Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Fred Jackson, or to bench Curtis Painter and Chad Ochocinco? 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 8 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Eli Manning, QB, Giants vs. Dolphins. Miami has a league-worst two interceptions on the season, which is welcome news for the mistake-prone Manning. Also encouraging, only the Broncos give up more fantasy points than the Dolphins to opposing quarterbacks. Look for big yardage and at least two passing TDs for Manning.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints at Rams. With Mark Ingram in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game with a bruised heel, Thomas has an excellent chance to excel against the Rams’ pitiful run defense. While Darren Sproles continues to prosper in the role Reggie Bush squandered, there will be plenty of touches (including passes) left for Thomas to be a legitimate flex starter.
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins at Bills. It’s always dicey counting on one of Mike Shanahan’s backs; but with Tim Hightower gone for the season, Torain will surely be the workhorse against one of the NFL’s softest run defenses. (Won’t he?) Roy Helu will get his share of the carries, too; but Torain is a much safer fantasy play for now.
Nate Washington, WR, Titans vs. Colts. The Titans’ passing game was horrendous last week against the Texans, but the Colts are just the ticket for a nice rebound. Indy has surrendered an NFL-high 14 passing TDs, and Washington should have little trouble inflating that number against this porous secondary.
Torrey Smith, RB, Ravens vs. Cardinals. Arizona is susceptible to the long ball, which is Smith’s forte. Though he’s fizzled quite a bit since his Week 3 breakout game, this is a great week to take a chance on the rookie speedster, especially if you’re bye-week challenged.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Mathews, Daniel Thomas, DeMarco Murray, Delone Carter, Bernard Scott; WRs Marques Colston, A.J. Green, Anquan Boldin, Jeremy Maclin, Victor Cruz, Stevie Johnson.
Roll ‘em back
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills vs. Redskins. After a terrific start to his 2011 season, Fitzpatrick has been fairly pedestrian over his last three games, with just 636 passing yards, three TDs and three interceptions during that span. Washington boasts a league-leading 21 sacks and has yielded only five passing scores to date. Don’t expect much from Fitz in Toronto.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots at Steelers. Now that Danny Woodhead is healthy, the “Law Firm” is the senior partner in a three-headed backfield. Pittsburgh presents a tough challenge for New England’s committee, so consider another option over Green-Ellis this week.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers vs. Patriots. If you are blessed with the option of sitting Mendenhall this week, don’t hesitate. The Patriots are playing stout run defense, and the Steelers have been struggling to get their ground game in order. Look for another disappointing outing from Mendenhall.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings at Panthers. He has had very little time to practice with rookie QB Christian Ponder due to a rib injury, which caused the multi-purpose wideout to miss half of last week’s game. He’s a similar early-exit risk this week, which makes it even more unlikely that he’ll collect his first touchdown reception of the season.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers vs. Browns. A minor foot injury is not expected to affect Crabtree, but elite cornerback Joe Haden will. Despite plenty of targets, Crabtree continues to struggle with Alex Smith, who relies more frequently on his tight ends, especially in the red zone. Cleveland’s pass defense is playing surprisingly well.
More thumbs down: QBs Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow; RBs Brandon Jacobs, Mark Ingram, Knowshon Moreno, all Cardinals, Lions, Browns and Seahawks RBs; WRs Lance Moore, Steve Breaston, Sidney Rice, Kevin Walter, Brandon Lloyd, Eric Decker.
Taking a flier
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers vs. Patriots. Hines Ward will be limited, if he plays at all, with a sprained ankle. That should lead to more work for Brown, who excelled against the Cardinals last week and has an equally favorable matchup with New England’s generous secondary on Sunday. Only Mike Wallace has been targeted more than Brown by Roethlisberger this season.
Don’t be the bonehead who…makes a desperation trade to cover for bye-week absences. I’ve seen, and been queried about, several lop-sided offers over the last three weeks, as savvy owners attempt to exploit a competitor’s momentary weakness. Biting on a short-term fix usually leads to deeper regrets later, and we’ve only just reached the mid-point of the fantasy season.