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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List: Week 3
John Tuvey
Updated: September 23, 2011
 
NE at BUF HOU at NOS NYJ at OAK ARI at SEA Start/Bench List by Position
JAC at CAR DET at MIN BAL at STL GBP at CHI
UPDATES
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DEN at TEN MIA at CLE KCC at SDC PIT at IND
NYG at PHI SFO at CIN ATL at TBB WAS at DAL
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)
 
 
Miami at Cleveland Back to top
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Henne’s 170 and 1 against Houston last week was a lot closer to what we should expect from him than the 416 and 2 Week 1 shootout. The Browns have surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and have a better secondary than many give them credit for. Looks like another down week for Henne.

RB

Daniel Thomas

S2

Cedric Benson hammered out 121 and 1; the Colts, of all teams, banged out 110 rushing yards on 25 carries. Surely the Dolphins, who got 107 yards from 18 Thomas carries last week, were paying attention.

RB

Reggie Bush

S3

The Dolphins dialed Bush’s touches back dramatically, from 20 in Week 1 to just seven last week. Expect him to settle into the 10-12 range, which against the Browns should be enough to make Reggie at minimum a PPR helper.

WR

Brandon Marshall

S2

Marshall missed last season’s meeting with Cleveland, so he hasn’t had the opportunity to get acquainted with underrated cover corner Joe Haden. He’ll spend plenty of time with him on Sunday, but he should still get double-digit targets and do enough with them to make a good fantasy play.

WR

Davonne Bess
Brian Hartline

B

There is upside here, as Cleveland’s first two opponents have thrown more to secondary receivers than their primary (due to the Joe Haden factor). But Harline and Bess will likely split Marshall’s leftovers, with the result not quite enough to trust with a fantasy start.

TE

Anthony Fasano

S3

Feeling lucky? The Browns have allowed a TE TD in each game this season, and Fasano did have a 5-82 in Week 1 before being ignored last week. In larger leagues that require a TE, Fasano is an intriguing matchup play.

DT Dolphins B An underwhelming defense on the road against a conservative offense; not exactly a recipe for fantasy points.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

McCoy is right on the cusp of usability this week. You know he’s going to get you a couple hundred yards and a touchdown, and against a defense that’s allowed 747 and six through two games he might get just a little bit more. Were this a bye week that might be enough to warrant an S, but it’s not so a B he gets.

RB Peyton Hillis

S2

Miami hasn’t exactly shut anybody down on the ground; Ben Tate rolled up 103 last week and the Patriots tag-teamed for 103 and 1 in the opener. Mix in the five catches Hillis brings to the table and you’ve got yourself a productive fantasy play.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Greg Little
B

The Dolphins have surrendered three 90-yard receivers already this season, but nothing in the Browns’ WR corps is in the same league as Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, or even Deion Branch. Massaquoi was limited in practice this week by an ankle injury, which could give Little a slight bump if you're scraping for help at the position.

TE Ben Watson
Evan Moore
S3

The Browns have targeted tight ends 23 times this season, with three TDs already on the board. Facing a defense that’s allowed 17-223-3 to the position already this year, the only thing holding back the fantasy value of Moore and Watson is the fact that they’re sharing looks—with Alex Smith potentially in the mix as well. Moore is the guy Cleveland likes to create mismatches with in the red zone, while Watson is the more helpful PPR guy.

DT Browns S3 Josh Cribbs makes the Browns start-worthy in any scoring system that includes special teams touchdowns.
 
San Francisco at Cincinnati Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

The Bengals have allowed multiple TD tosses to both QBs they’ve faced this season, and that’s still not enough to get us fired up about Alex Smith.

RB Frank Gore S3

On the bright side, you know Gore is going to get the touches. Willis McGahee turned those touches into a 100-yard day and a touchdown against the Bengals, while Peyton Hillis had to settle for 87 combo yards. Gore doesn’t have a whole lot to show for his touches thus far this year, but on sheer volume he’s worthy of fantasy consideration here.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Opposing WR1s have fared fine against Cincy thus far this season, and we’re hardly talking top-shelf WR1s: Mohamed Massaquoi had 77 yards and Eric Decker, stepping in for Brandon Lloyd, produced 113 and 2. Crabtree has but one catch this season, but with Braylon Edwards out the Niners don’t have anyone left to throw to (no offense to Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn, and/or Kyle Williams). However, he's still battling his perpetual foot problems so double-check his injury status before trusting him with a fantasy start.
TE Vernon Davis S3

Davis was reduced to blocking last week while Delanie Walker stole his targets and his touchdown. The Bengals let both Cleveland tight ends find the end zone in the season opener, and you have to believe Jim Harbaugh won’t have his most productive pass catcher spend another Sunday pretending to be an offensive tackle.

DT 49ers S3 You could make a case that Ted Ginn’s return to Ohio is worthy of a start in leagues where kick and punt return TDs count.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S3

Tarvaris Jackson threw for two TDs against this secondary, so Dalton is certainly in play. The Niners are fresh off giving up 432 yards and three TDs to a one-lunged Tony Romo with a smattering of Jon Kitna mixed in, so coming off a 332 and 2 coming out party Dalton is most definitely in play.

RB Cedric Benson B

Tough to give Benson a B on his home turf when you know the magic number is 21—as in, give Ced 21 carries and he’s going to give you fantasy numbers. But the Niners haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 11 of 2009 and haven’t even allowed a 40-yard rusher this season. Benson couldn’t get it going against a soft Broncos D, no reason to think he’ll do much more against a much tougher Niners lineup. There's also talk that with Benson facing a three-game suspension in the coming weeks that Cincy will want to test drive Bernard Scott (and perhaps Brian Leonard as well), further dampening Benson's fantasy chances.

WR A.J. Green
S2

A.J.’s first pro TD was a fluke; last week’s 10-124-1 was a statement. Facing the same defense that couldn’t locate Miles Austin (9-143-1), look for Green to add an exclamation point this week.

WR Jerome Simpson
B

All the fantasy potential wrapped up in Simpson's fast start (18 targets turned into 180 yards) went up in smoke when a package of pot arrived on his doorstep. Simpson hasn't been ruled out yet, but he was not at practice Thursday or Friday; the next time he suits up it may be in a different orange outfit. Only the Bengals...

WR Andre Caldwell
S2

Simpson's stupidity opens the door for Caldwell to capitalize on perhaps the best WR2 fantasy opportunity of the week, facing a defense that’s already let nobodies like Doug Baldwin (4-83-1) and Jesse Holley (3-96) have their way with them.

TE Jermaine Gresham S3 Gresham should see an uptick in targets with slot guy Jordan Shipley done for the season, to the point that a poor man’s Jason Witten (who had 7-102 against the Niners last week) kind of day can be expected.
DT Bengals B Normally any defense against Alex Smith is a good fantasy play, but there’s just nothing compelling about the Cincy D to warrant such consideration.
 

NY Jets at Oakland

Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S3

Sanchez has two TD tosses in each of the first two games, and with the o-line beat up and the ground game still sputtering he’ll be asked to carry this offense once again. A matchup with an Oakland secondary that served up 304 yards to Kyle Orton and three TDs to Ryan Fitzpatrick will make the carrying much more manageable.

RB Shonn Greene S3

Between the banged up offensive line and the lack of carries—history suggests Shonn needs about 20 to churn out fantasy numbers; he’s averaging around 13 thus far this season—Green is a fringe start at best. Yes, even against a defense that just got shredded by Fred Jackson and the Bills.

WR Santonio Holmes

S2

Three wideouts have topped 80 yards against the Raiders’ Nnamdi-less secondary; two have scored. Only the blowout score kept Holmes from running up big numbers against the Jaguars; perhaps he’ll have a chance to make amends here.

WR Plaxico Burress

B

The Jets threw a lot at Plax in prime time Week 1, but since then he’s been kind of an afterthought. He ranks behind Holmes, Keller, and the entire running game in the offensive pecking order, so he’s tough to trust with a fantasy start.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller is getting WR2 looks (14 targets, 11 catches, 162 yards, and two TDs) in this offense. Against a defense that just let Scott Chandler score, you have to like his chances.

DT Jets S3 A Rex Ryan defense makes enough plays to warrant every-week starter status, regardless of opponent or venue.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Yes, he threw for 323 and 2 last week. Yes, the Jets gave up 342 and 2 to Tony Romo. No, one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. Campbell has built fantasy value on a pair of rushing scores, but he’s not to be trusted with a fantasy start against the Jets.

RB Darren McFadden
S2

You may need to lower your expectations a bit, but McFadden is too good to bench even against the mighty Jets. In fact, the mighty Jets let Felix Jones score in Week 1 and surrendered 107 combo yards to Maurice Jones-Drew last week so there’s plenty of room for Run DMC to get his.

RB Michael Bush
B

Bush, on the other hand, isn’t as likely to get the opportunities and would require a goal line look or two to turn limited touches into fantasy value. And against the Jets, even that is far from a sure thing.

WR

Danarius Moore

B

Rookie, meet Revis. End of story.

DT Raiders B Speed on defense, to be sure, but best wait until a more favorable matchup to unleash the Raiders on your fantasy league.
 
Baltimore at St. Louis Back to top
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco has been okay, and he gets a nudge across that start/don’t start hump he frequently straddles thanks to a Rams defense that’s allowed multiple passing touchdowns in each of its two games thus far.

RB Ray Rice S1

Versatile backs have had their way with the Rams thus far: McCoy’s 137 combo yards and two TDs, Bradshaw’s 104 (with Jacobs stealing another 67 and a touch). Rice had at least 96 yards from scrimmage and a TD in both of his games thus far; no reason to think that roll ends in St. Louis.

WR Anquan Boldin

S2

The most-targeted opposing receiver has found the end zone in each of St. Loo’s first two games, and Boldin is unquestionably the most targeted Baltimore wideout.

WR

Lee Evans

B Probably not enough left over after Rice and Boldin take their cuts, though Lee is always a threat for the long ball.
TE

Ed Dickson

B He’s still sharing too many looks with Dennis Pitta, and the Rams have surrendered only two TE catches on the year.
DT Ravens S3 Ed Reed is always a threat, though we’d prefer to see Week 1 Baltimore rather than Week 2 Baltimore.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford S3

He may be without Steven Jackson again, though Bradford has never shied away from carrying this offense. Against a stout Ravens defense, however, the upside is good yardage and a touchdown; that’s not enough to get the fantasy juices flowing.

RB Steven Jackson B

Jackson practiced on a limited basis this week and will be a game-time decision for the second straight week. Last week he couldn't complete a 40-yard run in pregame warmups and ruled himself out. This week he may be closer to playing, but it's a late afternoon start so you may need to make your own lineup decision earlier. Even a full-go Jackson would be a tough start against a Baltimore defense that held Rashard Mendenhall to 45 yards and Chris Johnson to 53, so the recommendation is find another option.

RB Carnell Williams B

No, Caddy’s not an option even if Jackson sits this one out.

WR

Mike Sims-Walker
Danario Alexander

S3

There’s room in this secondary, as evidenced by 107 yards from Mike Wallace, 135 from Kenny Britt, 99 from Nate Washington, even 67 from Hines Ward. The question is, who’s up on the Rams’ receiver carousel? MSW was the most targeted last week, while Alexander was the most productive. Both are risky plays, but there’s also upside.

DT Rams B Nothing to get worked up about here.
 
Kansas City at San Diego Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel B

The Chiefs mustered all of 116 passing yards in the two-game set with San Diego. Cassel, who was responsible for 68 and a touchdown in the front end of the series, has but 252 yards and a score in two games thus far this season. You might be thinking the Chiefs will need to throw without Jamaal Charles to rely upon; just don’t think that translates to fantasy value for Cassel.

RB Dexter McCluster
B You likely paid a pretty penny for McCluster in the free agent pool, and you’re desperately trying to make a case for him as a fantasy starter, someone to replace Jamaal Charles’ explosiveness in the lineup. But this offense is in such disarray that doing so is too risky to recommend here.
RB Thomas Jones
B

Jones may get more carries now, but at three yards a carry it just doesn’t matter.

WR

Dwayne Bowe

B

Which of Bowe’s catches vs. San Diego last season did you like most: his 1-13 in the season opener or his 1-3 in the rematch? Bowe’s best-case scenario is something like the 3-26-1 Michael Jenkins posted on them in the season opener; that’s just not enough upside to warrant trusting him with a fantasy start.

DT Chiefs B Nothing to see here; move along.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Rivers has multiple TDs in each of his first two games and had two in each end of the season series with KC last year; in fact, he’s had multiple touchdown tosses in each of his last six against Kansas City. This iteration of the Chiefs is more than willing to play along; they’ve given up four scoring strikes in each of their first two games. Like they say in the beer commercial: it doesn’t get any better than this.

RB Ryan Mathews
Mike Tolbert
S2 There were plenty of touches to go around the last time these clubs got together, with both Bolts backs seeing 16 carries for 65 or more yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs aren’t stopping anybody on the ground, so expect another shared dominance from San Diego’s backfield tandem.
WR Vincent Jackson S1 Both of the WR1s the Chiefs have faced thus far this season have scored; in fact, Calvin Johnson scored twice. This feels a whole lot more like V-Jax’s 142 and 1 against KC in 2009 than the 2-29 he struggled to last season in his second game back from his holdout.
WR Malcom Floyd B Floyd did not practice all week because of his groin injury and is not expected to play on Sunday. Patrick Crayton will be asked to fill in, but it'd be a reach to consider him for a fantasy start.
TE Antonio Gates S1

Fresh off being blanked by the Patriots, Gates sees the friendly faces of the Chiefs—a team he’s torched for 194 and three in his last two against them. And seeing as they’ve already allowed touchdowns to the likes of Scott Chandler and Tony Scheffler, they’re ready for a serious Gates beat down. Now all Antonio has to do is shake off the foot injury that appears to have reared its ugly head once again and he’s good to go.

DT Chargers S3

Hey, why not? Everybody else is kicking the Chiefs while they’re down.

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