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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 1
John Tuvey
Updated: September 10, 2010
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Start/Bench Codes (SBC)
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Solid matchup) X: Unclear situation / Could go either way
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)
 
 
Minnesota at New Orleans Back to top
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

While much of the attention centers on Minnesota’s banged-up secondary, the Saints have some issues of their own: for example, no Darren Sharper. And they weren’t exactly a shut-down unit last season, giving up five 300-yard games over the final five regular season games plus the postseason. However, they held their last seven opponents to one or zero TD tosses, meaning what fantasy value Favre produces here will likely have to come through yardage. With no Sidney Rice, that could be difficult; moreover, if the Vikings ask Favre to drop back 46 times again they might be going to the bullpen much sooner than expected. Expect the Vikes to ask the running game to do the heavy lifting here, with Favre filling in the gaps; of course, if Minnesota falls behind early and has to play catch-up, the numbers could start adding up.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?” Aside from the cripplingly ill-timed fumbles, Peterson had a monster game against the Saints with 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns. And you can expect him to shoulder an even greater load here as the Vikings attempt to keep Brett Favre upright and Drew Brees off the field. Against a Saints defense that has allowed at least one RB TD in seven straight games and three 120-yard rushers (including AP) over that span—and will be down one, possibly two linebackers—Peterson has a tremendous shot at redemption.

WR Percy Harvin

S2

For at least the foreseeable future, Harvin has to be viewed as a wild card; you never know when those migraines will flair up and he’ll give you a DNP. But if/when he does play, Favre loves to get the ball into his hands—and good things tend to happen when he does. He should touch the ball substantially more than the nine times (five catches, four carries) he saw it in the NFC title game, and every touch is one more opportunity for Harvin to make something happen.

WR Bernard Berrian
S2

Who will step up in Sidney Rice’s absence? How about the Vikings’ highest-paid receiver, the guy who caught nine balls for 102 yards against New Orleans last January? Berrian hasn’t really meshed yet with Favre this preseason, but they obviously found something they liked last year and with no Darren Sharper to cover the holes Berrian should enjoy another solid stat line.

WR Greg Camarillo
U

Favre has made average receivers into stars before, and in Camarillo he may have the opportunity to do so again. The former Dolphin doesn’t drop anything, and if Harvin moves to the outside to replace Sidney Rice he’ll be working the middle of the field—Favre’s favorite place to throw the ball. Don’t bank on him yet for fantasy help, but he’s at least worth keeping an eye on.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S2

Big Shank is a Favre favorite, and with Sidney Rice down he’ll command even more attention. Further, with New Orleans expected to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Favre Shiancoe provides a solid safety valve over the middle. Despite the Saints giving up just one TE TD all of last year, it’s not unusual for quality tight ends to put up good numbers against them: Shank’s 4-83, Dallas Clark’s 7-86 in the Super Bowl, even Kellen Winslow’s 4-76 in Week 15. The yardage seems to be a given, and if the Saints sell out to stop Adrian Peterson at the stripe, Shiancoe could match that TD total from last year as well.

DT Vikings S3

The Purple People Eaters will bring the heat up front, but with so many holes to cover in the secondary it’s tough to ask them to keep a lid on the Saints’ offense. That pass rush and Percy Harvin in the return game might be enough to offset the risk of sending three healthy corners to shut down a Drew Brees-led offense.

New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees carved up the Vikings for three TDs back when they had most of their secondary intact; now he gets them without top pick Chris Cook and starting corner Cedric Griffin. His 197 yards against Minnesota wasn’t exactly gaudy, but don’t bet against Brees when he’s facing the likes of Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard. Unless you’re afraid of the Madden curse...

RB Pierre Thomas S2

Thomas scored twice and compiled 99 yards from scrimmage in the NFC title game, averaging better than six yards a touch. The Vikings should get better linebacking play with a healthy E.J. Henderson in the middle, but it’s clear the vaunted Williams Wall has nothing on Thomas. He’s safe to start, and with Lynell Hamilton done for the year Thomas may get to stay in at the stripe as well.

RB Reggie Bush S3

Bush emerged as a goal line option during the preseason, and he’s given the Vikings fits in the past. He did little on the ground against Minnesota (8 yards on 7 carries) back in January, but he caught two passes for 33 yards, including a five-yard TD. Heisman or no, he’s still a solid option in PPR leagues.

WR Marques Colston S2

Bruised kidney. Two catches for 22 yards the last time these clubs met. But before you bench him for the season opener at home, consider that the Vikings will be without two of their top three corners and their safety play was nothing special to begin with.

WR Robert Meachem S2

Bum toe. Two catches for 19 yards the last time these clubs met. But before you bench him for the season opener at home, consider that the Vikings will be without two of their top three... ah, you know the drill.

WR

Devery Henderson

U

It wasn’t Colston or Meachem who troubled the Vikings in the NFC title game; Henderson led the Saints in catches, yardage, and touchdown grabs. If what’s left of Minnesota’s starting cornerbacks are tangling with Meachem and Colston, it would stand to reason that Henderson draws the most favorable match-up. In larger leagues that’s enough to push him into the starting lineup.

TE Jeremy Shockey S2 It was somewhat surprising that Shockey didn’t have a larger role in the Saints’ win over Minnesota last January; only three teams gave up more TE TDs than the Vikings and only five teams surrendered more yards to the position. With New Orleans’ wideouts a little banged up and the Minnesota secondary struggling to find enough warm bodies to cover Saints receivers, this could be Shockey’s opportunity to make up for lost time.
DT Saints S2 The Saints were in the Super Bowl because they turned the Vikings over multiple times; what’s changed from last January to suggest they won’t do it again? Brett Favre is older, his line has just as many questions marks, and he’s down a favorite target. Mix in the potential of Reggie Bush in the return game and the Saints D/ST is a formidable threat indeed.
 
Cleveland at Tampa Bay Back to top
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B

Delhomme had a solid preseason and the Bucs will be without cover corner Aqib Talib for this one, but you’d have to be extremely thin at quarterback to be starting Jake out of the gate. He has one multi-TD game in his last 13 outings, and that was with Steve Smith on his side.

RB Jerome Harrison

S2

Harrison spent part of the offseason attempting to turn his strong finish into a fatter paycheck... and the rest of it trying to hold off rookie Montario Hardesty for the starting gig. Hardesty’s knee injury leaves the bulk of the touches for Harrison, who should have at least a modicum of success against a Bucs’ defense that ranked just a shade below the Oakland and KC units he torched last season.

RB Peyton Hillis

B

After Hardesty went down Hillis was receiving some work with Cleveland’s first offense. He’s unlikely to be the feature back, but he could see goal line work if the Browns get there. However, that speculation is not nearly strong enough to warrant fantasy work this week.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi S3

Statistically the Bucs struggled against wideouts last year, but over the second half of the season they were quite good—primarily because of Aqib Talib. He’ll sit this one out, leaving a slim opening for Massaquoi, who scored three of Cleveland’s five WR TDs last year and accounted for both of their 100-yard receiving games. You could see adequate yardage, but with Delhomme already throwing one TD to his tight end and another unlikely, that should be the extent of Massquoi’s fantasy damage.

WR Brian Robiskie B

Sure, Robiskie could score his first NFL touchdown this week; we just wouldn’t recommend banking a starting spot in your fantasy lineup that he does.

WR Joshua Cribbs B

The Browns will find creative ways to get the ball to Cribbs, but his best shot at scoring will come in the return game. And seeing as how the Bucs haven’t given up a punt or kick return TD since 2007, that’s a long shot at best.

TE Ben Watson S3

Let’s say you completely wrote off the tight end position at your drauction and now you need some help. The Bucs were among the more TE-friendly defenses last season and gave up a Week 7 touchdown to Watson when he was with the Patriots. Ben led Cleveland’s receivers with two TDs in the preseason, and four of Jake Delhomme’s last eight touchdown tosses have gone to tight ends (the other four went to Steve Smith, and he’s not around). So if you’re throwing darts this week, Watson’s not a bad toss.

DT Browns B This unit’s best hope is Joe Cribbs, and... well, see the note on Cribbs above.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

The Bucs expect—hope—their franchise QB is ready for the regular season opener, and Freeman’s fantasy owners feel the same way as this projects to be a nice match-up against a defense that allowed five of the last seven QBs it faced in 2009 to put up 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns or both. That’s why Cleveland spent two early picks on secondary help. Check the injury reports and practice updates for Freeman’s availability; in a larger league he may actually be a fantasy helper this week.

RB Carnell Williams


S2

A healthy Cadillac opened last season in style with 13-97-1 against the Cowboys, and that was even with Derrick Ward swiping a dozen carries. Against a softer defense—only four teams gave up more RB rushing yards than Cleveland last year, and top run-stuffer Shaun Rogers was on the PUP list for the entire preseason—don’t be surprised if Williams once again kicks off the season with a bang.

RB Kareem Huggins


B

One of the more popular deep sleepers this fantasy preseason, Huggins is expected to be Tampa Bay’s change-of-pace back and potential fill in if (when) Cadillac breaks down. And while that’s certainly a possibility early in Week 1, best wait and see how the Bucs’ backfield shakes out before committing a starting fantasy slot to Huggins.

WR Mike Williams
S3

Williams led the Bucs in receiving this preseason, taking advantage of an open situation to earn a starting job as a rookie. There’s upside, to be sure, but with Josh Freeman’s status somewhat uncertain there’s also risk in starting a first-year right out of the gate.

WR

Maurice Stovall
Sammie Stroughter

B

Stovall and Stroughter constitute the remainder of Tampa Bay’s receiver rotation, and while the Browns have some issues in their secondary they weren’t an easy mark last year; 75 percent of the league gave up more fantasy points to wideouts. With Josh Freeman’s availability still in question, no need to plumb the depths of the Bucs’ WR depth chart at this point in the season.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

A fifth knee surgery this offseason limited Winslow to just one catch in the preseason, but with Josh Freeman also out it’s not as if they missed out on valuable bonding time. Freeman leaned heavily on K2 last year; Winslow was responsible for five of the seven biggest yardage games by Buc wideouts with Freeman at the helm. And when you consider that only two teams surrendered more yards to the tight end last year than the Browns and that the emotional Winslow may have a wee bit of revenge on his mind here, he makes a solid play in TE-mandatory leagues

DT Buccaneers S2 Any defense facing Jake Delhomme has to warrant consideration, though being without ballhawk Aqib Talib doesn’t help. Considering that Delhomme threw three pick-sixes last year—including one to Bucs FS Tanard Jackson in Week 6—you could do worse than trotting out Tampa Bay’s defensive unit this week.
 

Miami at Buffalo

Back to top
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Would it surprise you to learn that the Bills were the second-stingiest defense against quarterbacks last season? Henne mustered a total of 290 yards and two touchdowns in the two-game series, though he now has Brandon Marshall at his disposal. The Bills are down a pass rusher (Aaron Schobel) and may be missing ball-hawking safety Jairus Byrd as well, but this may be the wrong week to test that “Henne as sleeper” theory.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S2

Brown had 115 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting between these clubs, one of nine backs to reach triple-digits against the Bills (and four with multiple TDs). While the preseason split was more balanced than we’ve seen from recent Miami teams, when push comes to shove expect the Dolphins to revert back to what they know and love: running the football.

RB

Ricky Williams

S3

Ricky chipped in 85 yards (to Brown’s 115) and a touch in the front half of this series; then, with Brown out for the rematch Williams rolled up 115 and a touch of his own. The Dolphins gave both ball-carriers double-digit touches in four of the 10 games they played together, so in larger leagues Williams offers some value in this softer matchup.

WR

Brandon Marshall

S3

Last season the Bills gave up 12-141 to Randy Moss in the season opener... then went almost four months before another wideout reached triple digits against them. Marshall’s resume makes him a virtual must-start, especially in PPR leagues, but this is far from an easy match-up for him.

WR

Brian Hartline

B No. 1 receivers had a tough enough time against the Bills; you can imagine the success rate for No. 2s. Hartline was the exception, as he scored in each end of the season series. You can hope that’s more trend than mirage, but odds are Marshall has usurped Hartline’s role in the Miami passing game—not to mention his touchdowns.
TE Anthony Fasano
B

The Bills didn’t allow a TE TD over their final 14 games of last season, including two shutouts of Fasano—though he did muster 74 yards in the back end of the series and scored in both meetings in 2008. Fasano is no better than the fourth option in Miami’s offense; you probably have a similar number ahead of him in your tight end queue.

DT Dolphins S3 Trent Edwards threw three picks—one brought back for a TD—in the front end of last season’s series with Miami. You could do worse than banking on a repeat.
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards B

The Dolphins’ young secondary will suffer through some growing pains this season, but neither Edwards (192 and 1 in the first meeting) nor Ryan Fitzpatrick (246 and 1 in the rematch) were able to do much to them last season. Chan Gailey’s emphasis on the ground game and the presence of C.J. Spiller in the offense further dampen Edwards’ fantasy prospects.

RB C.J. Spiller S2

Miami’s 2010 draft focused on their defensive front seven, in part because four backs topped 90 rushing yards against them in the last three games of 2009. Spiller could lose some carries with Fred Jackson expected to see at least some work, but after rolling up three touchdowns and 157 yards from scrimmage on just 29 touches there’s no reason he can’t put up the 116 total yards and two scores Jackson posted on the Dolphins in the back end of last season’s series.

RB Fred Jackson B

Jackson missed much of the preseason with a busted hand, but he's not even listed on the injury report. However, he'll likely be limited to start the season so no need to rush him into your fantasy lineup.

WR Lee Evans U

You know the drill with Evans: the occasional feast amid a sea of famine. Evans has averaged better than 19 yards per catch against the Dolphins over the past three seasons, but he’s been held out of the end zone in five of those six games. If you like putting Mark Reynolds (32 homers, a .211 batting average) in your fantasy baseball lineup, then you’re the kind of owner who can live with Evans in your lineup.

WR Steve Johnson B

It’s tough to find a way to spin Johnson’s 12 career catches into anything you’d want to plug into your fantasy lineup.

DT Bills B The Bills lost special teams coach Bobby April and leading pass rusher Aaron Schobel over the offseason, sapping them of most of the fantasy value they previously held. And considering they didn’t generate a D/ST TD over the final 14 games of 2009, there wasn’t much there to begin with.
 

Cincinnati at New England

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Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Palmer has a couple more weapons at his disposal this season, which should help him improve on the mediocre fantasy numbers he posted last year. A trip to New England isn’t exactly a helper—the Pats haven’t allowed a visiting QB to throw for 300 yards since Week 8 of 2008—but unless Palmer wants a constant earful he’ll need to get both of his diva receivers the ball.

RB Cedric Benson B

It’s not that Benson can’t beat up a good run defense; witness his 21-169-1 against the Jets in the Wild Card round last year. But with Terrell Owens in town, Carson Palmer another year removed from his arm problems, and the Bengals posting zero RB TDs in the final half of the 2009 regular season, Ced’s chances of a big game here seem remote.

WR Terrell Owens
S3

Owens seems to have moved into the Chad Johnson role in this offense, getting deep while the former Chad Johnson handles the underneath stuff. Matching TO’s experience against a New England secondary with a combined five NFL seasons under their collective belt should lend itself to decent yardage and maybe even a long TD.

WR Chad Ochocinco
S3

Could Chad be taking a back seat to the new diva in town? Terrell Owens nearly doubled up Ochocinco’s preseason numbers, but Chad had the lone TD between them. With the Bengals looking for a more balanced offense than last year’s ground-heavy approach there should be enough looks for both Ocho and TO, with Chad the more likely of the two to find the end zone.

TE Jermaine Gresham B For Gresham to be a fantasy factor this year will require a total strategy shift on the part of the Bengals, who have a total of two TE TDs over the past three seasons combined. So far Cincy has adjusted; Gresham ranked second in catches and third in yardage during the preseason. The Pats historically do a good job of shutting down tight ends—only four teams gave up fewer yards to the position last year—so it wouldn’t be the worst thing if you allowed the rookie to get a little NFL action under his belt before banking on him for fantasy production.
DT Bengals B The Patriots don’t turn the ball over, score plenty of points, and haven’t allowed a kick return for a touchdown since 2008. Cincy’s defense is good, but that’s a lot to overcome on the road.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

There are few safer bets than Brady at home, even against a pretty good Cincinnati defense; in his last 16 full games at home he’s had 10 multiple TD games, eight 300-yard efforts, and thrown for at least 250 yards in 13 games. He’s also thrown multiple touchdowns in each of his last five full home openers, averaging 292 yards per game in those outings.

RB

Fred Taylor
Sammy Morris
Laurence Maroney

B

The playoff loss to the Jets notwithstanding, the Bengals were one of the stingier teams against the run last season. So no reason to play the Rubik’s cube that is New England’s running back committee in hopes of finding some fantasy help.

WR Randy Moss S1 In three home openers as a Patriot, Moss has put up 12-141, 6-116-1, and 8-105-2. And now he's looking to get paid? The possibilities are limitless. Cincy throws a good secondary at the Pats, but the receivers who did have success against them last season—Vincent Jackson, 108-2; Calvin Johnson, 123-1; Andre Johnson, 135—share Moss’s freakish size/speed combination. Don’t bet against yet another monster opener Moss can take to the bank at contract time. After missing practice Wednesday due to illness, Moss was removed from the injury list so he should be angry, motivated, and good to go in Week 1.
WR Wes Welker S3 Even Welker says he’s not completely healthy, and you’ve got a Cincinnati secondary that allowed only two No. 2 receivers to top even 60 yards last season. He’s still a must-start in PPR leagues, but in other formats if you have another option you might want to go that direction until Welker has a more favorable match-up—and you know more about just how far back from that knee injury he is.
TE Rob Gronkowski U Tough to argue with four preseason touchdowns, especially when three of them came from Tom Brady. A couple more trends in the rookie’s favor: the Bengals, who were for the most part stellar against tight ends last season, have allowed TE TDs in two of their last four (including the wild card game); and Patriots’ tight ends have scored in two of the last three openers. If you drafted late in the preseason you probably had to overpay for him based on those scores, so why not throw him out there and see what happens?
DT Patriots S3 The Pats haven’t been a particularly high-scoring fantasy defense of late, they don’t bring much to the return-game table, and the Bengals aren’t particularly turnover-prone. They’re an adequate fantasy play, but nothing to write home about.
 

Indianapolis at Houston

Back to top
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

You’re starting Manning every week except his bye, and you’re usually feeling pretty good about it. This week is no exception; Manning has thrown for at least 244 yards in every game against the Texans since 2002, so you know he’ll get his yardage. The last time he faced them he also tossed three TDs, so there should be plenty of scoring as well. All in all, a typical Manning match-up.

RB Joseph Addai S2 The Texans are no longer a pushover on the ground—Chris Johnson was the only back to rush for triple-digit yardage against them over the final 13 games of the season—but Addai has found combo-yardage success against them. Moreover, had Chad Simpson not vultured his score in the back end of last season’s series Addai would bring a six-game scoring streak into this meeting. As it stands Addai has nine TDs and 745 yards from scrimmage in eight career outings against the Texans. Nothing in Donald Brown’s 1.8 yards per carry average this preseason suggests Addai is in any danger of losing significant touches, so bank on another good showing for Joe against Houston.
WR Reggie Wayne S1

Wayne has scored in each of the last three season openers, and he’s scored in three of his last five against the Texans. Not that you’d ever consider benching Reggie, but those trends should reinforce that warm fuzzy feeling you have with him in your lineup.

WR Pierre Garçon S2

Garçon scored in the back end of last season’s series and seems to have cemented his status as Indy’s WR2 and deep threat. He’s not the stone cold lead pipe lock that Wayne or Clark are, but he’s a solid fantasy start; a matchup with the Texans is no reason to alter those plans.

WR Anthony Gonzalez
Austin Collie
B Gonzalez and Collie are still battling for table scraps in the Indy passing game; wait until that menu is a bit more set before committing a fantasy lineup spot to either tertiary target.
TE Dallas Clark S1

A typical game for Clark against the Texans has involved nine targets, seven catches, 70 yards and a very good shot at a touchdown. Last year Clark went above and beyond with 14-119 in the front end and 9-63-1 in the rematch. There’s little reason to expect anything different.

DT Colts B Indy produced a defensive score against Houston last year, but if your defensive scoring includes a points-allowed element you might not want to dance too close to that fire again.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Schaub has missed as many Indy games as he has made, and while the numbers have been solid—284-2 and 311-1 in last season’s series—he’s also had multiple INTs in each of his last three against the Colts. He’ll be ready for this one, and he’s quite fond of the home cooking with five straight multiple touchdown games in Houston as well as three 300-yard efforts in his last four at home. You may have to suffer through some negative points due to the picks, but Schaub’s yardage and scores should more than make up for it.
RB Arian Foster
S2 Houston running backs have a history of success against Indy—eight RB TDs in the last four meetings—but it’s always somebody new. So after Ryan Moats, Steve Slaton, and Vonta Leach scored last year, this time around it’s Foster’s turn. His strong finish and solid preseason secured the starting job, and while it’s only a matter of time until Gary Kubiak takes it away you’re reasonably safe for Week 1. Probably.
RB Steve Slaton
B Slaton owned the Colts in 2008 but lost touches last year and now is hoping to siphon a few carries off the juggernaut that is Arian Foster. Until Kubiak opts for a new flavor of the month, Slaton is best kept on your bench.
WR Andre Johnson S1 The consensus No. 1 fantasy wideout has a decent track record against Indy: two 100-yard efforts in the past three meetings, an average game of 7-86 against the Colts since 2007. That’s a nice starting point, and considering Andre is the odds-on favorite to lead the league in receiving yards and touchdowns, it can be considered a baseline for expectations this week.
WR Jacoby Jones S2

Jones brings a two-game scoring streak into this one; he also scored in the last meeting with Indy. His draft stock took off this preseason, so you may find yourself in the position of needing to play him right away; even if you picked him up at a discount, that may prove to be the right move.

WR Kevin Walter B

Walter has put up a couple of decent yardage games against the Colts, but with Daniels healthy and Jones and Foster emerging he’s at best the fourth option in Houston’s high-powered offense; you can do better for your fantasy lineup.

TE Owen Daniels B

We haven’t seen Daniels since he blew out his knee in Week 8 of last season, so it’ll take a leap of faith to plug him into your fantasy lineup sight unseen. He's slated to be on a snap count, 25 according to Gary Kubiak; worse, last year no team gave up fewer fantasy points to tight ends than the Colts. Unless you have no other option, your best bet would be to see Daniels in an actual game before inserting him into your lineup.

DT Texans B While Peyton Manning has seemed more prone to the pick-six of late, you should be able to find a more palatable defensive option this week; over the past 26 games, only the Jets—facing a watered-down Indy squad in Week 16 of last year—have managed a defensive or special teams score against the Colts.
 

Denver at Jacksonville

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Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2

It’s definitely a favorable matchup for Orton; only six teams allowed more QB yards last year than Jacksonville, and only five surrendered more QB passing touchdowns. Orton finished last year on a positive note, throwing for multiple touchdowns or at least 275 yards in each of the final five games. He no longer has Brandon Marshall to throw to, but against the Jaguars the likes of Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal should do.

QB Tim Tebow B

The Broncos may be contractually obligated to play Tebow for a couple series in his return to Florida. You, on the other hand, would be wise to keep Tebow stashed on your dynasty league bench until he’s more than a novelty act.

RB

Knowshon Moreno


S2 Moreno practiced fully all week and is listed as probable to return from the hamstring injury that cost him most of the preseason. Jacksonville’s season-ending numbers against running backs last year weren’t bad, but in the final month of the season alone they gave up 108 and 1 to Ricky Williams, 95 and 1 to Sammy Morris, and 127 and 1 to Jerome Harrison. There has been some talk of Moreno being on a snap count, but if you’re comfortable with Moreno’s health—and there doesn't appear to be any reason you should—he belongs in your lineup this week.
RB

Correll Buckhalter

B The General should see more than a handful of carries as the Broncos ease Knowshon Moreno back into the mix, but it’d be tough to start him based on that prospect alone.
WR Jabar Gaffney
S2

Gaffney appears to be first in line to make up for the 100 catches Brandon Marshall vacated, and an opener against a Jaguars secondary that served up the second-most fantasy points to wideouts last season is a great way to start.

WR Eddie Royal
S2

The vote is somewhat split between Gaffney or Royal stepping into the largest share of Brandon Marshall’s target, but this week it may not matter: the Jags should provide enough for both. In fully half of the games last year Jacksonville allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 50 yards (or both).

TE Daniel Graham
B

Graham has scored once in his last 22 games and averaged a shade over 21 yards per game during that span. Clearly, he’s not the focal point of the Denver offense.

DT Broncos B With primary pass rusher Elvis Dumervil on the shelf, it’s tough to see the Broncos generating the kind of pressure that leads to defensive fantasy points.
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Good news: this game will be played in Jacksonville, where Garrard threw 12 of his 15 TD passes last season and recorded six of his top seven yardage efforts. The Broncos’ ending numbers against the pass were solid, but they allowed seven TD tosses in their final two road games last year and will be without their primary pass-rusher, Elvis Dumervil. Garrard is a spot starter with moderate upside, and if you’re in such a spot you could do worse for fantasy help.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S1

The knee worries appear to be much ado about nothing, so you’ll get the full MoJo this week. And that’s meant at least 80 yards from scrimmage or a touchdown in each of the past 12 in Jacksonville. Denver was middle of the road against the run last year but in the second half of the season gave up 100-yard games to Rashard Mendenhall, Ladell Betts, Michael Bush, and Jamaal Charles. Jamal Williams was brought in to help plug the gaps, but you still have to like Jones-Drew’s chances of rewarding those who made him a top-three pick this year.

WR

Mike Sims-Walker

S3 Perhaps the only NFL player with starker home/road splits than Garrard is MSW; six of his seven touchdowns came in Jacksonville, along with his five biggest yardage games. The Broncos were among the better defenses against wideouts last year, but if you’re not going to start Sims-Walker at home he may as well not be on your roster.
WR

Mike Thomas

S2 Thomas emerged late last season, outperforming Sims-Walker over the final month and staking claim to the WR2 job heading into 2010. But he’s still likely to draw less attention than MSW, setting him up to take advantage of the non-Champ Bailey portion of Denver’s secondary. While WR1s topped 50 yards just four times against Denver last year, secondary targets eclipsed that mark 11 times. Thomas isn’t a must-start, but he does have a pleasant upside.
TE

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis is listed as the starter, but he failed to score over the final 12 games of last year and is losing looks to Zach Miller and Zach Potter. You’re bound to find more upside elsewhere.
DT Jaguars B

It’s been 24 games since the Jaguars came up with a defense or special teams score; best let them break that maiden before entrusting them with a fantasy start.

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