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Start/Bench List - Week 12
John Tuvey
Updated: November 27, 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)
Green Bay (6-4) at Detroit (2-8) Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

The Lions have allowed 300-plus yards to three straight quarterbacks, including 304 and four to Brady Freaking Quinn last week. Rodgers will eat these Kitties alive; the 358 and two he posted in the earlier meeting feels like a starting point. Expect him to have a couple TDs by the time Grandma Dodo's stuffing makes it around the table as Rodgers gets your Turkey Day off to a rousing start.


Ryan Grant


This is exactly the kind of creampuff defense Grant destroys—his 90-yard, zero-TD game against Detroit earlier this year notwithstanding. But seeing as he's coming off a 129 and one against a decent San Fran defense last week, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver


Driver had 107 in the previous meeting, while Jennings was held to 64. However, Jennings' 126 and one last week suggests that he may be reclaiming his No. 1 receiver status. Not that it matters; both are great plays against the sorry Lions secondary.

WR James Jones
Jordy Nelson


Jones scored in the earlier meeting against Detroit, and seeing as the Lions just let Mohammed Massaquoi, Chansi Stuckey, and Joe Cribbs score on them any wideout with a pulse makes a decent fantasy play against Detroit.

TE JerMichael Finley

S2 No team has allowed more TE TDs than the Lions, and after Finley was targeted 10 times in his return to the lineup last week you have to like his chances of a productive fantasy effort here.
DT Packers S3 It's been a while since the Pack scored a defensive touchdown, and they lost a couple regulars to season-ending injuries last week. That said, they'll be facing either a banged-up Matthew Stafford or backup Daunte Culpepper.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford

One play with a separated non-throwing shoulder is one thing; a full game just four days later is another matter entirely. Don't expect Stafford to be in uniform for Detroit's annual (de)appetizer.

QB Daunte Culpepper

The Pack hasn't allowed more than 277 passing yards in a game, and that came in the season opener. However, they've given up multiple TD passes in three of four and they're down a starting corner and their best pass rusher. Even if all Daunte does is throws jump balls to Calvin Johnson he's a viable fantasy option.

RB Kevin Smith

Adrian Peterson is the only running back with a rushing score against the Pack, but before you write Smith off consider a) his 104 and 1 as a receiver last week and b) the two RB receiving touchdowns Green Bay has allowed in the last three games. It's not a great angle, but it does put Smith in play if you're looking for a horse to back while the cranberries are wiggling free of the can shape.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Megatron looked healthy last week, with 161 yards and a touchdown. However, he's a game-time decision for this tilt, which means you'll have to push yourself away from the Jell-O to check on his status prior to kickoff. Assuming he's good to go against Green Bay, it's worth noting that he Packers won't have Al Harris to impede CJ, and even prior to the Harris injury Green Bay had allowed at least one WR TD in four straight games.

WR Bryant Johnson
Dennis Northcutt

The aforementioned stat about Green Bay giving up WR TDs should note that in three of those four games they've only given up one WR TD. Even if Megatron doesn't play, there isn't a fantasy option to be found here.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S2

The Lions have four TE TDs in the past three games—and Pettigrew has two of them. The Pack have given up four TE TDs over the past four, so this is shaping up to be a very fantasy-friendly matchup for the rookie.

DT Lions B Unless the Lions slip an extra dose of tryptophan into Aaron Rodgers' turkey, there's nothing compelling about this match-up.
Oakland (3-7) at Dallas (7-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Bruce Gradkowski B

In his first start of the year Gradkowski matched JaMarcus Russell's season TD total with two. Don't expect the fireworks to continue; the Cowboys held Donovan McNabb and Aaron Rodgers to one TD toss each and shut out Jason Campbell last week.

RB Justin Fargas
Michael Bush
Darren McFadden


The carries are being split equally (8, 6, 4 last week; does it even matter who got what?), so already the Raiders' RBs are self-limiting. Add in a date with a Dallas defense that has allowed exactly one RB rushing TD in the past nine games and you have a full bench of Raider running backs.


Chaz Schilens
Louis Murphy

B The Cowboys have shut out three straight sets of WRs; given the limited shots the Raiders take down the field, it shouldn't be difficult to make it four.
TE Zack Miller S3

Dallas has given up TE TDs in two of their last three, so if you're forced at gunpoint to start a Raider this week Miller might be your best bet.

DT Raiders B The Cowboys' offense hasn't done much the past two weeks, but the Raiders are like a big band-aid on a team's psyche.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S3

It's extremely difficult to get excited about a quarterback who's thrown just one TD in each of the past three games, facing a pass defense that's allowed a total of two passing scores in the past five games. The S3 indicates that we still think the Cowboys will throw more than they have to.

RB Marion Barber

Barber carried a season-high 20 times for 99 yards last week, while teammate Felix Jones had 10 for 49. Other teams have turned that sort of workload into productive fantasy numbers for both runners, and with MB3 as the lead dog he's in line for first shot at the important stuff.

RB Felix Jones

As noted above, backfield duos have had plenty of success against the Raiders. Thrice a team has had multiple backs score or top 100 yard against Oakland, and the Raiders come into this one having given up four 100-yard efforts in the past four games

RB Tashard Choice B

Last week the largesse didn't extend this far.

WR Miles Austin

Oakland does have a pretty good pass defense, but they haven't stopped everybody this year. Austin's ability to get deep makes him the Cowboys' best downfield fantasy play and an okay start here as well.

WR Roy Williams
Patrick Crayton


The Raiders' secondary is very good—good enough that the upside of the Cowboys' secondary receivers isn't enough to warrant fantasy mention.

TE Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett

Not only is he banged up—to the point he might not play this week—he hasn't been doing much anyway. This match-up with an Oakland D that hasn't allowed a TE TD all year doesn't project him snapping the streak, either. If he does go, you could start him on name value or in a TE-mandatory PPR league; otherwise, it's time to sit him down. And the match-up is no better for Bennett, who would be in line to start should Witten not play.

DT Cowboys S3 You could start the Cowpokes against Bruce Gradkowski, but don't expect much: the Dallas D hasn't been generating much in the way of defensive scoring of late.

New York Giants (6-4) at Denver (6-4)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Don't blame the Denver pass defense for the team's losing skid; they've held three of the past four QBs they've faced to a single touchdown and less than 200 yards. But Eli has had multiple TD tosses in two straight as well as in his other three games against an AFC West foe this season. Expectations can be subdued, but that doesn't mean Eli won't be fine.

RB Brandon Jacobs


The Broncos have allowed four RB TDs and two 100-yard rushers during their four-game skid; that, combined with the absence of the carry-stealing Bradshaw, could set Jacobs up for a big game. At minimum you'll get the 60-yard plodder with a shot at a score, but now there's a more of a hint of upside here.

RB Danny Ware


Ware has seen two touches in each of the past two games, but with Bradshaw out the supporting cast needs to step up. He could be looking at a junior share of the carries here, a total which isn't an overwhelming fantasy play this week but at least warrants consideration.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw


Bradshaw now has a matching pair of walking boots, which is great for fashion but lousy for fantasy as he won't be playing Thursday night.

WR Steve Smith


The Denver secondary has been shakier of late, with all seven WR TDs they've allowed coming in the past five games. That said, only once all year have they allowed more than one WR TD in a game so you need to pick your horse in this race. The obvious choice is Smith, who even after last week still has almost a third again more targets than any other Giants receiver.

WR Mario Manningham


It would be tough to bench Manningham after last week's impressive showing, but keep in mind that only once all year have the Broncos allowed more than one receiver to top 60 yards in a game. At minimum, that forces you to lower your expectations.

WR Hakeem Nicks


Nicks hasn't been a fantasy factor in more than a month, and the Denver secondary isn't one to give up much in the way of leftovers to secondary and tertiary receivers.

TE Kevin Boss S3

The white-hot Boss has four touchdowns in his last three games, but they all came against some of the more permissive TE defenses in the league. The Broncos haven't been nearly as soft, allowing TE TDs in only two of 10 games this season. Tough to bench him in a mandatory TE league, but it appears as if the gravy train may be pulling into the station.

DT Giants S3 Still haven't seen much from the Giants defense, though if the options are a banged-up Kyle Orton on a short week or Chris Simms any time it's as good a time as any for them to emerge from their slumber.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

Orton practiced earlier in the week and is reported to be healthier than last week, which isn't really saying much. Nonetheless, the Broncos believe half an Orton is better than a full Simms, and who are we to argue? He should find the going much easier against a Giants defense that's allowed multiple TD tosses in three straight, though Orton himself has had multiples just once in the last four games. Hopefully you're not like the Broncos and have something better than Simms to plug in for Orton, because he's not offering a whole lot of fantasy help this week.


Knowshon Moreno

S2 Only two teams have given up more RB rushing TDs than the Giants. That'd be a great stat to launch Moreno's ROY campaign with... if he'd have scored in the last three games or had more than one TD since Week 3. As it stands, since he's still the go-to guy he gets the benefit of the doubt—but hardly a ringing endorsement.

Correll Buckhalter

B The General has been reduced to a bit player in the Denver backfield; your fantasy team should take the necessary steps to do the same.
WR Brandon Marshall

Eight of the nine WR TDs the Giants have surrendered have come in the last five games. Coming out of the bye, however, Big Blue seemed to have recomposed themselves in limiting Roddy White to 4-45 on 12 targets. Marshall is the target of choice in Denver, but between a banged-up quarterback and a secondary that's playing better, don't set those expectations too high.

WR Eddie Royal
Brandon Stokley


The last time Denver's passing game received a relevant contribution from a secondary receiver—excluding their efforts in the return game—was back in Week 6. That's certainly enough elapsed time to put these guys on a milk carton.

TE Tony Scheffler


Denver may want to rethink its limited use of the tight end. The Giants have allowed TE TDs in three straight and four of the last five, making this a very favorable match-up should Orton opt to target Scheffler more than the handful of looks he's been given. Limited mobility might encourage Kyle to check down earlier, in which case Scheffler should come into play.

DT Broncos B Denver's D/ST have done little to warrant fantasy consideration.

Miami (5-5) at Buffalo (3-7)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

On the one hand you have Henne, who has thrown one or fewer TD passes in six of his seven starts; on the other you have a Bills defense that's allowed a total of three touchdown passes in its last eight games—a stretch that includes a 115 and 1 effort from Henne in Week 4.


Ricky Williams


On the one hand you have Williams, with his back-to-back 100-yard games and full-time gig since Ronnie Brown hit the IR; on the other you have a Bills defense that has given up more fantasy points to running backs than any other, including 85 and one to Ricky in the earlier meeting—and that was in addition to the 115 and two Brown racked up against Miami.

WR Davonne Bess

S3 As stout as the Bills have been, they have allowed WR TDs in back-to-back games and gave one up to Brian Hartline back in Week 4. And Bess seems to be the Dolphins' go-to guy, if for no other reason than his reliable hands. Starting a Miami wideout in Buffalo isn't advisable, but if you must then Bess is your best bet.
WR Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline
Ted Ginn, Jr.

B Between a run-first offense, a defense that hasn't given up much via the air, and a revolving door of inconsistent wideouts, there's just no fantasy help to be found here.
TE Joey Haynos
Kory Sperry
Anthony Fasano


Another situation where any one of three Miami tight ends might wide up in the end zone. And another situation where the Bills are actually pretty good at keeping opposing TEs out of the end zone, having gone eight games since last allowing a tight end score. So even on the off chance the Dolphins actually score a TE TD against Buffalo, you only have a one-in-three shot of picking the right tight end.

DT Dolphins S3 You could do worse than line up a defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that's the extent of the reasons for looking at the Dolphins here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Fitzy hasn't thrown for multiple scores in a game yet this year, and the Dolphins aren't going to help him out; they've held seven of the past eight QBs they've faced to one or fewer passing scores. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.

RB Marshawn Lynch
Fred Jackson

It's not impossible to run the ball against Miami; in the six games since Lynch and Jackson combined for 51 rushing yards against the Dolphins, Miami's opponents have rolled up at least 120 rushing yards or scored an RB TD—in some cases, both. But in addition to the Bills' previous struggles, you have to factor in myriad injuries along the offensive line and the fact that Lynch and Jackson have split carries right down the middle over the past three games. It all adds up to neither Buffalo back being a viable fantasy option.

WR Terrell Owens

The Dolphins have allowed one (and only one) WR TD in each of the past seven games, starting with the Bills back in Week 4. But it was Josh Reed, not Evans or Owens, who tallied that TD. Both Lee and TO had 60 yards in the previous meeting, but given that Owens has been the more targeted receiver of late (14 times last week alone, more than Evans' total for the past three games) he gets the narrow nod here.

WR Lee Evans

There isn't much for seconds against the Miami secondary, and with Owens getting his plate filled first you can't bank on much help from Evans.

DT Bills B For all the talent and all the picks, the Buffalo defense isn't generating much in the way of fantasy help. Tough to see them starting now against a run-heavy Dolphins squad.

Carolina (4-6) at New York Jets (4-6)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme B Jake has been utterly ordinary at best this season, and a Jets defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes just once all year and only Tom Brady to top 250 yards against them won't help him fare much better.

DeAngelo Williams

S2 Gang Green hasn't been nearly as tough against the run since losing Kris Jenkins; Maurice Jones-Drew took them for 123 and one, and Laurence Maroney had 77 and two against them last week. The Panthers have shown they can run on anybody; over the past six games Williams has five touchdowns and four 100-yard outings, averaging 127 yards per game. You're starting Williams regardless of match-up, and this week you might even have a little extra optimism.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Tough to bench Stew since you know he's going to get goal line looks and the Jets have been given up three such TDs in the past two games. Better still, Stewart has been on an every-other-week pace for touchdowns, and he didn't score last week.
WR Steve Smith S2

Again, the Jets have been more lenient of late, giving up WR scores in each of the last two after allowing three in the previous eight games. Smith has scored in three of four and is the only element of the Carolina passing game worthy of fantasy consideration.

WR Muhsin Muhammed
Dwayne Jarrett

Being a non-Steve Smith wideout in Carolina is like being behind Uncle Vern at the Thanksgiving buffet: there won't be much left over, at least nothing you'd like.

TE Dante Rosario
Gary Barnidge


Carolina tight ends haven't scored in five games, and there's no compelling reason to think they'll start this week against a Jets defense that's given up two TE TDs to the Dolphins and zero to everybody else.

DT Panthers S3 Well, Mark Sanchez is second in the NFL in INTs...
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez has thrown six picks since his last multi-TD outing; okay, so it's only been two games, but you get the idea. A date with a Carolina defense that's allowed one multi-TD effort in the past eight games doesn't exactly tip the scales to his side, either.

RB Thomas Jones S2

Gotta like Jones' chances of getting into the end zone against a Carolina defense that has allowed at least one RB TD in every game this season, a total of 15 in all. He's had 20-plus carries in each of the last five games, so he may even have a shot at two TDs.

RB Shonn Greene B

This is a borderline good match-up, but Greene's extremely limited carries make him an extremely risky fantasy play.

WR Jerricho Cotchery


How clearly has Cotchery asserted himself as the Jets' go-to wideout? Over the past two games he's been targeted 19 times, made nine catches for 152 yards, and scored two touchdowns; the rest of the Jets' wide receivers combined have been targeted 15 times with five catches for 96 yards. It's not a great match-up, as Carolina has given up just one WR TD over the past four games and only three all year. But that said, what little will be available for Jets WRs will go through Jerricho.

WR Braylon Edwards


See above with regards to Edwards' place in the Jets' passing game pecking order. Since that 5-64-1 splash on Monday night, Edwards has averaged less than three catches per game for about 43 yards and scored one touchdown in five games. Can't start those kind of numbers against a Carolina defense that has shut down wideouts all year.

TE Dustin Keller

Mild optimism here, as Keller has been targeted 40 times over the past five games and is clearly a focal point in the Jets' passing game. Carolina hasn't given up a ton to the position, but they have allowed two TE TDs in the past four games, so we're sayin' there's a chance.

DT Jets B Still waiting for that first Jets defensive touchdown of the year. And with Jake no longer so pick-prone, tough to see it coming this week.

Cleveland (1-9) at Cincinnati (7-3)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brady Quinn

Quinn unexpectedly blew up the Lions last week. Now he gets a decidedly tougher task in a Bengals defense that has allowed half the passing scores Detroit did. Best case you could get the 183 and two Bruce Gradkowski put up on Cincy last week, but that's probably it.

RB Jamal Lewis
Chris Jennings


In the aberration to end all aberrations, Jerome Harrison rushed 29 times for 121 yards in the first meeting between these teams. Don't expect lightning to strike twice—not with Lewis giving up some carries to Jennings (Harrison was a healthy scratch last week), the Browns still looking for their first RB rushing score of the season, and the Bengals having allowed a total of two RB rushing touchdowns all year.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Chansi Stuckey

Last week Louis Murphy scored the first WR TD the Bengals have allowed in three games, one of five they've allowed all season. The Browns scored their first WR receiving TDs of the year last week—three of them, in fact—but that was against a Lions secondary that's allowed more than twice as many such scores as the Bengals.

TE MIchael Gaines


Despite Gaines having scored last week against the Lions, despite the Bengals having given up a TE TD to the Raiders last week, you'd still have to be pretty desperate to dig this deep into the free agent pool to come up with a fantasy starter.

DT Browns B The Bengals have allowed only seven sacks and six turnovers in five home games, so it's unlikely they'll provide the Browns with any sort of opportunity for a defensive score.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

The numbers suggest that Palmer is becoming a caretaker quarterback; he has just one multi-TD game at home and maxed out at 259 yards in five home dates. Maybe a Browns defense that's allowed 400-plus yards in two of the last three games and five touchdowns to Matthew Stafford last week might have him feeling a bit friskier—like the 230 and two he posted in Cleveland earlier this year.

RB Cedric Benson

Benson's 18-74 in the earlier meeting was a bit subdued compared to expectations. He could be looking to make amends with a big game at home this week, but his only work since the injury was a limited practice session on Friday. Benson is listed as questionable, and if he's active on Sunday the Bengals think he's healthy enough to play and he should be in your lineup. The more prudent move might be to beat the Browns with Bernard Scott and let Ced rest another week.

RB Bernard Scott

Scott picked up 41 yards on six carries against the Browns in the earlier meeting this year. As for a fantasy play this week, same as above: if Ced is active, you'd best sit Scott because the Bengals will probably use the starter—at least enough to cut into Scott's numbers. But if Benson is inactive, Scott moves to the fore of the fantasy running back plays of the week.

WR Chad Ochocinco


Ocho's scored in four of his last six against the Browns, including dos touchdowns in the first meeting this season. Cleveland's secondary actually hasn't been too bad, though they did just give up 161 and 1 to Calvin Johnson last week. Put it this way: if you're opting not to play Chad this week, it won't be because of the match-up.

WR Andre Caldwell
Laveranues Coles
S3 The Bengals haven't scored a WR TD in their past two games, but those were road affairs against a couple of very good secondaries; at home, secondary receivers have scored in each of the past four games. In addition, the Bengals have had at least two receivers top 50 yards in every home game this year. So while the Browns may not roll over entirely, they should at least offer up a belly-scratch of fantasy success to Caldwell and Coles this week.
DT Bengals S2 Cincy scored a defensive touchdown in the earlier meeting and is playing well enough on that side of the ball to warrant regular consideration—not just because they're playing Brady Quinn and the Browns.

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