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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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)
 
 

Washington (3-9) at Oakland (4-8)

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Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell has been slightly worse on the road, topping 256 yards just once and throwing multiple scores twice in six games. The Raiders pass defense, on the other hand, has been significantly better at home in allowing three touchdowns in six games, pitching three shutouts, and allowing no quarterback to top 269 yards. Put them together and it adds up to another week on the fantasy bench for Campbell.

RB Quinton Ganther
S3 Oakland's run defense has actually been slightly worse at home than on the road, giving up an average of 148 RB rushing yards and more than one RB TD per game to visiting backs. And with Ganther taking over as the Redskins' starting back this week, it is he who will benefit from the Raiders' largesse. Even if he shares some of the carries with Rock Cartwright, Ganther is looking at the biggest day of his young NFL career.
WR Devin Thomas

S3 The Raiders have allowed only three WR TDs in six home games, so a score from this group is unlikely. However, in those six games Oakland has allowed seven different receivers to top 60 yards. So if 60 yards and an outside shot at a touchdown floats your boat, Campbell's newfound toy might just be your answer.
WR Santana Moss

B Used to be Moss was the lone fantasy-relevant receiver in Washington, but after Thomas' breakout performance last week he's slipped on the radar. If he slips on Oakland's radar as well, it might be he and not Thomas sneaking away with that 60 and 1.
TE Fred Davis B

Davis has scored in two straight and been targeted nine times in each. But unless you think he can go where Owen Daniels, Brent Celek, Jason Witten, and Antonio Gates (twice) have failed to go—namely, the end zone against Oakland—then he's purely a yardage play and likely bench fodder in all but the deepest TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Redskins B Two weeks ago it would have been all systems go for the Redskins D against whatever quarterback the Raiders were trotting out there, but now that Bruce Gradkowski has actually demonstrated some competence you can go back to ignoring the Washington fantasy D.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Bruce Gradkowski B

Gradkowski returns to Oakland a conquering hero after 308 and three in the upset of Pittsburgh. However, now he gets an Oakland secondary that has not allowed a multi-TD game in six road trips and held three opponents under 200 passing yards. You could see the glass as half full, but it's likely that Al Davis will spill it anyway.

RB Justin Fargas

S3

The Redskins have allowed 100 rushing yards or a touchdown—or both—in every road game this year, so there's fantasy points to be had. By virtue of being the only Raiders RB to score in the last two months, Fargas gets the tepid nod.

RB Michael Bush
Darren McFadden

B

Of course it's possible Bush or McFadden usurp Fargas for touches this week; anything is possible in Oakland. Likely enough to warrant a fantasy start, however, is another thing entirely.

WR

Louis Murphy

S3 There's maybe a touchdown to be had here, as well as the potential for a bit of yardage against a Washington secondary that's allowed four WR TDs in six road games but two in the last two as well as 94 and 63 yard efforts in that same span. And since Murphy seems to be the Big Gradkowski's go-to guy, he's the pick to click here.
WR

Chaz Schilens
Johnnie Lee Higgins

B It's all too overwhelming, the sudden resurgence of the Raiders' receiving corps. Best to let things settle down before rushing in and throwing Schilens and Higgins into your fantasy lineup.
TE Zack Miller B

Miller has also seen a slight uptick in fantasy value with the emergence of Gradkowski; however, not enough to warrant using him against a Redskins defense that's allowed only one TE (future HOFer Tony Gonzalez) to score on them in the past two months.

DT Raiders B Didn't the Raiders have really good special teams last year? What happened?
 

St. Louis (1-11) at Tennessee (5-7)

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St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller
B

Boller has posted two utterly forgettable road games this year, failing to throw a single touchdown and totalling just 221 yards in the two games. On the surface you might think a date with the "soft" Titans secondary would provide respite, but in fact the last three quarterbacks to visit Nashville have thrown for 220, 191, and 139 yards and combined for one touchdown between them. So if you're looking for a sleeper QB, keep looking.

RB Steven Jackson
S2

The Titans are no longer a shutdown run D, more of a middle of the pack type this year. Not that anything would dissuade you from using Jackson, who has 100 rushing yards or a touchdown—or both—in six straight games. Unless the back injury puts him in street clothes—he didn't practice all week, just like the previous two weeks, but he's listed as questionable—he belongs in your fantasy lineup.

WR Donnie Avery
Danny Amendola
Brandon Gibson


B

For the season, the Titans are the most WR-friendly fantasy defense in the league. But they've improved dramatically since the 59-0 pasting in New England, to the point that Lee Evans is the only visiting wide receiver to score in their last three home games. With Boller at the helm the pickings will be slim already, certainly not enough to warrant plugging any Ram wideout into your fantasy lineup.

DT Rams B St. Louis just lost its best defensive player when Oshiomogho Atogwe went on IR. That isn't going to improve their prospects for a defensive score.
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young B

However good the St. Louis secondary has been—surprisingly so, giving up just one 300-yard game and pitching three shutouts in six road tilts—the loss of Oshiomogho Atogwe stings more than a little. Enough to make Young a viable fantasy play? Meh; he's still a 200 and one or two TD kind of guy, and Chris Johnson should handle most of the heavy lifting this week—especially with Young having tweaked his knee Thursday and sitting out Friday's practice. He's listed as questionable, which is more than enough reason for you to look elsewhere for fantasy help..

RB Chris Johnson S1

Johnson comes into this game with seven straight 100-yard rushing efforts; a date with the Rams, who rank fourth in fantasy points allowed to running backs, provides a big boost as he makes his charge towards 2,000 yards.

RB LenDale White B

With Johnson in pursuit of CJ2K, you can't even expect LenDale to pick up some garbage time yards in this cushy match-up.

WR Kenny Britt
S3 It's Britt who's sporting the three-game scoring streak, so it's Britt who gets the nod as the only member of the Titans' passing game worthy of a fantasy start this week.
WR Nate Washington
B Washington remains in the mix, but right now it's Britt who has caught VY's fancy and there just won't be enough to go around for multiple wideouts to have fantasy value.
TE Bo Scaife
B Scaife scored the Titans' first TE TD of the season last week; against a defense that has allowed just three TE TDs the past 11 games—to Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, and Visanthe Shiancoe, all top-10 tight ends—a second seems unlikely.
DT Titans S2 Tennessee's defense hasn't been generating many turnovers of late, but a visit from Boller should turn that around—and provide an opportunity for defensive fantasy points as well.
 

San Diego (9-3) at Dallas (8-4)

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers rides back-to-back 300-yard, two-TD outings into this game, where he'll face a Dallas defense that hasn't allowed a visiting QB to top 260 yards since Week 2. Then again, there's a difference between facing Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell, and Jake Delhomme and facing a quarterback who has multiple touchdowns in four of the past five road games and has topped 250 yards in four of six away from San Diego.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
S3 Brandon Jacobs' TD against Dallas last week was the first RB rushing score the Cowboys had allowed in six games. So LT puts his four-game scoring streak on the line against a Dallas D that's allowed only one RB rushing TD in six games at Jerry Jones Stadium. With a road high of 73 he's not going to get you yardage; the question then becomes how much do you trust him to reach the end zone. An S3 suggests "not so much."
RB Darren Sproles
B Sproles clings to value in PPR leagues with 9-122-1 as a pass-catcher over the past two games. The Cowboys, however, have allowed only four backs to catch five or more passes against them making Sproles a reach even in this format.
WR Vincent Jackson
S3

This is the game that tests how you feel about Jackson and whether or not he's entered the realm of "every week fantasy starter". He's mired in a four-game slump in which he hasn't scored or topped 56 yards, and a match-up with a Dallas defense that has allowed only one 100-yard game in the past 10 and two WR TDs in the last five doesn't help. Here, he gets one more pass in hopes that he can emulate Steve Smith's 100-yard game or Hakeem Nick's touchdown from a week ago—or, better still, both.

WR Malcolm Floyd
Legedu Naanee
B The Cowboys have allowed multiple WR TDs in the same game just twice all year, while the Bolts have gone back-to-back tilts without a single WR score. If there's one to be had here it's likely going to Jackson, so wait for a more favorable match-up before using either of San Diego's secondary targets.
TE Antonio Gates S2

With the wide receivers on hiatus Gates has stepped up with his second multiple touchdown outing and second and third 100-yard games of the season over the past fortnight. But he's also been rock-solid consistent, with at least 60 yards in nine of 12 games this season. The Cowboys have fared well against tight ends, but their biggest yardage game (73) and two of the four TE TDs they've allowed have come in the past five weeks. And... Gates isn't exactly your ordinary every-day tight end.

DT Chargers S2 This one feels more like a shootout than an opportunity for defensive fantasy points.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo has multiple TD tosses in three of his last four home games and 300-yard outings in two of those four. A date with a defense that just gave up 271 and three to Brady Quinn looks mighty promising to a quarterback coming off back to back 300-yard efforts.

RB Marion Barber
Felix Jones
S3

Two thirds of the Cowboys' rushing yardage have come at home. Barber has 60 yards or a touchdown (or both) in four of five at home, while Jones has chipped in 90 yards or a score in three of six. That's the good news; the bad news is the Chargers haven't allowed a running back rushing score in four straight road games, with every back held to 80 yards or less during that span as well. San Diego just lost another nose tackle to injury, so they'll be a little softer up front—and that's enough to tip the scales slightly in favor of the 'Boys.

RB Tashard Choice B

Choice will get a handful of snaps as the Wildcat quarterback, but not enough to be given a fantasy start.

WR Miles Austin
S2

After succumbing briefly to all the extra attention, Austin returned to the saddle with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. The Chargers' secondary won't be an easy nut to crack, but they've surrendered enough yardage and scores—notably big days to all three Philly wideouts and 57 and one to the Giants' Steve Smith—to suggest Austin can stay hot.

WR Roy Williams

B

Despite Roy's big game last week he's not as likely as Austin to find success; it's been the speed receivers, not the bigger targets, who have put up numbers against San Diego.

TE Jason Witten S2

While the Chargers have been better of late against tight ends, they're still struggling to stop them; look no further than the 6-80 they surrendered to Evan Moore last week. Witten rolls in with consecutive 100-yard games under his belt, resuming his place high on Romo's pecking order. While TDs have been hard to come by—Witten hasn't scored since Week 2—he has a good shot at a third straight triple-digit effort.

DT Cowboys B With one sack allowed in the last three games and one turnover in the past four the Chargers aren't giving opposing defenses much to work with fantasy-wise.
 

Philadelphia (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5)

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Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb
S2

McNabb went for 240 and three in Week 8; since then the Giants have played three home games and given up multiple touchdown tosses in all three. While Giants Stadium hasn't been particularly kind to McNabb—he's never thrown more than one TD in a game there, including two postseason meetings and one game against the Jets—but in his swan song there he's poised to send it out with a bang.

RB Brian Westbrook B

Westy has been cleared to return to practice, but he was limited all week and has already been ruled out for this week's tilt.

RB LeSean McCoy
Leonard Weaver
B

McCoy (11-82-1) and Weaver (8-75-1) both posted solid outings against the Giants in the earlier meeting; maybe that was a sign of things to come, as last week the workload was split three ways between McCoy, Weaver, and Eldra Buckley. It's tough to see enough backfield productivity for two backs against the Giants, let alone three, even though Big Blue has surrendered five RB TDs in the past five home games. Between Philly's pass-first emphasis and three forks in the pie, this is a situation fantasy players would do well to avoid.

WR DeSean Jackson

S2 Jackson should return from his concussion this week, just in time for another shot at the Giants. He posted 78 yards and a touchdown against them in the earlier meeting and should join his teammates in finding success against a Giants' secondary that's allowed six WR TDs in the last three home games.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avant
S3 Maclin had 47 yards and a score in the previous meeting with the Giants, while Avant had just 32 yards as his role in the offense was still developing. Both are decent fantasy plays against a Giants' defense that has allowed three TDs to WR2s in the past two home games and six different wideouts to top 50 yards in their past four at the Meadowlands. Maclin is listed as questionable with a foot injury, but after missing both Wednesday and Thursday he practiced fully on Friday so he should be good to go.
TE Brent Celek

S2 Celek's 4-61-1 against the Giants came in the middle of five straight games in which New York allowed TE TDs. While they've held their last two foes without tight end touchdowns, they've also given up 254 yards to the position. So Celek is set up to have another solid outing.
DT Eagles S3 Philly's aggressive defense is always a good fantasy play, but the Giants do a good job of taking care of the ball and haven't ceded a defensive score to the Eagles since late in 2006.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Manning has just one multiple-touchdown effort in his last six against the Giants; he also has only one game with more than 225 yards in that span. Eli has been more comfortable in the Meadowlands, with multiple TDs in three straight and four of five at home. The recency vs. primacy tussle lands Eli on the plus side of the start/bench line, but just barely.

RB Brandon Jacobs

S2

Jacobs appears to have regained his role as designated scorer, with four touchdowns in his last four at home. He was shut out by the Eagles in the earlier meeting despite 86 rushing yards, but his resurgent scoring makes him a viable fantasy play here.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

B

Bradshaw scored in the previous meeting with Philly despite just 21 yards on nine carries. After a strong start he's been a definite afterthought at home, with between 32 and 47 yards but zero scores in his last four at Giants Stadium. His spate of injuries, the Eagles' solid run defense, and Jacob's recent surge all conspire to put Bradshaw on the fantasy bench.

WR Steve Smith

S3

Philly has allowed just three WR TDs in six road games and just five overall since their Week 4 bye, so fantasy points might be tough to come by for New York wideouts. Smith is the steadiest contributor, with at least 68 yards or a touchdown—or both—in every game this season. That 68-yard baseline came in the earlier meeting with Philly, but coming off a 110-yard effort at home he's the safest bet for fantasy production here.

WR Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks

B

Nicks had 53 yards in the earlier Eagles game while Manningham did not play due to injury, and both offer enough uncertainty here to warrant a benching. Nicks has one TD in his last five games and hasn't topped 66 yards in any of them, while Manningham hasn't scored since Week 6 and has only a 126-yard effort in Week 11 to salvage his fantasy value during that dry spell. With yardage limited and touchdowns at a premium, it would be wise to avoid digging too deep into the Giants' receiving corps for fantasy help.

TE Kevin Boss S3

No team has given up more fantasy points to tight ends than the Eagles, and Boss' 3-70-1 in the earlier meeting only serve to reinforce that stat. While the wideouts fight amongst themselves it may very well be Boss who sneaks away with another score.

DT Giants B It's been almost three months since the Giants' last defensive touchdown, and there's no compelling reason to expect one here against the Eagles.
 

Arizona (8-4) at San Francisco (5-7)

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Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Warner's 288 and one against the Niners in the season opener was a bit of a letdown, seeing as he came in averaging 336 and two against San Francisco in his previous three. While San Francisco's secondary looks stout in having shut out four of the last six QBs they've faced—and three in a row at home—they've also given up at least 300 yards in three of their past four overall and three of four at home. Warner rolls in with five straight multi-TD games and should give that average another boost.

RB Tim Hightower
S3 The Cards have actually been more inclined to run the ball on the road, where Hightower has double-digit carries in five of six, scoring four touchdowns and posting a 100-yard game in that span. The Niners have given up nine RB TDs in the last eight games, putting the odds on Hightower's side for another six-pointer here.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Wells has seen only slightly less work than Hightower, with double-digit totes in four of six on the road. However, he's turned that workload into just two touchdowns and no games with more than 74 yards, making him the secondary option in this backfield—in a match-up that doesn't offer enough potential productivity to warrant another RB fantasy starter.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

S2

Fitz has scored in eight of 11 with Warner at the helm, including five touchdowns in as many road games. Boldin looks completely recovered from his ankle injury with games of 105, 103 and 1, and 98 and 2 over the past month. Both are every-week fantasy starters. The Niners have allowed only one visiting wide receiver to score on them, but Roddy White tore them up with 210 and two—and both Fitz and Boldin are just as capable of a monster game.

WR Steve Breaston
B

Breaston has been an afterthought for the last month, with just five catches and 34 yards in the past three games combined. The Niners aren't leaving enough scraps on the table for secondary targets to get fantasy numbers, so leave Breaston on your bench this week.

TE Ben Patrick
B

The Cardinals' brief flirtation with tight ends has ended, and it isn't likely to be rekindled by a match-up with a San Francisco defense that's allowed only one TE TD all year.

DT Cardinals B Arizona's defense looked pretty good last week, but the Niners aren't offering enough opportunities for fantasy points on that side of the ball.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S2

Shaun Hill put up 208 and 1 against Arizona in the season opener; since then there have been more than a few changes in San Francisco. For starters, they're throwing the ball more... a lot more, to the point that Smith has 300-plus yards in three straight in four of the last five. Arizona has given up 300-yard efforts in three of their last five and 369-plus in two of their last three on the road, meaning all indications point towards another round of big numbers for Smith.

RB Frank Gore S3

Gore's touches are rapidly declining as the Niners complete the transition to a pass-oriented shotgun attack, but he clings to fantasy value here based on 20-plus touches and scores in each of his last three home games. He's aided by an Arizona defense that has allowed triple-digit combo yardage to feature backs in three straight road games and RB TDs in three of their last four away from Arizona.

WR Michael Crabtree
Josh Morgan

S3 Crabtree has been the Niners' most targeted wideout since joining the team—and his looks have actually increased in his two months with the squad. The last couple of weeks Morgan has joined in on the fun with 16 targets, 12 catches, 99 yards, and a touchdown. While Smith's primary receiver is Vernon Davis, both Crabtree and Morgan are riding the coattails of Smith's passing numbers to fantasy success.
TE Vernon Davis S1

This is a different offense than the one that produced five catches and 40 yards for Davis in the season opener—not to mention a different Davis. He's scored in three straight and has 100-yard games in three of the last five, and a date with an Arizona defense that has allowed as many TE TDs as all but one other team should only extend his streaks.

DT 49ers B With Warner back at the helm the Cardinals offense is firing on all cylinders; looking for fantasy help from a defense that's stepping in front of this oncoming bus seems silly.

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