Welcome to another year of the Start/Bench List. This list will include a handful of players at each skill position that has either a very favorable matchup or a matchup to avoid. Not every player at every skill position will be listed every week. Instead of a watered-down version of predicting each player’s performance, this list will focus on a select group of players whose chances to succeed or fail are increased based on their opponent of the week.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. Each position will include a list of players that are considered studs and should not be benched. If you have the luxury of needing to decide between studs, check out the matchups or feel free to let the shark tank assist you in your decisions. I will try to answer as many inquires as possible.
2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.
Enough of the chit-chat, onto the list!!
Dante Culpepper, Minnesota vs. Philly
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Donovan McNabb, Philly vs. Minnesota
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle vs. Tampa Bay
Steve McNair, Tennessee vs. Indianapolis
Michael Vick, Atlanta vs. St. Louis
Jake Delhomme, Carolina (vs. Kansas City): Delhomme had a solid performance Monday Night against the Packers and should be involved in a shoot-out this week as the Panthers travel to K.C. Even without speedster Steve Smith this week, look for Delhomme to post solid numbers.
David Carr, Houston (vs. Detroit): Carr completed 19 of 25 passes last week and even though he threw two interceptions and no touchdowns, he was impressive. With Domanick Davis coming into his own, Carr will find plenty of open space to throw and will take advantage of a Detroit secondary that lost Dre’ Bly for a couple of weeks.
Tommy Maddox, Pittsburgh (vs. Baltimore): If Maddox continues to post numbers like last week (13-22, 142 yards), he might start calling Vince McMahon and begging him to start up the XFL again. Expect more ugly numbers this week against an angry Ravens team.
Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (vs. Denver): Despite pulling out a dramatic come from behind win on the road in week one, Leftwich’s fantasy numbers were quite unimpressive. Facing a Denver defense that was all over the field against the Chiefs last week, it’s not likely that Leftwich will turn things around this week.
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. N.Y. Jets
Priest Holmes, Kansas City vs. Carolina
Ahman Green, Green Bay vs. Chicago
Clinton Portis, Washington vs. N.Y. Giants
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh
Deuce McAllister, New Orleans vs. San Francisco
*Domanick Davis, Houston vs. Detroit
Removed from Studs list:
-Shaun Alexander, Seattle: knee injury
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis (vs. Atlanta): Despite losing some carries to rookie Steven Jackson, Faulk still managed to rush for 128 yards on just 22 carries. With all the doubt surrounding Faulk heading into the fantasy drafts, hopefully you were one of the lucky ones who took a chance and drafted him. You’ll enjoy his numbers this week even more against Atlanta.
Corey Dillon, New England (vs. Arizona): Don’t let the 15 carries for 86 yards last week fool you. Dillon is a RB you want in your starting lineup. He may not post 100+ yards every game, but he’s the type of back who could rush for 86 yards one week and 186 yards the next. Don’t have him on your bench when the 186 yards comes your way (hint, hint…nudge, nudge).
Chris Brown, Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis): Brown sprained his ankle in the first half of last week’s game and didn’t return in the second half. This makes his 100-yard performance that much more impressive. Assuming Brown is showing no ill-effects from the ankle, feel free to start him for Tennessee’s home opener against a suspect Indy run defense.
Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh (vs. Baltimore): Danger, Danger!! Don’t fall into the trap! Look at the five carries for one yard from last week as opposed to the three TDs Bettis scored when making your decision on the Bus. Don’t take the bait.
Emmitt Smith, Arizona (vs. New England): Emmitt looked strong last week rushing for 87 yards and a score while the Pats allowed 202 yards rushing in week one. So, why is Emmitt on the bench list? The Pats run defense isn’t that bad and Emmitt isn’t likely to repeat his week one performance against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Charlie Garner, Tampa Bay (vs. Seattle): Talk about a mess. The Tampa Bay offense looked just horrible against the Redskins last week. Garner usually makes up for his lack of rushing yards with a fine receiving performance but it didn’t happen last week. Until Jon Gruden can right the Bucs ship, walk the plank.
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Randy Moss, Minnesota vs. Philly
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Atlanta
Terrell Owens, Philly vs. Minnesota
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Miami
Joe Horn, New Orleans vs. San Francisco
Derrick Mason, Tennessee vs. Indianapolis
Santana Moss, N.Y. Jets vs. San Diego
*Keyshawn Johnson, Dallas vs. Cleveland
Removed from Studs list:
-Laveranues Coles, Washington: With a legit running game in Washington, all WRs should be downgraded.
Isaac Bruce, St. Louis (vs. Atlanta): Bruce had a monster game last week against the Cardinals posting 112 yards on nine catches and a TD. This week, the greatest show on turf heads to Atlanta where both offenses should see plenty of action. Don’t be surprised if Bruce compiles another solid game this week as the Rams offense fires on all cylinders.
David Terrell, Chicago (vs. Green Bay): No Marty Booker? No problem. Terrell’s first game as the go-to receiver was a solid one as his 126 yards on five catches indicates. Heading into Green Bay is always a tough task, but it’s Terrell’s time to shine for Chicago and he’ll perform up to par.
Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina (vs. Kansas City): With Steve Smith breaking his leg on Monday night, the title of #1 WR in Carolina is bestowed upon Muhammad. Affectionately known as “Muhammy” for his prone to injury, Muhammad isn’t the ideal #1 guy but he’ll be worthy of a start this week against the Chiefs with the potential for plenty of points to be scored.
Eric Moulds, Buffalo (vs. Oakland): Moulds used to be a main-stay on the Studs list. Moulds missed three games and wasn’t at full-strength for almost half the season last year with a groin injury which lowered his ranking. He posted solid numbers last week (8-75, 1 TD) and should perform well again this week against the Raiders whose pass defense wasn’t challenged much at all last week against Pittsburgh.
Jerry Rice, Oakland (vs. Buffalo): Consider the torch passed. When the likes of Doug Gabriel, Alvis Whitted and J.R. Redmond post more receiving yards than the Legend, you know his time is coming to an end. Thanks for the memories, Jerry.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (vs. New England): Four catches for 70 yards was a solid debut for Fitzy last week. Unfortunately for the rookie, this week he faces the Patriots who held one of the leagues best receivers in Marvin Harrison to only 44 yards. Keep the rookie on the bench this week as he gets his first lesson in humility.
Tai Streets/Az-Zahir Hakim, Detroit (vs. Houston): With Charles Rogers out indefinitely with a broken collarbone, rookie Roy Williams moves up to the #1 slot vacating the #2 slot on the depth chart. That should be filled by either Streets or Hakim, but neither is worthy of consideration for your fantasy team. Tough times lie ahead for the Lions.
Darius Watts, Denver (vs. Jacksonville): All the talk out of training camp was how much Watts was impressing and he was close to overtaking Ashley Lelie as the #2 guy on the Denver WR depth chart. That changed quickly in week one as Lelie impressed catching four passes for 88 yards and Watts only pulled down one reception for 22 yards. Expect Lelie to hold on to the #2 spot which should keep Watts on your bench.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Carolina
Todd Heap, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. Washington
Kellen Winslow, Cleveland vs. Dallas
Randy McMichael, Miami (vs. Cincinnati): If you ask McMichael who should be the Dolphins QB, I’m willing to bet he votes for Feeley. Seven of McMichael’s eight catches were thrown by Feeley which bodes well for McMichael as Feeley will start in week two. Expect McMichael to continue to post solid numbers.
Daniel Graham, New England (vs. Arizona): So much for not knowing which TE to start in New England! With Christian Fauria and rookie Ben Watson, it didn’t appear that Graham would have much room to shine. Well, a few double tight end sets and seven catches later and Graham looks like a solid fantasy option at TE this year.
Erron Kinney, Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis): Where have you gone Frank Wycheck? Granted Kinney’s one catch for one yards last week was a TD, but that’s not likely to happen very often. Sorry, E.K but I’ll pass.
Ken Dilger/Rickey Dudley, Tampa Bay (vs. Seattle): You thought running back by committee was frustrating? Try tight end by committee! I’ll take this and a root canal to go, please!!