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Start/Bench List: Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 28, 2011
ARI at BAL NOS at STL NEP at PIT SDC at KCC 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)
Arizona at Baltimore Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb B

Kolb bucked the odds by having one of his more productive games of the season against a stout Steelers secondary last week. Don’t double-down on him matching that feat in Baltimore against an angry Ravens defense that has yet to allow multiple TD tosses this season and has held four straight quarterbacks to 220 yards or less.

RB Chris Wells
B Beanie says he’ll be back from his knee injury this week, and he got in a limited practice session on Thursday to get the ball rolling. But a) he's tapped out on us before; and b) he's facing the Ravens. Look for other options this week.
RB Alfonso Smith
B If Wellsis a late scratch, Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling will share the workload against an angry Ravens defense that hasn’t allowed an opposing back to score or top 50 rushing yards in Baltimore. He's unuseable this week, but keep him rostered in case Beanie's knee flares up again, as the Cards face the Rams twice in the upcoming month.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

The Ravens haven’t seen an elite receiver for a while—not since Mike Wallace (8-107) and Kenny Britt (9-135-1) took turns toasting them at the start of the season. Kolb is at least targeting Fitz (29 over the past three games), and with Fitz targets usually lead to production.

WR Early Doucet

WR2s have been averaging 3-33 against the Ravens over the past month, hardly a ringing endorsement for Doucet.

DT Cardinals B Arizona isn’t doing anything with the few takeaways they’ve generated, averaging three defensive fantasy points per game over the past five and giving up 30-plus real offensive points each of the past three.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

If you saw the first 50 or so minutes of Flacco’s Monday night travesty you probably think the S3 is overly optimistic. But his late rally suggests we’ll see more of the QB who threw for 300-plus yards in two of three heading into the Jacksonville game. An Arizona defense that has surrendered multiple TD tosses and 290-plus yards in four of six boosts Flacco’s chances as well.

RB Ray Rice S1

Rice is ready to make up for his Monday night egg. He’s scored in four of his last five at home and rushed for at least 100 yards in three of those games; he’ll put that trend on the line against an Arizona defense that’s giving up 145 rushing yards per road game. What’s the point at which Rice is forgiven? Set it high, because he’ll likely get there this week.

WR Anquan Boldin


Ah, the sweet, sweet revenge card. Boldin gets to play it this week, as part of a flush that includes nine or more targets in three of his last four games (the exception being a stint on Revis Island) and an Arizona secondary that’s allowed the third-most fantasy points to wideouts and surrendered five 100-yard games to receivers already.


Torrey Smith

S3 With Lee Evans still out Smith retains his job as the Ravens’ deep threat. In a week with six teams on the bye, that gives him enough opportunities against a suspect Arizona secondary to warrant a plug-in fantasy start.

Ed Dickson

S3 The Cards have given up TE TDs in three of the last five games; Dickson would be a more enticing prospect this week if Dennis Pitta weren’t taking a few looks off his plate. As it stands, there’s enough smoke here to warrant a bye week plug in.
DT Ravens S1 This prideful group was embarrassed on Monday Night Football, and it really wasn’t their fault. They’ve held five of six foes to 17 or fewer points, have eight sacks in the past two games, and have plenty of aggression to take out on the visiting Cardinals this week.
Minnesota at Carolina Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Christian Ponder S3

Ponder looked good in his first NFL start last week; now he faces a Carolina defense that just let John Beck throw for 279 and 1. Don’t be surprised if the athletic Ponder adds a rushing TD to the mix; the Panthers have allowed a QB rushing touchdown in each of the past two games.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

Ordinary backs like Chris Wells, James Starks, and Tim Hightower have all topped 85 yards against the Panthers, who are surrendering more than five yards a carry to opposing running backs. Better backs (Maurice Jones Drew, Michael Turner, Matt Forte) have had better days (122, 139, and 205, respectively). If Peterson is the best back in football.. well, you do the math.

WR Percy Harvin


Harvin is listed as questionable on the injury report with his sore ribs, but all indications are he'll not only play but also handle kick return duties for the injured Lorenzo Booker as well. That's good news, though the S3 indicates trepidation inherent in using a guy who had to leave the previous game with the same injury he enters this tilt with.

WR Michael Jenkins
Devin Aromashodu


The Panthers haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 1 or even a 70-yard receiver since Week 2. Despite Minnesota’s upgraded quarterback play—plus Jenkins’ first career 100-yard effort last week and the release of Bernard Berrian earlier this week—neither of the Vikings’ secondary targets make a compelling case for locking down a fantasy starting spot this week.

TE Vishante Shiancoe


With eight targets last week Shiancoe has emerged as a security blanket for the rookie QB. A date with a defense that’s allowed fantasy helpers to any team that’s thrown more than two passes at its tight ends bodes well for Big Shank’s production this week. He was limited during the practice week, but he's expected to start and play through just as he did last week.

DT Vikings B

The sacks are nice, but there are too many issues in the secondary for even a Jared Allen-led pass rush to cover. Plus, the Vikings have given up back to back 30-point games and held just one foe under 22 thus far this season.

Pos Player SBC Comments

Cam Newton

S1 The worst game by an opposing passer against Minnesota this season was 243 yards, and the Vikings surrender on average 296 per game. Add to that Newton’s rushing yards and score and he’s a money play again this week.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Minnesota’s run defense is no longer lights out, and they’re even softer on the road. Add to that their struggles to cover receivers out of the backfield and you can almost start Stewart with a degree of confidence this week.

DeAngelo Williams

B Could Williams bust off a long run? Sure. Do you want to bet a starting fantasy spot that he’ll do so on one of his 10 or so carries, knowing that the goal line love generally goes to Cam and the passing game snaps belong to Stewart? Didn’t think so.
WR Steve Smith S1

Smith has scored in four of five career outings against the Vikings, including a kickoff return TD in his first NFL game. He has 24 catches and 428 receiving yards his last three against Minnesota. Plus, the Vikings will be without one and perhaps both starting cornerbacks again. Smith already has four games with at least 140 receiving yards, and the Vikes just gave one up to Greg Jennings last week. Little stands between Smith and a fifth here.

WR Brandon LaFell S3

You could give the Panthers’ secondary target a go here as the Vikings have allowed a touchdown or 50-plus yards to a second receiver in six straight games. Legedu Naanee may see more snaps but LaFell is more of a target.

TE Greg Olsen

Olsen has to battle the Vikings defense—no great challenge, since every team they’ve faced that actually uses the tight end in their offense has had plenty of success. But he also has to battle teammate Jeremy Shockey for looks. Last week Shockey won with more catches and yardage despite similar targets, but that’s not the way things usually shake down. Both could be used in a pinch, but Olsen is the more reliable fantasy play.

DT Panthers B Charles Woodson baited Minnesota’s rookie QB into two picks last week, but there’s not a Woodson in the Carolina secondary. Plus, Carolina’s D has already surrendered 30 or more points four times this season so if that’s a factor in your fantasy scoring you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Jacksonville at Houston

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Blaine Gabbert B

Gabbert got his first NFL win on Monday night, but he didn’t even break 100 passing yards or throw a touchdown pass. Those are kind of prerequisites for getting a first fantasy football start.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S3

Only an S3 for MoJo because he hasn’t been a factor in the passing game for more than a month and that’s where backs have carved out fantasy value in Houston. This isn’t the same Texans’ D MJD took for 100 and 2 last season, or even the one Rashad Jennings posted 108 and 1 on in the regular season finale . It is, however the same Texans’ D that held Darren McFadden to 51 yards, Rashard Mendenhall to 25, and Joseph Addai to 39, so they’re unlikely to roll over for Jones-Drew. And with just five catches in the past four games you can’t bank on combo yardage to salvage MJD’s stat line.


Jason Hill

B While Hill is the most targeted Jaguar, he’s not producing enough with those looks to warrant fantasy attention.

Mike Sims-Walker
Mike Thomas

B The Jaguars let MSW walk in part because they thought Thomas could be a starting receiver—based in part on games like his 8-149-1 against the Texans last season; they’ve apparently reversed field on that decision, because after re-signing Sims-Walker last week he started Monday night and played nearly twice the snaps Thomas did. Of course, the two were targeted three times between them so at this juncture neither is fantasy relevant.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis scored in both ends of last season’s series, which is two more touchdowns than Marcedes has thus far this year. He hasn’t topped three catches or 40 yards since signing his fat new contract, and a Houston defense that served up 100 yards and a score to Jimmy Graham and 129 yards and a score to all the other tight ends they’ve faced this year combined doesn’t look to be the matchup that rekindles his spark.
DT Jaguars B

Jacksonville’s defense has played well of late, but they’ve also served up two 30-point games this year, aren’t doing much in the way of takeaways or defensive fantasy points, and face a Houston offense that just dropped 41 on the Titans in Tennessee. You can find a better bye week option.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3 Schaub’s been better than anticipated with Andre Johnson out, picked up by Arian Foster’s receiving acumen. There’s a chance AJ returns for this tilt, which would bump Schaub’s ranking—but let’s wait and check AJ’s status on Friday before getting giddy.
RB Arian Foster

S1 One week after being shredded by Rashard Mendenhall on the road the Jags rose up to squelch Ray Rice at home. Now they’re in Houston, where last season Foster went for 180 and two TDs. After what Foster has been doing of late, 180 and two seems a tad conservative.
RB Ben Tate B Tough to start Tate and expect another double-digit workload.
WR Andre Johnson B

Johnson's hamstring won't be ready for him to play this weekend.

WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones

Jacksonville’s secondary has played markedly better this season, with only a couple fluke TDs to Kenny Britt in the season opener standing between them and solid trends like “no 100-yard receivers this season”. If AJ goes, Walter and Jones are afterthoughts. And if AJ doesn’t go… well, neither has done enough to warrant a fantasy start here anyway.

TE Owen Daniels S2

With AJ out, Daniels becomes Schaub’s go-to guy. And against a defense that’s already allowed two 100-yard games to tight ends Daniels is a solid candidate to replicate the 5-62-1 he posted on Jacksonville in the 2010 season finale. Daniels’ grade is subject to change based on the availability of both Johnson and tight end/H-back James Casey.

DT Texans S2 A home game, a rookie quarterback, Wade Phillips’ defense, and a Jacksonville offense that hasn’t topped 20 points this season… adds up to a pretty solid fantasy start for the Texans.

Miami at NY Giants

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B

Nothing in the 564 passing yards or one passing touchdown we’ve seen in almost three games of work suggests Moore is a fantasy option.


Daniel Thomas


After a fast start Thomas has been kind of ordinary, but a date with a Giants defense that’s allowed each of the last four feature backs they’ve faced to rush for 98 yards or better (an average of 121 yards per game during that span) should help him get back on track. Just make sure the hamstring injury he’s been fighting through isn’t costing him practice—or more importantly, game—time.


Reggie Bush


Bush is settling into a reasonable workload; best of all, it’s not taking him between the tackles where he’s more prone to injury. Pencil him in for a share of the rushing yards the Giants cede, as well as some of the receiving yardage New York cedes to running backs—152 over their past three games; it adds up to a viable bye week plug-in play.


Brandon Marshall


After spending the past fortnight wearing Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, nothing the Giants throw at Marshall should faze him. Moore isn’t afraid to throw his way (22 targets in Moore’s two starts), and against a secondary that’s already allowed big games to Larry Fitzgerald, Danario Alexander, and Doug Baldwin it shouldn’t be a problem for the two to hook up here.


Davonne Bess


With a dozen targets last week (which he turned into 7-52) you could make a tepid case for Bess against a Giants’ defense that’s allowed touchdowns to secondary wideouts in back-to-back games. But we don’t trust either Moore or Bess enough to do so.


Anthony Fasano


Don’t let last week’s TD fool you; Fasano has been targeted just 12 times in the past five games and he’ll be facing a Giants’ defense that has yet to allow a TE TD and has given up just 158 yards to the position over the past five games.

DT Dolphins B The Dolphins aren’t generating enough turnovers—or doing enough with the ones they do generate—to offset the likelihood that they’ll surrender 25-plus points to the Giants.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Eli averages a shade under 300 passing yards per game, and despite being shut out by the Bills prior to the Giants’ bye he still has 11 touchdown tosses in his last five games. The Dolphins secondary isn’t as bad as it looked in allowing 517 and 4 in the season opener, but they aren’t shutdown enough for you to think about benching Manning here.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Bradshaw was doing just fine with his split workload; when Brandon Jacobs went on the shelf, he kicked it up a notch with a three-TD performance. Jacobs is expected back, returning Bradshaw to regular levels. And while the Dolphins are no pushover, other backs have turned Ahmad’s expected workload into reasonably productive outings against Miami. And if Jacobs is ruled out during the course of the week, Bradshaw will get a bump in expectations.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs scored in three straight prior to taking two games off with a knee injury. The Dolphins have allowed only two RB TDs on the season, but if Jacobs is back in the mix he has enough upside to be a starter with six teams on the bye.

WR Hakeem Nicks

The Dolphins couldn’t handle Andre Johnson (93 & 1) or Vincent Jackson (108 & 1), and the likes of Mohamed Massaquoi and Demaryius Thomas scored on them. All are bigger, more physical targets like Nicks, so you have a baseline as to what you can expect from Hakeem. And since Nicks has had 96 yards or more and/or a touchdown in five of his six games this season, bump those expectations up again.

WR Victor Cruz
Mario Manningham


Has Manningham moved back atop Cruz in the battle for Eli’s attention, or was the Giants’ last game merely a fluke? Both are viable starters, and while the Dolphins haven’t surrendered much to second receivers of late it’s not unprecedented: they allowed two different Browns wideouts to reach the end zone and Deion Branch tallied 93 yards in the shadow of a 160 & 2 performance from Wes Welker. Cruz seems to be the more dynamic playmaker, but in Week 6 he was on the field less than half as many snaps as Manningham. Go for the playmaker or the quantity producer?

TE Jake Ballard S2

Not only has Ballard strung together a solid stretch of fantasy helpers, he faces a Miami defense that has allowed a touchdown or 50-plus yards to the position in five of six this season. More than just a bye week helper, Ballard is fast approaching regular fantasy starter status.

DT Giants S2 It’s not just the sacks, though the Dolphins are giving up three-plus a game and the Giants are sacking at a similar rate; those sacks are producing turnovers, and in a matchup between Matt Moore and the Giants’ pass rush it’s not tough to see Big Blue coming out on top.

New Orleans at St. Louis

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New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

This matchup really isn’t fair. Brees has 325 or more yards in five straight games, multiple touchdowns in five of seven, and rolls into St. Louis fresh off a 325 and 5 outing against the Colts. The hopelessly overmatched Rams have already given up five multiple TD games; all that stands between Brees and monster numbers is mercy from Sean Payton and whatever chunk of the production the New Orleans ground game takes. Neither of those should dissuade you from playing Brees with confidence this week.


Darren Sproles


Sproles shouldn’t have to cede looks to Mark Ingram, though touchdown vulture Jed Collins still lurks. Even if he gets his usual 18 or so touches, against a Rams D that’s giving up 200 combo yards per game to the running back position that should translate into plenty of production for Sproles.


Pierre Thomas


Assuming Ingram can’t go, there are 15 or so touches to be claimed. Sure, Chris Ivory could come off the PUP list to take some but it’s more likely they’re split between Sproles and Thomas. And if Thomas can gouge the Colts for 125 yards on 15 touches, image what he’ll do with a few more.


Mark Ingram


Ingram has been ruled out against the Rams. Chris Ivory was activated from the PUP, but he's not in "game shape" and is unlikely to contribute this week. Thomas and Sproles will see additional work in this extremely favorable matchup.

WR Marques Colston S2

Colston has re-established himself as the lead dog in New Orleans’ receiver rotation, which means he gets the first bite out of a defense that’s allowing almost two WR TDs a game and has surrendered three 100-yard games already.

WR Lance Moore
Robert Meachem

It’s one of those “start all your Saints” games (as most tend to be), but you can have a little more confidence in the secondary parts against a St. Louis defense that has allowed five secondary targets to score or top 70 yards this season.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 The Rams gave up their first TE TD of the season to Jason Witten last week, but you can throw stats out the window when it comes to Graham. He’s scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in five straight and six of seven and is Brees’ go-to red zone guy.
DT Saints S2 The Saints got their first defensive touchdown of the season last week; facing a Rams’ offense that’s served up three defensive scores already, they could make it two in a row. If your scoring system counts points allowed, note that the Rams have yet to make it past 16 on the scoreboard.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford B

This matchup of the two recent Heisman winners will be missing both trophy-holders as Bradford has already been ruled out of a second straight game with his high ankle sprain.

QB A. J. Feeley B

Despite starting last week Feeley still hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since 2007. No reason to think he’ll start now.

RB Steven Jackson S3

Five straight feature backs have topped 80 yards against the Saints. Whatever offense the Rams mount in this game, Jackson will most likely be at the core of it. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, but backs you can bank on for 20 touches are in short supply.


Brandon Lloyd


It didn’t take Lloyd llong to become the team’s go-to receiver. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean much but on a six-team bye week it’s at least worthy of fantasy consideration.


Brandon Gibson


Danario Alexander was the second-most targeted Ram last week, but shockingly he’s hurt again. That leaves about 17 other guys sniffing around for leftovers after Lloyd takes his. If Mark Clayton comes off the PUP list he could get a sniff; otherwise this is a situation to avoid.

DT Rams B The Saints aren’t making many miscues, the Rams aren’t causing many, and even if they did they probably wouldn’t know what to do with them. And oh yeah they’re giving up 34 points per game.

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