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Start/Bench List - Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 30, 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)
Denver (6-0) at Baltimore (3-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S2

The Ravens have allowed at least 258 passing yards in each of the past three games; Orton has multiple scores in three straight and has averaged 267 yards per game over that same span. You're not going out of your way to start Orton—but you're not backing down from the challenge, either.


Knowshon Moreno

S3 Don't look now but the Ravens have allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers for the first time since Weeks 12 and 13 of the 2005 season. The Broncos don't have a workhorse back like Cedric Benson or Adrian Peterson, but Moreno is getting about two-thirds of the carries in Denver's backfield rotation and producing 75 combo yards per game. You shouldn't expect a monster game in Baltimore, but the rookie has been running well enough to warrant fantasy consideration here.

Correll Buckhalter

B The General has been productive despite the junior share of the workload. However, the bulk of that productivity came in two lollipop matchups with the Raiders and Browns; despite similar touches, he averaged more than 25 fewer yards per game against tougher defenses—and the Ravens would definitely fall into that category.
WR Brandon Marshall

The Ravens have allowed only five wideouts to top 50 yards against them; however, three of the five have come in the past two games. That bodes well for Marshall, who has picked up the Denver offense to the tune of 22-271-4 over the past four games.

WR Eddie Royal


Royal was targeted 15 times in Week 5 (10 catches), then held without a catch (four targets) in Week 6; of course, despite no touches from scrimmage he still managed to score twice in the return game. If you're using Royal this week you're banking on another big special teams week—not only because you just don't know how involved Royal will be from scrimmage, but also because only once this year have the Ravens allowed more than one receiver to top 50 yards in a game.

TE Tony Scheffler


Taking the logic from DMD's "Three Rules for Bye Weeks" blog a step further, the Ravens have allowed opposing tight ends to have success on the road (13-187-2) but put the clamps on them at home (three catches for 23 yards and a TD in the same number of games). Scheff's big game last week (6-101-1) came against one of the most fantasy-friendly TE defenses in the league; the Ravens aren't in that same category, so unless the byes really have you up against it Scheffler is bench fodder this week.

DT Broncos B The Ravens have topped 30 points in four of six games this season, so while the Broncos defense is definitely improved this isn't a great week to use them in your fantasy lineup.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco has four multiple touchdown outings and three 300-yard games already this year, but the Broncos will present his stiffest test to date. Denver held Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, and Carson Palmer to a combined three touchdowns, so dial back your expectations.

RB Ray Rice

Yes, Denver is a top-five defense against running backs, but there's a chink in the armor for Rice to exploit: only one team is allowing more RB receiving yards per game than the Broncos. So while a touchdown looks unlikely for Rice, it's not as if you're banking on one anyay—and it's not like you need one from him for his combo yardage to add up to helpful fantasy numbers.

RB Willis McGahee


On the one hand, Denver has surrendered just two RB TDs this season. On the other, McGahee has eight carries for a total of one yard over the past two games. You can't expect a touchdown, and Willis isn't getting enough other opportunities to warrant consideration.

WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington


There is very little to like here. Mason is the clear-cut No. 1 and has at least 88 yards and a TD in three of his last four games; however, he was shut out by the Bengals, the only team the Ravens have faced over the past month with a cornerback in the same class as Champ Bailey (Minnesota's Antoine Winfield left that game with an injury, opening the door for Mason's 5-118-1). Denver's secondary as a whole has allowed just two WR TDs and three receivers to top 62 yards, so you'll want to look for help elsewhere.


Todd Heap

S3 Tight ends don't match up much better against the Broncos than wide receivers do, but Heap is heavily involved in the offense—almost six targets per game, roughly one less look per game than Baltimore's WR1 and WR2. The only tight end targeted that frequently against Denver thus far, Antonio Gates, produced five catches for 70 yards. Not a great trend, but it seems to be one you could rely upon for help in a week with six TEs on the bye.
DT Ravens S3 We've seen some flashes of the old Ravens D, with two defensive scores in the past three weeks. Trouble is, the Broncos don't turn the ball over and aren't allowing sacks—the two factors that tend to lead to defensive touchdowns.
Houston (4-3) at Buffalo (3-4) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 The Bills have allowed just one touchdown pass over the last five games, but before you get too impressed keep in mind they've faced Drew Brees and a bunch of slugs (Henne, Anderson, Sanchez, Delhomme). Schaub has four 300-yard efforts and five multi-TD outings in the last six games, and he isn't backed by either the running game or the defense that Brees has. Hence, expect him to keep on keepin' on with another solid game this week.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 Over the past five games, seven different backs have amassed at least 96 yards from scrimmage against the Bills; six have reached triple digits; five have scored; and four have done both. In that same span Slaton has averaged 106 combo yards and a TD per game, setting him up to be the latest back to batter the Bills.
RB Chris Brown
B That Slaton scored on a one-yard run last week does not bode well for Brown's grasp on the goal line back job. And since he has yet to reach double-digit touches in a game, he has no other fantasy value whatsoever.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Buffalo has surrendered plenty of wide receiver yardage this year—141 to Randy Moss in the opener, 99 to Steve Smith (the other one) last week—but through seven games they've allowed only one WR TD. And Johnson is plenty familiar with big yardage-no score games; he's been kept out of the end zone in four of his last five games despite 349 yards in those scoreless contests. Andre returned to a full practice on Friday after missing Wednesday and being limited on Thursday due to the bruised lung he suffered last week, so he should be good to go for his usual yardage; just don't expect a touchdown to go along with it.
WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones

Walter's 41 yards in Week 4 is the biggest game for one of Houston's secondary wideouts in the past month. Worse, the Bills haven't allowed a No. 2 to reach that mark since the first game of the season. Sorry, Schaub's largesse isn't extending down the WR depth chart.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Daniels has 22 catches for 295 yards and three scores over the past three games; last week alone the Bills allowed three Carolina tight ends you've never even heard of to combine for nine catches and 135 yards.  In other words, there's no reason not to expect Daniels to stay hot.

DT Texans B The Buffalo offense has shown signs of life under Ryan Fitzpatrick; last week they made it to 20 points for the first time since Week 2. Worse, they're not turning the ball over. With no fantasy-friendly trend on the Bills side, there's no compelling reason to start a mediocre Houston defense on the road.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Houston let Alex Smith come off the bench to throw three TDs last week, which in many cases would get us significantly excited for the coming week's opposing quarterback. However, this week that quarterback is Fitzpatrick, whose only compelling stat is his two wins. Nothing in his 45% completion percentage or 120 yards and one TD per game suggests he warrants fantasy attention.

RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Shutting down Oakland and Arizona on the ground is nice but hardly noteworthy. However, the Texans have proved their improved run defense is no fluke by squeezing Cedric Benson and Frank Gore in back-to-back weeks. Over the past month backs are averaging 2.4 yards per carry and right around 55 yards from scrimmage per game. On the bright side, backs have scored in two of the past three against the Texans. If that sounds like a mediocre yardage day with a shot at a score to you, then we're on the same page.

RB Fred Jackson

Jackson had trouble running last week, what with all the choking and coughing as Lynch left him in the dust by taking 18 of the 23 backfield carries. There's barely enough for the lead dog this week, let alone the junior partner in Buffalo's RBBC.

WR Lee Evans

Evans has been the more targeted and more productive receiver the past two games, with scores in both. Houston has already allowed 11 different wideouts to top 50 yards this season, so you could expect adequate yardage. A touchdown is less certain, as the Bills have given up just five WR TDs on the year. However, if there is to be one it would appear Evans is the better bet among Bills receivers to be on the business end.

WR Terrell Owens


That Owens hasn't had a complete meltdown despite posting numbers that rank him just ahead of Brandon Stokley and Mohamed Massaquoi as the 57th-most productive fantasy wide receiver is remarkable. There's mild cause for optimism this week, as the Texans have allowed at least two wideouts to top 55 yards against them in five of their seven games this season. What's sadder, that you're looking to Owens as getting the secondary share of that total, or that if you got 55 yards from T.O. you'd consider it a decent showing?

DT Bills S3 Buffalo has given up 6, 13, and 9 points the last three weeks, though Houston's offense is vastly better than what they've seen from the Browns, Jets, and Panthers. Still, any defense that's generated nine picks in two games deserves a look-see.

Cleveland (1-6) at Chicago (3-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson

The Bears are fresh off giving up five TDs to Carson Palmer and have allowed multiple TDs in back to back games and... wait, wait, wait. This is Derek Anderson we're talking about. Over the past three games he's 23-for-70 (33%) for 244 yards and a touchdown. You're not starting him in a passing scrimmage against the Brady Bunch, let alone against a legitimate NFL defense.

RB Jamal Lewis


Unfortunately Lewis wasn't a high draft pick of the Bears so he has no axe to grind here. That means it's just he and his 3.4 yards per carry against a Chicago defense that's allowed just 157 rushing yards combined in two home games this season.

RB Jerome Harrison


In three games since his 29-carry, 121-yard outing Harrison has touched the ball just 20 times for 77 yards. At present he's a bit player on a bad offense, and that's no help for your fantasy squad.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi

The match-up isn't bad, against a Chicago defense that's allowed four 100-yard receivers already this season and just gave up four WR TDs last week alone. And Massaquoi is clearly Cleveland's go-to receiver, with twice the catches and four times the yardage since Braylon Edwards' departure as the rest of the wide receiving corps combined. But when all that adds up to is seven catches for 171 yards, you have to wonder if it's really worth it.

WR Joshua Cribbs

If the killer from Saw forced you to choose between starting a Brown in your fantasy lineup or hacking off a foot, there's a very good possibility you'd go with Cribbs and hope for a return touchdown or something out of the Wildcat. Of course, there's also a very good possibility your new nickname would be Hopalong.

TE Michael Gaines


The Bears have allowed TE TDs in three straight and four of five, including a score to the immortal John Paul Foschi. As an added bonus, Gaines was on the Bears' roster for the first month of the season before being cut. With Steve Heiden and Robert Royal both questionable for this tilt, Gaines is the Browns' go-to tight end. Revenge game, anyone?

DT Browns B Between Cutler's penchant for picks and Cribbs' return-game acumen, this start is as good as any on the Browns' roster. Of course, that's not saying much.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Would you believe the hometown fans have yet to see Cutler throw a pick? Well, they've seen him throw picks, but not in Chicago where he has four TDs and zero INTs in his two home starts. The Browns have allowed multiple scores in two straight and three of four; they're also allowing an average of 292 passing yards per game on the road. At least Bears fans will love Cutler for half of every season, right?

RB Matt Forte

Multiple positive trends at work here to talk Forte's fantasy owners off the ledge. For starters, Forte's best outing of the season was his last home game (12-121-1 against the Lions), the last time he played at Soldier Field. Mix in a Browns defense that's not only awful (third most fantasy-friendly unit vs. RBs, no team has allowed more touchdowns to opposing running backs) but is specifically being abused by NFC North foes; Adrian Peterson hung 180 and three on them in the opener, and last week Ryan Grant gouged them for 148 and 1. Put another way: if Forte doesn't get it going this week, he never will.


Devin Hester
Johnny Knox

S2 You can't blame the shoddy run numbers on a defense no one will throw against, as the Browns are almost as inept at slowing the passing game as they are at stopping the run. Hester has asserted himself as the No. 1, but Knox is a burner who's heavily involved as well. Both are good plays against a defense that allowed multiple 100-yard receivers two weeks ago and multiple TD catches last week.
TE Greg Olsen


Olsen hasn't been as heavily involved as we thought he might at the start of the season, and Desmond Clark is horning in on his targets. And while the Browns haven't exactly been lit up by opposing TEs, there's no reason to sit Olsen in a TE-mandatory league.

DT Bears S2 The Browns have been held without a touchdown in two of their last three (and four of their last six) games. Oh, and Cleveland has a dozen turnovers in four road games this year.

New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia (4-2)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Since lighting up the Eagles for 373 and three back in Week 2 of 2006, Eli has been utterly ordinary against Philly with one multi-TD game and one game of more than 220 yards in the five subsequent tilts. The Eagles have allowed multiple scoring strikes in four of five and 224 yards or more at a similar rate, so they're not a shutdown matchup. While Manning has slowed a bit of late he still has multiple touchdowns in three of four road games, so he makes a good-not-great start yet again.

RB Brandon Jacobs
Ahmad Bradshaw


Philly has yet to allow a rusher to reach the 90-yard mark against them, so it won't be easy going for Jacobs; then again, his 22-126-2 against the Eagles last year attests that it can be done. With Bradshaw still accounting for a share of the touches, it'll be tough for either to get enough carries for a gaudy stat day; worse, Philly hasn't allowed a running back rushing score since Week 2 so a TD will be hard to come by as well. Both backs are likely to clock in with something in the 60-80 yard neighborhood, and if there's a score to be had Jacobs is the slight favorite to claim it.

WR Steve Smith
Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks


Once again this trio is chasing one, maybe two touchdowns—and unfortunately there doesn't project to be a bunch of yardage to go along with the score(s). That would seem to put Smith in the fantasy value drivers seat, as he is generally the more targeted wideout. However, Manningham has scored twice and Nicks thrice in the three games since Smith last found the end zone. Manningham suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday's practice and was held out of Friday's session; he says he'll play, but the situation certainly bears watching. Mario remains the No. 2, but the big plays he'd been making previously now seem to wind up in Nicks' hands. Call it a fluke, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good—and Nicks has been lucky four weeks in a row. None should be benched because of the match-up, but none offer a sure thing.

TE Kevin Boss S3

It would be easier to like Boss's chances if he'd been seeing the ball much this season. That may change this week, as each of Philly's three previous opponents has targeted the tight end double-digit times; as a result, Kellen Winslow (9-102-2), Zach Miller (6-139-1), and Fred Davis (8-78-1) put up good fantasy numbers. Boss had a 6-69-1 against Philly last year; he also had a 1-5. There's risk here, but there'salso upside.

DT Giants S3 At a minimum you have to like the Giants' chances of creating some havoc up front against a Philly line that's still in flux and has surrendered a dozen sacks over the past three games. And pressure on the quarterback is oftentimes the gateway drug to defensive touchdowns.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb

McNabb hasn't topped 200 yards against the Giants since Week 2 of 2006; in four meetings since he's thrown three TDs once, one TD twice, and been shut out once. He hasn't stayed hot since his big return from the rib injury, either, totaling just 425 yards and one touchdown in his last two games. The Giants have held all non-Drew Brees quarterbacks to 141 yards and less than a TD per game, so there's little in this matchup to make McNabb a must-start.

RB Brian Westbrook

Westbrook did not practice all week and is still considered a game time decision; he'll need medical clearance after last week's concussion in order to play this week. Sadly, that means we won't know the distribution of touches until just before kickoff. Westy has rushed for triple-digit yardage in three of the last four meetings but hasn't come close to the century mark this year. If he goes—and he seems to think he will—he's an okay play, but there is obviously a risk that any shot to the noggin puts him back on the shelf.

RB LeSean McCoy B

McCoy would be a viable fantasy play only if Westbrook is ruled out, as his share when Westbrook plays has been limited at best. Since it sounds like Westbrook will be cleared to play despite having missed practice all week, he's listed as a bench option here; of course, if Westbrook is a Sunday scratch that changes everything.

WR DeSean Jackson
Jeremy Maclin
S3 You can't sit Jackson, who's a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. And big-play guys have had success against the Giants thus far, from Antwaan Randle El's 98 yards in the opener to Robert Meachem's home run against them a couple weeks back. If the Giants focus too much on Jackson, Maclin is capable of making them pay dearly. He showed he can be a quantity guy as well by leading the Eagles with five catches Monday night. They're not quite interchangable—D-Jax is still the better play—but in this matchup with a pretty competent secondary they offer comparable fantasy potential.
WR Jason Avent
B Avent has tailed off from two to one to two games with no catches; another goose egg and he won't even be listed here.
TE Brent Celek

S3 The Eagles haven't had a big tight end game against the Giants since early in 2006, but that could change here. New York has allowed a TE TD in three of their four road games this year, and aside from last week's dud against the Redskins Celek has been supplying a steady dose of fantasy helpers, averaging six catches for 75 yards with a pair of scores.
DT Eagles S3 This defense is still plenty aggressive—bonus if you get return touchdowns—but the Giants take good care of the ball and haven't surrendered a defensive score in this series since Week 15 of 2006.

Miami (2-4) at New York Jets (4-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Henne's 242 and two in Week 5 stands as the best game by a quarterback against the Jets this season. That happened at home with the Wildcat in full growl; now Henne heads to the Meadowlands, where Gang Green has allowed a total of 545 yards and two TDs in three games. Tough to see Chad having a second solid outing under those circumstances.


Ronnie Brown
Ricky Williams


Week 5—when Brown and Williams rolled up 226 combo yards against the Jets—wasn't an aberration; Gang Green has allowed triple-digit yards from scrimmage to five straight opposing backs. Brown continues to get the most touches, but Williams continues to produce with the junior share as well. Then you factor in the home cooking—all six of Brown's TDs have come in Miami—and all of a sudden Brown is a merely good start instead of a great one. Plus, Williams comes off a three-touchdown extravaganza and has scored in both road games. If you're playing the trends, Brown should have the most opportunity and remains the best yardage play but Ricky is the pick in TD-heavy leagues.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Davonne Bess
Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline

B There isn't a wide receiver here to be trusted with a fantasy start, not against a secondary that's allowed just three WR TDs in seven games—and if there was one it would be Ginn, who's been the most productive and scored in the earlier meeting but has also been plagued by drops and has reportedly fallen out of favor with his own team.
TE Anthony Fasano


Fasano owns the only TE TD against the Jets this season, and he's now scored in three straight against Gang Green. While it may just be a case of multiple blind squirrels finding a trove of nuts, with six teams on the bye it's too solid a trend to ignore completely.

DT Dolphins S3 Another road trend at play: only four of the Fins' 17 sacks and one of their eight turnovers have come on the road, and their only defensive touchdown came at home. Matt Sanchez's six-pick game came at home, but all three of the defensive TDs the Jets have served up came on the road. Still, six picks...
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez mustered 172 and a touch in Miami, but the Dolphins' D has been significantly more lenient yardage-wise on the road. That said, Sanchez is still looking at something in the low 200s and maybe a touchdown. His only fantasy value would come if you could bank on a rushing TD; the Dolphins gave up two to Drew Brees last week, but that feels more flukish than trend.

RB Thomas Jones S2

Jones spent the past two weeks tearing up the two worst run defenses in the league to the tune of 331 yards and two touchdowns—with enough left over for his understudies to chip in 220 and another TD. The Dolphins present a significantly stiffer challenge; though he scored twice against them in the earlier meeting, Jones has just 65 yards on 23 carries over his past two games against Miami. Depending on just how much the Jets use Greene in conjunction with Jones, he could see enough work to match the 22-101-1 he dropped on the Dolphins in last year's opener. That's the top end, though; reality eases those projections back into the midrange.

RB Shonn Greene S3

With Leon Washington done for the year, the Jets will likely give the rookie at least a portion of the backfield workload. Greene runs hard and could be an effective pair of fresh legs once Jones has battered the defense into submission. Don't expect monster numbers like he posted against the Raiders, but Greene still has the potential to be a fantasy helper the rest of the way.

WR Braylon Edwards
Jerricho Cotchery
David Clowney


Cotchery is expected to return from the hamstring injury that limited him in the previous meeting with the Dolphins—and opened the door for Edwards' smash debut as a Jet. Braylon owns one of the four WR TDs Miami has given up—none of them on the road—but with Cotchery set to assume at least a portion of his previous looks there are three mouths fighting for limited yardage and maybe one touchdown. The Dolphins' WR TDs have been evenly split between speed guys (Garcon, Reed) and big feature targets (Edwards, Colston), which is no help in identifying the scoring receiver, if there even is one. It certainly doesn't help that both Cotchery and Clowney were limited in practice during the week and are listed as questionable.

TE Dustin Keller

The Dolphins have already given up some big games to the TE position, but they shut out Jets TEs in the previous meeting. Keller has just 119 yards in the six games since his 94-yard opener and is quickly fading from the fantasy radar.

DT Jets S3 Ryan's unit doesn't even have a defensive touchdown yet this season, plus they've generated just eight sacks and 14 turnovers so it's tough to reward them with any fantasy love. That said, it's a home game against a backup quarterback, so maybe there's a chance.

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