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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 9
John Tuvey
Updated: November 6, 2009
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Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Early
Sunday Late
Sunday Night
Bye Week
BUF, CLE,
Monday Night
MIN, NYJ,
OAK, STL
         
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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)
 
 
Baltimore (4-3) at Cincinnati (5-2) Back to top
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

The Bengals held Flacco to 185 and 1 in the earlier meeting, but a couple trends point towards a better outing here. Cincy has allowed at least 243 passing yards to every visiting quarterback, while Flacco has multiple TD tosses in each of his three road games. The Bengals have allowed multiple TD tosses just once this year, so a second scoring strike might be asking a bit much of Flacco, but a solid yardage outing is in the offing.

RB Ray Rice
S2

Rice amassed 143 yards from scrimmage in the previous meeting, equally split between rushing (69 yards) and receiving (74 and a touchdown). Expect continued success via the air, as backs like Rice and Steve Slaton (6-102-1) have exploited that weakness in the Bengals' defense; moreover, Rice as a receiver has been a major part of the Ravens' road game plan as he averages seven catches for 70 yards away from Baltimore. He's still getting the carries as well—an average of 14 per game, including 23 last week alone—so he's definitely in line for quality yardage. Rice has scored in three straight and four of five, so a touchdown opportunity looms as well.

RB Willis McGahee
B

McGahee's touches have declined to the point that he's no longer a fantasy option.

WR Derrick Mason

S3

The Bengals shut out Mason completely in the previous meeting, but that smells like an aberration. Here's why; aside from the Mason debacle, Cincy has allowed 8-148, 8-135, and 8-101-1 to opposing No. 1 receivers. Mason himself sandwiched the shutout with 5-118-1, 7-88-1, 7-97-1, and 4-40-1. He also had decent success against them the previous two seasons with 21 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown in four games. With no other consistent option in the Baltimore passing game, Mason is the safest fantasy play despite that Week 5 goose egg.

WR Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington

B

Even when Mason was shut out in the earlier meeting, neither Clayton (3-36) nor Washington (1-21) could capitalize. And of late the Bengals have been giving up big games to No. 1s but little else: Mike Wallace posted 102 in Week 3, but he's the only secondary receiver this season to top 48 yards. Clayton hasn't exceeded three catches in a game in the past month, while Washington's 4-58 last week marked a season high. There just doesn't project to be much fantasy help to be found this deep in the Ravens receiver rotation, especially given the match-up.

TE

Todd Heap

S3 The Bengals have allowed seven TE receptions in each of the past four games; three of those catches have gone for touchdowns. While Heap hasn't scored since Week 2, he remains involved in the Baltimore offense with at least three catches in each of the past five games. He should at minimum help in TE-mandatory PPR leagues.
DT Ravens S3 Baltimore has three D/ST touchdowns in the last four games, including one in the previous matchup with Cincy. Any defense with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis is worth a shot.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Palmer hasn't had much difficulty getting his yardage, with four straight games of at least 230 yards. And he'll find the going a little easier here, as the Ravens have allowed 258 or more passing yards in each of their three road games. Multiple touchdowns don't seem likely—not after Palmer's 271 and 1 against Baltimore earlier this year, not with the Ravens having held four of the last five quarterbacks they've faced to one or zero scoring strikes—but after watching Palmer throw for five last week against Chicago it can't be ruled out completely.

RB Cedric Benson
S2

Benson has scored in four straight home games and comes off a 189-yard gashing of the Bears. He already took the Ravens for 120 and a touchdown in Baltimore, but that might just serve to motivate Ray Lewis & Co. to shut him down. At this point Benson has earned every-week starter status, but this is by no means an easy match-up.

WR Chad Ochocinco

S3

Ochocinco scored his first two home touchdowns last week and has back-to-back 100-yard games, both at home. He had seven catches for 94 yards in the previous meeting with Baltimore, but it was Andre Caldwell who found the end zone. And that's been a trend for the Ravens over the last month: after allowing three No. 1 receivers to score in the first four weeks, the last two WR TDs Baltimore has allowed have gone to secondary targets. Chad should still get his yardage, but a TD is an iffy proposition.

WR Andre Caldwell
Laveranues Coles
Chris Henry
B There may very well be a touchdown to be had for this collection of secondary receivers; after all, Caldwell scored in the previous meeting, Coles has scored in two straight, and Henry found the end zone last week. But the 3-92 Henry had in the earlier match-up with Baltimore is the only time the Ravens allowed more than 48 yards to a second receiver. And it's not as if Coles (who hasn't topped 40 yards on the season), Caldwell (season high of 57) or Henry (who has four one-catch games and a season high of three) are providing enough opportunities to buck that trend. Worse, with all three tertiary targets equally involved there's no way of knowing which will step up in any given week. The upside isn't enough to offset the considerable risk of putting a Bengals' No. 2 in your fantasy lineup.
DT Bengals S3 The Ravens haven't turned the ball over since Week 5, and they haven't allowed a D/ST touchdown yet this season. So it's an uphill battle for the rejuvenated Cincy defense, but any team with six INTs in the last three games is worth a shot.
 
Arizona (4-3) at Chicago (4-3) Back to top
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Warner has churned out steady fantasy contributions all year long, with TDs in every game and a low-water mark of 231 yards. And since six of Warner's seven games have come against defenses that on average allow fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Bears, there's no reason to expect anything less this week.

RB Tim Hightower
S3 Hightower's yardage has not been impressive; only once this year has he topped 40 rushing yards. And it's unlikely his prowess as a receiver comes into play against a defense that's allowed just one RB receiving touchdown this year, along with high-water RB receiving marks of four catches and 38 yards. But Hightower's nose for the stripe has led him into the end zone in four straight games and five of the last six. The Bears have surrendered RB rushing scores in three of the last four, a streak that would have been four straight had Jamal Lewis stretched an extra inch or Derek Anderson not sniped the score. So while there may not be a bunch of carries or catches, it's tough to bet against Hightower scoring once again.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Yes, Wells has come on of late. But he's still in a job share, which last week resulted in just eight carries, and he still hasn't topped 67 yards. Had he once played for the Bears a la Cedric Benson maybe we'd like his chances more; instead, against a defense that has allowed only one back besides the motivated Benson to top 69 yards against them it's tough to get enthused about a job-sharing rookie.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

S2

You're not benching Fitzgerald, ever, but this week you have even more cause than usual for optimism. Anquan Boldin is likely to be limited or even out for this tilt, meaning Fitz should see a larger share of Warner's looks. And then there's a Bears' secondary that has let No. 1 receivers abuse it all season long, from Greg Jennings (6-106-1) in Week 1 through Calvin Johnson (8-133), Roddy White (4-56-1), and Chad Ochocinco (10-118-2).

WR Steve Breaston
S3

Secondary receivers hadn't had much success against the Bears until the Bengals carved them up and both Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry scored in Week 7. That bodes well for Breaston, who has 57 or more yards in every game but one this season and might be looking at a larger share of the pie if Anquan Boldin can't play.

WR Anquan Boldin
B

Anquan aggravated his ankle injury in last week's loss to the Panthers; he missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday before returning Friday on a limited basis. His official designation is questionable, but indications are that he'll attempt to play. If it's anything like his last two games played on a bad wheel (3-75 and 3-23), it'd be best if you hold him out of your lineup—even if the Cardinals don't.

DT Cardinals S3 Only one of Jay Cutler's 11 INTs has come at home, so this isn't a great matchup. But it isn't necessarily one you run from screaming, either.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

Cutler didn't have nearly the success against Ohio's teams most expected, with just 476 yards and a touchdown to show for consecutive dates with the Bengals and Browns. The Cardinals' defense has also been better of late, though facing a banged up Matt Hasselbeck, a hobbled Eli Manning, and a color blind Jake Delhomme might have something to do with that. Still, Cutler is still averaging around 240 yards per game, which is what Arizona is allowing, and his 1.5 TDs are exactly what the Cards are giving up as well. So at least you know what to expect.

RB Matt Forte
B

The Cardinals' formerly top-ranked run defense was exposed by the Panthers last week, but it's unlikely Forte and the Bears will have similar success. His only decent fantasy games have come against the Lions and Browns, two bottom-feeding run defenses; in fact, more than half his rushing yardage and all three of his touchdowns have come in those two games. In five non-cupcakes, Forte is averaging 2.4 yards per carry and 39 rushing yards per game; his 27 receiving yards per game aren't helping much, either. Tough to bench Forte if you spent a high pick on him, but even tougher to expect production that hasn't been there yet and doesn't project to be, either.

WR

Devin Hester

S2 Arizona has shut out wide receivers from divisional foes Seattle and San Francisco; however, No. 1 wideouts have scored in four of five non-divisional games and three of them have topped 100 yards. Hester is clearly the Bears' No. 1 and has at least six catches for at least 80 yards in each of the past three games, positioning him to take advantage of this trend. Don't sweat the injury, either; though Hester didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and was limited on Friday, he's fully expected to start at receiver and also return punts.
WR

Johnny Knox

B Secondary receivers haven't had much success against Arizona; only two have scored in seven games, though four have topped 60 yards. Knox hasn't had as much as 45 yards since Week 2 and hasn't scored since Week 6, so he's hardly a strong candidate to buck the trend.
TE Greg Olsen

S3

It would be a lot easier to be optimistic regarding Olsen's prospects if he weren't splitting looks with Desmond Clark. The Cards opened the season letting tight ends have their way with them, but they haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 3 and they've surrendered a total of 102 yards to tight ends over the past three weeks. The talent pool is thin enough that Olsen is a likely starter in larger TE-mandatory leagues, but his outlook is far from rosy.

DT Bears S3 Da Bears did what they were supposed to do, scoring a defensive touchdown against the Browns. They could certainly do so again against a Cardinals offense fresh off surrendering a pick six to the Panthers.
 

Washington (2-5) at Atlanta (3-4)

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Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

The Falcons enter this game having allowed three straight 300-yard passes, while Campbell threw a season-high 43 passes heading into the bye. So you have to think that Sherm Lewis has been holed up looking for ways to exploit Atlanta via the air; either that or coming up with clever ways to announce "O-69". Cautious optimism abounds, primarily because the Falcons are susceptible to tight ends and Fred Davis stepped right into Chris Cooley's role as the best Redskins receiver.

RB Clinton Portis B Washington's new play caller resulted in a few more touches for Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright while Portis carried just 14 times and was removed completely from the passing game. Atlanta's defense isn't a stone wall against the run, but Portis' limited opportunities suggest he is at best a desperation start.
WR Santana Moss

S3 Sherm Lewis dramatically increased the involvement of the wideouts in Washington's offense, though the individual numbers were still underwhelming. That said, three of the last four WR TDs the Falcons have allowed have gone to speed receivers, and Moss is most definitely that.
WR Antwaan Randle El
Devin Thomas

B No need to reach this deep into the Redskins' receiving corps; Randle El hasn't topped 40 yards since Week 1 and despite Thomas' touchdown last week he still hasn't had catches in back-to-back games yet this year. Only once this year have the Falcons let a second receiver top 50 yards against them.
TE Fred Davis S2

Atlanta's last four opponents have generated 85 yards or more from the tight end position, and in each case the featured tight end has topped 50 yards. That bodes well for Davis, who was targeted 10 times in Week 7 after Cooley went down with an ankle injury and produced eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Just don't ask him to block.

DT Redskins B The Skins haven't generated a turnover since Week 5, making it difficult for them to score fantasy points on the defensive side of the ball.
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Ryan has multiple touchdowns in every home game; the Redskins have yet to give up multiple scoring strikes this season. Something's gotta give, and with the Atlanta receiving game largely limited to White and Gonzo it wouldn't be surprising to see Ryan with subdued numbers here.

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

The Redskins have allowed a wide receiver mark—a WR TD or a 100-yard effort—in every game except one, and with White riding a four-game scoring streak you aren't thinking about sitting him. However, despite the scoring success he's ventured above 60 yards just twice, so don't let your expectations run amok. White missed two days of practice this week and was limited on Friday, and though he is listed as questionable all indications are he will start and play Sunday.

WR

Michael Jenkins

B

Washington hasn't let a wingman top 50 yards against them since the season opener, and Jenkins drops too many balls to be trusted with a fantasy roster spot.

TE

Tony Gonzalez

S3

You're not benching Gonzalez and his seven targets (and five catches) per game, but you have to lower expectations against a Redskins defense that hasn't allowed a tight end to top 30 yards since Week 1.

DT Falcons S2 The Skins have already served up a couple D/ST touchdowns this year, while the Falcons got one last week against the Saints. Mix in a Washington offense that has yet to top 17 points on the season and the Falcons make a solid play this week.
 

Green Bay (4-3) at Tampa Bay (0-7)

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Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Jake Delhomme is the only statistical outlier; every other quarterback to face Tampa Bay—including the likes of Trent Edwards and Jason Campbell—has thrown for multiple touchdowns. Rodgers has multiple scores in five straight, including three TD tosses in each of his last two, so he should have little difficulty lighting up the Bucs this week. He's an S2 only because if he's banged up and the Pack gets up top quickly they may go run-heavy with Ryan Grant and give Matt Flynn some garbage time work as well.

RB

Ryan Grant

S2

The Bucs have allowed six RB TDs in their past three games, and every back who's received at least 20 carries against them has rushed for 98 yards or better. Green Bay has had similar results when giving Grant 20-plus carries—99, 90, and 148 yards—and they should have no problems feeding him again this week, if for no other reason than to give Aaron Rodgers a rest after being chased around by the Vikings' front four last week.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver

S2

Plenty to go around here, as the Bucs have given up touchdowns to multiple wideouts in five of their seven games. Driver and Jennings have yet to score in the same game this year, but Jennings' 31-yard outing in Week 4 is the only time in the past five games either has been under 50 yards. Jennings returned to fantasy owners' good graces with 8-88-1 last week, while Driver has been consistently solid with 55 yards or more in every game since Week 2. No reason to try to differentiate this week; both are solid plays—yes, even Driver, who missed two days of practice with a neck injury but returned to work on Friday and is expected to start and play Sunday.

WR James Jones

U

It's possible the Pack might involve some of its receiving corps depth in the fun this week, but Driver and Jennings will get first crack. Plus, we haven't seen consistent enough production from Jones to warrant a starting recommendation just yet.

TE Donald Lee

S2 Somebody is going to have success here. Over the past four games the Bucs have allowed 208 yards and three TDs to tight ends; that's nice, but it pales in comparison to the 410 yards and four scores Green Bay TEs have produced over that same span. If Jermichael Finley's knee is healthy he's the first choice for success, while Spencer Havner has three scores in the past two games and has been horning in on Lee's action. We'll revisit this on Friday to check Finley's status, but right now pencil Lee in as the beneficiary of the Tampa Bay defense's largesse.
DT Packers S2 You have to like the chances of Charles Woodson and Atari Bigby against a rookie quarterback—who threw 34 picks in three collegiate seasons—making his first NFL start.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman B

The last seven touchdown passes the Packers have given up have come from a quarterback with 279 more games of experience than Freeman; in between Favre beatdowns Green Bay held Drew Stanton, Daunte Culpepper, and Derek Anderson to 204 yards and zero touchdowns. So this is hardly a creampuff match-up that might allow Freeman to get his NFL feet wet. No need to rush him into your fantasy lineup just yet.

RB Carnell Williams


S3

Emphasis on mild optimism here, as the Packers are formidable against the run; no team has allowed fewer RB TDs, though they are giving up almost 125 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing backs. The theory is that with the rookie at quarterback Tampa Bay will lean more heavily on its running game, and that Williams is still the chair of the Bucs' backfield committee. Both of Caddy's touchdowns and two of his three fantasy-friendly outings have come at home, so if there's any fantasy value to be found on the Buccaneers' side of the ball it comes in the form of Cadillac.

RB Derrick Ward
B

Ward saw more carries than Caddy in the Bucs' last game and could be returning to a more significant share of the workload. However, he hasn't done anything significant fantasy-wise since a Week 1 touchdown so best let him prove he deserves a lineup spot before giving him one.

WR Antonio Bryant
Sammie Stroughter

B

Bryant has the Bucs' only two WR TDs this season, but neither came from Freeman. He's clearly the most talented member of Tampa Bay's wide receiver corps, but between the rookie quarterback and a Packers secondary that's held three of its last five foes without WR TDs, it's tough to see him finding any success. Same goes fro Stroughter, who has at least been thrown at by Freeman this year.

TE Kellen Winslow
S3

Another lukewarm endorsement. Young quarterbacks tend to lean on tight ends, and Winslow was the target on half of Freeman's four tosses in his NFL debut. Plus, K2 will likely let the rookie know how open he is on a regular basis, and Winslow can be pretty persuasive—not to mention loud. Factor in a Green Bay defense that allowed two TE TDs last week and has given up five in the past five games and Winslow offers at least a glimmer of hope in larger TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Buccaneers B The only offense the Bucs have held under 24 points is the Redskins, and they barely count.
 

Miami (3-4) at New England (5-2)

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Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

It's going to take volume for Henne to put up helpful passing numbers against New England. It's not out of the question—Henne threw 36 times against the Saints, Chad Pennington threw 41 times for 341 yards while playing catch-up in last year's second meeting with the Pats—but it's certainly not the game plan of choice for Miami. Given his more typical 20-something attempts, Henne's production won't warrent fantasy attention.

RB

Ronnie Brown

S3

it was in the first Miami-New England game last year where the Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat; four Brown touchdowns later, the NFL had a hot new wrinkle. The Patriots figured out how to cage the 'Cat in the rematch, limiting Brown to 37 yards on 10 carries, so don't expect Brown to go off again. However, New England has allowed two 100-yard rushers in the last four games and is giving up an average of more than 100 RB rushing yards per game. Don't expect a touchdown—the Pats have allowed only one RB rushing TD all year—but Brown could carve out some serviceable yardage.

RB

Ricky Williams

B

Ricky is receiving fewer touches than Ronnie, and the reduced opportunity makes him a more difficult fantasy start—especially when the match-up isn't exactly fantasy-friendly. You could find mild optimism in the fact that Williams scored a receiving touchdown in last year's rematch, that he's been the more prolific pass catcher between Miami's two backs, and that the Patriots have given up two RB receiving scores already this season. But it's a reach advisable only under the most dire of straits.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Davonne Bess
Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline

B Miami's most productive fantasy receiver has been relegated to kick return duty because of too many drops. The remaining trio has combined for one touchdown catch this season. And this matchup pits them against a defense that ranks in the bottom 10 in the league in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. There's no reason to go slumming here.
TE Anthony Fasano

B

The Pats haven't allowed an opposing TE to top 50 yards against them, and no tight end has scored against New England since Dustin Keller in Week 2. Fasano is sharing looks with Joey Haynos, who scored last week, and can't be trusted with the start here.

DT Dolphins B Miami had two kick return TDs and a defensive score last week; while the Patriots have already allowed a couple of defensive touchdowns this year, it's tough to expect lightning to strike twice.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady rolls into this matchup with 903 yards and 11 touchdowns over his last three games. The Dolphins have held four of the last five quarterbacks they've faced (including Drew Brees) to zero or one touchdown, so this isn't a layup. But the last time Brady saw rookie corners he toasted Tennessee for 380 and six. At least Miami's rookie corners were higher draft picks, so maybe dial that number down a little bit.

RB Laurence Maroney

S3

The expectation is that Sammy Morris will remain sidelined for this one, though good luck getting straight injury information from the Patriots. Maroney has received roughly 60 percent of the carries in Morris' absence and scored twice while amassing 166 yards. Miami has allowed helpful fantasy numbers to the lead back in each of the past three committees it has faced (102 yards to Thomas Jones, 80 to Mike Bell, two touchdowns to Jones again), and Maroney would certainly be at the front of the line for that productivity.

RB

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Kevin Faulk

B

Faulk hasn't topped three catches since Week 1, while BJGE has been all over the map with the seven carries a game he's received the past fortnight: 67 yards against the Titans, just six against the Bucs in London. With Maroney atop the Patriots' RBBC, Green-Ellis only has fantasy value as a handcuff—especially against a Miami defense that hasn't allowed a second back to top 45 yards against them this year.

WR Randy Moss
S2 Moss has been less consistent than Welker thus far, though he has just as many touchdowns and three 100-yard games (to Welker's two). Best of all, he's marked with either a TD or 100-yard game (or both) in five straight at home dating back to last year. There should be plenty of yardage for both, as the Dolphins have allowed two 60-yard receivers in each of their past five games. But no team—not even the Colts or Saints—has managed two WR TDs in the same game, so Moss may need to stand on his yardage alone here.
WR Wes Welker
S2 Welker has double-digit targets in every game this season, 10 catches in each of his last two games, and a three-game scoring streak. Tough to see a rookie corner stopping him.
WR Sam Aiken
B Aiken has enjoyed a mini-run while the Patriots have outscored their past two opponents by a combined 94-7. This one projects to be a little closer, with the coverage a little tighter and Moss and Welker taking care of the vast majority of New England's wide receiver work.
TE Ben Watson S3 The Dolphins have allowed three TE TDs and five tight ends to top 60 yards against them thus far this year. Watson has five touchdowns already this year, including two in the last three games. Might as well let him in on the fun as well.
DT Patriots S3 While Miami isn't the kind of team prone to taking the chances that lead to defensive touchdowns, a match-up with an inexperienced quarterback like Henne provides Bill Belichick with myriad possibilities.

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