Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and your Broncos receivers, or to bench Jake Locker and Brandon Jacobs? 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 4 of the 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Vikings. Big Ben struggled to start the season, hampered by the lack of a running threat and the absence of Mike Wallace and Heath Miller. He got his tight end back last week and promptly passed for 406 yards against the Bears. On Sunday in London, Le’Veon Bell will attempt to restore hope in the Steelers’ running game. If your QB is on bye, Roethlisberger has a great matchup with the secondary that just got torched by Brian Hoyer. (But check the weather reports first.)
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders vs. Redskins. If not for a passing score and a trash-time TD by the hair of his chinny chin chin, RunDMC would have been a bust against the Broncos on Monday night. He’ll have much more room to roam against Washington’s subpar run defense. And McFadden will surely be leaned on with Matt Flynn likely under center.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets at Titans. In what shapes up as a low-scoring affair, Powell should be the Jets’ most potent weapon. With Chris Ivory nursing a bum hammy, Powell will get the workhorse treatment against the below-average Titans run defense.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots at Falcons. Kenbrell Thompkins stole the show last week while Edelman was lost on Revis Island. Look for a return to double-digit targets for Edelman, who is still the most reliable wideout in Tom Brady’s arsenal. Atlanta’s secondary has been fairly generous to opposing receivers.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals at Browns. With Joe Haden preoccupied with AJ Green, Sanu will benefit from the lax coverage offered by the rest of Cleveland’s secondary. Though he has yet to score this season, Sanu is an especially dangerous red-zone threat. Look for plenty of passes his way, including his first trip to the end zone.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III; RBs DeMarco Murray, Ray Rice, Knowshon Moreno, Trent Richardson, Giovani Bernard, Darren Sproles; WRs Marques Colston, Antonio Brown, Pierre Garcon, Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Josh Gordon.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans vs. Seahawks. At best, he’ll be facing the stingy Seattle secondary with a limited Andre Johnson. At worst, AJ and his ailing shin will be watching from the sidelines. Either way, Schaub should be on your bench this weekend.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills vs. Ravens. The well-known axiom in fantasy football is that you never sit your studs, regardless of the matchup. But when your first-round pick hasn’t lived up to his billing, he’s hobbling on a sore thigh, Fred Jackson is stealing half his carries and he’s playing one of the league’s stingiest run defenses, it’s time to challenge convention.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Cowboys. As expected, San Diego is operating a full-fledged committee backfield, with no less than four RBs getting touches. That’s trouble for Mathews no matter who they’re playing, but Dallas’ second-ranked run defense makes him a must-sit.
David Wilson, RB, Giants at Chiefs. He hasn’t topped the 50-yard mark yet, due in no small part to the ineffectiveness of the Giants’ entire offense. Wilson’s fortunes aren’t likely to change in the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins at Saints. As much as this ole Miami boy would like to believe, I’m afraid my beloved Dolphins are about to get a rude awakening on Monday night. Hartline has scored in two of three outings this season, but the Saints have been very stingy with opposing receivers. I don’t like his chances.
More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Brian Hoyer; RBs Rashard Mendenhall, Willis McGahee, Joique Bell, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden; WRs Miles Austin, Roddy White, Hakeem Nicks, Andre Roberts, Santonio Holmes, Kenny Britt, Cecil Shorts, Greg Jennings.
TAKING A FLIER
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers at Vikings. Normally I would steer away from a rookie making his first start after an injury, but Bell plays for a team in desperate need of a strong running game and he’ll be facing one of the league’s rushing doormats. He’s a good flex play with plenty of upside, especially if the winds and rain start swirling in Wembley Stadium.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…waits till the last minute to deal with your bye week issues. The NFL is easing us in this weekend with only the Packers and Panthers out. But four teams will be idle in Week 5. It’s wise to look ahead at least a week and consider making an early move to avoid having to fight for the player(s) you want on the waiver wire. This is the time of the season when savvy players have an extra edge. (Hint: Justin Blackmon is available in most leagues.)