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Week 2 Fantasy Football: Last Minute Lineup Advice

Dave Major answers your last second fantasy football lineup questions.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown

Aug 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown (14) is tackled in the second quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium. Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

A good friend asked me last night, “I have two awful receivers. Who do I start, this M. Brown guy with Baltimore, or that Cardinals receiver?” “Michael Floyd, or Andre Roberts,” I asked. “Andre.”

What a perfect way to kick off the inaugural edition of Last Minute Lineup Advice, Marlon Brown versus Andre Roberts. It’s such an interesting decision because, as I told her, these receivers are in very similar situations today. They’re both number-three receivers, dependent on the status of an injured starter. And while Brown is behind a sidelined Jacoby Jones (out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL), Roberts is behind Larry Fitzgerald, who will be a game-time decision.

But the most important factor in this decision is that the Cardinals are playing at 4:05. Jones is already a scratch, but Fitzgerald’s exact status will remain unknown until about an hour before kickoff, around 3PM ET Sunday. Take the guaranteed number-two receiver today, over the guy who may only come on the field for three-wide sets. The decision has to be Brown.

Roddy White is expected to play today against the Rams. So is Julio Jones. This is a 1:00 game, so there’s no need to sweat it out as the day goes on. White already warned owners in last week’s post-game interviews, “As far as fantasy, if I don’t participate in practice, than don’t start me. It’s a red flag.” He went on to be held out of Falcons practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.

As discussed earlier this week in Buy/Sell/Hold, White admitted being used primarily as a decoy in week one. Starting him could be a very high risk today. He’s warned you, and I’ve warned you. Even if he plays, his snaps could be limited, and he could be relegated to decoy duty for another week. With a lingering high ankle sprain, it has become one of the biggest question marks in fantasy – when will Roddy White return to form?

If Julio Jones plays as expected, it seems safe to assume that he’ll be the team’s primary target. I’m as big a White fan as anybody, when both are on the field at or near 100%. But clearly that’s not the case this afternoon. It doesn’t mean that Jones will be the Jones you’re hoping for. But if listed as active, he’s probably the Falcons receiver to start.

Here are some other quick notes. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are banged up. Romo has a proven track history of playing well through minor injuries, like his current bruised ribs. Bryant, however, is more of a wild card. He plays injured all the time, but with wildly different results. It’d be reasonable to expect a stat line somewhere around six catches for 87 yards and a score. But that’s likely better than your other options, so leave him in the lineup.

Jermichael Finley is listed as probable against Washington. He should be producing his usual modest numbers. This may be bigger news to James Jones fans and owners, who were expecting improved production with Finley out of the game. Roll with Jones as you normally would. It’s too early to change opinions drastically based on one week of work.

Dwayne Allen is doubtful today against the Dolphins. Leave him on the bench, and give Coby Fleener a bump appropriately. Fleener and Andrew Luck have yet to give fantasy owners the dream they’ve expected. The first and second round picks came directly from Stanford together as a Cardinal-turned-Colt Combo Platter.

Cecil Shorts was limited at practice this week, but is listed as probable today for his 4:25PM ET kickoff in Oakland. Shorts also gets a slightly upgraded quarterback situation, as Chad Henne steps in to replace an injured Blaine Gabbert. In 2012, Shorts saw improved numbers from Henne’s starts (5.5 receptions on 10.8 targets, for 86.8 yards and 0.7 scores) over Gabbert’s (2.8 catches from 4.9 targets, for 57.3 yards and 0.4 touchdowns). If you liked Shorts already, you like him even more today.

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