Wondering whether or not to start Marshawn Lynch and Brandon Marshall, or to bench Jacquizz Rodgers and Darrius Heyward-Bey? 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 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals at Chargers. It’s all about the matchups with the up-and-down Red Rocket, so look for a stellar outing against San Diego’s generous secondary. Though he’s been particularly susceptible to interceptions of late, the Chargers have only picked off opposing passers six times all season. With an extra week to prepare, Dalton and AJ Green should have their way with this porous pass defense.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans at Colts. CJ1K got off to a great start against the Colts in Week 11, piling up most of his 86 yards and both TDs in the first quarter. Then he faded. But not as badly as Indy has since then. Johnson should excel on the indoor track and he might even treat us to a full 60 minutes of production.
Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots at Texans. Stevan Ridley keeps fumbling his way into his coach’s doghouse, while Vereen’s workload and production have grown steadily since his Week 11 return. Get the multi-purpose tailback in your lineup against the imploding Houston defense. If he doesn’t punch in a score on the ground, Vereen is a solid bet to take a swing pass the distance.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears at Vikings. Starting your receivers against the Minnesota secondary is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Jeffery makes the decision easier now that he’s so frequently targeted by Josh McCown. Even better, the passing game won’t be disrupted by the elements.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills vs. Falcons. With his groin injury and the bye week behind him, Johnson is fully expected to suit up in Toronto for a tantalizing matchup with the vulnerable Atlanta secondary. Get him back in your lineup and enjoy the favorable returns.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Josh McCown, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Eli Manning; RBs Andre Brown, Rashad Jennings, Bilal Powell, Fred Jackson, Reggie Bush, Alfred Morris, Giovani Bernard, DeMarco Murray, Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Josh Gordon, Jordy Nelson, Michael Floyd, Harry Douglas, Riley Cooper, Nate Burleson, Rod Streater, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline.
Roll ‘em back
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Ravens. One look at Big Ben’s recent track record against the Ravens should tell you that he is the riskiest of starts this weekend. Despite his recent hot streak, Roethlisberger can’t be trusted on the road against the team that limited him to a season-low 160 passing yards in Week 7.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Chiefs. Moreno took a beating on Monday night and hasn’t seen the practice field since. Though the team is praying he’ll be ready to roll Sunday on his injured ankle, he could very well be on a snap count. Given the persistent fumbling issues of his backups, there’s no telling who would benefit most from Moreno’s limited workload or absence.
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals at Eagles. With Rashard Mendenhall seemingly back to full strength, Ellington’s fantasy star turn has fizzled in recent weeks. He’s even been unable to take advantage of favorable matchups, like this weekend’s tilt in Philly. It doesn’t help that Mendenhall is Arizona’s preferred goal-line horse.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts vs. Titans. Blame Andrew Luck’s funk. Blame Tennessee CB Alterraun Verner, who held Hilton to a paltry 44 receiving yards in Week 11. Blame Rio. Whatever the cause, Hilton is unlikely to break out of his two-game skid this weekend. There are safer options out there.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens vs. Steelers. I warn you every time these teams meet to sit Smith, who is consistently shut down by Ike Taylor and friends. His 61-yard effort in Week 7 was actually better than usual, but still of little use to fantasy playoff contenders.
More thumbs down: QBs Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn, Mike Glennon, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Case Keenum; RBs Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Ray Rice, Lamar Miller, Bobby Rainey, Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ben Tate, Mark Ingram, Steven Jackson, Chris Ivory, Zac Stacy/Benny Cunningham; WRs Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Percy Harvin, Tavon Austin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Stills, Cecil Shorts, Terrance Williams, Marlon Brown, Tiquan Underwood, DeAndre Hopkins, Danny Amendola, Andre Johnson.
TAKING A FLIER
Donald Brown, RB, Colts vs. Titans. Brown was dreadful in Week 12 against the stout Cardinals run defense, which held him to minus-1 combined yards on the day. But the going gets easier when one of the NFL’s softest run defenses comes to town (15 rushing TDs surrendered to date). Brown torched this squad for 94 total yards and a pair of TDs two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson remains little more than a distraction.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…rushes to start the newly activated Michael Crabtree in his first game back on Sunday against the Rams. There’s little doubt he’ll be on a snap count in deference to his rehabbed Achilles, and it will surely take some time for the wideout and Colin Kaepernick to re-establish their mojo.