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Start/Bench List - Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 24, 2008
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
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 (0-7) at Houston (2-4)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Favorable matchup with a Texans defense that has allowed 200-plus passing yards in four straight and multiple quarterback scores in four of six. You'll probably never get a better opportunity to use Fitzpatrick, but despite the flashes of competence he demonstrated last week I can't pull the trigger on a guy who's never topped 164 yards or thrown more than one touchdown in a game.

RB Cedric Benson

Benson has been the team's most effective back since entering the lineup—and yes, I just said that with a straight face. He's leaving Chris Perry in the rear view mirror, and this matchup against a Texans defense that has allowed RB TDs in every game this season—10 in all—actually makes him a bona fide legitimate fantasy play this week. Again, with a straight face. I did couch it down to an S3, however, because... it's the Bengals, for one, and the Texans have held four straight backfields under triple digits. Seriously, you can look it up.

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Ocho and Housh are splitting Fitzpatrick's attention on a pretty equal basis, with Chad getting 26 looks and Housh 24. Not surprisingly TJ has been more consistent, with games of 49, 50, and 58 yards—but no scores. CJ has fewer grabs despite more looks, and more touchdowns (2) despite less yardage. The Texans have been more inclined to give up the big game to a No. 1 receiver (535 yards and five touchdowns in six games) while minimizing the contributions of wingmen (No. 2s are averaging 36 yards and no scores), but the Bengals don't split that way. Housh is a solid bet for quality yardage and is the better performance league play, but Chad is more likely to regale us with another lame touchdown dance. Neither is a great play, but it's a bye week and you might be strapped for wideouts in which case they're not a bad plug-in play.

DT Bengals B Sans bright spot Keith Rivers, the Bengals defense becomes even more anonymous.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2

Matty rolls into this tilt averaging 317 and two over his last three games, but before you start lighting cigars with the money he's gonna win you this weekend take note of what Cincy's secondary has pulled off this season. They've faced legit quarterbacks—Eli, Favre, Romo, Big Ben—yet allowed only two QBs to top 200 yards (just one over 220) and two to throw multiple touchdowns. Sure, the secondary is helped by a porous run defense that's inducing opponents to run and limiting pass attempts to an average of less than 30 per game, but numbers are numbers. Schaub's still a start, but it's not the warm-and-fuzzy matchup you might have been expecting.

RB Steve Slaton
S1 As if surrendering an average of 135 RB rushing yards and a TD per game weren't enough, the Bengals have given up running back recieving touchdowns in each of the last two games and are kicking another 30 or so yards towards the combo kitty. Slaton is the lead dog in Houston's backfield, averaging a shade under 20 touches, a shade over 80 yards from scrimmage, and a touchdown per game since Ahman Green returned to the lineup. Given the matchup that 80 could easily mushroom into triple digits and a score is almost a given as the Bengals have allowed opposing backs to score in six straight.
RB Ahman Green
S3 It's a perfect storm of opportunity that leads to Green getting what is quite possibly the last "S" of his NFL career. You have a bunch of banged up backs, a few more on the bye, a supersoft matchup, and Green actually healthy and averaging 11 carries and 50 yards per game since returning from his latest injury and entering into the job share with Slaton. Against Cincy there's a possibility that 50 could blossom to more, with the potential of a touchdown as well. Enjoy it while you can, Green fans!
WR Andre Johnson S1 Clearly Andre should have been threatened with explusion from the "every week starter" club a little earlier; since that idle talk he's responded with 30 catches, 450 yards, and two touchdowns in three games. The Bengals haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 10 of last season (that is not a typo), but Andre is on a special streak. And even if he falls shy of triple digits he's an excellent bet to score against a defense that's given up four WR TDs in the past three games.
WR Kevin Walter B

Did you ever imagine we'd look at the Bengals defense and say, "Sorry, fella, not enough to go around"? The best a second receiver has posted against Cincy this year is 60 yards; if that's enough to get Walter off your bench and into your lineup, you're on your own.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Daniels has posted Chris Cooley numbers, but with one more touchdown and in one less game. He's moved into must-play status in TE-mandatory leagues, and this isn't a bad matchup with a defense that's allowed three 50-plus yard efforts and two TE TDs in the past five games.

DT Texans S3 Cincy has scored 36 points in three Fitzpatrick starts, so plugging SuperMario and the Texans into your fantasy lineup might not be such a bad idea.
New York Giants (5-1) at Pittsburgh (5-1) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning B

You might not have a viable alternative, so benching Eli may not be an option. But thus far this season the Steelers have held every quarterback they've faced to less than 215 passing yards and one or fewer touchdowns. The list has its share of Joe Flaccos and Ryan Fitzpatricks, but it also includes Donovan McNabb and Matt Schaub. Eli, meanwhile, has taken a step back with a pair of single-touchdown, sub-200-yard efforts. I'm just not a big fan of his prospects this week.

RB Brandon Jacobs S3

Reason for optimism: though Jacobs has beefed up his portfolio largely on cupcakes (four of his six games have come against teams in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs), in his one date with a toughie (the 28th-ranked Redskins) he pounded out 116 yards on a season-high 21 carries. Reason for pessimism: 21 carries against a Steelers defense giving up 3.1 yards per carry means 65 yards—which would actually be the most Pittsburgh has allowed to a back this year. Reason for optimism: both of the running back rushing scores the Steelers have allowed have come in the last three games and gone to thicker backs like Jake. Reason for pessimism: Two? Like, as in two all year?

RB Derrick Ward
Ahmad Bradshaw

Sorry boys, when you're already scraping the sides of the pan it's tough to come up with enough to fill anything beyond the big dog's bowl.

WR Plaxico Burress S2

The Steelers have allowed three 100-yard receivers this year but only two WR TDs. Plax has a score or a hundo in four of five this year and has to be looking forward to his first return visit to Pittsburgh. The lead dog gets fed against the Steelers, as No. 1 receivers have accounted for two-thirds of the receiver yardage Pittsburgh has allowed. Plax did not practice on Thursday, but he returned on a limited basis Friday. I have to believe he's motivated to go back to Pittsburgh, so there's no reason to bench Burress in a revenge game this week.

WR Amani Toomer
Steve Smith

If, however, the lead dog gets fed that means the rest of the Giants receivers will be battling over scraps—and not many at that.

TE Kevin Boss B

Boss has been thrown to 14 times in six games this season and has catches in half those contests. No reason to reach for him this week.

DT Giants S3 The Giants have 21 sacks, the Steelers have given up 19. Justin Tuck, meet Ben Roethlisberger.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Pittsburgh's passing game when Willie Parker is healthy: 175 yards and a TD a game. Sans Parker: 280 and three. Suffice it to say, those banking on Big Ben will want to keep tabs on Fast Willie's status heading into the weekend. The Giants aren't exactly an easy mark, allowing an average of one passing score per game, but they've surrendered 250 or more yards in three of their last four. I'm shading this one towards the lower end of Big Ben's spectrum based on the opponent, on Parker's projected availability, and on a Big Blue pass rush that will severely test a Steelers' O-line that's giving up more than three sacks per game.

RB Willie Parker B Fast Wille was maybe too fast in trying to return last week, and he is listed as doubtful for this week as well. It's not a particularly strong matchup anyway, with the Giants allowing 3.6 yards per carry and no back going for more than 88 yards against them this year. Given that even if he did go he would likely be sharing more of the workload with Mewelde Moore, I can't give him a thumbs-up here.
RB Mewelde Moore B Best case for Mewelde, he's the workhorse against a defense that just held Frank Gore to 11 yards on 11 carries and 61 total yards from scrimmage; worst case he's back to picking splinters and cheering for Parker. Neither seems like much fantasy help.
WR Hines Ward


Of the five WR TDs the Giants have allowed this year, three have gone to the unquestioned No. 1 receiver, one went to Housh (who's at minimum a 1A), and one went to a 49er, a team without a No. 1. So it makes sense that if the Steelers are to score through the air this week the touchdown toss will land in Ward's arms. He has five of the team's seven WR TDs, including one in each of the past two games, and works an area that Big Ben has time to survey before the pocket collapses. Here's more good news: No. 1s account for almost 60 percent of the 160 wide receiver yards per game the Giants allow.

WR Nate Washington

Washington will start in Holmes' absence, and the good news is he won't have to share looks. That said, there doesn't project to be much leftover for secondary targets so he's not an advisable start this week.

WR Santonio Holmes


Holmes has been ruled out for this week's game after being arrested for marijuana possession earlier in the week. This may be just the first of several games he sits out.

TE Heath Miller S3

Miller has been an occasional participant in the Steeler attack, but not frequent enough to play against a defense that's allowing less than 25 yards per game to the position and has given up one TE TD all year.

DT Steelers S3 Eli has stood tall in the face of pressure before, but in Blitzburgh it might be a little different.

Seattle (1-5) at San Francisco (2-5)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

Hass has been ruled out for this week. Then again, his 189 yards and zero scores in a Week 2 loss to the Niners weren't exactly the stuff of fantasy legend so he may not even be missed.

QB Seneca Wallace B

Saying that Wallace and Charlie Frye have been kept on a short leash is like saying campaign ads in the Minnesota Senatorial race have been unkind. Wallace and the Frye guy have combined for 46 attempts and 146 yards in their two spot starts; how they've managed three touchdown tosses out of that mess is a puzzler for the ages. The Seahawks are forcing us to endure Wallace again this week, but please don't plug him into your fantasy lineup when he's facing a defense that has held Kurt Warner and Eli Manning under 200 yards and allowed only Drew Brees and Donavan McNabb to throw for multiple scores against it.

RB Julius Jones


Jones' 127 against the Niners back in Week 2 (with Morris out of the picture due to injury) was the low-water mark for San Fran's run defense; while they've allowed seven RB TDs in the five games since then, no back has exceeded 93 yards on the ground. With Hasselbeck out Jones will face at least one extra man in the box; he'll also have to deal with Morris siphoning off at least a handful of carries. Those factors make me leery of a repeat performance; with no other real offensive option, though, Jones should get enough opportunities to carve out at least a little something for your fantasy squad.

RB Maurice Morris

Morris has been reduced to bit player since his injury, and given the success Juice had against San Francisco last time out he'll likely get the chance to carry the ball again here. With all of the negatives listed above working against MoMo—and none of the positives working for him—he doesn't belong in your fantasy lineup this week.


Bobby Engram
Koren Robinson
Deion Branch
Mike Bumpus
Keary Colbert


Love to give you a quality plug-in play against a defense that's allowed six WR TDs in the past five games and is doling out more than 160 wide receiver yards per contest. If it were Hasselbeck at the helm I may have been willing to break Engram out of this mix and stick an S3 on him. But, since it's Wallace or Frye serving up double-digit passing yardage, you're best served leaving the entire lot on your bench.

TE John Carlson

Carlson is the only member of this passing game with upside regardless of who's at quarterback. The rookie was Hass's favorite target in the earlier tilt with six catches for 78 yards, and he's scored in each of the past two games with Flotsam and Jetsam at the helm. In a tight end mandatory league, unless you're sporting an elite TE you can't ask for much more.

DT Seahawks B The Niners put up 33 on Seattle in the earlier meeting, and that defense has not played well enough to earn a shot at redemption.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB J.T. O'Sullivan S3

The 321 JTO tossed at Seattle in the earlier meeting is a little higher than they typically give up, but his one touchdown is a little below what the Seahawks have been surrendering. Wouldn't be at all surprising to see him pull both those numbers a little closer to the mean.

RB Frank Gore S2

The 99 yards from scrimmage the Seahawks limited Gore to in the first matchup was actually one of Seattle's better performances; since then Steven Jackson posted 128 yards from scrimmage on them, the Giants ran all over them, and both Bays (Green and Tampa) pounded them for 90 yards on the ground. Fresh off his worst effort of the season, thanks to the Giants defense, expect Gore to bounce back by besting those earlier totals.

WR Isaac Bruce
Josh Morgan
Arnaz Battle
Bryant Johnson

B Bruce and Bryant teased the Seahawks with 231 yards and a touchdown back Week 2; this time around, it might be Morgan and Battle doing the damage. That's the problem with San Fran's version of the Mike Martz offense: there's no go-to guy you can depend on for stats. No Niner has led the team in receiving in back-to-back games, and after Bruce's brief scoring spurt he's been quiet. If you're feeling lucky and need some bye week help you could reach in and pull out a lottery ball, but the upside probably isn't a repeat of Bruce's 153 or even Johnson's 78 and 1. And at that point, it's hardly even worth it.
TE Vernon Davis B

If Mike Nolan was responsible for making Davis the sixth overall selection of the 2006 draft, he should have been fired; if not, there's someone in the organization that's still stealing money. Besides Davis, that is.

DT 49ers S3 Can Mike Singletary be a player-coach? If so, I could see the Niners as an S2. If it's Wallace or Frye and Singletary's in pads, S1.

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (6-0)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

Manning has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of his past two full games against the Titans (he hit the showers early in last season's finale). Over his past five full outings against Tennessee he's averaging 250 and two. So it's not like it can't be done. That said, this isn't the same Colts offense—nor is it the same Titans D. This edition is allowing a shade under 200 yards per game and hasn't allowed a touchdown pass since Week 1. Facing the threat of dropping four-plus games back in the South, expect Indy to play with desperation—and if they're without Joseph Addai again, it will all fall on Manning's shoulders. It's a burden he's carried before, but against this defense it's tough to see him posting gaudy numbers—like, say, those previous 300-yard outings. His effort against the Ravens a couple weeks back suggests he can't be benched outright, but expectations need to be lowered a notch.

RB Joseph Addai B

Addai practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and is listed as questionable, which seems a tad optimistic. Even if he goes he's done nothing to suggest that he'd be a wise play against a defense that is allowing 80 running back rushing yards per game. That limited work isn't enough for me to go out on a limb and recommend Addai here.

RB Dominic Rhodes B

Rhodes had some success against Tennessee in his previous go-around with the Colts, but even if he's the guy this week he's not a good play. In two games with extended action Rhodes is averaging just over three yards per carry; the Titans eat backs like that for lunch.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 The last wideout to score on the Titans was Craphonso Thorpe during his brief run with the Colts in last year's garbage-time finale. Sure, I'm going out of my way just to work Craphonso's name into the mix, but it's a telling stat. Matt Jones, Housh, Ocho Cinco, Andre Johnson, Bernard Berrian, Derrick Mason, Dwayne Bowe... none of them have dented the Titans this year. Only Jones and Bowe have managed to top 80 yards, too. If this were the old Colts, the old Wayne, I wouldn't hesitate to say throw him in the octagon and let him fight it out. But this Wayne is coming off a two-for-24 against Green Bay's backup corners. This one at minimum needs expectations lowered. Would you settle for 5-70, 3-57, 3-24-1, 3-50-1, or 2-48-1? Those are his last five full games against Tennessee, and it's not pretty. He gets the S2 because he and Peyton are capable of greatness, or at least a touchdown. But if I'm a Wayne owner I'm not counting on him to carry my team this week.
WR Marvin Harrison

B His brief flashback against the Ravens notwithstanding, this is not the same Marv that has scored in four of his last five against the Titans. This Marv is essentially a possession receiver, unquestionably a wingman to Wayne. This Marv is averaging three catches and 36 yards per game over the past five. And if there's hand-wringing over what Wayne can provide this week there has to be outright panic over what to expect from Marv. If you're nostalgic you could look for a score, and as Harrison proved against the Ravens he can still muster a game when called upon. But it's sure tough to count on anything from him this week.
WR Anthony Gonzalez
B With Wayne and Harrison unable to shake Green Bay's corners last week, Gonzo made some fantasy hay in garbage time. That said, he's still option four in this offense and there isn't likely to be enough to go around against the Titans.
TE Dallas Clark S3

A glimmer of optimism here, as each of the past four tight ends to face the Titans have posted 40 yards or better. No, Tennessee hasn't allowed a TE TD yet this year either, but Clark did have a very solid 7-69-1 in the first meeting last year. Because expectations are lowered for tight ends, and because Clark seems to be holding his value as a Manning target this season, he's a relatively safe start.

DT Colts B Indy's defense this year is like playing chess down a couple pieces; no matter how smart your moves are, you still wind up shorthanded. Tough to generate any fantasy help given those circumstances.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

The Titans haven't thrown for 200 yards in a game this year, and they have four passing touchdowns in six games. Indy is allowing 186 passing yards per game and has given up two passing scores this year. It's highly unlikely the Titans ask Collins to win this one with his arm, just as it's highly unlikely the Colts would let him.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

Now we're talking. The Tennessee game plan is no secret; they've run the ball an average of 27 times per game in the past four meetings, picking up an average of 120 rushing yards per game. That pales slightly next to the 32-148 they're averaging this season, or the 38-334 they rolled on the Chiefs last week. And even given their unlikely stop of the Ravens a fortnight ago the Colts are still surrendering 144 rushing yards per game. Both Johnson and White are good plays this week, White at the stripe (though Indy is allowing just one RB TD per game) and Johnson for the yardage. The stars would have to align for a second time in three weeks—a fast Indy start, a panicked opposing coach abandoning the run—for this to be anything but fantasy money this week.

WR Justin Gage
Brandon Jones
Justin McCareins
B It's unlikely any of these guys are on a fantasy roster, and there's nothing in an Indy defense that's giving up less than 100 wide receiver yards per game and has surrendered just one WR TD this year—or in a Tennessee attack that is producing 82 wide receiver yards per game and has accounted for just one WR TD this year—to indicate any are worth fishing out of the free agent pool.
TE Bo Scaife
Alge Crumpler

Tennessee tight ends have accounted for twice as many scores as Titan wideouts; that's still not reason enough to pick a guy from this job share and throw him into the mix against a defense that has allowed one TE TD in the last 10 games.

DT Titans S2 Manning threw a pair of pick-sixes last week, and this Titans defense is every bit as talented as Green Bay's..

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