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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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
NOS at CAR ARI at MIN SDC at DEN  
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KCC at IND TEN at PIT GBP at ATL  
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)
 
 

San Diego at Denver

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Rivers threw for four TDs in the first meeting with the Broncos last year, then went for 313 yards but was shut out in the rematch. He's been north of 300 yards in three of four this season, while Denver has surrendered 300-plus and multiple TDs in three straight. If Rivers has Vincent Jackson at his disposal a monster day is a lock; otherwise, it's only somewhat assured.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 Mathews' 120 yard, three-TD performance against Denver in Week 17 was too little, too late for many fantasy leagues; here's his chance to make amends. He's topped 125 combo yards in every game this season, so even against a Denver defense that has yet to allow a running back rushing score he's going to carve out fantasy value.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 Tolbert handled the bulk of the work in the first meeting with Denver last year, producing 111 & 1 on the ground and another 42 via the air. He sat out the rematch, but his twin roles as goal line guy and third down back should earn him enough touches to produce fantasy-relevant numbers.
WR Vincent Jackson S1 Assuming Jackson shakes off his latest injury—he was back at practice Friday and is listed as probable—he's a money play against the Broncos, who have allowed three 100-yard receivers, two more 90-yard receivers, and seven WR TDs already this season. V-Jax has reached triple digits in two of his last three and will own this matchup if whatever malady is currently ailing him subsides by kickoff.
WR Malcom Floyd S2 Floyd and Patrick Crayton both scored against Denver in last year's first meeting, which took place while Jackson was still holding out. At worst he's a secondary target against a secondary that allowed four different Packer wideouts to score last weekend; at best, he's Philip Rivers' primary target.
TE Randy McMichael B

McMike has been meh in relief of Antonio Gates, and against a Denver defense that's allowed just 120 yards and one TD to the position thus far this season is not a good time to reach for him.

DT Chargers B

Orton threw a pick six to the Packers last week, but the Chargers don't have nearly the defensive playmakers Green Bay does.

Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3 Orton has three straight multiple-touchdown games; the Chargers have surrendered multiple scoring strikes in two of three. Orton has a pair of quality receivers to throw to, and with the ground game likely to be stymied he'll have to throw to keep the Broncos in the contest. Nothing wrong with catch-up numbers.
RB Willis McGahee S3 McGahee has hammered out a couple 100-yard games, but he'll find the going a bit tougher against a San Diego defense that has allowed only one back to top 70 yards against them.
RB Knowshon Moreno B Knowshon scored on the Chargers in their first meeting last season, but he's not getting enough touches to register a blip on the fantasy radar.
WR Brandon Lloyd

S2

Lloyd scored in both ends of last season's series, and Kyle Orton certainly knows where to find him. The Bolts haven't given up a ton of fantasy points to wideouts, but Lloyd is too targeted not to trust with a fantasy start this week.

WR Eric Decker

S3

Decker has back-to-back double-digit target games and has four TD grabs in the past three weeks. He's less a WR2 to Lloyd and more of a WR1A; either way, he's in line for decent fantasy numbers.

TE Daniel Fells

B

Fells found the end zone last week, but he's still too infrequently targeted to trust with a spot in your starting lineup. Plus, he's listed as questionable with a knee injury and was limited in practice all week.

DT Broncos B The Broncos haven't done much to generate defensive fantasy points, and it's unlikely to expect them to start doing so against Rivers and the Chargers.
 

NY Jets at New England

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S3

Sanchez looked so bad against Baltimore last Sunday night it may be difficult to trust him with a fantasy start--especially after Rex Ryan said they were returning to "ground & pound." But every quarterback to face New England has thrown for at least 344 yards. Sanchez doesn't even have to be good to put up decent yardage in this one; just a pulse is enough.

RB Shonn Greene S3

The plan is for the Jets to return to "ground & pound", which would mean more carries for Greene. He'll need more carries, because he hasn't been particularly productive with the ones he's been getting, but it sounds like Gang Green's game plan will go heavy on the ground game--and that means Greene.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S3

The Patriots have allowed six different backs to produce at least 48 receiving yards, and that's definitely LT's role in this offense. In a six-team bye week, he's looking at enough action to bump his way into fantasy lineups.

WR Santonio Holmes

S3

The Pats have allowed a 100-yard receiver in every game this season; Holmes, who was targeted a dozen times in the last meeting between these clubs, is the Jet most likely to stretch that string.

WR Plaxico Burress

S3

There could be enough left over for Burress to have some fantasy value as well, and after practicing in full both Thursday and Friday there should be no concerns about his elbow injury. Now all he needs is single coverage in the red zone and he can reprise his Super Bowl heroics against the Patriots all over again.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller was a monster in the first meeting between these clubs with 115 yards and a touch; he was significantly quieter in the rematch with three grabs for 27 yards. He was off to a fast start once again before stumbling last week, but he's a big enough factor in this offense to earn the benefit of the doubt, especially in a six-team bye week.

DT Jets S3 After watching them last week, and seeing Tom Brady pick-sixed the week before, the Jets are every bit the solid fantasy play you expect them to be.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Brady threw for 248 & 2 and 326 & 4 agaisnt the Jets last season. Doesn't matter if Gang Green has shut out three straight quarterbacks, Brady's on a roll of his own with multiple TDs in four straight and 350-plus yards in three of four. He's in your lineup.

RB

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

S3

Law Firm found the end zone twice in the back end of last season's series, but he's sharing his carries with Stevan Ridley and as such can't be quite as trusted as before. He still warrants a fantasy start, especially with Danny Woodhead likely out, but he's definitely sharing carries.

RB

Stevan Ridley

B

Ridley is the junior parter to Law Firm in Bill Belichick's backfield committee. Against a good defense like the Jets, partial duty isn't enough for fantasy starterdom.

WR Wes Welker S1 Even if the Jets throw Darrelle Revis at Welker, he's working out of the slot and is toughter to cover. He scored in both ends of the season series, though his yardage wasn't great, and he's a must start again this week.
WR Deion Branch B The rest of New England's wideouts are a bigger risk. For starters, they're less frequently targeted, plus they're more susceptible to Revis Island. There's potential here, but it comes with too much risk to trust with a fantasy start.
TE Rob Gronkowski S3 Gronkowski had just two catches in the season series with the Jets, and after a white-hot start he stumbled last week with just one catch. The Jets have yet to allow a TE TD and haven't even let a tight end top 50 yards since Week 1 so Gronk is a tougher start than usual. However, his upside makes him a must-play in TE-mandatory leagues, and there's still the possibility Aaron Hernandez won't be back yet, leaving all of New England's TE work to Gronkowski.
TE Aaron Hernandez S3 Hernandez rocked the Jets with 101 yards in the front end of the series and 51 & 1 in the rematch. He isn't out of the woods yet health-wise, but he practiced on a limited basis all week and is listed as questionable. If he's not inactive Sunday, plan on plugging him into your fantasy lineup.
DT Patriots S3 The New England defense isn't anything special, but after seeing the Jets play giveaway last Sunday night the Pats might just be worth a fantasy play this week.
 

Green Bay at Atlanta

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Which stat you wanna use, the 366 and 3 Rodgers dropped on the Falcons in last season's playoffs or the 331 and three he's averaging thus far this season? Either way, he's a lineup fixture for you.

RB

James Starks

S3

Marshawn Lynch didn't do much against the Falcons, but he did find the end zone. Earlier backs like LeGarrette Blount (24-81), LeSean McCoy (18-95-2), and Matt Forte (16-68) all had success as well, so unless Ryan Grant and his bruised kidney walk right back into significant carries this should be a solid week for Starks.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

He's back at practice, but Starks has done enough to warrant his hanging on to the starting job for the time being.

WR Greg Jennings

S1

Jennings has touchdowns in three of four, back-to-back 100-yard games, and hauled in eight balls for 101 yards against Atlanta last January. So long as Rodgers is throwing, Jennings is catching.

WR Jordy Nelson

S3

Nelson scored in last season's playoff win over Atlanta and has emerged as the Packers' most reliable wideout after Jennings. Atlanta allowed three different Seattle wideouts to score last week; surely there's enough to go around for the Packers to feed multiple mouths as well.

TE Jermichael Finley

S2

The Falcons haven't allowe much to opposing tight ends, but Finley is unusual. He's been targeted 20 times in the past three games and will present a matchup problem the Falcons didn't have to deal with in the playoffs.

DT Packers S3 So long as Charles Woodson is on the field, Green Bay's defense is an every-week fantasy starter.
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

The Packers are allowing 356 passing yards and more than two passing TDs per game, primarily because opponents have to throw to keep pace with Green Bay's high octane offense. Ryan doesn't come unarmed to a shootout--he has two 300-yard games and a four-TD effort to his credit already this year--but the Packers held him in check in both meetings last year. He's still a starter, but Green Bay seems to have his number.

RB Michael Turner S2

Turner banged out 110 yards in the first meeting and scored in both games against Green Bay, but he was limited to 10-39 in the rematch as the Falcons were forced to play catch-up. There is definitely a risk of a similar scenario, but you can't bench Turner on that possibility alone.

WR Roddy White S2

White found the end zone in the playoff loss to Green Bay, and a secondary that's allowed three 100-yard receivers and five different wideouts to score isn't likely to contain him here.

WR Julio Jones S3

The rookie has back-to-back 100-yard games and is thriving in White's shadow. And if Charles Woodson is blanketing White, Jones could quickly become Ryan's go-to guy for the evening.

TE

Tony Gonzalez

S1

Gonzo was a non-factor in the playoff game, though he did score in the earlier meeting with Green Bay. The Packers are having a little more difficulty covering tight ends this season, having already allowed three TE TDs through four games, and with Gonzalez now sporting a three-game scoring streak he's a must start--even in leagues where TEs and WRs are lumped together.

DT Falcons B Green Bay has scored 148 points in four games; don't throw the Falcons DST under that bus in your fantasy lineup.
 

Chicago at Detroit

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Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Cutler threw for 372 and 2 and 234 and 1 in last season's series with the Lions, along with two multiple TD games and two 300-yard efforts this year. The Lions will put Jay on his back multiple times, but while upright he'll have the opportunity to put up some decent fantasy numbers.

RB Matt Forte S1

Forte had triple-digit combo yardage in both ends of last season's series and scored three TDs in the two games. That pales in comparison to what he's done to date. While Detroit hasn't allowed a ton of stats to running backs, Forte's role in the Chicago offense is such that he pretty much has a hand in everything. No worries; he'll get his.

WR

Johnny Knox

S3 Knox is the only Bear receiver who can be even remotely trusted with a fantasy start. He's hardly a lock, but against a Detroit defense that's already allowed two 100-yard receivers and three WR TDs he belongs in a fantasy lineup.
WR Devin Hester
Dane Sanzenbacher

B

You can throw all the other Chicago receivers into this mix, as it's a gawdawful mess. All have varying degrees of upside, but none can be started with any degree of confidence.

DT Bears S3 Da Bears have brought da defense this year, and there's always the Devin Hester factor.
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S1

Not only is Stafford rolling, with multiple touchdown tosses in all four games and an average of 311 yards per game; he gets to face a Chicago secondary that's surrendering similar yardage and has served up two three-TD games already this year.

RB Jahvid Best S3

You can run on the Bears, but that's not really Best's forte. However, you can also throw to your backs against the Bears, and that's right in Best's wheelhouse. Best's combo yardage numbers have been reduced the past two games, but he's still a must-play given his game breaking ability and significant role in the Detroit offense.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Two touchdowns. Every game. And as an added bonus, he faces a defense that's allowed a 100-yard receiver in three straight games.

WR Nate Burleson
Titus Young
B

Both of Detroit's secondary targets are struggling to carve out fantasy value from Megatron's leftovers. The Bears haven't left many scraps after the WR1s take theirs, so even in a six-team bye week Burleson and Young are tough starts.

TE Brandon Pettigrew
S2

The Bears have allowed 72, 80, 85, and 91 yards to the tight end position this year, and with Pettigrew distancing himself from Tony Scheffler--22 targets over the past two games compared to just two for Scheffler--he's a solid bordering on great fantasy play this week.

DT Lions S2 Ndamukong Suh against that line? Yeah, there's a very good chance the Lions are taking one the other way.

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