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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 10
John Tuvey
Updated: November 13, 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)
 
 

Seattle (3-5) at Arizona (5-3)

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Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 Since that disappointing 112 and 0 at home against the Cardinals in Week 6, Hasselbeck has bought back a little fantasy faith with 249 and 2 in Dallas and 329 and 1 against the Lions. Not enough for us to think he'll match the 369 or better Cutler, Schaub, and Peyton Manning have all dropped on the Cards, but a solid yardage outing with the potential for multiple scores certainly exists.
RB Julius Jones
Justin Forsett
B

Don't led numbers skewed by competent ground games (specifically the Panthers) lead you to believe Seattle has a shot at running the ball in Arizona. Julius Jones has 92 yards total in three road games, with neither of his rushing touchdowns coming on the road. So don't look at Arizona allowing RB rushing scores in three of four at home and think Jones warrants attention. If there's any sort of fantasy play to be had here it's Forsett in a PPR league; not only does Forsett have two of the top three receiving games by Seattle backs—including last week's 5-45—but the Cards have allowed two RB receiving TDs at home as well as solid yardage games to both Steve Slaton and Matt Forte.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson

S3

Burleson has led Seattle wideouts in catches each of the past four games, so on sheer volume of opportunity he's a narrow favorite over Housh for fantasy production. But the Cards have let other tandems have success against them—the Colts, sure, but also the Giants, Bears, and Jaguars have all had a second wideout score or top 65 yards agaisnt Arizona. So plug Housh into the mix as well; he's being targeted only one less time per game than Burly and has just as many touchdowns.

TE John Carlson
S3 Carlson was targeted nine times last week and matched a season high with six catches; facing an Arizona defense that just let Greg Olsen score three times on them last week, he's at least worth a look in TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Seahawks B Both of Seattle's defensive scores have come at home, and they've generated just two turnovers in three road games. You can find a better fantasy defensive option elsewhere.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Not that you need a push to start Warner, who has multiple touchdowns in four of his last five (including his last two home games) and has at least 231 yards in every game this year (and at least 242 in every home game). But the Seahawks have allowed at least 203 passing yards in three straight and five of six, with multiple touchdown tosses in five of six as well.

RB Tim Hightower
S2 The home fans have yet to see Arizona's new two-pronged ground game; neither back has seen more than nine carries at home. However, the last time the Cards faced Seattle they gave the Seahawks both barrells—13 carries for Hightower and 12 for Wells. Neither was particularly effective (they combined for 61 yards), but a seed was planted. Both backs scored the following week against the Giants, and last week both Hightower and Wells topped 70 yards as they split 28 carries. Hightower remains the better fantasy play because of his involvement in the passing game (five games with four or more catches) and the Cards' comfort with him at the goal line; at home against a Seattle defense that's allowed a touchdown or at least 66 yards to seven of the eight feature backs they've faced, that makes him a solid fantasy play this week.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
S3 Wells has a ton of talent, but the Cards don't trust him in pass protect yet which limits his playing time. That said, they've found a way to get him double-digit carries in three of the last four games. Arizona carved out 25 carries for this duo in the last meeting up in Seattle, and they're likely to up that amount here. With Wells averaging better than 60 yards per game over the past three, he's in line for some fantasy usage as well.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

S1

Fitz already has seven touchdowns on the year and is the epitome of an every-week fantasy starter. Doesn't hurt that he has three straight 100-yard efforts against the Seahawks.

WR Anquan Boldin
S2

Boldin took last week off and should come back healthy for this one—not to mention angry. While he's clearly No. 2, Seattle has allowed a second wideout to go for at least 57 yards in every game this year. In other words, this is a target-rich environment.

WR Steve Breaston
S3

Breaston has manned the fort admirably while Boldin has been banged up, but when both Fitz and Boldin are healthy there's little doubt who falls to Option #3. On the bright side, Seattle has given up at least 54 yards to three different receivers three times already this season. Moreover, Breaston has at least 57 yards in five games in which Boldin was also playing, so he's turned the third wheel role into fantasy gold before.

TE Ben Patrick
S3

Patrick had one catch for 10 yards in the first meeting; in the three weeks since then, Seattle has given up 20 catches for 165 yards to tight ends—in just two games, no less—while Patrick has scored in back-to-back games. The Cards also received another TE TD from Anthony Becht last week, suggesting that Warner has rediscovered the position. At minimum Patrick deserves fantasy consideration in larger TE-mandatory leagues, though before starting him check on his status; he was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable with a knee injury.

DT Cardinals B While a Seattle dog is certainly a possibility, there's nothing compelling to suggest Arizona's defense is in line for a score or much in the way of turnovers, either.
 

Dallas (6-2) at Green Bay (4-4)

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Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo has at least 255 passing yards in six straight and multiple TD tosses in three of his last four. Sounds like he's ready to build on the 260 and 1 he dropped the Packers in Green Bay last year. He'll get plenty of help from a Packers secondary that's allowed seven TD passes the past two games alone and multiple scores in five straight against legit passing offenses (excludes the Lions and Browns).

RB Marion Barber
S3

There will be a strong temptation to plug MB3 in here and expect a repeat of last year's 142 and one against the Pack. But that came thanks to 28 carries; in fact, anything of fantasy note against Green Bay thus far this year has required at least 25 rushing attempts. Barber hasn't seen more than 15 since Week 2 and hasn't topped 18 all year. With three backs in the mix, you'll have to expect dramatically reduced numbers. Barber remains the best play of the Cowboy backs, but he's anything but a sure thing.

RB Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
B

Jones tacked on 76 yards and a score to Barber's big day at Lambeau last year, but he hasn't seen more than eight carries in a game this year; sure he's explosive, but you're taking a big risk that he turns one of those limited touches into a home run. Choice has five touches the past two games, though one came as the Cowboys' Wildcat quarterback and resulted in a touchdown. Again, limited opportunity strongly suggests you get your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

WR Miles Austin
S2

You can trace Austin's success back to his first NFL touchdown, a 52-yarder in Green Bay Week 3 of last year. More recently, he's scored in four straight and has five touchdowns of at least 42 yards already this season. If you're wondering how long this gravy train can run, the answer is at least one more week.

WR Roy Williams

S3

Three times already this season the Packers have given up touchdowns to multiple wide receivers in the same game; three times already the Cowboys have spread the wealth beyond Austin. Williams and Patrick Crayton have both scored twice in games Austin has already tallied, but Roy is still the starter and still more frequently targeted than Crayton or Sam Hurd or even Jason Garrett's new toy, Ogie Oglethorpe, so he gets the nod here.

TE Jason Witten S2

The Pack has allowed three TE TDs in the past two games; remove the Cleveland and Detroit aberrations and you can make it six in the past four. Despite not living up to preseason expectations Witten is still heavily targeted; better still, he has a legitimate shot at his first touchdown since Week 2.

DT Cowboys S2 With the way Dallas gets after the passer, and the way the Green Bay offensive line fails to protect Aaron Rodgers, a strip-sack-score or pick-six are definitely possibilities here.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

Despite the turnstile offensive line, Rodgers has hung in the pocket long enough to post six straight multiple touchdown games and seven consecutive outings with at least 246 yards. That meshes quite well with a Dallas defense that has surrendered multiple TD tosses in four of five and 220 or more yards in seven of eight.

RB

Ryan Grant

B

Grant has flirted with fantasy consistency, but ultimately he's come up empty; he has yet to score in consecutive weeks, has ceded three scores to fullback John Kuhn, and his only helpful yardage outings have come against defense that rank third through sixth in fantasy friendliness to running backs. Dallas ranks half a league lower on the fantasy-friendliness charts, has allowed just one RB rushing score since Week 1, and hasn't given up more than 68 yards to a back in seven straight games. You shouldn't have to look too hard to find a more trustworthy fantasy starter this week than what Grant offers.

WR Greg Jennings

S2

The Dallas secondary was roasted, toasted, and left for dead by the Giants in Week 2; since then, however, they've bounced back nicely. In the last six games only four wideouts have topped 50 yards and only five have scored. Worse, the Falcons are the only team to get two wideouts into the end zone in the same game against the Cowboys. Because Dallas doesn't seem ready to surrender multiple scores to Green Bay wideouts, and because Driver and Jennings have yet to score in the same game this year, there's a need to pick a horse to back. Both of Jennings' scores have come at home and he's been the most targeted Packer in five straight (and three of four at Lambeau), so he gets the nod.

WR Donald Driver

S3

That the pick is Jennings over Driver doesn't mean Donald isn't a good play, but as indicated above the Cowboys secondary isn't particularly forgiving. Thus, you'll want to dial back your expectations a bit for Driver this week.

WR James Jones

U

Jones has scored in three of the last four games; neither Driver nor Jennings can claim a similar stretch. And two of the last three WR TDs the Cowboys have allowed have gone to third wheels (Ellis Weems, Deion Branch). So there's upside here, though there's more than a little risk involved as well.

TE Donald Lee
Spencer Havner

B While Jermichael Finley has already been ruled out, that still leaves Lee and Havner battling for playing time, it's tough to find a fantasy play you can trust. What's more, it may not even be worth it; though the Cowboys gave up a TE TD to Brent Celek last week it was the first they'd surrendered to the position in five games. Also, only one tight end has topped 41 yards against Dallas. With two forks digging into a very small pie, it's unlikely either gets properly fed.
DT Packers B Green Bay isn't generating enough of a pass rush to pressure oppositions into the kinds of throws Charles Woodson and Al Harris used to regularly turn into six points the other way.
 

Philadelphia (5-3) at San Diego (5-3)

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Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb
S3

McNabb has more or less laid three eggs on the road this year: 79 and 2 in the opener at Carolina, 269 and 0 in Oakland, and 156 and 1 in Washington. The Chargers haven't exactly been hospitable to quarterbacks, either, holding three of four under 200 yards and shutting out two completely. McNabb is the most talented quarterback San Diego has hosted, however, so don't bail on him completely. Philly's staunch refusal to run the football means there should be plenty of volume for McNabb to put up decent numbers. Gaudy, however, will have to wait until the Eagles return to Philly.

RB Brian Westbrook
S2

Sigh. Westbrook practiced fully on both Thursday and Friday, but if you're a Westbrook owner you already know the drill: stake out the pregame shows on Sunday for the latest news on Mr. Game Time Decision. Assuming he goes, he would be a good play against a Chargers defense that has given up rushing touchdowns in three of four home games and is allowing an average of 110 rushing yards per home tilt. Of course, that also assumes Andy Reid somehow gets past his aversion to running the football.

RB LeSean McCoy B

Again operating under the assumption that Westbrook plays, McCoy goes back to bench fodder; in games Westy has both started and finished, McCoy has yet to score and has maxed out at 55 yards from scrimmage.

WR DeSean Jackson
Jeremy Maclin
S3 Maclin has been targeted as much or more than Jackson in each of the past three games, but truth be told this isn't a great match-up for either. Only twice have two wideouts topped 50 yards in the same game, and only Hines Ward has more than 87 yards against the Bolts thus far. The good news is, San Diego has allowed a WR TD in three of the last four with the only dissenter being the Raiders—so that doesn't really count anyway. There's equal risk involved in starting either Jackson or Maclin, with minimal reward as the upside.
TE Brent Celek

S2 The Chargers have allowed four TE TDs and three 50 yard efforts over the past five games, which plays right into how the Eagles have been using Celek. He has touchdowns in each of the last two games and at least 50 yards in five of the past seven. Don't be surprised if he's the Eagles' leading receiver again this week.
DT Eagles S3 Philly's blitzing defense and return game always give fantasy owners a chip and a chair when it comes to D/ST scores.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers has at least 209 yards in every game this year and at least 249 in every home game. Hosting a Philly defense that's allowed at least 222 passing yards in five straight and six of seven should do nothing to dampen his numbers, though multiple scores might be tougher to come by. Rivers has zero, one, and one TD toss in his last three home games, while the Eagles have held three of their last four to a single scoring strike. On the bright side, a stout Philly run D and a sagging San Diego ground game should force Rivers to the air; thus, healthy yardage is a given and you can be a tad more optimistic about a second TD.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
S3 The Eagles have given up just two RB TDs in the past six games and no back has topped 87 yards against them this year. Used to be LT would scoff at such a defense before rattling off 110 and a touch, but those days are in the rear view mirror. Tomlinson hasn't topped 71 yards this season and hasn't scored against a team other than the Raiders. With Darren Sproles taking the bulk of the receiving duties, LT will have to conjure up a touchdown to salvage his fantasy value this week, as his yardage just ain't cuttin' it.
RB Darren Sproles
B Sproles' five catches last week were his most since Week 2; since catching a dozen passes the first fortnight he has 13 grabs over the past six games. That's hardly enough to help in even the largest of PPR leagues, and when you consider he's bringing nothing to the table in the ground game and Philly has allowed only one RB receiving TD and no back to top 55 receiving yards it's tough to make a case for Sproles as a fantasy commodity this week.
WR Vincent Jackson
S2

The Eagles haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver yet this season, but they have given up five 50-yard games over the past three weeks alone. That actually bodes better for Floyd than for Jackson, but the way Vincent is playing—touchdowns in four straight, four 100-yard games already this year—he's in your lineup regardless of foe or venue.

WR Malcolm Floyd
B The only Chargers wideout other than Jackson to score this season is no longer on the roster. Floyd might be in line for adequate yardage (as noted above, Philly has allowed five 50-yard receivers over the past three weeks), but Jackson is far away the primary target and Antonio Gates gets looks as well before Rivers gets down to the likes of Floyd.
TE Antonio Gates S1

Since Philly's Week 4 bye they've allowed five TE TDs, two 100-yard games, and six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-catch games. Gates has been targeted at least six times in every game this year, with at least five catches in seven of eight, and should be in line for a very nice stat line this week.

DT Chargers S3 San Diego's defense is starting to come together, not coincidentally as Shawne Merriman gets healthy. With the additional pressure up front and multiple playmakers in the secondary, the Chargers are always a threat to take a turnover the opposite direction.
 

New England (6-2) at Indianapolis (8-0)

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Something's gotta give in this battle between Brady and an Indy secondary that's allowed just four touchdown passes all year. Brady has been held without multiple scores in half of his games, so maybe it's his touchdown total. He's also been over 300 yards in half of his games, and Indy's allowed 300-plus to the two best quarterbacks its faced, so even if Brady's TDs are down there should be ample yardage to make up the difference.

RB Laurence Maroney

S3

The Patriots have had some success running the ball against Indy; BenJarvus Green-Ellis turned 15 carries into 57 yards and a touchdown in last season's match-up and Maroney had 15-59 the previous year. LoMo would be in line for the carries this time around and makes a decent play as the Colts have allowed a running back touchdown in every home game this season. However, if Sammy Morris returns to action it could throw a monkey wrench into plans. Morris participated on a limited basis Friday, but he isn't expected to play Sunday. However, good luck getting straight injury info from the Patriots.

RB

Kevin Faulk

U

Those in PPR leagues could consider Faulk, who had 98 combo yards in last year's match-up and scored on 10 touches the previous season. Indy has already allowed a pair of RB receiving scores this season; Faulk finding the end zone would hardly be a stunner.

WR Randy Moss
S2 The Indy secondary isn't perfect; after all, they did allow a touchdown to Anquan Boldin earlier this year. Andre Johnson's 10-103 suggests that Moss should fare just fine against the Colts, but that certainly isn't a shock; the last time he and Brady hooked up in Indy Moss finished with 9-145-1. Indy's patchwork secondary has held up against lesser competition, but now they get the varsity.
WR Wes Welker
S2 Welker's numbers against Indy the past two seasons have been somewhat subdued (7-37, 5-38-1), but it's not as if you're going to bench a guy who's consistently getting 10 looks a game from one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
WR Sam Aiken
B Patriots/Colts games are usually decided by the big boys; no tertiary receiver has scored in this series since Troy Brown in 2005. No need to dig this deep, especially against a defense that's allowed only one WR TD all year.
TE Ben Watson S3 Vernon Davis broke the Colts' maiden in Week 8, scoring the first TE TD against Indy this year. Watson has touchdowns in his last two road games and could be considered here—not for big yardage, but with a reasonable shot at a touchdown.
DT Patriots B Indy's not turning the ball over, and the Pats aren't doing much in the way of defensive scoring. You'll have better success finding your fantasy defense elsewhere.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

The Patriots haven't seen much in the way of great quarterbacking; they held Matt Ryan in check but gave up 330 and two to Joe Flacco and 264 and two to Kyle Orton. As such they may not be ready for the 2009 version of Manning, with seven 300-yard games already under his belt. Manning has just one touchdown toss over the past two games so maybe New England can play bend-don't-break, but it's tough to see Peyton settling for anything less than the 254 and 2 he posted on the Pats last year.

RB Joseph Addai S3 Addai killed the Pats in 2007 with 112 yards on the ground and another 114 through the air; last year those numbers were reduced to 32 and 10. Joe's been kicking in around 60 yards per game, and with Donald Brown expected back it's tough to see that number climbing much higher. Addai does have a touchdown in four of the last five games, including a pair last week, so while the Pats have allowed just four RB TDs this season don't be surprised if he extends that run to five of six.
RB Donald Brown B Brown isn't on the injury report, suggesting that he'll be back from his shoulder injury. Addai has taken over the scoring chores in his absence, and as the junior member of Indy's RBBC he takes a back seat to Addai here as well.
WR Reggie Wayne
S2

Wayne hasn't scored in either of the past two match-ups with New England, posting 5-65 and 5-62—numbers that led Indy wideouts but aren't as gaudy as we've come to expect from Reggie. Wayne has six scores in eight games and hasn't gone back-to-back games without a TD, so expect him to get back in the tally column this week. His yardage might remain in the 65 range, but with three 100-yard games to his credit already this season there's certainly plenty of upside.

WR Austin Collie
S3 If you assume Collie plays the Anthony Gonzalez role from a year ago, then you'll be interested to know that Gonzo scored twice and totalled 55 yards in that meeting with the Pats. Should Collie score he'd be the first secondary receiver to do so against the Pats, so let's lower the expectation bar to 50-60 yards with a possible, but not probable, TD.
WR Pierre Garçon

B Garçon hasn't scored in more than a month, but he does have 50 or more yards in four of his last six and is far from an afterthought. That said, with fewer touchdowns to go around he falls towards the ends of the Colts' queue and warrants little fantasy confidence.
TE Dallas Clark S2

Clark had four catches for 63 yards in last year's meeting, but he's being used in a different fashion this year. The Pats shut down Tony Gonzalez earlier this year, but Clark offers a few more dimensions. He's the most targeted tight end in the NFL, and if the Patriots don't figure out a proper matchup for him Manning won't be afraid to go to him again and again and again—like he did last with with 16 targets when Houston opted to shadow him with just a linebacker.

DT Colts B Sure, Indy's defense looks impressive on paper. But they're still missing key personnel, and they're still entertaining the Patriots. Best to get your defensive fantasy help elsewhere.
 

Baltimore (4-4) at Cleveland (1-7)

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Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S2

Flacco threw for 342 yards and a touchdown against the Browns last season—not surprising, although most foes have opted to do the bulk of their damage on the ground and throw for multiple scores. This matchup certainly offers no reason to bench Flacco, as Cleveland has given up multiple TD tosses in two of three and three of five as well as at least 225 passing yards in six of their last seven.

RB Ray Rice
S1

The Browns have given up a dozen running back scores, including three in the previous meeting with Baltimore. Rice produced a rather subdued 11-48-1 on the ground and 4-27 as a receiver, ceding carries, yardage, and touchdowns to Willis McGahee. Rice isn't sharing nearly as much of the workload now, plus he's a major factor in the passing game. Anything shy of triple-digit combo yardage (like five feature backs before him have done against Cleveland) and at least one touchdown would be a major letdown

RB Willis McGahee
S3

McGahee turned seven carries into 67 yards and two touchdowns in the earlier meeting. And while he's been relegated to afterthought in the Baltimore game plan, take note that half of the secondary backs to face the Browns have amassed at least 50 yards. It's extremely likely McGahee will find some garbage time love and take advantage of the opportunity to exploit the Cleveland run defense once again.

WR Derrick Mason

S2

Mason gouged the Browns for 118 and 1 in the earlier meeting and has found the end zone three times since then—essentially in every game except the two against Cincinnati. No reason to expect the fun to stop here.

WR Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington

B

While the matchup shouldn't dissuade you from using either secondary target, their inconsistency should. Clayton has topped 50 yards and scored just twice each, and never posted back-to-back games of fantasy note. Washington has five games with at least 40 yards, but he hasn't scored since Week 2. Reach for either of these if you're desperate for a wideout, but know that there's plenty of risk to accompany the upside of a date with the Browns.

TE

Todd Heap

B Heap hasn't scored since Week 2 and hasn't topped 51 yards since Week 1. The Browns have surrendered tight end touchdowns in two of their past three games, but Heap is clearly an afterthought in the Baltimore passing game.
DT Ravens S2 Baltimore scored a defensive touchdown in both meetings with Cleveland last year and now gets to welcome Brady Quinn back to the starting lineup. Gotta like their chances.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brady Quinn
B

The Ravens sent Brady Quinn to the bench at halftime of the previous meeting, then picked Derek Anderson three times to ensure he'd hang on to the starting job. Yeah, makes no sense. Neither would plugging Quinn into your fantasy lineup this week.

RB Jamal Lewis


B

Jamal skipped the earlier match-up with his former team, so they'll have plenty of pent-up aggression to work out on him here. Since abusing the bottom-feeding Bills for 117 yards Lewis has averaged 3.2 yards per carry over the past three games. It's unlikely he collects the first rushing touchdown of the season by a Browns running back this week.

RB Jerome Harrison


B

Harrison wasn't half bad in replacing Lewis against Baltimore in Week 3 with 85 yards on 21 touches. However, he hasn't seen more than eight touches in a game since Jamal returned to the lineup, and that's just not enough to warrant consideration against the Ravens.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
B

The Browns still had Braylon Edwards when Quinn was last in the lineup, so we'll have to see how he acclimates to the new crew before banking on any of them for fantasy help. Odds are we won't be banking on any of them anyway.

TE Robert Royal

B

Royal was on the business end of Quinn's lone touchdown toss this season, way back in the season opener. Can lightning strike twice? Unlikely against a Baltimore defense that's among the 10 least-fantasy friendly defenses against tight ends.

DT Browns B Josh Cribbs gives the Browns their best chance at a touchdown. But they didn't get one in the previous matchup with Baltimore, so it's not necessarily a requirement that they score one.

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