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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 1
John Tuvey
Updated: September 5, 2008
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Thursday Night
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Monday Night
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
*Updates
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)
UPDATES
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Arizona (0-0) at San Francisco (0-0)

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Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

Now it all makes sense: in Warner's last three starts against the Niners he's racked up 1,139 yards and six touchdowns. Matt Leinart can wait a little bit longer.

RB Edgerrin James S3

The Cards certainly get their money's worth from James when they play the 49ers: he's carried 98 times for 348 yards and two touchdowns in four meetings over the past two seasons. It's nothing special, but through sheer volume he's earning you fantasy points.

RB Tim Hightower X Hightower looked like he was nailing down the goal line gig with three short-yardage touchdowns in the preseason. Then he forgot how to hold onto the football, and now I'm not sure if/when he'll start stealing some of Edge's thunder. Please remain on the line...
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin
S1

Familiarity breeds contempt: four of the five 100-yard receiving games the 49ers surrendered last year came at the hands of divisional foes. You can bet the Niners are tired of Fitz and Boldin, who have 77 catches, 1,129 yards, and eight scores between them over the past six meetings. Fitz has had more success of late, but both are outstanding plays this week.

TE Leonard Pope
Ben Petrick
B It's a favorable matchup, but with just nine catches in the past six dustups against the 49ers it's clear the tight end position is far from Arizona's primary option.
DT Cardinals U Mike Martz's offense leaves his linemen in bad matchups, and the Cards have pass rushers who can exploit said matchups. With J.T. O'Sullivan chucking, a pick-six wouldn't be at all surprising; of course, with these clubs involved neither would a 52-49 shootout.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB J.T. O'Sullivan U

Trent Dilfer went for 256 and two against the Cards last year, so there's at least some upside to O'Sullivan helming Martz Mania.

RB Frank Gore S1

Gore has, uh, gored the Cards for 546 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in just the past four meetings. About the only thing that can stop him is if Mike Martz completely neglects his feature back so he can throw to his third and fourth receivers.

WR Isaac Bruce
Bryant Johnson
Josh Morgan
Arnaz Battle
B Something old (Bruce), something new (Morgan), something borrowed (Johnson, from the Cards) and something blue (well, Battle blew last year; does that count?). There's always upside in Martz receivers, but right now there's just no way of knowing who's filling what roles. Surely you can hold off on starting your Niner receivers until we've collected a bit more information... right?
TE Vernon Davis U

Davis has thrown some nice efforts at the Cards, but this is a new regime. And until we see evidence Martz knows how to use a tight end, it's tough to plug VD into the lineup. At least there's enough upside this week that you can somewhat comfortably err on the side of history and toss Davis out there.

DT 49ers B Someday Mike Nolan will put it all together; until that day, there's no reason to use the Niners as your fantasy defense.
 
Dallas (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0) Back to top
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S1

Only Detroit allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks last year than the Browns; even having Jessica Simpson in attendance couldn't put the kibosh on what promises to be a big fantasy day for Romo.

RB Marion Barber S2

The Browns tightened up their run defense last year, allowing just four rushing scores—but 11 100-yard rushers. Cleveland added Shaun Rogers in the offseason, which certainly helps. But it would take a whole lot more than Shaun Rogers for me to advocate sitting MB3 down.

RB Felix Jones U

While there is plenty of uncertainty regarding how and how much Jones will be used, the big play potential he brings to the return game as well as the Dallas backfield warrants closer scrutiny.

WR Terrell Owens S1

With Romo set for a big day it certainly follows that TO will get his share.

WR Patrick Crayton S3

A dozen different wingmen posted at least 50 yards against the Browns, who apparently are an equal opportunity secondary. There should be enough Romo spillover for Crayton to get at least a taste.

TE Jason Witten S1

No defense allowed more tight end touchdowns than the Browns... and that's probably all the encouragement you need to keep Witten in your lineup.

DT Cowboys S3 The return of Pacman gives the Dallas D/ST one more weapon. Wait, is giving Pacman a weapon a violation of his probation?
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson S3

Anderson's stat line tailed off towards the end of last season; here's his chance to reverse that trend against a defense that allowed at least 236 passing yards in half of its games last season.

RB Jamal Lewis S3

The Cowboys allowed just one 100-yard rusher last year, but they also gave up 80 or more yards to seven others. Lewis also has the advantage of running behind one of the best lines in football. While he's still considered a game-time decision, all indications are that he will be in the lineup and relied upon heavily in the season opener.

WR Braylon Edwards S1

The remarkably consistent Edwards scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in 12 of 16 games last season.

WR Donte' Stallworth U

Stallworth isn't a great play this week, but he did go for 136 and one against Dallas last season as a member of the Patriots. Moreover, the Cowboys surrendered 75-plus yards to a secondary receiver in the same game the No. 1 went for 100... so there may just be enough to go around.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

Both of the notable tight ends the Cowboys faced last season—Chris Cooley and Jeremy Shockey—posted solid outings. Winslow is at least the equal of those two players and a more critical component of his team's offense, so good numbers are in the offing.

DT Browns B Joshua Cribbs almost single-handedly makes this unit worth starting in leagues where special teams scores count. Emphasis on "almost."
 

Chicago (0-0) at Indianapolis (0-0)

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Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton B

No team allowed fewer passing yards last season than the Colts. And that's a great fit for Orton, because he won't be throwing for many passing yards this season.

RB Matt Forte
Kevin Jones
B

Used to be Indy was a pushover on the ground; not any more. Making matters worse is a banged up offensive line and the possibility that both Kevin Jones and Adrian Peterson (no, the other one) will horn in on Forte's touches.

WR Devin Hester S3 Hester is a solid fantasy play this week if for no other reason than the fact that no team allowed more special teams return touchdowns last year than the Colts. Anything Devin does from scrimmage will be a bonus.
WR Marty Booker B

Booker represents the rest of the Bears' receiving corps, none of whom should be anywhere near your fantasy roster.

TE Greg Olsen
Desmond Clark

B

With their line in shambles the Bears may need to turn to their tight ends less for catching and more for blocking. That won't help their fantasy digits.

DT Bears S3 Did I mention the thing about the Colts and the return touchdowns? Good.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Sure, there's concern about his knee and the state of the line that's kept his jersey clean for years. But not enough to keep Peyton from his rightful place in your fantasy lineup.

RB Joseph Addai S1

Da Bears surrendered 11 running back touchdowns in the last seven games of 2007... and in case you missed it, they didn't look any better during the preseason.

WR Marvin Harrison S3 At least we saw Marv in action during the preseason, though he hardly looks like the Marv of old. A slightly slower, more possession-oriented Marv still has a place on most fantasy rosters, though.
WR Reggie Wayne S1 He's unquestionably moved into the role of No. 1, and while the Bears defense is good they don't bring enough to warrant sitting down an elite wideout like Reggie.
WR Anthony Gonzalez B

His role with Marvin Harrison back on the field remains somewhat cloudy. I need to see how Marv looks and where Gonzo and Dallas Clark are lining up before giving him a ringing fantasy endorsement.

TE Dallas Clark S2

Much of Clark's success in 2007 stemmed from Indy's need to play him in the slot. Now that Marv and Gonzo are healthy, Clark's upside may be limited. Of course, fantasy folks would rather he not settle all the way back to the 500-yard, four-touchdown range from whence he came.

DT Colts S1 Home game, new stadium, prime time... and Kyle Orton is the quarterack on the other team. It's a blueprint for fantasy D/ST success.
 

Minnesota (0-0) at Green Bay (0-0)

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Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B

There are still questions about his health, and eventually he'll need to do more than turn and hand the ball to All Day. When he does, then he might have some fantasy value; until then, not so much.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

The Pack did what few others could last year—shut down Adrian Peterson. Of course, it took them two tries to do so. You didn't spend a top-five pick on All Day to keep him on your bench.

RB Chester Taylor B

The plan is for the role of ADP's understudy to get smaller as we go along, which leaves Taylor on the outside looking in from a fantasy perspective.

WR Bernard Berrian
Sidney Rice
U

Berrian was brought in to stretch the field vertically, while Rice's primary asset is his ability to go up and get the ball in the red zone. There's most definitely upside in both roles, but many things need to fall into place—the quarterback situation, for one—before either Viking wideout can be plugged with confidence into a fantasy lineup.

TE Vishante Shiancoe B

Nothing to see here; move along.

DT Vikings S1 The Williams Wall and the NFL sack leader on Monday night football against a kid making his first NFL start... yeah, that sounds like it could lead somewhere.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S3

Thanks for hanging around, Aaron. Now we'd like you to replace a legend. On Monday night football. Behind a banged-up offensive line. Against a defense that just added the NFL's sack leader. All we ask is that you match Brett's 696 and five from last year's season series. Too much? Okay, we'll take away the Vikings' newly acquired safety. Now get at it. No pressure.

RB Ryan Grant S2

Grant gouged the league's top-ranked run defense for one of his five 100-yard games last year, but behind a banged-up line and without No. 4 to stretch the field he may find the sledding a little tougher this time around.

WR Donald Driver
Greg Jennings
S2

Driver used to post monster games on the Vikings like clockwork, but last year the results were more spread around. Don't expect Rodgers to find as many secondary receivers, but against one of the league's most fantasy-friendly secondaries there should be plenty of room for both Driver and Jennings to put up helpful digits.

TE Donald Lee S3 Lee caught eight balls and scored in last season's series, and while Rodgers may not share Brett Favre's fondness for tight ends it's no secret that young quarterbacks look to the tight end as a safety valve—boosting Lee's value in PPR leagues.
DT Packers S3 The Pack pitched a 34-nil shutout the last time the Vikings visited Lambeau. This time the Purple will be without their left tackle, which could open Tarvaris Jackson up to plenty of pressure from the Green Bay front wall—leading to turnovers, and perhaps more.
 

Denver (0-0) at Oakland (0-0)

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Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

For a guy who was struggling with undiagnosed diabetes, Cutler had a very nice finish to the 2007 season. Oakland's pass defense is solid, but Cutler carved them up for 269 and one in Week 2 and 214 yards towards the end of the season. Being without Marshall certainly hurts, but the Broncos do have some other weapons.

RB Selvin Young S2 Young appears to be the beneficiary of a cupcake matchup with an Oakland defense that allowed 22 rushing touchdowns a year ago and lost Warren Sapp in the offseason. Of course, Shanahan's next whim could shatter those plans in an instant.
RB Andre Hall B Hey, he's a back in Mike Shanahan's system; that puts his fantasy value somewhere between Emmitt Smith and Ki-Jana Carter.
WR Brandon Marshall B

If the NFL backpedaled any more on what was initially a three-game suspension they'd have to bring the car AND the 12-pack over to Marshall's house.

WR

Eddie Royal
Darrell Jackson
Brandon Stokley

B

Royal has quickly climbed the depth chart, but with Marshall out this group is at best nondescript. And given Denver's matchup with one of the better secondaries in all of football, I have no problem waiting a week to see how this situation shakes down.

TE Tony Scheffler B

Scheffler should be the Broncos' go-to tight end, but he only recently emerged from Mike Shanahan's doghouse; I'd like to see him ahead of Dan Graham on the depth chart before plugging him into my fantasy lineup.

DT Broncos U Baily and Bly against JaMarcus? Those aren't bad odds, though you'd have to really let Team Defense slide if you're ending up with the Broncos.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Young quarterback, stable of talented runners... initially, at least, Russell won't be asked to win games on his own. That means subdued numbers and subdued fantasy value.

RB Darren McFadden
Justin Fargas
Michael Bush
U

There's upside galore in this talented group, but I need some roles defined before tossing one or more of Oakland's backs into a fantasy lineup. McFadden actually offers the least risk along with the most upside, because you know one way or another they'll be trying to get the ball into his hands. Bush could be the goal line guy, and all Fargas did was pace Oakland top-six rushing attack last year.

WR Javon Walker
Ronald Curry
Johnnie Lee Higgins
B Aside from this being a revenge game for Walker there's just no compelling reason to work any of these wideouts into your lineup.
TE Zack Miller S2

When Russell entered the lineup he focused in on Miller, and that rapport gets a boost against a Denver defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends last season.

DT Raiders B They still look good against the pass; they still look bad against the run. Nothing here demands the attention of fantasy folks.

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Game Predictions
Projected Player Stats
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