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Start/Bench List - Week 4
By Whitney Walters
September 25, 2003
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
CIN at CLE SF at MIN KC at BAL Sun 8:30 PM  Byes:
NE at WAS   DAL at NYJ (times ET) SEA, TB
Player List by Position
Start/Bench Codes (SBC)
S1: Must start, 1st string.
S2: Solid starter, 2nd string.
X: No start or bench indications / Could go either way.
B: Bench 'em / Too much risk.
U: Upside player / Possible sleeper.
Early Injury Status  (O): Out  (D): Doubtful  (Q): Questionable  (P): Probable
Arizona (1-2) at St. Louis (1-2)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Edward Jones Dome Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Blake X Showed no ill effects of the heal injury and is currently leading the #4 passing offense in the league. Expect a limited effort against the Rams' cover-2 as Blake typically lacks the patience to exploit that type of scheme.
RB Emmitt Smith X Did touch the ball 22 times last week as expected in a close game with GB. May repeat this weekend but the expectations that Emmitt can still have a fantasy impact with 20 touches is going to go unmet often.
RB Marcel Shipp  B Running as well or better than Emmitt, but for now will continue to get only about a third of the action.
WR Anquan Boldin X The surprise of the fantasy season. Leads all receivers through three weeks. May be limited this week however as most of Boldin's damage is done after the catch which is difficult to accomplish against cover-2 schemes.
WR Bryant Johnson S2 Starting to show why he was the #17 pick in the 2003 NFL draft. Look for him to lead all Cardinal receivers again and score his first NFL TD this week.
WR Larry Foster (P)
Bryan Gilmore (P)

Both are returning from injury and may only see limited action.

TE Freddie Jones X The lack of healthy and proven wide receivers has Jones playing an important role in the passing game. He's currently at the top with 12 catches.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S1 The Cards have a league low one sack through three games and have allowed a league high 7 passing touchdowns. With Faulk out look for the offense to rest on Bulger's shoulders, and for him to pay off this week.
RB Marshall Faulk (O) B Out at least 4 weeks due to injury.
RB Lamar Gordon  X And just like that you're a starter. Don't get too carried away with Gordon. He's a solid talent but the Rams have yet to show any commitment to the running game and Gordon is not a great receiver. This week the passing game will be featured.
WR Torry Holt S1 Despite last week's effort Arizona still possesses one of the league's worst secondaries. Holt is a must start.
WR Isaac Bruce S1 And so is Bruce.
WR Dane Looker B

With the very weak Cardinal secondary Looker should have some great matchups to exploit. But he's still only a #3 WR and his looks will be limited.

TE Cam Cleeland B The TE plays only a minor role in this offense.
Cincinnati (0-3) at Cleveland (1-2)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna X Can move the offense, but his mistakes are hurting the team and his fantasy value.
RB Corey Dillon (P) X Great matchup this week as the Browns rank 30th in run defense, allowing over 160 YPG and a whopping 6.1 YPC. But Dillon has been unable to finish the last two games due to nagging injuries. He remains a risk.
RB Brandon Bennett X If Dillon is unable to go or finish this game Bennett will produce against the porous Brown run defense.
WR Chad Johnson S2 Simply too talented for the Cleveland secondary. If Kitna can avoid the mistakes this should be a productive afternoon for Johnson.
WR Peter Warrick S2 Starting to emerge and Kitna is gaining confidence in him. Will also get you some extra yardage in the running game with reverses.
WR Kelly Washington B

This rookie is the #3 WR in a weak passing game.

TE Reginald Kelly B With Schobel out Kelly is the focus at tight end. He'll get some looks but he's a better blocker than receiver and can not stretch the field like Schobel.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Couch X May have a chance to revive his career with the Browns. Likely won't be asked to do a lot as the focus will be on the running game, and when they do pass his options will be limited due to the WR injuries.
RB William Green S2 Cleveland is only one of three teams yet to score a rushing touchdown. And the other two were off last week. They shouldn't be on the list next week going against a Bengal team allowing over 150 YPG on the ground.
RB Jamel White B Locked into the 3rd-down back role.
WR Kevin Johnson X Johnson started to emerge last week as he was a target on 16 passing plays. But with Couch returning at QB this week we are back to trying to determine which WR will be the focus of the attack. Odds are that it will remain Johnson due to the WR corps injuries.
WR Andre' Davis X Will fill in as the #3 WR if Northcutt can't go. Was very active last week and should be again if given the opportunities.
WR Dennis Northcutt (Q) B

Not likely to return this week due to the rib injury.

WR Quincy Morgan B One thing that is becoming more evident is that Morgan is doing little with his opportunities and is not a fantasy option right now.
TE Steve Heiden U The Cleveland tight end position is typically a non-factor, but with all the injuries to the WRs Heiden may be a sleeper this week with a few extra looks.
Jacksonville (0-3) at Houston (1-2)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Reliant Stadium Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Brunell (Q) B Played through the elbow injury last week but the team won't likely name the starter this week until Sunday morning. Stay away.
RB Fred Taylor S2 The Jags should stay close in this one and Taylor will get his carries. When he does he remains one of the most underrated backs in the league and a solid fantasy producer.
RB Brandon Toefield B Only a rare carry or two for now.
WR J.J. Stokes B The Jaguars will have either an injured or rookie quarterback this week and the suspect WR corps does not matchup well against the Houston cornerbacks. It's best to avoid the Jaguar passing game this week.
WR Matthew Hatchette B Ditto here.
WR Cortez Hankton B

And ditto here.

TE Kyle Brady X Looks like the best receiving option the team has. Unfortunately that's not saying much these days.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr U The Jags pass rush hasn't mustered a sack in the last two games. Carr should have time in the pocket this week to find his WR mismatches in the secondary.
RB Stacey Mack X After a 27 carry week one, has seen his carries cut in half each week as the Texans fall behind early. That shouldn't be an issue this week against Jacksonville. But what is an issue is the increased use of backups Hollings and Wells.
RB Tony Hollings B The rookie got his shot last week and looked good. Then he fumbled and went to the bench. Regardless, Hollings will continue to take carries from Mack as the change-of-pace back.
WR Andre Johnson S2 The rookie is emerging as Carr's best down field option. This week his size and speed will cause big problems for undersized Jags CB Jason Craft, who was abused by Reggie Wayne last week.
WR Corey Bradford X Pure speed receiver that has the ability to surprise each week with a big play, but not much else.
WR Jabar Gaffney B

Working out of the slot now as the #3 WR and finding some success.

TE Billy Miller X The arrival of WR Johnson appears to have lessened the reliance on Miller in the passing game. Remains a great target for Carr over the middle, but it looks unlikely that Miller will match last season's fantasy success.
New England (2-1) at Washington (2-1)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at FedEx Field Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady (P) S2 A far cry from the super bowl days. The passing game just isn't what it used to be and Brady is averaging only 180 yards and a TD a game. Don't expect much different this week against a solid Redskin defense.
RB Antowain Smith X Smith continues to share carries with Faulk, but the Patriots have an advantage up the middle on the Redskins, so look for increased action for Smith this week as they attempt to pound the ball up the gut.
RB Kevin Faulk  X Looked good last week and keeps making things happen whenever he touches the ball. Not a complete back however and the Pats will continue to use both he and Smith in the running attack.
WR Troy Brown X The injury to Patten makes Brown even more important to the passing game this week. Unfortunately he is likely to be shadowed by CB Champ Bailey all day.
WR David Patten (Q) B Not likely to play due to the leg injury.
WR Deion Branch U

Branch has the most favorable matchup this week with CB Fred Smoot. By using the 2-TE sets the Pats will force single man coverage with their WRs. Look for Branch to have an impact.

TE Christian Fauria U Getting just as many looks in the passing game as the wide receivers and will continue to play a key role.
TE Daniel Graham X With the injuries to the WR corps this young talented tight end will be used this week in a lot of 2-TE sets and could have some success down the seams.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Patrick Ramsey S2 On a nice run as the only QB with two 300+ yard passing games this season. The streak could continue against a defense that allowed a big passing day to the aging Testaverde last week.
RB Trung Canidate X Washington is developing into one of the top rushing offenses in the league. Unfortunately it has also developed into one of the many two-headed tailbacks in the league. Canidate will continue to get his touches but will be limited because he's sharing with Betts and not likely to get any goal-line action.
RB Ladell Betts U In this shared backfield Betts strength will again give him an advantage over Canidate this week as the Patriots are weak up the middle due to injuries.
WR Laveranues Coles S1 The most consistent fantasy receiver going right now with three straight 100 yard games. Shouldn't be slowed this week by a less than 100% Ty Law.
WR Rod Gardner S2 The Washington passing attack is looking good and so is Gardner. With Ty Law locked in on Coles, Gardner should have a productive day against Tyrone Poole and company.
WR Darnerian McCants B

Finally showed up in the box score last week, outperforming Gardner. Will be too inconsistent as the #3 WR to make him a reliable fantasy starter.

TE Robert Royal B Redskin tight ends have only 4 catches in the first three games.
Philadelphia (0-2) at Buffalo (2-1)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Ralph Wilson Stadium Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb X Is this the week McNabb finally shows up for the 2003 season? It won't be easy against the revamped and revitalized Buffalo defense.
RB Duce Staley X Don't let the Bills giving up 153 yards on the ground fool you. It took a stud like Ricky Williams 42 carries to get it. Staley is no Williams and the Eagles haven't run the ball even 20 times so far, let alone 42. McNabb currently leads the team in rushing.
RB Correll Buckhalter B The pre-season starter has a whopping 1 carry in two games.
WR James Thrash B Thrash is the primary target in the Eagle passing game but will struggle this week against the strong CB duo of Clements and Winfield. Neither he ...and is a solid start this week against a Patriots' secondary that appears to still be reeling from the loss of Milloy.
WR Todd Pinkston (P) B ... or Pinkston matches up well with them.
WR Freddie Mitchell U

Has the best matchup this week for the Eagles against the Buffalo nickel coverage. McNabb should look his way often on Sunday.

TE Chad Lewis X The tight end remains very active in this offense, but Lewis has yet to capitalize and is now sharing looks with rookie L.J. Smith.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe S2 Laid an egg last week but should bounce back nicely on Sunday against a normally aggressive defense that has been hit hard by injuries.
RB Travis Henry (Q) B Henry will be limited, or may be out, this week due to the bruised ribs. Also, Buffalo is averaging a league low 2.4 rushing YPC and Philly is allowing a league low 2.5 YPC on the ground. This just doesn't add up.
RB Joe Burns B With Morris out due to injury Burns is the backup this week. He may see some action if Henry is unable to play as the Bills must stay committed to the run this week to be competitive.
WR Eric Moulds S2 With Bobby Taylor and Brian Dawkins out for Philly, Moulds should have little trouble putting up the kind of numbers his fantasy owners expect.
WR Josh Reed S2 Reed remains the #2 WR but Shaw got more looks last week. He has a matchup advantage this week against CB Lito Sheppard and if Bledsoe is given time in the pocket this week Reed will produce.
WR Bobby Shaw B

Took advantage of his favorable matchup last week and lead all Buffalo receivers. It's back to normal this week with the bulk of the looks going to Moulds and Reed.

TE Dave Moore
Mark Campbell
B Campbell and Moore continue to split time this season, making neither one a viable fantasy option.
San Francisco (1-2) at Minnesota (3-0)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Metrodome Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia (P) S2 Continued conservative play calling and little time in the pocket are hurting Garcia and the Niner offense. Look for the Niners to use short drops to combat the blitzing Vikings, and for Garcia to improve this week.
RB Garrison Hearst X If there were team running backs in fantasy football the Niners would be a great one to have. But there aren't, so Hearst owners will continue to watch him split carries each week with Barlow and dream of what could be.
RB Kevan Barlow X Just take the Hearst comments above and flip the names.
WR Terrell Owens S1 TO may run his mouth too much, but when you don't throw a single pass to one of the top receivers in the game while making three trips to the red-zone, he may have a point.
WR Tai Streets S2 Taking advantage of the single-coverage opportunities he is getting opposite Owens and has become a solid fantasy option.
WR Cedrick Wilson B

Running behind TO and Streets isn't going to provide you with much.

TE Jed Weaver B Not much more than an afterthought in the Niner passing game.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Gus Frerotte X As of this writing Culpepper is likely to miss this game. As last week showed Frerotte can get the job done through the air. The Niners however present much more of a defensive challenge than last week's Lions.
RB Moe Williams S2 With the injury problems in the passing game look for the Vikings to try and establish a solid running attack behind their large and improved line. You can expect 20+ carries for Moe and extensive work in the short passing game.
RB Onterrio Smith  B Word continues to flow out of Minnesota that Smith will see more action. Well talk is cheap and last week's two carries isn't going to cut it.
WR Randy Moss (Q) S2 The only thing that can slow Moss down in this one will be his possible back spasms. Gus can get him the ball.
WR D'Wayne Bates (Q) B Slowed by the foot injury but may return this week. Likely to be limited if he does play.
WR Kelly Campbell U

If Moss can stick it out for the whole game Campbell could make some noise opposite all the attention he garners.

TE Jim Kleinsasser B Last week's two catches and zero touchdowns is the more likely production for this Viking tight end.
Tennessee (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1)  
Sun, Sep 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Heinz Field Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair (Q) S2 In typical McNair fashion, he ignored all injuries and had his best day of this short season. Look for more of the same against this past division rival that brought out the best in McNair last season.
RB Eddie George S2 The Steelers are not as good as in the past against the run, but last week was probably the best you will get out of George. He struggles to grind out over 3 YPC. Rookie Chris Brown will begin to cut into his carries and cost his fantasy owners. A borderline starter this week.
RB Chris Brown B Holcomb is the official backup, but now that Brown is healthy he'll start seeing some carries each game.
WR Derrick Mason S2 The top Titan WR threat and is getting the double coverage to prove it. A solid #2 is needed to diversify the passing attack. Until Bennett or McCareins emerges consistently, Mason's production will be hindered.
WR Drew Bennett (Q) B In the past has shown problems getting off the line against big, physical cornerbacks. The Steelers can bring that at him on both sides. Look for him to struggle this week after a career game last week.
WR Justin McCareins U

With Mason and Bennett dealing with the big Steeler starting cornerbacks, look for McCareins to do damage against the smallish nickel corners.

WR Tyrone Calico B Has made the most of his first two, and only, NFL catches, scoring TDs on both. Until he becomes a bigger factor in the passing game your fantasy team shouldn't rely on him.
TE Erron Kinney
Shad Meier
B Wycheck remains out and Meier's looks have increased in the past two weeks. As with most the other two-headed tight ends out there, this one is of little value to fantasy owners. A shame since the Titan TE is typically very active against the Steelers.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tommy Maddox S2 The 3-WR sets Pittsburgh employs will cause matchup problems for a Titan team that uses a third safety in nickel coverages. The Steelers should challenge the Titans at will through the air and Maddox should have a strong outing.
RB Amos Zereoue X Averaging only 15 touches a game and playing the #1 rush defense in the league. Don't expect much this week as the Steelers will work primarily through the air.
RB Jerome Bettis B Looked great last week and received three carries inside the 10 and scored on one of them. Last season against the Titans Bettis was a miserable 7-12 in two games. The Titans will likely stall the Bus again.
WR Plaxico Burress S1

The strength of the Steeler offense (it's receivers) meets the weakness of the Titan defense (it's secondary). Expect a big day for Burress.

WR Hines Ward S1 The Titans have a solid pass defense but Ward had 17 receptions for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns in meetings last year.
WR Antwaan Randle El B Randle El will typically create matchup problems for opponents but he just isn't getting the looks to make him a fantasy factor.
TE Jay Riemersma (P) U With all the attention given to the Steeler wideouts this week there will be opportunities for Riemersma to be productive over the middle.

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