Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and DeMarco Murray, or to bench Teddy Bridgewater and Robert Woods? 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 12 of the 2014 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals at Texans. Yeah, I’m probably crazy for recommending Dalton, despite his unexpected rebound in New Orleans last week. But with a healthy A.J. Green anchoring a salty receiving corps, and the Texans’ porous secondary on tap, the Red Rifle will have every opportunity to continue his road heroics.
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts vs. Jaguars. Even with Ahmad Bradshaw on IR, Richardson is no sure thing as the bell cow back in Indy. What makes him attractive this week is the matchup against the Jags’ lowly run defense. At long last, T-Rich is finally worth starting again. At least for one week.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns at Falcons. The newly crowned starter in Cleveland had a so-so debut against the Texans, but look for Crowell to return to the end zone at least once against a Falcons defense that has surrendered an NFL-worst 13 rushing scores to date.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints vs. Ravens. With rookie phenom Brandin Cooks out for a month or more, Colston and Kenny Stills will get more frequent looks in the Saints’ passing game. The veteran has had a very disappointing season, but his arrow is pointing up with the vulnerable Ravens secondary heading to the Big Easy.
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers vs. Redskins. Boldin is the most-targeted receiver in San Francisco, so he can produce even when Colin Kaepernick struggles. They both will enjoy facing one of the league’s most generous secondaries when the Redskins travel cross-country Sunday. In PPR leagues, Boldin’s value is especially high this week.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Matt Stafford, Eli Manning; RBs Alfred Blue, Darren Sproles, Justin Forsett, Denard Robinson, Tre Mason, Rashad Jennings; WRs Mohamed Sanu, Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton, Michael Crabtree, Mike Evans, Brandon LaFell, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Odell Beckham, Torrey Smith.
Roll ‘em back
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Rams. With just one TD pass, three interceptions and a pathetic 331 passing yards over his last two games, the bloom has come off Rivers’ rose. Squaring off against a Rams pass defense that just knocked Peyton Manning off his stride, Rivers can’t be trusted.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings vs. Packers. Green Bay has been holding quality RBs in check recently, while McKinnon (chest) is struggling against lesser opponents. Add newly acquired Ben Tate to the mix, and Matt Asiata’s concussion, and this backfield is best avoided altogether on Sunday.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills vs. Jets. Jackson claims that his team is at a disadvantage because they’ve been unable to practice due to the relentless snowfall in Buffalo. It’s hard to argue with that. Add in his nagging groin injury, the likelihood of a committee approach with Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown, and a quirky travel schedule and all bets are off for this running game.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins at 49ers. Robert Griffin III is struggling again, and he appears to be losing the confidence of his teammates. Garcon has been virtually invisible since Griffin’s return, and the road gets tougher in San Francisco. DeSean Jackson is tough to sit, but Garcon isn’t worth the risk.
Percy Harvin, WR, Jets at Bills. There’s no telling how this star-crossed game will unfold. But given the Bills’ stingy secondary, and the still-developing chemistry between Harvin and Michael Vick, and the dual threat’s best chance of producing will likely be as a runner.
More thumbs down: QBs Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill, Michael Vick, Drew Stanton; RBs Ryan Mathews, Mark Ingram, Jonas Gray, Lamar Miller, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Bishop Sankey, Charles Sims; WRs Malcom Floyd, Doug Baldwin, Eric Decker, Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, DeAndre Hopkins, Wes Welker, Kenny Britt, Larry Fitzgerald.
TAKING A FLIER
Brian Hoyer, QB, Browns at Falcons. Could Josh Gordon have picked a better week to return, given the sorry state of the Atlanta secondary? Though Hoyer probably won’t have Jordan Cameron (concussion) back just yet, he can alternate between both Gordon and Andrew Hawkins while picking apart one of the league’s passing doormats.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to check the weather reports prior to setting your starting lineups. Forget Buffalo…forecasted winds and precipitation could wreak havoc on passing and kicking games in Chicago, Foxborough and New York as well.