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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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Kansas City (1-3) at Carolina (3-1) Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Damon Huard B

Huard is at best a matchup play, with KC's passing game producing about 160 yards and a touchdown per game. And a matchup with a Carolina defense that has surrendered fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than all but four teams... you want no part of this.

RB Larry Johnson S3

It's not a particularly great matchup, as the Panthers have held LT to 97 yards, Matt Forte to 93 yards, Adrian Peterson to 77 (but Chester Taylor kicked in 44), and Michael Turner to 56 (but Jerious Norwood added 51). Oh, and the Panthers have given up just one RB score this year. LJ has gouged lesser Ds and regained at least some street cred in the fantasy world, but this feels like a 22-for-74 afternoon similar to Johnson's opening weekend effort against the Patriots. He's hardly a sure thing, but at least he's getting carries again.

WR Dwayne Bowe S2

Updating last week's numbers, 46 of the 66 passes directed at Chiefs wideouts have gone Bowe's way. There won't be much against a defense that has barred wideouts from the end zone the past three games and is giving up less than 100 yards per game to the position, but a significant share of what's there is going to Bowe. He's either scored or topped 85 yards in every game this year, so if you're starting any Chief with a degree of confidence it's Bowe.

WR Jeff Webb
Devard Darling
Will Franklin
B The group is averaging five looks a week and just went off the board to add Mark Bradley. It's that bad.
TE Tony Gonzalez S2

Carolina has allowed a TE TD every other week, and this week is an "on" week. That's good news for Gonzo, unless he wants the Chiefs to hold off on throwing to him until after the bye so he can set his record at home. He's far and away Target No. 2, and there's usually been enough left over after Bowe gets his for Gonzo to be a productive fantasy entity in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Chiefs B I know KC shut down the high-flying Broncos last week, but it's tough to see them doing the same on the road to a pretty productive Panthers offense.
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S3 This matchup isn't the layup you might think; the Chiefs haven't allowed multiple touchdown tosses yet this season and Jay Cutler is the only QB to take them for more than 200 yards. That said, Delhomme started to look comfortable last week and is much closer in ability to Cutler than to the other quarterbacks KC has stymied (Matt Cassel, JaMarcus Russell, and Matt Ryan).
RB Jonathan Stewart
S2 Their production is almost identical (55-197 for Stew, 55-201 for Williams), but it's time to start separating Stewart out because he's scored four times to DeAngelo's none. Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Chiefs, so it's a favorable matchup for both. But obviously, the guy who's scoring all the touchdowns is the better play.
RB DeAngelo Williams S3 The Chiefs have served up quality leftovers for secondary backs like Laurence Maroney (51 yards to Sammy Morris' 53 and a touch), Michael Bush (90 and a touch to Darren McFadden's 164 and 1), and Jerious Norwood (75 yards to Michael Turner's 104 and 3). If you're in a bye week bind you could start D-Will and expect a little somethin' somethin' in a performance league. Just don't bank on a touchdown.
WR Steve Smith S1

There's little question Smith is a very nice play against a defense that has already allowed fantasy-friendly days to Randy Moss, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, and Eddie Royal.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

S3

Thanks to last week's big afternoon Muhammy has actually matched Smith's production in the two games since Lil' Napoleon returned (Smith 10-176-1, Muhammad 11-172-1). The Chiefs have been somewhat friendly to secondary targets, with both Wes Welker and Brandon Stokley topping the 50 yard mark, so it's safe to assume there will be enough for Muhsin to continue getting some of Delhomme's love this week.

TE Dante Rosario
B

Rosario Week 1: 96 yards and a touchdown. Panther TEs since Week 1: 93 yards and no scores. Tight ends against the Chiefs this year: 110 yards and no scores. Not too tough to draw this conclusion.

DT Panthers S3 Ed Hochuli owes the Panthers a defensive touchdown after last week, but Carolina is probably capable of cashing in on their own against Damon Huard this week.
 
Tennessee (4-0) at Baltimore (2-1) Back to top
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

The best QB game against the Ravens thus far this year was Ben Roethlisberger's 191 and 1 on Monday night. Kerry Collins' best game thus far this year was either his 199 and zero last week or 189 and 1 the week before. Your best move is to avoid Collins this week.

RB Chris Johnson S3

What little success opposing backs have had against the Ravens this year (Baltimore is giving up less than 60 rushing yards per game to RBs) has come through the air: Jerome Harrison scored in Week 3 and Mewelde Moore compiled 37 receiving yards last week. Johnson is the better pass-catching option, and his speed should allow him to get outside the Baltimore defense much like he avoided the Williams Wall in last week's win over the Vikings. Just hope he doesn't say anything stupid like Rashard Mendenhall did.

RB LenDale White B Like last week's date with the Vikings, there won't be much room to run inside. Unless you really enjoyed LenDale's 11 carries for 13 yards he's bench fodder this week, as Baltimore hasn't ceded a running back rushing score yet this year.
WR

Justin Gage
Brandon Jones
Justin McCareins


B

Not only was Santonio Holmes' touchdown last week the first wide receiver score allowed by Baltimore this season, his 61yards was the top performance by a wideout against the Ravens this year—and that includes dates with Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Braylon Edwards, and Hines Ward. None of these Titans are in that category—Gage, the best of the lot, is doubtful anyway—so bench 'em all.

TE Bo Scaife
Alge Crumpler
B

Over the past eight games the Ravens are allowing 18 yards per game to tight ends, and they haven't given up a TE TD in that span. If you have other options, this would be a great time to use them.

DT Titans S2 The Titans D is every bit as formidable as the Ravens, and they have the added bonus of facing a rookie quarterback this week.
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Kid's arm looked pretty good Monday night against the Steelers, but with 192 and 1 as his high point and the Titans having kept three straight QBs out of the end zone he's not ready for a fantasy start just yet.

RB Willis McGahee
B

Who's getting the ball here? McGahee has added bruised ribs to his sore knee and bum eye, didn't practice fully any of the days this week, and is listed as questionable; Ray Rice has yet to deliver on any of the promise he flashed in the preseason. That leaves...

RB Le'Ron McClain

S3

...the converted fullback who has scored thrice in the past two games and is averaging 17 carries and more than 70 yards per game. Albert Haynesworth or no, the Titans have surrendered 86 yards per game over the past three outings and allowed four RB TDs over that span. He's a sneaky solid play this week.

WR Derrick Mason
S3

Wanna play the revenge card? Mason has met his former team twice and caught eight balls in each; he's scored in each tilt as well. He's unquestionably Flacco's go-to receiver and has accounted for well over half of the team's passing yards. It's not like this game will be a point orgy, but it sure looks like Deke will be able to wring some fantasy value out of it anyway.

WR Mark Clayton B

No other pass catcher on this team is worth a second glance.

TE

Todd Heap

B Antonio Gates is the only tight end to have scored against the Titans in the past fourteen games. Heap is clearly not in that class.
DT Ravens S2 YOU wanna tell Ray Lewis you're benching him?
 
Washington (3-1) at Philadelphia (2-2) Back to top
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

It's not a particularly favorable matchup against a Philly defense that hasn't allowed a passing touchdown at the Linc in its past three home dates. But Campbell threw for 424 and four TDs in the season series last year and has been growing more comfortable with the WCO each week. The short drops and quick releases of the WCO should help him avoid too many rude introductions to blitzing Eagles, and he appears to be settling in at a relatively fantasy-friendly 210 and two.

RB Clinton Portis S3 Clinton has had plenty of success against the Eagles, with two 100-yard games in his last four and four TDs in his last five against them. He's averaging just over 100 yards from scrimmage per game—92 of that on the ground—and has scored thrice. That's solid, consistent production you can't leave on the bench despite a Philly D that's held all kinds of talented backs (Jackson, Barber, Parker, Forte) to a total of 339 yards and two touchdowns in four games.
WR Santana Moss S3

The scoring streak has been snapped, but in most leagues Moss's 145 yards more than made up for it. Tough to expect him to kickstart a new one against Philly; he hasn't scored on the Eagles since 2003, and all four of the wide receiver scores Philadelphia has ceded have come on the road. Once again you'll have to look to the yardage for Moss to have fantasy value—a task that might also prove a sticky wicket seeing as TO is the only WR to go for more than 51 yards against the Eagles this season. Moss is too hot to bench, but those expectations should be subdued.

WR Antwaan Randle El
B

Randle El is a fringe contributor when the matchup is favorable; when it's a tough one like the Eagles, best keep him off the fringe of your fantasy lineup.

TE Chris Cooley S3

Only the Chargers have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Eagles; they've allowed copious yardage (110 to Witten, 77 to McMichael, 63 to Heath Miller), and with Cooley targeted 21 times over the past three games he might not even need a touchdown to have a fantasy relevant day.

DT Redskins B The Eagles are far from a high-flying offense if Brian Westbrook is out of the lineup; do you really want to spend your Sunday morning tracking that injury situation just to pick a fantasy defense? Hardly seems worth it.
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S1

Lots to like here. The Don has thrown for 1,027 yards and six touchdowns in his past four against the Redskins, so there's a history of success. The Skins rank 10th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, so there's your recency. And McNabb is averaging over 290 passing yards per game with a scoring strike in every tilt thus far this season. That's three gold bar trends lining up for a fantasy jackpot this weekend.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

A full practice on Friday suggests that Westbrook will play this weekend; after dropping 183 combo yards and three touchdowns on the Skins in the last meeting, I can understand why. The Skins have been stout against the run thus far this year, but only four teams have allowed more receiving yards to running backs. Westbrook knows how to get his, and assuming there's no pregame setback you can plug him back into your fantasy lineup.

RB Correll Buckhalter B

He may see an extra series or two in relief of Westbrook, but there's nothing here to get overly excited about.

WR DeSean Jackson
Reggie Brown
S3 There should be some stats to be had against the Redskins, as they're allowing more than 150 wide receiver yards per game and have given up five WR TDs already this year. Jackson and Brown are still the primary targets with Kevin Curtis likely another week or so away, so get 'em into your lineup while you can.
WR Hank Baskett
Greg Lewis
Jason Avant
B Too many birds to feed, not enough worm to go around.
TE Brent Celek
L.J. Smith
B

Jason Witten is the only tight end to have any success against the Redskins this year, and neither Smith nor Celek remotely resemble Witten. .

DT Eagles S3 Between the blitzing and Jackson in the return game, Philly's D/ST is pretty much an every-week start.
 

Tampa Bay (3-1) at Denver (3-1)

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Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brian Griese S3

The last time Griese played one of his former clubs he threw for 407 yards. Even more scary? The Broncos are utterly capable of letting him throw for 407 yards against them. The numbers might not be quite that gaudy this week, but Griese is at least a solid bye-week option against the third-most QB-friendly defense in fantasy football.

RB Earnest Graham S2

If not by air, then by land: only the Rams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Broncos. Graham is narrowly the lead dog in Tampa's two-headed backfield, but the shared workload hasn't prevented him from putting up some nice numbers including three of four games with triple-digit combo yardage and two touchdowns in the past three games.

RB Warrick Dunn U

Six backs have produced at least 50 yards from scrimmage against the Broncos, and with Dunn getting 13 touches and 70 yards per game he has some upside as a plug-in play.

WR Antonio Bryant
S3

Over the past three games five different receivers have topped 70 yards against the Broncos' secondary, so there's a good-sized pool of yardage to draw from. With Joey Galloway still out with a foot injury Bryant is the most likely recipient of those yards.

WR Ike Hilliard
Michael Clayton

B

While Denver has allowed copious yardage to wideouts thus far this season, Tampa Bay's wide receiver situation is too volatile to trust any WR outside of Bryant to step up and give you a good Sunday's worth of fantasy digits.

TE Alex Smith
Jerramy Stevens
John Gilmore
U

The Broncos offer a very tight end-friendly matchup; unfortunately, the Bucs have already had three different tight ends score this season. The numbers suggest you can find bye-week help here, but you'll have to guess right on which Buc TE gets the call this week.

DT Buccaneers S3 It's always risky tossing your D/ST against a club averaging 33 points a game, but the way the Bucs are converting turnovers into defensive touchdowns makes it at least worthy of consideration.
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S1

Non-rookie quarterbacks are averaging over 250 yards per game and have thrown multiple scoring strikes in every game against the Bucs this season. Actually, 250 and two would be a step down from what Cutler is averaging this season.

RB Selvin Young
Michael Pittman
Andre Hall
U No Bronco back has more than 11 carries in a game this season, and none of them are active in the passing game where they could take advantage of a Bucs D that has allowed the most RB receiving TDs and second-most RB receiving yards. Pittman is the goal line guy, but he's not a smart play against a Tampa defense that has allowed running back rushing scores in one of the past 11 games. Heck, I don't even have to play the "who knows what the heck Shanahan will pull this week" card.
WR Brandon Marshall S1

Every. Week. Starter. And an especially good one this week against a defense that has surrendered 100-yard games to Brandon Lloyd and Greg Jennings the past two weeks and allowed six wide receiver scores already this year.

WR Eddie Royal

U

Most of the damage against the Bucs' secondary has been done by No. 1 receivers; the best game from a No. 2 target is David Patten's 39-yard, 1-TD effort in the season opener. Royal is inconsistent but has upside; just how much risk are you willing to absorb this week?

TE Tony Scheffler B

Daniel Graham was targeted three times more than Scheff last week, which is a bit disconcerting. Combine Scheffler's 5-for-58 in the past two games with a Bucs D that hasn't allowed a TE TD this year and surrendered just 30 yards to tight ends since Jeramy Shockey's 54-yard outing in Week 1 and if you have other options this would be a great time to use them.

DT Broncos B Denver's defense has done nothing thus far this year to suggest they warrant consideration here.
 

Buffalo (4-0) at Arizona (2-2)

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Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

Arizona had held three straight opposing QBs under 200 passing yards prior to last week when they were thoroughly undressed by Brett Favre. Don't expect Edwards to extend the abuse; settle for his comfortable 225 and one and call it a day.

RB Marshawn Lynch S1

Lynch was a major disappointment last week, producing his worst game as a pro against the dregs of the league. This isn't a creampuff matchup, as the Cards have gone nine straight without allowing a 100-yard rusher, so "settle" for a typical Lynch line of 75 yards and a score.

RB Fred Jackson B

Jackson got his at garbage time last week, but it's unlikely there will be as many table scraps hanging around this week.

WR Lee Evans S2

Santanta Moss took the Cards for 7-75-1; Laveranues Coles torched them for 8-105-3. If only the Bills had a fast, undersized receiver to take advantage of this trend. Think, think, think...

WR Josh Reed
James Hardy
B Reed is seeing the most balls among Buffalo's secondary targets, but not enough to warrant even a bye-week plug-in play. Hardy has been targeted five times the past two games and has nothing to show for it.
TE Robert Royal U Arizona has allowed tight end touchdowns in back-to-back games and 50-plus yards to the position in three of four. Royal's the kind of guy you reach for because you forgot to get a waiver pick in earlier in the week, but given the matchup he has the potential to make you look incredibly smart at some point on Sunday.
DT Bills S2 Kurt Warner has thrown four picks the past two weeks, and there's little doubt the Bills know what to do once their defense turns to offense.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S3

Warner is averaging 309 and 2 thus far this season, but you'd best dial down those expectations against the Bills. They've held three of four opposing QBs under 200 passing yards, shut out two of four QBs faced, and limited the other two to a single score each. Tough to bench him on the heels of last week, but he'll likely be without Anquan Boldin and the matchup is doing him no favors.

RB Edgerrin James S3

Steven Jackson was the first back to have any success against the Bills this year, and it's highly unlikely Edge sees the 24 carries it took S-Jax to compile his 110 yards. The typical game allowed by the Bills is something of the 15-carry, 50-yard ilk, and even if James is a little bit better than that he's still a borderline fantasy play at best.

RB Tim Hightower B Hightower has scored in three of four this year, but with his touches clocking in at a shade under 10 he won't help you if he doesn't cross the stripe. And the Bills have let that happen just twice in the past five games.
WR Anquan Boldin B

Anquan will sit this one out while he recovers from the monster helmet-to-helmet shot he took last week.

WR Larry Fitzgerald
S2

Expect at least a few of the 10 looks a game Boldin was getting to trickle Fitzy's way; that, combined with the 10 he's already seeing himself should provide plenty of opportunities. And it may take quantity as well as quality against a Buffalo defense that has given up just two WR TDs this year and allowed only Randy Moss to reach triple-digits against them over the past 19 games. You're not going to bench Fitzgerald, but you'd best set your expectations a little lower.

WR Steve Breaston
B

He's a trendy pickup for the injured Boldin this week, but he's also an extremely difficult play against a defense that has allowed only one wideout to top 60 yards against them this year.

TE Leonard Pope
Ben Patrick
B The Bills have allowed just 99 TE receiving yards thus far this year; Cardinal tight ends have generated just 80. Who wants it less?
DT Cardinals B Just when it appeared that years and years of high draft picks might actually turn into a solid defense, Zona gets a 56 hung on them. Back to the drawing board.

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