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Start/Bench List - Week 7
John Tuvey
Updated: October 17, 2008
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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 (3-3) at Buffalo (4-1) Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

The opponent and venue suggest you dial back expectations a bit; Rivers' only two games below 200 yards and without multiple touchdown tosses have come on the road, while the Bills held both quarterbacks who visited Buffalo to similar numbers. But don't bench him outright, as he's much closer in talent to Kurt Warner, who put up 250 and two on the Bills, than the rest of the rabble Buffalo's D has feasted on this year.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S3 Still waiting for LT to lose the glasses, rip off the suit, and show us the big red "S" on his chest. This might not be the week for SuperLT's return, however, as Steven Jackson is the only back to top 57 yards against this defense and LT has uncharacteristically only reached triple digits once this season. The good news: Buffalo has allowed four running back touchdowns in the past two games, though they're still pitching a shutout on the home turf. Sad to say that you're looking at another of what's passing for a typical 2008 LT day.
WR Vincent Jackson


The Buffalo secondary has avoided the big game (no receiver has topped 84 yards against them), but six different receivers with at least 50 yards suggests they're not impenetrable. They'll also be without starting corner Terence McGee. You'll need to bump your Jackson expectations back from last week's 134 to something closer to his usual 60 or so, but at minimum he'll be Rivers' top downfield target. He's also a good bet to land a touchdown, though with Buffalo allowing just one WR TD in each of their two home games there may not be multiples to go around.

WR Malcolm Floyd


Floyd is likely to get the start with Chris Chambers and Craig Davis both out. And with Buffalo forced to throw rookie Leodis McKelvin into the starting lineup, Floyd may find himself with another favorable matchup. It's not a strong play on the road, but if you're hurting for bye week help there is some upside here.

WR Chris Chambers

After missing the win over New England Sunday night, Chambers is considered doubtful for a return here.

TE Antonio Gates S2

The Bills have surrendered just two tight end touchdowns in the past 16 games, and none this year. That said, Gates is in a league of his own and has scored in four of five this season. It's not a matchup that suggests he'll go off, but he's far too good to be held down completely.

DT Chargers S3 The Chargers have held three straight foes under 20 points and are looking like they've adapted to life without Shawne Merriman.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

Bills' quarterbacks have been nothing if not efficient this season, clocking in between 197 and 279 yards and with one passing touchdown each of their first five games. San Diego's defense was carved up by Brett Favre and Jay Cutler, who accounted for seven of the 10 passing touchdowns they've allowed; Edwards, expected to return to the lineup this week, isn't quite in that category yet. Expect him to land closer to the 240 and one the Chargers have given up to mere mortal QBs thus far this year.

RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Ronnie Brown is the only opposing back to top 50 yards against the Chargers over the past month, and the only one to take them for triple-digits thus far this season. Lynch hasn't even sniffed the century mark on the ground this season and drags a two-game scoreless streak into this matchup against a defense that's allowed three RB TDs in six games this year. One cause for optimism: Lynch is more involved in the passing game, with three or more receptions in four of five games this year; the Chargers have allowed almost 80 RB receiving yards per game over the past three.

RB Fred Jackson B

The aforementioned stat on running backs having success in the passing game against San Diego might suggest Jackson sneaks into the lineup this week, but in fact he's had more catches than Lynch just once—and that was back in Week 2. Freddy is insurance and a bit player, not a reliable fantasy starter.

WR Lee Evans S2

The two best games by wideouts against the Chargers this year have been posted by Brandon Marshall and Jerricho Cotchery—bigger receivers. The best games by speedy undersized targets (like Evans) have been efforts in the 75-yard range by Laveranues Coles and Wes Welker. After a rough start San Diego's secondary is rounding into shape and has surrendered just one WR TD the past three weeks. So while Evans brings a two-game scoring streak into this matchup, it doesn't look promising for him to extend it—especially if he draws Quentin Jammer on a regular basis.

WR Josh Reed
Roscoe Parrish
James Hardy
B The potential return of Parrish to the lineup will take a bite out of Reed's four-catches-per-game racket, bumping both into the bench category. As for Hardy, he's simply not seeing enough balls to take advantage of the success bigger wideouts have had against the Bills.
TE Robert Royal U Coincidence or game plan: Royal has 10 catches for 86 yards and a score at home, three catches for 16 yards on the road. The Bolts have allowed TE TDs in four of six games but pitched shutouts each of the last two. It's a bunch of circumstantial evidence that makes Royals an intriguing bye-week plug-in—but doesn't suggest that you go out of your way to make that happen.
DT Bills S3 The last time we saw Buffalo's defense the Cardinals were carving them up, and with Philip Rivers holding the knife this week you'd best temper your expectations for this unit.
New Orleans (3-3) at Carolina (4-2) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

The 330 and two Brees is averaging this season is even better than the 320 and two Brees has averaged against Carolina the past two seasons (throwing out the 2006 finale in which Saints regulars hit the sidelines early to rest of the playoffs). Carolina's D is surrendering closer to 170 and one per game, but they haven't seen much in the way of quarterback talent yet this year—aside from Philip Rivers, who droppd a trifecta on them. No reason to back away from Brees this week.

RB Reggie Bush S3

Bush's game defies classification, so to bench him against a defense that has allowed just two running back touchdowns and is holding opposing backs to less than 100 yards a game is missing the big picture. Now if you're worried that the Panthers have limited him to just over 83 yards from scrimmage in the three meetings in which Bush played extensively, and that his only score came early in that "pack 'em in" 2006 finale... well, then, I can't blame you. Still, all it takes with Reggie is one touch and some open field.

RB Deuce McAllister B

The good news is, both of the running back touchdowns the Panthers have allowed came on short plunges by goal-line backs; the bad news, obviously, is that there were only two of them. Deuce isn't doing enough between the 20s to make him a worthwhile start if the money shots will be scarce.

WR Marques Colston

Let's start by dialing back expectations a bit; the Panthers haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver in the last 15 games, and with the return of Colston there are more than a few cooks in the New Orleans kitchen. Marques has put up a pair of quality fantasy efforts (7-93-1 and 5-132-1) against Carolina over the past two seasons, and fantasy owners itching for him to return should feel free to plug him into the lineup.

WR Devery Henderson
Lance Moore


Of the rest of the lot, Moore and Henderson offer the most reliable fantasy plays. Hendu has a 100-yard game against the Panthers to his credit, while Moore is the only Saints wideout on the roster besides Colston who has scored against Carolina. Both are a bit on the risky side given the success of the Panthers' defense thus far this season, but if Brees is going to roll up another 300-yard game it can't all go to Bush and Colston.

WR David Patten
Robert Meachem

Too hurt, too inconsistent.

TE Jeremy Shockey
S3 It's not a bad matchup, as Carolina has already surrendered three tight end touchdowns this year, and despite Shockey's absence the Saints have not ignored the position: New Orleans tight ends have 13 catches for 190 yards and a score the past two weeks. Shockey is listed as probable and is expected to play between half and two-thirds of the snaps; with this matchup, that's enough to make him a borderline fantasy starter.
TE Billy Miller B With Shockey back and expected to see the majority of the workload, Miller becomes bench fodder once again.
DT Saints S3 Nothing special here other than Reggie in the return game, as Carolina's offense offers several more dimensions than Oakland did last week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S3 Delhomme's return to prominence took a side trip last week against the Bucs... but the Saints ain't the Bucs. Delhomme hasn't blown up against New Orleans over the past three years, with six touchdowns in four games and an average of 191 yards per contest. But he's been solid, and with the Saints surrendering an average of 240 and one—and Steve Smith at his side (see stats below)—Delhomme will be productive once again.

DeAngelo Williams

S3 No longer can we view the Saints as a soft run defense; while their coming-out party came in prime time against Adrian Peterson, previously they had shut down the Denver ground game (92 rushing yards) and shut out Frank Gore. Last year's 39-106-0 in two games can be blamed on the lack of anything resembling a passing game; prior to that DeShaun Foster posted a pair of 100-yard games and Stephen Davis hit the century mark against them as well. This backfield resembles that of the Bucs, who used the tandem of Earnest Graham (10-91) and Warrick Dunn (9-54) effectively in a Week 1 win. DeAngelo has more carries in four straight and five of six, while Stewart is the goal line guy—when healthy. With the Saints no longer sporting creampuff status this isn't a layup of a matchup, but it's not one to fear, either.

Jonathan Stewart

B The shared carries, and the fact that Stewart was a Friday addition to the injury report as questionable with an illness, puts him on the other side of the start/bench fence. He's not a horrible play, but if he's illin' it's not a situation where you should go out of your way to play him, either.
WR Steve Smith S1

Panther quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns in the past six matchups with the Saints; Smith has been on the receiving end of six of them. Carolina has 978 passing yards in those six games; Smith is responsible for exactly half of them. He's scored in five of his last six meetings with New Orleans, and that includes one of the two games last year in which Delhomme was out. The Saints have allowed four 100-yard receivers already this year and given up touchdowns in every game against a legitimate NFL passing attack (Oakland last week doesn't count). All signs point towards something between "big" and "ginormous" for Smith this week.

WR Muhsin Muhammad


History suggests Carolina's passing game funnels through Smith; the Saints' stats suggest that opposing secondary receivers are good for about 50 yards... and that's it. Muhammy has two of the Panthers' three WR TDs this year, but he's clearly the second banana to Smith. With indicators working against him, Mushy is an ordinary-at-best play this week.

TE Dante Rosario

Reduce, reuse, recyle. Rosario Week 1: 96 yards and a touchdown. Panther TEs since Week 1: 141 yards and no scores. The Saints have allowed such luminaries as Nate Jackson and Visanthe Shiancoe to score on them, but there's little reason to think Dante's involvement will ratchet back up this week.

DT Panthers B If your league's scoring system factors in points and yardage allowed, this isn't shaping up as a great week for you to use the Panthers.
Minnesota (3-3) at Chicago (3-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte S3

Make it four-for-four on starts and 200-yard games for Frerotte, who has his average up close to 250 per. Given last year's results you can bet the Bears will be loading up to stop AP, leaving the secondary exposed to... well, something like you saw last week from Matt Ryan. Chicago is allowing 250-plus yards per game in the air, and if they're committing extra personnel to the ground game Frerotte should have room to throw yet again. With Frerotte averaging less than a score a start and the Bears having allowed just five passing TDs this season, if you're in a TD-heavy scoring system Gus isn't your guy this week.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

After 224 and three in the first meeting the Bears "held" All Day to 78 yards and two more scores in the rematch. Chicago's run defense is playing much better this season than last; they haven't allowed a back to top 77 yards against them this year and four running back TDs through six games. Of course, heading into last year's meeting Chicago had allowed only one back to exceed 78 yards and surrendered four RB rushing scores. Peterson has had some success against some very good defenses—77 yards (at 4.5 a pop) against Carolina, 80 yards and a pair of scores against the Titans—and he's a must start here. Because, really: would another 220 and three shock you?

RB Chester Taylor B

Taylor had 22 carries in last year's first meeting but just five in the follow-up, and he's had only one game with more than five thus far this year. There's no reason to expect enough touches here for Taylor to warrant a fantasy start this week.

WR Bernard Berrian

Berrian heads back to Chicago with back-to-back 100-yard games—both with touchdowns—under his belt. The Bears have allowed two 100-yard games already, and with the defense likely to be creeping safeties closer to the line to slow Peterson Bernard should find space to operate down the field

WR Bobby Wade
Sidney Rice

Secondary receivers have put up three games of 71 yards or better and another four of 48 or more, plus two of the four wide receiver scores the Bears have allowed. Wade might be the better play here, as he's averaged 70 yards per game over the past three and Rice is still nursing a knee injury. But you're talking about tertiary parts of an offense that hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders anyway, so let's not get carried away here.

TE Vishante Shiancoe B

The Bears have held tight ends without a catch in back-to-back tilts and allowed just one TE TD this year. Shiancoe ceded looks to Jim Kleinsasser last week and is a matchup play at best—and this is far from the best matchup.

DT Vikings S3 Antoine Winfield is only one touchdown behind Adrian Peterson.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

Orton is averaging 271 and two over the past month, which means he'll be closer to the numbers Peyton Manning and Drew Brees posted on the Vikings (641 yards and two TDs between them) than the 179 the Vikings are allowing to everybody else—or the 181 Orton threw for against Minnesota last year. Don't bank on touchdowns, though; the Vikings have allowed one or zero passing scores in 11 of their past 13 games.

RB Matt Forte

Since his 123-yard debut against Indy, Forte hasn't been a yardage hound—and it's unlikely he'll start this week against a defense that has allowed two 100-yard rushing efforts over the past 49 games. But the Vikings have allowed five running back touchdowns, the same number Forte has scored. He's an every-week starter, though you'll need to temper your expectations this week.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis

S3 Four different receivers have scored the Bears' five WR TDs. So it's a cluster on that end. On the other side, Minnesota hasn't exactly shut down opposing wideouts, but it all depends on who Antonio Winfield is covering. There's no go-to guy on the Chicago roster, especially with Lloyd out, so it's difficult to predict who Winfield will shut down and who will run free on the other side. Hester gets the nod because of his return skills (against a team that has obvious difficulties in coverage) and his ability to get deep.

Marty Booker
Rashied Davis

B Hester gets separated out above, and while this isn't a stopper of a matchup it's too much of a cluster to endorse trusting a second receiver to emerge from the pack this week.

Brandon Lloyd

B Lloyd's knee injury will keep him out again this week.
TE Greg Olsen


Bears tight ends have 13 catches for 195 yards over the past two weeks; unfortunately for fantasy owners, Olsen is sharing those looks with Desmond Clark. If this were a better matchup you could risk using Olsen, but the Vikings haven't allowed a TE TD this year so there's little reward here.

DT Bears S2 Chicago's defense can score with the best of them, and Devin Hester has to be licking his chops after watching Reggie Bush carve up this coverage unit a couple weeks back.

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Cincinnati (0-6)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Cincy's secondary has been pretty solid this year; only one quarterback has multiple touchdowns against them, and only one quarterback has topped the 200-yard mark. Roethlisberber's only big-yardage game came against the Jaguars in Week 5; that game also saw him throw multiple TDs for the first time since Week 1. Willie Parker's return and a soft Cincy run D might keep those yardage numbers down, but something like the 200 and two he averaged in this season series last year isn't a bad consolation prize.

RB Willie Parker B Parker was expected to be back from his sprained MCL—perfect timing, based on his four 100-yard games and six touchdowns over the last three season series against the Bengals. With Fast Willie evidently not so fast at healing, however—he did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful—the door is open for Moore.
RB Mewelde Moore S2 The Jets were the first backfield that faield to run up at least 150 yards from scrimmage on the Bengals; all they could muster was three touchdowns. With Parker doubtful this favorable matchup most likely falls into Mewelde's hands; based on his success prior to the bye and the inability of the Bengals to stop the run, he makes a very nice fantasy play this week.
WR Hines Ward
Santonio Holmes

What's more surprising: that Ward and Holmes have but one 100-yard game between them over the last 13, or that the Bengals haven't allowed any 100-yard receivers over that same span? Not that there hasn't been at least a little something to go around. Ward, for example, posted 19-178-4 in last year's season series and has seven touchdowns in his past six against Cincy; Holmes took a DNP in the back half of last year's season series but in the previous two games put up 10-211-1. So while this year's numbers don't scream "must-play", you shouldn't go out of your way to sit them, either.

TE Heath Miller S3

Miller has gone five straight against the Bengals without reaching the end zone, but he brings a one-game scoring streak out of the bye. The Steelers have been inconsistent in their use of Miller this season, but a Bengals defense that has given up two tight end scores over the past month might provide a favorable matchup. Miller isn't an overly compelling play, but the Bengals aren't a stopper matchup. He gets the S3 and a lukewarm endorsement.

DT Steelers S1 Ryan Fitzpatrick against Blitzburgh? The possibilities are limitless.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Best QB game against the Steelers this year: 202 and 1. Best game by Fitzpatrick this year: 156 and 1.

RB Chris Perry
Cedric Benson

If you can look past the fact that only one back has topped 43 rushing yards against the Steelers this year and no back has exceeded 63, then you could be a little excited about a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed RB TDs in three straight games. Of course, with Perry fubmling and Benson stumbling, you'll want no part of this mess.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh

The cupboard isn't bare, as the Steelers have allowed three 100-yard wide receivers through five games this year; whether Fitzpatrick is tall enough to reach into that cupboard remains to be seen. Housh has had more success against the Steelers than his teammates—five touchdowns in his last five games against them, averaging 70 yards per game—but without Carson Palmer, Housh is at best a borderline play this week.

WR Chad Johnson

Should it really surprise us by now that Ocho's track record against the Steelers, like his recent NFL career, is spotty at best? In 14 career games CJ has two touchdowns and two 100-yard efforts—neither of which have come in the past three years. With Fitzpatrick at the helm there's even less chance Johnson goes off here.

DT Bengals B The Bengals defense is playing better, but not well enough to warrant fantasy attention.

Tennessee (5-0) at Kansas City (1-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

The only quarterback not to throw a touchdown against the Chiefs was JaMarcus Russell, but that's only because the Raiders were busy rushing for 300 yards against KC. Since there's a distinct possibility the Titans will put up similar numbers on the ground, dial your expectations down from Kerry's typical 180 and one.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

The Broncos are the only stable of running backs not to reach triple digits (they had 99) or score against the Chiefs. And in that game Jay Cutler threw for 361. Since that's two or three games worth of work for Collins, freely expect the Tennessee ground game—freed from the shackles of back-to-back brutal matchups with the Vikings and Ravens—to run absolutely wild this week. LenDale put up 95 on the Chiefs all by himself last year; mix in the speedy Johnson and the Titans could easily control the ball for 40 minutes and put up a 300-spot of their own.

WR Brandon Jones S3 By virtue of being the last man standing in Tennessee—Gage and McCareins are both questionable this week—Jones qualifies as a borderline start. Not a great start, mind you, but at least better than the two hobbled Justins.

Justin Gage
Justin McCareins


Each has led the Titans in receiving once over the past three games—but neither have scored, nor have they reached the 100-yard mark. Tennessee's damage will be done on the ground, and with both Gage and McCareins hobbled what little there is in the air will likely land in Jones' lap.

TE Bo Scaife
Alge Crumpler

Not only have the Chiefs not allowed a tight end touchdown this year, they haven't even allowed a tight end to top 30 yards against them. With Crumpler taking a slice of Scaife's looks there just isn't enough here to warrant fantasy consideration.

DT Titans S2 Tennessee is allowing an average of 11 points per game. The Chiefs are averaging 13 and haven't scored a touchdown since Week 4. Gotta like the Titans' chances.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brodie Croyle B

Starting the rusty Croyle just coming back from a shoulder injury against a Titans defense that has allowed one—ONE!—touchdown pass this season seems downright foolish. Heck, starting a healthy Croyle wouldn't be much better. He put up 216 and two against the Titans last year, but will be hard pressed to match those numbers given his current supporting cast.

RB Larry Johnson B

LJ's one-game suspension is, according to the Chiefs, unrelated to his pending assault charges. In other words, there may be more DNPs in Larry's future.

RB Kolby Smith
Jamaal Charles

The Titans aren't impregnable; they've actually allowed at least one running back touchdown in every game this season, and their last three foes have put up 131, 80, and 119 rushing yards. But Smith and Charles will split the workload as LJ sits in the corner; either is at best a matchup play, but this one isn't favorable.

WR Dwayne Bowe S3

If Bowe scores against the Titans this weekend, he'll be the first wide receiver to do so since Craphonso Thorpe in last year's finale. If Bowe tops 100 yards, he'll be the first WR to do so since Jerricho Cotchery in Week 16 of last year. He's averaging 65 yards per game but has scored just twice in five games and hasn't caught a touchdown pass from Croyle since Week 11 of last year. There might be garbage time looks here, but odds are you can find a better option elsewhere on your roster.

WR Jeff Webb
Devard Darling
Will Franklin
B The group is still averaging five looks a week and didn't get any better over the bye week.
TE Tony Gonzalez S3

Gonzo seems real happy to still be in Kansas City, doesn't he? And would you believe he's actually averaging fewer (38.6) yards per game than the Titans are allowing (43.6)? And that if you add them together, then mix in Gonzo's two TDs and the big fat zero the Titans have allowed to TEs, you still don't get much of a fantasy day. Start him only in TE mandatory leagues, and even then you may still find better options elsewhere.

DT Chiefs B Herm's teams always play hard; that and the current KC talent level should get them another top-five pick this year.

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