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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 3
John Tuvey
Updated: September 24, 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)
 
 

San Diego at Seattle

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Seattle is significantly tougher at home, but Rivers is the kind of quarterback where venue doesn't matter—254 and 3 in Pittsburgh last year, for example. With the running game unsettled, the onus will once again be on Rivers; expect him to deliver big numbers.

RB Ryan Mathews B Mathews didn't practice all week and is officially listed as doubtful. While he keeps saying he can play, expect the Chargers to be err on the side of caution with their first-round pick.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 With Mathews not expected to play, Tolbert moves from goal-line time-share to starting back. The Chargers will still mix in some Darren Sproles, but Tolbert will get the money shots and the bulk of the workload. Seattle's defense is better than most give them credit for—especially at home—though they did allow two RB rushing TDs to the Broncos last week. Tolbert isn't going to give you the numbers Mathews would, but he's a decent plug-in play if Mathews' injury or other circumstances have left you in a bind.
WR Malcolm Floyd
Legedu Naanee
Craig Davis
S3 The Chargers remain without a go-to wideout, but Rivers is turning all of his receivers into viable complements to the Antonio Gates-led passing game. None are great fantasy plays, but all have upside.
TE Antonio Gates S1

Gates has three touchdowns in two games and is doing his best to fill the void created by Vincent Jackson's absence. Vernon Davis braved Seattle's 12th Man for 73 yards on eight catches in the season opener; surely Gates can do that much—probably better.

DT Chargers B

San Diego picked David Garrard four times last week but they still couldn't muster a defensive score. Don't expect them to turn the trick in Seattle.

Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 Four of Hasselbeck's last five multiple TD games have come at home, and he'll be the best quarterback the Chargers have seen this season (though that's really not saying much). Still with the home crowd behind him he's at least a fringe fantasy play.
RB Justin Forsett
Leon Washington
Julius Jones
B

Forsett has moved to the fore of Seattle's RBBC, but that just meant eight carries last week. He's capable of a Jamaal Charles-like outing, but like Charles his coach is keeping his value down. So, sadly, despite the home game he gets lumped in with Washington and Jones as an unusable fantasy entity.

WR

Mike Williams
Deion Branch

B Much like Seattle's backfield committee, the wide receiver corps has many oarsmen but no coxswain—at least none that should be trusted with a fantasy start during a non-bye week.
TE John Carlson S3 The Bolts gave up a TE TD to Tony Moeaki in the opener and 70 yards to Marcedes Lewis last week. With so many wide receivers with an iron in the fire, Carlson may be the one member of Seattle's passing game you can put some fantasy faith in.
DT Seahawks S3 You can't underestimate the power of the 12th Man, and with Golden Tate taking over in the return game there's even more upside to Seattle's D/ST.
 

Oakland at Arizona

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Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Bruce Gradkowski S3

Gradkowski authored three of the four best fantasy games by a Raiders quarterback last season, which is a little like being the best-smelling Frenchman on the bus. He gets an Arizona defense that's nothing special, giving up 253 and 1 to Sam Bradford in his NFL debut and allowing Matt Ryan to throw for three TDs last week. He's not a great start, and in a non-bye week you can likely find something better, but at least he's useable.

RB Darren McFadden
S3

Arizona has been gouged on the ground, and while it appears as if Michael Bush will return to the lineup and siphon off some touches McFadden has performed well enough to still be the primary back. And against a defense that's already been beat up by Steven Jackson and Jason Snelling, even a share should be enough to help your fantasy squad this week.

RB Michael Bush
B

Bush practiced fully all week, but it's tough to see him jumping into the majority of the touches after missing two weeks—and after McFadden has performed so admirably. You could maybe play Bush this week seeing how the Cards have been abused on the ground, but it's a risky play; the better bet would be to see how the carries are divided before trusting Bush with a fantasy start.

WR

Louis Murphy
Darrius Heywood-Bey


S3 The Cardinals have allowed multiple wideouts to make fantasy contributions in each of the first two games; Murphy has emerged as a clear-cut WR1, and Gradkowski has made Heywood-Bey a viable option as well.
TE Zach Miller S3

Arizona hasn't given up much to tight ends thus far this season, but the Rams opted for outside targets against them while the Falcons were having so much success on the ground they didn't need Tony Gonzalez. Miller may lose some looks to wideouts with Gradkowski under center, but in most TE-mandatory leagues he'll provide enough to be worthy of a fantasy start.

DT Raiders B Still aren't seeing anything from the Raiders D/ST that would make them fantasy worthy.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson B

The Raiders have allowed multiple touchdown passes to both Vince Young and Sam Bradford, which might encourage you to think Anderson could follow suit. Don't fall into that trap; he mustered just one score against the Rams and was yanked in Atlanta. Even if he holds on to the starting job he simply doesn't have enough upside to warrant a fantasy play.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Now we learn that Wells had surgery for a torn meniscus earlier this month; thanks for the update, Coach Whizz. Wells practiced on a limited basis all week, and Hightower has played well enough to retain a share of the workload even if Beanie makes his 2010 debut this week. Best let Wells prove he's fully healthy and will get the touches before banking on him for a fantasy start.
RB Tim Hightower S3 Even if Wells finally graces us with his presence Hightower will continue to have a role in the Arizona offense. And thus far he's been good enough—and Oakland's run defense bad enough—that even with only a share of the workload he still warrants fantasy consideration.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S2

Fitz hasn't exactly made a love connection with Arizona's new quarterback, but with 27 targets it's certainly not for lack of trying. Oakland has allowed three WR TDs already this year, and if Mark Clayton and Nate Washington can find the end zone you have to think Fitz can get there as well.

WR Steve Breaston B

After a big Week 1 showing Breaston was a non-factor last week. Oakland hasn't given up much to secondary targets, and with a knee injury limiting Breaston in practice all week and Fitz seeing the bulk of Anderson's looks it doesn't make sense to reach for Breaston.

DT Cardinals S3 A home start against the Raiders isn't a bad way to pick up some D/ST fantasy points.
 

Indianapolis at Denver

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Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Manning has two three-TD games in as many starts this season; even Champ Bailey isn't enough to lead us to believe he can't make it three.

RB Joseph Addai S3 The Broncos have given up decent yardage to running backs but no TDs as of yet. That fits Addai's MO to a T, and even with Donald Brown seeing the occasional carry Addai is still responsible for the bulk of Indy's backfield production. The Colts use the "questionable" designation for everyone with a runny nose on down, but after missing practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury, Addai returned for a limited session on Thursday and a full practice Friday; don't let the injury report scare you away.
RB Donald Brown B Brown swiped an Addai TD last week, but that's tough to bank on on a consistent basis. And his yardage was a function of one of the Colts' biggest rushing days since Manning joined the team; in other words, it's not likely to happen again any time soon.
WR Reggie Wayne S2

Downgrade Wayne slightly because he draws Champ Bailey this week. But a bad week for Wayne is still usually a good week for most other wideouts.

WR Austin Collie S2

Secondary wideouts have both WR TDs the Broncos have allowed this year, and Collie scored in last year's matchup with the Broncos—as well as both games this season. At this juncture he's just a little more trustworthy than Garçon.

WR Pierre Garçon B

If Garçon is able to play he's a fringe fantasy helper, especially with both Denver cornerbacks nursing injuries. But after missing practice Friday with a hamstring injury Pierre's "questionable" is a whole lot more disconcerting than the other five guys Indy slapped that tag on. That said, with Anthony Gonzalez already shelved if you have the flexibility to track this one all the way up to kickoff of the late games it might be worth the effort to do so.

TE Dallas Clark S1

Marcedes Lewis scored twice on the Broncos in the opener, and Clark scored three times in last year's Colts/Broncos battle. Unless Denver opts to put Champ on Dallas, he's money again this week.

DT Colts B In Indy, "defense" is what happens while Peyton looks at film and plots his next attack.
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2

Orton held his own in last season's shootout with 277 yards and two TDs, and he's continued to emerge as a viable fantasy starter with 295-1 and 307-2 thus far this season. Denver will try to run on the Colts, as teams tend to do, but if they wind up in a shootout they won't come to the table unarmed.

RB

Knowshon Moreno


B Moreno was a late scratch this week after injuring his other hamstring in practice. If he's not careful, he's gonna get tagged with the "injury prone" label.
RB

Correll Buckhalter


S3 With Moreno out the job of running the football against the soft Indy defense falls to Buckhalter and maybe Laurence Maroney. The General's 2.0 yards per carry won't frighten anyone, but last week's TD and a date with a defense that let Arian Foster run wild and Ahmad Bradshaw average better than 5.0 yards per carry makes him a decent fantasy play this week.
WR Demaryius Thomas
S2

It didn't take long for Orton to make Thomas his go-to guy, and the resulting 8-97-1 NFL debut suggests he'll be a fantasy factor for a long time to come.

WR Eddie Royal
S3

Of Denver's remaining receivers, Royal appears to be the one who offers some degree of fantasy consistency: 98 yards in the opener, 65 and a TD last week. If this one turns into a shootout, Royal will be one of the primary weapons in Orton's aresenal.

DT Broncos B Not much upside in starting a fantasy defense against Peyton Manning.
 

NY Jets at Miami

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S3

Sanchez had his most prolific fantasy game of last season against the Dolphins, and he enters this tilt coming off a career high three TDs against the Patriots. Maybe there's hope for the Jets' passing game after all.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Shonn Greene
S3

Thomas Jones had success against the Dolphins last season (two TDs in the first game of the series, 102 yards in the rematch), and Miami just surrendered 145 yards to Adrian Peterson last week. With carries still split between LT and Greene, you can look at the glass as half full—both are decent fantasy plays—or half empty—neither are.

WR Jerricho Cotchery

B

Cotchery remains the Jets' most targeted wideout, but even last week's TD wasn't enough to provide him with his first game with double-digit fantasy points since Week 11 of last year.

WR Braylon Edwards

B

Edwards scored in both ends of last year's season series and also found the end zone last week against New England. His drunk driving arrest won't keep him from playing this week, but the Jets' run-oriented offense and Edwards' inconsitency—he hasn't scored in back-to-back weeks since late in the 2007 season—make him a tough fantasy sell.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller comes off a 7-115-1 performance against the Patriots; he also scored in the second meeting between these teams last year. You could do worse in a TE mandatory league.

DT Jets S3 Even without Darrelle Revis the Jets D/ST does enough to warrant an every-week fantasy play.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

The Jets have allowed more than 250 passing yards just once in the past 21 games, though they've given up 248 in both contests this season and won't have shutdown corner Darrell Revis this week. Henne put up 241 and 2 in last year's meeting in Miami, but he's been far more subdued this season with just one TD in two games. There doesn't appear to be much upside to Henne's match-up this week.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S3

Brown scored twice in the home end of this series but was severely limited in the rematch. His 80-yard effort in Minnesota suggests he can get the job done against even the toughest of run defenses so he at least merits consideration here, but we won't take it personally if you seek other options.

RB

Ricky Williams

B

Williams is seeing enough of the workload to be a viable starter when the match-up is soft. This is not one of those match-ups.

WR

Brandon Marshall

S3

Marshall v. Revis would have been an intriguing match-up; Marshall v. Cromartie or Marshall vs. Wilson is advantage: offense. The Dolphins' new wideout is a big, physical target much like Anquan Boldin, who abused Gang Green's non-Revis corners to the tune of 7-110, suggesting that Marshall should be in line for solid numbers this week.

WR

Brian Hartline

B Even with Revis out there's just nothing else in the Miami receivers corps worthy of fantasy attention.
TE Anthony Fasano
U

If this were a bye week where you might be struggling to fill the tight end spot, Fasano's upside against a defense that's allowed 6-72 and 6-101 to tight ends this year would warrant starting consideration. But with all teams still in play you shouldn't have to dig this deep to find a fantasy helper.

DT Dolphins S3 Miami put a D/ST TD on the board in Minnesota and now gets Mark Sanchez in their house. Those aren't exactly bad odds.
 

Green Bay at Chicago

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers' two worst fantasy outings last year came against the Bears. No, it doesn't make any sense. After watching Tony Romo drop 374 and 1 on Chicago last week, and knowing the Packers' running game is a mere shell of its former self without Ryan Grant, you have to believe Rodgers' stat line will be much closer to the two 2-TD efforts he's posted already this season.

RB

Brandon Jackson

B

Chicago's opponents haven't run the ball either often or well against them this season, but that's okay because without Grant the Packers won't run often or well, either. Jackson did manage a touchdown last week, but with John Kuhn lurking as a goal line vulture Jackson is a borderline fantasy play at best this week—and that's being generous.

WR Greg Jennings

S2

Jennings had more success against the Bears last season than other Packer wideouts, and opposing WR1s have more or less had their way against Chicago this year (Miles Austin 10-142, Calvin Johnson 5-80-1* without the blown call). So if you need to split hairs between Jennings and Driver, the former makes the most sense.

WR Donald Driver

S3

Driver did nothing against the Bears last season and hasn't even reached the 40-yard mark this season—but he's scored twice. Because TDs are less predictable than yardage, Driver is a slightly less reliable play than Jennings—but if this develops into the shootout most envision, Rodgers will need all his weapons.

TE Jermichael Finley
S2 Finley had 5-70 in the back end of last season's series with Da Bears, but he's a much more integral part of the offense now. Facing a defense that just allowed 12-95 to the Cowboys' tight end tandem, and knowing how frequently Rodgers targets Finley, you have to like his chances of improving on last year's performance.
DT Packers S2 Green Bay picked Jay Cutler six times last year, so you have to like their chances of tallying a D/ST on Monday Night Football.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Cutler's 649 and 5—against just one INT—suggest he's getting the hang of Mike Martz's offense. If this develops into a Monday night shootout, Cutler won't have to back down from Aaron Rodgers one bit.

RB Matt Forte S3

Forte has done nothing on the ground, which isn't surprising. However, his 188 receiving yards and three receiving TDs indicate he's doing a more-than-serviceable Marshall Faulk imitation. He has more value in PPR leagues, but his receiving yards and scores make him a viable fantasy play in any scoring format.

WR

Johnny Knox
Devin Hester

S3 You know the Bears are going to throw; you know some receiver or receivers will put up good fantasy numbers. In the mess that the Chicago wide receiving corps has become, Knox and Hester are the closest thing to reliable plays. Of course, that could change...
WR

Devin Aromashodu
Earl Bennett

B Aromashodu went from Week 1 go-to guy to Week 2 benchwarmer; how can you trust him with another fantasy start? Bennett is the least-likely member of Chicago's receiving corps to have a big game, so he's not at all difficult to keep on the fantasy bench.
TE Greg Olsen

B

Olsen had three catches in last season's series against the Packers, and that was in an offense that didn't dismiss the tight end as superfluous. Despite last week's TD (on his only target, it should be noted), he's just not a big enough part of this offense to be banked on for consistent fantasy help.

DT Bears B The Packers haven't allowed a D/ST TD in the last 10 games; the Bears haven't scored one in the last 11. It's not too tough to figure out where those two trends are leading.

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