WEEK 9 STARTERS & BENCHWARMERS Ladd Biro
Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Vincent Jackson, or to bench Tim Tebow and Jabar Gaffney? 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 9 of the 2012 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles at Saints. Sure, Vick is on an extremely short leash, but the Saints offer a wealth of opportunities to opposing passers. Keep in mind, Atlanta didn’t force a single turnover from Vick last week, and New Orleans doesn’t force them from anybody. Redemption awaits in the Big Easy, for at least one Monday night.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers at Redskins. DeAngelo Williams isn’t just being phased out; he may be heading out of town completely, if recent trade rumors are true. It’s all good news for Stewart, who faces a strong, though hardly airtight, run defense in Washington.
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers at Giants. With the news that Jonathan Dwyer likely won’t play Sunday due to a sore quad, Redman is a decent spot start against the so-so New York defense. Redman’s ankle injury appears to be behind him, and he’ll be in line for a heavy workload while both Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall are idled.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers at Raiders. With 332 yards and 2 TDs over the last four games, Williams has reemerged as a potent weapon in Tampa Bay’s newly explosive offensive attack. Oakland’s mediocre secondary will have their hands full with Vincent Jackson, leaving Williams open for plenty of targets.
Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals at Packers. Since John Skelton returned as the starting quarterback two games ago, Roberts has more receptions for more yards than Larry Fitzgerald, along with the lone TD. Facing a soft Packers secondary missing starting CB Sam Shields, Roberts should continue to prosper.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Cam Newton, Matt Stafford, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Trent Richardson, Willis McGahee, Reggie Bush, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris; WRs Steve Smith, Lance Moore, Denarius Moore, Jeremy Maclin, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, Randall Cobb, James Jones.
Roll ‘em back
Eli Manning, QB, Giants vs. Steelers. With just 3 TDs (and 3 INTs) over the past three weeks, Manning is officially in a fantasy slump. It will be tough to break out against the league’s top-ranked pass defense.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills at Texans. If it was just Fred Jackson, or just Spiller, I’d like their chances, even against the stout Houston run defense. But when they unilaterally halve their own production, and face a unit that has yet to allowing a rushing score, you have to think twice.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans vs. Bears. Now that Johnson is finally on a tear, it’s hard to put him back on your bench. But if you have safer options, consider it. Chicago sports the league’s stingiest run defense, while Johnson’s resurgence has come against the likes of Buffalo and Indy.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens at Browns. Baltimore’s most dangerous receiver will likely draw coverage from Joe Haden, who is leading Cleveland’s secondary back to respectability. The Browns haven’t given up a passing TD over the last two weeks, while Joe Flacco has just three scoring connections in four weeks.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys at Falcons. The Dallas offense is under intense heat, and Bryant is its primary lightning rod. The uber-talented, yet boneheaded, wideout is dealing with a bum hip, and he’ll be facing a stingy secondary on Sunday. He’s also had his punt return duties stripped.
More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo; RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Felix Jones, LaRod Stephens-Howling, DeAngelo Williams, Donald Brown, Vick Ballard; WRs Kenny Britt, Doug Baldwin, Brandon Lafell, Jerome Simpson.
TAKING A FLIER
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers at Redskins. On top of its other failings, Washington’s defense has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. With Brandon Lafell likely to sit out due to concussion symptoms, Olsen should be a very busy man on Sunday.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOfails to check the game-day weather reports before finalizing your starting roster. In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s that time again, when wicked winds and rain can wreak havoc on passing and kicking games. Inclement weather doesn’t necessarily mean you should sit your studs; but it can be the tipping point between two otherwise-equal options.
Ladd Biro has been named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).