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Start/Bench List - Week 13
John Tuvey
Updated: December 3, 2010
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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)
New Orleans at Cincinnati Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees just saw a six-game streak of multiple TD games snapped despite 352 yards against the Cowboys. He’s failed to throw at least two touchdowns just thrice all season, and he hasn’t dipped below 250 passing yards since Week 1. Cincy’s secondary has put up decent numbers of late, holding four of their last five foes (including Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) to one or zero TDs and 217 passing yards or less. However, they’re a bit banged up in the secondary and Brees should be able to find holes to exploit.


Chris Ivory


Someone is likely to have success against a Cincy defense that’s given up 100-plus rushing yards to backs in seven of eight and nine RB rushing TDs in that span. And since we haven’t seen much from Bush and even less from Thomas for quite some time, Ivory is the safest bet. He’d be an even safer fantasy bet if Thomas and/or Bush were ruled out in time for you to set your fantasy lineup.


Pierre Thomas


Thomas estimated himself at 90 percent following Wednesday’s practice, but he was limited all week and is listed as questionable. Since he haven’t played since Week 3, forgive me if I wait until he’s on the field before trusting him with a fantasy start.


Reggie Bush


The Saints really went overboard reintegrating Bush back into their game plan last week. Assuming he’s recovered from those two touches he got, maybe he’ll stretch and get four or so here. Like Thomas, best wait until you actually see something from Bush before banking on any fantasy help from him.

WR Marques Colston S2

Most of the big fantasy numbers the Bengals have given up to wideouts have gone to WR1s, and Colston continues to get the targets that bear him out as the closest thing the Saints have to a WR1.

WR Lance Moore

Cincy hasn’t been above giving up touchdowns and/or decent yardage to secondary targets as well, but that’s also a puzzle for the Saints. Moore wins a split decision by virtue of more targets (28) over the past five games than either Meachem (20) or Henderson (18) and as many touchdowns as Meachaem (2).

WR Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem

You know the drill: on any given Sunday, any Saints receiver can suddenly catch Brees' eye and put up a Jerry Rice kind of day. Playing the odds, it ain't Henderson's or Meachem's turn.

TE Jimmy Graham B Maybe Jeremy Shockey’s back, maybe not; maybe Dave Thomas steals some more looks as well. Against a Cincy D that hasn’t allowed a TE TD since Week 4, it doesn’t matter; the whole cluster of them are bench fodder.
DT Saints S3 A more aggressive Saints D combined with a more mistake-prone Carson Palmer (seven INTs in the last three games) isn’t a bad combo for fantasy success.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer B

Palmer’s streak of seven straight games with multiple TD tosses was bookended by a very good Carolina secondary and a Jets defense sporting a healthy Revis. A date with the toughest defense for fantasy quarterbacks to score on isn’t the place for a new streak to start; he’s at best a fringe starter this week.

RB Cedric Benson S3

After allowing two 100-yard rushers in their first three games, the Saints haven’t allowed one since. They also haven’t allowed a back to top 75 yards since Week 4 and 50 yards since Week 8. That solid stretch of defense has moved their run ranking into the upper half of the league, which doesn’t bode well for Benson; four of his five double-digit fantasy efforts came against bottom-10 run defenses. Though a TD plunge is always a possibility, if you’re looking for more than Ced’s usual 65 or so yards you’ll want to look elsewhere.

WR Terrell Owens
Chad Ochocinco

If you visit other great content on the Huddle site besides the SBL, you may recall last week’s Off Tackle column noting that the top two defenses against wideouts were shutting down elite receivers. One of those defenses was the Saints, who have allowed a grand total of three WR TDs on the season. In a PPR or performance-heavy league you can trot TO and Ocho out and get something from their 7-75 upside, but if you happen to be flush at the receiver position this would be an outstanding opportunity to put that depth to use.

TE Jermaine Gresham B The Saints haven’t allowed a tight end touchdown since Week 3, and not until last week when Jason Witten caught 10 for 99 did an opposing TE so much as top 50 yards. That’s a tough row to hoe for Gresham, who’s still no better than a third option in this passing game. You should examine other options this week.
DT Bengals B They’ve lost to injury most of the few playmakers they had.
Chicago at Detroit Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

The new Mike Martz offense was on full display back in the season opener when Cutler threw for 372 yards and a pair of TDs. But the new look Bears haven’t thrown more than 35 passes in a game since their Week 8 bye, so expect Cutler’s yardage total to take a hit. Despite the reduced attempts Jay still has multiple TD tosses in three of four, while Detroit has allowed seven scoring strikes in the last two games alone, so Cutler’s TD numbers shouldn’t suffer. Even with the renewed run game emphasis, Cutler is still a solid fantasy play here.

RB Matt Forte S1

Forte owners have had this date circled since he blew up the Lions for 201 combo yards and two TDs in the season opener. With the Bears actually running the ball now Forte has picked up some bonus fantasy value in games outside of those with bottom feeding run defenses. This is an old-school Forte fantasy play, though: a matchup with a defense that’s allowed a double-digit fantasy point producer in 8 of 11 games, with two of the three misses only because the carries were split. You’ve waited this long, now enjoy him.


Johnny Knox

S2 The Lions have allowed seven WR TDs in the past two games alone, and with Knox the most consistently targeted Bears receiver he’s also the safest fantasy start.

Devin Hester
Earl Bennett

S3 Seven TDs in two games and the twin trends of Cutler and the Lions’ secondary suggest there will be enough to go around. Bennett and Hester are less reliable, but if you’re in a pinch it’s an extremely favorable matchup.
TE Greg Olsen


Olsen scored in both ends of last season’s matchup but was only lightly used in the season opener. With the offense less Martz-centric of late, Olsen has scored in three of the last four games. Detroit has been solid against tight ends this year, but Olsen is such a red zone fixture for Cutler that he’s a viable fantasy play despite what on paper at least appears to be a difficult matchup.

DT Bears S1 A Bears defense playing extremely well facing off against Drew Stanton? Yeah, baby!
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Stanton B

In his most extensive action this season Stanton didn’t embarrass himself against a top-10 pass defense in throwing for 222 and 1 (plus a pick) against the Giants in New York. Don’t get too reassured, however; the Bears are a top-5 unit that’s allowed only one multiple TD game on the year—and that was to Mike Vick. The best you can hope for from Stanton is that he keeps Calvin Johnson fantasy relevant.

RB Jahvid Best
Maurice Morris

Best capitalized on a short field to score his first two NFL touchdowns in the first end of this season series, but he’s been nursing toe injuries for the last two months. Morris will take a share of the workload—Aaron Brown might as well—but against a Bears D that’s allowed two RB TDs in the past five games there’s not even enough production to go around for one fantasy starter, let alone two.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

The good news is, Stanton at least knows where to find Megatron; he threw three passes to him during his one stint of extended action this season, including an 87-yard touchdown. The bad news is, only four of Stanton’s 34 passes were directed at Johnson. You’d like to see a higher ratio—say, 17 of 34—but it’s better than nothing. Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown against Chicago in the season opener and still looks to be a safe fantasy bet despite the quarterback switch against a Bears defense that’s allowed only six WR TDs on the season, but five of them in the last six games.

WR Nate Burleson B

If you’re even having to debate Megatron being in the lineup, it should be a hint that this is a tough matchup and it’s dangerous to dig deeper.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S3

The Bears allowed their first TE TD of the season last week when a quadruple-teamed Brent Celek somehow came away with the catch, so this isn’t exactly a great matchup. But Pettigrew was targeted seven times by Stanton during his brief appearance, which is more than he was targeted in five full games this year. Young quarterbacks love to bail out to their tight end, which will give Pettigrew even more looks than the ones he already gets as an integral part of his team’s offense. It’s not a great play, but Pettigrew will be a helper in PPR and performance-based leagues.

DT Lions S3 The Lions defense is better than many think, and this is still Jay Cutler we’re talking about here.

San Francisco at Green Bay

Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Troy Smith B

Smith has won three of his four starts, and he’s thrown three touchdowns. So while he’s an NFL winner, fantasy-wise he’s still persona non grata. Don’t expect that to change against a Packers D that ranks seventh in fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks

RB Brian Westbrook B

So you shot your free agent budget on Westbrook? Hope you’re still playing next week when the Niners host Seattle; then you may actually get your money’s worth. Green Bay hasn’t allowed a running back receiving touchdown this year and ranks 28 spots higher than the Arizona defense that let Westbrook have his glory day moment on Monday night. The only backs to have success against the Pack were pounders: Adrian Peterson (28-131-1) and Michael turner (23-110-1). Westbrook never was a pounder; in fact, he’ll likely share duties with Anthony Dixon to the point that neither will provide an immediate return on investment for the waiver wire claim jumpers.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Crabtree has scored in three of four since Troy Smith took over for Alex, but those TDs have come against defenses ranked 14th, 21st, 22nd, and 24th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. The Packers rank fifth and have given up just one WR TD in the past month. Crabtree is San Francisco’s best bet to score, but that’s like saying Snooki is Jersey Shore’s best bet to win an Emmy.
WR Josh Morgan B If Crabtree’s barely a go, Morgan’s definitely a non-starter
TE Vernon Davis B

Not only has Davis not scored with Troy Smith at the helm, he’s been outtargeted, outcaught, and outgained by Delanie Walker. Perhaps introductions are in order, but seeing as the Packers have allowed but three TE TDs all season don’t expect them this week.

DT 49ers B No reason, other than the Packers might drop a fitty-burger on them and that can’t be good in most scoring systems.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Could there be a larger jump in quality from facing Derek Anderson, then six days later facing Rodgers? Talk about a shock to the system. Rodgers averages 266 and 2 at home, but he might be inclined to band on the drum all day a little harder against the team that buried him in the green room in favor of Alex Smith a few years back... unless, of course, he worked all that out of his system with the 344 and 2 he dropped on them at Lambeau last year. Oops, there it is.


Brandon Jackson


The Packers checked, and there’s nothing in the NFL rule book that says they even have to pretend to run. However, despite his obvious lack of talent the Pack has found a way to get Jackson into the end zone in each of their last two home games. If that plus 60 or so yards from scrimmage gets it done for you, feel free to include Jackson in your lineup.

WR Greg Jennings


Jennings is missing practice time this week with a foot injury, but he’s still expected to be on the field Sunday in Green Bay. He’s made a Lambeau Leap in four straight at home, a total of six in his last six games, and has posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts. Only way he’s not in your lineup is if that foot injury is much worse than anticipated.

WR James Jones
Jordy Nelson


With Donald Driver quickly fading to afterthought, Jones and Nelson are stepping up their respective games. They’ll have to work for their fantasy production, though, as the Niners haven’t allowed multiple WRs to score in a game since Week 3. Both are capable of bucking that trend, and both should put up enough yardage to warrant consideration in larger leagues.

DT Packers S1 Wait until Troy Smith gets to meet Clay Mathews and Charles Woodson!
Oakland at San Diego Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Quick, name the last Raiders quarterback to post a fantasy-relevant game (300 yards or two TDs) against the Chargers. If you said Kerry Collins in Week 11 of 2004, congratulations! Frieda will be mailing you the tube socks directly. Campbell has had a fantasy-relevant game as recently as Week 8, but that was against Seattle. The Chargers are throttling quarterbacks, with a Vince Young aberration in Week 8 (wow, must have been a full moon) and Peyton Manning’s pick-fest last week the only fantasy-relevant games they’ve allowed this year. It all adds up to more bench time for the Oakland passing game.

RB Darren McFadden

McFadden missed the front end of this series, but Michael Bush filled in admirably with 104 yards and a score. The Chargers are significantly tougher at home, however; no back has topped 60 rushing yards against them in San Diego. That said, the Bolts have given up a running back TD in three straight at home and McFadden could further salvage his day with some receiving game work as well. It’s another tough matchup for Run DMc, who has done nothing with his last two tough matchups; we’ll give him one more tepid recommendation before jumping on the bandwagon when his schedule lightens significantly over the next few weeks.

RB Michael Bush

If he hasn't seen an uptick in touches the last two weeks despite McFadden's struggles, he's strictly insurance material.


Jacoby Ford


With Gradkowski, there was some vertical to the Raiders offense. Under Campbell that’s a lot less likely. Ford would be the only Oakland wideout you could even remotely consider for a spot in a self-respecting fantasy lineup, but against a San Diego secondary that’s pinching everybody he’s not worth the risk.

TE Zach Miller B

Miller is practicing on a limited basis but he’s clearly bothered by his foot injury. If he gets a full session under his belt by Friday he’ll increase his chances of replicating the 6-64-1 he posted on San Diego in the front end of this series. As for now, you’d be best served looking for a different TE option.

DT Raiders B The Chargers’ special teams mishaps aren’t so far in the rear view that they can be ignored.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

With the rest of the Chargers you have to wait to see who’s healthy enough to play, but at the heart of it all is Rivers. He dropped 431 and two on the Raiders earlier this year and will do the same again if all his backs are beat up. Or he could game manage like he did last week against Indy, throwing just 23 passes as the Bolts coasted to a three-TD win. Thus far this year we’ve had much more of the former, so if you’ve been riding Rivers to this point just say thanks and enjoy the ride.

RB Mike Tolbert
Ryan Mathews
S2 Somebody is going to rock this matchup; unfortunately, with the injuries it might be a combo platter of these backs. A Charger running back has scored in 17 straight games against Oakland, a total of 31 TDs since the start of the 2002 season. Tolbert extended the string back in Week 5, but he’s nursing a hand injury and practiced only on Friday, and then on a limited basis. Maybe Mathews will be ready to to in time step in; he’s missed time with an ankle sprain but practiced fully all week and averaged better than six yards a carry in the earlier meeting with Oakland. Tolbert should still be the guy at the stripe, but his lack of practice suggests Mathews may get an opportunity to make up for lost time.
WR Malcom Floyd S2 Again, there will be points; the only question is who’ll be healthy enough to record them. Right now Floyd appears as if he’ll be in action on Sunday, ready to reprise the 213 and 1 he dropped on Oakland in the front end of the series.
WR Legedu Naanee S3 The Raiders have allowed five WR TDs and two 100-yard outings in just the past three games, so a wingman like Naanee or Seyi Ajirotutu could make fantasy hay here as well. We’ll pencil in Naanee pending the week of practice.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Early indications are Gates will play this week. He hobbled through a limited performance Sunday night in Indy, mustering four catches for 46 yards, and if he’s healthy enough to go this week you know he belongs in your fantasy lineup; set your expectations at another 5-92-1 like he posted in the front end of the series.

DT Chargers S2

The Bolts just pick-sixed Peyton Manning twice; you have to believe they’re capable of picking Jason Campbell’s pocket just as easily.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Much is made of Ryan’s home record, but fantasy-wise he’s every bit as good on the road. He’s had multiple TDs in two straight and three of four away from the Georgia Dome, and he’s topped 250 yards in three of five road trips this season. The Bucs have handled losing teams and struggled with winners; they gave up 235 and 1 to Ryan in Atlanta four weeks ago and 223 and 2 to him in Tampa late last year. He’s on track for a solid 250 and one or two that’s a solid play in any fantasy format.

RB Michael Turner S2

Turner is generally better at home than on the road, but he may make an exception here. After posting 24-107-2 against the Bucs in Atlanta in Week 9, Turner now gets them in Tampa—where they’ve allowed four straight 100-yard rushers. That’s right in Turner’s wheelhouse, though a TD may be a tougher proposition as the Bucs have given up just two RB TDs at home all year—and none in the last three games.

WR Roddy White S2

It’s always a battle with Aqib Talib, especially if you’re a trash-talking official. White has fared okay, scoring in two of his last three against the Bucs but failing to top 70 yards in all three contests. He comes into this off a 5-49 showing against Green Bay, equalling his worst output of the season; the other was against Talib (4-49). Those aren’t overwhelmingly positive trends, but White has done enough to warrant the benefit of the doubt so unless you are dramatically overloaded at wideout he’s still in your lineup.

WR Michael Jenkins B

There's clearly a pecking order in Atlanta, and Jenkins is not in the top portion. And this is not a matchup in which you go beyond that top portion.


Tony Gonzalez


Gonzo has put up a couple good lines in the Atlanta meetings with the Bucs (8-72 this year, 9-83 last year), but he was held to 3-30 in Tampa last season. The Bucs just let Todd Heap get by them for 79 yards and a TD last week, so you can be cautiously optimistic Gonzo still has the wheels to do the same.

DT Falcons B The Bucs tend to take pretty good care of the ball, and the Falcons aren’t doing much to dislodge it. That’s a bad combination for a fantasy defense.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

Freeman is right on the fringe in many ways. He has yet to deliver a signature game that would announce him as a real fantasy threat, but he keeps hanging around with the occasional 250 and 2. The Falcons have let good quarterbacks put up nice numbers (Sam Bradford's 233 and 2, for example), and Freeman is a good quarterback. Don't reach to start him, but neither should you go scraping the bottom of the barrel to replace him.

RB LeGarrette Blount


Blount made his rep beating up bottom-feeding run Ds; the Falcons are anything but. His 13-55 against the Ravens last week should give you an idea of what to expect this week—in short, not enough to help most fantasy clubs.

RB Carnell Williams


Same goes for Caddy, who continues to hang around stealing touches from Blount. There's nothing in this matchup to suggest a team's second backfield option is worthy of fantasy consideration.

WR Mike Williams

The Falcons have allowed 12 WR TDs in the last six games, and Williams is unquestionably Freeman's favorite target. He scored on Atlanta in the earlier meeting and is the Bucs' best bet to do so at home in the rematch.

WR Arrelious Benn

Benn also found the end zone against the Falcons, but he's still too inconsistently involved in the offense to trust with a fantasy start at this critical juncture.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

Winslow has scored twice in three games and remains firmly on Freeman's radar. In larger TE-mandatory leagues, he's still worthy of fantasy consideration.

DT Buccaneers B They don't call him Matty Ice because he makes a ton of mistakes, and these Bucs don't have the horses to force them like the ol' Derrick Brooks Bucs did.

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