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Start/Bench List: Week 15
John Tuvey
Updated: December 16, 2011
JAC at ATL GBP at KCC CIN at STL NEP at DEN 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)
Miami at Buffalo Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore S3

Four of the last five quarterbacks to face Buffalo—including Moore in Week 11—have thrown at least three touchdown passes, so it would behoove Moore to bounce back from his concussion and get back under center for the Phins.


Reggie Bush


While Daniel Thomas is stealing a few touches, Bush should be the back doing the majority of the damage against a defense that over the past two weeks served up 20-114 to Ryan Mathews and 23-153-2 to Chris Johnson. Consider the 66 combo yards and one touchdown from the earlier meeting with Buffalo a baseline for Bush.


Daniel Thomas


He’s seeing a few more touches, but not enough to make him a fantasy starter in any but the most desperate of situations.


Brandon Marshall


It hasn’t been wide receivers getting over on the Bills, but Marshall is heavily targeted—24 in the three games since his 1-5 “effort” against Miami—and has TDs in two of the last three games so he’s a solid fantasy option.


Anthony Fasano


In tight end mandatory leagues Fasano needs to be in a lineup. He’s had 56 yards or more in four of the last five games, scored in his last meeting with Buffalo, and only seven teams have allowed more TE TDs this year than the Bills have allowed in the last four games.

DT Dolphins S2 Miami has held seven of their last eight foes—including Buffalo in Week 11—to 20 points or less; the Bills have topped that number once in their last six games and served up two defensive scores in the last five outings.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Fitz has one fantasy helper in his last six, and while the Dolphins have given up multiple TD tosses in two of the last three they’re essentially the same unit that shut out Fitz in Week 11 and have given up a total of five passing touchdowns in the past six games.

RB C.J. Spiller B

Last week LeSean McCoy punched across the first two RB TDs the Dolphins have given up since Week 4; the week before DeMarco Murray became the first back since Week 2 to top 81 yards when he got all the way to 87. In other words, whatever problems the Dolphins may have don’t extend to the run defense. Spiller is a bit player at best, and his audition for more carries in 2012 will take another hit as he struggles this week against the Phins.

WR Steve Johnson S3

Johnson is back to being a reasonably consistent producer: 4-116 last week, 5-52-1 the week before, 8-75-1 the week before that. That’s enough production to make one think his 2-16 against Miami in Week 11 was a fluke—a fluke he’ll have the opportunity to rectify, especially with the Dolphins allowing five WR TDs in the past three games.

WR David Nelson B

There’s no consistent second target for Fitzpatrick; Brad Smith handled the job for a couple weeks but was shut out last week, while Nelson has hasn’t topped 50 yards since returning from his ankle injury.

DT Bills B The Bills have failed to force a turnover in three of their last five games, with only four sacks and three takeaways during that span. They couldn’t touch Moore (one sack, no takeaways, 35 points allowed) one month ago, and nothing has changed to suggest things will be different this time around.
New Orleans at Minnesota Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Four straight with 322 yards or better, at least 258 in every game this season, and multiple TD tosses in five straight against a defense that’s allowed multiple TDs to eight straight quarterbacks (though Carson Palmer needed to add a rushing TD to his passing score to hold up his link of the chain). No matter how you slice it, this is a fabulous matchup for Brees.


Darren Sproles


Sproles gets an infuriatingly low number of touches, but he does more with them than any other Saints back. The Vikings are a poor tackling team, so Sproles is a threat to score on a punt return, with a swing pass, on a sprint draw... easily the best bet among New Orleans backs this week regardless of touches.


Chris Ivory


With Mark Ingram ruled out, Ivory is in line for double-digit carries. That hasn't always meant much for opposing backs in Minnesota, but this is a different Vikings defense. Specifically, one that can't tackle.


Pierre Thomas
Mark Ingram


Ingram won't play due to injury and Thomas has tended to finish behind both Ivory and Sproles in the workload battle so he can't be trusted with a fantasy start.

WR Marques Colston S2

While there are no sure things among the Saints’ receivers, Colston runs the most routes and last week turned that into two touchdowns. Minnesota’s secondary has no one who can cover him, so if Brees looks his way the opportunities will be there.

WR Devery Henderson
Lance Moore
Robert Meachem

Everybody’s in play this week, and while Henderson (86 routes the past three games), Moore (69), and Meachem (66) don’t run as many routes as Colston (110) or Graham (103), they still provide enough opportunities for any of these guys to put up numbers against a truly awful Vikings secondary.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 Sounds like Graham’s back spasms won’t be an issue. And he’ll be facing a Vikings secondary that has allowed each of the last five teams to throw at least one pass to a tight end to produce at least 57 yards and a total of three touchdowns. Like you needed an excuse to play Graham.
DT Saints S3 This offense has been making some mistakes, and while they’re at home and should get Adrian Peterson back in the mix that doesn’t mean more mistakes won’t be made.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Christian Ponder S3

A healthy Ponder makes an okay play against a Saints secondary that’s allowed almost 1,500 passing yards in the past four games. He shouldn’t have to carry the offense with Adrian Peterson back in the mix, but he’s discovered Percy Harvin and Devin Aromashodu and there’s a very good chance he’ll be playing from behind.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

The Vikings have been patient with Peterson and his high ankle sprain, but no less a reliable source than AP himself said he’ll be back in the lineup this week. And if he’s in the lineup that means he’ll get the ball. And backs who’ve been given at least 15 carries against the Saints have averaged 110 rushing yards per game.

WR Percy Harvin


With AP back in the lineup Harvin won’t have to shoulder the entire offensive load—which is both bad and good. He’ll still get plenty of looks, without all that pesky defensive attention.

WR Devin Aromashodu


Guess who ranks seventh in targets over the last three games? Okay, it’s kind of a giveaway that it’s Aromoashodu. The opportunities are there—30 of them over the past three games—and if Minnesota is throwing to stay in the game he’s a decent bet for some decent yardage and maybe even a long score.

TE Vishante Shiancoe


Over the past two months the Saints have allowed only two TE TDs and one tight end to top 50 yards. With Shiancoe sharing looks with Kyle Rudolph, both are risky fantasy plays at best.

DT Vikings B

Try as he might, Jared Allen cannot single-handedly save this defense.


Cincinnati at St. Louis

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andy Dalton B

Maybe it’s because everybody runs on them, but somehow despite having put nearly a dozen cornerbacks on injured reserve this year the Rams aren’t a particularly easy mark for quarterbacks. Dalton has hit the rookie wall, with one TD toss in each of his last four games and back-to-back efforts under 200 yards. He’ll throw his score to A.J. Green, but that might be it. Your fantasy team can do better.

RB Cedric Benson S2

It’s the rare favorable road matchup for Benson, who prefers to do most of his damage at home. The Rams have allowed feature backs to have their way with them; eight have scored touchdowns with five topping 100 yards and another three compiling at least 80. Ced put up 91 against a solid Houston defense last week and will find the going much easier in St. Louis this week.

WR A.J. Green


What passing yardage the Rams do give up comes on the outside, and that’s where Green does his best work. Last week’s 5-59 was his first game without either a touchdown or at least 80 yards since Week 3, and it’s unlikely to happen again against a defense that in consecutive weeks has allowed 93 and one to Doug Baldwin and 96 and one to Michael Crabtree.

WR Jerome Simpson


Nothing against Simpson but he’s the backup plan when Green’s not open. And with much of the Bengals’ business expected to be conducted on the ground this week there will only be so much to go around for secondary wideouts.

TE Jermaine Gresham B Not only is Gresham in a two-game scoreless streak, he’ll be facing a Rams defense that hasn’t allowed a TE TD since Week 7 and hasn’t given up more than 45 yards to the position since Week 3.
DT Bengals S3 Cincy’s D has been okay, but they get a nudge into starting territory by a Rams offense that hasn’t topped 20 points since Week 8, averaging less than 11 points per game during that span.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford B

Bradford hasn't officially been ruled out, but there's also talk he may not play again this year. So why risk starting a guy who has yet to throw multiple scores in a game this season and hasn’t even made it to 250 yards since Week 9?

QB Kellen Clemens B

The Bengals have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in four straight, including 300 yards and two scores to T.J. Yates last week. And Clemens was briefly Yates' teammate. But as far as plugging him into a fantasy lineup this week... in a word, no.

RB Steven Jackson S3

Carrying the entirety of the Rams offense has to wear on Jackson, yet he keeps churning out yards and the occasional touchdown. The Bengals are much more inclined to serve up the latter, as only three teams have allowed more RB rushing scores, so this feels a whole lot like one of those typical 65-yard, one-TD outings for S-Jax.


Brandon Lloyd


He’ll get double-digit targets and all the red zone attention. Against a Bengals’ defense that’s allowed 10 WR TDs in the last six games, he’s got a decent chance of adding a score to his otherwise mediocre numbers. Oh, and in case you get a wild hair about starting any other Rams wideout, the last non-Lloyd Rams WR TD came in Week 3.

DT Rams B No compelling reason to use a defense that’s allowed 103 points in the last four games for fantasy purposes.
Washington at NY Giants Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman

The last three quarterbacks to face the Giants have all thrown for at least 320 yards and four touchdowns. Now, granted, the last three quarterbacks to face the Giants were Brees, Rodgers, and Romo, but still that’s some serious toasting. Rexy took Big Blue for 305 and two in the season opener and rolls into this tilt with multiple TD tosses and at least 250 yards in three of his last four. Maybe 320 and 4 is setting the bar too high, but 280 and 2 or 3 is certainly doable.


Roy Helu

S2 Tim Hightower put up 97 combo yards and a touchdown on the Giants back in Week 1, but that was about a dozen Shanahan starters ago. Helu has three straight 100-yard games, with touchdowns in two of the three, and has quite literally taken the job and run with it. Against a Giants defense that just let Felix Jones come back from the dead and rush for 106 yards on 16 carries, you have to love Helu’s chances.
WR Santana Moss

S2 Moss caught six balls for 76 yards in the earlier meeting but ceded touchdowns to Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong. With tight ends out of the mix, however, Moss is seeing more looks all over the field and has 21 targets the past two weeks. The Giants have given up 10 WR TDs in the past four games, so Moss is a decent bet to score in addition to his usual PPR production.
WR Jabar Gaffney S2

Gaffney scored in the earlier meeting with New York, scored last week as part of a 6-92-1 afternoon, and faces the aforementioned Giants secondary that’s allowed multiple receivers to score in four straight games. What’s not to like here?

DT Redskins B The Redskins DST hasn’t been anywhere close to decent fantasy production since Week 1… when they tallied their only defensive score of the season against the Giants. That was then, this is now; look elsewhere for defensive help.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

In the last three games Eli has 1,153 yards and seven touchdowns. Stretch it back further and he’s had at least 250 yards in every game since Week 2 and multiple touchdowns in 10 of his last 12. The Redskins shut him out in Week 1 but have given up multiple TD tosses in three of their last four. Give the advantage to Eli here.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

After sitting out the first half for a curfew violation, Bradshaw didn’t exactly light it up in the second half with 19 yards from scrimmage on nine touches. The Redskins held him to 54 combo yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting and have given up some notable ground games of late—22-88-3 to Shonn Greene, 24-111 plus a receiving TD to Marshawn Lynch, 19-107 to Frank Gore, 26-120 to Fred Jackson—so assuming Bradshaw got his watch fixed he’s at least usable this week.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs saw just six carries in the earlier meeting with Washington, but he averaged almost five yards a pop. Coming off a 19-101-2 effort in Dallas he may see at least a split of the workload with Bradshaw. However, it’s to volatile a situation to trust with anything more than an S3.

WR Hakeem Nicks

The Redskins didn’t have an answer for Nicks (7-122) in the earlier meeting, and that was before they had to worry much about Manningham and Cruz. You could almost project what Gronkowski did to the Redskins last week onto Nicks, as he’s Eli’s favorite red zone throw.

WR Victor Cruz
Mario Manningham


The key, obviously, will be how things get split up. But last week everybody got a taste with Manningham scoring once and dropping another TD and Cruz catching 6 balls for 74 yards. Neither should be benched this week, as the upside is tremendous.

TE Jake Ballard S3

You can’t look at what Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez did to the Redskins last week and assume Ballard follows in their footsteps. But Ballard scored last week, has at least 47 yards in each of the last three, and went for 59 yards against Washington in the earlier meeting—all of which makes him a viable option in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Giants S3 The Giants will be without one and possibly two of their top pass rushers. But they still have plenty of guys who can bring the heat, and it doesn’t take long for Good Rexy to turn into Bad Rexy and start firing pick sixes.
Detroit at Oakland Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S1

Five of six and 10 of 12 opposing quarterbacks have thrown multiple touchdowns against the Raiders. Stafford strolls into this matchup averaging 310 yards and two touchdowns per game over his last five, positioned perfectly to exploit the aggressive Oakland secondary.

RB Kevin Smith

After resting his troublesome ankle last week Smith practiced all week and is expected to start. Against an Oakland defense that's allowing an average of 157 combo yards per game to opposing backs and has allowed three RB TDs in the past two weeks, he's a nice fantasy start as well.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Megatron comes off season lows in targets, catches, and yardage—against Minnesota, for crying out loud! Last year when he bottomed out (on Revis Island), he bounced back with 10-128-1. And against a secondary that’s already allowed decent numbers to similarly sized receivers like Brandon Marshall (60 yards) and Dwayne Bowe (76 yards), it’s a safe bet you don’t get burned by Calvin twice in a row.

WR Nate Burleson
Titus Young


There are definite holes in Oakland’s secondary; how else do you explain Davonne Bess scoring, Johnny Knox blowing up for 145 yards and a TD, Vincent Brown going off for 97 and a touch… clearly, there are holes. And any additional attention devoted to Megatron only opens those holes further.

TE Brandon Pettigrew

Pettigrew is still sharing looks—and, more importantly, touchdowns—with Tony Scheffler. And as most of the TE scores the Raiders have been giving up are going to short-yardage secondary TEs, you’d be best served using Pettigrew in PPR and yardage-heavy scoring systems—and then only if you don’t have another option at your disposal.

DT Lions S2 The Raiders have given up defensive scores in back-to-back games; the Lions tallied two last week and get Ndamukong Suh back this week. Oakland has committed 13 turnovers since Carson Palmer took over, so expect Detroit to have plenty of opportunities for defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

Palmer’s numbers have slumped of late, but not for lack of opportunities; he’s thrown more passes every game since Week 10, including 41 and 42 the last two weeks. Detroit’s secondary has allowed eight TD tosses and 844 yards the last three weeks, giving Palmer the chance to turn those attempts into fantasy productivity.

RB Michael Bush

There have been rumors of a Darren McFadden sighting, but so far it’s like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. That means Bush will be back handling the workload against the Lions, who even with Suh had been giving up decent production to running backs. Mix in Bush’s acumen as a receiver and Suh or no Suh he’s in line for some solid fantasy numbers.

WR Denarius Moore S2

More than a rumor, Moore was actually seen running at or near the Raiders’ practice facility earlier this week. He’s expected back in the lineup Sunday, giving Palmer one of his favorite targets against a Detroit secondary that’s allowed five WR TDs and 573 receiver yards the last three games.

WR Jacoby Ford B

There were also whispers of Ford’s return to action this week, but they proved less reliable than a Browns' concussion test. No Ford this week.

DT Raiders B Oakland doesn’t have a defensive return TD this year and has given up 80 points the past two weeks. Tough to find any fantasy value in those numbers.

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