Fantasy Fool: When must-starts must be stopped

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Some "no-brainers" are more equal than others. And no, I'm not referring to the cast of Jersey Shore.

I advised you last week to bench Mike Wallace, who is normally a must-start player, regardless of the matchup. My reasoning was that he was coming off a bad game with Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines, his backup's backup (Charlie Batch) was now in charge, and Cleveland's shutdown corner Joe Haden would be shadowing him everywhere.

Sure enough, most of you ignored my advice (not always a crazy idea), and Wallace finished with a single, nine-yard reception on the game's final play.

Throughout the weekend, I also received dozens of tweets asking if Julio Jones could be trusted, since he, too, was coming off a lousy showing the previous week, most likely related to a lingering ankle injury.

My consistent advice on Jones was this: He's simply too explosive to bench, especially against the sorry Buccaneers pass defense.

Those who heeded my advice love me today.

(This column will focus solely on those recommendations where I was correct. Let's not get bogged down in negativity over a silly "sit Reggie Bush" call or multiple tweets to trust Ronnie Hillman. Can't we all just get along?)

So why was it acceptable to bench one must-start wideout (Wallace) while playing the other (Jones)? Haven't we all memorized the age-old fantasy maxim: "Never bench your studs"?

In this case, the answer is rather simple: Receivers can't throw themselves the ball! Jones may have been at less-than-100 percent, but Matt Ryan was still in control. With that tandem, there's just too much upside to ignore.

Meanwhile, Wallace was facing a stingy opponent with Pittsburgh's third-string quarterback under center. The situation was ripe for disaster.

The same rationale can be applied to Larry Fitzgerald while Ryan Lindley is under center. And to Dwayne Bowe, until the Chiefs find a real quarterback.

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch 'em while you can

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos. So, uh, he's the guy now? Just when we thought promising rookie Hillman would get his shot, Moreno was yanked off the weekly inactive reports and inserted into Peyton Manning's backfield. And Mike Shanahan isn't even coaching in Denver anymore!

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals. Once upon a time, I was a Beanie fan. But, every time I started him, or recommended starting him, he broke something, pulled something or just plain stunk up the joint. I won't be picking him up; but if you're really desperate, be my guest. Just note that aside from his two TDs (which were nice), he posted just 48 yards (at a 2.8 yards-per-carry clip) and was never thrown to.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars. I'm clearly a late arrival on the Cecil Shorts Bandwagon; but I'm not alone. Shorts is currently owned in roughly half of all leagues. With 80-plus yards and a TD in each of his last three games, it's time to give him some respect. Shorts even has another up-and-coming receiver (Justin Blackmon) on the opposite side to keep opposing defenses honest, and a favorable schedule ahead.

Don't be fooled

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers. At this point, I can't make a case for keeping the veteran on your roster any longer. With two disastrous performances in a row, and three other backs to contend with, he's unstartable in Week 13, despite the favorable matchup with the Ravens. And the road gets tougher after that, with San Diego and Dallas on deck. Set him free.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals. The way Andy Dalton has been lighting it up recently, I'd normally be inclined to recommend a wideout that has collected four TDs over his last three games. But Sanu's season-high in receiving yardage is a mediocre 47 yards, and he's competing for touches with A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Jermaine Gresham and others. I don't advocate picking up players I could never imagine starting, and Sanu falls in that category.

fantasy

Ladd Biro has been named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).


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