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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
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NE, PIT,
 
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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)
 
 

Jacksonville (3-3) at Tennessee (0-6)

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Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Garrard is still looking for his first road touchdown of the year; he should find it against a Titans secondary that's been lousy regardless of venue. Set the range somewhere between the 175 and zero Garrard is averaging away from Jacksonville and the 333 and three the Titans are allowing in Tennessee—trending closer to the 323 and three Garrard posted on the Titans back in Week 4.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew
S2

The last we saw the vaunted Titans run D they were getting snowed under by Laurence Maroney. They've been formidable at home—59 and 58 yards allowed at 2.4 yards a pop—but the track record has been for Jones-Drew to have one dog (say, 14 yards on six carries like in the earlier meeting) and one big game. So by rule this has to be a biggie. Hey, the 13-3 Titans are 0-6, so who's to say their running defense can't be had at home? You're not benching MoJo, not after he scored in the earlier meeting despite the subdued numbers; just keep those expectations in check.

WR

Mike Sims-Walker

S1 Through six games the Titans have already allowed six 100-yard receivers and two 90-yard receivers. Every No. 1 Tennessee has faced has scored, and four of the six have reached triple digits. Sims-Walker is one of the slackers, having posted just 91 and two in the earlier meeting. No reason to expect anything less.
WR

Torry Holt

S2 See above, with this added bonus: wingmen have posted 97 and two (Austin Collie) and 150 and two (Wes Welker) against Tennessee the past two games, while Holt has 95 and 101 yards his past two outings.
TE

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis had 76 yards and a score in the earlier meeting, but he's still a homer (8-142-2 in Jacksonville, 7-54 in three games on the road). Worse, the Titans haven't given up a TE TD since Lewis scored on them in Week 4. Lower your expectations because of Marcedes' travel issues, but keep in mind that Tennessee's defense has been brutal all over so if you're in a pinch for a bye week plug in at tight end Lewis warrants consideration.
DT Jaguars B

Tennessee has turned the ball over 18 times in six games, so there's always a chance they could bring one back the other way.

Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young B

Jeff Fisher didn't sound particularly excited about making the switch to Vince Young, per the strong urging of the Titans' owner. Fantasy players are of a similar mindset, as neither Tennessee quarterback warrants a fantasy play despite a Jacksonville defense that has given up 842 yards and eight touchdowns in three road games. About the only upside to Young is that he might swipe a goal line touchdown with his feet.

RB Chris Johnson S2

Jacksonville hasn't allowed a running back touchdown since Week 2, though keeping Steve Slaton, Julius Jones, and Steven Jackson out of the end zone hasn't been all that difficult this year. Johnson's 83 yards in Week 4 is the most rushing yards allowed by the Jags thus far, but Johnson is involved in the passing game and will add fantasy value there as well. In fact, Johnson is likely the only Titan worthy of serious fantasy consideration.

RB LenDale White B

His value as a goal line back—assuming he still has that role—is negated by a Jacksonville defense that hasn't allowed a running back touchdown since Week 2. Vince Young's presence under center doesn't help, either. And the fact that he's no longer regularly getting double-digit touches removes any legitimate shot at a helpful amount of yardage. That doesn't leave much, now, does it?

WR Nate Washington
S3 The Jaguars have allowed at least one wide receiver touchdown in every game this year, including one to Washington in the Week 4 meeting. With Young at the helm it's difficult to bank on any Tennessee receivers for fantasy assistance, though VY's last touchdown toss did come against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, that was in the 2008 season opener.
WR Kenny Britt
Justin Gage
B Britt could battle Washington for Tennessee's passing game crumbs, but the rookie has not been consistent and would be a tough fantasy start. Gage has seen his role steadily diminish to the point that he no longer belongs on fantasy rosters.
TE Jared Cook
Alge Crumpler
Bo Scaife
B Tennessee has three tight ends who regularly catch passes, and none of them have scored. The Jags haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 3, anyway, so no need to concern yourself with any of this motley crüe.
DT Titans B Used to be the Titans had a defense to be feared. But the reality is that they've given up 34 and 31 points at home and surrendered 127 points in the last three games.
 

Minnesota (6-1) at Green Bay (4-2)

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Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

What's to prevent Favre from a repeat of the 271 and three he posted on the Packers back in Week 4? Not much, actually. Adrian Peterson could take over and limit Favre's opportunities, but you just know he wants at least one score in Lambeau. Green Bay's pass defense may look improved, but that's only because of dates with Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, and Derek Anderson that have skewed their numbers; quarterbacks with talent (Favre, Carson Palmer, even Jay Cutler) have put up good numbers. It's not as if these teams don't already know everything about each other; when push comes to shove, it's tough to bet against the Gunslinger—even at age 40.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

After letting Peterson reach triple digits in both ends of last season's series, the Pack focused on shutting him down in the earlier meeting. They partially succeeded, holding him to 55 yards and a touchdown and stripping the ball from his hands for a defensive score. In the three games since, AP has rolled up 370 yards of offense and scored three times, becoming a more integral part of the passing game along the way. No reason to expect Green Bay's 3-4 to have any more success containing Peterson than the Steelers did last week when they gave up 129 combo yards.

RB Chester Taylor B

With Peterson's role in the passing game growing, Taylor's only remaining fantasy value is as a handcuff.

WR Sidney Rice

S2

Rice's numbers have climbed steadily, illustrating the fact that he's become Brett Favre's favorite receiver. He scored in the earlier meeting against Green Bay and would be in line for even more looks if Berrian is limited by  his hamstring injury and/or Harvin's shoulder causes problems. Don't be fooled by the Packers shutting out a Lions passing game sans Calvin Johnson and a Browns passing game devoid of any talent whatsoever; you know Favre is going to get his, and you know his go-to guy is Rice.

WR Percy Harvin
S3

The Vikings want the ball in Harvin's hands—witness the 10 targets last week alone—because they know good things happen when he has it. Thus far this year Harvin has been an implement of choice for Favre, and with Berrian limited by a hamstring injury the opportunity would definitely be there. Alas, Harvin has missed the last two days of practice due to illness and is himself listed as questionable. Percy answered the bell the last time something like this happened earlier this year so we'll leave him as an S3, but you'll have to check the inactive list on Sunday to see if the rookie will be available to help Favre live out his revenge fantasy against Tommy Thompson.

WR Bernard Berrian

B

Berrian aggravated a hamstring injury last week, didn't practice on Wednesday, and was limited on Thursday and Friday. He's a tough fantasy start given the injury and the fact that Rice and Harvin seem to outrank him in the pecking order.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shank scored in the earlier matchup, but generally speaking the Packers haven't given up much to the position this season. Shiancoe could see increased looks as the Vikings cover for the possible absences of Berrian and/or Harvin, and given his four touchdowns in the past five games he's a tough bench in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Vikings S2

The Vikings recorded eight sacks the last time these teams met, highlighting the struggles of a Green Bay offensive line that is on pace to surrender 67 sacks this year. Minnesota's defense and special teams have put points on the board in four of seven games, and between Jared Allen and Harvin they're a decent bet to make it five of eight.

Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers threw for 384 and two in the earlier meeting, kicking his season into high gear; he comes into this game with four consecutive multiple touchdown games and five straight with at least 246 yards. That Rodgers' 384 came with a healthy Antoine Winfield in the Minnesota secondary should cause concern for Vikings fans and elation for Rodgers' fantasy owners. The Vikings somehow covered for their secondary shortcomings against the Steelers, and they'll have to bring a ferocious pass rush if they're to do the same here. Actually, with eight sacks last time they did bring a ferocious pass rush and still gave up 384 and two. Short of knocking Rodgers out of the game, it's tough to see a way for Minnesota to keep him under 400.

RB

Ryan Grant

S2

Grant has blown up back-to-back bad defenses, and earlier this season he amassed 101 yards from scrimmage against Minnesota on just 15 touches. Green Bay didn't abandon the run last year, and it's likely they'll use Grant on plenty of screens and draws in order to keep the Vikings' pass rush honest. Minnesota has allowed only two RB TDs all year so a score might not be in the cards for Grant, but he should muster decent yardage.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

S2

The Vikings will dearly miss Antoine Winfield in this one. Not that Driver and Jennings did tremendous damage in the last meeting, but the trickle-down effect that's allowed tertiary receivers like Jordy Nelson and Mike Wallace to score—and makes James Jones an intriguing upside play this week—takes its toll on a defense. Without one (Nelson) and possibly two (tight end Jermichael FInley) of the primary damage inflictors from the earlier meeting, Driver and Jennings will command a larger share of the pie. And if that pie is as big as last time, it will be a fantasy feast for Green Bay's passing game.

WR James Jones

U

As noted above, Nelson scored in the earlier meeting while Jones contributed one catch for 34 yards. Third/slot receivers have put up 43, 48, and 72 yards against Minnesota the last three weeks, and with reserve corners pressed into duty to cover for the loss of Antoine Winfield these match-ups definitely favor the offense.

TE Donald Lee
S2 If Jermichael Finley can't go—and he's listed as doubtful heading into this match-up—Lee might be the sneaky bye-week plug in of the week. No team has allowed more yardage to tight ends and only two have given up more TE TDs than the Vikings. Lee may not be capable of the 6-128-1 Finley had in the earlier meeting, but with Packer tight ends averaging six catches and 70 yards per game there is definitely an opportunity for more than the typical plug-in fantasy points.
DT Packers S3 Green Bay hasn't allowed a touchdown since the Week 4 loss to Minnesota, but that has more to do with the caliber of opponents. Still, they stripped Adrian Peterson in the earlier meeting and have two defensive scores this season—plus they're facing a Vikings offense that gave up two return touchdowns last week, not to mention an old friend they'd dearly love to pick six.
 

Carolina (2-4) at Arizona (4-2)

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Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B You'd think Delhomme might be usable against an Arizona defense that's already given up two 300-yard games and three multi-touchdown outings. But note that the Cardinals picked off Eli Manning three times last week and you start to get that twitch when thinking about how many passes Jake might complete to guys wearing red. Best to stay away altogether.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Arizona's run defense is better than expected, but they're not all that and a bag of chips. Consider that Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 108 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries last week and you'll see the mistake was in not running the ball more. It's an easy mistake to make against a pass-happy Cardinals team, but you have to think the Panthers will look at Delhomme on one hand and a dominant ground game on the other and make the right decision. The key number is 25; Carolina has given its backs 25 carries in five of six games, and the result has been a touchdown in each one of those games and triple-digit yardage in three of the five. With Williams still being the lead dog and 25 carries not too much to ask, he's a solid bet for a score (as a visiting back has done in each of Arizona's three home games). The yardage might not be gaudy—Joseph Addai's 63 is the high-water mark for a visiting back against the Cards—but it should be serviceable.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

B Stewart's junior share of the workload has been enough for fantasy help against softer opponents. The Cards aren't soft, and as such Stewart offers little more than the faint hope of another goal line score like Houston's Chris Brown stole earlier this year.
WR Steve Smith S3

The Cards had issues earlier in the season, surrendering consecutive 100-yard games to Mike Sims-Walker, Reggie Wayne, and Andre Johnson; all three scored as well. However, Arizona shut down T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson, then limited the Giants' trio of talented receivers to just a fluky Hakeem Nicks touchdown. Smith still warrants a play, but he seems destined to match the 69-yard, no-score outing his similarly named New York counterpart posted last week.

WR Muhsin Muhammad
B

If we haven't reached the point where we've stopped caring about any element of the Panthers passing game not named "Steve Smith"... well, then, we're pretty doggone close. Muhammad is out this week anyway due to a knee injury.

TE Dante Rosario
Jeff King
B

Three Carolina tight ends caught at least three passes each last week, led by Gary Barnidge's 3-77. That's too many cooks for a soup that's surrendered just two TE TDs this year—and none since Arizona's Week 4 bye.

DT Panthers B The Panthers aren't producing enough pressure to warrant their use as a fantasy defense, especially against an offense that could hang a 50-burger on them without blinking an eye.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Carolina's secondary hasn't exactly been taxed over the past three games in holding the likes of Jason Campbell, Josh Johnson, and Ryan Fitzpatrick in check. Prior to that Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan both posted multiple-touchdown games and both Ryan and Tony Romo topped 220 yards. Warner, obviously, is capable of both regardless of opponent; he's already turned the trick thrice this season. Offset any concerns about Arizona's newfound ground game with the fact that Warner has averaged 307 yards per home game this year.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
Tim Hightower
S3 The Panthers have allowed an RB TD in every game this season, including three via receptions. That brings both Wells, who has 26 carries the past two games and scored his first NFL touchdown last Monday night, and Hightower into the mix. The Cardinals still don't seem completely comfortable using Wells in certain situations, so Hightower will see his share of touches; that share, however, is definitely declining. Neither makes a particularly great play, but between Hightower's work as a receiver and Wells' emergence as the Cards' primary ball-carrier both warrant fantasy attention this week.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

S2

The Panthers have allowed just two WR TDs on the year, but that's a little misleading. They haven't seen an elite wideout since Roddy White in Week 2, and he scored. This week they'll see at least one in Fitz, and he's likely to score as well. He's posted 79, 76, and 71 yards in three home dates, but he's also scored in two of the three. So while big yardage seems unlikely, a score seems probable.

WR Anquan Boldin
S3

Boldin reportedly didn't suffer any setbacks with his high ankle sprain in the Monday night win over the Giants; that said, by the end of the game he was barely able to move. He was limited all week in practice and is listed as questionable, but he is still expected to play. And you have to think that clearance suggests that, at least at the beginning of the game, he'll be operating on two reasonably good wheels. With Carolina not serving up much in the way of passing game production, lower your expectations here.

WR Steve Breaston
S3

The high-water mark for a second receiver against Carolina thus far is 44 yards. Breaston has eclipsed that number in four of his five games and while he was limited all week in practice because of his nagging knee injury he's expected to play here. Against a pretty good Carolina secondary there might be less than usual to go around, but Breaston should still manage to put up helpful fantasy numbers.

DT Cardinals S3 Any defense facing Jake Delhomme has a chance for a pick six.
 

Atlanta (4-2) at New Orleans (6-0)

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Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Ryan has multiple touchdown tosses in all but one game; the Saints have surrendered more than one passing touchdown only once this year. Ryan's yardage has been consistently in the vicinity of 200, a neighborhood the Saints have let just three opposing quarterbacks visit. This certainly doesn't feel like a gaudy game for Ryan, but 200 yards with a score as a baseline and the potential for more required to keep pace with the Saints suggests that Ryan is at least worthy of consideration this week.

RB Michael Turner
S2

Turner scored in both ends of last season's series despite subdued yardage, and that's become a theme for him this season. Same for the Saints; only two backs have topped 52 yards against New Orleans, and none have exceeded 80. They have, however, given up RB TDs in three straight games as well as in all three at home. Turner totes a five-game scoring string into this contest and another 60 and 1 sounds about right.

WR Roddy White S2

Much like his running back counterpart, White has for the most part compiled sub-par yardage while still managing to find the end zone. He's scored in three straight and four of five, though he's only reached triple-digit yardage once. The Saints have been prone to giving up decent yardage to No. 1s but not much else; that's okay, as White's 53 targets constitute exactly half of Atlanta's wideout looks.

WR

Michael Jenkins

B

There's rarely enough to go around after Turner and White and Gonzo take their bites, and there will be even less this week.

TE

Tony Gonzalez

S3

The Saints have yet to allow a TE TD this year, though Brent Celek did post nice yardage against them. You can't bench the future Hall of Famer, but given the match-up you definitely need to set your sights a little lower.

DT Falcons B The Saints have topped 40 points four times in six games. You don't want a piece of this.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees has multiple touchdowns in five straight against the Falcons, with 300-plus yards in three of those games. He also has multi-TD outings in four straight and nine of the last 10 against NFC South foes, including four 300-yard efforts in that span. You're not going to bench him, and with the Falcons having allowed back-to-back 300-yard, multi-touchdown games you can actually feel downright giddy about the match-up.

RB Pierre Thomas
Mike Bell
S3

Atlanta certainly hasn't been run all over; in fact, they've held some pretty good ground games in check including the Dolphins (87 yards) and Cowboys (84 yards). That said, Miami mustered a running back receiving score, Fred Taylor topped 100 yards and scored, Glen Coffee found the end zone, and DeAngelo Williams tallied a TD while combining with Jonathan Stewart for 144 rushing yards. So there is yardage to be had; where will it go in this mess? Over the course of last season's series Bush scored on a reception, Deuce McAllister (in Bell's role?) scored, and Thomas had a 102-yard game with touchdowns rushing and receiving. Let's remove Bush from this week's mix since his touches are the most inconsistent of the group; that leaves Thomas, who has been the most productive when given the touches, and Bell, who saw the most work last week. Both could easily see 15 carries and score, so both are deserving of a fantasy start this week.

RB Reggie Bush
U

Certainly Bush is usable; any member of an offense that's regularly scoring 40 points deserves consideration. But Reggie has been limited to single digit touches in three straight games. He's scored in two of them, but can that streak continue?

WR Marques Colston
S2

Until last week the Falcons had allowed just one WR TD on the year; then the Cowboys took them for three and exposed some issues with their deep coverage. The long ball is more in the milieu of the Saints' other receivers; Colston is more inclined to imitate Steve Smith's 8-131 or Randy Moss's 10-116, or even the 7-140 he himself put on the Falcons in the front end of last season's series. Ultimately, you're not benching Colston regardless of opponent, so even if a TD doesn't appear to be in the offing you should still get helpful yardage numbers.

WR

Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem

S3

The four WR TDs the Falcons have allowed this year have all gone to wideouts who can fly; in the New Orelans offense, those types of opportunities would tend to fall to Meachem or Henderson. Any play in the Saints' passing game has fantasy merit, but this week the trends suggest Meachem and Henderson have a better chance to pad your stat sheet.

WR

Lance Moore

U

To reiterate: any play in the Saints' passing game has fantasy merit. However, trends suggest that this week deep threats like Henderson and Meachem might be the more prudent fantasy plays.

TE Jeremy Shockey S3 Atlanta has given up three TE TDs and three 50-yard games to tight ends already this season. If there's enough to go around—and with the Saints, there usually is—Shockey is in line for his share of the pie as well. He was limited on Thursday because of a shoulder injury but practiced fully on Friday and should be good to go Monday night.
DT Saints S2 The Saints have five defensive scores already this season—four in the past three games alone. There's no trend on the Atlanta side that suggests they'll serve one up, but then again there was little indication the Eagles, Jets, or Dolphins would serve one up, either.

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