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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List: Week 9
John Tuvey
Updated: November 4, 2011
 
NYJ at BUF MIA at KCC CIN at TEN BAL at PIT Start/Bench List by Position
SEA at DAL TBB at NOS STL at ARI CHI at PHI
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CLE at HOU SFO at WAS NYG at NEP  
ATL at IND DEN at OAK GBP at SDC  
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)
 
 
Tampa Bay at New Orleans Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S2

Freeman’s 303 and 2 against the Saints in Week 6 came without LeGarrette Blount in the lineup, as did Freeman’s follow-up 264 and 2—his first two multiple-TD games of the season. With Blount expected to be back in the mix this week some of the offensive onus may be off of Freeman, but he should still be good for solid yardage against a New Orleans defense that may not be used to seeing competent quarterbacking after having faced Blaine Gabbert, Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and A.J. Feeley over the past month.

RB LeGarrette Blount S2

The Saints yielded 109 yards to Blount’s replacement, Earnest Graham, in the earlier meeting and surrendered 159 and 2 to an angry Steven Jackson last week. We know Blount can get angry, and Graham isn’t around to siphon off carries; if he practices fully all week this may be an S1 by Friday.

RB Kregg Lumpkin B

Lumpkin only becomes relevant if Blount has a setback during the week, as the Bucs’ RB depth chart is wafer thin.

WR Mike Williams
S3

Despite being targeted 13 times in the earlier meeting with the Saints Williams mustered just 6-59 while the touchdowns went to Arrelious Benn and Preston Parker. He’s still Freeman’s top target, but he’s been largely disappointing and isn’t a significantly better start than Benn.

WR Arrelious Benn
Preston Parker
B

The Bucs have said publicly they want to get Benn more involved, yet in their last game he spent much of the game watching Dezmon Briscoe run routes. Parker’s a slot guy, not a go-to guy. While the Saints aren’t a shutdown defense and both scored in the earlier meeting, neither is a particularly confidence-inspiring fantasy start.

TE Kellen Winslow B

Winslow is oh-fer in five games against the Saints as a Buc, and here’s a even more troubling trend: he’s been targeted double-digit times in every home game but has just 11 targets in two trips to the Superdome. Maybe he’ll exceed his average 5-43 game against the Saints, but nothing he’s done to date this season suggests you bank a spot in your starting lineup on it.

DT Buccaneers B While the Saints gave up six sacks and a defensive touchdown last week, it wouldn’t be advisable to throw the Bucs D out there against Drew Brees at home.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Brees threw for 383 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting with Tampa Bay this season, but that was in Tampa; this one’s at home, where he’s thrown multiple touchdowns in seven of his last eight and is averaging more than 300 yards per game over that span. His only clunker, though, was 196 and 1 against the Bucs late in Week 17 of last year. Favor primacy, trust the guy with six 300-plus yard games this season, and stick with Brees. Like you were really considering anything else.

RB

Darren Sproles

S2

The Saints more than the Bucs limited Sproles in the earlier meeting, giving him just one carry (which he took for 16 yards). Sproles salvaged value in PPR leagues with 8-46 receiving and has caught at least five balls in every game as pure PPR gold. Non-PPR leaguers can slide him down to an S3, but with Mark Ingram out another week and Chris Ivory largely ineffective last week it wouldn’t be a shock if Sproles saw double-digit carries in addition to his yeoman’s passing game work.

RB

Pierre Thomas

S3

With Mark Ingram out again, Thomas should see double-digit carries against a defense that’s allowed 5 RB TDs in the past three games and an average of 183 combo yards to the position over that span.

RB

Mark Ingram

B

Ingram will miss a second straight game with his bruised heel.

WR Marques Colston S2

While he’s not quite a true WR1 Colston is consistently the most targeted wideout in New Orleans. He’s also been the most targeted wideout each of the last four times he’s faced Tampa Bay, with 25 catches for 322 yards and a touchdown in that span—7-118-1 in the earlier meeting this season. Start him with a reasonable degree of confidence.

WR Robert Meachem
S3

It’s always hit-or-miss starting Meachem, but if you’ve used him against the Bucs you’ve hit on a touchdown three of the last five times—just not the last two. With seven targets the last three games, including a one-catch showing versus Tampa Bay—there’s definitely risk here.

WR Lance Moore
Robert Meachem
S3

As with Meachem—or, really, any secondary Saints receiver—there’s risk in trusting Moore with a spot in your starting lineup. His 10 targets (with 8-82-1) last week against the Rams suggest he’s a brighter blip on Brees’ radar than he was in the first meeting with Tampa Bay when he was targeted just three times (for 2-46). You’re safe expecting 3-4 catches for 40-50 yards, with the tangy zip of upside as well.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 Only one team has allowed more TE TDs than the Bucs, and they’re soft on yardage as well after surrendering 7-124 to Graham in the earlier meeting. He hasn’t seen fewer than seven targets this season; no reason for that to change here.
DT Saints S2 Defensive TDs in back to back games and a home date with a quarterback who threw four INTs in his last game? That’ll do.
 
San Francisco at Washington Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith has been north of 201 yards just once this season; he hasn’t cracked 180 since Week 4, and he’s thrown just one TD pass in each of his last two games. Traveling cross country to face a Redskins secondary that’s held four of the last five QBs they’ve faced to one or zero touchdowns isn’t going to help.

RB Frank Gore S1

Make it four straight 100-yard games for Gore since we left him for (career) dead about a month ago. And look for Gore to make it five against a defense that’s allowed Fred Jackson (120), LeSean McCoy (126), and Felix Jones (115) to take them for triple-digits over the past five games.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 WR1s are able to get theirs against the Redskins, so Smith’s favorite target (24 targets the last two games) should be able to carve out a fantasy helper here.
WR Braylon Edwards B Edwards caught four balls in his return to the lineup last week, but he’s still behind Michael Crabtree in the passing game pecking order and this week there doesn’t project to be enough to go around.
TE Vernon Davis S3

VD’s looks have been down of late, perhaps because of Crabtree. However, he should find room against a defense that’s allowed three TE TDs in the last three games—and make enough noise that Smith finds him when he does.

DT 49ers S2 The Redskins haven’t topped 20 points since Week 2 and were blanked last week while giving up nine sacks. As if you needed more reason to like a 49ers defense that’s held four of five under 20 points
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB John Beck B

With one TD toss in two-plus games, Beck hasn’t exactly made Redskins fans forget Rex Grossman. And that’s not a good thing. San Fran hasn’t given up enough in the passing game to make this matchup favorable enough for Beck to be a fantasy factor.

RB

Ryan Torain

B Torain has dribbled two favorable matchups down his burgundy-striped gold pants; no way he can be trusted against a defense that has yet to surrender a RB rushing score and has given up fewer RB yards than any other.
RB

Roy Helu

B If you’re extremely desperate and in a PPR league, Helu is the third down back and should see a few aerials against a San Francisco defense that’s allowed 22 RB receptions over the past four games. Extremely desperate.
WR Jabar Gaffney

B The Niners have given up just two WR TDs over the last five games, and while Gaffney has taken Santana Moss’s spot as the most targeted wideout it didn’t translate into much against a softer Buffalo defense and can’t be expected to do so against the Niners here.
TE Fred Davis
S3

Davis didn’t practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday; officially he's listed as questionable. If he's active he's a great play against a defense that’s allowing an average of 6-71 to the tight end position over the past six games, but have a backup plan at your disposal just in case.

DT Redskins B San Francisco’s offense isn’t making the kinds of gaffes that lead to defensive fantasy points, and Washington’s D isn’t doing enough to force them to change.
 

Denver at Oakland

Back to top
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Tebow S3 It won't be pretty; in fact, it may be downright ugly. But thus far Tebow has still managed to cobble together fantasy value, primarly through rushing yardage and a touchdown. The Raiders have given up multiple scoring strikes in five of their last six, so even if John Fox is ready to bail on Tebow fantasy owners should be able to squeeze at least one more serviceable performance out of him.
RB Willis McGahee B

McGahee practiced on a limited basis all week and expects to play Sunday. He'll likely be sharing carries and may be limited by the cast on his hand, and the potential reward isn't worth risking a fantasy start on him.

RB Knowshon Moreno B

Moreno was moderately affective in the blowout loss to Detroit last week, but he could lose significant touches to McGahee if Willis is ready to go this week. Don't plan on using Moreno unless and until McGahee is ruled out.

WR Demaryius Thomas
Eric Decker
B

Brandon Lloyd (6-89) did the damage in the earlier meeting, and the Raiders have allowed at least one wideout to score or top 70 yards (sometimes both) in every game since. The key will be to figure out who will be Tebow's go-to receiver this week, as in two games he's alternately ignored and adored both Thomas and Decker. Chances are Tebow's passing numbers won't support one good fantasy start let alone two, so unless you feel like playing the shell game for a touchdown best bench both Bronco wideouts.

DT Broncos S3 Carson Palmer threw a pick six the last time he played, and he's only had a couple weeks to shake off the rust so there may be another one in there yet.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

With a couple weeks of prep, you have to expect we'll see something much closer to the 26-touchdown Palmer as opposed to the three-pick Palmer we saw in Week 7. Denver is a significantly better pass defense with a healthy Champ Bailey in the lineup, but Palmer is veteran enough to do a better job of avoiding him than, say, Jason Campbell (13-22-105-1) did in the season opener.

RB Darren McFadden
B

McFadden has been ruled out of Sunday's game, with no opportunity to reprise the 150 yards he dropped on Denver in the season opener... or the 119 he rolled up against them in Week 15 of last year... or the 165 and 3 (plus 2-31-1 receiving) he exploded for in the front end of last season's series.

RB Michael Bush
S2

Bush has three TDs in his last three meetings with Denver despite receiving the junior share of carries. Actually, that share has worked out to about 12 a game and with McFadden out he could very easily double that against a Broncos defense that's allowed at least 95 yards from scrimmage to each of the last four backfields they've faced.

RB Taiwan Jones U

Jones was splitting first-team reps with Bush during the practice week, so look for the Raiders to give him a handful of touches to take advantage of his speed. Against Kansas City prior to the bye that amounted to four carries for 48 yards, indicating the explosiveness; sans McFadden, Jones could provide a burst to an RB-desperate fantasy team as well.

WR

Darius Heyward-Bey

S3

DHB has emerged as the Raiders most consistent downfield target, and Palmer certainly knew where to find him in his Raiders debut two weeks ago as he helped Heyward-Bey turn 11 targets into 5-89. If you think Palmer will flash his old skills, you have to like DHB to be ton the receiving end of many of the passes.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

B

Another new piece, but one that's familiar with Hue Jackson's offense and Carson Palmer's quarterbacking. He'll eventually settle into a tight end-like role for the Raiders, but it's too early to bank on him for fantasy help.

DT Raiders S2 You've seen Tebow's quarterbacking; you'd start a defense against it, too.
 
Cincinnati at Tennessee Back to top
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S2

The rookie isn't afraid of a road trip, with multiple TD tosses in each of his last three away from home. The Titans secondary pitched a shutout last week, but that was against Curtis Painter; they'd allowed seven TDs to legit NFL quarterbacks in the previous two games, and they've surrendered at least 228 yards in four straight. Dalton has a go-to guy in A.J. Green, and he's not afraid to use him.

RB Cedric Benson S2

Benson is back to claim his feature-back gig after serving a one-game suspension. It's a favorable matchup with a Titans defense that's served up 461 rushing yards in the last three games, as well as three RB rushing scores in that same span. It's not a home game, but it's the kind of matchup Benson can exploit.

RB Bernard Scott B

Thanks for last week, Bernard; here's a few token carries, a year's supply of Rice-A-Roni, and the home version of our fabulous game as parting gifts.

WR A.J. Green

S2

Green has scored in five of seven and has two 100-yard games to his credit as well. It's not a great matchup, but you know Dalton will take his shots at Green, who is rapidly becoming one of the most bankable wideouts in fantasy football.

WR Jerome Simpson

S3

Secondary targets have managed at least 50 yards or a touchdown in three of the last four against Tennessee, and Simpson brings a three-game scoring streak into this tilt.

TE Jermaine Gresham B A late scratch prior to last week's game, Gresham did not practice all week and is considered doubtful with a hamstring injury. Donald Lee is the Bengals' plug-in; you probably have a better fantasy option at your disposal in the free agent pool.
DT Bengals S3 The Bengals have a defensive score in three straight and have given up more than 20 points just once this year.
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3

Solid yardage, light on touchdowns; not only is that Hasselbeck's MO it's also what the Bengals have been serving up this season as well. You may want to look elsewhere if your scoring system is TD-heavy, but yardage-based leagues should welcome Matt as a starter.

RB Chris Johnson B

Johnson has forfeited his elite status and after last week's egg is at best a matchup play. This isn't a favorable matchup, as the rank in the top 10 in fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs, so bench away.

RB Javon Ringer B

Ringer is essentially sharing carries with the ineffective Johnson, though he's no better bet against a very good Cincinnati run defense this week.

WR Nate Washington
S3 Washington seems to be the guy the Titans are making the most concerted effort to get the ball to. Against a secondary that's allowed three 100-yard receivers in as many weeks, you have to believe they'll find a way to get it to him here.
WR Damian Williams
B Williams is pushing Washington for looks, but right now Washington is making plays and Williams is just working to stay on the field. No reason to plug him in this week.
TE Jared Cook
B Cook simply isn't targeted consistently enough to trust with a fantasy start, especially against a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in yards and scores allowed to the tight end position.
DT Titans S3 Serving up 79 points in two games tests our faith, but the Titans have held foes to 16 or fewer in their other five so we're inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt at home.
 
St. Louis at Arizona Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford B

Bradford practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday and is a game-time decision; he hasn't been doing enough fantasy-wise to warrant you sweating that process out.

QB A. J. Feeley B

Despite getting the win last week, Feeley hasn't done anything to suggest he warrants a fantasy start.

RB Steven Jackson S1

Jackson has touchdowns in three of his last four against Arizona, has 100-yard efforts in two of his last three versus the Cardinals, and comes into this game fresh off a 159-yard, two-TD steamrolling of the Saints. You wanna bet against him?

WR

Brandon Lloyd

S3

Lloyd has yet to catch a pass from Bradford but he's already established himself as the Rams' go-to receiver thanks to 15 targets in two games with Feeley. Doesn't matter who's quarterbacking the Rams; Arizona has allowed five 100-yard receivers in as many games, so all they need is someone to throw near Lloyd and he's fantasy

WR

Brandon Gibson

B

On behalf of all the Rams receivers left in the dust by Lloyd's acquisition, Gibson takes the B.

DT Rams S3 The Rams beat up Drew Brees last week; who's to say they can't do the same to Kevin Kolb or John Skelton?
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb B

Kolb did not practice all week due to his toe injury and is officially listed as doubtful. He hasn't been playing well enough to warrant a fantasy start anyway, so no need to stretch for him here.

QB John Skelton B

The Cards didn't give up a starting cornerback and a top draft pick because they liked the prospect of Skelton quarterbacking them on a regular basis. With Kolb doubtful he'll likely play, but there are better fantasy fish in the sea.

RB Chris Wells
S2 This should be a field day for Wells against the worst run defense in the league, but it all depends on if he's able to play through his troublesome knee injury. The expectation is, at least for now, that he'll go--but an insurance pickup of Alfonso Smith might be prudent as well.
RB Alfonso Smith
U Smith isn't likely to see more than token carries if Wells is able to play on Sunday. But if Wells taps out prior to kickoff--and he's done it before--then Smith becomes a very intriguging bye week plug-in play.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S2

The Rams have given up a league-high 12 WR TDs, so regardless of quarterback Fitzgerald is a solid bet to score. Plus, he's targeted enough that the yardage will come as well. However, the shift to Skelton is concern enough to drop Fitz from elite to merely very good.

WR Early Doucet
S3

While Fitzgerald is unquestionably the go-to guy, the Rams have given up 50-plus yards or a touchdown (or both) to eight different secondary receivers. At a half-dozen targets a game Doucet should have the opportunity to join that group.

DT Cardinals S3 Arizona will be facing either a gimpy Bradford or... well, A.J. Feeley. So opportunities for sacks and picks and defensive points definitely exist.

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