Friday, October 3, 2014

Week 5 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Andrew Luck and Marshawn Lynch, or to bench Geno Smith and Danny Amendola? 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 5 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Jaguars. Coming off his best game of the season, Big Ben now gets to toy with the NFL’s worst pass defense minus its best cornerback. The only worry is that Roethlisberger may take his foot off the accelerator early, but he’ll reward his owners nicely before that happens.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants vs. Falcons. No defense is more generous to opposing runners than Atlanta’s, which coughed up 241 yards and 4 TDs to the Vikings’ backup RBs last week. Jennings could have a career day against this awful unit.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams vs. Eagles. Coming off his bye, Stacy is rested and ready for an Eagles defense that has allowed just one rushing TD but five total scores to opposing RBs. Stacy is getting plenty of touches and has proven that he can excel even against some of the league’s toughest defenders. The Eagles aren’t among them.

Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals at Broncos. Floyd sandwiched two 100-plus-yard outings around a 19-yard stinker in Week 2, and Carson Palmer (nerve/shoulder) may not be returning any time soon. But Drew Stanton is minding the store nicely and Denver’s secondary is plenty vulnerable to explosive wideouts like the Cardinals’ tandem.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers vs. Bears. Carolina’s backfield has been decimated and its defense uncharacteristically soft. Cam Newton will have little choice but to pass early and often against the visiting Bears, and Benjamin has emerged as his go-to target. Look for the rookie’s fourth TD reception of the year on Sunday.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Philip Rivers; RBs LeSean McCoy, LeVeon Bell, Andre Ellington, Giovani Bernard, Reggie Bush; WRs Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Vincent Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Percy Harvin, Steve Smith.

Roll ‘em back

Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers vs. Chiefs. You saw what Kansas City’s defense did to Tom Brady on Monday night, right? While Kaepernick adds a rushing element to his game that Brady lacks, it still sets up as a rough matchup for the inconsistent quarterback. With Vernon Davis iffy for the contest due to back spasms, Kaepernick could be further hamstrung on Sunday.

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos vs. Cardinals. Things will get better for Ball at some point, but not this week. Even coming off a bye, it’s hard to foresee a productive outing from him against Arizona’s stout run defenders.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins vs. Seahawks. I know it’s tough to bench a guy as productive as Morris, but Seattle’s smothering defense will give the Redskins’ offensive line more than it can handle. Given his lack of contributions as a receiver (just three catches all season), Morris is likely to be marginalized in the Monday nighter.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills at Lions. Kyle Orton steps in at quarterback against a stout Lions pass defense. There’s no telling how quickly he and Watkins will build a rapport, but the matchup in their first game action is not promising. Let the rookie sit until we see how he jells with his new passer.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at 49ers. Alex Smith played over his head against the Patriots on Monday night, which enabled Bowe to have his best game of the young season. But they’ll both return to mediocrity against an improving 49ers secondary that just manhandled the Eagles’ offense.

More thumbs down: QBs Tom Brady, Kyle Orton, Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco; RBs Bernard Pierce, Steven Jackson, Toby Gerhart, Donald Brown, Trent Richardson, Darrin Reaves, Ben Tate, Stevan Ridley, Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson, Knile Davis; WRs Brandon LaFell, Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Texans at Cowboys. Thanks to the bar being set so low, Dallas’ defense has exceeded expectations to date. But they are still giving up nearly 275 passing yards per game, including 327 yards and three TDs to Austin Davis just two weeks ago. With Andre Johnson and the emerging DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal (and a gimpy Arian Foster behind him), Fitzpatrick should put up impressive numbers.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…trades LeSean McCoy due to his horrendous start. Just as Jamaal Charles broke through in Week 4, it’s only a matter of time before Shady bounces back, too. By all means, however, feel free to test the waters with McCoy’s owner. He/she might be desperate enough to make a boneheaded move.

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