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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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
JAC at DAL CAR at STL TBB at ARI  
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MIA at CIN GBP at NYJ SEA at OAK  
BUF at KCC TEN at SDC PIT at NOS  
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)
 
 

Tampa Bay at Arizona

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Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman B

Freeman has been good-not-great, though the fact that he hasn't thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game since Week 2 might even move him a shade below good. The Arizona secondary has been nothing special, but there's no compelling reason to expect a bust-out game on the road from Freeman here. He's not an awful start, he just hasn't given us a reason to go out of our way to start him.

RB LeGarrette Blount


S2

Now here's a matchup that's compelling: the Cardinals have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season and served up three 100-yard games in six outings. Blount has moved into at minimum a job share with Cadillac Williams, though last week he held a better than 2-to-1 carry advantage in posting the best outing by a Buc back since Caddy's 75 yards in the season opener. He's in line to take the bulk of the carries, which also sets him up to take advantage of Arizona's fantasy-friendly run defense. Blount was limited in Thursday's practice by illness, but he was back to full go by Friday so no worries.

RB Carnell Williams


S3

Don't write Caddy off just yet, especially in PPR leagues. While he's not officially "just" the third-down back, he's caught 15 balls for 97 yards and a touchdown in just the past two games and is the fifth-most targeted running back in the league. While Blount bludgeons the Cardinals on the ground, Williams will be available to pad your PPR league stat line via the air.

WR Mike Williams
S2

Williams has been targeted 31 times in the past three games, more than twice as many looks as any other Bucs wideout. He's the guy Freeman looks for at crunch time, and he'll get enough opportunities against a mediocre Arizona secondary to produce decent numbers. He may even become the second Mike Williams to score on the Cards in as many weeks.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

The Cards have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, and with Winslow targeted almost as frequently as Williams (29 looks over the past three games) he'll have every opportunity to exploit that hole in the Arizona defense.

DT Buccaneers B One sack, one fumble recovery, and one INT in the past two games combined for this Tampa Bay defense—not nearly enough to make the fantasy relevant.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Max Hall B

The good news is that Tampa Bay has allowed multiple touchdown passes in four straight. The bad news is it's still Max Hall at the helm. Four games and two starts into his NFL career, Hall is still looking for his first pro TD pass and hasn't even totalled 300 yards yet. It's impossible to trust him with a fantasy start here despite the favorable matchup.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
S2 With Tim Hightower fumbling his way out of touches, the Arizona offense is finally starting to put the onus on Wells. This would be a fantastic week for them to go all out in that regard, as the Bucs have allowed four consecutive 100-yard rushers. Wells has taken the bulk of the carries in three of the last four, including both of Arizona's home games, so we're cautiously optimistic that he'll get the majority of carries here. And against the Bucs, that sort of majority should lead to copious yardage.
RB Tim Hightower
B While stranger things have happened and you can't trust the typical NFL coach any farther than you can throw them when it comes to how they divvy up their backfield touches, Hightower's fumblitis and the trend towards more carries for Wells strongly suggest this will be his—and not Hightower's—moment to shine.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S3

Fitz remains the most targeted—though not always the most connected-with—member of the Arizona passing game. That puts him in line to be the beneficiary of this soft matchup with a Tampa Bay secondary that has allowed at least one wide receiver touchdown in every game this season. It's the straw we're clinging to this week to justify Fitzgerald remaining in your starting lineup despite the Cardinals' pathetic quarterback play.

DT Cardinals S3 The Cards have defensive touchdowns in two of the past three games, and while Josh Freeman has taken pretty good care of the ball thus far this season, he does have a bit of a reputation stemming back to his college days...
 

Seattle at Oakland

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Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 Like punching a time clock, the Raiders have allowed exactly two passing touchdowns in every single game this season. Hass hasn't had a multiple-TD effort since the season opener, but who are we to stand in the way of something as consistent as Oakland's fantasy-friendly pass defense?
RB Marshawn Lynch S2

Week in and week out, the Raiders find a way to help opposing running backs pad their fantasy stats. They've given up three 100-yard games, a 125-combo yard game to Steven Jackson, a split 115-yard rushing effort to the Arizona backfield, and RB TDs in the remaining two games. This week, expect Lynch to eat at the trough of copious yardage and a score as the majority shareholder in Seattle's backfield committee.

RB Justin Forsett S3

While Lynch is the lead dog, Forsett is like the little ankle-biter that keeps yapping until he gets his as well. In the two games since Lynch arrived, Forsett has produced 72 and 76 combo yards; that's enought to be at least a fantasy helper in performance leagues, and against a defense as permissive as Oakland's he may be able to inflate those numbers as well.

WR

Mike Williams

S2 Thirty-one targets, 21 catches, 210 yards... since Seattle's bye it's been all about Big Mike Williams. You have to like his chances of staying hot against a defense that gave up 213 yards to Malcolm Floyd earlier this year.
WR

Deon Butler

B Only once this season have two different wideouts scored against the Raiders, and no wingman has topped 50 yards. With Williams so heavily targeted, Branch becomes an afterthought.
TE John Carlson B Speaking of afterthoughts, Carlson has been so lightly used (three catches since the Week 5 bye) he barely even qualifies. Shame, too, given that the Raiders have allowed TE TDs in three of their last four games. If you're in a bye-week bind, Carlson at least has more upside than most other bench TEs.
DT Seahawks B Which would surprise you more: that the Raiders have turned the ball over just twice in the last three games combined, or that Seattle has forced only one turnover in three road games? Neither, obviously, lends itself to a fantasy start for the Seahawks D/ST.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Bruce Gradkowski will be the Raiders starter once he recovers from his shoulder injury, but he was limited all week in practice and while he's officially listed as "questionable" Campbell has already been announced as the starter. While it's possible here might be some fantasy value, as the Seahawks have already given up 762 passing yards and four passing TDs to two previous AFC West opponents this season, Campbell's upside is limited enough that we're confident you can find better options.

RB Darren McFadden
S1

Seattle has fared quite well against opposing backs, but the way McFadden is playing you might not even bench him against the '85 Bears. He zoomed from 70 percent ready to 100 percent awesome last week and has at least 112 yards from scrimmage in every game he's played this year. And while he's done it against some bottom-feeding defenses, he also had 150 combo yards against #4 Tennessee and 153 against #13 St. Louis—both of whom statistically outrank #14 Seattle.

RB Michael Bush
B

Bush's helpful fantasy leftovers have come against the aforementioned bottom-feeders; with Seattle much more a middle-of-the-pack D, it'll be tougher for Bush to get enough touches to warrant fantasy relevance.

WR

Louis Murphy

B

The only Oakland wideout fantasy owners need care about, Murphy will sit this one out with a bruised lung.

TE Zach Miller S2

Simply put, the Raiders have no one else to throw to; the last two opponents with similar receiving corps the Seahawks faced produced 73 yards for Vernon Davis and 109 and 1 for Antonio Gates. Miller has at least 60 yards and a TD in four of his last five, so he's virtually quarterback-proof as well. Miller was limited all week in practice by a foot injury and is officially listed as "questionable", but all indications are he'll be good to go Sunday.

DT Raiders S3 Oakland has defensive scores in two of the last three games; in a six-team bye week that may be a strong enough trend for you to make them a plug-in play.
 

Pittsburgh at New Orleans

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Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

The Saints have allowed only one quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns against them, but they haven't faced a QB the caliber of Big Ben yet. Roethlisberger has 559 yards and five TDs in the two games since returning from his suspension, and there's no reason to think he can't dial it up in prime time against the Saints.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

S2

The Saints have allowed each of the last three feature backs to visit the Superdome to reach the end zone, which should make it easier for Mendenhall to shake off last week's lackluster performance and fire up a new scoring streak after watching the Dolphins snap his three-game string last week. The aforementioned feature backs also rushed for at least 69 yards in New Orleans, so Mendenhall should be a moderate performance league contributor as well.

WR Hines Ward
S2

Talk about your conflicting trends: on the one hand you have a Saints defense that is giving up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers of any team in the league; on the other you have Ward and Wallace reveling in Roethlisberger's return, each with TD catches in both games since Big Ben came back. Because Ward's game is a little more matchup proof than Wallace's, he gets the slightly safer grade.

WR Mike Wallace
S3

As noted above, Wallace has found the end zone in each of the Steelers' two games with Roethlisberger under center. However, because he's a little less targeted (18 to 10) than Ward and a little less productive (12-185 to 5-143) and a little more of a risk seeing as he's the downfield guy, he's a slightly riskier fantasy play against a tough Saints' secondary.

TE Heath Miller
B

Miller scored in Big Ben's first game back as well, but that appeared to be a blip on the radar; he's still chugging along as a lightly used third option who can't be banked on for consistent fantasy production.

DT Steelers S2 The Saints have allowed four defensive touchdowns in the past three games, and to defenses not nearly as stout as the Steelers.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

The Steelers have yet to give up multiple touchdown passes in a game this season, and the high-water yardage mark against them was Colt McCoy's 281 a couple weeks back. However, Brees will be without question the best quarterback they've seen this season, and he rolls into this game with multiple TD tosses in three straight and five of six. With the running game unlikely to contribute, it'll be on Brees to generate some offense. Even against this iteration of the Steel Curtain, that should mean decent fantasy production.

RB Chris Ivory B

Both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas have been ruled out of this one; that leaves Ivory to face the second-stingiest defense against running backs. Seeing as he averaged just over three yards a carry last week against the Browns, who rank four spots below the Steelers and have given up more than twice as many rushing yards, best leave Ivory on your fantasy bench this week.

WR Marques Colston S3

Colston showed signs of life last week—just in time for this meeting with a Steeler secondary that's allowed only two WR TDs on the year, neither of them to WR1s. Colston is still the safest play among Drew Brees' varied targets, but he's at best a fringe play given this difficult matchup.

WR Robert Meachem
Lance Moore
Devery Henderson
B

If there's little upside for Colston, there's even less for the remainder of the New Orleans receiving corps. Meachem has technically moved into the WR2 position, but Moore has outproduced him each of the past two weeks. Too many cooks, not enough broth this week.

TE Jeremy Shockey
Dave Thomas
Jimmy Graham
B This might be the place where the Saints can exploit Pittsburgh; unfortunately, it's even more fractured than their wideouts Last week Shockey, Thomas, and Graham perfectly trisected a dozen targets, with all of them gaining between 30 and 38 yards.
DT Saints B Even the return of Darren Sharper last week couldn't kick-start this defense.
 

Houston at Indianapolis

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Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Schaub was essentially a bystander during the Arian Foster Show in Week 1. Expect some adjustments on the Indy side which should open things up for Schaub to have at least a solid statistical day.
RB Arian Foster
S2 Foster's 231-yard, three-TD explosion against the Colts in Week 1 had those who bypassed him in their fantasy draft drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse. He hasn't slowed much since, with only one dog of a game (where Derrick Ward stole his TD) along with four more TDs and two 100-yard rushing efforts. It'll be a slightly different story in Indy, where the Colts have yet to allow a running back touchdown and have held talented backs like Jamaal Charles and Ahmad Bradshaw under 90 yards. You can bet a heavy dose of Foster will be on the menu once again, but set your sights lower than his opening day bonanza.
RB Derrick Ward
B The temptation is to think that if Indy was such a soft touch in the season opener and Ward is stealing touchdowns from Foster, surely he'd be a good play here. But Ward's pilfering has come on limited touches—12 in the game where Foster was benched for being late to a meeting, six in the two since then. To trust Ward with a start here you'd be banking on the Texans getting into goal line position and Gary Kubiak yanking Foster in favor of Ward—all in hostile territory against a team that hasn't given up a running back score in their dome since Week 16 of last year. Surely the talent pool isn't that thin, even with six teams on a bye.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Johnson's Week 1 3-33 against Indy was an aberration fueled by Foster's success; he'd hit the century mark in two of his three previous games against the Colts prior to that. Johnson's sore ankle was sound enough for him to put up 233 yards and a touchdown in the two games heading into Houston's bye, and there's no reason he can't come out of the week off just as productive.
WR Kevin Walter S3

The healthier Johnson's ankle has gotten, the less Walter has been a fantasy factor. He scored in the earlier meeting and will certainly be receiving less attention than either Johnson or Foster, but he's a fringe fantasy play at best.

TE Owen Daniels B

For the second straight season the Colts are giving up the fewest fantasy points to tight ends. While Daniels has had an extra week to continue coming back from his knee injury, he's been losing touchdowns to Joel Dreessen and can't be trusted with a fantasy start here.

DT Texans B The Texans have forced just six turnovers and generated 10 sacks; Indy has allowed only six sacks and turned the ball over eight times. If you ever wondered why these games tend to be shootouts, now you know.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

No team has given up more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Texans, and it should come as no surprise that Manning is right there among the leaders when it comes to fantasy points among quarterbacks. If you liked the 433 and 3 he dropped on the Texans in the season opener, you're gonna love what he has in store for the rematch at home with little help expected from a banged-up ground game.

RB Donald Brown
Mike Hart
B With Joseph Addai not expected to be available due to his shoulder injury, Indy will need one or both of these players to step up and fill the void. We haven't seen Brown since Week 3 due to a hamstring injury, but he was back Friday for a limited practice and expects to play on Monday. This sounds for all intents and purposes like a split workload, as it's tough to expect Brown to shoulder a full load in his first game back. And since Indy doesn't run much anyway, a share of a little doesn't project to much fantasy help.
WR Reggie Wayne S1

Wayne may not own the Texans, but with four TDs in his last six games against them he's at minimum leasing with an option to buy. He's not only Manning's favorite target, he's also one of the few healthy Colts' pass catchers—don't sweat the limited practices Thursday and Friday; he's a veteran who doesn't need the reps—and he's facing a defense that's allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

WR Pierre Garçon S2

Garçon is coming off a 103 and 1 effort prior to Indy's bye and, like Wayne, is healthy enough—he rested his hamstring injury Thursday, but he was back at work for a full session Friday— to enjoy all the advantages a matchup with the Texans can provide.

WR Anthony Gonzalez
Blair White
S3

If they're healthy and they're in the Colts' flight pattern, you want them in your fantasy lineup. White is expected to start in the slot, though with no Dallas Clark you can expect more four-WR sets, putting both White and Gonzalez on the field. The perpetually injured Gonzalez practiced fully both Thursday and Friday, so even though the Colts' injury report isn't official yet all indications are he'll be good to go this week. Again: if they're in Indy's flight pattern, especially against the softest secondary in the league, they should be in your fantasy lineup.

TE Jacob Tamme S3

The Texans struggle to stop all tight ends, not just Dallas Clark—who rolled them for 11-80-1 in the season opener. Tamme can't replace everything Clark does, but he'll be filling that spot in the offense and if he gets open Manning will get him the ball. At worst he's a bye-week plug in play with upside and an extremely favorable matchup against the team that's allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends.

DT Colts B The Texans aren't turning the ball over and the Colts aren't forcing turnovers. That's going to make it tough for Indy to generate any defensive fantasy points.

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