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Start/Bench List: Week 4
John Tuvey
Updated: September 30, 2011
CAR at CHI MIN at KCC TEN at CLE NEP at OAK 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)

Miami at San Diego

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S3

After his first-week flash, Henne has been mostly ordinary. He'll get an assist from a San Diego secondary that's allowed multiple TD passes each of the past two games, but don't get your hopes too high; he's a fringe fantasy play at best.


Daniel Thomas


Thomas has posted back-to-back solid outings to launch his NFL career, even mixing in some receiving work as well. But the hamstring injury that bothered him during the preseason and kept him out Week 1 has flared up again. He didn't practice on Friday and is iffy at best for this matchup with a San Diego defense that has given up just one RB TD.


Reggie Bush


While talk that the Dolphins' signing of Steve Slaton is a sign of their dissatisfaction with Bush might be a tad aggressive, there's no question Reggie is no longer the lead dog in this backfield. In fact, his touches have been reduced to the point where he's no longer a reliable fantasy helper. If Thomas can't go, Bush will either be overworked in a non-favorable matchup or share touches with Lex Hilliard and Slaton; neither bodes well for fantasy production.


Brandon Marshall


There's no Joe Haden on the San Diego roster; in fact, WR1s have all gotten theirs against the Bolts, from Deion Branch's 129 yards to Dwayne Bowe's touchdown. Marshall is better than either, so he'll get his and then some.


Davonne Bess
Brian Hartline


And it hasn't just been WR1s putting up points on the Bolts; second receivers have topped 45 yards thrice in the last two games. Bess is the better PPR play, Hartline the more likely to score; both are at least worthy of consideration in larger leagues.


Anthony Fasano


Fasano has just one catch since Week 1, but against a defense that's allowed four TE TDs in the last two weeks he's a viable option if you're down Antonio Gates this week.

DT Dolphins B No team defense has scored fewer fantasy points than the Dolphins.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

The Dolphins have allowed multiple touchdowns in every game this season; Rivers was on a similar pace until last week's hiccup against the Chiefs. He'll get back in the saddle at home against Miami.

RB Ryan Mathews S3 Mathews jumped to the fore of the Bolts' backfield rotation with 21-98-2 on the ground and another 51 receiving last week. Miami has given up just one RB TD, but three backs have topped 65 yards against them. If he winds up with that much of the workload again he's an S2; settle for the S3 this week, but it looks like we're getting the Mathews we thought we would get last year.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 Still the goal line guy, still involved in the passing game, but the upside appears to be shoved under the bed until Mathews loses his grip on the job. There's still enough here for a fantasy start, though.
WR Vincent Jackson S1 The Dolphins hae given up five WR TDs and three 90-yard games, most of those numbers going to the opposing WR1s. With Gates out of the mix, Jackson becomes the unquestioned go-to guy--and Rivers will most definitely go to him. Don't sweat his missed practices earlier in the week; VJax was back at work on Friday and will be Philip Rivers' go-to guy Sunday.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 Floyd played through a groin injury last week and while limited during the week was back at practice on Friday. With Miami's secondary in shambles there's an opportunity for him to contribute to fantasy bottom lines this week.
TE Randy McMichael S3

Gates would have owned this matchup, but McMike has every opportunity to at least rent it--lease, with an option to buy. The Phins have allowed three TE TDs and three tight ends to top 60 yards against them, numbers absolutely in play for McMichael.

DT Chargers B

We haven't seen much from the Chargers defense that would compell us to plug them into a fantasy lineup.


New England at Oakland

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Oakland is allowing an average of 312 yards and two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. And quite frankly, if that's all Brady—who is averaging 442 and 4—musters we'll be incredibly disappointed.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Fred Jackson banged out a nice game against Oakland, but the Raiders were stout in their other two outings. Law Firm has struggled of late in goal line and short yardage situations, to the point that Steven Ridley got carries last week. It's too early to think BJGE has lost his job, but it's not a promising situation for him this week.


Danny Woodhead


Why Woodhead and not BJGE? Woodhead offers a change of pace back that doesn't try to match the physical Oakland defense brute for brute. The Patriots haven't been afraid to run him between the tackles at the stripe--but from shotgun formations; he's also better suited to take advantage of a defense that just gave up 116 receiving yards to LT and has allowed two RB receiving scores already this season.

WR Wes Welker S1 No Nnamdi + a guy who's targeted double-digit times = another week of big numbers.
WR Deion Branch S3 Oakland is giving up 173 yards per game to wideouts, and Welker can't take them all. Expect Branch to get back in the saddle after last week's goose-egg.
TE Rob Gronkowski S2 Dustin Keller racked up 87 yards last week against Oakland; Scott Chandler scored the week before. Put them together and you've got a typical Gronk outing.
TE Aaron Hernandez B There was the possibility earlier in the week that Hernandez might return to action, but now it sounds like he won't even make the trip to Oakland. Maybe next week.
DT Patriots B As far as the Patriots are concerned, the best defense is a high-scoring offense.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

Campbell acquitted himself well in a shootout with Buffalo in Week 2, and the numbers posted by QBs against New England--416 and 2, 378 and 2, 369 and 2--suggest this will indeed be a shootout. Mix in the shot at a rushing score and Campbell is a low-end fantasy starter this week.

RB Darren McFadden

Check the combo yardage totals against New England thus far this year: 94 and 1, 126 and 1, 83, and 161 and 1. Those are just appetizers for McFadden, whose numbers have been 156, 143 and 2, and 178 and 2. Gentlemen, start your engines.

RB Michael Bush

Bush has scored in consecutive games and is making a living off of McFadden's scraps. There's also the possibility that McFadden exits early, like he did last week with a mild groin injury. In this matchup, that confluence constitutes enough for a fantasy start.


Danarius Moore
Jacoby Ford


As you might expect, New England's shootouts have yielded big receiver numbers for the opposition; six different wideouts have topped 80 yards against the Pats. The Raiders have made an effort to get the ball into Moore's hands, and with Ford coming back they actually have a pair of receivers who deserve fantasy consideration.

DT Raiders B Oakland has a physical defense that will try to grapple with the speed and precision of the Patriots. It's not likely to be pretty, or yield much in the way of defensive fantasy points.

Denver at Green Bay

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2 Orton's yardage has been off the past couple weeks but he does have multiple scoring strikes in back-to-back games. And the norm in keeping up with the Packers has been 383 yards and two scores, so Kyle's gonna have to hustle.
RB Willis McGahee S3 One of the by-products of a potent offense: a defense that's only seen 40 rushing attempts in three games. The Packers have allowed 315 RB receiving yards, however, so McGahee could salvage some value that way.  He's a tricky start, but it's not as if No Show is going to siphon off touches.
RB Knowshon Moreno B We haven't seen Moreno since his 8-22 performance in Week 1. He practiced this week and is expected to play, but he'll see at best a reduced role.
WR Brandon Lloyd


Lloyd is still Denver's WR1, though his first week back from injury saw him taking a back seat to Decker. He should return to the front of the sled this week and put up his usual solid digits against a Green Bay secondary that's already allowed four wideouts to top 80 yards and four to reach the end zone.

WR Eric Decker


Decker was actually more targeted than Lloyd last week. If Charles Woodson opts to shadow Lloyd, he could end up with a similar edge this week. Either way, with Denver likely having to throw to keep pace there should be plenty of balls to go around.

TE Daniel Fells


Fells is too infrequently targeted to trust with a fantasy start.

DT Broncos B Despite the return of several key members, the Broncos is not a defense you want to throw in front of the Green Bay bus.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Rodgers is a lock for 300 yards and multiple scores, as he's been every week thus far this season. The Broncos just allowed similar stats to Andy Dalton and Matt Hasselbeck, so it's clear sailing for Rodgers.


James Starks


Since you can't really tape up a bruised kidney, Ryan Grant has been ruled out. That means this is Stark's gig to run with; double-digit carries against this defense should yield a solid fantasy outing.


Alex Green


With Ryan Grant out we may get to see the speedy rookie in a complementary role. Doesn't feel like he'll see enough touches to warrant a fantasy play, but he's worth keeping an eye on.

WR Greg Jennings


The return of Champ Bailey might shore up a defense that's allowed 124 and 1 to A.J. Green and 92 and 1 to Nate Washington. But even Champ isn't enough to scare fantasy owners off from Jennings and his lethal back-shoulder fade connection with Rodgers.

WR Jordy Nelson


The Bengals produced two 100-yard receivers against Denver; surely the Packers can wring two fantasy helpers out of their potent passing game.

TE Jermichael Finley


Finley is a matchup nightmare and Rodgers' security blanket. He'll get his, regardless of matchup. This one in particular doesn't project to be as soft as last week's against Chicago, but the Broncos did allow Daniel Graham to score and Craig Stevens to bust off 58 yards against them so you're still fine.

DT Packers S2 Between their defensive playmakers and Randall Cobb in the return game, Green Bay's DST is an every-week fantasy start.

NY Jets at Baltimore

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S3

Sanchez has been throwing more than usual this season, to the tune of two 300-yard games and three multiple-touchdown outings. However, temper your expectations against a Baltimore defense that's allowed just one TD pass a game this year and held Sanchez to 10-21-74 with no scores in last season's opener.

RB Shonn Greene B

Greene has been a major disappointment this season, and it doesn't project to get any better against the Ravens, who limited him to 18 yards on five carries and haven't allowed a back to top 75 yards this season.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson B

LT has picked up Greene's slack (again), but the Ravens don't give up much in the way of receiving yards to running backs and it's unlikely Tomlinson will get the carries necessary to carve out any fantasy value on the ground.

WR Santonio Holmes


Speed guys have had success against the Ravens, and Holmes is most definitely a speed guy. He wasn't with the team when Jets WRs mustered all of 27 yards against Baltimore in the 2010 opener; things will be different this time around.

WR Plaxico Burress


Plax has scored in two of three and is seeing an uptick in targets. He's not a great play, but he at least warrants consideration in larger leagues.

TE Dustin Keller B

Keller is off to a solid start once again, but now he'll face a defense that hasn't allowed an opposing tight end to score, catch more than three balls, or top 42 yards--essentially the same D that held Keller to two catches for 13 yards last season.

DT Jets S3 Gang Green is an every-week fantasy start, even in a tough matchup like this.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco has a couple three-TD games this year, but he was blanked by the Jets last season and after giving up 342 and 2 to Tony Romo Gang Green has allowed just 267 passing yards in two games. He's a fringe fantasy starter at best.

RB Ray Rice S1

Rice was bottled up by the Jets last season, but on the heels of Maurice Jones Drew producing 107 combo yards and Darren McFadden blowing up for 178 yards from scrimmage (and two TDs), there's no reason to think Rice can't hit his 2011 averages of 135 combo yards and a touchdown.

WR Anquan Boldin


Boldin rolled up 110 yards in last season's opener, but that came against a less-than-full-go Darrelle Revis. Gang Green has been significantly more stingy this season, and you have to believe that the Jets will have a motivated Revis shadowing Boldin most of the evening--to the point that Boldin is too risky to trust with a fantasy start.


Torrey Smith

B Yes, you spent big money on the rookie phenom who turned his first three pro catches into touchdowns. Now he faces one of the league's best secondaries; he won't find nearly as much room to operate.

Ed Dickson

B Jason Witten's 110 in the season opener accounted for more than half of what the Jets have allowed to tight ends this season. Dickson is a nice player, but he's not targeted at Witten's level and is best left on the fantasy bench.
DT Ravens S3 These aren't quite the dominating Ravens, but 10 turnovers, nine sacks and a defensive touchdown suggest they're still a fantasy force to be reckoned with.

Indianapolis at Tampa Bay

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Curtis Painter B

Painter didn't look awful in relief of the injured Kerry Collins last week, but he did have trouble connecting with his receivers. Tough to trust him with a fantasy start... so we won't.

RB Joseph Addai S3 Addai has quietly carved out a pair of solid combo-yardage efforts, including 88 and 1 against the Steelers last week. He's not a great fantasy play, but the Colts are low on options and he seems to be the guy picking up the slack.
WR Reggie Wayne S3

Wayne will likely draw Aqib Talib for most of the day, and that will put a serious crimp in his numbers. So will adding another quarterback into the mix, one who doesn't run the tree with Wayne like Peyton Manning did. There's still value for a guy who's seen 32 targets already this season, especially against a defense that allowed two 100-yard receivers last week alone.

WR Pierre Garçon
Austin Collie

It's a familiar refrain: with Peyton Manning out of the mix, you can't go this deep into the Indy receiver rotation. Garçon did seem to catch Painter's eye in the late going last week, but that's unlikely to translate into fantasy production this week.

TE Dallas Clark B

Clark was clinging to value based on his targets and the fact that he was tight end-eligible but lining up like a wide receiver. However, the few balls that came his way last week seemed to end up on the ground. Between the dropsies and the quarterback shift, Clark has forfeited his every-week starter card.

DT Colts B Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis can only do so much on their own.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

Indy has surrendered just one TD toss in each of their three games, though Ben Roethlisberger did take them for 364 yards last week. Freeman's numbers have been subdued this season, with no multiple touchdown outings and a high of 257 yards. This isn't a killer matchup, leaving Freeman right on the cusp of start/bench; we'll nudge him narrowly onto the start side, but there are better options out there.

RB LeGarrette Blount


Blount has banged out a couple fringe fantasy helpers, and while Indy was able to hold Rashard Mendenhall in check last week that felt a bit flukey. I'm more inclined to believe this is the same defense that allowed 94 and 2 to Peyton Hillis and 116 and 1 to Ben Tate, in which case Blount is a fantastic fantasy play.

RB Earnest Graham


The touches have dried up; unless you know the Bucs will be playing this entire game out of the no-huddle, he's unusable.

WR Mike Williams

Williams is still the WR1 in this offense, and here's his chance to prove it against a defense that's already allowed 95 and 1 to Andre Johnson and 144 and 1 to Mike Wallace.

WR Arrelious Benn

Not much left afte the WR1 takes his bite, and besides: Benn hasn't topped 27 yards yet this season.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

Winslow's targets have dropped and Luke Stocker is horning in on his playing time. But he's still a go-to guy for Freeman and should find room against a defense that surrendered 71 yards to Heath Miller last week, assuming his balky knees allow him to play.

DT Buccaneers S2 At home against Curtis Painter making his first pro start? Sounds like a plan.

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