Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Kerry Collins and Jason Snelling? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If youre looking for help with real starting lineup conundrums, read on.
By LADD BIRO
Special to The Star
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3 of the 2011 season.
Watch em roll
Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals at Seahawks. After two weeks, Kolb is teetering on the fringes of fantasy respectability, while the Seahawks have just two sacks and no interceptions to their credit. Given the pathetic state of affairs in Seattle, this should be a breakout game for Kolb & Company.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Chiefs. Mathews is doing his best to muscle Mike Tolbert (calf) out of his backfield. When healthy, Mathews is the more productive rusher, and he nearly matched his teammates receiving output in Week 2. Against the staggering Chiefs, both are great plays; but the pendulum is swinging Mathews way.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins at Browns. The rookie ran strong against the Texans in his first action of the season, relegating Reggie Bush to a bit role. Though Bush will surely get more touches this week, Thomas is a much better inside runner. He should score his first TD against Clevelands sub-par run defense.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals vs. 49ers. The rookie has a great chance to score in his third consecutive game against a secondary that just coughed up three TD passes to Miles Austin. Green was targeted 14 times in Week 2, underscoring his prominence in the Bengals passing attack.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots at Bills. Branch has quietly racked up 222 yards on 15 receptions. With Aaron Hernandez (knee) out and Chad Ochocinco still searching for his mojo, Branch should have no trouble reaching the end zone Sunday in what could be an aerial showcase.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Hasselbeck, Cam Newton; RBs Fred Jackson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ben Tate, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Stevie Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Lloyd, Anquan Boldin, Mike Williams (Bucs), Mike Sims-Walker. Roll em back
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys vs. Redskins. Id be worried enough if the only concern was his broken rib and punctured lung. Assuming Romo plays, hell also be missing Miles Austin (hamstring) and possibly the knuckle-headed Dez Bryant (thigh), who had not practiced through Thursday. Washingtons pass defense has given up just two TD passes so far. Im looking for a safer option this week.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears vs. Packers. In his four outings against Green Bay since becoming Chicagos starter, Cutler has passed for just 875 yards, with 4 TDs and 9 INTs. Hes already been sacked 11 times this season, including a shot to the throat that is still affecting him. The Packers have given up big numbers to QBs so far this season, but they wont have sympathy for Cutler on Sunday.
Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins at Cowboys. Hightower is off to a strong start in Washington, but Roy Helu is already cannibalizing some of his carries. Dallas run defense has been among the leagues stingiest (though two weeks isnt much to bank on). Im not optimistic about Hightowers chances under the Monday night lights.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Panthers vs. Jaguars. Carolinas line has apparently decided that it no longer needs to run-block with Newton at the controls. Though Stewart offered value as a receiver last week, Williams has been a complete dud. Neither is likely to prosper against the Jags stout run defense.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Chargers. Now that Jamaal Charles is gone, Bowe is the Chiefs most dangerous weapon. As poorly as Matt Cassel has been playing, San Diego should have little problem shutting down the connection. After all, they held him to two catches for 16 yards over two games in 2010, when Bowe was en fuego.
More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Rex Grossman, Cassel, Kyle Orton; RBs Arian Foster, Joseph Addai, Thomas Jones, Cadillac Williams, Felix Jones, Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Grant; WRs Michael Crabtree, Denarius Moore, Percy Harvin, Malcom Floyd, Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham.
Taking a flier
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Raiders. Greene has gotten off to a slow start, though he found his way into the end zone last week. More encouraging was LaDainian Tomlinsons bit role against Jacksonville. Greene should build on the positive momentum against an Oakland run defense that was just gashed by the Bills.
Dont be the bonehead who fails to grab Bernard Scott off the waiver wire, especially if youre a Cedric Benson owner. The NFL has suspended the Bengals workhorse for three games, beginning in Week 4, for his latest off-field transgressions. Though Benson is expected to appeal the decision, the speedy Scott should offer nice value during a stretch of favorable matchups. If he performs well, theres no guarantee that the oft-troubled Benson will reclaim his starting gig.
Ladd Biro was voted the 2010 Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).