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Start/Bench List - Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 29, 2010
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DEN at SFO WAS at DET MIN at NEP HOU at IND 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)
Denver at San Francisco (London) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2 You’d think the Mile High air would help Orton, but he’s actually been more consistent on the road with at least 295 passing yards in each of his three away from home. That’s a trend the Niners follow as well, giving up at least 250 in three of four on the road and multiple passing scores in three of four road games as well. This one’s across the pond, so it’s essentially a road game for both teams. And with the Niners significantly stouter against the run and Denver inclined to throw anyway, it’s a solid opportunity for Orton to get back in the saddle after a couple of down games.
RB Knowshon Moreno S3 The good news is, Moreno got ALL the backfield touches last week: no Tebow, no Buckhalter, no Mendenhall. That proves the hamstring is healthy enough for a full workload; it also allowed Moreno to get some work in the passing game (two receiving TDs) as well. Don’t bank on big yardage—the Niners haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 13 straight games, while Moreno is still looking for his first NFL hundo—but there’s enough upside in his touches to make him a viable play, especially with six teams on the bye. Oh, and apparently the whole "grabbed his hammy" thing was a false alarm, as Moreno isn't even on the Denver injury report.
WR Brandon Lloyd
Jabar Gaffney


Lloyd and Gaffney are the two most consistently targeted Broncos, and if Orton’s on his game both should see double-digit targets—more than enough opportunity to turn in solid fantasy numbers.

WR Eddie Royal
Demaryius Thomas


Both Royal and Thomas are a little nicked, but Royal followed the optimal progression (didn't practice Wednesday, limited Thursday, full on Friday) and is officially "probable"; Thomas isn't even on the injury report. Both could certainly be considered during this heavy bye week, but in addition to the nicks they're a little less consistently targeted than Lloyd and Gaffney.

DT Broncos S3 We’ve seen little of fantasy note from the injury-ravaged Broncos defense, but a date with Troy Smith helming the Niners provides at least a little optimism.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Troy Smith B

Smith has thrown 13 passes and one touchdown since the end of the 2007 season, so there’s bound to be some rust. He also has never thrown for more than 199 yards in a game or had a multiple TD outing and will be facing a Denver defense that has held four straight QBs to 204 yards or less and three of four to one or fewer touchdown passes. Let him shake off that rust on your bench.

RB Frank Gore S1

With an inexperienced quarterback under center, the San Francisco offense will once again run through Gore; only two backs touch the ball more frequently. Against a Denver defense that has allowed more RB TDs than any other NFL team and more RB yardage than all but one other club, that’ll be a very good thing.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Crabtree is understandably a tough start, with a third-string quarterback and the distinct possibility he’ll be wearing Champ Bailey most of the afternoon. But Smith wasn’t afraid to throw downfield in his brief starting stint with the Ravens back in 2007; 41 of his 55 passes were directed at wide receivers, and WRs accounted for both of his scores. Crabtree is the better play among Niner wides, and while he’s far from a safe bet in this bye-ravaged week he gets a cautious green light.
WR Josh Morgan B It remains to be seen who Troy Smith targets, but the Niners’ secondary target against a secondary that’s allowed one WR TD in the past three games doesn’t seem like a smart fantasy play regardless of quarterback.
TE Vernon Davis S3

Looking at Smith’s history of pass distribution you might think Davis is bench fodder as well. But consider that in his two Baltimore starts Smith didn’t have Todd Heap to throw to; instead, his tight ends were Quinn Stepnwewski and Jake Nordin. Davis is not only a much larger part of the offense than either of those no-names was, he’s also more wide receiver than tight end—and yet enough tight end to remain an inexperienced quarterback’s favorite friend. Davis didn't get much practice time this week with Smith—he didn't go on Wednesday and thursday and was limited on Friday—and he's officially listed as "questionable"; however, expect him to make it to the pitch on Sunday.

DT 49ers B If the Niners end up firing Mike Singletary as coach, maybe they could bring him back to give Patrick Willis some help in that defense.
Jacksonville at Dallas Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Maybe while Garrard was concussed the Jacksonville trainers told him everything was a home game; better, maybe they told him he was Joe Montana. We’ve seen signs of life from Garrard, who actually has multiple TD tosses in two of his last three road games. Facing a Dallas defense that has surrendered 9 TD tosses to three visiting quarterbacks, there’s actually a chance for Garrard to do some fantasy good here.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

More cautious optimism for MoJo, facing a defense that’s allowed three 100-yard rushers in the past four games. Maybe his 3.8 yards per carry average gets a bump against a Dallas defense that’s allowing backs to rip off better than five yards a clip over the past five games, or maybe he stays involved in the passing game; two of his three TDs this year have come on receptions. In any case, while he’s been largely a disappointment this season he’s still a viable fantasy starter this week.


Mike Sims-Walker

S3 Sims-Walker has scored in three straight road games, and with the Cowboys having surrendered one, two, and three WR TDs in their three home games thus far this season his chances of making it four straight ain’t too shabby.

Mike Thomas

B Maybe Thomas said something bad about St. Cloud State; whatever the reason, Todd Bouman ignored him last week. With MSW on solid footing on the road and the Jacksonville passing game still somewhat of an iffy proposition, best leave secondary guys—especially those coming off a one-target, zero-catch outing—on your fantasy bench.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s still more apt to score at home and a tough fantasy start against a Cowboys defense that’s given up just 10 catches and 116 yards to the tight end position over their past four games.
DT Jaguars B

The Jags might rattle Jon Kitna’s cage a little bit this week, but they haven’t forced a turnover in their past three games; that makes it extremely difficult to score defensive fantasy points.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna S2

Kitna looked plenty competent in relief of the injured Tony Romo last week, and he’ll have every opportunity to do so again against a Jacksonville defense that’s given up the most passing touchdowns and fourth-most passing yardage in the league.

RB Felix Jones S2

It’s tough to trust the Dallas backfield, especially with Jones seeing a decline in carries each week since Jerry Jones anointed him as the starter. But against a Jaguars defense that has given up back-to-back 100-yard games and 465 rushing yards and four TDs in three road games, that trend should head in the opposite direction. It certainly wouldn’t hurt the Cowboys to protect their backup quarterback with a little more emphasis on the ground game, and this matchup should allow them to do so.

RB Marion Barber B

It’s tough to trust the Dallas backfield; it’s even tougher to trust MB3, who is averaging 2.8 yards per carry since sliding to second position in the Cowboys’ pecking order. It’s a favorable matchup, but tough to see it trickling down far enough to help Barber.

WR Miles Austin S1

No team has allowed more WR TDs than the Jags, and only one team has allowed more WR yardage. So while Kitna seemed to favor Dez Bryant during the Cowboys’ comeback last week, Austin was still the most targeted Dallas wideout. And since every WR1 to face the Jaguars this season has either scored or topped 100 yards, you have to like Austin’s chances.

WR Roy Williams

It’s a favorable enough matchup that you have to consider Williams here, especially since you saw Kitna going his way twice in the end zone last week. Then again, you saw Williams drop one and go oh-fer on his three targets, so maybe he’s back to the much-maligned Williams instead of the one who had scored in three straight heading into last Monday night. It certainly appears as if Bryant has moved past him into WR2 position, so if you have another option it’s certainly worth considering.

WR Dez Bryant

Bryant has alternated nagging injuries and inconsistent performances with dynamic special teams production, and last week he caught not only Jon Kitna’s eye but also a pair of touchdowns. A matchup with the softest WR defense in the league certainly bodes well for his continued success.

TE Jason Witten S2

It’s no coincidence that a ferocious pass rush sidelines the starting quarterback and suddenly the backup finds his tight end to the tune of Witten’s most productive game of the season; it was either that or risk suffering his own busted clavicle. While Jacksonville’s pass rush isn’t nearly as nasty, only one team has allowed more TE TDs—meaning Witten should be in play again as a solid fantasy start.

DT Cowboys S2 Maybe the Cowboys can build on a couple special teams touchdowns and a five-turnover game against a Jacksonville club that has given the ball away a dozen times in three road games.

Miami at Cincinnati

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S2

Cincy’s secondary has been stifling at home, holding seven straight foes to one or fewer TD tosses and five of those seven under 200 yards. However, the loss of nickel back Adam Jones to the IR compounds the absence of starting corner Jonathan Joseph, opening the door for Henne to put up some serviceable numbers. He’s posted multiple touchdowns in three of the last four and topped 250 yards in a similar number, so he’s a solid fantasy option here—even better if Joseph misses another game.


Ronnie Brown


Ronnie has been largely disappointing; he hasn’t scored since Week 1 or topped 75 yards since Week 2. Of course, that has a lot to do with facing the Nos. 1, 2, 7, and 16 defenses against running backs over the past month. A date with the No. 21 Bengals, who have allowed 100-yard games in two of the last three and RB TDs in four straight, at least gives Brown a fighting chance at fantasy relevancy.


Ricky Williams


Ricky still holds the minority share of Miami’s backfield—he hasn’t out-touched Brown since the season opener and has been outgained by Brown in every road game thus far—so even though this is a more favorable matchup than the Dolphins have seen of late it would be a stretch to trust him with a fantasy start.


Brandon Marshall


You saw what Roddy White did to the Bengals’ banged-up secondary last week (201 and two, in case you didn’t), and Marshall is actually slightly MORE targeted on a per-game basis. He hasn’t scored since Week 3, but a dozen targets a game give him plenty of chances to rack up fantasy points with or without the TD.


Davonne Bess

S2 The Bengals have allowed only one WR TD in each of their two home games this season, but Bess appears to have become the Dolphins’ designated scorer with TDs in three straight outings. At minimum he’s seeing enough looks to be a PPR helper, and with Cincy’s secondary depleted by injury he’s a decent bet to score as well.
TE Anthony Fasano

Fasano has been a relatively consistent contributor to the Miami passing game, with at least 46 yards or a touchdown in five of six this season. The Bengals held Tony Gonzalez in check last week but have been otherwise relatively soft against tight ends, so if you’re in a bye week bind Fasano could help you out.

DT Dolphins B There’s nothing special about Miami’s D/ST that would suggest they warrant a fantasy start on the road.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

Palmer rolls into this matchup with multiple touchdown tosses in three straight and a couple monster yardage outings (371 and 412) over that span; the Dolphins have been stingier against touchdowns—holding Brett Favre, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers to a combined two over the past five games—but they’ve served up 300-plus yards in each of the past two games. So between the yardage and the scores, Palmer should at least give you something to work with. Don't sweat the hip injury that caused him to miss Thursday's practice; he was back Friday for a full session.

RB Cedric Benson S3

Nothing special about this matchup, but then again there’s been nothing special about Benson thus far this season either. He’s still getting the bulk of the Bengals’ backfield work, but that hasn’t resulted in a touchdown since Week 3 and more often than not nets you about 75 yards. In a week with six teams on a bye, his 20 carries give you a shot at fantasy relevancy, but that’s about it.

WR Terrell Owens

Tough to find a receiver hotter than TO, who has scored in three straight and 26 catches for 412 yards over that span. Doesn’t hurt that he’s been targeted at least a dozen times in each of those games. Expect similar attention this week, and with the Dolphins having allowed back-to-back big games to WR1s (7-131-1 to Hines Ward, 6-133-1 to Greg Jennings), it wouldn’t be out of line to expect similar production.

WR Chad Ochocinco

Ocho stole some of TO’s spotlight with 10-108-1 last week, but much of that came as Cincy played catch-up; he’s a clear-cut second banana to Owens, but after seeing Mike Wallace (2-53-1) and Jordy Nelson (4-64) have productive games against the Dolphins the past two weeks he’s at least worth a shot in a week in which the talent pool is thinned by the bye.

WR Jordan Shipley

Despite last week’s score and big yardage (most of which came on said score), it’s difficult to bank on Shipley offering much fantasy help here; the biggest output by a third receiver against Miami this season has been 34 yards.

TE Jermaine Gresham B Gresham has had one game of more than 35 yards this season and only one score in the past five games. This matchup doesn’t purport to help, as Miami has held every tight end not named Dustin Keller scoreless and all but Visanthe Shiancoe in Week 2 under 35 yards.
DT Bengals B Cincy just got its first defensive touchdown from Adam Jones—who promptly went on injured reserve. So any reason there was to get excited about the Bengals as a fantasy DST just went out the window.

Buffalo at Kansas City

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

Care to guess which NFL quarterback is averaging the most fantasy points per start? Here’s a hint: he went to Harvard, and his name is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Still not sure? Another clue: he has multiple passing scores in all four of his starts and just took the top-ranked Ravens defense for 374 and four. Yes, it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick—the same Ryan Fitzpatrick who went off for 86 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs last year. New year, new Fitz; given what he’s done thus far, carving up a Chiefs’ secondary that just let Todd Bouman come in off the street and throw two touchdowns should be no problem.

RB Fred Jackson B

Jackson hasn’t scored since the Marshawn Lynch trade, hasn’t topped 73 yards since last season, and isn’t involved in the passing game—which is where the Chiefs have been most susceptible to opposing backs at Arrowhead. With Fitzpatrick turning this team into a pass-happy squad, Jackson has little fantasy value.

RB C.J. Spiller U

Spiller isn’t seeing enough touches to warrant a full-blown start recommendation, but if you’re strapped for running back help during this six-team bye he has at least a modicum of upside: he’s seen his touches increase each week since the Lynch trade, he’s accounted for 65% of the Bills’ RB receptions (and 77% percent of their RB receiving yards and 100% of their RB receiving TDs), and while KC hasn’t allowed a running back rushing score in Arrowhead or a visiting back to top 75 rushing yards they’ve allowed the last two visiting backfields to post 75 and 108 receiving yards and score the lone RB TD the’ve given up at home. Again, it’s a stretch but if you’re desperate for a back it’s at least a chip and a chair.

WR Steve Johnson S2

It’s obvious Johnson and Fitzpatrick have a bond; Fitz looks for him in the red zone, as evidenced by at least one TD in every game the two have played together this season. Johnson’s catch and yardage numbers are also trending up over the past three weeks, so he’s the more likely recipient of the one WR TD the Chiefs give up in each home game.

WR Lee Evans S3

You know that big game that Evans inevitably has when he’s on your bench? Happened last week when he inexplicably went off for three touchdowns against the No. 1 pass defense. Sure, lightning could strike twice—actually, three times since Evans has scores in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 6 and 7 of last year; he hasn’t scored in three straight since the end of the 2006 season. It’s more likely that Evans has something less than three TDs, but he’s had five or more grabs in three of the four games Fitzpatrick has quarterbacked so he’s at least worth a shot.

DT Bills B If you think the eight sacks, six turnovers, and zero defensive scores Buffalo has produced are lousy fantasy numbers, consider that the Chiefs have allowed only five sacks, four turnovers, and zero defensive TDs.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S2

The Bills secondary has gone from elite unit to punchline, giving up multiple touchdown passes in five straight contests. Cassel has back-to-back multi-TD games and should continue his hot streak—limited only by how much the Chiefs run on the league’s third-most fantasy friendly RB defense.

RB Thomas Jones
Jamaal Charles

Great news: you don’t have to decide! Jones brings a two-game scoring streak into this tilt, and he’s reasserted himself as the majority shareholder of touches in the KC backfield. Charles, on the other hand, has double-digit touches in every game and a touchdown or triple-digit combo yardage in four of six—including all three at Arrowhead. But why pick just one when the Bills have allowed an RB TD in five of six and at least 70 yards or a TD to the non-scoring back in three of those five? You can have your cake and eat it, too!


Dwayne Bowe


The Bills have allowed the opposing WR1 to score in four straight games, coinciding nicely with Bowe’s two-game scoring streak (in which he’s actually scored twice in each game). Like Cassel, all that stands between Bowe and monster numbers are the 30-plus touches the backfield is bound to take.


Chris Chambers


Chambers was right: he’s not much of a part of this offense. And after Jones, Charles, Bowe, and Moeaki take their bites there isn’t likely to be much left over this week, either.


Tony Moeaki


No team has given up more TE TDs than the Bills—including scores in four straight and two TE TDs in each of the past three. Moeaki has scored in two of his three games in Arrowhead and given the matchup is a solid bet to make it three of four.

DT Chiefs S3 The Bills haven’t offered up many opportunities for defensive TDs under the guidance of the cerebral Fitzpatrick, but between the Chiefs’ dynamic return game and the vice grip Arrowhead often puts on the windpipe of young QBs the Kansas City D/ST is at least worth a shot this week.

Washington at Detroit

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S3

McNabb has yet to throw for multiple touchdowns as a Redskin; the Lions have served up multiple scoring strikes in four of six. Who wants it more... er, less? At minimum, the matchup makes McNabb usable in a week where five legit fantasy starting QBs are on the bye.

RB Ryan Torain S1 No team is giving up more fantasy points to running backs than the Lions, who have allowed a 100-yard rusher in four of their last five and in both games at Ford Field. Torain brings back-to-back 100-yard efforts into this tilt and should drive out of Motown with a shiny new three-game triple-digit streak.
WR Santana Moss
S2 Strangely enough, both of Moss’s TDs this season have come on the road. It’s not as if the Lions are stopping anyone, and Moss has been targeted at least eight times in three straight and six of seven so he’ll have every opportunity to exploit a secondary not much different than the Detroit unit he took for 10-178-1 when these teams met last year.
WR Anthony Armstrong
S3 Armstrong is definitely second banana in the Redskins’ passing game—third, actually, if you count Cooley. But he’s seeing a deep shot or two every week and the Lions have proven susceptible to the long ball so in a talent pool thinned by the bye week he’s worthy of fantasy consideration.
TE Chris Cooley S2

Like Moss, Cooley is simply too targeted to ignore—at least eight throws his direction in every game but one. The Lions have given up TE TDs in two of their last three, giving Cooley an opportunity to really cash in on the chances he gets. Don't sweat the "Q" next to his name on the injury report; though officially listed as "questionable", Cooley practiced fully all week.

DT Redskins S3 Don’t expect the same results as when they faced Jay Cutler, but the Redskins demonstrated last week they can turn the ball over and take it the other way; they could easily do the same against either Drew Stanton or a rusty Matt Stafford.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S3

Stafford is taking first-team reps and expected to start Sunday, and it’s not a bad week to return as no secondary has allowed more passing yardage than the Redskins. However, expect a little rust and a little resistance from the ‘Skins as well; in three road games they have yet to allow more than one passing TD to the home QB. In short, something akin to the 241 and 1 he posted in DC last year feels about right.

RB Jahvid Best S2

Best certainly knows how to make the home folks happy: he’s averaging a third more touches and three times more combo yardage at Ford Field, and three of his five TDs have come in Honolulu blue as well. The Redskins have given up 100-yard games (Joseph Addai and Brandon Jackson rushing, LeSean McCoy receiving) in three of their last four, and no team has surrendered more RB receiving yards than the Redskins. Only three backs have more receiving yards than Best, who should help Stafford ease back into the lineup by providing a solid helper of a ballgame.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Stafford knows the drill, though quite frankly Shaun Hill implemented it better before his injury: throw the ball up and let Calvin Johnson go get it. Megatron has scored in three straight and four of five and comes off his top yardage effort of the season; a defense that has already ceded 100-yard efforts to Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walker, and Pierre Garçon hardly presents a threat to that hot streak.

WR Nate Burleson S3

Burleson totes a two-game scoring stream into this one himself, and considering that nine wingmen have scored or topped 50 yards—or both—against Detroit already this season there’s no reason he can’t extend his string as well.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S3

Though he’s still sharing looks with Tony Scheffler, Pettigrew has posted the better fantasy numbers in three straight and four of five. The Skins halted a three-game scoring streak by opposing tight ends a fortnight ago, but they’ve surrendered 54, 57, and 43 yards to the position over the past three games. View Pettigrew as a low-end fantasy contributor and potential plug-in play during this six-team bye week.

DT Lions S3 There are certainly worse bets than a Jim Schwartz defense against a Donovan McNabb offense.

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