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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)

Washington at Seattle

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman

Good Rexy was back last week, but now he travels west to face a Seattle defense that’s held seven of 10 foes—including three of four at home—to one or fewer touchdown tosses and allowed only one 300-yard game on the year.


Roy Helu

B If we had any degree of confidence Helu would get the bulk of the touches he’d at least be usable, though no visiting back has topped 76 yards against Seattle. But at this point it wouldn’t surprise us if Shanahan went to the zoo, dressed a duck-billed platypus up in a Redskins jersey, and gave him a half-dozen carries.
WR Santana Moss
Jabar Gaffney

B The Seahawks haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 5; in fact, no single receiver has more than five catches against them since their Week 6 bye. Moss is expected to return from his hand injury, so he and Gaffney will divvy up the looks—and the upside of maybe a half-dozen catches for maybe 70 yards and a shot at a touchdown just isn’t enticing—or likely—enough to plug either one into a fantasy lineup.
TE Fred Davis

Davis likely loses looks to Moss as well, but against a Seattle defense that’s surrendered three TE TDs and 219 yards to the position over the past three weeks he’s the best fantasy play on the Redskins’ side of the ball.

DT Redskins B The Redskins haven’t done much to warrant fantasy consideration; plus, they have to play against the 12th Man.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Jackson hasn’t had a multiple touchdown game since Week 4, and since that 323-yard effort in relief of Charlie Whitehurst his yardage has been trending the wrong way as well. The Redskins still haven’t served up a 300-yard performance and have held six of the last eight QBs they’ve faced to one or zero touchdown tosses, so the matchup does T-Jax no favors either.
RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Lynch has scored in four straight and six of seven, though the yardage hasn’t been overly impressive. It’s not a particularly favorable matchup, but the Seahawks are finding ways to get Lynch into the end zone so you should take advantage of the run while it lasts.


Sidney Rice

S3 Rice got back in the scoring column last week and continues to be the most targeted Seattle wideout. That nets him an S3 but nothing more—not against a Washington secondary that’s allowed only four WR TDs all year.

Doug Baldwin

B If Jackson’s favorite target is barely startable, it stands to reason that the rest of the Seattle receiving corps is bench fodder.
DT Seahawks S2 Rexy has enough trouble not throwing to the 11 guys in the other uniform; a 12th Man is going to seriously mess with his head.

Denver at San Diego

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Tebow S3 Denver’s Week 5 loss to the Chargers marked the beginning of the Tebow era as he entered the game and threw for one touchdown while running for another. Since then the Broncos have gone 4-1 and Tebowmania has run wild. Fantasy-wise, you know the drill: don’t watch the game, just look at the box score at the end—or tune in for the final five minutes if you must. You’ll get a rushing score, maybe a passing score or two, and a whole lot of cringing from John Elway. Bottom line: it’ll help your fantasy squad.
RB Willis McGahee S3

Willis hasn’t been the same since his return from injury (16 carries, 35 yards), but the 16-125 he put on the Chargers in the earlier meeting suggests he can take advantage if given the proper opportunity. And a San Diego defense that just served up 157 and 1 to Michael Bush can definitely provide such an opportunity.

WR Demaryius Thomas
Eric Decker
Eddie Royal

The pie will be small, and you don’t know who gets to take bites. None of them had a catch in the earlier meeting with San Diego; in fact, Brandon Lloyd had the only catch by a wideout in that contest. Any of them could take a Tebow bomb the distance, but the more likely outcome is something you don’t want anywhere near your fantasy lineup.

DT Broncos S3 Denver has held its last two foes in the teens, and against a San Diego offense that’s turned the ball over multiple times in nine of 10 games you have to like their chances of picking up fantasy points that way as well.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

So long as the picks aren’t costing you fantasy points Rivers has been hot of late with multiple touchdowns in three straight and at least 274 yards in four consecutive games. The Broncos held him to 250 and 1 in Week 5; since then they’ve allowed two hat tricks and more than 250 yards in three of five. Rivers’ numbers tend to be better at home, so use the 250 & 1 as a baseline, with plenty of upside.

RB Ryan Mathews B Mathews returned for a full practice on Friday, but this is a pretty good Denver run defense and Mike Tolbert will be taking some carries as well. There's some upside here, but Mathews' track record makes it extremely difficult to trust him with a fantasy start given the limited practice week and tough matchup. You're bound to have a more reliable option at your disposal.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 Tolbert’s goal-line duties aren’t likely to come into play against a Denver defense that’s surrendered just one RB rushing score this season, but his work in the passing game makes him startable even if Mathews is healthy enough to play. Over the past three weeks the Broncos have allowed 73, 57, and 84 receiving yards to backs; add that to a handful of carries and Tolbert is at minimum a fringe PPR helper.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 Will the real Vincent Jackson please stand up? We’d like to see more of the 7-165-1 monster from last week, or the 7-141-3 dude that threatened the Packers in Week 9. However, expectations have to remain tempered based on the propensity for the 1-22 (from Week 10) or 3-34 (from the Week 5 meeting with Denver) to show up.
WR Vincent Brown S2 Malcom Floyd is headed for Injured Reserve, leaving the wingman role to Brown. He flashed 5-97-1 a couple weeks back and could slide right into the 3-100-1 Floyd dropped on the Broncos earlier this year.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates has scored every other week since his return from injury; sadly, this is slated to be an off week. It’s also not a favorable matchup against a Broncos defense that’s allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but a healthy Gates should never be benched. Take your 50-plus yard floor and hope he bucks that every other week trend.

DT Chargers B

The Bolts have given up at least 23 points in six straight, aren’t generating a ton of turnovers, and have just one defensive score to show for their efforts. You can find better fantasy options elsewhere.


New England at Philadelphia

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Brady has stared down better corners (like, say, Darrelle Revis) and put up his typical big numbers. So the Eagles’ dream team secondary isn’t about to frighten him—or knock him off his five-game multiple touchdown streak.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Are the Patriots ready to load BJGE with carries and ride him down the home stretch? The 20-81 from Monday night suggests it’s possible, but with Bill Belichick you never know which back will get thrown into the mix; hence the S3 hedge.

WR Wes Welker S2 Welker’s targets are tailing off has Brady fans his man-crush on his tight ends. But a look at what slot receivers have been able to do to the Eagles recently—Victor Cruz’s 6-128-1, Earl Bennett’s 5-95-1—should dissuade you from thinking about sitting him on your bench.
WR Deion Branch B Unless the Eagles throw something completely different at the Patriots Branch is going to end up covered by one of their outstanding cornerbacks—which, in turn, means even more looks directed at the tight ends.
TE Rob Gronkowski S2 Philly is one of the more successful teams at shutting down tight ends, but they’ll be severely tested this week. Gronk still belongs in your fantasy lineup, but maybe with a slight ratcheting down in confidence.
TE Aaron Hernandez S3 Depending on how the Eagles opt to defend Welker and Gronk, Hernandez could luck into coverage from one of Philly’s lesser DBs. That’s the upside, but either way he gets enough looks to warrant fantasy consideration in any TE-mandatory league and most flex leagues as well.
DT Patriots S3 It wasn’t like Bill Belichick forgot how to coach defense, and now his team is rounding into shape. And if it’s Belichick in a battle of wits against Vince Young… well, you have to like the Hoodie’s chances.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick B

Vick didn't practice all week due to his broken ribs. Under the same scenario last week Vince Young got the start; look for a similar situation this week, which puts Vick on your fantasy bench.

QB Vince Young

If Vick can’t go we saw enough from Young in last week’s win over the Giants to think he could capitalize on the Patriots’ patchwork secondary.

RB LeSean McCoy

Don’t fear this matchup with a Patriots defense that’s allowed only one RB rushing score in the last five games. If Vick can’t go McCoy picks up the slack once again; if Vick plays, it just takes that much more attention away from McCoy and gives him more wiggle room.

WR Jeremy Maclin
B Maclin practiced on a limited basis Wednesday due to his shoulder and hamstring injuries, then took Thursday and Friday off and is listed as doubtful. Don't bank on any contributions from him this week.
WR DeSean Jackson
S2 Jackson is nursing a foot injury and didn’t practice on Wednesday, but he made it back for limited sessions on both Thursday and Friday. He's listed as probable, and given that this is a very favorable matchup he should be in your fantasy lineup this week.
WR Riley Cooper S3 Jason Avant, Steve Smith… instead, with Jackson and Maclin out of the mix it’s been the 2010 fifth-round pick who has stepped up to fill the void. Against the most fantasy-friendly secondary in the league, he’s startable even if both Maclin and Jackson return to the lineup.
TE Brent Celek
S3 The QB switch didn’t ruffle Celek at all; he posted a fifth straight game with a touchdown or at least 50 receiving yards. No reason to think that streak won’t continue, especially with Philly’s wideouts all kinds of banged up.
DT Eagles B Dream Team against Dreamboat. Doesn't seem to be much upside to throwing the Eagles in front of Brady and the New England offense when you have 31 other alternatives.

Pittsburgh at Kansas City

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

The TDs have tapered off again, though against a KC defense that’s allowed six in the past three games they could tick back up. And Big Ben has thrown for 1,300 yards the past four games so he can always make up for the lack of TDs with yardage. He was limited Wednesday by his thumb injury, but this is Ben Roethlisberger we’re talking about; he’ll play—and play well—through just about anything.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Mendy’s let us down before—like just about every week other than his one 100-yard effort this year—but two TDs last week against the Bengals have purchased a little good will. And a date with a KC defense that’s allowed every back with at least 17 carries—right around a typical Mendenhall workload—to top 80 yards should get Mendy back in the good graces of his fantasy owners.

WR Mike Wallace

The Chiefs have good corners, but if Pierre Garçon can get behind them—twice—for touchdowns you have to like the über-speedy Wallace’s chances.


Antonio Brown


Brown has quickly attained wingman status in Pittsburgh, and that means production: the Steelers have had at least two wideouts score or top 50 yards in four straight games and nine of 10 so far this season.

TE Heath Miller S3

Cause for optimism: in addition to Miller’s expanding role in the Pittsburgh passing game—20 targets, 15 catches, 189 yards over the past month—the Chiefs have given up 19-312-4 to the tight end position over that same span.

DT Steelers S2 This may not be the best version of the Steel Curtain, but there are enough playmakers on that side of the ball to force Tyler Palko into coughing up fantasy points.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Palko B

Palko was shut out by the league’s second-most fantasy friendly secondary; tough to see him turning it around against the fourth-toughest this week.

RB Jackie Battle
B It’s been a month since Battle scored… or topped 50 yards… or got 15-plus carries. This matchup with Pittsurgh is tough enough without worrying about Thomas Jones or Le’Ron McClain cutting into Battle’s carries. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.
RB Dexter McCluster
B You could make a tepid case for McCluster in a PPR league, as he’ll be housing most of the looks in those situations. But it would have to be a large league for McCluster to warrant consideration.

Dwayne Bowe


The Steelers certainly aren’t a soft matchup, but last week’s nine targets suggest Palko knows where to find Bowe and will keep trying to get the ball to his playmaker.


Steve Breaston
Jonathan Baldwin


We’re barely trusting Palko to get the ball to Bowe; don’t get greedy. Maybe Kyle Orton can get Breaston and Baldwin involved again in a couple weeks.

DT Chiefs B KC has generated one turnover in the past three games while giving up 30-plus points twice. Doesn’t add up to much fantasy help from the defensive side of the ball.

NY Giants at New Orleans

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Eli had a three-game streak of multiple touchdown games snapped last week, but he has yet to go two straight games without multiple touchdowsn this season and has been north of 250 yards every game since Week 2. The Saints headed into their bye surrendering 351 and 2 to Matt Ryan, but in New Orleans they’ve held three of four opposing QBs to one or fewer scoring strikes. Eli’s startable—a high S3 or low-end S2—but it’s not the most favorable matchup for him.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Last week Bradshaw was targeting a return here; now that’s not looking so likely. The official report for Monday players isn't out yet, but he didn't practice Thursday or Friday so you should plan for another week without him.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Another opportunity for Jacobs sans Bradshaw; so far he’s done very little with the chances he’s been given. Each of the last eight feature backs to face the Saints have rushed for 72 yards or better, seven of the eight for 82 or more. At this rate we’d take 80 and a touch from Jacobs, and that doesn’t seem like an unrealistic expectation here.

WR Hakeem Nicks

Both of Nicks’ big yardage games came in the first month of the season; whether it’s the hamstring or defenses adjusting or something else, he’s settling into a solid but not spectacular routine. He’s still an every-week starter, but this matchup doesn’t look like one that will allow him to post monster numbers.

WR Victor Cruz


Cruz has been Manning’s big-play guy, and he has three 100-yard games to prove it. Harry Douglas hit triple digits against the Saints prior to the bye; of the Giants receivers, Cruz is the most likely to replicate that feat this week.

WR Mario Manningham


Manningham didn't practice Thursday or Friday due to a knee injury, and with this being a Monday night game you may not have all the information necessary to make your lineup decision. Best err on the side of caution and keep Manningham on your bench unless there are reports of a major turnaround in his status over the weekend.

TE Jake Ballard S3

Assuming the elbow is okay—and he returned to the game after injuring it last week so that’s a safe assumption—Ballard should be on Eli’s radar against a New Orleans defense that’s allowed TE TDs in each of the last two games and six on the season.

DT Giants B Despite the Giants’ pass rush, starting this fantasy defense against a Saints team that hasn’t allowed a sack in two straight games and is averaging 31 points a game seems like a futile gesture.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Not only is Brees on pace to break Dan Marino’s yardage record, he also has 10 touchdowns in the last four games. You have to go back to Week 4 of last year to find the last full home game in which Brees hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns; his average SuperDome game this year is 306 and 3. In this case, average is A-okay with us.


Darren Sproles


Sproles saw a season-low six touches prior to the Saints’ bye; you have to believe they’ll come out of the extra week with a paln to get the ball back into his hands, as he’s been far and away their most effective back. Similar combo backs—LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush—have had success against the Giants, so plug Sproles back into your fantasy lineup with confidence.


Mark Ingram
Pierre Thomas
Chris Ivory


The same confidence can’t be applied to the Saints’ hodge-podge of ball-carriers, as they haven’t had the same back lead the team in carries in consecutive weeks for more than a month. The Giants can be had on the ground, but unfortunately for fantasy purposes unless you start “Team Running Back” the productivity will be too splintered to be of use.

WR Marques Colston S2

Colston continues to be the most targeted Saints wideout and the one you’re most comfortable plugging into a fantasy lineup, but Lance Moore and Robert Meachem have taken turns outproducing him over the past month. You’re safe starting Colston, but it could be so much better if this situation weren’t so fractured.

WR Lance Moore
Robert Meachem

You’re always chasing points here: one week Moore scores, the next he catches one ball; Meacham gets shut out, then comes back to find the end zone the next game. Colston is more reliable, but there’s usually room for another producer under Brees’ umbrella of stats. The trick is guessing which one it will be.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 All the Gronkowski talk and Graham’s bye week almost make you forget how dominant Jimmy has been. Against a defense that’s allowed 327 yards and three TDs to the position—including 101 and 1 to Gronk—over the past three weeks, Graham is a rock-solid start. Again.
DT Saints B The Saints haven’t been doing much defensively to warrant fantasy play, and this one has all the makings of a shootout.

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