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Start/Bench List - Week 12
John Tuvey
Updated: November 21, 2008
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Thur Night
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Monday Night
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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Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (1-9) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards B

Yawn. [Fill-in-the-blank] yardage and one touchdown. And now Edwards can't even get motivated enough to muster 200 passing yards. It could be a matchup with Sister Mary Catherine's School for the Depth Perception Challenged and Edwards still couldn't get that second touchdown toss to save his soul. I've grown tired of waiting.

RB Marshawn Lynch S1

Now that's what we've been waiting for! Lynch delivered his first 100-yard rushing game of the season and added 10 catches for another 58 yards. Lynch may need those receiving yards, as the Chiefs have tightened up against the run but have still allowed each of the past two feature backs they've faced to chalk up triple-digit combo yardage. Assuming Fred Jackson doesn't bite off too much of the workload Lynch is staring another big ol' fantasy day right in the face.

RB Fred Jackson B

I debated tagging Jackson with an S3 here, and there are certainly some compelling reasons in his favor—a Chiefs defense that knows how to give up yardage to running backs and Jackson's season-high 12 carries last week, to name a couple. Were this a bye week there would likely be a need out there for Jackson. However, it's not... so really, there isn't.

WR Lee Evans S3

Staring a favorable matchup and a prime-time spotlight right in the face, Evans messed the bed with a vengeance. One target. Zero catches. Against the Browns, for crying out loud. How can Evans be trusted again? Personally, I'd kick him to the curb and never utter his name again were he to ever sully my lineup with such a stunt. But let's be rational here. The Chiefs have allowed an opposing wideout to score or top 100 yards (or both) in each of their past four games. So, if you can find it in your heart to forgive Evans for last week's transgressions he's worthy of a spot in your starting lineup. Me, I live my life in homage to Mott the Hoople (via Great White): once bitten, twice shy.

WR James Hardy
Roscoe Parrish
B We can't get a multiple touchdown game from Edwards, and we can't trust Evans to show up in a favorable matchup. How in the Sam Hill can we expect anything from Hardy or Parrish? That's a rhetorical question, the fact of the matter is, we can't..
TE Robert Royal S3 Bills tight ends own a grand total of six catches for 48 yards in five road games.
DT Bills S2 It's not a great matchup strictly on its defensive merits, but... did you get a load of Leodis McKelvin bringing that kick back?
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen S2

Would you believe the Bills have shut out back-to-back-to-back quarterbacks? Would you believe Thiggy has thrown multiple scoring strikes and topped 235 yards in each of his two NFL starts? It's unlikely to see Thigpen's run continue, but it sure was fun while it lasted.

RB Larry Johnson

LJ was eased back into the full-time feature-back gig, with 19 carries for 66 yards and a touchown. Enough to tease, not really enough to make him a viable fantasy helper on an every-week basis. And this matchup offers little more than a month of feature backs putting up ordinary yardage and a touchdown. Truth be told, Johnson fit into the Chiefs' revamped offense better than maybe most expected, and he's not a bad RB2 option in most leagues. You needn't go out of your way to start him, but you could do worse.

WR Dwayne Bowe S2

Buffalo hasn't allowed a wide receiver touchdown in the last month; however, they have allowed three 100-yard receivers in that span. Seeing as Bowe is targeted more than the rest of the wide receiving corps combined, he's the odds-on favorite to take advantage of this trend and put up triple digits this week.

WR Mark Bradley
B Just not enough spillover to make Bradley relevant this week.
TE Tony Gonzalez S2

It's not a particularly favorable matchup, but Gonzo is currently the Sundance Kid to Bowe's Butch Cassidy. And much like Etta Place, Thigpen is showing both of them some love.

DT Chiefs B For a team down a handful of defensive starters last week the Chiefs fared quite well. That and ten bucks will get you "Chinese Democracy" .
New England (6-4) at Miami (6-4) Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S2

Cassel threw for a relatively uneventful 131 and one back in Week 3, when he was still getting acclimated. Over the past month Matt has topped 200 yards four times, capped with his 400-yard outburst on Thursday night. Miami has held two straight quarterbacks under 200 yards, though neither was particularly talented in the first place. Prior to that the Phins had surrendered at least 200 yards in four straight, so Cassel should be able to get his yardage. However, Miami has allowed multiple touchdown tosses just once since Week 2 while Cassell has been held to zero or one in seven of his nine starts. That's a lot going on just to figure Cassel should get his 200 and a touch and maybe a little more.

RB Sammy Morris
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Kevin Faulk


It's a classic committee conundrum: Morris is getting healthy, Green-Ellis has had some success, and Faulk is the more versatile back. That's three backs sharing touches, destined to combine for mediocre output against a run defense that over the past month hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher and has given up just a couple running back rushing scores. Bad matchup plus big backfield rotation equals bench duty for BenJarvus and his buddies.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S2 Etch in stone Welker's half-dozen catches and a sure-fire start in PPR leagues. Moss is a little more troublesome, because we still have yet to see proof Cassel can connect with him on a long ball. There's upside, to be sure, but also a litany of "pass incomplete deep left to R.Moss" in the game logs that are driving Randy's fantasy owners up a wall. Sit Moss? There's some logic to the move, but not enough to advocate the position—especially if last week's late TD reminds Cassel that Randy can be an effective red zone target as well.
TE Ben Watson


Watson was targeted a whopping 14 times against the Jets, catching eight balls for 88 yards and a touchdown. With Cassel throwing so much underneath another big PPR day could be in the offing for Watson; however, the Jets have yet to allow a tight end touchown this season so don't bank on his second score of the season coming here.

DT Patriots S3 Miami's scoring has been down, but the Pats continue to lose key components of their defense. There's no real compelling reason to trot out New England's defense here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington B

It's been six weeks since Pennington threw multiple touchdowns; on the flip side of that coin, the Pats hav allowed multiple scores in two of three and 250-plus yards in three of four. Chad apears set up to improve on the 226-yard, zero-touchdown outing he posted on the Phins in Week 3. Maybe 226 and one? Don't expect gaudy, as that's not Pennington's MOA. But if serviceable gets you fantasy points, you could do worse than Pennington this week.


Ronnie Brown


Think the Patriots will be prepared for the Wildcat this time around? That antiquated formation produced more than 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns last time out, and the Patriots had no answers whatsoever. You have to think Bill Belichick has some film on the 'Cat now and has devised a stopper. Nonetheless, the advantage in this chess game apears to be on Miami's side as they counter the Pats' adjustments with some of their own. Maybe it won't add up to another Abe Lincoln for Brown, but at minimum he should put up solid fantasy digits.


Ricky Williams


Just when you expect Ricky to do something, he does the complete opposite. In the earlier meeting there was Wildcat spillover to the point that Ricky very nearly joined Brown above the century mark. Instead, it was a 98-yard, zero-TD day Williams has built upon with three scores and a 100-yard effort. But last week, when he should have turned second-banana duties into solid fantasy productivity against the Raiders, he laid an egg. So, based on his previous success against New England can you count on Williams this week? Unlikely. After all, if there's one thing that's predictable about Williams, it's his unpredictability.

WR Greg Camarillo
Ted Ginn Jr.
S3 Camarillo and Ginn put up decent numbers against the Patriots last time out, and as the injuries continue to mount in the New England secondary teams are finding a little more wiggle room every week. The success of speed guys like Donnie Avery (6-163-1) suggest Ginn should have good fortune of his own, but Camarillo is the more frequent target and should see at least a few looks of his own. Neither is a great play, but either could be used in a pinch with at least a little bit of upside on the table.
TE Anthony Fasano
David Martin

The success of Ginn and Camarillo has come at the expense of the tight ends, and while the Patriots have allowed decent yardage to the likes of Dustin Keller and Dallas Clark they haven't surrendered a tight end touchdown in a month. Unless Miami has another wacky formation to throw at the Patriots and it involves leaning heavily on Fasano and/or Martin, you'll almost certainly find better fantasy options elsewhere.

DT Dolphins S3 Joey Porter felt disrespected and unleashed four sacks on the Pats last time around. For the Phins' sake let's hope Porter is still peeved.
Chicago (5-5) at St. Louis (2-8) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

It took Orton a couple games at the start of the season to settle into a rhythm, and if it takes a similar schedule to bounce back from his ankle injury he's not worth starting until next week. The Rams' pass defense has also improved; after McNabb and Manning combined for six TDs in the first fortnight just two of eight quarterbacks have thrown multiple touchdowns. The best-case scenario for Orton feels like a TD or two and something just north of 200 yards, which is barely enough to get hiim considered for a fantasy start.

RB Matt Forte

Not only has Forte topped 100 yards from scrimmage in four of his last five games, the Rams have allowed seven opposing backs to produce triple-digit combo yardage in just six games. Heck, five of those backs didn't even need the receiving yarage. Matchups don't come any more favorable than this one.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis

B Randy Moss is the only wideout since Week 1 to come up with 100 yards against an improving St. Louis secondary, and with no clear-cut guy emerging from this group your only real option is to bench the lot of them.
TE Greg Olsen


The Rams have surrendered three TE TDs and one 100-yard game over the past month. Desmond Clark still lurks, but in TE-mandatory leagues Olsen is a favorable play this week.

DT Bears S3 Despite Hester's struggles there are still enough playmakers on this defense to justify giving them a shot at cracking Marc Bulger this week.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S3

Bulger has a 300-yard game, a 200-yard game, a multiple touchdown game, and a benching over the past month. The Bears have allowed four straight multiple TD games—and we're not talking Johnny Unitas here; the list includes Frerotte, Orlovsky, and Collins. Bulger has as good a shot at the upper 200s and a couple scores as any other scrub quarterback; how's that for a hearty ringing endorsement?

RB Steven Jackson

Jackson has been ruled out yet again due to his thigh injury.

RB Antonio Pittman

Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson have reached triple-digits against the Bears over the past month, but Pittman isn't in that class and Jackson is nowhere in sight.

WR Torry Holt
Donnie Avery

Nothing overly compelling here. The Bears have allowed at least one WR TD in each of the past five games (six total over that span), while the Rams have thrown a handful of decent fantasy games at the wall but have spread four wide receiver touchdowns over four different wide receivers. If your crystal ball is telling you which Ram receiver is the guy to have this week, go for it. All I have is the Magic 8-Ball, and it keeps telling me "Reply hazy, ask again" and "Try again later." That's no help.

DT Rams B Three games. 116 points allowed. 'Nuff said.

New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee (10-0)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

The fact that Thomas Jones carried so many times against a heretofore stout Patriots run defense last Thursday suggests the Jets are learning something: this team is best served by letting its defense and ground game win for them rather than asking Favre to do so. In three losses, Favre has thrown 35 times per game; in seven wins, that number is six fewer. So in a best-case scenario for the Jets Favre's stat line won't be a particularly helpful fantasy one—something in the 200-210 yard range with maybe a touchdown or at most two. Favre's fantasy owners are used to walking the edge with him; sometimes the shootouts involve three picks, sometimes the sub-200-yard games still net him three scores. But the key is the Jets' intentions, and after watching Thursday's game plan it appears the intent is to establish a ground game first and augment with Favre. And that means that if the plan holds, Brett is a borderline fantasy starter this week.

RB Thomas Jones S3

The teams that have nearly knocked off the Titans this season have stuck with the run: the Ravens ran 36 times for 119 yards and a score before falling late, while the Jaguars ran 29 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns but couldn't hold on. Watching the Jets on Thursday run the ball 35 times into the teeth of the Patriots defense suggests that Gang Green feels a similar game plan is in order. It won't be pretty—Jones' 30 carries last week resulted in 104 yards and a touchdown, but at less than 3.5 yards per carry—but ultimately it could prove effective. And those cumulative numbers are what go on your fantasy stat sheet.

RB Leon Washington B

The Jets haven't proven willing to give Leon the kind of wingman carries that could be counted on to produce helpful fantasy numbers. Not saying Washington isn't capable of busting off a big play, be it in the return game or out of the backfield; however, as a fantasy owner it's tough to look at 5-10 touches against an elite-level defense and see where there's any bankable fantasy value to be found.

WR Laveranues Coles
Jerricho Cotchery


At best this tandem can be considered for borderline starts in larger leagues. Cotchery had success against the Patriots last week, but it's been almost two months since either threw a really big fantasy game (100 yards and a touch, or multiple scores) on the board. Against a Titans secondary that's allowed a total of one wide receiver touchdown this year and just one 100-yard outing as well, you'll have to settle for 50-60 yards and maybe—maybe—a score.

TE Dustin Keller


Even Achilles had a heel, and if the Titans' defense has a hole in the armor it may very well be at the tight end position. Tennessee has allowed a couple TE TDs and a couple more decent-sized yardage games, so they appear vulnerable. Keller, meanwhile, has been laser hot with 14 catches for 194 yards over the past two games. He's no S1, but he could be the Jet who produces the most fantasy helpful stat line on Sunday.

DT Jets S2 The Titans have played largely low-scoring affairs, and the Jets have a pair of defensive touchdowns over the past three weeks. Somewhere in that combination one might find an effective fantasy football play.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins S3

Tennessee's last two opponents have dared Collins to beat them, and to Kerry's credit he's delivered with 519 yards and five touchdowns. Looking at what's worked for the Jets this year you'd have to think they'll employ a similar strategy; after all, both Kurt Warner and Matt Cassel threw for 400 yards in losing efforts. Expect plenty of loaded fronts that require Collins to go up top. His upside is likely something north of 250 yards and a couple touchdowns, definitely startable in most fantasy leagues.

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

Teams can stack the line against the Titans; Jeff Fisher will still run the ball right at 'em. He took it to the Vikings, Ravens, and Bears, and though the Titans managed just 218 rushing yards between those three games they all went in the books as "W"s. The Jets' run defense improvements have worked, to the point that likely just one starter here. Johnson should get the bulk of the carries and is the better yardage play; White remains the goal line guy and can be considered in TD-heavy formats. Neither is a great fantasy play, but both are capable of producing at least a little help for your score sheet.

WR Justin Gage
S3 The Titans aren't loaded with targets; in fact, Gage is the only one deserving of so much as a roster spot. And if as anticipated the Jets focus on slamming the door on the ground game the Titans will need someone to go up top to and stretch the defense. Enger Gage, who has three of the teams' four WR TDs and its top two yardage games. Again, it's not a great play, but all indications are there will be opportunties.
TE Bo Scaife

Scaife comes into play because only one team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than Gang Green, and because with no wide receivers outside of Gage Collins will need someone to throw to. With four-, five-, and 10-catch games over the past month, Scaife should find a way to break onto your fantasy stat sheet this week.

DT Titans S2 Between the aggressive Titans defense and a Jets quarterback who has been known, from time to time, to throw one that goes back the other way... this is a pretty good start this week.

Oakland (2-8) at Denver (6-4)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Russell threw a pair of touchdowns in the Week 1 loss to Denver, and he hasn't thrown multiples since. Despite the struggles of Denver's secondary this season, it's difficult to see this offense clicking to the point that Russell will be of much if any fantasy help.

RB Justin Fargas


It would be easy to look at an Oakland "offense" that's produced just two touchdowns in six games and write everybody off. But Fargas posted 97 yards on 18 carries in the opener and is still the lead dog in the Raiders' RBBC. And by "lead dog" I mean the guy who has led Oakland in carries each of the past six games. With Denver giving up 189 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs, Fargas is uniquely positioned to give Oakland that rarest of rareties: an actual legitimate Raider fantasy starter.

RB Darren McFadden


Every team needs a big toe, and McFadden is giving them a double dose this season. However, the hobbled carry-sharing version is not what many anticipated when making him such an early fantasy selection. Sorry, despite the favorable matchup it's much too risky to trust Run DMC with a fantasy start this week.

WR Ronald Curry
B Curry is the only Raider wideout on the active roster with a catch to his credit over the past three weeks. And he was catchless two of the three weeks. The Broncos have allowed a couple 100-yard games over the past three weeks but zero WR TDs; seeing as Curry and others are working on 100-yard seasons, this situation is best avoided entirely.
TE Zack Miller B

It's been almost two months since Miller scored, and now that the NASCAR season is done Tony Stewart is stealing some of Zach's looks. Sorry, despite some limited success this season Zach isn't worth plugging into your lineup this week.

DT Raiders B If you can't say something nice...
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Jay threw for 299 and two without even breaking a sweat back in the opener, and he didn't even have Brandon Marshall at his disposal. Even if Nnamdi Asomugha takes away half the field, there should be enough room on the other half for Cutler to put up good fantasy numbers, with a little upside thrown in to boot.

RB Peyton Hillis

S2 Hillis is going to see roughly half the touches, and his penchant for touchdowns makes him a decent start in TD-heavy leagues, especially against a defense that's already allowed 15 running back touchdowns this season.
RB Tatum Bell
P.J. Pope

B Yes, it's a cushy matchup. But until we have a better idea just how the touches will be distributed—outside of Hillis getting the money carries, which has already been discussed above—it's even riskier than usual to mess with these Bronco backs.
WR Brandon Marshall
Eddie Royal

Absolutely there's risk in starting a receiver who could at some point find himself joined at the him to Asomugha; ask Steve Smith (one catch, six yards) or Roddy White (five for 54). But you'd better be loaded at receiver if you're sitting Marshall; after all, a creative offense can find ways to make room for a primary receiver. And if Royal starts going off, maybe Asomugha moves to him and Cutler starts firing Brandon's way. Given that the Broncos' backfield is barren they'll need to throw the ball, Asomugha be damned. So check your options, but don't dismiss Marshall and Royal out of hand.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham

Graham has touchdowns in four of the last five games, further muddling the Broncos' tight end situation. Maybe the point is moot: over the past five games Oakland has allowed a total of 128 tight end receiving yards and zero scores. With plenty of other options at their disposal, there's no need for the Broncos to test the Raiders' coverage of its tight ends. Thus, there's no reason to plug either into a fantasy lineup this week.

DT Broncos B The Raiders have two offensive touchdowns in the past six games, so even the Broncos' version of "defense" could sneak into play this week.

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