Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Antonio Brown, or to bench Cody Kessler and Kamar Aiken? 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 2016 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles at Lions. The mistake-avoiding rookie has had two weeks to prepare for one of the league’s weakest secondaries. Look for Wentz to keep up the momentum he built prior to the early bye, and to continue feeding the ball to his go-to wideout, Jordan Matthews.
Terrance West, RB, Ravens vs. Redskins. If you scooped up West off this week’s waiver wire, then this is the time to start him. After his solid outing against the Raiders, he’ll be given another chance to soar as a starter against the Redskins’ sorry run defense. But trouble looms with the impending debut of rookie Kenneth Dixon. West’s lead role may be short-lived, so enjoy it while you can.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings vs. Texans. This should be a low-scoring affair, with both teams struggling to move the ball through the air against stout secondaries. But Houston is vulnerable on the ground, and McKinnon is getting the lion’s share of the Vikings’ rushes. Matt Asiata is an irritant at the goal-line, but McKinnon should find his way into the end zone nevertheless.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots at Browns. Not a moment too soon, Tom Brady has returned to save the Patriots’ struggling passing game. Edelman is coming off his worst game in about two years (one 16-yard catch) and he has yet to score in 2016. That will change Sunday, especially with Brady’s BFF, Rob Gronkowski, still not 100 percent.
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants at Packers. Cruz and the entire New York passing game are coming off a rough Monday nighter against the Vikings, but they’ll stay busy trying to keep up with the Packers’ high-octane attack. Cruz has quickly reestablished his rapport with Manning, who targeted him nine times last week. Look for the veteran to break out for big yardage and a score against Green Bay’s generous pass defense.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, David Carr, Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins; RBs Melvin Gordon, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Howard, Frank Gore, LeGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy, LeSean McCoy; WRs Travis Benjamin, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Emmanuel Sanders, Kelvin Benjamin, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, Cole Beasley, Jordan Matthews, Marvin Jones, Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Michael Crabtree.
Roll ‘em back
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Eagles. He’s coming off his worst game of the season (against a depleted Bears defense) and now he’ll face one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses refreshed from a week of rest. Don’t be surprised if Stafford disappoints in consecutive weeks.
Matt Forte, RB, Jets at Steelers. Forte is not the workhorse many thought he would be, he’s dealing with rib and ankle injuries and his talents as a receiver are being ignored. Bilal Powell is coming on strong, pushing Forte further out of the picture. They’ll both face a stout Pittsburgh run defense that, aside from its implosion against the Eagles, has been very belligerent to opposing backs.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns vs. Patriots. Bill Belichick is a master of taking away the opposition’s most dangerous weapon. And that, by far, is Pryor. Look for the Patriots defense to be keyed on the versatile player, daring Cody Kessler and the Cleveland backs to beat them.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings vs. Texans. After getting off to a rousing start, Diggs hasn’t crossed the 50-receiving-yard plateau in the last two games. He and his surprisingly effective quarterback will be tested Sunday by the league’s statistically best pass defense.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans at Vikings. It’s hard to bench a player coming off a breakout performance. But his gaudy statistics came at the expense of the Titans, who don’t hold a candle to Minnesota’s ferocious defenders. Fuller comes with a mountain of risk in this matchup.
More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford, Brock Osweiler, Marcus Mariota; RBs Tevin Coleman, Jay Ajayi, Ryan Mathews, Latavius Murray, Charles Sims, Matt Jones, Orleans Darkwa, Derrick Henry, Theo Riddick; WRs Markus Wheaton, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, DeVante Parker, Mohamed Sanu, Vincent Jackson, Brandon LaFell, Tajae Sharp.
TAKING A FLIER
James White, RB, Patriots at Browns. His receiving prowess has mostly been squandered by New England’s backup QBs. That should change on Sunday as the Patriots’ aerial attack gets its top gun back. White won’t help much on the ground, but he’s likely to be the second-most targeted receiver of the day.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…sits Larry Fitzgerald against the 49ers on Thursday night, just because Carson Palmer is out. Oh wait. That was me. Never mind.