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Start/Bench List - Week 3
John Tuvey
Updated: September 25, 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)
Kansas City (0-2) at Philadephia (1-1) Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel

The Chiefs were so impressed by Cassel's KC debut last week that Todd Haley said they wouldn't be afraid to go with a different QB if necessary. Haley's offense produced 514 and 7 in two meetings with the Eagles last year, but this is a dramatically different personnel grouping. With an equal probability of Cassel putting up a decent garbage-time stat line and Haley going to the bullpen for Brodie Croyle, you're best served avoiding this situation.

RB Larry Johnson


Glimmers of hope for LJ? Haley called 29 running plays in Arizona's NFC title game win over the Eagles, despite producing just 102 rushing yards; that's a Johnsonesque 3.5 yards per carry. And Philly has already given up three RB TDs through the first two games. They're not exactly "run out and plug him into your lineup" trends, but they're at least cause for optimism.

WR Dwayne Bowe X

Bowe was limited in Friday's practice with a hamstring problem and is considered questionable. Despite not being the Chiefs' most targeted receiver in any game this year, he's unquestionably the best bet in the KC passing game. After scoring against Baltimore and Oakland, no matchup should scare you off of using Bowe; a bum hamstring, on the other hand, and a questionable designation are definite cause for concern. If you can't make this decision on your own, let the Chiefs do it for you. If he's healthy enough to play, use him.

WR Mark Bradley
Bobby Wade


It's been a different guy leading the Chiefs in targets, catches, and yardage each week under the new administration—but they're topping out at 75 yards and not scoring. There's nothing here that should inspire the confidence to trust either in your fantasy lineup.

DT Chiefs B It's one thing to keep the Raiders' offense in check in Arrowhead; it's another to head to Philly and not be overrun by a team that got embarrassed last week.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb

McNabb is officially listed as doubtful, and it's highly unlikely the Eagles will rush him back for this one.

QB Kevin Kolb S3

Kolb has at least kept the Eagles' offense functional, and with McNabb still injured he'll get the nod again against a KC defense that was picked apart by Joe Flacco in the opener. Michael Vick will likely take a few snaps in his first game of eligibility, but the bulk of the game will run through Kolb.

RB Brian Westbrook X

The official word on Westbrook is questionable. With McNabb essentially ruled out and DeSean Jackson iffy, Philly needs to determine not only if Westy can go but also if they can beat the lowly Chiefs primarily backup offensive firepower.

RB LeSean McCoy X

With Westbrook questionable, McCoy gets drawn into the vortex of game-time roster decisions. If Westbrook plays, the touches will likely be split to the point that neither has significant fantasy value. If Westbrook is ruled out, McCoy becomes a sneaky fantasy play against a Chiefs defense that's already allowed 344 RB yards from scrimmage and four RB TDs this season.

WR DeSean Jackson
S3 After Jackson's groin injury limited him in practice all week, he showed up for a full set of reps on Friday. And if he's healthy, Philly's No. 1 receiver belongs in your lineup. Don't let KC's ranking (23rd in fantasy points allowed to wideouts) fool you, as JaMarcus Russell could only connect with wideouts on four of 15 attempts last week.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Jason Avent
Kevin Curtis

B Kolb spread the ball around a little more last week, but it still feels like if you're putting Philly wideouts other than Jackson in your lineup you're playing fantasy football's version of Russian roulette: too many chambers, not enough bullets. At least with Curtis unlikely to play, there's one less cook in the kitchen.
TE Brent Celek

S2 Celek's been the Eagles' go-to pass catcher (18 targets, 14 catches), with a touchdown in the opener and 100 yards last week. KC's shutting out Zach Miller last week was far more on JaMarcus Russell than anything the Chiefs were doing, so don't disregard Celek's prospects based on bad quarterback play in Oakland.
DT Eagles S2 Philly's D was embarrassed last week; they'll extract revenge on an offense that ranks in the bottom third of the league across the board.
Green Bay (1-1) at St. Louis (0-2) Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S2

We're still waiting to see the Aaron Rodgers who dazzled us in the preseason. The Rams have faced two WCOs and surrendered 512 yards, so this is a great opportunity for Rodgers to build on the 261 and 1 he put up on Cincy last week.


Ryan Grant


Grant is seeing work at the stripe, with short touchdowns in each of the first two games. Though St. Louis showed some moxie in keeping Clinton Portis out of the end zone last week, expect Grant to burst that bubble here. He's only getting 17 touches a game, but with only slightly more Portis and Julius Jones produced a combined 224 yards from scrimmage so maybe 17 will be enough.

WR Greg Jennings
Donald Driver


Jennings went from hero against the Bears to zero catches against the Bengals; Driver picked up the slack with 99 and a touch. To date there hasn't been enough Packer passing game productivity to feed to wideouts, but that should change against a Rams secondary that's allowed two four-catch receivers in each game this year.

TE Jermichael Finley S2 Those of you who were all over Finley in the preseason will be rewarded this week. The Rams defense has already given up big TE games to John Carlson (6-95-2) and Chris Cooley (7-83); only Donald Lee, who siphoned off four catches and 28 yards of Finley's stats last week, stands between Jermichael and some very nice numbers.
DT Packers S2 You know Dom Capers' 3-4 will be coming after an offense that's produced just seven points thus far this season.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger

It's been a long time since Bulger posted a fantasy-relevant game: 10 games since a multiple TD effort, 11 since he topped 300 yards, and 23 games since he combined both feats in a single contest. Tough to see him getting off that schneid against the ball-hawking Packers secondary.

RB Steven Jackson

Which Pack run D will show up, the one that held Matt Forte to 55 yards or the one that ceded 141 to Cedric Benson? Seeing as Jackson was able to carve out 104 yards against a pretty stout Redskins front, and that the Rams don't have much else going for them offensively, you have to expect the St. Louis offense to run through Jackson.

WR Laurent Robinson

Green Bay has surrendered 90 yards and a touchdown to each of its previous opponents' No. 1 receiver—and make no mistake, Robinson—with 11-141-1 while the rest of the Rams' WR corps combined has 10-93—has emerged as the Rams' No. 1 guy.

WR Donnie Avery


Though he has no official "drops", Avery's hands have come into question thanks to one catch in six targets as well as a key red zone fumble last week. You can view it as a positive that with the game on the line the Rams threw his way against the Redskins, but Marc Bulger isn't producing two receivers' worth of fantasy numbers and right now Avery is definitely taking a back seat to Laurent Robinson.

TE Randy McMichael

Speaking of drops, McMike is tied for the lead in that category among NFL tight ends. Green Bay shut down Greg Olsen in the opener, so McMichael has his work cut out for him. This doesn't look like the week the Rams snap a TE scoreless streak that stands at 18 games.

DT Rams B There is some mild upside here, as the Rams held the red zone-challenged Redskins without a touchdown and the Packers have some offensive line issues. But that's not enough to warrant giving Steve Spagnuolo's charges a fantasy look-see just yet.

San Francisco (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0)

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San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill B

The Niners' new, more conservative offense has produced a total of 353 yards and one touchdown for Hill through two games this season. The Vikings' pass defense has allowed similar numbers, 357 and two, to a pair of young, inexperienced quarterbacks. In other words, unless 180 and a TD whets your fantasy whistle you should be looking elsewhere.

RB Frank Gore S3

While the Williams Wall hasn't been impenetrable this season, opponents are still averaging less than four yards per carry against the Vikings; they're just not abandoning the run quite as quickly. Don't expect Singletary to jump ship, either, though Gore won't find the same gaping holes in the middle of the Minnesota defense that he ripped in a banged-up Seattle front seven. Despite being limited all week in practice, Gore is fully expected to get his usual touches and any goal line touches the Niners are afforded. You don't have to bench him outright, though that doesn't mean you won't have more palatable options on your roster.

RB Glen Coffee B

With this matchup barely offering enough for Gore, table scraps (Coffee grounds?) are extremely unlikely.

WR Isaac Bruce
B The veteran is Hill's go-to guy. Thus far that's meant eight targets and four catches per game, and Minnesota's secondary hasn't ceded much more. If four for 50 gets you some PPR points, go ahead and use Bruce; otherwise, avoid the 49er passing game altogether.
WR Josh Morgan

B The 49ers praised Morgan's downfield blocking last week; meanwhile, those who saw Morgan filling the role San Fran thought Michael Crabtree would be filling were pulling their hair out over zero targets. Minnesota hasn't allowed more than 18 yards to a secondary target this season, and Morgan is clearly not the first option.
TE Vernon Davis S3

Mild upside here using the "somebody's gotta get stats... right?" theorem. Minnesota has allowed 6-74-1 and 7-52 to opposing tight ends this season, while Davis has been targeted 13 times for seven catches and 72 yards.

DT 49ers B Brett Favre isn't throwing enough to generate the INTs we've come to know and love, but the Niners have allowed just two touchdowns to a couple of respected offenses. Offenses that don't necessarily run the ball very well, but respected offenses nonetheless.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S3

The Niners have allowed 288 and 1 and 244 and 1 through the air this year—but it took the Cardinals and Seahawks 44 and 41 attempts, respectively, to reach those numbers. Favre has 48 attempts and 265 yards combined this year, so a big yardage day is unlikely. What you're banking on from Favre is a TD or two at the stripe—or the 49ers stuffing Adrian Peterson like they did a couple years back.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

Here's the rematch of Peterson's rookie season when he had his worst game as a professional—three yards on 14 carries. The 49ers sold out to stop Peterson, who was just two games back from a knee injury, and won the battle; of course, Chester Taylor rushed for 101 yards and the Vikings won the war 27-7. The Vikings added Brett Favre in the offseason specifically to keep defenses from loading up against AP, reducing the chances of a repeat subpar performance. The 49ers' run defense looks good on paper, with just 97 yards allowed and no TDs. But it's one thing to stop Tim Hightower, Chris Wells, and Julius Jones—none of whom received more than eight carries; it's quite another to stop the best back in the NFL. Don't sweat AP's back injury; use him as per usual.

RB Chester Taylor U

Taylor hasn't done much to warrant your attention thus far, so it's difficult to recommend you take the leap of faith required to plug him into the lineup. However, he's still the Vikings' third down back (eight catches this season) and the Niners have allowed more RB receptions and receiving yards than any other team. And it wasn't just Tim Hightower's big game, either. So if you're stuck for a back, especially in a PPR league, keep Taylor in mind.

WR Bernard Berrian
Sidney Rice

Now that Berrian is part of the mix it will be interesting to see if he reclaims his No. 1 receiver stats. As it stands now, he and Rice have virtually the same amount of production; in fact, Sid has been targeted nine times to Berrian's six. Nobody is beating up the Niners deep—not Fitzgerald (6-71-1), not Boldin (2-19), not Urban (5-74), not Housh (4-62), not Burleson (4-46)—so it'll take a TD toss for either Berrian or Rice to have fantasy relevancy. And at present they don't seem high enough in the red zone pecking order.

WR Percy Harvin

The rookie is Minnesota's most targeted and most productive receiver as Favre and the Vikings play-callers find ways to get him the ball in space. He's scored in every NFL game he's played, which is a lovely trend indeed. However, he missed practice both Thursday and Friday with an illness. As he's no-showed for multiple events—the NFL rookie symposium, the Vikings first day of minicamp—already in his brief pro career, you'll have to track his availability right up to kickoff.

TE Vishante Shiancoe X

The short stuff appears to be open against San Francisco, as evidenced by Hightower's 12-catch game and John Carlson's 6-46 last week. This area could be exploited by Shiancoe, but thus far Minnesota has preferred to use bubble screens and the like to Harvin. If Harvin misses this game with an injury, suddenly Shiancoe's blip is brighter on Brett Favre's radar and he's worthy of consideration in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Vikings S2

Minnesota's defense has exploited inexperienced quarterbacks (Brady Quinn and Matthew Stafford) thus far; not only does Hill have more NFL starts, he's also proven more adept at game management. Nonetheless, the Vikings' dome opener will provide a hostile environment conducive to some defensive fantasy points.


Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (2-0)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brady Quinn

Quinn hasn't done enough this season to warrant fantasy consideration. Maybe it's Eric Mangini's conservative offense, maybe it's Cleveland's lack of receivers, maybe Quinn isn't going to pan out. Whatever the reason, don't let the gaudy numbers posted by Philip Rivers last week lead you to believe Quinn, making his first career start against the Ravens, should be in your lineup this week.

RB Jamal Lewis


The demise of the Ravens' shutdown defense has been greatly exaggerated, at least when it comes to stopping the run; Larry Johnson and Darren Sproles combined for a mere 2.3 yards per carry against Baltimore. Jamal mustered a total of 102 yards in last year's season series (at 3.3 yards a pop), and he has even less (25-95) through two games this season. Plus, you have to go back to Week 13 of 2005 to find the last back to reach triple digit yardage in Baltimore. Lewis didn't practice this week due to a hamstring injury and is doubtful for this game, but for fantasy purposes it doesn't matter

RB Jerome Harrison

Harrison was a sneaky fantasy play even before we learned Lewis is doubful and Harrison has been taking first-team snaps. Is he a great play as a runner against the Ravens? No. But consider that the Browns scored running back receiving touchdowns in both ends of last season's series, and all four of the RB TDs the Ravens have surrendered in Baltimore since the start of the 2008 season have come on catches. The only RB score the Ravens have allowed thus far this year? Darren Sproles' TD reception. Harrison had four grabs last week, and Mangini talked all offseason about using him more; here's his opportunity.

WR Braylon Edwards

There's a chance Edwards can follow in the footsteps of Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson and get into the end zone against the Ravens; he had four catches for 86 yards and a score in the back half of last year's season. But do you really want to put your fantasy faith in Edwards, known for his drops; Quinn, getting his first taste of the Ravens' defense; and an offense that has exactly one offensive touchdown since the middle of last November?

WR Joshua Cribbs B

Cribbs saw more opportunities last week, but he's still a bit player in an unproductive offense; mix in a road date with a good defense and he's not usable this week.

DT Browns B There's no defensive value of note, and odds are the trip to Baltimore will snuff out what little light Cribbs and the return game bring to the table.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco is certainly usable, as his 248 and two in the second game of last season's series with the Browns suggests. But don't expect big yardage; his 190 and 2 against the Chargers is more indicative of what the Ravens will ask from him this year than his 300-yard season opener. Multiple touchdowns might be tricky, too; Cleveland has given up just one scoring strike in each of their two games this season, though that may be more attributable to a defense that's allowed five rushing TDs than to anything the Browns secondary is doing.

RB Ray Rice
Willis McGahee

You can still run all over the Browns, who have surrendered 371 rushing yards and five touchdowns already this season. The Ravens produced games of 37-151-3 and 36-190-1 against Cleveland last year, including Ray Rice's 154-yard coming out party in Week 9. There's more than enough to go around, especially with Le'Ron McClain taking a smaller share of the pie. Rice should see the majority of the yardage, but don't bet against McGahee extending his streak of two-touchdown games to three.

RB Le'Ron McClain
U It's tough to bank on a guy who's getting single-digit touches and is clearly third in the pecking order. However, if there was a week where there might be enough spillover, it would be against the Browns.
WR Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Kelley Washington

Good luck determining the Ravens' go-to receiver; these three are within one catch and 25 yards of each other, and the targets from Week 1 were completely reversed in Week 2. If you have a Raven receiver there's no need to bench him because of the matchup—but neither can you comfortably expect much more than five catches for 50-60 yards and a shot at a touchdown. If you have to pick one make it Washington, who has been targeted half as much as Mason or Clayton but has caught all seven of the balls thrown his way.


Todd Heap

S2 Heap has scored in back-to-back games and shouldn't be benched against a defense that allowed Tony Scheffler to find the end zone last week.
DT Ravens S1 The Ravens hosting a defense that's scored one offensive touchdown since the middle of last November and has given up a return touchdown to Baltimore in each of the last three meetings? Doesn't get much more S1 than that.

New York Giants (2-0) at Tampa Bay (0-2)

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Tampa Bay's secondary is in disarray, giving up 353 and three to Tony Romo and 230 and two to Trend Edwards. Eli rolls in fresh off 330 and two against Dallas, and about the only concern here is that the Bucs aren't able to slow the Giants' running game and Manning doesn't need to throw. And that's a legitimate concern.

RB Brandon Jacobs S2

Thus far the Giants have limited Jacobs to 16 carries in each of the first two games. Against a Bucs D that's allowed 283 rushing yards through two games, though, 16 carries might be all it takes.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw S3 Ward is consistently getting double-digit touches, and against a foe with the aforementioned defensive struggles the Bucs are having he's worthy of fantasy consideration as well.
WR Steve Smith
Mario Manningham


Through two games Smith appears to be an Amani Toomer-like possession receiver with upside while Manningham is the touchdown maker. Thus far this season the Bucs have allowed every starting wideout they've faced to score, so it would be unwise to bet against either Smith or Manningham this week.

TE Kevin Boss S3

Manning didn't look Boss' way quite as much last week, but that should change against a Buccaneers defense that is having safety issues and has given up 60-yard games to both Jason Witten and Derek Schouman already this year.

DT Giants S1 The Giants have defensive scores in both games this season (they should have had two last week alone), and Byron Leftwich is fresh off throwing a pick six against the Bills. Even without Justin Tuck, Big Blue should be in good shape this week.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich B

Only Tom Brady has thrown more passes than Leftwich's 91 thus far this year, but that still hasn't translated into a 300-yard game. New York has allowed a total of 338 passing yards this season and has given up multiple touchdown tosses just once since Week 10 of last year. Odds are the Giants' pass rush knocks Leftwich out of the game before he puts up helpful fantasy numbers.

RB Carnell Williams
Derrick Ward


The Cowboys had success running on the Giants last week, and the Bucs have a pretty good offensive line and stable of backs as well. That said, Ward and Williams are still splitting the touches and the Buccaneers' defense is putting the offense in a position of abandoning the run and playing catch-up. Confounding matters is the emergence of Cadillac as a pass catcher last week; wasn't that supposed to be Ward's role? Tough to see upside in either back this week if they're only going to see 15 touches against the G-Men. Williams was held out of Thursday's practice as a precaution, but even healthy he wouldn't warrant a fantasy start here.

WR Antonio Bryant
Michael Clayton

Raheem Morris is "optimistic" Bryant will return to action this week, but he was limited all week in practice; moreover, that sentiment doesn't extend to the production potential of the Tampa Bay receiving corps. Clayton had a big Week 1; he also leads the NFL in drops. After watching the Giants limit the entirety of the Dallas wideouts to four catches for 49 yards, there's no reason to plumb these depths.

TE Kellen Winslow

Finally, a glimmer! Winslow has fought off opposing defenses and Jerramy Stevens vulturing his stats to score in each of the Bucs' first two games. The Giants, meanwhile, have already ceded touchdowns to Chris Cooley and Jason Witten this season. It's not difficult to picture Leftwich looking for his tight end before the Giants' pass rush closes in on him, and so long as Stevens doesn't swipe too many looks this bodes well for Winslow.

DT Buccaneers B Tampa's defense misses Monte Kiffen more than Andrew Ridgley's career misses George Michael's coattails.
Jacksonville (0-2) at Houston (1-1) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S3

Garrard has at least 214 yards in each of his four career starts against the Texans, though he's thrown for multiple touchdowns against them just once. His baseline should be in the area of 220 yards and a score, with upside from there predicated on just how badly Maurice Jones-Drew gouges them on the ground.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

Jones was shut out in last season's series; chances are stopping him became a focal point after he shredded the Texans for 184 yards from scrimmage and two scores in the back end of the 2007 season series. There's no Fred Taylor to steal touches, which thus far hasn't meant much. But facing a defense that's allowed 100 rushing yards and multiple touchdowns to each of the two starting backs it has faced this season should help MoJo more than make up for his slow start.


Torry Holt
Mike Sims-Walker

S3 So... who's playing the role of Matt Jones, Texan Killer? "Walker" would make sense, but he mustered just 5-46 in the front end of the season series and missed the back end with an injury. Holt has been targeted more frequently thus far, but in the first two games the Texans have given up touchdowns to speedier secondary targets Chansi Stuckey and Nate Washington while holding more physical primary receivers Justin Gage and Jerricho Cotchery to a combined eight for 117. Since Holt likely falls into that latter category, if you're picking one it might have to be Sims-Walker.

Marcedes Lewis

B Lewis is pulling down a consistent three grabs a game; the Texans are equally consistent, allowing four catches per game to opposing tight ends. It took a superlative effort by Lewis to get into the end zone last week; tough to anticipate a repeat performance here.
DT Jaguars B

Still nothing to see here, unless Steve Slaton keeps putting the ball on the ground.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 Last season's second half of the season series was the first time Schaub had started and finished a game against the Jags; it was worth the wait, as he threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Jacksonville has given up at least 265 passing yards in each of its last five games, and with Schaub rolling in fresh off of 357 and four against the Titans, everything's coming up Millhouse for Matt.
RB Steve Slaton
S2 Slaton blew up the Jaguars for 298 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in last season's series, but through two games this year he's been a major disappointment. The formerly stout Jacksonville run defense should provide a welcome respite; they've faced a pair of RBBCs (Indy and Arizona) and given up a total of 275 yards and three touchdowns. So long as he shakes the fumblitis Slaton is still the primary ball-carrier in Houston, and our good friends recency and primacy suggest he'll get back in the saddle this week.
RB Chris Brown
B Despite Slaton's fumbles—and Brown seeing the bulk of the touches late in last week's win over Tennessee—he's done nothing to suggest he belongs in a fantasy lineup yet.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Reggie Wayne toasted the Jaguars for 10-162-1. Larry Fitzgerald scored but had to share with Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston; the trio combined for 17-187-1 against Jacksonville. There's no Darelle Revis in the Houston secondary, and after Andre authored a 10-149-2 masterpiece last week it would be tough to sit him against any opponent.
WR Kevin Walter X

The optimism at the beginning of the week has tailed off regarding Walter's availability this week. Proceed with caution, but keep in mind that Walter put up 8-76-2 in the front end of last season's series with the Jaguars and also has a 12-160 effort against Jacksonville to his credit. If the Texans think he's healthy enough to play, so should you.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Tough to gauge the Jags against tight ends, since Dallas Clark is more of a WR2 and the Cardinals ignore the position. But Daniels has had enough success against Jacksonville in the past—at least 50 yards in three of the last six meetings, TDs in two of the last five—and is being consistently targeted eight times a game that he remains a solid option in TE mandatory leagues.

DT Texans S3 The Texans have a decent return game and a defensive touchdown to their credit already; the Jags have yet to reach 20 points this year. Of course, Houston has also allowed 55 points in two games so if you're in a "points allowed" league you're assuming a bit of risk.

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