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Start/Bench List: Week 12
John Tuvey
Updated: November 25, 2011
GBP at DET CAR at IND TBB at TEN DEN at SDC 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)
Green Bay at Detroit Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Why should you fear this matchup? On the road, with a short week, against a motivated divisional foe… and oh yeah, the last time Rodgers visited Detroit he was knocked out of the game—and the following week. Ndamukong Suh has been known to remove a helmet or perhaps brush a QB, so there should be fear. In fact, the only thing you should fear more is not having the red-hot Rodgers in your lineup.


James Starks


Starks is a game-time decision with his sprained knee/sprained ankle combo. If there were anything worth risking the start for we’d let you know but Starks and his dozen or so carries a game are butting Turkey Day heads with a Detroit defense that’s allowed fewer RB TDs than all but two other teams.


Ryan Grant


If Starks can’t go Grant would be in line for an uptick in touches… against that same solid Detroit run D.

WR Greg Jennings


Typically a must-start, Jennings gets a mild downgrade due to a knee bruise, a short week, a reasonably solid secondary, and just one TD (and no 100-yard games) in his last four against the Lions. Emphasis on mild.

WR Jordy Nelson


Nelson has outperformed Greg Jennings each of the last three games, and with Jennings nicked this is a solid opportunity to stretch that string to four. Nelson has just 5-83 in six career meetings with the Lions and hasn’t caught a touchdown pass against them since Week 2 of his rookie season, but he’s clearly a more integral part of the offense now.

WR James Jones
Donald Driver


Most weeks, all members of the Packers passing game are playable. This week, however, unless Jennings is a late scratch there’s no need to dig this deep into the rotation.

TE Jermichael Finley


The odd man out in Green Bay’s last few touchdown parties, Finley faces a Detroit defense that hasn’t allowed a tight end touchdown since Week 6. He’s too talented to bench and has two touchdowns in four previous meetings with the Lions, but brace yourself for something along the lines of the 3.5 catches for 36 yards he’s averaged in those tilts.

DT Packers S2 Even with the Vegas O/U set at 56, you don’t want to sit this playmaking defense.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S1

The only quarterbacks who have failed to throw multiple touchdowns against the Packers are rookie Cam Newton and second-year QB Sam Bradford. Stafford’s in Year Three, so he ducks that curse. The finger injury didn’t prevent him from tossing five touchdowns last week, and against the most fantasy-friendly pass defense in the league he’ll be a Turkey Day treat.

RB Kevin Smith

Nice comeback by Smith, but blowing up the Panthers is one thing; doing the same against a Green Bay defense that’s giving up 50 yards and a full touchdown less per game is another entirely.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Megatron has been limited in practice, but he’s going to play—and if his past history against the Packers is any indication, play well. Johnson has scored seven touchdowns in the last five meetings, been targeted a whopping 60 times, and caught six or more balls three times with three multiple touchdown games and two 100-yard efforts.

WR Nate Burleson


There tends to be enough to go around as teams throw to keep up with the Green Bay offense. With Burleson coming off two of his most prolific games of the season he’s a solid bet to continue that trend.

TE Brandon Pettigrew

Even with Tony Scheffler continuing to steal touchdowns Pettigrew is a decent fantasy play—not just because he had a touchdown of his own last week but because he’s facing a Green Bay defense that’s allowed 302 yards and a touchdown to the TE position in just the last three games.

DT Lions S3 The last time Green Bay dropped by for a visit the not-at-all-dirty Lions knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game and held the Packers to a field goal. So we’re sayin’ there’s a chance.
Miami at Dallas Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore S3

Matt Stafford is the only opposing quarterback to come to Dallas and throw multiple touchdowns, and none of the five to visit have topped 250 yards. Moore is riding a three-game winning streak, but his yardage has declined each of those weeks and he’ll need the TDs to prop up his value. He’s a fringe starter at best, only for those who have been decimated at the quarterback position.


Reggie Bush


The Cowboys seem to have recovered from the three-game hiccup that saw them allow three 100-yard rushers and four of the five rushing TDs they’ve surrendered all year. Bush has been productive since Kim Kardashian hit the open market, but those stats have come against significantly softer run defenses. Pencil him in for adequate combo yardage, but this one won’t likely win Kim’s heart back.


Daniel Thomas


He’s been healthy enough to get 32 carries the past two weeks, but not productive enough to turn that workload into triple-digit yardage. Against a pretty good Dallas D, look elsewhere.


Brandon Marshall


If Moore’s in play it stands to reason that Marshall should be as well, seeing as that’s his go-to guy. The Cowboys have been a little more lax of late against the pass, giving up three WR TDs the past two games and their first 100-yard WR effort of the year to Jabar Gaffney last week. Marshall has been Miami’s top-targeted wideout each of the last four games, and with the Cowboys likely to stuff the Dolphins’ running game that means lots of Turkey Day looks—at least enough to warrant a fantasy start.


Davonne Bess


Bess found the end zone last week, Miami’s first non-Marshall WR TD since Week 1. It’s unlikely to happen again this week.


Anthony Fasano


It feels like chasing points, but consider: back-to-back 60-yard games for Fasano, three TDs in the last three games, and a Dallas D that’s given up at least 60 yards to the TE position seven times this season. That’s enough to push Fasano into fringe starter status.

DT Dolphins B Tough to see the Dolphins rolling into Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and making the kinds of plays that create defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo has multiple TD tosses in three straight as well as four straight home games. And while Miami has shut out three straight opposing QBs it says more about the QBs they’ve faced (Cassel, Grossman, Fitzpatrick) than it does about their defense. Eli Manning took the Phins for 349 and 2, and Romo’s in that class so he remains a solid start this week.

RB DeMarco Murray S3

This will be Murray’s toughest home test, so Dallas fans who have seen him bust off triple-digit yardage games in all three of his Big D starts might be a bit underwhelmed. But this is a good Miami run defense; they haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Ben Tate got them for 103 in Week 2 and haven’t allowed a running back touchdown since Week 4. If Murray’s 25-73 (plus 6-32 receiving) against Washington last week was enough to help your fantasy squad, you’ll be fine with this week’s effort as well.

WR Dez Bryant
Laurent Robinson

Both Dez and LRob have scored in back-to-back games and will severely test a Miami secondary that hasn’t exactly been taxed of late; the last two times they saw legit wideout tandems they gave up 13-203 to Bowe/Breaston and 19-229-2 to Nicks/Cruz/Manningham.

TE Jason Witten S2

Mr. Consistency will get you six catches for 60 yards; it’s his average at home, where he’s scored in three of five games, and it’s his average over the last three—and he’s scored in two of those.

DT Cowboys S2 The Cowboys have forced nine turnovers in their past three games, holding two foes under 14 points and scoring their first defensive touchdown of the season. They’re not afraid of Matt Moore.

San Francisco at Baltimore

Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith’s first fantasy helper in well over a month came at the expense of the Cardinals. At home. A cross-country trip on a short week to face the Ravens in Baltimore doesn’t feel like the recipe for another multiple touchdown game.

RB Frank Gore S3

Four of the five feature backs to visit Baltimore have failed to top 50 rushing yards, but each of the last two have scored. Gore may still cede a handful of touches to Hunter, but he’s running hard enough that he warrants a fantasy start even with the tougher matchup.

RB Kendall Hunter B

While Hunter has late-season upside, so long as Gore is starting and the matchup is tough he’s fantasy bench fodder.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Coming off his first 100-yard game of the season, Crabtree catches a Ravens secondary that has allowed two 100-yard outings in the past three weeks. He’s not a great start, but he’s targeted enough that he’s worthy of a roster spot.
TE Vernon Davis S3

The Ravens have yet to allow a tight end touchdown this season, but Davis is too targeted—10 last week—to bench. Just lower your expectations.

DT 49ers S3 Make no mistake, this is a good defense. It wouldn’t be tough to see them get in Joe Flacco’s grill and create some havoc—and some defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

TDs may be hard to come by here; the Niners have held three of the last four QBs they’ve faced to one or fewer scoring strikes, while Flacco’s 2-TD effort last week was his first in two months. However, he’s thrown for 255 yards or better in four straight so there should be yardage to be had here against a San Francisco defense that’s given up at least 240 in four of five.

RB Ray Rice S2

Cedric Benson (64) and Brandon Jacobs (55) are the only backs to rush for more than 41 yards against San Francisco this season, but the Niners have also allowed two backs to top 70 receiving yards against them in their past five games. Rice does both, so don’t fear the matchup; one way or another, he’ll get his.

WR Anquan Boldin


The Niners have given up at least one WR TD in each of their last five, and while Boldin is ceding looks to the rookie he’s still a go-to target and worthy of a fantasy start.


Torrey Smith

S3 Smith’s game has developed from deep threat to all-around target. The mere fact that Flacco will take at least a couple deep shots with him makes him a fantasy play; mix in the additional targets he’s receiving and Smith is way more than just a younger, healthier Lee Evans.

Ed Dickson

B A couple weeks ago Dickson was the apple of Flacco’s eye; last week he was barely on the radar. Expect something closer to the latter against a defense that hasn’t given up a TE TD since Week 6 and surrendered a total of 201 yards to the position in that span.
DT Ravens S2 The Ravens could very well get Ray Lewis back for this tilt, and they still have ballhawk Ed Reed playing centerfield. They are not to be trifled with.

Houston at Jacksonville

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Leinart B Jacksonville’s improved secondary held Matt Schaub to 225 and 1 in Houston earlier this season. Seems silly to expect his backup to top those numbers on the road.
RB Arian Foster

S1 Foster has at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game since returning from the aggravation of his hamstring injury, including 112-1 rushing and another 12 receiving against the Jags in Week 8. Chris Ogbonnaya, who was the backup to Foster’s backup before being cut, just took the Jags for 115 and 1, so Foster’s prospects of extending his run of success are extremely good.
RB Ben Tate S3 As noted above, Tate’s backup put a C-note on the Jags last week. Tate himself took them for 42 yards on just five carries in the earlier meeting, and with Houston breaking in a new quarterback the running game will pick up a larger share of the workload. That bodes well for Tate’s fantasy potential.
WR Andre Johnson S2

First game back from a lengthy injury layoff, plus he’ll be catching balls from a different quarterback and facing a secondary that, since giving up two fluky long TDs to Kenny Britt in the season opener has allowed just five WR TDs and only one wideout to top 76 yards. But unless you’re extremely loaded at the position, you’ll want to put AJ into your lineup based on what he’s done—and what he can do now that the hammy is healthy.

WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones

Houston’s secondary wideouts weren’t doing much when AJ was out. Now he’s back, plus there’s a new QB at the helm and the matchup is tough. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Daniels caught four balls for 60 yards against the Jags in the previous meeting, but Joel Dreessen stole his touchdown. He’s not a bad bet for a similar outing, especially with the secondary focusing its attention on Andre Johnson.

DT Texans S2 The Jags haven’t scored more than 20 points all season, so Houston’s D can pick up bonus points that way.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Blaine Gabbert B

The Texans haven’t allowed multiple passing touchdowns since Week 5; Gabbert’s next mutli-TD game will be his first as a pro.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

MoJo posted a season-low 63 yards the earlier meeting with Houston, though he salvaged the fantasy outing with a touchdown to launch a three-game scoring streak. After three road tilts Jones-Drew comes home, where he has at least 84 rushing yards in every game. He’s all the Jags have going offensively, so he’ll get every opportunity to improve on that 63, best that 84, and extend the TD string.


Jason Hill
Mike Thomas

B Jacksonville wideouts have exactly one game with more than 73 yards, and the touchdowns don’t come with near enough frequency to trust any Jaguar wideout with a fantasy start.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis is demonstrating a pulse in this offense, with 11 targets last week and 8 or more in three of the last five. Alas, he’s topped 45 yards just once this year (though it was last week) and is still looking for his first touchdown of the season. This isn’t a favorable enough matchup—the Texans haven’t allowed a TE TD since Week 7 and have given up only two all year—to reach for Lewis this week.
DT Jaguars S3

This is a good defense, and it is Matt Leinart’s first start in quite some time. You could do worse than reaching for this D at home.


Carolina at Indianapolis

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments

Cam Newton

S1 Indy’s pass defense is only able to hold up for so long; over the past six games they’re on an every-other week pattern of giving up multiple TD passes, and this week they’re due to be taken for two. Mix in Newton’s rushing scores and Superman is a must-start. Again.

Jonathan Stewart

S2 Stewart still takes a back seat to Newton at the stripe, but he’s a factor in the passing game and is seeing a handful of carries as well. And let’s be honest, any back with a pulse and 10 carries is a fantasy starter against Indy. Thus far Indy has faced 16 different backs given at least 10 carries; eight have scored and four have topped 100 yards. This is a great opportunity to dust off your Carolina backs and give them some fantasy play.

DeAngelo Williams

S3 Since the Panthers'  Week 9 bye Williams has been seeing slightly more carries than Stewart. This week there will be enough to go around, so he’s in play as well against the third-most fantasy friendly RB defense.
WR Steve Smith S1

The passing-challenged Browns are the only team without a wideout touchdown against Indy. Smith owns five of the seven WR TDs Carolina has scored, so he’s the money play to get this one amongst his 10-plus targets.

WR Legedu Naanee
Brandon LaFell

Tempting to start everybody against Indy, but after Newton takes his off the top, feeds Smith, gets the backs involved and takes care of the tight end there just won’t be enough left over for anyone else.

TE Greg Olsen

Olsen has been targeted 27 times in the past three games, with 141 yards and a touchdown to show for it. The one thing Indy has done well this season has been keeping tight ends in check, but it may just be because everyone else is running wild. With Olsen a priority in this offense, you wouldn’t want to sit him here.

DT Panthers S3 The Colts have been held to single digits in three of the last four; that’s built in bonus points without even considering the 10 sacks and 10 turnovers they’ve allowed during that span.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Curtis Painter B

Matthew Stafford gutted Carolina for five touchdowns last week; Painter has five touchdowns for the season. He hasn’t thrown one since Week 6, so asking for something that would resemble fantasy help here is folly.

RB Joseph Addai S2 Everybody runs all over the Panthers. Last week it was Kevin Smith, the week before that the guy impersonating Chris Johnson. No reason a healthy Addai can’t do the same, and a full week of practice suggests Addai is healthy.
RB Donald Brown U At the rate the Panthers are giving up yardage, and the way the Colts tend to divvy up the backfield duties, Brown is a fringe fantasy play as well--especially if Addai's hamstring injury flares up prior to setting your fantasy lineup.
WR Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garçon

Carolina has allowed just three WR TDs in the past two months; Indy wideouts haven’t found the end zone since Week 5. Sadly, Garçon and Wayne are simply no longer useable.

TE Jacob Tamme U

Dallas Clark got hurt shortly after Painter rediscovered him, and Tamme has once again filled Clark’s shoes. He hasn’t done enough to warrant a full-fledged start recommendation, but the Panthers allowed two TE TDs last week and Tamme has seen 15 targets since Clark went down, producing eight catches for 96 yards. For the 2011 version of the Colts, that qualifies as red-hot.

DT Colts B Indy’s defense was built to play from in front, get after the passer and pressure an offense forced to play catch-up. None of that is working out this season.

Cleveland at Cincinnati

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

McCoy went off—well, for him—for 213 and two in the season opener against Cincy. However, the Bengals have yet to surrender multiple TD tosses at home and Ben Roethlisberger’s 245 is the largest yardage output they’ve allowed at home by a significant margin. McCoy hasn’t thrown more than one TD in a game since Week 6 or topped 250 yards since Week 4; this gives no indication of being an opportunity to snap either trend.

RB Montario Hardesty B

Hardesty looked ordinary during his earlier tenure as the Browns’ feature ball-carrier, but he practiced on a limited basis all week and according to Pat Shurmur will start if he's healthy enough to play. Even if the fragile Hardesty plays there’s little to like about pitting his 3.3 yards per carry average against the Bengals’ stout run defense.

RB Peyton Hillis B

Guess who else showed up for practice? Hillis practiced on a limited basis Friday and could play this weekend. Um... don't hold your breath.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya U

Pat Shurmur has indicated that if Hardesty is healthy enough to play he’ll get the starting nod this week, and now there's talk Hillis may return as well. Tanks fer nuttin’, Silent G! However, the odds of both fragile Browns backs making it to/through this game without injury are slim, so there's a good chance Ogbonnaya still handles the team’s third-down duties. Hillis had six grabs in the earlier meeting with Cincy so there’s a fringe opportunity here in larger PPR leagues.

WR Greg Little
Josh Cribbs

The Bengals have given up five WR TDs in the past three games. Oh that there were a Cleveland wideout we could get excited about. Cribbs has the last three WR TDs the Browns have scored, stretching back to Week 8, but he’s targeted about half as frequently as Little. There’s no compelling reason to reach for either.

TE Ben Watson B

Cleveland scored two TE TDs in the first meeting with Cincy; the Bengals have allowed just one since while the Browns haven’t had a tight end reach the end zone since Week 6. If Watson had more than seven catches for 74 yards over the past three games combined we could maybe talk ourselves into a repeat, but he’s just too lightly used to be trusted with a fantasy start.

DT Browns B The Browns have some individual defensive standouts, but from a team fantasy defense perspective there’s little to see here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S3

Dalton lasted only half the season opener against Cleveland, but he and Bruce Gradkowski combined for two TDs. The rookie has multiple TDs or at least 264 yards in seven straight and is at least a fringe fantasy play against the surprisingly good Cleveland pass defense.

RB Cedric Benson S2

These are the matchups Benson owners live for (at home against a soft run D), and after seeing him punch across two scores in Baltimore last week they’re positively giddy. Ced rumbled for 121 yards and a score in Cleveland in the season opener, so the expectations bar has been raised.

WR A.J. Green


Green practiced fully both Thursday and Friday, apparently back from the knee injury that kept him out last week. He managed just one catch on Joe Haden back in the season opener, but it was a 41-yard touchdown. The rookie has reached unbenchable status, but against a tough foe you have to lower your expectations.

WR Jerome Simpson


Simpson had a solid 4-44 on nine targets in the first meeting, and sans Green last week he caught eight balls for 152 yards as Dalton’s go-to wideout. He’s startable as either a go-to guy or a wingman.

WR Andre Caldwell


The Browns aren’t allowing much to wideouts, and since Green’s return bumps Caldwell to third wheel he’s definitely bench fodder. Even as wingman to Simpson he’ll be splitting looks with Andrew Hawkins so you’d be best served looking elsewhere.

TE Jermaine Gresham S3 Gresham was a solid 6-58-1 in the season-opening win over Cleveland. The Browns haven’t allowed a TE TD since Week 6, but Gresham is too involved in this offense to leave on your bench.
DT Bengals S2 If your defensive scoring system includes a bonus for points allowed the Bengals should be well on their way against a Cleveland offense that hasn’t hit 17 points since Week 6 or topped that number since Week 2.

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