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Start/Bench List - Week 13
John Tuvey
Updated: November 28, 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)
Tennessee (10-1) at Detroit (0-11) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins S3

The Lions are hardly a shutdown matchup, but there's a reason five teams—including three of the last four—haven't thrown for 200 yards against them: because there's been no need to. With the Titans preferring to lean on their ground game, it's unlikely Collins will be asked to put up a fourth straight 200-yard effort.

RB Chris Johnson S1

Simply put, the Lions can't stop the run. Opponents have rushed for at least 120 yards in seven straight games, running backs have scored seven times in the past three games, and seven different rushers have topped 100 yards. All that's preventing Johnson from a monster day is the possibility that LenDale will steal too many touches; then again, this is the defense that just let both DeAngelo Williams (120 and two) and Jonathan Stewart (130 and one) go off, so there should be plenty to go around.

RB LenDale White S2

White has clearly moved from co-chair of Tennessee's backfield committee to a more junior position. He should see enough touches and scoring opportunities to make this a productive day, but he has just one touchdown in the past four games and hasn't seen more than 18 carries in a game all season so he's hardly a sure thing. Plus, who's to say he won't be distracted by the six-legged turducken the Lions are sure to set out in close proximity to the Titans' bench?

WR Justin Gage
Brandon Jones
S3 Again, Detroit's pass defense numbers are skewed because often there's no need to throw on them; that's how they've gone four games without allowing a wideout to top 70 yards. When you mix in the Titans' disdain for the passing game, you probably don't need to reach this deep into your bag of tricks for starters. Then again, only four teams have allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers so there may be something here for these guys anyway.
TE Bo Scaife

Okay, who don't you start against the Lions? Only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends, and Scaife is the Titans' receiver of choice when they do decide to throw. Might as well get the tight end position out of the way early and let Scaife give you something to stay awake for during the Detroilet game.

DT Titans S1 Nine of the Titans' 11 opponents failed to reach 20 points; the Lions are averaging just over 17. And then you've got Albert Haynesworth against the Detroit lion and all those Tennessee ball hawks making Daunte wish he'd stayed retired...
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper


There was a time when you could mention Culpepper alongside Peyton Manning and Brett Favre—the only quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against the Titans this year. That time, however, is not 2008; this iteration of Daunte has 432 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions in three games. Give thanks he's not in your lineup,

RB Kevin Smith

Before you assume I hit the Wild Turkey a little too early this Thanksgiving, consider the following: the Titans have allowed at least 123 yards from scrimmage to each of the last five backfields they've faced, and Tennessee has surrendered six RB TDs over the past three games alone. Over the past four games, against some pretty good run defenses (Chicago, Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay have all allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than the Titans), Smith has averaged almost 100 yards from scrimmage and scored twice. Look, the Lions don't want this game to go on any longer than you do; they're giving the talented rookie 20-plus touches per game to keep the clock running and to see if they have a feature back to build around. Smith's productivity suggests they do; it also suggests he's a sneaky fantasy play against the vaunted Titans defense. Now, back to the bottle.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Of course it's not a good matchup, though both of the WR TDs the Titans have allowed this year have come in the past month. But a staple of the Detroit game plan is the jump ball to Johnson. He's scored in two straight and six of seven, suggesting that the play works.


Shaun McDonald
Mike Furrey


Of course it's not a good matchup... and in the case of all Lion receivers outside of Johnson, that's all that needs to be said.

DT Lions B Ten of the Lions' 11 opponents have scored at least 25 points. The last three have all scored at least 31.
Seattle (2-9) at Dallas (7-4) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

Shaun Hill's 303 and two against the Cowboys last week might give you hope. Hasselbeck's 273 and three combined in his two games back from injury should throw that hope to the ground and drive it into the dirt with its boot heel.

RB Maurice Morris


It isn't Morris' 103-yard effort against the Redskins last week that has me cautiously optimistic. Morris has receiving touchdowns in each of the past two games, while the Cowboys have given up running back receiving touchdowns in each of the past two games. I wouldn't pass on a second helping of Grandma Dodo's pecan pie waiting for Morris to score in Big D, but there's a possibility you'll see the highlight after you wake up from your tryptophan coma.

RB Julius Jones
T.J. Duckett


It's not even a given that Morris is the lead dog in Seattle's backfield, and Duckett is most definitely the goal line guy if and when the Seahawks get close. But there just isn't much in the way of opportunity here; at least with Morris there was a trend to hang your hat on.


Koren Robinson
Bobby Engram
Deion Branch


KoRo has the only Seahawk wide receiver game of more than 80 yards this year; he also has the only two Seattle WR TDs since Week 6. It's not worth reaching for anyone here.

TE John Carlson
B The Cowboys have allowed two TE TDs all year, one in the past 10 games, and no opposing tight end has reached 50 yards against them. Carlson is having a nice rookie campaign, but neither he nor this offense is worth bucking those trends for.
DT Seahawks B With the Dallas offense rounding into form, you don't want to be stepping in front of that bus with the Seattle defense .
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S1

Now that's the Romo we've been waiting for! Tony has topped 300 yards five times in eight starts, and the Seahawks have already given up that number four times this season. With yardage aplenty in store you can overlook the fact that Seattle has held three straight foes to one passing touchdown; doesn't hurt that Romo has five three-TD games, either.

RB Marion Barber S1

MB3 has 395 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in three previous meetings with NFC West foes; it's unlikely a Seattle defense that has allowed two 100-yard rushing games and five RB TDs over the past three games alone will do much to slow his appointed rounds.

WR Terrell Owens S1

Only one secondary has allowed more yards to wide receivers this season, and only two teams have surrendered more fantasy points to wideouts. With Owens back in the mix and a prime time audience to entertain, there's no reason not to expect more big things from TO. Besides, he's scored each of the two previous Thanksgiving Day games in Dallas; who wants to mess with tradition?

WR Roy Williams


Evidently the playbook Roy boned up on during the bye was only 36 pages deep—matching the number of yards he has in each of his two games post-bye. His Turkey Day production is hardly inspiring, either: 264 yards and one touchdown in four previous celebrations. Put Roy at the little kids table and give him some Jell-O because there doesn't appear to be enough of the main course to fill his plate.

TE Jason Witten S3

The Seahawks have allowed some big yardage games—five tight ends have topped 50 yards—but they haven't surrended a touchdown to the position since Week 1. Witten's ribs, meanwhile, have rendered him second banana to rookie Martellus Bennett, who has outproduced Witten in five straight games. Romo appears healed, but Witten has done little to indicate the same and with Bennett and TO horning in on his action you're pretty much starting him on name value alone right now.

DT Cowboys S1 The Seahawks have scored a total of 30 points in three games with NFC East foes this season. So if you're making a run for seconds, make it during a Seattle offensive series; all you're risking is a pick-six, and they'll show you highlights later.
Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

Warner's run of multiple touchdown outings has been replaced by back-to-back games with single scores, but he's rolled out five straight 300-yard efforts. You didn't bench him in Carolina (381 and two), you didn't bench him against the Giants (351 and one); I see no need to bench him here.

RB Tim Hightower B In the three games since his coming out party Hightower has 35 carries for 78 yards and scored exactly as many touchdowns as J.J. Freaking Arrington. Only five teams have allowed fewer RB TDs than the Eagles, and the Cardinals are a pass-first, pass-second, and pass-third team. Tough to bank on a shorty falling into Hightower's lap, and even if it does Arrington might swipe it. And since Hightower is doing nothing as a feature back, odds are you have a better option on your roster.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

All three of the 100-yard receiving games the Eagles have allowed have come in the last five weeks. And since few if any defenses can shut this tandem down, you're going to roll them out there even if Philly hadn't allowed a wide receiver catch this season. Of course, the fact that Asante Samuel is nicked up doesn't hurt the Cards' chances.

WR Steve Breaston

Only once this season has a second receiver reached 50 yards against the Eagles, let alone a third receiver. That said, Breaston isn't your ordinary third receiver. It's not a great matchup, but seeing as he's among the top 30 fantasy wideouts he's essentially a No. 1, right?

DT Cardinals S3 Philly quarterbacks have tossed seven picks the past two games, and Arizona has players who know what to do with an INT.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

Here's a chance for The Don to get back on the horse. Arizona has allowed multiple touchdown tosses in five of their last six games, and you have to believe Philly will be forced to look outside of the banged-up Westbrook for offense to stay with the high-flying Cardinals. Mix in a Cardinals secondary that clearly does not travel east well (193 and two to Jason Campbell, 289 and six to Brett Favre) and it's unlikely Andy Reid will need to turn to Kevin Kolb this week.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

It's been a month since Westy gave us anything of note, and though he practiced Wednesday it's tough to believe he's anywhere close to 100 percent. The good news is that one of the areas the Cards are susceptible is in the area of running back receiving: Marion Barber put up 128 receiving yards against them and Arizona has allowed RB receiving scores in each of the past two games. Tough to bank on Westy being... well, the Westy we knew and loved, but at least there is cause for optimism.

WR Kevin Curtis
DeSean Jackson

S3 No team has allowed more wide receiver touchdowns than the Cardinals, though good luck identifying which of Philly's receiver-by-committee will have the more productive fantasy evening. Jackson is the better bet, but he's hardly a lock. Curtis narrowly edges Hank Baskett and Jason Avent as the next-best-option.
TE Brent Celek B

Celek has usurped L.J. Smith as the Eagles' starting tight end; however, Smith has all three touchdowns Philly TEs have scored while Celek's lone productive fantasy day was when he jammed half of his season yardage total (131 yards) into one aberration of a game. You'd be reaching here even in a TE mandatory league.

DT Eagles B There's a good chance this will be a shootout, at least on the Arizona side.

San Francisco (3-8) at Buffalo (6-5)

Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill B

Hill stretched his honeymoon to a third straight game with multiple touchdown tosses and at least 200 passing yards. However, you have to believe that the league is accumulating film on him now, and a cross-country trip to Buffalo sounds like trouble in the making. The Bills have held every visiting quarterback under 210 yards and only Philip Rivers managed more than one touchdown toss. In fact, in five home games the Bills have surrendered just 940 yards and four passing touchdowns. Would it be considered ironic that Hill's honeymoon will end so close to Niagra Falls?

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore was stymied by the Cowboys last week, but Buffalo offers a bit more opportunity. The Bills have allowed five straight backfields to produced triple-digit yardage from scrimmage and a touchdown... and since Gore accounts for virtually all of the 49ers' backfield production he's a solid bet to bounce back this week.

WR Isaac Bruce
Bryant Johnson
Jason Hill
B It's not just that the Bills have shut out wide receivers in four of their last five games. It's not just that the Niners have had five different wideouts lead them in fantasy points over the past six weeks. But it most definitely is some combination thereof.
TE Vernon Davis B

The perception is that Davis is starting to live up to that lofty draft standing. The reality is that he has three catches in three games since the 49ers bye; two have gone for touchdowns and one went for 47 yards. If you'd like to bet on lightning striking for a fourth consecutive time, go ahead, but know that aside from Tony Gonzalez's big game last week the Bills have allowed 280 yards and one touchdown to tight ends in 10 games.

DT 49ers B West Coast teams heading to the East Coast are zero-for-14 this year and have been outscored by an average of 11 points per game.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

A little tough love and Edwards finally gets that second touchdown toss. It's another favorable matchup, which means you can roll with recency (two TD passes in each of his last one games plus rushing scores in two straight) or primacy (one or fewer TD passes in 10 of 11 this season). I'll give him an S3 and let you decide if the potential for that second score is enough to get him off your bench and into your lineup.

RB Marshawn Lynch S2

The Niners run defense has been playing better of late, but the cross-country trip has taken it out of plenty of defenses this season. Lynch has posted a couple of solid fantasy outings and should be the focal point of Buffalo's offense once again. It's not a matchup of S1 proportions, but Lynch certainly belongs in your lineup.

WR Lee Evans S2

Does Evans' 110-yard performance last week absolve him of the goose egg from the week before? It at least gets him back on the radar, and a matchup with a 49er secondary that has allowed more fantasy points to wideouts than any other team bumps him up to S2 range. But that goose egg is still etched in my memory and won't allow me to give him another S1.

WR James Hardy
Josh Reed
B Reed scored last week, and this is most definitely a favorable matchup. But it's too critical a juncture in the season to be tossing Buffalo's secondary targets into your fantasy lineup regardless of opponent.
TE Robert Royal B Royal has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, and there's no need to chase after any of his backups because no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends than the Niners.
DT Bills S2 Leodis McKelvin is the next "next Devin Hester".

Baltimore (7-4) at Cincinnati (1-9-1)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Flacco has been held under 200 yards in three straight games, but he has multiplt TD tosses in three of his last four. The Bengals have held three consecutive quarterbacks to one or zero touchdowns but allowed five straight to top 225 passing yards. Somewhere in between you're looking at a 200-yard, one- or two-TD outing from Flacco. Yawn.

RB Willis McGahee
Ray Rice
Le'Ron McClain


Good luck guessing who John Harbaugh's flavor is this week. To wit: McClain has had 1, 4, 2, and 18 carries over the past month; McGahee's carries have been 0, 25, 9, and 7; and Rice's carries have been 21, 7, 8, and 8. Cincy has allowed at least one RB TD in nine of its last 10 games, and if you're talking touchdowns and Baltimore backs you're probably talking McClain, who has three of the Ravens' last five RB TDs... though McGahee has the other two.

WR Derrick Mason


Would you believe the Bengals haven't allowed a wide receiver touchdown over the past three games? That's almost as stunning as the Ravens having six WR TDs in the past six games, though only two have gone to Mason. He's still a solid PPR play, but that's about it.

WR Mark Clayton
Yamon Figurs

Mason is barely a start, and Flacco's a bench; you don't need to be smarter than a fifth-grader to do the math on benching what's left of Baltimore's pass-catchers.


Todd Heap

S3 The Bengals held Baltimore tight ends to one catch for five yards in the opener, but much has changed. Cincy has given up TE TDs in each of the past two games, while the Ravens have actually scored TE TDs in each of the past two games. The odds of Heap getting hurt are greater than that of him scoring—he missed practice during the week because of illness but practiced fully Friday and is listes as probable—but if you're scraping for tight end help this week the matchup suggests he might be useful.
DT Ravens S1 Despite the injuries this Baltimore D is living up to the legacy of defenses before it. A matchup with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offensively-challenged Bengals doesn't hurt, either.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Carson Palmer couldn't even reach triple-digits against the Ravens in the season opener, and there's nothing to suggest Fitzpatrick will improve significantly on that performance.

RB Cedric Benson

Ced has averaged less than two yards per carry over the last two games, yet he's received 39 carries in that span. After letting Brandon Jacobs score twice and Derrick Ward nearly snap their 100-yard rusher string, you can bet Baltmore will be motivated to drop the curtain on Cincy's ground game this week.

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Johnson and Housh combined for four catches and 66 yards in the earlier meeting, and that was with Carson Palmer throwing. Seeing as Housh has had one good fantasy outing over the past month and a half and Johnson the same—but with the added benefit of maybe doing something else stupid to earn another suspension—well, plugging either into your fantasy lineup would amount to a combination of nostalga and fantasy suicide.

DT Bengals B Cincy did hold Flacco to just 17 points in his first NFL start. However, he's improved since then while the Bengals have gone in the other direction.

Indianapolis (7-4) at Cleveland (4-7)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Holding Trent Edwards and Sage Rosenfels in check is one thing; containing the red-hot Manning, with multiple touchdowns in five straight and seven of eight, is another thing entirely. Manning has been carrying the Colts, not to mention his fantasy owners, and nothing suggests that won't continue this week.

RB Joseph Addai S2

Cleveland isn't quite the pushover on the ground they used to be; they actually rank outside the top 10 most fantasy-friendly defenses against running backs (okay, they're 12th). The absence of center Jeff Saturday and the Browns' offseason addition of Shaun Rogers might make this one a little trickier for Addai—and by trickier I mean he's likely looking at something a lot like last week, right around 100 yards from scrimmage. That's not a no-brainer start, especially with Rhodes horning in on Addai's scoring.

RB Dominic Rhodes B

Rhodes is stealing enough touches—10 or so per game over the past month as Addai has returned to regular duty—that he should at least be mentioned. Okay, he's been mentioned; trusting him to turn those dozen carries into something that will help your fantasy squad, even in a favorable matchup... no need to go there.

WR Reggie Wayne S1 Wayne hasn't been as consistent this season as you'd like from a No. 1 wideout, primarily because Indy has so many talented targets for Manning to choose from. But the fact that Andre Johnson found room to catch 10 balls for 116 yards last week suggests that Cleveland's secondary is accommodating to everyone—and given his druthers, Peyton prefers passing to Wayne.
WR Marvin Harrison
Anthony Gonzalez

S3 Jacksonville, Baltimore, Denver, and Houston all got a second receiver into the end zone against Cleveland. Gonzo and Marv have been taking turns being Wayne's wingman; last week it was Gonzo (95 and a touch), so maybe it's Marv's turn. Either has a decent shot of giving you productive numbers this week.
TE Dallas Clark S3

Clark is in some sort of rotation with Harrison and Gonzalez whereby he'll contribute a fantasy helper every week or three, then post a pedestrian outing or two before helping out again. Cleveland has allowed just one TE TD this season, suggesting Marv and Gonzo might be the better options, but Clark is still a must-start in TE-only leagues.

DT Colts S3 Welcome back, Derek Anderson! While Indy's defense hasn't been anything special this season, a date with a formerly benched quarterback could produce a shot at redemption.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson B

Anderson returned to the lineup with a 5-for-14 performance against the Texans... who rank 21 places ahead of the Colts on the "fantasy friendly" scale. With Philip Rivers having posted the first multi-touchdown game on Indy this year, it's extremely difficult to be optimistic that Anderson will return from oblivion and the bench to help your fantasy squad this week.

RB Jamal Lewis S2

Cleveland's only hope in this game is to take the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands and put it in Jamal's hands 25 or 30 times. He hasn't seen 25 carries since Week 4 (or even 20 carries since Week 8), but between Lewis and Harrison you have to think the Browns will try to run the football. Lewis seems to be settling in around the 80-yard range, but should be able to add a touchdown to that total against a Colts defense that has surrendered 10 running back scores in the past five games.

RB Jerome Harrison B

Harrison has received the slight uptick in touches the Browns suggested they'd give him, but he did little with them against Houston and shouldn't be expected to do much more against the Colts.

WR Braylon Edwards

A .369 average is great if you're an Indians' outfielder; it's lousy if that's the percentage of targets you're turning into catches. Edwards' copious drops contributed to Anderson's benching so he may not be thrilled with going back to him; then again, he may have no choice. You have a choice: you can hope Braylon finds the Stickum, or you can sit him down against an Indy secondary that has allowed two WR TDs on the year. I'd be far more inclined to the latter than the former.

WR Donte' Stallworth B

Donte' is the last Browns wideout besides Edwards to have more than one catch in a game; he turned the trick in Week 10.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

The good news is that tight ends are averaging six catches for 50 yards a game against Indy over the past five; the bad news is that they've given up just one TE TD this year. Winslow is still an every-week starter in TE-mandatory leagues, but this isn't the most favorable of matchups. You'll also need to keep an eye on the pregame inactives, as K2's shoulder injury limited him in practice Friday and has him listed as questionable.

DT Browns B There is little to suggest Cleveland will slow the momentum Indy's offense has going.

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