By LADD BIRO
Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and DeAndre Hopkins or to bench Thomas Rawls and Justin Hunter? 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 10 of the 2015 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars at Ravens. Imagine the fun you could have trash talking your opponent about beating him or her with a Jacksonville QB! And you could, as Bortles has
been airing it out nicely (even lighting up the solid Jets secondary last week). Now he’ll be facing one of the NFL’s most generous pass defenses in Baltimore. Even if Allen Hurns (foot) can’t go, Bortles has other weapons he can deploy against this poor unit.
James Starks, RB, Packers vs. Lions. What has been apparent for weeks is now official: Starks is Green Bay’s “number one back right now,” according to head coach Mike
McCarthy. Though Eddie Lacy will still get some carries (assuming he plays with his sore groin), Starks will be the biggest beneficiary of Detroit’s sieve-like run defense on Sunday.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears at Rams. You wouldn’t sit a healthy Matt Forte against the Rams (or anybody); and after his performance on Monday night, I would give the same benefit of the doubt to Langford. The rookie showcased his talents as both a runner and receiver, and he should remain very active in this tough matchup as well. He’s a solid start, especially PPR leagues.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings at Raiders. It looks as though Teddy Bridgewater will be cleared from the concussion protocol in time to play, which would address the only remaining worry about Diggs’ starting status. The rookie was en fuego until last week’s tough matchup with the Rams. Oakland’s secondary is awful, so Diggs could soar even if Shaun Hill is under center.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins vs. Saints. Washington can’t run and New Orleans can’t defend the pass. DeSean Jackson is still working his way back into shape while Kirk Cousins is getting “better” (albeit that involves stepping over a very low bar). Garcon is seeing a consistently high volume of targets, and he should convert those into one or two explosive scoring plays on Sunday.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton; RBs DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Justin Forsett, Giovani Bernard, DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, Latavius Murray (check concussion status), Lamar Miller; WRs Allen Robinson, Brandon LaFell, Brandin Cooks, Kamar Aiken, Travis Benjamin, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jordan Matthews, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, Emmanuel Sanders, Jarvis Landry, Marvin Jones.
Roll ‘em back
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos vs. Chiefs. It’s no secret that the 2015 Manning is a shell of his former shelf. But he looked sharper last week and his best game of the season came against the Chiefs in Week 2. Still, I would avoid him in this difficult matchup against a rested team coming off its bye.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants vs. Patriots. Not only is this backfield a four-headed mess, but they’ll be squaring off against one of the NFL’s premier run defenses. The Patriots obviously benefit from opponents regularly playing from behind, and that is likely to be the case again on Sunday.
Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs at Broncos. Just as the rookie was coming into his own, he’ll be facing a (slightly cracking) brick wall in Denver. Though the Broncos have been more accommodating than usual in recent weeks, they are still a ferocious defense that should have little trouble stifling the Chiefs’ average-at-best offense.
John Brown, WR, Cardinals at Seahawks. There’s obviously a risk in sitting Brown, who has proven he can produce even when not at 100 percent. But even after the bye, he’s still limited by a sore hamstring, and he’ll be facing the Legion of Boom in their unfriendly home stadium. A least one Arizona wideout is going to be shut down Sunday night, and Brown is the most likely candidate.
James Jones, WR, Packers vs. Lions. Despite the favorable matchup, it’s hard to trust Jones now that Davante Adams is back at full strength. There just aren’t enough balls to go around to everyone, and with Randall Cobb, Adams and even Richard Rodgers getting their share, Jones looks like the odd man out.
More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Landry Jones; RBs Eddie Lacy, Chris Johnson, T.J. Yeldon, Jonathan Stewart, Ronnie Hillman, Alfred Blue, Ameer Abdullah, Isaiah Crowell, Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Antonio Andrews; WRs Jeremy Maclin, Doug Baldwin, Reuben Randle, Kenny Stills, Vincent Jackson, Nate Washington.
TAKING A FLIER
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles vs. Dolphins. Though he’s playing second fiddle to Murray, Mathews is still getting enough touches to be a productive fantasy contributor. Facing Miami’s pathetic run defense, there should be more than enough touches available for both backs to please their owners.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … puts your trust in a New England running back, unless you just enjoy playing the lottery. Bill Belichick revels in keeping opposing defenses guessing (I doubt he thinks twice about us fantasy enthusiasts), so just when it appears that LeGarrette Blount will be featured even more prominently with Dion Lewis out, it could just as easily be the James White or Brandon Bolden show on Sunday.
Remember Jonas Gray?
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).