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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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Arizona (6-3) at Seattle (2-7)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

The red-hot Warner could be facing last year's shutdown Seattle secondary and he'd still be an S1 with expectations of 300 yards and three touchdowns. Oh yeah; Warner did put up 337 and three on last year's "shutdown" Seattle secondary. Wonder what he'll do to a unit that's already allowed three 300-yard games and as many multiple touchdown outings. You have to believe it'll be something north of a fourth straight 300-yard effort and a ninth consecutive multiple-touchdown game.

RB Tim Hightower S3 Okay, so we got spoiled and Hightower's 50 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches was more than a little disappointing. He's still the feature back and the third down back, and against a Seattle defense that's allowing more than 150 combo yards per game to opposing backs I'm inclined to give him a second chance.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

After allowing four 100-yard receivers over their first seven games the Seahawks have toned it down a bit. And you might be surprised to learn that you have to go back to 2005 to find a 100-yard effort from either Fitzy or Boldin against the Seahawks. You wouldn't be surprised to learn that they accomplished the feat in the same game, and you certainly wouldn't be surprised if they replicated that achievement here. You'd even settle for the 175 yards and two touchowns they divvy up on average.

WR Steve Breaston

Last year it was Jerheme Urban hitting triple digits against the Seahawks, filling the third receiver role in a game Boldin missed due to injury. This year it's Breaston handling those chores, and after Monday's 121-yard outing he's moved from bye week plug-in to fringe starter in most performance-based leagues. Hey, when your quarterback is averaging 300 yards per game there's enough to float everybody's boat.

DT Cardinals S2 Maybe it's the return of Matt Hasselbeck. Maybe it's another dose of Seneca Wallace. Maybe we'll even be treated to Charlie Frye. Any way you slice it, there's a pick-six out there just waiting to happen.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3

On the basis of a matchup with a Cardinals defense that's allowed more passing TDs than any other squad and multiple scoring strikes in each of the last five games, Hass is at least worth considering. Before you pencil him in for something like the 272 and four he dropped on Arizona last year, consider that this year's edition has yet to top 200 yards in four starts (he had five sub-200 outings all of last year) and has two TD passes on the year (a number he matched or bested in 10 games last year). Plus, there's rust to shake off after six weeks on the sidelines and there's still no guarantee he's fully healthy from either his back or knee issues. All that said... everybody and their brother is putting up big numbers on the Cards.

RB Julius Jones


Maybe it's an offense that forces the opposition to abandon the run and play catch-up. Or maybe it's all those high draft picks on the Arizona defense finally paying off. Whatever the reason, the Cards are giving up less than 80 rushing yards per game and have allowed just five RB TDs on the year. Jones appears to have broken the tie and moved to the fore of the Seattle backfield mix, but his 88 yards last week was the closest he's come to fantasy relevancy since his last touchdown back in Week 3. Neither Jones' production to date nor this matchup suggest Juice is anything other than a desperation play this week.

RB Maurice Morris

His carries continue to diminish, to the point that he's barely worth mentioning.


Koren Robinson
Bobby Engram
Deion Branch


No team has allowed more wide receiver touchdowns than the Cards, and seeing as KoRo has become Seattle's Mr. Touchdown with scores in each of the past two games he's as good a candidate as any to reach paydirt this week. Engram scored in the second matchup last season and will likely provide a security blanket for the returning Hasselbeck, so he's not a bad play either. Heck, why not throw Branch into the mix as well? He's expected to start this week, and assuming he can make it to Sunday without sustaining an injury—a relatively big "if" when talking about Branch—he has as good a shot as any at exploiting this secondary.

TE John Carlson
B Vernon Davis found the end zone against Arizona last week, but let's not ask Hasselbeck to do too much in his first week back
DT Seahawks B Few teams have held the Cardinals in check, and Seattle isn't a likely candidate to reverse that trend.
Tennessee (9-0) at Jacksonville (4-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

Last week the Bears took the running game away from the Titans, and Collins responded with 289 yards and two touchdowns. After giving up 133 rushing yards to Tennessee in the opener you can expect the Jags to try to do exactly the same thing. They may not have the personnel to do so, but they certainly don't have a secondary that can be left exposed; playing straight up they're allowing 225 passing yards per game and have ceded multiple touchdown tosses in four of their last six. Even in a best-case situation, however, Collins isn't likely to give you more than 230 and a score or two and most scenarios result in something less. Odds are you can come up with a better fantasy option.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

These are not the same Jaguars who lock down against the run, and it's not just the Titans who have taken advantage. Over the past five weeks alone they've allowed 99 yards to Mewelde Moore, 120 to Michael Pittman, 81 and one to Jamal Lewis, 104 and one to Cedric Benson, and 96 and one to Kevin Smith. Sounds like you can pencil Smash in for at least one addition to his league-leading 11 rushing touchdowns and Johnson is a solid bet for a fifth outing with triple-digit yardage from scrimmage.

WR Justin Gage
S3 The Jags are giving up a WR TD per game, and the extra attention they're likely to devote to the running game should open a passing lane or two. Brandon Jones has been the most frequently targeted Titan wideout but Gage owns both of their WR TDs and also scored against the Jags last season, so he's the pick to click this week.
TE Bo Scaife

Scaife topped the century mark against Jacksonville in the opener and is coming off a game in which he caught 10 balls for 78 yards and a touchdown. Even better: the Jags have allowed three TE TDs in their past five games.

DT Titans S2 Only the might Colts have made it to 20 against the Titans this season, and their defense is littered with folks who know how to turn a fumble or pick into points the other way.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Garrard is back in the saddle, with six straight 200-yard efforts and multiple touchdowns in two of his last three. And he's catching the Titans at a particularly vulnerable time; after allowing just one passing touchdown through the first six games Tennessee has now allowed scoring strikes in three straight contests. Garrard put that first marker on the board back in the opener and he's a solid bet for another one this time around as well. In fact, the 215 and one Garrard posted in Week 1 is a solid baseline for what to expect this time around. Another score wouldn't be a shock, but the upside here is limited.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


Maybe the Jags will figure it out: give MoJo the touches and he'll produce, regardless of opponent. Take the Titans, for example; twice Jack Del Rio has given him 19 or more carries, and he's produced 199 yards and two touchdowns in those games. The other two meetings? A total of 15 carries, leading to a total of 88 yards. Others have had success against Tennessee this season just by sticking with the run; four of the six backs with at least 20 touches against the Titans have produced triple-digit yardage, and three have scored. If the Jags are to earn a third straight series split and besmirch Tennessee's perfect record, MoJo will need to see the ball 20 times. I'm on board with it; I'm guessing you're on board with it. Now if we can just get Del Rio to agree, we're in business.

RB Fred Taylor

Hurray for Freddy! Taylor beat up a bad Detroit defense for 80 yards in his first semi-relevant fantasy effort since Week 16 of last year. However, he hasn't topped 50 yards against the Titans since the first meeting of 2006 and is averaging less than 30 yards per contest in that span. At this juncture Taylor is barely worth starting against über-soft matchups, and this is hardly that.


Matt Jones
Reggie Williams
Mike Walker

B With his three-game suspension on the back burner, Jones remains the target of choice in Jacksonville's passing game; he's topped 60 yards in four straight and five of six, and that's the same total he put up against the Titans in the opener. If he plays, Jones is the even-money favorite; however, he didn't practice Friday and is listed as questionable with a thigh injury. Somebody could wind up with a decent fantasy afternoon, but none of the Jacksonville wideouts offer enough upside to sweat out a game-time decision
TE Marcedes Lewis S3

The Titans have given up at least 40 yards to tight ends in six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, Lewis is on a miniroll with 224 yards and two scores over the past five games. If this were a bye week I'd give you Lewis as a solid plug-in play. With everybody playing, however, he's a borderline start in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Jaguars B Collins is playing mistake-free football, so you're bound to find a more favorable D/ST matchup elsewhere

San Diego (4-5) at Pittsburgh (6-3)

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers leads the NFL in touchdown passes, has thrown multiple scoring strikes in seven of nine games and three TDs five times already this year. Now he heads east to face a Steelers defense that hadn't allowed multiple scoring strikes in a game this year until Peyton Manning turned the trick last week. Rivers should consider putting the pressure on Pittsburgh's pass defense, as the decline of LT has turned San Diego into a passing squad. A three-TD, 300-yard outing would surprise, but a Peytonesque 250 and two wouldn't.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S3 Um... excuse me, Mr. Tomlinson, sir? It appears you slept through last week's wake-up call. Oh, the 117 yards from scrimmage were fine, sir, it's just... well, we were all expecting... more. Maybe another bowl of soup will help you with this difficult matchup against a defense that has held three of thelast five running back squadrons it has faced under triple-digit combo yardage. No, it wouldn't be impossible; the Redskins, Giants, Ravens, Eagles, and Browns backfields have all mustered more than 100 yards from scrimmage against the Steelers. But Pittsburgh has allowed just four RB TDs on the year, so your chances to make all those who made you the first overall pick forget and forgive... well, sir, they're just not that good.
WR Vincent Jackson


The Steelers have allowed just three WR TDs on the year, so a TD-reliant receiver like Chambers isn't a good bet. Jackson, on the other hand, has become a reliable yardage target and has the best shot among Charger wideouts at putting up meaningful fantasy digits.

WR Chris Chambers
Malcolm Floyd


Chambers hasn't offered a lick of fantasy assistance since his last touchdown grab back in Week 5, and there just isn't enough to go around in this matchup to trust he'll return to the mix. Floyd has been a solid third receiver—even a No. 2 during Chambers' injury vacation—but once again, this matchup isn't conducive to starting a bunch of wideouts.

TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates is an obvious start in TE-mandatory leagues, but the fact that Pittsburgh has given up four TE TDs in their last six games might let you actually feel good about the move. Doesn't hurt that Gates has scored in three of his last four, either.

DT Chargers S2 Big Ben can throw picks with the best of 'em, and the Chargers have a few guys in their secondary who make returns very interesting.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Good news: no team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Chargers. Better news: Big Ben was back at practice throwing deep balls on Wednesday, giving every indication he'll be ready to go this weekend. Even better news: Shawne Merriman isn't around to harass Roethlisberger as he attempts to throw those deep balls.

RB Willie Parker S2 Not only is there an actual release date for "Chinese Democracy" (I've preordered my copy, how about you?), but all signs point towards Parker playing this weekend. Is this a great November or what? Fast Willie should make a triumphant return against a San Diego defense that is giving up 140 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing backs.
RB Mewelde Moore B

While Mewelde will likely hang on to at least some share of the Pittsburgh backfield duties, it's unlikely to be enough to warrant a fantasy start now that the byes are behind us.

WR Hines Ward


Ward has been the most targeted Steeler in seven of their nine games, and his 9-116 last week suggests his three-game scoring drought might be nearing its end. If you have to pick one Steeler wideout to score, he's the most likely option.

WR Santonio Holmes
Nate Washington


These two are cannibalizing each other's stats, but in a softer matchup like this there should be room for both without too much blood being spilled. Holmes is a slightly more favorable option than Washington; at least he's been the team's top target the two games Ward wasn't. Both, however, offer equal opportunity for being on the business end of a Big Ben home run ball against a team that's allowed a dozen different receivers to top 50 yards in a game.

TE Matt Spaeth S2

Spaeth falls into a matchup with the most tight end-friendly fantasy defense in the league. And after catching six balls for 53 yards last week, it appears he's up to the task.

DT Steelers S2 The Steelers brand of defense creates plenty of opportunities for helpful fantasy plays: sacks, picks, and the oh-so-popular TD return.

Dallas (5-4) at Washington (6-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo returns! He may, however, find the going a little tougher this time around. First, there's the pinky splint. Then there's the Redskins, who have allowed just three TD tosses in the five games since Romo chewed them up and spit them out. Aw, who am I kidding; Romo's back, and he's in your starting lineup. Asking for the same 300 and three he dropped on the Skins back in Week 4 might be aggressive given the circumstance; maybe 250 and two?

RB Marion Barber S3

Speaking of lowering your expectations, MB3 has never topped 50 yards against the Skins and has just one touchdown in his last five against them. Washington's run defense hasn't slipped much since then; they haven't allowed a back to reach triple digits since the opener or even exceed 80 yards since Week 3. You'd like to believe Romo's return will help Barber end a two-game scoring drought, but given the numbers he's put up on the Redskins it's difficult to be optimistic. Nonetheless, with Felix Jones out again there are just too many ways MB3 can get his for him to be on your bench regardless of the matchup.

WR Terrell Owens S2

The Skins pressed TO with Shawn Springs in the earlier meeting with mixed results: 17 throws his way resulted in seven catches, 71 yards and a touchdown. Springs may not be back to press Owens again, but TO's reunion with Romo can't be rained upon. Actually, the way Owens' season has gone that 7-71-1 has been his best game of the past two months and would be welcomed with open arms by frustrated fantasy owners.

WR Roy Williams


He's been in Dallas for a month, made three catches, and is already complaining about not getting the ball enough; TO has certainly taught him well. Maybe the bye week afforded Roy enough time to get up to speed on the playbook, and the much-heralded return of Romo will spark the next chapter of his Cowboy career. Five of the eight WR TDs the Skins have allowed have gone to No. 2 targets, so if Williams is on the field more frequently with a grasp of the playbook he could start living up to the money Jerry Jones gave him.

TE Jason Witten S2

Only one tight end has scored or topped 30 yards against the Redskins this season: Witten, in Week 4. You'd like to think the Skins have a new game plan to slow Witten or at least reduce the 10-90-1 he hung on them earlier this year; of course, if they do that would open things up for MB3, or TO, or maybe Roy Williams. And that's what Jerry Jones was thinking when he threw all that money at Roy! Despite the bum ribs Witten should be in your lineup in TE-mandatory leagues, but a combination of the injury and the expectation that Washington's defense will adjust to the earlier meeting have him as a fringe start in combined formats.

DT Cowboys S3 Wade Phillips' renewed involvement in the defense has spice things up a bit, but it's not like Jason Campbell is an interception machine.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S2

Campbell has posted a pair of solid efforts against the Cowboys, throwing multiple touchdowns in each. If he doesn't have Portis at his disposal he'll need to step up his production, but while that would hardly be the ideal situation it's not like he doesn't have other weapons. The depleted Dallas secondary has allowed multiple scoring strikes in four of six and 200-plus yards in six of eight, so there's no indication Campbell can't at least match the 231 and two he had in the earlier meeting.

RB Clinton Portis B Portis failed to practice all week and is optimistically listed as questionable. This being the Sunday night game, and Jim Zorn having indicated he won't make a final decision on Clinton's status until just prior to kickoff, I'm suggesting to err on the side of pessimism. Portis has played through injury in the past, but if you're banking on him heading into Sunday night you'd best have Betts on your roster, as well as the flexibility to implement Plan B at such a late juncture.
RB Ladell Betts S3 Backup option A for Portis is Betts, who was rested as a precaution during Friday's practice after participating fully on Thursday. Ladell has demonstrated competence in the past and wouldn't be a bad play against a Cowboys defense that's allowed two 100-yard rushers and five RB TDs over the past three games. If Betts suffers a setback, backup options B (Shaun Alexander) and C (Rock Cartwright) are the scramble plan. You'd have to be extremely desperate to reach that far down the list.
WR Santana Moss S2

Moss has torched the Cowboys over the past three meetings: 9-121-1, 8-115-1, and 8-145-0 earlier this year. He practiced fully Wednesday and will likely be leaned on heavily again. Given the state of their secondary there's no reason to think the Cowboys have an answer for Moss this time around,

WR Antwaan Randle El

Six of the nine WR TDs the Cowboys have allowed have gone to secondary targets, including one to Randle El earlier this year. Randle El is a decent play in larger leagues and would warrant consideration in all leagues if Portis is limited or out and the onus shifts to the passing game.

TE Chris Cooley S2

As you'd expect in a WCO, Cooley has been a frequent target for Campbell: at least six looks in every game since the opener. His 4-28 in the earlier meeting with Dallas was his lowest output since Week 1, and trends both past (Cooley had an 8-89-1 against the Cowboys last season) and recent (the Cowboys have allowed 85 yards and a touchdown to the tight end position over their past two games) suggest he'll improve on that earlier performance. Plus, if you read Cooley's blog you know he spent the bye week at Disney World with Campbell... and you have to believe he was in his QB's ear about maybe a few more red zone looks to jack up that paltry one-TD total.

DT Redskins S3 Expect the Skins to go after the returning Romo with a vengeance; whether that—plus the potential return to the lineup of a healthy Jason Taylor—will lead to defensive fantasy points remains to be seen, but it certainly can't hurt the cause.

Cleveland (3-6) at Buffalo (5-4)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brady Quinn S3

It's a league mandate: every Brady Quinn game must be in prime time. Maybe he'll get his own network, like his alma mater. After opening with a softer Broncos secondary, Quinn will be tested by a Bills' D that has shut out back-to-back QBs. In fact, only Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers have managed multiple touchdown tosses against the Bills so this is definitely a step up in class for the youngster. Brady showed enough moxie and has enough weapons that he deserves a fantasy start, but don't set unrealistic expectations; a repeat of his debut 239 and two would be feat enough.

RB Jamal Lewis S3

To be honest I was surprised the Browns didn't lean more heavily on Lewis with Quinn at the helm, especially against a soft run defense like Denver's. The Bills offer a much more difficult front, but as BenJarvus Green-Ellis proved with 26 carries for 105 yards and a TD last week it's not impossible. Jamal is still looking for his first triple-digit outing of 2008 and since it's a little early for a snowstorm like the one that led to his 33-carry, 163-yard effort against the Bills last December you'll likely have to settle for something in the 80-yard, one-TD range.

WR Braylon Edwards
Donte' Stallworth

Sadly, it's come to this: Edwards gets lumped in with Stallworth. Quinn didn't distinguish between the two in his debut, completing four of five to Stallworth but connecting on just one of six with Edwards. Of course, Quinn's downfield looks in general were limited; until the restrictor plates are removed Cleveland's wideouts are borderline fantasy afterthoughts. The Bills have been solid of late against wideouts, having not allowed a WR TD in three straight—and that includes meetings with Moss, Welker, Coles, and Cotchery. If that quartet can't get it done it's tough to ask a member of this group to give Quinn much help.

TE Kellen Winslow S2

The Bills have allowed just one TE TD and only two tight ends to top 50 yards, but this one goes beyond the matchup. Quinn looked at K2 14 times in his first start... and 21 times at everybody else on the team. Winslow responded with 10 catches, 111 yards, and two TDs. More telling is that Quinn went back to K2 again on fourth down with the game on the line. Sure, Winslow dropped it, but it's not as if Brady has a plethora of other options.

DT Browns B Even the mighty Joshua Cribbs might find the going tough against Bobby April's elite special teams units.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

Even Edwards grew bored with his steady diet of 200-yard, one-TD efforts—so bored he stopped halfway last week against the Patriots. This matchup might entice him, however, as the smoke and mirrors Cleveland used early on to mask a shaky secondary has given way to three straight games of surrendering at least 248 yards multiple touchdowns. It's worth noting that last year's snowstorm game was sandwiched between Edwards' last two multiple-touchdown outings. So, whaddya say, Trent? Got a 230 and two in there?

RB Marshawn Lynch S1

Only the Bengals and Jaguars have failed to run the ball successfully against the Browns; there's a pussycat joke in there; feel free to make one up and laugh at it for me. The other seven non-kitty cat clubs have rushed for 1,075 yards and 10 TDs. In other words, a back playing exclusively against the Browns would rush for 2,457 yards and 23 touchdowns. Uh, excuse me; with my first-round pick I'll take "Back vs. Browns". Lynch has been largely disappointing this season, with just six TDs and no 100-yard games. He's lined up perfectly for both this week, and failure to accomplish this task goes down on his permanent record.

RB Fred Jackson B

While secondary backs have had success against the Browns this year—on three occasions a backup has rushed for at least 60 yards and scored after the starter filled their fantasy plate—let's let Lynch get his before looking for more in the Buffalo ground game.

WR Lee Evans S1

Not only have the Browns allowed opposing No. 1 receivers to score in six straight games, the last three have also topped 100 yards. Lee has been less mercurial this season than in the past, but this one has all the makings of a classic Evans-esque monster outing.

WR James Hardy
Roscoe Parrish
S3 Yes, that's an S next to Roscoe Parrish and/or James Hardy. Parrish is the second-most targeted Bill and Hardy scored last week, which puts both in the running to capitalize on a unique stat: in the past three games not only have the Browns allowed No. 1 receivers to score and top 100 yards, they've also allowed No. 2 receivers to score as well. Tough to argue with that trend, so we won't; those of you in larger leagues officially have the green light to give Hardy and Parrish what is likely their first-ever fantasy start. Note that Hardy is questionable with a hip injury, so obviously if he's deactivated Sunday he's not a good fantasy play. But sans Josh Reed, who is doubtful with an ankle injury, there's potential here
TE Robert Royal S3 The Browns allowed 178 tight end yards last week alone, along with their first TE TD of the season. That smacks a bit of aberration, but it's worth noting that Bills' tight ends have 23 catches, 252 yards and two touchdowns in four home games. Buffalo TE road numbers? Six catches for 48 yards in five games. Royal is questionable with an ankle injury, but if he goes he's worth considering in larger TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Bills S3 It's not as if Quinn were mistake-prone in his first start... but the kid is young, and this week he faces a legit defense.

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