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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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Houston (3-4) at Minnesota (3-4) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2

Schaub is strokin' it to the tune of 308 yards and two-plus touchdowns per game over his past four outings. The Vikings have allowed multiple touchdowns just once this year, but odds are they're going to stifle the Texans ground game—in which case Schaub is a solid bet for well over 200 yards.

RB Steve Slaton
S3 Slaton has been solid, and with Ahman Green not expected to play he should see a larger number of touches; what, Ryan Moats is gonna steal 'em? If Slaton can rush for 116 and one against the Titans, you have to at least take your chances against the Vikings—even though they have not only allowed no back to top 62 yards since Ryan Grant went for 92 in Week one but also held every back not named Reggie Bush under 20 receiving yards. In other words, it's going to take a touchdown to really get your money's worth from a Slaton start this week; thankfully the Vikes have surrendered six RB TDs in seven games—though just one in the past month. I'd sit him if you have any other alternative.
RB Ahman Green
B The lesser end of the jobshare, and it now appears as if he won't even get that workload this week thanks to yet another injury.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Odds are Andre will get a full afternoon of Antoine Winfield by his side. That's limited other elite receivers, but Johnson is too red-hot (four straight 100-yard efforts) to even consider benching. Besides, other wideouts have found ways to escape Winfield's clutches and it's not as if Johnson isn't used to double-teams. Maybe dial down your expectations, but if the likes of Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne and Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson can get theirs, then Andre can get his.
WR Kevin Walter S2

If Winfield is on Johnson that means Cedric Griffin will handle Walter. And Griffin has a lot of tackles, which means a) he's a good support corner and b) he lets his man catch a lot of passes. Don't back off of Walter this week, as between the anticipated lack of succes on the ground and all the attention Andre is sure to draw Walter could post some very nice digits.

TE Owen Daniels S2

The Vikes have allowed triple-digit yardage to tight ends in two of their last three games, and yardage is what Daniels does best. Again, the expectation is that Houston won't find room to run against the Williams Wall, so passing will be the order of the day.

DT Texans S3 To say Minnesota has struggled with its special teams play is akin to saying Jessica Alba is cute. Jacoby Jones could be a sneaky plug-in play at wide receiver if you get credit for return yards as well.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte S3

That's five straight starts with 200-plus yards and back-to-back flirtations with the 300 mark. Frerotte has had success making teams pay for overplaying the run, and he should do so again against a secondary that need a date with Ryan Fitzgerald to snap a four-game stretch of outings in which they allowed at least 235 passing yards.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Last week marked the first time the Texans hadn't allowed a running back touchdown all season long, and they've actually been rather effective at stopping the run since allowing 290 yards over their first two games; in fact, no team has topped 98 yards on the ground since then. So this may not be the layup for Peterson you were thinking—though that said, it's little more than an uncontested 12-foot jump shot. All Day brings back-to-back 100-yard efforts into this tilt and should be able to make it three; note that the only back to receive 20 carries against the Texans (Willie Parker, with 25) put up 138 and three, and Peterson has 20 totes in each of his past three outings.

RB Chester Taylor S3

Chester is seeing an uptick in touches—partially because the team would like to keep Peterson fresh and partially because he's the primary pass-catching back. Against a defense that allowed Patrick Cobbs to abuse them and Jaguar backs to catch seven balls for 66 yards, Taylor's dozen or so touches might be enough for you to consider him as a bye week plug in or flex play in deeper leagues.

WR Bernard Berrian

The opposing No. 1 receiver has put up 70 yards and a score against Houston four times this season; Berrian, meanwhile, has at least 78 yards in every Frerotte start and has scored in his last three outings. If Houston committs too many defenders to stopping the run, Berrian will put up even larger numbers than those figures suggest.

WR Bobby Wade
Sidney Rice

Wade offers some upside in a PPR league, but with Rice expected to be healthy after battling knee problems earlier in the season I want to see how the hierarchy shakes out before recommending one or the other. Besides, after Berrian takes his cut off the top of this run-oriented offense there may not be enough left for WR2 or WR3.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shiancoe has scored or topped 40 yards (or both) in five straight games; once he figured out that whole "catching" thing, he's been a solid fantasy contributor. The Texans aren't a shutdown D against tight ends, but they've only allowed two scores all season. It's a good but not great matchup for Visanthe.

DT Vikings S3 The Vikings D has largely disappointed, but the Purple debut of Madieu Williams might finally give them the payoff they thought they were buying this offseason.
Arizona (4-3) at St. Louis (2-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

Six straight with multiple touchdowns. An average of more than 300 yards per game this season. What's not to like? Sure, the Rams have settled down after giving up 621 yards and six touchdowns in the season's first fortnight, but they're largely the same group Warner carved up for 300 and three in last season's finale.

RB Edgerrin James S3

Word on the street is that the Cards may be transitioning from the aging James to the rookie Hightower. Edge should manage to hang on to his job for a little while longer thanks to this matchup with a defense that has allowed every team to score at least one rushing touchdown against it while surrendering an average of 140 running back rushing yards per game. James amassed 190 yards and a score in last year's season series, and for the moment at least he's still getting more carries so he's worth a spot in most fantasy lineups this week.

RB Tim Hightower S2 While James may still be the present in Arizona, the future appears to be coming up quick. If nothing else, Hightower's dual roles as goal line back (against a defense that's surrendering two RB TDs per game) and third-down back (against a defense that's allowing almost 40 recieving yards per game to running backs) makes him an intriguing fantasy play.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

This may not be the same secondary that allowed three 100-yard receivers the first week of the season, or even two Giant wideouts to score and top 65 yards in Week 2. But it's pretty much the same secondary that let Randy Moss and Wes Welker blitz them for 14 catches and 181 yards last week. Fitz and Boldin combined for 363 yards and four touchdowns in the season series last year—and Boldin sat out the first meeting. Clearly, there's no reason to sit either this week.

WR Steve Breaston

I thought there might not be enough to go around once Boldin returned to the lineup; Breaston's 9-91 against the Panthers proved me wrong. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm back to being a Breaston man.

DT Cardinals S3 'Zona's high octane offense puts pressure on the other team to keep up... and that can lead to mistakes.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S3

Bulger went all-out last week and topped not just 200 but 300 yards for the first time this year. He still hasn't thrown mutliple touchdowns in a game this year, however, and while Arizona's offense tends to encourage its opponents to play catch-up—and its defense, allowing 274 passing yards per game over the past month, is similarly friendly—it's tough to recommend a guy whose typical game finishes under 200 yards and with less than one touchdown toss.

RB Steven Jackson S2

For the most part backs have gotten it done against the Cards—and in the case of elite backs like Frank Gore (151 yards from scrimmage, one touchdown) and Marion Barber (173 combo yards, one TD), they've put up some very nice numbers. Operating under the assumption that a week of rest has Jackson's quad feeling fine, Jackson should wind up in that exclusive neighborhood with a fifth straight game of triple-digit combo yardage.

WR Torry Holt

Holt's best game of the year—a meager 6-76-1—came way back in Week 2. His average game since then? Four catches, 40 yards. There should be enough to go around against an Arizona secondary that has given up 791 wide receiver yards and 11 WR TDs over the past five games. But Torry no longer takes his share off the top and he's a borderline start at best.


Donnie Avery

S2 The smaller, speedy receivers who have had success against the Cards of late—Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, Lee Evans, and Steve Smith have combined to singe Arizona for 397 yards and seven touchdowns over the past five games—sound a whole lot more like Avery than like Holt. I'm not quite ready to pass the torch, but Avery should definitely get a pair of Ove Gloves on his wish list.
DT Rams B Given the way the Cards can blow up a stat sheet, the Rams defense isn't an advisable investment this week.
Green Bay (4-3) at Tennessee (7-0) Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S3

This is not an impossible matchup—after all, Peyton Manning mustered 233 and two against the Titans—but it's hardly a cupcake. Rodgers has had varying results against tough secondaries (165 and two against the Bucs, 186 and one against Indy), and with the Pack unlikely to find success on the ground they'll have to turn to Rodgers and the passing game. He's certainly capable of 200 yards and a touchdown or two, but that feels like his upside.


Ryan Grant


Grant has required 60-plus carries to carve out fantasy value over the past two games—and that came against two run defense that rank among the more fantasy-friendly units. Even a similar workload isn't likely to generate much to like against a defense that ranks in the top 10 least fantasy-friendly run defenses. Worse, any upside to be found in throwing to running backs won't go to Grant but instead to Brandon Jackson.

WR Greg Jennings S3

Will Jennings be the first wideout to score against the Titans this season? Would you settle for him being the first wideout to top 90 yards against them? You can't bench Jennings, but you shouldn't expect him to carry your squad this week.

WR Donald Driver

If you thought it was tough on Jennings owners that the Titans are allowing WR1s an average of less than 60 yards per game, how do you think Driver owners feel about a Tennessee secondary that's giving up 32 yards per game to WR2s?

TE Donald Lee S3 Lee has scored in two of his last three, and in a glimmer of hope for the Packer passing game the Titans allowed Dallas Clark to score twice last Monday and have allowed at least 40 yards to opposing tight ends in five straight games.
DT Packers S3 If they can pick-six Peyton Manning twice, they at least deserve consideration every week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

Collins' top end is something around 190 yards and a touchdown—which, coincidentally, is about what the Packers secondary is giving up. That's not nearly enough to qualify for a fantasy start.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

Teams that stick with the run have success against Green Bay; the three teams with at least 30 rushing attempts produced an average of 178 yards and better than a touchdown per game. And seeing as the Titans average 31 rushes for 140 yards and two RB TDs per game, you have to like the chances for both Smash and Dash to have success this week. Despite LenDale's 80-yard trot a couple weeks back Johnson is still the yardage guy and White the goal line banger—as if you needed that clarified.

WR Justin Gage
Brandon Jones
Justin McCareins
B You'll have better luck playing "Through The Fire And Flames" on Expert on Guitar Hero—while wearing mittens—than you will getting fantasy production from Tennessee wideouts, who as a group average 83 yards and 0.14 touchdowns per game.
TE Bo Scaife
Alge Crumpler

The Pack have allowed TE TDs in three of their last four games—and 81 yards to Dallas Clark in the game they kept tight ends out of the end zone (though if you remember Clark came very close to scoring before fumbling at the pilon). Unfortunately, Crumpler is taking a handful of looks and 20 yards per game off Scaife's plate, making this a tough call for a fantasy start. Scaife is the more targeted of the two, but Crump got Tennessee's last TE TD.

DT Titans S2 Not that Rodgers and the Packers can't be trusted, but it took that garbage time Peyton Manning goal line plunge for Indy to become the first team to top 20 points against Tennessee this season.

Miami (3-4) at Denver (4-3)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S2

Sniff... our little Chad is all grown up. Sure, he still looks like he'd get carded at a PG-13 movie, but fantasy-wise he's been all man with five straight (and six of seven) of 225 yards or better—and his first 300-yard game of the season last week. No reason the fun shouldn't continue against a Broncos secondary that's allowing 250 yards a game and won't have the services of Champ Bailey.


Ronnie Brown


Brown may not need the Wildcat against a defense that has given up 187 rushing yards per game over their last four outings, and six RB TDs in that span. Of course, a good wrinkle never hurt anyone. and Brown's two best fantasy games have come largely thanks to the Wildcat formation.


Ricky Williams


Touches and yardage are down, but Ricky has scored in two of the last three. You have to think playing in the Mile High City will bring out the best in Ricky's game, and given the way the Broncos are giving up yardage to backs there should be enough to pass the dutchie Williams' way.

WR Greg Camarillo
Ted Ginn Jr.
S3 The Broncos haven't given up a 100-yard game to a wideout yet, but they're giving up plenty of 60-70 and a TD efforts—sometimes even in the same game. Camarillo has been targeted as much—if not more so—than Ginn, but the speedy second-year player is coming off a career game. Both are decent plug-ins against the Champ-less Denver secondary, though obviously Ginn's upside is more like Camarillo's 40 time: considerably higher.
TE Anthony Fasano
David Martin

Only three teams have allowed more yardage to tight ends than the Broncos. However, Fasano and Martin are still splitting looks—making both risky fantasy plays.

DT Dolphins B The risk of Denver's offense reverting to the high-flying form of the first three weeks is too great to justify usingMiami's defense just for some of Joey Porter's sacks.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Cutler has cooled considerably since his red-hot start; he's been under 200 yards in two straight and thrown multiple touchdowns just once in his past four games. Miami hasn't allowed multiple scoring strikes since Week 2, but they've given up 227 yards or better in three straight. A home crowd and a stout run D will require to Cutler to deliver something closer to his earlier-season efforts; fantasy owners won't complain.

RB Michael Pittman
Selvin Young
Ryan Torain
Andre Hall
B The Dolphins are allowing an average of 91 rushing yards per game to running backs, and only four RB TD on the year. With the likely return of Torain it's a safe bet that Pittman's days as a 20-carry-per-game back are in his rear view mirror. Even if he still gets the lion's share this week there doesn't promise to be much room to run. Looks like you can return the dial on the Broncos backfield to "avoid".
WR Brandon Marshall S1

Where's Brandon been? Despite 35 targets over the past three games Marshall has failed to find the end zone or top 100 yards. Thankfully the Dolphins are coming to town, as only the Lions have allowed more fantasy points to wideouts than Miami. It's a good week for Marshall to get back in the saddle.

WR Eddie Royal


Royal's targets have remained plentiful even as Marshall has been getting his looks; a date with a Dolphins defense that's served up the second-most WR TDs and seventh-most wide receiver yardage this season—including matching big games to Boldin/Fitgerald and Johnson/Walter—should help everybody get healthy.

WR Brandon Stokley


Surprisingly, Stokley has actually averaged more targets when both Marshall and Royal are in the lineup. Brandon is expected back from his concussion, and the favorable matchup suggests all three Bronco wide receivers should be in play this weekend.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham
Nate Jackson

Scheff is still iffy for this outing; if he weren't sharing looks with Graham and Jackson, or maybe if the Dolphins had allowed a TE TD this season, it might be worth sweating out the game-time decision. But he is and they haven't, so it's not.

DT Broncos B Denver has enough problems keeping the other team out of the end zone before their defense can start thinking about generating points of its own.

Dallas (5-3) at New York Giants (6-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson B

One shaky outing can be attributed to rust; two, and the boo birds come out. What will Dallas fans—and perhaps more importantly, Terrell Owens—have to say when Johnson tosses up a third consecutive clunker? It's tough to see Johnson having more success against Big Blue than, say, Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 189 yards and was picked four times last week. Nothing in what BJ has shown us indicates he's worth a fantasy start—and you have to believe the Cowboys are beginning to wonder if he's worth another real-life start as well.

RB Marion Barber S2

Raise your hand if you thought the Cowboys, sans both Tony Romo and Felix Jones, would lean a whole lot more on MB3 than they have? Yeah, that one touchdown in two games is a bit disconcerting, what with that brutal fantasy playoff sked looming. A solid outing against Big Blue would go a long way towards settling queasy stomachs, but the G-Men haven't allowed a back to top 88 rushing yards or 94 combo yards this season—and they've faced the likes of Portis, Gore, and Steven Jackson. Something in the 80-rushing/30-receiving vein isn't setting the bar at outrageous; "outrageous" would be expecting a repeat of MB3's 127 and 1 in the postseason. If Chris Perry and Mewelde Moore can score against the Giants, it's not asking too much for Barber to do the same.

WR Terrell Owens S3

You've been pointing out the emperor has no clothes, and after three games without a touchdown and 12 without a 100-yard effort I'm inclined to agree with you. Having BJ instead of Romo at the helm doesn't help... but I'm not quite willing to go the distance and bench TO just yet. The Giants have allowed solid fantasy outings to Holt, Housh, Braylon, and even Josh Morgan and Nate Washington. Expectations have to be lowered, obviously, but Owens is the kind of guy who'd blow up with three TDs just to spite you. Yeah, you personally. He scored four times in last year's season series with the Giants, so maybe you'll get half the productivity from BJ-to-TO you got from Romo-to-TO.

WR Roy Williams


He's had five balls thrown his way in Dallas; just so happened one of them was at the stripe. His role in the offense will continue to increase, but you'd be playing some long odds expecting Roy to parlay limited looks into another score against a defense that's allowed just six WR TDs on the year. I'm just not comfortable with those odds.

TE Jason Witten B

This isn't a great matchup, not against a Giants defense allowing roughly 25 yards per game to tight ends and only one TE TD on the year. Witten didn't practice all week, but even if he's active I don't think you can use him here. Once he's officially ruled out, Martellus Bennett comes into play—though again, the matchup suggests avoidance..

DT Cowboys B Wade Phillips mixed things up a little bit; didn't hurt that he was playing at home against a Bucs defense bound and determined not to take chances down the field. A road trip to the Big Apple might not produce such favorable results.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Those perceived strides Eli made last postseason? Three straight games under 200 yards and with only one touchdown per outing suggest he's regressed. You'd like to believe the opportunities presented by a banged-up Dallas secondary might put Manning back on track this week, but the Cowboys have actually been better the past fortnight, allowing 401 passing yards and one TD in two games. Your expectations should be set much closer to Manning's 236 and 1 in the second meeting last year than either the four-TD opener or the two-touchdown playoff game.

RB Brandon Jacobs S3

Jake hasn't carried 20 times in a game since Week 1, and 20 is an important number because backs who have seen that size workload have had success against the Cowboys: Clinton Portis (21-121) and Steven Jackson (25-160). No other back has carried more than 18 times—or rushed for more than 62 yards. The Giants beat Dallas in last year's playoffs with Jacobs carrying 14 times, leading one to believe that you're looking at something on the short end of 75 yards and a possible touchdown as Jacobs' upside this week.

RB Derrick Ward
Ahmad Bradshaw

Ward's TD against the Cowboys in last year's season opener notwithstanding, these two are secondary parts in a running game that will have enough difficulty feeding the lead dog.

WR Plaxico Burress S3

First, let's assume Plax makes it to Sunday without incurring more fines or impromptu benchings. Then, let's assume the Cowboys haven't forgotten how they have limited Burress to five catches and 29 yards in the two meetings since last year's season opener, in which Plax lit up Dallas for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Now you have to hope Burress can return to the 50-yards-and-a-touch level he inhabited earlier this season. He hasn't reached triple digits since Week 1 but has scored in two of three since the one-game slap on the wrist.

WR Amani Toomer
Steve Smith

Smith has outcaught Toomer in four of five, suggesting that a repeat of Amani's two-touchdown playoff game against the Cowboys is unrealistic. Neither has topped 65 yards more than once this season, so a big yardage day isn't likely either. Not much here to like.

TE Kevin Boss B

Boss has shown up on the fantasy radar twice in seven weeks. Slap on the Cowboys filter that has shut out tight ends since Kellen Winslow scored in the opener and Boss is barely a blip this week.

DT Giants S2 A fierce pass rush and an immobile quarterback often lead to defensive fantasy points.

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