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Start/Bench List - Week 5
John Tuvey
Updated: October 9, 2009
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Sunday Early
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Sunday Night
Bye Week
Monday Night
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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)
Tampa Bay (0-4) at Philadelphia (2-1) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Johnson B

Tampa Bay QBs have 440 yards and two touchdowns in three games against NFC East foes, with more than half of those numbers coming from Byron Leftwich in the Week 1 loss to Dallas. More than half of the 539 yards and five TDs the Eagles have allowed came from Drew Brees. So don't expect a dramatic jump over the 106 and one Johnson posted in his first NFL start last week.

RB Carnell Williams
Derrick Ward


Caddy is averaging 13 touches and 68 yards per game, but with Ward healthy the touches might dip; worse, only one back has rushed for more than 40 yards against the Eagles so a gaudy yardage stay doesn't appear to be in store. Ward is back at practice after missing last week's game with a knee injury, but he appears to be the junior member of the Bucs' committee and there's not even enough to go around for one.

WR Antonio Bryant


Bryant was targeted more than all of Tampa's other wideouts combined last week, and while he continues to be limited in practice by a troublesome knee and is listed as questionable his touchdown last week suggests he's a fantasy factor once again. The Eagles have allowed limited yardage but four WR TDs in three games, so Bryant is a serviceable bye-week play.

WR Michael Clayton
Sammie Stroughter

Between what Philly allows and what the Johnson-led Tampa Bay passing game produces, there isn't likely to be enough for any secondary targets to be worthy of fantasy consideration.

TE Kellen Winslow

Winslow was targeted nine times a game with Leftwich at the helm; last week with Johnson at the wheel he saw only three balls. Weren't young quarterbacks supposed to increase the looks for the tight end? The Eagles haven't allowed a TE TD yet this season and have given up just 103 yards to the position through three games, further dampening expectations—to where Winslow should be on the bench in all but the largest of TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Buccaneers B This edition of the Tampa D has gone nine games without a defensive touchdown.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb

McNabb picked a great week to come back from his rib injury, as the Bucs have served up multiple passing touchdowns in every game this season. Plus, Brian Westbrook has had a week to rest.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

The plan is for this to be closer to a true split than the roughly 60-40 share prior to Westbrook's latest DNP. Against the Bucs there might be enough to go around, but you have to think Westy takes his share off the top against a defense that's already allowed four backs to rush for at least 92 yards against them.

RB LeSean McCoy U

First, there's the upside if Andy Reid truly makes this a 50-50 jobshare. Then there's the upside of McCoy finishing off what Westbrook starts against a defense that's giving up 150 RB rushing yards per game. Between the two, McCoy certainly warrants consideration with four teams and their backfields on the bye.

WR DeSean Jackson
S1 Jackson hit the bye with back-to-back 100-yard efforts, and he's a solid bet to light up a secondary that's already allowed eight different wideouts to get behind them.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avent

S3 Secondary targets like Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Lee Evans, and Sinorice Moss have accounted for half of the eight WR TDs the Bucs have allowed thus far this year. Kevin Curtis and Avent have each been targeted 13 times, twice as many as Maclin, and Avent has the most catches, yardage, and touchdowns of Philly's secondary targets so if you're picking one he has the strongest resume. Curtis is listed as questionable, quite possibly leaving more for Maclin and Avent.
TE Brent Celek

S1 Three different tight ends have already topped 60 yards against the Bucs; Celek has posted back-to-back 104-yard games and scored twice, so he's among the surest TE plays this week.
DT Eagles S1 Philly's D can make veteran quarterbacks look bad; imagine what they'll do with an extra week to prepare for Josh Johnson and his second NFL start.
Minnesota (4-0) at St. Louis (0-4) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

Yes, this is still Adrian Peterson's team—but now the Vikings have Favre to turn to when necessary. Favre has multiple TD tosses in three straight, and while he could be limited by the score—like he was when throwing for 167 and 1 in the Jets' 47-3 blowout of St. Louis last year—you have to like his chances for a couple more against a Rams defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of four games this year.

RB Adrian Peterson S1

AP's numbers have been trending down since his monster opening weekend. But the Rams are giving up better than 100 rushing yards per game, so expect Minnesota to re-establish the run this week with a healthy dose of Peterson.

RB Chester Taylor B

Taylor hasn't done enough with his limited touches to warrant consideration. If, however, whatever AP "tweaked" in the win over Green Bay limits him during the practice week, Chester might see a Friday upgrade.

WR Bernard Berrian
Sidney Rice
Percy Harvin

You're not going to sit any of these guys given the cushy matchup with a secondary that's surrendered 566 yards and three touchdowns to wideouts through the first month of the season. But good luck picking this week's FarveBall winner: the trio's stat lines are separated by two catches, 10 yards and one touchdown. A observation: Rice's targets have been the most consistent, and he's scored in two straight; Harvin was largely ignored last week when the ground game faltered and Favre was forced to look downfield; and Berrian, after taking a couple weeks to get on the same page with his new quarterback, has seen his targets and yardage rise with each subsequent week. Their likely production for the week ranks in the order listed at the left, but given the matchup  you can feel reasonably good about having any of them in your lineup.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

The matchup certainly favors Shiancoe; tight ends have three touchdowns and 255 yards against the Rams thus far this year. But Shiancoe has just 10 catches on the year, no more than three in one game. He also has two TDs in four games, so the positive trends win by a two-to-one margin and make Big Shank a viable bye week starter.

DT Vikings S1

If Minnesota harried and harassed Aaron Rodgers into a fumble, a pick, and a safety—not to mention a whole bunch of sacks—imagine what they can do to Kyle Boller.

St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller

The Rams as a team haven't topped 200 passing yards yet this season. It's possible they clear that hurdle this week, primarily because they're likely to struggle running the ball and be forced to play catch-up. Nice, but not reason enough to toss Boller into your fantasy lineup.

RB Steven Jackson

The Vikings have yet to give up a running back touchdown—and Jackson has yet to score one. But it's clear the Rams are going to give him the ball—21 or more touches each of the past three games—and backs given that many touches against Minnesota have at least carved out some yardage: Jamal Lewis 104, Kevin Smith 93, Ryan Grant 101. So Jackson should salvage your yardage day, but a score will be tough to come by.

WR Donnie Avery


Avery is the only Ram wideout with a fantasy pulse—though both he and Keenan Burton are listed as questionable—but that's not saying much. And he'll find the going extremely tough against a Vikings secondary that has not yet allowed a wideout to top 55 yards this year.

TE Randy McMichael

McMike has been targeted slightly more frequently than Daniel Fells, so he's the beneficiary of one of the best match-up plays of the week. No team has allowed more catches (30), yardage (378), or fantasy points to tight ends than the Vikings. McMichael doesn't have a touchdown since Week 13 of 2007, but who else is Boller going to throw to? Okay, besides Jackson?

DT Rams B Favre's penchant for picks only goes so far.

Oakland (1-3) at New York Giants (4-0)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

You don't want anything to do with a Raiders passing offense that's averaging 130 yards per game—especially when that's exactly what the Giants are allowing.

RB Michael Bush
Justin Fargas


With Darren McFadden out the Raiders are likely to reintroduce Fargas into their backfield committee—despite his 2.7 yards per carry average and Bush's 4.0. Not that it would matter anyway; Oakland's passing game threatens no one, so the Giants will be able to put 11 guys in the box and crush what little hope the Raiders may have had. They couldn't run against the Texans last week, for crying out loud; the Giants, who gave up 228 yards and two scores to Dallas but held their other three opponents to a total of 151 yards and no scores, will chew them up and spit them out.


Louis Murphy
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Johnnie Lee Higgins

B Murphy's 4-87-1 in the season opener has been the highlight of the Raiders' passing game, as well as about one-third of the Oakland WR production for the year. Another factoid: Oakland has had just one wideout top 35 yards this year; the Giants have allowed only one to exceed 30.
TE Zack Miller S3

If you're forced to start a Raider, here's your guy. The Giants have allowed three TE TDs in four games, and while Miller has just one touchdown in his last 21 games he's thrown to at near more frequently than any other Raider. Miller returned to a full practice Friday after being limited by post-concussion syndrome earlier in the week, so we're sayin' there's a chance.

DT Raiders B Still nothing from one of the more dynamic special teams units of a year ago. And it's not as if they're not getting plenty of kick return opportunities.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Eli is a game-time decision, but even if he goes his heel injury and a Raiders secondary that has held some pretty good quarterbacks (Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub) in check conspire to make this a relatively difficult matchup. Oakland has yet to allow multiple TD tosses or more than 257 yards; Eli has an outside chance of bucking the touchdown trend, but don't expect big yardage.

QB David Carr B

Carr would be in line for the start if Manning can't go, but unless you find yourself in really desperate straits you don't want to follow a similar path.

RB Brandon Jacobs
Ahmad Bradshaw

Earth and Fire have yet to really unload on a team. Sure, Jacobs is averaging 75 yards a game and Bradshaw 71, but they have just one touchdown between them. This is an extremely favorable match-up, as Oakland cedes over 175 running back yards per game and has allowed five RB TDs through four games. Jacobs is the better TD league play, but both are usable in just about any format given the match-up.

WR Steve Smith


It's not just Nnamdi Asomugha anymore; the Raiders secondary has been throttling opponents regardless of which DB is covering which wideout. The top three individual yardage games against Oakland are 72, 67, and 66, and only one of those included one of the three WR TDs the Raiders have allowed. Smith is the most frequently targeted Giants receiver and is the safest bet to brave the Oakland secondary and live to help your fantasy squad.

WR Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks


Twin issues at work here: the stout Oakland secondary detailed above, and the fact that Nicks' return has taken a few looks off of Manningham's plate. Best let these two duke it out for fantasy relevancy on their own and wait to play the victor against a more favorable match-up.

TE Kevin Boss B

With the emergence of multiple wideouts, Boss has been bumped to the background. This match-up with an Oakland defense that has allowed only one TE—Antonio Gates—to top 50 yards against them doesn't look to be his breakout opportunity. And it doesn't help matters that Boss hasn't practiced all week and is listed as doubtful.

DT Giants S1 The Raiders aren't going to put up many points, if your league rewards that sort of thing. And the Oakland offense is bound to toss a couple turnovers your way as well.
Atlanta (2-1) at San Francisco (3-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Quality quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre) have been able to put up yardage on the Niners, but TD tosses have been at a premium. Ryan's been the other way thus far, with a pair of multiple touchdown games but relatively pedestrian yardage. With the ground game running into a pretty stout San Francisco D, the onus will be on Ryan to spark this offense. He's capable, but gaudy numbers are unlikely nonetheless.

RB Michael Turner

The Niners have held Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson to 85 and 79 yards, respectively; they have also yet to allow a RB rushing TD. The Falcons aren't likely to abandon the run, but subdued numbers are once again likely

RB Jerious Norwood
Jason Snelling
Ovie Mughelli
B If Atlanta is lucky there will be enough production on the ground for Turner to be a fantasy helper; no need to mess with any of these bit parts.
WR Roddy White S3

San Francisco hasn't been shutting down wideouts, but they've held them relatively in check. While no opposing WR has posted a 100-yard game, five have topped 50 yards and two more have 45 or more. That's about what you're getting from White at this juncture, but given the expected struggles of the running game a slight uptick should be in order.


Michael Jenkins


Jenkins is roughly the Falcons' fourth offensive option. In a softer match-up that might be worth something, but against a very good San Francisco defense that just makes him bench fodder.


Tony Gonzalez


The 49ers have clamped down on tight ends; John Carlson's 6-46 accounts for nearly half of what they've surrendered to the position. While that's a concern, don't let it dissuade you from using Gonzo, who's scored in two of three and will be moved around in order to create match-up problems.

DT Falcons B John Abraham might wreak some havoc along a line that's allowed 13 sacks already this season, but there's still no compelling reason to get the Atlanta D into your fantasy lineup.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill S3

Much like Matt Ryan, Hill has been more about the touchdowns than the yardage; much like the Niners, Atlanta's defense has ceded yards but not scores.

RB Glen Coffee S2

The Falcons are giving up a soft 4.9 yards per carry—roughly double what Coffee has been churning out. But 49 carries in the two games since Frank Gore went down indicate Mike Singletary isn't about to abandon the run. That means Coffee will have ample opportunity to put up helpful fantasy yardage—and maybe even score his first NFL touchdown.

WR Isaac Bruce
Josh Morgan
B Atlanta's secondary has yet to cede a wide receiver touchdown; they let Steve Smith and Randy Moss put up 247 yards between them, but it took 31 targets and 18 catches—and they still didn't reach the end zone. Neither Bruce nor Morgan is of the same caliber as Smith or Moss, so there's little reason to reach for either this week.
TE Vernon Davis S2

If Hill has a go-to receiver it's Davis, who has 10 catches for 139 yards and three TDs over the past two games. The Falcons have already allowed TE TDs to Dante Rosario and Chris Baker this year, so ceding another to Davis would hardly be surprising.

DT 49ers S3 In the past two weeks alone the Niners have three defensive touchdowns and a blocked kick return for a score. Singletary has this unit playing at a level where they're very close to becoming an every-week fantasy play.
Houston (2-2) at Arizona (1-2) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 After the Cardinals allowed one TD pass in Week 1, two in Week 2, and four in Week 3 before their bye, can they exponentially be expected to surrender eight to Schaub this week? Or how about we split the difference between the 357 and four he pasted on the Titans (the No. 1 defense in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks) and the 300 and three he dropped on Jacksonville (ranked No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to QBs), seeing as the Cardinals rank No. 3 in that same category. So that puts him at something in the neighborhood of 327 yards and three to eight touchdowns. Yeah, that makes him an okay start.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 While the numbers aren't gaudy, it isn't like Arizona is stopping running backs this year. Frank Gore's yardage was limited but he scored twice, while neither Joseph Addai nor Donald Brown stood out but the duo combined for 183 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. After a sluggish start Slaton has returned to form, so triple-digit combo yards and a score are to be expected.
WR Andre Johnson S1 Both Reggie Wayne and Mike Sims-Walker have topped the century mark and scored against the Cardinals already this season. In other words, Arizona doesn't have a shutdown corner like Darelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha and all is good with Johnson this week.
WR Kevin Walter S3

In the aforementioned big games by Wayne and Sims-Walker, both teams also had secondary receivers who topped 60 yards. Walter rolled up almost 400 yards and four touchdowns in the eight games where Johnson topped 100 yards last year, so he's a decent bet to fill up on the plentiful leftovers the Cardinals leave.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Arizona has allowed 57, 62, and 62 yards to tight ends in three games this season, as well as two touchdowns along the way. Daniels is a key member of the Houston passing game, averaging 4-50 with two touchdowns in four games, so he'll want a share of what Schaub is serving up as well. Don't bet against him getting it.

DT Texans S3 Between the Texans' return game and Mario Williams harassing Kurt Warner, the Texans aren't a bad fantasy play.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

The Texans haven't exactly seen an A-list of quarterbacks thus far this season (Sanchez, Collins, Garrard, Russell), which explains why their numbers don't look all that bad. Warner, meanwhile, is averaging close to 300 yards a game. Arizona has eschewed the ground game against softer run Ds in the past—like, a couple weeks back against Indy—so there's no reason to expect them to change their spots here; Warner will throw, and throw plenty.

RB Tim Hightower
S3 The Texans allowed 100-yard rushers in their first three games, so you'd think this would be an opportunity for the Cards to dust off the ground game. But they refused to follow that blueprint in a similar situation against the Colts. Strictly playing the matchup, Hightower is usable here so long as you're willing to risk the possibility Arizona will throw on every down. The upside is something in the 15-75-1 neighborhood, which on a bye week is worth a look in larger leagues.
RB Chris Wells U Would love, love, love to give you Wells as a bustout play this week. But in a similar situation against the Colts Beanie barely saw the rock. There's upside, to be sure, but he simply can't be trusted unless you literally have no other option at your disposal.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

Houston hasn't faced much in the way of wide receivers, either, but if Mike Sims-Walker and Jerricho Cotchery can top 80 yards and Chansi Stuckey and Nate Washington can score, you have to think Fitz and Boldin can do the same.

WR Steve Breaston

The Texans haven't seen an offense that went three-deep at wideout like the Cardinals do. But if Houston scores like they're capable of, Arizona will have to follow suit. We know Warner isn't afraid of spreading it around; Boldin, Fitz, and Breaston all caught six balls and topped 75 yards against the Colts. Breaston has been limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable, but he played in Arizona's last game and has had two weeks to recover. In a bye week where the pickings might be thin, a good shot at 75 and a touch is enough to put Breaston on the start side of the ledger.

DT Cardinals B Arizona doesn't wreak enough havoc and Houston doesn't turn the ball over enough for the Cardinals defense to register a blip on the fantasy radar.

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