Red Zone

Week two starters and benchwarmers in fantasy football

Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Johnny Manziel and Eddie Royal? 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 two of the 2014 season.

Watch ’em roll

▪ Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals at Giants. The old man proved he’s still got some moxie — even scrambling for 29 yards against the Chargers — and it doesn’t hurt that he’s blessed with a very talented receiving corps. Palmer will build on his solid opener against the shell-shocked Giants secondary, and you can bet he’ll get Larry Fitzgerald intimately involved this time.

▪ Alfred Morris, RB, Washington vs. Jaguars. Right now, about the only thing the Washington offense has going for it is Morris, who racked up 91 rushing yards against Houston in Week 1. His job gets easier when the Jags come to town. Look for the struggling Robert Griffin III to lean heavily on his trusty backfield mate.

▪ Terrance West, RB, Browns vs. Saints. Notching “one hundo” in your NFL debut is pretty impressive, especially when you don’t even enter as the starter. With Ben Tate (sprained knee) out, West should pick up where he left off last week. Though fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell will share some carries and could poach another TD run, West is the back to start in this contest against New Orleans’ soft run defense.

▪ Kendall Wright, WR, Titans vs. Cowboys. It’s not just about the delicious matchup. It’s that a healthy Jake Locker is starting to look like a quality NFL quarterback, and that’s all his talented wideout needs to soar. As usual, Wright did the most with his targets in Week 1, and he’s a great bet to be among the week’s receiving leaders against Dallas. Did I mention the delicious matchup?

▪ Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints at Browns. The rookie had an impressive debut against the Falcons and will be matched up against a fellow first-year player (CB Justin Gilbert) who surrendered 97 receiving yards to Markus Wheaton, yet another freshman, in Week 1. With Cleveland rightly consumed with containing Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, Cooks should have little trouble getting open. Drew Brees will find him.

MORE THUMBS UP (EXCLUDING THE NO-BRAINERS): QBs Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Russell Wilson, Matt Stafford; RBs Montee Ball, Arian Foster, Knowshon Moreno, Andre Ellington, Frank Gore, C.J. Spiller, Giovani Bernard, Mark Ingram, Darren McFadden; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Emmanuel Sanders, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Cordarrelle Patterson, Dwayne Bowe.

Roll ’em back

▪ Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Seahawks. Facing his second tough test in as many weeks, Rivers is a risky start against the Legion of Boom, which travels down the coast on a high after beating up Aaron Rodgers & Co. Rivers put up pedestrian numbers against the tough Cardinals pass defense in the opener, but this week’s opponents won’t be as generous.

▪ Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants vs. Cardinals. Jennings was the lone bright spot on an otherwise mediocre Giants offense last Monday night. But with little air support to open up his running lanes, Jennings’ light will be hidden against Arizona’s stout run defense.

▪ Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers vs. Rams. St. Louis is stronger against the run than they appeared against the Vikings, and they’ll show it in Tampa on Sunday. Martin shouldn’t be trusted even when fully healthy, and he heads into this game with a “minor” leg injury. Look for Bobby Rainey to keep building his case for supplanting the overrated starter.

▪ Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots at Vikings. With Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup and both Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins getting the lion’s share of Tom Brady’s attention, Amendola appears to be an afterthought in the Patriots’ passing game. Keep him sidelined until he gives you reason not to.

▪ Victor Cruz, WR, Giants vs. Cardinals. Cruz managed just 24 receiving yards on two receptions against the Lions, and Arizona brings a much more formidable secondary this week. There is no reason to think Eli Manning or his receivers will get their act together in this poor matchup.

MORE THUMBS DOWN: QBs Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, Alex Smith; RBs Trent Richardson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Ryan Mathews; WRs Rod Streater, Terrance Williams, Reuben Randle, Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Cecil Shorts, Golden Tate.

Take a flier

Andrew Hawkins, Browns vs. Saints. With Jordan Cameron either out or, at best, pushing through a shoulder injury, Hawkins will undoubtedly be a busy man as Brian Hoyer does his best to keep pace with his prolific counterpart. In PPR leagues especially, Hawkins should post impressive numbers against a vulnerable Saints secondary.

Don’t be the bonehead who ...

Overreacts to the first week’s results and makes a trade you’ll regret the rest of the season. I’ve been asked to opine on several trade scenarios that appear ridiculously lop-sided, and yet the “loser” in the deal is ready to pull the trigger. Hey, nothing wrong with taking advantage of a panicked competitor; just make sure you’re not the victim!