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Start/Bench List - Week 15
John Tuvey
Updated: December 18, 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)
Atlanta (6-7) at New York Jets (7-6) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

Ryan missed practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday; he's missed the last two games and is listed as questionable, but it sounds like he'll play. Unfortunately for him, it's against a tough foe with a rock-solid secondary and playoff aspirations. Hopefully you have another fantasy option this week.

QB Chris Redman B

Redman has put up decent yardage the past two weeks, mostly out of necessity with the running game not firing on all cylinders. That's not going to work this week against a Jets' defense that has shut out three straight quarterbacks and allowed multiple scores just once all year.

RB Michael Turner

Turner was on the same practice schedule as Matt Ryan, sitting out Wednesday and working on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. He'd be a tough start regardless of health this week, on the road and facing a very good run defense; at something less than 100 percent, you'll want to look elsewhere.

RB Jason Snelling
Jerious Norwood

The Jets have allowed one RB TD the past three games and just 188 rushing yards during that span. Turner might be capable of bucking that trend, but Snelling has done little since scoring twice against the Giants three weeks ago. Norwood isn't contributing much either, and neither warrants a fantasy start this week.

WR Roddy White B

Darrelle Revis has faced No. 1 receivers all year long. The result? WR1s to face the Jets have averaged 32 yards per game and scored three TDs in 13 games. White will likely be operating with a backup QB at the helm and definitely facing Revis. If you use him this week, you do so at your own peril.

WR Michael Jenkins B

For a time the shrewd move was to start the No. 2 receiver facing the Jets because he wouldn't be drawing Revis. However, the entire Jets secondary has been solid this season, and with Redman instead of Ryan helming the ship you don't want to plumb the depths of the Atlanta receiving corps.


Tony Gonzalez


Regardless of quarterback Gonzo has been catching passes. However, this week he runs into a Jets defense that has allowed just two TE TDs on the season—both to the Dolphins. If catches and yardage are enough, Gonzo's still an okay play; if it's scores you seek, better look elsewhere.

DT Falcons B Atlanta's defense has done nothing to warrant fantasy attention.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez practiced fully both Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable for this one. However, he wasn't playing all that great prior to the injury, and it's likely he'll be back in purely a game manager mode while feeding the running game and trying not to turn the ball over.

RB Thomas Jones S2

The Falcons have held three straight foes without RB rushing scores—though they've allowed three RB receiving scores in that span. With Leon Washington out the Jets don't really have a receiving threat coming out of the backfield, but the way Jones is running they don't need one. He has touchdowns or 100 rushing yards in 10 straight games, and there's no reason to expect Atlanta to end that run here.

RB Shonn Greene B

Greene has been seeing a bit of spot duty of late, but his fumbling issues are costing him carries—which, in turn, is making him a risky fantasy play at best even with a favorable match-up. And this match-up isn't particularly favorable.

WR Jerricho Cotchery
Braylon Edwards


Only three opposing wideouts have scored against Atlanta in the last month and a half; meanwhile, Jets receivers have just one score in the last three games. If Sanchez returns to the lineup the prospects might be a little brighter, but as it stands the Jets will be just fine keeping the ball on the ground and grinding out wins.

TE Dustin Keller

Atlanta has struggled against tight ends of late, giving up three touchdowns and three games of at least 46 yards in just the past month. With a more competent quarterback we'd be somewhat intrigued with Keller's fantasy potential; with Clemens... meh.

DT Jets S2 The Jets have seven picks in the past three games and haven't allowed a TD pass in that span. If they're facing backups, you have to like their potential for a pick-six or two.
Miami (7-6) at Tennessee (6-7) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Don't get sucked into this one. First, the Titans' secondary isn't as bad as the overall numbers suggest; they've held the last four quarterbacks to visit Nashville to a total of two touchdowns, with only one of them topping 200 yards and none besting 220. Second, aside from the two-TD aberration Henne had against New England—that required 52 attempts—he's been utterly ordinary. He won't be as bad as most quarterbacks you bench, but he won't be as good as most that you'd start. In other words, you can do better.


Ricky Williams


In the month since Ronnie Brown went down with an injury Ricky has posted three 100-yard games and scored five touchdowns. The Titans, meanwhile, have clawed their way back to respectability as a run defense but are nowhere near the shutdown unit they used to be. Don't fret that they shut out Steven Jackson last week; that had more to do with Keith Null than anything else. Prior to that Tennessee surrendered four RB TDs in three games, so Ricky will be just fine.


Davonne Bess
Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline
Ted Ginn, Jr.

B And we're back to the Miami receiving corps being a convoluted mess. Greg Camarillo with a 100-yard game? Why not? There's nothing that can be relied upon here, and as noted in the quarterback write-up above the Titans secondary is no longer the soft touch the abysmal stats they built through the first half of the season might suggest. If you must pick one Dolphin Bess is probably the safest play, but it's akin to being the tallest jockey at the track.
TE Anthony Fasano


The Titans have allowed just one TE TD over the past nine games, and since Vernon Davis hit the century mark against them a month and a half ago no tight end has topped 33 yards. Could Fasano score? Sure. So could Joey Haynos or Kory Sperry. But banking on a Dolphin tight end is like playing the green zeroes on a roulette wheel, without the big financial upside.

DT Dolphins B Miami's defense hasn't been bad, but Chris Johnson can make anyone look foolish.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young B

Young was back at practice on a limited basis Thursday and participated fully on Friday, so it looks as if he'll get the nod here. He's a fringe fantasy player even in a good week; nicked up, expect his primary role to be handing the ball to Chris Johnson.

RB Chris Johnson S1

The perception of the Dolphins is that of a tough defense in the Bill Parcells mold. However, in each of the past nine games Miami has given up a running back touchdown or a 100-yard rusher. So there's no reason to expect Johnson's streak of eight straight 100-yard games to come to an end. Same for his streak of four consecutive home games with at least 117 rushing yards and a touchdown.

WR Kenny Britt
Nate Washington
Justin Gage
B Last week was the first time since Week 3 that the Dolphins didn't give up a WR TD; it was also the first time in five games the Titans didn't score a WR TD. With the upside at one score and limited yardage, and three guys fighting for that one score, it's tough to give any a fantasy start this week.
TE Bo Scaife
B Scaife has been targeted more of late, but last week Alge Crumpler stole his touchdown. Tough to like his chances of stealing one back against a Miami defense that's allowed just one TE TD in the past 11 games.
DT Titans S3 While the Dolphins tend to play a conservative brand of football that doesn't lend itself well to allowing much in the way of defensive fantasy points, there's at least some upside to a Titans team that has three defensive touchdowns in its last three home games.

San Francisco (6-7) at Philadelphia (9-4)

Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S2

Philly has given up 222 or more passing yards in four straight home games and multiple touchdown tosses to four of six quarterbacks to visit the Linc. That bodes well for Smith, who has multiple scoring strikes in four straight and has excelled on the road with nine TDs in essentially three and a half games. He may get sacked more than he'd like against the blitzing Philly D, but through sheer volume he should put up helpful fantasy numbers.

RB Frank Gore S3

Gore is much more productive in San Francisco; he's averaging six carries and 70 more yards per game at home and has scored in all five of his home games as opposed to just three of his five on the road. Philly hasn't exactly been hospitable to opposing backs; none have topped 86 yards on the ground and they've allowed just one RB rushing score in the last five in Philly—and that was on a Tashard Choice Wildcat carry. You may get a little help from Gore as a receiving outlet against the Eagles' relentless pressure, but overall you can't expect much.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 The Eagles have allowed two 100-yard games and three WR TDs in the past two weeks. With Crabtree clearly at the fore of the receiving corps, he stands the best chance of following in those footsteps.
WR Josh Morgan B Philly has actually given up adequate yardage to secondary targets, with six wideouts topping 50 yards over the Eagles' past four home games. However, the only two WR TDs they've allowed during that span have gone to No. 1s. Ultimately, unless you're in a very large league it's unlikely Morgan will help you this week.
TE Vernon Davis S1

In the green corner, the team that's allowed the most TE fantasy points on the season; in the red corner, the top tight end in fantasy football, with touchdowns in five straight road games and four straight overall. Gotta love Vernon's chances for a knockout here.

DT 49ers B The Niners forced seven turnovers last week, but that was at home against a familiar foe; they're about eight points per game worse defensively on the road and unlikely to turn over the Eagles like they turned over the Cards.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb

Aside from ceding some goal line looks to Michael Vick, McNabb has been solid. He's dipped below 227 passing yards just once this year, and never at home, and is good for multiple touchdowns half the time. He'll face a San Francisco secondary that's struggled on the road, giving up three 300-yard games and four multiple-TD efforts in six trips. Barring a sudden commitment to the running game by Andy Reid... sorry, can't stop laughing after typing that sentence. Anyway, you'll be find with McNabb helming your fantasy squad.

QB Michael Vick

Philly's solution to its red zone issues appears to be Vick running the Wildcat. He's scored in back to back games and is getting a few more opportunities every game. In a TD-heavy scoring system, his shot at a rushing score might just outweigh other QBs hopes at whatever number of passing TDs would equal that point total.

RB Brian Westbrook B

Westbrook has been ruled out for this weekend; your fantasy team should do the same.

RB LeSean McCoy
Leonard Weaver

The 49ers run defense has ben adequate on the road, allowing just one 100-yard rusher and two RB rushing scores in the past five games. And unfortunately for fantasy owners, what little there is will not only be split between McCoy and Weaver but now you have to account for Vick taking a rushing score off the top. You could give McCoy a mild bump in PPR leagues—the Niners have allowed more RB receiving yards than any other team, including two 100-yard receiving games to RBs—but for the most part the Philly backfield falls on the side of non-helper.

WR DeSean Jackson

S2 It's been primarily No. 1s giving the Niners trouble, as six of the nine WR TDs they've allowed have gone to WR1s. Jackson's speed is giving everyone problems, and with three TDs and two 100-yard games in the past month there's no reason to bench him now.
WR Jason Avant
Reggie Brown
B The Niners don't leave much for secondary targets, and with Maclin out the Eagles aren't much looking for them anyway. No need to slide this far down the Philly depth chart looking for fantasy help.
TE Brent Celek

S2 Only one tight end has found the end zone against San Fran, but they've allowed two of the last five TEs to face them to catch seven passes; moreover, five of the last nine have at least six grabs. Assuming he can shake off the back injury that limited him in practice during the week, Celek is such an integral part of Philly's offense that even if he doesn't score he should amass enough yardage to be a fantasy helper.
DT Eagles S3 The blitzing Eagles are always a fantasy threat; if you get credit for returns as well, bump the grade up to an S2 as DeSean Jackson is a threat to take any kick back all the way.
Houston (6-7) at St. Louis (1-12) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 The Rams just gave up 286 and two to the tag-team of Vince Young and Kerry Collins; you think they're going to hold up against Schaub, fresh off 365 and 2 despite basically being shut down at halftime? Four of Schaub's seven 300-yard games have come on the road, and this has all the makings of another.
RB Chris Brown
Arian Foster
S3 Somebody's gonna make some fantasy hay against a defense that has allowed RB TDs in five straight game as well as in every single home game, a total of 12 in all. Brown is the goal line guy, starter, and best blocker; that earned him a whopping three carries last week. Foster is the Arian-Come-Lately, elevated from the practice squad in time to impress Gary Kubiak enough last week to take carries away from Ryan Moats. Foster is the better play in yardage and PPR leagues, while Brown still projects to be the touchdown guy. Of course, Kubiak still has Chris Henry in reserve...
RB Ryan Moats
B This much we know: Kubiak hates fumbling, and after Moats put one on the ground last week he was banished to the bench and never heard from again. He's also the worst blocker of the group, which will preclude him being on the field as a third-down back. But before jumping to the conclusion that all of the above rules him out of the mix, keep in mind that this is Kubiak calling the shots, and he studied at the feet of Mike Shanahan.
WR Andre Johnson S1 The Rams haven't given up gaudy numbers to wideouts, though they have surrendered four 100-yard games to the likes of Boldin, Holt, MSW, and Jennings. All of those came before they lost their best defensive back, Oshiomogho Atogwe. In other words, their chances of stopping Johnson, coming off an 11-193-2 outing last week, are somewhere between slim and none. And slim just left town.
WR Kevin Walter
David Anderson
Jacoby Jones

Schaub threw for nearly 400 yards last week, 300-plus in the first half... and the best a secondary receiver could come up with is 49? Clearly, he only has eyes for AJ, so hoping for trickle-down isn't likely to help your fantasy squad.

TE James Casey B

Houston hasn't received any production from this spot since Owen Daniels went down with an injury, so don't bother looking.

DT Texans S3 If it's Keith Null at the helm again the Texans are at least worth a flier. Heck, even if it's Kyle Boller you'd still have a shot at a pick six.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Keith Null

Kyle Boller missed Wednesday's practice with an illness, delaying the Rams' epic decision on who'll start this week. Doesn't really matter either way, unless you're an immediate family member.

RB Steven Jackson

To the Texans' credit they held Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, and Joseph Addai scorless... the second time they saw each. The first time through, however, that trio combined for seven touchdowns. Since they haven't seen Jackson yet they may not be prepared; then again, who else on the Rams would you game plan to stop? Jackson has four 100-yard rushing games in six home dates and has reached triple-digit yardage from scrimmage in all six at the Ed; he's also scored in three straight in St. Louis. He's all the Rams have going for them, but he's also all the Rams have going for them. Jackson didn't practice Wednesday because of a back injury, which wasn't surprising; he missed Friday's session with an illness, and with the swine flu running through the Rams' locker room that may be the biggest concern. You'll have to check the pregame reports to see if Jackson is healthy enough to play.

WR Donnie Avery
Danny Amendola
Brandon Gibson


Since Laurent Robinson went down with a season-ending injury Avery is the only member of this group who's had a fantasy-relevant game—and he hasn't done anything the past two weeks. You could maybe reach for him out of desperation, but odds are you'll find more help just about anywhere else you look.

DT Rams B In their first game sans Otagwe the Rams gave up 47 points. It doesn't project to get any better the rest of the way.
Oakland (4-9) at Denver (8-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Charlie Frye B

The good news is, Frye is extremely likely to put up better numbers against the Broncos than JaMarcus Russell did in the earlier meeting. That means you can expect something north of 61 yards and no touchdowns. However, since the only quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns against the Broncos this year are Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tom Brady and no quarterback has topped 275 yards against them, don't go overboard with those expectations.

RB Justin Fargas
Darren McFadden


Fargas scored last week, providing the Raiders' ground game with its first fantasy relevancy in a month. He had a couple of decent games against Denver last year but can't be counted on while splitting touches with McFadden against a defense that's allowed just one RB TD in the past three games and a total of seven on the season.


Louis Murphy
Chaz Schilens
Johnnie Lee Higgins

B The Big Gradkowski gave this group at least a fantasy pulse, providing four of their five touchdowns on the season. Tough to expect Frye to pick up where he left off, especially against a secondary that's allowed two WR TDs in the last five games.
TE Zack Miller B

Dallas Clark single-handedly doubled the Broncos' TE TDs allowed with a triple last week. You can't expect similar results for Miller, though he may be the Raiders' best hope at putting up serviceable fantasy numbers.

DT Raiders B Individually, there's some talent here; collectively, nothin'.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

After carrying the team all year, it appears that Oakland's pass defense is starting to wear down. They've allowed multiple touchdown tosses in three straight, providing maybe a glimmer of optimism for Orton—who himself has multiple scores in back-to-back tilts. Don't get too excited, though; even a step up from the 151 and one he posted on Oakland back in Week 3 still barely registers on the fantasy radar.


Knowshon Moreno

S1 Moreno carried 21 times for 90 yards and a touchdown back in the Week 3 meeting with Oakland—and that was with Correll Buckhalter stealing 14 carries and 108 yards. With the General out for this tilt, the vast majority of the workload will fall to Knowshon. That means he can expect to follow in the footsteps of the seven backs who have already posted 100-yard games on the Raiders, or perhaps the four backs who had multiple touchdown games against Oakland, or at least the eight other running backs who reached the end zone against the Silver and Black.

Correll Buckhalter

B The General is listed as doubtful this week because of an ankle injury. That means a slight uptick in touches for Peyton Hillis and a whole lot more work for Moreno.
WR Brandon Marshall

The formerly unbeatable Oakland secondary has allowed 100-yard games to Santonio Holmes (149 and 1) and Miles Austin (145 and 1) in the last three weeks. You know what Marshall did last week; Nnamdi Asomugha can prevent at least part of that from happening, but probably not all of it. It's not as if Orton throws the ball elsewhere.

WR Eddie Royal
Brandon Stokley
Jabar Gaffney


When one guy catches 21 balls in a game, it sends a message to the other guys in that team's receiving corps. In this case, the message it sends is that none of them warrant fantasy consideration.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham


Last week Fred Davis scored the first two TE TDs the Raiders have allowed, primarily because they don't have a wide receiver worth throwing to. The Broncos do, and with what's left split between Scheffler and Graham neither is deserving of a fantasy start.

DT Broncos S3 Oakland's just one twisted ankle away from more JaMarcus Russell.

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