Friday, October 19, 2012

Week 7 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Arian Foster, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Knowshon Moreno? 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 7 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers vs. Saints.  Freeman has accumulated 627 passing yards and 4 TDs over his past two games against sub-par secondaries.  He should continue his roll against the Saints’ 26th-ranked pass defense.  Freeman has been in sync with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, who also have a good shot to soar at home in this favorable matchup.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots vs. Jets.  The Seahawks kept Ridley in check last week, but the Jets offer a much more tantalizing opportunity.  Though he must compete for touches with two or three other backs, Ridley remains a high-upside play in a week when six teams are on bye.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills vs. Titans.  It is painfully clear that Buffalo’s best chance to win is with its powerful running game.  Both Spiller and starter Fred Jackson produced well in the upset over Arizona, and they’ll enjoy a softer matchup this week.  Both are worth starting, but Spiller gets the nod due to his pass-catching prowess.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints at Buccaneers.  Moore has been practicing fully this week and appears set to return to the starting lineup after giving his hamstring nearly three weeks of rest.  Look for a nice outing against the woeful Bucs secondary as Drew Brees reconnects with his underrated wideout, especially if Jimmy Graham (ankle) can’t go or is relegated to decoy duty.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans at Bills.  Though still not fully recovered from last season’s ACL surgery, Britt finally delivered a solid performance a week ago against the Steelers (62 yards, 1 TD).  He was also targeted a whopping 11 times.  Look for plenty more passes his way, and continued success, in this highly favorable matchup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Stafford, Carson Palmer; RBs Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden, Doug Martin; WRs Hakeem Nicks, Stevie Johnson, Denarius Moore, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Texans.  Aaron Rodgers embarrassed the Texans’ defense last weekend, but Flacco is no Rodgers.  Houston’s defenders will have a chip on their shoulders and a plan to limit the Ravens’ middle-of-the-road passing attack. Flacco has posted just two TDs over the last three weeks, so he’s not exactly riding a hot streak.

Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns at Colts.  For obvious reasons, Hardesty was a popular waiver-wire addition this week.  But don’t get overly excited about his prospects Sunday.  Trent Richardson (ribs) claims to be “pain-free,” and all signs point to him returning and carrying the load against the awful Colts run defense. 

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions at Bears.  Chicago boasts the NFL’s stingiest run defense, with 66 yards allowed per game and just one rushing TD surrendered all season.  Leshoure is no sure bet against most defenses, but he’s especially ill-equipped to prosper in the Windy City.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots vs. Jets.  He’ll be dealing with a sore shoulder and blanket coverage from Antonio Cromartie on Sunday.  New England also has both its tight ends back to draw the targets away from Lloyd, who has found the end zone just once as a Patriot. 

Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams vs. Packers.  Green Bay leads the league in sacks, while Sam Bradford has been dumped 18 times (28th worst in the NFL).  Gibson has been getting a lot of fantasy attention since Danny Amendola went down, but he’s unlikely to fare well with his wildly inconsistent quarterback under constant pressure.

More thumbs down: QBs Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, John Skelton; RBs Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Shonn Greene, Mark Ingram, Vick Ballard, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, William Powell; WRs Pierre Garcon, Andrew Hawkins, Andre Roberts, Jerome Simpson.


Josh Gordon, WR, Browns at Colts.  Over the last two weeks, the rookie has notched three passing scores with only five receptions.  Two of those TD catches covered more than 60 yards; so it’s all or nothing with Gordon.  The Colts are stingy in the yardage department, but they have surrendered 10 passing scores to date.  Look for Gordon to be dancing in the end zone again on Sunday.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gives up after six weeks because you’ve gotten off to a bad start.  Many leagues grant wild-card playoff entries to high-scoring teams with poor win-loss records.  Meanwhile, injuries to key players can turn the tide for high-flying squads at any time, providing an opening for you to regain your footing.  If nothing else, keep playing for pride and the integrity of your league.  No one appreciates beating an opponent that’s already checked out.

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