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Start/Bench List - Week 9
John Tuvey
Updated: October 31, 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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New York Jets (4-3) at Buffalo (5-2) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

If you're in a league that penalizes for interceptions Favre is back to killing you, with seven picks in the last three games alone and 11 for the season. This isn't a particularly favorable matchup against a defense that has allowed only one quarterback to top 250 yards and a total of seven touchdown passes in as many games. Favre's still startable, but only barely.

RB Thomas Jones S3

Steven Jackson is the only opposing back to top 60 rushing yards or 80 combo yards against the Bills—and that includes LT, MoJo, and Ronnie Brown. Jones couldn't get it going against a soft Chiefs run D last week, which doesn't bode well for his prospects here. Neither do last year's 12-35 and 16-70 performances against the Bills. Jones gets a narrow S3 because Buffalo is allowing opposing backs to score, with six RB TDs allowed in the past six games.

RB Leon Washington B

Lost in last week's success is the fact that Leon has had at least nine fewer touches than Jones in every game this season; that ratio needs to change before Washington gets a recommendation against anything more than the softest of creampuff opponents—something the Bills most definitely are not.

WR Laveranues Coles
Jerricho Cotchery


There's cause for optimism, as four of the six WR TDs the Bills have allowed have come in the past three weeks and Ted Ginn posted the best game by a wideout against Buffalo last week. Coles and Cotch are essentially splitting Favre's affection—separated by one target and one catch over the past five games—and the Bills have allowed both speedier targets like Ginn and more physical wideouts such as Larry Fitzgerald to have success, so both receivers can be started with confidence.

WR Chansi Stuckey
Brad Smith

Only Arizona has had more than two receivers top 35 yards in the same game against Buffalo, so don't expect there to be enough leftovers for either Stuckey or Smith this week.

TE Chris Baker
Dustin Keller


Last week A nthony Fasano scored the first TE TD against the Bills this year. Meanwhile, Jets tight ends have been shut out for three straight games; worse, they can't seem to decide on which one is their top target. It's a situation that should be avoided if possible.

DT Jets S3 Gang Green made Tyler Thigpen look good last week, so a road date with Trent Edwards doesn't inspire much enthusiasm for a big defensive performance.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

This certainly isn't a matchup to run away from; Edwards consistently delivers something in the 225 and 1 range, while the Jets have given up at least 200 yards and a touchdown in every road game this year. He threw for 234 and a touch against them at home last year, and something right in that wheelhouse wouldn't surprise at all.

RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Lynch rushed for 79 and 80 yards against the Jets last year, and they've upgraded their run D for 2008. Worse, Lynch's high-water mark for the season is 83 against an Oakland defense that's half a league (16 spots) more fantasy friendly. Worser, the Jets' high-water mark is just 74 yards. If you've enjoyed Marshawn's steady diet of 65 yards and a touchdown (he's scored in two straight and five of seven), then you should enjoy this week's results.

RB Fred Jackson B

Touches are increasing, but productivity isn't—and isn't likely to against the Bills.

WR Lee Evans S2

Lee has played well enough (at least 88 yards in four straight games, touchdowns in three of the four) that he's in your lineup regardless of matchup. Not that the Jets have been in lockdown mode—last week Dwayne Bowe topped 100 yards against them and Mark Bradley scored—but a repeat of last year's 138-yard outburst is unlikely.

WR James Hardy
Roscoe Parrish
B Hardy will start with Josh Reed out, but this group has done nothing to distinguish itself, and the matchup isn't friendly enough to warrant reaching for an afterthought target.
TE Robert Royal U One of the Bills' five TE TDs last season came against the Jets, and only the Chargers have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends this year. Better still, Royal's home/road splits decidedly favor the local scene. If you're stuck for a bye week tight end, Royal has upside.
DT Bills S2 Jets quarterbacks have thrown multiple interceptions in four of the past five games. If Buffalo's defense can get healthy this week, their fantasy statline could get very healthy.
Detroit (0-7) at Chicago (4-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky

DanO has put together a couple of decent back-to-back games, and he catches the Bears coming off a pair of less-than-stellar defensive outings—oh, and a bye week to help that banged-up secondary get healthy. There's certainly some upside here, but don't go out of your way to work Orlovsky into your lineup.

RB Kevin Smith
Rudi Johnson

This ground game is producing a shade over 100 yards from scrimmage and a little less than a touchdown per game. With no rhyme or reason to who's getting how many carries when—Smith is averaging 7.1 yards per carry to Rudi's 1.6, yet Johnson has twice as many carries over the past three games—you can't afford to plug one in against a Bears D that's held everyone not named Adrian Peterson to 77 yards or less. If forced to pick one, Smith has been more productive; he's also been less likely to get carries.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

Who's gonna replace the seven catches, 96 yards, and 18 looks Roy Williams had in the previous meeting? Probably Cal, though he hasn't even been the most targeted Lion in either of Detroit's games since Roy left town. He's certainly the only one you'd want in your fantasy lineup, but you certainly shouldn't have high expectations.


Shaun McDonald
Mike Furrey


This duo combined for three catches and 13 yards against Chicago earlier this season. They'll get more looks with Williams in Dallas, and there should be some yardage available, but a touchdown is unlikely and neither receiver is particularly reliable.

DT Lions B Tough to see Detroit doing anything of note defensively.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2

Since their Week 4 bye the Lions are giving up 306 passing yards per game and have surrendered six passing touchdowns over that four game stretch. Orton kicked off the run with 334 and two in Week 5, the midpoint of a five-game run in which he has averaged 275 yards per game and thrown 10 touchdowns. Still not sold? Six of the seven quarterbacks to face the Lions this season have set career marks in passer rating in that game.

RB Matt Forte

Forte's 36-yard output against the Lions earlier this year was an aberration; Detroit has given up 99 yards or more to every other ground game and 130 yards or more in five of six. Forte did score in the previous meeting, and you would think his yardage numbers should fall more in line this time around. Matchups don't get any more fantasy-friendly than this, so after further review he gets the S1.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis

S2 Both Hester (5-66-1) and Davis (6-97) had nice afternoons against the Lions earlier this year, and against a defense that is allowing 186 yards and more than a touchdown per game to wideouts there should be plenty to go around. It's a bit of a dice roll because the Bears have had four different receivers lead them in targets over the past five games, but of the entire group Hester and Davis offer the most upside.
WR Marty Booker

Booker appears to be back to full speed. While his biggest game (3-79-1 in Week 7 against the Vikings) hinged on a long touchdown in which the defensive scheme called for Jared Allen to cover him, the Lions are entirely capable of a similar brain fart.


Brandon Lloyd

B Lloyd is battling a knee injury and was still limited in Friday's practice; he's listed as questionable, and while this is a favorable matchup there are too many other healthier Bear receivers for Lloyd to be trusted with a fantasy start.
TE Greg Olsen


The Lions have surrendered 371 yards and three touchdowns to the tight end position over the past five games. Olsen is on a minirun of his own, with 237 yards and two scores in his previous four tilts. In a tight end mandatory league, that makes Olsen a solid play.

DT Bears S2 Any time you can throw an opportunistic unit like the Bears against an inexperienced quarterback like Orlovsky, you're stacking the odds in your favor.
Jacksonville (3-4) at Cincinnati (0-8) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Smoke and mirrors can only hold out for so long. The Bengals secondary put up a brave front for a while, but back-to-back games above 250 yards and three three-TD games in the past month suggest Cincy is once again an easy mark. Garrad, coming off season highs of 283 yards and two touchdowns, seems poised to take advantage.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


MoJo has dribbled a couple very favorable matchups (7-32 vs. Houston, 12-29 vs. Cleveland) down his leg, so this is hardly a sure thing. After all, the Bengals have held one team under 110 rushing yards this season, and they didn't allow a running back touchdown in Week 1 (though every team since has had at least one RB TD). Still, the matchup suggests that this could be a very big afternoon for Jones-Drew.

RB Fred Taylor

Taylor's conversion rate on favorable matchups is even worse than MoJo's: he lit up Indy as expected but totaled just 59 yards against the Texans, Broncos, and Browns. With just 11 carries the past two games and 31 over the past four Freddy is no longer the clear lead dog in the Jacksonville backfield. An inconsistent contributor with inconsistent carries can't be trusted with a fantasy start.


Matt Jones

S2 The league still hasn't ruled on the three-game suspension hanging over Jones' head, so in the meantime he's free to play—and that makes him a very good start against a secondary that's allowed 604 yards and five touchdowns over the past three weeks.

Reggie Williams

S3 Williams got in a full practice Friday and is listed as probable, so he's not a bad bet to take advantage of a Cincy secondary that let secondary receivers Kevin Walter, David Anderson, and Nate Washington score against them over the past couple weeks .

Dennis Northcutt

B With Jones not suspended and Williams not ruled out due to injury there doesn't project to be enough left over for tertiary targets like Northcutt to get involved.
TE Marcedes Lewis U

Lewis becomes an option if Matt Jones is suspended because he's proven to be a somewhat reliable target this season. The Bengals have shut down Heath Miller and Owen Daniels the past couple of games, but they let Jason Witten, Kellen Winslow, and Kevin Boss put up solid numbers prior to that. It's a reach, but if there's no Jones to throw to Lewis might wind up being Garrard's go-to guy.

DT Jaguars S3 Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bengals have done nothing to suggest that they're the kind of offense defenses should worry about.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Last week was a dramatically more favorable matchup, and all Fitz could muster was 155 yards and no touchdown. Though the Jags allow an average of 240 passing yards per game, much of that came at the hands of 300-yard games from Matt Schaub and Ben Roethlisberger. Put another way: if the Jags can hold Peyton Manning to 216 and 1, odds are they'll keep Fitzpatrick in check.

RB Cedric Benson

The Jags' front seven may not be as stout as it's been in years past, but they've allowed just one running back rushing touchdown over the past month. Benson is getting the carries, but he hasn't scored since Week 11 of last year and has topped 76 rushing yards just once since Week 2 of last season.

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

After flirting with getting the likes of Antonio Chatman and Chris Henry involved in the offense early on, Fitzpatrick has focused on his two studs with 42 targets (vs. 14 for the other guys) the past two weeks. While the Jags haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver they've allowed three 90-yard receivers and four WR TDs over the past three games. So yeah, sure, there's a chance Houch and CJ make decent fantasy starts this week. It's a far cry from battling over top-10 spots for them, but sans Carson Palmer that's the hand we've been deal.

DT Bengals B They held out for a while, but with no help from the offense Cincy's D is starting to regress.

Baltimore (4-3) at Cleveland (3-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Last year Steve McNair threw for 307 and a touch against the Browns; in the rematch, Kyle Boller threw for 279 and one. What's to stop Flacco from doing the same? Okay, besides the fact that his career best game is 241 yards. And the fact that Cleveland's pass defense is allowing around 200 yards and a score this year. Okay, so maybe the outlook isn't so rosy.

RB Willis McGahee


Evidently Shaun Rogers got the wake-up call, as his nine tackles stymied the Jaguar ground game. So, did Rogers see his shadow and head back into hibernation, or will he stick around for a couple more weeks? McGahee had 64 yards and a touch in the earlier meeting, and he was sharing carries at the time. The fact that he's listed as questionable and was limited in practice on Friday moves him from an S2 (where I was figuring he would see a larger share of the workload) to an S3. It's still a favorable matchup, and if he can shrug off the injuries he's still a good bet to hit triple-digits like he did in both meetings a year ago. It might be an ugly, 28 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown kind of triple digits, but those cumulative numbers still add up.

RB Ray Rice

Rice was the most impressive Baltimore back last week, which may earn him a larger share of the workload—especially if McGahee is a Sunday morning deactivation. Rice isn't a great play if Willis goes, but he should be on every McGahee owner's speed dial... just in case.

RB Le'Ron McClain


McClain scored twice against the Brownies earlier this year, but his touches have been on the decline so at best he'll get a six-point belly flop—and that's tough to bank on.

WR Derrick Mason


There's maybe 150 yards and a touchdown to be had amongst the Raven wideouts, and that's being optimistic. Mason led Baltimore receivers in the previous meeting (4-42) and he's a safe bet to claim the lion's share of that total this time around. You can make a case for Mason in a PPR league, but there's just not much upside here.

WR Mark Clayton
Demetrius Williams

Sure, D-Will had the long touchdown last week, but check this stat: Mason has more than one catch in six of the Ravens' seven games; other Baltimore wideouts have a total of six multiple-catch games this season.


Todd Heap

B Maybe when the Ravens go to their throwback unis they can also throw back to when Heap was a legitimate fantasy tight end. If you're thinking it seems like it's been a while, you're exactly right.
DT Ravens S2 Cleveland's offense has been inconsistent enough that you shouldn't be afraid to throw the Ravens D into your fantasy lineup; it worked the last time these two teams met.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson S3

Anderson has shown signs of life—or, more accurately—glimpses of the fantasy-friendly Deke we saw last year—in two of the past three games. Combine that with a Ravens defense that has given up three straight 200-yard games and is allowing 264 passing yards per game over that span and all of a sudden there's a run on cautious optimism.

RB Jamal Lewis S3

Jamal is averaging about three and a half yards per carry against the Ravens over the past three matchups. He seems to have settled in right around the 80-yard mark, which at the posted rate would require 23 carries—a number Lewis has reached just once this year. That Jamal has picked up yardage against tougher Ds like the Giants, Redskins, and Jaguars suggests he could be used this week if the top end of your expectations were set near the 75-and-a-touch range.

WR Braylon Edwards S3

Braylon has been better since his breakout game, but six catches in 19 targets suggests he's still having some ball-handling issues. Tough to bank on Braylon for anything other than a borderline fantasy start until he shows some consistency—and this isn't the kind of matchup that suggests he'll have an easy go of it.

WR Donte' Stalloworth B

With about 120 wide receiver yards and less than a touchdown per game to go around, there's no reason to look beyond the primary receivers for fantasy help.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

WInslow was targeted 13 times in the earlier matchup—and managed just two catches. He's still a must-start in TE-mandatory leagues, but there's nothing in this matchup to suggest that he'll produce anything better than the 96-yard outing he posted against Baltimore last year.

DT Browns B Romeo has his troops playing better, and Joe Flacco is hardly intimidating. But something of fantasy note from the Browns this week is a bit far-fetched.

Tampa Bay (5-3) at Kansas City (1-6)

Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia S3

You don't really have to throw on the Chiefs because you can usually run on the Chiefs. The Jets strayed from that plan last week, but for the most part that's been the blueprint. And because the Bucs prefer to run, Garcia's dink-and-dunk is likely to produce something in the neighborhood of 220 and a touch. Not great, not bad.

RB Earnest Graham

Graham is still the lead dog on this team, and without Warrick Dunn horning in on his carries this week that should tranlate into a very nice stat line. The Chiefs are surrendering 193 yards and two touchdowns to opposing backs—and that doesn't even factor in receiving numbers. Graham is still looking for his first road touchdown of the season, but given 20-plus carries and a soft matchup Kansas City looks like the place to find one.

RB Warrick Dunn

Dunn is unlikely to play after missing Friday's practice with back issues.

RB Michael Bennett

With Dunn out of the mix Bennett is the likely choice to pick up a handful of carries. Secondary backs like like Leon Washington (101 combo yards and two touchdowns) and Jerious Norwood (105 yards from scrimmage) have parlayed this gig into favorable fantasy days, so if you're really desperate for a bye-week plug in Bennett has some upside.

WR Antonio Bryant


The good news is, as much as the Bucs like to run the ball it's unlikely they'll completely abandon the pass like the Titans and Raiders did against the Chiefs. The better news is, in each of KC's other five games they've allowed at least one wide receiver to top 95 yards; they've also surrendered one WR TD in each of those contests. Bryant has been the Bucs' most targeted wideout each of the past six games, so if you're picking a Tampa Bay receiver to take advantage of KC's hospitality he's your best bet.

WR Joey Galloway
Ike Hilliard

There has been no evidence that either Galloway or Hilliard are ready to usurp Bryant as the Bucs' go-to pass catcher—especially Hilliard, whose shoulder injury has limited his practice time this week and has him listed as questionable for Sunday's tilt. Sure it's a nice matchup, but if Tampa Bay has the success on the ground all signs indicate they'll have there just won't be enough in the passing game to make secondary targets viable fantasy entities.

TE Alex Smith
Jerramy Stevens
John Gilmore

Too many cooks, and in a matchup against a defense that has yet to allow a tight end touchdown this season, too little broth to go around.

DT Buccaneers S3 A trip to the Big Apple didn't seem to rattle Tyler Thigpen last week, but the Bucs might offer a few wrinkles for the kid.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen B

Tampa has faced fill-in quarterbacks each of the past two weeks—and given up a total of 195 passing yards and two touchdowns. Thigpen showed flashes of competence last week against the Jets, but I need to see another 280 and two before I'll accept him as a legitimate fantasy helper. Drew Brees is the only quarterback to put up numbers like that against the Bucs, so a redux is unlikely.

RB Larry Johnson B

Sounds like he'll miss yet another week for not playing nice with others. Not that he would have been usable in this matchup anyway.

RB Kolby Smith
Jamaal Charles

In the two weeks LJ has sat in the corner, KC's ground game has produced 97 yards on 29 carries. You wanna throw that against a defense that hasn't allowed a running back rushing touchdown this season and has allowed only two backs to exceed even 60 yards, you'll do so without my blessing. If at gunpoint you're forced to pick one of these backs, Charles has been the more productive and also a more frequent passing game target—the one spot opposing running backs have had even a modicum of success against the Buccaneers.

WR Dwayne Bowe S3

He'll get his chances; Bowe has been targeted at least eight times in every game and is averaging 10-plus looks per contest. He's also caught at least four in every game and an average of almost six grabs a game. So in PPR leagues his lack of a quarterback doesn't seem to matter. However, he hasn't found the end zone since Week 3, and that's unlikely to change against a defense that has allowed one WR TD the past three games. He gets an S3 for the effort, so he's got that going for him... which is nice.

WR Mark Bradley
Will Franklin
Devard Darling
Jeff Webb
B The rest of the KC WR corps is averaging six targets per game. That's not enough to make any of them fantasy relevant.
TE Tony Gonzalez S3

It's far from a favorable matchup; the Bucs are allowing less than 30 yards per game to the tight end position and only one TE has crossed the stripe against them this year. But it's Gonzo, the greatest tight end of all time (statistically, at least; I don't intend to start any debates), and he's getting his this year. The emergence of Brad Cottam as a target is an unwelcome development, but Gonzo's numbers still stack up favorably with most other options in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Chiefs B Looks like those rookie corners are growing up quickly. Don't expect the Bucs to take nearly as many chances with the football as Favre did last week, though.

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