Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Arian Foster, or bench Max Hall and Maurice Morris? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 5 of the 2010 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals vs. Buccaneers. He has been up and down thus far this season, with two awful performances book-ended by a pair of 340-plus-yard, two-touchdown outings. You can trust him to deliver again in this matchup against a secondary that most recently allowed Charlie Batch to post a TD hat trick.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders vs. Chargers. With Darren McFadden expected to sit out with a bad hammy, Bush will be the workhorse in this matchup. San Diego’s run defense has been solid, but Bush is a wrecking ball who should have plenty of success behind a line that has blocked well for McFadden all season.
Ladell Betts, RB, Saints at Cardinals. With Max Hall taking the snaps for Arizona, the Saints could be playing on a short field all day. If Pierre Thomas (ankle) rests again, as expected, Betts will be the preferred play over rookie Chris Ivory, since he’s a better receiver. Betts can’t help but find the end zone this weekend against Arizona’s sieve-like defense.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints at Cardinals. Marques Colston has caught four more passes than Moore thus far, but the “backup” has done more with his opportunities (209 yards and 3 TDs vs. 190 yards and zero TDs). At this point, though Colston remains a solid option, Moore is a must-start.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants at Texans. Houston’s pathetic secondary is the tonic Eli Manning needs to get his groove back. In addition to Hakeem Nicks, Manningham should be very busy on Sunday. The oft-overlooked wideout has out-performed Steve Smith to date, despite posting a goose egg last week due to a borderline concussion.
More thumbs-up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Brett Favre, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Shaun Hill; RBs Ryan Torain, Joseph Addai, Peyton Hillis, Thomas Jones, Ryan Mathews, Cedric Benson, Matt Forte, Mike Bell; WRs Mark Clayton, Austin Collie, Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens, Mike Sims-Walker, Dwayne Bowe, Malcom Floyd, Brandon Lloyd, Kevin Walter.
Roll ‘em back
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins vs. Packers. McNabb has thrown no more than one scoring pass in any game this season, and he’s coming off an emotional victory against his former team. Though Green Bay’s defense has been uneven to date, this is an unlikely week for McNabb to reclaim his fantasy mojo.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Ravens. He could be a game-time decision on Sunday, but only desperate owners should take the chance that Moreno would fare well anyway. Though the Ravens are not as stout as usual against the run, Denver is now a pass-centric team. Whichever tailback gets the starting nod is a bad bet this week.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Saints. There’s little going for the Cardinals these days, and that’s unlikely to change soon. New Orleans could easily run up the score early, rendering Arizona’s rushing attack moot for the second consecutive week. Neither tailback is likely to deliver positive fantasy returns.
Johnny Knox, WR, Bears at Panthers. Carolina held Drew Brees to a single TD pass last week, so you know they can handle Todd Collins, who will start in place of the concussed Jay Cutler. That’s bad news for Knox and all of his fellow receivers.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at 49ers. With Kevin Kolb back under center, the Philly passing attack becomes a major question mark. DeSean Jackson is too explosive to bench, but Maclin is different. Though the 49ers’ secondary has been disappointing, they should rally at home against this struggling offense.
More thumbs down: QBs Kolb, Vince Young, Bruce Gradkowski, Alex Smith; RBs Shonn Greene, Brandon Jackson, Tim Hightower, Laurence Maroney, Jonathan Stewart, Willis McGahee, Marion Barber; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Washington, Michael Crabtree, Devin Hester.
Taking a flier
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets vs. Vikings. All the Monday night attention will be focused on Randy Moss, but Holmes will be making his own debut in a new uniform. In a game where both rushing attacks could struggle against stiff run defenses, look for Mark Sanchez to get his new toy involved early and often, especially if Minnesota focuses its attention on Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOfails to track the Sunday morning inactive reports. Several owners were burned last week when they left Pierre Thomas and Andre Johnson in their lineups. Follow my tweets, and you’ll be spared the ignominy of the goose egg.
Ladd Biro is a syndicated fantasy football columnist and host of Sporting News Radio’s weekly Fantasy Files show (Saturdays, 9-10 am ET). Follow his daily fantasy advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com) and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).