Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Updated: September 20, 2013 1:22PM
Wondering whether or not to start Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Brian Hoyer and Mark Ingram? 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 3 of the 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Packers. Look for a nice rebound for Dalton this week against the generous Packers secondary. You know he’ll have to pass early and often to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers & Co., and he has plenty of weapons to choose from.
Joique Bell, RB, Lions at Redskins. Though Reggie Bush (knee) sounds optimistic that he’ll suit up this week, it’s unlikely he would get a full workload. Bell is an excellent proxy, especially given the delicious matchup with the awful Redskins defense. Like Bush, he’s particularly valuable in PPR leagues thanks to his receiving prowess.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos vs. Raiders. I don’t expect his dominant role in Denver’s backfield to continue much longer; but for now, he’s the man. With opposing defenses constantly on their heels trying to slow down the Broncos’ aerial attack, the running lanes should continue to part like the Red Sea for Moreno.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams at Cowboys. Sam Bradford is off to an outstanding start, and it’s only going to get better as he and his prized rookie playmaker build their chemistry. Austin should give the ragged Dallas secondary fits on Sunday.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans at Ravens. Here’s another rookie that emerged last week. With Andre Johnson returning from a concussion, Hopkins is likely to be counted on even more against a Ravens secondary that was mauled by Denver in Week 1. (Last week’s success against Cleveland doesn’t count.) Baltimore is tougher against the run, so look for Matt Schaub to continue his aerial exploits with the speedy wideout.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers):
QBs Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III; RBs Darren Sproles, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore, Giovani Bernard; WRs Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Hakeem Nicks, Eddie Royal, Jordy Nelson, Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson, Julian Edelman, Pierre Garcon.
Roll ‘em back
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks vs. Jaguars. Seattle can probably win this game without throwing a single pass. Marshawn Lynch will eat the Jags for lunch, giving Wilson little reason to air it out. He had just 19 pass attempts against the 49ers. Don’t expect many more in this laugher.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders at Broncos.
He looked great against the sorry Jaguars and was solid in the opener against Indy. Now he faces the NFL’s stingiest run defense, which has allowed just over 40 yards per game on average. McFadden had just 87 total rushing yards (and a receiving TD) in two games against Denver last year. If you have a safer option, let Run DMC sit this one out.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots vs. Buccaneers. This season has been a disaster so far for Ridley and his disgruntled owners, and he narrowly avoided a total meltdown by bobbling a pitch near the end of last week’s game. Tampa Bay is playing solid run defense, while Ridley is barely holding onto his job. Don’t risk another single-digit fantasy outing until he regains his mojo.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys vs. Rams. Some will point to Murray’s 253-yard coming-out party against the Rams two years ago as reason to start him. But a look at the current state of affairs may be more apropos. Murray hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since the 2012 season opener, the Cowboys’ offensive line is a wreck and the Rams are playing solid run defense. Outside of PPR leagues, Murray is a very risky play this Sunday.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers at Patriots. Josh Freeman is at odds with his coach and he’s not helping his cause with his mediocre play. After a solid opener, Williams was the forgotten man in Week 2. Now he’ll face a Patriots secondary that has played well against subpar passing attacks (like the Bucs’). Only Vincent Jackson is worth starting this week.
More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman, Terrelle Pryor; RBs Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Daryl Richardson, BenJarvus GreenEllis, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, James Starks, Jacquizz Rodgers, Steelers RBs; WRs Roddy White, Greg Little, Cecil Shorts, Rod Streater, Greg Jennings, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt.
TAKING A FLIER
Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens vs. Texans. Even if Ray Rice gives it a go with his painful hip flexor, Pierce will have a larger-than-normal role in the offense. Houston’s run defense has been nothing special, while Pierce has proven to be a solid complement to the starter. Especially if Rice sits out, his backup offers big-time upside.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…starts Maurice Jones-Drew against the vaunted Seattle defense that just held the 49ers’ rushers to 13 combined yards. MJD is hoping to play despite his swollen ankle, but we’ve seen enough over the first two weeks to know that he belongs nowhere near any starting lineup this weekend.
Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).