Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Rob Gronkowski, or to bench Caleb Hanie and Tashard Choice? 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 15 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos vs. Patriots. There’s only one elite quarterback playing in this game, and it’s not Tebow. But New England’s secondary has made fantasy stars out of Rex Grossman and Dan Orlovsky over the past two weeks. Even if he’s only on-target in the fourth quarter while playing catch-up, Tebow will deliver stellar production.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals at Rams. There’s no better matchup for an opposing rusher than the Rams’ putrid defense. Benson is the unchallenged workhorse of Bengals’ offense, making him a must-start in virtually every league -- even over some elite options.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Browns. His two-game roll was interrupted by the elite 49ers defense last week. But Sunday offers the perfect rebound scenario of a lousy run defense, combined with a strong secondary that will limit Arizona’s passing game. Another big day awaits Wells.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints at Vikings. Marques Colston had a monster game against the Titans in Week 14, but he still trails Moore in the touchdown-scoring department (five to six). Facing an opponent that has surrendered the most passing TDs in the league (26), Moore is a must-start in Minnesota.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins at Giants. You won’t catch me jumping on the Rex Grossman bandwagon (aka rollercoaster), but there’s no denying his delicious matchup with New York’s imploding pass defense. Moss is the most reliable target in Sexy Rexy’s arsenal, making him a great bet to reach the end zone in his second straight game against inferior secondaries.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Joe Flacco; RBs Shonn Greene, Marshawn Lynch, Felix Jones, Michael Bush, Reggie Bush, Roy Helu; WRs Julio Jones, Laurent Robinson, Miles Austin, Nate Washington, Mike Williams (Bucs), Donald Driver, Torrey Smith, Percy Harvin, Plaxico Burress, Dwayne Bowe.
Roll ‘em back
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers at Texans. Not only does Houston boast the third-stingiest pass defense in the NFL, but they are stout against the run as well. Normally you can count on Newton to make up any passing deficiencies with a running score or two; but this week should be the exception.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles vs. Jets. The electrifying quarterback is still playing in pain, and the Jets’ aggressive pass defense won’t make life any easier. Vick has yet to notch a scoring run all season, and multiple passing scores are not in the cards this week either.
Rashard Menden-hall, RB, Steelers at 49ers. You hate to sit a top rusher in the fantasy postseason; but when he’s facing a brick wall in San Francisco, you almost have to. Mendenhall is losing touches to Isaac Redman as well, making him an even riskier start.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills vs. Dolphins. Buffalo is having trouble running the ball, while Miami has quietly ascended into the elite ranks of run defenses. Spiller will have trouble getting on track against this unit, which has allowed just five rushing scores all season.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers at 49ers. I’ve said before he’s my new favorite fantasy wideout, but Brown is a dicey proposition if Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) can’t play. While the 49ers secondary isn’t nearly as stingy as its run defense, they’re good enough to shut down Charlie Batch and his No. 2 receiver. The Monday night start makes Brown, and Big Ben, even riskier options.
More thumbs down: QBs Sam Bradford, Kyle Orton, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Kevin Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Marion Barber, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Chris Ivory; WRs Deion Branch, Jeremy Maclin, Johnny Knox, Michael Crabtree.
Taking a flier
Cardinals defense/special teams vs. Browns. You thought Cleveland’s offense struggled before? Get ready for an epic failure with Colt McCoy (concussion) on the sidelines. Arizona has sacked opposing passers five times apiece over the last two games, and their secondary has elevated its game recently as well. The Browns’ three-headed backfield committee won’t find much room to run, either.
Don’t be the bonehead who…overlooks the Saturday night tilt between the Cowboys and Buccaneers. Just as we’ve grown accustomed to the Thursday night games, the NFL is throwing us another scheduling curveball. Make sure your Cowboys, especially, are locked in for what should be a fantasy smorgasbord.