Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 12 of the 2012 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys vs. Redskins. Romo has a history of peaking early, and November is his best month, by far. The NFL’s 30th-ranked pass defense should help him keep that streak alive on Thanksgiving, as will Dez Bryant, who finally seems to be in sync with his quarterback.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills at Colts. There’s a decent chance Fred Jackson (concussion) will return to the lineup on Sunday, most likely in a backup, limited-carry role. Spiller is Buffalo’s most dangerous weapon, and he’ll be deployed extensively against a Colts’ run defense that has surrendered the second-most TDs to opposing rushers.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals vs. Raiders. Look for the Law Firm to build off his first 100-yard game of the season in a matchup with Oakland’s league-worst run defense. With TDs in two of his last three outings, Green-Ellis is also a good bet for another end-zone encore.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens at Chargers. The game-breaking speedster’s worst game of the season fittingly came against the NFL’s stingiest pass defense. In San Diego, the coverage gets much softer, and Smith will undoubtedly be a huge part of the game plan. Don’t miss out on his rebound performance.
Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers vs. Ravens. We haven’t seen a QB-WR tandem develop such quick chemistry since Romo and Laurent Robinson last season. Alexander has been targeted 18 times over the last two games, amassing 230 yards and 3 TDs along the way. Trust him against the mediocre Baltimore secondary.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan; RBs Frank Gore, Marcel Reece, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson; WRs Dez Bryant, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Stevie Johnson, Randall Cobb, Michael Crabtree, Miles Austin, Nate Washington, Justin Blackmon, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Marques Colston, Hakeem Nicks.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Texans. Until Chad Henne embarrassed Houston’s secondary in Week 11, this was a matchup to be avoided. And while Calvin Johnson had a huge day last week, Stafford’s stat line was nothing special. Look for the Texans to remind the nation why they are bona fide Super Bowl contenders.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets vs. Patriots. Not only has Bilal Powell staked his claim to a substantial share of the carries, including those at the goal line, but Joe McKnight has also been declared a card-carrying member of the three-man rotation. In a game where the Jets could be forced to abandon the run early, Greene’s opportunities will be very limited.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins vs. Seahawks. Miami has plummeted from contender to pretender in rapid fashion, and Bush has led the free fall. It’s not that Daniel Thomas is playing better; it’s that the entire offense is stuck in a rut. Seattle’s stingy run defense won’t help.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers at Browns. Strike one: He’ll be attempting to shag passes from Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh’s third-string quarterback. Strike two: Wallace accumulated a whopping 26 yards with the second-stringer. Strike three: If shutdown corner Joe Haden (oblique) plays, it’s game over.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, WRs, Eagles vs. Panthers. With Nick Foles under center, this duo combined for – wait for it – FIVE receiving yards against the inept Redskins pass defense. Now facing a much more formidable opponent, you simply can’t risk any Eagles receiver in your lineup.
More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles; RBs Felix Jones, James Starks, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, Fred Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Kerley, Dwayne Bowe, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Josh Gordon, Golden Tate.
TAKING A FLIER
Jalen Parmele, RB, Jaguars vs. Titans. I know, I know. I’m recommending a Jag? Only if you’re really hurting at RB. Parmele has stolen the starting job from Rashad Jennings, and the versatile tailback should get plenty of touches against the awful Titans defense. It helps that Jacksonville seems to have found its passing game.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets the tryptophan take over and cause you to ignore the Thanksgiving Day inactive reports. Several players – including Aaron Hernandez, Pierre Garcon and Felix Jones – are shaping up to be game-time decisions. You won’t be very thankful if you’re left with a goose egg in your starting lineup.