Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and LeSean McCoy, or to bench Seneca Wallace and Joseph Addai in your championship game? 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 16 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons at Saints. With seven TD passes and no interceptions over the past two weeks, Ryan is among the hottest QBs in the land. He’ll need to keep up the blistering pace on Monday night as he duels Drew Brees in what is sure to be a fantasypalooza.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Broncos at Lions. Coming off a week in which he gashed the Ravens’ elite defense for 90 yards and two scores, Mathews now gets to pick on Detroit’s vulnerable run defense. He could score as a rusher and receiver in this high-flying contest.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks vs. 49ers. Call it a hunch, or pure confidence in a tailback who hasn’t failed to reach the end zone since Week 3. Not only wouldn’t I sit Lynch against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense; I’ll bet he posts the first rushing score of the year on them.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Jets vs. Giants. The cross-town smack talk is in full swing, but the Giants’ porous secondary won’t be able to muzzle the chatter, or the scoring. Look for Burress to penetrate the end zone at least once against his former team, and add some nice yardage along the way.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at Cowboys. He’s been hindered in recent weeks by hamstring and shoulder injuries, but Maclin appears reliably healthy now. He notched 54 yards and a TD in the teams’ first meeting, and similar or better production awaits in what should be a high-scoring rematch.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Matt Moore, Tim Tebow; RBs Michael Bush, Reggie Bush, Kevin Smith, Willis McGahee, Rashard Mendenhall, C.J. Spiller, Shonn Greene, Cedric Benson, Beanie Wells; WRs A.J. Green, Nate Washington, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, Mike Williams (Bucs), Percy Harvin, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Santonio Holmes.
Roll ‘em back
Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins vs. Vikings. Grossman is at the top of many sleeper lists this week since he’ll be facing Minnesota’s generous secondary. That might make sense if (a) he hadn’t underachieved in other juicy matchups, and (b) he didn’t have the capacity to implode at any given moment. Don’t pin your title hopes on one of the most unreliable passers on the planet.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers vs. Buccaneers. In three of his last four games, Williams has scored at least once and rushed for 61 or more yards. But he stunk it up in the other contest, in Tampa Bay. Unless Williams breaks another long TD run Sunday, you may be left cursing Cam Newton for stealing all the goal-line glory.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins vs. Vikings. A lower leg injury presumably was the cause of his poor productivity last week, and it could limit his touches on Sunday, too. You know how skittish Mike Shanahan can be with his rushers. Evan Royster could be this week’s favored son. Helu comes with considerable risk against a solid run defense.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens vs. Browns. With news that Anquan Boldin is out due to knee surgery, Smith will be the primary receiver in this matchup. That means he’ll be blanketed by Joe Haden, who is playing at an elite level.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams at Steelers. Whether or not Sam Bradford (ankle) suits up, Lloyd can’t be trusted against the stingiest pass defense in the league.
More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, Alex Smith, Kyle Orton, Carson Palmer; RBs Marion Barber, Steven Jackson, Donald Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Toby Gerhart, Jonathan Stewart, Peyton Hillis, Jackie Battle, Ben Tate, Brandon Jacobs; WRs Eric Decker, Greg Little, Steve Breaston, Reggie Wayne, Denarius Moore.
Taking a flier
Kahlil Bell, RB, Bears at Packers. Looking for a sneaky flex play? Marion Barber is quickly wearing out his welcome in Chicago, and he’s been sitting out practice this week with a calf injury. Green Bay has coughed up at least one rushing TD per game for six straight weeks. Bell is a decent bet to make it seven.
Don’t be the bonehead who…heads out for last-minute Christmas shopping and forgets that Saturday is the new Sunday. A full slate of 13 games will be played on Christmas Eve this year. Be sure to lock in your championship game lineup by Saturday morning.