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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)

New York Jets (9-5) at Seattle (3-11)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre B

The Gunslinger has not gone west well this year, with five picks, three losses, and two touchdown-less efforts in three visits to the Left Coast. It's unlikely a Seattle secondary that's held five of six opposing quarterbacks to one or fewer touchdowns will present a shot at redemption—especially since Seahawk coach Mike Holmgren might have an inkling as to what Favre might be thinking at any given time. Favre has one TD toss in his last three games and isn't the guy who'll help you capture that fantasy title this week.

RB Thomas Jones S1

Seattle has surrendered at least one running back touchdown in six straight and seems like the perfect venue to extend Jones' own eight-game scoring streak.

RB Leon Washington B

Sometimes you send your .250-hitting slugger to the plate hoping for a home run but knowing there's a 75 percent chance he'll strike out. That's a little what it's like playing Washington this week; he scored on one of his two touches last week and is a threat to go the distance any time he handles the rock... but he simply doesn't get enough handles to start with confidence.

WR Laveranues Coles
Jerricho Cotchery

If it's mediocrity you're seeking, Coles and Cotch are delivering: just four touchdowns and five games of 80-plus yards between them since the Jets' bye way back in Week 5. The Seahawks aren't exactly a shutdown secondary, but unless you feel strongly that your lineup needs a dose of 60-75 yards and an outside shot at a touchdown you'll want to look elsewhere for help this week.

TE Dustin Keller

Now we're talking! Seattle has allowed three TE TDs in the past three games and two 100-yard efforts to the position in the past two months; Keller is averaging better than five catches and 60 yards per game over the past month and a half. You know how Brett Favre loves his tight ends, and he's got a winner in the Purdue rookie.

DT Jets S3 It's not as if the Jets get to face J.P. Losman every week; then again, it's not as if Seneca Wallace is Joe Montana.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Seneca Wallace B Wallace has had a couple solid yardage outings and should make it three straight against a Jets secondary that has given up four games of 243 yards or better over the past five weeks, and multiple TD tosses in three of five. However, that begs the question: do you really want to trust Seneca Wallace with the keys to your fantasy title hopes? I have to think you can find a better option elsewhere.
RB Maurice Morris

The Jets have allowed 100-yard rushers in two of the past three, but here's the problem: while Morris appears to have assumed the lead role in the Seattle backfield committee, that still means just 15 or so carries. So even if Gang Green's run defense stumbles again this week, Morris's share of the booty probably won't be enough to stoke your fantasy fires.


Deion Branch


Branch has at least four catches and at least 50 yards in four of five since returning from his injury, and he's a solid play against a Jets' secondary that has allowed six WR TDs in the past four games.

TE John Carlson
S2 Only two teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Jets, and Hot Carl's 21-264-2 over the past month ideally positions him to take advantage of this flaw in Gang Green's coverage.
DT Seahawks S3 I noted earlier that Brett Favre has tossed five picks in three visits to the West Coast. And Favre is certainly capable of keeping both teams in the game.
Atlanta (9-5) at Minnesota (9-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

Ryan's nine straight outings of 200-plus yards is an amazing feat for a rookie; however, his one multi-TD effort in the past five games highlights the fact that he's still a rookie. The going won't get any easier with a visit to Minnesota, which has held five of the last six quarterbacks they've faced to one or zero scores. Best leave your fantasy title hopes in the hands of a veteran.

RB Michael Turner

A couple months ago Turner owners were fearing a home stretch that included intradivision battles with the Panthers and Bucs and a trip to Minnesota to bang his head against the Williams Wall. Then Carolina softened the Bucs and Pat Williams fractured his scapula... and Michael Turner Overdrive keeps on rolling. With the Vikings' defensive line compromised, there's no reason for MTO's fantasy owners to fear this matchup

WR Roddy White S2

The Vikes have allowed a wide receiver touchdown in each of the past four games, and White is unquestionably the Falcons' best bet to extend that string.


Michael Jenkins


Jenkins has been a solid wingman, but both Brian Finneran and Harry Douglas have scored in the two months since Jenkins last saw the end zone.

DT Falcons S3 John Abraham can bring the heat, and Tarvaris Jackson has been known to make a gaffe or two. So I'm sayin' there's a chance.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B

Kudos to T-Jack for a couple of very solid efforts giving the Vikings exactly what they wanted: a quarterback who doesn't turn the ball over and can threaten down the field with the deep ball. Against a secondary that's held four of five and seven of nine to one or zero touchdown tosses, however, Jackson will be a whole lot more game manager... and a whole lot less fantasy helper.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

The last seven times All Day has received 20 or more carries, he's produced triple digit yardage. Thankfully, the Vikings have given Peterson 20 or more carries in seven of the last nine games. Since each of the Falcons' past four opponents have rushed for at least 99 yards, there's no reason to expect Adrian's run of success to stop this week.

RB Chester Taylor S3

Taylor has double-digit touches in six of the past eight games, so he's getting plenty of opportunities. He's scored in four straight, so he's doing something with those opportunities. And a defense that's allowed three running back receiving touchdowns in the past six games provides yet another opportunity for one of the better third-down backs in the league.

WR Bernard Berrian

Berrian hasn't exactly been a consistent producer, and the Vikings are anything but a pass-first team. That said, Berrian's big-play ability shouldn't be on your bench with a fantasy title on the line.

WR Sidney Rice

Rice has one game this season with more than two catches. He's like an indigent man's Cris Carter in that he only catches touchdowns, but at this stage of his career the raw catch total isn't enough to justify plugging him into a fantasy lineup even considering his impressive score-to-catch ratio.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Big Shank has been known to get open down the middle—and that's not a reference to his towel—but like Rice he's too inconsistent a contributor to be trusted at this juncture. A Falcons defense that's allowed just one TE TD in the past nine games certainly doesn't help Shiancoe's chances.

DT Vikings S3

Sure, they're down a few bricks in the Williams Wall, but the Vikings defense still sports three Pro Bowlers and the ThunderDome will provide a daunting atmosphere for a rookie quarterback.


Philadelphia (8-5-1) at Washington (7-7)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S3

The Redskins have allowed just one of the past 10 opposing quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against them; that stretch includes McNabb's 196-yard, zero-TD effort back in Week 5. The Don is playing better than that of late, with 741 yards and seven touchdowns in the past three games, and he's a borderline start despite the tough matchup.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

Westy is the king of combo yardage; despite being throttled down last week against the Browns he still has 400 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns over the past six games. The last nine backfields to face the Skins have produced triple-digit yards from scrimmage, so you have to love Westbrook's chances.

WR Kevin Curtis
DeSean Jackson
Reggie Brown
B As a collective the Eagles offer the seventh-most productive fantsy receiving corps. As individuals... good luck. No Philly wideout has posted consecutive fantasy helpers, which rules out contributions from Curtis, Jason Avant and Greg Lewis this week. Maybe that's good news for Jackson; then again, a matchup with a Redskins defense that's allowed just three WR TDs since their Week 10 bye slaps you in the face with a dose of reality.
DT Eagles S3 The Skins have topped 20 points once in the past nine games, so even if Philly doesn't produce a pick six they could still pick you up some fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell hasn't topped 250 yards in a month and a half and hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 4. He went for 167 and one against the Bengals, and if that's all the better he can do you don't want him anywhere near your starting lineup this close to bowl season.

RB Clinton Portis S3 Portis was huge against the Eagles back in Week 5; since then the Redskins have lost a couple offensive linemen and Clinton has stumbled to the tune of a 2.78 yards-per-carry average over the past three games. Portis' track record against the Eagles—three 100-yard games in the last five meetings and five TDs in the last six—is the only thing keeping him on the plus side of the start/bench fence.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El

Moss hasn't scored against Philly since 2003, and neither of these guys are consistent enough contributors to be trusted with a fantasy start at this point in the season.

TE Chris Cooley S1

Philly ranks fifth in fantasy-friendliness to tight ends, in part because of the 109-yard, one-TD outing Cooley had against them back in Week 5. Captain Chaos is a consistent PPR contributor and this week is a solid start in just about any scoring system.

DT Redskins B This group has done nothing to distinguish itself as a fantasy helper.

Carolina (11-3) at New York Giants (11-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Delhomme hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns in six straight and has failed to top 200 yards in four of six; that doesn't project to turn around against a Giants defense that's held four of five to one touchdown or fewer and has allowed just three quarterbacks all year to throw for more than one score.

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Up until a couple weeks ago this was looking like a serious internal debate about benching the red-hot Williams. However, after Brian Westbrook took the Giants for 131 and one and Tashard Choice produced 91 and one, you have to be feeling pretty good about rolling DeAngelo and his eight-game scoring streak.

Jonathan Stewart

B Stew has scored just one of his nine touchdowns outside of Carolina and made four straight road trips without a touchdown. The biggest game a second back has had against the Giants was 41 yards, suggesting there won't be enough to go around this week.
WR Steve Smith S2

Smith puts his four-game 100-yard streak on the line against a Giants defense that hasn't surrendered a triple-digit receiver since Week 6. I'd say he has at least a fighting chance.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

Muhammy's infrequent scores and mediocre yardage are hardly the stuff of a starting wideout on a fantasy bowl contender.

DT Panthers S3 The Giants have laid a couple offensive eggs, Carolina's defense can make plays, and Eli has been known to throw a pick every once in a while. That's not a bad combo for a fantasy defense.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning B

Eli has failed to throw multiple touchdowns in four of five, and a date with a Carolina secondary that's held four of six to one or fewer scores doesn't project to be the game that reverses the trend.

RB Brandon Jacobs S2

As I see it, the Giants can either use Jacobs this weekend to beat the Panthers and force everyone to come through New York en route to the Super Bowl... or they can try to win without him and maybe wind up having to visit Carolina in January. Healthy, Jake could gouge the Panthers like Michael Turner did a month or so ago; slightly hobbled, he's downgraded to an S2.

RB Derrick Ward

Ward didn't put up bad numbers filling in for Jacobs as the Giants' go-to back, but he doesn't strike the same fear into defenses. His best bet for fantasy success is picking up some leftovers after Jake has softened the defense.

WR Amani Toomer
Domenik Hixon

Only three teams have allowed fewer WR TDs than the Panthers. If Plax were healthy he might be capable of bucking that trend; he's not, and none of the Giant wideouts have stepped up their game enough to be worthy of your trust at this critical juncture.

TE Kevin Boss B

Giant tight ends have scored in six of the past eight games, but Boss has scored just once in the past five contests. Carolina has allowed just one TE TD in the past two months, and only one tight end has topped 50 yards in that span. So this doesn't look like an opportunity for Boss to get back in the saddle.

DT Giants S2 The Giants D is always capable of fantasy points, regardless of opponent.

Green Bay (5-9) at Chicago (8-6)

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Rodgers' 227 and two against the Bears in Week 11 capped a month-long run in which Chicago gave up at least 225 passing yards and multiple touchdowns to each opponent. Last week Drew Brees kick-started another such run, and with at least 248 yards in every game since then and multiple scores in three of four Rodgers seems well-equipped to extend it.


Ryan Grant


You may be eyeing the 145 yard game Grant had at home against the Bears earlier in the season. My suggestion: don't. Grant hasn't topped 90 yards on the road this year, has just one of his four scores away from Lambeau, and is averaging more than a yard less per carry wearing the road whites. Adrian Peterson is the only visiting back to reach triple digits in Chicago, and Grant is hardly in that class.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

Jennings and Driver almost equally split 124 yards in the earlier meeting, with Jennings scoring a touchdown. He's found the end zone in two of three against the Bears and is the better play if you're picking just one. However, nine teams have had a wingman top 45 yards against Chicago and Driver has three straight with at least 65 yards so you don't want to leave him on the bench.

TE Donald Lee S3 Since Lee scored on the Bears in Week 11, Chicago hasn't allowed a tight end touchdown. Lee, on the other hand, has scored in two of four and remains a borderling starter in TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Packers S3 The Bears mustered just three points in the previous meeting, suggesting Green Bay's defense is at minimum capable of getting you some defensive fantasy points the hard way.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

Orton returned from his ankle injury to throw for 133 yards and no scores in the Week 11 loss to Green Bay. While he still isn't playing as well as he did early in the season he has a couple multiple-touchdown games to his credit and should put up decent numbers against a Packers' secondary that's allowed multiple TD tosses to three of four opponents since that Bears' contest.

RB Matt Forte

Forte's 104-combo yard, no-TD performance was the worst by a running back against Green Bay over the past eight games. Matt has a touchdown or triple-digit combo yardage in every game since, and had similar stats in the five games prior to that Packer battle; if you're counting at home, that makes 10 straight with a score or 100-plus combo yards—or in some cases, both. Hot streak, favorable matchup, reliable rookie runner... check, check, and check.


Devin Hester

S3 Hester is the only Bear wideout to have done anything of note over the past two months, and even his production has been spotty at best. But you have to like his chances against a Green Bay secondary that's allowed four 100-yard receivers and six WR TDs in the past month.
TE Greg Olsen


Green Bay has allowed just one TE TD in the past two months, so unless Olsen's steady diet of 50-yard games floats your boat he belongs on your bench this week.

DT Bears S3 There are still enough playmakers on the Bears' defense that even if Hester isn't returning kicks they're worthy of fantasy consideration.

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