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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)

Oakland at Denver

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell
Kyle Boller

The Raiders are creating some new injury categories this week. Bruce Gradkowski is "very questionable" and not likely to play on Sunday. Campbell, who practiced on a limited basis this week, is "pretty close", and Tom Cable indicated that if there are no setbacks during pregame warmups then Campbell will get the start. Not that it would matter, as the Broncos have held three straight quarterbacks under 200 yards and to one or fewer touchdown tosses. Actually, those would be lofty numbers a Raiders QB.

RB Michael Bush

The last time Bush saw the Broncos he dropped 133 yards and a touchdown on them—and that was with McFadden siphoning off 12 carries for 74 yards. The Broncos are still struggling against the run, serving up 414 yards and five touchdowns over the past three games; whether McFadden goes or not, Bush is a quality fantasy start.

RB Darren McFadden

McFadden proclaimed himself "70/30" to play this week, but both he and Cable have said he wouldn't return to game action until he was fully healthy. Unless you're confident Run DMc will pick up the other 30 sometime between now and Sunday, best keep him on your fantasy bench until you know he's healthy—and what role he'll have in the offense.


Louis Murphy
Darrius Heywood-Bey


If Gradkowski or big-armed Boller get the start we may revisit the Raider wideouts, but as it stands they're afterthoughts in this offense—and in fantasy circles as well.

TE Zach Miller B

Miller was a non-factor in both ends of last season's series, and since giving up two TDs to Marcedes Lewis in the opener the Broncos have held tight ends in check. With all the quarterback uncertainty, best leave Miller on your fantasy bench until further notice.

DT Raiders B Remember that pulse we thought we saw from the Raiders' D/ST? It flatlined.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2 Oakland has held five of six opposing quarterbacks under 200 passing yards, but all six have thrown for multiple touchdowns. The Raiders held Orton to one TD in each end of last season's series, but he has a better grasp of the offense this time around. After stumbling against the Jets last week, Orton and the Broncos' passing game bounce back big here.
RB Knowshon Moreno S2 No team has allowed more RB yardage than the Raiders, so Moreno is getting healthy at just the right time. He may still lose a few touches to Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney, but considering he dropped 21-90 on the Raiders last year despite fellow Bronco backs getting 22 carries, that shouldn't matter.
WR Brandon Lloyd


Used to be 4-74 from Lloyd was an unexpected surprise; now it's a disappointment. Thankfully, a date with the Raiders should make everyone happy once again. The Texans played Oakland without Andre Johnson, but every other team the Raiders have faced have seen their WR1 reach the end zone. Though he may have to share some of his looks with a healthy Demaryius Thomas, there should still be enough to go around.

WR Jabar Gaffney
Demaryius Thomas


About that enough to go around: Eddie Royal returned to practice Friday after sitting out with a groin injury; that may limit him enough to allow Gaffney and Thomas to take larger than usual portions of the plentiful Broncos' passing game.

DT Broncos S3 The Raiders have quarterback issues, to the point that even the injury-depleted Denver defense is worth a fantasy flier against them.

New England at San Diego

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

In what amounts to two games without Randy Moss, Brady has yet to throw multiple touchdowns. The Bolts have yet to allow multiple touchdowns this season; in fact, only one quarterback has thrown for more than 200 yards against them. Brady will be the best QB San Diego has seen by quite a large margin, but you still have to lower your expectations from what might have been with Moss to what will be with a cast of thousands catching the ball.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Danny Woodhead


San Diego has surrendered back-to-back games of 100-plus yards with a touchdown; sadly, the Patriots seem to have settled on a share-and-share-alike approach to their backfield, as BJGE and Woodhead evenly split the carries last week. If Fred Taylor ever returns from his toe injury the entire group will be virtually useless for fantasy purposes; as it stands now, there should be enough for each member of a two-man committee to carve out some fantasy value.

WR Wes Welker S2 Welker will continue to see his double-digit touches, which make him a valuable PPR commodity but more or less a fringe guy in other formats. Maybe he'll start scoring again, something he hasn't done since Week 2.
WR Deion Branch S3 The receivers that have had the most success against San Diego this season have been the bigger downfield targets—like, you know, Randy Moss. Branch is essentially running those routes, and while he doesn't have the size of Moss he's getting the separation—as well as the attention from Brady.
TE Aaron Hernandez S2 Hernandez is still looking for that first NFL touchdown, but a steady dose of six targets per game suggests he'll get there sooner rather than later. The Chargers have struggled with downfield tight ends, so maybe this will be the game for Hernandez to break that maiden.
DT Patriots S2 The Pats are getting it done in the return game, and their young secondary is coming together. Against a San Diego team that's struggled on special teams (and that's putting it mildly), you have to like New England's chances.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

The Patriots have surrendered multiple passing touchdowns and at least 220 passing yards in every game this season. Rivers had a similar streak (multiple TDs and at least 240 in every game) snapped last week when he could only muster one score in St. Louis. Here's a chance for him to get back in the saddle and remain on pace to eclipse Dan Marino's yardage record—assuming he can find some warm bodies to throw to.

RB Ryan Mathews S3 Mathews is back taking the bulk of the carries, but the Patriots have limited a bevy of quality backs to 88 yards or less thus far this season. Expect solid numbers but nothing spectacular, and there's always the risk of Mathews ceding a goal line look to Tolbert.
RB Mike Tolbert B Tolbert is back to just a handful of carries per game, most of them at the goal line. Facing a team that hasn't allowed a running back rushing score since Week 1, it's unlikely he'll get much of a chance to help your fantasy team this week.
WR Patrick Crayton S2 With Malcolm Floyd and Legadu Naanee both listed as doubtful and unlikely to play this week, the task of getting open for Rivers likely falls to Crayton and Craig Davis this week. Crayton's 117 yards last week suggests he'll be up for the challenge—a cause helped by a Patriots' secondary that's giving up the third-most WR yardage per game.
WR Craig Davis S3 In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and in the land of banged-up receivers Davis—who returned to practice Friday after missing time with sore ribs—will at least be a prince among San Diego's walking wounded. He scored last week and will also take advantage of a softer Patriots' secondary to put up serviceable fantasy numbers.
TE Antonio Gates S3

Gates didn't practice all week and plays a late game so there's plenty of risk here. But he says he'll play despite the toe injury, and if he does he'll be Rivers' primary target and a fine fantasy play against a defense that ranks sixth in fantasy friendliness to tight ends.

DT Chargers B

San Diego's special teams could dig them a hole they can't get out of.


Minnesota at Green Bay

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

Favre simply can't be as good against the Packers this time around as he was last year when he went for 515 yards and seven touchdowns in the two-game set. But he does have Randy Moss to make things interesting, and if his elbow or a couple Clay Matthews sacks don't hold him back he should at minimum be a solid fantasy contributor.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

The Vikings need to take a look at how Miami went into Green Bay last week determined to run the ball, then exited with 144 yards on 36 carries—and a win. The Packers limited AP to 152 yards on 50 carries last year, though he did score in both ends of the season series. Brad Childress has yet to give Peterson 20-plus carries on the road, which is why he's stalled out in the upper 80s in both of Minnesota's road losses. Logic suggests he'll get a few more carries and churn out a fantasy helper this week, but keep in mind that logic often goes out the window when Chilly's calling the shots.

WR Randy Moss


Will Moss draw Charles Woodson? Brandon Marshall didn't, and he caught 10 balls for 127 yards. Charles Johnson shook free for a couple scores as well. Expect Favre to take at least a few shots down the field to Moss, who is also getting more acclimated with the rest of the Minnesota playbook. At minimum, Favre needs to get Moss in the end zone so he can honor the Packer fans with a touchdown celebration dedicated to Joe Buck.

WR Percy Harvin


Davonne Bess scored, while Johnny Knox (94) and Santana Moss (118) put up decent yardage against the Pack; clearly there's a place for the speedy little guy in the mix as well. Green Bay may opt to shadow Percy with Woodson, but Minnesota moves him around enough that he should still find a way to shake free for some helpful fantasy numbers. Though he was added to the injury report as probable with a hamstring issue, Harvin looked fine at practice and is expected to play Sunday.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shiancoe has been MIA since Week 2; part of that is due to injury, and part due to the arrival of Moss and the shuffling of roles in the offense. So just because Shank scored in both ends of last season's series with the Pack doesn't mean that will be the case here. The Packers have given up decent yardage to tight ends—69 to Chris Cooley, 154 to the Lions' tandem, 76 to the Bears—so if their focus shifts too much to Moss and Harvin Shank could find room to move. But he's a far less secure bet than he was pre-Moss.

DT Vikings S3

Any time Percy Harvin is returning kicks you've got a chip and a chair. And maybe this is the week the Vikings' pass rush kicks in against a Packers line that's allowed nine sacks the last two games alone.

Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Despite numerous injuries, the Vikings' secondary has been more than solid in holding elite quarterbacks like Drew Brees (237 and 1) and Tony Romo (220 and 3) in relative check. And with Rodgers limited to one TD in three of his last four games—though he's run for a score twice in that same span—you may want to dial expectations back from the 384 and 2 and 287 and 3 he posted against Minnesota last year. Not to the point of Rodgers being anything less than a fantasy stud, however.


Brandon Jackson


Don't expect Jackson to do much on the ground against Minnesota. However, in last season's series Packer backs had 120 receiving yards to go with their 104 rushing yards, and last week alone Felix Jones caught 10 balls for 61 yards. Jackson could add unexpected value in PPR leagues, and if you're in a bye week pickle he's worth a shot.


John Kuhn


Tough to bank on a goal line shot against a team that's given up just two RB TDs all year, especially when his own quarterback is vulturing short yardage scores.

WR Greg Jennings


Looks like the Packers were serious when they said they wanted to get Jennings more involved; last week's 6-133-1 was his best yardage total since Week 2 of 2008. The Vikings haven't allowed a WR1 to score this season, but maybe Jennings and Driver are co-WR2s? In any event, he scored in the back end of last season's series and should be a fantasy helper here as well.

WR Donald Driver


You can't sit Driver because if Jennings is truly the WR1 then trends indicate he won't score—and Rodgers needs to throw to somebody. Despite Jennings' big game last week, Driver remains just as involved and Rodgers' next big throw could easily go to him. He missed two days of practice and was limited on Friday, but he's listed as probable and is expected to play.

TE Andrew Quarless
Donald Lee
Tom Crabtree
B Jermichael Finley dropped 128 yards and a TD on the Vikings in the front end of last season's series; he missed the rematch with an injury, leaving Lee to cobble together just 24 yards. The Packers once again find themselves without Finley, and with three different tight ends pitching in and only three teams allowing fewer fantasy points to the position than Minnesota, there's nothing to see here.
DT Packers S2 The Lambeau faithfull would like nothing better than a Favre pick six in their favor, and with Clay Mathews back in the lineup and Charles Woodson on the field anything is possible.

New York Giants at Dallas

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Not only was Eli better in the Dallas end of last season's series (330 and 2 vs. 241 and 2 in New York), he's also thrown multiple TDs in both of his road games this season—and Dallas has surrendered multiple touchdown passes in both of their home games as well. If you're looking for a reason to worry about Eli this week, don't; it's just not there.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Losing goal line looks to Jacobs doesn't help Bradshaw's fantasy value, and since he's unlikely to get enough touches to replicate the triple-digit yardage the Cowboys have given up to Chris Johnson and Arian Foster he'll have to settle for being a low-end yardage helper with a bit of upside.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs scored twice in last season's series and has four touchdowns in the last three games. While his touches are generally limited to short-yardage and goal line work, a date with a Dallas defense that has surrendered all three of the RB TDs it's allowed in the last two games should provide him with an opportunity to ply his trade.

WR Hakeem Nicks

Nicks scored in the back end of last season's series after sitting out the front end, and he's significantly more involved in the offense than he was in producing 2-37-1 in that game. While WR1s have just one of the five WR TDs the Cowboys have allowed, Randy Moss's 55 yards last week was the lowest yardage total for a WR1 facing Dallas this year. That gives you an idea of Nicks' baseline numbers heading into this tilt.

WR Steve Smith

Smith reached triple digits in both ends of last season's series, seeing a total of 26 targets over the two-game set and producing 10-134-1 and 6-110. He's still heavily targeted, averaging nine a game, and fits the mold of receivers who have found the end zone against Dallas—slot/possession guys like Devin Hester, Kevin Walter, and Greg Camarillo.

WR Mario Manningham

Manningham was a monster in the first meeting with Dallas (10-150-1) but a 1-10 afterthought in the rematch. He's too much of an enigma—he scored last week, which followed back-to-back zero-catch games—to be trusted with a fantasy start, especially when things appear set up so well for both Nicks and Smith.

DT Giants S3 On the off chance that the 10-sack edition of the Giants defense meets up with the Dallas offensive line that allowed six sacks to the Titans two weeks ago, the Giants warrant a fantasy flier.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo is picking up steam, with multiple TD tosses in three straight games. Peyton Manning is the only one to throw for multiple scores against the Giants thus far this season; he's also the only QB to top 220 passing yards. With the Giants ranked fourth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, will you get the 374 yards he posted against the third-ranked Bears and the three TDs he dropped on the fifth-ranked Vikings? Or will you get stuck with the one TD he threw against Chicago and the 220 yards he amassed in Minnesota. Last year's first meeting in Dallas resembled the latter (127 and 1), while the rematch in New York was more like the former (392 and 3). With Romo entering the game on a hot streak, let's settle for cautiously optismistic.

RB Felix Jones S3

Again, there was some serious schizophrenia in last season's series: Barber (124 and 1) and Jones (96 and 1) gouged the Giants on the ground in the opener, then couldn't even muster 50 yards combined in the rematch. Jones is still the owner's pet and is still getting the majority of the touches, so he warrants fantasy consideration, but this isn't a must-play by any means.

RB Marion Barber B

As the junior partner in the Dallas RBBC Barber will be hard-pressed to match those numbers from the front end of last season's series. And it's tough to start the minority holder of the carries when that team isn't running the ball well or often.

WR Miles Austin S1

Austin's the go-to guy; imagine how last week's 2-12 would look had that 68-yard TD not been waved off? He'll be the focal point of both the Cowboys' offense and the Giants' defense, but he's comfortable being the big star on the big star: he's scored or topped 90 yards in five straight at home, including 9-166-1 and 10-142 this year.

WR Roy Williams

Finally, Williams has begun to remind us of the talent that made him a first-round pick—and enticed the Cowboys to give up multiple picks to acquire him. The Giants gave up multiple scores to both Indy and Detroit, and with Williams on a serious roll (five TDs in the past three games) he belongs in your lineup.

WR Dez Bryant

The nagging ankle injury—Bryant didn't practice on Thursday and was limited Friday—and the likelihood that Austin and Williams get theirs before Bryant gets his relegate the rookie to the fantasy bench.

TE Jason Witten S3

Witten scored in the front end of last season's series, then blew up in the rematch with 14 catches for 156 yards. He's not nearly that involved this year, however, and the Giants are one of the better teams against tight ends; even Dallas Clark only mustered 83 and 1, the lone TE TD the Giants have allowed. He's still startable in PPR leagues, but outside of that he's a fringe fantasy helper at best.

DT Cowboys S3 If Bryant is stymied from scrimmage, maybe he can provide a boost in special teams?

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