Friday, December 28, 2012

Week 17 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Marshawn Lynch and Dez Bryant, or to bench Brian Hoyer and Austin Pettis?  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 17 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks vs. Rams.  He’s playing at home, where he is nearly flawless.  He’s led his team to 150 points over the last three games.  And he’s gunning for the NFC West title against a so-so Rams defense.  Yeah, I’d say Wilson is worth a start.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Bills.  You may want to bench him if only to keep from having to watch this dreadful game.  But Greene is likely to be the lone bright spot for the moribund Jets offense, which will once again be guided by Mark Sanchez.  Don’t be surprised to see Greene punch in a couple of goal-line scores against the NFL’s softest run defense.

Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins at Patriots.  Coming off his second-best fantasy performance of the season, Bush should remain in your lineup as he auditions for a new contract.  The Patriots are playing for a bye, but their defense is still struggling.  Bush will get plenty of touches to reinforce his value to the Dolphins, and other RB-challenged teams.

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens at Bengals.  Smith was clearly feeling no ill effects from his concussion while torching the Giants last week.  Though he faces a more formidable foe on Sunday, the Bengals could rest their starters early since their postseason positioning is firm.  Fellow wideout Anquan Boldin could also be limited with a bruised shoulder.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at Giants.  Maclin barely skipped a beat when Nick Foles took the reins, and he should have little trouble reestablishing his rapport with Michael Vick.  Provided he is able to suit up – he tweaked his knee in practice earlier this week -- Maclin will be the most familiar face on the field to his new/old quarterback.  Meanwhile, New York’s secondary is very generous to opposing receivers.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III; RBs LeSean McCoy, Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson, Knowshon Moreno, Alfred Morris, Frank Gore; WRs Mike Williams, Pierre Garcon, Stevie Johnson, Miles Austin, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Steve Smith, Kenny Britt, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Greg Jennings, Michael Crabtree, Justin Blackmon.

Roll ‘em back

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers vs. Browns.  In a mild surprise, Rashard Mendenhall emerged from his coach’s doghouse to be the Steelers’ most productive rusher in Week 16.  With nothing but pride at stake, a committee backfield holds little upside for any of Pittsburgh’s tailbacks.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals at 49ers.  After his epic disaster in Week 16 (3 rushing yards, fumble, benching), Wells should be nowhere near your lineup against a 49ers squad aiming for a division crown.  The oft-injured RB has already mentally checked out for the season, and he has started talking about playing elsewhere in 2013. 

Roddy White, WR, Falcons vs. Buccaneers.  Atlanta is Exhibit A for why fantasy titles should never be contested in Week 17.  With nothing to play for, Matt Ryan and his fellow starters could see just a few token series.  While the Bucs’ secondary is certainly capable of allowing big strikes to this prolific attack early on, that’s an awfully risky proposition for owners of the Falcons’ fantasy stars.  Especially those of White, who is nursing a knee injury.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers at Vikings.  Nelson (hamstring) is expected to return to the Packers’ lineup this weekend, but think twice before slotting him back in yours.  With Greg Jennings near 100 percent, Green Bay’s receiving corps is deep enough to allow the team to ease Nelson back slowly.  They’ll need him at full strength for their postseason run.

Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders at Chargers.  Matt Leinart is expected to start at QB for Oakland.  What more do you need to know to convince you that all Raider wideouts should be off the table?

More thumbs down: QBs Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford; RBs Michael Turner, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden, Mikel Leshoure, Vick Ballard, Ryan Grant, Rashard Mendenhall; WRs Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Kerley, Sidney Rice.


Michael Vick, QB, Eagles at Giants.  What better way for Vick to convince the league that he deserves another starting gig next season than by showcasing his running and passing skills against his division rivals?  He and Andy Reid have all the motivation they need to excel in this contest, and it helps that the Giants’ defense has been even worse than normal lately.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…plays next year’s title game in Week 17.  If that’s what you’re doing this weekend, you’ll see (again) that too many key players are either resting or completely checked out.  Most self-respecting fantasy leagues wrap up in Week 16 while all their players are still going full tilt.  The regular season finale is a better time for a consolation game or a “Free for All Bowl” – one last league-wide contest where the top overall scorer wins a small share of the pot.

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