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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
UPDATES
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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)
 
 

St. Louis at San Francisco

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St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford B

Bradford is no lock to play after missing two practices and being limited in a third during the week due to his bum ankle. But if he goes and you’re into one touchdown and a little under 200 yards, Sammy’s your guy. Against a San Francisco secondary that’s allowed multiple TD tosses just once in the last five games, no reason to expect different here. At least he has the sense to direct most of his stats towards Brandon Lloyd.

RB Steven Jackson S3

The Niners have yet to allow a running back rushing score, and with a scoreless month of Sundays under his belt Jackson isn’t the guy to end that stretch. He’s going to get touches, though, and something in the 90-100 combo yard range wouldn’t surprise. He’s a fringe fantasy play at best this week.

WR

Brandon Lloyd

S3

Lloyd’s been punching the clock with a dozen targets, five catches, 65 yards, and a touchdown—roughly his average line since joining the Rams a month and a half ago. He’s scored in three straight and four of five, caught between four and six balls in every game as a Ram, never topped 80 yards… it’s boring but effective.

DT Rams B Aside from the nine sacks they surrendered to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night the Niners have done absolutely nothing to give opponents an opportunity to score defensive fantasy points. Don’t look for the Rams to replicate the quarterback bashing and keep St. Loo’s DST on your bench.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Believe it or not the Rams aren’t allowing much in the passing game—in no small part because everybody’s running on them. The Niners will be happy to do the same, leaving Smith with his typical 200-yard, one-TD stat line that doesn’t warrant fantasy attention.

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore has played in just one half of each of the past three season series with the Rams, but he’s owned them when he’s played with 300 yards and five touchdowns. He’s an S2 here only because the expectation is that Kendall Hunter will get touches in this game, allowing the Niners to keep Gore fresh for their playoff run. Regardless, he belongs in your lineup.

RB Kendall Hunter S3

Against a Rams defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, there’s enough for both Gore and Hunter to have some fantasy fun. Over the past six games the Cowboys and Seahawks have both put two backs in the end zone against the Rams, who are allowing 140 RB rushing yards per tilt over that span. Gore gets his early, then Hunter mops up with enough to make him worthy of fantasy consideration.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Nineteen targets and 140 yards over the past two games solidify Crabtree as the 49ers go-to receiver. While an occasional touchdown would be nice, those numbers are enough to make Crabtree a fringe fantasy wideout on a regular basis.
TE Vernon Davis S3

The Rams have allowed only one TE TD on the year, but their stats are skewed by facing several teams that flat-out ignore the position. That said, they held Jimmy Graham and Jason Witten under 40 yards so they’re at least partially legit. Davis has averaged 70 yards per game in his past four meetings with the Rams, scoring twice, and he’s essentially the Niners’ second receiver so in tight end mandatory leagues he’s still on the fantasy radar.

DT 49ers S1 This is an elite defense, and they’ll get a chance to flex their muscles at home against a St. Louis offense that’s topped 20 points just once all season.
 

Green Bay at NY Giants

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Thanksgiving was probably Rodgers’ worst fantasy performance of the season—and he still threw for 307 yards and two TDs. He’ll get to measure himself alongside Drew Brees, who just toasted these very same Giants for 363 yards and four touchdowns. You wanna bet against him?

RB

James Starks

B

Starks is still hobbled by a sore ankle and knee, but he practiced fully all week and should be set to resume his portion of the Green Bay backfield duties. Unfortunately, rarely do those duties include anything of fantasy importance.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

Grant was poised for extra duty with Starks nicked up, but now it appears it's the status quo in Green Bay. That means Starks has little fantasy value, Grant has none, and John Kuhn and B.J. Raji still steal the touchdowns.

WR Greg Jennings

S1

Call Jennings a road warrior: he’s scored in five of six away from Lambeau, and in the one game in which he didn’t score he caught nine balls for 119 yards. The go-to receiver of the hottest quarterback in football is always a good fantasy play.

WR Jordy Nelson

S2

The opposite of Jennings, Nelson is a homeboy with leaps in every game at Lambeau but goose eggs in four of six in road whites. That’s not enough to warrant a benching, but it’s something to consider in, say, salary cap games.

TE Jermichael Finley

S1

Finley has frustrated you all season, most notably with matching three-game scoreless streaks. The Giants are here to ease your pain; over the past five weeks no team has given up more fantasy points to the tight end position than Big Blue. That includes five TDs over the past four games and four tight ends topping 60 yards. As matchups go it doesn’t get any more favorable; Finley couldn’t let you down even if he tried.

DT Packers S2 The Giants have turned the ball over multiple times in four straight games; that’s multiple opportunities for Green Bay’s defensive playmakers to do their thing.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S1

Eli hasn’t been quite as hot as Rodgers, but he does have multiple touchdown tosses in four of five and eight of ten and is averaging better than 300 passing yards per game. Manning may not be able to keep up with the high-powered Packers offense, but he’ll give it a valiant effort—and reward your fantasy team in the process.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
U

Bradshaw returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and is questionable for this game. He'd be a better play than Jacobs because the Giants will likely be forced to throw and he's more involved in that aspect of the offense, but it's tough tossing him into the lineup sight unseen. If you're low on options and he's active for this game you can use him, but there's plenty of risk involved.

RB Brandon Jacobs
B

Regardless of whether or not Bradshaw plays, Jacobs won’t be of much help this week. He’s done precious little with the additional playing time and touches Bradshaw’s absence afforded him—a couple touchdowns, but nothing more than 72 yards. And if this one plays out as expected, Bradshaw or D.J. Ware will be on the field while the Giants pass and pass and pass while Jacobs stews on the sidelines thinking about free agency.

WR Hakeem Nicks
S2

Nicks will get to know Charles Woodson quite well this week. Doesn’t mean he’ll be shut down, but it will make things interesting. Nicks is money when he’s in the lineup, with a touchdown or at least 65 yards in nine of 10 games this year, so with the Giants going pass-happy he’s a solid play once again.

WR Victor Cruz

S2

While Nicks has been solid, Cruz has been electric with just one clunker in the past nine games and a whopping 285 yards and three TDs in the last two weeks alone. He seems to be Eli’s big play guy, and the Giants will need plenty of them this weekend. Cruz has been limited in practice by a hip injury; he’s expected to play, but it’s definitely worth revisiting on Friday.

WR Mario Manningham

B

Mario didn’t play last week due to a knee injury and didn't practice all week because of the same malady. He's listed as doubtful and there's talk his season may be over. Either way, you'll want to roll with a different fantasy option this week.

TE Jake Ballard S3

Tight ends aren’t left out of the fun against Green Bay; only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to the position. Especially if Manningham and/or Cruz are nicked up, Ballard should carve out his usual five targets for 40-50 yards—with plenty of upside beyond that.

DT Giants B If the Giants were healthy they could bring a pass rush that might bother Aaron Rodgers. Instead, they’re banged up and a little short-handed; that’s not the kind of fantasy defense you want to roll in front of the oncoming train that is the Green Bay offense.
 

Dallas at Arizona

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Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

It’s been a while since Romo hit 300 yards—Week 6, to be exact—but he’s been solidly above 200 every game since then and has multiple TD tosses in each of the last four. The running game should have success against Arizona as well, but not enough to bump Romo off the fantasy radar.

RB DeMarco Murray S2

Jerry Jones indicated that Felix Jones might be getting more involved, but all that means is more than the one touch he had in the Thanksgiving Day win over Miami. Murray is still the straw that stirs this drink, and while the Cards aren’t a complete walkover in the running game it’s definitely the kind of matchup that should have you going out of your way to get Murray into your fantasy lineup.

WR Dez Bryant
Laurent Robinson
S2

With Austin out of the mix there should be plenty to go around for both Bryant and Robinson, who has been stellar in place of the injured starter.

WR Miles Austin

B

Austin was unable to return to practice this week, still slowed by the hamstring injury, and he's been ruled out of this tilt.

TE Jason Witten S2

Arizona looks tougher against tight ends on paper because they haven’t really faced any; when they have, they’ve given up yardage and touchdowns, so Witten should make his appointed rounds this week.

DT Cowboys S3 DeMarcus Ware chasing down a rusty Kevin Kolb has the ring of defensive fantasy points.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb B

It’s been a month since Kolb played, and he wasn’t much of a fantasy factor at the time anyway. But he’s expected to return to the lineup for Arizona; doesn’t mean he needs to return to your fantasy lineup. The Cowboys have held three of the last four QBs they’ve faced to one or zero TD tosses, a number Kolb is all too familiar with—and will likely become reacquainted with this week.

RB Chris Wells
S3 Wells continues to surprise, though taking the Rams for 228 yards and a touchdown isn’t as shocking as his 22-83-1 in Baltimore. Either way, he’s answering the bell this year and can be expected to do so again against a Cowboys defense that’s not that far removed from giving up back-to-back-to-back 100-yard games. The S3, however, signifies a lack of trust, as Beanie has let us down before.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S3

Yay, Fitz gets Kevin Kolb back. Kolb wasn’t having all that much success finding his big man prior to injury, but Fitzgerald has regularly demonstrated that no matter how bad the quarterbacking or tough the opponent he’ll find a way to help your fantasy team. That’s a reassuring quality.

WR Early Doucet

B

Let’s let Kolb get back in the swing with Fitz before banking on him to find secondary targets with enough consistency to make them fantasy relevant.

DT Cardinals S3 The Cowboys haven’t allowed a return TD outside of the pair of pick sixes Tony Romo threw to the Lions back in Week 4, but the mere presence of Patrick Peterson makes the Cards a threat.
 

Detroit at New Orleans

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Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S2

The fractured finger has caused some inconsistency, but Stafford's yardage has stayed solid. A date with a New Orleans secondary that's given up 757 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games should help smooth things out as well.

RB Kevin Smith
S3

Smith practiced on a limited basis both Thursday and Friday and is adamant that he will play Sunday night in New Orleans. There's enough upside to his return--and his game--to warrant plugging him into your fantasy lineup this week.

RB Maurice Morris U

Even if Smith is able to play Morris should see at least some of the workload; in fact, he might be a better fit for beating up the Saints between the tackles. Tough to fathom two Lions starters out of this backfield, but if you're stuck for a back this week Morris should get some between-the-tackles work and would step up his workload if Smith can't go or aggravates his troublesome ankle.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

As we learned on Thanksgiving, it may take a while but you know that eventually Megatron is going to get his. The Saints have managed to limit similar receivers like Roddy White (4-62) and Hakeem Nicks (7-87), but Johnson is in a class by himself.

WR Nate Burleson
Titus Young

S3

Seeing Harry Douglas (8-133) and Victor Cruz (9-157-2) go off while White and Nicks remain involved gives hope to secondary targets like Burleson and Young--especially as the Lions are likely to be playing catch-up.

TE Brandon Pettigrew
Tony Scheffler
S3

The oft-targeted Pettigrew is a decent play in PPR leagues, but if your scoring system is touchdown-heavy you'll want to go with Scheffler, who has three touchdowns in the last four games.

DT Lions B Even if Ndamukong Suh wins his appeal and plays Sunday night you don't want to be throwing this defense in front of the Saints as well as they're playing.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Brees has 14 touchdowns in his last five, is averaging 315 and 3 in five home dates this season, and is on pace for almost 5,400 passing yards. Yeah, you want him in your lineup.

RB

Darren Sproles

S3

Sproles isn't as big a part of the New Orleans offense as he was at the start of the season, but he's still a PPR monster and amassing enough combo yardage to be a fantasy helper in most non-PPR scoring systems as well.

RB

Mark Ingram
Pierre Thomas

S3

Sans Suh, expect the Lions to be softer between the tackles. Ingram and Thomas are splitting the workload almost right down the middle, so both are viable options--but also somewhat of a risk given the fractured workload.

WR Marques Colston S2

Colston still led the Saints in yardage last week, though it was Lance Moore's turn to host the end zone party. Green Bay's top receiver got in the end zone against Detroit on Thanksgiving, and Steve Smith scored on them the week before so there's a reasonable chance Colston will turn those targets into a touchdown this week.

WR Lance Moore
S2

Fresh off 5-54-2 on Monday night Moore seems to be restaking his claim to WR2 duties in New Orleans. The way Brees is firing right now, you want as many Saints pass-catchers in your lineup as possible.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 The next team that figures out how to defend Graham will be the first; in the red zone he's virtually unstoppable. The Lions haven't allowed a TE TD since Delanie Walker got them in Week 6, but Graham should snap that streak Sunday night.
DT Saints B Defense isn't what the Saints are about, and unlike their Super Bowl season they're not getting the big fantasy-point-producing plays on that side of the ball.
 

San Diego at Jacksonville

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

This may be as low as we've ranked Rivers in some time, but it's become obvious something isn't right. It's a tough matchup on the road, and after a three-game mini-resurgence Rivers was back below 200 yards and at the one-TD level last week against the Broncos. You may even be starting him on name alone at this point.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 So much for being limited last week; Mathews poste a season-high 22-137 on the Broncos and looks to have reclaimed the larger portion of San Diego's backfield workload. Jacksonville has given up touchdowns to three straight feature backs, with two of them topping the century mark, so we may be back to the "living up to the hype" portion of the Mathews program.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 Tolbert had half the carries of Mathews, but it's tough to quibble about 11 totes as the wingman. He also remains heavily involved on third downs, adding value in PPR leagues. It's not a soft matchup, but Tolbert's touches and nose for the stripe make him at least worthy of fantasy consideration.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 The Jags are thin at corner; in other words, there's no danger of Champ Bailey taking VJax out of the game like he did last week. If Jackson is on an every-other-week kick with his big games (141 & 3 in Week 9, 165 & 1 in Week 11) it's worth noting that this should be an "on" week for him.
WR Vincent Brown
Malcom Floyd
B Brown turned 10 targets into just three catches for 50 yards last week, and with Malcom Floyd back in the mix--he has practiced fully all week--there may not be enough to go around. Don't bank on either for fantasy help this week.
TE Antonio Gates S1

The Jaguars have struggled to keep tight ends out of the end zone--Joel Dreessen has scored twice on them, for crying out loud--and Gates, while maybe a step slower, is still an elite TE. He's heavily targeted and should enjoy the matchup with a team that's surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to his position.

DT Chargers S3

The Chargers have done absolutely nothing defensively this season, but they'll be facing Blaine Gabbert so bonus fantasy points for not giving up real NFL points is almost a given.

Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Blaine Gabbert B

The Chargers have surrendered multiple touchdown tosses in three of their last four, but it just doesn't matter; Gabbert has six touchdowns total for the season, never more than one in a game, and has yet to throw for more than 221 yards in a game. Those are not helpful fantasy numbers.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

Through all of Jacksonville's foibles MoJo keeps churning out fantasy helpers, rushing for at least 84 yards in all but one game, scoring in three of the last four, and putting up triple-digit combo yardage in five of six and seven games overall. Set your expectations somewhere between the 117 Willis McGahee rushed for against the Bolts last week and the 242 combo yards Michael Bush dropped on the Chargers in Week 10.

WR

Jarrett Dillard
Cecil Shorts

B Jacksonville's ever-changing receiving corps will audition a couple more players this week, but with so small a pie to hack off slices from neither warrants fantasy consideration.
TE

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis has flirted with the fringe of fantasy relevance this season, but an assortment of drops have prevented him from following up on the promise he demonstrated last year. At this juncture, until Gabbert generates something--anything--in the passing game, no element of the Jaguars' aerial attach belongs on a fantasy roster.
DT Jaguars S3

It's a prideful defense whose coordinator just got bumped to the head job. At home on Monday night, you could very well get an effort like they tossed at the Ravens earlier this season. Won't make for great TV, but could help your fantasy squad.

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