Wondering whether or not to start Arian Foster and Greg Jennings, or to bench John Beck and Roy Williams? 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 7 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs at Raiders. With an extra week to prepare and coming off a terrific performance against the Colts, Cassel can help those with injury and bye-week conundrums. He’ll have to offset his team’s running deficiencies, and Oakland’s secondary has surrendered a league-worst 12 passing TDs.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks at Browns. Lynch ran well in the weeks prior to Seattle’s bye, and he now has the backfield virtually to himself. He’ll be leaned on heavily against one of the NFL’s softest run defenses.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys vs. Rams. Sure, the Cowboys are a lousy rushing team, and Tashard Choice will take some carries; but the Rams give up more rushing yards (163 per game) than any team in the league. In a week when so many fantasy studs will be idle, Murray offers decent upside as a bye-week fill-in.
Greg Little, WR, Browns vs. Seahawks. The rookie was just a slip away from the end zone last week, but he should stroll in Sunday against Seattle’s young and injury-plagued secondary. Colt McCoy will need to pass often to prevail in this matchup.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts at Saints. Not only has Garcon supplanted Reggie Wayne as the Colts’ leading receiver under Curtis Painter’s watch, but he’ll be facing a Saints secondary that’s just as generous with the passing TDs as Oakland. Indy will likely abandon the run early while trying to keep pace with Drew Brees & Company.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Stafford, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler; RBs Earnest Graham, Beanie Wells, Ryan Torain, Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, Mark Ingram; WRs Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson.
Roll ‘em back
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Jaguars. With zero TDs and two interceptions over his last two games, you could suggest Flacco is due for a rebound. Or you could say he shouldn’t be trusted until he finds his mojo. Against Jacksonville’s decent secondary, I’m not taking any chances.
Maurice Morris, RB, Lions vs. Falcons. Jahvid Best will miss Sunday’s contest following last week’s concussion; and rumors are swirling that he could be shelved for the rest of the year, given his concussion history. Morris is the next man up, but he’s been mediocre at best this season. He’s an option against Atlanta’s solid run defense for only the most desperate owners.
Browns RBs vs. Seahawks. Peyton Hillis is in jeopardy of sitting out this weekend with a bum hamstring. Montario Hardesty will see more action in any event; but it’s hard to believe either back will find success against Seattle’s defensive front.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams at Cowboys. Lloyd may be the missing piece to the Rams’ struggling passing attack, but it will take him time to get acclimated. He may not even have the benefit of playing, much less practicing, with Sam Bradford, who could miss Sunday’s game due to his high ankle sprain.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders vs. Chiefs. I realize Carson Palmer is all the rage, but it would be fairly miraculous for him to play well Sunday after such a long layoff. Heyward-Bey is a downfield threat, but it’s been years since Palmer has thrown a good (read: accurate) long ball. Give all Oakland wideouts a rest.
More thumbs down: QBs Sam Bradford, Kevin Kolb, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer; RBs Jackie Battle, Shonn Greene, Willis McGahee, Delone Carter, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Jacoby Jones, Jason Hill, Sidney Rice, Malcom Floyd, Plaxico Burress.
Taking a flier
Steve Breaston, WR, Chiefs at Raiders. He had a monster game prior to the bye, and he has a good opportunity to stay on a roll against a weak secondary. Dwayne Bowe will draw the lion’s share of attention, giving Cassel plenty of reason to look Breaston’s way often.
Don’t be the bonehead who…assumes Antonio Gates (foot) won’t play on Sunday. He has looked good in limited practice time so far this week, so his arrow is finally pointing up again. He’ll be a game-time decision, most likely; but there are precious few tight ends worth starting ahead of Gates if he’s active.