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Fantasy football: Week 13 starters and benchwarmers

BY LADD BIRO

Wondering whether or not to start Andrew Luck and Jordy Nelson, or to bench Geno Smith and Marcel Reece? 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 13 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins at Jets. It’s always nice having a key player going on Monday night, either to keep hope alive or, ideally, to pile on the points. Tannehill has gotten into a nice groove over the last few weeks, and he’ll be facing the NFL’s most generous defense to opposing passers under the primetime lights.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals at Buccaneers. Bernard owners were encouraged by the number of touches he received in Sunday’s return to action (virtually equal to Jeremy Hill’s). Expect Bernard’s share to increase further as the Bengals make their postseason push. With an attractive matchup on Sunday, the veteran should be trusted in most starting lineups.

Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars vs. Giants. Robinson ran into a brick wall in Indy last weekend but he’ll bounce back nicely against a defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards to opponents this season. Throw in his usual complement of receptions, and Robinson is an excellent play on Sunday.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles vs. Cowboys. The rookie has been nursing a less-than-100 percent knee, but he is fully expected to play Thursday. And the way he and Mark Sanchez have connected, Matthews makes it awfully tough to keep him out of your starting lineup. Especially against the Cowboys’ generous secondary.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots at Packers. Now that he’s worked through a rough midseason stretch, Edelman has returned to his role as one of Tom Brady’s most trusted weapons. Facing a Green Bay secondary that has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts, Edelman belongs in your lineup in this pass-happy tilt.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Matt Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton; RBs Justin Forsett, Andre Ellington, Alfred Morris, C.J. Anderson, Fred Jackson, Mark Ingram, Frank Gore, Rashad Jennings, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Golden Tate, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandon LaFell, Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Jr., Keenan Allen, Torrey Smith, Justin Hunter, John Brown, Martavis Bryant.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Cardinals. Ryan hasn’t had a three-TD performance since Week 4, despite some very favorable matchups. Now a stingy Arizona pass defense is headed to town and they’ll be looking to get back on track after a disappointing outing in Seattle. Keep the struggling passer out of your lineup.

Trent Richardson, RB, Colts vs. Redskins. Just when we thought Richardson would have the Indy backfield all to himself, along comes Dan “Boom” Herron to remind us why he can’t be trusted. Against Washington’s solid run defense, send T-Rich back where he belongs (your bench).

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns at Bills. Those of us who profited from Crowell’s performance last week would love to keep the good times rolling. But the going gets much tougher in Buffalo, where the Bills play some pretty mean run defense. Crowell could take a few steps backward in this contest.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills vs. Browns. As explosive as he was in the first half of the season, Watkins has been a huge disappointment over his last three games. Lining up against shutdown corner Joe Haden, don’t be surprised if the rookie makes it four poor showings in a row.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers vs. Seahawks. One look at Crabtree’s resume against Seattle since 2009 will convince you to bench him when he faces the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman has Crabtree’s number, so don’t expect Colin Kaepernick to call it often.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer, Derek Carr, Kyle Orton, Josh McCown, Colt McCoy; RBs Reggie Bush, Theo Riddick, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Terrance West, Jonathan Stewart, Ryan Mathews, Anthony Dixon, Doug Martin, Shonn Greene; WRs Anquan Boldin, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Percy Harvin, Pierre Garcon, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Michael Floyd, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson.

TAKING A FLIER

Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings vs. Panthers. You probably don’t own Johnson (he’s available in 95 percent of all leagues) but he’s worth a look if you don’t like your receiving options this weekend. It’s not that the rookie just nabbed his first NFL touchdown last weekend. It’s that he was targeted a whopping 11 times. And he has a delicious matchup against the porous Carolina secondary.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to set his lineup early on Thanksgiving. You’ve grown accustomed to the Thursday night schedule, but the first of three Turkey Day games begins at 12:30 ET. Before you head off to grandma’s house, take care of business!

Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). He was a finalist again in 2013. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).