Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 9 of the 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Redskins. After a torrid start to the season, Rivers cooled off considerably in the two games prior to the team’s bye. Slot him back in your lineup against the generous Washington secondary. The cross-country travel shouldn’t be a factor after the week of rest, and Rivers should come out slinging against the weak competition.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers at Patriots. His rushing score salvaged a rough outing against the Raiders last week. But despite Bell’s struggles, the Steelers kept handing him the ball. That bodes well as the team heads to New England, which fields the second-worst run defense in the NFL. The rookie could have a monster outing in this one.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers at Redskins. Coming off a week of rest preceded by two consecutive 100-yard rushing days, Mathews is primed for another strong outing against one of the league’s rushing doormats. Danny Woodhead will still get his touches, and San Diego’s line is beaten up; but it should be smooth sailing regardless in Washington.
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys vs. Vikings. Though he only caught two balls last week (one of which he turned into a 60-yard score), the rookie was targeted 10 times throughout the game. Meanwhile, Jason Witten has been marginalized and Miles Austin is a no-show whether he’s active or not. Against Minnesota’s awful secondary, Williams should soar.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears at Packers. Josh McCown has had two weeks to prepare for Monday night’s matchup, after filling in admirably when Jay Cutler went down against the Redskins. Jeffery posted 105 yards on seven receptions in that game. He’ll continue to produce against the Packers’ subpar pass defense, which will be preoccupied with slowing down Brandon Marshall.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck; RBs Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy; WRs Keenan Allen, Steve Smith, Denarius Moore, DeSean Jackson, Golden Tate, Pierre Garcon, Josh Gordon, Harry Douglas, T.Y. Hilton, Kendall Wright.
Roll ‘em back
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots vs. Steelers. Pretty boy is putting on a brave face, but there’s clearly something amiss with his hand and/or shoulder, and with the Patriots’ passing game. Pittsburgh comes to town sporting one of the NFL’s stingiest pass defenses, having surrendered just five TDs through the air all season. If you have a safer option than Brady, take it.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans at Rams. CJ1K has not had the rebound season many of us expected, exacerbated by the Titans’ unfortunate tendency of removing him at the goal line. St. Louis’ defensive line has been very stingy of late, which doesn’t bode well for Johnson. Only PPR leaguers should consider him a borderline starting option.
Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons at Panthers. Normally we’d give Jackson a pass for a subpar performance in his first game back from injury. Then we’d expect a nice bump in his second game. Not this time. Not only does the high-mileage veteran look like he’s favoring his tender hamstring, but Carolina’s run defense is the league’s second-best. Stay away from Atlanta’s backfield altogether.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints at Jets. Though Andy Dalton & Company torched the Jets last week, Antonio Cromartie remains one of the best cover corners in the league. He’ll likely be matched up against Colston, who hasn’t scored since Week 1 and has been taking a backseat to the younger receivers in Drew Brees’ stable.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills vs. Chiefs. There’s no telling who will be under center for Buffalo on Sunday, but whomever it is will be rattled around by one of the game’s elite defenses. Johnson is coming off a strong outing against the Saints, but he’ll have a much tougher time finding daylight against the Chiefs’ ball-hawking secondary.
More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Jake Locker; RBs Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, Willis McGahee, Chris Ivory, Mike James, Pierre Thomas; WRs Drew Davis, DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, all Vikings, Jets and Rams WRs.
TAKING A FLIER
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Bills. Bowe has been pretty awful most of this season, due in no small part to Alex Smith’s conservatism and perhaps to a lingering groin injury. But Smith actually added the pass back into his repertoire last week, and he just might keep it there against a Buffalo secondary that has surrendered more passing TDs (20) to date than any other team. If Bowe can’t exploit this matchup, it’s time to press eject.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets Andre Brown linger on the waiver wire any longer. The Giants RB that broke his leg during the preseason claims to be 100 percent healthy now and is targeting a Week 10 return, following this weekend’s bye. He should reclaim the lead role in New York’s backfield in short order, likely making Brandon Jacobs expendable.