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. Cincinnati
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia vs. San Francisco
Kerry Collins, Oakland (vs. Kansas City): Assuming Collins’ thumb on his throwing hand doesn’t restrict him this week, he’ll lead the Raiders offensive attack which will bring the Chiefs back down to earth after a solid defensive performance in week one.
Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (vs. Indianapolis): Leftwich looked strong against the Seahawks last week and should post solid numbers against the Colts who allowed over 350 yards passing vs. the Ravens on Sunday night.
Joey Harrington, Detroit (vs. Chicago): Harrington has a ton of weapons at his disposal this season. Despite defeating the Packers last week, Harrington only managed to throw for 167 yards while completing 15 passes. He won’t find as many openings this week against the Bears in Chicago.
Tim Rattay, San Francisco (vs. Philadelphia): Rattay only attempted 16 passes, but that was enough to defeat the Rams thanks to a punt return for a TD and solid field position. Rattay will struggle this week playing from behind against Philly in their home opener.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Denver
Shaun Alexander, Seattle vs. Atlanta
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville
Priest Holmes, Kansas City vs. Oakland
Ahman Green, Green Bay vs. Cleveland
Deuce McAllister, New Orleans vs. N.Y. Giants
Willis McGahee, Buffalo vs. Tampa Bay
Domanick Davis, Houston vs. Pittsburgh
Corey Dillon, New England vs. Carolina
Warrick Dunn, Atlanta (vs. Seattle): Dunn took advantage of a Trotter-less Eagles defense and rushed for 117 yards on Monday night. Expect more of the same against Seattle who allowed 119 yards on the ground against Jacksonville last week.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh (vs. Houston): The one-week wonder gets an extended stay in the spotlight thanks to the Steelers schedule. Next up for Parker is the Texans so look for another stellar week for the surprise of this season thus far.
Ronnie Brown, Miami (vs. N.Y. Jets): Brown had a decent rookie outing against a tough Broncos run defense. Look for the effective passing game led by Gus Frerotte to open things up even more for Brown this week against the division rivals J-E-T-S.
Michael Bennett, Minnesota (vs. Cincinnati): Bennett did not impress in week one rushing for a total of -1 yards on six carries. With the Vikes likely to open up the passing attack this week, Bennett may see some action catching a few passes out of the backfield but not enough to warrant a start.
Thomas Jones, Chicago (vs. Detroit): Another tough day is on tap for Jones who only mustered 31 yards on 15 carries last week. The Lions held Ahman Green in check in week one and will do the same to Jones.
J.J. Arrington, Arizona (vs. St. Louis): The rookie got the majority of the carries for Arizona in week one, but when the number of carries (8) outnumbers the total rushing yards (5), that’s a tell-tale sign to look at other options for your starting lineup.
Randy Moss, Oakland vs. Kansas City
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Arizona
Terrell Owens, Philadelphia vs. San Francisco
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Minnesota
Joe Horn, New Orleans vs. N.Y. Giants
Derrick Mason, Baltimore (vs. Tennessee): Mason posted solid numbers in his Raven debut (8-99). With Anthony Wright starting at QB, the Ravens passing attack is upgraded and against Mason’s old mates, expect Mason to post solid numbers.
Laveranues Coles, N.Y. Jets (vs. Miami): Coles had a decent game last week which was overshadowed by Chris Baker’s monster game. Expect Pennington to rely more on his WRs this week as the Dolphins pass defense will actually cover the tight end position.
Nate Burleson, Minnesota (vs. Cincinnati): Don’t jump off the Burleson bandwagon just yet. Despite his below average week one numbers (3-45, 0 TDs), Burleson is still the main target in a pass-heavy offense. C-Pep will turn it up this week and Burleson will be the main benefactor.
Brandon Stokely, Indianapolis (vs. Jacksonville): They’ll be plenty of fireworks in the Jags/Colts game and you shouldn’t miss out on the action. Start your Colts including Stokely as Manning will be airing it out early and often.
Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay (vs. Buffalo): Be cautious you waiver wire hounds. Galloway is not about to revert back to his Seahawk days. His solid numbers in week one will temper off against the Bills who held the Texans to only 70 yards passing in week one.
David Patten, Washington (vs. Dallas): A QB change already? Ramsey wants to be traded? Sound like trouble on the playground in Washington. With Brunell likely to lean heavily on Moss and let Portis control the clock, Patten won’t get much action and isn’t a recommended start in Dallas.
Patrick Crayton, Dallas (vs. Washington): Patrick who? We’ve officially found one of the players most likely to be claimed off waivers in your fantasy league. Crayton will have some value long term, but he’s not an advisable start against the Redskins this week.
Amani Toomer, N.Y. Giants (vs. New Orleans): If you were wondering if Toomer was injured last week since he didn’t have a catch, wonder no more. Toomer was healthy and failed to catch a pass for the first time in 98 games. He’ll catch a pass this week, but not enough of them to warrant a start.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Oakland
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Denver
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. New Orleans
Jason Witten, Dallas vs. Washington
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta vs. Seattle
L.J. Smith, Philadelphia (vs. San Francisco): Until Greg Lewis steps it up, Smith is the second option in the passing attack after T.O. Look for Smith to see plenty of action against the Niners this week especially in goal-line situations.
Jerramy Stevens, Seattle (vs. Atlanta): With Itula Mili unlikely to play, Stevens will get another chance and will take advantage of it against the Falcons in Seattle’s home opener.
Desmond Clark, Chicago (vs. Detroit): Clark had an average game last week catching three passes for 26 yards. That will be about as good as it gets this week against the Lions so look elsewhere for your starter.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. Houston): The rookie caught his first NFL pass which happened to be a 3-yard TD last week. While Miller will be a solid option over the course of the season, this week will be the Willie Parker show and Miller will serve as a blocker for the majority of the game.