Wondering whether or not to start Ezekiel Elliott and Julio Jones, or to bench Scott Tolzien and Justin Hardy? 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 2016 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys vs. Redskins. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but despite trading for Matt Ryan last week, I plan to deploy the Dak Attack on Thursday instead. Not only is the rookie en fuego, but the Redskins are ripe for the picking after being lit up by Aaron Rodgers and traveling on the short week. Also, while Ryan remains a solid play, he’ll be facing a tenacious Arizona D that has surrendered a league-least seven passing TDs.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks at Buccaneers. With C.J. Prosise out and Christine Michael a Packer, Seattle’s backfield now belongs solely to Rawls. Though Russell Wilson appears to be fully healthy again, he’ll appreciate the help. Look for Rawls to carry a heavy load against the generous Bucs run defense.
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Eagles vs. Packers. With Ryan Mathews out due to a sprained knee and Darren Sproles nursing a broken rib, Smallwood is likely to get the majority of carries in this contest. Fortunately for him, Green Bay’s run defense has imploded over recent weeks (right, Rob Kelley?). Smallwood also adds value as a receiver, so he makes an especially attractive start in PPR leagues.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants at Browns. Nobody hands out more passing scores than the Browns, which is convenient for the rookie, who is on a three-game scoring streak. Only Odell Beckham, Jr., is seeing more of Eli Manning’s passes his way than Shepard, so look for the good times to continue in Cleveland this weekend.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins vs. 49ers. Aside from a bizarre fourth-quarter scrum with the Rams, during which his entire offensive line shoved him into the end zone, Landry has been held without a TD since Week 3. Miami is finally enjoying some home cooking after a long road trip, and they’ll be feasting one of the league’s softest secondaries on Sunday.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Eli Manning, Cam Newton; RBs Spencer Ware, Jay Ajayi, Lamar Miller, LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, Rashad Jennings, Rob Kelley, Theo Riddick; WRs Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, Jordan Matthews, Amari Cooper, Rishard Matthews, Brandin Cooks, Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Davante Adams, Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Steve Smith.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Vikings. Stafford has had just one multi-touchdown game since Week 6, and he needed overtime to do it in his previous matchup with Minnesota. With Marvin Jones essentially AWOL, Stafford has resorted to dinking and dunking in recent weeks. The Vikings’ pass defense isn’t impenetrable, but it’s solid enough to limit this struggling attack.
Jordan Howard, RB, Bears vs. Titans. Howard has carried the load in Chicago admirably since taking over for Jeremy Langford in Week 4. But with the Bears’ passing attack essentially decimated, and Matt Barkley likely under center, the Titans will stack the line to shut down Howard, the only viable threat left for the home team.
Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders vs. Panthers. Murray remains the leader of Oakland’s RB stable, but his backfield mates stole the TDs in Mexico. Now they’ll face one of the league’s stingiest run defenses, though the loss of Luke Kuechly leaves a big hole. Still, Murray’s ceiling is lower than normal. If you start him, you’d better hope he makes it up as a receiver.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts vs. Steelers. All bets are off with Indy’s passing attack as Andrew Luck sits out due to a concussion. T.Y. Hilton offers too much upside to bench, but Moncrief -- despite scoring in four of his five games played – shouldn’t be trusted.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills vs. Jaguars. You may have heard that Watkins has been cleared to return from injured reserve and may even see the field on Sunday. But as bare as Buffalo’s receiving cupboard is, there’s almost no way he will get enough snaps to make a meaningful contribution in his first game back from foot surgery. Maybe next week.
More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick; RBs Carlos Hyde, James Starks, Frank Gore, Mark Ingram, Jerick McKinnon, Isaiah Crowell; WRs Michael Floyd, J.J. Nelson, Torrey Smith, Stefon Diggs, Kenny Britt, Tyreek Hill, Marvin Jones, Corey Coleman, Brandon LaFell, Allen Hurns, Travis Benjamin, Danny Amendola, Cameron Meredith, Mohamed Sanu, Quincy Enunwa, Willie Snead, Will Fuller.
TAKING A FLIER
Titans defense at Bears. Looking for a plug and play defense? Chicago will be going to battle without its best wideout, Alshon Jeffery, its best tight end, Zach Miller and, almost certainly, its top quarterback, Jay Cutler. All the Titans need to do is shut down the run. In case you’ve forgotten, see Howard, Jordan, above.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gets all hopped up on tryptophan and forgets to set your lineup in time for all three Thanksgiving games. The Vikings and Lions kickoff early (12:30 p.m. ET), so tell someone else to baste the turkey Thursday morning. You’ve got work to do!