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Start/Bench List - Week 4
John Tuvey
Updated: October 2, 2009
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Bye Week
ARI, ATL,
Monday Night
CAR, PHI
 
   
 
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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)
 
 
Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1) Back to top
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco rolls into this matchup averaging 280 yards and two TD tosses per game. However, the Patriots befuddled Flacco's classmate, Matt Ryan, last week and haven't allowed more than 212 passing yards in a game yet this season. With four teams on the bye Flacco is still start-worthy, but this matchup suggests expectations should be tempered.

RB Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
S3

McGahee has two touchdowns in each game thus far this season, and while the Patriots haven't exactly been soft against the run they aren't impenetrable, either. Rice in particular should find room as a receiver, where the Pats have given up 41 yards to Jason Snelling and 81 yards and a touchdown to Fred Jackson.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington
B

Thus far the Patriots have held the likes of Terrell Owens, Jerricho Cotchery, and Roddy White out of the end zone. They've also shut out all the No. 2s and No. 3s, so there's no need to attempt to decipher the pecking order in Baltimore; this week, none of them make a reliable fantasy play.

TE

Todd Heap

B The Patriots shut down Tony Gonzalez but let Dustin Keller and Shawn Nelson score on them. It's unlikely Bill Belichick views Heap as the same kind of threat as Gonzo (and schemes his defense accordingly), but only in the largest of TE-mandatory leagues is it worth taking that risk.
DT Ravens S3 The Jets had success rattling the Patriots using a very Ravens-like approach, so expect Baltimore to mimic the Jets mimicking the Ravens. That still might not be enough against Tom Brady & Co..
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Both Brady and the Baltimore D have been merely mortal this season; Tom is averaging 290 yards but just one TD toss per game, while the Ravens stomped Cleveland but gave up 436 yards to Philip Rivers and multiple scores to both Rivers and Brodie Croyle. You can't expect a shutdown game from the Ravens here, but Brady still isn't performing at that rarified 2007 level just yet.

RB Fred Taylor
Laurence Maroney
Kevin Faulk
Sammy Morris
B

Even if you think Taylor will get another 20 carries this week—unlikely, given that the Patriots have given that number of carries to a single back just 10 times in the past 51 games—this isn't a favorable matchup. The Ravens are giving up 45 rushing yards per game and haven't allowed a running back rushing TD since Week 16 of last year. Faulk could find some success as a receiver, but Morris had as many catches as Faulk last week—and more carries than Maroney. It's a quagmire in a matchup that offers little to no upside.

WR Randy Moss
S2 The Ravens don't have Darelle Revis, which means Moss should be in line for double-digit catches. And if Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson can score on Baltimore, Moss has a good chance of finding the end zone as well. After being limited Wednesday and Thursday, Moss was taken off the injury report following a full practice on Friday. So at least he's got that going for him... which is nice.
WR Wes Welker
X Secondary targets have been limited against the Ravens, but Welker isn't just any secondary target. If healthy, he belongs in fantasy lineups. His health, however, is far from certain. He's listed as questionable and was limited in practice all week, with rumors floating that he may have his knee scoped closer to the Patriots' bye week. If the Patriots deem him healthy enough to help them this week, your fantasy lineup should as well.
WR Julian Edelman
X If Welker can't go, Edelman will give you a decent approximation of his numbers and could be considered in larger PPR leagues.
WR Joey Galloway B He's been one of the few Belichick reclamation projects that hasn't worked out.
TE Ben Watson B Antonio Gates is the only tight end with more than a single catch against the Ravens this year—and Watson is no Gates. Worse, Chris Baker is starting to horn in on his action.
DT Patriots B The Patriots have been solid on defense, but they're not generating the kind of big plays that fantasy defenses thrive on.
 
Oakland (1-2) at Houston (1-2) Back to top
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Even if the Texans were getting lit up via the pass—they're not, allowing 234 yards and one TD toss per game—you can't start a quarterback who is averaging 126 yards and one third of a touchdown pass per game. Don't get sucked in by the 232 and two Russell managed in this matchup late last season; you have multiple better options.

RB Darren McFadden
Michael Bush

S2

Every feature back to face the Texans this season has topped 100 yards and scored multiple touchdowns. That might be a bit aggressive for McFadden, who is barely a 60-40 leader in the Oakland RBBC, but against a defense that's giving up 219 combo yards and almost three RB TDs per game there should be more than enough for him to post helpful fantasy stats. Bush may be a minority contributor in the Oakland backfield, but his 40 percent share and goal line work makes him a viable starter as well.

WR

Louis Murphy
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Johnnie Lee Higgins

B Through three games Oakland wideouts have 10 catches, 184 yards, and one touchdown. Divide that by three, then by the rotating corps of Raider receivers, and the remainder is nothing you would want anywhere near your fantasy lineup.
TE Zack Miller S3

Miller caught six balls for 96 yards in the opener; since then he's been targeted just eight times—with only two of them accurate enough for him to catch. The Texans haven't allowed much production from tight ends, so this doesn't look like a good week to bank on Russell suddenly developing accuracy and hooking up with Miller.

DT Raiders B Oakland's special teams haven't been anything special, and their defense isn't good enough to warrant its own fantasy merit.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 The Raiders present a pretty good pass defense, but Schaub managed to throw for 255 yards against them in Week 16 of last year. He's topped 300 yards and thrown multiple touchdowns in three of the four games since them, so he gets the benefit of the doubt.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 Slaton flashed enough against Jacksonville last week that it won't take a leap of faith to plug him into your lineup; against a Raiders defense that is allowing 185 running back yards from scrimmage per game this year, he should continue trending back towards the back you spent that first-round pick on.
RB Chris Brown
B Brown got another eight touches last week, but his costly fumble at the stripe might reduce that number going forward. He's been largely ineffective in his role anyway.
WR Andre Johnson S3 Johnson has already been shut down once this year, by Darelle Revis in the opener. And last year Nnamdi Asomugha held him to two catches for 19 yards in Week 16. It's unlikely you have alternatives at your disposal, and many a fantasy owner has gone crazy benching a stud facing a tough matchup. It's also worth noting that No. 1s Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Brandon Marshall have all scored against Oakland this year. Nonetheless, AJ's expectations must be tempered this week.
WR Kevin Walter S3

Last year the fantasy trend was to use the No. 2 receiver on whomever was playing the Raiders, figuring they would see an uptick in looks while Asomugha covered the No. 1 guy. That didn't work out so well for Walter, though, as he managed just two catches for 17 yards when Houston faced Oakland las year. No. 2s don't seem to be faring as well this season; No. 1s have all three WR TDs against Oakland, and Bobby Wade's 6-72 is the best game by a non-primary receiver against the Raiders thus far. After missing the first two games, Walter's 7-96-1 outing indicates he's healthy, but this is a borderline at best matchup.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Daniels picked up the Texans' passing game slack in last year's matchup with the Raiders, catching seven balls for 111 yards. He's scored in two straight and is being consistently targeted eight times a game, so he remains a great play in TE-mandatory leagues. He's a little more iffy in WR/TE combo leagues, but given the way the last meeting played out there's obviously plenty of upside.

DT Texans S3 Any time you have Mario Williams and you're facing JaMarcus Russell, you have a chip and a chair.
 

Cincinnati (2-1) at Cleveland (0-3)

Back to top
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

Palmer has had plenty of monster games against the Browns, throwing for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in five of his last seven vs. Cleveland. The Browns haven't really shut anyone down yet, though they have surrendered only single touchdowns to Brett Favre, Kyle Orton, and Joe Flacco. Palmer himself has been somewhat subdued this season, perhaps because the Bengals have a running game. And because that running game should flourish against Cleveland, Carson's numbers will likely be good, but not gaudy.

RB Cedric Benson
S1

A Bengals back burning the Browns is a time-honored tradition; seven of the last nine times Cincy has faced the Browns, they've had a back rush for at least 100 yards. Five of those outings belong to Rudi Johnson, but the last two were Kenny Watson (30-130-1) and Benson's 38-171 late last season. It's all cued up for a repeat, as Benson has 293 rushing yards and two touchdowns coming into this game while the Browns have already surrendered 493 and eight TDs to opposing backs. No worries about Benson's injury status, either; after getting Wednesday off, Ced was back at work for full reps Thursday and Friday.

WR Chad Ochocinco

S2

Ochocinco is still targeto numero uno in Cincy. And he's had some very nice games against the Browns, including 209 and two in 2007 and TD grabs in three of his last five against them. If Jabar Gaffney can put up 82 yards on the Browns and Derrick Mason can go for 118 and 1, Chad should have an opportunity to throw the Dawg Pound a Milkbone or two.

WR Laveranues Coles
Andre Caldwell
S3 It's not as if the Browns have been shutting down No. 2s, either; the last two secondary targets have 66 or more yards, and both Coles and Caldwell are being targeted a steady five-six times per game. If you're not going to use them against the Browns, you probably don't need them on your roster.
DT Bengals S2 Seriously, the Bengals are playing some defense; they scored a defensive touchdown last week against the Steelers and now get to face a quarterback who threw three picks in one half. Gotta like their chances.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson
B

The Bengals haven't allowed more than one TD toss in a game; Browns quarterbacks have one touchdown pass this season. Brady Quinn goes 6-for-8, throws a pick, and gets benched; Derek Anderson throws three INTs and gets a promotion. Since throwing for 328 and five in his first start against the Browns, Anderson's numbers have gone steadily downhill; 250 and two (with four picks) in the second meeting of 2007 and 138 and 1 last year. That doesn't bode well for this meeting.

RB Jamal Lewis
Jerome Harrison
James Davis

B

Cincinnati is allowing less than 100 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing backs. Yes, the Bengals. Lewis missed last week and hasn't practiced at all this week, while Davis did nothing against the Ravens to suggest he's ready for prime time. Lewis produced games of 79 and 76 yards last year, and that feels optimistic against the revamped Cincy D. Tough to find hope for Harrison, too, given that the Bengals have given up just two RB receiving touchdowns and no more than 44 receiving yards to a running back since the start of last year. Did we just call the Bengals a shutdown D? Against the Browns... well, yeah.

WR Braylon Edwards
S3

Cincy has allowed decent numbers to one opposing receiver per game—Brandon Stokley (a fluky 1-87-1), Donald Driver (6-99-1, though they blanked Greg Jennings), and Mike Wallace (7-102, though they held Santonio Holmes to 1-18). It almost feels like it's the secondary receivers doing the damage, but there's no secondary target on the Browns worth starting. Over the past two seasons Edwards has 23-255-5 against the Bengals; all other Cleveland wideouts combined have 13-122-2. You wanna trust Mike Furrey or Josh Cribbs, you're on your own.

DT Browns B Nothing to see here; move along.
 
Buffalo (1-2) at Miami (0-3) Back to top
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards B

Edwards took the Pats and Bucs for two TD tosses each, but was blanked by the Saints. Miami ceded two each to Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning but shut out Philip Rivers. Edwards couldn't muster a touchdown as part of his 227 yard effort against Miami last year; tough to see him blowing them up for more than a score and adequate yardage.

RB Fred Jackson
Marshawn Lynch
B

Jackson has been solid through the first three games, but Lynch returns and the working plan is a 50/50 split. Were this the late 2007 matchup where Lynch rolled up 107 yards and Jackson added 115, both would be usable. But this iteration of the Dolphins has allowed just 312 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to running backs this season. That's an average of 65 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards; split two ways, these guys are both bench fodder.

WR Terrell Owens
Lee Evans
B

It's difficult to get fired up for either member of the Buffalo receiving crew. Only Vincent Jackson has topped 65 yards on the Fins, and only one wideout has reached the end zone against Miami. Both TO and Evans scored against the Bucs, but a) that was the Bucs and b) neither has topped 52 yards this season. Evans went for 116 against the Dolphins last year, but that was when he was targeted 12 times a game; now he and TO split that amount. You've been starting Owens essentially on name value, and now even that is wearing off.

TE Derek Fine B The Dolphins have allowed 320 yards and two touchdowns to the tight end position; they've also faced three of the best in the game in Gates, Gonzo, and Dallas Clark. No Bill belongs in that category.
DT Bills S3 Buffalo has a pair of defensive scores already this season and will get an inexperienced Chad Henne. Their best chance to score may come when they don't have the ball.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Chad Pennington hadn't topped 200 yards and had one meager touchdown pass on the season—and he was starting ahead of Henne. The Bills are fresh off of shutting out Drew Brees; certainly a backup with 38 NFL passes (and zero touchdowns) to his credit isn't about to one-up the hottest QB in the game.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S2

The Bills had been sneaky-soft against the run—124 combo yards and one TD to the Patriots, 122 and one to the Bucs—before the Saints lit them up for 211 and three last week. With Pennington out, even more of the offensive load will fall on Brown's shoulders. As the majority holder of Miami's 60-40 split—of 33 RB touches per game—Brown's a solid bet this week.

RB

Ricky Williams

S3

There should be enough left over for Rickey, who is still getting 13-14 touches per game and (unlike Brown) scored in both the Dolphins' last game and last season's series with the Bills.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Davonne Bess


B Miami hasn't scored a wide receiver touchdown yet this season and is starting a backup quarterback. The Bills haven't allowed a wide receiver touchdown despite facing Randy Moss and Marques Colston. Do we really need to have this conversation?
TE Anthony Fasano

U

Mild upside here, as the Bills have already given up four TE TDs this season and young quarterbacks tend to rely on their tight end. But you'd have to be in a serious bye-week bind to be reaching for Fasano.

DT Dolphins B Miami's defense isn't generating much in the playmaking department. You can do better elsewhere.
 
New York Jets (3-0) at New Orleans (3-0) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

There's nothing wrong with being a caretaker quarterback; you just don't want one as your fantasy starter. Sanchez is going to give you maybe 200 yards and one, maybe two TD tosses while the defense and the running game do the heavy lifting. Even with four teams on the bye you should be able to find more upside elsewhere.

RB Thomas Jones
Leon Washington
S3

Opposing teams haven't run the ball against the Saints because they've been too busy playing catch-up. Don't expect the Jets to find themselves in that position; instead, you'll get 30 or so rushing attempts, evenly split between Jones and Washington. At the rate the Saints are ceding rushing yardage this is far from a walkover for Gang Green, but through sheer volume of opportunity Jones and Washington should put up some serviceable fantasy numbers.

WR Jerricho Cotchery


S3

Cotch is unquestionably the go-to guy, though he's hardly a great fantasy play against a defense that held Calvin Johnson out of the end zone and shut out Terrell Owens entirely.

WR Chansi Stuckey


B

Secondary options haven't had much success against the Saints; only Jason Avent has a touchdown or more than 45 yards. And this doesn't project to be a game with a bunch of offense to spread around.

TE Dustin Keller
S3

Tight ends are a popular target against the Saints, and Keller is seeing approximately as many looks as Stuckey. With pickings slimmer due to the bye week, that's opportunity enough to make Keller startable in larger TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Jets S3 In the battle of the immovable force against the irresistible object, expect a push.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S3

Brees' road doesn't get any easier against a Jets defense that's allowed just one TD toss this year and an average of 184 passing yards per game. But you'd better have a real good alternative if you're sitting him.

RB Pierre Thomas
Reggie Bush
B

The Titans' commitment to the run produced decent numbers, and if the passing game is struggling the Saints have demonstrated they're willing to run as well. That said, there are still too many cooks for what projects to be a significantly smaller bowl of soup this week. If you must pick one Thomas is the call, but the more prudent move would be to seek alternatives. At least Mike Bell has been ruled out, though Lynell Hamilton lurks.

WR Marques Colston
S3

No. 1 receivers have 12 catches for 96 yards and no touchdowns against Darelle Revis. Colston isn't impossible to shut down, but with so many other options Brees doesn't need to force the ball to him. Start him with caution.

WR Devery Henderson

S3

Secondary receivers have outgained No. 1s each of the Jets' last two games, and a No. 2 has the lone WR TD against them. So Henderson's usable, just not with optimism. Making matters somewhat worse, Lance Moore has been upgraded to probable and brings another cook into the kitchen.

TE Jeremy Shockey S3 Shockey provides a nice fallback plan, especially with the Jets fully expected to apply the full-court press to Brees. A big game isn't likely, but he should garner numbers that do the position justice in TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Saints B There's no need for the Jets to take the kind of chances that lead to defensive touchdowns.

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