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Start/Bench List - Week 7
John Tuvey
Updated: October 22, 2010
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CLE at NOS CIN at ATL SFO at CAR MIN at GBP Start/Bench List by Position
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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)
Washington at Chicago Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb B

Let’s give the Bears some credit; they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of quarterbacks and they did surrender 690 yards to Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers, but they’ve allowed a total of just three passing touchdowns on the season. McNabb’s yardage numbers overall aren’t bad, but he put up two of his three lowest totals in his two road games and still hasn’t thrown for more than one TD in a game. The Don threw for 244 and 2 against the Bears last year, but that was with a better supporting cast. This time around, there just doesn’t seem to be much upside.

RB Ryan Torain S2 For some reason the Bears have been labeled a stout run defense; clearly, that’s not the case. Over the past three games opposing backs are averaging better than five yards per carry against them; the Giants punctured them for 29-191-2, the Panthers followed with 20-81, and last week the Seahawks banged out 27-111-2. Coming off 20-100-2 against the Colts, and with the full backing (for now, at least) of Mike Shanahan, Torain should be able to give you usable fantasy numbers this week
WR Santana Moss
S3 Moss will get his; a guy targeted 12 times each of the past two games, whose 55 targets on the year constitutes exactly half of the Redskins’ throws to receivers, will get enough chances to make something happen. However, he doesn’t fit the mold of the bigger, more physical wideouts who have had success against Chicago this season (Hakeem Nicks, Seattle’s Mike Williams), so temper the expectations to “good” rather than “great”.
WR Anthony Armstrong
Joey Galloway
B These two are essentially splitting Moss’ table scraps; against a tough secondary like the Bears, that’s not going to get it done for your fantasy squad.
TE Chris Cooley B

The concussion Cooley suffered last week won't keep him out of this tilt, as he was back to practicing fully by the end of the week. You, however, can give him an extra week off. The Bears haven’t allowed a TE TD this year, and only Jermichael Finley (9-115) posted significant yardage. Cooley is targeted frequently, but the tough matchup suggests you seek a better option this week.

DT Redskins S3 Usually the Redskins don’t do much from a fantasy perspective to warrant consideration here, but the Bears’ Swiss cheese offensive line and Jay Cutler’s colorblindness make them useable this week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

The Redskins have seen some very good quarterbacks already this season—Romo, Schaub, Rodgers, Peyton Manning—but only two topped 300 yards or threw for multiple scores. Cutler is off the fringe of that class, so while he should put up decent fantasy numbers thanks to volume his upside is limited.

RB Matt Forte S2

Forte brings at least as much to the table as a receiver as he does a runner, so it’s worth pointing out that since Week 2 every feature back has put up triple-digit combo yardage on the Redskins—though you have to combine Steven Jackson’s pre-injury numbers with what Kenneth Darby did after SJax went down. In any event, the Skins can be had by backs, and Forte has scored in four of six and topped 180 combo yards twice. While it won’t be pretty, one way or another Forte will help your fantasy bottom line.


Johnny Knox

S2 A dozen receivers have already topped 50 yards or scored (or both) against the Redskins, with four topping 100 yards. That means there will be opportunities here, and Knox—targeted 11 times last week while producing 5-120—is the most reliable contributor among the Bears’ receivers.

Devin Hester
Earl Bennett
Devin Aromashodu

B As noted above, there will be opportunities. But no one in this group has been targeted more than six times since Week 1, caught a TD pass since Week 2, or produced more than 55 yards since Week 2. Despite the favorable matchup, none can be trusted.
TE Greg Olsen


After seeing some red zone looks early, Olsen has been snared in the Mike Martz offense that treats the tight end like a flatulent party guest with halitosis and a drinking problem. While there’s still an outside chance at a touchdown against a defense that’s allowed three TE TDs in the past month, there’s greater risk involved because a yardage safety net is unlikely.

DT Bears S3 There’s talent on the defensive side of the ball, even though they haven’t generated much fantasy help to date. However, the rejuvenation of Devin Hester as a kick returner offers enough upside to make Da Bears a viable fantasy entity.
Pittsburgh at Miami Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Big Ben restores balance to the Steelers offense, or at least the semblance of a passing attack. Miami won’t be a pushover; they gave up three TDs to Mark Sanchez but held Brett Favre, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers to a combined two TDs, and only Rodgers has topped 260 yards against them. But Roethlisberger scored a hat trick on them in last year’s finale and had three TDs in his first game back from suspension so he should at least be good for a couple here.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Fact: The only back to receive at least 20 touches against the Dolphins produced 186 yards from scrimmage (Adrian Peterson 28-145-1, 5-41). Fact: Mendenhall has 19 or more carries in every game and is averaging 23 totes per tilt. Fact: The Dolphins have given up RB rushing scores in three of their last four, including each of their two home games. Fact: Mendenhall has scored in three straight and four of five. Bonus fact: Mendenhall rushed for 20-94 against the Dolphins last year despite losing 12 carries (and 91 yards) to Willie Parker. It all adds up to a confident start for Mendenhall.

WR Hines Ward
Mike Wallace

Think Ward and Wallace were happy to get their QB back? Both scored in Roethlisberger’s 2010 debut, and both put up their second-highest yardage total of the season. They’ll face a tougher matchup in Miami, but it’s not insurmountable; last week Greg Jennings scored and tallied 133 yards while Jordy Nelson chipped in 64. Both should be in line for good fantasy numbers, though Jenning’s outburst was more exception than rule and there’s a limit to the Steelers WR’s upside.

TE Heath Miller

The Dolphins gave up 6-98-2 to Dustin Keller, but only one other tight end has as much as topped 35 yards against them. Miller scored in last season’s meeting and scored last week as well, but he’s such a fringe member of Pittsburgh’s passing game that you’re taking a big risk banking on a score without benefit of any yardage safety net to speak of.

DT Steelers S2 The Steelers D/ST is an every-week fantasy start... at least until Troy Polamalu gets hurt.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S3

Henne brings a streak of three games with multiple touchdown tosses into this battle against a Pittsburgh defense that’s allowed three passing TDs all season—no two in the same game. Henne’s two best yardage games have come at home, so he should be able to solve the Steelers for something that will help your fantasy squad this week.


Ronnie Brown


Can’t start a guy who’s sharing carries against a defense that has held every back it’s faced—an impressive list that includes Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, and Peyton Hillis—to 42 yards or less.


Ricky Williams


See above.


Brandon Marshall


The last time Marshall saw the Steelers he was a Bronco and he turned in an 11-catch, 112-yard outing. Similarly physical wideouts such as Roddy White (13-111) and Anquan Boldin (7-68) have had varying degrees of success against the Steelers, and with Marshall seeing an average of a dozen targets a game he’ll have ample opportunity to match or better those numbers.


Davonne Bess

S3 Bess scored in last season’s finale against the Steelers, and he’s scored in his last two this year. He’s not quite as targeted as Marshall, but he’s option No. 2 in Miami’s passing game and has been turning that into helpful fantasy numbers on a consistent basis.
TE Anthony Fasano

After shutting out the likes of Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, and Todd Heap, the Steelers ceded 10-172-1 to Cleveland’s tight end tandem last week. That’s an aberration, as the Browns have no wideouts to throw to while Miami has Marshall and Bess. Fasano has scored in two of his last three as well, but he’s so lightly targeted—17 looks through five games—that he just isn’t worth the risk.

DT Dolphins B The Steelers haven’t been making the kinds of mistakes that lead to defensive fantasy points; even if they were, the Dolphins are ill-equipped to take advantage.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay

Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford S3

If Bradford can cobble together some healthy receivers, he should be able to take advantage of a secondary that’s allowed three straight multiple-TD outings. Tempering the optimism, however, is the fact that Bradford has just one TD in two games since losing Mark Clayton and his yards per game has dropped by 30 yards. Color us cautiously optimistic.

RB Steven Jackson S1

On the one hand you have a Bucs’ defense that’s given up back-to-back-to-back 143-yard-or-better rushing performances; on the other you have Jackson with back-to-back triple-digit outings of 114 and 109 yards. Put your hands together for SJax this week; he may be the best fantasy play at his position.

WR Danny Amendola
Danario Alexander

Only three teams have given up more WR TDs than the Bucs, so there is the potential for fantasy helpers here. Amendola had been the top wingman to Clayton prior to his injury; Alexander had been working his way back from an injury of his own prior to bursting onto the scene with 4-72-1 in his NFL debut. Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard could mess things up by sticking their fingers in the pie, but your best bets for fantasy help are DA and DA.

DT Rams B On the surface you’d expect this battle of young quarterbacks to be a turnover fest, but Freeman is taking pretty good care of the ball and the Rams have yet to show a knack for turning opportunities into defensive fantasy points.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman B

After a fast start with back-to-back multiple-TD games Freeman’s pace has slowed to single scoring strikes each of the past two games. While his yardage has climbed and should stay up against a defense that’s allowed at least 236 yards in five of six games this year, five of the six QBs the Rams have faced have thrown zero or one touchdown—including Philip Rivers last week. Okay yardage and limited TDs sounds like a desperation fantasy play at best.

RB Carnell Williams


Aside from Darren McFadden’s 30-145 back in Week 2, the Rams have been stout against the run; no other back has topped 67 yards against them this year. And with Williams averaging a shockingly pedestrian 2.3 yards per carry and Earnest Graham and LeGarrette Blount circling like vultures looking for carries of their own, there’s no Bucs’ backfield threat to make any fantasy noise here.

WR Mike Williams

Clearly the Bucs’ go-to guy, Williams is the best bet to take advantage of a Rams’ secondary that’s allowed nine different receivers to top 80 yards or score (or both) already this season.

WR Sammie Stroughter
Micheal Spurlock

When push comes to shove, Freeman is going to look for Williams. Afterthoughts with an iffy quarterback in a good-not-great matchup aren’t good fantasy helpers.

TE Kellen Winslow B

K2 will get his looks, but against a Rams defense that has allowed only one TE TD this season and no tight end to top 53 yards against them—and they’ve faced Gates, Cooley, Pettigrew, Carlson, and Zach Miller—looks won’t be enough.

DT Buccaneers B That Tampa Bay has 10 INTs despite getting sacks in only one of their five games is a testament to the coverage ability of their secondary. However, this version of the Tampa-2 is still a ways away from being anything close to the fantasy entity of the Derrick Brooks-led monsters.
San Francisco at Carolina Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S3

Multiple TD tosses in back-to-back games suggest that replacement OC Mike Johnson has Smith back on track, but don’t go overboard with what you think is an easy matchup. Sure, holding Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie to 51 yards skews their numbers, but this unit also held Drew Brees and Carson Palmer to a single touchdown each. In fact, you have to go back to Week 13 of last year to find a visiting QB who topped 224 yards in Carolina. Startable? Sure. But don’t get carried away.

RB Frank Gore S1

Opponents are averaging 32 rushes per game against the Panthers, and only one team has failed to produce triple-digit yardage against them. Seeing as no back other than Gore has more than one carry in a game thus far this year, Frank should be in line for a ton of carries—and a ton of yards, and probably a touchdown or two as well.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 This won’t be a walkover; after surrendering three TDs to Hakeem Nicks in the opener, Carolina held Bucs, Bengals, Saints, and Bears receivers to a combined two TDs—and none topped 60 yards. But the new recipe the 49ers offense is cooking with calls for a heavy dose of Crabtree, to the point that he’s scored in back-to-back games and has to be considered likely to do so again here.
WR Josh Morgan B Of course, when the OC says his offense is all about three people and you’re not one of the three, your fantasy prospects are slim. Since that edict was issued two games ago, Morgan has six catches for 70 yards and can no longer be considered a fantasy factor.
TE Vernon Davis S3

The Panthers haven’t allowed a TE TD this season, but they have yet to see a tight end as talented and targeted as Davis.

DT 49ers B While the matchup with Matt Moore is enticing, San Fran’s D hasn’t been doing enough to warrant fantasy attention.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B Yay, Moore is back. Because his 180 and 1 is so much more exciting than Jimmy Clausen’s 160 and 1.

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Last year the Panthers gave Williams and Stewart double-digit carries in the same game eight times—and won five of them. So far this season the dynamic duo has had matching double-digit carries exactly zero times—matching the team’s win total. Surely someone took advantage of all the free time during Carolina’s bye week to point this out to John Fox, because there’s no better opportunity to get off the schneid than this week against a defense that has given up 357 RB rushing yards (at 4.4 yards a pop) in three road games.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Stewart has been virtually unusable this season, but coming out of the break against a team that’s soft on the run—especially on the road—if you’re stuck for a back due to injuries and/or byes he’s worth a flier.
WR Steve Smith S3

The nice thing about Moore is that he knows where his bread is buttered; he’ll throw at Smith all day long regardless of coverage. And if, as anticipated, Smith returns this week from his high ankle sprain he’d be in line for a good game against a 49ers defense that has surrendered all five of its WR TDs on the road.

WR Brandon LaFell
David Gettis

Nobody stepped up in Smith’s absence, and now that he’s back it’s too late.

DT Panthers B The Panthers defense has done nothing of note that would put them on the fantasy radar.
Arizona at Seattle Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Max Hall B

While it may look like a soft matchup against a secondary that’s allowed at least 225 yards (and an average of 313 yards per game) in every game this season and multiple TD tosses in three of the last four... do you really trust an undrafted rookie still looking for his first NFL TD—on the road, no less? Does he realize he’ll have to play against a Twelfth Man?

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Prior to Arizona’s bye Wells received the first 20-carry game of his career—and turned it into a whopping 35 yards. Tough to see him coming anywhere close to the 85 and 2 he dropped on the Seahawks in Arizona last year; Seattle has held Frank Gore (38 yards), Knowshon Moreno (51), Mike Tolbert (73), Steven Jackson (70), and Matt Forte (11) in check and has yet to allow a visiting running back to score this year.
RB Tim Hightower
B Since Wells returned from knee surgery Hightower has seen just 23 touches in three games. The junior partner of an ineffective committee is hardly fantasy-worthy.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

Fitz has scored in three straight against the Seahawks... but that was with Kurt Warner at the helm. Not that Hall doesn’t know where to find him, but 7-56 and 7-93 in games in which Hall has played are not the 13-100-1 he put up in Seattle last year, or the 10-151 he had in Seattle the year before that. Startable, but not the true Fitz.

WR Steve Breaston

Word is that Breaston and maybe even Early Doucet will be back for this one; both practiced on a limited basis this week. To that we say: what’s the rush?

DT Cardinals S3 The Cards have defensive touchdowns in each of the past two games and it’s not as if Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t been known to throw a pick every now and then.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 Hass has been ordinary this year, but he’s thrown at least one TD in each of his last six home games and will get a boost from an Arizona defense that’s allowed at least 225 yards and a touchdown in every game thus far this year.
RB Marshawn Lynch S2

Only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Cardinals; they’ve also served up three 100-yard rushers already this season. With Lynch getting the bulk of the carries he’ll have the best shot at putting up big fantasy numbers against them.

RB Justin Forsett S3

Don’t overlook Forsett in this one; in each of the Cardinals’ last two road games a second back has chipped in with at least 75 yards or a touchdown in addition to 100 and a touch from the feature back. And considering the last time these teams met Forsett went for 17-123-1, he’s at minimum a decent bye-week plug-in.


Mike Williams
Deon Butler

S3 In Seattle’s first week sans Deion Branch, Butler scored and Williams was targeted 15 times. They appear to be the lead dogs in the Seahawks’ receiver pack, and a home date with the Cards is a soft enough matchup that both at least warrant consideration as bye week plug-ins.
TE John Carlson S3 It’s another case of a borderline contributor with a favorable matchup making a viable fantasy play. Carlson scored in the most recent meeting between these clubs, and while he’s not the major player in the passing game he used to be he should find success against an Arizona defense that’s allowed 242 yards and four touchdowns to the tight end position in just the past three games.
DT Seahawks S2 Twelfth man. Max Hall. It’s worth a shot.

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