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Start/Bench List: Week 14
John Tuvey
Updated: December 9, 2011
CLE at PIT KCC at NYJ HOU at CIN OAK at GBP 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)
Cleveland at Pittsburgh Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

McCoy has one multiple TD outing since Week 7, hasn’t topped 200 yards in three games, hasn’t gone over 250 yards since Week 4, and has thrown for two TDs in his two previous meetings with the Steelers. And oh yeah, he’s on the road against a Steelers defense that’s allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

RB Peyton Hillis B

Even during his magical 2010 season Hillis posted 12-41 and 6-13 games against the Steel Curtain. Now with Montario Hardesty possibly back in the mix and Hillis himself nursing a rib injury to go along with his troublesome hamstring, you don’t want to throw any Browns back into your fantasy lineup—especially on the road against Pittsburgh.

WR Greg Little

If you’re into desperation, consider that the last three WR TDs the Steelers have given up have gone to rookies (A.J. Green twice, Torrey Smith)—though it’s taken four games for Pittsburgh to surrender three WR TDs. First-year player Little has been the Browns’ most targeted wideout in every game since their Week 5 bye, averaging nine looks a game over that span. So if you’re forced to bet on a Brown, he’s your guy.

WR Jordan Norwood B

The Steelers have allowed eight WR TDs in 12 games and an average of 111 wide receiver yards per tilt. That’s barely enough for one wideout to make a fantasy impact; no need to go digging for another here.

TE Ben Watson B

Watson is targeted far more frequently than Evan Moore, but it was Moore who scored Cleveland’s first TE TD in almost two months last week. It’s not even close to a favorable matchup, so don’t go slumming here.

DT Browns B While the Browns defense is vastly improved (except against the run), they’re nowhere near a fantasy entity just yet
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Big Ben’s two-TD outing last week was his first multiple-TD effort since Week 8, though he did toss multiple scores in both ends of last season’s series with the Browns. He’s an okay start again this week, but you’re more likely to get 190 and 1 than you are 300 and 3.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


You’d think Mendy would own the Browns, or at least lease them with an option to buy. But despite four touchdowns in four career meetings he’s never topped 84 yards against them and has averaged an anemic 3.1 yards per carry. There’s upside against a defense that’s allowed six 100-yard rushers in the last six games and seven different backs to score over that span, but history suggests you not get too giddy about Mendenhall’s prospects.

RB Isaac Redman U

Two of the last five teams to face Cleveland have so thoroughly trampled them on the ground that their second-string backs have rushed for 115 and 1 and 76 and 1. Redman’s 8-51 in last week’s blowout of Cincinnati points towards an opportunity for low-cost garbage time production.

WR Mike Wallace

Wallace posted 3-90-1 and 3-105-1 on the Browns last year, and coming off a two-TD effort last week is reestablishing himself as the Steelers’ go-to guy. Don’t fear Joe Haden and the top-ranked Cleveland pass defense here; Wallace has broken them in the past and will do so again.


Antonio Brown


Both Wallace and Hines Ward scored in both ends of last season’s series with the Browns, and with Hines just 10 catches shy of 1,000 you know the Steelers will be trying to include him in the game plan. However, Brown is still Pittsburgh’s WR2 as well as a threat in the return game and shouldn’t be benched just because Hines will get some token tosses his way.

TE Heath Miller S3

At this juncture if you don’t have a stud tight end you’re looking for a reason to throw a dart. Here’s your dart: Miller has scored in two straight and three of his last four against the Browns and has at least 50 yards in five straight against Cleveland.

DT Steelers S1 The Browns haven’t topped 20 points since Week 2; the Steelers have given up 16 points in their last two combined, have surrendered more than 20 points just once since Week 1, and have given up a total of 52 points in the last six games against Cleveland.
Indianapolis at Baltimore Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Dan Orlovsky B

So Orlovsky put up 353 desperation yards and a pair of garbage time touchdowns on the league’s worst pass defense. Don’t expect anything similar against a Baltimore D that has yet to allow an opposing quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns.

RB Donald Brown B Brown has scored each of the past two weeks while sharing the workload with an increasingly more healthy Joseph Addai. Those 14 carries might get him into the end zone against Carolina and New England, but only three teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs than the Ravens. Look elsewhere for help.
WR Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garçon

The Ravens have allowed one WR TD in the last month. There may be a garbage-time score in here somewhere, but is that what you really want to chase with your season on the line?

TE Dallas Clark B

Hey everybody, look! Dallas Clark is back! Well, maybe; he practiced fully all week but he's still listed as questionable. Either way, he'll be facing a Baltimore defense that’s allowed one TE TD through 12 games and let exactly one tight end top 50 yards.

DT Colts B Obviously, this unit was built to play a completely different ballgame—specifically, rushing the passer while playing with the lead. That’s not happening this year, rendering Indy’s defense useless.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Joe has had maybe one fantasy helper the past two months, and the risk here is that the running game takes such a big bite of the offensive pie that there’s nothing left for Flacco. If you’ve been starting him there’s no reason to fear the matchup, but he’s not your go-to guy this week.

RB Ray Rice S1

You saw how Ray dropped 204 yards on the Browns last week? Indy’s run defense is actually worse than Cleveland’s. Enjoy the show.

RB Ricky Williams U

After Rice got tired of gashing the Browns Ricky took over with a healthy 16-76-1 of his own. Expect another dose of Williams this week against an Indy defense that over the past six games has allowed three secondary backs to score or top 70 yards—after the starter got their numbers.


Anquan Boldin
Torrey Smith

S3 The risk here is the same as with Flacco: three Ray Rice carries into the game it could be 21-0 and the passing game could be off the board. Don’t fear the matchup, but the situation certainly isn’t ideal.

Ed Dickson

B Elite tight ends—Gronk, Graham, Gonzo—have gouged the Colts, but otherwise they’ve severely limited the position. Dickson isn’t elite; in fact, he’s too far down the offensive pecking order to be looked to for big help here.
DT Ravens S1 A playmaking defense against the guy who once stepped out of the back of his own end zone? Sign me up.
New England at Washington Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S1

Multiple touchdowns in 11 of 12 games this season. On pace to join the party north of Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. What’s not to like?


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Shonn Greene gashed the Redskins for three rushing TDs, two late as the Skins packed it in. You think they’ll stick around longer with Brady shredding them via the air? The only danger for Law Firm is that Bill Belichick rolls dice between series to determine which of his eleventeen backs will get carries.

WR Wes Welker S1 Since that three-target aberration against the Chiefs Wes has been back to his old self with 23 targets, 19 catches, and 229 yards with two TDs over the past two games. He’ll get his… again.
WR Deion Branch S3 While Branch’s home/road catch and yardage splits aren’t dramatically different, he’s either scored or topped 100 yards in four straight wearing visitor whites—something he hasn’t done at home since Week 5. He’s not a primary target, but on the road he seems to be included in the reindeer games.
TE Rob Gronkowski S1 After one of last week’s Brady-to-Gronk scores was ruled a lateral he still needs one to set the TE TD record. Pencil that one in, and with multiple scores in three of his last four why not bank on another one as well?
TE Aaron Hernandez S3 If your fantasy TE was getting a steady dose of seven targets, five catches, and 45 yards you’d probably be jumping for joy. That’s what Hernandez has done over the past month while Gronk has gone ballistic. If that’s a baseline, with the prospect of a TD tossed in as well, most TE-mandatory leagues can live with it.
DT Patriots B The Pats are too depleted on the defensive side of the ball to be making plays. Now if they start using Gronk on defense…
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman

Six of the last seven quarterbacks to face the Patriots’ depleted secondary have thrown for at least 250 yards; five of them have topped 300. Rex has 827 yards over the past three games and multiple TDs in two of the last three; he may keep up with the Patriots’ offensive juggernaut for a while, or the scores and yards may come after the outcome has been decided, but one way or another Grossman will give you plenty of fantasy points this weekend.


Roy Helu

S2 With back-to-back 100-yard games (with touchdowns) and a total of 304 yards from scrimmage the past two games, Helu has established himself as what many of us believed he was all along: the Redskins’ best option at running back. Just when you think you know what Mike Shanahan is going to do he’ll pull the rug out from under you, but for the moment at least Helu looks like he’ll get the majority of the Redskins’ backfield touches… and produce accordingly.
WR Santana Moss

S2 The Pats have allowed at least one WR TD in 10 of 12 games this season; in the two games they didn’t give up a score, a total of four wideouts had at least 73 yards. Moss isn’t a lock to find the end zone, but he’ll be the most targeted receiver—especially with the Redskins sans suspended tight end Fred Davis—and a PPR producer.
WR Jabar Gaffney S3

Gaffney was shut out last week, but he’s the best bet of Washington’s secondary targets to fill a need against New England. The Patriots have allowed at least two wideouts to either score or top 70 yards in 10 straight games and 11 of 12 overall, a total of 28 receivers hitting one or both of those two benchmarks. If it’s not Gaffney, it’ll be David Anderson or Donte’ Stallworth or Anthony Armstrong or Niles Paul so throw your dart and cross your fingers.

DT Redskins B No reason to toss the Redskins under the Brady-to-Gronkowski bus; they haven’t had a defensive score since Week 1 and have generated just 15 turnovers on the season.

New Orleans at Tennessee

Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S1

Worried about Brees’ first game outdoors in almost two months? Don’t be. In four battles with Mother Nature this season Brees has seven touchdown tosses and an average of 378 yards per game. He’s topped 250 in every game this season, blown by 300 in three straight, has multiple scores in four in a row… take your pick, dude is on a roll.


Mark Ingram


Ingram has been sidelined this week by turf toe and won't play this week. Fortunately for the Saints--and unfortunately for fantasy owners--the Saints can and will plug Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory into their backfield rotation.


Darren Sproles


You’d like to think Ingram’s absence would mean more work for Sproles, but the Saints will just plug Thomas and Ivory into the backfield carousel and continue on. That means Sproles will have to get his fantasy points in single-digit touches, something he’s been able to do two of the last three times the Saints have put the ball in his hands nine or fewer times.

WR Marques Colston S3

Colton remains the most-targeted New Orleans wideout, but he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 7. He’ll get you PPR and yardage points, but an elite receiver he’s not—not with Brees spreading the ball around so thinly.

WR Lance Moore

Moore, on the other hand, has three TDs in the last two games and is the least unreliable of the Saints gaggle of receivers.

TE Jimmy Graham S1 Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Titans. Wait until they get a load of Jimmy!
DT Saints S3 This isn’t the opportunistic unit from New Orleans’ Super Bowl season, but Drew Brees and the offense put enough pressure on the other team that mistakes are bound to be made.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2

Over the last three games the Saints have surrendered 351, 406, and 408 passing yards. Even if Hasselbeck falls a little short he’s still bound to put a big number in the yardage column, which makes up for the fact that Hass has just one multiple touchdown outing in the past two months.

RB Chris Johnson S2

The Saints have been run on, but not much lately. CJ, on the other hand, has been running wild with three 130-plus yard games over the past month. At least you can be a little more comfortable plugging Johnson into your lineup in an average matchup than you’ve been thus far this season.

WR Nate Washington

B Turns out Washington has a high ankle sprain. He's listed as questionable and he did play through the injury after suffering it last week, but the risk of aggravating the injury and checking out of this game early is too great for you to use Washinton as a fantasy starter.
WR Damian Williams S2 The Saints haven’t given up many WR TDs—Victor Cruz is the only opposing wideout to find the end zone against them in the past month—but there’s been yardage galore. Williams has been the Titans’ WR1 of late, and with Washington nicked up it’s a role he’ll likely hang on to for another week.
DT Titans B The Saints’ offense is firing on too many cylinders—they haven’t dipped below 20 points all season, have topped 30 seven times, and have 80 points over the past two games—to trust Tennessee’s defense to give you any fantasy help here.
Kansas City at NY Jets Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tyler Palko B

The Chiefs’ only touchdown since Palko took over for the injured Matt Cassel was a fluke Hail Mary completion. We’ve seen nothing from Palko’s play to suggest he’d make a good fantasy start against a Jets defense that’s held nine of the last 11 quarterbacks they’ve faced to one or zero touchdown tosses.

RB Jackie Battle
Thomas Jones
B Two utterly ordinary backs splitting the workload against a defense that’s allowed one RB TD and 343 RB rushing yards over the past five games. No thanks.
RB Dexter McCluster
U McCluster is the only Chief to find the end zone since Palko became the quarterback, and that was accidental. With Darrelle Revis shutting down Dwayne Bowe, McCluster will be the closest thing to a playmaker the Chiefs will have at their disposal this week.

Dwayne Bowe


Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson had success going right at Revis; somehow it’s tough to envision Palko taking the same chances. He’s targeted Bowe plenty the past three weeks, but it’ll be different on Revis Island. And not in a good way.


Steve Breaston
Jonathan Baldwin


Palko will be forced to look at his secondary options with Revis blanketing Bowe. That hasn’t worked well against lesser defenses and it’s extremely unlikely it will work any better here.

DT Chiefs B KC’s defense has kept them in the last two games despite the lack of an offensive threat, but that may be asking too much this week against a Jets’ offense that’s hitting its stride with 62 points the past two games.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

With just one multiple touchdown game since the Jets’ Week 8 bye Sanchez isn’t an easy start. An underrated Chiefs secondary that held Tom Brady to 234 yards and has given up multiple TDs just twice in the past two months doesn’t make it any easier to use him. Odds are you have better options at your disposal.

RB Shonn Greene S3

KC’s run defense has played better of late as well, but Greene has been doing his best Cedric Benson impression with 76, 61, 78, and 88 yards since the Jets’ bye week. He’s at home, coming off a three-TD confidence builder, and is a reasonably safe fantasy plug-in this week.

WR Plaxico Burress
Santonio Holmes


With scores in each of the past two games Holmes appears to have taken over Plaxico’s role as the touchdown guy, but both are being targeted consistently and make adequate plays against a pretty good Kansas City pass defense. Not “go out of your way to start them” plays, but “I’ve been using him all year and don’t see anything in the free agent pool” plays.

TE Dustin Keller S3

It’s not just Rob Gronkowski’s 4-96-2 against the Chiefs in Week 11 that is skewing the stats; KC gave up two TDs to Anthony Fasano, 50 yards to Charles Clay, 40 yards to Kellen Davis, and a score to Weslye Saunders—and that’s just in the past month. Sanchez rediscovered Keller a couple weeks back to the tune of two TDs, but he’s had four games of at least 50 yards and two more with 37 of better over the past two months so he’s still involved. It’s not a great opportunity, but if you’re without Fred Davis it’s a viable option.

DT Jets S2 It’s not just Palko; over the past five games the Chiefs have a total of 35 points and have made it out of single digits just twice. That alone warrants a fantasy start for the Jets defense; mix in playmakers like Revis and they’re at least a good play here.
Philadelphia at Miami Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick S2

Vick is slated to return to the lineup after three weeks off with busted ribs, and he practiced fully all week to back that assertion. If the plan is for him to be more of a pocket passer he picked the right week as the Dolphins have allowed multiple TD passes in back-to-back games and 499 yards in that same span. You know Andy Reid can’t help himself but throw 40 times a game, so if Vick’s in the lineup he’s piling up fantasy points.

RB LeSean McCoy

Here’s a battle to watch. McCoy has scored in every game but one this season; the Dolphins haven’t allowed a running back touchdown since Week 4. McCoy is too integral a part of the Philly attack to not make up the difference in yardage, but it certainly isn’t a walkover matchup for him.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 Jackson should be the go-to guy, but his attitude has been lacking of late and you’ll have to trust him to show up both mentally and physically for this game. If Vick has his back he’ll get him the ball early and often; if not, be ready for a lot of Riley Cooper and Jason Avant.
WR Jeremy Maclin S2 Maclin was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but got in a full workout Friday and is set to resume his role as Vick's favorite target; he's been upgraded accordingly.
TE Brent Celek
S3 This is in no way a favorable matchup for Celek, as since getting lit up by tight ends in the first two week of the season the Dolphins have allowed just one TE TD and an average of 51 TE yards per game. But if Vick is going to stay in the pocket and avoid risking his ribs by running Celek is the logical checkdown. It was working prior to Vick’s injury; it could certainly work again.
DT Eagles B This defense hasn’t generated a turnover in either of its last two games. That’s hardly dreamy.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore S3

Philly hasn’t allowed multiple touchdown passes in a road game since Matt Ryan took them for four back in Week 2, but they’ve given up 264 yards or more in three of their last four. Moore has done enough to warrant consideration if you’ve lost a regular, but don’t go out of your way to get him into the lineup.


Reggie Bush


Lead backs have multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games against Philly, and Bush himself has scored in four of the last five. He’s getting the majority of the carries, including goal line looks, and is a good fantasy play here.


Daniel Thomas


Thomas hasn’t done much of fantasy note since Week 2. He’s likely to get a dozen or so touches, but with Reggie Bush handling the bulk of the work Bush is a desperation start at best.


Brandon Marshall


Over the past month both Golden Tate and Early Doucet have scored on the Dream Team secondary, while Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald all reached triple-digit yardage. Marshall is targeted heavily enough that Nnamdi or no Nnamdi he’ll get his.


Davonne Bess
Brian Hartline


The targets just aren’t there consistently; mix in a Philly D that’s allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game just once all season and you’ve got a recipe for benching.


Anthony Fasano


Philly has allowed three TEs to top 50 yards in just the past two games; Fasano has 50 yards or better in four of the last five. He’s not a great play, but if you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to replace Fred Davis he’s definitely in the first scoop.

DT Dolphins S3 A rusty Mike Vick could easily lend itself to turnovers and fantasy points. Plus, it’s easier to trust a defense that hasn’t allowed an opponent to top 20 points in the past seven games.

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