Fantasy football mailbag: Bush, Benson set to punish poor defenses

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We're rushing to the finish line of the fantasy playoffs as we've reached the quarterfinals of most leagues. There are a lot of tricky matchups to talk about, including Thursday's tilt between the Jaguars and Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Should you play Michael Turner against one of the league's stingiest run defenses? That's just one of the issues we discuss in this week's fantasy mailbag.

(Note: We're going to open this spot up to questions about NBA and MLB fantasy starting after the New Year, so please send your lineup, trades and draft questions to @SI_DavidSabino for a chance to have a personalized and expanded answer on )

I've got Michael Turner, Cedric Benson and Reggie Bush with only two to start this weekend. Do I consider benching Turner for the first time all season?-- @mvoegelin (Mark Voegelin)

All three are worthy of starting, but given the matchups for Bush, who has become a consistent point grabber and faces the Bills, and Benson, whose foot is bothering him but will light up the Rams, I'd seriously consider sitting Turner.

When do you think we'll know if Ben Roethlisbeger will play? I'll need to add a QB if he isn't playing. I don't trust Carson Palmer, so I'm thinking about "Interceptorus Rex" (Grossman). Also available: Josh Freeman, Matt Moore, Blaine Gabbert, John Skelton. Do You have a better idea?-- @MattySuzuki (Matty Suzuki)

Your best bet is to go with Roethlisberger, who is likely to tough it through his Grade 1 ankle sprain to play against the 49ers this week, If he is out, I'd keep close eye on what's going on with the Titans. If Jake Locker, who's available in most leagues, is slated to play in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck against the Colts, I'd look his way. Only the Bills, Giants and Vikings have allowed more touchdown passes than Indy, and Locker, who has yet to start a game, has looked more than competent in limited action against the Falcons and Saints. If Locker and Roethlisberger both don't play, then Moore against the Bills would be my next-best option.

My team is set except for my D. I have Miami and Dallas; which would you start?-- @PTP819 (Phil Collins)

It's been a hard week for the Dolphins, who replaced head coach Tony Sparano and replaced him with secondary coach Todd Bowles on an interim basis. They face a Bills squad that has lost its top weapon in Fred Jackson and dropped six games in a row while scoring more than 17 points just once in that span. While I wouldn't be surprised to see an inspired performance by the Dolphins D, I still would go with the Cowboys. Dallas faces a Buccaneers team that's lost seven games in a row and has also been challenged to score, topping 19 points just once in those seven games. DeMarcus Ware & Co. should put up better numbers than Miami.

Need one of three in a PPR: Marion Barber, Julio Jones or Demaryius Thomas. Also Antonio Gates or Aaron Hernandez and Atlanta or Dallas D.-- @fativerson (Joe)

Coming off back-to-back huge games against the Vikings and Bears and going up against the worst pass defense in the NFL makes me want to start Thomas although Jones has the possibility to put on a show at home Thursday against the Jags. The Ravens are among the toughest assignments for tight ends, allowing just two scores all season, but Gates is a main cog in the Chargers attack and has been scoring double-digit PPR points since returning from injury in Week 7. Rob Gronkowski is overshadowing Hernandez while outscoring his younger, more fragile teammate by 10 touchdowns. I'd stick with Gates. And on D, I like Dallas over Atlanta, despite the presence of Gabbert at QB for the Jags.

My lineup has Matt Stafford, Marshawn Lynch, AP, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Jabar Gaffney ... with Brandon Jacobs and Ben Tate on the bench. Is that the best combo?-- @SaudiFX (SaudiFX)

The Texans have clinched their first playoff spot in team history, so I'd look for a more even split to occur at running back between Arian Foster and Ben Tate to keep them both fresh for the postseason. Therefore, I'd insert Tate, who is averaging a league-high 5.6 yards per carry for Gaffney at flex.

This is ugly; which two do I start ... C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Stewart, Donald Brown?-- @ccdt2053 (Stephen Salazar)

It's a tough choice to make for a playoff game. None of the three are in my Top 25 for the week, but based on workload, I'd use Spiller, who should see the most touches on the Bills this week. Stewart shouldn't see a lot of rushing yards but has the potential to catch a few Cam Newton passes and make some noise after the catch, much like Ray Rice, Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew did in their successful games against the league's fourth-best rushing defense.

Should I play Joe Flacco or Philip Rivers if I have the Ravens defense?-- @MRYGraff (Meir R.Y. Graff)

The numbers say play Flacco as no quarterback has passed for more than one TD against the Ravens all season. Still, the way that Rivers has been playing recently with better pass protection and a full complement of receivers, I'd take the chance on him at home.

Is Michael Vick a safe start against the Jets or should I look into someone else?-- @Markey_V (Mark)

Health-wise Vick should be good to start against the Jets. But you have to believe that Rex Ryan's group will have a bull's-eye on his healing ribs and would love to knock him to the bench. For that reason alone I would consider an alternative if I had a Andy Dalton, Tim Tebow or Matt Ryan.