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Start/Bench List - Week 14
John Tuvey
Updated: December 5, 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)
Oakland (3-9) at San Diego (4-8) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Russell has averaged a shade over 122 passing yards over the past five games, with a high of 156, and has one passing touchdown total in that span. His 277 in the earlier meeting was a season high by 50 yards. You could risk the fate of your fantasy team on lightning striking twice, but if you're really feeling that lucky just buy a lottery ticket.

RB Justin Fargas


Since returning to the lineup following Oakland's Week 5 bye Fargas has received more carries than McFadden and/or Bush in every single game, so he's still the lead dog. There's actually some upside to that against a defense that has allowed two 100-yard rushers in the past three games; of course, that upside is tempered with the downside that this is a Raiders offense which has scored more than one touchdown in a game exactly once in those eight post-bye games.

RB Darren McFadden


If starting Russell is a full-blown five-ball lottery, at least McFadden is a pick-three; of course, the odds are still stacked against you. Run DMC has had two useful fantasy games as a rookie, and neither his post-injury return efforts—a combined 115 yards from scrimmage in two games—nor the Chargers' run defense—only four teams have allowed fewer RB TDs—suggest he's worth the risk this week.

WR Ashley Lelie
Ronald Curry
B Last time out against the Bolts, Raider receivers racked up seven catches and 80 yards. That's total. As a group. Oakland has one WR TD in the past six games; 'nuff said.
TE Zack Miller S2

Positive trends abound for Miller this week. First, no team has allowed more catches, yards, or touchdowns to the tight end position than the Chargers, and it's not even close: opposing TEs average two fantasy points per game more than the next closest defense. Second, of the five passing touchdowns the Raiders have in their last seven dates with the Chargers, four have gone to tight ends—including one to Miller as part of his five-catch, 95-yard effort in the earlier meeting. For a Raider, it really doesn't get any better than this matchup.

DT Raiders B San Diego has scored at least 27 points in six of the last seven meetings between these squads.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

Between the home egg Rivers laid against Atlanta last week and an improving Raiders secondary that has shut out three straight quarterbacks, this isn't the layup it appeared to be maybe a month or so ago. More cause for concern: in five career starts against the Silver and Black Rivers has never topped 180 yards and thrown a total of four touchdown passes. Tough to sit a guy who's likely carried you much of this season, but if you have another option on your roster it would behoove you to consider making the switch.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 Despite Tomlinson's largely disappointing season it's tough to move past the "Yeah, but he's LT" stage—especially when confronted with his track record against the Raiders: 826 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns in the past seven meetings, including 106 and 2 earlier this year. Tomlinson owners, I think there's one more speed lap left in his tank... and this is it.
WR Vincent Jackson
Chris Chambers


Obviously with Rivers on the cusp of a benching there's not much to like about the receivers. Chambers owns one of the two WR TDs the Chargers have scored against Oakland over the past five meeting, but he hasn't done anything of fantasy note since Week 5 so it's tough to pull him out of mothballs and use him here. On the others side Jackson has at least scored in the past month, but unless Chambers draws Nnamdi Asomugha full-time he's unlikely to contribute much this week, either.

TE Antonio Gates S2

Of the five touchdowns Rivers has thrown against Oakland, three have gone to Gates—including one in the earlier meeting this year. Fresh off giving up 110 yards to Tony Gonzalez, the Raiders seem ill-equipped to extend Gates' three-game slump.

DT Chargers S3 Oakland scored 18 points in the earlier matchup this season, snapping a skid of nine straight at or below 17. Even without Lights Out, this matchup favors the Chargers.
Jacksonville (4-8) at Chicago (6-6) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Chicago's secondary is playing somewhat better after a midseason slump, but they've still allowed 210 passing yards or more in seven straight and 10 of 12. Garrard has thrown for 317 and 287 the past two weeks and will likely be put in a similar situation this Sunday. He's still extremely iffy for that second touchdown—Garrard has just two multiple-TD outings this season—but the Bears have allowed two scoring strikes in four of their last six, so at least there's a chance.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


Jones-Drew still hasn't quite taken over from Taylor, though he does have more touches than his running mate in each of the past three games. The question is, which Bears' run defense will show up this week: the one that stymied the Titans and smothered the Rams, or the one that let Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson gash them for 145 and 131 yards, respectively? MoJo will get his in the passing game if the run is shut down, and he's still the more likely bet to get the carries—especially now that Taylor has the franchise TD record and can ride off into the sunset.

RB Fred Taylor

Even when Freddy puts up decent digits it feels like he's getting a career acheivement bone thrown his way—like, for instance, last Monday's garbage-time touchdown. Taylor's touches have been inconsistent and ineffective to the point that you couldn't trust him to produce in softer matchups; this isn't one of those, so Taylor should remain stapled to your bench.


Matt Jones


Jones had his appeal on Thursday, but with no decision rendered he’s good to go for another week—operative word “good” against a defense that has let opposing No. 1 receivers score in six of the past seven games. Hey, it's not like he was doing something as evil as popping a diet pill.


Reggie Williams

S3 Touchdowns in back-to-back games... now this is the Reggie Williams you overpaid for back on draft day! Even with Jones still back in the mix Reggie makes an okay play given his scoring streak and track record with Garrard.
TE Marcedes Lewis B

The former first-round pick hasn't scored in a month and a half, while the Bears have picked up their TE defense after a midseason hiccup. There are far better options at your disposal.

DT Jaguars B

Jacksonville's defense packed it up at the end of the Monday night game, and they may not bother to unpack the rest of the way.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton B

Between the bye week and the ankle injury Orton has been a mere shell of his former self. After a five-game run with 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns Kyle has produced 533 and three (plus a DNP) over the Bears' last five tilts. On the positive side, Orton's numbers are trending up ever so slightly and the Jags just lost their best cornerback to a season-ending injury. That's a pretty thin peg to hang the fate of your fantasy season on.

RB Matt Forte

Forte has moved quickly into the elite, with 100 combo yards or a touchdown (or both) in 11 of 12 games this season. You'd start him regardless of opponent—case in point, last week's 96 rushing yards and a receiving touchdown against the Vikings. And the Jags no longer strike fear into anyone's heart; they've allowed 100 rushing yards or an RB TD (or both) in every game this season.


Devin Hester
Rashied Davis

B Hester has the Bears' only WR TD in the past month, and with Forte doing the heavy lifting it's unlikely you'll find a fantasy helper in this bunch.
TE Greg Olsen


The Bears don't have a TE TD since their Week 8 bye, and Olsen hasn't topped 50 yards in that span. Jacksonville has allowed only three tight end touchdowns this season, so there's nothing to the matchup that suggests you reach down the board for Olsen this week.

DT Bears S3 Jacksonville has scored in the teens in five of the last six games, and the Bears' defense and special teams units still sport plenty of playmakers.
Minnesota (7-5) at Detroit (0-12) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte B

The Lions have held three straight and four of five under 200 passing yards. Or, more accurately, Detroit's opponents have so thoroughly dominated them on the ground that quarterbacks have thrown an average of 23 times per game. Frerotte threw for 296 and one in the earlier meeting, but unless he hooks up another 99-yard touchdown it's unlikely he approaches that number. The matchup suggests Gus is start-worthy, but the Vikings' anticipated run-heavy game plan will limit his fantasy helpfulness.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

Peterson has back-to-back 100-yard efforts against the Lions, who have given up four 100-yard rushers and eight RB TDs in the past two games.

RB Chester Taylor S3

The last meeting played a little more closely than most anticipated, which limited Taylor's touches. But the Vikings are increasing his workload; he's received double-digit touches in five of the past six games and scored in four of the six. If you're stuck for a flex spot or looking to insure your AP start, Taylor should get a dozen touches against a bad, bad defense.

WR Bernard Berrian

Berrian is the poison opponents pick when they sell out against Adrian Peterson and the ground game. He tore up the Lions for 131 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting and after a three-game slump reignited last week with 122 and one; this matchup suggests he's started another streak.

WR Sidney Rice


After scoring three touchdowns on his first five catches, Rice has been kept out of the end zone on six straight catches. That's a slump you should avoid. Then again, so is a receiver with 11 catches through Week 13.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shiancoe hasn't scored in a month, and despite the softer matchup he's too far down in the Vikings' pecking order to be banked on for a big game. If you'll settle for 40-50 yards and a shot at a touchdown, though, he could be startable in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Vikings S1

The Williams Wall gets a reprieve for this meeting with their old pal Daunte Culpepper, and odds are they’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder as well as a little extra something in their urine sample.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper

Daunte has thrown touchdowns in three straight games, and there's the obvious revenge factor at play. Nope, still not enough to get him into any self-respecting fantasy lineup.

RB Kevin Smith

As Matt Forte demonstrated last week, even at full strength the Vikings defense could be penetrated. Smith had a nice little run (96, 112, and 86 yards) interrupted on Thanskgiving, but his 62 yards in the earlier meeting with the Williams Wall suggests he’s not to be completely ignored this week—though obviously his prospects would have been better had the courts not intervened with Roger Goodell’s statement justice.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Johnson scored in the earlier meeting and has a touchdown in six of his last eight. It's not as if the Lions have a ton of other offensive options, and Daunte’s meeting with his former mates will inspire him to get his roll on; no better way to do that than to throw plenty of jump balls in Johnson's direction.


Shaun McDonald


No reason to look any deeper.

DT Lions B The Vikings were the only team not to score at least 25 against Detroit, but that was an aberration.

Houston (5-7) at Green Bay (5-7)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub B When Schaub went down he was on a roll, with 267 yards or better in four straight and multiple touchdowns in three of four. Tough to expect him to pick up where he left off, especially against a Packers secondary that hasn't allowed a touchdown pass at Lambeau since Week 5—including shutouts of Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. Best let Schaub ease his way back into lineups, both NFL and fantasy.
RB Steve Slaton
S1 It's a homecoming of sorts for Ahma... oh, wait, he's hurt. Again. No problem; Slaton had long ago taken over as the Texans' primary ball-carrier, and he's put up 100-yard rushing efforts in two of his past three games. Over the past five weeks the Packers have allowed 992 RB yards from scrimmage and 10 RB TDs, making this a fabulous matchup for the rookie.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Green Bay has gone three straight home games without allowing a WR TD, but last week's 105-yard effort by Steve Smith should reassure worried Johnson owners. Yes this is the same defense that blanketed Reggie Wayne, but Johnson is an every-week start.
WR Kevin Walter B

Muhsin Muhammad's 50 yards last week—most of it on one catch—was easily the biggest game posted by a wingman at Lambeau this year. With Schaub still getting back up to game speed, you'll likely find better options than Walter this week.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Daniels peaked in Week 9 and has done little since. His two biggest games have come against NFC North foes (66 and two TDs against the Lions, 133 yards against the Vikings), so if he's your only option in TE-mandatory leagues there's at least a little cause for optimism.

DT Texans B Houston's defense has given up 28 or more points in five of six road games and aside from Mario Williams doesn't offer many compelling reasons to expect much.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Rodgers has at least 225 yards in three straight and thrown multiple touchdowns in each of those tilts. He'll either see a Texans secondary that has held its last two foes to one TD toss between them... or a Houston defense that has allowed multiple scoring strikes in three of its last five and two of its last three on the road. I'm inclined to give Rodgers the benefit of the doubt here and expect good to great things.


Ryan Grant


While the Texans aren't the creampuffs against the run they used to be, it's not as if teams are struggling mightily; three backs have hit the century mark against them in the past five games, and the Texans have surrendered six RB TDs. The thumb seems to be okay, but the threat of losing touches to Brandon Jackson remains. Grant's a good start, but there is definitely some risk involved.


Brandon Jackson


Just in case you're reacting to what you saw last week, indications are that Grant is still the primary ball-carrier. At best Jackson will be sharing the workload, which doesn't lend itself to big fantasy numbers.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

Six road games have yielded six WR TDs and six WR games of at least 70 yards. Both Jennings and Driver scored last week against the Panthers, marking the second time in the last four home games both made the Lambeau Leap. I like their chances to do it here as well.

TE Donald Lee S3 Lee has re-appeared on Rodgers' radar with touchdowns in two of the last three games. Houston has given up three TE TDs in the past five games, so it's not as if Lee should expect to be stonewalled. However, the receivers will take their first, and there might not be enough left over.
DT Packers S2 The Packers pick-six better than anybody this year, and with Schaub likely a bit rusty the threat of a defensive Lambeau Leap certainly exists.

Cincinnati (1-10-1) at Indianapolis (8-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Fitz has one 200-yard game and one multiple-TD effort to his credit. A second is hardly likely against an Indy D that has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other.

RB Cedric Benson

You can run on the Colts; they've allowed six 100-yard games and 16 RB TDs this year, and Bob Sanders is expected to be out again this week. Benson has had at least some success (104 and a TD against Jacksonville), and if you aren't using him this week you may as well use his roster spot for something else.

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Another year—with the Bengals' offense not sputtering and Carson Palmer at the wheel—I might suggest you buck the trends and use one or both of the Cincy wideouts. But the Colts have allowed just two WR TDs on the year, which matches Johnson's total over the past month and is one more than Housh has scored in the past two months. So you'll need to find other options—though this deep into the season, you likely have already.

DT Bengals B Cincy has allowed at least 26 points in each of its last five road games, and they face an Indy offense that is bound to be mad after laying an egg last week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Even a supermodel can look like a train wreck first thing in the morning... or at least that's what I tell myself. Manning's "effort" last week is a blemish on an otherwise stellar season, and I fully expect him to get back in the saddle at home (where he's posted three straight with multiple touchdowns and at least 250 yards) against a defense that just let Joe Flacco hang 280 and two on them.

RB Joseph Addai S3

Any defense that can hold Brian Westbrook in check deserves at least a little respect, and Gary Russell's plunge is the only RB TD the Bengals have allowed in the past month. Addai has scored in just one game over the past two months himself, so this isn't exactly the blank check “Colts vs. Bengals” suggests. Addai’s Friday addition to the injury report with a knee injury gives even further concern that Dominic Rhodes could steal key touches. You’ll need to check Addai’s status on Sunday morning to be sure he’s a safe start, and even then he’s not knocking them out of the part like he did last year.

RB Dominic Rhodes B

Rhodes has double-digit touches in each of the past three games and has scored in two of the past four, but he's still second banana to Addai and this isn't the layup of a matchup Cincy's losing record might lead you to believe. He’s startable this week only if Addai is a game-day scratch—which, while unlikely, isn’t a far-fetched scenario.

WR Reggie Wayne
Marvin Harrison

Wayne and Harrison have just two of the last five WR TDs this group has scored, and Reggie has just two of the last eight. Gonzo has three of the last five touchdowns this group has scored; he and Marv have combined for six of the last eight. In other words, Wayne can't be viewed as head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. The good news, at least this week, is that the Bengals have allowed seven opponents to have multiple receivers post solid games (with either a TD or at least 60 yards, or both), and in three of those games three receivers put up helpful fantasy digits. Last week alone both Derrick Mason (91 and one) and Mark Clayton (164 and one) lit it up, so if you have a Colts receiver you have to like your chances this week.

WR Anthony Gonzalez S3 Gonzo has three of the last five touchdowns Indy wideouts have scored, but he was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shoulder injury—and Friday additions to the injury report have a tendency to show up on the Sunday inactive list. Gonzalez is a good play if he’s healthy (see receiver stats vs. Cincy above), but he’s obviously not at full go and has to be separated from Indy’s other two targets.
TE Dallas Clark S1

The Bengals have allowed tight end touchdowns in each of the past three games. While Clark hasn't scored since Week 10 he's been targeted 19 times the past three games, so he should have his chances to put up good numbers this week as well.

DT Colts S3 Cincy has been held under 20 points in six of their last seven, and last week the defense won the game for Indy with a fumble return touchdown.

Atlanta (8-4) at New Orleans (6-6)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

The rookie has been a road warrior, with multiple touchdowns in four straight away games and seven straight overall with at least 200 yards. Only a handful of teams have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Saints, so an improvement on his 248 and two from the earlier meeting wouldn't surprise.

RB Michael Turner

To say Turner has been in overdrive would be an understatement; over his past five games he has 553 yards and seven touchdowns. That includes 96 and a touch against the Saints one month ago, part of a string of six games in which New Orleans allowed RB TDs or a 100-yard game five times. Turner has but one road TD this year so this isn't a gimme, but with 100-yard efforts in three of his past four road trips he's bound to help your squad somehow.

RB Jerious Norwood B

Norwood housed a reception in the earlier meeting with New Orleans, but you'd have to be banking on lightning striking twice if you use him here because he's only touched the ball 26 times in the past four games.

WR Roddy White S1

The Saints have allowed a WR TD in every game except one—and that was the Raiders, so it doesn't really count. Moreover, the vast majority of those scores have gone to each team's No. 1 receiver, including the TD White scored on New Orleans earlier this year. Roddy has scored in three straight against the Saintsand there's little to suggest he won't make it four.


Michael Jenkins


Only once this year have the Saints allowed touchdowns to multiple receivers... but 11 times a wingman has posted at least 40 yards—including the 72 Jenkins had in the earlier matchup. Jenkins has 224 yards and a touchdown in his past three against New Orleans and has at least 40 yards in six of his last seven games, setting him up nicely for a contributing role this week.

DT Falcons B New Orleans' scoring output has increased in every home game this year, and in their last home date they put up 51. In other words, you'd be playing with fire here.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

As absurd as Brees' numbers have been—on pace for 5,160 passing yards—they've been even better at home, where he has yet to throw for less than 320 yards and has 17 touchdowns in six games. Considering he put up 422 and two in Atlanta, he could very easily break the bank this week in front of the home crowd.

RB Reggie Bush S2

Bush sat out the earlier meeting with Atlanta, the one in which Deuce McAllister scored a receiving touchdown and Pierre Thomas caught five balls. Brees wasn't shy about throwing Reggie's way, and you can expect him to be a major part of the offense again this week. There's nothing in the matchup or history to indicate a strong trend one way or another, other than Bush catching eight balls a game when he's healthy. That's eight opportunities in the open field for Reggie to make a play, and you have to like those odds.

RB Pierre Thomas S2

Doesn't seem to matter which back the Saints are using, they find success against the Falcons. Deuce scored in the earlier meeting this year, and last season Aaron Stecker rushed for 100 yards against them. Thomas scored on the Falcons in the first meeting last season, and though McAllister’s suspension has been, uh, suspended all indications are that Pierre will carry the running game workload this week against an Atlanta defense that has allowed four RB TDs in the past three weeks.

WR Marques Colston
Lance Moore


When you throw as much as Brees has been throwing, you need two No. 1 receivers, and Drew has that in Colston and Moore. Colston caught seven balls for 140 yards in the previous meeting against Atlanta, while Moore scored the touchdown. The Falcons secondary has been better of late, but that shouldn't dissuade you from plugging either Colston or Moore into your lineup.

TE Jeremy Shockey

B Shockey has provided a steady diet of five-catch, 50-yard games, but he has yet to score or top 75 yards. He's still sharing looks with Billy Miller, and against a defense that just held Antonio Gates in check it's tough to give him anything more than a lukewarm recommendation in deeper TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Saints B Matty Ice isn't turning the ball over, and Brees' exploits often lead to shootouts. Neither of those bode well for the New Orleans D.

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