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Start/Bench List - Week 11
John Tuvey
Updated: November 14, 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 (6-3) at New England (6-3) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

The Patriots' secondary has lost a few key components since holding Favre to a modest 181 and one in Week 2, yet they've still held visiting quarterbacks to an average of just over 200 yards and less than one touchdown per trip to Foxborough. Those numbers are remarkably similar to what Favre has been averaging in the five games since his six-TD blow-up, suggesting that he's nothing more than an average fantasy start this week.

RB Thomas Jones S3

It's been a nice run for Jones: 496 rushing yards and seven total TDs in five games since the bye. However, unless the Jets run him out of the Wildcat formation it's tough to like his chances this week. Ronnie Brown is the only back to score a rushing touchdown against the Pats this season, and the 70 yards Jones put up on New England in Week 2 is typical of the 65 yards per game they've allowed to feature backs who line up in conventional formations. It'll be tough to sit Jones when he's on such a roll, but it's something worth considering if you have another option with a more favorable matchup.

RB Leon Washington B

Leon's upside is as the Jets' third down back should they fall behind and be forced to throw more than run, and that's still something in the 60-70 yards from scrimmage neighborhood. Surely you can find an alternative who's in line for more touches against a weaker defense.

WR Laveranues Coles
Jerricho Cotchery


Much has been made of the Patriots' injury-depleted secondary, but apparently Bill Belichick's smoke and mirrors are more effective than those others employ because aside from big games to Vincent Jackson and Donnie Avery no receiver has topped 77 yards against the Pats this year. It's far more likely that Coles and Cotchery follow the lead of the 14 receivers before them who have gained between 40 and 77 yards against New England. There's likely one touchdown to be had here, with Coles the slight favorite because of the Pats' inclination to give up an occasional deep ball, but barely enough yardage to make either end of this duo startable.

TE Dustin Keller


The rookie has emerged over the past three games as the Jets' primary pass-catching tight end, if only because he's stayed healthy. Keller is capable of a 60-yard game like Dallas Clark and Anthony Fasano have put up on the Pats, but this isn't the kind of matchup you need to go out of your way to exploit. He's a serviceable play in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Jets S2 Gang Green has held the Pats to 20 and 19 points in the last two meetings, and they've shown the ability to create points of their own this year as well. Given Eric Mangini's familiarity with the opposition and the lack of Tom Brady at the helm, the Jets are a surprisingly solid fantasy play this week.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel B

Patriots QBs haven't thrown a touchdown against the Jets since last year's season opener, and Cassel himself hasn't thrown a TD since the Week 8 win over St. Louis. He should improve from the 165 yards he posted back in Week 2 making his first start since high school, especially since the Jets' pass D hasn't traveled well in allowing at least 203 yards and a TD (and an average of almost 250 and two) in four road dates. But to expect anything more than the typical 200-and-a-touch stat line from Cassel would be asking too much.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Kevin Faulk


It looks as if the Pats will once again be without Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan, leaving Faulk and "Law Firm" to face a Jets run D that has been flat-out dominant this season. The 113 rushing yards Oakland cobbled together is the most this unit has allowed, and no back has scored against the Jets since their Week 5 bye. Faulk had 50 receiving yards in the earlier meeting and is one of three backs to reach that mark against the Jets so if you're desperate you could reach for him in a PPR league. But it's likely that BJGE's four-game run of fantasy usefulness ends at the hands of Kris Jenkins & Co.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S3 You can start Welker in a PPR league and cash in your six-plus catches, but aside from that it's tough to see much fantasy value here. Since the Cardinals lit up the Gang Green secondary for 413 WR yards and a pair of scores, Dwayne Bowe is the only opposing receiver to top 75 yards and the Jets have given up just two WR TDs in that span. Moss might be due for a 100-yard outing here, as he's put one up every third game (Weeks 1, 5 (following a bye), and 8 puts him on pace for Week 11) but he's hardly a sure thing.
TE Ben Watson


The Jets have given up five games of 50-plus yards to tight ends this year, but Watson has hardly been an integral part of the Patriots game plan this year.

DT Patriots S3 New England's defense has taken some hits this season, both injury-wise and in respect lost for its fantasy prowess. However, the Jets haven't scored 20 points on the Pats since the 2005 finale and this year's edition has held six of nine foes (including the last four) under 20 as well. The losses of Rodney Harrison and Adalius Thomas don't help, but they don't call Bill Belichick a defensive genius for nothing.
Denver (5-4) at Atlanta (6-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S1

Nothing about an Atlanta secondary that just allowed Drew Brees to throw for 422 yards suggest they'll slow Cutler this week. And with Denver's running game held together by duct tape and baling wire, the onus to cover for the Broncos' porous defense will be on Cutler.

RB Peyton Hillis
Tatum Bell

B It's not that you can't run on the Falcons, though they've been solid of late and particularly stingy at home. But between Hillis, whose only big came this year came as a pass catcher, and Bell, who brings plenty of baggage back to the Broncos (and it's not even Rudi Johnson's; thank you very much, I'll be here all week) you can expect Denver to come out throwing and run only when Jay Cutler's arm needs a break. Hillis could punch across a shorty, but odds are you'll find better options elsewhere.
WR Brandon Marshall
Eddie Royal

Not only has Atlanta's secondary been fantasy gold for No. 1 receivers (Roy Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, and Marques Colston all scored or topped 100 yards), there's been plenty for No. 2s as well (Calvin Johnson, Muhsin Muhammad, Donald Driver, and Lance Moore have done the same). While Marshall hasn't been as dominant of late as he looked to be early on, he's been solid and should have no trouble exploiting the Falcons this week. Same goes for Royal, except he has been on a roll with 304 yards and two TDs the past three games. Both are in line for big games this week.

WR Brandon Stokley


Stokley just hasn't seen enough balls of late to be trusted with a fantasy start, even in a favorable matchup such as this one.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham

Maybe there is enough to go around. Last week Graham scored (his third touchdown in four games) while Scheffler marked his return to the lineup with 92 yards. Atlanta has allowed an average of 66 yards per game to tight ends over their past five, but only one TD in that span. Scheff is a safe play in performance scoring formats, Graham a bit riskier but a decent option in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Broncos B No game on the board has a higher O/U number, and nothing the Broncos have done defensively suggests they're worth the risk here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Seven of the nine quarterbacks to face Denver have thrown for either 275 yards or multiple touchdowns—or both. Ryan enters this game with multiple scoring strikes in three straight and four of five and 220 yards or better in four consecutive outings. His output this week will be limited only by the projected success Michael Turner will have taking yardage and touchdowns off his plate.

RB Michael Turner

The Broncos clearly didn't heed Karl Malden's advice, having left home without their run defense in each of their four road trips this season. The result: 722 rushing yards and five RB TDs in four games. Michael Turner Overdrive is a beast at home and feasts on bad run defenses (420 yards and six TDs in three such games), meaning this matchup is like grooving Ryan Howard a fastball.

RB Jerious Norwood S3

It's worth noting that in the aforementioned trio of monster games from MTO there's still been enough spillover for Norwood to produce 309 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

WR Roddy White S2

The Broncos' secondary was struggling even before Champ Bailey went down, and while they haven't given up a WR TD in Champ's two-game absence they did allow Greg Camarillo to go for 111 yards against them. In other words, White should be just fine.


Michael Jenkins


Jenkins has emerged as a solid option opposite White, with four straight games of at least 50 yards and an average of 66 yards per game in that span. He's not a must-start, but he's capable of making defenses pay for focusing too much attention on White and worthy of consideration in larger leagues.

DT Falcons S3 They did pick-six Drew Brees last week, and both of their defensive touchdowns have come at home. If John Abraham's shoulder injury bothers him as much as Jared Allen's did last week against the Packers, bump Atlanta up to at least an S2.
Detroit (0-9) at Carolina (7-2) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper


After threating not to tell us which of his future Hall of Fame signal callers would be taking snaps for the Honolulu Blues this weekend, Rod Marinelli tipped his hand and gave Culpepper the nod. No matter; either way a benching would would have been the order of the day against a Carolina secondary that's allowing less than 200 passing yards and less than a passing score per game. No need to put any more thought into it than that.

RB Kevin Smith

The good news is that Smith has distanced himself from Rudi Johnson in the battle for carries in Detroit's backfield. The bad news is this matchup with a Panthers defense that's surrendered just four RB TDs on the season. You could hope for Smith to get some garbage time yards and a score, because there's bound to be garbage time, but that's about the only upside here.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Allow me to vent: the Lions, the dregs of the professional football universe, can throw enough jump balls Calvin's way to keep him on the cusp of the fantasy elite—yet somehow the Patriots can't do the same with their freakishly tall and fast wideout? Of course, those tosses come in a barrage of losing causes, so I guess I can give Bill Belichick the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, it's not a great matchup but you know the Lions will throw enough sky balls in Johnson's vicinity that he's a decent bet to come down with two or three and help your fantasy team just like he's done in seven of the Lions' previous nine losses.


Shaun McDonald
Mike Furrey


Carolina is allowing 113 wide receiver yards per game, and most of them are earmarked for Megatron. And the Panthers have pitched a shutout against wide receivers in seven of their nine games so a secondary receiver scoring is even less likely than a Lions' win this week. Adding injury to insult, Furrey is listed as doubtful due to lingering effects of a concussion.

DT Lions B Eight of the Lions' nine opponents have scored at least 25 points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S2 Only one team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Lions. He's also thrown for multiple touchdowns in four straight home games. I know it's tough to get back on the horse after the egg he laid against the Raiders last week, but all indications are this will be more like riding a merry-go-round than a bucking bronco.

DeAngelo Williams

S1 There has yet to be a Lions game this season where an opposing back didn't score or rush for 100 yards (or both). Williams has done both in each of his past two games and there's nothing to suggest he'll fail on either count this week.

Jonathan Stewart

S2 Seven carries last week suggest that Stewart's heel injury isn't debilitating—and that status is confirmed by his absence from the weekly injury report. And if he's truly the Panthers' No. 2 back in this scenario then he should be in line for some additional garbage-time work. Worst-case he's a prime candidate to punch in a shorty with the first team in addition to extra carries with the backups.
WR Steve Smith S1

Four wideouts have already topped 130 yards against the Lions, so if Smith can shake off the nightmare that is being blanketed by Nnamdi Asomugha he should find plenty of open spaces this week. A touchdown should also be in the offing against a secondary that's given up 11 WR TDs on the year and four in the past three games.

WR Muhsin Muhammad


Yes it's a favorable matchup, but after Smith and Williams and Stewart all take their shares there may not be enough left over for Muhammy. Secondary wideouts are looking at around 45 yards per game and scoring half the time; in larger leagues using three wideouts and a flex that may be enough to get Muhammad into a lineup.

DT Panthers S1 Four of Carolina's last six opponents have failed to light up a digit in the tens column on the scoreboard, and against Culpepper or Orlovsky you have to like the Panthers' chances for a pick-six or two.

Philadelphia (5-4) at Cincinnati (1-8)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S1

After a solid early-season showing the Cincy secondary has been exposed of late, allowing 244 yards and two TDs per game over their past four. The Don has been heating up as well, averaging 269 and two over that same span. Moreover, the Eagles have been relying on him on the road, where he has 1,172 yards and six scores in four games. Need more? McNabb has at least 278 yards in seven of his last eight full games against AFC opponents.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

This matchup is almost as favorable for Westbrook as it is for McNabb. Cincy has already allowed five backs to put up triple-digit combo yardage and in the past month two backs (Thomas Jones, Mewelde Moore) have scored three TDs in a game against the Bengals. So forget about the egg Westy laid against the Giants and look forward to another feast against an AFC opponent; Westbrook has posted at least 92 combo yards in 10 straight against the other conference and averaged 125 yards from scrimmage per contest.

WR Kevin Curtis
DeSean Jackson

S2 The wealth gets spread around in the Philly passing game—last week, for example, both Hank Baskett and Jason Avent scored last week and five different wideouts have scored the seven WR TDs for the Eagles—so you have to play the odds. Curtis and Jackson are the most consistently targeted and the best bets to exploit a secondary that's allowed 606 yards and five touchdowns to wide receivers in the past four games alone.
TE L.J. Smith B

Brent Celek's big game is the only outing of more than 40 yards by a Philly tight end this season. Meanwhile, the Bengals haven't allowed a tight end to top that same number in their past four games. If you're getting the impression teams have found more preferable paths of least resistance against Cincy, you're not alone. Expect the Eagles to follow a similar route.

DT Eagles S2 I'll take Jim Johnson's blitzing defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick, no matter how smart he is .
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Only two quarterbacks have topped 200 yards against the Eagles this season, so it's unlikely that Fitzpatrick will make his first foray about that milestone this week. A touchdown wouldn't surprise, but a second straight multiple-touchdown game would be pushing it against a defense that's held four of nine QBs it's faced without a single scoring strike.

RB Cedric Benson

Prior to the bye Benson provided the Bengals with their best rushing game of the season and first running back touchdown in six weeks. Don't expect that success to continue against Philly, who has struggled to shut down divisional foes (more than half of the rushing yardage and four of the five RB TDs they've allowed have gone to NFC East rivals) but held everyone else in check: 388 rushing yards and one TD in six games.

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Philly's secondary has been a little suspect of late, allowing 390 wide receiver yards and four WR TDs in the past three games. Based on that I'd like to give you a hearty ringing endorsement of both of Cincy's go-to receivers... but the sad fact is that there's barely enough yardage to go around and these days a big game is 60 yards and a touchdown. Chad has scored four times with Fitzpatrick at the helm, while Housh and Fitz have yet to connect on a money ball. However, in PPR leagues Housh has at least six grabs and 49 yards in every Fitzpatrick start (averaging 7-55) while Chad is averaging five catches and 43 yards. So while both could help you, neither projects to help you all that much.

DT Bengals B The good news: they didn't allow any points last week. The bad news:, they were on the bye.

Chicago (5-4) at Green Bay (4-5)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton B

The last time Orton faced Green Bay he threw all of 15 passes as the Bears relied on their running game, defense, and special teams to rout the Pack 35-7. Expect Kyle to be a little more involved this time aroundas he's expected to return from an ankle injury and start this week. However, his numbers won't be a whole lot better against a Green Bay secondary that's allowing less than 190 passing yards per game. In fact, your best move may be to wait until Orton has proven he's fully healed before plugging him back into your fantasy lineup.

RB Matt Forte

The Bears haven't been shy about running the ball right at the Packers in the past—Adrian Peterson (no, the other one) carried 30 times for 102 yards in last season's Week 16 matchup—and there's little doubt they'll let Forte shoulder the load here. The rookie has at least 20 carries in seven of nine, including four straight, and is a great play against a Packers defense that's giving up more than 180 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs—almost 140 of that on the ground. Forte has at least 110 combo yards in six of nine outings and has scored in an equal number of games. Both the Bears' track record and the blueprint for beating Green Bay suggest a heavy dose of the ground game; Forte will deliver that here.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis
Marty Booker

B Over the past four games no wide receiver has topped 50 yards against the Pack and only two have found the end zone. With Chicago's receiving corps an inconsistent collection—four different receivers have at least one touchdown catch, but none has more than two—at best you'd be hard-pressed to find one worth trusting with a fantasy start this week.
TE Greg Olsen


Telling stat: in last year's season series the Bears scored three tight end touchdowns against the Pack and zero WR TDs. Another telling stat: six times in the past five games a Bears tight end has topped 40 yards. Green Bay has recovered from some mid-season struggles to hold a pair of solid tight ends (Bo Scaife and Visanthe Shiancoe) to 30 yards between them over the past two games, but without linebacker Nick Barnett in the middle there may be gaps in the coverage this week.

DT Bears S3 Devin Hester hasn't brought the special teams love to the table this season, but Chicago's defense is still just as capable as it ever was of turning an opponent's mistake into six points.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S3

Three straight opposing quarterbacks—two of them from division rivals—have thrown for multiple touchdowns and at least 290 yards against the Bears. That's good news for Rodgers, who has been limited—by his sore shoulder as well as by opponents—to just 642 yards and two touchdowns in his past three games. This more favorable matchup should help him bump those numbers back into the 200-plus yards-per-game range, with a touchdown or two in the offing as well.


Ryan Grant


Grant had 100 rushing yards on just 14 carries in the second meeting with Chicago last year, but a repeat is unlikely. For one thing, it's taken Grant twice that many carries to reach triple digits this year, and he's only done it once after making it a regular happening in 2007. For another, aside from Adrian Peterson no back has even made it to 80 yards against the Bears this year. A defense that held the vaunted Titans ground game to 21 yards on 25 carries is reason enough to have qualms about Grant's fantasy success this week; his 356 yards and two scores over the past four games, including 75 and a touch against a pretty good Vikings run D, salvage him a spot just north of the Start/Bench border.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

No need to debate which Packers wideout is No. 1; the Bears have been accommodating to pairs over the past month (92 yards per game and three TDs in four outings for aces; 67 ypg and two TDs in that same span for wingmen), making both Jennings and Driver decent starts this week. Driver has been the more targeted wideout over the past month, but he's scored just once in the past seven games; Jennings has been shut out in three straight but scored four times in the previous three. Don't sweat the splitting of hairs; start either... or both.

TE Donald Lee S3 Lee can't botch a second straight favorable matchup, can he? The Bears have allowed 235 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends over the past three games, but Lee dribbled a similar solid situation down his leg last week against the Vikings. Tory Humphrey has actually had the top yardage game by a Packer tight end, which is an obvious concern—and why Lee is just an S3 when the matchup would suggest better.
DT Packers S2 You can run on the Packers but you take your life in your hands throwing against them. If for some reason it's Grossman instead of Orton helming the Bears this week, upgrade that S2 to an S1.

Houston (3-6) at Indianapolis (5-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sage Rosenfels S3

Would you believe Rosenfels is the only quarterback to throw for at least 200 yards and a touchdown against Indy this season?Sage is solid at filling up a stat sheet; though he's not exactly tearing up the "Wins" column, he's averaging better than 250 yards per game and has four TD tosses in three starts. If it weren't for his past success against Indy (233 and two in Week 16 last year in addition to his 246 and one earlier this year) he'd be a no-brainer bench; as it stands I'm not thrilled with giving him the nod but at least I'd feel reasonably confident he'd give me a little something for the score sheet.

RB Steve Slaton
S3 It's not just the return of Bob Sanders, though that certainly doesn't hurt. Over the past five games Indy is allowing just 83 rushing yards per game, at just 3.2 yards per carry. In other words, this is not the same pushover defense Slaton took for 93 yards and two scores earlier this year. Indy is still giving up RB TDs—seven over the aforementioned five-game span—and they're also allowing better than 50 receiving yards per game to running backs, so there's still wiggle room for Slaton to help your fantasy squad. Just don't set the bar too high based on that earlier outing.
RB Ahman Green
B Green's stayed healthy a lot longer than most thought, but he hasn't let us down in the lack of productivity department.
WR Andre Johnson S2 The Colts have allowed two 100-yard receivers this year; Johnson is one of them. They've also surrendered just one WR TD; Johnson has that as well. Despite what looks like an extremely difficult matchup on paper, how can you sit a guy who just took this team for 131 yards and a touchdown six weeks ago? You can't, so you shouldn't.
WR Kevin Walter B

It's true the Texans' wingman could benefit from Indy's concentrated efforts to stymie Johnson and put up solid numbers... but that's just too risky of a proposition to bank a valuable fantasy roster spot on.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Small victories: at least the Colts rank in the top half of the league in yards allowed to tight ends. They've still given up just one TE TD so Owens isn't a great play, but his 5-47 against Indy earlier this year and his 60 yards per game average make him a quality play in performance scoring leagues where tight ends are mandatory.

DT Texans B No compelling reason to reach for the Texans here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

So Manning's 247 and two from the matchup earlier this year fell a little shy of the 285 and two-plus he'd been averaging against the Texans; can't complain about 247 and two. And with Peyton starting to heat it up—717 yards and seven TDs in three tough matchups with the Titans, Patriots, and Steelers—it would be silly to expect less than that earlier matchup.

RB Joseph Addai S2

Addai owners, rejoice! His 71-yard, one-TD effort against the Texans earlier this season is his best game thus far this year, and with Houston fresh off allowing 100-yard rushing days to Adrian Peterson and Willis McGahee they're primed to be plucked. It's been a rough year for Addai and those who put their fantasy faith in him, but a nice outing against the Texans could be the springboard to a strong finish against a decidedly favorable slate of matchups.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 Wayne is hobbled by an ankle injury, but not so much that he's not expected to play Sunday; to that end, he practiced fully on Friday, so I still anticipate him contributing his usual 90-plus yards and a touchdown against the Texans—just like he did earlier in the year. Like Addai, Wayne appears poised to reward those owners who survived some Indy underachieving earlier in the season and remain in contention in their fantasy leagues.
WR Marvin Harrison
Anthony Gonzalez

S3 It's a good-not-great matchup for the secondary pieces of Indy's passing game puzzle. Few teams have the depth to cover everyone in Indy's attack, so if Houston commits too much coverage to Wayne, Marv or Gonzo—or both—could have big days. More likely is a typical wingman afternoon of 50 or so yards and a potential touchdown. Weigh the possibilities of Marv or Gonzo pulling off that feat against the other options on your fantasy roster; you may have something with a little more upside. If not, Indy's Plan B isn't a bad fallback plan.
TE Dallas Clark S2

Clark had 81 yards in the earlier meeting, but backup tight end Tom Santi stole his touchdown. Santi hasn't had a catch since then, while Clark has scored thrice—including last week against the Steelers. Only one team has allowed more TE TDs than the Texans, so Clark is a strong play on multiple levels this week.

DT Colts S2 You might remember how Sage served up a score for the Colts defense in the last meeting. What's stopping him from doing so again in Indy?

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