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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 8
John Tuvey
Updated: October 30, 2009
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
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Sunday Late
Monday Night
Bye Week
CIN, KC,
 
NE, PIT,
 
TB, WAS
         
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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)
 
 
San Francisco (3-3) at Indianapolis (6-0) Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

After a fun-filled half of 208 yards and three touchdowns last week, Smith 2.0 gets its reboot in Indy against a defense that's allowed fewer passing touchdowns than any other team this year—just two in six games. It's one thing to come off the bench and dissect the Texans; it's quite another to go into Indy and put up any sort of meaningful fantasy stat line.

RB Frank Gore S3

The question here is whether Smith's resurgence forces Mike Singletary to change his spots. Backs who have received at least 20 carries have put up quality numbers against Indy, but thus far that group has been limited to MoJo (21-97-1), Ronnie Brown (24-136-2), and Steven Jackson (23-134). Gore saw just 13 carries in his first game back from an ankle injury, so it's no given he'll get the requisite workload. It'll be tough for Gore to salvage value as a pass-catcher; only two teams have allowed fewer RB receiving yards than the Colts. You have to bank on Singletary following the Dolphins blueprint that calls for a heavy dose of the running game; otherwise, Gore offers little to your fantasy club this week.

RB Glen Coffee B

Now that Gore is back, Glenn can take an extended Coffee break.

WR Michael Crabtree
Isaac Bruce
Josh Morgan
B What do 49er wideouts and the Indy secondary have in common? One touchdown. That's how many San Francisco's WRs have produced (Morgan, in Week 4) as well as how many the Colts have allowed (Anquan Boldin, Week 3). Crabtree was significantly more involved in his first NFL game than anyone expected, but he's still sharing targets with Bruce and Morgan (the breakdown last week was 6, 6, 4)—not to mention Smith's favorite target, tight end Vernon Davis. There's a good chance the Niners will need to throw here so you could take the quantity approach, but that hasn't worked for other Indy opponents; only five opposing WRs have even topped 60 yards.
TE Vernon Davis S3

You're starting Davis because he's the 49ers top target, and because you expect them to fall behind and need to throw. You're starting him because with six teams on the bye the options in a TE-mandatory league are extremely limited. You're probably starting him despite the fact that Indy has given up zero TE TDs this year and a total of 26 catches for 193 yards—roughly a 4-32 for each tight end they've faced. But if you have another option, this is the week to use it.

DT 49ers S3 Starting a defense against Peyton Manning—in Indy, no less—is the fantasy football equivalent of bringing a calculator to a history exam. Neither one makes any sense.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

The 49ers rank 15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, presenting one of the stiffest tests Manning has faced this season; the only tougher one was Seattle, and they held Peyton to 353 yards and two touchdowns. Then again, San Francisco has given up multiple touchdown passes in three of its last four, so maybe it's safe to go ahead and use Peyton.

RB Joseph Addai S2 Yes, the Colts are a pass-first offense but the running backs have accounted for at least 124 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in all but one game this year. The Niners have given up at least 107 combo yards to backs in every game except one, and they've surrendered five RB TDs in their last two games. Addai will get at least two-thirds of the work, so he's in line for decent yardage and a likely score. And with Donald Brown listed as doubtful, Addai will likely take an even bigger share with Chad Simpson and possibly Mike Hart getting only token touches to keep Addai fresh..
RB Donald Brown B Brown did not practice at all this week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game due to the shoulder injury he suffered last week. As this was initially diagnosed as a one-to-three week injury, don't expect him to play here.
WR Reggie Wayne
S2

The Niners have seen wideouts who could be considered in Wayne's class: Larry Fitzgerald (6-71-1), Roddy White (8-210-2), and Andre Johnson (2-62 before leaving with a lung contusion). Given that Wayne has scored in four straight and five of six, you have to like his chances here. After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a groin injury, Wayne was back at work Friday; he's listed as questionable but is expected to play.

WR Pierre Garcon
Austin Collie
S3 Any member of the Indy passing game has fantasy value, but this week you need to be wary of straying too far off the beaten path. With Wayne and Clark both in line for big numbers, opportunities might be limited for Garcon and Collie. Wingmen have topped 50 yards in just three games against the Niners, and the only TD by a non-No. 1 wideout was the Greg Lewis grab in the back of the end zone when Brett Favre pulled another miracle out of his bag of tricks. It's a thin week with six teams on the bye, but there isn't as much help here as you might think.
TE Dallas Clark S1

Clark ranks third in TE receptions (behind two guys who haven't had their byes yet) and second in TE yardage (behind a guy who's played seven games), so it's safe to call him an elite tight end. And it would be safe to assume he'll have his way with a defense that is fresh off allowing a combined 178 and one to Tony Gonazlez and Owen Daniels.

DT Colts S2 Indy hasn't allowed a touchdown since Week 4 and has a defensive score in every game Bob Sanders has played in this year. Okay, that's only one, but you gotta like Indy's chances at home against Alex Smith.
 
Seattle (2-4) at Dallas (4-2) Back to top
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 Last we saw Hasselbeck, he was staring at a home matchup against a shaky Arizona secondary... and dribbling it down his leg. So the fact that Dallas has allowed multiple passing scores in three straight and four of five does little for us. The Cowboys have 14 sacks the last four games—eight in the last two—and face a Seahawks line that's given up five sacks in two of its last three outings. So as iffy as the Dallas pass D is, it will be extremely difficult for Hass to hit any receivers from a supine position.
RB Julius Jones
B

Jones is averaging less than two yards per carry on the road and since his last meaningful fantasy effort (136 combo yards and a TD in Week 3) he has 64 yards on 28 carries and eight yards on six catches. Oh, and he's sharing the workload with the equally ineffective Edgerrin James and Justin Forsett—none of whom have the Seahawks' lone RB TD since Week 3. That would be Owen Schmitt, but you don't want to start him, either.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson

S3

The good news is that despite the increased pressure on the quarterback both wideouts have cobbled together some fantasy value over the past three weeks, with Housh slightly more targeted and productive than Burleson. The bad news is that since the Cowboys started their little sack spree only two wideouts have topped 51 yards and no wingman has exceeded 42. They've still allowed a steady supply of touchdowns—four to wide receivers in the past three games—but it's clear that the pressure Dallas is applying is forcing quarterbacks to work the short game. That slightly favors Housh, but by this juncture both are aware that they need to be looking for the ball right away.

TE John Carlson
B Only one TE has topped 41 yards against the Cowboys, and none have scored since Dante Rosario found the end zone in Week 3. Theory: teams are keeping tight ends in to block against the Dallas pressure. Carlson's two most recent games have also been his least productive, with a total of four catches for 86 yards. Theory: the Seahawks are keeping Carlson in to help out their injury-ravaged offensive line. The confluence of those theories might be enough to drive away even those who have Carlson in a TE-mandatory league.
DT Seahawks S3 The Seahawks miss their 12th man when they travel; they've only generated one turnover in two road games. That's not going to help them produce defensive fantasy points.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Competent quarterbacks have lit up the Seahawks, with Cutler, Peyton, and Warner each taking them for at least 247 yards and two touchdowns. Romo's a lot closer to that group than to the rabble (Bulger, Hill, Garrard) Seattle held under 200 yards and without a touchdown. He also has multiple touchdowns and at least 300 yards in two straight and has dipped below 250 just once this season. He'll look more than just competent this week.

RB Marion Barber
S2

Barber has scored in three of four, but with both Jones and Choice healthy he's likely to fall shy of 20 carries yet again. Doesn't mean he won't produce, just gives him fewer chances to do so. At least the match-up works in his favor, as the Seahawks are giving up 94 more RB rushing yards per game on the road than at home and have served up four RB TDs in two road games.

RB Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
B

When all three backs were healthy previously, Jones received a minority share of carries and Choice saw token touches. Neither project to be enough to carve out fantasy value against a defense that, save for a pair of long Frank Gore runs over backup players, has been rock solid

WR Miles Austin
S2

Seattle has allowed multiple wideouts to score in three of its last four games. At least one per game has gone to the opposing No. 1 wideout, and Austin is currently wearing that crown in Dallas. There's also been decent yardage to go around, and the TDs that haven't gone to No. 1s have gone to speed guys—a role Austin also fills.

WR Patrick Crayton
S3

It's worth noting that Seattle has allowed at least 65 receiving yards to secondary targets in each of the last four games. And, as we noted above, the TDs that didn't go to primary targets went to speed guys like Johnny Knox and Pierre Garcon. That puts Crayton at the front of the line for whatever fantasy value remains for Dallas wideouts after Austin has stuffed his face.

WR Roy Williams
B

Since scoring in Week 1 Williams has nine catches, 144 yards, and more DNPs (one) than TDs (zero). He's not the guy who's replacing what T.O. did in the Dallas offense, so while he may be making T.O. money the biggest similarity between the two is their current fantasy value.

TE Jason Witten S3

Witten's gonna get his five catches; he always does. But a rare touchdown against a defense that's allowed only one TE TD all year seems unlikely. In other words, Witten has become a rich man's Zach Miller, only with a better quarterback.

DT Cowboys S2 The aforementioned pass rush should put the Cowboys in position to generate turnovers, which frequently lead to defensive touchdowns—which, of course, lead to happy fantasy owners.
 

St. Louis (0-7) at Detroit (1-5)

Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger
S3

If Bulger is to break his string of games without multiple touchdown tosses—a streak which now stands at 14 games—this is his chance. Detroit has ceded multiple scores to every quarterback they've faced this year, from Jason Campbell to Drew Brees. It won't get any better for Bulger than this match-up, so start him if you got him.

RB Steven Jackson
S2

You know he'll get the yardage; Jackson has triple-digit combo yards in three straight and five of the last six. And maybe, just maybe, this is where S-Jax gets off the touchdown schneid. After all, the Lions have allowed at least one RB TD in every game this year, so if not now... when?

WR Donnie Avery

S2

The Lions have allowed eight WR TDs this year, as well as three 100-yard games—and this is in addition to everything they're giving up to running backs. With touchdowns in two of his last three games, Avery is about as close to a No. 1 receiver as the Rams have at the moment.

WR

Keenan Burton

U

Five of the eight WR TDs the Lions have allowed this year have gone to secondary targets, so if you're really desperate for a wideout during this six-team bye week...

TE Randy McMichael
B

No team has allowed more TE TDs than the Lions, but McMike is too underused—he hasn't topped four catches or 45 yards yet this season—to be trusted with a fantasy start.

DT Rams B Four of their last five opponents have scored at least 35 points on them. Nothing to see here, folks; move along.
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford
S3

The Rams have allowed multiple touchdowns to only four of seven foes thus far, and thanks to Minnesota going to the bullpen they haven't allowed a 300-yard passer yet this year, either. Stafford doesn't have either of those notations on his NFL resume, but he practiced all week and looks to be in line for the start here so that could very well change. The rookie's official designation is "questionable" and he's a game-time decision; if he doesn't go Daunte Culpepper wouldn't be a bad bye-week plug-in either. And both, obviously, would be better plays if fellow GTD Calvin Johnson can go.

RB Kevin Smith
S2

Smith averaged 75 rushing yards per game against the four toughest defenses vs. running backs—the Vikings, Redskins, Steelers, and Packers. Now he gets the fourth most fantasy-friendly defense against backs. How do you think he'll celebrate?

WR Calvin Johnson B

Johnson practiced on a limited basis both Thursday and Friday, but he certainly didn't appear to be going all out. While officially listed as questionable, Megatron's fate won't be decided until just before kickoff. If he plays, obviously, the Lions think he's not at risk of further damage and he'd be a great fantasy play given the match-up; unfortunately, all signs point towards him sitting out another week so you'd best plan accordingly.

WR Dennis Northcutt S3

Sans Megatron, Northcutt has been the one Detroit wideout with a pulse. That pulse should be racing against a Rams defense that has already surrendered three 100-yard games and eight of 60 yards or better—five in the last three weeks alone.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S3

Pettigrew was held without a catch in Week 6, but the Lions would do well to get their big rookie the ball—especially if Calvin can't go. Only one team has allowed more TE TDs than the Rams (that would be the Lions, by the way), and they've given up TE TDs in three of the last four games. Need a spot start on a heavy bye week? Pettigrew's your guy.

DT Lions S3 The Rams have allowed five defensive touchdowns over the past four games, and as an added bonus St. Louis has scored just 60 points this year. Again, if the bye week has you hamstrung you could do worse than using Jim Schwartz's defense against the Lambs.
 
Oakland (2-5) at San Diego (3-3) Back to top
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

Russell's 208 and one in the opener against San Diego was his second-best outing of the year; his 97 and 0 last week got him benched. Hopefully your fantasy squad took that step long, long ago.

RB Justin Fargas

S3

Bush and Darren McFadden combined for 123 rushing yards against the Chargers back in Week 1, and the Bolts have given up at least 90 yards to every team's running game since then. Fargas has seen the most carries of late, and he's been the most productive; if you're desperate for a bye week fill-in he's better than taking a zero.

RB Michael Bush

B

As noted above, Bush contributed 12-55 and a touchdown in the opener. However, he's been losing touches to Fargas with McFadden nursing an injury, and his primary value is as a touchdown guy—an area of the field the Raiders aren't all that familiar with.

WR

Louis Murphy
Chaz Schilens

B Last week's seven catch, 93-yard outburst by Raider wideouts was clearly skewed by borderline competent quarterbacking from Bruce Gradkowski. Don't let the fact that Murphy scored once and had another TD grab overturned by replay in the opener cloud your vision; your fantasy team wants no part of this passing game.
TE Zack Miller S3

Miller has scored twice against the Chargers and had 96 yards in the season opening loss. In this offense, that's dominance. Miller's roller coaster stat line (six catches, then 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, then—wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!—back down to 2 last week) is on the ascent again so if you're fishing for a bye week plug in you could do worse.

DT Raiders B The once-vaunted Raiders return game has done zip this year, sapping them of what little fantasy value they might have had.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

There are no layups against the Oakland pass defense; Rivers' 252 yards in Week 1 was the second-most the Raiders have surrendered this year, and like five of the other six QBs Oakland has faced he was unable to throw more than one touchdown pass. Don't bench him, but make sure your expectations have not run amok.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
S2 Anyone remember LT's last 100-yard game? Week 8 of last year, against the Saints. Sad, isn't it? The Raiders have allowed four 100-yard rushers over the past five games, so you'd think this would be like printing money for Tomlinson; instead, he's lowered the bar to the point that you're hoping for a touchdown (only the Rams have allowed more RB TDs) and not even expecting a 100-yard game despite the fact that only Buffalo has allowed more rushing yards to running backs. And if LT lays yet another egg in this one, even his most ardent defenders will find it difficult to carry his torch much further.
RB Darren Sproles
S3 Sproles' touches continue to be somewhat limited, but he scored on a reception last week and reached the end zone against Oakland earlier this year so he's doing enough with those limited touches to warrant fantasy consideration—especially considering the soft match-up and with six teams on the bye.
WR Vincent Jackson
S2

There is no question Jackson is good—very good. He's scored in two straight, has three 100-yard outings already this year, and even slipped behind Nnamdi Asomugha for a touchdown in the previous meeting between these clubs. Even more impressive: Jackson has two TDs and a 100-yard game against Oakland; in the 27 divisional games Oakland has played since drafting Asomugha, they've allowed 12 touchdowns and just five 100-yard games to wideouts. It's a tall order asking Jackson to do it again, but if anyone can it's the only AFC West wideout with more than one TD against Oakland during the Asomugha era.

WR Malcolm Floyd
B Only three teams have scored multiple WR TDs on the Raiders over the past two seasons; the Chargers are not one of them. With secondary wideouts behind Jackson, Gates, and the running backs in Rivers' pecking order, it seems silly to reach for Floyd (or Chris Chambers or Legedu Naanee, for that matter) here.
TE Antonio Gates S3

Gates' 5-83 in the season opener is the biggest game the Raiders have allowed to a tight end. He's delivered consistent yardage since then and should remain in performance league lineups, but the Raiders haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 6 of last year so that's a much iffier proposition.

DT Chargers S3 The Raiders have now gone an even dozen games against the Chargers without topping 20 points, though they came close with 20 in the season-opening loss. They haven't come close to such an outburst since and were shut out at home last week.

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