Fantasy Fool: Starters and Benchwarmers, Week 16

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Wondering whether or not to start Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson, or to bench Christian Ponder and Kevin Ogletree? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you're looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

It's championship time! Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 16 of the 2012 season.

Watch 'em roll

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys vs. Saints. Don't be scared off by the Saints' shutout of the Bucs last week. That was an aberration. Romo has been putting up consistently solid, if not stellar, numbers during the Cowboys' late-season roll. Dez Bryant's finger is holding up just fine, and New Orleans' pass defense remains one of the most vulnerable in the land.

Vick Ballard, RB, Colts at Chiefs. Though he has accumulated only two touchdowns all season, Ballard has firmly established himself as the workhorse of the Indy backfield. Following a solid 105-yard outing against the Texans, the rookie is an excellent flex play against a Chiefs defense that coughed up more yardage to both Darren McFadden andMike Goodson than either has accumulated in a game all season.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles vs. Redskins. McCoy is expected to return to his starting role now that he is fully recovered from his concussion. Though Bryce Brown will notch some carries, the rookie has a well-documented case of fumblitis that should limit his workload. McCoy carries risk, but the upside is too great to leave on your bench.

Danny Amendola, WR, Rams at Buccaneers. Though still fighting through a nagging foot injury, Amendola is a must-start Sunday after his impressive rebound performance in Week 15. No secondary is more generous to opposing receivers than Tampa Bay's.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots at Jaguars. The veteran virtually disappeared for most of November, but his two best performances of the season have come this month; against some pretty stingy defenses, at that. Lloyd is a good bet to maintain his momentum when he faces off with one of the NFL's most hospitable secondaries.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Robert Griffin III, Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford, Andrew Luck; RBs DeMarco Murray, C.J. Spiller, Knowshon Moreno, Michael Turner, Stevan Ridley, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Reggie Bush, Alfred Morris; WRs Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon, Miles Austin, Cecil Shorts, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Jeremy Maclin, Anquan Boldin, Randall Cobb, Wes Welker, Antonio Brown, Reggie Wayne, Lance Moore, Steve Smith.

Roll 'em back

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks vs. 49ers. Few quarterbacks are hotter than Wilson right now, but his primetime tilt with the formidable 49ers defense should give you pause. Wilson's worst game of the season (122 passing yards, no TDs) came in Week 7 in San Francisco. While he should top those figures, he's unlikely to produce a fantasy bounty.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals at Steelers. The Law Firm probably played a key role in getting you this far; but just as your stakes get higher, Green-Ellis' road gets bumpier. He only managed 69 yards in his first matchup with the Steelers, and you can bet they'll make the Bengals' workhorse fight for every yard again.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers vs. Raiders. Just when he sucks you into believing you can trust him, Williams inevitably puts up a stinker to remind you why you've benched (or even released) him more often than not. Despite riding a solid two-game surge, Williams should be reserved against an Oakland defense that just held Jamaal Charles to 28 combined yards last Sunday.

Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers at Jets. I wouldn't put it past Alexander to have a solid rebound after his no-catch meltdown in Week 15. That said, I also wouldn't be surprised if the Jets' Antonio Cromartie puts the clamps down on him again. While there's upside here, the risks are just as real.

Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks vs. 49ers. Unlike his quarterback, Rice has been decidedly mediocre over the past two weeks, against favorable competition. The 49ers pose a much stiffer challenge this weekend. Don't expect much better than the two receptions for 32 yards he posted against them in Week 7.

More thumbs down: QBs Colin Kaepernick, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Bryce Brown, Mark Ingram, Montel Owens, Beanie Wells, Jonathan Dwyer, Alex Green, Ronnie Brown; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Torrey Smith, Josh Gordon, Mike Williams, Jeremy Kerley, Kenny Britt, Golden Tate, Denarius Moore.

TAKING A FLIER

Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams at Buccaneers. Even with Amendola back in the lineup, Gibson has seen plenty of targets from Sam Bradford. In this ultra-favorable aerial matchup, there's room for both wideouts to soar. Rookie Chris Givens remains a legitimate long-ball threat, but Gibson is a steadier option with a nose for the end zone.

DON'T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO... overlooks the Saturday night matchup. There's no Thursday nighter, but the Falcons are squaring off with the Lions a day earlier than normal. This is no time to lose focus!

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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