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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)

Jacksonville (6-4) at San Francisco (4-6)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard B

Garrard has just one passing touchdown in five road games this year; he's topped 200 yards in just two of the five. The Niners have shut out three of five visiting quarterbacks and held two under 200 yards at home. In other words, it's going to take a rushing touchdown just for Garrard to salvage his fantasy day. Garrard does have two rushing scores in five road games, and the Niners just gave one up to Vince Young a couple weeks back; that said, QB rushing scores are far too fluky to depend on. Look for fantasy help elsewhere.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

The 49ers have allowed 100-yard efforts in three straight games: 135 and 129 rushing to Chris Johnson and Ryan Grant, respectively, and 120 to Matt Forte. MoJo has triple-digit combo yardage in four of his last five, with eight touchdowns in that span. So, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Jones-Drew is a fantasy helper in both yardage and scoring leagues.


Mike Sims-Walker

S3 After scoring on the road but missing the game in Seattle, MSW was on the business end of Garrard's first road touchdown Week 10 in New York. That makes scores in three straight for Sims-Walker, and it's tough to bench a guy riding that kind of streak. However, Roddy White is the only visiting receiver to score in Candlestick this year and the Niners have given up just eight WR TDs on the year regardless of venue. Sims-Walker is a borderline fantasy play, and you shouldn't have to look too hard to find an option with more upside.

Torry Holt

B Maybe Holt and Isaac Bruce can get together and talk about their touchdowns; oh wait, neither one has any this year. Never mind.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis hasn't done squat since Week 4, and the Niners have given up one TE TD all year.
DT Jaguars S3

The Jags don't have a defensive or special teams touchdown this season, and nothing suggests this is the occasion for the first.

San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S3

The Jags have allowed at least one passing touchdown in every game this year, but multiple scores just once in the past five games. Smith has multiple scores in two of three and three of five—as well as twice in three games against AFC South foes. Mike Singletary claims he's still run-oriented, but a pas-run split that's nearly two-to-one since Smith became the starter suggests otherwise. Add it all up and Smith isn't a bad fantasy play this week against Jacksonville.

RB Frank Gore S1

Apparently the economic crunch has forced the Jaguars to leave their run defense at home; road games account for 60 percent of the running back yardage allowed and two-thirds of the RB TDs the Jags have given up. That's great news for Gore, who has scored in four straight and all three of his home games. In fact, Gore is averaging better than 175 combo yards per home game and is set up for another big week.

WR Michael Crabtree

S2 Crabtree brings a one-game scoring streak into this match-up with a Jacksonville secondary that has allowed at least one WR TD in every game this season—most of them going to primary targets. Don't bet against the rookie extending that string to two this week.
WR Jason Hill
Josh Morgan
B Since Crabtree signed it's been him and everybody else—as in, Crabtree gets all the looks and the rest of the rabble fight over table scraps. There may be some scraps this week, but no one secondary target looks like a more compelling option to stake a claim to them.
TE Vernon Davis S2

The Jags have allowed only one TE TD this year, and no tight end has topped 58 yards against them. That said, betting against a guy who's averaging nine targets, six catches, 70 yards, and one touchdown since Alex Smith took over the reins—tight end or not—seems like an ill-advised battle plan.

DT 49ers B Aside from the Jaguars' road woes there's no compelling reason to give the Niners a fantasy start this week.

Chicago (4-6) at Minnesota (9-1)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

The good news is that the Vikings have just one interception since Antoine Winfield went out of the lineup with a foot injury; the bad news, for Cutler at least, is that Winfield says he'll be back for Sunday's game against the Bears. More bad news: this is a road game, and Jay's INT:TD ratio is a mind-blowing 15:7 away from Soldier Field. Worse, he's trending in the wrong direction: over the past four road games he's thrown 3, 2, 1, and zero TDs against 1, 2, 3, and 5 INTs. Yardage shouldn't be a problem; Cutler has at least 247 yards in every road game and it's unlikely the Bears mount anything resembling a running game. But the Vikings have held three of the last four QBs they've faced to one or zero TDs, and now they get their best corner back so the picks are likely to outnumber the scores.

RB Matt Forte

Forte scored in both meetings with the Vikings a year ago, one of them on a reception—and that's how he'll get his this week. He's not going to do anything on the ground—not at 3.3 yards per carry against a defense giving up 69 RB rushing yards per game. But Ray Rice had 117 yards as a receiver and Justin Forsett caught eight balls for 80 yards last week. Forte is averaging 4-40 as a receiver, with 18-214 over the past three games alone. Put it this way: if you don't think he'll get his as a pass-catcher, then he's not getting any.

RB Khalil Bell

One long run in prime time—one where everyone said, "That can't possibly be Matt Forte"—and Bell is on the fantasy radar. Congrats if you were the waiver wire winner this week; now put Bell on the back burner until he finds a favorable match-up; this ain't it.


Devin Hester

S3 Do you realize it's been a month since a Bears' wide receiver scored a touchdown? And after looking for all the world as if their secondary would collapse without Winfield, the Vikes have allowed only two WR TDs in four games sans their best corner. Minnesota has given up yardage—an 80-plus yard receiver in five of the last six and the first 100-yard WR game of the year to Nate Burleson last week—and since Hester is the most targeted Chicago wideout he's the most likely to follow in those footsteps.

Johnny Knox
Earl Bennett

B With little or no touchdowns to go around and Hester taking the biggest bite of the yardage, Knox and Bennett are relegated to fantasy afterthoughts.
TE Greg Olsen


Last week we thought John Carlson would own the Vikings—or at least lease with the option to buy—and he was shut out. So we'll dial down the giddiness for Olsen just a bit, though it's worth noting that Carlson was targeted just four times against Minnesota while Olsen has been thrown at 22 times the past two weeks. Olsen had 6-74-1 in his first meeting with Minnesota last year but was held to one catch in the rematch. No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Vikings, and with Cutler leaning so heavily on Olsen he's unlikely to throw up a donut like Carlson did last week. In fact, he's far more likely to put up one of the better fantasy days for a tight end in Week 12.

DT Bears B The Vikings have turned the ball over four times in five home games; tough to generate any defensive scores off of that.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

Favre has multiple touchdowns in four of five at home, with two 300-yard games and two more of 271 or better. There's no need to fear a Chicago secondary that's allowed two five-touchdown games already this season. As per usual, Favre is a solid play with monster upside tempered only by the possibility that he'll hand the ball to Adrian Peterson instead of throwing it to... well, anybody in purple.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Peterson has scored in every game he's played against the Bears, beginning with his 224 and three effort as a rookie. In four games he's totalled 654 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. The Bears have yet to see AP this year, but they've already allowed a running back touchdown in every road game they've played and 100-yard efforts in each of their past two on the road. As per usual, Peterson is a solid play with monster upside tempered only by the possibility that Brett Favre will opt to throw the ball into the end zone instead of repeatedly hand it to AP. Don't sweat Friday's missed practice or AP's limited practice workload this week; Vikings coach Brad Childress says he'll play, and who are we to argue?

WR Sidney Rice


Six of the No. 1 receivers the Bears have faced this year have reached triple-digit yardage; four have also scored touchdowns. Rice has at least 136 receiving yards in three of his last five games and a touchdown or 176-plus yards in every home game. He's unquestionably Favre's favorite target and should extend the aforementioned streak of futility the Bears are experiencing against opposing No. 1s.

WR Percy Harvin
Bernard Berrian


With primary targets doing so much damage, there's barely been enough for anyone else. However, secondary options have scored four TDs against Chicago, and as per usual it's not the matchup limiting your expectations for Harvin and Berrian, it's the fact that there isn't always enough to go around. That said, Harvin is a playmaker who's a threat to score every time he touches the ball. And Berrian... well, let's just say Favre knows a little something about sticking it to the team who kicked you to the curb and might put a little extra something in Bernard's stocking against Da Bears.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shiancoe has touchdowns in two of the last three, five of the last seven, and three of the last four home games—and that's even with H-back Jeff Dugan stealing a couple scores over the past three games. Chicago has allowed six TE TDs this season but shut out Vernon Davis and Brent Celek the past two weeks so temper your expectations for the Equipment Manager ever so slightly this week.

DT Vikings S2

A Jared Allen strip/sack. A Jay Cutler pick six. A Percy Harvin kick return. The Vikes are a threat to score even when Favre and AP aren't on the field.


Arizona (7-3) at Tennessee (4-6)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

Tennessee's pass defense has improved since the start of the season; in fact, they've allowed just one TD toss in their last two home games. Of course, it's one thing to put the clamps to David Garrard and Trent Edwards; it's quite another to rein in Warner, who has multiple scoring strikes in four straight games. No team has allowed more passing yards or passing scores than the Titans, and since it's unlikely the Arizona ground game gets it going in Tennessee you have to love Warner's chances of a big game. Kurt is listed as questionable, but he practiced fully all week so there's little danger of Matt Leinart seeing the field.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
S3 Tough to bet against Wells, who has three touchdowns in the past two games and is churning out a steady dose of 70-yard games. However, it's worth noting that while the Titans are no longer dominant against the run they're still in the top half of the league in keeping running backs in check; moreover, eight of Arizona's nine RB rushing scores have come in seven games against teams in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to backs while they've mustered just one score in three games against teams of the Titans' ilk. Is the Cardinals' newfound ground game fraudulent? Maybe just a little bit; at least enough to make you think twice about going to the bank of Beanie this week.
RB Tim Hightower
B Hightower is the slightly junior member of this committee, giving up goal line looks in favor of third-down duty. The Titans have already allowed a couple of big receiving games to backs (10-53 to Addai, 7-75 to Gore), so Hightower still has fantasy value in PPR leagues. But with an RB TD iffy at best, that's the extent of what he brings to the table.
WR Larry Fitzgerald


The Titans have allowed more WR yards and TDs than any other team. Though the return of Cortland Finnegan has slowed the bleeding somewhat, there's still plenty of reason to feel giddy with regards to Fitzy's prospects this week.

WR Anquan Boldin

Six Titan opponents have already received a touchdown or at least 50 yards—or both—from a No. 2 receiver. And since Boldin, with back-to-back 100-yard games, is more of a 1A than a 2, it wouldn't be out of line to expect something like the matching hundos the Steelers hung on Tennessee in Week 1 or even the 279 and five Moss and Welker combined for in the Week 6 shellacking.

WR Steve Breaston

Feeding a third fantasy wideout isn't unheard of, especially given the Arizona offense and how poorly the Tennessee secondary has played this season. However. Breaston wasn't even targeted last week; let's see if that was an aberration or what we can expect now that Boldin is healthy before trusting the Cards' No. 3 with another fantasy start.

TE Ben Patrick

Usually the Cards can't even be bothered with the tight end position; a Titans defense that has shut out the position in six straight games hardly seems the venue for a change in that philosophy.

DT Cardinals B Over the past four games the Titans have allowed one sack and committed just two turnovers. It's no coincidence that they've won all four. With so few opportunities for a defensive score, there's no reason to use the Arizona D/ST here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young B

Not that Vince is going to beat you with his arm, but Arizona has allowed multiple touchdown passes in just one of the last six games. And since counting on QB rushing yards and scores is risky at best, Young is yet again a winning QB in real life but a complete afterthought as a fantasy entity.

RB Chris Johnson S1

The Cards have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of the last four games, and in the one game they didn't Matt Forte cobbled together triple-digit combo yardage. Johnson has a similar streak, with five straight 100-yard efforts, though his streak of three straight games with at least two touchdowns ended when the Texans kept him out of the end zone last week. The last two feature backs to face Arizona have scored, so there's little reason to expect anything other than another big fantasy outing as Johnson states his case to be recognized as the best fantasy back in the game.

RB LenDale White B

Nothing in the nine carries for 13 yards White has amassed over the past three games suggests that last week's touchdown dive was anything but a token gesture designed to keep him off the tequila.

WR Nate Washington
Kenny Britt
B Arizona hasn't allowed a WR TD since Week 8; the Titans have a total of three since Vince Young took over. Between the match-up, the quarterback, and the fact that this offense runs through Chris Johnson with little left over for the wideouts, there's no compelling reason to plug either into your lineup this week.
TE Bo Scaife
B The Cards have allowed four TE TDs in the past three games; if any Tennessee tight end had scored this season, or even so much as topped 50 yards, we'd be excited.
DT Titans S3 There will be plenty of passes thrown, and it wouldn't take much for Cortland Finnegan or Chris Hope to take one the other way.

Pittsburgh (6-4) at Baltimore (5-5)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger B

The Steelers have announced Big Ben will be their emergency quarterback. Wouldn't you think a road game with the Ravens when they're already a game back in the division constitutes an emergency? Regardless, if the Steelers aren't starting him your fantasy team can't start him, either.

QB Dennis Dixon B

The Ravens haven't allowed a visiting quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns at M&T since Brodie Croyle in Week 1; tough to see Dixon in his first NFL start challenging that mark.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


The myth of the dominant Ravens run D is fading; since Week 2, only the Browns have failed to produce a 100-yard rusher or RB TD—or, in the case of Cedric Benson, both. Twice. Mendenhall has been good, but his last three touchdowns have come against bottom feeding defenses (Brown, Lions, Chiefs). He rolled up nice yardage against Denver but the Vikings and Bengals bottled him up. Mendenhall should continue to get the bulk of the opportunities in the Pittsburgh backfield, but while the Ravens are no longer a sure-thing stopper neither is Mendenhall a must-start regardless of defense.

WR Hines Ward

Ward hasn't scored in his last nine against the Ravens, and Dennis Dixon isn't the guy to help him end that streak.

WR Santonio Holmes


Despite having scored in five straight against the Ravens, including last year's AFC title game, the presence of Dennis Dixon under center renders all elements of the Steelers' passing game useless... unless you're into a guy who was a third-stringer just last week making his first NFL start on the road against the Ravens.

WR Mike Wallace


Wallace certainly isn't to be ignored. As noted above, the last three WR TDs the Ravens have allowed—and they're not just giving them away; it's taken them six weeks to allow them—have gone to secondary targets. That said, it's been three weeks since Wallace scored, and he's clearly behind Ward and Holmes in the pecking order. You'll want to wait for a more favorable match-up to put him back into your fantasy lineup.

TE Heath Miller

Miller went a month without a touchdown before scoring last week; not to be outdone, the Ravens have spaced the TE TDs they've allowed in a similar fashion, giving them up in Weeks 1, 6, and 11. That bodes well for Miller when these teams meet again in Week 16, but not so much for this week. Neither does Miller's three game scoring drought against the Ravens, during which he's amassed just eight catches for 54 yards.

DT Steelers S3 You can never count out the Steelers defense; they scored a D/ST TD in the first meeting with Baltimore last year and have three in their last four games.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco B

Flacco failed to top 200 yards in either end of the season series or the playoff rubber game last year and managed just one touchdown in the three tilts. And after a fast start this year he's gone into a funk; he hasn't had a multiple touchdown game since Week 6 and has been shut out in three straight tilts. Meanwhile, the Steelers have allowed multiple TD tosses in just one of their last six games. Add it all up and you most certainly have a better fantasy option at your disposal.

RB Ray Rice

It's a good thing Rice is a combo yardage machine, because if you were forced to rely merely on his ground game contributions you'd be stuck this week. However, the Steelers have allowed as many RB receiving scores (two) as rushing scores this year, so worries about Rice having limited value this week can be assuaged by the prospect of adding 50 receiving yards to whatever he gets on the ground—not to mention doubling his shot at a touchdown against a Pittsburgh defense that doesn't give many of those up.

WR Derrick Mason


Mason hasn't scored since Week 8; the Steelers haven't allowed a WR TD since Week 5. With maybe one TD up for grabs in the Baltimore passing game, Mason will have to fight with Ray Rice to get it. The odds strongly favor Rice, meaning you'll have to settle for yardage. Mason had 137 in the first meeting with Pittsburgh last year and has 220 over the past two weeks, while the Steelers have ceded triple-digit yardage to three of the last four No. 1s they've faced.

WR Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington


If Mason is barely a good fantasy play and Flacco isn't expected to be doling out much in the way of yardage, it should go without saying that Baltimore's tertiary targets are bench fodder. But we'll go ahead and say it anyway.


Todd Heap

B Heap hasn't scored since Week 2 and isn't involved enough in the Baltimore offense to warrant fantasy attention, especially given the difficult match-up.
DT Ravens S2 Ed Reed and the Ravens are always a threat for a D/ST TD. And when you consider the Steelers have allowed a defensive or special teams score in eight straight games, that increases their odds exponentially.

New England (7-3) at New Orleans (10-0)

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady has multiple touchdowns in just one of his last three games, and the Saints have given up multiple TD tosses only once in the past five games and thrice all year. Time to hit the panic button? Nah. Brady has 300 yards in five straight, including two of those single-TD outings, so he'll help you one way or another—or, most likely, both.

RB Laurence Maroney


With Sammy Morris slated to be a game-time decision on Monday night, Maroney's fate is somewhat up in the air. The bulk of his fantasy value has come through touchdowns during his five-game scoring streak, and if Morris returns he's likely to usurp LoMo's goal line carries. Maroney would also see a reduction in overall workload, and he hasn't been piling up enough yardage to help with limited touches. Plus, Kevin Faulk takes all the third-down looks. At best Maroney will get one more week of goal line work and the opportunity to take advantage of a Saints defense that's allowed 11 RB rushing TDs; at worst he'll return to fantasy bench status as a faceless cog in the Patriots' RBBC. Sadly, we won't likely know which way to go until just prior to Monday night's kickoff.


Kevin Faulk


The Saints haven't allowed a RB receiving score this year and no back has topped 52 receiving yards against them. That's a tough way for a pass-catching back to make a fantasy living.

WR Randy Moss
S2 Moss always shows up in prime time, and it's unlikely the Saints have a way to stop him. There's no Darrelle Revis on their roster, after all. If big receivers like Hakeem Nicks (114 and 1) and fast receivers like DeSean Jackson (101 and 1) can have big days against the Saints, would a big and fast wideout like Moss be in line for 215 and two?
WR Wes Welker
S2 Welker was targeted 16 times in the season opener, then missed two games with a knee injury and has been targeted double-digit times in every game since. That's all you can ask for, opportunity. Okay, opportunity and a nice turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomatoe, and mayo. But mostly opportunity.
WR Julian Edelman
Sam Aiken
B Brady has leaned primarily on Moss and Welker, with a smattering of the tight end mixed in; tertiary wideouts have only two touchdowns through the first 10 games. You can't blame Brady for looking to his big guns first, and unless/until that changes Edelman and Aiken are fantasy afterthoughts.
TE Ben Watson B The Saints haven't allowed a tight end touchdown this season, making it a bad week to expect Watson to end his three-game scoreless streak.
DT Patriots B Not that Brees is immune to picks, but with this one likely to play to the over the defenses are relegated to fantasy afterthoughts.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees has given the home fans plenty to cheer about, with four 300-yard efforts and 13 touchdown passes in five games in the Superdome. The last time the Patriots went indoors they gave up 327 and four to Peyton Manning; tough to expect anything less from Brees.

RB Pierre Thomas

Thomas is the lead dog in the Saints' three-headed backfield. Seeing as the Pats gave up 103 yards to Thomas Jones last week and touchdowns to Joseph Addai and Ricky Williams in the previous two games, it stands to reason that Thomas would be in line for a score or triple-digit yardage as well. Sounds like Reggie Bush will play, however, limiting Pierre's shot at a further uptick in opportunities.

RB Mike Bell

Bell is unquestionably the third wheel, the back-up plan in this backup. With Reggie Bush practicing at least in a limited fashion, odds are Bell spends Monday night like the rest of us: watching.

RB Reggie Bush

This being a Monday night game, you'll be working without all the necessary information when setting your fantasy lineup. That's a shame, because half of the RB TDs the Patriots have allowed have come via the air, which would play right into a decent fantasy evening for Reggie. Bush participated on a limited basis in both Thursday's and Friday's practices, so he'll likely be available for Monday night. But there's definitely risk involved..

WR Marques Colston

Most of what the Patriots are allowing in the passing game is going to No. 1 receivers, which would be a nice reversal for Colston; he's been scoreles for almost a month, dropping a couple of touchdowns in the interim while catching just eight balls for 136 yards over that span. Solid games from the likes of Cotchery (84-1), Wayne (126-2), Bryant (51-1), and Marshall (64-2) over the past six games suggest that Colston will have every opportunity to get back on track on Monday night.


Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem


That Indy was able to get productivity from a second WR against the Patriots comes as no surprise; that the Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Broncos were able to do the same suggests New Orleans should have little difficulty in providing fantasy opportunity for Meachem (three TDs on his last three catches, 8-135-4 over the past three games) and Henderson (70-plus yards in three of the last five games).

TE Jeremy Shockey B The only TE TDs the Patriots have allowed have gone to fellow AFC East teams, and with Dave Thomas horning in on Shockey's action he's a difficult fantasy start this week.
DT Saints S3 The Saints have four defensive touchdowns in five home games. Not that the Patriots are prone to giving one up, but stranger things have happened.

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