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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 7
John Tuvey
Updated: October 23, 2009
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Bye Week
BAL, DEN,
Monday Night
DET, JAC,
 
SEA, TEN
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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)
 
 

Chicago (3-2) at Cincinnati (4-2)

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Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Cutler has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four straight games—something no other Bears quarterback has done this millennium. Through five games the Bengals looked capable of snapping that string; then they gave up an Abe Lincoln (four scores) to Matt Schaub last week. Now there's no reason to expect Cutler to fall shy of either his 240 yards per game average (the Bengals have ceded at least that much to five of the six QBs they've faced) or his multiple-score marker.

RB Matt Forte
S2

Don't expect Forte to get it going on the ground; both his 121-yard outburst against the Lions and the lone 100-yard effort the Bengals have surrendered this year (121 to Jerome Harrison in Week 4) are looking like aberrations. However, the Bengals have allowed back-to-back RB receiving touchdowns to Steve Slaton (102 yards) and Ray Rice (74 yards). Forte has three games with five or more catches since being shut out in Week 1, so expect him to augment a mediocre rushing effort with healthy receiving yardage and a possible touchdown, salvaging his fantasy value.

WR

Devin Hester
Johnny Knox

S3 No. 1 receivers are still looking for their first touchdown against the Bengals; thankfully, the Bears don't have a true No. 1 so both Hester and Knox have a shot at a score. Knox has three scores already this year, while Hester leads the corps in catches and yardage. There has been little rhyme or reason to the receivers who blow up Cincy, other than they're not No. 1s: from Mohamed Massaquoi's 8-148 to Mike Wallace's 7-102 to Jacoby Jones' TD (while Andre Johnson had the big yardage day), the Bengals have been all over the map. Surely there's room in there for Knox and Hester to carve out some fantasy value.
TE Greg Olsen

S3

Six tight ends have already posted at least four catches against the Bengals, so other teams have already found the openings Olsen will exploit. With touchdowns in each of his past two games and an increasing number of targets (6, 6, 6, 7, and 10 last week), Olsen may finally be getting on the same page with Jay Cutler and living up to the preseason hype.

DT Bears S2 The Bears have had some success pressuring the passer and still have a dangerous return game. Cincy's already made a couple mistakes that led to six the other way, so there's no reason the Bears couldn't augment your fantasy stat sheet with a D/ST TD.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Despite the Bengals' success, Palmer hasn't quite returned to fantasy stud stats; he's on pace for a relatively ordinary 3,700-yard, 21-TD season, based on a whole bunch of barely helpful 225-yard, 1-TD outings. Da Bears are serving up a little more yardage and just surrendered their first multiple-TD effort last week, so expect more of the same from Palmer this week.

RB Cedric Benson
S2

Go figure; Benson's worst fantasy game thus far came against the Browns and he scored against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Bears don't project to be an easy match-up, but they've allowed scores to Ryan Grant, Kevin Smith, Julius Jones, and Michael Turner already this year. In other words, if Benson has already won you over there's no reason to turn back into a doubter this week.

WR Chad Ochocinco

S2

Not only has Chad been a yardage guy this season, he's been remarkably consistent with just one game in which he didn't score or reach 89 yards. The yardage shouldn't be a problem against a Chicago secondary that's already allowed 100-yard games to Greg Jennings, Nate Burleson, and Calvin Johnson. A touchdown is a trickier proposition, as the Bears have allowed just two WR TDs all year, but it's not out of the question.

WR Andre Caldwell
B Only once this year have the Bears allowed a second wideout to top 40 yards against them. And with Lav Coles and Chris Henry still jockeying for position in the pecking order, it's tough to generate enthusiasm for any of them this week.
DT Bengals S3 All seven of Cutler's INTs have come on the road, which means the Bengals may have multiple shots at a pick six this week.
 

New Orleans (5-0) at Miami (2-3)

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New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees hopped back in the saddle last week, dissecting the (formerly) top-ranked pass defense, so it's unlikely the Dolphins scare him. Both Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers have already topped 300 yards against Miami, so there's no reason to worry about Brees.

RB Pierre Thomas
Mike Bell
Reggie Bush
S3

Who knew the Saints would usurp the Broncos and Patriots for "most confusing backfield" honors? Thomas was the most productive ball-carrier last week, yet he was the only back who didn't find the end zone. Only one back has topped 50 yards against the Fins and none have exceeded 65 yards, so a big yardage day doesn't seem likely. Miami isn't giving up much in the way of RB receiving yards, and only two RBs have rushed for scores against the Dolphins thus far. It's a tough week with six teams on the bye and the Saints have proven they can score on anyone, so if you regularly bank on a New Orleans back you needn't kick them to the curb. However, between the difficult match-up and the widespread distribution of touches your expectations need to be set low.

WR Marques Colston
S2

Colston is the one constant among Saints receivers; he's far and away the most targetd, with the most catches for the most yards and the most touchdowns. The concern may be that two of the three WR TDs the Dolphins have allowed have gone to secondary targets, but the Saints score enough that Colston's always a threat; plus, even if he doesn't score he's bound to give you helpful yardage numbers anyway.

WR

Lance Moore
Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem

S3

Any Saints receiver is a threat to put up fantasy numbers at any given time; the problem is, with Moore healthy now there are four wideouts—plus three backs and a tight end—fighting for their slice of the pie. The good news is, that pie should be bigger than expected against a Miami defense that's allowed six 60-plus-yard wide receivers over the past three games. Of the three Henderson has the best numbers, Moore was the clear No. 2 last week, and Meachem is the home run threat.

TE Jeremy Shockey S3 It's another homecoming of sorts for Shockey, who played his collegiate ball at the 'U'. Fresh off taking his former team for 4-37-1 last week, Shockey gets a defense that has struggled with talented tight ends; Gonzo (5-73-1), Gates (5-64), and Dallas Clark (7-183-1) have all abused Miami, and Shockey is at least worthy of visiting that neighborhood. No reason for him to be left out of the fun this week.
DT Saints S3 The New Orleans defense is definitely not letting the offense have all the fun, with three D/ST scores already and at least one or two others that were called back. Against Chad Henne, they certainly have a shot.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

The Saints have done a good job of limiting the effectiveness of opposing quarterbacks; only Kevin Kolb has topped 205 yards or thrown multiple touchdowns, and it took him 51 attempts to do so. They even passed their first true test last week, squelching Eli Manning and a pretty good Giants passing game. That doesn't bode well for Henne, who looked good against the Jets but is ceding too many snaps to the Wildcat to be considered for fantasy duty, especially given the difficult match-up.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S2

The Saints have thwarted some pretty good ground games—the Jets and Giants, in particular—giving up an average of just 70 RB rushing yards per game, with no team topping 90. Of course, no team has run more than 21 times on the Saints. The Dolphins are bound to test that theory; they're averaging more than 30 RB attempts per game and will likely employ the same approach they used to keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines. That means plenty of attempts for Brown. New Orleans has allowed RB rushing scores in each of the past two games, so even if Ronnie posts mediocre yardage he can salvage the day with a score.

RB

Ricky Williams

B

Tough to bank on spillover against a defense that isn't even surrendering triple-digit yardage on the ground. Williams has been getting his at home—an average of 15 carries per tilt and at least 68 rushing yards in each of the three Miami dates—and it's possible the Dolphins could reprise the Indy game where they ran all night but still couldn't keep up with Peyton Manning. However, that seems like too much risk for what little upside Williams offers.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Davonne Bess
Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline

B It's not like the Saints' secondary is airtight; after all, they've allowed a couple 100-yard games and four WR TDs this year. But which Miami wideout are you going to trust with a fantasy start? Ginn and Hartline have the touchdowns; they also have a grand total of five catches between them over the past three games. If you have to pick one, Ginn has the kind of upside that could get you 11 catches for 108 yards—his stat line against Indy earlier this year; of course, he also has the downside that could get you a goose egg, which was his stat line from the very next week.
TE Anthony Fasano

B

Fasano found the end zone just before the bye, but it marked just his eighth catch of the year. That's far too much inconsistency for him to be relied upon, especially since the Saints gave up one big game to Brent Celek (8-104) and just 10 catches for 94 yards to the rest of the tight ends they've face.

DT Dolphins B The Saints have already scored at least 45 points three times this year; you don't want to put your fantasy defense in front of a runaway train like that.
 

Arizona (3-2) at New York Giants (5-1)

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Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

It's a pretty simple question: do you think Warner is closer to the collective of Jason Campbell, Josh Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Matt Cassel, and JaMarcus Russell, who combined for 496 yards and four touchdowns in four games against the Giants? Or do you think Kurt is more like Drew Brees, who lit up Big Blue for 369 and four last week? Warner threw for 351 and one in a home date with the Giants last year, so he projects much closer to Brees than to the rabble at the other end of the spectrum. The Giants are a bit banged up in the secondary, so while Warner is a tad less productive on the road he's still a solid bet for quality fantasy production.

RB Tim Hightower

S3 The Giants have shored up the yardage portion of their defensive program since being gashed by the Cowboys in Week 2; however, they've surrendered six RB TDs this season—four in the past two games, three last week alone to three different Saints backs. Despite an unproductive yardage day (11-21) against the Giants last year, Hightower found the end zone twice. He's also scored in two straight and three of four, so expecting a shortie to go along with meh yardage seems reasonable.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Still waiting for Wells to get in the swing of things in Arizona. He's not necessarily lacking for opportunities—he had 12 carries last week—but he's turned his last 21 totes into just 51 yards. With Hightower still heavily involved, the waiting isn't likely to end this week.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

S2

Fitz is Fitz; you're going to play him against the #31 pass defense or the #1 pass defense. You're going to play him because he's already scored five times this year, including three in the last two games; you're going to play him despite the fact that he didn't score against the Giants when they visited Arizona last year. You're going to play him because he's every bit as capable of an 8-166-1 game as Marques Colston was last week. Maybe even more so.

WR Steve Breaston
S3

Boldin or no Boldin, Breaston has been putting up numbers worthy of a No. 2 receiver—and a fantasy starter. He's averaging six catches and 80 yards per game, hasn't dipped below 66 yards yet this year, and scored his first touchdown last week. Best of all, he catches the Giants one week after they showed weakness by allowing three different Saints to score and top 70 yards. So with or without Boldin, Breaston deserves a fantasy start this week.

WR Anquan Boldin
B

Boldin was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday with a sprained ankle, then practiced on a limited basis Friday and is officially listed as questionable for this Sunday night tilt. That means you'll have to make a lineup decision without all the necessary information. Right now it's a 50/50 proposition at best that Anquan gets a chance to repeat the 11-87-1 he dropped on the G-Men last year. With other healthier options on the Arizona roster, starting Boldin this week seems to be an extremely iffy play.

DT Cardinals B The Cards managed just one sack and forced zero turnovers when the Giants came to Arizona last year; tough to see them going on the road and improving on that performance enough to warrant a fantasy D/ST start.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Eli took the Cardinals for 240 and three last year—in Arizona, no less—so he doesn't appear to be in danger of folding like Matt Hasselbeck did last week. That puts Manning in line to match or better the 310 and 2 Arizona had been allowing prior to last week. Whether or not the Card's top-ranked run defense is legit, Manning should get what's coming to him this week—another solid fantasy performance.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Brandon Jacobs
S2

Let's look a little more closely at the vaunted Cardinals run D. Frank Gore scored twice on them, Maurice Jones-Drew averaged five yards a carry before a two-TD deficit took the ball out of his hands, Indy's two-headed backfield combined for 103 yards on the ground (and another 80 and a score through the air), Chris Brown stole a TD from Steve Slaton despite Slaton's 98 combo yards, and the Seahawks abandon the run after 10 attempts. Do you really believe they're going to hold up to a Giants' ground game that's averaging 31 attempts and 142 rushing yards per game? Sure, there's a chance Warner and the Arizona offense take the backs out of the game like Drew Brees did last week. But there's a much better chance you'll get the 12 touches for 90 yards from Bradshaw and the 20 touches for 75 yards from Jacobs, with a legitimate shot at a score up for grabs as well.

WR Steve Smith
Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks

S2

No. 1 receivers have had their way with the Cardinals: Mike Sims-Walker, 6-106-1; Reggie Wayne, 7-126-1; Andre Johnson, 8-101-2. Trouble is, good luck identifying the Giants' No. 1 guy. Manningham, Smith, and Nicks have taken turns leading the Giants in fantasy points by wideouts—in that order, two weeks at a time. Does it swing back to Manningham? Does Nicks stay hot and score in a fourth straight game? Smith remains the most targeted Giant wideout, and though he hasn't scored or topped 100 yards since Week 4 he's still the most likely bet to have a big game. But Manningham and Nicks aren't much longer odds, and all three are quality fantasy plays this week.

TE Kevin Boss S3

Boss scored in last year's meeting between these two clubs, and he certainly isn't a bad play against an Arizona defense that's allowed two TE TDs and an an average of 62 yards per game to the featured tight ends its faced. However, he falls behind the trio of receivers in the pecking order.

DT Giants S2 Much like last week, the Giants pit a somewhat injury-depleted defense against a high-octane offense. This time around, however, it's on Big Blue's home turf. As an added bonus, the Giants' pass rush should be much more effective against the Cards than it was against New Orleans.
 

Philadelphia (3-2) at Washington (2-4)

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Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb
S2

McNabb has been shut out in three of his last four meetings with the Redskins, and he enters this game fresh off of laying an egg in Oakland. The Skins have surrendered just five passing scores in six games, with no quarterback throwing more than one in a game. Moreover, Eli Manning's 256 is the top yardage game against them, and one of only two above 190. Then again, Eli is the only legit quarterback the Skins have faced. McNabb should get his yardage—even when Washington was shutting him out he was getting his yardage—but dial back your expectations on touchdowns.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

Would you believe Westbrook doesn't have a 20-touch day to his credit yet this season? He's topped out at 16, but last week's nine catches bodes well for not only a larger workload but also a solid fantasy day against the Redskins. Over the past four meetings, Westy has caught at least five balls for at least 51 yards against Washington, and the fact that he was so heavily involved last week suggests he's rounding into form. His rushing numbers against the Skins last year were ordinary, and obviously the addition of Albert Haynesworth makes Washington's run D that much better. But even with a mediocre day on the ground, Westy should bring enough to the table as a receiver to help in PPR and performance leagues. A touchdown isn't probable, but triple-digit combo yardage is.

RB LeSean McCoy B

To the surprise of few, Westbrook's share of the workload has increased as he's returned to health. McCoy hasn't looked bad when given the opportunity—last week's 13 yards on five carries notwithstanding—but right now Westbrook is taking too large a share of the touches for McCoy to have fantasy value in anything but the softest of matchups.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 The Skins haven't given up gaudy numbers to receivers, but decent productivity has been there for the taking—from Dwayne Bowe's 109 yards last week to WR TDs in each of the first four games. Jackson has consistently been Philly's most targeted receiver—with that notable one-catch aberration—and is the best bet to post a helpful fantasy stat line.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avent
B Maclin and Avent have had their moments, but there doesn't project to be a great deal of production available and Jackson has first dibs.
TE Brent Celek

S3 Washington has done a solid job of shutting down tight ends—only one TE TD allowed, no tight end with more than 30 yards in a game since Kevin Boss' 62 in Week 1—but Celek is being targeted far too regularly to be benched in a TE-mandatory league.
DT Eagles S1 An aggressive defense against an offense in complete disarray; gotta like those odds.
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

We learned everything we needed to know last week when Campbell laid an egg against the Chiefs. Now he has Sherm Lewis calling the plays; yeah, the solution is a guy who was calling Bingo a week ago.

RB Clinton Portis S3 You'd think Lewis would see that Portis is about the only thing the Washington offense has going for it and feed him the ball like Jim Zorn was doing—bum ankles or no. But maybe Portis wants to work in Ladell Betts. Maybe he wants to throw all game. Or maybe he wants to come up with something we've never even seen before. In any event, it's a tough matchup for Redskin runners, as Philly hasn't allowed a back to top 87 yards against them and no back has scored against them since Week 2. Portis scored in both ends of last year's series, with 29-145-1 in the first meeting and 22-70-1 in the rematch; if Lewis has seen that film, maybe he'll continue feeding Clinton the rock. But at this juncture, banking on any sort of fantasy production from any Redskin is a risky proposition at best. Making matters worse is that Portis didn't practice Thursday or Friday, and this is a Monday game so you won't have all the information you need to make this call when setting your fantasy lineup. The alternative, assuming your league allows it, is to take this one right up to kickoff on Monday and then start Portis if he goes and Ladell Betts if he doesn't. The smarter move would be to find another option entirely, preferably with a Sunday kickoff.
WR Santana Moss

B

Philly has allowed exactly one wide receiver—Marques Colston, with 8-98-2—to go off against them. The Redskins don't have a wideout on their roster who's up to that task.

TE Chris Cooley S3

Cooley is the lone bright spot in Washington's passing game, and he gets to face an Eagles defense that not only served up 8-109-1 to him in the team's first meeting last season but has allowed consecutive 100-yard, 1-TD games to tight ends. Even Sherm Lewis can't screw this up, right? Right?

DT Redskins B The defense hasn't been the Redskins' problem; then again, they've generated just seven takeaways in six games, limiting their opportunities for defensive fantasy points.

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