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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
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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)
 
 

Atlanta at Tampa Bay

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Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Ryan has been good-not-great in his last three against the Bucs, with 663 yards and five TDs over that span. We saw gliimpses of the new, improved, and more explosive offense last week when Ryan threw for four TDs; this will be a good test as to whether it's here to stay.

RB Michael Turner S1

It's not rocket science: get Turner 20-plus carries and he'll get you big numbers. He's topped that many carries in three of his last four against the Bucs, scoring in each of the three and reaching the century mark twice. Last week Adrian Peterson turned 25 carries into 120 yards and two TDs against Tampa Bay; look for Turner to get a similar workload, with similar results.

WR Roddy White S2

White will battle Aqib Talib here, and he'll need to do better than last year (11 catches on 22 targets, 123 yards in two games) to give fantasy owners bang for their buck.

WR Julio Jones S3

With Talib on White, Jones--who has 14 targets through two games--should see an uptick in looks; last season under similar circumstances Michael Jenkins led the Falcons in receiving in the front end of the season series and scored in the second meeting. The athletic Jones should also be able to translate more looks into more fantasy productivity.

TE

Tony Gonzalez

S3

The Bucs surrendered a TE TD in the opener and were a Donovan McNabb underthrow away from giving up another last week. With Gonzo coming off a two-TD weekend look for his numbers to be much closer to the 8-72 he posted in the first meeting between these squads than the 3-38 follow-up.

DT Falcons S3 The Falcons aren't known for their defense, but they have enough playmakers on that side of the ball to warrant fantasy attention.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

Since a 250 and 2 debut in his first meeting with the Falcons Freeman has been rather quiet, failing to top 190 yards and throwing just four TDs in three games. He's hovered around 250 yards both games this season, and a date with an Atlanta secondary that's surrendered multiple TD tosses in both games this season gives Freeman enough juice to warrant a fantasy start.

RB LeGarrette Blount

S2

After a quiet 13-46 in the front end of this series Blount produced a 20-103-1 in the home end. Coming off a two-TD effort in Minnesota, Blount should see enough carries to provide decent fantasy value.

RB Earnest Graham

B

Should the Bucs be forced to play catch-up Graham would be on the field, as he's the third-down, passing situation, hurry-up offense back. Unfortunately, his touches can't be counted on so he's too great a risk to trust with a fantasy start.

WR Mike Williams
S2

Williams scored in both ends of this season series last year, and he'd have a score in both games this season if not for a penalty that wiped out last week's touchdown. Jeremy Maclin's 171 and 2 prove the Atlanta secondary can be had, and Freeman-to-Williams has had its way with its share of secondaries.

WR Arrelious Benn
B

Benn scored in the front end of last season's series, but he's just not targeted enough to be trusted with a fantasy start.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

Winslow hasn't scored against the Falcons as a Buc, but he's still Josh Freeman's security blanket--a role that translates into solid PPR stats. He's listed as questionable on the injury report, but his knees will likely have him listed as questionable for the remainder of his career. He practiced Thursday and Friday and is expected to play.

DT Buccaneers S3 Aqib Talib is playmaker enough to warrant a fantasy nod for this defense.
 

Arizona at Seattle

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Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb S3

Surprisingly, Seattle hasn't allowed much in the way of fantasy production to quarterbacks thus far; Alex Smith needed a rushing score to salvage any fantasy value and Ben Roethlisberger's 298 and 1 line was ordinary. This isn't a defense to bench Kolb against, but there's no reason to go out of your way to start him either.

RB Chris Wells
S2 Wells scored in the front end of this series last season, then sat out the rematch with an injury while Tim Hightower found the end zone. Beanie has posted back-to-back 90-yard, one-TD efforts and should be counted on for something similar against a defense that let both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman score on them last week. Note that he was limited in practice during the week and is listed as questionable due to a hamstring injury, but Wells has indicated he will play--and who are we to doubt him?
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S1

Fitz's typical game against the Seahawks over the past three seasons has been 7-96, with four TDs and three 100-yard efforts. He's also been targeted 39 times on his last three trips to Seattle. A defense that just gave up 8-126-1 to Mike Wallace should be no match for Fitz.

WR Early Doucet
Andre Roberts
B

Aside from giving up that big game to Wallace, the Seattle secondary hasn't surrendered much; only one other receiver has topped 44 yards. The Cardinals' secondary targets are just that--secondary--and aren't reliable fantasy options here.

TE Jeff King
Todd Heap
B

King has a touchdown in each game thus far this season, but using him here feels like chasing points. Heap is still getting looks, but neither is an integral part of the Arizona game plan.

DT Cardinals S3 Any defense facing Tarvaris Jackson is a fantasy threat.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Arizona has allowed multiple TD tosses in both games this season and a total of 713 passing yards. Jackson, on the other hand, has yet to top 200 yards as a Seahawk. It's a favorable matchup, but there are probably 31 more trustworthy fantasy options.
RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Lynch rushed for 89 yards in the front end of this series last season, then scored in the rematch. He's done absolutely nothing thus far this season, but a home matchup with the same defense that let Tim Hightower and Roy Helu split 170 rushing yards could be enough to kick-start Lynch's fantasy value.

WR

Mike Williams

S3 BMW turned a whopping 33 targets into 22 catches, 232 yards, and a touchdown against the Cardinals last season. With this offense struggling, perhaps Jackson will turn to Williams as his go-to guy. Or perhaps more accurately, go-near guy.
WR

Sidney Rice

B Despite a torn labrum, Rice has been practicing and expects to play this weekend. This offense is struggling to the point that few if any of their offensive players are useable, least of all a banged-up wideout making his regular season Seahawks debut.
TE

Zach Miller

S3 Miller has yet to make a Seattle splash commeasureate with his contract, but perhaps this is the week. He scored on Arizona as a member of the Raiders last season and is facing a defense that's allowed 51-, 78-, and 86-yard games to tight ends already. Behind a porous and injury-ravaged offensive line, Tarvaris Jackson could use a security blanket.
DT Seahawks B The 12th man might help generate some penalties, but this defense isn't a fantasy helper.
 

Green Bay at Chicago

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

The Bears limited Aaron Rodgers to a single TD in each of the regular season meetings and shut him out in the NFC title game, though he rushed for a score in two of those three games. He's been over 300 passing yards and thrown multiple TDs in both games this season; you're not benching him, but maybe you dial the expectations back a shade.

RB

James Starks

S3

Starks has emerged as the lead back in Green Bay's committee, and Chicago has allowed enough in the ground game (10-100 to Michael Turner, 23-92 to the Ingram/Thomas tandem) that even with John Kuhn stealing goal line looks he's a viable fantasy play.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

Two years ago a healthy Grant had success running on the Bears. But the injury has sapped a step and James Starks has sapped his carries, so don't look for that sort of success this time around.

WR Greg Jennings

S2

Jennings has scored in four of his last six against Da Bears and had 97 yards in the game he didn't score in last season. He's scored in both games this season, and the way he and Aaron Rodgers are running the back-shoulder fade a 16-game scoring streak doesn't seem out of the question.

WR Jordy Nelson

S3

While Chicago struggled to clamp down Jennings, they held secondary wideouts to mediocre yardage (Driver 61, Jones 55) and no scores. Nelson has emerged as the Packers' WR2 du jour, and given the streak he and Green Bay are on it's tough to pin him to the bench regardless of opponent.

TE Jermichael Finley

S1

Finley ruined the Bears (9-115) in the first meeting last year, then missed the second due to injury. Chicago has allowed 70-plus yards to both tight ends they've faced this season; Finley should make it three in a row.

DT Packers S2 Green Bay's DST is an every-week start, with the added bonus of facing a banged-up line and Jay Cutler at QB.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Green Bay has surrendered back-to-back 400-yard passing games; ya think Mike Martz is excited? Cutler's numbers against the Pack last season weren't that impressive, but he's off to a solid start and won't come to a shootout unarmed.

RB Matt Forte S2

Forte had 160 and 151 combo yards in his last two against the Pack, including the NFC championship game. He has 207 receiving yards already this season and will face a Green Bay defense that's allowed 235 RB receiving yards on the year. Forte doesn't even need to take a handoff to generate fantasy value.

WR

Johnny Knox

S3 Speed guys Steve Smith (156) and Devery Henderson (100 and 1) have given the Packers fits thus far, and guess what Knox's best trick is?
WR Earl Bennett
Devin Hester

B

The Bears' receiver rotation is still a work in progress, though the torso injury that has Bennett sidelined at least reduces the number of involved parties. Then again, Roy Williams was back at practice and adds another body to the mix. Knox can be mildly trusted to contribute on a consistent basis; no other Bears wideout has reached that point yet.

TE Kellen Davis

B

The position is too lightly used by the Mike Martz offense to be banked on for fantasy points.

DT Bears S2 A good defense, at home, with the added bonus of Devin Hester in the return game.
 

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

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Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Big Ben has been relatively ordinary thus far, with only one TD in each of the first two games. Indy has given up a similar total, in part because teams are busy running on them. There's certainly upside for Roethlisberger here, but the most likely outcome is another decent yardage, minimal TD effort.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

S1

More was expected from Mendenhall last week against the Seahawks; the touchdown was nice, but he ceded 10-49 (and another score) to Isaac Redman. Unless he's sharing again, he should provide those who spent a first-round pick on him with the blow-up game they've been waiting for; after all, opponents have rushed for 167-2 and 96-2 against them thus far this season.

WR Mike Wallace
S2

Wallace has hit triple-digit yardage in five straight and eight of the last 11 regular season games. He'll take his off the top of whatever the Pittsburgh passing game produces.

WR Emmanuel Sanders
Hines Ward
B

Between Wallace's production and the running game and three hands in the leftovers jar, there's just not enough to trust any secondary Steelers receiver with a fantasy start.

DT Steelers S2 They're not quite the Steel Curtain, but against Kerry Collins even this version should do.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

Collins has fallen shy of 200 yards in both of his first two starts as a Colt, with just one TD in each. He threw for 149 and 1 against the Steelers as a Titan last season. Add it up and there's no reason to expect any fantasy help from Kerry this week.

RB Joseph Addai B Addai is full-on sharing carries with Delone Carter; even his work as a pass-catcher isn't enough to salvage fantasy value against the Steelers.
WR Reggie Wayne S2

The Steelers secondary has some issues, and Collins is dependent on Wayne to the point that even with the offense struggling he's able to carve out fantasy value.

WR Pierre Garçon
Austin Collie
B

Gone are the days when you could go three or four deep into the Indy rotation for fantasy help. Without Peyton Manning running the show, you can't even go two WRs deep.

TE Dallas Clark B

The Ravens had some success with their tight ends, and Clark is essentially this team's number two target. He's not nearly the fantasy impact player he was with Manning, and the foot and hamstring injuries that cost him two days of practice this week--including Friday--are enough to send fantasy owners scurrying for another tight end option.

DT Colts B Defense has never been the Colts' strong point, especially when their offense isn't putting any pressure on the opposition.
 

Washington at Dallas

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Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman S2

Rex has thrown for two TDs in each of his two games this season. The Cowboys have given up two passing TDs in each of their two games. And when these clubs met in Week 15 of last season, Grossman threw for 322 yards and four scores. With Dallas still all banged up in the secondary, no reason Rex can't replicate those numbers.

RB

Tim Hightower

S3 It's going to take volume for Hightower to be a fantasy factor this week against a Dallas defense that's allowed a total of 95 running back rushing yards on the season. Hightower didn't get the necessary volume as a Cardinal against Dallas last year, but he's a 20-touch a game guy in Washington; that should be enough to get him fringe fantasy starter numbers.
WR Santana Moss
S2 You know what you're gonna get from Moss, and it doesn't change because it's the Cowboys: the rock-steady receiver has 6-77, 8-72-2, and 8-92 in the last three meetings. Plenty of PPR love, good yardage, and a shot at a touchdown; what more could you ask from your WR2?
WR Jabar Gaffney

S3 Gaffney has 116 yards and a TD in the first two games, turning his wingman role into a fringe fantasy producer.
TE Fred Davis
Chris Cooley
S3

Cooley tallied 11-142-1 in the two-game set with Dallas last season. While he's now sharing looks with Davis, overall production from the tight end position is on the rise as well. The tandem bite into each other's fantasy value, but there's still at least one starter here.

DT Redskins S3 One shot to the ribs and that ball is on the ground; you know the Skins will have a target painted on Romo's flak vest.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Since throwing for 300 and 3 against the Skins in Week 4 of 2008, Romo has been held to just one passing score each of the previous four meetings--and he missed the back end of last season's series due to injury. He's been significantly more productive this season with 687 yards and four TDs in just two games, a good indication he's ready to snap out of that one-TD rut. Despite not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, all indications are that Romo expects to play Monday night. You may want to stash Jon Kitna on your roster just in case, but the upside of Romo against the Redskins suggests this is a risk worth taking.

RB Felix Jones
B

All indications are that Jones will play through his separated shoulder; he even practiced on a limited basis Friday. However, he hasn't played particularly well thus far this season and the expectation is that DeMarco Murray will see an uptick in carries. The Redskins have allowed the opposition's lead back to reach the end zone in each of the first two games, but the reduced workload make Jones too risky to trust on Monday night.

WR Dez Bryant B

The Cowboys sure could use Bryant, especially with Miles Austin out of the mix. The midweek word was "hopeful", but Bryant didn't practice either Thursday or Friday and has officially been deemed a game time decision. With this game being on Monday, you likely have to make a lineup call earlier; in this case the safe bet would be to sit Bryant.

WR Jesse Holley S3

Hey, somebody needs to fill the 7-92-1 void, what Austin has averaged in his last three against the Redskins. Holley, who stepped in for Austin last week and set up the game-winning score, is the most likely candidate.

TE Jason Witten S1

Not that Witten, who has averaged 6-83 in his last five against the Skins with two 100-yard games and two TDs, needed any help. But with Austin and possibly Bryant out, and either Tony Romo anxious to unload the ball before taking any additional shots to the rib cage or Jon Kitna hooking up with his security blanket, Witten will be targeted even more frequently than usual.

DT Cowboys S2 DeMarcus Ware rushing; Rex Grossman throwing. It's a match made in fantasy heaven.

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