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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)
 
 

NY Giants at New England

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S1

Eli is smokin' right now, with multiple touchdowns in five of six and at least 250 yards in six of seven. A matchup with a New England secondary that's allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other squad makes this a very fantasy-friendly matchup for Manning.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
B

Reports of Bradshaw's fractured foot set the Twitter world on fire, though there's no real consensus on his status: he's somewhere between toughing it out and never playing again. He didn't practice this week and is listed as doubtful, so you can't plan on him against the Patriots this week.

RB Brandon Jacobs
S3

The Patriots haven't given up monster games to running backs, but they aren't exactly shutting teams down on the ground, either. With Ahmad Bradshaw out, Jacobs will get an opportunity to showcase his skills--or at least be on the field more.

RB D.J. Ware
U

Ware and Da'Rel Scott are in line for more touches in Bradshaw's absence. We saw some Ware last week and if you're desperate for a running back you could plug him into a PPR-league lineup.

WR Hakeem Nicks
B

Nicks is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury. He didn't practice all week, and it sounds like he's taking the "I don't want to play until I'm 100%" approach, which makes that doubtful assessment sound optimistic.

WR Victor Cruz

S1

Even before Nicks was listed as doubtful we were big fans of Cruz's potential, as there should be more than enough to go around against a New England defense that's surrendering more fantasy points to wideouts than any other team. Officially sans Nicks, the healthy Giants receivers get an upgrade.

WR Mario Manningham

S2

Manningham missed Wednesday's practice with the sniffles but was back for full sessions on Thursday and Friday. He and Victor Cruz should enjoy the open spaces to be found amid the New England secondary.

TE Jake Ballard S3

Ballard's targets continue to climb, and if you saw what Heath Miller did to the soft underbelly of the New England secondary you have to like Ballard's chances of turning in some respectable fantasy numbers this week.

DT Giants S3 Few teams get after the quarterback like the Giants, so if your league's defensive scoring system credits you for sacks Big Blue is a viable option this week even against Tom Brady.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Brady's yardage took a hit last week, but he still managed multiple TD tosses for the sixth time in seven games. The Giants' pass defense looks decent on paper, but there's a difference between clamping down on Matt Moore, Kevin Kolb, and Charlie Whitehurst and keeping Tom Brady from his appointed rounds.

RB

Kevin Faulk

S3

Faulk emerged from the PUP list to take the bulk of the touches in the New England backfield last week. Even if he cedes some of the workload back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis he'll still be the pass-catching back. Either way, he'll get enough touches to carve out fantasy value against a Giants defense that ranks among the top 10 most fantasy friendly to RBs. Note that both Faulk and BJGE were limited in practice all week and are listed as questionable; that doesn't tell us much, but Bellichick never does. They should still be in line for a split of the workload.

RB

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

S3

Even though Bill Belichick loves him some Kevin Faulk, the veteran isn't built for a heavy between-the-tackles workload. That leaves Law Firm to handle a good portion of carries against a defense that's served up four 100-yard games and eight RB TDs this year. Note that both Faulk and BJGE were limited in practice all week and are listed as questionable; that doesn't tell us much, but Bellichick never does. They should still be in line for a split of the workload.

WR Wes Welker S1 The Steelers held Welker down a bit last week, but a Giants defense that's already ceded 100-yard games to Doug Baldwin and Danario Alexander isn't likely to present much of an obstacle for Wes and his weekly double-digit targets. Welker is listed as questionable with a neck injury and was limited in practice all week, but there is nothing to suggest he won't play.
WR Deion Branch S3 Secondary receivers have scored or topped 50 yards five times against the Giants, and with the expected volume of throws from Brady Branch has a solid chance to be a fantasy helper.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Aaron Hernandez
S2 The Giants have seen exactly one legitimate fantasy tight end, and that was back in Week 1 when they ceded 105 yards to Fred Davis. Seeing as Gronkowski and Hernandez are elite, both should be able to dent the Giants for their usual fantasy production.
DT Patriots B The one thing the Patriots haven't done well this season is generate defensive fantasy points.
 

Green Bay at San Diego

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers has multiple touchdown tosses and at least 297 yards in every game this season. You probably didn't even bench him on the bye week.

RB

James Starks

S3

The Chargers have allowed a 100-yard rusher or a running back touchdown in four straight. While Starks isn't necessarily the clear-cut RB1 in Green Bay he's getting enough touches to take advantage of San Diego's run D this week.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

Grant hasn't had a game of fantasy note since Week 3, and there's no indication he'll be usurping Starks any time soon.

WR Greg Jennings

S1

Opponent doesn't matter: Jennings is the number one target of the hottest quarterback in the league; he's in your starting lineup.

WR Jordy Nelson

S3

Secondary receivers haven't done much against the Chargers, but Nelson's big play potential can't be kept on your bench.

WR James Jones

S3

Jones has scored in three of four and is horning in on Nelson's WR2 status. With Rodgers providing so much yardage, any Packer receiver getting the looks Jones is should be considered for a fantasy start.

TE Jermichael Finley

S3

Finley's numbers have been down a bit of late, but he scored in Green Bay's game just prior to the bye and he's the same sort of mismatch problem that Rob Gronkowski (4-86-2) and Aaron Hernandez (7-62-1) presented to the Chargers.

DT Packers S2 It's not like Philip Rivers is playing error-free football right now, and Green Bay has a plethora of players who can take a mistake all the way back for six.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers continues to put up big yardage, but he hasn't had a multiple touchdown game since Week 2. Part of that has to do with having a closer like Mike Tolbert, but fantasy owners don't want to hear excuses. Look for more of the same--big yardage, light on touchdowns--again this week.

RB Ryan Mathews B Mathews left the Chargers' Monday night loss with a groin injury and did not practice all week. He's officially listed as questionable and there is some optimism in San Diego that he'll try to play. However, given his propensity for injury, the availability of Tolbert, and the fact that they're facing the unbeaten Packers, he's an incredibly risky fantasy play this week.
RB Mike Tolbert S2 Tolbert wanted to go on Monday night but the team kept him shut down to due a hamstring issue. Now they'll likely be forced to ride him against a defense that's surrendered 430 rushing yards to feature backs over the past four games. In each of his two career games with 20-plus carries, Tolbert has topped 100 yards and scored so if Mathews is ultimately ruled out the S2 may be an undersell.
RB Curtis Brinkley U Brinkley was thrown into the fire last week and responded well. If Mathews is ruled out, he'll be asked to handle at least a few touches. There's upside to the matchup, but if Tolbert gets a full week of practice under his belt he'll claim the majority of the touches.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 Jackson remains Rivers' favorite target, but the duo hasn't been connecting of late. Here's a chance for V-Jax to make a contract statement against a defesne that's allowed four 100-yard receivers already this season.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 While Jackson and Rivers have been off, Floyd and Rivers have been on: Floyd has two 100-yard games in the last three. In a matchup where the Bolts are likely to be playing catch-up, Floyd is almost as safe a bet as Jackson or Gates--assuming he plays. Floyd did not practice all week due to a hip injury and is listed as questionable; however, sources in San Diego indicate the team is optimistic he'll play. Your best plan of attack is to insert your backup plan in the starting lineup and await word of Floyd's status on Sunday; if you receive good news in time, go ahead and make the swap.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates has been solid since coming back from injury; only an iffy pass interference call prevents him from bringing a two-game scoring streak into this tilt. The Packers have given up a touchdown or at least 60 yards to the position in every game this season, so Gates is in great position to start a new streak here.

DT Chargers B

The Bolts haven't been playing particularly great defense, and their special teams struggles are legendary. Oh, and they're facing the white-hot Packers offense. Tough to find a reason for giving them a fantasy start anywhere in that paragraph.

 

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

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Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

After dusting the Steelers for 224 and 3 in the season opener Flacco has just one multiple touchdown game since. He's put up decent yardage on an inconsistent basis, and with the Steelers having allowed multiple scoring strikes in each of their last two Flacco isn't a bad bet to at least partially reprise his Week 1 performance.

RB Ray Rice S2

Rice owners were braced for a letdown in Week 1, but instead Ray delivered 107 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns. He's been every bit as solid since and comes in on the heels of a 99-yard, three-touchdown effort. While a full-on repeat is unlikely, the Steelers have some key injuries on defense so we're at least a little more optimistic about Rice's chances then we were heading into Week 1.

WR Anquan Boldin

S3

Boldin has 16 catches, 260 yards, and two TDs in his last three regular season skirmishes with the Steelers, and the Ravens' offense seemed to take off last week when Flacco started locking in on Boldin. In fact, he has 19 catches and 317 yards on 33 targets over the last three games. The Steelers don't have a shutdown corner that can hang with Boldin, so he's a money play once again.

WR

Torrey Smith

S3 The aggressive Steelers' secondary can be had over the top, and Smith is just the guy to threaten them there. It's a risk, to be sure, but the three-catch floor he's established over the past few weeks isn't a bad safety net--especially considering the upside.
TE

Ed Dickson

S3 Dickson scored in the first matchup with Pittsburgh and has been steadily targeted since. The Steelers, meanwhile, have given up two more TE TDs and three more solid yardage games to the position. All that stands between Dickson and a fantasy helper is teammate Dennis Pitta, who is horning in on some of his looks.
DT Ravens S2 Don't bet against the Ravens defense, especially the way they've been playing of late. It's not a great matchup, but Baltimore's D is an every-week fantasy start.
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Big Ben lived up to expectations in the front end of this series with 280 yards and a score, but he's stepped up his game of late with 11 touchdowns in his last four games and back-to-back 360-yard efforts. Those are gaudy numbers to expect against Baltimore, but there's at least cause for optimism.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

S3

Mendenhall has delivered one big game this year, and it came as he was coming off an injury. He rushed for 45 yards on 12 carries in the first meeting with Baltimore, and he gets an S3 only because he's in line for 15-plus carries and the Ravens just let Beanie Wells bang them for 22-83-1.

WR Mike Wallace
S2

Wallace still hasn't scored in six games against Baltimore, but the 107 he posted back in Week 1 was a career high versus the Ravens and is one of four 100-yard efforts he's had this season. The Ravenshave allowed three 98-yard receivers since Wallace's game, including 98 to Larry Fitzgerald last week. And with Wallace still the apple of Big Ben's eye, he's a good bet for a productive fantasy game this week.

WR

Antonio Brown

S2

Brown has been targeted 24 times the past two games, and if Baltimore's safeties devote too much attention to Wallace he'll make them pay. Emmanuel Sanders scored in the first meeting with Baltimore, but even though he won't be available for this tilt Hines Ward may be back to reclaim his starting spot; either way, Brown is seeing too large a share of the passing game to cede the opportunity this time around.

WR

Emmanuel Sanders

B

Sanders won't play this week due to a death in the family. We wish him well.

TE Heath Miller S3

Miller's targets and touchdowns are trending up, but the Ravens present a difficult matchup, as they haven't allowed a TE TD or even as much as 50 yards to the position this season. With Roethlisberger devoting more attention to the wideouts, Miller is a reach for a fantasy start this week.

DT Steelers S2 This iteration of the Steel Curtain is down a few regulards due to injury, but it's a home game and after the drubbing the Steelers took in Week 1 you can bet they'll be plenty motivated.
 

Chicago at Philadelphia

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Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Cutler threw for four TDs against last year's Philly secondary, but that secondary didn't have Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The 2011 version of the Eagles has given up just two passing touchdowns in the past three games and has yet to allow a 300-yard passer. In other words, don't expect a redux for Jay; settle for decent yardage (likely padded by checkdowns to Matt Forte) and a possible touchdown or two and hope Cutler doesn't revert to the pick machine of yore.

RB Matt Forte S1

Philly is giving up an average of 166 combo yards to running backs; Forte is averaging 155 all by himself. The 139 yards from scrimmage he posted on the Eagles when the teams met last season seems like a baseline for what to expect this time around.

RB Marion Barber S3

Barber has scored in two straight and three of four. If the Bears get close, MB3 is the goal line guy. There's some risk involved in using such a specialist, but Barber and the Bears seem to offer enough upside to offet the risk.

WR

Earl Bennett

S3 Bennett is expected back from injury and should immediately return to his role as Jay Cutler's favorite target. At minimum he's the most reliable option among Chicago receivers, especially because he's likely to play out of the slot and avoid Nnamdi Asomugha.
WR Roy Williams
Devin Hester

B

Not only are the remainder of the Bears' receivers a jumbled mass with no apparent heirarchy, they'll also run into perhaps the best cornerback trio in the league. Good luck with that.

DT Bears S3 Despite this not being a particularly favorable matchup the Bears defense has too many playmakers to bench. And then of course there's the Devin Hester factor...
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick S1

The Bears have allowed seven touchdown tosses in three road games, and they gave up 333 and two to Vick in Chicago last year. Vick comes into this game averaging 312 passing yards per tilt over the past month, and the law of average suggests Vick's first rushing touchdown of the season isn't too far away either.

RB LeSean McCoy
S1

McCoy has posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, a string that stretches to three if you make it combo yardage. He rolled up 120 yards from scrimmage in last season's meeting and will go toe-to-toe with Matt Forte for title of Most Versatile Back this week.

WR Jeremy Maclin
S2 Maclin is a slightly safer bet than his running mate this week. He scored in last season's meeting with the Bears, scored last week against Dallas, has two touchdowns in the past three games, and has four of Philly's six WR TDs. As an added bonus, he's more targeted and has more catches than Jackson so he's a safer PPR play as well.
WR DeSean Jackson
S3 Not that Jackson is a bad play; he's still as explosive as any wideout in the game and could be the Eagles' weapon of choice for exploiting Chicago's shakey safeties. He's just a tad less reliable than Maclin and ranked accordingly.
TE Brent Celek
S3 Plenty of trends working in Celek's favor: he scored in last season's meeting with the Bears, has touchdowns in back-to-back games, and is facing a Chicago defense that's allowed six TE TDs in the last five games.
DT Eagles S2 The Eagles still know how to get after the passer, have playmaking corners, and are facing Jay Cutler. Sounds like a recipe for success.

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