Friday, October 25, 2013

Week 8 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Marshawn Lynch and A.J. Green, or to bench Chad Henne and Ryan Broyles? 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 8 of the 2013 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks at Rams.  He’s been up-and-down over the last five weeks, but Wilson will be on his A game under the Monday night lights.  He may even get to take his favorite new toy out for a spin, as Percy Harvin prepares for his Seattle debut.  Regardless, the Rams are likely to be in such offensive disarray, Wilson should prosper simply from outstanding field position.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers at Raiders.  True workhorse backs are hard to find these days, but Bell has claimed the title in his very brief tenure.  While the Raiders aren’t pushovers, Pittsburgh is returning to its run-bashing roots and will give their prized rookie every opportunity to accumulate 100 yards and at least one end zone run.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots vs. Dolphins.  I reserved judgment after Ridley’s stellar Week 6 outing against the Saints, wanting to see how his playing time and production would stack up against the stingier Jets run defense.  He passed the test.  The going gets much easier against the average-at-best defenders from Miami.

Reuben Randle, WR, Giants at Eagles.  No team has allowed more points to opposing receivers than Philadelphia.  Meanwhile, Randle is on a prolific three-game stretch in which he’s scored four times while out-playing both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.  In a week with so many wideouts injured and on bye, Randle is an exceptional play. 

Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers at Vikings.  Even if James Jones (knee) returns – which appears less and less likely as Sunday approaches – Boykin will continue to see plenty of targets with Jermichael Finley sidelined.  Minnesota’s secondary is no match for Aaron Rodgers, who isn’t slowing down just because his receiving corps is in shambles.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Matt Stafford; RBs Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Lacy, Darren Sproles, Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, DeMarco Murray; WRs Marques Colston, Terrance Williams, Pierre Garcon, Larry Fitzgerald, Harry Douglas, Antonio Brown, Justin Blackmon.

Roll ‘em back

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders vs. Steelers.  Those who have become infatuated by Pryor’s running prowess still need something from his arm to justify starting him.  With Pittsburgh’s stingy secondary heading into the Black Hole, Pryor’s production may indeed be limited mostly to the ground.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills at Saints.  All you need to know is that the team is considering shutting him down for a week to allow his ankle to fully heal.  In retrospect, this should have happened weeks ago.  Spiller says his ankle has improved significantly this week; but given the strong play of Fred Jackson (despite a sprained MCL) and continued poaching from Tashard Choice, Spiller doesn’t belong in any starting lineup Sunday.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets at Bengals.  Counting on Ivory to have the proverbial “hot hand” in consecutive weeks is like banking on Pauly Shore to make a funny movie.  Bilal Powell is still firmly in the backfield mix and Cincinnati’s run defense is much less generous than New England’s.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns at Chiefs.  After an encouraging start to the season, Cleveland’s passing attack has nearly ground to a halt.  Gordon’s talents are being squandered by poor QB play, and that may not improve soon with their third starter, Jason Campbell, stepping in against one of the league’s most formidable pass defenses.

Rams receivers vs. Seahawks.  They would have been a risky bet against Seattle even with Sam Bradford under center.  Now?  The chance that any St. Louis player tops 50 receiving yards with Kellen Clemens at the controls is slim to none.  Heck, the Rams even called Brett Favre to see if he’d consider returning – and got spurned!

More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Ryan Tannehill; RBs Zac Stacy, Roy Helu, Willis McGahee, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashard Mendenhall, Brandon Jacobs, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle; WRs Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, Greg Jennings, Denarius Moore, Cecil Shorts, Miles Austin.


Michael Vick, QB, Eagles vs. Giants.  He’s back at practice and there’s little doubt his club needs him this weekend.  Assuming Vick doesn’t have a setback with his temperamental hamstring, he will face a delicious matchup with the hapless Giants.  The playmakers around him are due for a nice rebound as well.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gives up prematurely on your season.  First of all, this is only Week 8.  You can’t be that far out of contention, can you?  More important, deliberately tanking disrupts the competitive balance of your league and isn’t fair to your fellow owners.  Come on, if nothing else, you can find satisfaction in being a spoiler!

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