Wondering whether or not to start Andrew Luck and Matt Forte, or to bench Jake Locker and Brian Hartline? 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 7 of the 2014 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals at Raiders. With a 250-yard, two-TD, zero-INT performance in his return under center last week, Palmer signaled that he can be trusted in your lineup. He’s a good spot start at the Raiders, who have been very generous to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens vs. Falcons. Operating mostly under the radar, Forsett has gained the fourth-most rushing yards in the league, with a whopping 6.4 yards-per-carry average. Though Bernard Pierce is sharing carries, Forsett is clearly the alpha back in Baltimore, and he’ll face an Atlanta run defense that has given up 12 rushing scores to date – the most, by far, in the NFL.
Reggie Bush, RB, Lions vs. Saints. He is expected to return from his ankle injury to face the team that drafted him, then let him go. With Calvin Johnson sitting out another game, Bush will get plenty of opportunities as a rusher and receiver to exact his revenge. Joique Bell is in the picture, too; but this should be Bush’s time to shine.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts vs. Bengals. Cincinnati’s defense has been lit up by Tom Brady and Cam Newton over the last two games, and here comes Andrew Luck. T.Y. Hilton was the receiving star last week, but Wayne will get plenty of opportunities to torch this reeling secondary as well.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars vs. Browns. No matter how bad Jacksonville’s passing game has been, a healthy Shorts usually manages to please his fantasy owners. Coming off a solid 10-reception, 103-yard outing against the Titans, Shorts is a solid bet to excel against Cleveland’s so-so secondary.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson; RBs Alfred Morris, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Tate, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Ellington, Fred Jackson, Branden Oliver; WRs Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Torrey Smith, Golden Tate, Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Terrance Williams, Reuben Randle, Malcom Floyd, Brandin Cooks, Mohamed Sanu, Andrew Hawkins.
Roll ‘em back
Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Cowboys. Normally, you’d love Eli’s chances in his home-away-from-home in AT&T Stadium. But he lost Victor Cruz, he’s coming off a shellacking in Philly and suddenly, out of nowhere, the Cowboys are energized, confident and playing solid pass defense.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers at Broncos. He’s been up and down all season, but look for his second consecutive subpar performance against a Denver run defense that has imposed its will against recent opponents. It helps that teams are forced to abandon the run early to keep up with Peyton Manning & Co., which is what you can expect again on Sunday night.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints at Lions. Though he is expected to return to action this week, don’t rush Ingram back into your starting lineup just yet. For starters, his snaps will likely be limited. He’ll also be sharing with Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, and Detroit’s run defense is among the best in the business.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans at Steelers. After a torrid start to his sophomore season, Hopkins has cooled off in his last two outings. Andre Johnson finally got back into the end zone last week, but Houston’s offense has been dominated by Arian Foster of late. Hopkins can’t be trusted right now.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons at Ravens. White likewise got off to a fine start, but recently has been M.I.A. in Atlanta’s passing game. In addition, Matt Ryan isn’t the same quarterback on the road, especially with that depleted offensive line “protecting” him; and the Ravens have been stingy against opposing receivers on their home turf.
More thumbs down: QBs Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton; RBs Zac Stacy, Darren McFadden, Ronnie Hillman, Maurice Jones-Drew, Khiry Robinson, Steven Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Bishop Sankey; WRs Kendall Wright, Dwayne Bowe, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eddie Royal, Wes Welker, Kelvin Benjamin, Markus Wheaton, Percy Harvin, Marques Colston.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers at Packers. Stewart (knee) is on track to return on Sunday, and he should get a heavy load given the depleted state of the Panthers’ backfield. With the Packers’ sorry run defense on tap, Stewart is a very sneaky start and he’s a free agent in about two-thirds of all leagues.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…throws in the towel this early in the season. Too many players that start off poorly mentally check out of the game, fail to mind their rosters and starting lineups and drop out of the waiver-wire action. First off, it’s not too late to turn things around. But for the integrity of the competition, finish what you started. Have some pride, man!