Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 6 of the 2012 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings at Redskins. The second-year passer has posted three strong fantasy performances, mixed in with two zero-TD, low-yardage outings. This week, he’ll face the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense, which has surrendered a league-high 13 passing scores. If you need bye-week help, you could do much worse than Ponder.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals at Browns. Just as Cleveland gets back its best pass defender (Joe Haden), its top run stopper (DQwell Jackson) could be sidelined due to concussion symptoms. Ahmad Bradshaw ran roughshod over the Browns last week, pointing the way for the Law Firm to excel on Sunday. The season-ending injury to understudy Bernard Scott is more grounds for optimism.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys at Ravens. You might be tempted to bench the disappointing tailback against a team with the Ravens’ tough reputation. But a closer look reveals a Baltimore defense that’s highly vulnerable to the run. If Dallas did anything over their bye, you have to think it was scheming to get Murray more touches in the offense, to take the pressure off the struggling Tony Romo.
Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals vs. Bills. I have a hard time trusting Kevin Kolb after last week’s debacle in St. Louis; but with all the trouble surrounding Arizona’s running game, his wideouts will be very busy. Roberts has been surprisingly effective as Larry Fitzgerald’s wing man, and he should have plenty of success against Buffalo’s putrid pass defense.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers vs. Giants. He and Alex Smith are finally developing the chemistry that has eluded them since the heralded wideout was drafted. Crabtree had his best game of the season in the 49ers’ romp over the Bills, and the duo should continue to soar against the shaky Giants secondary.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith; RBs Darren McFadden, Michael Turner, Trent Richardson, Ryan Mathews, Frank Gore; WRs Percy Harvin, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, James Jones.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions at Eagles. Frustrated Stafford owners are unlikely to celebrate their man’s reemergence this week against a talented Philly secondary that held Ben Roethlisberger to his worst outing of the season. Stafford has been a fantasy liability to date; so until he rediscovers his mojo, or faces a weak opponent, he belongs on your bench.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers vs. Chiefs. The rookie underachieved through the early games even before LeGarrette Blount re-entered the backfield rotation. Now that Martin is facing competition for carries, in addition to the solid run defense that just held Ray Rice and the Ravens out of the end zone, he is best held in reserve.
Alex Green, RB, Packers at Texans. Green has the potential to be a valuable pickup in light of Cedric Benson’s injury; but not this week. The rookie is facing one of the stingiest defenses in the league – the only team yet to have surrendered a rushing TD – and we haven’t seen how the carries will shake out between Green and his fellow backups.
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders at Falcons. To the delight of Darren McFadden’s owners, Oakland’s best chance for success against Atlanta will be on the ground. The Falcons are playing stout pass defense, so don’t expect big things from Moore, who has struggled to generate consistent production.
Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants at 49ers. Any Giants receiver not named Cruz is a risky bet this week against the fired-up 49ers defenders. Hixon failed to live up to expectations last week against the soft Browns secondary, and even Hakeem Nicks (foot, knee) is a dicey proposition should he return.
More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andrew Luck; RBs Stevan Ridley, Ahmad Bradshaw, CJ Spiller, Shonn Greene, Ben Tate; WRs Brandon Lloyd, Dez Bryant, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Josh Gordon, Brian Hartline, Jeremy Kerley.
TAKING A FLIER
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts at Jets. There is no tastier matchup for an NFL tailback than the reeling Jets. So even a rookie getting his first start for a mediocre running team has a chance to strike it rich. Ballard is not likely to carry you to fantasy riches, but he could be a useful bye-week fill-in while Donald Brown recuperates from knee surgery for the next two to three weeks.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…keeps deadweight on your roster. As of this writing, Ryan Williams is still owned in roughly 65 percent of leagues, according to one of the leading sites. Those aren’t all keeper leagues, I’m sure. Nearly 80 percent are holding onto Cedric Benson, even though he’s not eligible to return until Week 12, at the earliest. More than half are inexplicably clinging to Santonio Holmes, who is out for the season.