Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson, or to bench T.J. Yates and Ryan Torain? 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 13 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers at Buccaneers. Some of the shine has worn off the rookie sensation recently, as Newton has failed to keep up the ridiculous pace he set at the dawn of his NFL career. But things get much easier in Tampa Bay, where the Bucs’ sieve-like secondary won’t stand a chance against the Newton-Steve Smith combo. You can count on a rushing score from the jumbo-sized passer as well.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins vs. Raiders. Rookie Daniel Thomas has taken a back seat to Bush, who consistently piles up multi-purpose yardage even when he doesn’t reach the end zone. Bush should have little trouble dominating the weak Oakland defense, and at least one TD seems assured.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers at Buccaneers. It took a dozen weeks, but Williams finally delivered. Sadly, he did so while sitting on most owners’ benches. Slot him back in your lineup Sunday so you don’t miss out on another rousing performance against Tampa Bay’s reeling run defense.
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos at Vikings. It’s hard to get excited about a guy who posted a goose egg two weeks ago, and who plays with a quarterback that rarely throws. On the other hand, Decker has four scoring receptions over the last five games, and he’s facing the league’s most generous secondary (22 passing TDs surrendered). Start him.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots vs. Colts. Branch is typically a boom or bust play in any given week, but when the opponent is the hapless Colts, the odds are in your favor. Tom Brady could set records in this matchup if he doesn’t hit the showers early, which he rarely does.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tim Tebow, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford; RBs Willis McGahee, DeMarco Murray, Marshawn Lynch, Toby Gerhart, Roy Helu, LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, BenJarvus Green-Ellis; WRs Percy Harvin, Dwayne Bowe, Johnny Knox, Stevie Johnson, Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, Laurent Robinson, Dez Bryant, Lance Moore, Mike Williams (TB), Nate Washington, Michael Crabtree.
Roll ‘em back
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Jaguars. The incredible, shrinking Rivers travels cross-country to face a bad team with a solid pass defense. While we never know in advance whether Vincent Jackson will show up, it is clear that Rivers is not firing on all cylinders. Reserve him if you can.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams at 49ers. I have no choice but to start Jackson in one league, but I wouldn’t if I had a reasonable alternative. Not only have the 49ers refused to allow a runner into the end zone all year, but Jackson has been weighed down by the Rams’ anemic offense for weeks.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns vs. Ravens. On the positive side, Hillis appears to be reasonably healthy and he has reclaimed his workhorse role in the Browns’ offense. However, that offense struggles to move even in favorable matchups, and the Ravens are far from favorable.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons at Texans. Not only did he post a goose egg last week, but he wasn’t even targeted once by Matt Ryan. That’s a pretty strong signal that his hamstring isn’t yet fully healed. The concerns mount this week, as Jones is facing the NFL’s second-ranked pass defense.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens at Browns. Baltimore’s lead wideout has been in a rut lately, with a 35-yard TD catch comprising his highlight reel since Week 8. He’s unlikely to break out of his slump against Cleveland’s top-ranked secondary.
More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Rex Grossman, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Kevin Kolb; RBs Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Kevin Smith, James Starks, Joseph Addai; WRs Andre Johnson, Earl Bennett, Jason Avant, Santana Moss, Vincent Brown, Mario Manningham, Miles Austin.
Taking a flier
Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins vs. Raiders. If you’re hurting at quarterback this week, consider Moore, who has been respectable or better in three of his last four starts. Moore has developed a nice rapport with Brandon Marshall, and he has enough additional weapons to keep the Raiders’ mediocre secondary on their heels.
Don’t be the bonehead who…stops competing just because you missed the postseason. Not only is there satisfaction in playing the spoiler, but rolling over could unfairly help your competition advance over a more deserving foe. Remember, there’s no “I” in fantasy, but there is in “weenie.”