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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)
Carolina (8-3) at Green Bay (5-6) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Delhomme has taken some steps backwards as a fantasy quarterback, throwing for just one touchdown in each of the past three games and not even cracking triple digits in two of the three. A trip to Green Bay won't be the cure to what ails him, as the Pack have given up barely 200 passing yards per game to visiting quarterbacks and allowed just four passing scores in five home dates. The Panthers will be content to run the ball against Green Bay, leaving Jake looking at yet another pedestrian fantasy effort this week.

DeAngelo Williams

S1 Not only does DeAngelo bring a four-game string of 100-yard efforts with a touchdown into this contest, he'll also be the lead dog against a defense that has allowed eight touchdowns and 961 yards from scrimmage to opposing running backs over the past five games.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 After strapping on a protective boot following last week's underwhelming performance, Stewart practiced fully all week. While Williams is the go-to guy Stew remains a goal line threat and could also be in line for a dozen or so carries against a shaky run defense.
WR Steve Smith S2

Saying Green Bay's secondary has been inconsistent is like saying homemade stuffing is better than store-bought stuffing: uh, no kidding. Which unit will show up this week, the one that let Lance Moore run through them like a bean burrito or the one that locked down Reggie Wayne and allowed little more to the rest of Indy's receiving corps? Because Smith is, well, Steve Smith—you know the guy with four 100-yard games already this season—I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt here. Also, I don't like getting punched in the face.

WR Muhsin Muhammad


Marques Colston's one-and-done 70-yard effort on Monday night was the first time a second wideout topped 50 yards against the Pack this season. In other words, I'm not expecting there to be much left over for Muhammad to snap up this week.

DT Panthers S2 The Saints picked Aaron Rodgers thrice last week, and Carolina's secondary is markedly better. Doesn't mean they'll pull off the same feat, but it suggests the Panthers D/ST might be a fantasy helper this week.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S3

Rodgers has faced three tough pass defenses this season—ranked in the bottom six of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, just like the Panthers are—with mixed results. He threw for two touchdowns against Tampa Bay, but just 165 yards; he threw for 314 yards against Tennesse, but just one touchdown; and he was held to 186 yards and one score by the Colts. If you're feeling less than optimistic about this matchup, join the club.


Ryan Grant


Grant loves him the home cooking. He's averaging almost two yards per carry more at home than on the road and has more yardage and touchdowns despite playing fewer games in Green Bay. That trend dovetails nicely with the Panthers' road run defense, which has allowed all five hosts to produce triple-digit rushing yardage and just let Michael Turner burn them for four touchdowns. It's not a great matchup, but it certainly moves Grant to the plus side of the bench/start ledger.

WR Greg Jennings

The Panthers haven't allowed a road WR TD since Week 1 and have given up a total of just five on the year—and one in the past three weeks. Jennings is too good to bench, but your expectations have to be diminished against a secondary that ranks 29th in fantasy friendliness to wide receivers.

WR Donald Driver
Ruvell Martin

Driver had a nice little run midseason as a 1A to Jennings' No. 1, but he's tailed off considerably since with five mediocre efforts wrapped around one big game. Martin scored last week, but it was his first game with more than one catch since Week 5 so he's hardly a consistent option. Given the matchup, best let secondary targets sit on your bench this week.

TE Donald Lee B Lee's three touchdowns have come at such an inconsistent rate that he can't be considered for a fantasy start, especially against a Carolina defense that has allowed just one TE TD over the past two months.
DT Packers S2 Delhomme already has three- and four-interception games on his resume this season; if he pulls that against the Pack at least one of them is coming all the way back.
Miami (6-5) at St. Louis (2-9) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S3

Pennington has topped 280 yards in five of his last seven outings, and while the Rams have held three straight opponents under 220 passing yards it's not as if they're offering up anything resembling a shutdown secondary. Pennington's production may be limited only by how successful the Miami ground machine is against the league's second-most fantasy friendly run defense.


Ronnie Brown


What can Brown do for you this week? No team has allowed more running back touchdowns than the Rams, and only the Chiefs have allowed more running back yards. Opposing feature backs have rushed for 100 yards in four straight and six of seven against the Rams. Matchups don't get any more favorable than this one.


Ricky Williams


Williams gets starting lineup consideration on the strength of the matchup alone, but before you haphazardly toss him into your lineup and expect Eric Dickerson-type numbers, consider this: Only once in the past two months have multiple backs from the same team scored in the same game against the Rams. In other words, it's one back doing the bulk of the damage. Williams has outperformed Brown before, and he could very well end up with goal line looks, but this unfortunately isn't a slam dunk situation where both backs are no-brainer starters.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
S3 All that success on the ground means teams aren't bothering to throw on the Rams; as a result, their fantasy points allowed to wideouts looks better than perhaps their secondary truly is. Ginn is still a starter, though, if for no other reason than that he's as good a bet as any to take an end around the distance against the Rams' substandard run D.
WR Davone Bess
B Greg Camarillo's injury moves the rookie from Hawaii into the starting lineup. He's been moderately productive, but best let him get a game or two as a starter under his belt.
TE Anthony Fasano
David Martin

Martin is the only Miami tight end with more than three catches in a game since Fasano's big game back in Week 1; however, it was Casey Cramer who scored last week. This is too much of a cluster to mess with.

DT Dolphins S2 The Rams have scored more than 20 points exactly once this season, so on points allowed alone the Phins are a solid S2.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger

After being limited at Wednesday's practice, Bulger participated fully on Thursday and Friday. Oh joy. That means if you've been forced to start the Rams quarterback this week you'll be hoping it's Bulger that doesn't take another shot to the head. Actually, you can hope Trent Green doesn't take a shot to the head, either; it would be the nice thing to do.

RB Steven Jackson

Jackson has yet to give Jim Haslett the full practice he's demanding before returning Jackson to the starting lineup; he participated on a limited basis all three days this week. Will Haslett stay true to his word? If so, Jackson is a no-go this week. However, the St. Louis media expects Jackson to start this week—leaving you with a hobbled back behind a hobbled offensive line likely playing from behind against a pretty good run defense. That's just too much risk to assume at this critical juncture of the fantasy season.

RB Antonio Pittman

The pair of touchdowns the Pats scored last week were the first RB rushing TDs the Dolphins had given up in a month. Pittman has produced a couple okay games but nothing that should compell you to rush out and start him against a defense that ranks in the bottom third of the league in fantasy friendliness, even if Jackson is a Sunday morning deactivation.

WR Torry Holt
Donnie Avery

The Dolphins rank right behind the 49ers in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, so why am I not smiling? Because Holt has scored exactly one of the Rams last six WR TDs... and they've scored seven total this year. Because since his 163-yard breakout back in Week 8, Avery has a total of 162 yards in four games. Because guys like Dane Looker and Derek Stanley make it impossible to feel good about recommending either Ram receiver despite the favorable matchup. This is the first in a string of favorable-on-paper matchups for the Rams receivers, so I'll give them both a cautious S3 and see if they warrant further attention.

DT Rams B Over the past five games the Rams have been outscored 166-51, which works out to roughly 33-10 per contest and begs the question: what do you call the coach who replaces the interim coach when the interim coach gets canned?
New Orleans (6-5) at Tampa Bay (8-3) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

The Bucs haven't allowed a quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns against them since Week 4. Of course, Brees faced Tampa Bay in Week 1 and lit them up for 343 and three in a losing effort. That game was in The Big Easy, however, where Brees has thrown for at least 320 yards in every game and has 14 touchdowns in five games; in opposing stadiums (which rules out London, technically a Saints home game) Brees has just one multiple touchdown effort in five tries and has been held under 275 yards three times. So dial those expectations back just a wee bit; would you settle for 280 and two?

RB Reggie Bush S3

Bush was limited in practice all week, yet according to the New Orleans media did more this week than he has since suffering a torn meniscus and Sean Payton is confident Bush will play. Let's assume the above is true (because NFL teams never throw smokescreens (read: flat out lies) at their paying customers, right?), in which case you'll want Bush in your lineup if only for his PPR prowess. But if you plan to plug Reggie into your lineup you'll have to pay close attention to those Sunday morning inactives.

RB Deuce McAllister B

Bush's availability throws the entire backfield into disarray. If Bush plays, Thomas takes over more of McAllister's carries and Deuce becomes a bench guy. If Reggie sits again, Thomas handles more of Bush's workload and McAllister sticks around to bang out three yards a pop. Although if that's Deuce's best-case scenario, he'd be a bench candidate anyway against a defense that's allowed just one 100-yard game and one RB rushing TD this season.

RB Pierre Thomas S3

All indications are Bush will be back, which may take a bite out of Thomas's receiving workload. However, Pierre will usurp McAllister as the between the tackles guy and still get something in the 15-touch neighborhood. It's a tough defense to be facing, to be sure, but Thomas has demonstrated the ability to put up fantasy points in a hurry so if he's going to be involved in the offense it's tough to recommend you keep him on your bench .

WR Lance Moore

Moore has been Brees' most targeted receiver for six straight weeks; clearly a comfort level has developed. There won't be as much yardage as usual to go around, so the carpet-bombing strategy of starting any Saints receiver with a pulse won't work. Moore's the go-to guy, so it follows that he has the best chance of claiming the largest share of Brees' stats.

WR Marques Colston


Colston has had a couple nice games against the Bucs, but they've stymied him in two straight and now he can't even claim to be the team's top target. He shouldn't be benched, even given the difficult matchup, but expectations need to be dialed back.

TE Jeremy Shockey

S3 Shockey was solid against the Bucs in his Saints debut earlier this year with six grabs for 54 yards, but unless you're in a performance or PPR league he's done nothing for you as Billy Miller and Mark Campbell own all three of the Saints' TE TDs. This isn't a likely scenario for Shockey's first, as the Bucs have allowed just one tight end touchdown this season, so if the yards and catches don't do it for you you'll need to find another option.
DT Saints B The Saints aren't exactly known for their defensive skirmishes. Case in point: the 24-20 win over Tampa Bay earlier this season was the lowest-scoring game in the series since the 2005 season.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia S3

Garcia's 221 and one from the earlier meeting is a pretty typical line for him. However, the Saints have allowed multiple TD tosses in five straight games, so maybe you can go all crazy and project Jeff with two.

RB Warrick Dunn


Dunn produced 65 yards on 10 touches in the earlier meeting, and with Earnest Graham sidelined he should see a significant uptick in touches this time around. Playing directly into Dunn's hands is a Saints defense that has allowed three RB receiving touchdowns in the past five weeks in addition to the 100-plus rushing yards per game opponents are averaging over that span.

RB Carnell Williams


Caddy's 16 carries in his first game back off the PUP list were a bit surprising. If, however, they're an indication of how the Bucs intend to use him then he's a borderline starter against a Saints defense that surrendered two touchdowns to Williams last season prior to his knee injury. In a best-case scenario you'd let Williams show you a little production before throwing him into your lineup, but you may not have the luxury of waiting; the combination of Caddy's past success, the Bucs' willingness to give him carries, and a Saints defense that's been softer of late suggest this is a risk worth taking.

WR Antonio Bryant


The Saints have given up seven WR TDs over the past five games and rank sixth in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, so there's certainly opportunity here. Bryant has been the Bucs' most reliable receiver over the past month and a half and should be the beneficiary here.

WR Michael Clayton
Ike Hilliard
Joey Galloway

Despite the opportunity, there is just too much inconsistency and uncertainty amongst the secondary targets (for example, Clayton went catchless last week and Galloway has been shut out two straigt weeks) to warrant any of them earning a starting recommendation.

TE Jerramy Stevens

No offense to Alex Smith, but could he stay away just one more week? With Smith in the mix the Bucs have three tight ends sharing the pie; sans Smith Stevens has been a fantasy find the past two weeks with eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. If Smith returns, you're back to playing a shell game amongst Tampa Bay TEs. We should know more by Friday.

DT Buccaneers S2 The Saints can put up points in a hurry, but the Bucs know a thing or two about playing defense—and about what to do with a turnover should they create one.

New York Giants (10-1) at Washington (7-4)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Since being shut out by the Redskins in Week 1, Eli has thrown at least one touchdown in every game since—with multiple scores in three of his last four. Manning threw one (and only one) TD in each of his previous six meetings with the Skins, and Washington has allowed just a dozen passing scores this season so don't expect more than one here. The yardage won't be gaudy, either, against a secondary that has held three straight and six of seven opposing quarterbacks under 200 yards. Eli is right on the start/bench cusp this week; the tie is broken by favoring the Super Bowl MVP.

RB Brandon Jacobs S3

After last week's late (very late) scratch, Jacobs owners are gunshy. He didn't practice Wednesday, but he practiced fully Thursday and Friday and while listed as questionable is expected to play. Where have we heard that before? Given what happened last week you'll have to stay tuned to the late-breaking inactives, just in case, but if Jake is active he should be in your fantasy lineup.

RB Derrick Ward


The Skins have been a little softer of late, allowing two 100-yard rushers and four RB TDs over the past month. Ward probably doesn't get enough touches to warrant a fantasy start if Jacobs is a go, but if Brandon sits it would be enough to tip Ward to the positive side of the start/bench equation. Since it sounds as if Jacobs will go, Ward gets the B... pending, of course, that Sunday reversal the Giants sprung on us last week.

WR Plaxico Burress B

Burress has been ruled out of this contest because of his balky hamstring.

WR Amani Toomer
Steve Smith
Domenik Hixon
Sinorice Moss

Last week sans Plax the Giants went to the committee approach—and, truth be told, they've been toying with that method for much of the season. Hixon was the last Giant wideout to reach triple-digits back in Week 5, and everybody has made a visit to the end zone but none are racking up frequent flier miles on Paydirt Airlines. Even with Plax officially ruled out this situation is a big ol' mess, and against a Redskins secondary that has allowed just three WR TDs over the past two months, one you're best off avoiding for fantasy purposes.

TE Kevin Boss S2

Giant tight ends have scored in five straight, and Boss owns four of those TDs. The Skins have surrendered TE TDs in back-to-back contests, making Boss the odds-on favorite to catch Manning's touchdown toss.

DT Giants S2 Big Blue is always a defensive threat, especially if you get fantasy points for sacks.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

On this the trends agree: Campbell will throw for one touchdown. He has one or zero scoring strikes in seven straight and nine of 11 this year, while the Giants have held opposing quarterbacks to that same number in five of six and nine of 11. The yardage isn't quite so clear-cut; Big Blue has held four of five under 200 yards, while Campbell has topped that number in three of four. That's splitting hairs; 200 and a touch barely registers on the fantasy radar, so keep Campbell on your bench this week.

RB Clinton Portis S3 Portis' 84 yards in the opener is the second-most yardage the Giants have allowed to an opposing back this season. If you're an optimist that leads you to believe Portis can have a productive fantasy day against this defense, and numbers from last year's matchups (223 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns) bear that out. If you're a pessimist, though, you'll find it tough to use Portis against a defense that's given up all of six RB TDs this season and not allowed a back to top 95 combo yards on the year. Clinton didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable with knee and oblique injuries; he's also a gamer and has scored six of his seven touchdowns inside the Beltway, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt—though couching it with a downgrade from S2 to S3, as the Redskins say there's a 50-50 chance he plays.
RB Ladell Betts B Betts vultured a touchdown last week and may see some additional work with Portis nursing a variety of injuries. However, that's not enough to qualify for a spot in a fantasy lineup, especially in a matchup this tough.
WR Santana Moss S2

More than half of the WR TDs the Giants have allowed this year have come in the past five weeks... so I'm saying there's a chance. Moss scored the Skins' lone touchdown against the Giants in the season opener, his first against them since blowing up for 160 and three back in 2005. If that's his upside, and a one-TD game like he had earlier is his baseline, you can start Moss with confidence this weekend.

WR Antwaan Randle El

Randle El's fantasy contributions have been few and far between, and a change in that pattern this week is unlikely.

TE Chris Cooley S3

Cooley's worst game of the year came in Week 1 against the Giants—which should come as no surprise, seeing as only one team has allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends than Big Blue and only one tight end has scored against the G-Men. Cooley hasn't topped 50 yards in his past seven meetings with the Giants, though he has scored twice. And he's an integral part of the Redskins' offense, targeted at least six times in every game since the opener. He's not a great start, but he's still a serviceable option in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Redskins S3 The Redskins have held six of their last seven foes under 20 points, so this one could very well be a defensive tussle that rewards both defenses with points-against bonuses.

Atlanta (7-4) at San Diego (4-7)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

The short version: no team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Chargers, and Ryan has thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight road games. And that just about covers it; there's really no need for a long version.

RB Michael Turner

It's the old home-road split combined with the good defense-bad defense split: Turner has blown up bad defenses on the road but struggled against defenses statistically tougher than the 18th-ranked (vs. running backs) Chargers, amassing 156 yards and no touchdowns in three games. You aren't about to bench a guy who just dropped an Abe Lincoln on the Panthers (who rank 19th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, by the way), but you will need to lower the bar a bit.

RB Jerious Norwood B

Norwood's bit is as a helper against softer run defenses. The Chargers are not that.

WR Roddy White S2

The Chargers have allowed a wide receiver touchdown in four of their last five games—and in the game a wideout didn't score Hines Ward rolled up 124 yards. So odds are that even if White goes scoreless for a third consecutive game for the first time since the middle of last season he'll salve the wounds with a triple-digit effort. No complaints there, unless you're in a touchdown-only league—if they even still exist.


Michael Jenkins


While San Diego is struggling to stop primary receivers they aren't allowing much spillover to the wingmen. That doesn't bode well for Jenkins, who continues to supply a steady diet of 50-yard games but crammed all his scoring into the one game where White was tied up by Nnamdi Asomugha.

DT Falcons B While these Chargers aren't putting up nearly the offensive production we expected heading into the season, there is no compelling reason to put the Atlant defense in harm's way here.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Doesn't matter who you throw out there against Rivers in San Diego; he's going to blow them up. Rivers has 13 touchdown tosses and 1,377 passing yards in five home games, and there's little to suggest an Atlanta secondary that's already allowed seven quarterbacks (among them Jon Kitna, Kyle Orton, and Jake Delhomme twice) to throw for at least 250 yards against them will be able to slow him down.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S2 Tomlinson has been largely disappointing this season, and the late-season push his owners were anticipating against a stretch of softer defenses has yet to materialize. LT scored against the Steelers, one of the toughest defenses against backs, but did nothing against the Chiefs, the most running back-friendly defense. Atlanta ranks somewhere in the middle, leaning more towards soft than stiff, so you can start Tomlinson with whatever confidence you have left to muster.
WR Vincent Jackson
Chris Chambers


Chambers hasn't done much since returning from injury, but this matchup bodes well for both halves of the San Diego receiving tandem. In two of the Falcons' past three games they've surrendered triple-digit yardage to the No. 1 wideout—but the wingman has scored the touchdown. So, who's No. 1 and who's No. 2 in this equation? Chambers opened the season as the lead dog, but Jackson may have caught him during his injury absence. Guess we'll know after this one.

TE Antonio Gates S1

It's another favorable matchup for one of the league's elite tight ends, as the Falcons rank sixth in the league in fantasy points allowed to the position. As if you needed further reason to start Gates, he's scored in four of five home games this season.

DT Chargers B The Bolts without Shawne Merriman have been largely disappointing defensively, and there's no compelling reason to use them in this matchup.

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