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Start/Bench List - Week 15
John Tuvey
Updated: December 12, 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 Orleans (7-6) at Chicago (7-6) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Multiple TD tosses in three straight and five of six. At least 200 yards in every game; in fact, his 230 last week was his lowest total since Week 2. And if you're worried about the weather, flash back to Week 17 of last year when Brees went to Chicago and threw 60 passes for 320 and three in 30 degree weather. Dude went to Purdue; he's seen snow.

RB Reggie Bush S2

Bush looked plenty healthy last week, compiling 106 yards from scrimmage and scoring against the Falcons. He didn't play against the Bears in last year's finale but the fact that Pierre Thomas caught 12 balls for 121 yards suggests that Bush should have success. Doesn't hurt that Maurice Jones-Drew scored on a reception against the Bears last weekend, or that Bush averages almost six grabs per game.

RB Pierre Thomas S2

With Bush in the lineup you can't expect Thomas to post a double-triple like he did in Chicago last season with 105 rushing yards and 121 receiving. But his 102 rushing yards last week is a pretty good indication he'll get plenty of opportunities on the ground against a Bears defense that's surrendered 100-yard rushers in two of the past four games.

WR Marques Colston
Lance Moore


Colston and Moore have emerged as the most targeted members of the Saints' aerial circus, so it would stand to reason that if Brees is in line for a good day his receivers are in line to benefit as well. Colston had a big day in Chicago last year (8-94-2) and would get the nod if you're picking between the Saints' duo. It's also worth noting that two of the three 100-yard receiving days the Bears have allowed have gone to NFC South wideouts (Antonio Bryant's 10-138 and Roddy White's 9-112-1).

TE Jeremy Shockey

S3 Shockey continues to provide a steady diet of five-catch, 50-yard games, but he still hasn't scored or topped 75 yards this season. The Bears suffered through a mid-season stretch in which they allowed three tight ends to have solid outings against them, but since then they've held the position in check; in fact, the last three teams have compiled just nine catches for 123 yards. If you're looking for a touchdown you may need to look elsewhere, but if you're happy with Shockey's five-for-50 he's unlikely to disappoint.
DT Saints B The New Orleans defense isn't doing anything of note that would suggest you use them here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2

Orton has regained his pre-injury form with multiple touchdowns in each of his last two games, though he hasn't put up a big yardage game since before the Bears' Week 8 bye. The Saints have held a pair of divisional foes to single touchdown tosses the past fortnight, but prior to that five straight opponents had thrown multiple touchdowns. Orton also had a pair of scores in last year's meeting. In other words, all signs are pointing towards a two-score, 200-yard game here.

RB Matt Forte

Only once this season has Forte failed to deliver a touchdown or at least 100 yards from scrimmage, and that was back in Week 4. The Saints have been plenty accommodating of late, giving up 972 yards from scrimmage and eight RB TDs over the last seven games; in that span only the Chiefs have failed to have a running back reach the end zone. Forte does it all, and he'll have the opportunity to do it all against the Saints on Thursday night.


Devin Hester

S3 Hester has been the top WR target in five straight games and owns the Bears' only WR TD in that span. The Saints have allowed at least one WR TD in seven straight games, and Devin is the most likely Bear to take advantage of that trend. Oh, and let's not forget the punt return TD and 55-yard TD reception Hester scored on the Saints last season.

Rashied Davis

B Davis would qualify as the Bears' second-best receiver, but seeing as neither he nor any other Bear WR has topped 40 yards or scored since Week 9 there's no reason to bust them out this week.
TE Greg Olsen
Desmond Clark


The Bears' two TE TDs last week were the first two by the position since Week 7, and Olsen had to split the scores with Clark. New Orleans has held tight ends largely in check; only Antonio Gates has scored or topped 50 yards since Week 5. With Olsen and Clark sharing what little production there projects to be, both are bench fodder.

DT Bears S3 I'm putting the Bears D/ST narrowly on the start side of Start/Bench, but if you lose points when your defense gives up a bunch of yards and/or touchdowns this probably isn't a risk you'll want to take.
Tampa Bay (9-4) at Atlanta (8-5) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia S3

Garcia bucked every trend on the table with his success in Carolina last week, and since things look significantly better this week it would be foolish to recommend him for another benching. Every visiting quarterbacks has thrown at least one touchdown against the Falcons and only Tyler Thigpen in his first NFL start failed to throw for at least 216 yards against them. It was Brian Griese and not Garcia who faced Atlanta earlier this year and threw for 160 and one; Garcia's gotta be better than that.

RB Warrick Dunn


Cautious optimism for Dunn, who is still the Bucs' primary ball-carrier... though Cadillac is certainly gaining. It appears as if the short-yardage work is going to Williams, so if Dunn is to provide any fantasy value it will be with his yardage. The Falcons have allowed a couple 100-yard rushers in the Georgia Dome, but those were to Larry Johnson and DeAngelo Williams—both of whom are more true "feature backs" than Dunn. Warrick had 49 rushing yards and 21 receiving in the earlier meeting in Tampa, when Earnest Graham rolled up 116 and a TD. Though Graham is gone Dunn's day projects to be similar to that earlier gig: 50-60 yards on the ground and another 20-30 through the air. Those numbers could help in performance leagues, but those in TD-heavy formats will likely prefer Cadillac.

RB Carnell Williams


Caddy has scored in two straight since returning to the lineup and seems to have found a role as the Bucs' designated scorer. Against a Falcons defense that has allowed at least one running back touchdown in every home game this season he has a decent shot of extending that string to three.

WR Antonio Bryant


Garcia's partner in crime in blowing up the trends, Bryant now has three 100-yard games in the past two months and has been the Bucs' most targeted receiver in each of those contests. The Falcons have allowed opposing No. 1 receivers at least 87 yards in every home game except the Chiefs game in Week 3... but that was also the last time a No. 1 scored against them. Bryant wasn't nearly as large a part of the game plan in the earlier meeting and had zero catches; he'll improve upon that number, but you may have to settle for yardage instead of scores here.

WR Michael Clayton
Ike Hilliard


Of the five WR TDs the Falcons have allowed at the Georgia Dome, four have gone to No. 2 receivers. If Clayton and Hilliard had combined for more than a dozen catches in the past month I'd go ahead and recommend one to take advantage of that trend. But they haven't, so I won't.

TE Jerramy Stevens
Alex Smith

This matchup isn't favorable enough to risk starting one of Tampa's tight end and having the other do the damage—or John Gilmore usurp both Stevens and Smith.

DT Buccaneers B At least the Bucs defense should be well rested after not showing up in Carolina on Monday night. If you've been riding the Tampa D you may want to take this under advisement: home teams in NFC South divisional games this season are 10-0 and winning by an average score of 30-16.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

It's been a long time since Ryan wasn't a good fantasy start: he's thrown for at least 200 yards in eight straight games and has multiple touchdowns in four of the past seven. His last three home dates have all hovered right around 250 yards, but he was blanked in two of them as he ceded touchdowns to Michael Turner. That and a Tampa defense that has held eight of nine opponents to one or zero touchdown tosses should have you diminishing your expectations at least a little.

RB Michael Turner

Maybe a month ago Turner owners were looking at this game as a tough matchup; after last week, however, how can you not like his chances against a defense still picking shards of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart out of its backside? Turner has 100 yards or a touchdown (or both) in six straight games, and it would take one heckuva rebound effort from the Bucs to prevent him from running that string to seven.

RB Jerious Norwood B

Norwood's been a non-factor for the past month, and there's nothing to suggest that changes this weekend.

WR Roddy White S1

How can you not like White against a Tampa D that has been shredded by division mates Marques Colston (106) and Steve Smith (117 and one) the past two weeks? Roddy's track record against the Bucs isn't that strong, but he does roll into this tilt with three 100-yard efforts in his past four outings.


Michael Jenkins


If there's a straw to grasp at it's that three of the past six WR TDs the Bucs have allowed have gone to wingmen. Of course, the past two Atlanta WR TDs have gone to wingmen other than Jenkins (Harry Douglas and Brian Finnerin), so that's a pretty short straw to be grasping.

DT Falcons B Did I mention that home teams in NFC South divisional games are 10-0 and winning by an average score of 30-16? Okay, good.
Washington (7-6) at Cincinnati (1-11-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 4, but he just might against a Bengals defense that has allowed multiple TD tosses each of the past two weeks. That said, I'm not willing to risk your or my fantasy season on that possibility.

RB Clinton Portis S1 How important is Portis to Jim Zorn's offense and the Redskins' fading playoff hopes? Not only can he get away with saying what he did, he could probably run over Zorn's dog and give his kids sugar before bedtime and still get the bulk of the carries. There appear to be no health concerns for Portis, who practiced fully all week and is not even listed on the team's injury report. The Bengals aren't the pushover you might think—four of their past five opponents haven't even produced 100 RB rushing yards—but they've still given up 11 RB TDs in the past nine games. As promised, Clinton's good practice week—along with his "kiss and make up" session with Zorn—elevate him to S1 status.
RB Ladell Betts B You see Bengals and you think cakewalk, but the stats above indicate otherwise. And if there's exploiting to be done, it will be Portis doing it.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El

After holding three straight foes without WR TDs the Bengals have given up two in each of the past two games. It's taken a month and a half for the Redskins to score two WR TDs, so I'm not particularly optimistic they'll prove capable of exploiting Cincy's secondary—and while there's a chance either could score, at this juncture of the season I have to believe you've got a better alternative on your roster.

TE Chris Cooley S2

How much do you trust the trends? Cooley hasn't scored in two months and is fresh off a season-killing one-catch effort against the Ravens. If you survived that goose egg his prospects are significantly better this week against a Bengals defense that has allowed tight end touchdowns in four straight contests. Consider last week an aberration; in the previous 11 games Captain Chaos had averaged six catches for 63 yards. Expect him to get back in the saddle here.

DT Redskins S2 With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm the Bengals have topped 15 points once in nine tries.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

The Redskins have held five of six quarterbacks under 200 yards and eight of nine to one or zero TD tosses. Of course, you weren't even considering Fitzpatrick anyway.

RB Cedric Benson

Cincy's ground game has produced one touchdown in the past three months. Doesn't even matter that the Skins have given up just eight RB TDs this year, does it?

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

The Skins haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver in three months and have given up just two WR TDs in the past four games. Somewhere in between those time frames you probably came to grips with the fact that neither Housh nor Ocho Cinco were going to give you anything this year.

DT Bengals B Cincy has been outscored 69-6 the past two weeks, making them the NFL's equivalent of the Maginot Line.

Tennessee (12-1) at Houston (6-7)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

You're not going to start Collins in your fantasy semis... but if you were, wouldn't knowing that the Texans have allowed multiple touchdown tosses in four of their past six games and at least 287 yards in three of their last four make you feel good?

RB Chris Johnson
LenDale White

The Titans have at least two RB TDs in each of their past four meetings with the Texans, including LenDale's deuce earlier in the year. They've also rushed for triple-digit yardage in each of those four meetings. Houston is giving up 150 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing running backs, so even if Johnson cedes the scores to White he'll help your fantasy stat sheet.

WR Justin Gage
B Gage has five of the six Titan WR TDs this season, but it's highly unlikely the Texans defense will be able to force Tennessee to throw
TE Bo Scaife

Scaife in Week 10: 10 catches, 78 yards, one touchdown. Scaife in the month since: eight catches, 95 yards, zero scores. The Texans have allowed four TE TDs in the past six games, but the Titans just don't throw enough for Scaife to be a reliable fantasy play.

DT Titans S2 Only two teams have made it to 20 points against Tennessee this season, though Houston's offense is playing well with Matt Schaub healthy and has engaged the Titans in shootouts in the past.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub B Only two quarterbacks have thrown multiple touchdowns against the Titans this year: Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. Schaub isn't quite in that category yet, though he certainly looked good in Favre's old stomping ground last week. Tennessee's pass defense travels extremely well, however; they've allowed just two TD tosses in six road games and allowed only one team to top 175 passing yards. Schaub just isn't at the level yet where you can use him with any degree of confidence in the face of such dominant negative trends.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 Congratulations if you identified Slaton as the only back to rush for triple-digit yardage against the Titans this season. The rookie has topped the century mark in three of the past four as well, and you shouldn't have to sit him this week just because of the matchup; you can't really count the Lions and Browns as legitimate opponents, so with them removed the last five Titan opponents have produced triple-digit RB yards from scrimmage.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Credit the Titans with effectively taking Johnson out of the earlier meeting; he was thrown at a dozen times but produced just two catches. Andre has been playing better of late and has regained every-week starter status regardless of opponent. However, the Titans have given up just two WR TDs this season and have allowed only one wideout to top 90 yards against them, so your expectations should at least be greatly diminished.
WR Kevin Walter B

No. 2 receivers are averaging 35 yards per game against the Titans and have topped 40 yards four times.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Daniels has scored in just one of Houston's 13 games, so a TD against a Titans defense that has allowed a total of three TE TDs this season seems highly unlikely. The 71 yards he produced in the earlier meeting feels like upside; only two TEs topped that total against Tennessee, none in the past month and a half.

DT Texans B The Titans have scored at least 26 points in each of their past five matchups with Houston, including 31 earlier this year, and have tallied 75 points in the past two games.

Detroit (0-13) at Indianapolis (8-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky

With Daunte Culpepper's shoulder ailing, Orlovsky has been confirmed as your starter in Detroit. However, his broken thumb is not fully healed and the Lions have indicated he'll be on a short leash. That means we could be treated to Drew Stanton, coming off a concussion, or Drew Henson. And there isn't a one of them you'd give a fantasy start to anyway.

RB Kevin Smith

Indy has shored up the run defense of late, though dates with the Browns and Bengals skew the numbers in their favor. Smith has been adequate with flashes of decency, and he's in line for something like the 57 yards Cedric Benson produced last week—maybe a little more, considering the Lions have zero options at quarterback and will at minimum want to run clock in hopes of escaping of Indy with a shred of dignity left. It's not the heartiest recommendation I've ever given, that's for sure.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

A matchup with a Colts secondary that has allowed two WR TDs all year is hardly favorable. But seeing as Detroit's only offensive play is the Hail Mary to Johnson, there's a chance Indy's d-backs might get bored enough late in the game to let hiim get behind them.

DT Lions B Detroit is allowing 35 points per game to teams other than the Vikings.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Detroit's defensive stats against the pass have been skewed by opposing offenses who have stopped throwing on them because the running is so easy. Indy's offense revolves too much around Manning to have his numbers too dramatically stunted by running too much, so expect him to make it five straight home games with at least 250 yards and multiple TDs.

RB Joseph Addai B All the signs—the inking of Najeh Davenport to a contract, the elevation of Lance Ball from the practice squad, Addai's lack of practice time, Tony Dungy's statement that Joe is unlikely to go—indicate that Addai's shoulder injury will keep him on the sidelines. You can track this one right up until game time, but you have to think the Colts believe they could beat Detroit with the two guys they find on the street outside the stadium at running back.
RB Dominic Rhodes S1 In the past four games six backs have posted triple-digit combo yards against the Lions; five of them have reached the century mark on the ground, while Warrick Dunn needed 37 receiving yards to augment his 90 rushing yards. Detroit has allowed a dozen RB TDs over the past five games alone. Worst-case, Rhodes shares the load with a hobbled Addai, and since he's had double-digit carries in four straight games and six of the Colts' last eight RB TDs he's a decent start. Best-case (for Rhodes and his fantasy owners, at least), he'll get the bulk of the workload and put up a monster game on the hapless Lions.
WR Reggie Wayne
Marvin Harrison

The Lions have allowed one WR TD over the past five games primarily because teams don't need to throw to beat them. While Anthony Gonzalez has scored four of the Colts' past seven WR TDs his field time has been reduced by more two-tight end sets. That should open the door for Wayne (who hasn't scored in a month and has forfeited his every-week starter card) and Harrison to have solid days—though unless Tony Dungy wants to kick his former defensive line coach while he's down, they won't be monster days.

WR Anthony Gonzalez S3 Gonzo is still a good start, especially considering he's the most prolific score amongst Indy wideouts over the past two months. But as mentioned above, more two-tight end sets from the Colts means less playing time for Gonzalez, and that in turn takes a bite out of his catches and yardage.
TE Dallas Clark S1

The Lions have allowed TE TDs in three of the last four, and Clark snapped a three-game scoreless stretch with a touchdown last week against the Bengals. He's been targeted five or more times in seven of the last eight games, which should give him ample opportunity to make it two in a row with a score this week.

DT Colts S1 Indy's defense has scored more touchdowns (one) than it has allowed (zero) in giving up nine points to two crappy teams fielding backup quarterbacks. Here's another matchup with a crappy team fielding a backup quarterback. What do you think is going to happen?

Green Bay (5-8) at Jacksonville (4-9)

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Rodgers extended his run of games with multiple touchdown tosses and at least 225 yards to four straight, and there's little reason to think that streak will end at the hands of the same Jaguars defense that gave up 230 and three to Kerry Collins.


Ryan Grant


The Jags have allowed three 100-yard rushers this season, though Mewelde Moore's 99 is the most they've given up in Jacksonville. Most of Grant's success has come at home, so his expectations should be slightly diminished as well—though not too diminished. Would you settle for 75 yards and a score?

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

You should be only mildly concerned that Jordy Nelson and Ruvell Martin have swiped touchdowns from Jennings and Driver over the past three weeks. And you should be even less concerned that on paper Jacksonville's secondary looks as if it's been formidable; they lost their best corner to an injury and have allowed any receiver thrown at more than five times in a game to score or top 60 yards. And since Jennings is targeted an average of seven times a game and Driver six, you'd be fine starting either this week.

TE Donald Lee S2 Lee has scored in two straight and three of four and will be facing a Jacksonville defense that just allowed both of the Bears' tight ends to score. Have to like those odds.
DT Packers S1 Between a secondary that excels at the pick six and a Jaguars offense that hasn't reached 20 points in a month, Green Bay is looking like a very good fantasy play this week
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard B

Garrard's two multiple-touchdown games this season have come against the Lions and Browns; despite its recent struggles the Pack's secondary is significantly better than either of those units and has shut out four of the past seven quarterbacks it has faced. Garrard has had a couple of decent yardage games of late, but if multiple scores are off the table he's a definite bench candidate.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


MoJo is about the only Jag who hasn't licked the stamp and mailed in the rest of the season, so you should feel free to start him with confidence against a Packers defense that over the past two months has allowed at least one back from every team it has faced to reach triple digit combo yardage or score multiple touchdowns.

RB Fred Taylor

The Fred Taylor Farewell Tour has been cancelled, with thumb surgery prematurely bringing the caravan to a halt. If you're a MoJo owner, that's good news.


Reggie Williams

S3 The once-vaunted Packers secondary has surrendered three 100-yard games and five touchdowns over the past three weeks alone. With Matt Jones' suspension upheld Williams is the best option on the Jacksonville roster to exploit said secondary. What, you'd prefer Jerry Porte or Dennis Northcutt?
DT Jaguars B

No longer is "Jacksonville Jaguars" synonymous with "great defense". And at the rate they're going, "good defense" may be off the table pretty soon as well.

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