Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Ray Rice, or to bench Tarvaris Jackson and Bernard Berrian? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with real starting lineup conundrums, read on.
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 2 of the 2011 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins vs. Texans. Lost amid Tom Brady’s passing heroics on Monday night were the terrific numbers compiled by Henne (416 passing, 59 rushing yards, 3 total TDs). He’ll likely find himself in another shootout this week against a Texans secondary that isn’t as good as it looked against the Colts.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Rams at Giants. He was impressive both running and receiving against the stout Eagles defense. Williams should fare even better against an injury-riddled New York squad, as Steven Jackson sits this one out.
James Starks, RB, Packers at Panthers. Ryan Grant still has seniority, but there’s little doubt Starks is the superior runner. Look for the bruiser to keep staking his claim to the starting role against a soft Carolina run defense that just lost its best player (MLB Jon Beason) for the season.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints vs. Bears. Devery Henderson has proven over the years that he can’t be trusted to post good games back-to-back. Meachem is different. With Marques Colston out, and Lance Moore still questionable, Meachem is the New Orleans wideout to trust this week.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins. Bess is easy to overlook in an offense that features Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush. But he is arguably Henne’s steadiest receiver, and he should be very busy as the Dolphins try to keep pace with the Texans’ prolific offense. In PPR leagues, Bess is a terrific option.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Stafford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco; RBs Reggie Bush, Tim Hightower, Mike Tolbert, Ahmad Bradshaw, Peyton Hillis, Jahvid Best; WRs Plaxico Burress, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Nate Burleson, Jordy Nelson, Santana Moss, Braylon Edwards, Brandon Gibson, Johnny Knox.
Roll ‘em back
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Eagles. Ryan always plays better at home, so I don’t expect him to be shut out of the end zone for a second consecutive week. But he’ll be under constant pressure from the Eagles’ relentless pass rush, and their all-star secondary won’t yield much either. There are much better QB plays this week.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans vs. Ravens. Look, I know you’re going to start him. You know you’re going to start him. But I’m telling you, you won’t like what you see. He was a virtual non-factor against the Jags in Week 1, and now he’s facing a fired-up Ravens squad that just dismantled last year’s Super Bowl losers. CJ2K will be great this year; just not till Week 3.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets vs. Jaguars. He averaged a measly 2.6 yards per carry against Dallas and was out-shone again by the ageless LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene is useless in the passing game, and this week’s opponent just held the multi-faceted Chris Johnson to 49 combined yards. Could Greene be headed for another bust season?
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings vs. Buccaneers. Take away his kickoff return TD and Harvin had just 22 yards in the opener. Though the Bucs secondary isn’t as stout as the Chargers’, Harvin will be a risky play as long as Donovan McNabb struggles to move the offense.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at Falcons. I was shocked to see Maclin in so many starting lineups last weekend, given that he spent nearly six months this offseason battling a mysterious illness and he clearly isn’t in game shape. He’s currently being started in more than 80 percent of one major site’s leagues, which is even more puzzling given his poor production in Week 1 (3 targets, 1 catch, 20 yards). Bench him until he gets his legs back underneath him.
More thumbs down: QBs Cam Newton, Matt Cassel, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Tarvaris Jackson; RBs DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, LeGarrette Blount, Daniel Thomas, Marshawn Lynch; WRs Chad Ochocinco, Jacoby Ford, Austin Collie, Michael Crabtree, Lee Evans, A.J. Green, Mohamed Massaquoi, all Jaguars and Seahawks receivers.
Taking a flier
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos vs. Bengals. He and his teammates did little against the Raiders, but McGahee could have the backfield to himself against the Bengals if Knowshon Moreno’s hamstring doesn’t heal quickly. McGahee is always a good bet for goal-line carries, and he proved Monday night that he can be an effective receiver as well. He’s a decent flex play this week if Moreno sits.
Don’t be the bonehead who…gives up on the Steelers defense/special teams after their debacle in Baltimore. They’ll remind you why you spent a mid-round draft pick on them against the sorry Seahawks. Methinks Troy Polamalu will take one of Tarvaris Jackson’s passes to the house in this lopsided contest.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.