Wondering whether or not to start Todd Gurley and Julio Jones, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Nelson Agholor? 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 2015 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Raiders. Big Ben was a little rusty last week, but he catches a break on Sunday when the Raiders’ sieve-like secondary comes to town. Oakland’s run defense is stout, so the Steelers will have little choice but to air it out. Roethlisberger and his wideouts will be up to the task.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers vs. Packers. He’s riding a nice three-game stretch into this game, where he’ll face a Green Bay defense that just made the Broncos running backs relevant again. J-Stew should have a field day.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears at Chargers. Those who scooped up the rookie after Matt Forte sprained his knee can feel confident inserting him in their starting lineup. Not only does he have a tasty matchup in San Diego, but he is expected to mimic Forte’s workhorse workload.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots vs. Washington. LaFell had the dropsies in his first action of the season in Week 7, but he fared much better last week. More important, he was targeted six more times than Danny Amendola. Against Washington’s generous secondary, look for LaFell to have his first breakout game of 2015.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins at Bills. Ryan Tannehill needs to bounce back from his worst game of the season, and Buffalo’s soft secondary should be very accommodating. Matthews continues to prosper in Jarvis Landry’s shadow, seeing a dozen targets last week alone.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton; RBs Ronnie Hillman, Dion Lewis, Mark Ingram, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Danny Woodhead, DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, Chris Ivory; WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Sammy Watkins, Alshon Jeffery, Martavis Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Malcom Floyd, Tavon Austin, Willie Snead, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Allen Hurns.
Roll ’em back
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts vs. Broncos. You saw what Denver’s stifling defense did to Aaron Rodgers last Sunday night, right? And you’ve seen how Luck has looked most of the season, right? Though he salvaged some respectable stats at the end of the Panthers game, don’t count on the Broncos softening up late this week. Luck’s bum ankle is just icing on the (rancid) cake.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers vs. Raiders. Congratulations if you won the waiver-wire sweepstakes for Williams, but think twice before plugging him into your lineup. Oakland sports the NFL’s second-best run defense, most recently shutting down the Jets and Chargers.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars at Jets. The rookie has had a week to rest up and prepare for this contest, but New York will not be a hospitable host. The Jets have only surrendered two TDs on the ground all season, and they are eager to erase the memory of last week’s poor showing. Yeldon will be the fall guy.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings vs. Rams. The rookie has amassed 419 receiving yards and two TDs in his first four NFL outings, making him an instant fantasy darling. But he’s dealing with a tender hamstring and heading into a rough matchup with the stingy St. Louis defense. Teddy Bridgewater will have Rams in his face all day, giving the inconsistent passer little breathing room to find his new playmaker.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys vs. Eagles. Normally we’d feel better about starting a previously injured receiver in his second game back. But Bryant can’t throw himself the ball, and we’re not convinced Matt Cassel can get it to him, either. Philly’s secondary is nothing special, but they’re good enough to keep this listless passing game in check. Especially with Bryant’s foot relegating him to little more than a decoy.
More thumbs down: QBs Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater; RBs Frank Gore, Antonio Andrews, Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Rashad Jennings, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Danny Amendola, Eric Decker, Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace, Donte Moncrief, Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Davante Adams, James Jones, Terrance Williams, Andre Holmes, Ted Ginn, Justin Hunter, Marques Colston.
TAKING A FLIER
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos at Colts. It’s hard to trust Anderson again after his horrific start, even after he rushed for 101 yards and a TD against the Packers. He’ll still be splitting carries with Ronnie Hillman, but they will both be facing Indy’s pathetic run defense. If you’re hurting at the position (and who isn’t?), he could surprise you.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO… fails to check the weather forecasts for potential problem games. As we saw Monday night, wet and windy conditions can lead to poor passes, dropped balls and fumbles. And though the Colts’ and Panthers’ veteran kickers fared well, many struggle with their footing in rain and snow. Winter is coming, and factoring in the elements is often a good way to choose between two otherwise-equal options.