Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Wes Welker, or to bench Dan Orlovsky and Shane Vereen? 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 14 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders at Packers. Even though his wide receiver corps is hurting, Palmer should have little trouble slicing up a generous Packers secondary that won’t have its best player, Charles Woodson (concussion). Palmer will have little choice but to pass early and often, and garbage-time stats will do just fine.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins vs. Patriots. Do I trust Mike Shanahan? Heck no. But even he wouldn’t pull the plug on a back who has amassed 254 yards and 2 TDs over the past two games. (Would he?) New England’s run defense is not as strong as the two Helu has just faced.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills at Chargers. You probably saw his fluky fumble-turned-touchdown last week; but did you know he also had a 41-yard scoring run nullified by a penalty? Spiller has emerged as a key multi-purpose weapon for the Bills, while the Chargers are vulnerable to both the run and pass.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Cardinals. He and Alex Smith are finally on the same page, and Crabtree collected 120 receiving yards in their last meeting with Arizona. Look for more of the same, and an end zone visit, for the emerging duo.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens vs. Colts. He’s been a little quiet lately, but Smith will make some noise Sunday against the putrid Colts secondary. The Ravens may not need to pass often, but they won’t be able to resist at least one big strike to the play-making rookie.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Matt Stafford, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Marshawn Lynch, Rashard Mendenhall, Shonn Greene, Reggie Bush, Michael Bush, Ryan Mathews; WRs Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Stevie Johnson, Laurent Robinson, Santana Moss, Percy Harvin, Lance Moore, Santonio Holmes.
Roll ‘em back
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Browns. Whether due to their awful run defense or their world-class secondary, Cleveland simply doesn’t allow much fantasy production to opposing QBs. With multiple scoring passes in only three of his last seven games, Big Ben is a risky play tonight.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. 49ers. Death, taxes and running backs shut down by the 49ers. Three certainties that won’t change this weekend. Wells may be on a roll, but that will come to a screeching halt on Sunday. In Week 11, he posted 33 yards against this defense.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers vs. Raiders. You’d think Grant would be a decent play against Oakland’s soft run defense, with James Starks most likely resting his injured ankle this week. But Grant won’t have the backfield to himself, with both Brandon Saine and touchdown-poacher John Kuhn also in the mix. Avoid the unpredictable and under-utilized Green Bay backfield.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Jets. It’s not just Revis Island that concerns me; it’s Tyler Palko. As difficult as it may be to sit Bowe in the fantasy postseason, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 5. There are better options out there.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams at Seahawks. No matter how talented he is, a receiver can’t throw the ball to himself. Instead, Lloyd could be chasing down passes from Tom Brandstater in this contest. ‘Nuff said.
More thumbs down: QBs Andy Dalton, Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson; RBs DeAngelo Williams; Darren Sproles, Cedric Benson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Steven Jackson, Peyton Hillis, Colts RBs; WRs Hines Ward, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, Pierre Garcon, Johnny Knox, Deion Branch.
Taking a flier
Nate Burleson, WR, Lions vs. Vikings. As you enter the postseason, it’s always best to stick with your studs. Burleson is no stud, but he has a stellar matchup against a secondary that has surrendered a league-worst 24 passing TDs. Burleson is an excellent flex or WR3 play this week.
Don’t be the bonehead who…benches a reliable receiver for Pierre Garcon. Sure, the Colts wideout reeled in two trash-time touchdowns last weekend. But that came against the sieve-like Patriots secondary. Baltimore’s pass defenders are relentless, and Garcon won’t stand a chance.