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Start/Bench List - Week 2
John Tuvey
Updated: September 18, 2009
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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)
Carolina (0-1) at Atlanta (1-0) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Jake's two best games over the past two seasons came last year against the Falcons: 294 and two in Week 4, then 295 and one in the Week 12 rematch. More impressive: no picks in either game. But with Delhomme tossing nine picks in his last two games (and 16 INTs against seven TDs his last 10 games) and the Falcons' defense looking like an improved unit you can't start Jake with any degree of confidence.

DeAngelo Williams

S2 It's no coincidence that in last season's series, Carolina won the game in which they ran 30 times and passed 29—and lost the game in which they ran 24 and passed 35. Williams scored in both matchups last season, scored in last week's opener, and should find the end zone here again. It's worth noting that Williams caught four passes last week—his most since Week 8 of 2007—and Atlanta gave up a RB receiving score last week.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Stewart is back in the lineup, though a yards-per-carry average that barely tops three doesn't necessarily scream "healthy". He'll still get opportunities at the stripe, though he squandered them last week and eventually gave way to Williams for an 11-yard TD run. But there's no compelling reason to expect much more than 60 yards on 15 touches, so he's a borderline start at best.
WR Steve Smith S2

Atlanta focused on shutting Smith down in last year's first meeting, limiting him to 6-96-1 while Muhsin Muhammad went off. Smith went 8-168 in the rematch but did not score. With the Falcons following Philly's model of pressuring Delhomme into mistakes, Smith may be looking at another frustrating day similar to his 13-target, three-catch, 21-yard opener. The good news is, Atlanta's secondary, while improved, isn't yet at Philly's level. A solid game should be in the offing, and a Steve Smith explosion is always lurking nearby.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

With the Falcons diverting their attention towards Smith, Muhammad scored in both ends of the home-and-home last year. Another 8-147-1, like he did in Week 4 a year ago, is unlikely. But if a 5-50 line with a chance at a score works for you, Muhammy's your guy.

DT Panthers B In the last four games that mattered, Carolina gave up 33, 31, 34, and 38 points—not to mention 45 the last time they visited Atlanta. So let's repurpose last week's line: there are plenty of playmakers on that side of the ball for the Panthers, but it would be nice to see them actually making some plays before slotting them into your fantasy lineup.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Ryan didn't throw a touchdown in either matchup with Carolina last year, but his 229 and two against a pretty good Miami defense last week suggests he's capable of putting up decent numbers against quality opponents.

RB Michael Turner

Atlanta doesn't have to do much offensively, just wait for Jake Delhomme to turn it over and then hand the ball to Turner. If a banged-up Philly offensive line generated 5.7 yards per carry against the Panthers' depleted defensive front, Turner should easily turn 20 carries into triple-digit yardage. Maybe not the Abe Lincoln (four scores) he posted a year ago, but he'll at least find the end zone once.

RB Jerious Norwood
U Mild upside for Norwood as the pass-catching back against a Carolina defense that gave up a RB receiving score last week, and as a change-of-pace runner against a unit that surrendered 4.9 ypc to Brian Westbrook and 5.1 ypc to LeSean McCoy in the opener.
WR Roddy White S3

White started slowly last year as well, staying under the century mark and out of the end zone until Week 3. And given the Falcons' other options, not to mention a Carolina secondary that held Roddy to 7-90 and 4-70 last year, expectations need to be tempered. The good news: White was targeted 26 times in the season series last year and 10 times last week, so they're making an effort to get him the ball.


Tony Gonzalez


If Brent Celek's 6-37-1 last week is any indication, the Panthers are still fielding the same fantasy-friendly defense that gave up games like 4-61-1 to Antonio Gates, 5-50 to Jeremy Shockey, and 5-46-1 to Kevin Boss. But is it the same D that held Gonzo to 3-17 as a Chief last season? Even if it is, it's a different Gonzo: one with a stronger supporting cast and a five-game scoring streak.

DT Falcons S2 Delhomme has thrown nine INTs in his last two games; any defense he's facing has a decent shot at a pick six.
Minnesota (1-0) at Detroit (0-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

Favre missed the stat-padding Lions last year; in his previous four dates against Detroit he threw for 994 yards and eight touchdowns. However, like last week Favre may be limited by a pitch count and his team's success running the football.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

The Lions were one of the three teams who allowed more rushing yards last season than the Browns, and you saw how ADP tossed them aside like a non-winning betting slip. Oh, and Mike Bell just rushed for 143 yards against Detroit. Anyone else get the feeling Peterson is going to make the 470 yards from scrimmage he's posted on the Lions in four career meetings look like chump change?

RB Chester Taylor U

Chester's lack of production last week wasn't for lack of opportunity (12 touches) or quality of opponent. And you'd have to think the situation will be similar to last year, when Taylor received eight touches in each end of the matchup and produced 54 and 53 yards from scrimmage with one total touchdown. So if you're in a deeper league and in need of a flex spot, Chester offers some value.

WR Bernard Berrian

It's okay to be a little concerned; Berrian's hamstring still appears to be troubling him, though he's not even listed on the official injury report, and suddenly Brett Favre has a whole lot of options. But all it takes is one play; Berrian's 7-74 in last season's series looks pedestrian... until you add back his 86-yard touchdown grab to yield a much better sounding 8-160. And this is a secondary that last week alone gave up passing plays of 20, 26, 39, and 38 yards.

WR Sidney Rice

Favre answered at least one question with regards to Rice, making him his top downfield target last week. And the Lions just surrendered six touchdown passes. So pretty much all that stands between Rice and some fantasy-friendly stats is Adrian Peterson.

WR Percy Harvin

Will five touches (eight, if you count kick returns) be enough for Harvin to give you some fantasy-helping numbers? At 11.6 yards per touch (19.6, if you count kick returns), yes. Against the Lions, definitely.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S2

The Lions have allowed seven TE TDs in their last eight games—including two to Jeremy Shockey last week and one to Shiancoe late last season as part of a 5-65-1 afternoon.

DT Vikings S2

It's not the stone-cold, lead-pipe lock you might think; Detroit hasn't given up a defensive or special teams touchdown in its last five games and last season gave Minnesota all they could handle in a pair of close losses. That said, it's a rookie quarterback and a bad offensive line going against one of the elite defenses in the league.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford

Stafford is still seeking his first NFL touchdown, and his 205-yard debut matched what Brady Quinn posted on the Vikings last week. Aside from a long completion to Calvin Johnson, there isn't much upside to this matchup.

RB Kevin Smith

If you're looking for a silver lining, Smith produced 91 and 73 yards from scrimmage in the season series last year. He's also scored in four straight games. Still, if you've got any other RB options on your roster, this would be a good week to dust them off.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

The only thing going for the Lions last year against Minnesota was Johnson, who put up games of 3-84-1 and 4-85-1. Stafford has yet to find him as consistently as Dan Orlovsky did, but that's going to turn around soon enough.

WR Bryant Johnson B

Johnson's four catches last week were twice as many as any secondary receiver in the two games against Minnesota last year

TE Brandon Pettigrew U

Mild upside here, as the lone offensive highlight for the Browns last week was tight end Robert Royal's 4-60-1. It'd be even better if Pettigrew actually had an NFL catch to his credit.

DT Lions B Whatever potential there may be for a Favre pick has to be tempered by the very real possibility that Peterson rushed for 300 yards against the Lions.

Cincinnati (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

While it may be a tad early to lump Dom Capers' 3-4 in with the '85 Bears, there's no question the Green Bay secondary is still ball hawking. And given that Carson tossed a pair of INTs last week, if you're in a league that penalizes picks you may prefer to pass on Palmer against the Pack. There should be yardage to be had, but in general this matchup does not project to be in Carson's favor.

RB Cedric Benson

Denver's defense was soft against the run last year, and they rolled over for Benson last week just like old times. Green Bay only ranked four spots behind the Broncos last year, but after squelching Matt Forte in Week 1it appears they have turned over a new leaf. Any optimism you have for Benson should remain guarded at best.

WR Chad Ochocinco


If we're operating under the assumption that, while the front may be different, the Green Bay secondary is still more or less the same... well, then it's worth pointing out that the last five legit No. 1 receivers to face Green Bay have either scored (four of the five) or topped 100 yards (two of them) or both. So the question becomes, do you still think Ochocinco is a legitimate No. 1? Either that or "Quien es mas macho, Fernando Lamas or Ricardo Montalban?"

WR Laveranues Coles
Chris Henry
Andre Caldwell
U See the stat above about No. 1 receivers faring well against the Pack? Note over that same span you've seen secondary targets put up 115 and 2 (Lance Moore), 146 and 1 (Kevin Walter), and 127 and 1 (Dennis Northcutt) on the Green and Gold. There was enough yardage to make Bear wideouts like Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett productive, so it's not difficult to see the upside in Coles (as a Bennett-style possession guy) or Henry (doing Knox-like work as a deep threat). The wild card is Caldwell, who was more productive than either in last week's opener. It may be early in the season to start reaching for lineup help, but if you have a Bengal wideout on your team there seems to be points on the table.
DT Bengals B The Bengals held Denver without a touchdown for a little more than 59 minutes last week. The Packers' offense struggled for a little more than 58 minutes last week before hooking up on a long game-winning touchdown. Would anyone be surprised if things were reversed and Green Bay's offense had its way with Cincy's D for the bulk of the proceedings?
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

The Bengals have stymied three straight quarterbacks—though holding Kyle Orton, Tyler Thigpen, and Jason Campbell in check isn't really all that impressive. Go back to the last Rodgers-level QBs Cincy has faced and you'll see Peyton Manning put up 277 and 3 and Matt Schaub went for 280 and 3. Building on the 50-yard game-winner from Sunday night, expect Rodgers to look more like the quarterback who finished last season with five straight games of 260 yards or better and multiple scoring strikes in six of his last seven.


Ryan Grant


You've grown accustomed to thinking of the Bengals as a walkover, but they haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last eight games—including matchups with Westbrook, Slaton, Jones-Drew, and Portis, among others. Grant's 16-61-1 against a Bears defense that was without Brian Urlacher for much of the night was underwhelming, so you can't simply assume he'll roll the Queen City Kitties here. In fact, he's a borderline starter at best.

WR Greg Jennings


Cincy gave up five WR TDs and a pair of 100-yard games over the final five of last year—and not exactly to passing teams, either (Chiefs, Browns, Redskins, and Ravens as well as the Colts). You'd have to consider Green Bay a passing team, and Jennings at least as good as the best receivers from that bunch.

WR Donald Driver

Driver's standard helping of leftovers has been in the 40-50 yard range with the occasional touchdown. Those are the kind of numbers you go out of your way to plug into your lineup—but there's no need to dig between the couch cushions to find a replacement, either.

TE Jermichael Finley U Finley was targeted but once last week as Donald Lee remains in the mix for playing time. The Bengals have traditionally been one of the league's softer marks for tight ends—45 percent of Kyle Orton's pre-fluke yardage went to Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham last week—but with two cooks still in the kitchen you're risking an empty plate with Finley.
DT Packers S2 The Green Bay secondary demonstrated once again last week that a) they can get to the ball and b) they know what to do with the ball once they get it.

Arizona (0-1) at Jacksonville (0-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Hoping for a sign that Warner gets back in the saddle after looking pedestrian in the season-opening loss to San Francisco? How about this one: the Jags have allowed four straight quarterbacks to throw for at least 278 yards on them. Here's another: Warner followed up last year's opening day dud against the 49ers with 361 and three against Miami.

RB Tim Hightower B Different philophies: Last year only two teams allowed more RB receptions than the 49ers, against whom Hightower caught 12 last week. This week's opponent allowed fewer RB receptions than all but four teams, making a repeat performance unlikely.
RB Chris Wells B Until Beanie is getting a larger share of the touches—seven carries to Hightower's eight isn't bad, but when you factor in the dozen receptions he's barely getting a quarter of the workload—he can't be banked on as a fantasy starter.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

There's a chance injuries to Boldin and Breaston will leave Larry to battle double-teams once again. No matter; Fitz gets a secondary that has allowed four straight 100-yard receivers, including 10-162-1 to Reggie Wayne (sans wingmen) last week.

WR Anquan Boldin
B Last week's two catches—and Jerheme Urban's five—suggest all is not yet right with Boldin's hammy. He was limited all week in practice; I'd suggest waiting until the light is a brighter shade of green before banking on Boldin.
WR Steve Breaston

Breaston was supposed to pick up Boldin's slack last week but instead was a surprise scratch himself. Like Boldin, Breaston was limited all week in practice and can't be trusted here.

DT Cardinals B Arizona's last two visits to AFC towns saw them give up 47 and 56 points; on the road last year they gave up an average of 40 points. Hey, at least they got frequent flyer miles.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Garrard was underwhelming in his season opener, while the Cardinals held Shaun Hill in check. What's different this week? Garrard's at home, where he's thrown for 300 yards in two of his last three. And Arizona's on the road outside their division, where they allowed 1,335 passing yards and 17 touchdowns in five games last season.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

This week's fun fact: the Cardinals have allowed a running back receiving touchdown in seven of their last eight games—and that's to go along with nine RB rushing scores in that span. Two of MoJo's last four scores have come via the air, and his last 100-yard effort was receiving, not rushing. A Paul Revere outing—one by land, two by air—wouldn't surprise.


Torry Holt

S2 You cant take Torry out of the NFC West, but he'll still find Arizona. Holt has been killing the Cards for years, averaging 100 yards per game dating back to 2003 (12 games) and scoring six touchdowns in the last eight matchups. If fellow former GSOT mate Isaac Bruce can get 74 yards on the Cards, Holt should be good for his first big game as a Jag.

Troy Williamson

B It's not that the Arizona secondary is that good; it's just that Williamson is that bad.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis was the most targeted Jacksonville receiver this side of Jones-Drew last week. Big whoop. Teams don't target the TE against Arizona (last year Chris Cooley was the only opposing TE targeted more than five times against the Cards), maybe because they're having too much success throwing downfield to the wideouts or checking outside to the backs. Either way, there's nothing here to suggest a flyer on Lewis will be rewarded.
DT Jaguars B

Arizona's talent on offense and Jacksonville's lack of playmakers on defense conspire to keep the Jags D/ST on fantasy benches.


Oakland (0-1) at Kansas City (0-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Russell's 208 and one against the Chargers on Monday might be a sign of progress—though the 12-for-30 is a few percentage points shy of where an NFL QB should be. JaMarcus went 16-for-45 for 187 yards against the Chiefs last year, but that's a two-game total. Last week Joe Flacco picked apart KC's secondary for 307 and three, but he was working the short and intermediate game—hardly Russell's forte. A deep bomb might bolster Russell's bottom line, but you're already taking a risk with a guy who connects on barely a third of his passes.

RB Darren McFadden
Michael Bush

Last year McFadden had a 21-164-1 against the Chiefs while Bush kicked in 16-90-1 in the same game. Even Justin Fargas had an 18-82-1 game against KC later in the year. So you can run on the Chiefs, as evidenced by the fact they've allowed running back touchdowns in eight straight games and let three different Ravens backs put marks on them last week. The only fly in this ointment would be Fargas returning from his injury to siphon touches, but with McFadden lining up at receiver and Bush as a goal line threat both should get theirs anyway.

WR Louis Murphy
U You know the Oakland M.O.: they'll attempt to run the ball down KC's throats, then throw the occasional deep ball. Murphy came up with one (or two, depending on whether you were wearing stripes or not) on Monday night and could do so again. But there's plenty of risk involved in spinning Russell's roulette wheel and hoping it comes up on 18 black.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey

B DHB failed to catch any of the four passes thrown at him. And clearly the stat-keeper is a close personal friend, as only one was officially considered a drop. Maybe the ones that don't actually hit his hands on the way through don't count.
WR Chaz Schilens
B Sounds like Schilens will sit another week while recovering from his busted foot. Worse, the Raiders' plan is to work him into Murphy's spot in the offense rather than DHB's. There's Raiders logic for ya.
TE Zack Miller S2

Miller was Oakland's leading receiver in both matchups with the Chiefs last year, though that's a little like having the greenest lawn in Death Valley. KC picked up where they left off as a tight-end friendly defense, letting Todd Heap return to the end zone on them in the season opener. All that's preventing Miller from a very productive day is the fact that more than half the time Russell isn't on target.

DT Raiders U Add Richard Seymour to the mix and suddenly the Oakland defense might be bringing enough to the table to complement their return game and make the Raiders an every-week fantasy consideration. Or at least in weeks where they play teams with injured or inexperienced quarterbacks and shaky offensive lines.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel
Brodie Croyle

Admit it, Brodie Croyle shocked the bejeezus out of you by actually being competent against the Ravens. This may be his show again, as Cassel was limited all week in practice. There's not enough upside to the KC passing game to warrant either being in your lineup this week.

RB Larry Johnson
Jamaal Charles

LJ's 11-20 against Baltimore last week certainly didn't inspire much confidence, so with Seymour in the middle expect something a whole lot closer to Johnson's 12-22 effort against the Raiders last year than his 24-92-1 bounceback in the rematch. There's a chance the Chiefs could use Charles as a receiver like the Chargers did with Sproles in the opener, but there's just not enough of a potential reward to warrant the risk.

WR Dwayne Bowe S3

Call it the Asomugha factor: Bowe hasn't scored in four career games against Oakland, totaling 15 catches for 264 yards. And this season there's no Tony Gonzalez to take the heat off. Tough to bench Bowe, especially after he managed to find the end zone in Baltimore, but you're certainly taking a risk if you keep him in the lineup.

WR Mark Bradley


The Raiders secondary is more than just Asomugha, so don't let Bradley's 4-77 against the Raiders and Legedu Naanee's 4-49 against Oakland last week talk you into something you wouldn't otherwise do.

DT Chiefs B The Chiefs tallied a defensive score in last year's series and blocked a punt in the opener this year, but those feel more like blind squirrels finding acorns than any sort of trend.
New England (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0) Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Matt Cassel threw for 400 yards and three scores against the Jets last season, but the last time Brady saw them he was held to 140 and no TDs—and that was pre-Rex Ryan. Gaudy is certainly possible (Brady's first effort against the Jets back in '07 was 297 and three), but at least start out with expectations in check.

RB Fred Taylor
Laurence Maroney

Sammy Morris emerged from the peloton of Patriots backs to score in last year's series, but the gaggle combined for 160 rushing yards in the two games and no single entity had enough to be fantasy relevant. And Gang Green's 38 rushing yards allowed to Houston last week suggests Ryan has this group even more focused than last year.

RB Kevin Faulk

If you're desperate and in a large PPR league you could consider Faulk, who had 50 and 49 receiving yards in the two-game set a year ago.

WR Randy Moss
S2 Maybe the return of Brady means a return to games like the 9-183-1 Moss dropped on the Jets in his Patriots debut. But Darelle Revis squeezed Andre Johnson (4-35) last week and was as much of a factor as Matt Cassel in Moss totaling just 5-48-1 in the two-game series a year ago. You're not sitting Moss, but you should at least be ready for disappointment.
WR Wes Welker S2 You know what you're getting with Welker, and he delivered it against the Jets last season: no touchdowns, but seven catches in each game for 72 and 108 yards. He's questionable and has been limited in practice, but that was the bit heading into last week and Welker got it done. Are we sure his middle initials aren't P.P.R.?
WR Joey Galloway B 32 of Brady's 34 wide receiver targets last week went to Moss and Welker. And with Ben Watson alsoemerging as a threat, there doesn't seem to be enough spillover for Galloway.
TE Ben Watson S2 Chris Baker's run as the Patriots' trendy tight end lasted all of one catch; then Watson took over and became 2009's Week 1 wavier wire wonder. Those who raced to pick him up will be happy to know he's scored in each of his last two against the Jets (including 8-88-1 in Week 11 last year).
DT Patriots S3 No Richard Seymour, no Jerod Mayo, no Tedy Bruschi, no Mike Vrabel... and they gave up 24 points to the Bills? Who are these guys?
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez U

It all went according to the blueprint for the Jets last week, with Sanchez managing the game while the running backs and defense did the heavy lifting. After watching Trent Edwards operate a similar game plan to the tune of 212 and two, one could be cautiously optimistic for Sanchez this week.

RB Thomas Jones S2

Rumors of Jones' demise have apparently been greatly exaggerated, as evidenced by last week's 100-yard effort. Jones posted a 30-104-1 outing on the Pats last year, and if an inexperienced line with a second-string back can rush for 57 yards against New England you have to like Jones' chances behind a very good offensive line—and against a Patriots defense that's still adjusting to life without Richard Seymour and Jerod Mayo.

RB Leon Washington S3

Buffalo had the screen working last week against New England; don't think the Jets didn't notice. Washington scored on a reception in last season's series, averaging 6.5 yards per touch. An increased workload affords Leon more opportunities, as does a Mayo-free middle.

WR Jerricho Cotchery


Tough to like any of the Jets' downfield options this week. Cotchery produced a 5-87-1 in the second meeting last year, but that was offset by a 1-20 opener. He was Sanchez's favorite target last week, so he warrants consideration. But he's startable with confidence only in deeper three-receiver leagues.

WR Chansi Stuckey


Stuckey scored in his first matchup with New England last year but was held to one catch for three yards in the rematch. He also scored last week but is the second or third option for a rookie quarterback on a run-first team. Nothing in that previous sentence inspires fantasy confidence.

TE Dustin Keller

Keller seems to be a Sanchez favorite, and after seeing Shawn Nelson score for the Bills last week it's possible that the losses of Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and now Jerod Mayo have New England scrambling to cover the middle of their defense.

DT Jets S3 Evidently the Jets don't need all hands on deck to dominate. Of course, it's one thing handling the Texans and quite another squeezing the Patriots. But if Buffalo can get a pick six on Tom Brady, you'd think the Jets could come up with something as well.

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