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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 5
John Tuvey
Updated: October 3, 2008
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Monday Night
*Updated
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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Seattle (1-2) at New York Giants (3-0) Back to top
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

The Giants haven't allowed multiple touchdown tosses in a game yet this season; Hass hasn't thrown multiple TDs yet this season. At least he'll get some of his receivers back, though for how long remains to be seen. It's a lousy matchup, exacerbated by the cross-country travel; you'll recall that led to a flare-up of Matt's back problems when he visited New York State earlier this year. Not a lot of positive omens here.

RB Julius Jones
B

There's a chance Maurice Morris returns this week to steal some carries, but let's pretend like he won't. That leaves Juice to face a defense that held Clinton Portis and Steven Jackson to a combined 137 yards (at 3.8 yards a pop) and zero touchdowns. Jones' last two home games have produced nice numbers against softer defenses; this is a road trip against a nasty D. I'm not optimistic.

WR

Deion Branch
Bobby Engram
Mike Bumpus
Keary Colbert

B

Branch and Engram are both expected back and will start this week; however, odds are they're not ready to play a full game. There might be a touchdown in here somewhere—after all, the G-Men have given up a wide receiver score in each of their three games this season—but good luck finding it. There won't be enough yardage here to make it worth your while if you don't land that TD, either, so the suggestion here is not to bother.

TE John Carlson
B

Hot Carl's looks will decline as Branch and Engram work their way back into the mix, and this matchup with a defense that has allowed just 53 yards total to tight ends—and faced Chris Cooley and Randy McMichael—won't do him any favors.

DT Seahawks B As disappointing as Seattle's offense has been, a defense that finished top-five in sacks, picks, and points allowed last year has been equally infuriating. No reason to expect a turnaround this week.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Eli has bumped his baseline up to the 250-yard range, but he's still only bankable for one score a game. That's roughly what the Seahawks are surrendering, and it would be silly to look for more with Manning's favorite target, Plaxico Burress, sitting this one out for disciplinary reasons.

RB Brandon Jacobs S3

Jacobs is still the Giants' lead dog, but with Derrick Ward taking a bite and the Seahawks having held Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, and Steven Jackson to 67 yards per game at around three and a half yards a pop this isn't a tremendously favorable matchup.

RB Derrick Ward
Ahmad Bradshaw
B

Ward is kicking in a average of 77 combo yards per game, but it's unlikely there will be enough leftovers against Seattle for that number to be anything more than an extremely optimistic hope this week. If there aren't even enough table scraps for Ward, Bradshaw will be going extremely hungry this week.

WR Plaxico Burress B

Plax sits this one out; meanwhile, the league is investigating a couple of domestics at his place, so there may be more off weeks in his future. Hey, at least he got that fine reduced.

WR Amani Toomer
S3

Amani has been seeing plenty of looks even with Burress in the lineup; without Plax he becomes the go-to guy against a defense that allowed Isaac Bruce to roll up 153 yards against them. That seems high for Toomer, but an uptick from his typical 60 wouldn't surprise.

WR Domenik Hixon
Steve Smith
U

There's bound to be some upside here for whomever Eli selects to replace the nine looks a game usually directed at Burress. Smith was targeted eight times in the game before the bye, but Hixon is expected to start in Plax's place. Maybe there will be more information after a few days of practice.

TE Kevin Boss B

Can you imagine how loud Jeremy Shockey would be screaming if he had been targeted just eight times through three games like Boss has?

DT Giants S2 The Giants' front line can get after anybody and is a solid play every week—maybe even more so with Seattle's returning receivers maybe off a page or two from Hasselbeck.
 
San Diego (2-2) at Miami (1-2) Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

The Dolphins were able to throttle the dink-and-dunk approach Matt Cassel used, but Rivers and the Chargers are much more willing and able to stretch the field—like Brett Favre (194 and 2) and Kurt Warner (361 and 3) have already done to Miami.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 Only three teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than the Phins... but that's not hard to do when you're facing Thomas Jones, Edgerrin James, and Sammy Morris
RB Darren Sproles B With LT's toe sound Sproles is back to afterthought status.
WR Chris Chambers
Vincent Jackson
S2

No team has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Dolphins. There should be enough yardage for Jackson to help your squad and enough touchdowns for Chambers to get his weekly score.

TE Antonio Gates S1

Thus far this season the Dolphins have shut down the likes of Bubba Franks, Ben Petrick, and Dave Thomas. Guess what? Gates is better than them.

DT Chargers S2 Assuming the Chargers can figure out how to handle direct snaps to Ronnie Brown, they have the talent and athleticism to not only hold down the Dolphins but also produce some points of their own.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington U

The Bolts have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other squad; giving up big games to Jay Cutler, Brett Favre, and Jake Delhomme is understandable, but allowing JaMarcus Russell to throw for 277 suggests maybe it's not just the competition. Pennington has topped 225 yards in two of his three starts this year so if you're hurting for a quarterback this week there's actually some upside to this matchup.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S3

Somewhere in the fantasy football analyst handbook it must say "Thou shalt not bench a guy after a four-touchdown game against a team that went undefeated the previous season." However, the Chargers are allowing 96 rushing yards to RBs this year and Ricky is going to take at least some of the action so don't get your hopes up.

RB

Ricky Williams

B

Lost in Brown's big game against the Pats was a solid 98-yard effort from Williams. It wouldn't be surprising, however, to see him come out of the bye week a bit lethargic. A defense that has held talented backfield from Oakland, Denver, and Carolina in check doesn't help.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Greg Camarillo
B San Diego has allowed plenty of fantasy points to wideouts—most of them to Brandon Marshall, and most of the rest to Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Neither Ginn or Camarillo are of that ilk, so unless Camarillo's 60 yards is a helper avoid this situation.
TE Anthony Fasano
S3

It's a little risky banking on Fasano with David Martin still lurking, but this matchup is too good to pass up. No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Chargers, who have allowed at least one TE TD and at least 67 TE yards in each game this year.

DT Dolphins B Not much to like here against an offense that's averaging almost 35 points per game.
 
Indianapolis (1-2) at Houston (0-3) Back to top
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

If the Texans have failed to learn from history (Manning has averaged 287 yards and 2.5 touchdowns against Houston over the past six meetings), they are doomed to repeat it. And there's little in what they've done thus far this year to suggest that even if they've learned that they're capable of doing anything about it.

RB Joseph Addai S2

Here's the one guy capable of keeping Peyton's numbers down this week. Addai has scored in three of four against the Texans and rushed for 100 yards in the one game he didn't reach the end zone, but behind Indy's banged up line he's been a mere shell of his former self this year. Help is on the way, however, as the Texans have still been friendly to opposing ground games, allowing six running back touchdowns through three games and 4.5 yards per carry to the likes of Willie Parker, Chris Johnson, and Fred Taylor.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 Reggie has at least 70 yards in each of his last six against the Texans and is averaging 98 ypg over that span—and last year, with Marv out of the lineup, he exploded for 143 and 1. With Harrison back in the mix Wayne might not go off again, but there's little doubt he'll be a major contributor to your fantasy score sheet this week.
WR Marvin Harrison
S3 Marv's yardage against the Texans has perennially trailed Wayne's but he's scored in three of his last five meetings with Houston and has seen double-digit targets in two of three this season. Since he's still in the mix, and has shown flashes of being at least close to the Marv of old, trot him out with confidence this week.
WR Anthony Gonzalez S3 In theory Gonzo against any team's nickel corner is a good matchup. But he had just four grabs for 61 yards in last year's season series, and that includes the game Marv missed. Three Jaguar receivers topped 45 yards against Houston last week, so it's not as if the Texans' secondary has improved dramatically. The key will be how Houston chooses to defend Dallas Clark, who has killed them in recent years. If the focus shifts to Clark, Gonzo would be poised for a monster day. And since the downside in this matchup seems to be 50 yards and a shot at a score, that's a shot likely worth taking.
TE Dallas Clark S2

Clark has been a Texan-killer with five touchdowns in his last six against them—including three in last season's series. Houston has held opposing tight ends in check this year, but Clark works enough out of the slot that those numbers don't really apply to him. It's kind of up to the Texans to pick their poison: do they treat Clark like a third wideout and use a nickel back on him or do they just use safeties and linebackers? Either way Dallas is a good bet to score in Houston.

DT Colts B Indy's defense is doing little to help fantasy owners, and that will likely continue until Bob Sanders returns to the lineup.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3

No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Colts, though they've benefitted mightily from having faced Kyle Orton, Tarvaris Jackson, and David Garrard; allowing a ton of yards on the ground helps inflate those passing numbers as well. Schaub threw for 236 and one against Indy last year and is coming off a 300-yard, three-TD game against Jacksonville that helped remind fantasy folks why they were excited about him heading into the season. Despite the apparant hard matchup, expect Schaub to put up numbers similar to last year's outing.

RB Steve Slaton
S2 The Colts have allowed four 100-yard rushers in three games, and Slaton has averaged 120 combo yards and a touchdown over the past two games. Add Slaton to the long list of Houston backs who have had success against Indy—you know, studs like Darius Walker, Samkon Gado, Ron Dayne, Jonathan Wells, Domanick Davis...
WR Andre Johnson S3 I'd love to give you a big fat dollop of optimism regarding Andre busting out of his slump. But over the past three seasons he has as many DNPs as TDs (two) against Indy and hasn't topped 75 yards while averaging 55 against the Colts. And while Indy hasn't really played anybody the fact remains no wideout has scored or gone for more than 42 yards against them this season. Johnson has caught just five of 17 targets over the past two weeks, and if he's turned over his "every week starter" card this is hardly a good matchup for him. I'm granting him S3 status this week based on his talent and the possibility that Houston rises up in their home opener in hopes of delivering a death blow to the reeling Colts. But if you have other solid options I'd strongly consider them before taking a shot that Johnson remembers just how good he can be.
WR Kevin Walter B

Walter has three touchdowns this season and scored in Houston's Week 16 loss to the Colts last season. That four-catch, 69-yard, 1-TD game feels like Walter's upside; in a four-team bye week that might be enough, but this matchup isn't exactly favorable.

TE Owen Daniels B

Daniels' catch and yardage totals are perking up, but he's still looking for his first score of the season and faces an Indy defense that has allowed just one tight end touchdown in its past 14 games. He's a decent play in TE-mandatory PPR leagues but not much help in TD-heavy leagues.

DT Texans B Indy has averaged 34 points per game over the past six matchups, failing to reach 30 just once. There's just not much here to like.
 

Atlanta (2-2) at Green Bay (2-2)

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Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

Ryan's projections may actually depend on Aaron Rodgers' health. If the Pack rolls with Matt Flynn, odds are they won't put up as many points and thus there will be less pressure on Ryan to play catch-up. He's still looking for his first 200-yard or multi-touchdown game; he hasn't even topped 158 or thrown a single scoring strike away from the friendly confines of Atlanta. The Pack allowed solid fantasy days to Jon Kitna and Tony Romo but held Tarvaris Jackson and Brian Griese in check. Eventually I expect Ryan to be more like the former, but this week his numbers will be more like the latter.

RB Michael Turner
S3

Michael Turner Overdrive has yet to put on a solid road show, but that might change this week in Green Bay. To date the Packers have allowed three 100-yard rushers and four running back touchdowns, making this MTO's most favorable road matchup to date. Moreover, the backs that have had success—Adrian Peterson, Marion Barber, Earnest Graham—all have a punishing style similar to that of Turner. I'm cautiously optimistic this week's MTO tour date won't disappoint.

RB Jerious Norwood B

Working in Norwood's favor are back-to-back solid performances from wingman-type backs like himself: Felix Jones' 79 combo yards and a score and Warrick Dunn's 86 yards from scrimmage. It took Dunn 18 touches, however, while Norwood is averaging seven per road game (and 10 overall), so he'd need to bust off a long TD run like Jones did to have more than an ordinary fantasy day. He's certainly capable, but the odds aren't exactly in favor of lightning striking twice.

WR Roddy White S3

As it's unlikely the Packers will give White the T.O. treatment, he should find room to roam against a secondary that allowed big games to similarly speedy wideouts Calvin Johnson and Miles Austin. There isn't likely to be a ton of passing yards on the Atlanta side of the ledger, but that's been true of the first four games and Roddy is still on pace for a second straight 1,000-yard season. Doesn't that warrant every-week starter status, even if it's only an S3 nod?

WR

Michael Jenkins

B

While Green Bay surrendered the aforementioned pair of 100-yard games, they've stiffled just about everything else in the passing game; the opponents' second-leading receiver against the Pack has averaged 31 yards per game and failed to top 48. Since that Week 1 long ball Jenkins has just five catches and 51 yards in three games. So he's a no go here.

DT Falcons U If it's Matt Flynn under center for the Packers, suddenly I'm a big fan of John Abraham and the Falcons' D. Barring that, not so much.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers B

Rodgers was on the fence despite a relatively favorable matchup; including the less-than-professional performance of Tyler Thigpen the Falcons have allowed an average of 211 passing yards per game and surrendered at least one passing touchdown in each tilt. As a game-time decision because of his shoulder injury, he's probably not worth the wait—or the risk, if you need to set your lineups ahead of time. Rodgers still needs to show the Lambeau faithful something; to date he has but one touchdown pass at home, and now he needs to demonstrate how to play through pain—something his predecessor at the position set a high bar for. Even if he does play, expect the Pack to protect Rodgers' shoulder with a heavy dose of the ground game; suddenly that 200 and a touch looks optimistic.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

Matchups won't get any more favorable for Grant, as the Falcons are allowing 152 running back combo yards per game and have surrendered six RB scores in four games. However, Grant has 94 yards on 43 carries and hasn't scored yet this season, all but forfeiting his "every-week starter" card. Do you trust the matchup? That's the only reason to play Grant, and to do so you'd have to cast a blind eye to the Packers' offensive line woes and the possibility that Rodgers won't be around for this game as well as Ryan's struggles. I just can't endorse this candidacy.

WR Greg Jennings S2

Jennings is averaging 120 yards per game and has reached triple-digits in three straight outings. A healthy Rodgers makes Jennings an S1 this week; even if it's Matt Flynn this week Jennings still warrants a starting nod; after all, Tyler Thigpen found Dwayne Bowe against the Falcons.

WR Donald Driver
S3

There's no question Driver is the second option in Green Bay. Last week against Atlanta that role worked out well for Muhsin Muhammad (8 for 147) but it hasn't been a big boon for Driver, who has produced one good fantasy game this year. It's a good matchup and you're likely thin at the position thanks to the bye, but you can't bank on much more than 75 yards from Driver on a consistent basis.

WR Jordy Nelson
B

Nelson scored on his first pro catch and has four grabs in each of the last two games, but he hasn't done much of fantasy note with those grabs. With the Falcons surrendering so much yardage on the ground there hasn't been enough in the passing game to fill cups this deep, and the possibility of a backup quarterback at the helm further muddies the waters.

TE Donald Lee B Lee is still doing nothing, and the Falcons are giving up less than 40 yards per game to the position. That's not a good combination.
DT Packers S3 Assuming the Pack is able to field a full secondary from their injury-depleted ranks—and I have reason to believe they will—they're a quality matchup against a rookie quarterback making his first trip to the frozen tundra.
 

Chicago (2-2) at Detroit (0-3)

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Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

This is a favorable matchup for the quarterback who threw for 268 and 2 in Week 3 and rolled up 174 yards and three TDs in the first half last week. Of course, there's always the risk we'll see the Orton who threw for 299 yards in the first two games combined or racked up 25 yards in the second half last week.

RB Matt Forte
S2

The Lions are giving up more than 200 yards from scrimmage per game to running backs, and Forte's 85 yards from scrimmage against a tough Philly defense last week was his worst performance to date. Expect something more along the lines of the 136 combo yards Forte averaged in the previous three tilts—probably more, given the matchup and the fact that the Bears will be motivated after having been swept by the Lions last year.

WR Brandon Lloyd
Marty Booker
Rashied Davis
B Only one receiver has topped 62 yards against the Lions this season, but four have topped 50 and five have scored. Lloyd is the only Bear receiver to have more than 37 yards in a game, but he's been ruled out. Booker scored last week, but he's questionable. Neither have an upside that warrants the risk of plugging an injured player into your fantasy lineup. That leaves Davis and Hester, a pair of return men who dabble in pass-catching.
WR Devin Hester U It's a favorable matchup, but it feels like you're playing the lottery; sure, there's a payoff but you'll need to guess right to collect. At least with Hester you know the payout is a jackpot, and you get a couple bonus chances in the return game.
TE Greg Olsen

S3

Chicago tight ends scored in both ends of this series last year, and after three weeks of sharing with Desmond Clark Olsen stepped to the fore last week. He's the better play here, and while the Lions haven't been gouged by tight ends this year... they're still the Lions.

DT Bears S2 Hester scored on a kick return against Detroit last year, and this Bears defense is playing well enough to make the Monsters of the Midway proud. And did I mention... it's the Lions?
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna S3

Three of the four quarterbacks the Bears have faced have thrown for 250 yards, while Kitna has thrown for at least 260 in two of his three outings. That gives Kitna a, what, 50 percent chance of taking the Bears for 250 or so? I'd up those odds, seeing as Kitna has gone for 268, 247, 283 and 230 against Chicago the past two years. Yes, it's a different offense but the Lions have demonstrated both the need and the inclination to throw despite the change. A touchdown is likely as well, but two might be asking too much.

RB Rudi Johnson B

Kevin Smith's underwhelming first fortnight as a pro cost him the starting gig, and Rudi actually looked decent in his first extended action as a Lion. Don't get your hopes up, however; the Bears are allowing around 70 rushing yards per game to opposing backs and haven't allowed Joseph Addai, Jonathan Stewart, Earnest Graham, or Brian Westbrook to top 77 against them this year.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Only the Rams and Saints have allowed more wide receiver yardage than the Bears, so this isn't a shutdown matchup. Johnson has been targeted 10-plus times in each of the first three games; it would be surprising if he didn't get at least that many looks here, and against a surprisingly fantasy-friendly defense that should translate into good-to-great numbers.

WR Roy Williams
S3

He's clearly become the afterthought in this tandem, and when he leaves Detroit following the season he won't miss facing the Bears twice a year as he's scored just twice in five meetings (neither of those TDs came last year) and never posted a 100-yard game against Chicago. His typical outing against Da Bears is a six-catch, 75-yard affair; his reduced role suggests that's optimistic, but a Chicago secondary that's allowed 70-plus yards to multiple wideouts twice already this year makes it at least plausible.

WR

Shaun McDonald
Mike Furrey

B

Both had good numbers in last year's season series, but both are seeing significantly fewer targets under the new offensive regime and can't be banked on for any meaningful fantasy production here.

DT Lions B Last year the Lions picked Brian Griese seven times in this series. This year Griese is in Tampa Bay and the Bears have last year's series sweep to avenge.

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