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Start/Bench List - Week 6
John Tuvey
Updated: October 16, 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)

Buffalo (1-4) at New York Jets (3-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards B

Edwards couldn't solve the Browns, and now he gets the Jets; that's like losing at Tic Tac Toe, then moving on to tackle a Rubik's Cube. Trent actually put up decent yardage at home against Gang Green, but this one is in the Jets' neck of the woods. And with Rex Ryan's boys giving up less than 200 passing yards per game and Edwards staying below that number for three straight, you shouldn't have to look too hard to find a better fantasy option.

RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Lynch ended up with 125 yards from scrimmage against the Browns, which considering he only took two-thirds of the RB touches isn't all that bad. The pickings will be considerably slimmer against the Jets, though over the past three weeks the Titans, Saints, and Dolphins have averaged almost 190 running back combo yards per game against them. Buffalo doesn't have nearly the offensive line as any of those teams, however, so subdue your expectations for Lynch. He should carve out something useful, but don't look for the 127-yard rushing effort he posted on the Jets in the Meadowlands last year.

RB Fred Jackson

With Lynch surging to the fore Jackson's touches have been cut. He saw 15 touches last week against Cleveland and could muster just 47 yards; neither of those numbers bode well for any sort of success against the Jets this week.

WR Terrell Owens

The Jets are giving up barely 110 yards per game to wide receivers and have allowed two WR TDs thus far this year. Owens, meanwhile, hasn't topped 60 yards and has one TD to his credit. But hey, all he can do is run the plays that are called. And then tweet about it.

WR Lee Evans B

Evans did nothing against the Jets last year (4-22, 4-41) and has done essentially nothing this year while playing in T.O.'s shadow. Against a defense that's among the five least-fantasy friendly to wide receivers, he's an afterthought at best.

DT Bills B On the bright side, the Bills get Donte Whitner and Paul Posluszny back this week. And they face a rookie quarterback. Nah, still not compelling enough.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Remember after one game when everybody was ready to hand Sanchez the Rookie of the Year trophy? Since then he's thrown a total of four touchdowns in four games and hasn't topped 172 yards. So maybe that was a bit premature. The Bills' defensive numbers will be skewed by Derek Anderson's turd of a game last week, but they did hold Drew Brees without a touchdown and they get Donte Whitner back. Plus, given how soft the Buffalo run defense has been this one should play out as "The Thomas Jones Show with special guest stars Leon Washington and introducing Shonn Greene".

RB Thomas Jones S1

Jones scored in both ends of the season series last year and enters this tilt with three touchdowns in his last two. He's the lead dog in the Jets 60-40 backfield split, so give him that percentage of the almost 190 rushing yards per game the Bills have allowed over the past three weeks. Toss in a couple scores, as Buffalo has surrendered six over that same span and Jones is unquestionably the Jets' man at the stripe, and you're looking at a very nice fantasy afternoon.

RB Leon Washington S3

Sure, Leon isn't getting the rock anywhere near the goal line, but he's still averaging 11 carries and three catches per game. Against a Bills defense that is giving up five yards per carry over the last three games and Washington should kick in enough yardage to help in most performance leagues. And there's always the chance he busts one for a score, like he did last year against the Bills with a 47-yard TD run on his only carry of the second meeting.

WR Braylon Edwards


All that stuff about easing Edwards into the mix? Just go ahead and cross all that off; Edwards was targeted more than all the other Jets wideouts combined last week. The Bills have allowed just one WR TD this year, but as noted earlier those numbers have been skewed by the lack of quality opposition. Randy Moss went big against Buffalo (12-141) and Marques Colston posted a solid 4-67, so what's to stop Braylon from repeating the 8-104 he dropped on the Bills last year as a Brown? After what we saw on Monday night, when Edwards looked like the 16-TD stud of 2007 instead of the butterfingered Cleveland malcontent, who's to argue?

WR Jerricho Cotchery
David Clowney


Cotchery didn't practice all week because of his hamstring injury and is listed as doubtful; just call him Wally Pipp, because he's no longer the primary target in Gotham. Clowney also stepped up his game Monday, but these two are clearly second chairs to Edward's lead and against the Bills it's unlikely there will be enough to go around.

TE Dustin Keller

After struggling against tight ends early on the Bills have held the position to just two catches for 14 yards over the past two games. Keller did nothing against the Bills last year, has done little of late in 2009, and catches the Bills just as they return a key linebacker and safety. Surely you can do better elsewhere.

DT Jets S3 Would it surprise you to learn the Jets have just four sacks this season—none in the past two weeks? They've also generated just one turnover in the past fortnight and are still looking for their first defensive touchdown of the year. Here's the good news: Gang Green tallied a defensive score in each of their meetings with the Bills last year, so this could very well be the week they get off that schneid.

Tennessee (0-5) at New England (3-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins B

The only week Collins has put up enough points to be worthy of a fantasy start was the week he rushed for a score; otherwise he's ranked 18th or lower among quarterbacks. The Titans are abandoning their blueprint for success; they haven't even rushed the ball 20 times either of the last two games. That's notable because the two games New England has lost, their opponent didn't abandon the run and both the Jets and Broncos topped 20 rushing attempts. Fewer runs means more passes, and Collins will need the quantity to put up anything approaching fantasy help. He's thrown multiple scores just once and topped 250 yards a similar number of times; both are possible against a Patriots defense that's given up multiple TD tosses thrice and allowed 594 yards over the past two games. That said, if the Titans fall behind to the point where they need to throw to catch up, it's just as likely Jeff Fisher goes to the bullpen for a Vince Young audition. You should be able to find more reliable fantasy help elsewhere.

RB Chris Johnson S2

The Titans went to the white flag early last week; as a result Johnson saw a career-low 11 touches. As noted above, if Fisher wants to avoid 0-6 the Titans will need to return to the ground game—or at least get Johnson on the field and throw him the ball, as the Pats are giving up almost 50 receiving yards per game to opposing backs. Assume the Titans aren't playing for draft position just yet and will give Johnson the 17 carries and three catches he was averaging prior to last week's aberration against Indy; backs like Fred Jackson, Ray Rice, and Knowshon Moreno have turned that quantity of touches into 140, 152, and 124 combo yards, respectively. That bodes well for a bounceback game from Johnson.

RB LenDale White B

The good news is, White had his first outing with double-digit carries and produced better than five yards per carry. The bad news is, it was largely garbage time—indicating that White is no longer anywhere close to an equal partner in the Tennessee backfield committee. Worse, the Patriots have allowed just one running back rushing score this season and at this juncture White's goal line work is the only fantasy value he's bringing to the table.

WR Nate Washington
S3 A touchdown isn't likely against a Patriots defense that has allowed just three to wideouts this season, as there's no Brandon Marshall in this bunch. But six wideouts have posted at least 60 yards against New England, and Washington is the Titans' most targeted wideout. It's not a great fantasy play, but if the Titans fall behind—and their 0-5 record suggests that's a distinct possibility—they've been quicker than usual to abandon the run; the resulting volume of passes would most benefit Washington.
WR Kenny Britt
Justin Gage
B Last week was the first time a secondary receiver topped 50 yards against the Pats this year, and it took 48 passing attempts from Kyle Orton to generate that much volume in the passing game. While that's not impossible for Collins, who threw that many passes against Jacksonville two weeks ago, it's not exactly the approach the Titans are taking heading into this game.
TE Jared Cook
Alge Crumpler
Bo Scaife
B Each of the Titans' three tight ends caught at least three balls last week. So even if the Patriots were soft against the position—they're not; after giving up two TE TDs in the first two games they're giving up an average of just 47 yards per game to tight ends—any production would be split three ways.
DT Titans B The Titans are starting rookie cornerbacks—neither of them a first-day pick. That didn't work so well against Peyton Manning, and it's unlikely to fare any better against Tom Brady.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

What's wrong with Brady? Nothing that can't be fixed by a date with the Titans, who have allowed four 300-yard games and just as many multiple-touchdown outings. The Patriots don't bother with the running game anyway, and against Tennessee they don't have to pretend. That means 40-plus attempts for Brady, with yardage and scores to follow.

RB Sammy Morris
Laurence Maroney
Kevin Faulk


Morris appears to be the new chair of the Patriots' RBBC. Against a Titans' run D that's 31st in fantasy points allowed to running backs, that means he'll get the largest share of nothing. A touchdown is possible, as Tennessee has given up running back scores in each of their last two, but it's hardly likely.

WR Randy Moss
S1 Seven wideouts have scored touchdowns against the Titans already this season. Six have topped 90 yards. Four have reached triple-digit yardage, and three have tallied multi-TD games. The Titans are without one and possibly both regular corners and their nickelback. The only possible fly in the ointment is that the Pats continue to work from last year's playbook, where Moss was largely a decoy; he's only been targeted nine times in the past two games combined after seeing 40 balls through the first three games. Put it this way: if Brady doesn't throw to Moss at least a dozen times this week, we're taking away Gisele.
WR Wes Welker
S1 All the stuff above applies here as well, except for Brady hasn't forgotten Welker; he's been targeted at least 10 times in each of his three games and a total of 41 times overall. At this rate Jeff Fisher may have to suit up in the Tennessee secondary—and he's lost a step.
WR Julian Edelman
Sam Aiken
B Neither the Tennessee secondary's largesse nor the Patriots' passing game bounty has stretched three players deep this year. While Welker and Moss were both limited in practice during the week, both are expected to play , so no need to dig this deep for fantasy help.
TE Ben Watson S2 The Titans' struggles against the pass extend to the tight end; only the Vikings are giving up more fantasy points per game to the position than Tennessee. Watson is a frequent red zone target of Brady's and is a solid play in TE-mandatory leagues this week.
DT Patriots S3 Despite the 0-5 record the Titans aren't making the kinds of mistakes that lead to defensive scores. And the Patriots aren't creating those opportunities, either.

Chicago (3-1) at Atlanta (3-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Atlanta held Cutler to 216 and one in a homecoming of sorts last season, and their defense is markedly better this season. However, Cutler swaggers into this match-up with three straight multiple touchdown outings. Don't bench him, but keep your expectations in check.

RB Matt Forte

Forte his the bye on a high note, pillaging the Lions for 121 yards and a touchdown, so it's easy to forget how utterly ordinary he had been prior to that outburst. Thankfully for Forte the Falcons are serving up the same 4.7 yards per carry they surrendered last year, so he could be in line for something akin to the 20-76-1 he posted against Atlanta last year.


Devin Hester
Johnny Knox
Earl Bennett

B The Falcons have given up triple-digit yardage to the two big-ticket receivers they've faced this season (Steve Smith and Randy Moss), but that's about it. They have yet to allow a WR TD, and no other wideout has topped 78 yards against them. Chicago's receivers are hardly in the same class as Smith and Moss; worse, in four games the Bears have had three different receivers claim top target honors so there's no clear-cut option to emerge with the bulk of what little fantasy production might be available.
TE Greg Olsen


Olsen has been targeted at least six times in every game, and if there's a chink in the armor of Atlanta's pass defense it's covering the tight end; two have scored and a third topped 50 yards against them. That's enough to make Olsen a viable fantasy option in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Bears B The Bears still bring it in the return game, but this road matchup with an Atlanta team that doesn't turn the ball over offers little hope for a defensive score.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Chicago's defense has allowed decent passing yardage but just one TD toss per game, while Ryan has tended towards the opposite with three multiple touchdown outings but just one game with more than 230 passing yards. Last year the Bears' defense won this battle of wills as Ryan threw for 301 yards but just one score; with a year of experience under his belt and a Hall of Fame tight end in his arsenal, expect Ryan to assert himself a little more forcefully—maybe enough for a fourth straight multi-score game.

RB Michael Turner

Turner has scored in three straight and is getting a steady diet of 20-plus carries. The Bears are holding foes under four yards per carry, but they let Kevin Smith score twice in their last outing and will be hard-pressed to keep Turner out of the end zone here.

WR Roddy White S2

White was the star of last season's meeting between these squads with nine catches for 112 yards and a score. He's coming off a monster 8-210-2 affair and gets a Bears secondary that's already served up 100-yard games to Greg Jennings, Nate Burleson, and Calvin Johnson. While a TD isn't a certainty against a Chicago defense that's allowed only that long game-winning score to Jennings in the season opener, White's yardage should more than make up for any lack of touchdowns.


Michael Jenkins


Not only have secondary receivers failed to score against the Bears, Hines Ward's 57-yard effort stands as the best performance by an opposing No. 2 this season. Jenkins isn't targeted frequently enough to present any threat to this trend.


Tony Gonzalez


You have no reason to bench the future Hall of Famer against a defense that has not only allowed two TE TDs through four games but let the dynamic duo of Will Heller and Brandon Pettigrew combine for 7-117-1 against them the last time they took the field.

DT Falcons B Atlanta's defense has been adequate, but they've provided no reason for you to plug them into your fantasy lineup.

Denver (5-0) at San Diego (2-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

Was it an omen that Jay Cutler threw for 666 yards (and five TDs) against the Chargers last year? Don't expect gaudy (or satanic) numbers like that from Orton, but with four games of 243 yards or more and back-to-back multiple touchdown outings it's apparent he's catching on to Josh McDaniels' offense. The Chargers have allowed multiple TDs in two of their last three and just gave up half the number of the beast (333 yards) to Ben Roethlisberger, so no need to run screaming from an Orton start this week.


Knowshon Moreno

S2 Even when Correll Buckhalter was healthy, Moreno was getting the majority of the carries in Denver's backfield committee. So don't let the General's potential return through a damp blanket on your expectations for the rookie this week; through just four games the Chargers have given up 787 combo yards and seven touchdowns to running backs, so there's plenty to go around. Worst-case, Knowshon returns to the top half of a 60-40 split and approaches triple-digit combo yardage with a score; best case, the job is his and he makes an early pitch for ROY honors.

Correll Buckhalter

S3 The General has practiced fully all week, and Josh McDaniels indicated he would play on Monday night. So the ankle is fine, meaning in all likelihood he'll return to the junior share of the Denver RBBC—a lesser load that Buckhalter has turned into more yardage than Moreno in every game in which they've both played. It's a risk, but one with upside.
WR Brandon Marshall

This is not the same offense that produced Marshall's 18-166-1 opus against the Chargers early last year. It is, however, an offense that Marshall has finally learned—and learned well enough to be Orton's top target in three straight games and score in each of those contests as well. The Chargers haven't exactly seen a who's who of stud receivers thus far, but Hines Ward reached triple-digits on them and both Kelley Washington and Louis Murphy scored against San Diego so there's little reason to expect Marshall's hot streak to end here.

WR Eddie Royal


The 15 targets Royals saw last week suggests he too is getting comfortable with the new Denver offense. He's still looking for his first score of 2009, and as the Chargers have largely held secondary receivers in check—Santonio Holmes' 52-yard outing in Week 4 is the high-water mark for No. 2s vs. San Diego—don't look for the breakout to come this week.

TE Tony Scheffler


Few teams give up more fantasy points to tight ends than the Chargers. Consider that they rank ninth in that category despite actually shutting out Miami tight ends in Week 3. Or that Scheffler caught 11 balls for 139 yards and three touchdowns against them last year. It's a different offense in Denver, obviously, but if Daniel Graham doesn't step on Scheffler's toes he's in line for at minimum enough to warrant a start in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Broncos B These teams combined for 150 points in two games last year, so you'd be best served finding defensive help elsewhere.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers has multiple touchdowns in five of six against the Broncos, including both ends of last season's series, and has topped 200 yards five times and 270 thrice. Of course, there's a night-and-day difference in Denver's defense from this year to last; the touchdowns tosses by Tom Brady in last week's tilt were the first allowed by the Broncos this year, and only Tony Romo (255) has topped 250 yards against them. Rivers has carved up some pretty good defenses already—436 and two against the Ravens, 303 against Miami, at least 250 against both the Raiders and Steelers—so while he may not throw down another set of gaudy numbers against Denver he by no means requires a fantasy benching.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
S3 Because this is a different Denver defense—and, as we're coming to realize, a different LT—there's little point in going back and rehashing what Tomlinson has done to past Bronco teams. The Broncos haven't allowed much in the way of yardage—Ced Benson's 76 in Week 1 is the high-water mark—and Darren Sproles is still getting touches so if LT is to be a fantasy helper it will come on the strength of a score. Tomlinson is still the goal-line guy in this offense and scored in his one healthy appearance this season so a touchdown is a distinct possibility—just not the hat trick he had against Denver in the 2009 finale.
RB Darren Sproles
S3 Sproles isn't bringing much to the ground game table, or at least nothing to suggest he'll reprise the 14-115-1 he hung on the Bolts in last season's finale. However, he's been a major contributor in the passing game (oh, he scored on a reception in that Week 17 win as well) and should carve out fantasy value against a Denver D that's allowing more than 50 RB receiving yards per game.
WR Vincent Jackson

Jackson didn't score against the Broncos last year, averaging four catches for 60 yards in the two-game set. He's in line for a mild upgrade this year, something along the lines of the numbers other No. 1 wideouts like Chad Ochocinco (5-89) and Braylon Edwards (6-92) have posted. However, Denver has allowed just one WR TD this season, so settle for the yardage and don't get greedy.

WR Chris Chambers
B Chambers scored twice against the Broncos in the front end of the season series last year; in fact, that 4-83-2 outing in Week 2 was his last truly fantasy-relevant performance. He scored in the Bolts' last game against Pittsburgh, but that was a couple weeks ago so fantasy owners have likely forgotten him. That's for the best, as secondary targets are doing nothing against the Broncos this season, and Chambers is unquestionably a secondary target.
TE Antonio Gates S2

The Broncos aren't exactly getting killed by tight ends, but Ben Watson scored on them last week—and besides, Gates isn't your ordinary tight end. He's the Chargers' most consistent receiver, averaging six catches and 87 yards per game, and is worthy of consideration in combo WR/TE leagues as well as a must-start in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Chargers B The Bolts' defense hasn't lived up to expectations, and the Broncos aren't making the mistakes that lead to defensive scores so you're bound to find better options.

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