Friday, December 4, 2009
Week 13 Starters & Benchwarmers
You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Chris Johnson, or to bench Jake Delhomme and Eddie Royal. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 13.
Watch ‘em roll
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles at Falcons. Will Mike Vick play a big role in his return to Atlanta? Don’t be ridiculous. McNabb will soar against one of the NFL’s most generous secondaries, even without DeSean Jackson (concussion). McNabb has thrown multiple TDs in three of his past five games. Make that four of six.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Lions. Three short weeks ago, Benson was the toast of Cincinnati, and Fantasyland. Don’t think for a minute that a 100-yard game by Larry Johnson against the lowly Browns has suddenly changed that. If Benson starts as projected Sunday, he’ll reclaim his workhorse status and trample the defenseless Lions.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears vs. Rams. The odds-on favorite for Fantasy Bust of the Year “honors” has had exactly two stellar rushing performances in 2009: against the Lions and Browns. His last promising start of the fantasy season comes Sunday against the third member of the NFL’s Axis of Ineptitude.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts vs. Titans. With two scores and a 108-yard receiving game over the past three weeks, Garcon has emerged as a reliable weapon in Peyton Manning’s arsenal. Despite Tennessee’s resurgence, its secondary has surrendered more passing TDs than any team in the NFL outside Detroit
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings at Cardinals. Make sure the multi-talented rookie is in your lineup for Sunday night’s barn-burner, especially if Kurt Warner suits up. Both teams will move the ball more easily through the air, and Brett Favre has a habit of rising to the occasion in primetime matchups.
More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, David Garrard; RBs LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, Jamaal Charles, Laurence Maroney; WRs Chad Ochocinco, Smilin’ Miles Austin, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, Vincent Jackson, Donnie Avery.
Roll ‘em back
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Raiders. Though he’s expected to return to the starting lineup, the team would be wise to keep him out of harm’s way as much as possible by attacking one of the league’s worst run defenses. Meanwhile, Oakland has surrendered just 10 passing TDs in 11 games, so a multi-TD outing is unlikely for Big Ben.
Chris Jennings, RB, Browns vs. Chargers. Now that Jamal Lewis has been shelved for the season (likely ending his career), Jennings will get a chance to prove himself as a starter. Used sparingly as a change-of-pace back in just a handful of games this season, the rookie has shown little to suggest he will provide a jump-start to the Browns’ moribund offense, especially against a defense that’s stepped up its game recently. Jennings’ sore shoulder and the presence of Jerome Harrison further limit his upside.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks vs. 49ers. You and I know Forsett is better than Julius Jones, but his coaches aren’t yet willing to admit it. With Jones expected to start again, his backup is a risky play against the NFL’s fifth-ranked run defense, especially when he’s sharing carries.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins vs. Saints. New Orleans demonstrated rather convincingly Monday night that they know how to shut down a prolific passing attack. Jason Campbell and his top target don’t stand a chance if the Saints bring their A game. Though Moss reached the end zone last weekend for the first time since Week 4, he won’t make it two in a row.
Chris Chambers, WR, Chiefs vs. Broncos. He’s been on a tear since moving to KC, but Denver sports the league’s fifth stingiest pass defense and a formidable pass rush that will give Matt Cassel fits.
More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Vince Young, Jason Campbell; RBs Beanie Wells, Kevin Smith, all Raiders backs, Jason Snelling; WRs Roddy White, Roy Williams, Antonio Bryant, Kenny Britt.
TAKING A FLIER
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers at Seahawks. Though overshadowed by Vince Young’s rebirth, Smith has been building a strong case for comeback recognition as well. With five passing scores over the past two games, he’s shown that he can produce when given the chance. Seattle’s pass defense has been torched repeatedly over the past several weeks, so Smith could come through for you in a pinch this weekend.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Rashard Mendenhall against the Raiders. After his blazing early-season run, he’s had a disappointing five-week stretch, with just one 100-yard rushing day and a single TD (reception) over that span. He’ll get back on track Sunday against one of the worst run defenses in the land.