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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)
Cleveland at Arizona Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

McCoy didn't make the trip to Arizona with the team due to the concussion he suffered at some point during the Browns' Week 14 loss to Cleveland. Team doctors still aren't sure what happened--much like McCoy.

QB Seneca Wallace B

With McCoy out, Wallace gets the start against an Arizona defense that has held six of the last seven QBs they've faced to one or zero touchdown tosses. No thanks.

RB Peyton Hillis
Montario Hardesty

The battle to see which back could be more utterly ordinary, goes on hold as Hardesty is shockingly injured again. That leaves Hillis to handle the bulk of the work against an Arizona D that's given up just one RB TD in the past month. Again, no thank you.

WR Greg Little

Little likely draws coverage from Patrick Peterson; between the blanketing and Little dropping half the passes that actually get past the defender it'll be extremely difficult for him to carve out any fantasy value.

DT Browns B No team has scored fewer defensive fantasy points than the Browns. Not even the Colts. Yes, it's been that bad.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB John Skelton B

What to make of Skelton's 282 and 3 last week against the 49ers? It's not unlike a blind squirrel finding a nut. The Browns have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, so expect Skelton--or Kevin Kolb, if the Cards go back to the guy they overpaid for--to go back to the stat line that provides just enough for Larry Fitzgerald to get his and not a whole lot more.

RB Chris Wells
S2 Get Beanie outside the NFC West and he'll do some damage. He's already burned fantasy owners enough to have forfeited his right to an S1 even with a favorable matchup, but even he shouldn't be able to blow an S2 against a Browns defense that has given up 527 RB rushing yards and 3 TDs in the past three games.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

Fitz will likely draw Joe Haden, who isn't quite of Revis ilk but definitely ranks among the top cover corners in the league. However, Haden couldn't keep A.J. Green out of triple digits and Fitz has proven to be both QB- and matchup-proof so don't abandon him here.

WR Early Doucet
Andre Roberts

Secondary targets had success against the Browns last week, but it was the first time since Week 3 more than one receiver had either scored or topped 45 yards against the Browns. Tough to see Doucet or Roberts being the guys to buck that trend.

DT Cardinals S2 Facing an offense that's unlikely to put points on the board, with Patrick Peterson returning punts... that's a strong case for a fantasy start.
New England at Denver Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Last we checked Tebow wasn't playing defense, so Brady's streak of eight straight with multiple TD tosses should remain intact and he should stay on course to best Dan Marino's single-season yardage record.


DanJarvus Ridley-Vereen


The Patriots have failed to give a single back more than eight carries in each of the past two games. Such a fractured workload is unusable for fantasy purposes.

WR Wes Welker S2 New England finds ways to get Wes Welker the ball--a lot. And with those double-digit targets will come plenty of productivity.
WR Deion Branch B Not that the Broncos will shut Branch down; more that after Gronk and Welker get theirs, Hernandez is next in line and by the time you get all the way down to Branch there just isn't always that much left.
TE Rob Gronkowski S1 Denver good versus tight end; Gronk better. Denver allow two TE TD last three games; Gronk score in six straight, 10 touchdowns in all. Gronk good. You start Gronk.
TE Aaron Hernandez S3 The Gronk leftovers Hernandez winds up with are more than enough to make him a viable fantasy play in TE mandatory leagues
DT Patriots B Defense has not been the Patriots' strong suit. Must be driving Bill Belichick batty.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Tebow S2 Tebow is an unconventional quarterback to say the least, so you may not think that facing a New England defense that's given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks may not have an impact. But those numbers mean guys are running open in the secondary, and Tebow has demonstrated he can hit open guys. And if it doesn't work for the first 55 or so minutes, don't despair; Tebow Time™ is just around the corner.
RB Willis McGahee S3

Roy Helu took the Patriots for 126 yards last week, the first triple-digit rushing yardage game New England has allowed this year. McGahee is familiar with the century mark, having topped it twice in the last three games, and he should get another opportunity to flirt with 100 this week.

WR DeMaryius Thomas S2

The Patriots have allowed almost 500 more wide receiver yards than any other team so both of Denver's wideouts are in play. Thomas has been the more targeted guy of late, turning 20 looks into 222 yards and three touchdowns over the past two games. Who's going to stop him in New England, Julian Edelman?

WR Eric Decker S3

As noted above, the Patriots are ceding yardage at an alarming rate. Secondary receivers are getting in on the fun as well: in each of the last 11 games New England has allowed at least two wide receivers to either score or top 70 yards or both; in seven of the 11 they've allowed three wideouts to hit those benchmarks. So, yeah, there should be enough left over for Decker to be a fantasy factor as well.

DT Broncos B While Denver's defense has played extremely well thus far, no reason to expose them to Brady-to-Gronk unless absolutely necessary.
NY Jets at Philadelphia Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez has three straight games under 200 yards, and while he's had multiple touchdowns in two of the last three the longer streak is four of six with one or zero scoring strikes. "Dream Team" was a tad optimistic, but the Philly defense is starting to live up to preseason expectations and doesn't look like an opportunity for Sanchez to break from character and put up helpful fantasy digits.

RB Shonn Greene S3

Just when Philly seemed to have righted the run defense ship, the've allowed back-to-back 100-yard games and given up four RB TDs in the past three games. Green has four scores in the past two games and has seen his yardage climb in each game since leaving early with an injury a month back. That would put him in line for something north of 130 this week; we'll settle for 75 or so and a reasonable shot at a touchdown.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson B

Rex Ryan talked about giving a "fresh" LT more touches down the stretch--just before Tomlinson got hurt. He's back now and saw 11 touches last week to Green's 27. LT did score on one of those touches and remains involved in the offense, but at too sporadic a rate to be trusted for fantasy help.

WR Santonio Holmes


While nothing is set in stone, the most likely matchup has Nnamdi Asomugha on Plax--leaving Holmes to do most of the damage in the secondary. He's been more targeted of late anyway and scored in three straight, so coverage or no he's the more reliable fantasy play.

WR Plaxico Burress


Burress was shut out last week, which doesn't bode well for his fantasy productivity heading into a potential showdown with Asomugha.

TE Dustin Keller B

If Keller weren't so wildly inconsistent this would be an opportunity to use him, as the Eagles have allowed four TEs to top 50 yards in the past three games. But he's been under 50 yards himself in four of the last five and held out of the end zone in 10 of his last 11 games. That's an overwhelming body of evidence outweighing the potential of a favorable matchup.

DT Jets S3 You've got Darrelle Revis, you've got Rex Ryan matching wits with Michael Vick... yeah, there are several ways this could break in the Jets' favor.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick S3

Vick now has three consecutive fantasy dogs under his belt, with one or zero touchdowns and yardage topping out at 213. The Jets won't be an easy team to get well against, but with so many weapons at his disposal--including his feet, which he has yet to unleash this season--he can't be ruled out completely.

RB LeSean McCoy

McCoy has scored in every game but one this season, and in that game he rushed for 113 yards. The Jets have been better defensively over the second hafl of the season, but Roy Helu just took them for 100 yards and a score; surely McCoy can find similar success.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 Unless Darrelle Revis picks a guy and sticks with him, both Jackson and Maclin should find at least some room in the Jets' secondary. Two of the Jets' last three foes managed to have multiple receivers either score or top 65 yards (or both); we see similar limited success for Jackson and Maclin
TE Brent Celek
B The Jets are typically giving up 50-yard games to tight ends, but Celek hasn't been around that number for a couple weeks. He also hasn't scored since Week 8, so if the upside here is 50 yards and an outside shot at a touchdown you should set your sights higher.
DT Eagles S3 If Philly can force the Jets to put this game on Sanchez's arm, the Dream Team secondary might get an opportunity to make some fantasy dreams come true.
Baltimore at San Diego Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

The Ravens are a better team when they're getting the ball into the hands of Ray Rice. Sometimes that still allows Flacco to be a fantasy helper, like last week's 227 and 2, and there's a chance the Chargers will force Baltimore to be less conservative offensively than perhaps they'd like. But you can't bank on Flacco for anything like the 389 and 3 he dropped on the Rams back in Week 3; he hasn't been anywhere near the 48 attempts that effort took in the past month.

RB Ray Rice S1

Rice has hit triple-digit rushing yardage in three of four, the only exception being a tough short-week matchup with the 49ers. The Chargers have allowed two of the last three feature backs they've faced to hit the century mark, which bodes well for Rice to remain on a roll.


Anquan Boldin

S3 Boldin is the more reliable of Baltimore's two targets, though that hasn't stopped Flacco from including Smith in red zone routes as well as home run balls. Touchdowns and targets have tailed off, but if the San Diego offense stays hot the Ravens will need Boldin to stay in the game. His baseline won't kill your fantasy team, and there's plenty of upside to Boldin.

Torrey Smith

S3 The Ravens will take their deep shots with Smith, and all it takes is to hit on one of them for the rookie to have a decent fantasy day. The Chargers have allowed at least one opposing wideout to average better than 20 yards a catch in five of their last six games, suggesting there's a pretty good chance for a Flacco-to-Smith deep ball to hit this week.

Ed Dickson

B The Chargers have allowed only two TE TDs in their past 10 games and no tight end has topped 53 yards against them in that span. If it were just Dickson maybe that would be enough, but with Dennis Pitta horning in on his action there's not enough upside to warrant giving Dickson the fantasy start.
DT Ravens S2 The Ravens defense remains a formidable foe, holding their last three opponents to a combined 26 points. They've also recorded 16 sacks in three games; bringing that heat against the Chargers banged-up offensive line could put Philip Rivers in some sticky situations.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

The next multiple passing touchdown game the Ravens allow this season will be their first, but Rivers' two straight with three TDs and multiple scores in five of the last six fly directly into the face of that stat. Rivers at home, on a roll... even against a top-rate defense like Baltimore he's still worthy of fantasy consideration.

RB Ryan Mathews S3 Mathews has rushed for at least 100 yards in three straight games, but the Ravens haven't allowed anyone near that number in a month. Mathews should still see enough touches to be on the fantasy radar, but with expectations diminished by the tough matchup you'll want to explore other options.
RB Mike Tolbert B It's been a month since the Ravens allowed a running back touchdown, and with Tolbert seeing reduced carries and fewer looks in the passing game as well, what little fantasy value remains has to come from goal line looks. Against Baltimore those are likely to be few and far between.
WR Vincent Jackson S3 The frustrating Jackson should be due for a good game if he follows his off-again, on-again pattern. More importantly, this is a prime time opportunity for the pending free agent to showcase his wares. It's not a great matchup and Jackson owners know all to well his propensity for vanishing from Rivers' radar, but his monster upside is just too good to keep on your bench during the fantasy playoffs.
WR Malcom Floyd B Over the past three months only twice has a secondary targetd joined his WR1 in having fantasy success against the Ravens. With Jackson expected to take his cut off the top, there won't be much left for Floyd or Vincent Brown.
TE Antonio Gates S3

The Ravens have given up TE TDs in back-to-back games, their first of the year. That's great news for Gates, who has four touchdowns in the last four games and is coming off a 68-yard, 2-TD effort. You know Rivers will be looking for him, but so will the Ravens. Ultimately Gates' talent should allow him to carve out a decent fantasy performance.

DT Chargers B

The Ravens haven't given opponents much to work with, and the Chargers defense hasn't been doing much with the chances they've been given. Look elsewhere for your fantasy defense this week.

Pittsburgh at San Francisco Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger B

While it's still possible Roethlisberger plays on Monday, he has yet to practice this week. And you'll need to make your lineup decision well before the Steelers make theirs. Unless you really want to risk the zero, you can't plug Big Ben into your fantasy lineup.

QB Charlie Batch B

Batch and fantasy production go together like cotton candy and grain alcohol. And if you're thinking why in the world would those two things go together, you're getting the idea.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Mendenhall hasn't reached triple-digit yardage since Week 6, so his fantasy value will have to come from touchdowns. And against a 49ers defense that has yet to surrender a running back rushing score this season, that's not likely to happen. Mendy clings to the S3 based on workload, but after going 18-76 against a favorable matchup with the Browns it's almost impossible to trust him with a fanasty start against the Niners.

WR Mike Wallace

The Niners' secondary isn't unbreakable, as demonstrated by the trio of Arizona receivers who found the end zone against them last week. Wallace remains the more targeted of the two, last week excluded, and he's capable of both working the short game and getting behind the Niners' safeties. With San Francisco so stout against the run, Pittsburgh will go to its slant game, and we've seen what Wallace can do with a properly executed slant. Note that if it's Batch at quarterback instead of Roethlisberger, Wallace's fantasy prospects take a hit.


Antonio Brown


Brown is just a smidge less reliable than Wallace, seeing as the veteran has been doing this for a few years while we have just a handful of games of evidence on Brown. He was more targeted than Wallace last week and broke a long TD late in the game to inflate his fantasy line. Like Wallace, there's too much upside here for him to be riding your pine. Like Wallace, however, if it's Batch under center instead of Roethlisberger your expectations have to be diminished.

TE Heath Miller B

Miller hasn't scored since Week 7; the Niners haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 6. Nothing to see here; move along.

DT Steelers S2 In what could truly be a defensive tussle, there are several ways this could break in favor of the Steel Curtain. For starters, Pittsburgh has allowed a total of 19 points the past three games. Sure, they'll be down a couple regulars but they'll also be facing an offensive line that surrendered 18 sacks in just the past three games
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Maybe Smith's back-to-back games with multiple touchdowns sucked you in, but if last week's 175 and zero didn't scare you off this matchup with a Steelers defense that has allowed one TD pass the past three games combined most definitely will.

RB Frank Gore S3

Hard to say whether Gore's dramatic drop in carries was part of the plan, but for an aging guy who needs his rest there's little wrong with the seven yards per carry he averaged last week. He'll have some work to do against a Steel Curtain that's shut out four straight backs and hasn't allowed triple-digit yardage to a back since Week 4, but we've counted Gore out before only to have him laugh in our face and churn out another productive game.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 He'll get the most looks of any member of the Pittsburgh passing game, but that doesn't guarantee production. That said, the four opposing wideouts who've received double-digit targets against Pittsburgh over the past two months have averaged six catches for 80 yards. That's a serviceable day for a fantasy wideout.
TE Vernon Davis S3

Davis is only startable in tight end mandatory leagues, as he's no longer the elite-level tight end that warrants flex consideratoin. This isn't a great matchup, either, but based on sheer targets he's still a fringe option if you have to fill the TE position.

DT 49ers S2 This jumps to an S1 if the Niners get to face Batch or Dennis Dixon. Even if it's a gimpy Big Ben the possibility of an extremely low-scoring game makes the San Francisco defense a viable fantasy entity.

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