Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Michael Thomas, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Darren McFadden? 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 11 of the 2017 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs at Giants. New York’s secondary has been torched by the Rams and 49ers over the last two games, and it has surrendered a touchdown to a tight end in every game this season. That’s great news for Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and, by extension, Smith.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots at Raiders. It’s likely a Belichickian mirage, but Lewis is coming into focus as the Patriots’ lead back while Mike Gillislee disappears before our very eyes. Oakland’s run defense has been very generous to opposing backs, and Lewis adds bonus potential in the return game.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders vs. Patriots. New England’s run defense has been among the league’s worst, while Lynch is coming off his best game of the season. Though you can’t count on another two-score outing from the Beast, he should have little trouble shaking off Patriots tacklers and finding his way into the end zone in Mexico City.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants vs. Chiefs. Since returning two games ago from an ankle injury, Shepard has been targeted 22 times, demonstrating just how much important he is to Eli Manning. Meanwhile, no team has allowed more TDs to opposing wide receivers than the Chiefs. That’s a tasty combo.
Marqise Lee, WR. Jaguars at Browns. Speaking of high-volume receivers, Lee has been targeted 39 times over the last four games, and he is riding a two-game TD streak. Look for him to continue cashing in on those opportunities with another strong outing against the vulnerable Browns secondary.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Wentz, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Blake Bortles; RBs Kareem Hunt, Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Jordan Howard, Alvin Kamara; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Alshon Jeffery, Doug Baldwin, Davante Adams, Adam Thielen, Marvin Jones.
Roll ‘em back
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins at Saints. Gone are the days when a matchup against the Saints was the Big Easy. Cousins had a big game against a solid Vikings defense last week, but New Orleans’ secondary poses an even tougher test. With his favorite target, Jordan Reed, expected to sit out another week, Cousins is unlikely to fare well with his other mediocre weapons.
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys vs. Eagles. Morris failed to take advantage of his first start against the Falcons, though he didn’t get much help from the Tyron Smith-less offensive line. The degree of difficulty soars this week. Philly’s run defense is the NFL’s stingiest, surrendering just 66 rushing yards per game. The red flags are flapping in this one.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans vs. Cardinals. Miller’s production has trailed off in tandem with the disruption in the Houston passing game, and D’Onta Foreman is back eating into his carries. Arizona’s run defense remains rock solid, keeping the ceiling low for Houston’s backfield mates.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos vs. Bengals. Sanders had a big game last week, but that came against the sieve-like Patriots secondary. Cincinnati’s unit, by contrast, is absolutely stifling. With the unsteady Brock Osweiler (temporarily) under center, Sanders is a very risky bet in this matchup.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams at Vikings. You hate to sit a guy on a hot streak like Woods, but he’s in for arguably his toughest matchup of the season in the form of shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. Jared Goff, who’s on an impressive roll of his own, would be wise to look away from Woods to less-blanketed receivers, like Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins.
More thumbs down: QBs Matt Stafford, Dak Prescott, Case Keenum; RBs Thomas Rawls, Isaiah Crowell, Samaje Perine, Latavius Murray, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Jordy Nelson, John Brown, Tyrell Williams, Jamison Crowder, Mohammed Sanu, Dontrelle Inman, Kelvin Benjamin.
TAKING A FLIER
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens at Packers. Maclin had his best game of the season (8 receptions for 98 yards) prior to Baltimore’s bye and he next faces a Green Bay secondary that has essentially collapsed over the last several weeks. Maclin, a huge disappointment thus far as a Raven, has a great chance to redeem himself this week.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…carries multiple kickers and defenses after this weekend. The bye schedule concludes in Week 11, so there’s no reason to weigh down your roster with “depth” at these positions. Replace them with players who have a chance to contribute to your postseason run.
Follow me on Twitter @ladd_biro.