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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
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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Cincinnati (0-4) at Dallas (3-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer B

The Cowboys are hardly a stopper of a matchup, but Palmer has been a mere shell of his former self this season. Even though he practiced fully on Friday I find it extremely difficult to endorse him as anything other than a desperation play. It's been that bad.

RB Chris Perry

You think Perry dribbling last week's golden opportunity down his leg (at just over two yards per carry) was the impetus behind Cincy bringing in Cedric Benson? Clinton Portis is the only back to put up big yardage on the Cowboys, and that was because the Redskins had the ball the entire game; Brian Westbrook is the only RB to score on the Cowboys. Perry doesn't draw comparisons to either. At least he appears to be healthy... for now.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Housh has led the Bengals in receiving in three of their four games. Used to be that meant something; this year all it's meant is subdued stat lines like 3-44 and 6-50. If Palmer sits another one out Housh will get the hook, but right now he gets an S3 because SOMEBODY has to take advantage of a secondary that's surrendered back-to-back-to-back 100 yard games.

WR Chad Johnson B

At one point this looked like a matchup made in hype heaven: CJ (OC?) vs. TO in the battle of the obnoxious touchdown celebrations. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if Johnson will live up to his end of the bargain. His season total of 11-116-1 was bested by Housh in Week 3 alone, and Antonio Chatman has outgained him each of the past two weeks. With Palmer dinged up Johnson is at best a glorified matchup play—and this week, not even a good one. Chad says he'll "kiss the star" this week, but his fantasy owners probably have a different location for that osculation.

DT Bengals B The Cincy defense isn't that bad this year. However, they're still not fantasy worthy, especially against a potent offense like the Cowboys.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

If you're impressed by the Bengals ranking 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, allow me to burst your bubble: they've stymied the likes of Joe Flacco, Kerry Collins, and Derek Anderson. The only quality quarterback they've faced, Eli Manning, threw for 289 yards against them. All that's stopping Romo from another 300-yard, multiple-touchdown outing is the possibility that they overcorrect last week's blunder and give Marion Barber and Felix Jones 50 carries between them. Man, would that PO TO.

RB Marion Barber S1

Every Bengals opponent has rushed for triple-digit yardage this year, so you have to believe the Cowboys will find a way to get MB3 more than eight carries. If they do, look out.

RB Felix Jones B

This should be a great week to plug Jones into your lineup and watch him collect table scraps; instead, you're incredibly gun-shy thanks to last week's ill-advised decision not to give Jones a single touch from scrimmage. The matchup suggests he'll have success, but to do so the Cowboys will have to get him the ball... and right now that's an iffy proposition.

WR Terrell Owens S2

Implausible as it may seem, the Bengals haven't allowed a triple-digit receiver over their past 11 games. That shouldn't stop you from starting TO, because everyone knows the squeaky wheel gets the oil and no one—NO ONE—squeaks louder than TO. But if 17 looks led to just 77 yards and a score last week against the Redskins, you have to think Cincy has a shot at keeping TO's numbers down a bit.

WR Miles Austin
Patrick Crayton


Austin has scored in back-to-back games, but Cincy's surprisingly strong secondary has allowed just two wide receiver scores all season so this doesn't strike me as a good opportunity for secondary targets.

TE Jason Witten S1

The Bengals have allowed back-to-back 50-yard games to tight ends; Witten is averaging better than 90 and scored his first touchdown of the year last week. I'm not sure what sort of trends or stats it would take for me to consider benching Witten, but there's nothing here even remotely pointing me in that direction.

DT Cowboys S3 This could very well be a Ryan Fitzpatrick game; that's gotta be good for the Cowboys D, doesn't it?
New England (2-1) at San Francisco (2-2) Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel B

Drew Brees took the Niners for 363 and three, on the heels of three straight sub-200 performances by Mike Nolan's secondary. But to get to 363 and three you have to throw the ball downfield. Oh sure, there's a chance Cassel will return from the Patriots bye week with a little more freedom to take chances down the field and kickstart this offense; there's also a chance Megan Fox will swing by my house tonight, and the probabilities of these two events aren't dramatically dissimilar. Is that a knock at my window?

RB Sammy Morris
Laurence Maroney
LaMont Jordan

Three of San Fran's four opponents have run the ball 30-plus times, resulting in an average of 125 yards and a touchdown per game. The Pats ran the ball 31 times against the Jets, but they used five different backs to do so. No one has emerged as a go-to guy from this backfield; as such none can be started with any degree of confidence.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S3 The 49ers stat line took a hit against the New Orleans aerial circus; they actually did a good job of containing receivers like Fitzgerald (3-31-1), Boldin (8-82), Calvin Johnson (4-40), and Roy Williams (2-18). Welker has been the most targeted Pat post-Brady, and he remains a solid play in PPR and performance leagues—a good-not-great play given the matchup. I'm giving Moss one last S3 for this reason: I expect Bill Belichick spent the bye week devising a way to get Randy involved in what's left of the New England offense—because if he doesn't, a sulking Moss will hang like an albatross around the Patriots' neck all season long.
TE Ben Watson
Dave Thomas

Here's your cure for insomnia.

DT Patriots B Now that even the defense is failing New England, what's left? Again, if Belichick is the coach we've all been led to believe he is you have to think he spent the bye week locked in a room coming up with ways to correct what's gone horribly wrong. You may have to think that, but you don't necessarily have to act on it by leaving the Pats D/ST in your fantasy lineup.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB J.T. O'Sullivan B

JTO has been a solid matchup play, but don't expect him to exceed (or maybe even approach) his 240-yard per game average against a defense that's giving up just over 200 yards per game and has had a week to prepare for this version of the Mike Martz offense New England stymied for their first Super Bowl win.

RB Frank Gore S2

Ronnie Brown single-handedly ruined the Pats in Week 3, but KC and NYJ backs both managed 125 yards from scrimmage against New England earlier this year—just a little less than Gore is averaging all by himself. Don't let the matchup scare you; Gore is good enough to get his here.

WR Isaac Bruce
Arnaz Battle
Bryant Johnson

B Opposing receivers split 130 yards and less than a touchdown against the Patriots; that's not much to begin with, and when you consider that no one is quite sure how that will be split amongst San Fran's rag-tag band of receivers... best avoid this situation alltogether.
TE Vernon Davis B

Funny how Mike Martz was a tight end in college but his offenses have no idea how to incorporate the big fellas (witness VD's 5-for-87 in four games this year).

DT 49ers U If you're in a bye-week bind this may just be crazy enough to work. After all, the Patriots haven't reached the 20-point mark yet this season, they have an inexperienced quarterback, and there are issues along their offensive line.

Pittsburgh (3-1) at Jacksonville (2-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Even last week when Pittsburgh running backs were dropping like the Dow the Steelers still ran the ball more than they threw. That, as much as anything, is why Big Ben has yet to top 200 yards this season. The Jaguars will come after him just as aggressively as the Ravens did, so there's also the possibility he doesn't last the full 60 minutes. Roethlisberger is tough and he'll hang around long enough to throw a touchdown—maybe two or even three like he did when these teams met late last season. However, expect his yardage to be much closer to the 146 from that regular season tilt than the 337 he posted in the playoff loss. It's not a deal-breaker matchup, but it's not exactly the path of least resistance, either. Worse, he was limited during Friday's practice and is questionable for the Sunday night game. At least his upside warrants the risk of plugging him into your lineup early, but if you're not prepared to take a zero you'd best look for another option.

RB Mewelde Moore S3 Willie Parker is still out, Rashard Mendenhall had his season ended by Ray Lewis, and fullback Carey Davis is doubtful. The Steelers scrambled to add Gary Russell off the practice squad and pull Najeh Davenport away from whatever laundry basket he was squatting in, but they may not require too much of either. Moore's game is actually a very nice fit for this matchup; witness how similarly-undersized scatbacks Chris Johnson (127 combo yards and a touchdown), Fred Jackson (100 yards from scrimmage) and Steve Slaton (116 combo yards and a score) all circumvented the Jaguars' interior defense and picked up yardage on the outside. It's how the Steelers moved the ball on Baltimore late in last week's game and it's a blueprint for how I anticipate they'll use Moore this week. And given the past success of Johnson, Jackson, and Slaton, I'm cautiously optimistic about Mewelde's chances here. See, you didn't make that pickup for nothing!
WR Hines Ward
Santonio Holmes

It's been eight games since the Jags allowed a 100-yard receiver—regular season games, that is, as Ward took them for 135 in the Wild Card loss last year. Over that same span, however, Jacksonville has allowed four 70-yard receivers, and that's the likely upside for Ward and Holmes this week; they're seeing similar targets, and both are averaging around 50 yards per game. Big Ben isn't finding a ton of time to look downfield, but both Ward and Holmes are adept at picking up yards after the catch so they still bring some fantasy value to the table despite a less-than-favorable matchup.

TE Heath Miller S3

Miller scored in both the regular-season and postseason matchups with Jacksonville—but he hasn't scored since. In fact, the more knowledgeable member of the Monday night crew chastized Pittsburgh for failing to use Miller more in the face of heavy pressure. The Jags haven't allowed a tight end touchdown this year after Ben Watson's pair of scores ended their season in New England, though only three teams have surrendered more yardage to TEs in 2008. The smart move would be to get Miller involved again, but thus far this year the Steelers haven't done so. So it's up to you; do you trust them to make the adjustment? If so, Miller's better than a mere S3 this week. If no, he's a longshot to provide much fantasy help this week.

DT Steelers S2 Odds are they won't rattle—or strip/sack—David Garrard like they did Joe Flacco, but the Steeler still bring plenty of heat on defense and are always a threat to take a turnover the other way.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Last week was really the first we've seen of the Garrard who was a borderline top-10 fantasy quarterback late last season. If the Jags are on their game Garrard will provide a little more than 200 passing yards, toss a couple touchdowns, make a couple plays with his feet, and get the ball into the hands of Jacksonville's other playmakers. That's how the Jaguars beat Pittsburgh last season, and there's little reason to expect much to change. The Steelers haven't allowed multiple TD passes yet this season and Garrard has yet to throw more than one in a game, so his fantasy production may be off a bit from what you were getting towards the end of 2007; that kind of sums up Garrard's season to date, so odds are you've already made accommodations.

RB Fred Taylor

Both backs enjoyed success against the Steelers last season—Taylor with 147 yards and a touch in the regular season meeting and MoJo with two touchdowns in the playoff tilt. However, it's tough to bank on big digits again from Fred, as the Steelers are allowing roughly 70 rushing yards per game to opposing backs and Taylor has topped 50 yards just once this season.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S3

Building on MoJo's success as noted above, only five teams have allowed more receiving yards to running backs than the Steelers this season. One of Jones-Drew's scores in the postseason came on a catch, so if either back is to be successful against the Steelers it will most likely be Maurice—and most likely happen via the pass.


Matt Jones

S3 The Steelers have allowed a couple of 100-yard receivers this season but only one WR TD. Jones is far and away Garrard's favorite downfield target—he has almost half of the team's total wide receiver yardage and the club's only WR TD—but you're probably looking at, best-case scenario, 70 yards and a score here.

Jerry Porter
Reggie Williams
Troy Williamson

B This mess is barely worthy of consideration in cupcake matchups; they don't even get in the door against the Steelers this week.
TE Marcedes Lewis B

Yawn. And he was a first round pick, too.

DT Jaguars S3 The Steelers are one hard sack away from serving Byron Leftwich up to his former squad—and that would make things very interesting indeed.

Minnesota (1-3) at New Orleans (2-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte B

The Saints have given up plenty of yardage, but only Jay Cutler has thrown multiple touchdowns so this isn't quite as soft a matchup as you might think. And if this turns into a shootout the Vikings are ill-equipped to compete. The upside here is about 200 yards and a score, which isn't exactly a boon for your fantasy squad.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

New Orleans' best bet for stopping the run is to put points on the board and make teams play catch-up. That's essentially how they've limited their opponents to 22 rushing attempts per game—and how they've survived giving up 5.2 yards per carry. Assuming the Vikings don't abandon the run, this is a tasty matchup for Peterson and his personal 5.0 ypc average.

WR Bobby Wade

Wade is a reliable target who usually brings little to the fantasy table. However, with Rice and Berrian both dinged up Wade is a decent backup plan. Let's say your league allows you to make late lineup changes; plug in Berrian, and if he's a scratch Wade is your fallback plan.

WR Bernard Berrian

Hate to throw an X at you in the update, but this one won't be decided until Monday. If you can't make a late lineup tweak, Berrian is bench material because he was a late add to the injury report and didn't look particularly good in Friday's practice. On the other hand, he's beginning to show flashes of why the Vikings signed him, with 79 and 78 yards the past two weeks. It's a great matchup, as the Saints surrender plenty of wide receiver yardage—six different wideouts have topped 50 yards against them already this season—and if the Vikings can get Berrian matched up with Jason David he may get his first touchdown in purple. But if Berrian doesn't play he does you no good. And we won't know for sure until Monday. Proceed with caution.

WR Sidney Rice B

Rice is still working his way back to full speed from a knee injury. And with the Vikings heavily focused on the running game there isn't likely to be enough spillover in the passing game to feed more than one fantasy wide receiver—especially a hobbled one.

TE Vishante Shiancoe B

It's possible his drops are behind him, but this isn't a favorable-enough matchup to warrant reaching for a tight end on a run-first team who's a 50/50 proposition to catch the few balls directed his way.

DT Vikings B Still waiting for that Jared Allen trade to pay dividends. The Saints are too adept at lighting up a scoreboard to risk this being the week it finally happens.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Minnesota's secondary hasn't been that bad this season, holding two quarterbacks without touchdown tosses, three under 200 passing yards, and all four without multiple scoring strikes. However, Peyton Manning lit them up for 311 and Brees is a whole lot more like Manning than Kerry Collins. Drew might be down from his 335 and 2 average... but not much.

RB Reggie Bush S3

Backs that have had success against the Vikings have been of the speedy variety—like Chris Johnson last week. So long as the Saints dont' get Bush killed by running him at the Williams Wall, his skill set could be successfully applied to the Vikings defense via outside runs and the short passing game. Reggie remains a must start in PPR leagues and a decent enough play in other performance-based scoring systems that you shouldn't let the matchup scare you off.

RB Deuce McAllister B

Deuce has apparently replaced Pierre Thomas as the Saints' short yardage guy, and last week's 3.6 ypc average suggests that's about all that's left in McAllister's tank. Teams have not had success running inside on the Vikings, so there's little reason to expect Deuce to find success this week. His best bet is an interference call in the end zone that will give him three shots from the one; do you really want to hang your fantasy team's RB2 on that slim hook?

WR Lance Moore
Robert Meachem

The Vikings have seen some pretty good wideouts this year—Greg Jennings, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne—yet they've allowed just one WR TD and one 100-yard game. That said, four different receivers have made it to 90 yards and the Saints' passing game shouldn't kow-tow to any defense. The key will be which receiver ends up blanketed by Antonio Winfield and which will have Cedric Griffin in the vicinity. If the game plays to the depth charts Moore will be matched up with Griffin while Henderson battles Winfield. That not only makes Moore a good play, but also frees up Meachem for matchups with nickel Charles Gordon and/or rookie safety Tyrell Johnson. If I were a betting man I could see putting something on Meachem getting behind the coverage for a long ball and Moore giving Griffin fits.

WR Devery Henderson

Hendu is the least consistent of the Saints receivers (even Meachem seems to be good for a long ball on a consistent basis), and the possibility of him seeing more of Antoine Winfield than the rest of the New Orleans pass-catchers suggests he's the odd man out this week.

WR David Patten

Patten has been ruled out, which means there's a little more of the pie to go around for everybody. See above for details.

TE Billy Miller B Used to be the Vikings were an easy mark for tight ends, but this year they've blanked the big fellas. I could see using a healthy Jeremy Shockey against a tough matchup, but not Miller.
DT Saints S3 The return of left tackle Bryant McKinnie might slow Will Smith, but Charles Grant will feast on Ryan Cook on the other side. If you're into sacks and violence the Saints could be a sneaky play this week, and there's little risk of the Vikings running up big points—just big rushing yardage. And the Saints' return game against a shaky Vikings coverage unit pushes the New Orleans D/ST into S3 territory.

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