Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell, or to bench Colin Kaepernick and Tre Mason? 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 2015 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans vs. Bills. The ahead-of-schedule rookie has had an extra week to prepare for a defense that has already coughed up 10 passing TDs and nearly 300 passing yards per game. With little likelihood of success on the ground for the Titans, Mariota will be asked to sling it often again.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants vs. 49ers. Jennings was widely dropped after his slow start, but perhaps that was a bit rash. Though he’s not piling up the rushing yards, he’s contributing nicely as a receiver. And Sunday night, Jennings will be facing one of the league’s true defensive doormats.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams at Packers. Not only did the rookie showcase the skills last week that made him such a coveted draft pick; he became the Rams’ instant workhorse, with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham combining for just four carries in Week 4. Gurley will be facing a below-average run defense in Green Bay, so plug him in and enjoy the ride.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns at Ravens. Strangely enough, Josh McCown has been putting up very respectable numbers lately, and Benjamin has been the primary beneficiary. Against a suspect Baltimore secondary that wasn’t tested much by Mike Vick, Benjamin should have another stellar outing.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins at Falcons. Kirk Cousins will likely be missing both DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jordan Reed (concussion) against an Atlanta secondary that surrenders more than 300 passing yards per game on average. Garcon, who has two TDs already this season, should be a very busy man on Sunday.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers; RBs Justin Forsett, T.J. Yeldon, Dion Lewis, Alfred Morris, Chris Johnson, Mark Ingram, LeGarrette Blount; WRs James Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Maclin, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Kendall Wright, Larry Fitzgerald, Leonard Hankerson, Julian Edelman, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin, Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Kamar Aiken.
Roll ‘em back
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders vs. Broncos. Denver is playing ferocious defense, so anyone but a bona fide fantasy stud is too risky to start. Carr has been sharp most of this season, and he’s making Amari Cooper a star, but the young gunslinger can’t be trusted in this divisional showdown.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers at Giants. With opposing defenses stacking the box to stop the only legitimate threat the 49ers have, Hyde has had nowhere to run in recent weeks. Now he faces a New York defense that averages a league-low 70 rushing yards per game. Ouch.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers vs. Steelers. Danny Woodhead has been out-performing his backfield mate lately, especially in PPR leagues. On Monday night, Gordon will face a Pittsburgh run defense that has allowed just one rushing score thus far this season. Look for the Chargers to rely on Philip Rivers’ arm in this contest.
Golden Tate, WR, Lions vs. Cardinals. Can Detroit bounce back from being robbed of a possible last-minute upset in Seattle? Against Arizona’s solid secondary (let’s overlook last week’s letdown against the Rams), Matt Stafford and any receiver not nicknamed Megatron come with great risk.
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers at Giants. It’s hard to trust anybody in this passing attack, owing primarily to Kaepernick’s ineffectiveness. Boldin has been dropped in many leagues, and could be jettisoned in many more after this cross-country trip. Torrey Smith is even less attractive in this not-ready-for-primetime matchup.
More thumbs down: QBs Matt Stafford, Joe Flacco, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Mike Vick; RBs Darren McFadden, C.J. Anderson, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah, Latavius Murray, Thomas Rawls, Bishop Sankey, Duke Johnson, C.J. Spiller, Karlos Williams, Tevin Coleman; WRs Nelson Agholor, Roddy White, Tavon Austin, Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton.
TAKING A FLIER
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs vs. Bears. Only Kansas City has surrendered more TD passes than Chicago. Meanwhile, Smith has built a solid rapport with Jeremy Maclin to go along with his affinity for Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles. If you’re hurting at QB, Smith offers real upside this weekend.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets Michael Floyd linger on the waiver wire. Many owners gave up on the Arizona wideout after finger injuries held him out of preseason and limited him in the first quarter of the season. But Carson Palmer targeted him seven times against the Rams, signaling that Floyd is ready to play a meaningful role in the Cardinals’ high-flying passing attack again. Grab him now, if he’s available, to avoid the inevitable waiver-wire rush once he explodes.