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Start/Bench List - Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 24, 2008
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Sunday Early
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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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St. Louis (2-4) at New England (4-2) Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger B

The banged-up secondary Philip Rivers exposed a couple weeks back was replaced last week by a competent unit that stymied Jay Cutler in prime time. Which group will show up this week? Against Bulger, who hasn't topped 200 yards or thrown multiple TDs since Week 16 of last year, it probably doesn't matter.

RB Steven Jackson S3

After last week's unexpected trifecta against the Cowboys it'll be tough to bench Jackson the rest of the way, and so long as you're in a performance league this matchup doesn't suggest you should anyway; just be sure to track his injury status, since he's listed as questionable. Jim Haslett indicated he thought Jackson would play, so you can operate under the same assumption. So long as the Rams continue feeding Jackson he'll keep putting up triple-digit combo yardage, and that shouldn't stop against a Pats D that has allowed 75 combo yards or more to every back of note they've faced. A TD is a more difficult proposition; aside from Ronnie Brown's Wildcat strike, Frank Gore is the only back to score on New England. Not saying it won't happen; just saying it's unlikely.

WR Torry Holt

The Patriots have allowed four wideouts in the past two games to top 70 yards; unfortunately, for Holt that seems to be his upper limit. There's one receiving touchdown up for grabs here, and it's telling that Holt isn't even the second-best option on his own team to get it.


Donnie Avery

S3 Avery is the more likely candidate (actually, Jackson is the most likely but he doesn't count here) for that touchdown toss and is also a good bet to match fellow rook Eddie Royal's 71-yard performance from Monday night.
DT Rams B The Rams have allowed fewer points in Jim Haslett's two games as head coach than they did in any one game during his 2008 tenure as defensive coordinator. Go figure.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S3

Is Cassel closer to McNabb and Eli Manning, who combined for 621 yards and six TD tosses in the first two games against St. Louis this season? Or is he just another Hasselbeck, Edwards, Campbell, or Johnson, who amassed 811 and three in the next four? Even in Monday night's three-TD outing the restrictor plates were still on, so don't expect Matt to elevate much beyond the 200-yard mark. His targets suggest he's capable of multiple scores, but again it's not particularly bankable.

RB Kevin Faulk


Fantastic matchup against a defense that has allowed at least 103 running back rushing yards and one RB TD in every game this season—and multiple RB TDs in every other game, with this being a "bingo!" week. With Morris and Jordan ruled out, Faulk and Green-Ellis will share the workload. Belichick wasn't afraid to lean on the rookie with a big lead last week, but it wouldn't surprise if Faulk saw some carries as well as third-down work; he's tended to roll with veterans in the past, and given that Green-Ellis is not exactly known for his pass-catching prowess ("two skillets for hands" is a quote from one of his predraft scouting reports) Faulk will most definitely see field time this week.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Sure, Bill Belichick wasn't afraid to lean on the rookie with a big lead last week, but given a full week to prep I anticipate less of the rookie and more of guys Belichick is more comfortable with—like Faulk on third downs and maybe even other situations and Heath Evans at the stripe. Green-Ellis still has upside, and you never know what the hoodie-clad genius has up his sleeve, so if you're in a bye-week or injury bind he's a long shot worth riding. Just don't be surprised if he winds up with 130 and 2... or two carries for seven yards..

RB Sammy Morris
LaMont Jordan


Both Morris and Jordan have been ruled out of what would have been a very favorable matchup for them this week.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S3 The Rams have limited Terrell Owens and Santana Moss to major fantasy bummers in back-to-back weeks. However, with Moss on the outside and Welker in the slot this will be more like trying to shut down Owens and Santana in the same game. Moss ain't the money play he was a year ago, but the Pats are at least taking a couple shots down the field with him in addition to the quick stuff where they ask him to make a tackler miss. And Welker is a PPR machine who broke his end zone maiden on Monday night. Again, neither is a sure thing and the matchup doesn't scream big game, but both receivers are worthy of a roster spot based on the numbers they're capable of.
TE Ben Watson


There's barely enough to go around for Moss and Welker to get theirs, and with Dave Thomas (and Mike Vrabel) lurking Watson's a risky start at best.

DT Patriots S3 Do you believe last week's 34 or the previous five games in which the Rams couldn't even make it to 20? And is Monday night's shutdown of the high-flying Broncos trend or mirage? If you're stuck without the Packers, Bears or Vikings this week, it's probably worth plugging into your lineup and finding out.
San Diego (3-4) at New Orleans (3-4) Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

The Saints aren't quite the easy mark they may have been earlier in the season, as they've only allowed multiple passing scores twice and held two straight quarterbacks under 200 yards. That said, Rivers didn't hop the pond to hand off, especially with LT scuffling. Phil has multiple TD tosses in five of seven games, and his per-game average of 240 yards is right in the Saints' per-game average.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S3 The Saints haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher all year, though Carolina's backfied combined for 134 last week and Frank Gore put up 113 combo on them a couple weeks back. Tomlinson needs to combo at this point, as the toe injury seems to have sapped his burst and he's carving out rushing yardage at an embarassing 2.8 yards per carry clip. His 30 receiving yards per game over the past three have helped augment his 50 rushing yards per game, but he's been scoreless since Week 4. Why the S3? Because he's still LT, he's still getting 20 touches a game, and because I don't want to be the guy who told you to bench Tomlinson when he dusts off the monster LT game we've been waiting for. It's probably not this week, but... unless you have some really compelling alternatives it's not worth the risk. Just lower your expectations, take Tomlinson's 90 yards from scrimmage and a shot at a score, and wait until one of those two remaining matchups with the Chiefs.
WR Vincent Jackson


New Orleans has allowed five 100-yard receivers already, and the red-hot Jackson is a more likely candidate for the big game than a hobbled Chambers. Even prior to the injury Jackson was being targeted more than CC, so it's not as if Rivers is making a big adjustment. At a minimum Jackson should get behind the Saints secondary for a long ball, which should fluff his numbers to acceptable S2 levels.

WR Malcolm Floyd

With Chambers looking unlikely for this tilt, Floyd finds himself with wingman duties against a Saints D that's surrendering roughly 50 yards to secondary targets. Floyd has also scored in two straight, filling the role usually reserved for CC.

WR Chris Chambers

Chambers was limited all week, and his coach said he was "more optimistic" about the prospects of another questionable player over CC's; that doesn't bode well for him to be a significant factor this week.

TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates is always a good bet for 50 yards, and there's nothing on the Saints' defensive resume to suggest they'll have an answer for him.

DT Chargers B You know the NFL will want to put on a show, which usually means offensive fireworks. The Bolts aren't a good start if your defensive criteria are points and yards allowed, but they're always a decent bet for a pick-six.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

There will be yardage—oh yes, there will be yards aplenty, as no secondary has allowed more and no quarterback has thrown for more (an aside: in London, will they be metres?). But ever since the back-to-back Jay Cutler and Brett Favre torchings the Chargers have shored up the "break" portion of their "bend but don't break" secondary, allowing just three passing touchdowns in the last four games. Brees was shut out for the first time all year last week, but he should get back in the saddle with at least one this weekend—though sans Reggie Bush, Brees will have to look downfield a little more to rack up his yardage.

RB Deuce McAllister S3

At this stage of his career Deuce is a little like a luggage rack on a Porche: sure, there are times when he proves useful, but for the most part he's just not a good fit. Sans Reggie Bush the Saints will likely hand the ball more to McAllister. Against a Chargers defense that has allowed one big game to the Wildcat offense and little else of note, Deuce's upside feels like a 15-60-1 day—and that's assuming he gets the score; last week Mike Karney swiped it.

RB Aaron Stecker S3

When Bush went down last season it was Stecker who provided the insurance policy; only after Stecker went down did we see Thomas. Granted, Pierre looked great in his one start, but there's still a very distinct possibility that it's Stecker and not Thomas who'll handle Bush's passing-game workload. McAllister will see an uptick in carries, but if it's a PPR replacement for Bush you seek I'd put my short stack of chips on Stecker this week.

RB Pierre Thomas

On the surface it appears Thomas has the most upside, but his touches have declined with the return of McAllister and he's not a lock to handle Bush's receiving load. I don't think you can start him under the assumption he'll be Reggie Bush Redux this week; then again, you likely drafted him as such so if you're inclined to use him that way I won't stop you.

WR Marques Colston

Colston was downright embarassing in his first game back from thumb surgery, with two drops and zero catches. He apologized for his poor performance during the week, but once bitten twice shy. Over the past month the Bolts have allowed only two WR TDs and a little less than 120 WR yards per game. Let's pencil Colston in as a good-not-great play until he shows us he's all the way back.

WR Devery Henderson
Lance Moore


Someone will need to pick up Bush's slack. Henderson is more of a home run threat, but with him all it takes is one big catch to turn a fantasy dog into a big day. Moore might be more inclined to take over some of Bush's numbers, but neither are such compelling plays you should drop everything to get them into your lineup.

TE Jeremy Shockey
S3 After allowing tight end touchdowns in each of the first four games the Bolts have, uh, tightened their coverage of the position and held three straight teams without a TE TD. Shockey may or may not be healthy—he'll be sure to let us know after the game—and if he's active he's a solid performance-league play in an offense that has produced almost 100 TE yards per game over the past three and will likely lean even harder on the position to fill the Reggie Bush void. Apparantly Shockey is in England for more than just the ale, as he is listed as probable—or virtually certain to play; set your lineups accordingly.
DT Saints B Sans Bush in the return game there's little of note here—and given the Chargers' ability to score points in bunches, it's not a fantasy defense to trifle with this week.
Kansas City (1-5) at New York Jets (3-3) Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen B

Quarterbacks with some experience have thrown for 250 yards and multiple touchdowns against the Jets; guys more familiar with holding a clipboard (Cassel, Fitzpatrick, even JaMarcus Russell) combined for 520 yards and one touchdown. Thiggy fits right in with that group, though he does have two touchdown tosses in four games.

RB Larry Johnson B

He's really sorry and stuff.

RB Kolby Smith
Jamaal Charles

Assuming LJ has punched his ticket out of town (that's a set-up line, fill in your own non-PC punchline), here's a chance to see who might be Herm Edwards' workhorse next year. Smith is expected to start again, and he turned 10 carries into 20 yards last week; for the year he has 21 touches for 71 yards. Charles has been far more productive, with 24-115 on the ground and 16-94 as a receiver. The Jets' run D is dramatically improved over last year's version, and neither sub Chief makes a compelling fantasy play this week.

WR Dwayne Bowe B

In five games against teams other than the Cardinals—who had to throw constantly to make up a 30-point deficit—the Jets have allowed a total of 504 WR yards and two WR TDs. Sure, he's being targeted more than 10 times a game; but if Thigpen at the helm isn't enough to scare you off of Bowe this week, Darrelle Revis & Co. should.

WR Mark Bradley
Will Franklin
Devard Darling
Jeff Webb
B Like Tyler Thigpen can pick up a secondary receiver.
TE Tony Gonzalez B

Opposing t ight ends are averaging less than 30 yards per game against the Jets and have one touchdown over the last five—and those numbers include Antonio Gates. Either Bowe or Gonzo will likely get a garbage-time score, but only in the largest of TE-mandatory leagues is Gonzalez a serviceable fantasy start.

DT Chiefs B If the Chiefs come out wearing green jerseys maybe they'll give Favre some difficulty.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

Veteran quarterback versus a pair of rookie corners; advantage, Gunslinger. Actually, aside from the six-TD blowup Favre has been rather ordinary, consistently checking in around 190 yards and throwing one or no touchdowns more frequently than posting multiple-TD games. Expect the Jets to run all over KC, which will take a bite of Brett's numbers and lead to something closer to 200 and one, maybe two TDs.

RB Thomas Jones S1

One more yard from the Broncos and KC would have surrendered three 100-yard games, two 200-yard games, and one 300-yard game. The Chiefs have been that bad against the run, and Gang Green demonstrated (via Jones' 24 carries for 159 yards) last week they are more than willing to exploit a team on the ground. If Jones is on your team and not in your lineup this week, you're too deep at running back.

RB Leon Washington U

There's been enough spillover to provide helpful fantasy games for Michael Bush (90 and a touch), Jerious Norwood (105 combo yards) and whichever Titan back you consider to be the backup, as both runners topped 145 yards and scored. Leon has averaged six touches and 35 combo yards thus far, but he scored his first touchdown of the season last week and there is likely to be way more garbage time than usual this week.

WR Laveranues Coles

Teams that bother to throw on the Chiefs generally have their way with them; throw out the Raiders and Titans, who rushed for almost 700 yards against KC and completed a total of three passes to wide receivers in those games, and in four games the Chiefs have allowed eight different receivers to top 50 yards and/or score. Favre won't let Jones do all the heavy lifting, and Coles is his primary target—especially with Cotchery banged up.

WR Jerricho Cotchery
Chansi Stuckey
Brad Smith

Cotchery was limited in practice all week, but even if he makes it to the field there may not be enough throwing for secondary targets to partake in the soft, creamy goodness that is a matchup with the Chiefs. Whether it's Cotchery in a reduced role or Stuckey and Smith for fill-in duty, all project to be bit players in the rout.

TE Chris Baker
Dustin Keller


There's only enough to go around if Favre opts for a throw at the stripe, and even then there are too many cooks in the kitchen to effectively project which dog gets the bone. If there's one thing KC does well defensively it's defending the tight end; they have yet to surrender a TE TD this year. So even if you pick the right tight end you're picking the wrong matchup.

DT Jets S2 The Chiefs on the road, without Larry Johnson, against an opportunistic Jets defense. Sounds like a plan.

Atlanta (4-2) at Philadelphia (3-3)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

The rookie gets a crash course in blitz recognition this week, so a second straight 300-yard game is unlikely. Actually, only one quarterback has topped even 200 yards against Philly this season and only quarterbacks with two "o"s in their name (Orton and Romo) have thrown touchdown passes against the Eagles. Seriously. And since Orlovsky isn't on their schedule, you have to respect a defense that clearly doesn't like the letter "o"... and has shut down Ben Rothlisberger, Jason Campbell, Marc Bulger and J.T. O'Sullivan. Yeah, that latter portion probably carries a bit more weight. Looks like it's back to the 180-and-a-touch grind for Ryan.

RB Michael Turner

After a shutdown start, limiting the likes of Steven Jackson, Marion Barber, Willie Parker, and Matt Forte to roughly 40 rushing yards and one rushing score (though both MB3 and Forte had solid outings as receivers), the Eagles surrendered back-to-back 100-yard games to Clinton Portis and Frank Gore heading into their bye. If you think there are issues Philly can't address, then Turner's a better start than I'm giving him credit for here. I just can't get past the fact that 445 of his yards and six of his touchdowns have come against run defense that rank first, fifth, and 11th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, while against teams ranked 19th, 24th, and 29th he's averaged 50 rushing yards per game and failed to score—and that Philly ranks 25th. His overall numbers suggest he's an every-week starter, but I'd be inclined to look elsewhere for fantasy help this week.

RB Jerious Norwood B

If I'm down on Turner you have to believe I don't see enough spillover for Norwood to help your fantasy squad. Barber scored on a reception earlier this year and Forte had 42 receiving yards... but Gore had 16. Norwood is too much of a bit player to be banked on this week.

WR Roddy White S3

The Eagles haven't allowed a 90-yard receiver this season, or even a 40-yard receiver since Week 3. White, on the other hand, has at least 90 yards in four straight games, has been targeted 40 times in the past three (with 24 catches), and has three 100-yard efforts and three touchdowns in the Falcons' past four outings. He has more than half the team's WR catches and yardage—which, against a defense that's allowing an average of 94 wide receiver yards per contest, adds up to a borderline fantasy play at best.


Michael Jenkins
Harry Douglas


Sorry, no leftovers this week.

DT Falcons B If John Abraham's sacks help your fantasy bottom line he could give you a boost this week against a line that will be without Shawn Andrews. Otherwise, the Falcons got nuthin'.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S1

In three games heading into the bye the Falcons surrendered an average of 297 passing yards and two passing TDs. Unless they cloned former All-Pro corner Rolland Lawrence and reneged on the deal that sent DeAngelo Hall to Oakland, they'll be serving up that same secondary to The Don this weekend. McNabb is averaging 275 passing yards himself, and with Kevin Curtis and Brian Westbook both returning to the lineup Donovan could be set up for a very fantasy friendly week.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

Atlanta is serving up 138 combo yards and a touchdown per game to opposing backs; enter Westbrook, rested and ready to make the 110 yards from scrimmage Matt Forte piled up in the Falcons' last game look like chump change.

RB Correll Buckhalter B

If Westy goes this week then the General returns to insurance status; if Westy has a setback, plug in Buckhalter with confidence.

WR Kevin Curtis
DeSean Jackson

S2 The Falcons have surrendered six WR TDs, an average of 175 wide receiver yards per tilt, and four games of at least 80 yards over their past four outings. In other words, there is plenty here to go around. Curtis is off the injury report and should quickly regain his most favored receiver status with McNabb, while Jackson has been the team's playmaker when Westbrook hasn't been available. Both are solid plays this week.
WR Reggie Brown
Hank Baskett
Jason Avant
B It's a deep pool to drink from, but after Curtis and Jackson take their shares it's tough to figure what will be left for the rest. Even with Brown limited all week in practice and listed as questionable, there's still too many options to pluck one out for a fantasy start.
TE L.J. Smith B

Four tight ends have topped 40 yards against the Falcons, three in their past two games. Smith, though, is hardly a reliable option. He's a desperation bye-week plug in but little more.

DT Eagles S3 Even veterans have wilted under the pressure of Philly's barrage of blitzes. Ryan has looked like a cool customer, but you still have to like the possibilities of a pick-six here.

Cleveland (2-4) at Jacksonville (3-3)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson S3

Believe it or not, the Jaguars are actually a favorable matchup for passing games this year; they've allowed multiple touchdown tosses in three straight and an average of 250 passing yards per game since "limiting" the Titans to 175 in Week 1. If you guaranteed me we'd see the Derek Anderson who showed up against the Giants Monday night—and not the guy averaging 135 passing yards and less than a TD a game in Cleveland's other five outings—I'd be all over this matchup. Instead, it's an S3 and a "proceed with caution" flag.

RB Jamal Lewis S3

Jacksonville has uncharacteristically allowed four teams to rush for 100 yards already this season, and the two teams that didn't compensated with 91 and 83 running back receiving yards. If the passing game can spread the field Lewis should find room between the tackles like Michael Pittman did in the Jags' last game before the bye; otherwise it'll be a tight fit. The faith you place in Jamal will stem directly from the faith you put in Anderson and the passing game to open things up. Me, I'm hedging my bet with an S3.

WR Braylon Edwards S3

The good news is that the Jags are giving up 144 wide receiver yards per game, including three individual efforts of 90 yards or better over the past two games alone—and since you can pretty much discount the non-passing Titans from Week 1, that number should read more like 165 with seven touchdowns in five games. The better news is that Edwards has been the target on 49 of the Browns' 86 throws to receivers (that's 57 percent). The bad news is that last week's abysmal four catches (and as many drops) in 13 targets eroded whatever confidence we had regained in Edwards following his performance against the Giants. It's a solid matchup, but can he be trusted? I'll trust him with an S3, but I'd also actively seek a more reassuring alternative.

TE Kellen Winslow B

That the staph infection (please note that's with a "ph") has run its course, but K2's mouth will cost him this game thanks to some comments the Browns' brass viewed as unsportsmanlike.

TE Steve Heiden U

Injuries, bye weeks, or maybe K2's suspension have you prospecting for tight end gold? Heiden is the guy with the opportunity to take advantage of a Jags defense that has allowed TE TDs in each of their last two games.

DT Browns U The Browns have held four of their last five foes under 15 points, so if you're strapped for a bye week plug-in defense this week you could do worse.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard B

Ol' "210-and-a-touch" Reliable is back in business, and the Browns will be more than willing to comply with the "touch" part having allowed one (but only one) scoring strike to every quarterback they've faced except Joe Flacco. Cleveland's surprisingly resiliant secondary might be a little stingy on the yardage, however; Tony Romo is the only quarterback to surpass 196, and that happened back in Week 1. If you're looking for a safe 195 and a score, Garrard's your guy. If you're looking for upside, you might want to check elsewhere.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


This matchup is every bit as juicy as you would think. If Cleveland's 136 running back yards per game average isn't juicy enough for you, just take out the 28 yard aberration from Cincy's ill-advised decision to abandon the ground game and you're looking at something much closer to 160 per. With Taylor still nursing the effects of a second concussion, MoJo might actually see the bulk of the carries this week. I'm still anticipating Taylor with a significant share, which holds MoJo in S2 territory... but with significant upside, given the eight RB TDs the Brownies have already allowed this year.

RB Fred Taylor

Taylor's premature exit in Week 6 due to his second concussion of the season led to MoJo leading the Jags in carries for the first time this season. With an extra week (and a new helmet) to combat the concussion, Taylor is expected back at work this week. Whether he'll still get the larger share remains to be seen, so dial back your expectations until we see how it all shakes down. Still, given the Browns' proclivity to surrender rushing yards and scores, even a minority stake in the Jaguar running game should yield favorable fantasy results.


Matt Jones

S3 Jones' coke-related suspension won't start until next week at the earliest. And while the Browns haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver this year they have given up five WR TDs and an average of almost 140 yards per game to the position. Jones is unquestionably the team's top target, so he's not a horrible play this week.

Reggie Williams
Jerry Porter

B Still nothing here to like. Williams is expected to start. Oh joy.
TE Marcedes Lewis B

With touchdowns in each of his last two games maybe Marcedes is emerging as the Jags' go-to receiver... or maybe he's just getting back at me for that blind squirrel/acorn shot. His odds of completing the turkey diminish greatly against a Browns defense that hasn't allowed a TE TD this season and hasn't even allowed a tight end to top 35 yards since Jason Witten posted 96 on them in the opener.

DT Jaguars S3 The Brownies have exceeded 20 points just once this year and have shown plenty of inclination to self-destruct, so if the bye week has you in a Team Defense bind the Jags are an option worth considering.

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