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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)

Cleveland at San Francisco

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy S3

Colt is much closer in caliber to the sub-200 yard QBs the Niners have allowed (Jackson, Dalton, Freeman) than he is to the Romo, Vick, and Stafford group that has put up at least 290 yards and multiple touchdowns. However, because the Browns aren't likely to find much success against a stingy San Francisco run defense he'll get enough opportunities to be at least a borderline fantasy contributor.

RB Peyton Hillis


Hillis tried to practice Wednesday, felt a twinge in his injured hamstring, and was held out both Thursday and Friday. He's listed as questionable, but this may not be the best game for him to come back for as the Niners have allowed only one back to top 40 yards against them and still haven't surrendered a running back rushing score. The Browns are working Montario Hardesty into the mix anyway, so even a best-case scenario doesn't set up well for Hillis' fantasy prospects this week.

RB Montario Hardesty


Hardesty was utterly ordinary last week, unable to reach triple-digit yardage despite 33 carries. He'll be sharing carries with Hillis or banging his head against a wall himself; neither lends itself to fantasy success.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya S3

More upside for Ogbonnaya, who could be the Browns' third down back with or without Hillis in the lineup. With Hillis having almost no practice time under his belt this week look for Ogbonnaya to improve upon last week's showing against a defense that allowed 73 receiving yards to Maurice Morris just last week.

WR Greg Little S3

Little seems set as Cleveland's top wideout, and while there's not a whole lot of fantasy value in that just yet this week might prove to be the exception. Teams struggle to run on the Niners, but they've already allowed three WR1s to top the 100-yard mark. Again, volume is a key contributor to Little's expected success.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi

Massaquoi suffered another concussion last week and isn't expected to play this week.

TE Ben Watson S3

Watson is also nursing a concussion, but he returned to practice and took reps with the first team on Friday. There's fantasy value at this position against the Niners, and if Watson plays he'll get the majority of the opportunities against a Niners defense that's allowed two TE TDs in the past three weeks and four games of at least 50 yards to the position.

TE Evan Moore B

With Watson back at practice taking reps with the first team, Moore will see fewer snaps and as such can't really be trusted with a fantasy start despite the favorable matchup.

DT Browns B Shutting down Seattle is one thing; going on the road and limiting a team that's scored 97 points in three games is another thing entirely.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith has but one game of more than 201 yards, and he'll be squaring off with an underrated Browns secondary that has allowed multiple touchdown tosses just once this season--plus Joe Haden is healthy. Surely you can do better, even with six teams on the bye.

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore is on a roll with three straight 100-yard efforts. While the Seahawks didn't test the Browns on the ground last week, in the three previous games Cleveland gave up 91, 101, and 95 yards to feature backs. No reason to think the Browns will slow Gore's streak.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Only two wideouts have topped 70 yards against the Browns and none have exceeded 90 so this is anything but a favorable matchup. However, Crabtree's 15 targets suggest he'll get an opportunity to make plays; for that he at least warrants fantasy consideration.
WR Braylon Edwards B Edwards returned to practice this week after missing four games following knee surgery, and the expectation is that he'll be brought along much like Crabtree was when he returned from injury: he won't necessarily start, but he'll be on the field plenty. You could play the revenge card as Edwards faces the team that drafted him out of college, but it would be a reach as he's likely the third option in the San Francisco passing game.
TE Vernon Davis S2

The 49ers have five TE TDs in the past three games; unfortunately for Davis owners, Delanie Walker has vultured two of them. Cleveland has given up three tight end scores in their past three, and with little in the way of wide receiver options Davis should once again be a primary focus for Alex Smith.

DT 49ers S3 The Browns haven't put 20 points on the board since Week 2; the Niners have held four of six foes under that number. They've also scored defensive points in each of the past two games and have Ted Ginn in the return game. That's at least worth fantasy consideration.

Cincinnati at Seattle

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S3

Dalton is far from a great play against a Seattle defense that's allowed only Eli Manning to take them for multiple TD tosses, but with no Cedric Benson and the Seahawks stout against the run Andy will be asked to do a bit more offensively. Three of five north of 260 yards suggests he's up to the task.

RB Bernard Scott B

Seattle is giving up a paltry 3.1 rushing yards per carry--not the cushy matchup Scott has succeeded against in the past. With Cedric Benson suspended he should see the majority of the carries, but if he couldn't even muster three yards a tote against the soft Indy run D he'll find the going extremely difficult in Seattle.

RB Brian Leonard B

Leonard offers a slightly different challenge for the Seahawk defense; as a banger he's more along the lines of backs like Michael Turner and Rashard Mendenhall who have had some success against Seattle. He's also an adept pass-catcher, but his looks will likely be limited to the point that he's a desperation fantasy play at best.

WR A.J. Green


Green has 100 yards or a touchdown (or both) in three straight and five of six. With Benson out, he'll be the focus of the Bengals' attack--and a secondary that's already allowed three 100-yard games isn't likely to offer up much resistance.

WR Jerome Simpson


Simpson continues to climb back into fantasy relevancy, with an all-but-forgotten 101-yard game prior to the Bengals bye his latest step. Seattle has allowed at least 50 yards or a touchdown to five secondary receivers in the last five games, and with the Bengals using their B running game against a B-plus run defense they'll need targets besides Green to step up. Simpson certainly fits that bill.

TE Jermaine Gresham S3 Steadily targeted and equally productive, Gresham is a decent fantasy play against a defense that's allowed two TE TDs in the past three games.
DT Bengals S2 The Bengals have defensive scores in back-to-back games, haven't allowed an opponent to top 20 points in more than a month, and will face a backup quarterback and an offense that failed to score a touchdown last week. There are many ways for this to go right.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Sounds like Jackson still lacks arm strength and will have to sit another week. Officially the Seahawks are calling it a game-time decision, but Charlie Whitehurst has taken most of the first-team reps. Tough to expect much from Jackson if he's both hurt and underprepared.
QB Charlie Whitehurst B The Bengals haven't allowed a multiple passing touchdown game since Week 2 and haven't allowed as much as 225 passing yards all year. Whitehurst couldn't even crack triple-digit yardage last week; tough to expect him to solve the Bengals this week.
RB Marshawn Lynch B

Lynch tapped out just prior to kickoff last week with a back injury, leaving fantasy owners primed for a big game against Cleveland holding the proverbial bag of doggie doo. Lynch said during the week he doesn't care about your fantasy team, and while he's expected to return to the lineup you can show him the same disrespect he tossed your way. The Bengals are a solid run defense, and as Lynch requires a cushy matchup for fantasy relevancy you don't need to care about him this week either. Touche, Marshawn.

RB Leon Washington B

If Lynch can't go again, Washington would be in line for the bulk of the workload--though Justin Forsett would also see touches as well. Neither did anything of note against a significantly softer Browns defense last week, so nothing should be expected here.


Sidney Rice
Doug Baldwin

B Whitehurst couldn't develop a love connection with any receiver last week, though Rice was his most targeted. Doesn't much matter, as the Bengals have allowed just one WR TD the past four games and only three for the entire season. You shouldn't expect fringe contributors to step up against tough competition, so keep the entire Seahawk passing game on your bench.
DT Seahawks B While the Seahawks may have the 12th Man on their side, the Bengals haven't been making the kinds of mistakes that lead to defensive fantasy points; using Seattle would be a reach.

Dallas at Philadelphia

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

The Eagles haven't seen Romo since 2009, when he dropped two 300-yard games on them during the regular season before bumping them from the playoffs with 244 and 2 in the wild card round. Philly has upgraded in the secondary, but thus far only a record-setting day from his ground game has knocked Romo off course; he's posted four 300-yard games and as many multiple-touchdown efforts and can be safely started again this week.

RB DeMarco Murray S2

Heading into the week the thought was that Murray was unlikely to see another 25 carries. However, Felix Jones won't play and Tashard Choice has been limited in practice all week as well. The Eagles have given up three 100-yard rushers and seven RB TDs, so there's opportunity for Murray regardless of workload--and if he's north of 20 touches again he'll be in line for a second straight week of monster numbers.

RB Felix Jones B

Jones missed the entire practice week with his high ankle sprain and isn't expected to be available Sunday in Philly.

WR Dez Bryant S2

This week's most pressing fantasy question may be: which Cowboys WR draws Nnamdi Asomugha? Bryant seems the likely choice given his recent success, but the Eagles may move Nnamdi between the two. Bryant is an athletic playmaker who can beat even the best of coverage, so don't let a little thing like a shutdown corner dissuade you.

WR Miles Austin S2

Austin saw Asomugha back in 2009, when he burned the Raiders for 7-145-1, so he shouldn't fear a shutdown either. Romo has favored Austin in the past but leaned Bryant last week; this time around it may just be who draws disgruntled Asante Samuel.

TE Jason Witten S2

Witten has scored in three straight regular season meetings with the Eagles, who have had their issues shutting down tight ends this season. Witten has also scored in three straight this year and should find plenty of action while Philly's Dream Team corners work on Austin and Bryant.

DT Cowboys S3 The Eagles have multiple turnovers in five straight games and offensive line issues that could open the door for DeMarcus Ware to wreak havoc. And the Cowboys plan to use Bryant in the return game as well.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick S2

We're still waiting for Vick's first rushing score of 2011; he had one in his one meeting with the Cowboys last year, and he's had 220 yards in the past three games so he's definitely contributing with his feet. But it's his arm that's likely to do the most damage against a Dallas secondary that's allowed multiple touchdown tosses in four of six.

RB LeSean McCoy

McCoy gashed the Cowboys for 149 yars the last time he saw them, and he's already posted three 120-yard games this season. Dallas has been tough against the run, but the versatile McCoy will find a way to get his.

WR DeSean Jackson
S2 The last time DeSean saw Dallas he dropped 210 yards on them; it's unlikely they've forgotten. The Cowboys have actually been solid against wideouts thus far this season, not allowing a 100-yard receiver and giving up five WR TDs in six games. But given what Jackson is capable of, you're not even thinking about keeping him out of your lineup.
WR Jeremy Maclin
S2 Maclin's had his share of success against the Cowboys as well; remember his 7-146-1 in the playoffs in 2009? The Cowboys can't cover both, and if they're not careful they may wind up covering neither. Both Maclin and Jackson have a degree of risk, but the upside is far too great for them to be benched.
TE Brent Celek
S3 Nine targets for Celek in Philly's last game, combined with the three TE TDs the Cowboys have allowed already this season, bring Celek into play during a six-team bye week.
DT Eagles S3 The Eagles get one and perhaps two of their top pass rushers back from injury, and between their cover corners and that pass rush there's opportunity for creating and taking advantage of a Tony Romo mistake.

San Diego at Kansas City

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

The Chiefs' pass defense has been streaky, while Rivers has been underachieving. His track record against the Chiefs, however--six straight multiple-touchdown games, three of them with 300-plus yards and an average of 295 yards per game during that span--suggests KC's streak will trend back to QB-friendly and Rivers will start achieving again.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 Mathews has moved to the fore of the committee, as evidenced by his 98 and 2 in the Week 3 meeting with Kansas City; he's also the healthier of the two backs and more involved in the passing game. No reason he can't match his output from the earlier meeting, and if Tolbert is limited he may push up to an S1.
RB Mike Tolbert B Tolbert is nursing a hamstring injury and didn't practice Thursday or Friday, so you can officially worry about his availability Monday night. The decision you have to make is whether you trust he'll go on Monday and eschew your Sunday backup plans. His goal line work makes that risk a whole lot more palatable in TD-heavy scoring systems.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 Jackson's 5-63 in the first meeting was a bit on the disappointing side, but after spending last week on Revis Island he's primed for a breakout.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 An injury limited Floyd to 2-28 in the earlier meeting, but he was the team's leading receiver last week against the Jets. He plays second fiddle to VJax, but the Chiefs have given up a touchdown or 50-plus yards to secondary targets seven times already this season. Floyd is nursing a hip injury, but he was back at practice Friday and looks good to go for Monday night. Again, this being a Monday night game you may need to explore backup plans prior to having all the necessary information at your disposal.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates is back in business, as evidenced by his touchdown last week. And since he missed the earlier meeting with KC due to foot issues, he can pour two games worth of numbers into this one. With 194 yards and three TDs in his last two against the Chiefs, that's plenty of pouring.

DT Chargers B

The Bolts produced a defensive touchdown last week, their first of the season, but in general they aren't generating turnovers or sacks and are giving up too many points to be considered a fantasy factor.

Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S3

Cassel threw for 176 and 2 in last month's meeting with the Chargers, and he's had another multiple TD effort and two 250-plus yardage outings since then. With Jamaal Charles done for the year Cassel carries the brunt of the offense; now that he's had time to adjust, he should improve upon the earlier showing.

RB Jackie Battle
S3 The Chargers have given up back-to-back 100-yard games, and with Charles out Battle has taken 35 carries for 195 yards the past two outings. He has the best opportunity to do something in the ground game, and in a week with six teams on the bye and a handful of other regular fantasy starters banged up that opportunity warrants fantasy attention.
RB Thomas Jones

Jones continues to plod along at three yards a pop. He'll get carries, but he's unlikely to do anything with them.

RB Dexter McCluster
B McCluster has yet to replace the explosiveness the Chiefs lost when Charles went down for the season; that lack of explosiveness is leading to fewer touches, and the downward spiral of McCluster's fantasy value continues.

Dwayne Bowe


Bowe did nothing against the Chargers last season but launched a three-game scoring streak with 4-67-1 in the earlier meeting this year. He was a reviewed call away from extending that streak last week and should be in line to launch another string here.


Steve Breaston


Breaston has been just a step behind Bowe for the past month. Bowe goes for 107; Breaston adds 91. Bowe scores twice; Breaston chips in a pair of his own. So if we like Bowe as an S2 this week, it stands to reason that Breaston is right there with S3 potential.

DT Chiefs B The Chiefs pick-sixed two different Raider QBs last week, but Rivers isn't as prone to error as Kyle Boller or a guy one week removed from watching the NFL on TV.

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