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Start/Bench List - Week 14
John Tuvey
Updated: December 11, 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 York Jets (6-6) at Tampa Bay (1-11) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez has been ruled out of this contest because of the knee injury he suffered against the Bills.

QB Kellen Clemens B

The Bucs are on a roll of sorts, as Clemens will make it three straight backup quarterbacks they've faced; of course, they haven't actually beaten either Chris Redman or Matt Moore, but it's kept things interesting. Redman put together a decent fantasy outing (243 and two) after Matt Ryan went out, but he was green-lit to throw 42 passes; Moore threw just 20 times as Carolina relied on the ground game, and that's the likely route the Jets will take as well.

RB Thomas Jones S1

Tampa Bay has allowed a running back touchdown in eight straight and 10 of 12 games this year; they've also given up six 100-yard games and four 90-yard games as well. The Jets are already run-heavy, with Jones seeing at least 20 carries in each of the last seven games, and any further carries will only serve to increase what is already shaping up as a big day for the veteran. He brings a streak of nine straight with a touchdown or 100 yards (or both) into this contest, and there's nothing to suggest the Bucs are capable of stopping him.

RB Shonn Greene S3

Greene has seen double-digit carries each of the past two games, including 11-59 last week against the Bills. Tampa Bay serves up a similar defense; in fact, they've already served up 100 yards or touchdowns to multiple backs in the same game five times this year. If you jumped all over Greene after his 19-144-2 against Oakland in Week 7... this is what you've been waiting for.

WR Jerricho Cotchery
Braylon Edwards


The Bucs may get Aqib Talib back for this one; that, combined with the likely run-heavy game plan, leaves little for the Jets' receivers to divvy up. You certainly don't fear the match-up, as over the past six games Tampa Bay has allowed 10 different wideouts to top 60 yards and five to score. But with Edwards as likely to let a potential touchdown toss bounce off his facemask as catch one and the upside being 60 and a score, odds are you can do better.

TE Dustin Keller

Keller has done nothing on the road since Week 1 and it would be difficult to trust him with a fantasy start in the first round of the playoffs. But if you need to consider Keller this week, also consider that when Clemens was an injury replacement for Chad Pennington back in 2007 he threw TD passes to tight ends in each of his first three starts.

DT Jets S3 The Jets get a quarterback coming off a five-pick game; certainly there's some fantasy upside to that.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman B

Freeman has had a little bit of success the past two weeks, but he hasn't seen a secondary like the Jets will offer up. Gang Green has allowed multiple touchdowns only once all year and surrendered a total of four in the past seven games. Only two quarterbacks have topped 160 yards in that span, and only one has exceeded 225, making this far too severe of a test for the rookie to be trusted with a fantasy playoff start.

RB Carnell Williams


On the bright side, the Jets have allowed four RB TDs in the past four games; the bad news is, that's half of their total for the entire season. Caddy rushed for 92 last week against the Panthers and scored in two of three prior to that, but between Derrick Ward siphoning off some touches, a problematic back injury that has him listed as questionable, and an extremely tough match-up Caddy should remain in the fantasy garage this week.

RB Derrick Ward


As the junior share of an RBBC in which the senior partner has already been designated for benching, you pretty much know where Ward is headed.

WR Antonio Bryant


The Jets have allowed just two WR TDs over the past six games, and while Bryant might be good enough to be mentioned in the same paragraph with the two wideouts who did manage to score (Randy Moss and Mike Sims-Walker), it also means he's good enough to draw the full attention of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis.

WR Sammie Stroughter
Maurice Stovall


Tampa's secondary targets are barely usable in soft match-ups; in a shutdown match-up like this, they're completely off the board. On the bright side, at least for Stroughter and Stovall, Michael Clayton didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful for this tilt.

TE Kellen Winslow

If you're looking for a silver lining, consider that both TE TDs the Jets have allowed this year have been to players from Florida-based teams. Okay, we're reaching. Winslow has been heavily targeted since Freeman took over, averaging nine looks, five catches, and 65 yards per game with the rookie at the helm. In larger TE-mandatory leagues, that may be enough to keep Winslow in your lineup.

DT Buccaneers B This one is likely to be low-scoring, so you could sneak some fantasy points that way. But aside from that there's no compelling reason the Bucs should be in your fantasy line-up.
Cincinnati (9-3) at Minnesota (10-2) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Palmer's fantasy success hinges on whether or not the Bengals can run the ball against Minnesota. Four of the last five quarterbacks to throw at least 32 passes against the Vikings have tossed multiple touchdowns and topped 285 yards; the last four to attempt 31 or fewer passes have failed to top 231 yards and combined for just two touchdowns. Palmer has been content to be a game manager with a smattering of passes to Chad Ochocinco mixed in; expect the Bengals to at least give that game plan a go this week, significantly reducing Palmer's fantasy potential.

RB Cedric Benson

If you don't trust Benson by now—after scoring against Pittsburgh, after scoring and topping 100 yards not once but twice against the Ravens, after rushing for 141 yards against the Packers—you never will. Note that the five toughest teams against running backs are the Vikings, Steelers, Packers, Bengals, and Ravens, and that Benson has a combined 454 yards and three TDs in the four full games he's played against that bunch—not counting the defense he sees every day in practice. So is Benson a great start? No, but his recent track record suggests he'll carve out an 80 yards, 1 TD game no matter how tough the opponent.

RB Larry Johnson

Benson's 36 carries last week indicate his hip is just fine, so no LJ this week.

WR Chad Ochocinco


Ocho indicated he's disappointed he won't face Antoine Winfield, whose status for this game has yet to be determined. After watching Arizona carve up the Minnesota secondary last week it's the Vikings who should be disappointed if Winfield can't go. WR1s haven't had much difficulty getting theirs against the Vikings (Fitzgerald 143 & 1, Megatron 84, Jennings 81 & 1, Mason 97 & 1—all with Winfield out) and Palmer certainly knows where to find Ochocinco. His tour of the NFC North has included at least 91 yards and a touchdown at each of the three previous stops, so it's tough to see him not get the opportunity to steal Ragnar's horn or take the purple motorcycle for a spin.

WR Andre Caldwell
Laveranues Coles
B Same story as last week, minus the cushy match-up: with the emphasis on Cincy's ground game and Ochocinco hogging the passing stats there's no compelling reason to work Coles or Caldwell into your fantasy mix.
DT Bengals B We saw some of the vintage Favre (read: interceptions) last week against Arizona, but under the Teflon in Minneapolis No. 4 has gone 178 passes without a pick.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2

Favre has thrived on defenses selling out to stop Adrian Peterson, though he hasn't exactly been seeing shutdown Ds; the only two defenses that rank in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to QBs (Pittsburgh and St. Louis) have held Favre to a combined one touchdown. The Bengals are one spot down from the Steelers, so Favre will have his work cut out for him. He's been money at home, averaging 300 yards and better than two touchdowns per game, but Cincy has held four of five road foes to one or fewer touchdowns and limited all three NFC North quarterbacks they've faced to a single scoring strike. In other words, this one won't be easy—but if it were easy, the Vikings could have just had Tarvaris Jackson do it.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Peterson comes off his worst game of the year to face a Bengals defense that ranks among the five toughest in the league; then again, Peterson has already faced fellow top-five Ds Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Green Bay (twice), producing an average of 90 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards as well as three touchdowns in four games. He enjoys the home cooking, with at least 82 yards or a touchdown in every game and an average of 97 yards per game, so expect a concerted effort to get him back on track despite the formidable foe.

WR Sidney Rice


Early on the Bengals were having success taking away primary receivers, but successes by the non-brothers Johnson (Andre 8-135 and Calvin 6-123-1) prove you can get the ball to anyone if you try hard enough. And Favre's steady stream of throws at Rice (16 last week alone) indicate he's the go-to guy. Rice has 100 yards or a touchdown in five of six home dates, so it's difficult to see him being held down completely this week.

WR Percy Harvin


Not since Week 3 have the Bengals allowed two receivers to top 50 yards in the same game, and they haven't surrendered multiple WR TDs all year. So this was a tough sell to begin with despite Harvin's three-game scoring streak and back-to-back six-catch games. However, Harvin hasn't practiced all week due to the migraine headaches that plague him, and while he's answered the bell every Sunday thus far there's too much risk involved to keep him labeled as a fantasy starter.

WR Bernard Berrian


While Berrian's prospects would certainly brighten if he moved up in the pecking order to replace Harvin, it's still too difficult a match-up to trust him with a fantasy start.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Here's another case of everybody can't score but somebody has to score. Shiancoe brings a three game scoring streak into this tilt and has reached the end zone in four of five overall and four of five at Metrodome. The Bengals, on the other hand, have surrendered just one TE TD in the last six games. In TE-mandatory leagues Big Shank is worth the risk, but in combo WR/TE leagues you likely have a more compelling option.

DT Vikings S3

After watching Minnesota lay a big ol' defensive egg in the desert it's tough to trust them with a fantasy start against an efficient offense like Cincy's. The home field pushes them narrowly onto the start side of the ledger, but they're not getting a ringing endorsement here.


Green Bay (8-4) at Chicago (5-7)

Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

The Packers' offense looked like Bambi finding his legs in the season opener against Chicago as Rodgers sputtered to 184 yards and one touchdown. Of course, that touchdown was a game-winning 55-yarder to Greg Jennings which helped steady the Pack and launch Rodgers' successful fantasy campaign. He's topped 260 yards in nine of the 11 games since and has multiple touchdowns in three straight and nine of 10. A Chicago secondary that's allowed two five-TD games and multiple scores in five of eight is unlikely to hold Rodgers to a repeat performance.


Ryan Grant


Grant has 408 combo yards and three touchdowns in his last four games against Chicago , including 61 and 1 on the ground earlier this year. Da Bears have allowed four straight feature backs to score or top 100 yards (or both) against them, setting Grant up nicely to add to that "vs. Chicago" stat line.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver


Jennings' 6-106-1 Kickoff Weekend against the Bears turned out to be the exception rather than the rule as Driver has been the more consistent fantasy contributor. Both could rise up in any given week, and each has a trend working in their favor: Jennings has scored in four of his last five against the Bears, while Driver has now gone six straight against Chicago without finding the end zone; on the other hand, The Donald has scored in four of five road contests this year while none of Jennings' touchdowns have come outside of Lambeau. At least they share this trait: both are deserving of a fantasy play this week.

WR James Jones


Three teams (Cincy, Philly, and Minnesota) have produced three fantasy-worthy receivers against the Bears. With Jones being more targeted than Driver last week and speed guys like Percy Harvin (101 and 1) and DeSean Jackson (107 and 1) having success against Chicago, he certainly warrants consideration in larger leagues.

TE JerMichael Finley

S2 The Bears have allowed six TE TDs in the last nine games; the Pack has scored eight in the last nine, three of them—including the last two—by Finley. He's been targeted 24 times the past three games, and if Aaron Rodgers likes him that much then so should you.
DT Packers S3 For all of Jay Cutler's picks the Bears have yet to give up a defensive touchdown. He's also thrown just three of his 20 picks at Soldier Field. Still, would it surprise you at all to see Charles Woodson heading the other way with an INT?
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S2

It's been a month since Cutler topped 200 yards and more than that since he threw for multiple touchdowns. A Packers defense that's held three of the last four quarterbacks it has faced to single scoring strikes doesn't provide much optimism. But what else are the Bears gonna do, run the ball? Cutler threw for 277 and one in the season opener and something similar seems to be in the offing, if for no other reason than sheer volume of throws.

RB Matt Forte

You know the drill: bad defense, start Forte; good defense, sit him. The Packers are among the best at shutting down running backs, so at best you're looking at middling yardage and maybe some PPR help to bail you out. Otherwise, Forte's no good to you this week.


Devin Hester

S3 All three Bear wideouts put up decent fantasy numbers in the opener against Green Bay, led by Hester's 4-90-1. The Pack went on to allow multiple fantasy helpers at wide receiver in two of the next three games, but since then no wideout has topped 50 yards without also scoring a touchdown and only Minnesota scored more than one WR TD on the Packers in the same game. In other words, there's going to be one fantasy helper among this group. Hester's earlier success gave him the initial nod; that's since been tempered by a calf injury that has kept him out of practice all week and has him listed as questionable. Can you start "whomever Charles Woodson isn't covering"?

Johnny Knox
Earl Bennett

B Bennett's 2-74-1 last week was his first fantasy-relevant effort in a month; Knox has had one such outing in the past seven games. With that sort of consistency it's tough to bank on either against a solid Green Bay secondary.
TE Greg Olsen


Olsen used to sit atop Cutler's pecking order, but since his three-TD game against Arizona in Week 9; since then Chicago's only TE TD went to Kellen Davis and Olsen stumbled to a two-catch, one-yard effort in last week's win over St. Louis. The Pack held him to one catch for eight yards in the opener, but the four touchdowns and 365 yards Green Bay has given up to tight ends over the past six games suggest he's in line for a bounceback opportunity.

DT Bears B These Bears aren't generating the sacks and turnovers necessary to produce defensive fantasy points.
Carolina (5-7) at New England (7-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B With Jake Delhomme looking like he'll miss a second consecutive start with a busted finger on his throwing hand, that leaves Matt Moore in line to take advantage of a New England secondary that's allowed 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns to three of the last four quarterbacks they've faced. Only problem is, Moore is a whole lot closer to the one QB who didn't accomplish either of those milestones than he is to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and he's not going to throw the 52 passes it took Chad Henne to hit those marks.

DeAngelo Williams

S2 New England knows a little something about run-heavy offenses with two quality backs; after all, they face the Jets and Dolphins twice each year. And in those four games they allowed just one touchdown (to Ricky Williams) and one 100-yard effort (to Thomas Jones). Not saying D'Angelo can't do it, since he's had success against stout defenses (13-122 against Miami) and with Moore at the helm will get ample opportunity to do so here; just saying it won't be particularly easy.

Jonathan Stewart

B Even with Williams back in the lineup Stewart should see touches, if only because handing off 50 times between the two backs is more preferable than asking Moore to throw too much. However, Stew's primary value is as a goal line back, and against a New England defense that's allowed only three RB rushing TDs all year there doesn't project to be much available. If Williams comes up lame this week we'll reconsider Stewart, but as it stands right now he's unlikely to help a playoff-bound fantasy team.
WR Steve Smith S3

In six games in Foxborough the Patriots have allowed only two WR TDs, no 100-yard games, and only four games of more than 60 yards. Between that defense and a backup quarterback, you're starting Smith here only if you've exhausted all other options. His top end looks like 75 yards and an outside shot at a score, and that's being generous.

WR Muhsin Muhammed
Dwayne Jarrett

You saw the numbers above; there's barely enough here for Smith to have fantasy value, if even that. Reaching any further down the Carolina receiver depth chart is downright daffy.

TE Dante Rosario


Carolina tight ends haven't scored in seven games, and last week Moore barely remembered the big fellas were there with just six looks between Rosario and Jeff King. The Patriots, who have given up four TE TDs on the year, aren't the sort of matchup that suggests a reversal of those fortunes.

DT Panthers B The Panthers roll into town just in time to catch the Patriots at their angriest. Ooops.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady is being dialed back from S1 status only because he's listed as questionable, which coming out of New England can mean anything from he feels a little ooky to he's in a hospital somewhere on life support. He practiced on a limited basis Friday after sitting out both Wednesday's and Thursday's sessions and told the local media "Don't worry about me"; plus, you'd think if the Pats were truly worried they'd have brought in another quarterback as insurance. So consider Brady at least most systems go for this week. On the surface Carolina looks like a tough defense against the pass; they've allowed multiple touchdown passes only once in the past 10 games and only one QB has topped 300 yards against them. However, they've also ducked most of the league's quality quarterbacks—and the ones they have faced have either thrown multiple scores (McNabb, Warner) or posted decent yardage (Brees 330, Romo 255). Besides, if Josh Freeman can take them for 321, you have to like the chances of new papa Brady, who rolls into this game averaging 320 and two at home, with 300-plus yards in six of his last seven games.

RB Laurence Maroney


The good news is, the Panthers have allowed a running back rushing touchdown in every road game this season; the bad news is that Sammy Morris and potentially Fred Taylor lurk to take away LoMo's touches. Taylor has moved up from doubtful to questionable after practicing on a limited basis twice this week, but assuming he's on the same two-week cycle of practicing before returning to action, it's only SaMo Maroney owners need to worry about. And at present Maroney is clearly the more effective runner.


Kevin Faulk


Faulk swiped the goal line score last week and is still a contributor in PPR leagues. However, with all the cooks in the kitchen there just isn't enough batter to make cookies for everyone.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S2 The Panthers haven't allowed a WR TD in a month, though the only notable wideout they faced during that span was Roddy White, who had 98 yards. Put it another way: both the Bills and Jets are statistically tougher against wideouts than the Panthers; Welker has put up 93- and 192-yard games and Moss has a 141-yard outing and a touchdown in three matchups with those clubs. Moss has scored in four straight home games and reached triple digits in four of six, while Welker has 326 yards and two touchdowns in his last two at home. So... don't hit the panic button just yet.
WR Sam Aiken
B There may very well be enough to go around for Aiken to have a third straight productive fantasy game, but do you really want to risk the fate of your season on a third receiver against a top-five pass defense?
TE Ben Watson
Chris Baker
B Carolina has given up some decent yardage games to tight ends of late, but Watson has been a non-factor since New England's Week 8 bye and now Baker is horning in on his looks.
DT Patriots S3 New England's defense hasn't been anything special, but a home date against a backup quarterback might just be the cure to what ails them.
Seattle (5-7) at Houston (5-7) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 This is a tough time to trust the wildly inconsistent Hasselbeck, who has been shut out in his last two road games and topped 250 yards just once in four games away from Seattle. The Texans have been more hospitable of late, giving up multiple passing scores in two of their last three at home, but they've still held four of six visitors to one or zero TD tosses and no visiting quarterback has topped 275 yards. Hasselbeck gets a narrow starting nod here, but make sure you enter into this with your eyes wide open; after all, he was held to 102 and zero by the Rams the last time he hit the road.
RB Julius Jones
Justin Forsett

Jones has been abysmal on the road, producing 132 total yards in three games; his lone road score came back in Week 2. Forsett put up back-to-back 100-yard games on his last two road trips, but with Jones back in the mix he won't get enough touches to be trusted with a fantasy start. Worse, the Texans are giving up an average of just 26 receiving yards per game to running backs and have allowed just two RB receiving scores this year so Forsett isn't likely to help you out their, either.


T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson


Seattle has scored one WR TD in the past month—and it went to Deion Branch, not Housh or Burly. Over that span Housh has been slightly more targeted and more productive, though his 9-165 game four weeks ago skews the numbers slightly. The fact remains that neither has scored a road TD all year and neither has provided consistent enough yardage to warrant a fantasy start at this crucial juncture of the season.

TE John Carlson
U Carlson has been nearly invisible the past month, with just four catches in the last four games. It's an extremely favorable match-up, as the Texans have allowed 36 receptions for 375 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends over the past four games—but can you take the risk that Carlson pops back up on the radar? If you're stuck in a TE-mandatory league there's upside here, but odds are you can find a more reliable fantasy play.
DT Seahawks B The Seahawks have generated a total of four turnovers in six road games, making it extremely difficult to put up defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 Schaub practiced fully all week and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Maybe he got a look at what Seattle's secondary is giving up on the road: five straight quarterbacks have topped 250 yards (two have exceeded 300) and four of five have thrown multiple touchdowns. Schaub is already a bit of a homeboy with 264 yards or better (three 300-yard efforts) in five straight in Houston and multiple scores in four of five. Dude's playing with a dislocated shoulder; the least we can do is give him an S1 for the effort.
RB Chris Brown
Ryan Moats
S3 Unless Gary Kubiak gets cute and starts working Arian Foster and Chris Henry into the mix, the workload will be split between Brown (goal line guy) and Moats (most of the rest). Both are actually usable here, as the Seahawks have allowed RB rushing scores in five of six road games (a total of eight touchdowns in all) and have given up at least 130 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs in every game played outside of Qwest Field. The fact that they're splitting the load downgrades each a bit, but there should still be plenty to go around.
WR Andre Johnson S1 WR1s haven't posted big yardage against the Seahawks, probably because they're too busy sharing with the rest of the receiving corps. However, each of the last five WR1s Seattle has faced on the road has scored, with four of the five tallying at least 60 yards as well.
WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones

You know AJ will get his, but the good news is there should be more than enough for the rest of the receivers. Consider that 11 different opposing WRs—including six secondary targets—have scored in Seattle's last five road games. Also, over that span WR2s and WR3s have posted seven games of 50 yards or better. In fact, in each of the past five road games Seattle has allowed three different wideouts to either score or top 50 yards or both. So, start 'em if you got 'em.

TE James Casey B

This position has been essentially vacant for the Texans since Owen Daniels' season-ending injury. That means there's no one to take advantage of a Seattle defense that's allowed three TE TDs in the past five games. Oh, well.

DT Texans B Seattle hasn't traveled well, but there isn't enough evidence to suggest the Houston defense will find a way to translate that into fantasy points.

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