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Start/Bench List
John Tuvey
Updated: October 7, 2011
PHI at BUF CIN at JAC TBB at SFO CHI at DET 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)
Philadelphia at Buffalo Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick S1

Not only have the Bills allowed passing touchdowns in every game this season, an average of two per contest, they’ve also given up two QB rushing scores. Vick has yet to cross the stripe as a runner this season, but you know it’s coming. He does have three multi-TD games in four outings and is fresh off a 416-yard performance last week; another big day is in the offing here.

RB LeSean McCoy

McCoy struggled against an underrated San Francisco defense last week, but he still found the end zone to stretch his scoring streak to four games. Given that fellow multi-purpose back Darren McFadden compiled 143 yards from scrimmage and scored twice against Buffalo and on average the Bills surrender 155 combo yards to the position, McCoy should get back on the yardage horse and extend his scoring streak as well.

WR DeSean Jackson
Jeremy Maclin
S2 The Bills have surrendered a 100-yard receiver in three straight games; the only question is, will it be Jackson or Maclin. Maclin has been more targeted in each of the past three games, but Jackson has two 100-yard efforts already this season. Both have an excellent chance to reach the century mark, with 80 yards as the likely baseline. Touchdowns have been more problematic for Philly’s dynamic duo, but the Bills have allowed three WR TDs in two home games so things are looking up there as well.
WR Steve Smith
Jason Avant
B 24 targets in four games might suggest a viable bye-week plug-in, but the Bills haven’t allowed a secondary receiver to score and only one has topped 43 yards; go three deep and you’re looking at stat lines like 2-8, 1-9, 1-5 and 3-26. Those aren’t fantasy helpers
TE Brent Celek
B The Bills have surrendered 179 yards and three TDs to the tight end position over the past two games, but that was to vastly more targeted guys like Rob Gronkowski and Jermaine Gresham. Celek and Clay Harbor split the Philly looks, and last week it was Harbor who scored. Tough to reach for Celek even on a bye week.
DT Eagles S3 A offense that has given up just three sacks and turned the ball over four times this year, combined with the absence of Trent Cole, downgrades the Eagles from every-week starter to fringe fantasy contributor. If this weren’t a bye week they might be bench-worthy.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

Fitz laid an egg in Cincy last weekend; he’ll find a defense that’s given up 10 TD passes and 740 passing yards over the past three games to be a bit more to his liking. Don’t sweat Philly’s cover corners, as Fitz has demonstrated his willingness to go three- and four deep in his receiver rotation.

RB Fred Jackson S1

Jackson fell two yards shy of a fourth straight 100-combo yard performance last week, but he scored for the third straight game. With Philly having already served up 140, 146, 139, and 139 combo yards to lead backs and at least one RB TD in every game, the Coe College product should continue his hot streak.

RB C.J. Spiller S3

Three reasons to dust off Spiller this week: first, Philly has allowed a secondary back to top 50 yards from scrimmage in three of four games this year; second, Spiller is seeing additional looks as a wideout and is unlikely to draw one of the Eagles’ top cover guys; and third, injuries and the bye week have drained the talent pool to the point you have to take shots like this.

WR Steve Johnson S3

You have to assume Nnamdi Asomugha will end up on Johnson for most, if not all, of the afternoon. That’s going to limit what Johnson can do, though Roddy White found the end zone against Philly a couple weeks back so Asomugha is not infallible. It’s a bye week so the talent pool is already thinned, so don’t bench Stevie; do, however, lower expectations.

WR David Nelson
Donald Jones

Nelson and Jones have been targeted similarly (30 and 29, respectively), but Nelson has been more productive. One will draw Asante Samuel, one Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie—and Fitzpatrick will find the open man. In a bye week both are useable, with upside despite the apparent tough matchups.

TE Scott Chandler B

Chandler’s looks, receptions, and yardage have all dwindled each week since the start of the season. He could be a target this week, as Philly’s linebackers are exploitable and their corners pretty solid, but your league would have to be pretty thin at the position to justify using him this week.

DT Bills S2 The Bills have defensive TDs in two straight games and should bring the heat against a patchwork Philly offensive line.
New Orleans at Carolina Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees has been merely good in his last three against Carolina, with four TDs in three games and an average of 286 yards. It’s possible he turns this one over to the ground game at some point, but you don’t bench Brees on that possibility.


Darren Sproles


Multipurpose backs Maurice Jones-Drew (167 yards from scrimmage) and Matt Forte (228) have had their way with Carolina. While much of that has come on the ground, Sproles is seeing enough touches in all phases of the game that he’s a quality fantasy start even in non-PPR leagues.


Mark Ingram


Looks like Ingram is the quantity guy, and with opponents running the ball 29 and 30 times against the Panthers in their last two games there should be enough quantity to garner Ingram fantasy relevancy.


Pierre Thomas


Tough to bank on Pierre getting enough touches, as he’s third in the Saints’ RBBC. But with a lollipop matchup like the Panthers on the docket and six teams on the bye, he may be the best of the desperation plays.

WR Robert Meachem
Lance Moore
Marques Colston


You know the drill with Saints receivers: all have big potential, but Drew Brees loves to spread the wealth. Last year’s season series saw Moore (11-114-1 on 16 targets) and Colston (12-101-0-on 17 targets) were the closest thing to reliable while Meachem (4-31-0 on eight looks) was more of an afterthought. Meachem still has a leg up on Colston in the lineup while Colston works his way back from his collarbone injury, so all three are viable starters during the bye week.

WR Devery Henderson

Hendu gets excluded from the reindeer games above because he’s the one whose looks seem to drop off when everyone is healthy. Perhaps more importantly, Henderson isn't healthy, having missed Thursday's practice with a calf injury and is questionable for Sunday's tilt. He had one semi-good game (6-59 on nine targets) against the Panthers last year but vanished in the rematch. He was also a non-factor (one target, no catches) last week with Moore back in the lineup and can’t be banked on for fantasy help here.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 Back-to-back 100-yard games, touchdowns in three of four—plus Graham scored in last year’s meeting with the Panthers. Carolina couldn’t contain Jermichael Finley (5-68) earlier this season, and Graham may be an even bigger part of the Saints’ passing game than Finley is in Green Bay.
DT Saints S3 Carolina gave up a defensive TD and a return TD last week, and while the Saints aren’t nearly the defense the Bears are they do threaten in the return game.
Pos Player SBC Comments

Cam Newton

S1 No rain in the forecast, so pencil Newton in for 300 passing yards as he tries to keep pace with the Saints’ offense. And since he only knows one play at the goal line—QB keeper—he’s a good bet for a rushing score as well.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 The Carolina running game has been effective but underused; even against a softer Saints’ run defense it’s difficult to see enough productivity for two fantasy starters. Stewart gets the looks in the passing game and a share of the groundwork, so he’s a viable fantasy option.

DeAngelo Williams

B You’d think in a bye week Williams might be useable. But he’s such an afterthought in the Carolina offense that expecting fantasy-worthy productivity from the 11 touches a game he’s getting—none at the stripe, where Cam Newton consistently calls his own number—is almost impossible.
WR Steve Smith S1

In last season’s series with the Saints, Smith had three catches for 20 yards; you think he’s happy Cam Newton and the deep ball have come to Carolina? Smith has seen double-digit targets and produced at least 150 yards in every game not played in a monsoon, and with no such storm on the radar he’s a quality fantasy play against a defense that’s allowed 89 and 1 to Greg Jennings, 128 yards to Andre Johnson, and even 73 yards to Mike Thomas.

WR Brandon LaFell
Legedu Naanee

Carolina’s secondary receivers are getting stricktly leftovers, with only one game of 50 yards or more and one TD to show for their efforts. The Saints haven’t surrendered more than 35 yards to a secondary target since Jordy Nelson in Week 1; neither LaFell nor Naanee are in that category.

TE Greg Olsen

Only Jeremy Shockey is keeping Olsen from S1 status. Even with Shockey horning in on his action--and the former Saint expects to play through a mild concussion on Sunday--Olsen has scored in back-to-back games and tallied 50 or more yards in three of four games. Against a New Orleans defense that’s given up 254 yards and three touchdowns to the tight end position in just the past two games, even a share should be enough for Olsen.

DT Panthers B No compelling reason to throw the Panthers DST into your fantasy lineup—especially if you’re docked for points allowed, as the Saints are averaging better than 31 points per game.

Oakland at Houston

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

Campbell has put up big yardage twice—both in games where he needed to play catch-up to a superior offense. Even then, he only has four TD tosses on the year. The rushing scores bail him out a little, and even though Andre Johnson is sidelined Houston’s offense can still put points on the board. In a non-bye week Campbell would be bench fodder against an improved secondary that’s held three non-Drew Brees QBs to 206 yards or less and a total of two touchdowns, but with six signal-callers on the bye the possibility of him running one in narrowly slips him across the divide.

RB Darren McFadden

While the individual numbers may look dour—only one back has rushed for more than 40 yards against Houston—it’s primarily due to lack of effort; Daniel Thomas is the only back to receive double-digit carries against the Texans, and he went for 107 yards. Moreover, Houston is giving up better than five yards a carry. Oh, and McFadden is really, really good, with at least 123 yards from scrimmage in every game thus far. He had 129 (on 18 touches) in last year’s meeting; you can view that as a starting point this time around.

RB Michael Bush

His role as the cleaner has produced touchdowns in three straight games, and he scored in the meeting with Houston last year as well. The Texans have surrendered three rushing scores in the last two games, making Bush a viable bye-week filler.


Danarius Moore


While Houston’s secondary is upgraded from last year they’re still allowing a consistent 75 yards or so to opposing WR1s. Make a case for DHB as Oakland’s WR1 if you wish, but Moore seems to be the one guy the Raiders go out of their way to get the ball to.


Darrius Heyward-Bey
Jacoby Ford


Any one of Oakland’s deep threats could wind up on the business end of a 70-yard rainbow, but even in a bye week it’s a pretty big risk to saddle your fantasy team with.


Kevin Boss


Boss saw a little more attention last week, but he’s a tough fantasy start against a defense that’s given up 100 yards and a touchdown to Superstar Jimmy Graham… and 67 yards in three games to all other tight ends.

DT Raiders B Tough to like Oakland on the road against a team that’s allowed only six sacks and has turned the ball over once in the last three games.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3 Schaub has been okay thus far and has a favorable matchup against a defense that’s allowed multiple touchdowns in three straight and an average of 290 yards per game. He threw for 192 and 2 against Oakland last year with Johnson out of the lineup and in three games sans AJ averaged a shade over 250 yards with four total touchdowns. Those are borderline starter numbers, even in a bye week.
RB Arian Foster

S1 The flip side of that same coin: in three games without Andre Johnson the Texans gave Foster 57 carries and 66 total touches, with which he produced 512 yards and scored five times. Those numbers include 16-131-1 on the ground and 3-56-1 receiving in Oakland in Week 4. Only Philly has allowed more fantasy points to RBs than the Raiders, making this a great week for Foster to be healthy.
RB Ben Tate
B Neither Tate nor Derrick Ward practiced Wednesday or Thursday, at which point Gary Kubiak indicated Chris Ogbonnaya would be the backup to Arian Foster this week. Even if Tate goes, at this point he's third man in.
RB Chris Ogbonnaya

U Against Oakland last year Derrick Ward chipped in 80 yards and a touchdown on top of Foster’s monster outing, and already this year the Raiders have served up 69, 106, and 84 combo yards to secondary backs. If you’re in a bye week bind, Ogbonnaya has some upside as Arian Foster's caddy.
WR Jacoby Jones S3 Forget for a moment that Jones has steadfastly refused to claim the WR2 job opposite Andre Johnson, or even that he has one catch for zero yards in his last two games combined. Just note that when AJ was out in Weeks 16 and 17 last year Jones delivered 5-115 and 5-70. The Texans will be run-heavy and Owen Daniels is Schaub’s most likely go-to guy, but there should be enough in the passing game for Jones to be worth a bye-week start.
WR Kevin Walter B

Unlike Jones, Walter’s numbers did not improve sans AJ: 1-14 and 3-54. With just four catches on the year, he’s a significantly tougher sell as a fantasy play this week.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Joel Dreessen (5-73-1) stole Daniels’ big game in Oakland last year, leaving Owen with one catch for 18 yards. Does that mean this is a big James Casey game? Unlikely. Last week when Andre Johnson went down, Daniels stepped up with 5-69-1 while Casey was targeted just once. Houston should have the running game working, and from the running game comes the play-action to the tight end… and that’s Daniels’ milieu.

TE James Casey B

After his big debut Casey went back into storage with just one target last week. Daniels should be the receiver stepping into a share of Andre Johnson’s looks and numbers; Casey can’t be counted on for the same.

DT Texans B Oakland has given up just two sacks and prefers to run the ball anyway; that doesn’t lend itself well to defensive fantasy points.

Kansas City at Indianapolis

Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel B

Cassel has failed to put up starter-worthy numbers in any game this season, ranking no higher than 19th in any single week. Now he faces an Indy secondary that hasn’t allowed multiple TD tosses in a game this season in a rematch of last year’s Week 5 loss that saw him throw for 156 yards and zero scores. Nothing in that last sentence suggests he’s worthy of a fantasy start.

RB Thomas Jones

Indy has proven susceptible to workhorse backs (Ben Tate 24-116-1, Peyton Hillis 27-94-2, LeGarrette Blount 25-127-1) but not immune (Rashard Mendenhall 18-37). Here’s the problem: Jones hasn’t mustered more than 3.4 yards per carry since Week 13 of last season, so it’s going to take him 20-plus carries just to be close to helpful. Not saying it’s impossible; Jones went for 20-125-1 and 19-100-1 in Weeks 6 and 7 of last season. Unlikely is the better word, but what other choice do the Chiefs have offensively?

RB Dexter McCluster
S3 McCluster is a reach of a fantasy start, but with six teams on the bye it’s that kind of week. Indy has given up 66, 31, and 36 receiving yards to running backs the past three weeks; if McCluster gets a handful of carries as well he could carve out an adequate combo-yardage performance. You’re also banking on Thomas Jones failing to deliver, which for most of the last year has been a relatively safe bet.

Dwayne Bowe


To Bowe’s credit, with Jamaal Charles down he’s stepped into the playmaker void and delivered, with a score in each of the games Charles has missed. The two legit WR1s Indy has faced have both fared well (Andre Johnson 95 & 1, Mike Wallace 144 & 1), and despite his quarterback’s struggles Bowe has proven to be legit.


Steve Breaston


Breaston isn’t an emphatic bench this week, but there just doesn’t appear to be enough in the passing game for him to be a fantasy helper this week. Indy has allowed 66, 75, 41, and 43 yards to secondary targets but WR1s own two of the three WR TDs the Colts have surrendered so that’s about all you’re going to get.

DT Chiefs B If your defense gets points for sacks you could upgrade KC to useable given the Tamba Hali vs. Indy’s injured and inexperienced line; otherwise they’re bench fodder.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Curtis Painter S2

Painter was no Peyton Manning but he did toss a couple TDs last week; against a KC defense that’s surrendered 10 passing scores through four games, it’s a safe bet he can come up with a couple more.

RB Joseph Addai S2 The division of carries is falling more Addai’s way, and he’ll have a great opportunity here against a Chiefs defense that’s allowed 117, 123, 149, and 83 combo yards to opposing feature backs as well as six RB TDs in four games.
WR Reggie Wayne S3

The targets say otherwise, but the eye test says Painter’s favorite receiver is Pierre Garçon. He and Wayne have yet to mesh, and while there’s an opportunity here—the Chiefs have allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 65 yards in three of four games—Wayne is only an adequate start at best.

WR Pierre Garçon

Painter hooked up with Pierre on a pair of long touchdowns last week, and as noted above the eye test indicates Garçon is closer to being on the same page of the playbook with Painter than Wayne is. His inconsistent hands make him a risky play as well, but with six teams off he’s a viable option.

TE Dallas Clark S3

Tight ends have had plenty of success against the Chiefs, from Scott Chandler’s 63 & 2 to Tony Scheffler’s TD to the Vikings splitting 102 yards between Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph last week. Clark hasn’t made it to 50 yards yet this season, but Curtis Painter could use an open receiver and the stats suggest the Chiefs will have a difficult time locating Clark.

DT Colts S3 Another opportunity for sacks and violence from Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S3

The Jags have allowed at least one passing score in every game this season, but they’ve held two quarterbacks under 200 yards and only Drew Brees got past 263 against them. Dalton is playing with confidence but is still a rookie and as such inconsistent. There’s upside given his 298 & 1 and 332 & 2 in two of the past three games, but he’s hardly a sure thing.

RB Cedric Benson B

You know Benson’s a matchup play; this isn’t one of those matchups. Jacksonville has allowed only one back to top 60 yards against them and is surrendering an average of just 88 rushing yards and half a touchdown per game to opposing backfields. The league won’t be sitting Ced this week, but you should.

WR A.J. Green


Kenny Britt got behind the Jags on a couple of fluke plays in the season opener; Jacksonville hasn’t allowed a wide receiver touchdown since, nor have they allowed a receiver to top 60 yards since both Britt and Nate Washington did so in Week 1. That makes Green a troublesome play, but given the volume of targets he’s seeing you can plug him into your bye week lineup with at least a glimmer of confidence.

WR Andre Caldwell
Jerome Simpson


That same confidence does not extent to either Caldwell or Simpson, who have a combined 78 yards the past two games. Just not enough to go around against Jacksonville.

TE Jermaine Gresham S2 Looking for Andy Dalton’s go-to receiver this week? Look no further than Gresham, who’ll face a defense that’s allowed TE TDs in three straight gams and a total of 330 yards to the position in just the last three games.
DT Bengals B Nothing exciting about this fantasy defense, even in a matchup against a rookie quarterback.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Blaine Gabbert B

The rookie is still looking for his first 200-yard game and his first multi-touchdown outing as well. Neither is likely to come against a surprising Bengals secondary that’s pitched back-to-back shutouts and held all four opponents under 215 passing yards.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

The Jaguars went away from the logical plan of giving Jones-Drew more touches to help their rookie QB acclimate to the league, yet MoJo still turned just 11 carries into 84 yards. You would like to think Jack Del Rio knows where his bread is buttered and feeds Jones-Drew the rock, especially against a defense that’s surrendered a running back touchdown in three straight games and 85 or more combo yards to three of the four feature backs they’ve faced.


Mike Thomas

S3 Thomas’s targets are insanely high, to the point that in a six-team bye week he’ll see enough looks to warrant a fantasy start in most leagues. However, don’t let your expectations run wild as the Bengals have allowed only one WR to score on them this season and only one wideout to top 80 yards against them as well.

Jason Hill

B Hill is averaging a shade over 30 yards a game; Cincy hasn’t allowed a secondary target to top 28 against them this year. ‘Nuff said.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis was targeted more but Zach Miller stole his touchdown last week. The Bengals have allowed one TE (Vernon Davis) to top 50 yards against them and shut out the position in three straight games. Half of little is even less and certainly not worthy of fantasy consideration.
DT Jaguars S3

The Bengals allowed a defensive score last week (and probably should have allowed another if not for a replay reversal that looked iffy at best), and in a six-team bye week you could do worse than pitting your fantasy defense against a rookie QB on the road.

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