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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 12
John Tuvey
Updated: November 21, 2008
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Thur Night
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Monday Night
*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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Carolina (8-2) at Atlanta (6-4)

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Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Delhomme has an abysmal 170 passing yards combined over the past two weeks. However, the Panthers put two notches in the win column anyway thanks to their ground game. The Falcons aren't quite as porous on the ground as either Detroit or Oakland, which means Delhomme should need to throw a little more. His 294 and two against the Falcons back in Week 4 is his best game of the season, but if the Carolina ground game takes over once again Jake won't need to approach those numbers. Two games of sub-100-yard passing suggest you'd be best served looking for another option for your fantasy quarterback.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Earlier this season the Panthers used Williams and Stewart a combined 30 times for 109 yards and a touchdown in a 24-9 win. On the surface it appears as if Atlanta's run defense has improved of late; after allowing Brian Westbrook to torch them for 167 yards and two scores the Falcons have held the Raiders, Saints, and Broncos to a total of 199 yards. Let's look at that again: the Raiders (without Darren McFadden), the Saints (without Reggie Bush), and the Broncos (without their top five tailbacks). Meanwhile, the Carolina ground game appears to be hitting its stride, paced by Williams and his three straight 100-yard efforts. No reason to think he'll be anything less than a solid start again this week.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Stewart continues to serve as the junior partner in the Panther backfield, but that hasn't prevented him from putting up helpful fantasy numbers. He actually outgained Williams last week with 130 yards and a score, and he also hit paydirt in the earlier meeting with Atlanta. If you're choosing between the two Panther backs Williams is the hot hand, but both are certainly worth of fantasy starts this weekend.
WR Steve Smith S2

Smith broke his own personal minislump against Atlanta with six catches for 96 yards and a score in the earlier meeting. It's not tough to explain away the pair of duds Smith has posted the past fortnight: Nnamdi Asomugha and the success of the Carolina ground game conspired to hold him to one catch against Oakland, while the ground game alone was responsible for limiting him to six catches for 59 yards last week. The Panthers will most certainly lean on the run again this week, but the Falcons aren't so soft that Carolina won't have to mix in enough Smith to make him worthy of a fantasy start.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

S3

Muhammy blew up against the Falcons earlier this season with his biggest game in five years, 147 yards and a touchdown. It's unlikely lightning strikes twice, but Carolina obviously found something in the Muhammy matchup it liked so if you're looking for receiver help in a deeper league you may have found it.

DT Panthers S2 The Panther defense has been playing well and held the Falcons to nine points earlier in the season.
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

Last week's goose-egg snapped a string of three straight multiple-touchdown efforts from Ryan, but he did extend his string of games with at least 220 passing yards to five. At minimum you can expect an uptick from the 158 and zero Carolina held him to in the previous meeting; however, don't drive those numbers up too high, as the Panthers are allowing an average of less than 200 passing yards and under one passing TD per game. If you can afford to let the rookie prove himself on your bench this week, that's your most prudent move.

RB Michael Turner
S2

The Falcons haven't been shy about Turner's workload, giving him 83 carries over the past three games; he's also scored in back-to-back tilts. And after watching Kevin Smith find room against the Panther defense to pick up 112 yards last week, you have to think Turner can improve on his 18-carry, 56-yard effort from the previous meeting. A touchdown might be a trickier proposition, as the Panthers have allowed just four RB TDs this season, but it's not out of the question. At minimum Turner has some upside this week; not S1 upside, but "I'm glad I didn't leave him on my bench" upside.

RB Jerious Norwood B

I could see Norwood having value in a PPR league, and he has that big-play ability to take any touch the distance. But his touches are limited, and when these teams met earlier they were extremely limited: three carries and four receptions. With Turner expecting a larger workload and Ryan more comfortable at quarterback, those touches may come at Norwood's expense. Starting him this week would be akin to playing the lottery: you could win big, but the odds are definitely not in your favor.

WR Roddy White S2

White's 90 yards from the earlier meeting is among the better games opposing wideouts have posted on the Panthers. And now he has an improved quarterback and a legitimate threat on the other side; you have to believe that number can only creep upwards.

WR

Michael Jenkins

B

The Cardinals are the only team to have a second receiver go over 50 yards against Carolina, and while the Falcons are also birds the White/Jenkins tandem pales in comparison to Fitzgerald/Boldin. Jenkins' most important fantasy duty this week may be to serve as a threat to draw coverage away from Roddy White—and that's unlikely to show up on your stat sheet.

DT Falcons S3 Delhomme hasn't made it to triple digits for two straight weeks and he's thrown seven picks in the last five games. That at least provides the potential for pick-six opportunity.
 
New York Giants (9-1) at Arizona (7-3) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Eli hasn't seen the north side of 200 yards since Week 5, and while he's teased with a couple multiple touchdown games he's had only one in four of the last six. Between a banged-up Brandon Jacobs and the prospect of trying to keep up with the Arizona offense it wouldn't be surprising to see Eli tweak those numbers up a tad and keep him just on the plus side of a borderling start.

RB Brandon Jacobs S2

These are not your father’s Cardinals; this year’s edition has allowed just one 100-yard rusher and only eight RB TDs on the year. However, Jacobs proved that even the mighty Ravens were no match for his powers last week, and with a couple full practices under his belt you can expect typical Jake results this week in the desert.

RB Derrick Ward


S3

With Jacobs good to go it’s back to business as usual for Ward, with maybe a slight uptick in his workload if the Giants decide to pull back the reins on Jake. The Cards are no walkover, but neither were the Ravens.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

B

Bradshaw was potentially an intriguing play this week, but with Jacobs expected to play Ahmad returns to the backburner.

WR Plaxico Burress S3

Same story, different week. The Giants' wide receiver contingent is a cluster, with Plax's status as the lead dog cast into doubt. He has one touchdown in the past month and hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 6. The Cards' secondary isn't a shutdown unit by any stretch, but they seem to have more difficulty with speed than with size. At this rate you're starting Burress because of his name, because the Big Blue running game is banged up, and because the Cards put up points and the Giants may be forced to match the fireworks. That's hardly a ringing endorsement. Neither is the fact that he’s listed as questionable with a bum hammy. He’s a borderline starter at best.

WR Amani Toomer
Steve Smith
B

See above for a quick "state of the Giants' receivers" update. Toomer and Smith bring roughly the same background to the table that Plax does, minus the headaches. Until Eli starts regularly topping 200 yards again and/or somebody emerges from the Giants receiving corps there just isn't a solid fantasy start here.

TE Kevin Boss S3

Darcy Johnson stole Boss's TD last week, but the fact that Giants tight ends have found the end zone in four straight suggests Eli has found a comfort zone. And with Boss the more frequently targeted tight end, he's still a solid play even if Johnson lingers.

DT Giants S2 The Giants are an elite defense, and this matchup with the high-powered Cardinals offense will be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Seven straight 200-yard games and four straight 300-yard efforts. A seven-game stretch of multiple touchdown outings snapped last week. Warner is in such a zone that he'd probably throw for 250 and two against the '85 Bears. Put another way: yes the Giants' defense is good, but Derek Anderson threw for 310 and two against them. Carolina and Washington are ranked lower against the pass and Warner took each for two TDs, so he should be fine here.

RB Tim Hightower B No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than the G-Men. Mix in a potential smattering of Edgerrin James and J.J. Freaking Arrington stealing carries and Hightower is looking at a low-carry, low-production afternoon.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin
S1

Three different Eagle receivers scored against the Giants a couple weeks back; surely the best wide receiver tandem in football should find a way to get theirs against such a defense?

WR Steve Breaston
B

After going on a nice little run mid-season, two of Breaston's last three games have been two-catch afterthoughts. Against a formidable foe like the Giants, odds are the top dogs will get fed first and the leftover scraps won't help your fantasy squad.

DT Cardinals S3 On the one hand you have a talented, ball-hawking defense facing last year's top interception tosser; on the other, this defense is facing an offense that's scored 30 or more points in three straight games. You can probably find a better option out there.
 

Washington (6-4) at Seattle (2-8)

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Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S2

Campbell's numbers have been down a bit the past couple weeks, but here's an opportunity to get back on the horse. Over the past five games Seattle has allowed four quarterbacks (okay, three quarterbacks and the 49ers' Hill/O'Sullivan entry) to throw for at least 300 yards. And over that same span the Seahawks have held four of five to just one TD toss. Hmmm, solid yardage but limited scoring; where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, that's Campbell's MO.

RB Clinton Portis S2 Portis came off his death bed to play last week, so a mere questionable designation shouldn’t scare you. Seattle has only allowed two 100-yard rushers on the year, but they're not quite as stout a run defense as that of, say, the Steelers or even Dallas. That's good news, since Pittsburgh and the Cowboys ended Clinton's run of 100-yard games. Maybe Portis doesn't get all the way back into the saddle this week, but at a minimum he's be back amongst the fantasy helpers.
WR Santana Moss S1

No team has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Seahawks, and Moss is unquestionably the alpha male of the Redskin receivers.

WR Antwaan Randle El
B

Despite the above stat, Randle El isn't an option; he has yet to produce a real fantasy helper, as his only touchdown came as part of a 36-yard day and his biggest yardage day was a mere 87. And going further into the James Thrashes of the world is just silly.

TE Chris Cooley S2

The Seahawks haven't allowed a tight end touchdown since Week 1, but they have allowed three games of at least 50 yards in the past five weeks. Cooley has seven games with 47 yards or better, so this fits right into his wheelhouse.

DT Redskins S3 Seattle has topped 20 points just once in its last seven games, so there may be a little something here for the Washington department of defense.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

The Skins haven't allowed multiple touchdown tosses in a game since Week 4; Hass hasn't had a game with multiple scoring strikes this season. Washington has held five of its last six opponents and seven of 10 on the season under 200 passing yards; Hass... well, he hasn't thrown for 200 yards yet this season, either. Tough to start a guy under those circumstances.

RB Julius Jones
Maurice Morris
T.J. Duckett


B

Do you trust Jones, the head of this committee, even though he hasn't had a game of fantasy note since Week 3? Or Duckett, the goal line guy, against a DC defense that has surrendered just five RB rushing TDs on the year? The best option—and this really isn't saying much—might be third-down back Morris against a defense that has allowed seven backs to top 35 receiving yards and surrendered 154 RB receiving yards the past three games. Yeah, not enough for me either.

WR

Koren Robinson
Bobby Engram
Deion Branch



B

Washington's secondary has given up just three WR TDs in the past six games, and no receiver has topped 85 yards in that span. And you want to put up against that formidable front a receiving corps that's averaging less than 100 yards per game as a group and has scored just five touchdowns on the season? Worse, unless you're playing "Team WR" you need to pick one guy out of that group. No, thanks.

TE John Carlson
B Carlson's eight catches for 93 yards over the past two weeks may qualify him for team MVP, but they don't get him an S against a defense that's allowed just two TE TDs all year.
DT Seahawks B The Skins are no offensive juggernaut, but there's nothing on the defensive side of the ball in Seattle to suggest the Seahawks would help your fantasy squad in any way, shape, or form.
 

Indianapolis (6-4) at San Diego (4-6)

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Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

No team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Chargers, and with Manning playing like... well, the Manning we know and love and see hustling every product on the shelf, there's no better fantasy start this week. Oh, and I have to think Manning would like to avenge that six-pick game from a year ago.

RB Joseph Addai S2

The Bolts allowed Ben Roethlisberger to throw for 300 yards against them last week and still let Willie Parker go over the century mark on the ground. The prescedent has been set, and with Addai rounding back into form—and perhaps more importantly reminding us of his value as a receiver—he's on track towards regaining his every-week-starter status.

WR Reggie Wayne S1 Wayne caught 10 balls for 140 yards and a touch in last year's meeting with the Bolts, and he's unquestionably Indy's No. 1 receiver this season. So, if he's No. 1 and his quarterback is an S1, it would stand to reason that Reggie gets the Superman as well.
WR Marvin Harrison
Anthony Gonzalez


S2 Manning has at least 200 yards in every game this season, at least 223 in every game since Week 5, and multiple touchdowns in four straight and five of his last six. And that can't all go to Reggie Wayne. A second reciever has gone over 50 yards five times against the Chargers, so there's a good chance Manning makes every member of the Indy passing game a viable fantasy entity this week.
TE Dallas Clark S1

No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Chargers, and it's not even close. Clark has been targeted 47 times the past five games and produced 310 yards and three touchdowns in that span, so he's well-equipped to take advantage of San Diego's soft defense against tight ends.

DT Colts B This has all the earmarkings of a shootout, which might put a damper on any other stats (sacks, picks, and the like) you might get from the Indy D.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Talk about your tough matchups. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Colts, who have given up a total of two passing touchdowns this season and none in the past four games. It's impossible to bench Rivers outright; after all, he's thrown multiple touchdowns in every home game and topped 300 yards in each of the last two. But given the matchup, and the struggles he had last week against a similarly stacked Steelers defense, you have to at least dial back those expectations.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 As the old saying goes, when a door closes a window opens. The Colts shut down the pass, but they've kicked out the bay window when it comes to the ground game. Only five teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs, and after watching Steve Slaton take them for 156 on the ground last week you have to think this—finally!—is where we see the LT we know and love and drafted first overall.
WR Vincent Jackson
Chris Chambers
Malcolm Floyd


B

Floyd has actually been the team's top fantasy producer at the position the past two weeks (and three of the past four); Chambers hasn't done anything of note in a month; and Jackson has done little since his three-game run ended a few weeks back. It's tough to see any of the above get it going against an Indy secondary that has allowed all of one wide receiver touchdown this season.

TE Antonio Gates S2

You don't bench Gates in TE-mandatory leagues, and Indy has surrendered enough tight end yardage that Gates is still in play in performance leagues as well. However, the Colts have allowed only one TE TD so it might be tough to bank on Antonio finding the end zone this week.

DT Chargers S2 Well, they did pick Peyton six times last year. Maybe Antonio Cromartie has Manning's number.
 

Green Bay (5-5) at New Orleans (5-5)

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Rodgers bounced back with 227 and two against the Bears last week, and his cycle should continue upwards against a Saints secondary that has surrendered multiple touchdowns in four straight games and at least 235 yards in each of its last three.

RB

Ryan Grant

S2

Grant 's season kicked in around Week 6; since then he's rushed for 501 yards and three touchdowns in five games. The Saints have done a good job holding backs out of the end zone, but over the past month they've allowed an average of 110 rushing yards per game and given up a couple touchdowns to boot.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver
S2

Jennings was the top dog early on, then Driver took over for a month or so, and now it's trending back towards Jennings. But there should be plenty for both against a Saints secondary that has allowed 14 different wideouts to top 50 yards. Driver returned to practice on Friday after missing time due to turf toe and personal issues, so he should be good to go.

TE Donald Lee B Lee comes off a solid game against the Bears; unfortunately, it was his first fantasy game of note in more than a month and he was likely on the bench or even bobbing in the free agent pool. No rush to fish him out, as the Saints have surrendered just one TE TD over their past five games and allowed only one tight end to top 50 yards since Week 2
DT Packers S2 Nobody picks six like the Packers, and with Drew Brees throwing early and often it'll just give Green Bay that many more opportunities to make a play going the other way.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees has thrown three TDs in three of his four legitimate home games this season, and he hasn't dipped below 230 yards since Week 2. The Packers, however, offer up one of the better secondaries in the league and have surrendered fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than all but four teams. One bright spot: three of the four multiple touchdown games Green Bay has given up have come on the road.

RB Reggie Bush B

Bush didn’t practice on Friday, and while the Saints have an extra day to get him ready you may not be afforded the same luxury with your fantasy lineup. Best error on the side of caution and go with another option rather than get a limited Bush or worse Monday night.

RB Deuce McAllister S3

Deuce is probable but he’s operating on two bad knees and is losing touches to Pierre Thomas. Regardless of whether or not Bush plays Deuce is looking at a limited number of carries—and he hasn’t been all that effective with the carries he is receiving. Green Bay offers a pretty soft front, but don’t get too hopped up because it won’t be Deuce exploiting the matchup.

RB Pierre Thomas S2

Pierre is a great play if Bush is inactive and a good one even if Reggie plays because he’ll likely take at least some of Deuce’s carries. Suffice it to say that one or both of these backs should be in your lineup against a defense that has surrendered 547 RB rushing yards , 280 RB receiving yards, and five RB TDs in the past month alone.

WR Marques Colston
Lance Moore
S3

Over the past five games the Green Bay secondary has allowed a total of 304 wide receiver yards and two WR TDs, so it won't be easy for either Colston or Moore to get theirs. However, the Saints passing game won't back down from anyone so they'll at least have a fighting chance.

WR Devery Henderson
B This secondary is too strong to trust tertiary targets with a fantasy start.
TE Jeremy Shockey

S3 Green Bay struggled a bit midseason defending the tight end, but over the past month they've righted the ship and are allowing 40 TE yards per game with zero touchdowns surrendered to the position. If last week's results are any indication Shockey has taken control of this gig from Billy Miller and Mark Campbell, but this isn't the kind of matchup you should be sprinting to your phone to make sure Shockey is in your lineup. He's an S3 because the Saints throw to the position, but all that means is he's a borderline start in TE mandatory leagues.
DT Saints B The good news is that after three straight games of giving up 30 or more points the Saints held an opponent to 20. The bad news is, that's all the good news there is.

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