Wondering whether to start Ray Rice and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Brady Quinn and Braylon Edwards? Anyone can give you that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on. It’s playoff time! Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 15.
Watch ’em roll
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers at Saints. Freeman had his best game of the season in the first matchup between these division rivals (420 yards, 3 TDs), and he has continued to perform at a near-elite level since that Week 7 outburst. Also, no team has coughed up more passing TDs this year than New Orleans.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions at Cardinals. Though he’s splitting carries nearly evenly with Joique Bell, Leshoure remains the lead tailback, and Detroit’s best goal-line option. And he’s facing an Arizona run defense that has been mauled by the Seahawks and Jets over the past two weeks.
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins at Browns. No one will be surprised if Robert Griffin III plays, but Morris will inevitably be leaned upon more than usual in either event. RGIII’s sprained knee will presumably limit his mobility, leading to more carries for his fellow rookie.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints vs. Buccaneers. He had nine receptions for 121 yards at Tampa Bay in Week 7. Look for similar returns, including a TD, for Moore against the league’s softest pass defense.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns vs. Redskins. Cleveland is riding a three-game win streak, and Gordon has 18 receptions for 262 yards and one TD during that span. The rookie speedster now faces a Washington secondary that has surrendered 27 passing TDs (tied for the worst in the NFL with New Orleans).
Roll ’em back
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts at Texans. The rookie has had a stellar debut season, but he has not been a consistently reliable fantasy passer. He’s coming off a mediocre outing against Tennessee’s poor secondary, and now must take on a Texans defense with a chip on its shoulder.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Panthers. Though Carolina’s run defense is below average, Mathews has been equally unimpressive. With just one TD to date (in Week 5), he offers little upside.
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts at Texans. On the positive side, Ballard is no longer competing for touches with Donald Brown, who is on injured reserve. But Andrew Luck is a capable TD poacher, and Ballard will be facing the league’s second-ranked run defense.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals vs. Lions. How bad are Arizona’s QBs? Over the past four weeks, they have targeted their All-Pro wideout 37 times, but have connected on just six passes for 67 yards. This week, Ryan Lindley gets another opportunity to squander Fitzgerald’s talents.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars at Dolphins. Shorts is on track to return from the concussion that sidelined him in Week 14, but he’s a very risky start against a pass defense that has held up well against the likes of Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick in recent weeks. Shorts won’t be 100 percent, and Chad Henne has cooled off significantly.
Taking a flier
Lions defense vs. Cardinals. Looking for a boost from your defense? It’s hard to imagine a tastier matchup than the Lindley-led Cardinals, who made Seattle look like the Purple People Eaters last Sunday.
Don’t be the bonehead who … blindly plugs David Wilson into your starting lineup expecting a second monster performance. No doubt, he’d be an excellent play if Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) is sidelined; but the veteran’s status won’t be known until closer to game time. Wilson offers some upside in Atlanta; but given the possibility of limited touches, you’d be wise to stick with a proven performer.