Wondering whether or not to start Matt Ryan and Le’Veon Bell, or to bench Brock Osweiler and Victor Cruz? 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 15 of the 2016 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins vs. Panthers. Cousins has been solid, if not stellar, over his last two games, both of which were on the road. But he’ll enjoy some home cooking this week as the Panthers’ soft pass defense comes to town. Even if Jordan Reed continues to play mostly a decoy role, Cousins has plenty of other options to keep busy. And he will.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns at Bills. You saw what Le’Veon Bell did to the Bills last weekend, right? Crowell is no Bell, but he’s coming off a solid 100-yard outing against the Bengals. Robert Griffin III stole the short TD run, but Crowell couldn’t ask for a better opponent to keep racking up the yards and find the end zone against.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons vs. 49ers. Coleman outshined his running mate, Devonta Freeman, in the laugher with the Rams; but owners of both backs should be salivating over this matchup. Nobody has coughed up more rushing scores (19) than the 49ers. Both backs are excellent receivers as well, and they should continue to be busy in both phases, especially if Julio Jones is limited or inactive again.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens vs. Eagles. Philly is giving up fantasy points to wideouts in buckets, so look for Wallace to take advantage as Joe Flacco’s big-play receiver. Steve Smith should also get his fair share of attention, but Wallace has a better chance to exploit the Eagles with a long pass or two.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons vs. 49ers. Matt Ryan proved he doesn’t need Julio Jones to excel, and Gabriel helped make his point. With a delicious matchup in store against the traveling 49ers, the rapidly blossoming wideout should continue to soar, even if Jones and Mohamed Sanu return to the field. Don’t be shy about starting anyone in a Falcons uniform this weekend (except Sanu).
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Aaron Rodgers, Tyrod Taylor, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck; RBs LeSean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, Bilal Powell, Jonathan Stewart, Carlos Hyde, DeMarco Murray, Latavius Murray; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Jamison Crowder, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tyreek Hill, Jarvis Landry, Jordy Nelson, Robbie Anderson, Dontrelle Inman, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate.
Roll ‘em back
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans at Chiefs. Not too many fantasy owners survived their first-round playoff contest with Mariota and his whopping six completions. Those who did should not press their luck in the frozen and hostile confines of Arrowhead Stadium. It will be the coldest game the Hawaiian-born QB has ever played in.
Frank Gore, RB, Colts vs. Vikings. Gore has just two games all season with more than 100 combined scrimmage yards, meaning he typically needs a TD to make you glad you started him. On Sunday, he’ll face a defense that has surrendered just six rushing scores all season. The force is not strong with this one.
Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs vs. Titans. Ware has been money throughout most of this season, but it’s hard to trust him after he floundered in a favorable matchup with the Raiders last weekend. The Titans are extremely stingy with the rushing yards and TDs. Consider safer options, if you have them.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers at Redskins. When you are regularly out-played by Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn, can you really be called a No. 1 receiver? Methinks not. Benjamin may or may not have been benched late last week for lack of effort, but you should bench him for lack of production regardless. Even in a plus matchup like this.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears vs. Packers. Since Jeffery is returning from a suspension, and not an injury, he doesn’t face the normal worries about being limited in his first game back. What troubles me more is (a) his minimal practice time with new QB Matt Barkley and (b) the wicked cold conditions expected in the Windy City. The ball is going to be hard to handle, and Jeffery doesn’t have enough upside to risk it.
More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Matt Barkley, Carson Wentz, Colin Kaepernick; RBs Ryan Mathews, Devontae Booker, Rashad Jennings, Doug Martin, Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery, Terrance West, T.J. Yeldon, James White, Dwayne Washington, Jerick McKinnon, Chris Thompson, Tim Hightower, Justin Forsett, Duke Johnson; WRs DeAndre Hopkins, Cole Beasley, Cameron Meredith, Michael Crabtree, Travis Benjamin, Rishard Matthews, Sterling Shepard, Allen Robinson, Marvin Jones, Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Tyler Boyd, Quincy Enunwa.
TAKING A FLIER
J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals vs. Saints. With the release of Michael Floyd, and the on-going health limitations with John Brown, Nelson has the perfect opportunity to ramp up his role in the Arizona passing game. New Orleans’ secondary has been in a very giving mood with opposing receivers, and while Carson Palmer hasn’t been exactly sharp, he’s still flinging the ball often.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…overlooks the Saturday night tilt between the Dolphins and Jets. And once again, stay alert to weather conditions, which are expected to be brutal in several NFL cities this weekend. The elements will make it difficult to pass, catch and, especially, kick in certain outdoor stadiums, particularly those in Chicago and KC.