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Start/Bench List: Week 7
John Tuvey
Updated: October 21, 2011
WAS at CAR SDC at NYJ KCC at OAK BAL at JAC 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)
Washington at Carolina Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB John Beck B

Beck hasn’t started a game since 2007; in his return to the lineup he’ll face a Carolina secondary that’s held three of the last four quarterbacks it has faced to under 200 yards and one or fewer touchdown passes. Shanny may have faith in Beck, but we’d be inclined to wait before plugging him in.


Ryan Torain

S2 The key will be Torain getting double-digit carries; the four backs given that workload against the Panthers have produced at least 90 yards, the last three of them rushing for at least 122. How comfortable you feel with starting Torain is in direct proportion to how much you trust Mike Shanahan.

Tim Hightower
Roy Helu

B Secondary backs—and specifically, pass-catchers—have had success against the Panthers. But there’s barely enough trust in Shanahan to use the starter here; do you really want to bank on him throwing a bone to Hightower (zero touches last week) or Helu (two carries last week, his lowest number since Week 1)?
WR Santana Moss
S3 Maybe Moss threw his support behind Grossman because that’s where his bread has been buttered; in relief of Rex, Beck targeted Fred Davis, Jabar Gaffney, and Donte Stallworth more than Moss. That said, no receiver was responsible for a larger share of Beck’s yardage. In a matchup that’s tougher than you might expect—Carolina hasn’t allowed a wide receiver touchdown since Week 3 or a wideout to top 70 yards since Week 2—Moss is a fringe fantasy play this week.
WR Jabar Gaffney

B With a backup quarterback in a tough matchup, no need to dig this deep.
TE Fred Davis

Tight ends tend to have success against the Panthers—not just Jimmy Graham (8-129) and Jermichael Finley (5-68), but even the Arizona tandem of Jeff King and Todd Heap combined for 101 and 1. Beck wasn’t shy about throwing to Davis last week, and he’ll be a likely security blanket once again as Beck lines up behind a line that will be down two starters.

DT Redskins S2 Cam has two three-pick games already, and he’ll be missing right tackle Jeff Otah. The Redskins have 17 sacks—nine in their last two games alone—and have multiple takeaways in three of their last four games, in addition to giving up an average of just 16 points per game.
Pos Player SBC Comments

Cam Newton

S2 The Redskins have surrendered just four passing scores in five games, but any team that allows a rushing touchdown to Eli Manning can be had by Newton. The rookie is settling into a less productive—but more predictable—rut; he’s still startable, just not a superstar.

DeAngelo Williams

B There’s no rhyme nor reason to Williams’ touches; he hasn’t had more than 13 or fewer than nine, and he’s tended to be more productive with less work. Only a team severely hamstrung by bye week issues should consider Williams a fantasy starter.

Jonathan Stewart

B Same drill, other back: Stewart has had between seven and 14 touches in every game this year, though strangely enough he hasn’t had the same number of touches twice. If you’re playing that pattern, he’ll get either eight or 11 touches this week; just don’t get used to last week’s goal line carry, as those will more consistently go to Newton.
WR Steve Smith S3

Smith will be thrown at, with a baseline of a half-dozen looks and mid-range yardage. If those targets creep into double-digits, Smith is looking at the same kind of numbers Jeremy Maclin (5-101), Larry Fitzgerald (7-133-1) and Hakeem Nicks (7-122) posted. Note that the Skins have only allowed the one WR TD, though, so Smith’s contributions will be yardage-heavy.

WR Legedu Naanee B

The more targeted secondary receiver hasn’t done enough with those looks to warrant a fantasy start, especially in this difficult matchup.

TE Greg Olsen

The Redskins haven’t been getting lit up by tight ends, but neither have they shut them down. And Olsen is targeted to the point that he’s a borderline every-week starter—especially in TE-mandatory leagues when four top-10 TEs are on the bye. The turf toe Olsen was nursing earlier in the week subsided enough for him to get in a full practice session on Friday, so he should be good to go.

TE Jeremy Shockey

If you’re reaching at the position, you may as well go with a guy who, despite being second fiddle at the position on his own team, is still targeted as frequently as Jermichael Finley and Fred Davis. And if Olsen’s little piggy flares up during the game, Shockey becomes first fiddle and is line for great production.

DT Panthers S3 Rexy’s out so the INTs may not be flowing as freely. And Carolina has yet to generate a multiple turnover game—maybe because they have just nine sacks in six games. Still, John Beck doesn’t bring a ton of game experience to the table…
Seattle at Cleveland Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Jackson's pec injury continues to limit his practice participation; he's listed as doubtful, and Charlie Whitehurst will get the start.
QB Charlie Whitehurst B Charlie wasn’t bad in relief of the injured T-Jax against the Giants in Week 5, and he'll get the start this week in Cleveland. Unfortunately for him it's a tough matchup against a Browns defense that’s holding teams to an average of less than 200 passing yards per game.
RB Marshawn Lynch S2

Lynch is the only Seattle back getting meaningful touches, and the last three games he’s turned them into 263 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. The Browns have allowed four of the five feature backs they’ve faced to amass triple-digit combo yardage; the only exception was Darren McFadden, who topped out at 93 last week but still scored. If the Browns are to be without starting linebacker Scott Fujita, still dealing with the aftershocks of a concussion suffered in Week 6, Lynch might get a bump to S1.


Sidney Rice
Doug Baldwin
Ben Obomanu

B With or without Joe Haden the Browns’ secondary has been solid: only two WR TDs through five games, only two wideouts topping 66 yards and none exceeding 87. If one of the Seahawk wideouts had emerged as a true WR1 they’d be startable, but with Rice, Baldwin, and Obomanu splitting looks from a QB TBD, you can’t bank on any of them.
DT Seahawks B Seattle’s pre-bye performance—three sacks, five turnovers, and a defensive touchdown against the Giants—was an aberration. Don’t look for similar results against a conservative Browns offense that has yet to surrender multiple takeaways in a game.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy S3

Colt is useable this week, primarily because Seattle’s secondary is softer on the road (two highest yardage games have come away from home) and you know he’s good for at least 210 and a touchdown, with the possibility of a second score as well.

RB Peyton Hillis


Doesn’t look like Hillis will be able to go after tweaking his hamstring last week. Or at least that’s what his agent is saying right now. That’s a joke, by the way.

RB Montario Hardesty


This isn’t the same Seattle defense teams used to be able to run all over; in fact, thus far no back has topped 70 yards and they’ve shut out three of five opponents including Frank Gore’s Niners and Ahmad Bradshaw’s Giants. Hardesty has done nothing with the limited carries he’s seen to make us think more means better, and he’s been a detriment in the passing game with an astounding six drops on just 17 targets. In fact, yet another drop in practice on Friday caused Pat Shurmur to boot Hardesty off the field and insert Chris Ogbonnaya with the first team. Hardesty will still start, but he's lost at minimum third-down duties and will be on a short leash.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya U

Ogbonnaya, freshly signed off the Texans’ practice squad, is familiar with the offense having spent two training camps with Pat Shurmur in St. Louis. He'll take over third-down duties for the slippery-fingered Hardesty and might be the Browns’ last best option.

WR Greg Little S3

Little was targeted a dozen times in his first NFL start and would have had a touchdown to show for his efforts had he not tripped inches short of the goal line. He’ll get a chance to redeem himself—and improve on the 6-72 from last week—against a Seattle secondary that’s surrendered three 100-yard games and four WR TDs in the past four contests.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi

Massaquoi has two of the Browns’ three WR TDs, including last week, but he’s getting maybe half a dozen targets a game and isn’t the primary option in Cleveland’s passing game. It’s not a bad matchup, but unless you’re in desperate bye-week straits you can do better.

TE Ben Watson S3

Watson would be an S2 easily against a Seattle defense that’s allowed 56 yards or better to three straight tight ends and TDs to the last two they’ve faced—except he has to compete with teammates Alex Smith (who stole a touchdown last week) and Evan Moore (who has two TDs already this season) for looks. Watson is the targets leader, but it would take a more exclusive arrangement for us to get truly excited about his prospects.

DT Browns S3 Josh Cribbs wants to do more on special teams, and that can’t hurt. Neither can a pass rush with multiple sacks in four of five games being turned loose against an offensive line that’s allowing an average of four QB takedowns per game.

Atlanta at Detroit

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Four straight one-TD games (though he did add a rare rushing score last week) and a month of declining yardage… this isn’t the Ryan fantasy owners signed up for. This road matchup with a Detroit secondary that’s held five of six foes to one or zero TD tosses doesn’t add any optimism. At this juncture Ryan is barely clinging to a starting spot; in fact, your backup may be your better bet.

RB Michael Turner S2

The Lions have surrendered back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to Matt Forte and Frank Gore. Atlanta's recommitment to the run could make it three straight, as Turner has five touchdowns in the last three games and is fresh off his third triple-digit yardage outing of the season.

WR Roddy White S3

The matchup shouldn’t scare you; after all, if Michael Jenkins (9-88) and Laurent Robinson (7-116) and Michael Crabtree (9-77) can be productive against Detroit, so too should Roddy. However, his production has declined alongside Ryan to the point where Harry Douglas outproduced him last week. You can’t bench him, but he needs to start playing up to his draft position.

WR Julio Jones B

Jones missed last week’s game, did not practice this week, and is listed as doubtful.

WR Harry Douglas B

The Lions have allowed two productive wideouts in the same game just once this year, when Dez Bryant scored twice and Robinson went for 116 yards. Unless you think Douglas usurps White again this week, his fantasy value is negligible.


Tony Gonzalez


Last week marked Gonzo’s first real fantasy dud of the season; he should get back on the horse against a Detroit defense that’s allowed a TE TD in four straight games.

DT Falcons B The Lions are a tough mark for fantasy defenses: they don’t turn the ball over, and they score a bunch of points. Chances are you can find a better option, even on a six-team bye week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S2

Stafford has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season and averages 288 passing yards per game. The Falcons have held divisional foes Cam Newton and Josh Freeman without touchdown tosses; everybody else they’ve faced has multiple scores and averages 335 passing yards per game. Last we checked, Detroit wasn’t in the NFC South.

RB Jahvid Best B

Best suffered another concussion in last week’s loss to the 49ers and won't play this week.

RB Maurice Morris B

Morris is in line to start sans Best, but Keiland Williams could be in the mix as well. Not that it matters; the Falcons haven’t allowed a back to top 50 yards against them since Week 3.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Atlanta has allowed five WR TDs in the last three games, served up big games to Jeremy Maclin (13-171-2) and James Jones (5-140-1), and… aw, what does it matter; you know Megatron starts.

WR Nate Burleson


Secondary targets scored and/or topped 75 yards four times in the past three games, and with Burleson seeing WR2-level targets again (10 last week, which he turned into 4-34-1) he’s worthy of a start in a six-team bye week.

WR Titus Young

After a brief flash of relevance Young’s production has declined four straight games. He’s a reach at best.

TE Brandon Pettigrew

The Falcons haven’t allowed a TE TD since Week 1, but they gave up 102 yards to the position last week and 89 the week before that. If Tony Scheffler is healthy it could cut into Pettigrew’s targets, but he’s seen 41 balls the last four games and has scored in back to back weeks. Sans Scheffler, bump Bettigrew to a S2.

DT Lions S3 Atlanta has played turnover-free two of the last three and given up just two sacks during that span. They’re not the kind of team that makes the mistakes that turn into fantasy points, but the Ford Field crowd might have a say in the matter. They’re enough to push Detroit’s DST over the hump into startable territory.

Denver at Miami

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Tebow S2 The Dolphins aren’t stopping anyone; they came close on Monday night, but Mark Sanchez salvaged a solid fantasy game with a rushing touchdown. And that’s what Tebow does best: in every game in which he’s attempted a pass he also has a rushing touchdown—five straight dating back to last season. He’s also rushed for a score in seven straight games in which he’s had more than one carry. So his passing numbers—and oh, by the way, he has a passing TD in four straight and every game in which he’s attempted more than one pass—are a bonus; pencil him in for a rush TD, a passing TD, and anything after that is gravy.
RB Willis McGahee S3 McGahee has topped 100 yards in three of four, but here’s cause for concern: in Tebow’s three starts last season The Chosen One rushed 31 times for 199 yards and three TDs while Denver’s running backs combined for 63 carries, 197 yards, and one TD. The Dolphins have surrendered at least 67 yards to every feature back they’ve faced, so McGahee should contribute some yardage; just don’t bank on a score.
RB Knowshon Moreno B NoShow’s carries have declined from eight to two to zero in Denver’s most recent game, though he did manage to score on a reception. Tough to bank on that happening again, and with Moreno holding such a short straw in the Broncos’ backfield your fantasy team can do better.
WR Eric Decker


A third of Denver’s wide receiver targets left when Brandon Lloyd was traded to the Rams; given the way Tebow missle-locked on his WR1 last year (28 targets for 14-263-2 to Lloyd in his three starts last year; 28 targets for 10-178-1 to all other Broncos wideouts combined), figuring out who will take Lloyd’s place is critical. For this week, at least, roll the dice with a guy who’s actually been on the field in the past month and who stepped into Lloyd’s role in Week 2 to the tune of 5-113-2.

WR Eddie Royal
Demaryius Thomas

As noted above, Tebow has eyes for one receiver—and that receiver is likely to be Decker. Worse, Miami hasn’t allowed a secondary target to top 48 yards since Deion Branch did so in Week 1. Both Royal and Thomas are working their way back from injuries, so who knows how much they’ll be involved anyway.

TE Daniel Fells


Fells hasn’t topped 50 yards yet this year and falls into the “other” category among receivers Tebow looks at. The Dolphins have given up decent outings to much more involved tight ends, but nothing that suggests you dust off Fells and plug him into your lineup this week.

DT Broncos S2 The Dolphins have thrown a pick in every game this season; Matt Moore threw two Monday night, including a pick six. Miami is also giving up sacks at an alarming rate—almost four per game—and Denver brings a streak of four straight games with multiple sacks into this tilt. There are definitely opportunities for them to create mayhem in Miami.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B

The Broncos gave up eight TD tosses and three 300-yard games while Champ Bailey was out of the lineup. He’s back, and while he may no longer be of Darrelle Revis caliber he’s still a formidable foe—more than enough to discourage fantasy owners from plugging Moore into their bye-week lineups.


Daniel Thomas


Thomas struggled against the Jets on Monday night, but he’s still getting the carries over Reggie Bush. He should bang out a decent yardage outing against Denver, but don’t expect a touchdown against a Broncos defense that hasn’t allowed a running back rushing score this season and hasn’t given up an RB TD of any sort since Week 1.


Reggie Bush


Less is more with Bush, who averaged seven yards a carry on 10 carries against the Jets. He’s also an adequate yardage play, especially in a week with six teams on the bye, but a touchdown is unlikely.


Brandon Marshall


Well, he didn’t achieve his goal of getting kicked out on Monday night, but he did put up 109 yards on Darrelle Revis—a number that could have been more impressive had not Marshall dropped a couple balls, one of them a sure touchdown. Next up is Champ Bailey, but after leaving Revis Island with triple digits Bailey Bay will feel like a walk in the park.


Davonne Bess
Brian Hartline


Miami’s secondary targets haven’t been fantasy relevant since the Week 1 shootout with New England.


Anthony Fasano


When you have an underused offensive cog like Fasano facing a defense that’s allowing an average of less than 40 yards per game to the position, there can be but one outcome.

DT Dolphins B The Dolphins have just three takeaways in five games, and it’s unlikely they rattle Tim Tebow on Gator Day to produce their first defensive TD in 20 games.

San Diego at NY Jets

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

Rivers has thrown for at least 250 yards in every game this season, but he hasn’t had a multiple touchdown effort since Week 2. Tough to project one against a Jets secondary that’s allowed just three scoring strikes all season and held four of five foes under 205 passing yards. Rivers gets the nod, but just barely.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 The Jets are a better run defense at home than on the road, but they’re hardly a stopper at home in giving up 91 rushing yards per game and decent outings to Maurice Jones-Drew (18-88) and Reggie Bush (10-71). Mathews has stepped into the feature back role the Bolts intended for him last season with triple-digit combo yardage in every game, an average of 134 per contest. A score may be elusive, but Mathews will be a yardage-league helper.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 Secondary backs have totaled 49 combo yards or better in three of the last four against Gang Green; Tolbert has topped that number in four of five and is averaging 67 yards from scrimmage per game. He’s also the goal line guy, but against a Jets defense that’s allowed only one RB TD at MetLife Stadium that may not come into play. In a week where six teams are on the bye he’s worth a fantasy start.
WR Vincent Jackson S3 Proof that no man is an island: opposing WR1s have posted back-to-back 100-yard games against the Jets. And while that’s not entirely on Darrelle Revis, it does bode well for Jackson’s fantasy prospects this week. He’s not a great start, to be sure, but the last time Jackson faced the Jets he pulled in seven balls for 111 yards in the 2009 playoffs (Revis didn’t cover him full-time and did have a pick in that game). Respect the matchup, but don’t fear it.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 Look at Floyd’s opportunity a couple of ways. First, he’s a viable alternative to throwing at Jackson if he’s blanketed by Revis—not to mention an option if coverage also flows towards Antonio Gates, if he’s in the lineup. Floyd was also the Chargers’ top receiver (3-100-1) in their last game, and the two most formidable offenses the Jets have faced—Dallas and New England—have each had a secondary receiver find the end zone.
TE Antonio Gates B

Gates is listed as questionable, but he only got in one limited practice this week and that was on Wednesday. Follow this one right up to kickoff if you wish, but you can't expect a full Gates this week. Another good reason to wait on Gates: the Jets haven’t allowed a TE TD since Week 15 of last year and, after allowing 110 yards to Jason Witten in Week 1, have given up a total of 242 yards to the position in the last five games.

DT Chargers B

The Ravens debacle is looking more and more like an aberration, as the Jets have turned the ball over just once since then. San Diego has generated just five takeaways in five games and hasn’t had a return TD since Week 12 of last year; one here seems unlikely.

New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Not a particularly favorable matchup for GQ, as aside from the 423 and 3 the Bolts surrendered to Tom Brady they’re allowing an average of 130 yards and a touchdown to opposing quarterbacks. The upside for Sanchez feels like right around 200 yards and maybe a second touchdown; you can find a better option elsewhere.

RB Shonn Greene S3

Greene is a younger version of Cedric Benson: 20 or so carries at three-and-a-half yards a pop with the occasional touchdown. San Diego presents a slightly tougher matchup than usual, which puts Greene at the low end of the starter scale. But he’s going to get those 20 carries, and that kind of back is tough to find, especially in a six-team bye week.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson B

After a big combo-yardage week against the Raiders LT has slipped into the background. Greene is getting the carries, and LT isn’t seeing the looks he used to in the passing game. Only one team has allowed fewer RB receiving yards than the Chargers, so this doesn’t feel like an opportunity for LT to get over on his former team.

WR Santonio Holmes


Holmes has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks despite just seven catches. San Diego isn’t particularly susceptible to wideouts, having allowed just two WR TDs on the season, but Holmes is the focal point of the Jets’ passing game so he should carve out something useful.

WR Plaxico Burress
Jeremy Kerley


The same can’t be said for the Jets’ secondary targets. Burress hasn’t scored since Week 3 and has just seven catches since; Kerley has taken over the role formerly held by Derrick Mason but has just five career catches. The Chargers aren’t allowing much to wideouts period, let alone anything beyond WR1s, so don’t reach this deep into the Jets’ passing game.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller comes off his lowest target number of the season (5) and faces a defense that gave up 148 yards and three TDs to the Patriots’ dynamic tight end duo—and 140 yards and one TD to the other four games of tight ends they’ve faced. He’s involved enough to be useable in a six-team bye week, but it’s not as if we’re giddy about his prospects.

DT Jets S2 The Chargers have allowed multiple sacks in every game, multiple turnovers in four of five, and just surrendered their first defensive touchdown of the year last week. The Jets have two defensive scores in the last three games… and don’t forget about special teams, where the Chargers have had some issues the past season or two.

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