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Start/Bench List - Week 12
John Tuvey
Updated: November 26, 2010
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NEP at DET PIT at BUF MIN at WAS STL at DEN Start/Bench List by Position
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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 England at Detroit Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady strolls into this tilt with three straight multiple touchdown outings; clearly, he's surviving life after Randy Moss. His numbers may be dampened by the running game's success—similar to last week against Indy—but his taste for turducken should propel him to a solid fantasy helper here.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Law Firm has eight touchdowns in his last seven games and 240 yards from scrimmage in the last two weeks alone. While there's always a risk Bill Belichick will suddenly decide Sammy Morris needs more carries, heading into this game Green-Ellis looks to be the load carrier against a Lions defense that's surrendered the third-most fantasy points to RBs.


Danny Woodhead


No team has given up more receiving TDs to running backs, and only three teams have given up more receiving yardage to backs than the Lions. Plus, Woodhead is getting a few more carries as well—and doing something with them.

WR Wes Welker S2 While the Lions secondary has been much improved over seasons past, guys working the same area of the field as Welker—underneath, coming out of the slot—have had plenty of success against them: from Santana Moss (6-56) to Percy Harvin (6-62-1) to Danny Amendola (12-95). It certainly helps Welker's prospects that last week he snapped Brady's myopic focus on tight ends in the red zone with his first score in two months.
WR Deion Branch S3 Receiver success against Detroit hasn't been confined to the slot; deep threats from DeSean Jackson (4-135-1) to Anthony Armstrong (3-92) to Santonio Holmes (5-114) have gotten behind Detroit safeties. Branch saw 10 targets last week and is firmly on Brady's radar.
TE Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski
S3 New England's matching set of rookie TEs has alternated scoring weeks, and if that pattern holds Gronkowski would be in line for a TD. But the Lions have allowed only two TE TDs all year, so it's a bit of a risk. Detroit has given up 48 or more yards to tight ends in each of their last three against teams that actively throw to the position, which would suggest Hernandez might be in play in performance leagues as well. Neither is a must-start, but if you're strapped for help in a TE-mandatory league both have their upsides.
DT Patriots S3 Not that the Lions are turning the ball over, but New England's defense is starting to come together. And if your league scoring system also incorporates returns, it's worth noting that the Lions have allowed two return TDs in the past month.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill S2

Only once in six full games this season has Hill failed to throw for 300 yards or toss multiple touchdowns, and his two home games have yielded 562 yards and five TD tosses. This week he catches a New England defense that's allowed 783 passing yards and seven touchdowns over the past two weeks, and he won't have much of a running game at his disposal.

RB Jahvid Best B

Best has done nothing for the past two months other than add a second turf toe injury to the one he's been battling since Week 3. He's expected to play, but there's no reason to suddenly expect him to start playing well.

RB Maurice Morris B

With Best ailing and Kevin Smith on IR, it may actually come to Morris getting significant touches here. While teams of late have had success against the Pats by throwing the ball to their backs, I'm hesitant to predict much for Morris here because... well, he's just not that good.

WR Calvin Johnson S1

Megatron has nine touchdowns and three 100-yard efforts in his last seven games—and that includes his Week 9 banishment to Revis Island. The same Patriots secondary that has allowed 8-107-1 to Reggie Wayne and 8-136-2 to Mike Wallace—and that's just the past two weeks—won't be pulling a Revis on Johnson, making him one of the weeks' better plays.

WR Nate Burleson S2

Finally, the Lions have their wingman: Burleson has four touchdowns in six games since returning from his injury. Like Megatron, Burly faces a favorable matchup against a New England secondary that's given up three TDs to secondary targets Blair White and Emmanuel Sanders over the past few weeks.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S2

Pick your trend, it points to a favorable fantasy day for Pettigrew. No team throws more to their TEs than Detroit, only seven teams give up more fantasy points to the position than the Pats, and last week New England surrendered both a big yardage day (7-60 to Jacob Tamme) but also a touchdown (to Gijon Robinson).

DT Lions B Looking to Detroit's defense for fantasy points against the Pats would be like having sweet potatoes without the brown sugar and marshmallow glaze: sure, you can do it, but why?
New Orleans at Dallas Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

The Cowboys have allowed multiple touchdown passes in five straight games, with every quarterback putting up at least 260 yards. Brees trumps that with six consecutive multi-TD efforts, and he hasn't dipped below 260 since Week 2. He may be the best play of the weekend, the main course on your Turkey Day football buffet.


Chris Ivory


With Bush still iffy and Pierre Thomas nowhere to be found, the onus of the ground game will continue to fall on Ivory. He's put up the two best RB days by a Saint this year and faces a Dallas D that's already served up four 100-yard games.


Reggie Bush


Bush was supposed to go last week and surprised us with a late deactivation. He's supposed to go again this week, but unless you want to leave the stuffing behind and spend your Thursday morning monitoring the pregame shows—talk about a way to lose your appetite—best give him at least one more week off.

WR Marques Colston S1

Colston has four TDs and two 100-yard games in his last four outings and is starting to remind fantasy owners why he was considered a WR1 coming into the season. Doesn't matter if he's a WR1 or WR2 this week; the Cowboys have surrendered WR TDs to 10 different wideouts over the past five games, with four 100-yard outings to boot.

WR Robert Meachem

Over the past five weeks no team has given up more yardage, touchdowns, or fantasy points to wide receivers than the Cowboys. Meachem is seeing more snaps than either Lance Moore or Devery Henderson, and at a very opportune moment so he can take advantage of this very favorable matchup.

WR Lance Moore
Devery Henderson

It's not that Moore and/or Henderson are bad plays, but with Meachem seeing more field time and the tight ends becoming more involved and the ground game needing to be fed... like Grandma Dodo's stuffing, there simply may not be enough to go around.

TE Jimmy Graham S2 In Jeremy Shockey's absence, the rookie has been sharing time with Dave Thomas; more importantly, he's been seeing a larger portion of the looks. Thomas put up 8-77 against Dallas last year—again with Shockey out—but this year those looks project to go to Graham.
DT Saints S3 Green Bay debacle aside, Jon Kitna has been taking pretty good care of the ball. But recently we've seen signs of the same Saints defense that produced fantasy points a year ago, so they're at least worth a look.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna S3

No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Saints; they've only given up multiple passing scores once all year—to Matt Ryan back in Week 3. Kitna has back-to-back games with three TD tosses, but he'll find the going much more difficult this time around. And with the Cowboys running a little more since Jason Garrett took over, Kitna's opportunities to put up helpful yardage may be reduced as well.

RB Felix Jones
Marion Barber

Jones is playing through a hip injury and Barber is seeing an uptick in carries; unfortunately, that means there are now two backs sharing a workload that was barely producing one viable fantasy play. Against a Saints' defense that's given up just two RB TDs in its last six games, no need to reach for either here.

WR Dez Bryant S2

Bryant has five touchdowns in the five games since Kitna took over, and he's been targeted more frequently than Miles Austin in every one of Kitna's starts. The Saints secondary comes off a game in which it looked almost human, surrendering two of its three biggest fantasy days of the year. At minimum Bryant is the most targeted Cowboy and a matchup nightmare in the red zone, making him a solid fantasy play despite the difficult matchup.

WR Miles Austin S3

While Austin has been overtaken by Bryant in the pecking order, Miles isn't that far behind. He'll face the same struggles against a solid Saints secondary, but he'll also see enough looks to have an opportunity to produce a decent fantasy day.

TE Jason Witten S3

The Saints haven't allowed a notable fantasy game to a tight end since Tony Gonzalez in Week 3, but Witten remains targeted enough to be started in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Cowboys B New Orleans' offense is heating up; you don't want to throw a fantasy defense in front of that runaway train.

Cincinnati at New York Jets

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S3

Palmer had two shots—albeit one abbreviated—at the Jets last year and didn't do much damage. And while statistically the Jets aren't nearly as imposing, over their past five games they've allowed only one multi-touchdown effort and no quarterback to top 260 yards. Palmer brings a streak of seven consecutive multiple-TD games in this contest, and given the likelihood that the Bengals won't be able to run the ball he should have plenty of chances to pad his yardage as well. That said, you should be able to find a better option elsewhere.

RB Cedric Benson S3

Benson successfully hammered away at the Jets (21-169-1) in Cincy's playoff loss last year, and more recently Peyton Hillis (82-1) and Arian Foster (84-2) have punched holes in Gang Green as well. Don't hold your breath for a repeat of last year's showing, but unless you're sporting serious running back depth Benson is a viable fantasy play.

WR Terrell Owens
Chad Ochocinco

So... who draws Revis? Not that the Jets are a one-trick pony in the secondary, but in three games between TO and Ocho last year Revis allowed a total of eight catches for 72 yards. The diva duo is back to essentially sharing the spotlight, which could mean they share Revis. Maybe that allows each to sneak into the bottom end of fantasy relevancy, but ultimately you'll be best served looking for a more reliable option elsewhere.

TE Jermaine Gresham S3 Gresham makes a sneaky play here, especially if the Jets' corners have the outside blanketed. New York has allowed a TE TD or 74 yards to the position—or both—in each of its last three games, and the way Gresham is involved in the Cincy offense he may wind up being Carson Palmer's favorite receiver this week.
DT Bengals B At one point the Cincy secondary was to be feared; now their defense is all kinds of banged up and not worthy of fantasy consideration.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez S2

The banged-up Bengals secondary limps into this one after giving up 316 and four to Ryan Fitzpatrick; you can hear Sanchez licking his chops. The Sanchize hasn't thrown for less than 250 yards in four starts and has increased his TD output each week during that span. If you can stomach the amateurish production values and inept broadcast booth—if you even get the NFL Network—you should see Sanchez put on quite a show.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S2

Tomlinson had a triple-digit combo-yardage day against the Bengals last season as a member of the chargers, and with Shonn Greene seeing an uptick in his carries the combo-yardage thing is what LT has to look forward to. He's still a factor in this offense, moreso in performance leagues than TD-heavy scoring systems

RB Shonn Greene S2

You have visions of the 21-135-1 Greene dropped on Cincy in last season's playoffs, don't you? While Greene is now getting as many or more carries than LT he has yet to outproduce his backfield partner. This, obviously, is a solid opportunity for him to do so—especially after watching Fred Jackson dissect this defense for 116 and two just last week.

WR Santonio Holmes


Holmes put up 82 and 88 yards on the Bengals as a Steeler last year, but it's his most recent work as a Jet—5-114, 5-76-1, and 7-126-2 over the last three games—that has him sporting an S1 this week. Holmes is the Jets' crunch-time hero, and he's doing enough prior to game's end to warrant fantasy attention as well. Against a secondary that is losing bodies left and right and just gave up 137 and three to Steve Johnson, you have to love Holmes' chances.

WR Braylon Edwards


And only slightly down the love meter from Holmes is Edwards, who hasn't been a big game guy but has been remarkably consistent with 59 yards or more in three straight and six of eight, with six TDs in nine games and never more than a week off between scores. Wingmen have scored in three of five against the Bengals, who are down several quality players in their secondary, so Edwards should enjoy his Thanksgiving evening as well.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller went for 3-99-1 against the Bengals in last year's Wild Card game, but since then Cincy has allowed only two TE TDs. Keller is on a dry spell of his own, having not reached the end zone in six straight games. He's still seeing a good number of targets and remains viable in TE-mandatory leagues, but he's not a legitimate WR/TE combo league option.

DT Jets S2 When you're standing between Rex Ryan and Thanksgiving dinner, you'd better get out of the way. Cincy has served up defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games; no reason the Jets can't get themselves a hat trick here.

Jacksonville at New York Giants

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Garrard has thrown multiple touchdowns in each of his last five full games, but he'll face his stiffest test in that span against a Giants' defense that is anything but a pushover. While the average rank of the teams Garrard has been beating up on is ninth in fantasy points allowed to QBs, the Giants rank 24 and kept Mike Vick from throwing a touchdown pass last week. Expect regression from Garrard this week—hopefully not back to his road futility days of last year.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew S2

MoJo is on a roll with three straight 100-yard rushing games and four consecutive outings with triple-digit combo yardage. With LeSean McCoy (140 and 1) and Felix Jones (136 and 1) posting solid combo-yardage games on the Giants in just the last week, there is cautious optimism that Jones-Drew can stay hot as well.


Mike Sims-Walker

B Was able to get some limited practice in this week, but the Jags may still keep him out of action Sunday. He's too risky. Keep him on your bench this week.

Mike Thomas

S2 The Giants have allowed at least one opposing wide receiver to score and/or top 95 yards in each of the last six games, including three 100-yard efforts and a total of seven WR TDs in that span. Thomas has scored in three straight and serves as the Jags' No. 1 receiver with Mike Sims-Walker likely out of the lineup; no reason to bet against him here.

Marcedes Lewis

S3 Lewis has proven to be more than just a flash in the pan, with three TDs in the last three games (despite backup Zach Miller vulturing one as well) and 50-plus yards in each of those games as well. The Giants have been stout against tight ends, giving up a total of 61 yards in the last three games, but it's not like the Jaguars have a whole lot of other options.
DT Jaguars B

It's been a long time since the Jaguars provided a defense for fantasy owners to get excited about.

New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S1

Only one team has given up more QB TDs than the Jags, and only three teams have surrendered more passing yardage. Eli brings a streak of six straight with multiple TD tosses into this game, and while that streak may be tested by his "man off the street" receiving corps, he could certainly throw two to a known quantity like Mario Manningham.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Bradshaw has lost his starting job -- for a week, at least -- to Jacobs thanks to his ongoing case of the dropsies. However, he's still far and away the more talented back, with better receiving skills and the versatility to remain on the field in any situation. Despite sitting early, expect Bradshaw to come close to his typical touch total and still provide decent fantasy value. Jacobs may win this battle, but Bradshaw should still win the season's fantasy war.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs gets the start this week and should benefit. With only five carries in each of the past two games and few goal-line opportunities - his fantasy owners need the help. Odds are that Bradshaw will still end the game with more touches, but look for Jacobs to get back to a more productive level of action and to find the end-zone again.

WR Mario Manningham

Manningham has fared well as a WR3 and WR2 this year; now he'll get to see what it's like to be "the man" as both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith are sidelined with injuries. Thankfully, he'll ease into the role with a date against the third most fantasy friendly defense against wide receivers.

WR Derek Hagan

Manning threw a touchdown to Hagan last week, so no introductions are necessary. And now that Hagan can expect an uptick in targets as the Giants' WR2, his chances of another productive fantasy outing also improve.

TE Kevin Boss

The Giants have scored a tight end touchdown in three straight games, with two of them coming from Boss. Over the past five games the Jags have given up two TE TDs and three games of 50-plus yards, so they can be had by the big fellas. And with the Big Blue receiving corps all kinds of banged up, Manning will be looking for a familiar face.

DT Giants B Despite sacking the quarterback and creating turnovers, the Giants' defense has yet to bring one back for a touchdown. If that's the yardstick by which your league's defensive scoring is measured, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Big Ben has been better at home than on the road, but he hasn't been so bad on the road that you need to sit him down here. The Bills' secondary has been nothing special, allowing multiple passing touchdowns in two of their last three and four of their last six. A big showing by the Pittsburgh ground game might keep Big Ben's numbers in check, but again not to the point where he becomes a lineup liability.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


No team has surrendered more RB rushing yards than the Bills, and only four teams have allowed more RB TDs. Mendenhall's showing against Oakland last week was disappointing, but he did find the end zone for the third time in four weeks. He's also scored in three of four on the road and given the favorable matchup should extend that streak while also notching his first triple-digit rushing day since Week 1.

WR Mike Wallace

The Bills have allowed at least one WR TD in every game since Week 2, but aside from 128 to Calvin Johnson in Week 10 they've held the yardage in check. Wallace would like to buck that trend with one of his own—entering this game he has scored in three straight and topped 100 yards in each game, a total of 362 and four over that span. And there's no question he has the speed and the quarterback to do it.

WR Hines Ward

For the most part, the Bills hold secondary targets in check; last week was the first time a wingman scored or topped 51 yards since Week 2. Ward is still a big part of this offense, but between the running game and Wallace making plays down the field he's a bit player in most fantasy leagues.

TE Heath Miller

After giving up five TE TDs through the first five games, the Bills have settled down and surrendered just one in the past month. Miller has faced a similar drought, as it's been six weeks since his last score. Unless you're really desperate for help in a TE-mandatory league, there's no reason to reach for Heath here.

DT Steelers S2 Maybe the Bills launched their giving season early; they handed the Bengals a defensive TD last week, and the way Pittsburgh comes after you another one shouldn't surprise.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

The Steelers had allowed multiple TD passes in three straight prior to last week's date wit the Raiders; don't let that shutout fool you, Pittsburgh can still be passed upon. Fitzpatrick snapped his own minislump of three games without throwing multiple touchdowns, and with Buffalo expected to struggle against the run expect Fitz to pick up the slack.

RB Fred Jackson B

On the one hand you have Jackson sporting a two-game streak of 100-yard efforts; on the other, a Pittsburgh D that's allowed exactly one back to rush for as much as 60 yards against them this season. What is the sound of one hand clapping? It's the sound of frustration you'll emit if you have to press Jackson into the lineup this week.

WR Steve Johnson S2

Johnson has been torrid of late, with six TDs and two 100-yard efforts over the past six games. Competent pitch/catch tandems have had success against the Steelers, and at this juncture it's tough to be against Fitz to Johnson.

WR Lee Evans B

So, have you been chasing Evans' 6-106-3 from way back in Week 7? You're probably ready to give up on him, and this is a good matchup to do it with. But that doesn't mean Evans won't reward you with a completely unexpected big game here. He's an enigma, all right, one who's not likely to do much against a Steelers defense that has stiffened of late.

DT Bills B Still nothing to see here.

Tennessee at Houston

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rusty Smith B

As if to test the theory, "Any quarterback can have success against the Titans," along comes Russell Edgar "Rusty" Smith. The first Florida Atlantic Owl ever drafted, Smith made his NFL debut last week after Vince Young went down with an injury. Facing another lousy secondary, Smith completed three of nine passes for 62 yards and an INT. So forgive me if I don't have a ton of faith in Rusty helping your fantasy team this week.

RB Chris Johnson S1

You have to believe that the game plan for a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start is heavy on handoffs—especially when the running back you're handing off to rushed for 348 yards and two TDs against your current opponent in last season's series. The only back to get 20 carries against Buffalo topped 100 yards; CJ has seen that workload five times already this year and another 20 is all but assured given the state of the Titans' offense.

WR Nate Washington
S2 Since Kenny Britt went down, Washington has stepped up huge. He had 117 yards last week, a touchdown the week before, and both 117 and a TD the week before that.  The run should continue against a Houston secondary that has allowed a 100-yard receiver in five of six and at least one WR TD in six straight.
WR Randy Moss
B There is no more telling statement than this: Moss faces the most fantasy-friendly secondary in the league, but you can't put him into your fantasy lineup with any degree of confidence because he has exactly one catch in his last three games. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
TE Bo Scaife S3 Another area in which the Titans can exploit their opponents—no team has given up more fantasy points to tight ends than the Texans. So if you've liked Scaife's back-to-back 51 yard efforts, perhaps you see him as ready for a little more.
DT Titans S3 It hasn't been so much the Titans' defense as it's been their special teams lending a fantasy assist.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S3 One year after directing the league's top-ranked passing attack, Schaub has been merely mortal this season. Maybe a date with a Titans secondary he soaked for 652 and 6 in last season's series will jog his memory.
RB Arian Foster
S1 After single-handedly knocking the Jets off their perch of "league's toughest run defense", Foster is officially match-up proof. Doesn't matter where the Titans rank against running backs (middle of the pack), Foster sports a five-game scoring streak (eight TDs in that span) and is itching to make it six.
WR Andre Johnson S2 AJ has scored in four straight against the Titans and looks to celebrate his liberation from Revis Island with another big game. It's taken either an ankle injury or an elite defense to keep Johnson in check; the Jets and Saints held him to a combined 8-73, while in his other four games since sitting out in Week 4 he has 29 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns. Ankle's fine, matchup's good... all systems are go.
WR Kevin Walter B

Only once in the past five games has a wingman joined his lead receiver with a touchdown or 50 yards against the Titans. And since Walter's contributions as a wingman have been inconsistent at best, he shouldn't be trusted with a fantasy start here.

TE Joel Dreessen S2

The Titans have given up 365 yards and two touchdowns to the tight end position in just the past three games. Dreessen continues to fill in for the injured Owen Daniels; last week he posted 4-106-1 against the Jets. The way Tennessee is covering—or, more accurately, not covering—the tight end, Dreessen is in line for another fantasy helper this week.

DT Texans B If Houston's defense had done anything to this point you'd have to like them at home against a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start. As it stands, even that may not be enough to go on this week.

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