Wondering whether or not to start Matt Ryan and Doug Martin, or to bench Christian Ponder and Arrelious Benn? 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 10 of the 2012 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions at Vikings. He has performed well over the last two games, and you have to figure Mikel Leshoure won’t steal all the scoring fun two weeks in a row. Stafford has a solid track record against Minnesota, which has coughed up three TD passes without an interception over the past two games to both Russell Wilson and Josh Freeman.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots vs. Bills. Brandon Bolden burst onto the scene the last time these teams met, but he has since faded into the background. Shane Vereen found the spotlight prior to the team’s bye; but the constant throughout has been Ridley, who should continue to flourish against the pathetic Buffalo rush defense.
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers vs. Chiefs. Jonathan Dwyer is expected to return, and he will surely eat into the veteran’s carries. But Redman is still higher on the depth chart, and he is the most likely candidate to stay “on a roll” after last weekend’s stellar performance against the Giants. Moreover, the woeful Chiefs could conceivably allow both backs to prosper on Monday night.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins vs. Titans. He got back on track with Ryan Tannehill last week, and now the duo draws a Tennessee secondary that has surrendered the most passing scores in the league (20). Hartline is a good bet to top 100 yards and find the end zone at least once in this mismatch.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers at Buccaneers. Robert Meachem is completely untrustworthy, and Danario Alexander is still figuring out the offense. That makes Floyd and Antonio Gates the best candidates for fantasy heroism against the league’s worst pass defense.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ryan Tannehill, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Philip Rivers; RBs Michael Turner, Mikel Leshoure, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee; WRs Stevie Johnson, Miles Austin, Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Crabtree, Demaryius Thomas.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans at Bears. Schaub is on a nice two-game roll, but the road gets tougher against the ball-hawking Chicago defense. Don’t be surprised if this game turns into a defensive slugfest, with little excitement in store for either team’s passing attack.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams at 49ers. No longer the workhorse of the Rams’ offense, Jackson heads into a bad matchup with the 49ers splitting the load with the fresh-legged rookie, Daryl Richardson. Jackson hasn’t scored against San Francisco since 2010, well before he was sharing carries.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers at Buccaneers. Tampa Bay boasts the stingiest run defense in the land, while Mathews has been just so-so against weaker competition. He’s a bad bet to score his second TD of the season this weekend, and he should be relegated to your bench if you have a decent alternative.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants at Bengals. Eli Manning is in a four-game funk and Nicks hasn’t practiced all week due to swelling in his knee (again). Nicks insists he will play, but the struggling wideout is in his own four-game slump and carries a great deal of risk.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Steelers. Though he will surely get his fair share of targets, Bowe will be facing the league’s most-formidable pass defense on the road. Matt Cassel doesn’t stand a chance against a unit that has shut down Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III in consecutive weeks. Find a safer option.
More thumbs down: QBs Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez; RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Felix Jones, Shonn Greene, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Danny Amendola, Sidney Rice, Brandon Gibson, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Kerley.
TAKING A FLIER
Taiwan Jones, RB, Raiders at Ravens. A flier is someone who has done little or nothing to date, but has a chance to soar due to changing circumstances. Jones is the ultimate flier this week, given the ankle injuries to Darren McFadden and primary backup Mike Goodson. Fullback Marcel Reece is a better receiver than runner, leaving Jones as the more likely contender to tote the rock. Whether Oakland’s line can open holes for him is another story, but Baltimore’s run defense is fairly sieve-like.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gambles on a Vikings wideout not named Percy Harvin. Neither Michael Jenkins nor Jerome Simpson has the talent to overcome the deficiencies of a Christian Ponder-led passing game, and Harvin is highly unlikely to play on his severely sprained ankle.