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Start/Bench List - Week 4
John Tuvey
Updated: September 26, 2008
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Sunday Early
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Monday 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)
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Buffalo (3-0) at St. Louis (0-3)

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Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S2

Not only has Edwards matured into a pretty good quarterback right before our very eyes, he'll have the distinct pleasure of taking apart the Rams this week. Thus far this year Trent's baseline has been around 240 and one; facing St. Louis, feel free to add another touchdown to the total and plug Edwards into your lineup.

RB Marshawn Lynch S1

Lynch has scored in every game this season and is averaging just over 90 combo yards per outing; the Rams are giving up 192 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs and have allowed 8 running back TDs already this season. Like the beer commercial says, it doesn't get any better than this.

RB Fred Jackson U

Jackson has averaged 10 touches and 52 combo yards per game, and if this tilt follows the Rams' three previous outings there should be some garbage time love for the backup back. It's a little risky, but if you're stuck by the bye week you could do worse.

WR Lee Evans S2

Seven different receivers have posted at least 60 yards on the Rams, and they're allowing an average of 236 wide receiver yards per game. Sounds like this could be one of those big games Evans infrequently teases us with.

WR Josh Reed
James Hardy
U Sans the injured Roscoe Parrish there will be fewer forks in what promises to be a larger-than-usual pie. Reed is seeing enough balls coming his way to offer a little upside in a six-team bye week, while Hardy is the red zone threat and a better play in TD-heavy leagues.
TE Robert Royal B Tight ends haven't really joined in on the fun of beating up the Rams; the position has accounted for just 98 yards and a touchdown through the first three games of the season. Royal's totals aren't dramatically different, suggesting you should look elsewhere for tight end help this week.
DT Bills S2 The Rams have scored 29 points this year and are trotting out Trent Green at quarterback this week. If you're worried about not having Parrish available for punt returns, consider his replacement: top pick Leodis McKelvin, whose three punt returns at Troy led the nation in that catogory last year.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green B

Here's the silver lining: Green wasn't half bad through the first four games with an abysmal Dolphins team, averaging 245 yards and a little better than one TD per game. Problem is, after getting knocked daffy in the fifth game of last year Green may not remember how good he was through those first four games. Just as Marc Bulger wasn't the only problem with the Rams, neither is Green the sole solution. Against a secondary that hasn't allowed more than 190 passing yards this season and has given up just four passing touchdowns in the past nine games, he belongs on the opposite side of the fence from your fantasy lineup.

RB Steven Jackson S3

Jackson's numbers have been trending up, but he's still looking for his first touchdown of the season. It's unlikely to come against a defense that has stared down some of the league's better ground games and surrendered just one touchdown in the process. No opposing back has topped 55 rushing yards or 62 combo yards against the Bills; expect Jackson to bust up that trend, but not by much. He's clinging to a starting spot by his fingernails.

WR Torry Holt S3

Holt has the two biggest outings by a Rams' receiver this year: 76 yards and 37 yards. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Bills are giving up just 117 yards per game to wideouts, and even if Holt takes the lion's share he's looking at a relatively pedestrian fantasy game. Maybe the quarterback change will help; maybe Torry has jumped the fantasy shark.

WR

Donnie Avery
Dane Lookerl
Eddie Kennison

B Even the primary Rams are longshot fantasy helpers at best; no need to comb the fringes.
TE Randy McMichael B

Let me be the first to predict that someone's sleeper article next summer will start with "Al Saunders' offenses have produced Pro Bowl tight ends in six of the past seven years..." McMike has done little to date to make Saunders proud, and he'll do even less against a defense that has held opposing tight ends to just five catches and 65 yards this season.

DT Rams B As soon as there's some evidence of the Rams actually playing defense I'll check it out and let you know if there's anything warranting fantasy attention.
 
Washington (2-1) at Dallas (3-0) Back to top
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

Don't underestimate a Dallas secondary that's held its last nine opponents to one or no passing touchdowns. In fact, the last quarterback to take the Cowboys for multiple scoring strikes was... Jason Campbell as part of a 348-yard 2-TD effort in Week 11 of last season. He's running a different offense this time around, but the Boys are bending to the tune of 228 passing yards per game—just north of what Jason is averaging. Keep the TD expectations in check in what looks to be a solid but not spectacular matchup for Campbell.

RB Clinton Portis S2 The Boys have held three pretty good backs—Jamal Lewis, Brian Westbrook, Ryan Grant—to a total of 199 rushing yards, and only Westbrook has found the end zone... though he found it three times. One thing you can expect is for Portis to get more opportunities than the aforementioned trio, as they averaged a mere 17 touches per game against Dallas while Portis has received 23 touches in each game this season. He turned 29 touches in last year's finale into 131 yards from scrimmage and a couple touchdowns, and I fully expect the Skins to attempt to use him in a similar fashion here.
WR Santana Moss S2

Dallas was the second victim in Moss's current five-game scoring streak, though his 115-yard outing last year came in a different offense with a different quarterback. Far and away the most targeted receiver in Washington, Moss is a solid bet to follow in the footsteps of what DeSean Jackson (6 for 110) and Greg Jennings (8 for 115) did before him. Moss was the last wideout to score on the Cowboys, and it's tough to bet against him extending the streak.

WR Antwaan Randle El
B

The combination of Randle El's inconsistent contributions, Moss's hot streak and success against Dallas, and the probability that the Skins will try to keep Tony Romo off the field using copious doses of Portis... I'm adding that up in my head and it doesn't sound like good news for Randle El's fantasy owners.

TE Chris Cooley S3

If five-for-50 is the kind of tight end stat line that makes your pulse race, you're in great shape here; that's roughly what the Cowboys ceded to Kellen Winslow and Donald Lee earlier this year, and it's roughly what Cooley collected against Dallas in Week 17 of last year. Captain Chaos had scored five times in the team's previous four meetings, so odds are Dallas was doing a little bit of "over-correcting." With the aforementioned 5-for-50 as a baseline, if the Cowboys "under-correct" this time around Cooley has plenty of upside.

DT Redskins B With the Cowboys possessing so many weapons and the Skins without Jason Taylor, this one doesn't look to shake down as an opportunity to plug the Washington D/ST into your fantasy lineup.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

The Redskins have held three very good quarterbacks (Eli, Brees, Warner) to just over 200 passing yards and an average of one score per game. Now that I've lowered the bar, are you really looking to sit Romo against a defense he sliced and diced for 293 yards and four scores in Week 11 of last year? The same Romo who's averaging a shade under 300 yards and two passing scores per game this year? Benching your stud rarely works; I wouldn't risk it here.

RB Marion Barber S1

Brandon Jacobs and Edgerrin James battered the Redskins for 116 and 93 yards, respectively; Pierre Thomas punched in a short touchdown against them as well. Those guys all run hard, and there's little question that MB3 runs even harder. No reason to sit him here, though it would behoove the Cowboys' January plans to keep Barber's touches closer to 20 than the 31 he received last week.

RB Felix Jones B

Does the streak end here? While bigger backs have given the Redskins fits this year they've had success containing speed-based backs like Reggie Bush. Since speed is Jones' game, and since he's still seeing around eight touches per game (including returns), it's tough to justify plugging him into fantasy lineups this week.

WR Terrell Owens S1

Sounds as if the Redskins plan to roll Shawn Springs towards T.O. this week, much like the Packers did with Charles Woodson last week. T he fact that Plaxico Burress had 10 catches for 133 yards and Larry Fitzgerald 7 for 109 and a touch against the Redskins suggests they won't be as successful as Green Bay was. Further evidence: Owens' eight-catch, 174-yard, four-touchdown display against Washington last year. Oh, the Skins will take steps to prevent a redux of the Abe Lincoln, but it's tough to envision T.O. not getting his for a second straight week.

WR Miles Austin
Patrick Crayton

B

Having established that the Skins aren't likely to game plan T.O. out of the equation, there's no reason to think options four and five in the Dallas passing game will step up with something worthy of fantasy attention this week.

TE Jason Witten S2

Witten is getting his seven catches for 90 yards, but he has yet to score this season and he hasn't reached the end zone against the Redskins since 2005. So maybe he's just an S2 this week instead of an S1. Ow, quit it.

DT Cowboys S3 While Jones himself may not be a solid fantasy play this week, his presence in the return game makes the Cowboys at least worthy of a look-see.
 

Philadelphia (2-1) at Chicago (1-2)

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Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

All those rumors about Donovan going to Chicago are true... for this week, at least. As the helmsman of an offense averaging 300 passing yards and nearly two passing touchdowns per game, McNabb has to be watching game film of Brian Griese lighting up the Bears last week and licking his chops. Assuming the chest isn't bothering him, The Don should have little difficulty posting some more-than-helpful fantasy digits.

RB Brian Westbrook B

You couldn't possibly have drafted Westbrook without knowing this would happen; of course, it would have been preferable that this be an early game so you could set your lineu accordingly. Now you'd better have Buckhalter as the handcuff and find out from the Sunday night crew who's getting the nod. After failing to practice all week I'm betting against Westy; if he plays but is limited there may not be enough fantasy burn against a defense that's held some quality backs (Joseph Addai, Jonathan Stewart, Earnest Graham) to an average of 70 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards per game. Hope you have the handcuff and a benevolent commissioner who'll let you make the late swap if necessary.

RB Correll Buckhalter S3

Let's operate under the assumption that Westy is ruled out before game time. Lorenzo Booker is more Westbrook-like in style but it was clearly Buckhalter's gig when Westy went down last week. And the Colonel proved more than capable of handling the workload, amassing 87 yards from scrimmage and a score on 16 touches. He's a good-not-great play against the Bears, assuming Westbrook is a no-go. If Westy tries to play, your best bet is to keep Buck on the bench.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 Jackson is still the lead dog on this sled, though Hank Baskett was targeted more last week. Somebody has to be on the business end of all those McNabb passing yards, and right now Jackson is the best bet for fantasy help. That may change if and when Kevin Curtis returns... but you're worried about this week.
WR Hank Baskett
Reggie Brown
Greg Lewis
Jason Avant
B Brown's return last week further muddied an already Pigpen-like situation. Baskett, Avant, and Lewis have similar target totals (15, 12, and 14 respectively), and Brown saw three balls thrown his way as he eased back into the lineup. While the soup tastes great, it's difficult to single out any one ingredient from this collective to serve up on your fantasy plate.
TE Brent Celek
L.J. Smith
B

Neither Celek (the starter) nor Smith (doubtful with a back injury) present the same matchup problems Jerramy Stevens did last week, and Stevens is the only tight end to score on the Bears in their past six games. You'll need to look elsewhere for fantasy help.

DT Eagles S3 Keep bringing the blitz, Jim Johnson! After beating and battering Ben Roethlisberger last week you can bet Philly will throw the kitchen sink at Orton. And, of course, Jackson's efforts in the return game are always a bonus.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton B

Kyle stepped out of character with 268 and two last week; expect him to step back into sub-200 yard, single-touchdown character against a Philly defense that has held 31 of its past 41 foes to one or zero passing scores—including Ben Roethlisberger last week.

RB Matt Forte
S2

Yes, the fact that Philly pressed Willie Parker into a sorry 13-carry, 20-yard performance last week should concern you. But Marion Barber amassed 114 yards from scrimmage and scored twice and even Steven Jackson mustered 74 combo yards on 17 touches, so it's not as if the Eagles are untouchable. Forte's back-to-back-to-back triple-digit combo yardage efforts—against some decent defenses in Tampa Bay and Carolina—have him operating in every-week starter status.

WR Brandon Lloyd
Rashied Davis
Marty Booker
Devin Hester
B Terrell Owens is the only wide receiver to best the Eagles for a touchdown this year; he's also the only one to top 51 receiving yards. And it ain't like Torry Holt, Santonio Holmes, and Hines Ward are chopped liver, either. Lloyd has been the most popular target the past couple weeks and would be the choice if you're forced at gunpoint to pick a Bears receiver this week. However, sans firearms and death threats the smart move is to avoid this group entirely.
TE Greg Olsen
Desmond Clark

B

Randy McMichael, Jason Witten, and Heath Miller have all put up at least 63 receiving yards on the Eagles. However, with Olsen and Clark splitting the Bears' tight end looks right down the middle it's impossible to pick one over the other. The better play is to look elsewhere.

DT Bears S3 A pretty good Steelers defense limited Philly to 15 points last week, and the Bears have a pretty good defense. But with Devin Hester still sidelined this isn't the same elite fantasy D/ST you drafted back in August. It'll be tough to find a better option with six teams on the bye, but with no slated return date for Hester it wouldn't hurt to look around.
 

Baltimore (2-0) at Pittsburgh (2-1)

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Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Say this for Flacco: he's consistent. In each of his first two NFL starts he's thrown for 129 yards and no touchdowns. It'd be a pretty large shock to see him put up his first fantasy game of note against a defense that's held much more pedigreed NFL quarterbacks (Matt Schaub, Derek Anderson, Donovan McNabb) to 194 passing yards per game and just two touchdowns between them.

RB Le'Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
B

McClain has been the Ravens' leading rusher each of the first two games, while McGahee didn't look bad in his 15-carry return last week. However, after gouging the Bengals and Browns, the Baltimore running game takes a step up in class to face a Steeler defense that is giving up less than 60 RB rushing yards per game and has yet to allow a running back rushing score this year. With the size of the pie diminished, each of the shares will shrink—enough so that neither McClain nor McGahee should be in your fantasy lineup. If McGahee's eyelid injury (Seriously? Eyelid? Sleep on it wrong?) knocks him out I could see McClain being worth a reach in a deeper league, but this being a Monday night game you aren't likely to have that flexibility.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
B

The Steelers have allowed just one wide receiver touchdown this season; the Ravens have yet to break that particular maiden. If four catches for 40-some yards is your cup of tea then Mason is a decent play; even in a six-team bye week, however, you should be able to do better than that.

TE

Todd Heap

B Pittsburgh has gone nine straight games without surrendering a tight end touchdown, and with Heap a secondary factor in a passing game that's still in its infancy it's highly likely that streak reaches double digits.
DT Ravens S2 Baltimore's defense has turned back the clock a few years, allowing just 20 points through two games. And if they get after Ben Roethlisberger like the Eagles did last week, a Chris McAlister or Ed Reed pick six climbs from "possible" to "probable".
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger B

Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson are legitimate NFL quarterbacks... and the Ravens held them to a combined 38% completion percentage, 224 total yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Baltimore didn't get a chance for revenge following Big Ben's five-touchdown burn job in Week 9 as he sat out the Week 17 rematch; after what the Eagles did to Roethlisberger last week there is a 100 percent chance of the Ravens selling out on Monday night to harass, humble, humiliate and harm the Steelers QB. Roethlisberger's yardage has been anything but gaudy this season, and behind that offensive line I just can't see him sticking around long enough to throw multiple touchdowns. I know it's a bye week and the pickings are slim, but if you have a decent alternative on your bench I'd go that route.

RB Rashard Mendenhall B With Willie Parker sidelined by a knee injury, the rookie gets the start. I'm officially worried, and not just because of Mendenhall's ill-advised decision to text fellow rook Ray Rice about what a big game he planned to have against the Ravens; guess whose quotes are hanging in Ray Lewis' locker? But wait; there's more. Parker has averaged a paltry 2.7 yards per carry (215 yards on 78 carries) over the past three season series with Baltimore and there's no reason to expect anything more from Mendenhall. In fact, given the way Mendy has put the ball on the ground we may see Cary Davis and/or Mewelde Moore more than a little bit this week.
WR Hines Ward S3

Ward hasn't scored against the Ravens since September of 2004. Strike one. Thus far this year the Ravens haven't allowed a tight end touchdown and held the talented trio of Braylon Edwards, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Chad Johnson to seven catches for 93 yards—combined. Strike two. Facing an 0-2 count, the best you can hope for from Ward is something in the 75-yard range and maybe he ends that scoring drought. I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on this borderline call, but I wouldn't blame you at all if you were aggressively looking elsewhere.

WR Santonio Holmes B

Holmes has produced three straight games of 90 yards or more against the Ravens, with three touchdowns in that span. Trouble is, Roethlisberger hasn't had time to look for Holmes downfield this season; actually, he's had time to look—just not to set and throw accurately, as evidenced by Holmes' 19 targets but only 10 catches. Ward got the benefit of the doubt on the borderline call because of his consistency, but with Holmes' value hinging on Big Ben staying upright and intact I'm inclined to lean the other way on him.

TE Heath Miller S3

With Roethlisburger under duress last week against Philly Miller became a popular target with a season-high four catches for 63 yards. I'm mildly optimistic he'll fill a similar role here, making a good performance league play with decent catch and yardage numbers. The Ravens haven't allowed a tight end touchdown since Antonio Gates scored twice in Week 12 of last year, but Miller has scored in two of his past three against them so a sneaky touchdown isn't entirely out of the question.

DT Steelers S2 This one feels like the complete opposite of the past two Monday night shootouts—which might make it a boon for fantasy defenses. Why wouldn't Blitzburgh go after the rookie quarterback at every opportunity? And who's to say Troy Polamalu or Bryant McFadden don't have just as good a shot at a pick six as the aforementioned Reed or McAlister?.

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