Red Zone

Fantasy football starters and benchwarmers

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Associated Press

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Odell Beckham, Jr., or to bench Josh McCown and Dwayne Bowe? 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 four of the 2015 season.

Watch ’em roll

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Chiefs. You have to be impressed by the way Dalton and his receiving corps dismantled the Ravens pass defense in week three. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have given up 10 passing TDs already, with Aaron Rodgers collecting half of them Monday night. Dalton & Co. should continue their roll at home this weekend.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders at Bears. Carr has been en fuego over the last two weeks, teaming up with rookie Amari Cooper as one of the most prolific young duos in the league. They’ll face a Chicago team that already appears to be angling for the first pick in the 2016 draft, after trading away two defensive starters. The Carr-Cooper combo should eat these guys for lunch.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets at Dolphins. I know, I know…he left you with a goose egg last week. But the Jets presumably learned their lesson by holding Ivory out, running poorly as a team against the Eagles. He’s not expected to be limited by his ailing quad against Miami’s pathetic run defense. Ivory should run wild in London.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts vs. Jaguars. T.Y. Hilton has been a disappointment so far this year, while Andre Johnson has been invisible. Moncrief has been anything but. With 200 receiving yards to date and a TD in each of his first three games, the second-year wideout is quietly building his case for must-start status.

Percy Harvin, WR, Bills vs. Giants. It’s been a long time since I’ve been high on Harvin. But with Sammy Watkins (calf) already declared out, and young gunslinger Tyrod Taylor quickly emerging as a reliable passer, Harvin should be the primary beneficiary of this highly favorable matchup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Tyrod Taylor, Philip Rivers; RBs Matt Forte, Melvin Gordon, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Isaiah Crowell, Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, Chris Johnson, Carlos Hyde, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Karlos Williams; WRs James Jones, Brandon Marshall, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Rishard Matthews, Keenan Allen, Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Leonard Hankerson.

Roll ’em back

Drew Brees, QB, Saints vs. Cowboys. My Magic 8 Ball says “signs point to yes” when asked if Brees will return from his shoulder injury for the Sunday night showdown. But I will be sitting him in two leagues regardless. Even against a Dallas secondary that was lit up by Matt Ryan last week, he’s hard to trust right now. And I can’t remember ever writing those words about Brees. I hope I’m wrong; but I don’t think I am.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos vs. Vikings. Shockingly, Anderson has yet to rush for 30 yards in a game this season. His owners can’t afford to show patience any longer, despite another favorable matchup on deck. Ronnie Hillman has been more effective than Anderson thus far, but only marginally. Denver’s offensive line isn’t giving anyone room to run, forcing the offense to run through Peyton Manning’s arm yet again.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington vs. Eagles. Not only has Matt Jones gotten more touches lately, but Morris doesn’t look anywhere near as effective as the ostensible starter. This is a full-fledged RB by committee now, with Jones acting as leader of the pack. You shouldn’t drop Morris, but his transition from “workhorse” to “handcuff” shows just how quickly things can change in the NFL, and Fantasyland.

Mike Wallace, WR, Vikings at Broncos. Teddy Bridgewater has just one passing TD this season —despite facing three fairly average opponents – and there’s every chance that number won’t change on Sunday. He and his receivers will be facing the mighty Broncos pass defense, so look for another quiet afternoon for Wallace.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns at Chargers. Benjamin has had a magical start to his season, despite shagging balls from two mediocre quarterbacks. But he’ll be facing a stout Chargers pass defense on Sunday. This looks like a setback in what’s shaping up to be a career year for the veteran wideout.

More thumbs down: QBs Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater; RBs Rashad Jennings, Andre Ellington, Ameer Abdullah, Matt Jones, Doug Martin, Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason, DeMarco Murray, Todd Gurley; WRs Terrance Williams, Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith, Stevie Johnson, Nelson Agholor, Marques Colston, John Brown, Pierre Garcon, Michael Floyd.

Taking a flier

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks vs. Lions. Rawls emerged out of nowhere last week to rush for 104 yards while Marshawn Lynch played sparingly with a variety of injuries. Beast Mode’s availability for Monday night is in question, opening the door for Rawls’ first NFL start against the below-average Detroit run defense. Fred Jackson is expected to remain the third-down back.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to plan ahead for the bye weeks. Were you caught off guard by the Patriots being idle this weekend? (Okay, the Titans are, too.) It gets tougher in week five, with the Panthers, Dolphins, Vikings and Jets off. Savvy players look at least a week ahead and make the necessary adjustments before they have to compete with others on the waiver wire.

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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