Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Wes Welker, or to bench Curtis Painter and Chaz Schilens? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 4 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears vs. Panthers. Cutler may not face a softer secondary all season than the Panthers. Throw out Blaine Gabbert’s performance in last week’s monsoon, and Carolina’s pass defense has been a wreck. This should be one of Cutler’s occasional “up” weeks.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers vs. Colts. Blount has returned to his workhorse role (24 carries in Week 3), and he should get plenty of cracks at the end zone in this matchup. Indy’s run defense isn’t as good as they appeared against Pittsburgh last week.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Bills. In a bit of a surprise, Benson now appears on track to start in Week 4, since the NFL has not ruled on his suspension appeal. The Bills can be run on, and Benson will be leaned on heavily. If his appeal is denied, Bernard Scott is a quality proxy.
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders vs. Patriots. New England’s pass defense is downright sieve-like this season, having coughed up 1,163 passing yards and 7 TDs in just three games. That’s good news for Jason Campbell (who is hard to trust) and Moore, who has scored in consecutive outings. The rookie could pay big dividends this week.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers vs. Broncos. He has scored in two of three games thus far, while emerging as the undisputed No. 2 wideout in Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal. Denver can’t match up with Green Bay’s aerial fire power, while the Packers’ rushing game is in flux at present. All of which combines to make Nelson a terrific start.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan; RBs Fred Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Matt Forte, Tim Hightower, Joseph Addai, Darren Sproles, James Starks, Ryan Mathews; WRs Dwayne Bowe, Nate Washington, Mike Williams (Bucs) Stevie Johnson, Johnny Knox, Lance Moore, Brandon Lloyd, Santana Moss, Percy Harvin.
Roll ‘em back
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens vs. Jets. Flacco has alternated up and down performances, and this week’s matchup looks like another downer. New York has given up just two passing scores to date, with seven interceptions to their credit. Sunday night’s contest should be a defensive slugfest.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions at Cowboys. He’s nursing a bruised thigh and heading into a matchup with one of the NFL’s stingiest run defenses. Best should contribute as a receiver, but probably not enough to justify starting him; unless your options are very limited.
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos at Packers. He has benefited from Knowshon Moreno’s absence the last two weeks, but he’ll likely have to share the load this weekend against the league’s top rush defense. No, thank you.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints at Jaguars. The Saints have a history of easing their injured receivers back into the rotation slowly, as we saw most recently with Lance Moore in Week 2. Colston is unlikely to get a full complement of snaps in his first action since injuring his collarbone in the opener. Give him a week to get back in the groove.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys vs. Lions. He is still struggling with his bruised thigh, and his quarterback is clearly far from 100 percent. Meanwhile, Detroit’s pass defense has been stellar to date. I don’t like Bryant’s chances this week.
More thumbs down: QBs Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, Sam Bradford, Tony Romo, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs DeAngelo Williams, Shonn Greene, Beanie Wells, Dexter McCluster, Thomas Jones, Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Ben Tate; WRs Reggie Wayne, Malcom Floyd, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Mike Sims-Walker, Plaxico Burress, Torrey Smith, Julio Jones, Victor Cruz, Donald Driver, Pierre Garcon, Chad Ochocinco.
Taking a flier
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos at Packers. On paper, this game should be a blow-out; which means Denver will likely abandon the run early and put the game in Orton’s hands. With Brandon Lloyd healthy and Eric Decker cementing his role as a reliable target, Orton could put up some gaudy numbers. After all, everybody else has against Green Bay’s 31st-ranked pass defense.
Don’t be the bonehead who…fails to get Steven Jackson back in your lineup Sunday. He ran sparingly in his return to the field in Week 3 against the Ravens, while successfully test-driving his ailing quad. But a healthy Jackson is a must-start against any defense, especially a Redskins squad that just surrendered 155 total yards to Felix Jones, his highest output since 2009.