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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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)
 
 

New England (7-5) at Seattle (2-10)

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S1

The Steelers, who ended Cassel's two-game run of 400-yard efforts (and mercifully put the kibosh on any "Keep Cassel, Trade Brady" talk), rank 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks; the Seahawks, who have allowed five 300-yard passers in the past seven games, rank second. Hop back on the horse, Mr. Cassel; you're all set to ride again.

RB Kevin Faulk


S3

Faulk is a PPR helper, with at least three catches in eight of the last nine games and has 26 in the past six. He's also getting a handful of carries and has been the most productive ground-gainer in three straight and five of six. He's the unsexy flex start that steals you wins in PPR and performance-heavy leagues—and there's nothing wrong with that.

RB Sammy Morris

S3

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is on the backburner, but to date Morris hasn't seen enough touches to work his way back into fantasy lineups. The TD against Pittsburgh, however, was a step in the right direction and if you're really desperate Morris is likely to see 10 carries and is as good a bet as any amongst New England backs to find the end zone.

WR Randy Moss
S1 This is the same Seattle secondary that let TO put up 98 and a touch on Thanksgiving and the Fitz/Boldin tandem to pillage them for 23 catches and 337 yards in one game. The only Debbie Downer would be if this is the same Moss that dropped several catchable balls, including a touchdown, last week. Hey, dude plays when he wants to play and last week clearly was in the "not want to" column.
WR Wes Welker S2 Welker won't let a little thing like a bell-ringing keep him down, so expect him back in the six-catch saddle this week against a secondary that's allowed more wide receiver catches than all but three other teams.
TE Ben Watson

B

If "pick sixes saved" were a category, Watson would be an every-week starter. Unfortunately, he has at least as many tackles this year as he does touchdowns.

DT Patriots S3 Seattle has topped 20 points once in the past nine games; their offensive struggles make New England's defense a little bit of a fantasy sleeper this week.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B

Hasselbeck’s balky back flared up, all but knocking him out of this contest. And here I always thought it would be Elisabeth Hasselbeck who had the back problems.

QB Seneca Wallace B No Hass means it will be Wallace facing the Pats. You could be giddy about this matchup with a secondary that's allowed multiple TD tosses in three straight and four of five as well as 250 passing yards in four of the past six games… but it’s still Seneca Wallace.
RB Maurice Morris
Julius Jones
T.J. Duckett

B

No one in this group has seen 20 touches in a game since Week 3, and while the Patriots have been a little softer against running backs of late—four of the nine RB TDs they've allowed on the year have come in the past three weeks—there's too little broth and too many cooks dipping spoons for anyone to come away with any semblance of satisfaction.

WR

Koren Robinson
Bobby Engram
Deion Branch

B

The Patriots have allowed at least one WR TD in each of the past seven games; Seattle has exactly two WR TDs in that span, both of them by KoRo. If you think that earns him a spot in your fantasy lineup, you go right ahead; it's obvious no amount of logic will work on you.

TE John Carlson
S3 Tight ends have topped 60 yards in four straight against the Pats. Carlson, meanwhile, has a 100-yard effort and a touchdown to his credit in the past fortnight alone. If you're looking for a bright spot in Seattle, here's your guy.
DT Seahawks B What little momentum the Seattle defense had mustered was crushed under the Cowboys steamroller last week.
 
St. Louis (2-10) at Arizona (7-5) Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger
B

The league's most quarterback-friendly defense helped produce Bulger's only multiple touchdown game of the season. Here's hoping your fantasy squad is not in such dire straits that reading that line actually prompted you to think, "Maybe Bulger..."

RB Steven Jackson
S2

An obviously hobbled Jackson was limited to 17 yards on seven carries in the previous meeting. He looked a whole lot healthier last week in dropping 94 yards on the Dolphins, and after Brian Westbrook took the Cards for an Abe Lincoln last week there's a decent shot Jackson gets his first TD against the Cards since Week 2 of 2005 this week.

WR Torry Holt
Donnie Avery
S3

Holt's last meaningful fantasy game came against the Cards back in Week 9 when he caught six balls for 58 yards and a touchdown; clearly Arizona was focused on shutting down Avery, who had posted 163 yards and a score the previous week. No team has allowed more WR TDs than the Cardinals, so if you're ever going to use Holt and/or Avery this is the week.

DT Rams B The Cardinals have scored 34 points in three of their past four meetings with the Rams... and they scored 48 in the fourth.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

Warner has 642 yards and five touchdowns in his last two against his old team. While the Rams have held three of four under 200 yards and a similar number to one or zero TD tosses, they're hardly set to slow the Warner juggernaut.

RB Tim Hightower S2 I remember Week 9 fondly; that was the week Hightower officially took over the starting job in Arizona and turned in 109 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. In the four games since, Hightower has 85 yards on 42 carries. Do you trust him to get back in the saddle against a defense that's allowed a 100-yard rusher in six of eight and surrendered an astounding 24 RB TDs on the year? You do, but you do so cautiously.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin
S1

The Rams have allowed just one WR TD over the past month, so you'll want to bench both Fitzgerald and Bolding this week. Yes, I'm kidding; Fitzy and Boldin have combined for five 100-yard games and nine touchdowns over the past six meetings.

WR Steve Breaston
S3

Jerheme Urban scored in the earlier matchup with St. Louis, proving there is life for Arizona receivers other than Fitz and Boldin. Breaston has done a pretty good job of proving that himself, with 21 catches over the past four games. He's hardly a sure thing, but in Arizona's offense there's usually enough to go around for a third receiver to get some fantasy love.

DT Cardinals S3 The 85 points Arizona has allowed over the past two weeks certainly diminishes any sheen their defense had built up. Then again, this is the Rams we're talking about; they haven't made it out of the teens since Week 7.
 

Dallas (8-4) at Pittsburgh (9-3)

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Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo has back-to-back games with 300 yards and three touchdowns, plus he's losing the pinky splint this week; meanwhile, the Steelers sport the best defense in the league. Something's gotta give, and in most of the scenarios I can envision the Cowboys will turn away from the ground game (through lack of success, lack of MB3, or the need to score points in a hurry) and let Romo chuck it. The real battle will come up front: can a Cowboys line that's allowing 1.5 sacks per game hold off a Steelers rush that's getting to quarterbacks more than twice as often?

RB Marion Barber B

Barber got nicked on Thanksgiving and did not practice all week because of a dislocated toe. A hobbled back against the league's top defense hardly sounds like a recipe for fantasy success.

RB Tashard Choice B

All the rookie needs to do is step in against the best defense in the league. I'll give him credit for not soiling himself, but I'm not going to put him in my fantasy lineup.

WR Terrell Owens S2

The Steelers can take a receiver out of the game (see Moss, Randy last week); they can also get beat (see Wayne, Reggie; Walker, Mike; Mason, Derrick; and Johnson, Andre—all of whom have 100-yard games against Pittsburgh). Operating under the "big players make big plays in big games" theorem, I'd roll the dice with TO, who has 311 yards and two scores since Romo returned. Of course, I would have rolled with Moss last week and look where that got me.

WR Roy Williams

B

Only once this season have the Steelers allowed two receivers to top 50 yards in the same game. And does Roy even know the playbook yet?

TE Jason Witten S2

It was nice to see Witten back to his old tricks last week, especially because Romo is going to need him this week. Tight ends are hot reads when the quarterback is under pressure, and in Witten and Martellus Bennett Romo has a pair of options to go to when Blitzburgh gets past the first line of defense. While Bennett has scored in three straight he's done so on four catches; tough to expect a similar ratio against a stout defense like the Steelers. Witten, on the other hand, could very easily fill the same role Chris Cooley (8-78) did against Pittsburgh in Week 9. A touchdown isn't likely, but Witten should see plenty of balls heading his way.

DT Cowboys S3 Everybody talks about Blitzburgh but the Cowboys get after the quarterback pretty well themselves, and the Steelers line has had its share of issues this season.
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Big Ben has just two multiple-touchdown games in the past two months, and a date with a Dallas secondary that has held four of six to one or fewer scoring strikes doesn't suggest that trend will change. Yardage shouldn't be a problem, though; Roethlisberger has 243 or more yards in three of the past four, while the Cowboys have given up 287 and 303 the past two outings. The Steelers don't seem overly concerned about Big Ben leaving Wednesday's practice with a knee injury, so I won't worry you with that... unless we need to start worrying on Friday.

RB Willie Parker S3

Parker isn't 100 percent healthy, but he's expected to play against the Cowboys. That likely means he'll share the workload with Mewelde Moore and cede goal line looks to Gary Russell. And with Dallas having allowed RB rushing scores in just three of 12 games this year and only three backs topping 70 yards, there's barely enough for one back let alone three. Parker has the talent to have success against Dallas; he may not get the opportunity.

RB Mewelde Moore S3

Parker's loss is Moore's gain. In addition to siphoning off some carries Moore should see most of the third-down work as well. That's a positive because the Cowboys have allowed two running back receiving touchdowns in the past three weeks.

WR Hines Ward


S2

Ward has a touchdown or 100 yards in three of the past four games and is the most reliable member of Pittsburgh's receiving corps. While the Cowboys' secondary has been better of late, any unit that lets 72-year-old Isaac Bruce go for 125 and a score has its soft spots. And who better than Ward to find them?

WR Santonio Holmes


S3

I'm not exactly giddy with optimism over Holmes, but there are some numbers in his favor. First, last week's touchdown helped him remember where the end zone is; second, the Cowboys have allowed five different wingmen to top 50 yards and thrice let multiple receivers from the same team score in the same game. Again, it's not an in-your-face trend, but it certainly suggests that there could be enough to go around for both Ward and Holmes.

TE Heath Miller
S3

While there may be some yardage to be had here—John Carlson put up 105 on the Steelers last week, and Steeler TEs have four games of 50 or more yards in the past six weeks—the fact that Dallas has allowed only one TE TD since Week 1 makes Miller a borderline fantasy starter at best.

DT Steelers S2 Pittsburgh's defense has been robbed of return touchdowns in two of the past three weeks—once by the officials and once by Ben Watson. Not that those with money on the Steelers or the Pittsburgh defense on their fantasy squad need to be reminded.
 

Washington (7-5) at Baltimore (8-4)

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Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Ten of 12 quarterbacks to face the Ravens have failed to throw more than one touchdown pass—something Campbell himself has been unable to do since Week 4. A big yardage day isn't particularly likely, either; only three opposing quarterbacks have topped 235 against the Ravens, while Campbell has been below than number 10 times.

RB Clinton Portis B Portis is officially a game-time decision with an assortment of injuries, but I'm going to make the call now. First, it's a Sunday night game (check your schedule; this one was flexed into prime time), so unless you're making a Portis-or-Ladell Betts call you'll have to make your lineup decision without all the necessary information. Second, it's a Ravens defense that's allowed six RB TDs all season—three of them receiving, which isn't exactly Clinton's forte. Sure, you can check back on Friday but I don't know what could change between now and then to move Portis off the fantasy bench.
RB Ladell Betts B I'll go ahead and rule out Betts as well; you don't want to be throwing a backup against the Ravens run defense.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El
B

Redskin receivers have one touchdown in the past month, which is the same number of WR TDs the Ravens have allowed in that span.

TE Chris Cooley B

Cooley has at least five catches in each of the past five games, but the Ravens have allowed just two tight ends to catch that many balls all season. They've also allowed two TE TDs on the season, or one more than Cooley has scored this year.

DT Redskins B Check out the big offense on the Ravens, who have scored 34 or more in four of their last five. Why should the Skins' defense be left out of the benching?
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Flacco's two big fantasy games—248 and two, 280 and two—have come against the Bengals and Browns. So let's not go overboard congratulating ourselves just yet. The Skins have allowed just one of the past four (and two of the past eight) quarterbacks they've faced to top 200 yards, and only one of those eight has multiple touchdown tosses. In other words, lower your expectations for the rookie this week. Dramatically.

RB Le'Ron McClain

S3

McClain has 43 carries over the past two games (compared to 19 for Ray Rice and just seven for Willis McGahee), so he's my pick to exploit a Redskins defense that's allowed at least 100 running back rushing yards in each of the past three games. You can tell by the S3 designation that my degree of confidence isn't particularly strong.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton

B

More than half of Baltimore's meager eight WR TDs this season have come against teams ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to the position; the Redskins rank 26th in that category and have surrendered just one WR TD in the past three games. Mason may not even be a PPR play against a defense that hasn't allowed a wideout to catch more than five balls since Week 4.

TE

Todd Heap

S3 All three of Heap's touchdowns have come in the past month, while two of the three TE TDs the Redskins have allowed this season have come in the past three games. See what Heap can do when he's healthy? Enjoy it while it lasts.
DT Ravens S1 Allowing 10 points in two games is something the defense from the Ravens' Super Bowl year would do. Is that a sign?
 

Tampa Bay (9-3) at Carolina (9-3)

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Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia B

Garcia's 173 and one against Carolina earlier this year was the fifth time in six meetings the Bucs failed to throw for 200 yards. After a four-game roll in the 200s and 300s Garcia has been at or below 165 each of the past two games. And don't look for multiple touchdown tosses to bail out Jeff's fantasy day; he's turned that trick just once this season.

RB Warrick Dunn

S3

Four straight feature backs have produced at least 80 rushing yards against the Panthers, which provides optimism for Dunn to post a second solid outing against Carolina. In the earlier affair Earnest Graham moved to fullback, leaving Dunn to carry 22 times for 115 yards—though Graham was rewarded with a touchdown plunge. Graham may be gone but the carries should shake out in a similar fashion: Dunn doing the heavy lifting and Carnell Williams picking up any goal line looks. The latter may be hard to come by against a defense that has allowed just five backs to score against it (Michael Turner's four score and four other singles, including Graham's), but Dunn should produce enough yardage to help in most performance-based scoring systems.

RB Carnell Williams

B

As stated above, a touchdown against this defense is unlikely. And with Williams looking at a smaller share of the carries his yardage won't pick up the slack.

WR Antonio Bryant
Michael Clayton
Ike Hilliard
Joey Galloway

B

The Panthers have allowed one 100-yard receiver in the past 21 games, and rest assured it wasn't a Buc: Tampa wideouts combined for four catches and 48 yards in the previous meeting. A touchdown would be more likely, as five of the seven Carolina has allowed on the season have come in the past five weeks. Bryant is the lead dog in this receiver committee, but he's not a consistent enough producer to risk against such a difficult matchup.

TE Jerramy Stevens
B

Alex Smith still looks limited, but the Bucs still have John Gilmore to steal looks from Stevens. Were there one tight end Tampa turned to on a consistent basis I might be inclined to give them the nod against a Carolina defense that let Donald Lee score on them last week and has allowed five 40-yard games to tight ends over the past seven weeks. But the Bucs simply have too many options at the position for one to make a safe fantasy play.

DT Buccaneers S2 The Bucs held Carolina to a field goal in the earlier meeting, and only one of their previous eight opponents has topped 20 points.
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Drew Brees' 296 and two last week was the first 200-plus yard outing the Bucs had allowed in the past six games and the first multiple-touchdown effort they had surrendered since Week 4. Delhomme, meanwhile, has turned into a handoff machine over the past month with just three touchdowns in four games and only one effort of more than 180 yards. He seems hard-pressed to match the 242 yards he posted in the earlier meeting with Tampa Bay, and since multiple touchdowns are highly unlikely Delhomme is best served on your bench.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

S3 The Bucs held DeAngelo to 27 yards on 11 carries in the earlier meeting, and for the most part they've shut down all comers on the ground; only one back has topped 100 yards, and only one has scored a rushing touchdown. Where Williams might give you a little fantasy love is in the passing game, as only two teams have allowed more RB receiving touchdowns than the Bucs and DeAngelo has two receiving scores amongst his 13 scores.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

B A bum wheel, the rookie wall, Williams' success... whatever the reason, Stewart has been an afterthough for most of the season's second half. If his primary means of contribution is as a goal line back, his opportunities are likely to be extremely limited against a defense that's allowed just one RB rushing TD this season.
WR Steve Smith S2

Even if Delhomme's numbers haven't been gaudy, credit him for continuing to find Smith. In the earlier meeting with Tampa Bay Smith picked up where he left off prior to Jake's injury, recording his fifth 100-yard effort in as many Buc matchups with Delhomme at the helm. Smith has reached triple digits in two straight and five of seven, so even though he hasn't scored since Week 8 he's been a fantasy helper. Seeing as Tampa has allowed a WR TD in each of the past five games and just gave up 106 to Marques Colston last week, there's no reason to think Smith won't continue to get his.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

B

Muhammy may have the only two Carolina WR TDs over the past month, but the Bucs haven't allowed more than 33 yards to a wingman since Muhammad's 68 back in Week 6. Hey, if 68 and no touch is all you need Muhammy is certainly capable; hopefully, though, you can do better.

DT Panthers S2 In the six games since the Bucs manhandled them the Carolina defense has recorded 14 sacks and generated 14 turnovers. So maybe they turn the tables this time around.

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