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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)
Indianapolis (10-0) at Houston (5-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

Manning has thrown for at least 269 yards in every game he's played against Houston since 2002, and that includes 318 just three weeks ago. However, touchdowns might be tougher to come by. Manning has had multiple TDs just once in his last four games, while the Texans have held three straight QBs to one or zero scores—including Manning in Week 9. Bench Manning? No. Subdue expectations to something merely mortal? Perhaps.

RB Joseph Addai S2 With two touchdowns in the earlier meeting Addai extended his personal scoring streak against Houston to five straight and six of the last seven, with nine touchdowns over that span. But it isn't just the Texans; Addai has scored in three straight and seven of eight this year, and his 10 touchdowns trail only Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson among running backs. Yep, he's been that good.
RB Donald Brown B Brown hasn't returned to his complementary role since coming back from his shoulder injury and simply isn't seeing enough touches to warrant fantasy consideration.
WR Reggie Wayne

The Texans held Wayne in check in the earlier meeting, if you can call eight catches for 64 yards in check. And it wasn't really the Texans' doing; Manning was so busy throwing to Dallas Clark he barely had time for Wayne. You have to think Houston will defend Clark differently this time around, which might open up some avenues for Wayne. Note that Wayne has not gone back-to-back games without a touchdown this year, and he didn't score last week against Baltimore.

WR Austin Collie
Pierre Garçon
S3 Who will it be this time? Garçon had 60 yards in the previous meeting while Collie had 26, but with the Texans likely to reconfigure their defense to account for Dallas Clark this time around it could be anybody's chance to shine.
TE Dallas Clark S2

Clark abused the Houston secondary to the tune of 14 catches for 119 yards just three weeks ago. Subsequently, the Patriots (4-65) and Ravens (1-3-1) schemed to shut him down. Think the Texans will approach the rematch with a different game plan? Tough to bet against Clark given the track record.

DT Colts B Indy's defense has done little of fantasy note, but if you're into points allowed you should know that the Colts have held seven of their last eight opponents to 17 or fewer points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 No worries about Schaub getting his yardage here; he's topped 300 in two straight (including 311 vs. Indy in Week 9), has six games above 300 this year, and hasn't been below 260 since Week 4. However, it doesn't take long to call roll of those with multiple TD tosses against the Colts this year; say "Tom Brady" and you're done. You're not benching Schaub, but anything more than big yardage and one score would be gravy.
RB Steve Slaton
S3 In the two games since being benched for chaff like Ryan Moats and Chris Brown, Slaton has 92 yards on 19 touches; more importantly, he has a pair of touchdowns. It appears that Mike Shanahan disciple Gary Kubiak has pigeon-holed Slaton as a fumble-prone third down back, meaning the Texans won't have their best back on the field most of the time. Obviously, that reduces his fantasy potential. That said, he's scored in three straight against the Colts and has still managed to be productive despite the limited action, so he offers plenty of fantasy upside.
RB Chris Brown
B Apparently the Texans' "self-scouted" over their bye and determined that what they needed was more Chris Brown. There's no accounting for taste. Half of the eight RB TDs Indy has allowed have come in the past month, two of them in the first Indy/Houston game. Stranger things have happened than a back like Brown scoring against the Colts, but there is nothing to suggest plugging him into your fantasy lineup is a shrewd move.
WR Andre Johnson S2 You worried about AJ and this matchup prior to their Week 9 game and Johnson delivered a 10-catch, 103-yard performance. That's sparked a three-week run of No. 1 wideouts reaching triple digits against the Colts. Bet you aren't as worried this time around.
WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones
David Anderson

What do you consider helpful? Houston's secondary receivers haven't scored since Week 6 or topped 75 yards since Week 3. Both Walter and Jones had 67 yards in the previous game against Indy, and lately Anderson has seen increased looks as Houston looks to fill the void left by Owen Daniels' injury. So if 5-60 floats your boat, take your pick here; if not, you're barking up the wrong tree.

TE James Casey B

Indy has clamped down, and the rookie Casey is just now starting to see a little bit of activity. No need to rush him into your fantasy lineup.

DT Texans B Starting a fantasy defense against Peyton Manning is akin to using a paper plate to hold your Thanksgiving dinner: bad move.
Tampa Bay (1-9) at Atlanta (5-5) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

Freeman's stats have regressed since his first NFL start, but a Falcons secondary that's allowed multiple touchdown tosses in five of the last six and 300-plus passing yards in four of six might just be the springboard young Josh is looking for. It's a tepid endorsement at best.

RB Carnell Williams


The good news is that Atlanta has allowed at least one RB rushing TD in four straight games. Williams has three of the Bucs' four RB rushing scores, and therein lies the bad news: just four RB rushing scores through 10 games. He has an outside chance at productivity if you're looking for a late-season plug-in at running back.

RB Derrick Ward


Ward's involvement has been too spotty for him to be trusted with a fantasy start.

WR Antonio Bryant
Sammie Stroughter
Maurice Stovall
Michael Clayton


Tampa Bay wideouts have scored in each of Freeman's three starts. The problem: it's been a different Tampa Bay wideout each time. If Bryant plays—and he should, he's listed as probable—he's the most frequently targeted of the bunch. But he's also the only one without a touchdown catch from Freeman. The Falcons are hardly a soft secondary—Steve Smith is the only wideout to score on them in the last three games—so the most prudent course of action might be to sit the entire batch.

TE Kellen Winslow

No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Falcons. As if that weren't enough, Freeman has targeted Winslow on almost a third of his passes as a starter, resulting in 16-188-1 over the past three games. If there's a fantasy start to be found on the Buccaneers' roster this week, This is it.

DT Buccaneers B Rumor has it the Bucs are returning to their Cover-2 ways this week. Take a wait-and-see approach before assuming this means a return to the glory days of Derrick Brooks and defensive touchdowns galore.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Three of the past four quarterbacks to face Tampa Bay have thrown multiple touchdowns, and with Ryan coming off his best game since Week 5 and the Atlanta running game still a bit of a question mark Ryan is in good shape to offer up another fantasy helper.

RB Michael Turner

Turner practiced on a limited basis all week, and the team is "hopeful" he'll be available for Sunday's tilt. He's listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. Certainly, if he plays he's worth a fantasy start against the Bucs

RB Jason Snelling

Even if Turner is back in the mix this week, there might be enough for both backs to have a fantasy impact. The Bucs have allowed 144 or more RB rushing yards in four of their last five, with at least one RB rushing TD in every game and a total of eight during that span. We'll keep Snelling as an S3 in case he's playing a complementary role to Turner this week, with the potential for a big upgrade Sunday morning if Turner is deactivated.

WR Roddy White S2

White hasn't scored since Week 8, but things are looking up this week. That wasn't the case prior to Tampa's decision to kick Jim Bates to the curb, but with the Bucs apparently reinstalling the Tampa 2 concerns about White being locked down by Aqib Talib no longer seem necessary. That throws open a world of possibilities for White against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the second-most WR TDs this year.

WR Michael Jenkins B

With nine targets in each of the past two games, Jenkins is beginning to blip on the fantasy radar. Until he actually does something with those targets, however, no need to pay attention to him.


Tony Gonzalez


The Bucs have allowed TE TDs in four of five, and all five TE TDs they've allowed have come in the past seven games. Gonzo has scored in two of three, stymied only by teammate Justin Peelle stealing a score in Week 10. Twenty-five targets, 14 catches, 149 yards... that's just Gonzo's past two games. He's a must-start here.

DT Falcons B Though the prospect of facing a rookie quarterback on the road is tempting, note that Atlanta has just one sack and one turnover the past two games combined.

Washington (3-7) at Philadelphia (6-4)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell's lone fantasy game of note over the past two months came against the Eagles in Week 7. It was a mild aberration for a Philly D that's allowing closer to 220 and 1.5; it was a major aberration for Campbell, who has just one other game with as much yardage and two with as many touchdowns. Bet that Campbell tends back towards the norm and keep him on your fantasy bench

RB Rock Cartwright
S3 No Clinton Portis, who is still dizzy (and that's different from...?). No Ladell Betts, who tore up his knee last week. That leaves Cartwright to face a Philly D that's allowed five RB TDs over the past four games. The Rock worked the body for 140 combo yards last week against a Dallas defense that is statistically tougher than Philly, so unless you're fearing the Spinal Tap-like curse that has plagued Redskin runners of late he's worth a fantasy nod.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El
Devin Thomas

B Redskin receivers have scored just three touchdowns this year, the most recent in Week 7 against the Eagles. That's one of just three WR TDs Philly has given up in seven games since their Week 4 bye. If you want to trust the Washington offense to generate a passing game in Philly and then identify which member of that passing game warrants fantasy attention... you're on your own.
TE Fred Davis S2

It was Davis' 8-78-1—after Chris Cooley broke his leg—against Philly that made him such a hot fantasy commodity. Since then Fred has managed just eight catches in three games combined, while Todd Yoder has scored twice. Nonetheless, in a match-up with one of the more tight end-friendly defenses in the league the more targeted Davis is the smarter play.

DT Redskins B Money can't buy you love (just ask Ronnie Miller), and it can't buy you a defense that provides any sort of fantasy assistance.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb

Say this for the Redskins, they don't go down without a fight. Washington's D hasn't allowed a quarterback to pass for 200 yards against them since Week 3, and Kyle Orton is the only QB with multiple touchdown tosses. McNabb managed just 156 and one in the earlier meeting, and though he enters this game with four straight games of 225 yards or better and multiple TDs in three of those four he's fighting an uphill battle this week. Lower your expectations accordingly.

RB LeSean McCoy S3

Three straight backs have rushed for at least 97 yards against the Redskins, though Michael Turner is the only one to have scored. Philly generally eschews the run, but they gave McCoy 20 carries against Chicago last week and he produced 99 yards and a touchdown. Sans Brian Westbrook once again, McCoy should be in line for another fantasy helper this week.

WR DeSean Jackson

S2 Jackson scored in the previous meeting along with 69 yards, and that's pretty much the MO for Washington; No. 1 receivers tend to get theirs. Coming off 8-107-1 against Chicago, and knowing that any time he touches the ball he's a threat to go the distance, Jackson remains a quality fantasy play.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avant
B Maclin had decent yardage (53) in the previous meeting while Avant was catchless. Seeing as the rookie's effort represents the best showing by a second receiver against the Redskins since Mario Manningham's 58 yards in Week 1, it would be difficult to recommend either for a fantasy start here.
TE Brent Celek

S3 Tough to bench the active Celek in TE-mandatory leagues, but the Redskins held him to eight yards on three catches in the earlier meeting and are one of the five toughest defenses against the position. Start him if you must, but another option would be preferable.
DT Eagles S3 Philly scored a defensive touchdown in the earlier meeting, and it's not as if they're blitzing less—or Jason Campbell has gotten more competent.
Seattle (3-7) at St. Louis (1-9) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2 Hass threw for 279 and three in the opener against the Rams, and while a trip to St. Louis might suggest you dial those numbers back don't turn too far. Hass has thrown for at least 231 yards in each of his three road starts and faces a Rams defense that has given up multiple passing touchdowns in three of the past four games.
RB Julius Jones

Jones didn't practice on Wednesday and was limited on both Thursday and Friday. The Seahawks have indicated that if he's healthy enough to play on Sunday he'll be the starter, but both Jones and coach Jim Mora sounded less than optimistic about his return this week. Even if Jones plays conditioning could factor into the size of his workload, so a repeat of his 19-117-1 against the Rams Week 1 is unlikely. He'll be a game-time decision, with an S2 as the optimistic upside.

RB Justin Forsett

Forsett will at minimum handle third-down duties and take a share of the carries as Jones is unlikely to bounce back from bruised lung to workhorse. Then, of course, there's the upside of Forsett being the full-time back should Jones sit out another week. At minimum he's an S3, with the prospects to move up at least a grade if Jones is deactivated prior to game time.


T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson


Burleson scored and had 74 yards on seven catches against the Rams in the season opener, while Housh settled for 6-48. Unfortunately, there's no rhyme or reason to which wideout will step up from week to week. You could avoid both or take your chances against a Rams defense that ranks in the bottom third of the league in defending wide receivers.

TE John Carlson
B Carlson has one catch in the last two games; even more frustrating, those games came against two of the softer TE defenses in the league and all he has to show for it is one catch. Sure, it went for a touchdown, but how can you trust a guy that underused? The Rams are right there among the soft touches for TEs, but they haven't allowed a TE TD in three games. With both sides of this equation trending in the wrong direction, Carlson is bench fodder in all but the largest of TE-mandatory leagues.
DT Seahawks S2 Four of the five defensive touchdowns the Rams have allowed came with Kyle Boller at the helm. Guess who's filling in for the injured Marc Bulger this week?
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller

Boller's only two touchdown tosses this season came in relief. That makes it incredibly difficult to trust him with a fantasy start, even against a defense that's given up multiple touchdown passes in five straight games and an average of 310 and three over their last four on the road. Hey, if you're desperate this is as good a place as any to start.

RB Steven Jackson

Seattle limited Jackson to 67 yards on the ground and zero catches back in Week 1. Jackson has gotten it going since then, with at least 116 rushing yards in four straight and touchdowns in each of his last three games. Gotta love his chances against a Seattle defense that is giving up an average of 193 yards from scrimmage per road game to opposing backs and has allowed seven RB TDs in five road games—assuming, of course, that he plays. Jackson didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable; coach Steve Spagnuolo says he may not make a decision until Sunday morning. Jackson owners better have Sam Gado on stand-by, just in case.

WR Donnie Avery


The Seahawks have allowed multiple WR TDs in each of their last four road games, including four to the Vikings last week. Of what's left at receiver for the Rams, Avery seems to be the go-to guy; at minimum he's scored their last four WR TDs and is the best fantasy option against a bad defense.


Brandon Gibson


Gibson was targeted 17 times last week, catching five and calling for an interference flag on the other dozen. If he's thrown to that much again this week he'll catch a touchdown by accident.

DT Rams B Give the Rams credit; they showed some fight against the Saints and Cardinals the last two weeks. That and 99¢ will get you something off the value menu.
Kansas City (3-7) at San Diego (7-3) Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel

Cassel mustered a meager 97 and 1 in the previous meeting before giving way to Matt Gutierrez. Since then he's had a couple of multi-touchdown games and settled in around the 240-yard mark. The TDs are possible against a San Diego defense that's allowed three of five visiting QBs to toss multiple scores, but only two opposing quarterbacks have exceeded 230 yards against the Bolts.

RB Jamaal Charles


After scoring twice against the Steelers, Charles should get a fantasy hall pass. Tough to give him one here, though, especially if you're looking for a touchdown; since their Week 5 bye the Bolts have allowed only one RB TD. Yardage might be a little easier, as over the past six games San Diego is surrendering an average of 122 combo yards to backs. Charles averaged eight yards per carry in limited work in the earlier match-up; he should be able to get half that, and with his increased workload that just might translate into fantasy help.

WR Chris Chambers


In seven games with the Chargers, Chambers had nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. In three games with the Chiefs, Chambers alreadh has 10-249-2. He didn't top 40 yards with the Bolts, but he hasn't been under 60 in KC. So there shouldn't be any bitterness or animosity, right? No need for Chambers to go just that little bit harder in order to make the team that kicked him to the curb look foolish for doing so? Nahhh, didn't think so. But you'll want him in your lineup anyway, just in case.

WR Bobby Wade
Lance Long


San Diego isn't giving up enough to wide receivers to warrant going beyond the obvious revenge play.

TE Leonard Pope


Pope is fresh off scoring the Chiefs' second TE TD of the season, while San Diego has allowed tight end touchdowns in two of the last three games. That said, you'd have to be in a pretty big TE-mandatory league for Pope to be on your fantasy radar, even this week.

DT Chiefs B You could muster mild enthusiasm for the Chiefs' return game against a Chargers coverage unit that let Eddie Royal toast them twice earlier this year, but it seems like a stretch.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

Rivers comes off his worst fantasy game of the year, throwing a season-low 22 times for just 145 yards and a touchdown. Of course, the Chargers were in control the entire way so extra effort wasn't required. Fear of a similar situation this week is certainly justified, but consider that Rivers threw for 268 and three in the earlier meeting between these clubs and that had a larger margin of victory than last week's win. Consider this: KC has given up at least 261 passing yards in seven of 10 games and multiple TD tosses in six of 10—with the Raiders' sorry passing game accounting for two of the misses in both categories.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
S2 Oh, he is so back. Well, maybe not to the lofty standards by which we used to hold LT, but 96 and two and 73 and 1 over the past two weeks—and against legit defenses, not just the Raiders—certainly suggests you can start LT with at least a modicum of confidence. The Chiefs rank in the top quarter of the league in fantasy friendliness towards running backs, so expect something more than the 71 yards Tomlinson delivered in the previous meeting.
RB Darren Sproles
B Sproles' only touchdown from scrimmage over the past six games came against the Chiefs. He's still getting 10 or fewer touches per game, and the 99 yards he tallied against KC is 50 yards better than anything else he's done over the last two months. Too few touches and too long of odds that he'll hit on one make Sproles a bench play in all but the largest of leagues.
WR Vincent Jackson

Jackson is suffering through a mini-slump, having gone back-to-back games without a touchdown or 100 yards for the first time all year. Seeing as he torched the Chiefs for 142 and one in the earlier meeting, and the Chiefs have shown little interest in stopping No. 1 receivers—counting Jackson, six No. 1s have scored and topped 125 receiving yards against KC—expect a big ol' slump-buster this weekend.

WR Malcolm Floyd
Legedu Naanee
B Unlike most Thanksgiving bashes, don't expect any leftovers here. Floyd managed two catches and a touchdown in the previous meeting; that score was one of just two by secondary receivers against the Chiefs this season. No yardage to share, either; Santonio Holmes' 86 yards last week was the first time a No. 2 (and that's using the definition loosely with Holmes) has topped 54 yards this year.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Gates' 5-55 was a little under his historical average against the Chiefs; worse, Antonio hasn't scored since the Chargers' Week 5 bye. Maybe Heath Miller's 7-95-1 last week against the Chiefs will help jog Gates' memory.

DT Chargers B The Chiefs haven't given up a D/ST touchdown all year; the Chargers haven't generated one since Week 6.

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