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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List: Week 1
John Tuvey
Updated: September 9, 2011
 
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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)
 
 

Minnesota at San Diego

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Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb B

Only one team allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks last season than the Chargers. One is also a pertinent number because it's the number of TD passes McNabb had in 10 of his 13 games. San Diego was similarly stingy, allowing multiple TD tosses just four times last year. If Minnesota is playing from behind in this one McNabb could ring up some yardage, but overall he's too much risk for not enough fantasy reward.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Peterson saw six defense who allowed fewer fanasy points to RBs than the Chargers, blowing two of them up for 130-plus yards and a TD. And the last time he faced the Chargers, all AP did was rush for 296 yards and three TDs. The Vikings will most assuredly give him the ball, and while another NFL record may be asking a bit much he should at least put up helpful fantasy numbers.

WR Percy Harvin

S3

Only the Saints allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers than the Chargers did last season, so this won't be an easy row for Harvin to hoe. But five or more catches in 10 of 13 games last season suggest the Vikings will find a way to get the ball in his hands, increasing his chances of fantasy production.

WR Bernard Berrian

B

While the Vikings would like to use Berrian as a deep threat like they did two seasons ago when he averaged 20 yards a reception, they'll need a line that can give Donovan McNabb enough time for Berrian to get downfield before that plan comes to fruition. There will be weeks where Berrian is a sneaky fantasy play; this isn't one of them.

TE Vishante Shiancoe B

Shiancoe sat out the preseason, robbing him of a chance to get acclimated with Donovan McNabb. There's no question this offense will heavily involve the tight end, but Shiancoe's fantasy upside isn't high enough to plug him into a starting lineup without seeing him get some field time with McNabb first.

DT Vikings B

The Vikings had enough trouble generating turnovers with a full complement of players last year; now they'll be without Kevin Williams, making the task that much more difficult.

San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Rivers came out guns blazing last season with five straight multiple touchdown games. He's money at home, where he averaged 278 and 2 last year. And he'll be facing a Minnesota defense without Kevin Williams and with major questions in the back seven.

RB Ryan Mathews S3 Minnesota can still stop the run, though they'll be missing the entire Williams Wall this week and are less effective on the road. Add that to the opportunities the Chargers will give him and Mathews is at least usable this week.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 While Tolbert will get the goal line carries and third down work, those are two areas the Vikings are still pretty solid in; they didn't allow a RB receiving touchdown last year and only gave up nine RB scores on the season. Still, splitting touches with Ryan Mathews should provide enough opportunities for Tolbert to be a viable fantasy entity.
WR Vincent Jackson S1 Jackson is a mismatch for most corners, but especially for a Minnesota team whose only legit cover corner is the diminutive Antoine Winfield. Still playing for a pay day, and with touchdowns in each of the last wo Week 1 games in which he's suited up, Jackson is well-situated for a quality showing this week.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 Like Jackson, Floyd presents a matchup problem for Minnesota's secondary. He's not the platinum play VJax is, but he's still a fantasy starter against a Vikings defense that let 10 different receiving tandems post a touchdown and/or at least 60 yards last season.
TE Antonio Gates S1

At no point this season will Gates' foot be any healthier. And when healthy, Gates is an elite tight end and a matchup problem like no other.

DT Chargers S2

The Vikings served up five defensive touchdowns last season; McNabb's Redskins abetted defenses for three scores, and the Bolts scored three defensive TDs of their own. Put them all together and the Chargers DST is a solid fantasy play this week.

 

Carolina at Arizona

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Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB

Cam Newton

B At this juncture in his career Newton will be best served turning and handing off to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. He's a threat to swipe the occasional goal line look, but his passing numbers will be such that he won't have much if any fantasy value.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

S2 The Panthers didn't fork over $45 million so Williams could sip Gatorade and watch Jonathan Stewart carry the ball. Expect DeAngelo to resume his role as priority member of Carolina's RBBC, which should provide more than enough opportunity against an Arizona defense that surrendered the second-most fantasy points to running backs last year.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

S3 And even with Williams taking the larger share of the workload, with a soft matchup like this and a rookie at quarterback there will still be more than enough carries for Stewart to carve out fantasy value as well.
WR Steve Smith B

Poor quarterbacking torpedoed Smith's fantasy value last year, and we've seen nothing from Cam Newton to suggest that ship has been righted.

TE Greg Olsen S3

Only two teams allowed more TE TDs last season than the Cardinals, and with Rob Chudzinski directing the Panthers' offense you know the tight ends will be heavily involved. Jeremy Shockey's continued presence keeps a damper on Olsen's fantasy potential, but he's still startable in any TE-mandatory league.

DT Panthers B Carolina's defense seems to lose at least one playmaker every offseason, to the point that there just aren't enough left to make the Panthers a viable fantasy entity.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb S3

Only five teams allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Panthers, so don't overestimate Kolb's fantasy value this week. There's a real possibility the Arizona ground game might get it going, leaving Kolb to throw a few up to Larry Fitzgerald and spend the rest of the afternoon managing the game.

RB Chris Wells
S3 The Panthers ranked sixth in fantasy points surrendered to running backs, and yet all Wells could muster against them was 11 yards on eight carries. Once bitten, twice shy, but Chester Taylor hasn't been in camp long enough to play a significant role here. Or, to put it another way, if Taylor does get a bunch of touches it will have become crystal clear that Wells is a bust. The situation and the matchup say use him, but no hard feelings if you don't.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S1

Fitz has seen the Panthers six times in his career, and while he hasn't scored in the last four matchups he's had at least six catches for at least 66 yards in every single meeting, averaging a robust 7-105 over that span.

WR Andre Roberts
B

The Panthers have actually been quite solid against the pass, with only four teams allowing fewer fantasy points to wideouts last season. Fitz is immune to great defenses, but secondary targets like Roberts are not. Wait for a more favorable matchup before busting out Kevin Kolb's backup plan.

DT Cardinals S2 Arizona surprisingly led the league in return TDs a year ago. Facing a rookie QB on the road in his first NFL start might just give them a leg up on a repeat.
 

Dallas at NY Jets

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Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S3

Despite the presence of Darrell Revis the Jets weren't the shutdown secondary you might expect. In fact, they gave up multiple TD tosses seven times and eight QBs threw for 240 yards or more. Romo will be under seige behind a young and banged up offensive line, but he should still be able to chuck and duck his way to viable fantasy stats.

RB Felix Jones
S3

The good news is, Jones is slated to see the bulk of the work in the Dallas backfield. This week, however, all that work won't add up to much. Only one team allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than the Jets, who were particularly stingy in New York: only two opposing backs found the end zone and Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster were the only visiting runners to top 55 yards. On workload alone Jones is worthy of fantasy consideration, but if you have other options this is a great week to explore them.

WR Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
S3

Austin was limited all week in practice by his troublesome hamstring, but he's listed as probable and should return to action just in time to face off with Darrelle Revis. Or the Jets could throw Revis at Bryant, leaving Antonio Cromartie on Austin. Cromartie is the best-case scenario for either Dallas wideout, but it may be a moot point if the line doesn't provide Tony Romo time to go downfield. The Cowboys wideouts are too talented to keep on your fantasy bench, but this is far from a favorable matchup.

TE Jason Witten S2

With the Jets cornerbacks locked down on the wideouts and Rex Ryan blitzing the Cowboys' offensive line mercilessly, Witten could end up with 20 targets. Clearly, that's not a bad thing.

DT Cowboys B It's Ryan-on-Ryan this week, but Rob is fighting an uphill battle against his brother.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S3

Only the Texans surrendered more fantasy points to quarterbacks last season than the Cowboys, and now Dallas' secondary is banged up. GQ will do plenty of handing off, but even at his paltry completion rate he should be able to do some damage through the air as well.

RB Shonn Greene S2

With the Jets transitioning from LT to Greene, it's time to start thinking about what Greene can do with a 20-plus carry per game workload. He's had that many totes four times before, averaging 110 yards in those contests. The Cowboys offer up a little resistance, but nothing that should dissuade you from plugging Greene into your lineup.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson B

LT hung on for dear life last season, but even he has seen the writing on the wall. Barring injury or an epic fail by Shonn Greene, LT will be little more than a third-down back. His days of fantasy usefullness are over.

WR Santonio Holmes

S1

Giddyup! No team allowed more fantasy points to wideouts last season than the Cowboys, and they'll be without one and possibly both starting cornerbacks for the opener. Holmes scored in four of his last five games and will have free run of the Cowboys' injury-ravaged secondary.

WR Plaxico Burress

S3

While the Jets aren't exactly a passing team, with the Cowboys offering up such little resistance there should even be a little post-prison fantasy love for Plax.

TE Dustin Keller B

Keller brings a 15-game scoreless streak into this contest, but he's too far down on the offensive pecking order to do much if anything about it.

DT Jets S2 Rex Ryan plus sibling rivalry minus experience and multiple regulars from the Dallas offensive line equals copious opportunities for turnovers.
 

New England at Miami

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

The Dolphins held Brady under 200 yards twice last season... and lost both games by a combined score of 79-21. Maybe they should just let Brady pass more. The only thing standing between Brady and bigger fantasy numbers is his own running game.

RB

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

S2

Law Firm scored in both ends of the season series, kicking in a respectable 156 yards on 36 carries as well. Logic suggests he's Bill Belichick's goal line and between-the-tackles guy, at least for the moment. The upside is a couple touchdowns, so may as well use him while you can; eventually Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will gum up the machinery.

RB

Danny Woodhead

B

Woodhead reached the end zone in the front end of the home-and-home with Miami, but his role seems even less secure than Green-Ellis'. He was held to three or fewer catches in seven of the last 10 games, not what you're looking for from a third down back, and while he reached double-digit carries in two of the last three that doesn't project to be his role either. Too much uncertainty here; look elsewhere for a more reliable option.

RB

Stevan Ridley
Shane Vereen

B

You know that eventually these guys are going to factor into the mix. Both are a little dinged up right now, perhaps enough to delay their joining the New England RBBC fray for another week. Those banking on BJGE and Woodhead can only hope.

WR Wes Welker S2 While Welker hasn't scored against his former team since dropping 9-138-2 on them in his first encounter, he's averaged seven catches for 97 yards in seven meetings since switching jerseys. No reason to sit the PPR machine here.
WR Chad Ochocinco S3 There are a lot of mouths to feed in New England, but Belichick and Brady always seem to give everyone enough of a taste to keep them happy. Look for Ocho to get a taste early, lest he take to the Ocho News Network and sound off.
TE Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski
S3 It's another area of the Patriots offense ruled by committee. Hernandez was impressive this preseason and presents significant matchup problems, but it was Gronkowski who took the Dolphins for 6-102-1 in Week 17 of last season. Both have enough fantasy potential to be in lineups in TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Patriots S2 New England scored a defensive touchown in the first meeting between these teams last season; with most of the same players returning on both sides of the ball, there's no reason history can't repeat itself.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S3

In two home starts against the Patriots Henne has two 300-yard games and four passing scores. This one's in South Beach, and against a New England secondary that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks a year ago. Here's hoping the crowd won't serenade Henne with chants of "We want Orton!"

RB

Reggie Bush

S3

New England allowed four RB receiving scores last season, including one to Ricky Williams. So if Bush is to carve out some fantasy value, he has a good matchup to do it with.

RB

Daniel Thomas

B

Not much goal line work for Thomas to do against a team that allowed just eight RB rushing scores last year. And so long as Bush is healthy, the Dolphins will use him in multiple ways--keeping the rookie on the sidelines, both fantasy and otherwise. Thomas' hamstring issue doesn't help, either; he missed Thursday's practice and was limited on Friday.

WR

Brandon Marshall

S2

Marshall posted 10-147 in the two-game set with New England last year, and after a tumultuous offseason he appears to be maturing into the receiver many thought he could be. He'll be Henne's top target, and against a Patriots secondary that's far from shutdown he could be in line for some very good numbers.

WR

Davonne Bess

S3

Bess has scored in three straight against the Patriots, too good of a trend to ignore. He's still a PPR helper as well, with seven or more targets in 13 of 16 games.

DT Dolphins B Tough to bank on Tom Brady making a mistake that will help your fantasy team.
 

Oakland at Denver

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Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell's numbers in the season series last year--442 yards, three TDs--weren't bad. But the game plan will be to run the ball right down the throats of the league's softest run D, which doesn't translate to much in the way of fantasy numbers for the quarterback.

RB Darren McFadden
S1

McFadden was a large part of why the Broncos gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last season, single-handedly taking them for 354 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in the two-game set. Hue Jackson is still calling the shots, and you know he likes to run the ball.

RB Michael Bush
S2

Bush has scored in three straight against the Broncos, a total of four touchdowns while also racking up 233 yards from scrimmage. Against the most fantasy-friendly run defense in the league, there's room for two backs to get fed.

WR

Jacoby Ford
Denarius Moore

B

Ford was last preseason's flavor of the month; this time around it's Moore that's turning heads. The last time the Raiders had a fantasy-relevant receiver Randy Moss was wearing silver and black. In other words, enjoy the ground game and wait for injuries to claim the remaining wide receiver candidates.

DT Raiders B Sans Asomugha, it's tough to see the Raiders defense having any fantasy relevancy.
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3 Orton threw for a pair of scores against an Asomugha-led secondary; now that Oaklands top cover guy is gone, ther should be more than enough room for Orton to work his magic.
RB Knowshon Moreno S3 Moreno did little in the two-game set with Oakland last season, but they're a shaky enough run defense that if he's splitting carries with McGahee he has a legitimate shot at fantasy value.
RB Willis McGahee S3 The last time McGahee saw Oakland he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns. That's setting the bar pretty high, but the Broncos' goal line back should get at least a money shot or two against the ninth-most fantasy friendly defense against running backs.
WR Brandon Lloyd

S3

Lloyd is expected to return to earth this season, but with no Asomugha to get in his way a repeat of the 4-79-1 Lloyd posted against the Raiders in Week 15 is hardly out of the question.

WR Eddie Royal
Eric Decker

B

This just isn't a potent enough offense to make fantasy helpers out of tertiary targets.

DT Broncos S3 The Broncos have some pass rushers healthy and can make a run at Jason Campbell, something that usually leads to fantasy points heading the other way.

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