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Start/Bench List - Week 13
John Tuvey
Updated: December 4, 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)
New Orleans (11-0) at Washington (3-8) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

It won't be easy to rein in expectations after watching Brees carve up the Patriots on Monday night. However, the Redskins have allowed multiple touchdowns just once all year. They haven't exactly been facing upper echelon quarterbacks, but Tony Romo (158 and 1), Eli Manning (256 and 1), and Donovan McNabb (156 and 1, 260 and 1) aren't chopped liver. Don't forget, Brees has been shut out twice and held to one score two more times. Set your expectations at a more moderate level and you won't be disappointed.

RB Pierre Thomas

The Redskins have been playing pretty good defense on the ground as well, with or without Albert Haynesworth in the lineup. Making matters worse, Reggie Bush may be back in the mix. Thomas is clearly the lead dog, and while he may lose the occasional goal line touch his yardage upside makes him a decent fantasy play even in a tough match-up

RB Mike Bell

Bell is a goal line back and occasional banger. Some weeks—especially when Bush isn't in the mix—that's enough to warrant fantasy consideration. This week, however, Bush may return to the lineup. Worse, the Redskins have allowed only five RB TDs all year and none of them have come at Fed Ex Field. He's also been limited all week in practice and is listed as questionable for this one. You can find more upside elsewhere.

RB Reggie Bush

Despite being limited in practice all week with his problematic knee, Reggie has vowed to grace us with his presence this week. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. If he does play, maybe he'll catch a few passes or make some amazing helicopter move at the goal line; or, maybe he won't. There's certainly some upside to Reggie's game, but this week a staunch Redskins defense tilts the arrow too close to "risk" and too far from "reward" to warrant plugging Bush into your fantasy lineup.

WR Marques Colston

Rough week for the Redskins' secondary to be banged up. Even healthy, Washington has been allowing No. 1s to have good games so there shouldn't be too much concern about Colston getting his.


Devery Henderson
Robert Meachem


As per usual, any Saints receiver has the potential to score at any given time. It may be a somewhat reduced pool of productivity this week, but the combination of New Orleans' ability to light up any given team and a banged-up Redskins secondary suggests that unless you're really loaded at receiver Henderson and Meachem are in play.

TE Jeremy Shockey B Whichever trend you care to look at—Shockey's six-game scoreless streak, vultured touchdowns by teammates Dave Thomas and Darnell Dinkins in the past two games, or a Washington defense that's allowed just two TE TDs all season—has Shockey pointed towards the bench this week.
DT Saints S3 The Skins don't turn the ball over much, meaning reduced opportunities for the Saints defense to get into the scoring column. But you can never count them out completely.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Only two quarterbacks have thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Saints, and only three have topped 250 yards. Campbell has accomplished those milestones just four and three times himself, and only once in the past month—and not since Week 4 against a team other than Philadelphia. Unless the Saints don green and paint wings on their helmets, Campbell is a no-go this week.

RB Rock Cartwright
B Sedrick Ellis went down with a knee injury in Week 7 against Miami; in that game and the next four, all of which Ellis missed, the Saints gave up eight of the 13 RB TDs they've allowed this year as well as all three of the 100-yard games they've surrendered. Ellis returned last week, which doesn't bode well for Cartwright. Worse, the Saints haven't given up squat to RBs as receivers—zero TDs, an average of less than 35 yards per game—and that's how Rock has racked up 99 of his 204 yards from scrimmage since becoming the starter.
WR Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El
Devin Thomas

B Teams have been playing catch-up all year against the Saints, and yet they've allowed just eight wide receiver touchdowns. Redskin wideouts have just half that total for the year, making it unwise for any Washington WR to be in your fantasy lineup.
TE Fred Davis B

In two games against Philly Davis has a dozen catches, 121 yards, and two touchdowns; in nine games against everybody else he has 15 catches for 145 yards and zero scores. The Saints aren't the Eagles, and they haven't given up a TE TD all year. Davis is unlikely to be the TE to break their maiden.

DT Redskins B The Redskins aren't a bad defense when it comes to preventing yardage and touchdowns, but they're a lousy defense when it comes to generating anything of fantasy import.
Oakland (3-8) at Pittsburgh (6-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Bruce Gradkowski B

Gradkowski has raised the level of quarterback play in Oakland dangerously close to competency. Against a Pittsburgh defense that's allowed multiple touchdown passes just once in the past two months, this is no time to give Gradkowski a fantasy start.

RB Justin Fargas
Michael Bush
Darren McFadden


Well, the wheels are clearly falling off in Pittsburgh: on Monday night they gave up a season-high 88 rushing yards to Ray Rice and allowed their fifth RB TD of the season. With the Raiders still unable to figure out which back to give the touches to—the pecking order went Fargas, McFadden, Bush for the second straight week, though it's been a month since any one back had 20 touches in a game and it's never happened when all three were healthy—it really doesn't matter who gets the carries when there's so little productivity to go around.


Chaz Schilens
Louis Murphy
Darrius Heyward-Bey

B The Steelers have allowed one WR TD in the past two months; the Raiders have scored three WR TDs all year. Unless you get points for "most yards run downfield without coming anywhere close to catching the ball", no one in this group has fantasy value.
TE Zack Miller B

Second verse, same as the first: Pittsburgh has allowed just one TE TD in the past two months, while Oakland TEs have found the end zone only twice all year. The caveat here is that Miller has put up a pair of decent yardage games(5-65-1, 5-73) with Gradkowski at the helm, but Antonio Gates is the only tight end to top 50 yards against the Steelers.

DT Raiders B Even if it's Tyler Palko this week, the Raiders' D isn't a good play. And with the Steelers using more starters on special teams, a kick return is unlikely as well.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Oakland does one thing well, or at least they used to up until they surrendered 309 and two to Tony Romo on Thanksgiving Day. That marked the first 300-passing yard game the Raiders have allowed since Week 6 of last year and just the second multiple touchdown game they've given up in 2009. No reason to rush Big Ben back into your fantasy line-up, as the Steelers demonstrated last week with Dennis Dixon at the helm that they have alternatives to Ben playing chuck and duck.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Oakland does many things very poorly, and one of them is defend the run. Over the past five games they've allowed an average of 166 RB rushing yards per game, with seven RB TDs in that span. That bodes quite well for Mendenhall; when given at least 15 carries, he's either scored or topped 80 yards or both. Rashard has 400 rushing yards and three TDs in three games against the AFC West this year, and there's little doubt the Raiders have the worst run D in the bunch.

WR Hines Ward
Santonio Holmes

Sure, you can fear Nnamdi Asomugha and a Raiders secondary that's giving up less than one WR TD per game. But the real fear here is quantity, as in the Steelers will run the ball so effectively they won't need to throw much—and what little they have will be split between Ward and Holmes. Only once when a Steeler back gets 20 carries have both Ward and Holmes received double-digit targets, and that's been a prerequisite for a wideout to get more than 75 yards against Oakland. Neither receiver should be benched outright, but it's quite possible you have an option with more upside on your roster.

WR Mike Wallace


This isn't the week to trot out a tertiary Steelers wideout.

TE Heath Miller

The Raiders haven't allowed a TE TD all year, so Miller is far more likely to give you something like his 1-2 against Baltimore than one of his infrequent touchdowns or yardage that might help your fantasy squad.

DT Steelers S2 The Steel Curtain at home against Bruce Gradkowski? If Troy Polamalu goes, bump this to an S1; unfortunately, he's doubtful

Houston (5-6) at Jacksonville (6-5)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 Here's the list of quarterbacks the Jaguars have faced since Schaub took them for 300 and three back in Week 3: Collins, Hasselbeck, Bulger, Young, Cassel, Sanchez, Fitzpatrick, Smith. Despite the craptitude of that group, Jacksonville has still allowed three multiple touchdown games and three outings of 250 yards or more. They may not be ready for a legit QB like Schaub, so 300 and three might be a baseline.
RB Steve Slaton
B Officially, Slaton is listed as questionable with a neck injury. Friday, however, Slaton was held out of practice as nerve issues stemming from the injury—which have apparently been bothering him for some time—caused enough numbness in his right thumb to warrant such a move. And you wonder why he's been fumbling? Though the questionable designation suggests a 50/50 shot at playing, Houston media is indicating Slaton will be a no-go this week. That means the Texans will be without their most talented back, one who rolled up 113 combo yards against Jacksonville in the earlier meeting; of course, the infinite wisdom of Gary Kubiak has cost him touches anyway. Move him back to your fantasy bench until there's better news about Slaton's numb thumb.
RB Chris Brown
Ryan Moats
B With Slaton unlikely to play, Brown will get the start and Moats will handle third-down work and serve as the backup. Against a Jacksonville defense that has allowed only two RB rushing scores since Week 2—and only one running back touchdown at home period—even the uptick in workload doesn't add up to much in the way of fantasy value.
WR Andre Johnson S1 Only once has a No. 1 receiver visited Jacksonville and topped 70 yards; however, every No. 1 receiver who has visited Jacksonville this year has scored a touchdown. The good news, at least as far as Johnson's fantasy owners are concerned, is that the lone foray above 70 came most recently when Terrell Owens rang up 197 and one. Johnson has been a model of consistency, with at least 62 yards in every game since Week 1; he's been even better on the road, with four 100-yard efforts and two multiple touchdown games in five outings. Rashean Mathis won't be available to help cover Johnson, meaning at minimum he'll upgrade from the 4-86 he had against Jacksonville in the earlier meeting. How much of an upgrade? All signs point to something significant.
WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones

Houston's secondary receivers have had to step it up since Owen Daniels' season ended prematurely, and they should be able to accomplish that task a little bit easier against a Jacksonville secondary that's allowed eight secondary targets to top 65 yards.

TE James Casey B

Owen Daniels scored in the earlier meeting with Jacksonville, but since he went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 8 the best effort by a Houston tight end has been two catches for 33 yards. That won't cut it against a defense that's given up only one other TE TD all year.

DT Texans B Houston's defensive unit has delivered little in the way of fantasy help; no reason to expect them to start now.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

The Jags are at home, which means it's safe to start Garrard. How about those splits? Seven of Garrard's eight TD passes have come at home, and he's averaging a healthy 86 more yards per game in Jacksonville. That 284 and one, maybe two scores isn't fantastic, but it's a whole lot better than the 198 and one-in-six shot at a touchdown Garrard has been providing on the road.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

MoJo has scored in each of his last four home games, so you can all but put a touchdown in the bank. Jacksonville's defense has been better since giving up 119 and 3 to Jones-Drew in the earlier meeting, allowing only one 100-yard game and one multi-TD effort since then. Still, Chris Johnson hit triple digits in both ends of their season series with Houston; no reason MoJo can't do the same.


Mike Sims-Walker

S2 Scoring on the road got MSW in trouble in Seattle; scoring at home makes him a great fantasy play this week. Sims-Walker has three 100-yard games in five home dates and hit 91 yards in the other two; he's scored in four of five in Jacksonville and is averaging a whopping 75 yards per game more at home than on the road.

Torry Holt

B Holt hasn't done a thing all year; no reason to expect him that to change.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis plays better at home, but he hasn't scored since Week 4 and has had only one game with decent yardage since then; tough to expect things to change against a defense that has allowed TE TDs in just two of 11 games this year.
DT Jaguars B

The Jags have yet to record a defensive or special teams touchdown this season; why start now?

New England (7-4) at Miami (5-6) Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady's 332 yards in the earlier meeting with Miami was the most the Dolphins have allowed this year, but they still held him to just one touchdown—as they've done with eight of the last nine quarterbacks they've faced. Brady has thrown multiple touchdowns in just one of his past four, so don't expect gaudy numbers here; merely good will have to do.

RB Laurence Maroney


LoMo has scored in six straight games since Sammy Morris went down with a knee injury, recording eight touchdowns in all. Morris was back last week but looked sluggish in five carries while Maroney ran as well as he has all year. LoMo rolled up 82 yards and a touchdown when these teams met back in Week 9, and while SaMo may cut into his yardage it would be difficult to see Bill Belichick taking away Maroney's goal line gig. That puts him line for another score against a Miami defense that's allowed a running back rushing score in four of five home games this year.


Kevin Faulk
Sammy Morris


Miami hasn't allowed a running back receiving touchdown since the first game of the year—a direct hit to Faulk's fantasy value. Faulk and Morris project to combine for about a third of the Patriots backfield touches, but odds are whatever production there is to be had will wind up with Maroney. Plus, Fred Taylor—who returned to practice on a limited basis Friday—looms.

WR Randy Moss
S2 How will Moss respond to the prime time egg he laid against the Saints? Will he build upon the 147 and one he dropped on Miami earlier this year? He hasn't had back-to-back games without at least one touchdown or 100 yards, so unless he's slipped into "Raider Randy" mode there's no reason to expect him to start now.
WR Wes Welker
S2 Welker saw a season-low nine targets on Monday night, but that feels like an aberration; the Dolphins don't have the offense to play keepaway like the Saints did. Miami hasn't allowed more than one WR TD in a game, so if Moss beats him to the score Wes will have to get his via quantity; the 9-84 he posted in the earlier meeting with the Dolphins suggests he's more than capable of doing so.
WR Julian Edelman
Sam Aiken
B If Moss and Welker are fighting over limited numbers, it's tough to see any of New England's tertiary targets horning in on the action.
TE Ben Watson B The Dolphins haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 8; Watson hasn't scored since Week 7. Nothing suggests either of those trends will reverse this week.
DT Patriots B Let's let the Patriots pick up the shards of what's left of their defense after getting obliterated by the Saints before giving them a fantasy go.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Henne threw for 219 and zero in his earlier meeting with the Pats and has exactly one multiple touchdown game this year. Don't let numbers suggest that New England's pass defense is slipping because they've given up 10 TDs in the past three games; nine of those 10 came from Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, and Henne is decidedly not in that class.


Ricky Williams


Ricky has three straight 100-yard games, four touchdowns in the last two, and scored in the earlier meeting with New England. The Pats have allowed just seven RB TDs all year, but Williams should get enough opportunities to buck that trend—or at least amass enough yardage to still make him a viable fantasy play.

WR Davonne Bess

B The Dolphins have three WR TDs on the year—and Bess doesn't have any of them. He did have a decent outing against New England earlier this year, with six catches for 56 yards on 14 targets. While that may be enough to differentiate him from the rest of the Miami receiving corps, it's still not enough to get him into a fantasy lineup this week.
WR Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline
Ted Ginn, Jr.

B If the best Miami WR option isn't worthy of fantasy attention, what does that say about the rest of the rabble?
TE Joey Haynos
Kory Sperry
Anthony Fasano


It wouldn't be at all surprising if a Miami tight end scored this week; three of the Dolphins four TE TDs have come against AFC East foes, while three of the four TE TDs the Pats have surrendered have come from AFC East opponents—including Hayos in the earlier meeting. The problem is identifying which Miami tight end will score. You've got a one in three chance, with little in the way of discernable trends to help you narrow it down. Your best bet? Look elsewhere for fantasy help.

DT Dolphins B You get the feeling Brady might be a little miffed about playing so poorly on Monday night and take it out on the Dolphins?
Detriot (2-9) at Cincinnati (8-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford

Stafford has had two multiple touchdown games, and they've both come in the past month. The Bengals have allowed just two multi-TD games all year, though one came just a couple weeks ago. They've also shut out three of the past four QBs they've faced and held all four under 200 yards, so you'll want to look for fantasy help elsewhere.

RB Kevin Smith

Smith isn't likely to do much on the ground against the Bengals; he hasn't had a rushing touchdown since Week 4 or topped 67 rushing yards since Week 3. However, the Bengals are among the more permissive RB receiving defenses, and Smith has 150 receiving yards and a touchdown in the last two games alone. That's his grip on fantasy relevancy this week, and it's tenuous at best.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

Megatron has scored in two straight, and after missing him for a month with a knee injury it'll be tough to put him on the bench. However, Cincy has given up just one WR TD in the past month and only five all year; moreover, they've had great success shutting down No. 1s like Brandon Marshall (4-27) and Derrick Mason (3-31 in two games). Cling to the success Andre Johnson (8-135) had, swallow hard, and plug Calvin into your lineup.

WR Bryant Johnson
Dennis Northcutt

The Bengals' secondary has rendered Megatron a borderline play; that means borderline plays like Johnson and Northcutt aren't even close.

TE Casey Fitzsimmons B

Had Cincy allowed more than one TE TD in the last month in a half, we might be able to muster a half-hearted case for Casey as a fantasy play. But they haven't, so we won't.

DT Lions B Nothing to see here; move along.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

If the Bengals want to throw, they'll be able to throw; the Lions have given up 300-plus passing yards in four straight games. They've also allowed multiple passing scores in eight of 11 games this year. But thus far Palmer has been more game manager than fantasy deity, so temper your expectations accordingly.

RB Cedric Benson

Benson's hip should be good to go, meaning he can pick up where he left off—with five straight home games with a touchdown and back-to-back 100-yard efforts at home. The Lions have allowed running back touchdowns in all five of their road games and three 100-yard efforts, so they'll be completely complicit.

RB Larry Johnson

Bernard Scott is likely to miss this game with an ankle injury, and against Detroit there's usually enough to go around; secondary backs have scored in three of the Lion's five road games. Factor in the possibility that Benson aggravates the injury—or the Bengals pull him early to make sure he doesn't—and LJ is a very sneaky deep fantasy play.

WR Chad Ochocinco


You won't sit Ocho because of the match-up; the Lions have allowed five WR TDs in the past two games alone. But Chad hasn't scored since prior to Cincy's Week 8 bye and has just 14 catches for 202 yards in the past month as the Bengals have transitioned to a run-first team. So despite the favorable foe, there's cause for fantasy concern.

WR Andre Caldwell
Laveranues Coles
B Again, it's not the matchup that is feared; Detroit has allowed five different wideouts to score in the past two weeks and 13 different wideouts have scored the 14 WR TDs the Lions have surrendered. But after Benson (and LJ) take their bite, what will be left for the passing game—and how much of that will go to Ochocinco? You probably can find other options with a more direct line to helpful fantasy numbers.
DT Bengals S2 Stafford has thrown 11 picks in the past month as the Lions have given up two defensive scores. The Bengals are as logical a choice as any to grab their share of whatever freebies Detroit is passing out.

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