Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 7-yard run with fullback Mike Tolbert during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Updated: August 4, 2014 4:38PM
Wondering whether to start Jamaal Charles and Dez Bryant, or to bench Case Keenum and Kenny Britt? 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 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll:
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers vs. Rams.
I called him the most frustrating QB in Fantasyland earlier this week, and he’ll probably prove me right again on Sunday. But following his monster outing against the Vikings, he should – mind you, should – take advantage of another tasty matchup with the Rams’ subpar pass defense.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants vs. Vikings. You’re not chasing last week’s stats when Jacobs’ next matchup is against the defense that surrenders the most fantasy points to opposing rushers. With virtually no competition for carries in New York’s backfield (no, Peyton Hillis doesn’t count), the not-quite-finished-yet grinder should have his second consecutive stellar outing. Jacobs’ tweaked hamstring is not expected to limit him.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills at Dolphins. Miami has been especially accommodating to multi-purpose backs like Jackson. Meanwhile, neither C.J. Spiller nor Stevie Johnson is 100 percent, and E.J. Manuel is still out of action. Jackson will have ample opportunities to shine in Miami.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars vs. Chargers. As he showed last week, Blackmon doesn’t need to score to deliver big-time fantasy points. Though nursing minor groin and hamstring ailments, nothing is expected to limit him against the vulnerable San Diego pass defense. Cecil Shorts will be a game-time decision due to his shoulder injury, but Blackmon is clearly the apple of Chad Henne’s eye.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers at Jaguars. Not only has Allen emerged as Philip Rivers’ go-to receiver, but the rookie is also getting the lion’s share of red zone targets. Look for his third consecutive 100-yard game with at least one scoring celebration.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Nick Foles, Jay Cutler, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers; RBs Ryan Mathews, Giovani Bernard, Knowshon Moreno, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Eddie Lacy; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks, Antonio Brown.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Buccaneers. When this season began, I never could have envisioned intentionally starting Jay Cutler over a healthy Ryan in Week 7 (or any week). But when your weapons are limited to Tony Gonzalez (who may be quadruple covered), Harry “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” Douglas and a couple of green wideouts with five catches between them, even a favorable matchup looks bad. Sadly, the biggest move the Falcons made over the bye week was picking up free agent WR Brian Robiskie, whom I believe they found on Craigslist.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots at Jets. It was nice to see him carrying the load again last week (unless you were banking on LeGarrette Blount). Ridley has, for now, reclaimed the lead role in New England’s backfield. But before you trust him as your starter, note that he’ll be facing an elite Jets run defense that has limited opposing rushers to a paltry 64 rushing yards per game, and only three rushing TDs.
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts vs. Broncos. Sure, Maurice Jones-Drew got into the end zone in Denver last week. So it’s certainly possible the struggling Richardson will get a cheap goal-line plunge as well. But more likely, the Colts will abandon the run early, just like the Broncos’ other opponents; and Richardson will be marginalized. That’s why Denver’s rush defense leads the league despite missing Von Miller, who returns Sunday with a vengeance.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens at Steelers. It’s no coincidence that Smith totaled just four receptions for 40 yards, on a healthy 15 targets, in his two games against the Steelers last year. With Ike Taylor locked in on Smith again, it could be another long day for the Ravens’ leading receiver. Pittsburgh is playing stout pass defense this year, while Joe Flacco has been mostly mediocre.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans at Chiefs. With practice squader Case Keenum making his NFL debut, Johnson will be hamstrung again by both his own team and his opponents. Kansas City sports one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses, having allowed just five passing scores to date. If you have another viable option, sit Johnson.
More thumbs down: QBs Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III; RBs Joseph Randle, Maurice Jones-Drew, Zac Stacy, Le’Veon Bell, Willis McGahee; WRs Danny Amendola, Dwayne Bowe, Miles Austin, Eddie Royal, Nate Washington, Anquan Boldin, Emmanuel Sanders, Marlon Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Rams WRs.
TAKING A FLIER
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys at Eagles. Dallas’ running game will likely ground to a halt with Joseph Randle in the lead role; so look for Tony Romo to carry his team against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. With Dez Bryant drawing double coverage, Williams should continue to out-perform the incredible, shrinking Miles Austin.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … lets deadweight languish on your roster. There’s nothing intimidating about Julio Jones when he’s on injured reserve; and yet he’s still owned in more than 60 percent of fantasy leagues. (Very few of those are keeper leagues.) Randall Cobb isn’t eligible to return until Week 15, which is an awfully long time to hold onto him, unless your league allows IR positions.