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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List: Week 13
John Tuvey
Updated: December 2, 2011
 
PHI at SEA CAR at TBB OAK AT MIA GBP at NYG Start/Bench List by Position
TEN at BUF CIN at PIT DEN at MIN DAL at ARI
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IND at NEP KCC at CHI BAL at CLE DET at NOS
NYJ at WAS ATL at HOU STL at SFO SDC at JAC
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)
 
 
Philadelphia at Seattle Back to top
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young
S2

Young has 658 yards and three TDs in his two starts, against two of the softer pass defenses in the league. Seattle is on the opposite end of that spectrum, but after giving up 314 yards and two TDs to Rex Grossman at home last week it’s tough to take them too seriously. You know Andy Reid can’t help himself but throw 35-plus times a game, so Young should again be in line for solid stats.

RB LeSean McCoy
S2

On the one hand you have the Eagles combating the absence of Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin by giving McCoy… just 14 touches last week? No wonder people are calling for Andy Reid’s head. On the other hand you have Roy Helu blowing up Seattle for 162 yards from scrimmage last week. The Eagles aren’t averse to giving McCoy work—he carried 23 times in Young’s first start—and this would be a game where the ball needs to be in his hands. He’s officially listed as questionable with a sore ankle but expected to play; plan on him playing, but have Ronnie Brown or another backup plan on stand-by just in case.

WR DeSean Jackson
S2 You’d like to think Jackson is at least as capable of getting behind the Seahawks as Anthony Armstrong was on his 50-yard touchdown last week. Assuming he doesn’t sleep through his alarm, injure himself, or get himself benched he’s a great play here.
WR Riley Cooper
Jason Avant
S3 Cooper has 146 yards and a touchdown in two games of relief duty, while Avant joined the fun with 8-110-1 last week against New England. With Jeremy Maclin out again and the Eagles still pass-happy, both at least warrant consideration.
TE Brent Celek
S2 The Seahawks have allowed four TE TDs in the last four games, and three tight ends have tallied 58 yards or better. Celek is on a roll of his own, with 53 yards or a score—or both—in six straight games, including 11-135 in two with Young at the helm.
DT Eagles S3 There’s plenty of talent here, but the results—fantasy-wise, at least—have been lacking. That’s a familiar refrain in Philly this year, but don’t expect much to change this week as just six of Seattle’s 19 turnovers have come in front of the home crowd.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B The “Dream Team” secondary has given up 300-plus passing yards in two of the last three and multiple TD tosses in three of the last four. However, Jackson hasn’t topped 221 yards in a month, has just three touchdown tosses over that span, and will be without his favorite target. Tough to trust him given those circumstances.
RB Marshawn Lynch S2

Philly has played significantly better against the run of late, but Lynch has been even hotter in his own right with triple-digit yardage in three of his last four and touchdowns in five straight. Bet on the hot back at home over the underachieving D on the road.

WR

Doug Baldwin

S3 Even with Rice down for the count last week Baldwin couldn’t snap out of the 50-60 yard rut he’s been stuck in. He’ll be the most targeted Seahawk, but that may just mean an evening wearing Nnamdi Asomugha. Baldwin is a tentative S3 at best.
DT Seahawks S3 Don’t expect the Eagles to be overwhelmed by the 12th man, but they’re banged up and on the cusp of a breakdown. And then you have Red Bryant blocking kicks as well.
 
Tennessee at Buffalo Back to top
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2

Since Week 5 Jake Locker has as many multiple TD games as Hasselbeck, but the Bills have served up three straight with at least three TDs so there’s an opportunity to be had here.

RB Chris Johnson S2

CJ sandwiched a 12-for-13 clunker in between two big 100-yard games. Buffalo’s run D is a whole lot more Tampa Bay or Carolina than it is Falcons, which means it’s safe to plug Johnson into your lineup.

WR Nate Washington
Damian Williams
S3 Buffalo has served up six WR TDs over their last three games but kept the yardage in check with no wideout topping 80 yards since prior to the Bills’ Week 7 bye. Washington and Williams have been sharing some looks with Lavelle Hawkins, but they remain the most likely to find themselves on the business end of a Hasselbeck TD toss this week.
TE Jared Cook
B Despite a steady stream of targets Cook hasn’t scored since Week 7 or posted as much as 60 yards since Week 4. It’s tough to trust him in what at should be a favorable matchup with a Buffalo defense that’s allowed four TE TDs in the past two games, so do so only if you’re desperate for help at the position.
DT Titans S3 The return game has been working with two TDs in the past three games, so if you’re reaching for help at the DST position you could do worse.
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

With Fred Jackson out Fitz picked up the offensive slack, and he’ll have to do so again here. His 264 and 3 against a tough Jets secondary buys optimism against a similarly stout Tennessee defense that’s given up two TD passes in three games and just one game north of 250 yards in their past five.

RB C.J. Spiller B

Spiller’s 55 yards on 19 carries in his first NFL start was underwhelming, and it’s unlikely to get better here. Yes, the Titans have given up 100-plus yards to each of the last two feature backs they’ve faced, but Michael Turner and LeGarrette Blount, like the other triple-digit rushers the Titans have allowed this season, are power backs; Spiller, on the other hand, is not. Don’t be surprised if Johnny White ends up with a test drive here.

WR Steve Johnson S2

Targets usually translate into fantasy points against the Titans, as the last three to see 10 or more looks scored or topped 100 yards. Johnson remains the apple of Fitzpatrick’s eye despite the drops, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by leaving him out of your lineup.

WR David Nelson
Brad Smith
S3

Roughly once a month the Titans allow a secondary receiver to score, and it’s been about a month since the last time it happened so apply the principle of due here. Moreover, the Bills won’t have much going on in the ground game so Nelson and Smith may join Johnson in the double-digit targets range.

TE Scott Chandler U

With the receiving corps depleted and Fred Jackson on IR Chandler has seen his two busiest games of the season over the past two weeks—leading to 11 catches for 121 yards. If 6-for-60 gets it done in your league, Chandler is an option against a Tennessee defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

DT Bills B With just two sacks, four turnovers generated, and 134 points allowed in the past month the Bills are off the radar for fantasy defenses.
 

Indianapolis at New England

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Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky B

No team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Patriots, but does Orlovsky really qualify? Look at how New England held Tyler Palko scoreless with three picks and 236 yards for evidence at what “this is all we got” guys do.

RB Donald Brown B Unless we get a surprise return from Joseph Addai (who did not practice on Friday and is listed as questionable with his troublesome hamstring) this is Brown’s gig, good for 15 or so carries a game. The Pats haven’t allowed a back to top 61 yards since Week 5 and have surrendered only two RB rushing scores in that span, so even with a credible workload it’s tough to see Brown laying down a productive fantasy showing.
WR Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garçon
S3

Indy’s going to pass. A lot. The Patriots are running out of capable cover guys, so between the volume of targets and the quality of coverage either—or, heaven forbid, both—could carve out an adequate fantasy showing. Don’t go out of your way to start either, but at least they’re usable.

TE Jacob Tamme B

This isn’t last year, where Tamme stepped into Dallas Clark’s shoes and become a fantasy stud. He was adequate (6-75) a couple weeks back against the Jags but it’s tough to trust him in New England with Dan Orlovsky slinging the pigskin.

DT Colts B No. And if you need further explanation than that you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the NFL this year.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

If you’re facing Brady this week, the fact that Indy has held three of the last four QBs they’ve faced to one touchdown will help you sleep nights. Just don’t dream about Brady’s six straight multiple touchdown games or 5,200-yard pace

RB

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

S2

If you could guarantee BJGE would get 15 or more carries here he’d be an S1. But he’s topped that number just twice this year, so there’s risk inherent in starting a Patriots back.

RB

Shane Vereen

U

Part of the reason for that risk is that Vereen has 15 carries the past two games. If you’re desperate for backfield help, there’s a legitimate shot he gets a serious audition in the latter stages of this tilt--assuming, of course, the questionable tag he sports (like a dozen other teammates) isn't as serious as it sounds.

WR Wes Welker S1 This would be a great week for Welker to pad that catch total and make a serious run at the NFL record. It’s not as if a defense that’s allowed four 100-yard receivers and the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts is in any position to slow him down.
WR Deion Branch S2 Coming off a 6-125 last week in Philly, there’s no reason Branch can’t gouge the hapless Colts as well.
TE Rob Gronkowski S1 Over the past month Graham and Gonzo have scored on the Colts and Cook and Shockey have topped 40 yards. No reason for the Gronk train to slow here.
TE Aaron Hernandez S2 Less targeted than Gronkowski but still a viable fantasy starter every week, especially when the matchup is this marshmallow-soft.
DT Patriots S2 The Colts haven’t reached 20 points or turned the ball over less than twice since Week 5. Doesn’t matter who the Patriots are using on defense, in the matchup of Dan Orlovsky and Bill Belichick one guy’s playing checkers and one guy’s playing chess.
 

NY Jets at Washington

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S2

Washington’s secondary has surrendered five passing touchdowns the past two games after eight in the previous 10. That dovetails nicely with Sanchez stepping up with four TD tosses himself last week. The running game ain’t getting it done, and Sanchez seems ready, willing, and able to take on the offensive burden.

RB Shonn Greene S3

You’d like to be optimistic for Greene after seeing Marshawn Lynch become the third back in the last five games (and fifth this season) to top 100 yards against the Redskins. But he hasn’t scored since Week 5, and has just one triple-digit effort to his credit. He’ll give you a workmanlike 75 rushing yards; if that’s enough to help your fantasy squad, go ahead and put him in your lineup.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson U

Tomlinson's knee issues appear to be behind him, as he's listed as probable for this tilt. Rex Ryan has talked about how it would be nice to give a fresh LT extra carries, but until talk becomes action it's tough to trust Tomlinson with a fantasy start.

WR Santonio Holmes

S3

Holmes has been more targeted, though slightly less productive, than Burress during the resurgence of Sanchez. That’s led to a touchdown or 90-plus yards in five of the last seven, making him a reliable WR3 or flex this week.

WR Plaxico Burress

S3

Five touchdowns in the past five games; Plax is back to being a touchdown machine. Doesn’t hurt his status that the Jets have no running game to be trusted at the stripe, or that three of the five WR TDs the Redskins have allowed this season have come in the past two weeks.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller’s two-TD effort didn’t come completely out of nowhere; he’s seen eight or more targets six times and less than five just twice this season. The Skins are middle-of-the-pack in shutting down tight ends, so you could do worse than a regularly-targeted TE coming off a big game.

DT Jets S3 Would you believe the Jets have forced just one turnover over the past three games? Expect Rex to be a bit more accommodating, but it’s still difficult to trust them with a fantasy start given their lack of productivity of late.
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman
S3

We’ve seen a little more of the good Rexy of late, with multiple touchdowns in each of the past two games to offset the three INTs. And the Jets haven’t been nearly as shutdown against the pass recently, giving up hat tricks to both Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Grossman is usable if you’re in a bind, but not if your league deducts points for interceptions.

RB

Roy Helu

S3 We think Helu has the job; he’s certainly earned it, especially after 23-108-1 plus 7-54 receiving in Seattle last week. But it’s not a favorable matchup—the Jets haven’t allowed a running back touchdown since Week 7 or a 100-yard rusher since Week 5—and in the back of your mind you just know the prospect of getting Shanahan’d looms. If you’re starting Helu, you’re doing so with trepidation.
WR Santana Moss
Jabar Gaffney

B The Bills’ three WR TDs against the Jets last week feels like an aberration. Usually against the Jets it takes a bunch of targets just to get a wideout respectable stats, and right now Moss and Gaffney appear to be splitting looks. Neither has the kind of upside you need to start, especially given the matchup.
TE Fred Davis
S3

The oft-targeted Davis should get adequate yardage for the position, but don’t bank on a touchdown; the only TEs to reach the end zone against the Jets are Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates and while Davis is having a nice season he’s not of their ilk yet.

DT Redskins S3 The Skins are useable against a Jets team that’s allowed three defensive return TDs in the past five games and served up multiple turnovers in five straight—but not the kind of useable where you go out of your way to start them.
 

Carolina at Tampa Bay

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Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB

Cam Newton

S2 Cam’s been held without a passing touchdown two of the past three games, but he’s rushed for three during that span and consistently provides 50 rushing yards and 200 passing yards. There should be some upside here as well against a Bucs D that’s allowed multiple TD tosses in three of the last four.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Though he’s fallen behind Williams in the carries race he’s still seeing action in the passing game, and this is a matchup for him to exploit as the Bucs have given up the third-most receiving yards to RBs and the second-most fantasy points to running backs.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Since Carolina’s bye Williams has taken a 60/40 edge in the running back carries. He still cedes touchdowns to Cam Newton, but he scored twice last week and is averaging better than five yards a carry since the break. The Bucs have given up RB TDs in six of the last seven games, a total of 12 in that span, so if Superman decides to share Williams would be the beneficiary.
WR Steve Smith S3

Smith’s last monster games—6-112 and 9-117-1—against the Bucs came during Aqib Talib’s rookie season, when he had not yet moved into the starting lineup. In four meetings since Smith has 10 catches for 195 yards and one TD. Expect Talib to shadow Smith here, and while Aqib has not proven to be a complete blanket this season he’s enough to put a damper on Smith’s fantasy prospects.

TE Greg Olsen
S3

After a rough start the Bucs have allowed only one TE TD over the past six games, including two blankings of Jimmy Graham. Graham is responsible for 202 of the 319 tight end yards over that span as well, and while Olsen is solid he’s no Graham. Take off some looks and yards for Jeremy Shockey and Olsen is a fringe fantasy helper at best.

DT Panthers S3 The Bucs have turned the ball over 11 times in the past three games, and while Carolina hasn’t been doing much as a fantasy defense that certainly would present the opportunity.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman B

Freeman was limited in practice all week due to a shoulder injury, and he's officially a game time decision. Josh Johnson would step in if Freeman can’t go against a Carolina defense that’s held five of the last six QBs they’ve faced to just one TD toss. Even if he were healthy Freeman would be a tough start; no need to wait until the Bucs make their GTD to plant him firmly on your fantasy bench.

RB LeGarrette Blount S1

Regardless of quarterback, Blount will carry the load against a Carolina defense that has given up more fantasy points to running backs than any other team—including seven RB TDs in the past four games. Blount has back-to-back 100-yard games under his belt and mixed in 56 receiving yards last week as well. The only concern if it’s Johnson instead of Freeman would be the prospect of Johnson swiping a rushing score, but we’ll worry about that later in the week.

WR Mike Williams
S2

Sure, just as Williams regains his form with 22 targets, 13 catches, 167 yards, and touchdowns in back-to-back games, Freeman may be forced to the sidelines. Surely Johnson could find Williams as well, but we’d be a little less giddy about it.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

K2 essentially serves as the Bucs’ WR2, with at least six targets in eight straight games and 14-184 over the past two. He has at least four catches and 65 yards in three straight meetings with the Panthers; no reason he won’t make it four in a row here.

DT Buccaneers B Talib got a pick six last week and is always a threat, but in general the Buccaneers D isn’t doing enough to warrant fantasy play.
 

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

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Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton S3

Dalton threw two touchdowns in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh; since then he’s mustered only single scores against fellow AFC North residents Baltimore and Cleveland. The yardage has been solid (643 over the past two weeks), but the Steelers aren’t big on giving up yardage, holding three of their past four opponents (including Dalton) under 200 yards. Starting Dalton means you’re banking on him to pick up the expected slack of a stymied ground game—and Pittsburgh to serve up more than usual.

RB Cedric Benson B

If you enjoyed Ced’s 15-57 against Pittsburgh in Week 10 you’re bound to love this effort as well. That 57-yard effort was the biggest given up to an opposing back by the Steelers since Week 6; in other words, the Steel Curtain—at least as it pertains to Benson—is back.

WR A.J. Green

S3

Green’s lone catch in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh was a memorable one—a leaping touchdown in double coverage that also resulted in a hyperextended knee for the rookie. He’s back, as his 3-110 against the league’s top-ranked secondary last week demonstrates. You can’t bench him, but his odds for more than a casual helper are slim given that the Steelers haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver this season and they’ve surrendered only seven WR TDs.

WR Jerome Simpson

B

If there are fantasy points to be had by this wide receiving corps, odds are they’ll run through Green. The addition of the Andres (Caldwell and Hawkins) to the mix don’t help Simpson’s chances.

TE Jermaine Gresham S3 Gresham scored in the previous meeting with Pittsburgh and is targeted heavily enough to be a viable option even in a tougher matchup like this.
DT Bengals B Cincy produced five sacks and a pick against the Steelers at home, but still gave up 24 points and was essentially a fantasy meh. Those numbers aren’t likely to get any better in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Big Ben has been the only QB the Bengals have held to a single touchdown over the past month, but it’s been par for the course for Roethlisberger as he’s gone a month without multiple TDs. There’s always the potential for a big day, and Ben’s baseline of 200 and 1 is solid enough that if you’re light on options you could risk plugging him into your lineup.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

S3

Ray Rice burst the Bengals’ 100-yard bubble a couple weeks back, and both he and Mendenhall scored twice against the formerly formidable Cincy run D. But Mendy hasn’t topped 70 yards since Week 6, and he’s been shut out in three of his last five games. His previous game buys him some cred here, but as a fringe contributor rather than a must-start.

WR Mike Wallace
S3

Remember when Wallace had that streak of consecutive 100-yard games? It may be tough, as he hasn’t seen triple-digit yardage in a month. His 6-54 in the Week 10 meeting with Cincy was ordinary, and last week’s 2-17 against the Chiefs was flat-out awful. That the Bengals have surrendered seven WR TDs and three 100-yard efforts over the past five games at least provides a glimmer of hope.

WR

Antonio Brown

S3

More than just the wingman, Brown has been the most targeted Steeler wideout in four of the last five games and produced the most yardage in each of the last three. He had a solid 5-86 against the Bengals in the earlier meeting—and that was the only game over the past month and a half in which he didn’t lead Cincy wideouts in yardage and catches. Wallace still draws the most attention, which means Brown should be open for at least a reprise of the earlier digits.

TE Heath Miller B

The Bengals haven’t allowed a TE TD since Week 6 and last week rookie Weslye Saunders horned in on Miller’s action with a score, making it virtually impossible to give Miller a fantasy start with any degree of confidence.

DT Steelers S3 Dalton isn’t playing like a rookie, though the Steelers did pick him twice in the earlier meeting. If Troy Polamalu plays it’s tough to bench the Pittsburgh D because of his playmaking potential, but they’re no longer the every-week lock they used to be.

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