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Start/Bench List - Week 10
John Tuvey
Updated: November 7, 2008
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Thur Night
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* Updated
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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Denver (4-4) at Cleveland (3-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S1

The going rate for a smoke-and-mirrors secondary appears to be six games; after starting the season covering for an injury-depleted defensive backfield, the Browns have allowed 531 pasing yards and four touchdowns over the past two games. Cutler is capable of reaching those numbers all by himself, especially with the Broncos fresh out of running backs. You have to believe 250 and two is the baseline for Cutler as the NFL Network opens their slate, with additional upside a distinct possibility.

RB Selvin Young
Ryan Torain

U Cleveland is surrendering an average of 130 rushing yards and an RB TD per game, fresh off giving up 190 and 1 to the Ravens last week. Unfortunately, the Broncos may just not have the horses to do some damage here. Young is nursing a sore groin and the much-hyped Torain has all of one yard to his NFL credit. There is definitely upside here, but whether Young is healthy enough to take advantage—or you trust Torain to do the same—has to be decided before kickoff tonight. Do you really trust Mike Shanahan to provide you with the information you need to make such a decision? Didn't think so.
WR Brandon Marshall S1

Denver's past four opponents have had success taking Marshall out of the game plan, to the tune of 20 catches for 227 yards and zero touchdowns over that span. Tough to see the Browns having similar success, what with No. 1s like Derrick Mason (136 and 1) and Matt Jones (117 and 1) posting quality numbers the past couple of weeks. Put it another way: if Marshall can't shake off what the Browns throw at him, it will go a long way towards proving Joey Porter's point. And we can't have Joey Porter being right, now, can we?

WR Eddie Royal


With double-digit targets each of the past two games Royal is unquestionably the wingman in this equation. And with Cleveland's secondary allowing quality games to wingmen like Reggie Williams (42 and 1) and Mark Clayton (87 and 1), Royal is a safe bet to kick off your weekend with some helpful fantasy numbers on Thursday night.

WR Brandon Stokley


It's a favorable matchup, to be sure, but Stokley is definitely Option No. 3. The good news is, with Tony Scheffler nicked and the stable of running backs depleted, there may be no Options 4 through 7—leaving plenty on the table for Options 1, 2 and 3.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham

The Browns have yet to allow a tight end touchdown this season, and with Scheffler still nicked up there are too many cooks working with too few ingredients for this matchup to be trusted to yield a reliable fantasy starter.

DT Broncos B Yes, it's Brady Quinn making his NFL debut. But sans Champ Bailey there doesn't seem to be enough on the Broncos' defensive side of the ball to exploit that matchup.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brady Quinn S2

Tough to set the stage any better for Quinn. Okay, so maybe a full week of practice and a little less glare from the prime time lights might have been preferable, but it's a home tilt against a defense that's allowing 250-plus passing yards and better than a passing touchdown per game. Sure beats facing the Ravens in Baltimore.

RB Jamal Lewis S1

Double-bonus for Jamal this week. First, with an untested quarterback at the helm you have to expect the Browns' game plan to lean heavily on the run. Second, the Broncos provide a fantasy-friendly front that's allowed at least 133 running back rushing yards in four of their last five and multiple RB TDs in three of five. Not only is a touchdown likely, Jamal's first 100-yard effort since 2007 also appears to be in the offing.

WR Braylon Edwards S2

It should come as no surprise that, sans Champ Bailey, opposing No. 1s have put up quality games against the Broncos. So it comes down to this: do you trust Edwards to hold on to the football when Quinn throws it his way? If I really trusted him he'd be an S1, but in a move fitting of Edwards himself I'll drop him down to an S2.

WR Donte' Stalloworth B

Stallworth was limited during Tuesday's practice and is essentially a game-time decision Thursday with a quad injury. There's probably not enough upside here to warrant sweating out those precious pre-kickoff moments waiting to hear if Donte' is a go or not.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

K2 isn't a bad yardage play this week; he's averaging six catches and 55 yards per game at home and only five teams have allowed more TE yards this year than the Broncos. Just don't bank on a touchdown, as Winslow hasn't scored since Week 1.

DT Browns B Joe Cribbs is an elite return man, but that's about all the Browns have going for them this week.
New Orleans (4-4) at Atlanta (5-3) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

The 31 passing yards Atlanta held JaMarcus Russell to last week will skew the numbers; instead, check the previous four games in which the Falcons allowed at least 250 passing yards and a total of six touchdowns. Or look at what Brees has done to them in the past, throwing for 896 yards and seven touchdowns the past three matchups—most of that to wide receivers, too, so the absence of Reggie Bush shouldn't tweak his stats too much this week.

RB Deuce McAllister S2

Deuce should get plenty of between-the-tackles work, and all indications—his most recent work against the Chargers (18-55-1), his past performances against Atlanta (19-81 and 20-71-2 in the last two meetings), even what the Falcons have been giving up this year (16-48-1 to Kevin Smith, 15-116-1 to Earnest Graham, 14-52-1 to Jonathan Stewart, 18-83 to Ryan Grant, 20-76-1 to Matt Forte—point towards a solid fantasy effort here.

RB Aaron Stecker
Pierre Thomas

This duo split 10 touches in the Saints' first game without Reggie Bush, and there doesn't promise to be a whole lot more here. Worse, historically the Saints have opted to do their damage down the field instead of by throwing to their backs: 75 percent of Brees' passing yardage and six of seven touchdowns have gone to wide receivers.

WR Marques Colston
Lance Moore

Moore remains the most targeted Saint even with Colston back in the mix. However, with an extra week to get reacquainted there's a good bet Marques reasserts himself as the alpha male of the New Orleans' receiving corps. With No. 1s averaging 90 yards and No. 2s 60 against the Falcons over the past month, there should be enough to go around for both to put up solid numbers.

WR Devery Henderson

S3 Hendu is worth a shot for his home run potential, but he's likely to see fewer opportunities than either Colston or Moore and as such isn't as safe a fantasy play.
TE Jeremy Shockey
S2 Over the past four games the Saints have received 102, 114, 97, and 100 yards from the tight end position. The only downer is that Shockey hasn't been responsible for all of it. With an extra week to get healthy it's time for him to pay some dividends on Sean Payton's faith in him—and what better opportunity than against a defense that, if you toss out last week's passing-game aberration against the Raiders, is giving up better than 80 yards per game to the tight end position over the past month?
DT Saints B Nothing of note here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Ryan has 220 or more yards in three straight and multiple touchdown tosses in three of his last four; the Saints have given up 220 or better in six of eight games and allowed multiple scoring strikes in back-to-back games. It's about as favorable a matchup as the rookie will see, and he comes into the contest hot so don't shy away from giving Ryan a shot this week.

RB Michael Turner

The Saints aren't a shutdown run defense, but they're not the top-10 cupcake Turner has feasted on. His four good games have come against creampuffs; in the other four outings he's averaged 52 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry. The Saints have surrendered one RB rushing touchdown over their past five games, further driving Turner's projections down. If you have a better matchup at your disposal this would be a good week to use him, as Turner has yet to prove he can give you anything against something other than a layup defense.

RB Jerious Norwood B

The silver lining is that New Orleans has allowed RB receiving touchdowns in each of its past two games, and Norwood has seven catches the past two games. However, that's not enough to warrant a fantasy start.

WR Roddy White S2

Nnamdi Asomugha may have ended his streak of three straight with triple-digit yardage and at least one touchdown, but there's nothing to suggest Roddy won't spark up a new streak this week. He took the Saints for 185 yards and two touchdowns in last season's series and faces a secondary that has allowed five 100-yard receivers already this year and a WR TD in every game in which they didn't face the offensively-challenged Raiders.


Michael Jenkins


Last week Jenkins made it three straight with at least 50 yards; more importantly, his two touchdowns put him on the fantasy radar. The Saints have let opposing No. 1s compile most of the stats against them, but there could be enough to go around for Jenkins to get something in the 50-60 yard neighborhood and reach the end zone. Not a strong play, but with the ground game stymied and the Saints expected to put up points the Falcons may find themselves needing to throw to more than just Roddy White this week.

DT Falcons B You probably don't want to reach for a nondescript defense facing a New Orleans offense that's topped 30 points in four of its last six.
Tennessee (8-0) at Chicago (5-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

The Bears have allowed at least 292 passing yards in three straight and multiple touchdown tosses in each of their last two and... oh, sorry, this is the Titans we're talking about. While teams have tried to force Collins to beat them through the air, he's kept the Titans unbeaten without having thrown for more than 190 yards in a game this season. He also has one TD pass in his last 159 attempts. He's not a fantasy option.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

Two teams with similar two-headed backfields and run-dominated game plans—the Panthers and Vikings—have posted 26-113-2 and 32-155-3 lines on the Bears. Over the past three games the Titans' tandem has averaged 32 carries, 191 yards, and two-plus touchdowns per game. There doesn't seem to be a reason to bench either back, though if you're picking between the two White has yet to have more carries in a game than the rook.

WR Justin Gage
Brandon Jones
B Tennessee's wideouts make the occasional play, but they don't do enough to warrant fantasy attention. Yes, even against a defense that's allowed four WR TDs in its past three games.
TE Bo Scaife

Chicago has given up 64 and 68 yards to tight ends the past two weeks, and Scaife is Collins' most frequent downfield target—30 looks for 19 catches and 190 yards over the past four games. He's certainly not a bad plug-in play, though Alge Crumpler looms to steal looks.

DT Titans S2 This suffocating defense will get either a gimpy Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman, who has a history of making opposing defenses fantasy-friendly. I like either option.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton B

Orton practiced on a limited basis Friday, but all indications are that he won't play on Sunday.

QB Rex Grossman B

While it's true that over the past couple of weeks Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have made the Titans' defense look penetrable, you'd be asking Grossman to step up in class to match that duo. One look at the Titans 4-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio should have the Bears looking for a big ol' painkilling shot for Orton's ankle. This isn't a fantasy-friendly matchup for either Bears QB, and at the moment that starter projects to be Grossman.

RB Matt Forte

At least with Forte we've seen enough to know he can have some success against tougher defenses: 92 rushing yards against the Bucs, 155 combo yards and a touchdown against the Panthers, 85 yards from scrimmage against Philly, 73 combo yards and a score against Minnesota. And while Tennessee hasn't allowed a running back touchdown in the past month they did surrender 86 rushing yards to Ryan Grant last week and 109 combo yards to Dominic Rhodes the week before. So while you should most definitely lower your expectations for Forte this week, you don't need to bench him.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis
Marty Booker
Brandon Lloyd

B One. Not only is it the loneliest number (though I've heard two can be as bad as one), it's also the total number of WR TDs the Titans have allowed despite facing an assortment of would-be studs that includes Matt Jones, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson, Bernard Berrian, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Greg Jennings. So between the quarterback question marks and the presence of multiple targets but no true go-to guy in the Bears' receiving corps, the prudent move would be to bench the lot of them.
TE Greg Olsen


The Titans have given up twice as many TE TDs as they have WR TDs; they've also allowed twice as many 90-yard games to tight ends as they have to wideouts. So if you're feeling like you really truly need to start a member of the Bears passing game this week, make it Olsen.

DT Bears S3 Tennessee isn't the kind of quick-strike offense that will frequently put up a bunch of points; that, coupled with the Bears playing some pretty good D of their own makes the Chicago D/ST at least a serviceable play this week.

Jacksonville (3-5) at Detroit (0-8)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Garrard has thrown for at least 200 yards in five straight games, and he'll face a defense that's allowed at least 265 passing yards in four of its last five. However, Detroit has given up one or zero passing touchdowns in three of four while Garrard has just one multiple touchdown game on the year—and was blanked by the Bengals last week. He should be a better fantasy play this week, but he's done nothing to warrant that distinction.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


In last week's S/BL I alluded to MoJo failing to capitalize on previous cupcakes, and after his 10-for-33 effort against the Bengals last week he has now totaled 94 yards (at 3.2 yards per carry) and scored one touchdown against the seventh-, ninth-, and eleventh-most fantasy friendly run defenses in the league. So you can understand my reluctance to project bigger things for him against the eighth-most fantasy friendly run defense this week. Evidently those three starting offensive linemen the Jags lost were kind of important. Still, the Lions have allowed three 100-yard rushers in the past four games with the only exception being 142 yards split between Steve Slaton and Ahman Green. How many times do you go back to what looks to be a deep and abundant well with MoJo and pull up a half-empty pail? Just can't give him anything more than an S2 this week.

RB Fred Taylor

Taylor now yas a grand total of 71 yards in what should have been favorable matchups with the Texans, Broncos, Browns, and Bengals. He's getting roughly half-a-dozen carries a game and can no longer be banked on for fantasy help.


Matt Jones

S2 So long as the league hasn't suspended him, Jones is a good fantasy play—especially against a Lions' secondary that is giving up 175 yards per game to wideouts—including 130-yard games to No. 1 receivers in three of the past four games.

Reggie Williams
Mike Walker

S3 Eventually the Jags will need a replacement option for Jones. Walker looked like he had the gig before his knee injury, while Williams showed signs of life last week. It's a favorable matchup that one or both of these wideouts might be able to exploit.
TE Marcedes Lewis S2

Only three teams have been more fantasy-friendly to the tight end position than the Lions, and Lewis has actually been solid over the past month with 160 yards and two touchdowns in his past four games. In TE-mandatory leagues he's approaching every-week starter status.

DT Jaguars S3 The Jags' defense has been largely disappointing this season, but a date with Daunte Culpepper in his first game of 2008 might turn that frown upside down.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky


Orlovsky revealed this week he has two fractures and a torn ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand. Surgery would end his season, so he hasn't gone that route just yet. However, it's tough to believe he'll play this week, or be effective if he does.

QB Daunte Culpepper

The Jags have allowed multiple touchdowns in four of their last five and would appear to be a favorable matchup for whomever the Lions pick to throw jump balls at Calvin Johnson. Actually, when you think about it, Culpepper does have experience throwing the ball up for Randy Moss so maybe he already does know this offense well enough. But seriously... let's give Daunte at least a couple more days to shake off the rust.

RB Kevin Smith
Rudi Johnson

Used to be you couldn't run on the Jaguars. However, over the past month Mewelde Moore (17-99), Michael Pittman (20-109), Jamal Lewis (20-81-1) and Cedric Benson (24-104-1) have punctured great big holes in that theory. If the Lions pick a back and stick with him I could give you a solid recommendation; as it stands, with Johnson still in the mix despite Smith being the apparent future (and largely the more productive back) there's upside—we're just not sure where to put it quite yet.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

You have to like a guy who's scored in four straight (and averaged 97 yards per game in that span) against a defense that's given up eight WR TDs in the past five games. Even if he'd never met his quarterback before Monday.


Shaun McDonald
Mike Furrey


On paper this actually looks like a pretty nice matchup for Detroit wideouts. But between the quarterback questions and Johnson hogging all the looks I don't feel comfortable recommending any of these secondary targets for a fantasy start this week.

DT Lions B Not that the Jaguars are steamrolling teams or anything, but the Lions have held exactly one team under 25 points this season.

Baltimore (5-3) at Houston (3-5)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Joe has topped 230 yards in three of his last four and is fresh off the first multiple touchdown outing of his brief NFL career. A Texans' secondary that has allowed 230-plus passing yards in four of six and multiple touchdowns in three of five should hardly be viewed as an impediment to success.

RB Willis McGahee
Ray Rice
Le'Ron McClain


Go ahead, let it out. Maybe you had McGahee in your lineup, or Rice on your bench; worst-case, you had both and took the double-kick to the store. John Harbaugh has earned a spot in fantasy football's eternal flames of hatred for that stunt; the question is, will he pull it again. This week the Ravens are listing all three backs as probable; after last week's smokescreen, it's understandable if you're once bitten, twice shy. And truth be told this isn't the slam-dunk matchup you might think. Willie Parker and Adrian Peterson both had big days against the Texans, but the rest of the league—including the Titans, Jaguars, and Colts—is averaging just 85 RB rushing yards per game against them. So even if we trust what the Ravens are telling us, there just isn't enough upside to outweigh the risk that they're full of baloney.

WR Derrick Mason


The lead dog gets fed against the Texans: No. 1 receivers are averaging 85 yards per game against Houston and have scored six of the seven WR TDs the Texans have allowed. Since Mason is unquestionably the top banana in Baltimore's passing game he's a solid start here.

WR Mark Clayton


Clayton's 4-87-1 last week was far and away his biggest game of the season. No reason to anticipate a repeat performance.


Todd Heap

B The Texans allowed a tight end touchdown last week, their third of the season. In related news, Heap was allowed on the sidelines despite contributing absolutely nothing to the Ravens' offensive effort—the second time he's been held without a catch this season.
DT Ravens S2 So far Sage Rosenfels has fumbled away a win against the Colts and been sacked twice with the game on the line against Minnesota. What do you think Ray Lewis & Co will do to him?
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sage Rosenfels S3

Rosenfels has come on in relief twice and still thrown for 470 yards and three touchdowns. Getting the start in place of the injured Matt Schaub, Sage should find continued success against a banged-up Baltimore secondary that has allowed 219 or more passing yards in four straight games and seven passing TDs in that span.

RB Steve Slaton
S3 No back has managed more than 77 yards from scrimmage against the Ravens this season, so start Slaton at your own risk. However, here's a tiny little sliver of hope: three of the four RB TDs Baltimore have allowed have been receiving scores, and two of those three have come in the past fortnight. Slaton has a pair of eight-catch games this year, including last week against a tough Vikings run defense. So if you're forced to reach this week, at least Slaton has a couple of chips in front of him.
RB Ahman Green
B Oh joy, an injury-prone backup against a stiff defense.
WR Andre Johnson S2 The Ravens have allowed five receivers to amass 74 yards or greater in the past four games; they've also allowed four of the five WR TDs they've given up all year during that same span. Funny how this stretch coincides with Baltimore battling injuries throughout their secondary. Last week alone they were down three starters, for example. You can bet the Ravens will take a cue from the Vikings success in getting physical with Johnson last week, but even then Andre still finished with 62 yards and a score. One way or another he's likely to get his.
WR Kevin Walter B

Johnson's numbers will already be stretched pretty thin; tough to assume Walter will take a large enough share that he warrants a fantasy start here.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Another glimmer-of-hope play. Daniels has 66 or more receiving yards in three of his last four (and five of seven), while the Ravens have allowed 61 or more tight end yards in four of five—and 87 or more in three of those contests. Don't expect a touchdown, but a decent yardage day makes Daniels useable in TE-mandatory performance leagues.

DT Texans B The Texans got a pick six last week, but it's not likely to be a regular happening.

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