown catches in the first four games. But he's fallen on hard times and has cracked the 60- yard mark just once since Week 5 and hasn't gotten into the endzone since Week 4. There must be a better option either on your bench or on the free agent list.

It would be very difficult to sit the league's leading receiver in yardage (1,219 yards, seven touchdowns), but Roddy White hasn't caught a touchdown in four weeks and is averaging just 71.25 yards-per-game during that span. Quarterback Matt Ryan is still trying to get the ball to him, but defenses are rolling his way and his yards-per-catch is much lower than in the first half of the season. A favorable matchup with the Seattle Seahawks 30th-ranked pass defense is set for Week 15, so stick with him one more week.

Tomlinson is simply showing his age and the wear-and-tear on a body that has carried the ball 3,075 times over his nine-year career. In the first four games of the season he averaged 6.1 yards-per-carry, but since is averaging just 3.6 ypc. Time to look elsewhere.

Kyle Orton was one of the biggest surprises in the league through the first five games as he averaged 346.6 passing yards with eight touchdown passes against three interceptions. Unfortunately his last two games, in the fantasy regular season finale and yesterday in the first round of the playoffs, were a nightmare. With a tough matchup against Nnamdi Asomugha and the Raiders in Week 15, it's time to sit Orton.

Whereas Tony Romo liked to throw the long ball, Jon Kitna throws 90% of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. It shows in Austin's numbers. Only once since Kitna became a starter has Austin caught more than four passes in a game. Barring a surprise return from Romo, Austin should be sitting on your bench next week.

Thomas Jones started the season averaging 17.6 touches per game over the first eight contests, but is averaging just 12 in the last five. The reason is obvious - Jamaal Charles is the much more talented running back. Jones went from a shared situation to one where he is out there when Charles needs a rest. Jones averages 4.0 ypc, Charles 6.4 ypc. Unless Charles gets injured, the situation isn't going to change anytime soon. Find a spot on the bench for Jones.

Not that I'm recommending you sit the No.1 overall selection, Chris Johnson, just be aware that he hasn't been carrying your team as you expected he would when you made him the top pick after his maginficent 2009 season. His numbers are down since the Vince Young debacle, because the team simply has no other weapons which scare their opponents, including the league's most overpriced decoy - Randy Moss.

Gates is on the list because his toe/foot injuries are making it impossible to predict whether he will play from week to week and that's the worst dilemma for a fantasy owners. Half the time you end up with a player in your lineup who isn't in uniform or plays a quarter and sits the rest of the game.

The bottom line is to put out the best lineup possible for Week 15 and beyond, whether that includes a slumping superstar or a suddenly hot waiver wire pick up.

2010 First Half - Second Half Splits (week 1-7 vs. week 8-14)
PlayerTeam1st PtsPPG2nd PtsPPGDifference
Dustin KellerNYJ7011.7202.9-8.8
Roddy WhiteATL14420.67813.0-7.6
L. TomlinsonNYJ9115.2639.0-6.2
Kyle OrtonDEN11917.06811.3-5.7
Miles AustinDAL9115.2699.9-5.3
Thomas JonesKC6811.3476.7-4.6
Chris JohnsonTEN12618.087..14.5-3.5
Antonio GatesSD12017.14615.3-1.8
Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.


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