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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)

Denver (6-5) at New York Jets (8-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Normally I'd be downright giddy throwing Cutler sans any real running game against a defense that has already allowed two 400-yard passers this season. But Jay's laid a couple clunkers the past two weeks, taking some of the sheen off that giddyness. Denver still won't mount much of a ground game against the Jets so the onus will be on Cutler to carry the offense. If that means 40 attempts, then that means 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. If Gang Green keeps the ball out of Denver's hands, those numbers will be reduced.

RB Peyton Hillis

S3 Hillis is the latest Bronco back to come out of nowhere and style fantasy owners with the patience to wait out the Shanahanigans. But the gravy train likely ends at Kris Jenkins and the Gang Green run defense, which hasn't allowed a running back rushing touchdown since Week 4 and has held every back it has faced under 75 rushing yards. Hillis' saving grace is his pass-catching ability and a Jets defense that has allowed more RB receiving yards than all but two teams.
WR Brandon Marshall S2

Marshall has gone two months without a 100-yard game and has one touchdown in his last seven outings. The Jets are no pushover, but if the Broncos are to do anything at all it will likely come through the air. By sheer volume Marshall should put up decent numbers, especially if Royal is slowed and/or out; however, after setting the bar so high earlier in the year, decent may not be enough.

WR Eddie Royal S3

Royal was limited during Friday’s practice and the dreaded “turf toe” has been mentioned. And it’s not as if he’s been particularly productive of late anyway, scattering three 100-yard efforts and sandwiching a two-game scoring streak with four- and two- (and counting) game scoreless stretches. If he plays he should contribute if for no other reason than the Jets will shut down Denver’s ground game, but he’s no lock to play.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham

Only one team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Jets, but the presence of two tight ends to split the bounty means you have a pair of okay starts instead of one really good, rip-roarin' S1.

DT Broncos B When you give up 31 points to the offensively challenged Raiders you're not even trying; you're just killing time between offensive series.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

Taking the "less is more" approach has worked for the Jets: Favre is throwing less, the Jets are running more, and the balanced offense has put up back-to-back 34s against a pair of pretty decent defenses. So maybe the Gunslinger isn't going to get you 400 and four this week; he's also far less likely to throw a pick that's returned to sender, and he's still going to get you your 230 and two. Everybody's happy... except maybe Tony Kornheiser

RB Thomas Jones S2

The Denver run defense looks like a Wal-Mart security guard on Black Friday: overmatched and overwhelmed. Jones will get his 25-plus carries, which he'll turn into 100 yards and a probable touchdown. About the only fear for Jones owners is that Leon Washington will steal some of TJ's thunder with a long run or two.

RB Leon Washington S3

Okay, so maybe Leon doesn't need double-digit touches to still make a fantasy impact. He's received nine or fewer touches from scrimmage in five of the past six games—yet he's scored in four of those tilts. And the game in which he received 16 touches didn't yield a touchdown. It's still a bit like playing the lottery, but Washington has tipped the odds in your favor.

WR Laveranues Coles
Jerricho Cotchery


Maybe the Jets' balanced attack isn't ideal for Coles and Cotchery. After all, with a limited number of balls in the air it's tougher for both to get theirs. Case in point: it's been more than a month since both Gang Green wideouts put up helpful fantasy numbers in the same game. If you're forcing me to pick I'll go with Coles, as it appears the Denver secondary has more trouble with speed than with size. But I'll give them both an S3, because either could have a productive game against the Broncos.

TE Dustin Keller


The Broncos aren't a whole lot better than the Jets at defending the tight end, and working in Gang Green's favor is that they've picked a horse to ride. Keller has 20 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown over the past three games and has clearly caught Brett Favre's fancy. He should find room against Denver, and you know Favre will be looking for him.

DT Jets S2 The Jets have not only been playing funadmentally sound defense, they've also been capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.
Pittsburgh (8-3) at New England (7-4) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Roethlisberger has been putting up decent yardage, a trend that should continue against a New England secondary that's allowed four of the last five quarterbacks they've faced to top 250 yards. Where Big Ben has been lacking is in the touchdown department—but that, too, should receive a boost from a Patriots defense that's given up multiple scoring strikes in three of their last four games. After all, this isn't the same secondary that held Roethlisberger to 187 and one in Week 14 of last year.

RB Willie Parker S3

After sitting out Wednesday’s practice Fast Willie was back at it Thursday and Friday, so it looks as if he’ll be ready to go against the Pats. You’ll have to make the further assumptions that Parker won’t be limited and won’t aggravate the injury like he did the last time he returned to the lineup; if you’re comfortable with that, then he’s not a bad play against a Steelers defense that hasn’t exactly been shutting down opposing backs of late. I’m not particularly comfortable with Willie at this juncture, so he gets no better than an S3 on my watch.

RB Mewelde Moore B

With Parker supposedly healthy and threatening to play, Moore returns to backup duty; that means best-case he splits the workload with Parker (or comes on after Willie hurts himself yet again). Without the assurance of touches I can’t recommend Parker for a start. If, however, Parker is scratched prior to kickoff go ahead and bump Mewelde back up to starting status.

WR Hines Ward


Hines has distanced himself as the more consistent play amongst Pittsburgh wideouts—yes, even though it's been a month and a half since his last touchdown. At least he's dropped a couple 100-yard games on you to keep things interesting. The Patriots' banged-up secondary has been quite fantasy friendly to wideouts, so no reason to think Ward won't deliver at least something of use to your fantasy squad this weekend.

WR Santonio Holmes


The Pats tend to fill all cups: against the Dolphins they allowed three 75-yard receivers; against Indy, the top three wideouts all exceeded 50 yards. With Nate Washington's production dipping dramatically over the past month, Holmes might finally get around to living up to some of the preseason hype.

TE Heath Miller

Miller returned to his place as Pittsburgh's top tight end, announcing his presence with a touchdown. The Pats allowed a tight end touchdown last week and are among the more fantasy-friendly defenses against the position, so Miller makes a decent play this week.

DT Steelers S2 It would be silly to bench the Steelers defense just because the backup quarterback they'll be facing has posted back-to-back 400-yard games... wouldn't it?
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S2

Cassel's second look at the Dolphins and Jets resulted in back-to-back 400-yard, three-touchdown outings. At the risk of bursting bubbles, it's unlikely that his first look at a Pittsburgh defense that has held six foes under 200 yards and allowed only Peyton Manning to throw for multiple touchdowns will prove as fruitful. You can't bench a guy who's going to get 40 attempts and will be throwing the ball near Randy Moss... but you can lower the expectations of that guy if he'll be facing the Steel Curtain.

RB Kevin Faulk


No New England back has received more than eight carries the past two games, and it's unlikely they'll attempt to run any of their stable of backs against a Steeler defense that has allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than any other team outside of the Giants. But Faulk brings some value to the table against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed more running back receptions than all but three other clubs.

RB Sammy Morris
BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Neither inside runner projects to do anything of note against the Steelers this season.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S2 It's a downright lousy matchup; only three temas have allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers than the Steelers. But you can't sit Welker in a PPR league, and now that Matt Cassel knows where Randy Moss is he's unbenchable as well. Plug 'em both into your lineup, and if you must bench someone make it Jabar Gaffney—for this week, at least.
TE Ben Watson


Pittsburgh has allowed four TE TDs this season and is hardly a shutdown defense against the position. However, aside from a big game a couple weeks back against the Jets, Watson has absolutely nothing. So that's what you should expect this week.

DT Patriots B Outside of nostalga and maybe some inclement weather there's no reason to think the Patriots have anything to offer in the way of a fantasy defense.

Kansas City (1-10) at Oakland (3-8)

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Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen S2

Thiggy got a taste of the Raiders earlier this season, so he'll know where Nnamdi Asomugha is and try to keep the ball away from him. Oakland has allowed just one multiple-touchdown game in the past month and a half, but Thigpen rides in with multiple scores in three straight and four of five. He's not a great play, but there are plenty of worse options.

RB Larry Johnson

Haven't we been here before? LJ was supposed to blow up the Raiders' lousy run defense; instead, he carried a dozen times for 22 yards. The guys in the Haz-Mat suits are still cleaning that one out of the linens. Since his return Johnson has put up a couple of okay outings but is still largely giving his fantasy owners a figurative kick to the store. You'd like to think this matchup could change that, but Johnson has already been here (actually, in KC where he should have been even more likely to succeed) and failed to do that. So, start him if you got him, but do so with caution.

WR Dwayne Bowe S3

Bowe caught five balls and scored in the earlier meeting, but this time around it wouldn't be at all surprising if he drew Nnamdi Asomugha on a full-time basis. That risk alone drops Bowe to an S3, buoyed only by the heavy number of targets he'll get—assuming Asomugha doesn't take them away.

WR Mark Bradley

If Asomugha locks down on Bowe, Bradley will be Thigpen’s fallback plan—assuming the calf injury that limited him in Friday’s practice isn’t bothering him, or worse has knocked him out of the game entirely.

TE Tony Gonzalez S2

Gonzo scored in the earlier meeting and is targeted so frequently that he could be facing a brick wall with a barbed-wire fenching top and I'd still expect him to score.

DT Chiefs B The Raiders have had their problems on offense this year, so starting KC's defense wouldn't be complete folly. It would definitely be regular folly, however.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Five straight opposing quarterbacks have thrown for at least 260 yards against the Chiefs. There is almost no conceivable way Russell makes it six.

RB Justin Fargas


Fargas remains the team's primary ball-carrier, which earns him a lofty S2 ranking. If only McFadden hadn't vultured two one-yard touchdowns last week I'd be positively giddy about Fargas' fantasy prospects. As it stands, he's in line for 20-plus carries, which a back of Justin's ilk could easily turn into triple digits.

RB Darren McFadden


McFadden shook off a 3.8 yards per carry average to score a couple short touchdowns. There is still no clarity with regards to how and when the Raiders' backfield rotation will operate, but against the most fantasy friendly running back defense in the game there should be enough for all involved parties.

WR Ashley Lelie
Ronald Curry
B The Chiefs have allowed a 100-yard receiver in four of their last five games. Too bad the Raiders don't have anyone with the talent to capitalize.
TE Zack Miller S3

Miller is the closest thing the Raiders have to a consistent receiver. And close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. He's a borderline starter in larger TE-mandatory performance leagues, and I'm not sure how much more I can couch the recomendation

DT Raiders B Hey, they held the Chiefs to eight last time out.

Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (6-5)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

The Vikings have allowed a couple of larger yardage games of late, but they've still held nine of 11 opposing quarterbacks to one touchdown toss or less. Orton's 283 and two from earlier in the year was one of the bigger performances against the Vikings this season, but with the venue shifted and Madieu Williams healthy it's unlikely Kyle matches those digits.

RB Matt Forte

Forte scored in the earlier meeting but was limited to just 73 yards from scrimmage. He's reached triple digit combo yardage in every game since and is making a strong push for every-week starter status regardless of opponent, if he hasn't achieved it already. Forte has posted quality outings against other stout defenses, so I'm willing to toss him in against the Vikings and take my chances.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis
Brandon Lloyd
Marty Booker

B The Vikings have allowed just seven wide receiver touchdowns this season—including one to Marty Booker earlier this season. Even if this were a favorable matchup it would be tough to pick the Bears' primary passing game target; since it's not, why even bother?
TE Greg Olsen


Minnesota has allowed just one TE TD this season—but Olsen scored it. Where the Vikes are suscpetible is in performance leagues, as only the Chargers have given up more yardage to tight ends. Either way, Olsen is worthy of a starting spot this week.

DT Bears S3 The Vikings' special teams are among the worst in the league, and the Bears have been able to capitalize in the past.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte B

Turns out that with Gus's 200-yard, two-TD performances also came more than a few picks—for example, four in the last meeting with Chicago. Frerotte isn't throwing quite as frequently any more, closer to 20 attempts per game than 30, which is limiting the miscues and also the yardage and scores. Unless this one goes horribly awry for Minnesota they'll want to keep Gus right around 200 yards with a touchdown or maybe two. That's an upside, and it's not enough to warrant Frerotte being in fantasy lineups this week.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

What will they try next? Peterson has seven touchdowns in three games against the Bears, and unless he snoozes through another meeting and gets another slap on the wrist from Brad Childress there's no reason to think he won't have another big game against Chicago.

RB Chester Taylor B

The Vikings have indicated they'd like to give Taylor more touches in hopes of keeping Peterson fresh. Chester touched the ball 16 times in the previous meeting with Chicago and produced 82 yards and a touchdown; is that what the Vikes are talking about? Taylor isn't startable unless and until we know just what "more touches" means, but he certainly has the talent to turn even a dozen or so touches per week into something most fantasy formats would find useful.

WR Bernard Berrian

Berrian extracted some revenge in the earlier meeting with 81 yards and a touchdown, but he's done nothing over the past three games. The Vikings are dialing back the passing, and Berrian has already played the revenge card, so you needn't go out of your way to get Bernard into your lineup this week.

WR Sidney Rice
Bobby Wade

Reduced passing production takes its biggest bite out of the tertiary targets. Rice and Wade could still score, but their odds are longer and the payoff not worth the fantasy roster spot.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Da Bears have allowed three TE TDs over their past five games, including one to Shiancoe as part of a 68-yard afternoon that is Visanthe's biggest of the year. Shiancoe has been inconsistent since that outing, though he's added a touchdown and put up 40 and 60 yards in two other games. He's useable in TE-mandatory leagues, but hardly reliable.

DT Vikings S3 All that money the Vikings spent in the offseason is paying off, and since the Williams Wall is intact for at least one more week you could do worse than the Vikings D/ST.

Jacksonville (4-7) at Houston (4-7)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

You know the drill for Garrard: one or two touchdowns, yardage that hovers around the 200 mark. His last two outings against the Texans have resulted in a little more yardage, and given that the Texans have allowed multiple TD tosses in three of their last four you could expect two instead of one from Garrard this week. That's enough to nudge him across the border line into start territory.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


Jamal Lewis failed to extend the Texans' streak of three 100-yard rushers, each with at least one touchdown. That takes the pressure off MoJo, who rushed for 125 and two against Houston last year but laid a seven-carry, 32-yard egg in the earlier meeting this year. The inconsistency with which the Jaguars have given him carries this season is troubling, but eventually they seem to find him; witness his 113 receiving yards last week against the Vikings. Can't make MoJo an S1 despite the favorable matchup, but he's a solid S2.

RB Fred Taylor

Last year Taylor closed with five straight 100-yard efforts and scored in five of seven. There doesn't seem to be any such finish in Freddy's future, as he last reached triple digits in Week 3 and hasn't come within 20 yards since; moreover, he's still looking for his first score of the season. His next useful fantasy game will be his first in two and a half months, and at this critical juncture of the season that's a risk you simply can't take.


Matt Jones
Reggie Williams
Mike Walker

B Jones is widely regarded as the Jaguars' No. 1 receiver, yet over the past month he hasn't topped 69 yards; he also doesn't own any of the three WR TDs the Jags have scored in that span. Garrard's borderline starter status suggests his targets are no locks for success, either, and with no clear-cut front-runner your most prudent move is to bench the lot of them. Walker may not even play after missing Friday’s practice following the stabbing death of a friend.
TE Marcedes Lewis S3

Lewis has four catches in three of the last four games—which, in the Jacksonville passing game, makes him a go-to receiver. Only two teams have allowed more TE TDs than the Texans, but it would be a sizeable leap of faith to expect Lewis to score his first TD in a month and a half here. That said, you have permission to leap in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Jaguars B

Jacksonville's defense has largely underachieved, both fantasy-wise and otherwise.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sage Rosenfels B

Sage has failed to throw more than one touchdown in each of his last three starts, while the Jags have held three of their last five foes to a similar fate. Rosenfels has been able to pick up yardage on a regular basis, and with Houston's backs nicked he'll likely have the chance to throw more than enough to top 275 yards for the third time in four games. Sounds like a borderline play, and with the specter of Matt Schaub’s return and this being a Monday night game Sage gets pushed south of the border.

QB Matt Schaub X Schaub took a third of the first-team snaps on Friday and Texans’ coach Gary Kubiak said there was “a chance” Matt could return to the starting lineup Monday night against Jacksonville. If you’re holding both Schaub and Rosenfels you could play the waiting game and insert one once the Texans tip us off as to their starting signal-caller, but it’s hardly worth the wait.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 Used to be the Jags were a shut-down run defense; now who hasn't had a big ground game against them? You have to go all the way back to... well, to Houston in Week 4. Slaton redeemed his numbers that day with 83 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, and with Ahman Green shockingly out for the year with an injury Slaton won't have to worry about someone vulturing his carries.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Would you believe Justin Gage is the only 100-yard receiver the Jags have allowed this season? Johnson, on the other hand, has topped the century mark six times already this season. He may only be an S2 this week, but he's a very good S2.
WR Kevin Walter S3

Walter has never scored in back-to-back games, which is troubling because he scored last week. Walter also hasn't reached triple digit receiving yardage since the middle of last year. All of that said, Walter scored twice on the Jags earlier this season and is a wingman who simply cannot be ignored.

TE Owen Daniels S3

After a couple of monster midseason games, Daniels has struggled mightily of late. He's not a good bet to score this week, as the TE TDs the Jags have given up have come from bigger, short-yardage types instead of sleek PPR helpers like Owen. There's a chance the yardage could be there, as four tight ends have topped 60 yards, but it's a slim at best chance.

DT Texans S3 After watching the first two minutes of the Jacksonville game last week it looks as if any opposing D/ST would be a decent start.

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