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It’s pretty hard to believe that we’re halfway through the 2012 NFL season.  I know there’s 17 weeks, but with most leagues wrapping up their championships in week 16, it’s a good mid-point marker.

When you’re halfway through and have a middling or losing fantasy team, it’s easy to feel like you’re already out of it.  But just think about how much time is left.  Halfway through Titanic they hadn’t even hit the iceberg.  Halfway through the Republican Nomination Race, Herman Cain was leading polls.  Point is – there’s still a lot of time.

My first year playing fantasy football (10 years ago!), I was 2-4, but stuck with it and hit a 7-game winning streak.  I was hooked ever since, and it’s what got me into writing and part of Razzball Nation.  Keep hope alive!

Looking at last week’s picks, Ryan Fitzpatrick showed he’s a great fantasy QB when he’s not facing NFC West defenses, and Josh Freeman went bonkers against the Saints last Sunday.  Brandon Gibson and Felix Jones both had decent games and were usable, so I call it four-for-five.  My only miss was Kendall Wright, who even in a blowout only had three catches for 19 yards.

For my benchers, Matthew Stafford was terrible yet again, and Fred Davis didn’t have a big game, but I won’t call that a win with his unfortunate injury.  I wish him a speedy recovery.  I was wrong on Steve Smith (CAR), Vick Ballard and Shonn Greene, who all had usable games, with Greene the only scorer and only bench call who had a big game.  Not a bad week.

Here’s five guys not started in enough leagues and five guys started in too many leagues that should be benched, along with their % started in ESPN leagues and Yahoo leagues, respectively.  And remember, these picks are not always suggestions for direct 1-for-1 swaps if you own players in both sections, but merely picks for guys not started enough and started too often.

Possible Starters

Chris Givens, WR, St. Louis (1.1%, 6%) As I mentioned on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast as my up pick for the Rams/Patriots game in London today, I really like Chris Givens to have a big game in Wembley Stadium.  The Patriots secondary is notorious for giving up big plays in the air, just ask Russell Wilson, and I think will have trouble limiting both Givens and Gibson.  However, I think the Patriots scheme a bit more on Gibson, giving Givens some 1-on-1 situations deep.  Here’s an interesting stat – Givens has 50+ yards in his last four games.  Receivers who haven’t done that – A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, amongst many others. I like Givens as a big upside bye week fill-in.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland (7.5%, 10%) After such an abysmal NFL debut, Weeden has suddenly become a model of consistency.  With 230+ yards and 2 touchdowns in his last three games, Weeden is becoming a reliable bye week fill-in and solid QB2 in 2-quarterback formats.  This week he gets the Chargers who are 25th against opposing fantasy QBs, and with Trent Richardson a big question mark, the Browns are going to have to throw.  I really like the emergence of Josh Gordon as a deep threat as the Browns are finally stretching defenses (sorry Jake Delhomme and Colt McCoy).  I think it can be four straight weeks of 230+ yards and 2 TDs.

Alex Green, RB, Green Bay (49.6%, 27%) Since taking over as the lead back, Green hasn’t been overly impressive, but there is one stat that is extremely encouraging: 20+ carries in both starts.  Yeah his YPC of 3.0 and 1.8 in those games are disconcerting, but they were at Houston and at St. Louis, two pretty tough matchups.  This week? At home against the Jaguars, who give up the third most fantasy points to opposing RBs even with already having their bye.  The Jags, without MJD and an ailing Blaine Gabbert, are going to have a horrific time moving the ball on offense, giving up a lot of punts and possessions to the Pack attack.  Green is going to get a ton of work and finally have some running lanes.  Start with confidence.

Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego (10.4%, 10%) I incorrectly went with Meachem in the Chargers last game two weeks ago, but I’m sticking with him again for this Sunday.  The Chargers coming off a bye are going to look to revamp their offense at the Browns, and with Joe Haden blanketing Malcolm Floyd, I think Meachem is going to get a lot of looks.  The Browns give up the 2nd-most points to opposing WRs, and Meachem will get some deep looks.  I like him as a very high-upside play this week.

Brandon Stokley, WR, Denver (4.1%, 12%) In what should be a great game on Sunday Night (why such a good game during The Walking Dead?  Why???), I like Brandon Stokley to see a lot of work out of the slot in a Wild West shootout against the Saints.  Stokley has quietly gotten a TD in three of the past four weeks, and I like him to make it four of five.  A little less upside than Givens or Meachem, but a safer fill-in play if you need a WR or Flex.

Son of a Bench

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina (54.7%, 54%) I was wrong calling Cam a bench three weeks ago at Atlanta, but I have even less optimism with Cam going to Chicago.  This is going to be a brutal game.  I think this bout stays pretty low scoring, with the Bears blanketing Steve Smith and keeping a consistent QB spy to keep Cam from running.  I don’t know if I have the balls to play Weeden over him, but I’m right on the edge of doing so for my Random Commenter League.  Brutal year for my Panthers.

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta (81.8%, 65%) After the highly publicized firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, I think the Eagles D plays hungry and wins the line of scrimmage with the Falcons coming to town.  Turner has been a little more valuable than I think drafters thought, but is coming off a rough game against the Raiders who hadn’t stuffed the run with much success to that point.  I think this could be another disappointing game for Turner owners.

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland (69.8%, 75%) I guess the 1:00 start time has got Richardson owners happy to leave him in their line-up unless he’s ruled out, but I’m very surprised how many owners are sticking with him at this point.  The rib injury reared its head last week limiting Richardson to both his lowest touches and lowest scoring game of the year, and even if he’s active, I’m not trusting him to be the top RB option as it is.  The Chargers have been decent against the run, and after their terrible start, I expect them to play strong on the line of scrimmage.  You definitely need to monitor his status until kickoff, but even if active, I’m not starting with confidence.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (81.0%, 86%) This is the call that is making me the most nervous, but I have a feeling Nicks has a rough game here.  The Cowboys are a completely different secondary than in years’ past when Nicks burnt them, and even when Nicks was healthy(er) in week 1, the Cowboys limited the star wideout to 38 yards.  Since he’s been back he hasn’t had the big games owners were hoping for, and I think that continues this week as well.  If you’re stuck between Nicks and some other options, I would go with them.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco (92.9%, 87%) I was shocked to see Davis’ percent start figures, especially when you factor in he’s the second most started fantasy TE this week.  Sure he started strong with touchdowns in the first three weeks, but since then he’s failed to go over 37 yards in three of the last four, including last week’s game against the Seahawks without logging a single catch.  He’s got another tough NFC West divisional matchup at the Cardinals on Monday Night, who give up the second least points to TEs in the NFL.  I would look elsewhere.

If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone today in week 8!

From Around The Web

  1. Murph says:
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    Good morning JB,

    Worried about the weather out there on the east coast. Also any news on the colts RB situation?

    Matt Ryan or Big Ben

    Ballard, Donald Brown or your new panthers starting RB Stewart

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Murph, Morning man. I’m in Charlotte and the weather right now is pretty calm. But things could get dicey as the day wears on. Nothing definitive on Brown yet, but I think he suits up and gets a little work. Don’t like either back today. I’d roll the dice on Big Ben, Wash giving up big plays in passing game, I expect the Eagles to play some tough D with shake-up of coaching staff. Still don’t trust any Panthers RB, don’t like all three, but would go with Ballard.

  2. Prezii says:
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    Jay beezy! In a pinch… Who would you start, dwyer or pierre thomas??

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Prezii, Yo! Haha, a good friend of mine called me thank growing up… Definitely like Dwyer more. Mendenhall ruled out, Redman a game-time decision, I think Dwyer has good value one more week with the Pitt backs beat up.

      • Prezii says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, i know man, its me! Bill!! Remember, from way back? I keed, i keed.. But thanks i was leaning dwyer as well, i just feel like PT could bruise in this one.. but dwyer it is!

        • JB Gilpin

          Jonathan Gilpin says:
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          @Prezii, Haha, if I knew a Bill growing up, I’d be like, whoaaaaa… I think Denver/NO going to be pass pass pass for NO, with McGahee the only guy to have big rush rds.

  3. Charles says:
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    All kinds of mediocre players for me this week. Questions for 2 teams (both regular 12-team leagues):

    Team 1: Pick 3 out of D Moore (@KC), A Brown (v WAS), D Jackson (vATL), James Jones (v JAX), M Bush (v CAR), J Dwyer (v WAS)

    Team 1: I have Jimmy Graham (8:20pm game) and no backup TE. Would you drop any of the above players for either Greg Olson (to play at 1pm) or Joel Dreessen (8:20pm game – plays only if Graham is out)?

    Team 2: Cam (@ CHI) or Rivers (@ CLE)? FYI – I’m already forced to start J Stewart.

    Team 2: Pick 2 out of K Britt (v IND), J Maclin (v ATL), and D Bryant (v NYG)

    Thanks for your insight!

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Charles, 1) I’ll take Antonio Brown, James Jones (with Jordy looking like an out), and Dwyer. Don’t like Jackson with heavy wind in Philly. Denarius Moore is close, love him, he’d be 4th. 2) I don’t mind dropping Bush at all. Wasn’t a fan in preseason and even less a fan now. I’d pick up Dressen, then play him if Graham out, if Graham in, roll with him. So at least you’ll have the backup ready. 3) Ugh – forced to start J Stew?! Haha. Give me Rivers there. Don’t like Cam at all. 4) Still going with Maclin and Bryant, don’t trust any of the Tenn WRs yet, even with gusty wind at Philly for J-Mac.

      • Charles says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, Heh – yeah, going with Stewart and Dwyer at RB since Rice, Murray, and Spiller are all out this week. I guess I could drop Stewart for Vereen or Tanner, but doesn’t Stewart have much more upside?

        • JB Gilpin

          Jonathan Gilpin says:
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          @Charles, Yea, you’re not moving Stewart for those guys. Tough bye weeks! I think you’re good.

  4. Hans says:
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    Good morning,

    Who would u start?
    For flex, Heath Miller/ Michael Crabtree / Kendall Hunter?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Hans, I think I roll with Miller there. Like the matchup, don’t like any 49ers against Cardinals D on the road.

  5. Purewater says:
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    Green or Rashad Jennings? This is difficult, Green is mediocre but has a good matchup, Jennings is better but they’ll be getting routed most likely.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Purewater, I definitely like Green. I think Jennings will have value through passing game in junk time, but Green will get more touches and they want him heavily involved.

  6. barker says:
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    who to start in flex spot

    t rich v davis desean jackson

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @barker, Which Davis? Vernon? Man that’s a tough call, don’t like T Rich, don’t like DeSean with heavy winds, or Davis at TE. Give me Jackson if I have to pick, not sold T Rich gets a lot of work.

      • barker says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, forgot leshore also available — might just go trich tho with the winds in philly and v davis eating my soul these last few weeks and leshore against the sea def

        • JB Gilpin

          Jonathan Gilpin says:
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          @barker, Yup they’re all close, go with your gut and hope his ribs hold up!

          • barker says:
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            @Jonathan Gilpin, thanks JB lets hope trich holds up

  7. Velocity_X says:
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    I sympathize with your Walking Dead plight as well!

    My lineup in my PPR league is increasingly grim this week with Foster/Owen Daniels on bye, Hernandez out and Nelson out.

    TE: I need to pick someone up on the waiver for just this week, would you go for Paulsen or Dwayne Allen?

    Flex: Hillis, Stephens-Howling, Hartline or pick someone off the waiver like Brandon Stokley?

    Thanks.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Velocity_X, I know, right! Why put such a ballsy, kick-ass show at 9 on a Sunday, AMC!? I hear ya with those byes and injuries – I like Allen at TE vs. Tenn who blow against TEs. I might actually go with Stokley. I think best shot to score. LSH vs. 49ers is scary, Hartline vs. Jets who give least points to opposing WRs will have Rogers Cromartie all over him is a no go. Hillis we just don’t know what his role will be. Gimme Stoke!

  8. mike says:
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    hardesty j stewart dwyer.ray rice on bye mjd out who would you feel more comfortable starting

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @mike, Dwyer. Richardson suiting up, and CAR vs. Bears are too scary for me.

  9. Pepe Silvia says:
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    pick 2 of these 3: Vick Ballard, Mikel Leshoure, Chris Givens.

    I think I’d rather start Carl Grimes over any of ‘em.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Pepe Silvia, Haha, I hear ya, give me Leshoure and Givens. Brown back, will be a time share I’m guessing. Leshoure to lead backfield, I know bad mathcup, but will get a couple of catches and love Givens today.

  10. eltoo says:
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    need to start 4 out of (PPR):

    Brandon Lloyd
    Hakeem Nicks
    Antonio Brown
    Santana Moss
    Brandon Gibson/Danny Amendola (supposedly might go)

    I would start Amendola if he surprises and actually starts, not sure about Gibson even if Amendola doesn’t start. RGIII is running out of people to throw to so Moss is tempting. I almost want to bench Lloyd due to too many unproductive weeks. Thoughts? Thanks

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @eltoo, Nah, I think in that mix you stick with Lloyd. I like your top 4 there. Moss will be used vs. Pitt, your top 3 are locks IMO.

  11. Chris says:
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    Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?
    Thanks

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Chris, Ugh, I think Luck… Way too scared for Cam today in CHI

  12. In a running back bind. Need to start one of Richardson, Hardesty or Rodgers. Ouch! Thoughts?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @zacabieli, There I think I might go Richardson. He is the only real upside play. Tough to start those other guys even though I know T Rich might tank ya!

      • @Jonathan Gilpin, thanx!

  13. Chillmodious says:
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    Need a fill-in for Hernandez… Olsen, Celek, Tamme available.

    1. Who’s best for this week (Hernandez out)?
    2. Who’s best for next week (Hernandez on BYE)?

    Thanks!

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Chillmodious, I like Tamme this week. Shootout in Denver, I think they work him back in a bit. Usually would pick Celek, but heavy wind in Philly today. But do want Celek for next week. Indoors, Monday Night football at NO. Could have monster game there.

  14. jared says:
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    trent richardson or donald brown .5 ppr league

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @jared, Richardson. With them both banged up, we’ve seen Richardson do miles more than Brown.

  15. Oilcan Giuseppe says:
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    h2h ppr league….Alex Green or Bradshaw?

    non ppr….Lloyd,Britt or Josh Gordon?

    ppr flex….R. Jennings,DJax or Britt?

    thnks.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Oilcan Giuseppe, Sticking with Bradshaw. We’ve seen it from him, Green is more an upside play. Also sticking with Lloyd. Think he’ll be decent in london. Then Jennings. Had 7 catches last week, will get some check downs in junk time.

  16. Oilcan Giuseppe says:
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    one more….non ppr,Tanner or Hartline?

    thnks.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Oilcan Giuseppe, Ugh. Neither? Haha, jk. Hartline, he will get some looks.

  17. Sawx10 says:
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    For flex in ppr…
    Start Andre brown
    Jacquizz or
    Kendall hunter?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Sawx10, Ewwwww. Andre Brown. Bradshaw back, but Brown got a goal line look last week, Giants to lean on him to spell Bradshaw.

      • Sawx10 says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin,

        Thanks…my team is a MESS!!

  18. In a running back bind. Need to start one of Richardson, Hardesty or Rodgers. Ouch! Thoughts? It’s a PPR league.

  19. iMP says:
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    I here you with Vernon Davis, but even with his bye week looming I am still carrying only one TE to protect other bench assets. Davis is still going to have to play even worse for me to take the chance on missing one of his big games and playing matchups at TE.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @iMP, Yea if you can’t carry 2 TEs, I’m right there with you on that strategy. However, since his bye is still coming, you’re going to have to prepare sooner or later. You could def do worse than forced to play him though.

      • iMP says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, Yeah worked all week to get a roster spot for a 2nd TE via trade and then missed getting Bennett by one waiver spot…oh well. He would have been a good 2 week play. The rest of the usual suspects (Olsen, Pettigrew, Finley) weren’t quite good enough or healthy enough to make me want to drop Amendola or give up Romo (who is getting a spot start over Stafford this week). Do you like the upgrade of Olsen, Pettigrew or Finley better than the upgrade of Romo over Stafford in PPR?

  20. Andrew Cavanagh says:
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    Hey Jonathan who would you throw in. Wes Welker or Jeremy Maclin?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Andrew Cavanagh, Hey there! Call me JB. My account got set up with my full name :) Definitely like Welker more. Reports of heavy wind in Philly have me scared with anything to do with Vick/DJax/Maclin. Last thing they need when trying to get in sync is bad weather!

  21. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    I’ve go the same decision as you, Weeden or Newton? I’m just not sure if I should pray for a “consistent” game from Weeden or luck in to a big game from Newton? Have you been forced to make a choice yet on this one, which way will you go?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders, I have made my choice! Went with Weeden. Check my Twitter feed (@jbgilpin) so you know I’m not lying! Who are the Milwaukee Pounders? I’m a huge Brewers fan, but live in NC, never heard of whoever they are…

      • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, I have officially switched back from Weeden to Newton after reading the weather report in Cleveland. 20mph wind and rain all day.

        Old Milwaukee Pounders as my alias is simply meant to show how much I love a nice, cold 16oz can of Old Milwaukee beers.

  22. TheMizer says:
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    JG what’s good. Standard Flex: Kenny Britt, Jonathan Stewart? Only time I benched Martin was this week. Sigh…………. I need a bounce back.
    Peace,
    Miz

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @TheMizer, Oh No! Shoulda listened to me on the Pod :) Said I liked him. I think you go with J Stew. Don’t trust any Tenn WRs. Hope you still get the W!

      • TheMizer says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, appreciate it.

  23. buck says:
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    Please rank: Cobb, Bowe, Maclin
    non-ppr

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @buck, 1) Cobb (Nelson out) 2) Maclin 3) Bowe (hate Quinn more than wind)

  24. Jim says:
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    Would you start Steve Smith over Jeremy Maclin today, given the bad weather on the east coast? Smith faces the vaunted Bears defense, but does have good career #s there.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Jim, Yea I think I might go with Smith. Def scared Eagles will have slow game.

  25. ArtVandelay says:
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    Oops on benching Richardson. Need to start Stephens-Howling or DHB at my flex, unfortunately. Bad situation. Which would you roll with?

  26. Mike says:
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    Jimmy Graham or Joel Dressan? In a tight matchup

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