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Start/Bench List - Week 11
John Tuvey
Updated: November 19, 2010
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CHI at MIA OAK AT PIT DET at DAL TBB at SFO 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)
Chicago at Miami Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Opposing quarterbacks haven’t exactly struggled against the Dolphins—at least the competent ones haven’t. In fact, the only opposing QBs who didn’t muster multiple touchdowns or at least 225 yards were Trent Edwards, the banged up Titans tandem, and Tom Brady—who stopped throwing after the Pats rolled out to a big lead. Cutler tilts slightly towards competent and will definitely get the opportunity to put up healthy yardage. Touchdowns might be at a premium, but Cutler should still be a viable starter in performance-based scoring systems.

RB Matt Forte B

The only backs to reach triple digits against Miami—Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson—are a significant step up in class from Forte. And while the Dolphins have been slightly softer yardage-wise of late, they’ve still given up just two RB TDs since their Week 5 bye. Forte’s two startable fantasy games have been predictable: facing a bottom-feeding defense; the Dolphins don’t fall into that category, so you can keep Forte on your bench.


Johnny Knox

S3 Miami has surrendered at least one WR TD in every game since Week 5, and Knox has scored two of Oakland’s past three WR TDs so he’s the most likely helper here. Yardage might be a trickier proposition, as the Dolphins haven’t allowed a wideout to top 70 yards since Week 7, so don’t get greedy.

Earl Bennett
Devin Hester

B Don’t expect enough leftovers for secondary members of the Bears’ receiving corps to provide much of fantasy note.
TE Greg Olsen


The Bears have three TE TDs in the past two games, two of them by Olsen. Miami has allowed exactly one tight end (Dustin Keller in Week 3) to inflict any fantasy damage against them, but in a homecoming of sorts for the former Hurricane Olsen could very well usurp Knox for the tight. However, there won’t be enough yardage to offset the risk Olsen doesn’t score, so it’s tough to reward him with a fantasy start.

DT Bears S2 Even on the road, a playmaking defense against an inexperienced quarterback isn’t a bad fantasy play. Mix in Devin Hester’s return game and the Bears DST is a solid option.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen B

The Bears still haven’t allowed multiple passing touchdowns in the same game, and it’s unlikely a third-stringer known more for his ability to run a modified spread than throw the ball changes that. Only quarterbacks who throw at least 40 times have topped 200 yards against Chicago; Thiggy’s career high is 41 attempts, and he hasn’t done that since late in the 2008 season. Tough week for him to join the fray, especially on national television.


Ronnie Brown


On one hand, the Dolphins will likely run the ball more than they have been this year to take some of the offensive pressure off Thigpen. On the other hand, the Bears have been stingy against the run, even on the road where three of their four opponents have failed to crack the 85 yard mark on the ground. Despite the yardage the Bears have allowed RB TDs in three of four away from home, so there’s enough here to make Brown a fringe fantasy play.


Ricky Williams


Yes, Williams outperformed Brown last week and yes, he’s nearly as likely to score as Brown is. But this is far from a great matchup, so starting the junior partner in a backfield committee just isn’t advisable.


Brandon Marshall


If you’re starting Marshall, you’re doing so because there’s a chance Thigpen singles him out as the one receiver who can help him succeed and targets him accordingly. He hasn’t scored since Week 3—heck, no Dolphin receiver has scored since Week 7—and the Bears have given up a total of four WR TDs all year. But they have given up three double-digit catch games, all of which led to triple-digit yardage, and Marshall has been known to put that kind of effort together.


Davonne Bess


A mid-range PPR contributor, Bess will find the going extremely tough against the Chicago secondary. While he’s certainly capable of decent numbers, he’s going to fall behind the running game and Marshall in the pecking order and most times third-string quarterbacks don’t get that far down the list.


Anthony Fasano


Don’t chase Fasano’s big game from a week ago; the Bears haven’t allowed a TE TD yet this season, and with a full week of practice with the first team Thigpen will learn how to find Marshall instead of Fasano.

DT Dolphins S3 Miami’s DST has been nothing special, but the prospect of Cameron Wake tracking down Jay Cutler is too appealing to ignore.
Baltimore at Carolina Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S2

The Panthers have allowed multiple TD tosses in three straight; Flacco can take that one step further, with multiple scoring strikes in four straight and an average of 254 yards per game in that span. About the only thing stopping Flacco here would be an overdose of the Baltimore ground game, but this offense has struck a nice balance of late and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue.

RB Ray Rice S2

Though he hasn’t found the end zone in a month, Rice has triple-digit combo yardage in four of his last five. He should have no trouble getting his again this week, and a Carolina defense that let two Buc backs score on them last week could be just what the doctor ordered for Rice’s scoring slump.

RB Willis McGahee S3

McGahee’s last two TDs have come on the road and he’s seen reduced touches the past couple of games. But Carolina is so punchless offensively that it’s not at all difficult to see second-teamers getting extended looks this week. With everybody back from their bye you shouldn’t need to dip this deep into the talent pool, but if you do it shouldn’t be for naught.

WR Anquan Boldin

Hakeem Nicks tallied a hat trick and Mario Manningham rolled up 85 yards on the Panthers in the season opener; since then they’ve allowed a total of four WR TDs, and no wideout has reached the 80 yard mark. Boldin has scored in three of four and should be able to carve out a viable fantasy game here, but it will be more workmanlike than all-world.

WR Derrick Mason
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Between Mason’s busted finger, Housh’s reduced looks, the Ravens working Donte’ Stallworth back into the mix, and the aforementioned stout Carolina secondary, there are far better places to look for fantasy assistance.


Todd Heap

S1 While the Panthers have had success blanketing wideouts, they’ve been a sieve to tight ends in allowing five TE TDs over the past four games. Heap has scored four times in his past four games and is perfectly suited to exploit this hole in the Carolina coverage.
DT Ravens S2 Whether it’s Jimmy Clausen or Tony Pike or Brian St. Pierre, the Panthers will be throwing a backup quarterback at the Ravens. Somewhere Ed Reed is salivating.
Pos Player SBC Comments

Brian St. Pierre

B Carolina quarterbacks have produced exactly one game of fantasy note this season, so with Jimmy Clausen out and Tony Pike... well, a seventh-round rookie, the Panthers are turning to Daddy Day Care. St. Pierre, who two weeks ago was making PB&Js as a stay-at-home dad, brings voluminous experience—five career passes in eight seasons of clipboard duty—to Carolina. The Ravens defense can smell blood, and Ed Reed is circling...

Mike Goodson

B DeAngelo Williams was placed on IR while Jonathan Stewart and Tyrell Sutton both missed practice Wednesday; that means Goodson is poised for his second straight start. A 100-yard effort against the Bucs is one thing; expecting similar results against a Ravens defense that just held Michael Turner to 39 yards is quite another.
WR Steve Smith B

Clausen hasn’t been able to find Smith consistently; maybe Pike or St. Pierre will change that, but until there’s hard evidence you don’t need to waste a lineup spot on a guy who hasn’t scored since Week 2.

WR David Gettis
Brandon LaFell

The Ravens have allowed some pretty big games to wide receivers this season, but expecting a rookie to turn the trick with another rookie throwing to him is folly.

DT Panthers B Decent secondary play is one thing; creating defensive fantasy points is quite another.

Houston at New York Jets

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3 Since the Jets returned from their bye week with their entire secondary healthy, they’ve surrendered just three passing TDs and a shade over 200 yards per game. Schaub might improve on those numbers if the ground game is unable to get started against the league’s top run defense, but only slightly. At least you know he'll be playing; Schaub spent a day in the hospital earlier in the week, but was back at practice in time to get his reps and will start as usual on Sunday.
RB Arian Foster
S2 Foster isn’t matchup proof, but there’s at least cause for optimism after seeing quality backs like Peyton Hillis (109 and 1), Jahvid Best (88 yards), and Adrian Peterson (108 yards) carve out decent combo-yardage days against the Jets.
WR Andre Johnson S3 Last year’s visit to Revis Island yielded just four catches for 35 yards, so there’s plenty of evidence to suggest AJ is bench fodder. However, the Texans may not have much in the way of alternatives so if there’s no other decent option at your disposal toss Johnson into your lineup and cross your fingers.
WR Kevin Walter B

Walter returned to the radar last week after taking nearly a month off, but it’s one thing to get 90 and a touch against one of the worst secondaries in the league; it’s another thing entirely to scrape together decent fantasy numbers against the Jets secondary.

TE Joel Dreessen B

Maybe a healthy Owen Daniels would warrant a start here, but we’re not likely to see that this season. And stand-ins Dreessen and James Casey aren’t doing enough to warrant consideration against a Jets defense that’s allowed just one TE TD in the past five games and only one tight end in the past seven to top 30 yards.

DT Texans B The Texans haven’t brought much to the table either defensively or in the return game.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S2

No defense has given up more passing yards or passing touchdowns, and with Sanchez toting a streak of three straight games of 250 yards or better into this contest you have to like his chances of giving you some fantasy help.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Shonn Greene

Last year it was Thomas Jones (20-107-2) and Leon Washington (15-60) running all over the Texans. The faces may have changed, but don’t expect the results to. Rex Ryan is getting his 50/50 split, which means that both Gang Green backs should be in line for good fantasy outings.

WR Braylon Edwards
Santonio Holmes


The Texans have allowed at least one WR TD in each of the past five games, and four wideouts have reached triple-digits against them during that span. Last year the Jets got 90 yards from Jerricho Cotchery, who will likely miss this game with a groin injury, and a touchdown from Chansi Stuckey. Given the talent upgrade at wide receiver, as well as Houston’s struggles this season, those feel like baseline numbers for both Edwards and Holmes.

TE Dustin Keller S2

Keller hasn’t scored since Week 4, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been involved in the offense; he’s put up games of 45, 59, and 75 yards since then. A date with a Houston defense that’s allowed four TE TDs in the past three games and 256 yards to the position in that span is just what Keller needs to get back in the saddle.

DT Jets S3 Surprisingly, the Jets haven’t turned their aggressive defense into much in the way of fantasy points.

Buffalo at Cincinnati

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Fitzy’s lofty numbers have plummeted back to earth over the last month, with three straight games of just one TD toss and only one with more than 225 yards. The Bengals aren’t about to help him out; they’ve allowed multiple scoring strikes just once in the past eight games and no quarterback has thrown for 300 yards against them.

RB Fred Jackson S3

Jackson’s resurgence comes at an opportune time; not only are the Bills without the services of the injured C.J. Spiller, they also have a date with a Bengals defense that’s allowed at least one RB TD in seven straight games.

WR Steve Johnson S3

The Bengals can be had for big games, but it usually takes a deep ball to make it happen. That’s more Evans’ area of expertise than Johnson’s, though Steve’s popularity as a red zone target offers a counter-balance. Johnson has been the more targeted receiver, so he gets the narrow nod as a viable fantasy play this week.

WR Lee Evans B

Could Evans get behind the Bengals’ secondary? Absolutely. But pinpointing just when his two or three big games come each season is a lot like playing the lottery. And it’s entirely possible those numbers you’re holding were only good back in Week 7 when Lee went for 105 and three against the Ravens.

DT Bills B Nothing to see here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

Remember last year when the Bills’ secondary was really good? That was then, this is now: Buffalo has allowed multiple passing TDs or 300-plus passing yards in seven of the last eight games. And despite all the shoulder problems and whatnot, Palmer has thrown multiple touchdown passes in six straight games. Shoot him up with the pain killer and trot him out there; TO has something to prove to yet another former team.

RB Cedric Benson S2

Teams that have wanted to run the ball against Buffalo have had success; six opponents rushed 27 or more times against the Bills and averaged 184 yards and a touchdown during the process. The Bengals have gotten away from their run-heavy attack of last season, reaching the 25 attempt mark just three times in 2010; it’s no coincidence that they’re 2-1 in those games and 0-6 otherwise. After missing practice time earlier in the week because of a foot injury suffered last week, Benson practiced fully on Friday and is expected to play. That should allow the Bengals to get him going against a defense that’s given up 639 rushing yards in four road games.

WR Terrell Owens

The Bills have allowed at least one WR TD in eight straight games and have surrendered big outings to the likes of Calvin Johnson (10-128-1), Anquan Boldin (6-92-1) and Braylon Edwards (4-86-1). The Bengals have two receivers capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, but unless last week represented a dramatic shift from the way the rest of the season has gone Owens is the more reliable fantasy option.

WR Chad Ochocinco

The Bengals have had a couple games where both Owens and Ocho put up decent numbers, but for the most part this season has been one or the other. That’s how the Bills have been as well: the top dog gets fed while the rest of the pack goes hungry. Ochocinco is viable as a fantasy starter given the chance he reprises last week’s performance as the Bengals’ alpha, but even against a secondary as soft as Buffalo’s there’s a risk of pedestrian numbers.

TE Jermaine Gresham S2 Buffalo has allowed at least 65 yards or a touchdown to opposing tight ends in eight straight games; in fact, no team has surrendered more TE TDs than the Bills. Gresham reasserted himself as a viable fantasy contributor to the Cincy attack with 9-85-1 last week and has been targeted at least five times in eight of nine games this season. A favorable matchup, an opportunity for points... adds up to a quality fantasy start.
DT Bengals B Cincy’s defense has done little to warrant fantasy consideration.

Oakland at Pittsburgh

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, and Tom Brady chewed up the Steelers for an average of 300 yards and two TDs apiece over the past three games, but you’re hesitant to conclude Campbell will do the same. That’s understandable: his recent three-game run of success came at the expense of three bottom-feeding secondaries, two of them in the Black Hole; this is the Steel Curtain, on the road. In Campbell’s favor is the fact that Oakland will likely struggle to run the ball in Pittsburgh, forcing Campbell to throw more and providing an opportunity for bigger numbers. But on a week where all 32 teams are in action, you’re bound to find a more favorable matchup elsewhere.

RB Darren McFadden

The good news is, the two biggest yardage outings by RBs against the STeelers have come the past two weeks; the bad news is, they were 54 and 87 yards. McFadden will be hard pressed to keep intact his string of seven straight games with triple-digit combo yardage; BenJarvus Green-Ellis (123 yards) is the only back to reach that mark against Pittsburgh this year. It would be tough to bench McFadden, but this matchup is decidedly not in his favor. Start him for the yardage he’s bound to accumulate, but feel free to sit him in TD-heavy scoring systems.

RB Michael Bush

Bush has feasted on leftovers, but against the Steel Curtain those are bound to be slim pickings.


Louis Murphy
Jacoby Ford


Murphy lit up the Steelers for 128 and two last year, but that was part of a 300-yard outing with Bruce Gradkowski at the helm. Ford comes off a 148-yard effort of his own prior to Oakland’s bye. There might be a little yardage for both of these guys—10 different wideouts have amassed at least 50 yards against the Steelers in the last month alone—so if a 60-yard day is a fantasy helper for you, take your pick.

TE Zach Miller B

Miller practiced on a limited basis all week, and he appears set to resume his role as a primary target for Campbell. Prior to last week the Steelers were a stone wall against tight ends; then Rob Gronkowski lit them up for three TDs in prime time. Miller didn’t do much in last year’s matchup despite the Raiders’ gaudy yardage totals, and seeing as last week appears to be an aberration for the Pittsburgh defense it would be tough to count on Miller this week.

DT Raiders B While Oakland’s defense has been better this year, they aren’t exactly churning out fantasy helpers.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Every quarterback not named Matt Hasselbeck has thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Raiders. Obviously, Big Ben is not named Matt Hasselbeck; he also has three TDs in each of his two home games and threw for 278 and two in this matchup a year ago. With his full complement of receivers back, Big Ben should provide quality numbers tempered only by how much the Steelers run on the Raiders.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Mendenhall racked up 103 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against Oakland last year, but don’t be too quick to pencil in an automatic repeat. The Raiders haven’t allowed a running back touchdown in four straight games and prior to the bye held the Chiefs to a combined 85 rushing yards. That said, Mendenhall should get 20-plus carries again, and the Raiders are substantially softer on the road—they’ve allowed 492 rushing yards in four road games—so he’ll at least be a performance league contributor.

WR Hines Ward
Mike Wallace

Ward and Santonio Holmes both lit up the Raiders last year, and with Wallace doing a more-than-serviceable Holmes impression both should be in solid position to offer fantasy assistance this time around as well. Wallace has topped 100 yards in three of his last four and scored in two straight, though it remains to be seen if he or Hines draw Nnamdi Asomugah. The Raiders secondary has holes elsewhere, so expect both Steeler receivers to move around to find them, with both ultimately contributing solid numbers.

TE Heath Miller

Miller saw an uptick in looks last week with Ward on the sidelines. Hines is back, meaning Big Ben has his preferred checkdown option and Miller can go back to being an afterthought.

DT Steelers S2 An aggressive Steel Curtain defense hosting Jason Campbell sounds like a blueprint for defensive fantasy points.

Cleveland at Jacksonville

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

Could we be witness to McCoy’s first real fantasy helper? After earning a split against the NFL elite (beating the Saints and Patriots, losing to Pittsburgh and the Jets), McCoy gets a date with a Jacksonville defense that ranks third in the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Jags have been slightly better of late, limiting the Cowboys to one TD toss (but allowing 379 yards) and holding both the Chiefs and Titans under 200 yards (but giving up multiple touchdowns to each). In a bye week McCoy might earn his first start recommendation, but with all the other options available you’re bound to find something with more upside.

RB Peyton Hillis


When teams haven’t been throwing on the Jaguars, they’ve been running on them: both backs who received at least 20 carries topped 100 yards, and Jacksonville has allowed at least one RB TD in each of the past four games. Twenty is a magic number for Hillis as well in that he’s received 20 or more carries three times and has triple-digit yardage in each of those outings. He’s also scored in every game except one this season, making him not only one of the most consistent fantasy producers this season but also perhaps the single best fantasy play of the week.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Chansi Stuckey

The Jaguars have allowed 100 yards or a touchdown (or both) to every WR1 they’ve faced this year. Here’s the problem: who is Cleveland’s WR1? Probably one of their tight ends, as the Cleveland receiving corps has produced only two games with double-digit fantasy points and they came in Weeks 1 and 2. Again, were this a bye week you could dig this deep but with a full complement of games you can do better.

TE Ben Watson S2

Only a handful of teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Jaguars, and with the Browns devoid of wideouts to take advantage of their secondary expect Watson to step up. He was targeted 10 times against the Jets last week and has seen 25 looks with McCoy at the helm, producing 204 yards and a touchdown; by comparison, Cleveland’s WRs have similar numbers—Massaquoi 181 and 2, Cribbs 235 and 1, Stuckey 246 and 0—for the entire season. If you have to start a Brown and Hillis isn’t an option, Watson is the next most likely candidate.

DT Browns B With Cribbs nursing four dislocated toes, the special teams element is likely off the table. And Cleveland’s defense isn’t doing enough on its own to warrant fantasy consideration.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Garrard has taken serious advantage of the primrose path laid at his feet, throwing multiple touchdowns in each of his last four full games. And here’s another hanging curveball for Garrard to hit out of the park, as the Browns rank seventh in fantasy friendliness to quarterbacks and have allowed multiple TD tosses in four straight as well. Don’t mess with a streak; keep Garrard in your fantasy lineup.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

The Browns are significantly tougher against the run than they used to be, but they’re also softer on the road than at home; they’re also giving up an average of 50 RB receiving yards per game over the past month as well. MoJo sandwiched Jacksonville’s bye week with 100-yard efforts and scored twice last week against the Texans, so he’s hot. And with four of his five touchdowns coming in Jacksonville, Jones-Drew is set to please the home crowd yet again.


Mike Thomas

S2 Thomas has scored in two straight and topped 100 yards in his first game coming out of the bye week. The Browns haven’t been picky aboug giving up touchdowns to multiple wide receivers—they’ve done that twice in the past four games—but Thomas moves to the head of the pack and might house all of Jacksonville's WR looks. With the Jaguars scoring 30 or more points in two straight and four of six, there have been plenty of points to go around; with no other wideouts to spread them to, Thomas is sure to benefit.

Mike Sims-Walker

B Sims-Walker missed practice Wednesday and Thursday before returning for a limited session on Friday, but he's listed as doubtful and not expected to play this week due to a bum ankle.

Marcedes Lewis

S3 Zach Miller scored twice in this matchup a year ago, but that’s primarily because Lewis didn’t play. And while Miller also scored last week, this is still Lewis’ gig. So he should be the one who exploits a Cleveland defense that has given up four TE TDs in the last four games.
DT Jaguars B

McCoy isn’t playing like a rookie, and the Jaguars aren’t playing like a defense that deserves any fantasy attention.

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