Fantasy Fool: Week 7 starters and benchwarmers

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throws during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, oct. 16, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Wondering whether to start David Johnson and Julio Jones, or to bench DeAngelo Williams and Dorial Green-Beckham? 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 7 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Browns. Dalton has yet to have a breakout game this season, though he has notched a pair of TDs in each of his last two games. With Tyler Eifert likely making his 2016 debut, and the generous Browns pass defense coming to town, Dalton’s arrow will be pointing up on Sunday.

James White, RB, Patriots at Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense has tightened up a bit after a rough start, but really, who cares when Tom Brady is the QB? As expected, White has become one of his go-to receivers, and the fun should continue on Sunday. Don’t expect another two-TD outing, but don’t be surprised if White does it again, either.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons vs. Chargers. Both he and Devonta Freeman were stuffed in Seattle last weekend, but the running lanes will be wide open at home when the Chargers’ sorry rush defense comes to town. Coleman should soar both on the ground and through the air against this sieve-like unit.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars vs. Raiders. Jacksonville’s passing attack has yet to return to its high-octane ways of 2015. That’s in part because Blake Bortles hasn’t been getting the ball to Hurns very often, though that tide seems to be turning. He targeted Hurns 11 times against the Bears, and the love should continue Sunday against the vulnerable Raiders secondary traveling cross-country.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders at Jaguars. He’s coming off his worst game of the season, by far; but don’t let that dissuade you from keeping him in your lineup. This game could very easily turn into a shoot-out (both teams struggle in the rushing department), and this smells like another week when Crabtree may go en fuego.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers):QBs Matt Ryan, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford; RBs Jamaal Charles, Terrance West, Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Giovani Bernard, Spencer Ware, Mike Gillislee, Jacquizz Rodgers, C.J. Anderson, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Marvin Jones, Jeremy Maclin, Julian Edelman, Kenny Britt, Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, Tyrell Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Doug Baldwin, Jarvis Landry.

Roll ‘em back

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals vs. Seahawks. Something’s just not quite right with Palmer, who continued to put up the bare-minimum fantasy points despite leading his team to an easy win over the Jets on Monday night. And while Matt Ryan had a stellar outing in Seattle last weekend, Palmer’s recent history suggests he belongs on your bench for theSunday nighter. Especially since he has been limited by a bum hammy all week.

Matt Forte, RB, Jets vs. Ravens. No, I don’t think it’s time to give up on Forte. Yet. But it is time to send him to your bench, in large part because he’ll be facing a suddenly stalwart Baltimore run defense. Of course, Bilal Powell’s continued encroachment on Forte’s snaps is a continuing frustration for his owners. In short, bench him and pray for a miracle.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles vs. Vikings. The schedule-makers did the Eagles no favors, as they will face the league’s stingiest defense after back-to-back losses. Though Mathews appears to once again be the leader of Philly’s committee backfield, there just won’t be enough carries to give him a chance against this mean-spirited run defense.

Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens at Jets. As bad at the Jets’ secondary is playing, even the Ravens would typically merit a recommendation. But if Joe Flacco is sidelined with a shoulder injury, as appears likely, Ryan Mallett will take the controls. Then all bets are off on Wallace – who will spend much of his day on Revis Island – and the rest of the Baltimore receiving corps.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles vs. Vikings. Have I mentioned I have concerns about the Eagles in this matchup? Carson Wentz looked like the rookie that he is last week, and when he falters, so does the Eagles’ passing attack. You can bet that Matthews, his favorite target, will be blanketed by Minnesota defenders all day long.

More thumbs down: QBs Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick, Trevor Siemian, Landry Jones; RBs Frank Gore, Matt Jones, T.J. Yeldon, Bilal Powell, Arian Foster, Zach Zenner, Justin Forsett, Derrick Henry; WRs Willie Snead, Quincy Enunwa, Jeremy Kerley, Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, Sammy Coates, Tyler Lockett, Will Fuller, DeVante Parker.


Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins at Lions. While none (okay, few) of us were looking, Garcon has creeped back onto the fantasy radar. Aided by Jordan Reed’s absence, Garcon was targeted 11 times by Kirk Cousins last week, vaulting to the team lead in that category. Meanwhile, Detroit has surrendered a league-worst 17 passing scores to date. Yahtzee!

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … forgets there’s another early-morning game in London on Sunday. The Giants and Rams kickoff at 9:30 a.m. ET, so be sure to wake up early and check the inactives (@ladd_biro) if you have any of their players (e.g. Odell Beckham, Jr.) in your starting lineup, just in case there’s any late-breaking news from across the pond.

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

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