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Start/Bench List: Week 2
John Tuvey
Updated: September 16, 2011
OAK at BUF SEA at PIT CLE at IND SDC at NEP 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)
Oakland at Buffalo Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

The Raiders are a run-first team; couple that with a cross-country trip and a Bills defense that played pretty well on the road last week and there’s no reason to reach for Campbell here.

RB Darren McFadden

Despite getting blown out KC averaged six yards a carry against the Bills last week. McFadden rolled up 150 (at nearly seven yards a pop) against the Broncos, so a repeat performance wouldn’t surprise.

RB Michael Bush

Most of Bush’s carries came at the end of the game as the Raiders were trying to milk the clock, but he also was on the field (though not used) in goal line situations. Given the extremely favorable matchup and the likelihood he’ll get 8-10 carries, Bush is usable in larger leagues or at a flex spot.


Darrius Heyward-Bey


Oakland’s receiving corps is still a gawd-awful mess. Heyward-Bey was the most targeted, but that didn’t mean much in the way of fantasy production. And it gets worse: he's questionable after missing Friday's practice with a knee injury.

DT Raiders S3 The Raiders’ defensive front gets after the passer, and there’s plenty of team speed here. That might be enough to warrant a road start in larger leagues.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

Oakland has allowed multiple touchdown passes in nine of their last 10 non-AFC West games—and those were with Nnamdi Asomugha. They surrendered 301 and 1 to Kyle Orton last week, and with Fitz coming off a four-TD outing another solid, though likely less spectacular, fantasy outing is in the offing.

RB Fred Jackson S3

The Raiders aren’t as good as the 25 rushing yards allowed last week suggest, but they’ll certainly offer up more resistance than the Chiefs did to Jackson as he rolled up 112 yards last week. He’s still the workhorse and a good not great fantasy play here.

RB C.J. Spiller B

Jackson is still the workhorse, and unless this one gets to garbage time Spiller’s workload will be too light to warrant fantasy consideration.

WR Steve Johnson S2

David Nelson was targeted just as often last week as Johnson was, but Stevie is still the money shot in this passing game. And there's no Asomugha to deal with anymore. Johnson did sit out Thursday's practice with a groin injury but was back for a full session on Friday.

WR David Nelson
Donald Jones

One scored last week and the other matched Stevie Johnson catch for catch and yard for yard. And neither can be counted on to do it again, at least on a consistent basis.

DT Bills S3 Not overly compelling, but the Bills did just throttle another AFC West team in their home stadium and now get a West Coast division mate traveling east. In deeper leagues, that just might be enough.
Green Bay at Carolina Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers was on fire in the season opener; now he gets a defense that let Kevin Kolb throw for 309 and two last week. What’s not to like?


James Starks


He still has to share touches with Ryan Grant, and John Kuhn lurks at the goal line. But he flashed enough in a dozen touches last week to warrant the start here. Any defense that gives up 90 yards and a touch to Beanie Wells can most certainly be had on the ground.


Ryan Grant


Grant’s pass blocking skill will keep him in the mix, but between Starks and Kuhn it’s tough to see him carving out any consistent fantasy value.

WR Greg Jennings


While Rodgers has many options at wide receiver, Jennings is the one constant. Including the playoffs, he has a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in four straight and a score or 97-plus yards in seven of the last eight and 11 of the last 13.

WR Donald Driver
Jordy Nelson


Carolina devoted so much attention to Larry Fitzgerald last week that Early Doucet went for 105 and a touch. Nelson has had back-to-back fantasy helpers and saw the same number of targets as Jennings last week. Driver was thrown to just one fewer time, and he’s overdue to break a nine-game scoreless streak.

TE Jermichael Finley


Arizona, a team that uses the tight end less frequently than the French bathe, got 101 yards and a touchdown from the position last week against Carolina. Finley was limited in practice all week due to an ankle injury, but he's listed as probable. As in, will probably ravage the Panthers.

DT Packers S2 The addition of Randall Cobb to Green Bay’s DST is scary. So is the prospect of what kind of blitz packages the Packers might throw at a rookie quarterback.
Pos Player SBC Comments

Cam Newton

S3 Newton announced his presence with authority last week; now the Packers defense has an opportunity to do the same. What Michael Vick did against Green Bay last season (103 rushing yards in the first meeting, 292 passing and a rushing score in the second) suggests Newton could have some success here. Then again, what Dom Capers throws at him will be master's level stuff compared to Arizona's JV defense.

DeAngelo Williams

B The smart move for Carolina would be to run the ball as much as possible to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. Then again, we thought that was the plan last week in Arizona and Williams touched the ball just 13 times—with disappointing results. An uptick in workload and productivity is anticipated, but with Jeff Otah doubtful due to a concussion it'll be an even tougher battle for Williams to carve out fantasy relevance.

Jonathan Stewart

B For Stewart to get enough carries to have fantasy value you’d have to think the Panthers won’t be playing catch-up to the Green Bay offense.
WR Steve Smith S3

Newton had laser lock on Smith in the season opener. This week, however, so too will Charles Woodson. That’s going to make things significantly tougher for Smith.

WR Brandon LaFell B

The list of strange-but-true items you’d need to buy into to accept LaFell as a fantasy starter is just too long to list here. A repeat of last week’s 4-70—the second-best number of both catches and yardage in LaFell’s pro career—is unlikely… and that’s putting it kindly.

TE Greg Olsen S3

Green Bay has surrendered a tight end touchdown in three straight road games, gave up a score to Jimmy Graham last week, and ranked eighth in fantasy points allowed to the position last season. Oh, and Olsen was Newton’s second-favorite target last week. The only thing keeping Olsen’s fantasy value down is Jeremy Shockey.

DT Panthers B Do you really want to throw this defense in front of the Aaron Rodgers bus?

Arizona at Washington

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb S2

Kolb is familiar with the Redskins from his Philly days, which included a 201 and 1 performance in relief of an injured Michael Vick last season. He topped 300 yards in his first game as a Cardinal, and while a full-on repeat might be too much to ask he’s a good start in his return to DC.

RB Chris Wells
B Wells is coming off his best performance since the 2009 playoffs. Of course, it came at home against a defense that ranked sixth in fantasy points allowed to running backs last season. Now he goes on the road, across the country even, to face a Redskins defense that squeezed the Giants backfield last week. I freely admit to not having much faith in Wells or his offensive line; he’ll need to prove me wrong a couple times before he’s anything more than a matchup play.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

Hakeem Nicks got his (7-122) against the Skins last week, a familiar refrain for a defense that allowed seven 100-yard receivers and ranked fifth in fantasy points surrendered to WRs last year. Fitz is a better receiver than Nicks, every bit as frequently targeted, and in line for a big day this weekend.

WR Early Doucet
Andre Roberts

The Giants consolidated their receiving yards primarily with Nicks, and the Cards would most likely prefer to do the same with Fitz. They’ll throw to secondary targets if they have to, but it appears that against the Skins you don’t have to.

DT Cardinals S3 Arizona keeps finding ways to score defensive touchdowns, and the combination of Patrick Peterson and Rex Grossman makes them at least worthy of consideration this week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman S2

Over their past three games the Cardinals secondary has surrendered multiple touchdowns and an average of 308 passing yards per game to Cam Newton, Alex Smith, and a dual entry of Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee. In other words, anybody can take them. And with Grossman throwing for multiple touchdowns and 300-plus yards in three of his last four, including last week against the Giants, he’s a viable fantasy play.


Tim Hightower

S2 Arizona has surrendered a 100-yard rusher or multiple running back touchdowns—or both—in seven of their last eight on the road. Heading east they’ll find a familiar face, the former Cardinal Hightower, who has already said he intends to drop a “record setting” performance on his former mates. We’ll settle for a quality fantasy start, though something north of the 2.9 yards per carry he averaged last week would be nice, too.
WR Santana Moss
S3 Though Moss didn’t get into the end zone last week he was the most targeted Redskins receiver and churned out a typical (for him) six for 76. Moss is a PPR plugger with a little higher potential for a touchdown this week
WR Jabar Gaffney
Anthony Armstrong
B While Moss wasn’t scoring last week, Gaffney and Armstrong were. That’s a less common occurrence, so even with the friendly matchup you can’t trust either to repeat last week’s score.
TE Fred Davis
Chris Cooley

Mike Shanahan indicated he’ll stick with two tight ends as the Redskins’ base set, so both Davis and Cooley will be on the field plenty—assuming, of course, Cooley’s knee holds up. Cooley is listed as questionable, but it's a classic Shanahan questionable as he's practiced fully all week. The Cardinals ranked ninth in fantasy points surrendered to tight ends last year and gave up seven catches for 129 yards to the position last week. This offense loves to feed the tight end, making both Davis and Cooley quality fantasy plays.

DT Redskins S3 The Skins D got on the board against the Giants last week, and they’ve seen (and picked) Kevin Kolb before.

Baltimore at Tennessee

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S2

The Titans have allowed multiple touchdown passes to their last five non-Jacksonville opponents, so don’t be fooled by the shutout they pitched last week against… Jacksonville. Flacco tore up the Steelers; a date with the Titans shouldn’t be any more difficult.

RB Ray Rice S1

Rice rushed for 107 yards, scored twice, and finished with 149 combo yards last week against Pittsburgh; meanwhile, the Titans were giving up 192 combo yards to Jacksonville, including 97 and 1 to Maurice Jones-Drew. Little standing between MoJo and another outstanding week.

WR Anquan Boldin


The only Raven wideout with a catch last week, Boldin will draw plenty of attention. Doesn’t mean the Titans will be able to stop him.


Lee Evans

S3 Evans made it back from his ankle injury to practice fully on both Thursday and Friday, and he's listed as probable. The Titans will most likely be without safety Chris Hope, which should really open things up down the field--where Evans does his best work.

Ed Dickson

S3 Marcedes Lewis was lightly targeted last week, helping cover the flaws of a Titans defense that allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends a season ago. Ravens tight ends were targeted as frequently as their wideouts last week, with Dickson getting the lion’s share of that work. Sans Evans, Baltimore is potentially down another pass catcher, leaving more on the table for Dickson.
DT Ravens S2 Baltimore got after Ben Roethlisberger to the tune of seven turnovers last week. Tennessee’s offensive line is a better buttress than Pittsburgh’s, but this matchup should still provide scoring opportunities for the rejuvenated Ravens D.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

Hasselbeck’s 263 and two last week came against a very soft Jacksonville secondary; this meeting with the Ravens doesn’t project to be nearly as fantasy friendly. Hass has a dozen picks in his last eight games, so you may want to look into whether or not your league would let you start Ed Reed as a receiver.

RB Chris Johnson S3

You have to think Johnson will get more than nine carries this week; otherwise the Titans might go looking for some money back on that gaudy contract. However, the Ravens limited Rashard Mendenhall, who had the benefit of a full training camp, to just 45 yards on a dozen carries last week so don’t let your expectations run amok.

WR Kenny Britt
S3 Johnson’s slow start has left Britt as the Titans’ primary playmaker, and that’s just what he did—make plays—Week 1 in Jacksonville. He’s now scored in three consecutive games and had at least 85 yards in four straight. Mike Wallace got behind the Ravens for 107 yards last week, and the Titans may have little choice but to ask Britt to do the same here.
WR Nate Washington
B Nate’s upside in his wingman role is something similar to the 6-67 he posted last week or the 5-67 Hines Ward hung on the Ravens in the season opener. Neither is anything to write home about.
TE Jared Cook
B Cook’s one catch for seven yards in Week 1 wasn’t exactly what people were expecting given the hype surrounding him this offseason. Only three teams gave up fewer points to the position last season than the Ravens, and they limited Heath Miller and friends to 3-42 last week. Looks like Cook’s hype train will be delayed at least another week.
DT Titans B No compelling reason to trot the Titans out against a Ravens’ attack that looked to be hitting its stride against Pittsburgh last week.

Seattle at Pittsburgh

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Despite what you saw from Joe Flacco last week, this is still the Steelers’ defense we’re talking about. Jackson hasn’t thrown for 200 yards in a game since Week 17 of the 2008 season, couldn’t reach that number against the 49ers last week, and will spend this week running for his life behind the most inexperienced offensive line the NFL has seen in more than 15 years.
RB Marshawn Lynch B

Over the past three seasons only Ray Rice has topped the century mark against the Steelers. Lynch mustered just 33 yards (at 2.5 yards per carry) against the 49ers; it won’t be any prettier in Pittsburgh.


Sidney Rice

B Rice returned to practice but was limited all week and has been ruled out for the second straight week.

Mike Williams
Golden Tate
Doug Baldwin

B Williams is the most Boldin-like receiver in this bunch, and given Boldin’s success last week you might contemplate giving Williams a start. Don’t; it’s still Tarvaris Jackson throwing the ball.

Zach Miller

B The Steelers have seen Miller as a member of the Raiders each of the past two seasons, and his cumulative 6-52 doesn’t bode well for his success this week.
DT Seahawks B Would you believe the NFL, in its infinite wisdom, assigned to this game the same ref who Seattle fans are convinced cost them the Super Bowl when these clubs met there a few years back? That only matters here if there’s a make-up call or six that lead to a turnover or defensive score. Nah, the NFL doesn’t work that way… does it?
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Last week Alex Smith was unable to exploit a secondary that gave up the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. It’s unlikely Seattle has improved that much in the offseason; give Big Ben a crack at a defense that allowed 19 passing touchdowns in eight road games last year.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Mendenhall was held in check by a fired up Ravens defense last week; the Seahawks defense won’t look anything like what he saw in the season opener. Mendenhall has scored in 11 of his last 13 at home, with four 100-yard efforts in that span. He should pad those numbers with this favorable matchup.

WR Mike Wallace

Wallace got to triple digits against the Ravens; he should have little difficulty replicating that feat against a Seattle defense that ranked third in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and in eight road games gave up 13 WR TDs and allowed three 100-yard receivers and another three to top 90 yards.

WR Hines Ward
Emmanuel Sanders
Antonio Brown

Sanders scored last week while Ward and Brown were targeted as frequently as Wallace. There probably won’t be enough passing production for all three to be fantasy helpers, but the matchup suggests there will be more than Wallace can handle himself so it’s an acceptable risk to plug any Steeler wideout into your starting lineup.

TE Heath Miller B

Vernon Davis could only muster 5-47 against Seattle last week, and he’s substantially more targeted than Miller.

DT Steelers S1 If you’re playing the matchup, it doesn’t get much better than the Steel Curtain at home against Tarvaris Jackson.

Jacksonville at NY Jets

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Luke McCown B

Yes, Tony Romo threw for 342 and two against the Jets; he also has three elite pass catchers at his disposal. The only other quarterback to top 300 yards against Gang Green in the past 14 games is Tom Brady. Asking journeyman McCown to follow in those footsteps is like asking Gary Cherone to follow Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth as the lead singer for Van Halen—and the results are likely to be equally catastrophic.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S3

MoJo hasn’t scored a road rushing touchdown since Week 10 of 2009, when he went for 122 and 1 against the Jets. Gang Green has defended their house extremely well since then, with only AP and Arian Foster topping 55 yards in Gotham and only two opposing backs reaching the end zone. Jones-Drew is about all the Jags’ offense has going for it and he’ll be involved enough to be in your fantasy lineup, but it’ll be to carve out some points rather than blow up big.


Deji Karim

B We saw a surprising number of touches for Karim last week; heck, even MoJo was a little put off by the chunk of workload he forked over. Not that a repeat is to be expected, but even if Karim does get significant touches success against the stout Jets D is extremely unlikely.

Mike Thomas

B Since Thomas is what passes for a WR1 in Jacksonville, he’ll draw Darrelle Revis. Lucky him.

Jason Hill

B Hill is doubtful with a hip injury. If that throws your lineup into chaos, you may want to look for a new hobby--or at minimum some better wide receivers.

Marcedes Lewis

S3 The Jets’ shutdown corners should have the wides locked down, leaving Lewis as the only real option for McCown. After watching Jason Witten go for 110 yards last week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Lewis cobble together useful fantasy numbers this week.
DT Jaguars B

No compelling reason to trust the Jacksonville defense with a fantasy start on the road here.

New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S2

The pickings may not be quite as easy as they were against the banged up Cowboys secondary, but the Jaguars are far from a shutdown unit. They gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks a year ago and surrendered 263 and two to Matt Hasselbeck last week. It’s another quality opportunity for GQ to strut his stuff.

RB Shonn Greene S3

Greene still hasn’t demonstrated the ability to take the feature back job in New York and run with it. Jacksonville showed well against Chris Johnson last week, so it may not be as easy for Greene to get going as it initially appeared. He’s still a good start against a defense that isn’t dramatically different from the unit that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs last year; just not a great one.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson B

LT has clearly lost a step, but he’s still around to pick up the pieces if Greene falters. Mostly, though, he’s just a third-down back and there doesn’t project to be enough for him to do this week to make some fantasy hay.

WR Santonio Holmes


Kenny Britt got behind the Jags to the tune of 136 yards and two touchdowns, and if Holmes were healthy the Jets would give him ample opportunity to do the same. However, he was limited in practice both Thursday and Friday by knee and quadriceps injuries; sounds as if the Jets aren't expecting him to play, so you need to make other plans as well.

WR Plaxico Burress


Plax doesn’t have to be the deep threat in New York; he can use his size to be the red zone guy. And against a Jacksonville defense that allowed the fifth-most WR TDs last year, Plax will be working in that very role on Sunday.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Is it possible the Jags have transformed from the third-worst defense against tight ends to a shutdown unit against the position? Or did Jared Cook just lay an egg on his own? Keller snapped a 15-game scoreless streak last week and was targeted eight times, so he’ll at least get chances to test this new iteration of the Jags. Have to say, I like his chances.

DT Jets S1 One of the Ryan brothers against one of the McCown brothers. Rex in a landslide.

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