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Start/Bench List - Week 16
John Tuvey
Updated: December 19, 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)
Indianapolis (10-4) at Jacksonville (5-9) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

Peyton's 216 and one against the Jags earlier this season was nothing to write home about. The good news, however, is as follows: Manning has thrown for 250 or more in four of the last five games and multiple touchdowns in six of the last eight; and each of the past three seasons he's thrown for more yardage in the second game of this season series—and twice that rematch was in Jacksonville.

RB Joseph Addai S3 Addai practiced fully on Tuesday, but there seems to be at least one school of thought within the organization that he'll be limited this week in hopes of having him at full speed for the postseason. He hasn't helped your fantasy team in a month, and it appears as if he'll be sharing touches with Rhodes against a defense that has held Matt Forte and Ryan Grant in check the past two weeks. At least you'll know in time to set your lineup if Addai is a late scratch; if he goes he's a risky borderline start at best.
RB Dominic Rhodes S2 Rhodes scored twice last week with Addai out of the mix and had scored in three of the previous five despite Joe averaging 18 touches per game in those contests. Since Addai is likely to get significantly less work this week, maybe even none at all, Rhodes is the better bet for productivity.
WR Reggie Wayne

The last time the same Colts' wideout led his team in fantasy points was back in Weeks 1 and 2 when Wayne turned the trick. Since Wayne had the big game last week trends suggest he goes back into the mix and Gonzo emerges as Manning's main man this week. Wayne still feels like the better fantasy play, and prior to the earlier meeting this year when he was held to three catches and 74 yards he had put up at least eight grabs and 110 yards in each of the previous three against Jacksonville. Unfortunately he's no longer a fantasy lock, but he does offer the most upside of this group.

WR Anthony Gonzalez S3 After reading the above you know Indy's receiving corps is a cluster this year. Marv scored in the earlier meeting, and he and Gonzo have split the last four WR TDs Indy has scored. There are no overwhelming trends here, though Marv's bum hamstring removes him from the equation and at least increases the productivity odds for the rest of the group.
WR Marvin Harrison B Harrison's injured hamstring has him sidelined for this matchup.
TE Dallas Clark S1

Clark destroyed the Lions last week, and he's had plenty of success against Jacksonville as well with four touchdowns in his past four meetings. Until last week the Jags were having difficulty defending tight ends (almost 50 yards per game to the position since their Week 7 bye), and Clark presents more problems than Donald Lee did so another strong showing is in the offing.

DT Colts S2 Dwight Freeney is looking like the Dwight Freeney of old—just in time to face a Jaguars offensive line decimated by injuries. Jacksonville has scored more than 20 points just once since their Week 7 bye, so this might be a sneaky plug-in play for your fantasy title game.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard B

Garrard has three touchdowns in five AFC South games this season; Indy has allowed one in their four division contests. An uptick over his 167 and zero effort against the Colts back in Week 3 wouldn't surprise, but it's tough to expect eunough of an uptick to make Garrard worthy of a fantasy-bowl start.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew


MoJo has scored in five straight against Indy and produced 166 combo yards in the previous meeting despite ceding 28 touches and 130 yards to Fred Taylor. Flying solo, the sky might be the limit this week.


Reggie Williams
Dennis Northcutt

B Who knew I'd get burned mocking Dennis Northcutt last week? Turns out he's still in the league and capable of carving up the Packers. Indy, on the other hand, has allowed three WR TDs this year—to Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Calvin Johnson. It's no slight at either Northcutt or Williams to point out that neither could hold a candle to that trio.
DT Jaguars B

Indy just put up 66 points on a pair of feline foes from Cincy and Detroit; this edition of the Jaguars hardly seems equipped to offer up much more resistance.

Baltimore (9-5) at Dallas (9-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Flacco has had a tremendous rookie season; however, three of his four multiple touchdown games have come against the soft secondaries of Cleveland, Cincy, and Houston. Dallas offers a different challenge and has surrendered multiple TD tosses just once in their past five games. At best Joe has been a borderline fantasy play this season, and this week's matchup puts him south of the border.

RB Le'Ron McClain

McClain has 20 or more carries in each of the past three games and appears to have captured the lead role in Baltimore's committee approach. The Cowboys haven't allowed a running back rushing touchdown since Week 9, but any back who can carve out 80 yards against the Steelers is capable of a fantasy contribution even in the face of a touch matchup like this one.

RB Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
B They're not getting the touches, and even if they were they'd be a bad play against the Cowboys.
WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton


I could maybe see Mason as a start, using the logic that the only WR TD scored against Dallas in the past six weeks came from another wily veteran, Isaac Bruce. But that's a long way to stretch for a fantasy bowl starter when you're bound to find better options elsewhere.


Todd Heap

B It wouldn't be surprising to see Flacco lean on his tight end in the face of the Dallas pass rush; he's been doing that more frequently of late, with 28 targets in the past six games. The Cowboys have been a little more susceptible to TEs the past few weeks, giving up a 100-yard game to John Carlson and a touchdown to Heath Miller. If you're desperate for a tight end this week there's some upside here, but I can't in good conscience give you Heap as an S for your title game.
DT Ravens S2 The Ravens have allowed 33 points combined in the past four games, and Ed Reed is making plays once again.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S3

This one shapes up to look like Romo's 210 and one against the Steelers, or maybe Ben Roethlisberger's 246 and one against the Ravens; in other words, decent yardage and a touchdown. Romo always brings a little upside to the table, so he's a borderline start here.

RB Marion Barber B

Barber hardly looked healthy last week, and there's talk he aggravated his toe injury in last week's effort. Right now the Cowboys are comfortable giving touches to Tashard Choice, which leaves MB3 on your fantasy bench..

RB Tashard Choice S3

All Choice has done is put up 309 yards from scrimmage on the Steelers and Giants; how can you not like his chances, even if it's the Ravens? Expect Choice to have the most success as a receiver, where the Ravens have recently given up 54 yards to Derrick Ward and 57 to Ladell Betts—and where Tashard has 130 yards the past two weeks.

WR Terrell Owens S3

Only two of the nine WR TDs the Ravens have allowed this season have gone to No. 1s, and overall Baltimore has given up just two WR TDs the past six games. Two very similar defenses have held Owens to 70 yards and a score over the past two weeks, so he's a true test for your "never bench your stud" theory.

WR Roy Williams

What's he done to warrant a fantasy start? If anything, and I've seen nothing to suggest he has, it's negated by the matchup.

TE Jason Witten S3

Tight ends have had success against the Ravens... just not lately. But 19 targets, 11 catches, and 106 yards against the Steelers and Giants suggests that Romo's BFF will find a way to get his regardless of the matchup.

DT Cowboys S2 Since Wade Phillips took over the Cowboys have been right up there with the Steelers and Ravens defensively. Rookie quarterback... aggressive pass rush... it's not like the Ravens are gonna put a 30-spot on them, right?
Cincinnati (2-11-1) at Cleveland (4-10) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

In the battle of who could care less, I'll take Romeo Crennell's defense—the same one that held Fitz to 156 and one and picked him three times back in his first start in Week 4—over the quarterback who's topped 200 yards twice and tossed multiple TDs once in 10 starts.

RB Cedric Benson

Ced can't be any worse than the 28-yard "effort" Chris Perry dropped on the Browns earlier this year. He doesn't even have to be as good as the 161 yards from scrimmage he posted last week on the Redskins Will you settle for the 155 combo yards (and one TD) per game Cleveland typically allows to opposing running backs?

WR Chad Johnson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

The last two touchdowns by Bengals wideouts have been scored by Glenn Holt and Chris Henry. Shades of 2009? It's not a bad matchup, but at this juncture neither can be trusted in a game as critical as this one.

DT Bengals B Cincy's last six road trips have seen them allow at least 26 points per game.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ken Dorsey B

The Browns haven't tossed a touchdown since Brady Quinn burned the Broncos back in Week 10. Dorsey has 306 yards in his two starts, suggesting he'll have at least as much difficulty solving the Cincy secondary as Jason Campbell did.

RB Jamal Lewis
Jerome Harrison

Don't look now, but over the past month and a half the Bengals have allowed zero 100-yard rushers and only two RB TDs despite having faced the likes of Westbrook, Portis, Parker, and Addai. Jamal hasn't produced a 100-yard game this season regardless of opponent, so the Browns may view this as an opportunity to test-drive some of his backups. Either way, they're all bench fodder for your fantasy bowl.

WR Braylon Edwards

In Cleveland they're calling it the pre-Christmas miracle: last week Edwards was thrown to five times and caught all five. What next, a tubby guy in a red suit circling the globe with a sleigh full of toys pulled by nine mutated deer? That's certainly more likely than an Edwards touchdown, something we haven't seen since Week 9.

WR Josh Cribbs

Maybe my definition of "expanded role" and the Browns' definition of "expanded role" are different.

TE Darnell Dinkins S3

Steve Heiden is done for the year and Kellen Winslow is iffy at best. I know you're not going to start Dinkins in your fantasy bowl, even against a defense that has given up 489 yards and five touchdowns to tight ends over the past three games. Nonetheless, it's fun to say "Dinkins" and not get in trouble.

DT Browns B If the Cleveland defense faced the Cleveland offense, would the result be the definition of perpetual frustration?

New Orleans (7-7) at Detroit (0-14)

Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

All it takes is effort. The seven quarterbacks who have bothered to throw more than 25 passes against Detroit have averaged 300 yards and two touchdowns per game. Drew has thrown at least 32 passes in every tilt this year, so his chances of 300 and two—a bit of a letdown for him, actually—are pretty solid.

RB Pierre Thomas S1

The last feature back who failed to reach triple-digit combo yardage against the Lions was Maurice Jones-Drew back in Week 10—but his three touchdowns probably made up for the nine yards he fell shy. Since then five feature backs have produced 614 yards and seven touchdowns—numbers that would be much larger had not secondary backs siphoned five scores and another two 100-yard rushing efforts. So, seriously... blank check here.

RB Deuce McAllister B

Deuce may be pressed into duty with Reggie Bush done for the year, but he's working on at least one bad knee and at most is good for a TD plunge. It's a whole lot more likely Thomas takes the bulk of the touches... and the fantasy points.

WR Marques Colston

The go-to receiver on a passing team in a game that projects to be a blowout should be an S1. And Colston has reasserted himself as Brees' go-to guy.

WR Lance Moore

The Lions have shut out wide receivers in three straight games—though blanking the Titans and Vikings requires an asterisk. Still, it's enough of a trend that I'll move Moore down to an S2 just in case he can't keep up with Colston this week.

TE Jeremy Shockey

S2 Are you feelin' it? I'm feelin' it: Shockey's first touchdown as a Saint. Seeing as the Lions have allowed four TE TDs to their past five opponents and surrendered 207 yards to Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe the past two weeks alone... you gotta like Shockey's chances.
DT Saints S3 It's the Lions. They haven't scored more than 23 points all year. They've gone through four quarterbacks. So hey, it's worth a shot.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky

The Saints' secondary isn't the soft touch it was earlier in the season, having given up just two passing touchdowns over the past three weeks. And really, aside from the jump balls to Calvin Johnson this passing game has nothing going for it at the moment.

RB Kevin Smith

New Orleans has allowed a running back rushing touchdown in four straight games, and with 209 yards and 50 touches the past two games Smith will get every opportunity to extend that string.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

Orlovsky knows on which side his bread is buttered, as he's hit Calvin for a touchdown in each of his five starts. Orlovsky has targeted Johnson 34 times in his past two, connecting 17 times for 204 yards. So he's gonna get his.

DT Lions B Detroit is allowing 34 points per game to teams other than the Vikings, and the Saints haven't scored less than 20 in two months.

Miami (9-5) at Kansas City (2-12)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S3

Since the Raiders' poor excuse for a passing game doesn't really count, it's okay to say that every quarterback who has faced the Chiefs over the past two months has thrown for at least 273 yards, and five have tossed multiple TDs. Pennington's yardage has been down a bit of late—under 200 yards in four of the past five—but he has six TDs in the past four and could be the kind of pull-'em-off-the-scrap-heap quarterback you plug into your title game who rewards you with 225 and two.


Ronnie Brown


The Dolphins haven't been scoring much at all of late, specifically on the ground—where they have one RB rushing score in their past four games. There's going to be one this week, though, against a Chiefs defense that has surrendered 23 RB TDs this season. Brown is the narrow pick to get it, as he's still getting slightly more touches than Ricky and is the proud owner of that one RB rushing score the Dolphins have in the past month.


Ricky Williams


See above. It's a 51-49 call between these two, and the coin flip came up Brown.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Davone Bess
B The Chiefs have allowed multiple WR TDs each of the past two games, but you'd be making a serious leap of faith trusting either Ginn (five games since his only TD of the year) or Bess (eight games since his only career NFL TD) to find the end zone. Sometimes the trend is good, a team just doesn't have the personnel to take advantage of it.
TE David Martin

KC has allowed just two TE TDs on the season, but they've given up 79, 93, and 92 yards to tight ends the past three weeks. And since Miami has three tight end touchdowns the past two games, you have to like the chances of either Martin or Anthony Fasano to be productive this week. In another split decision, I give the nod to Martin based on his multiple targets in six straight games, multiple catches in three of the last four, and last week's touchdown.

DT Dolphins S3 Seven of the Dolphins' last eight foes have failed to reach 20 points.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Thigpen B

That roll Thiggy was on? Came to a screeching halt with a three-game stint within the division. No 200-yard outings, no multiple-touchdown affairs... just a guy looking like a backup quarterback. And it doesn't project to get better against a Miami defense that has shut out four of the past five quarterbacks it has faced. The quarterbacks who have double-dipped against the Dolphins—Favre, Warner, Cutler, and Cassel—are all at a different level than Thiggy. Okay, maybe not Cassel, but his supporting case is a bit stronger than Thigpens. The fact remains, Thigpen has stumbled and Miami has the boot heel of a defense to keep him down.

RB Larry Johnson

It's been two months since the Dolphins allowed a 100-yard rusher; in the intervening span they've surrendered just four RB TDs. Worse, it's been two and a half months since LJ hit triple digits, and he's scored just once since then. Defying the laws of mathematics, a negative trend times a negative trend does not in this instance equal a positive trend.

WR Dwayne Bowe S3

Three wide receivers have scored against the Dolphins over the past two months, and only one in the past four games. But while a Bowe TD may be unlikely, a solid game isn't. He's targeted almost 10 times a game, compared with roughly seven for the rest of KC's receivers, and he has five or more catches 10 times this season. It might be a 6-75 line or a 7-90 line, but in many leagues those can be helpful numbers from a third receiver.

WR Mark Bradley

A calf injury is only part of the reason Bradley hasn't caught a pass since Week 12. And this matchup doesn't project as one that will help him snap out of his funk; throw out the Patriots and the Cardinals' stud combo and a wingman has caught as many as five balls against the Fins just twice this season.

TE Tony Gonzalez S2

The Phins haven't allowed a tight end touchdown this season, but Gonzo has seen at least nine balls a game in each of the last seven contests so he could haven an opportunity to burst that bubble.

DT Chiefs B The last five visitors to Arrowhead have averaged 34 points.

Arizona (8-6) at New England (9-5)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

In a stunning development, Warner has thrown multiple touchdowns in just one of the past five games. Barring blizzard-like conditions in New England, Kurt should get back on the horse against a Patriots defense that has surrendered at least two TD tosses in five straight games, including to the likes of JaMarcus Russell and Seneca Wallace. And hey, he wears gloves so even the rain and snow shouldn't bother him.

RB Tim Hightower B Hightower is beginning to look less like Edgerrin James' successor and more like a stopgap measure; J.J. Arrington is stealing touches, for crying out loud. And seeing as the Patriots have given up a total of six running back touchdowns in the past three months, it doesn't look as if this week's game film will be one Hightower can expect to use as his audition reel for a starting gig in 2009.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

If the Pats can allow the killer combo of Curry and Higgins to double-team them for touchdowns, you have to like Fitzgerald's chances in finding a modicum of success.

WR Anquan Boldin

Boldin's shoulder has prevented him from practicing this week and it won't be known until game time if he will play. If he does he's an obvious start.

WR Steve Breaston

With Boldin very questionable Sunday there's a good chance Breaston will start opposite Fitzgerald and put up some nice fantasy numbers against a secondary that's been playing as poorly as New England's has of late.

DT Cardinals B The last time the Cards hopped a plan to visit an AFC East city they gave up 54 points. Oh, and three of their last four opponents have scored at least 35 on them. So, probably not this week.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S2

No team has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Cardinals, who just surrendered a career-high four to Tarvaris Jackson. Cassel rolls in off a four-score of his own and should find little resistance in the poor-traveling Cards.

RB Sammy Morris
Kevin Faulk

It's double-bonus time. The Cards have given up five running back rushing touchdowns in the past five games, while Sammy has scored in three straight; advantage, Morris. Meanwhile, Arizona has allowed six running back receiving touchdowns in the past five games alone... and you know what Faulk's role is in this offense.

WR Randy Moss
S1 The Cardinals have surrendered 20 WR TDs, more than any other squad. And despite his inconsistency this season Moss is tied for second in touchdown grabs among wide receivers. Trends don't converge much more nicely than that.
WR Wes Welker S2 Welker has one touchdown in the past two months, but the forgiving Arizona secondary might be kind enough to cede him one this week. At a minimum the league's top pass catcher will clock in with another seven or so catches—enough to make any PPR team proud.
DT Patriots S3 Five straight have scored at least 20 on the Pats, and Arizona's offense is always a threat to blow up. Of course, Kurt has also thrown at least one pick in five straight games...

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