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Start/Bench List - Week 2
John Tuvey
Updated: September 12, 2008
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Monday Night
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)
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San Diego (0-1) at Denver (1-0)

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers kicked off the season in style with three touchdown tosses last week, and he's thrown multiple scoring strikes in three of four meetings with the Broncos.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 The toe is fine, he topped 100 yards from scrimmage despite falling shy of the century mark on the ground... really, no worries here. He's also made a habit out of taking it to the Broncos, averaging 115 combo yards and two touchdowns per game over their last six meetings.
WR Chris Chambers S3

Chambers still hasn't caught more than five balls in any one game as a Bolt, but he's found the end zone in three straight regular-season tilts. Quality over quantity.

WR Vincent Jackson   B

It was nice to see V-Jax in the end zone last week; he'd scored but once in the 10 games since Chambers became a teammate. Unfortunately, wingmen topped 47 yards but once last year against Denver's talented corner combo so I'm dialing my expectations down this week.

TE Antonio Gates S2

The toe is getting better by the week, the Broncos traditionally have troubles stopping the tight end, and Gates has two 100-yard games and three touchdowns in the last three meetings. You're not going to bench him; those are just feel-good stats.

DT Chargers S3 The Broncos mustered two field goals in the series last year, but the 41 they posted Monday night suggests they might not go so quietly into that good night. The official departure of Shawn Merriman doesn't help, either.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Move over, Wilfred Brimley; diabetes has a new poster child. Cutler tore apart a pretty good Oakland secondary, but the Bolts shut him out last season. I'll give the new and improved Cuter the benefit of the doubt here.

RB Selvin Young
Andre Hall
Michael Pittman
B Maybe I need a refresher course; it's all ball bearings these days. Young was the obvious play against a hapless Raider run defense... so of course Pittman scores twice and Hall leads the team in rushing. I vow from here on out to bench the Bronco backfield regardless of opponent, track record, recent history, or injury situation; may I be whipped with what's left of Olandis Gary's hamstring if I go back on my word. You wanna start a Shanahan back? You're on your own.
WR Brandon Marshall S2

Welcome back, Brandon! Now, stay away from that plate glass window and hire a designated driver; you have some catching up to do. Your first career TD against San Diego would be a fine place to start.

WR Eddie Royal S3

I benched Eddie earlier in the week, but with the Chargers' secondary looking to be down a starter this week—and Royal being so dang impressive Monday night—I figured it was worth rolling the dice with the hot hand. You paid a lot for Royal, so even if Marshall's return takes a bite out of his production the potential absence of Antonio Cromartie should open the field for another Denver option downfield.


Eddie Royal
Darrell Jackson
Brandon Stokley


Beyond Royal, however, there's nothing in this receiving corps worthy of your attention. After Glenn Martinez went for 70 yards in Week 5 San Diego shut down No. 2 receivers to the tune of one TD in 11 games and an average of 28 yards per tilt. D.J. Hackett's 48-yard effort last week was as good as any No. 2 has done against San Diego since Jacoby Jones' 51 back in Week 7 of last year.

TE Tony Scheffler S3

In the first meeting last year, Scheff had two catches for 37 yards. In the rematch? Two for 37. Only three teams gave up more yardage to tight ends last year than San Diego, and Dante Rosario extended that trend last week with his 96-yard performance so I expect Scheffler to deliver something closer to four catches for 74 yards. In TE-mandatory performance leagues, those are helpful numbers.

DT Broncos B There's nothing compelling to suggest the Broncos' D/ST will rise up and smite the Chargers to the extent that it will help your fantasy squad.
Baltimore (1-0) at Houston (0-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

You can't bank on a running quarterback for fantasy points, especially one as deceptively slow as Flacco. And his 129 passing yards against the Bengals is hardly a building block for a big fantasy game on the road, even against the Texans.

RB Willis McGahee
Ray Rice
Le'Ron McClain

McGahee says he's going to play this week, and he did practice fully on Friday, but all signs point towards a dreaded RBBC here. Rice was underwhelming in his pro debut against the Bengals and McClain ended up as Baltimore's most productive back; introducing Willis to the mix just makes a big ol' mess that fantasy folks will want to stay away from.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton

Give the Ravens credit for trying to get the ball into Clayton's hands (he scored on a 42-yard end around last week). But no matter how you slice and dice Flacco's paltry passing totals there isn't enough to sustain a serviceable fantasy receiver.


Todd Heap

B Heap is practicing fully this week, which is good news only because I've already marked "calf", "back", and the free space on my Todd Heap Injury Bingo card. "Concussion" and "knee" and I'm a winner! Oh, and if you're among the few who haven't been burned by Heap's injury history, no team allowed more fantasy points to tight ends last year than the Texans. So, if you're feeling lucky...
DT Ravens S3 There's still some swagger to this defense, and if they can get to the quarterback like the Steelers got to Matt Schaub in Week 1 they could wreak some serious havoc.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3

Are the shutdown Ravens back? They sure made Carson Palmer and the once-highly regarded Bengals passing game look bad in the opener. I'm not anticipating a monster outing from Schaub, but with Andre Johnson still healthy I believe he can do at least as much as he did last week while being battered by the Steelers. If 200 yards and a score helps your fantasy squad, Schaub's your guy.

RB Steve Slaton B The few backs who have had success against the Ravens have been of the "pound 'em and wear 'em down" ilk. That's not Slaton's bit at all, so temper your expectations for the rookie as he makes his first NFL start.
RB Ahman Green
Chris Taylor

How smart do the Texans look for reworking Green's contract to pay him a bonus for every game after Week 1 in which he was healthy enough to play. He's already been ruled out for this week's tilt, leaving Taylor to caddy for the rookie—hardly a phrase that incites a rush of adrenaline in the average fantasy player.

WR Andre Johnson S2 So long as Schaub and Andre are healthy, it doesn't matter who they're playing; pencil Johnson in for 100 yards, with a touchdown more likely than not.
WR Kevin Walter B

The Ravens have been surprisingly soft on secondary receivers; six times last season they allowed a wingman to top 50 yards in the same game where No. 1 posted more. It's still a reach to start Walter this week, but given the rash of injuries to receivers you may be forced to dig this deep.

TE Owen Daniels B

You can count the number of teams who allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends than the Ravens on one hand; actually, one finger. You can use the other nine fingers to count the number of tight ends with more than three catches against the Ravens over the past two seasons. In other words, if you get a three-for-40 game from Daniels this week you should be happy.

DT Texans U Mario Williams against whatever the Ravens are trotting out along their offensive line, against a rookie quarterback making his first road start... mix in the Texans' dangerous return men and you might just have something here.

New England (1-0) at N.Y. Jets (1-0)

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel U

The Patriots haven't been this worried about their quarterback situation since Drew Bledsoe was knocked out with an injury and they had to turn the reins over to an unproven kid. Name of Brady. Guess that worked out okay. Don't expect monster numbers from Cassel in his first start since high school, but he should give you more of what you saw against the Chiefs: a couple reads downfield, then a dumpoff to Sammy Morris if they're not open. Your fantasy lineup could do worse.

RB Laurence Maroney
Sammy Morris

Logic suggests that an inexperienced quarterback would rely on his running game in his first start since high school. Bill Belichick's track record suggests that LoMo and SaMo will split the touches. If the Jets' run defense is as improved as it showed last week in shutting down Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, there won't be enough to make either Maroney or Morris worthy of a fantasy start. I'm willing to bet the Pats perform a little better than the Phins did, with Morris the more likely touchdown candidate and neither receiving enough touches to top 80 yards from scrimmage. Note, however, that Morris was Cassel's favorite receiver once he entered the game, with five receptions. LoMo and SaMo are borderline starters, but hopefully you have another option that will receive the bulk of his team's carries and you can avoid this headache entirely.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S2 It didn't take Cassel long to figure out where his bread was buttered; when he wasn't dumping off to Morris he was locked in on Moss and Welker, who caught six of his eight non-dumpoffs. The Jets succeeded in limiting both Moss and Welker in the rematch last year so your expectations shouldn't be set too high; that said, you're talking about the best receiver in the game and Cassel has shown he's not afraid to throw the ball up and let Moss run it down. And Welker out of the slot will draw a favorable matchup most of the time. So err on the side of keeping them in your fantasy lineup until Cassel proves he can't find them.
WR Jabar Gaffney
Kelley Washington

Don't expect Cassel to make it this deep into his progressions; if Moss and Welker aren't open, the ball is going to Sammy Morris.

TE Ben Watson
Dave Thomas

The Dolphins threw to the tight end all day against the Jets, but that had more to do with Chad Pennington than anything the Gang Green defense was doing. Watson scored in the first game of this series last year, but Patriot tight ends were held without a catch in the rematch. So, don't bother.

DT Patriots S2 Do the Pats have any film on Brett Favre? Maybe John Madden can share some of his home movies. Knowing they don't have Tom Brady to fall back on, expect this veteran D to step it up a notch; whether that translates into fantasy points remains to be seen.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

A large share of the stats piled up against New England last year came as a result of opposing teams falling behind early and throwing to catch up. This is still a very good defense, and let's be honest: Favre was facing a not-that-good Miami defense and had to work to put up 194 yards. I don't think you can bench the gunslinger, as he's always played well when the spotlight is brightest, but don't set your expectations higher than 200 and two.

RB Thomas Jones B

It took Larry Johnson all 22 carries to hammer out 74 yards against the Patriots, while Jones' 22 totes netted 101 against a Dolphins defense that is certainly not New England's equal. Expect subdued digits from Jones, to the point that you're likely to find a better option on your bench.

WR Laveranues Coles S3

Don't bench Coles based solely on last week's paltry one catch. Coles was targeted just as frequently as Cotchery last week; just so happened he caught the first Favre offering and did nothing of note afterwards. He scored twice in the first meeting last year, making it five scores in his last four against the Pats. New England does present a tough matchup, but because it's one he's solved in the past, with less capable quarterbacks, I feel okay with him as a borderline start.

WR Jerricho Cotchery S2

Cotch and Favre have certainly hit it off, and since teams in general and the Jets in particular have struggled to run the ball on New England I expect Gang Green to take to the air this week. Cotch has six catches in each of his last four against the Patriots, and none of the quarterbacks throwing to him are heading to the Hall of Fame.

WR Chansi Stuckey B There's a good chance Favre still doesn't know who Stuckey is, but Brett has made a living out of hookups with every receiver on the roster. However, that's just not enough reason to work Stuckey into your fantasy lineup this week.
TE Chris Baker
Dustin Keller
Bubba Franks

Brett still loves him some tight end; trouble is, he has more than one to work with in New York. Until this situation settles—and that might not happen until after the season—it's tough picking one guy for a fantasy start. The best strategy for now is to avoid them all.

DT Jets B The Jets have a nice return game and are facing a quarterback making his first start since high school. However, you have to believe Belichick will keep this one close to the vest—or hoody, as it were—and limit the potential for Matt Cassel to make a mistake. You should be able to find equally talented defenses with more favorable fantasy matchups this week.

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

If Big Ben gets as much time to throw as the Browns afforded Tony Romo last week, he'll get to 300 yards, too. Cleveland lost another member of its secondary this week, so the only way Roethlisberger doesn't pile up gaudy fantasy stats is if the game plan limits him to 14 throws as it did last week.

RB Willie Parker S2 All the offseason posturing about sharing carries and goal line backs and what have you... and then Parker delivers a vintage performance. He's rushed four triple digits in four of his last five against the Brownies, and after watching Marion Barber and Felix Jones carve up Cleveland I fully expect Fast Willie to make it five of six.
RB Rashard Mendenhall B The rookie was less than impressive on his 10 carries, and Parker's performance suggests that Mendenhall won't be taking a significant share of the workload any time soon.
WR Hines Ward S2

Ward has scored in two straight and four of five against the Browns, plus he's coming off a two-touchdown opener. No reason to bench him now; he's on a roll.

WR Santonio Holmes S2

Holmes disappointed fantasy owners with his two-catch opener, but the Steelers early lead took the air out of the ball and diminished his opportunities. He's still a big play waiting to happen, and against a secondary that just lost safety Sean Jones that big play will very likely come this week.

TE Heath Miller S2

Miller scored in both meetings with Cleveland last season, one of the reasons the Browns allowed the most tight end touchdowns in 2007. After watching Jason Witten take them for 96 yards in the opener, it only makes sense to dust off Heath and plug him in this week.

DT Steelers S3 Cleveland's offensive line is talented enough to withstand anything Blitzburgh can throw at them... but it's tough to bench a defense that looked as dominant as the Steelers did last week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson S3

Anderson tossed four touchdowns in the two meetings last season, but he totaled just 307 yards in the two contests. The Steelers are fresh off shutting down a pretty decent Houston passing game, so keep your yardage expectations low for Deke this week.

RB Jamal Lewis B

Jamal is still nursing a troublesome hammy, and all he could muster last year against the Steelers was a pair of 35-yard performances. Despite facing the Steelers twice a year, first as a Raven and then a Brown, Lewis hasn't put up a 100-yard effort on the Steelers since Week 17 of 2003. No reason to expect that to change this week.

WR Braylon Edwards S2

What do Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, and Andre Johnson have in common? They're all bigger than your average wide receiver... and they're part of the very exclusive club of wideouts who have posted 100-yard games on the Steelers. Edwards hasn't had similar success in his outings against Pittsburgh, but he certainly has the prototypical body type. If he and Anderson can get back on the same page like they were last year, doesn't matter who the opponent is. And I'm banking that after last Sunday's drops and a full week of working with Anderson, the Braylon you drafted in Round 1 or 2 is back.

WR Donte Stallworth
Joshua Cribbs
Fair Hooker
Reggie Langhorne

Stallworth is officially doubtful for this one—in fact, there are rumors his injury might be season-ending—and while Romeo Crennel won't rule him out fantasy owners should. Cribbs continues to be limited by his injury, and there's nothing of note on the depth chart behind them. Old school Browns fans will recognize Hooker and Langhorne from the first iteration of the Browns; the current roster suggests Steve Sanders and something called Syndric Steptoe are the present reserves. I'd make a "90210" joke, but that's someone else's territory.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

With Stallworth still battling a thigh injury there's no one to challenge Winslow for the role of second receiver in this offense—not that Stallworth would do so, anyway. Pittsburgh hasn't allowed a tight end touchdown in the past seven games, but Winslow had some success against them last year and with Stallworth down will work more out of the slot again—where he'll present even more matchup problems than usual.

DT Browns B With Josh Cribbs nicked up, the Browns D/ST offers little of fantasy note.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Dallas (1-0)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

The Don has averaged 275 yards and a touchdown in his last three against the Cowboys, and he sure looked "on" last week. This one has the makings of a shootout, and McNabb appears to be fully loaded.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

The Cowboys didn't have an answer for Westy last year, as he compiled 299 yards from scrimmage. Dallas hasn't exactly been shutting down the run; their offense has put up enough points that most opponents have been forced to the air. In other words, there's nothing here to suggest that Westbrook will be anything other than his dynamic self this week.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 The rookie certainly appears to be the real deal, and with all of Philly's experienced wideouts still nicked up he's captured McNabb's attention. That's enough to warrant continued fantasy play, at least until Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown get healthy
WR Hank Baskett
Reggie Brown
Greg Lewis
Jason Avant
B Baskett had a big day in the first Dallas game last year, and if you're into risky all-or-nothing propositions he might be your guy. Brown has been upgraded to questionable, but with this game being Monday night you won't have all the necessary information to make a Sunday morning decision. The rest of this receiving corps is a crapshoot that's the epitome of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".
TE L.J. Smith S3

Kellen Winslow scored against the Cowboys last week, and Matt Schobel found the end zone in the last Philly/Dallas battle. Smith has one big game against the Cowboys in the past three seasons, but if McNabb is as on as he appears he'll need a recepticle—and that receiving corps just doesn't fill that entire need.

DT Eagles S3 Philly has limited the Cowboys to nine points in their last two visits to Big D, but I wouldn't expect a defensive tussle in prime time this time around. That said, Jim Johnson's blitz packages can create chaos, and chaos often leads to defensive touchdowns.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Philly has allowed multiple touchdown tosses just once in the past eight games and held 12 of 16 foes to one or fewer scoring strikes last year—then added Asante Samuel in the offseason. Romo was one of the few, tossing three scores in the first meeting and amassing 538 yards for the season series. Something similar to his outing against the Browns—320 and 1—certainly fits the profile.

RB Marion Barber S2

You can't bench Barber, not after watching him run. It's like trying to tackle a runaway pickup truck... with dreds.

RB Felix Jones B

History suggests that the Cowboys run the ball effectively in the first meeting of the year—382 running back rushing yards and three touchdowns in the past three openers; 141 RB rushing yards and one score in the rematches. Jones is supposed to start seeing more touches, but until I see that happen—or unless there's bad news about MB3's sore ribs—I don't feel comfortable plugging him into a less than favorable matchup such as this one.

WR Terrell Owens S2

The Eagles have stymied TO in three of the four meetings since he jumped ship... but this is prime time, and nobody loves the spotlight more than Owens.

WR Patrick Crayton B

Over the final 10 games of last season the only team to have two 60-yard receivers against Philly was the Patriots. The addition of Samuel just makes this secondary that much deeper... and Crayton that much less likely to be a fantasy factor here.

TE Jason Witten S1

Eleven catches, 190 yards, and a touchdown in last year's season series. If Randy McMichael can shake Philly defenders for 77 yards you have to like Witten's chances of replicating last year's performance.

DT Cowboys S3 This defense shut down a pretty good Cleveland offense last week, and with Pacman Jones on the field anything can happen.

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