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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 6
John Tuvey
Updated: October 16, 2009
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Bye Week
DAL, IND,
Monday Night
MIA, SF
 
   
 
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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)
 
 
St. Loius (0-5) at Jacksonville (2-3) Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger
U

It's been a long time since Bulger did anything of note: his last 200-yard game was Week 17 of last year, his last game of more than 230 yards was Week 11 of last year, his last two-TD game was Week 9 of last year, his last 300-yard game was Week 8 of last year. But every opponent has thrown for at least 240 yards against the Jags and they've allowed three multiple touchdown games already this year. If you're in a bye week bind, this matchup at least gives you a fighting chance.

RB Steven Jackson
S2

On the surface the Jags' run defense looks stout; they haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this year and only Steve Slaton has amassed triple-digit combo yardage. But each team the Jaguars have faced has produced at least 115 running back yards from scrimmage; it's just been split between multiple backs. The Rams don't have that issue, with Jackson accounting for 87 percent of his backfield's touches and production. He's averaging 108 yards from scrimmage and has faced three of the eight toughest run defenses, so he should find success against a Jacksonville unit that ranks among the top 10 most fantasy friendly to opposing backs.

WR Donnie Avery

S3

No team has given up more wide receiver yardage than Jacksonville, and only two have surrendered more WR TDs. The Jags have allowed at least one 80-yard receiver in every game this season, and with Avery coming off a season-high 87 yards and his first touchdown of the year he's the Rams' best bet for some downfield offense.

WR Keenan Burton

U

Another pure match-up play against the Jacksonville secondary. Burton is the second-most targeted Rams receiver, and each of the last four teams the Jags have faced have had at least two receivers top 60 yards. So, like Bulger, if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel this week this is a good place to start.

TE Randy McMichael
B

The Jaguars have held the likes of Dallas Clark, Owen Daniels, and John Carlson under 40 yards; that doesn't bode well for McMike's prospects

DT Rams B The Rams have generated one turnover in the past three games, which makes it extremely difficult to take one back the other way.
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Garrard loves the home cooking: 605 yards and five touchdowns in two dates in Jacksonville. The Rams defense has been lousy regardless of venue, so forgive Garrard for his road foibles last week and expect big things here.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew
S2

To say MoJo has been disappointing the past two weeks—a combined 48 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards—is an understatement. Here come the Rams, who gave up two touchdowns to Adrian Peterson in limited duty last week, to help correct MoJo's woes.

WR

Mike Sims-Walker

S2 Assuming there's no further fallout from Sims-Walker straying from the team's itinerary last weekend and earning himself a spot on the sidelines, he should be the primary beneficiary of Garrard's bounceback game. He's still averaging 6-90-1 over the past three games in which he's played, and while Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are the only wideouts with more than 75 yards against the Rams two Vikings topped 60 yards last week alone so it's not impossible.
WR

Torry Holt

S3 After two games in Mike Sims-Walker's shadow (with a total of 99 yards), Holt emerged for 95 of his own last week as Sims-Walker rocked the street clothes on the sidelines. He's still second banana in Jacksonville, though against the Rams that should equate to enough productivity to warrant a fantasy start.
TE

Marcedes Lewis

S2 Lewis has had two big home games (totalling 7-138-2) and two forgettable road trips (a combined 4-41). Only one team has allowed more TE TDs than the Rams, and only four have given up more yardage to the position. Lewis has scored in both home games and is averaging 69 yards per game in Jacksonville, making him a great plug-in play this week.
DT Jaguars S3

The Rams have served up four defensive touchdowns over the past two games, so if you're playing the match-up the Jags make for a solid bye-week replacement defense.

 
New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans (4-0) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

The Saints have shut out three of the four quarterbacks they've faced, though that group included two first-time NFL starters and another rookie with three starts under his belt. Eli, on the other hand, has multiple TD tosses in four straight despite exiting early in three of those contests. He's capable of matching fireworks with Drew Brees, but most likely you'll get what you've been getting: adequate yardage and a TD or two with plenty of contribution from the running game.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
S3

Bradshaw owns both of the 100-yard rushing games the Giants have produced this season, and despite getting four fewer touches per game he's outscoring and outgaining Brandon Jacobs. The Saints have been anything but soft against running backs this season, but few teams run the ball like the Giants and Bradshaw can get his in the passing game as well. The concern is that Bradshaw was limited all week in practice and is listed as questionable, though he's fully expected to play. Mix in Brandon Jacobs' vocalized frustrations and the ledger could tilt the other way this week, downgrading Bradshaw from S2 to S3.

RB Brandon Jacobs

S3

Barring an early deficit or a shootout breaking out in the Superdome, Jacobs will get his 16-plus carries like he always does; the only back to see that sort of workload against the Saints (Fred Jackson) produced 71 yards, so there's some reason for optimism. However, Bradshaw has been the more productive back of late and would seem to be in line for more work if the Giants are forced into the passing game earlier than anticipated.

WR Steve Smith
Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks

S3

Smith seems to be the constant in this mix, but Nicks has scored in both games since his return from injury and while Manningham hasn't matched his monster game from Week 2 (his three-game totals since that 10-150-1: 7-134-1) he's still making big plays. If you're assigning roles, Smith feels like the PPR guy while Nicks has been the TD guy and Manningham the big-play threat. All have been contributing, and it's tough to sit any of them in what could certainly wind up as a shootout.

TE Kevin Boss B

Boss will be limited in practice by the same ankle injury that kept him out of last week's game. Mix in the Giants' trio of talented wideouts and a defense that has stymied tight ends in three of four games (Brent Celek's 8-104 the lone exception) and Boss isn't much of a fantasy play this week.

DT Giants S3 The Saints don't turn the ball over and are capable of lighting up a scoreboard, but the Giants have seen high-powered offenses before and can bring some heat of their own.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S3

Brees has been shut down and shut out by two New York franchises already, and the Giants boast the best pass defense of the bunch. That said, Brees has faced quality defenses before and should still find a way to get his—especially if the ground game can't get going like it has the past couple of weeks.

RB Pierre Thomas
Mike Bell
S3

The Saints have had success running the football regardless of opponent this season; Thomas in particular rolled up 132 yards from scrimmage against the Jets and has three scores in two games back. Maybe the numbers won't be as gaudy, but you'd think Pierre is at least capable of matching the 16-62 Clinton Portis posted on the G-Men in Week 1. A Giants defense that ranks fifth in fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs is a concern; so isthe hamstring injury that limited Thomas all week in practice. Pierre himself has indicated that he expects a rotation, which dings both Thomas and Bell a little bit.

RB Reggie Bush B

Through five games the Giants have allowed just 106 receiving yards to running backs and zero RB TDs via the air. While it's true Bush is seeing some looks on the ground, that's been primarily Thomas' milieu. His 12 touches per game translated to a touchdown against the Lions but little else of fantasy note. Tough to see him going off here.

WR Marques Colston
Devery Henderson
S3

Antwaan Randle El had 98 yards in the opener; since then no wideout has topped 30 yards against the Giants. While Colston's productivity was trending down prior to the bye, he's still Drew Brees' most targeted receiver and as such warrants a fantasy start even against the league's least fantasy friendly defense. Like Colston, Henderson's numbers have declined since the start of the season—though with Brees having been shut out each of the past two games that should come as no surprise. Hendu sees a consistent five balls a game, but against a Giants' secondary that hasn't even allowed two wideouts to reach 20 yards in the same game he's a bit of a risk. Don't be afraid to explore other options.

TE Jeremy Shockey S3 The Giants have allowed tight end touchdowns in three of five games, and a similar number of TEs have topped 50 yards against them thus far this season. Then, of course, there is the distinct possibility that Shockey will have some extra motivation for this tilt.
DT Saints S3 Big Blue doesn't turn the ball over or surrender many sacks, but the Saints have three defensive TDs already this season and are not to be trifled with at home.
 

Baltimore (3-2) at Minnesota (5-0)

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Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S2

Multiple trends at work here to make Flacco a decent play. He's thrown multiple touchdowns in both of his road games, while the Vikings have given up two TD tosses in each of their two Metrodome dates this season. Minnesota stuffs the run, and while the Ravens won't shy away from that battle they've demonstrated this season they're not afraid to go up top regardless of opponent.

RB Ray Rice
S2

There haven't been touchdowns—no opposing back has scored against the Vikings yet this season—but there have been yards. Three backs (Jamal Lewis, Ryan Grant, Steven Jackson) amassed triple-digit yardage from scrimmage against the Vikings, while Kevin Smith came close with 93. Rice has been heavy on the yards and light on the TDs this year anyway, so there's no reason to sit him here

RB Willis McGahee

B

His thing is scoring, and the Vikings don't give up RB TDs. Plus, he only touched the ball twice times last week and hasn't seen double-digit touches since Week 2. That makes it extremely difficult to rack up any fantasy points.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton

S2

Donnie Avery's 87-1 in garbage time has been the only big game the Vikings have allowed to wideouts, but that doesn't mean there aren't points there to be had. Seven wide receivers (including five in the last two games) have topped 40 yards and another three have topped 30. The Ravens don't go all that deep at wideout, so their numbers are consolidated between Mason and Clayton, who account for 75% of the wide receiver targets. Based on the 140 WR yards per game the Vikings have allowed over their past three (only one of them to a team with a competent passing attack), this duo should be splitting numbers that start with a baseline of 105 yards and a score and only climb from there.

WR Kelley Washington
S3

Washington is still the third wheel in this passing game, but based on what the Vikings have been giving up of late that might be enough this week. Third receiver Jordy Nelson scored a couple weeks back, and if Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin are occupied with Mason and Clayton Washington will find himself with a match-up he and Flacco can exploit.

TE

Todd Heap

S2 The Vikings are far and away the most tight-end friendly fantasy defense in the NFL; the worst game against them came from the Lions, who still mustered seven catches for 62 yards out of the position. Heap has shown flashes of his glory days this season and is averaging four catches and 40 yards per game, so he should be the latest to exploit this gaping hole in the Minnesota defense
DT Ravens S3 Any time Ed Reed is on the field there's a chance it's going the other way.
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

Quarterbacks not wearing pumpkin-hued helmets have had success against the Ravens. Cedric Benson damaged their pride as a run defense last week; if they overcompensate to shut down Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota running game, the Vikings have a Plan B they previously lacked in Favre and a legit passing game. His yardage numbers will hinge on to what extent the Ravens fill the box, but a pair of touchdowns seems probable.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Benson's big game may only serve to anger the Ravens, but the fact that they've allowed RB rushing TDs in back-to-back games bodes well for Peterson, who has scored in four of five this year. AP's yardage is trending down and this doesn't feel like the game to reverse that trend; of course, neither did a date with the then-No. 1 run defense from San Diego a couple of years ago. Start AP with expectations of adequate yardage and a probable score.

RB Chester Taylor B

Taylor used garbage time last week to get his first touchdown of the season. There doesn't project to be much garbage time here, so a second straight score seems unlikely.

WR Bernard Berrian
Sidney Rice

S3

After five games the difference in the Minnesota wide receiver stats—Rice, Berrian, and Percy Harvin—is eight targets, two catches, and 17 yards. So the fact that three of the four WR TDs the Ravens have allowed have gone to No. 1s doesn't help, because the Vikings don't have a clear-cut No. 1. Perhaps projections should be patterned off what the Bengals did last week: go-to guy Chad Ochocinco and deep threat Chris Henry both topped 90 yards while third receiver Andre Caldwell found the end zone. Harvin is a game-time decision with a shoulder injury; if he can't go, Visanthe Shiancoe is a slightly better play and both Rice and Berrian can expect upticks in yardage.

WR Percy Harvin
X

Harvin was limited in practice with a shoulder injury and is considered a game-time decision this week. If he can go he's a decent fantasy play; if not, give Rice and Berrian a nudge upwards.

TE Vishante Shiancoe B

Tight ends only have 11 catches against the Ravens this season, and five of them were by Antonio Gates. You'll have to bank on Big Shank reaching paydirt to have much if any fantasy value this week, and while Sean Ryan turned that trick on Baltimore in Week 1 you should be able to find a better option elsewhere.

DT Vikings S3

The Minnesota D has marked in three straight games with a kickoff return, a safety, and a fumble return. The Ravens don't turn the ball over much, but they will be fielding some inexperienced offensive tackles against Jared Allen and Ray Edwards.

 

Detroit (1-4) at Green Bay (2-2)

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Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford
X

Stafford practiced only once this week, and that was on a limited basis on Wednesday. He's officially listed as questionable, but there's no reason to rush Stafford back for this game.

QB Daunte Culpepper
S3

Detroit's passing game has produced 873 yards the past three weeks and faces a secondary that's surrendered multiple touchdown tosses in three straight; operating under the assumption that Culpepper gets the start, he's poised to capitalize. Hey, if the Packers gave up 501 yards and four TDs in two games against Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky last year, Daunte should be able to get his.

RB Kevin Smith
S2

Green Bay has stymied the other two feature backs in their division, holding Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson to 55 yards each. However, Smith produced 95 yards from scrimmage against a better 3-4 defense (Pittsburgh) last week so something more akin to what Cedric Benson (141 rushing yards) or Steven Jackson (163 yards from scrimmage) produced against the Pack seems more likely.

WR Calvin Johnson X

Megatron didn't practice all week, and his availability for a team he abused to the tune of 15 catches, 232 yards, and four touchdowns last year is in serious jeopardy.

WR Bryant Johnson
Dennis Northcutt
S3

When Johnson exited last week's game early, Culpepper turned his attention to Northcutt and the other Johnson. While they'd be better plays if Megatron can't go, they're at least adequate bye-week fill-ins against a secondary that has already allowed 82, 70, and 66 yard games to secondary receivers and three touchdowns to non-No. 1 targets.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S2

Pettigrew has been targeted 25 times over the past four games (by comparison, Calvin has been targeted 27 times and Bryant 26), so he makes a very compelling match-up against a defense that has allowed three TE TDs in the past two games.

DT Lions B No compelling reason to reach for the Lions on the road here.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Light 'em up! Rodgers posted two 300-yard, three-TD games on the Lions last season and this year's edition of the Motown Growlers doesn't appear to be much different, having allowed multiple TD tosses in every game thus far. Expect Aaron to pick up where he left off prior to the bye, throwing for 384 and two against the Vikings.

RB

Ryan Grant

S2

Four of the five feature backs to face the Lions this season have scored or rushed for 100 yards; one did both. Grant topped the century mark against Detroit in last season's finale and appears poised for his first triple-digit day of 2009.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

S2

Driver scored in both match-ups with Detroit last year and totaled 163 yards; Jennings reached triple-digits in both contests but failed to find the end zone. Both are very good fantasy plays here against a Lions secondary that's already allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game twice this year.

WR Jordy Nelson

U

Both Nelson and fellow tertiary target James Jones scored against Detroit last season, and with Aaron Rodgers filling out a blank check in the passing game you could actually go this deep into the Green Bay receiver rotation for some bye-week fantasy help.

TE Jermichael Finley
S2 Finley scored his first NFL touchdown against the Lions in last year's finale and is a good bet to get another against a Lions defense that has already surrendered six TE TDs this season.
DT Packers S2 The Lions have already allowed 17 sacks and nine turnovers; a Dom Capers defense that has two defensive scores in the past three games smells blood.
 

Houston (2-3) at Cincinnati (4-1)

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Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Schaub has traveled extremely well this season, with six touchdowns and 728 yards in two road games. The Bengals, however, haven't allowed multiple touchdown tosses this season. There should be enough yardage here for Schaub to remain in your starting lineup, but you can't bank on a bunch of touchdowns.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 The last three feature backs to face Cincinnati have put up triple-digit combo yardage, and two of the three have scored on receptions—all of which plays to Slaton's strengths. He's averaging 19 touches and 100 yards from scrimmage over the past three games and has scored twice, so he should be in business against the Bengals this week.
RB Chris Brown
B You have to think his role as the goal-line go-to guy is in question after he's almost single-handedly cost the Texans a pair of wins. Brown hasn't touched the ball more than eight times in a single game this season, so if Gary Kubiak doesn't go to him at the stripe he has almost zero fantasy value. It's also worth noting that two of the three RB TDs the Bengals have allowed have come via the pass.
WR Andre Johnson S2 It should take a crowbar to pry Andre out of your lineup, but be aware that the Bengals have had a great deal of success taking away the oppositions' top receiver; Derrick Mason, Greg Jennings, and Braylon Edwards were all held without a catch while Santonio Holmes was limited to just one grab. That said, Andre caught 11 of 12 targets for 143 yards against the Bengals last year, and aside from the addition of Roy Williams (not exactly renown for his cover skills) this is the same Cincy secondary. He's the best wideout the Bengals have seen to date and while a TD may be a tricky proposition he should still get his yardage.
WR Kevin Walter S2

If the touchdown passes are to be limited this week, Walter may be the better bet. In addition to the aforementioned prowess of the Bengals in blanketing No. 1 receivers, Walter scored twice (to Johnson's goose egg) in last year's meeting with the Bengals. He's been steadily targeted since returning to the lineup, so even if he doesn't score he's a save bet to get you enough catches and yardage to make the risk worthwhile.

TE Owen Daniels S3

Daniels has value in a PPR league; he's averaging five catches per game, while the Bengals are allowing better than six per contest to the position. But Jermichael Finley is the only TE to top 41 yards against the Bengals and Steve Heiden's fluke is the only TE TD they've allowed, so settle for the catches and don't expect Daniels to do much with them.

DT Texans B Houston has allowed 59 points on the road, and there's nothing in their defense to suggest they'll make enough big (read: fantasy scoring) plays to offset giving up 30 points per game.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Houston has given up multiple touchdown passes in both of its road games, setting the table nicely for Palmer. He's been giving you a steady dose of 225 and one; the softer match-up should allow for an uptick in those numbers.

RB Cedric Benson
S2

Don't let the Texans' "shut down" of the Raiders and Cardinals running games impress you; those two teams combined for just 32 attempts between them. Prior to that the Texans had allowed three straight 100-yard rushers. Benson, meanwhile, has turned doubters into believers with solid efforts against legit defenses—including last week's stunning 120-yard, one TD outing against the Ravens. If he can do that in Baltimore, he should find a way to go where the likes of Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson, and Maurice Jones-Drew have already gone before him.

WR Chad Ochocinco

S2

The stats haven't been gaudy for No. 1 receivers against the Texans, but excluding the Raiders (who don't have an NFL passing game) each primary target has scored or topped 80 yards against Houston. Ochocinco is being targeted almost 10 times a game, so he's a solid bet to follow in those footsteps.

WR Andre Caldwell
S3 Chris Henry feels more like the big-play guy, while Laveranues Coles is the forgotten man. That leaves Caldwell, who scored the game winner last week, to take advantage of a Houston defense that has allowed four secondary targets to top 50 yards already this year.
DT Bengals S2 Cincy has defensive scores in two of their last three games, and the Texans just lost on a pick six so you know they're susceptible.

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