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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 2
John Tuvey
Updated: September 17, 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)
 
 

New England at NY Jets

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady authored two of the four biggest yardage games against the Jets last season, including a 310-yard effort in the most recent meeting. He only threw one TD in the season series, but it's not as if the Pats are going to beat the Jets with their running game.

RB

Fred Taylor

B

Taylor's 46 yards headed up an 81-yard committee effort in the front half of the series, while Laurence Maroney's 77 and 2 paced a 91-yard outburst in the rematch. LoMo's in Denver now and Taylor appears to be the chair of the RBBC, but against a stout Jets D fresh off containing Ray Rice to 62 combo yards Freddy's still bench fodder.

WR Randy Moss S3 It would take some serious stones to sit Moss against Revis (and maybe the occasional safety help). Revis won the battle last year in holding "Slouch" to 4-24 in Week 2 and 5-34-1 in the Week 11 rematch, and the war of words has already begun. You have to dial your expectations back for Moss, but the fact he did score last year suggests he's not a lost cause. And Randy usually steps up when poked and prodded, like Revis has been doing verbally for the better part of the last year or so.
WR Wes Welker S2 You may have noticed that in Week 1 Anquan Boldin had plenty of success against the Jets' corners not named Revis. Welker did as well, dropping 15-192 in the rematch after Julian Edelman primed the pump with 8-98 in Welker's stead in Week 2. If everything is rolling Moss's way again, Welker is poised to make the Jets pay.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Aaron Hernandez
B Tight ends were lightly used in last season's series, and despite the preseason exploits of the Patriots' rookie tandem this is no place for them to cut their fantasy teeth.
DT Patriots S2 You saw the Jets' offense struggle in prime time; you also saw the Pats dissect the Bengals with a pick six and a kick return touchdown. New England scored a defensive TD against the Jets last year, and thery're as good a bet as any to be a fantasy helper this time as well.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez's last fantasy helper came back in Week 8 against the Dolphins; in the two-game set with New England he totaled 299 yards and two TDs. Even after watching Carson Palmer throw for 345 and 2 in Cincy's Week 1 loss to New England there's no reason to expect Sanchez to all of a sudden become a fantasy entity.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Shonn Greene
S3

The Patriots aren't a shutdown run D like the Jets, but they are pretty doggone good. Still, they've been prone to giving up decent combo yardage games to feature backs. The Jets have no passing game to speak of, so they'll need to use LT and Greene—maybe to the same degree they used Thomas Jones (14-54) and Leon Washington (14-58 and 2-18 receiving) in the first meeting; unless Rex Ryan is really upset with Greene over his fumbleitis something like the 21-103 Jones posted in the rematch is unlikely. Neither Green nor LT project to be a fantastic start, but with the Jets having no other form of offense and a modicum of success on the ground against New England in the past both are at least serviceable options.

WR Jerricho Cotchery

S3

Cotchery was the Jets' leading receiver in both ends of last season's series and remains the best bet to provide fantasy help. But he's a fringe helper at best.

WR Braylon Edwards

B

Take Joe Willie Namath's advice on this one.

TE Dustin Keller B

Keller's head may still be ringing from that shot Ray Lewis laid on him; it apparently knocked his depth perception askew, as he couldn't find the first down marker on the Jets' final offensive play in Week 1. Keller did score in the first meeting between these clubs last year, but if Rex Ryan doesn't trust his passing game why should you?

DT Jets S3 The Jets' defense brings the heat in many ways; rarely does it rattle a guy like Tom Brady, but you never know.
 

Houston at Washington

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Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Tony Romo put up 282 yards on the Redskins Sunday night but could only find the end zone once; that's not unusual for the Skins, who have held 19 of the last 22 quarterbacks they've faced to one or zero TD tosses. Because unlike Indy Washington will actually field a run defense, Schaub will have to kick-start a Texans' passing attack that led the NFL last year. Like Romo, his yardage should be fine; just keep your TD expectations in check.
RB Arian Foster
S2 Yes, Foster's Week 1 showing was impressive, but here's the drill: Houston is still a passing team; the only times they topped 30 rushes as a team last year were against the worst (Oakland) and third-worst (Buffalo) run defenses. Indy is well on its way to having a bottom-feeding run D; the Redskins are not. Don't bench Foster, who would still be a good play even if he gets just 20 carries, but over the past 14 games only one back has reached triple digits against the Skins so temper those expectations accordingly.
WR Andre Johnson S1 Quality receivers put up quality numbers against the Skins. In the last nine games, they've given up 10-146-1 (and 9-92) to Miles Austin, 9-140 to Malcolm Floyd (with Vincent Jackson out), 8-142 to Robert Meachem, and 5-134-2 to Brandon Marshall; in that same span they've also surrendered touchdowns to DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, and Steve Smith (Giants version). After a disappointing Week 1 from Andre, here's his first opportunity to make it up to you.
WR Jacoby Jones
Kevin Walter
S3

As noted above, plenty of receivers have had their way of late with the Redskins secondary; not included in the list of scorers above are Patrick Crayton, Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan, and Roy Williams. Walter scored last week, but both he and Jones are decent bets for helpful yardage with a shot at a TD as well.

TE Owen Daniels B

Daniels is still on a snap count; until Gary Kubiak unleashes him, he should remain tethered to your fantasy bench as well.

DT Texans S3 The combination of a quality Houston return game and a struggling Redskins offense make the Texans' D/ST an intriguing fantasy play this week.
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S3

Even with a new boss and new QB the Redskins passing game continues to misfire. Don't let what the Colts did to Houston last week lead you to believe they're soft in the secondary; Peyton Manning is one of only two quarterbacks in the last 10 games to throw for multiple scores against the Texans. McNabb is at best a fringe fantasy starter, buoyed primarily by the favorable tight end matchup.

RB Clinton Portis S3 No longer are the Texans a running game pushover; in fact, take Chris Johnson out of the equation—he gets 100 yards on everybody—and the Texans haven't served up a triple-digit rushing game since Week 3 of last year. Portis hasn't hit that landmark since beating up on the Chiefs in Week 6 of last year, so he'll need a touchdown to augment his typical 65-85 yard output—unlikely, as Portis hasn't been in the end zone since Week 5 of last year, but not impossible against a Houston defense that gave up 18 RB TDs in 2009.
WR Santana Moss
S3 Moss is the only wideout on McNabb's radar, and with Houston having surrendered plenty of big yardage games of late—163 and 99 last week, 103 and 75 in last year's finale, 82 the week before—Santana should have little difficulty carving out his usual 6-75, with a little bit of upside to boot.
WR Anthony Armstrong
B The good news is, McNabb went to Armstrong twice in the red zone last week. The bad news is, neither was close to connecting.
TE Chris Cooley S2

Cooley and Santana Moss are the only targets McNabb has had success throwing to, accounting for 12 of his 15 completions and 157 of his 171 yards. Helping Cooley's prospects is a Houston defense that has surrendered eight TE TDs in the last 11 games, including 80 and a touch to Dallas Clark last week.

DT Redskins B Washington capitalized on a pair of ginormous brain farts by the Cowboys to record a defensive touchdown last week; don't expect the Texans to be quite as forthcoming.
 

Jacksonville at San Diego

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Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard B

It's virtually impossible to start Garrard away from Jacksonville, not when he's thrown multiple TDs in just two of his last 16 road games and been shut out eight times—including five last year. The Chargers were soft against the pass late last year, giving up multiple TD tosses in four of their last five, but until Garrard proves he can get it done on the road it's tough to plug him into a fantasy lineup with any degree of confidence.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

If the Jacksonville passing game tends to miss the flight to road games, it'll be on MoJo to keep the Jaguars in the game. He's more than capable of doing so, especially when you consider the Chargers just served up 11-92-1 to Jamaal Charles. And if the ground game isn't working, Jones-Drew can bail out Garrard and the passing game: San Diego allowed the second-most RB receiving scores and fifth-most RB receiving yards.

WR

Mike Sims-Walker
Mike Thomas

B As you might expect, Garrard's road woes put a damper on the receiving corps. Only once all of last year did a Jacksonville receiver put up double-digit fantasy points in a road game: MSW's 3-49-1 in the Meadowlands. Worse, Thomas' best yardage game on the road was a meager 65 yards, while Sims-Walker topped 50 yards only once.
TE

Marcedes Lewis

B Here's hoping Lewis has a beautiful wife at home in Jacksonville, because he hasn't scored on the road since Week 8 of 2008. Not even his two-TD aberration (at home) in Week 1 or the Chargers giving up a TE score to Chiefs rookie Tony Moeaki last week are enough for us to buck that trend.
DT Jaguars B

Make it 25 games since the Jaguars came up with a defense or special teams score; don't bank on the Chargers snapping that string here.

San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

It took Rivers a little while to get on the same page with his Vincent Jackson-less receiving corps in Week 1, but he still ended up with 298 and 2. He's thrown at least one touchdown in 13 straight games; matched up with a Jacksonville secondary that has given up 267 or more yards and a TD in three of its last four, at least one TD toss in 15 of the last 17 games, and 295 and a score to Kyle Orton last week, you have to love Phil's fantasy prospects.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 Mathews' NFL debut was maybe a little shy of the hype—not that there's anything wrong with 19-75. Still, a date with a Jacksonville defense that's allowed the opposing feature back to score in five straight road games should put him back in fantasy owners' good graces
WR Malcolm Floyd
Legedu Naanee
S2 No team gave up more WR TDs last year than the Jaguars, and only two served up more yardage to the position. The trend carried over as a relatively non-descript Jaguar receiving corps rolled the Jags for 249 and a score in Week 1. Floyd was targeted a dozen times but only came up with three grabs for 48 yards; Naanee saw eight balls and converted them into 110 yards and a score. Both make good fantasy starts this week.
TE Antonio Gates S1

Jacksonville struggled with elite tight ends last year—Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, and a pre-injury Owen Daniels all scored on them—and Gates is most definitely elite. He'll be the most targeted member of Rivers' receiving corps, as well as the most likely to put up big numbers.

DT Chargers S3

The Bolts defense is no longer an every-week fantasy threat, but hosting a Jacksonville squad that doesn't travel very well might be the cure for what ails.

 

NY Giants at Indianapolis

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Teams run all over the Colts because they can; doesn't mean they can't pass on them as well. And Eli might need to show off a little bit for his family. While the Giants' ground game will do the heavy lifting, Eli should contribute as well against an Indy defense that's given up multiple passing touchdowns in five of its last seven games.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
S2

Bradshaw is the lead dog in a ground game that produced 120 yards of its own week and now gets to feast on the Bob Sander-less Colts—you know, the defense that made Arian Foster look like Walter Payton last week. Two-thirds of the workload is enough to make Bradshaw a high S2; if Brandon Jacobs weren't siphoning off carries, he'd be an S1 easy.

RB Brandon Jacobs
S3

Jacobs handled roughly one-third of the Giants' backfield touches last week; a similar split this week should still yield enough yardage—and TD potential—to make Jacobs a viable fantasy starter in most leagues.

WR Steve Smith
S3

With the Giants likely to follow the run-heavy blueprint the Texans established in Week 1, there might not be enough to go around for all elements of the Big Blue passing game. For now Smith gets an S3, but if Nicks proves to be available the entire Giants receiving corps needs to be reassessed.

WR Hakeem Nicks
B

On the heels of his Week 1 hat trick, Nicks missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury. He was limited on Friday and is officially listed as questionable; this being a night game, you're taking a risk keeping him in your lineup. His three-TD game might warrant such a risk, but if you have alternatives on your roster that's the safer way to go.

WR Mario Manningham
S3

While Nicks and Smith were more targeted, Manningham was more productive with the looks he received. If Nicks is out Mario is a solid fantasy WR2; if all three WRs need to be fed and the Giants intend to run the ball as well, it'll be tougher for Manningham to carve out fantasy value.

DT Giants B The Giants defense is showing signs of bouncing back from last year's injury-marred campaign; however, tossing them out in prime time against Peyton Manning isn't a shrewd fantasy maneuver.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

As if you need a reason to feel better about starting Manning this week, consider that the last two times the Giants visited a quarterback playing at Peyton's level they served up 316 and four to Brett Favre and 369 and four to Drew Brees. And oh yeah, Peyton's mad because Eli locked him in the basement.

RB Joseph Addai S3 Addai has left Donald Brown in the dust, but with the Indy run D in shambles the Colts have been forced to abandon their own run game to play catch-up. Addai saw just 10 carries last week and isn't likely to get a whole lot more this time around. Thankfully, the Giants can make those few touches count, having given up six RB TDs in the past five games.
WR Reggie Wayne S1

The last five teams with an elite receiver—that excludes the Redskins—have seen said receiver blow up the Giants: working backwards from last week, Steve Smith 5-75-1; Sidney Rice 6-112-2; Smith again 5-60-1; DeSean Jackson 6-178-1; Miles Austin 10-104-1. Wayne is in that class and should put up a similarly gaudy statline.

WR Pierre Garçon
Austin Collie
S2

Over the same span noted above, secondary targets have also fared well against the Giants with five 50-plus-yard games and three TDs. With Anthony Gonzalez out of the mix, Garçon and Collie are both good fantasy starts; there's usually enough to go around for everybody.

TE Dallas Clark S1

The Giants have given up a TE TD or at least 50 yards to the position—or both—in nine of the last 10 games, so Clark's a big flashing green light as well.

DT Colts B Sans Bob Sanders, the Colts will have enough to do just to figure out how to plug the holes in their run defense.
 

New Orleans at San Francisco

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New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

You're not going to bench Brees, but you do need to lower your expectations this week. The Niners have shut out five straight visiting quarterbacks—including Kurt Warner and Jay Cutler—and gave up a total of three passing touchdowns at home last year. Don't sweat; Brees can make it up for you against a defense that's allowed 300-plus passing yards to three of the last six visiting QBs.

RB Pierre Thomas S2

The Niners were better than most against the run last year, but Thomas no longer has Lynell Hamilton stealing goal line looks. What he does have is two of the best guards in football helping him find the end zone; that and his potential for combo yardage make him a solid fantasy play every week.

RB Reggie Bush B

Not every Saint can score, especially on the road against a tough 49ers defense. With Bush seeing fewer touches than Thomas and not as heavily involved in the passing game as he's been in the past, he's the riskier play among New Orleans' backs.

WR Marques Colston S2

Brees has an array of targets, any of whom could be his go-to guy on any given Monday. Colston gets the narrow nod as the best bet, though the upside is minimal: San Fran hasn't allowed a 100-yard receiver at home since Week 5 of last year.

WR Robert Meachem
Devery Henderson
S3

Despite a fractured Minnesota secondary in the opener Brees still spread the ball around. While balance is nice, it's also frustrating from a fantasy perspective. Colston is a slightly better bet than his mates to put up helpful fantasy numbers, but Meachem and Colston and even Lance Moore are all worthy of consideration.

TE Jeremy Shockey B The Niners gave up one TE TD all of last season. If you're looking for ways to eliminate members of the Saints' passing game from the fantasy mix, taking the lightly-used Shockey out of the equation is a good way to start.
DT Saints S2 New Orleans' defense looked pretty stout in the opener, and you can bet they'll throw plenty of pressure at Alex Smith and the 49ers' young offensive line. Given the results they produced last year, it's tough to bet against them.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith was unable to solve a Seahawks secondary that ranked among the league's most permissive last year; a home date with a Saints defense that surrendered roughly half as many passing scores as Seattle doesn't feel like the cure for Smith's fantasy doldrums.

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore is money in San Francisco; he scored in all six home games he played in last year and produced at least 125 yards from scrimmage in five of the six. The best way to keep the Saints in sight is to keep Drew Brees off the field, so expect the Niners to lean heavily on Gore and the ground game.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 There's little question Crabtree has both the talent and the attitude to be an elite NFL receiver. This week, however, the questions revolve more around whether or not he has a quarterback capable of getting him the ball enough to be a fantasy factor, or if the New Orleans secondary is simply too good to let that happen. Crabtree's upside keeps him in play, but there's a strong possibility you have a better fantasy play on your roster.
WR Josh Morgan B Morgan falls behind Davis and Crabtree in the Niners' passing game pecking order, and this week there won't be enough to go around.
TE Vernon Davis S3

You're not benching Davis, but you do have to temper your expectations against a Saints defense that gave up one TE TD all of 2009. Visanthe Shiancoe matched that total in Week 1 but became a non-factor when New Orleans switched up their coverage and used Roman Harper on him rather than a linebacker. Expect that to be the plan from the get-go with VD.

DT 49ers B Yeah, it was a road game, but still: the Niners got lit up by the Seahawks. You like their chances of making any fantasy noise against the defending Super Bowl champs after that?

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