Friday, November 30, 2012

Week 13 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Ryan Lindley and Jerome Simpson?  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 13 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Colts.  Coming off his huge Thanksgiving outing against the Texans, keep Stafford in your lineup as the Colts’ mediocre secondary comes to town. Stafford didn’t skip a beat without Titus Young, and he is finally starting to resemble the deadly gunslinger we remember from last season.

Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles at Cowboys.  Dallas’ defense is in free-fall, thanks to injuries to several key players.  Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy is still in the early stages of recovery from his concussion, leaving the backfield in Brown’s capable hands again.  The Eagles have little alternative but to ride the play-making rookie as far as he can carry them.

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions vs. Colts.  With scoring runs in each of his last two games, Leshoure is back on a decent roll.  Now facing a lackluster Colts run defense, and blessed with excellent air cover from Stafford & Co., Detroit’s lead back is well-positioned for another good-to-great outing.

Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills vs. Jaguars. He’s reached the end zone just once since Week 3, but Johnson has a good chance to return Sunday against the shoddy Jaguars secondary.  Despite his modest production of late, Johnson is still being targeted frequently, so don’t hesitate to trust him.

Brandon Lafell, WR, Panthers at Chiefs.  Lafell has scored in back-to-back games, and he has actually been more productive than Steve Smith in recent weeks.  Only the Redskins and Raiders have surrendered more passing TDs than the Chiefs.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Cam Newton, Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo; RBs Frank Gore, CJ Spiller, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Jonathan Dwyer; WRs Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith (CAR), Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts.

Roll ‘em back

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers at Broncos.  After a six-game stretch in which he posted a whopping 1,715 passing yards and 16 TDs, Freeman came down to earth against the Falcons in Week 12.  He could remain grounded against a stout Denver defense that leads the league in sacks.  Go with a safer option.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots at Dolphins.  With the rushing workload divided between three, sometimes four, backs, Ridley could have a tough time racking up big stats against the stingy Dolphins run defense.  Brady will move the ball at will through the air in this contest, potentially making Ridley a bit player in this matchup.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders vs. Browns.  RunDMC (ankle) is expected to reclaim his starting job this week, but Marcel Reece has earned a continuing role in the rushing attack going forward, thanks to his strong relief performances.  If McFadden sits again, Reece is worth a start.  Otherwise, consider benching both backs against a Cleveland run defense that has been playing its best ball of late.

Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks at Bears.  Tate has been surprisingly effective when healthy; but, like his quarterback, he’s much more productive at home than on the road.  Chicago’s secondary presents a formidable challenge, so you’d be wise to avoid the entire Seattle passing attack at Soldier Field this weekend.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers at Ravens. Last week, I begged you to sit Mike Wallace due to Ben Roethlisberger’s continued absence.  This week, I’m just as concerned about Brown, who is on track to return from a three-week respite due to an ankle injury.  Big Ben’s chances of playing are remote, at best, making Brown too risky to start against a Ravens defense that has surrendered just nine passing TDs all season.

More thumbs down: QBs Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford; RBs James Starks, Knowshon Moreno, Rashad Jennings, Shonn Greene; WRs Mike Wallace, Jeremy Kerley, Greg Jennings, Torrey Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Dwayne Bowe, Sidney Rice, Danny Amendola, James Jones, Mike Williams.


Michael Bush, RB, Bears vs. Seahawks.  While it appears Matt Forte will suit up Sunday, Bush will surely see more touches, if only to reduce the wear-and-tear on the starter’s tender ankle.  Miami’s rushers torched Seattle last week, so look for Bush to burst through for at least one score, and plenty of yardage, in this contest.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…sticks with David Akers despite concerns over his pelvis injury.  Still owned in 80 percent of fantasy leagues, Akers whiffed on two of three field goal attempts last week.  The 49ers are auditioning temporary replacements.  You should, too.

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