Football

Fantasy Fool: Week 8 starters and benchwarmers

Wondering whether to start Matt Forte and A.J. Green, or to bench Colin Kaepernick and Zac Stacy? 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 8 of the 2015 season.

Watch ’em roll

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets at Raiders. Fitzpatrick has been steady at the helm for the Jets as season, but this could be his best game yet. Oakland has coughed up an NFL-worst 304 net passing yards per game, along with 11 TDs through the air. Both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker should find their way into the end zone on Sunday, with at least one more random score for good measure.

Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals at Browns. He is still, somewhat remarkably, the lead dog in Arizona’s backfield committee. And after posting 122 yards and a TD on Baltimore, he’ll be facing the NFL’s true rushing doormats in Cleveland. He’s not the CJ2K of old, but at least he’s back on the fantasy radar.

Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs vs. Lions. Nobody has surrendered more rushing scores than Detroit’s 10 this season. West is coming off his best game as a pro while Knile Davis has become the forgotten man in the Chiefs offense. Look for Kansas City to ride West heavily in this contest.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons vs. Buccaneers. Leonard Hankerson likely will sit out due to a hamstring injury, making White the second option to Julio Jones again. Good timing, because Tampa Bay specializes in giving up TD passes (15 to date). Look for Roddy to make a return visit to the end zone on Sunday.

Steve Smith, WR, Ravens vs. Chargers. There’s not much to like about Baltimore’s passing attack, except a healthy Smith. Though he’s still not 100 percent, he’s toughing it out and Joe Flacco is looking his way with regularity. San Diego’s secondary is mediocre, so Smith should have a field day.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton; RBs Todd Gurley, Justin Forsett, Mark Ingram, Ronnie Hillman, Chris Ivory, Giovani Bernard, Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Doug Martin; WRs Brandon Marshall, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Decker, Alshon Jeffery, Antonio Brown, Brandin Cooks, Keenan Allen, Golden Tate, Mike Evans, Jeremy Maclin, Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Tavon Austin, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Willie Snead.

Roll ’em back

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts at Panthers. Luck looked awful against a very weak Saints defense last week, until the game got out of hand. Carolina’s pass defense will test him even more, and the interception-prone quarterback could be in for a long night. All 60 minutes’ worth, this time.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers at Broncos. Lacy is dealing with an ankle injury, James Starks has forced his way into the rotation and they’re both facing one of the stingiest run defenses in the land. Three strikes, he’s out.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders vs. Jets. He’s coming off a nice outing against the Chargers last week; but with the Jets’ monster defenders, all bets are off – for Murray and anybody not named Cooper in Oakland’s offense.

James Jones, WR, Packers at Broncos. Despite Aaron Rodgers’ recent lackluster production, you can’t bench him, even in a tough matchup. But Jones is a dicier proposition. Not only is he facing the mighty Broncos secondary, but he’ll be competing with the return of deep-threat Davante Adams. Those two could cancel each other out, making both risky plays.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys vs. Seahawks. Optimism abounds in Dallas that Bryant will return to action for the first time since he broke his foot in the opener. And while I’d be aching to get him in my lineup if I had him, I’d give him a week to get back in stride. Especially since he has had precious little interaction with Matt Cassel and, oh by the way, the Legion of Boom is coming to town.

More thumbs down: QBs Peyton Manning, Matt Cassel, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Joe Flacco, Brian Hoyer, Nick Foles; RBs Rashad Jennings, Carlos Hyde, Ameer Abdullah, Joique Bell, Isaiah Crowell, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Hill; WRs Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Terrance Williams, Michael Crabtree, Donte Moncrief, Nate Washington, Andre Johnson, Kamar Aiken, Kendall Wright.

Taking a flier

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans vs. Titans. With Arian Foster out for the duration, Blue is expected to share Houston’s backfield duties with Chris Polk. Neither can be trusted in unfavorable matchups, but opponents don’t get much softer than Tennessee. The Titans sport the 29th-ranked run defense in the league. Blue should find plenty of room to roam in this one.

Don’t be the bonehead who ...

... keeps deadweight on his or her roster. Jamaal Charles is still owned in more than 20 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Arian Foster is still rostered in more than a third. All of these can’t be keeper leagues, and even then, depending on your rules, neither is a prime keeper candidate. Bid them farewell and welcome someone who can actually contribute to your title run.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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