Wondering whether or not to start Cam Newton and Antonio Brown, or to bench DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Bowe? 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 16 of the 2015 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars at Saints. If this game plays out as it looks on paper, it should be an aerial showcase. No team has given up more than the Saints’ 39 passing TDs, and Bortles is one of five QBs to have tossed more than 30 scoring passes this season. He and his talented receiving corps should have a field day matching wits with Drew Brees & Co.
Karlos Williams, RB, Bills vs. Cowboys. With LeSean McCoy out, Williams should be the lead horse in a backfield committee with Mike Gillislee. Dallas’ run defense has softened up over the last few games, and Williams’ shoulder injury did not hinder his play in last week’s return to the field.
James White, RB, Patriots at Jets. Don’t count on much from the Patriots’ ground game against New York’s staunch run defense, but White should be extremely busy as a receiver out of the backfield. With Patriots wideouts dropping like flies, White and Gronkowski will be Tom Brady’s most reliable targets on the field.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks vs. Rams. Doug Baldwin is grabbing all the headlines, but Lockett has turned in three excellent games in his counterpart’s shadow. The rookie is developing a nice rapport with Russell Wilson, and he should continue to excel against a St. Louis pass defense that has fallen apart over the past several weeks. If Baldwin sits with his bum hammy, Lockett’s stock will soar even higher.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens vs. Steelers. It’s strange to think of this rivalry turning into a high-flying affair, but given the sorry state of both pass defenses, that’s what it’s come to. Aiken has taken advantage of his role as the only reliable receiver remaining in Baltimore, despite some sketchy quarterback play. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is downright awful, making Aiken a great bet for another stellar outing.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins; RBs David Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Denard Robinson, Charcandrick West, Bilal Powell, Lamar Miller, Tim Hightower, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Christine Michael, Todd Gurley; WRs Ted Ginn, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Jeremy Maclin, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins, John Brown, Reuben Randle, T.Y. Hilton, Randall Cobb, Golden Tate, DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker.
Roll ‘em back
Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Vikings. Manning has been on a tear over the last two weeks, even finding great success against the vaunted Carolina defense. But he’ll go into this contest without Odell Beckham, Jr., the playmaker who stretches the field for all the other receivers. The difference should be dramatic.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals at Broncos. Though their secondary crumbled against the Steelers last week, Denver’s run defense held their own against DeAngelo Williams. But with A.J. McCarron at the controls, Hill and Giovani Bernard won’t have the benefit of a prolific passer to open up their running lanes.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers at Cardinals. After last weekend’s disaster against the Raiders, the red flags are flying for Lacy as he heads to the dessert to face one of the league’s stingiest run defenses. With James Starks stealing touches and John Kuhn poaching goal-line plunges, Lacy’s prospects are dim, especially given his tender ribs.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions vs. 49ers. Part of me thinks you’d be a bonehead to sit Megatron, but the other part looks at his two receptions for 35 yards over the last two games and says you’d be crazy to play him. His ankle is clearly not right, he’s been limited in practice again and it very well could be another week of decoy work for Johnson.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns at Chiefs. Cleveland’s schedule isn’t doing Johnny Manziel any favors, with the Chiefs’ stout defense getting the next crack at the young quarterback. Benjamin is suffering as a result, with three poor performances in a row. It won’t get any better in Kansas City.
More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor, Brock Osweiler, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Buck Allen, Isaiah Crowell, Ronnie Hillman, Matt Jones, C.J. Spiller, Brandon Bolden, Duke Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Antonio Andrews, Jerick McKinnon, Giovani Bernard; WRs Tavon Austin, Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon LaFell, Marvin Jones, DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Rishard Matthews.
TAKING A FLIER
Nate Washington, WR, Texans at Titans. Washington’s production has suffered since Cecil Shorts returned to the field, but Shorts will miss this game due to a groin injury suffered in Week 15. The Titans are coughing up passing yards and TDs in huge chunks, so don’t be surprised if Washington prospers thanks to all the attention paid to DeAndre Hopkins.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches A.J. Green against the Broncos. Green is talented enough, and big enough, to overcome McCarron’s shortcomings, even in a tough, Mile High matchup. Sure, he could disappoint – as he did last week – but he could also dazzle, as he did in Week 14. Unless you’re loaded at WR, Green belongs in your title game lineup.