Wondering whether or not to start Matt Forte and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Devin Aromashodu? 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 5 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers at 49ers. Freeman has been a big disappointment this season, underscored by his dismal touchdown-to-interception ratio. But he showed some spunk last week, and he heads west to play a squad that defends against the run much better than the pass. Trust Freeman to deliver in this one.
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers vs. Titans. There’s a very good chance both Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) and Mewelde Moore (ankle - out) will miss this game, leaving the Steelers’ backfield in Redman’s capable hands. Though Tennessee is stout against the run, Redman should get plenty of opportunities with a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger (foot) directing the offense.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints at Panthers. In a week when six teams are on bye, your options are probably limited. Though the rookie is still sharing time with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, Ingram is a good flex play this week against the second-worst rush defense in the league. He should get at least one goal-line plunge among his 15-20 touches.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons vs. Packers. With 17 receptions for 242 yards over the past two weeks, the highly touted rookie has been out-performing fellow wideout Roddy White. All Jones is missing is his first TD, which should come this week against the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Jets at Patriots. Burress has alternated good and bad outings, but actually out-ranks teammate Santonio Holmes in fantasy production thus far. Both are great starts this week against a New England secondary that has been consistently torched.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Kolb, Cam Newton; RBs Fred Jackson, Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson, Ryan Mathews, Jonathan Stewart; WRs Stevie Johnson, Eric Decker, Mike Williams (TB), Jordy Nelson, Percy Harvin, A.J. Green.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Titans at Steelers. As he marches toward his Comeback Player of the Year award, Hasselbeck will encounter the occasional set-back. Heading into Pittsburgh to face-off with the league’s stingiest pass defense, this looks like one of those occasions. The Titans will surely lean on Chris Johnson to gash a suddenly vulnerable Steeler run defense.
James Starks, RB, Packers at Falcons. With the rejuvenated Ryan Grant fully healed from his bruised kidney, and Aaron Rodgers poaching scoring runs, there may not be enough carries for Starks to make a difference this week.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Patriots. Though Rex Ryan says he’s committed to running more, his tailbacks don’t seem to be cooperating. While the Patriots aren’t exactly impenetrable, Greene is hard to trust in a game that could easily turn into a shoot-out early.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks at Giants. Rice has performed admirably since returning in Week 3 from his shoulder injury. But he’ll face his stiffest test yet against a Giants secondary that has been playing very well of late. Traveling cross-country won’t help the Seahawks’ cause.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants vs. Seahawks. Though he is fully recovered from his concussion, he may have lost his starting job to Victor Cruz due to poor route running. If Eli Manning doesn’t trust him, you shouldn’t either.
More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Kyle Orton, Tarvaris Jackson; RBs Knowshon Moreno, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Kevin Walter, Deion Branch, Denarius Moore, Chad Ochocinco, Devery Henderson.
Taking a flier
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Chiefs at Colts. The Chiefs are starting to get their moxie back on offense; and while McCluster hasn’t produced much to date, he’s an important part of both the running and receiving games. Against a banged-up Indy defense, the dual-threat back can be a decent flex pinch-hitter for those with bye/injury problems.
Don’t be the bonehead who…continues to carry dead weight on your roster. Incredibly, Jamaal Charles is still owned in more than half of all ESPN leagues. Kenny Britt resides on slightly fewer benches. Chad Henne and Danny Amendola are the latest players headed to injured reserve. Don’t be lazy…make room for someone who actually plays.