By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
Another Sunday, and another round of choices.
Sip your coffee, let the ink run onto your fingers (or take thumbs to keyboards) and solve this dilemma — with my help.
Karlos Williams, running back, Buffalo Bills
This week’s favorite son of everyone familiar with professional football is getting the start at running back for the Bills. Fresh off a 110-yard, one touchdown performance, he deserves the attention. The rookie out of Florida State tore through the Miami Dolphins in a blowout victory, but there is one fact that cannot be overlooked.
A good chunk of Williams’ yards against the Dolphins came on a 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth, with the game out of hand. This might turn you away from him as a reliable option for your lineup this week.
But don’t fret. Williams’ first run as a professional was a 26-yard touchdown. His first two carries against the Dolphins resulted in a combined 17 yards. And at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he runs with a hard style that broadcasters like to refer to as “downhill,” as in he gallops with a force that nearly brings him to the ground with no one else near him.
The Bills’ prized starting back LeSean McCoy went on record saying he won’t play until he is 100 percent recovered from his nagging hamstring injury, sliding the responsibility to Williams. It’s likely you picked him up this week; if you read my column, you’ll know he was one of my bonus selections to add to your roster. It would be wise to play him against New York this week, even with the Giants ranking second in the NFL in run defense. Unlike Matt Jones and his treacherous fumble at the goal line, I’m thinking Williams won’t flop.
Martellus Bennett, tight end, Chicago Bears
Yes the Bears are bad. But as SI.com pointed out this week, they aren’t bottom-five-in-the-league bad, meaning they can still be competitive.
A week after the Bears punted on every possession they had in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, one might steer clear of the Bears. But the Bears face the Oakland Raiders this week, which has given up the most touchdowns to tight ends (five) in the NFL.
Bennett is in the top half of those who play his position in the league, and leads his team in targets (18) through three weeks. Sure, small-hands Jimmy Clausen is throwing him the ball, but seeing as the Raiders haven’t been able to effectively cover a tight end all season, Bennett is a wise play for Sunday.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers
Newton has been fantastic through three weeks, and a major reason — if not the reason — the Panthers are currently perched atop the NFC South with a 3-0 record.
His passing numbers (228.3 yards, 1.6 touchdowns per game) are deceiving, because he’s also a threat to make plays with his feet. Newton is averaging 48 yards per game on the ground, and has rushed for two touchdowns. He faces a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that allowed Marcus Mariota to look like a hall of famer in Week 1, and even let Ryan Mallett, a guy who can’t even correctly set his iPhone alarm clock for training camp practice, to complete 61.5 percent of his passes for 228 yards and a touchdown.
Simply put, Newton is primed for a big game against the Buccaneers. He’ll pass plenty, and run here and there, too. They’ll both result in success for the Panthers, and for your fantasy team.
Doug Martin, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin has had a rough go in fantasy football terms this season. His game-high came against the New Orleans Saints, during which he gained 78 yards on 21 carries. He’s averaging a paltry 58.6 yards per game (3.82 yards per attempt), and topped 20-plus carries just once in three games.
This week, Martin faces the fourth-ranked run defense in the Carolina Panthers. The Bucs will likely throw the ball much more than they run, especially since they will probably face a deficit for most of the game. These factors combine for a bad day for Martin.
Nick Foles, quarterback, St. Louis Rams
Did you see what the Arizona Cardinals did to Colin Kaepernick last week? I know, my eyes still hurt, too.
Foles has tossed a mere two touchdown passes this season, and broken 200 yards just once. This week, he faces a Cardinals defense that intercepted four Kaepernick passes in Week 3. The Cardinals’ defense is one to be reckoned with, and will cause Foles problems all afternoon. Add in the muddled situation that is the Rams’ backfield, and it’s a recipe for low output from all players. Expect little contribution from Foles, good enough to land him on your bench, if he’s even still on your team.
Shane Vereen, running back, New York Giants
Vereen is still a weapon in PPR (points per reception, for you novices) leagues, thanks to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he isn’t worth much else.
This week, Vereen’s Giants face a stout front-four in the Bills. Eli Manning will likely be dropping back plenty, but with Odell Beckham Jr. among his available targets, Vereen isn’t near the top of his options. Limited looks, plus a stiff defense make Vereen an unattractive candidate for your lineup.
Lineup quandaries can be taxing, far too stressful to ruin your easy Sunday morning. I’m here to calm your nerves like the soothing Commodores (yes, millennials listen to funk and soul). Tweet me at @TheNickShook with your questions. Write longer than 140 characters (Did you hear? They’re trying to unchain us from that!) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s work this out together.