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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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)
 
 
New Orleans (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

What would make you consider benching Brees? That the Eagles have held five straight passing games under 200 yards? That Philly's gone four straight without surrendering a touchdown toss? That the Eagles shut him out the last time they met, back in Week 16 of 2007? Wouldn't work on me, either, since you can counter those arguments with Brees' three straight 300-yard games, seven consecutive multiple-TD outings, and 21 straight games with at least 200 passing yards.

RB Pierre Thomas B

Thomas practiced fully on Wednesday, then was limited both Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable. That's trending in the wrong direction. So best-case Pierre will be at less than full speed, sharing carries, on the road, against an underappreciated yet very effective run defense. No thanks, I'll pass.

RB Reggie Bush B

Philly hasn't allowed a running back receiving touchdown since Week 1 of last year; prior to that, you have to go all the way back to Week 17 of 2006 for another one. In other words, the Eagles have a pretty good game plan for taking away that facet of the offense. And seeing as that's where Bush's value is derived from, you'll want to find another option this week.

RB Mike Bell B

You don't necessarily think of Philly this way, but only the Steelers and Ravens allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs last season. That's a nice way of saying 143 yards against the Lions equates to maybe half that against the Eagles.

WR Marques Colston
S2

Lest you worry the Saints will devolve into a receiving committee, note that over the past six games Colston has almost as many catches (34) as New Orleans' second-most thrown to WR has targets (38). And that No. 2 has been three different receivers (Henderson, Meachem, Moore) over those six games

WR Lance Moore
Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem
B

Only once last season did the Eagles allow more than one wideout to top 50 yards in the same game, and that was against Arizona; 10 of the 13 WR TDs Philly surrendered last year went to No. 1 receivers. So as if the revolving door of No. 2 and No. 3 targets isn't enough, if you're of the opinion that Colston is the Saints' No. 1 then the rest of these guys are essentially unstartable this week.

TE Jeremy Shockey S2 Shockey is certainly familiar with the Eagles from his days in New York, though most of his success in the series came early; after posting 26-261-3 in his first six games against the G-Men Shock has been held scoreless despite 22 catches for 215 yards over the past five meetings. Philly was very tight end friendly last season and Shockey scored twice last week, so trends suggest he's at least usable this week.
DT Saints S3 This could be a Kevin Kolb start; you might remember Kolb from his four picks in 34 attempts last season. If that's the case, the Saints' new look defense might just be work a look-see.
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb
Kevin Kolb
B

They've made amazing advances in both medicine and flak jackets—but evidently not quite amazing enough, as McNabb is listed as doubtful. You could wait until game time to see if McNabb can breathe in and out enough to direct the Philly offense in this highly anticipated shootout, but it sure sounds like you'll be waiting in vain. And what we've seen of Kolb does little to inspire confidence.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

We saw enough of Westbrook last week to start believing once again. And we've seen enough of a Saints' run defense that's surrendered at least one running back touchdown in seven straight games to think that with or without McNabb the Eagles will run through Westbrook this week.

RB LeSean McCoy B

The 16-10 split in touches may have been a bit more McCoy-friendly thanks to Philly's double-digit lead. That McCoy produced 47 yards (but no scores) with those touches bodes well for his future but doesn't yet move him into the category of fantasy starter.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 The Saints secondary is improved but was only lightly tested by a rookie quarterback last week. If it's McNabb, you have to like Jackson's chances against a New Orleans defense that ranked fourth in fantasy points allowed to WRs; if it's Kolb, you have to cross your fingers. On the bright side, if the Eagles need to get creative to keep up with the Saints, Jackson will be the guy they're trying to get the ball to.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avent
Kevin Curtis

B Last week Jackson was targeted seven times—the same number as the rest of Philly's wide receivers combined.
TE Brent Celek

S3 Inexperienced quarterbacks like throwing to the tight end; it's a quick read, it's usually right in front of them in the middle of the field, and it keeps them from getting hit. The Saints were pretty tough on tight ends last year, but that's trumped by both Philly's situation (an inexperienced Kolb or a McNabb who doesn't ant to take a shot to the ribs). Celek's 6-37-1 from last week casts another ballot in his favor.
DT Eagles S3 It's the Saints, who haven't scored less than 20 points since Week 7 of last year, so don't get too excited. But it's also worth noting that over the past six games Philly hasn't allowed more than 20 points—plus, during that span they've generated four defensive touchdowns, one punt return score, and 18 turnovers.
 
Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (0-1) Back to top
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 It took Schaub until his third try just to finish a game against the Titans, and he didn't throw his first touchdown against them until Week 15 of last year. Between Matt's 284 and one last year and the 363 and one Ben Roethlisberger dropped on the Titans in Week 1, expect a bounceback from last week's tough start.
RB Steve Slaton
S3 The only back to reach the 100-yard mark against Tennessee last season was Slaton—and he did it twice. The Titans stuffed up the Steelers' ground game, but Mewelde Moore found some success as a receive and that's certainly part of Slaton's game. While expectations should be tempered, neither should you run screaming from this matchup.
RB Chris Brown
B Tough to bank on Brown getting the touches he'd need to have fantasy value.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Johnson has been targeted 14, 12, and 15 times in his last three against the Titans. Two of those games he turned into monster fantasy helpers(9-116-1, 12-207-1), and after watching Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward find room in the Titans secondary you have to like his chances of posting a third strong showing. And if Kevin Walter, listed as questionable, joins Andre' Davis on the sidelines, those targets might end up being twice as high.
WR Kevin Walter B

Take your choice of depresssing angles: Walter didn't play last week and is questionable for this tilt (though he did practice fully on Friday); since posting 6-97-1 against the Titans back in Week 7 of 2007 he's had games of 1-11, 4-15, and 2-8 against them; and aside from the Holmes/Ward show, over the past 15 games the second-best receiver has produced an average of three catches for 34 yards and zero touchdowns against the Titans.

TE Owen Daniels B

The Titans shut out the tight end position in 17 of their last 19 games, including two blankings of Daniels. In fact, over the past two seasons Daniels has 13 catches for 174 yards and no scores in four games

DT Texans B The Titans haven't allowed an opposing defensive touchdown in their past 20 games in Nashville, and no visiting team has returned a kick for a score in Tennessee since Week 10 of 2004. Protect your house, indeed.
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins S3

Collins had games of 181 and 189 yards against the Texans last season, leaving the heavy lifting to the ground game. But as demonstrated against the Steelers, this year the Titans have the receivers to take a more balanced approach. Kerry's still a fringe fantasy play, but three straight opposing quarterbacks have thrown for at least 236 yards against Houston—and surely Collins can match JaMarcus Russell, Kyle Orton, and Mark Sanchez.

RB Chris Johnson S2

Johnson has averaged 4.7 yards per carry against the Texans, but he was given just 16 carries in each of the two meetings a year ago. The plan is for him to get more work, especially in the passing game—kind of a hybrid of what Thomas Jones and Leon Washington did to the Texans last week.

RB LenDale White S3

LenDale has scored in three of his last four against the Texans—essentially any game in which he gets double-digit carries. There should be enough to go around against Houston—both White and Johnson received at least 10 carries 11 times last year—which in turn makes LenDale a viable fantasy start this week.

WR Justin Gage S2 Gage has posted good-not-great numbers against Houston, with 13 grabs for 188 yards and a touchdown over his past three. With the Titans looking to balance the offense and Gage emerging as a true go-to guy (in his past three games, against two of the best pass defenses in the league, he has 22 catches for 317 yards and two scores), he's no longer a sleeper; he's a bona fide every-week starter.
WR Kenny Britt
U The rookie made an impressive 4-85 debut against the Steelers and might be relegating Nate Washington to third-receiver status already.
WR Nate Washington
B Tennessee's big-ticket free agent acquisition had just one catch for eight yards in his Titans debut. Maybe the hamstring is still bugging him; you don't want to find out for sure while he's taking up a starting spot on your fantasy squad.
TE Bo Scaife
B Scaife is doubtful for this one after taking a shot to the leg in Thursday night's game. We'd recommend rookie Jared Cook as a replacement, but he's nicked up as well. Alge Crumpler, anyone?
DT Titans S1 Welcome to Tennessee, where the Titans allowed an average of 16 points per game last year, have forced multiple turnovers in 13 of their last 15 home games, recorded multiple sacks in eight of their last 10, and took an INT to the house the last time the Texans dropped by for a visit'.
 

St. Louis (0-1) at Washington (0-1)

Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger
B

The Redskins haven't allowed multiple touchdown passes in six consecutive games; Bulger hasn't thrown multiple scores in eight straight. So, uh, nothing's gotta give.

RB Steven Jackson
S3

Jackson posted triple-digit combo yardage (79 rushing, 32 receiving) in a matchup with the Redskins last year, but he only touched the ball 16 times in the opener and didn't catch a single pass. He'll need both ground and air to put up any sort of helpful fantasy numbers against a DC D that held the vaunted Giants' running game out of the end zone last week.

WR Donnie Avery
Laurent Robinson
U

Despite the likely absence of abundant touchdowns, there's still some upside here. Over the past six games seven different wideouts have topped 50 yards against the Skins and five have scored touchdowns. Avery would be the logical choice, but the last three WR TDs the Skins have allowed have gone to secondary targets—and Robinson had more yardage and almost as many catches in the Rams' opener.

TE Randy McMichael
B

McMike's 4-44 was the best game by a Rams tight end since his 5-77 in last year's opener. Notice the absence of TDs in those stat lines; St. Louis hasn't scored a TE TD since Week 17 of 2007.

DT Rams B New coach Steve Spagnuolo's Giants allowed just one TD in each of his matchups with the Redskins last year. But he has a significantly different personnel grouping in St. Louis.
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

The futility watch continues: Campbell hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 4 of last year (that's 13 games and counting) and he's topped 240 yards just once in that span. Wonder if Sam Bradford likes DC...

RB Clinton Portis S1 Only once last year did the Rams prevent an opposing running back from scoring, a stretch that included Portis dropping 129 and two on them in Week 6.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El
S3

With Campbell limited to a single scoring strike and Chris Cooley looking at a big day (see below), there aren't enough table scraps to feed any of Washington's wideouts.

TE Chris Cooley S2

Cooley's seven-catch, 68-yard opener included a touchdown; meanwhile, the Rams were losing Seattle tight end John Carlson to the tune of 6-95-2. Sounds like Captain Chaos is looking at an upgrade over the 5-57 he posted on the Rams in last year's meeting.

DT Redskins S3 St. Louis is still looking for its first touchdown of the season, and the Redskins are fresh off of limiting the Giants to one offensive TD. Once again it's not the sexiest of trends in the Skins' favor, but they're a viable fantasy option.
 
Tampa Bay (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich B

Leftwich still hasn't had a multiple-TD game since early 2006, and it's been even longer since he threw for 300 yards—and it took an ill-advised kickoff return decision for Tom Brady to snap the Bills string of five straight games without giving up multiple passing scores. That's not exactly stacking the odds in Byron's favor.

RB Carnell Williams
Derrick Ward

U

The good news is, the "2-2-1" appears to have become more of a 60/40 split favoring Cadillac. And since the Bucs will need to run the ball—and have the offensive line to do so—there might just be enough touches to make both Williams and Ward viable fantasy plays. The Bills aren't exactly a pushover, but they've allowed four RB TDs and four backs to rush for 57 yards or more over the past four games. Neither is a rock-solid starter, but there is upside to either back in larger leagues, with Ward a better play in PPR formats.

WR Antonio Bryant
Michael Clayton
B

Despite 12 catches from each, it's worth noting that neither Randy Moss nor Wes Welker found the end zone against Buffalo; in fact, the Bills have allowed just one WR TE over their past five games. And with Leftwich not the best candidate for a big yardage day, neither Bryant or Clayton make appealing fantasy plays this week. Also note that Bryant didn't practice either Thursday or Friday and is listed as doubtful.

TE Kellen Winslow
S2

Tampa Bay's game plan produced nine catches and 71 yards for Bucs tight ends; unfortunately, Jerramy Stevens swiped roughly half that production from Winslow. At least K2 got the touchdown. The Bills have had problems with the position beyond Ben Watson's 6-95-2 in the opener; in the final seven games of 2008 Buffalo ceded 30 catches for 408 yards and four touchdowns to the position. Winslow would be a great play if Stevens weren't pilfering; as it stands, downgrade Kellen to merely "good" this week.

DT Buccaneers B The Bucs have surrendered 106 points over their last three home games; somewhere, the Selmon brothers are weeping.
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards S3

Despite (or perhaps because of?) largely ignoring Terrell Owens, Edwards posted a solid showing against the Patriots. Expect him to build on that 212 and two against a Tampa Bay secondary that's allowed nine touchdown tosses over the past three games—though that only means he's worked his way up to a fringe fantasy start.

RB Fred Jackson S2

Jackson has triple-digit yardage from scrimmage in three straight and has scored in three of his last four. Those trends should continue against a Bucs defense that has allowed at least one RB TD in seven straight and ceded 100-yard rushers four times in that span.

WR Terrell Owens S2

The Bucs have allowed five wide receiver touchdowns in their past two games—three last week alone to Owens' former team. If he can't find a way to score this week, it's going to be a long, looooong week for anyone within earshot of T.O.

WR Lee Evans S3 As noted above, Tampa Bay's secondary has some holes. You have to think Owens will get his first—squeaky wheel gets the oil and all that—but the fact that Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Chaz Schillens, and Johnnie Lee Higgins have all found the end zone against the Bucs in the past two games certainly bodes well for Evans' chances.
TE Shawn Nelson B Nelson pops up on the fantasy radar after scoring against the Patriots. Tampa Bay held Jason Witten without a touchdown last week, primarily because the wideouts were doing all the scoring; expect a similar pecking order in Buffalo this week.
DT Bills S2 Buffalo pick-sixed Tom Brady last week and annually sport some of the best special teams in the league, so they're a solid play this week. If, however, it comes down to a kick return at the end of the game... just take a knee in the end zone, okay?
 
Seattle (1-0) at San Francisco (1-0) Back to top
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2 Hasselbeck's 279 and three last week suggest he's returning to form—so we can assume last year's 189 and 0 was an aberration, and that he's back to being the quarterback who averaged 272 and two against the Niners over the previous six seasons. Don't go overboard; San Francisco's secondary is better and has held five of the last six quarterbacks they've faced to one or fewer touchdown tosses. But you have to like Hass's chances.
RB Julius Jones
S2

Jones' stellar debut (117 and one against the Rams) suggests he's capable of revisiting the 26-127-1 he dropped on San Francisco last season. Seahawk backs scored both rushing and receiving touchdowns against the Niners last year, so odds are that Juice will find the end zone as well.

RB Edgerrin James
B

Edge had a 100-yard game to open the 2008 season against San Francisco, but he won't see enough touches to match that output. His best bet for fantasy relevancy is to grab a goal line carry or see some work as a receiver, but neither looks like anything but a long shot.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson

S2

Burleson usurped Housh in his Seattle debut with a 7-74-1 return to the lineup that overshadowed T.J.'s 6-48 effort. With Hasselbeck back in the saddle both are quality plays against a secondary let both Larry Fitzgerald and Jerheme Urban top 70 yards last week. And it appears that Housh's back issues, which kept him out of practice both Wednesday and Thursday, aren't as worrisome as initially thought; he practiced fully on Friday and is listed as probable.

TE John Carlson
S2 Carlson's 6-78 in Week 2 of last year was the biggest yardage game the Niners allowed to a tight end. Tough to get a read on what may have changed from last year to this as the Cardinals essentially ignore the position, but with Carlson coming off a two-touchdown game you have to think he'll factor into the Seattle passing game at least enough to warrant a start in TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Seahawks S3 Seattle scored defensive touchdowns in both meetings with the Niners last year and are coming off a shutout. However, not only are they on the road they'll also be without yet another key defender as Leroy Hill is sidelined with a torn groin (editor's note: yeeouch!).
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill S3

The Mike Martz version of San Francisco's offense posted a pair of 300-yard passing games on the Seahawks last season—due largely to an almost 2:1 pass-to-run ratio. Hill won't be firing nearly as many aerials, and while this secondary is still suspect Mike Singletary is looking for a more run-heavy mix—which, of course, will come at the expense of gaudy passing stats for Hill.

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore made the most of limited yardage last week, scoring twice, and finds himself once again facing a divisional foe against whom he's had success. The good news is, Singletary will use him much more like the pre-Martz years: 61 touches for 416 yards and a touchdown in the 2006 season series. Not that the 21 touches for 115 yards he averaged in four games under Martz was bad; it's just that more is better.

RB Glen Coffee B

One carry? What, was he on a Coffee break?

WR Josh Morgan
Isaac Bruce
S3 You can't use the inflated Martz numbers as a point of reference; instead, note that Seattle has allowed the top two opposing wideouts to catch at least five balls each in three straight and at least four each in five straight. Sounds about right for both the veteran and the kid—again, nothing big but enough to help in larger PPR leagues.
TE Vernon Davis S3

Davis was a popular checkdown option in the opener, much like Randy McMichael was for the Rams against Seattle. Again, we're talking about four or five catches and a slim shot at a score; that's not much help in a 10-team WR/TE combo format but could add a few points to your bottom line in a larger TE-mandatory league.

DT 49ers S3 Hasselbeck threw a couple picks last week, and if the Niners can pilfer Kurt Warner twice they could certainly do the same to Seattle.

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