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Start/Bench List - Week 15
By Whitney Walters
December 11, 2003
 
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at IND JAC at NE SEA at STL DAL at WAS NYG at NO
BUF at TEN MIN at CHI Sun 4 PM CAR at ARI Mon 9 PM
DET at KC PIT at NYJ BAL at OAK GB at SD PHI at MIA
HOU at TB SF at CIN CLE at DEN   (times ET)
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
 
Atlanta (3-10) at Indianapolis (10-3)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at RCA Dome Back to top
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick (Q) X

Made a bit of a splash with his return last week, but as is often the case it was due to his running ability. Without the rushing yards he'd have been a fantasy flop. He'll get his chances this week but the Colts have the ability and schemes on defense to limit Vick into a borderline starter at best this week.

RB T.J. Duckett  X

The Colts have had trouble this year stopping power running backs like Duckett. But with Vick back his opportunities are limited. He'll likely top out at 15-18 carries a game. His scoring opportunities will also decrease as Vick will be used more at the goal-line now.

WR Peerless Price (Q) X

Price proved to be the main wideout target in Vick's return but the two failed to connect more than they succeeded. Price will struggle to get open this week against the zone coverage schemes thrown at him by the Colts.

WR

Brian Finneran B His great size advantage always presents the promise of a matchup advantage. However, Finneran continues to be banged up and for the most part ineffective.
TE Alge Crumpler S2

Vick is definitely looking his way and his ability to get down the seam and put pressure on the Colts' struggling safeties will bode well this week.

Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1 Did not perform well in the red-zone last week and PK Vandy and The Edge took over all the scoring. Against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, that shouldn't be the case this weekend.
RB Edgerrin James S1 Is carrying the ball almost 30 times a game over the past four weeks and has scored seven TDs.
WR Marvin Harrison S1

Just start him.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 Has had an up and down fantasy season. This week may bring another "up" situation. Wayne has good quickness and is a sharp route-runner and the Falcon's very burnable secondary gives a lot of cushion. That combination should lead to several opportunities.
WR Troy Walters (P) X The lose of TE Clark has opened up more opportunities for the #3 WR in the Colts' offense. Walters suffered a broken nose last week however and saw Brandon Stokley receive more playing time. Not a solid play this week.
TE Marcus Pollard S2 Wasn't as productive as many would have preferred last week, but he will still shoulder the entire TE production with Clark out.
 
Buffalo (6-7) at Tennessee (9-4)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at The Coliseum Back to top
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe B Put up his worst game of the season last week, which is saying something this year. Should be avoided regardless of opponent for the rest of the way.
RB Travis Henry S2 Has been tearing it up against his fellow New Yorkers the past two weeks. Don't expect huge numbers this week against the #1 Titan run defense, but as James showed last week they can be worn down if you keep at them. If the Bills stay patient with the running game Henry will produce.
WR Eric Moulds B Still not 100%, and it shows every week. Seems to serve as more of a decoy on many plays. Over the last three games he's averaging about 3 catches for 40 yards and hasn't scored since week two.
WR Josh Reed X With the passing game seemingly spiraling down the chances for any Buffalo receiver are slim. Reed remains the most consistent overall, but not always reliable.
WR Bobby Shaw X

The Titans lack of secondary depth should provide Shaw with some matchup advantages in the Bills' 3-WR sets.

TE Whoever B The Bills simply don't feature a TE in their offense.
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair (Q) S2 McNair's pain-free season got tossed out the window a couple of weeks ago and fantasy owners are likely faced with little practice and game-time decisions each week from here on out. History dictates that he'll gut it out each week and play at less than 100%. If you have a great matchup that is less risky then maybe you turn to it this week against the touch Buffalo defense. Odds are however that a less than 100% McNair is better than most other fantasy QBs each week.
RB Eddie George B Has been running well (over 4.3 YPC in the last three weeks) but may be limited this week due to an ankle injury he suffered last week. He'll play but will give up some carries to the young Chris Brown.
WR Derrick Mason S2 Is really in a groove with McNair right now and has scored in each of the last two games. Has a very tough matchup with the Bills' corners , but his quickness will serve him well this week.
WR Justin McCareins X

Saw his TD streak stop at four games last week, but he remains the only viable down field target other than Mason. As with Mason, will have a tough matchup this week with the very strong Buffalo corners.

TE Frank Wycheck X With the lack of depth at WR, the Titans have increased their usage of the TE. Three (Wycheck, Kinney and Meier) produced last week. Look for more of the same this week against the Bills as their man coverage style on the perimeter opens up the middle.
 
Detroit (4-9) at Kansas City (11-2)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Arrowhead Stadium Back to top
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joey Harrington X

The Chiefs defense seems to get worse with each passing week. Still isn't enough to move Harrington into starter status.

RB Shawn Bryson X

Bryson leads the team with 51 catches this season and his eight grabs last week shows that the Lions continue to attempt to move the ball with the short passing game. Look for more of the same this week as they look to keep the Chiefs offense off the field as much as possible. If your league rewards points for catches then Bryson remains a decent option. If not, then he doesn't.

RB Olandis Gary B The only fantasy impact Gary is having this year is hurting the value of Bryson as he steals about 10 touches a week from him and does little with them.
WR Az-Zahir Hakim (P) B

Barely able to play last week due to the lingering back problems. Stay away.

WR Bill Schroeder B

If you are looking to Schroeder the rest of this season you are officially scraping the bottom of the fantasy barrel.

TE Mikhael Ricks X The Chiefs continue to show that their pass defense is vulnerable to a good downfield tight end, and with a injured and ineffective WR corps Ricks is about as good as it gets for a Detroit receiver. While he may surprise this week you're better off not relying on him.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green S2 Another week and another loss in the Detroit secondary. This week they lose safety Corey Harris. There aren't many sweater fantasy matchups than the Lions pass defense this season.
RB Priest Holmes (P) S1 The Lions have done a decent job of stopping the run this year. Yeah... whatever.
WR Eddie Kennison (P) X Want to take a chance on Kennison? Just flip a coin. If it comes up heads start him, tails don't. Or if you prefer, if it comes up tails start him, heads don't. Doesn't matter either way. He's a hit-and-miss player and that's as good a way as any to guess if this week will be a "hit" or not.
WR Johnnie Morton X Morton has been a borderline starter all season but now that the Chiefs are increasing Hall's role in the passing game he's more likely a desperate starter now.
WR Dante Hall U I guess since he can't return kicks anymore (not a one since week 5) the Chiefs decided to force the ball to Hall through the passing game. Hall had a whopping 15 passes thrown his way last week, more than the last 4 weeks combined.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 Stud. Just start him.
 
Houston (5-8) at Tampa Bay (6-7)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Raymond James Stadium Back to top
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr (Q)
Dave Ragone
B Again expected to return to action this week, but there's still a chance he won't make it back onto the field. We may see Mr. Ragone again. Oh joy.
RB Domanick Davis (P) B

Davis is expected to give it a go this week but will not be 100%. Look for Hollings to still get some carries and for the running game to struggle.

WR Andre Johnson B With the quarterback situation and traveling to Tampa Bay it's best to stay completely away from the Houston passing game.
WR Corey Bradford B Ditto.
WR Jabar Gaffney B

Ditto.

TE Billy Miller X Unless you feel like taking a chance on the big tight end. He did catch four balls last week against the very stout Jags defense.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson X

The Texans will likely try to stop the Bucs passing attack with their base 3-4 defense that will crowd the short and intermediate routes, forcing tight throws by Johnson. May prevent a big game, but not his typical performance.

RB Michael Pittman B

In another of the many mysterious happenings down in Tampa this season, Pittman appears to be falling out of favor. His carries have decreased over the past two weeks as Jones' take an upswing. He's also not making up for it in the passing game. The swiss cheese Houston run defense would be a great matchup, but Pittman can't be relied on anymore, ...

RB Thomas Jones S2 ... but it appears that Jones can. If the Bucs give him 20+ carries in this one he'll produce.
WR Keenan McCardell S2 The Bucs most consistent wideout this season continues to put up solid numbers but hasn't seen the end-zone in three weeks. Facing the #30 pass defense this week without their best cover corner should fix that.
WR Charles Lee X The talented but raw receiver performed well after being thrust into the starting lineup last week. Could surprise against Houston's very burnable corners but his lack of speed might prevent it.
TE Ken Dilger (Q) B Hey, was that a Tampa TE sighting last week? No matter. Stay away.
 
Jacksonville (4-9) at New England (11-2)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Gillette Stadium Back to top
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich B Continues to improve and show that he may be the future in Jacksonville. But that doesn't do any good right now for fantasy teams. Will likely take a step back this week against the improving New England defense.
RB Fred Taylor X The Patriots now sport a top 5 run defense. Taylor is having one of his finest seasons running the ball. Let's call this one a draw. He won't do well enough to make him a solid start, but he probably won't do bad enough to sit him on your bench.
WR Jimmy Smith X

With Leftwich under pressure all day the passing game will be very limited, leaving little fantasy impact for Smith, ...

WR Troy Edwards B ... Edward, or ...
WR Kevin Johnson B Johnson.
TE Kyle Brady B Will play a much bigger role in the running game than the passing game this week.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady X

The bad weather shouldn't be a problem this weekend, but the lack of a running game due to the increasingly ferocious Jaguar defense will be. He'll likely struggle. Check this out. In Brady's last four away games he's thrown nine TDs, in his last four home game, zero.

RB Antowain Smith B Could be called upon to help pound the ball against a very tough Jacksonville run defense. Or not. Either way he won't find much success.
RB Kevin Faulk  B After being featured for two games, last week Faulk touched the ball only six times. This week brings another December home game so you could see a repeat performance.
WR David Givens B

Still struggling through the leg injury and the ball is being spread around too much for him to warrant any fantasy attention.

WR Bethel Johnson B Has been awesome on returns but only good for a couple of catches.
WR Deion Branch X

Continues to be the most consistent WR since Brown went down with the leg injury. But there remains little upside with Branch due to way the Patriots are spreading the ball around.

TE Daniel Graham S2 Graham's last five games have been an on-off-on-off-on mess. Against the tough Jags in another cold December home game, look for the trend to be broken this week.
 
Minnesota (8-5) at Chicago (5-8)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Soldier Field Back to top
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper S2

Chicago lacks much of a pass rush (league low 14 sacks) and they'll be hesitant to blitz and leave single coverage on the perimeter. So Culpepper should have plenty of time in the pocket this week.

RB Moe Williams (P) X Only 19 carries in the past three games. Only in TD-only leagues does he warrant starting consideration since some of those carries come at the goal-line. Could see some additional touches this week given Bennett's ankle injury, but he's also dealing with a banged up knee.
RB Michael Bennett (P) X As predicted, put up his first 100 yard game last week, but promptly tweaked his ankle. He's expected to play this week but may have his workload cut back a bit.
WR Randy Moss S1 Just start him.
WR Nate Burleson
Kelly Campbell
D'wayne Bates
B

Remain bit players in the Culpepper-to-Moss show.

TE Jim Kleinsasser (P) S2 Last week a hip pointer, this week a bicep injury. Continues to start but his hurting. With a dinged backfield may be due for some additional looks this week.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman B The Viking defense may give up the passing yards, but they know how to pickoff quarterbacks (25 this season). If there's one thing a rookie QB in his first start is good for it's interceptions.
RB Anthony Thomas S2 The Vikings give up over 120 rushing yards a game and a league leading 18 rushing TDs on the season. The way Stewart is playing the Bears will want to feed the ball to Thomas all day. One problem with that plan is that they could find themselves down a few TDs quickly and have to start airing it out to catch up.
WR Marty Booker X The only bright spot in the Bears' passing game. They will likely have to throw often once they fall behind and Booker has what it takes to win his matchups with the suspect Viking secondary, but with Grossman at QB it's best you look elsewhere for a starting receiver.
WR Dez White B

When the QB stinks there's no need to look beyond the #1 WR on a team.

WR Justin Gage B

Has the only 100 yard receiving game by a Bear this season. His size makes him a good target, but he lacks top-notch speed and suffers from typical rookie inconsistency.

TE Desmond Clark X Hasn't been the breakout season many expected this year, but he remains just consistent enough to frustrate you into not starting him on a regular basis.
 
Pittsburgh (5-8) at N.Y. Jets (5-8)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Giants Stadium Back to top
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tommy Maddox X Amazingly, as bad as the Jets run defense is, they have a league low 11 passing TDs this season and for a time lead the league in sacks. Maddox won't find many matchup advantages against the strong Jet secondary, even if they spread out in 3-WR sets.
RB Jerome Bettis (P) S2

Guess that early season rest is paying off in December after all. A season high 27 carries last week and his first 100 yard game. He's scored in three of the past four games. Bettis owners should be licking their chops at him visiting the league's worst run defense this week. Note however that the Jets have done better this season against straight-ahead power runners.

WR Plaxico Burress S2

Okay, that's two weeks in a row that Burress has come through, thanks to his first score since week two last week. The Jets secondary is solid but his size advantage push him into the borderline start category.

WR Hines Ward S2 Takes a licking and just keeps on ticking. Has struggled along with the passing game, scoring only once in the past month.
TE Whoever  B Another season of worthless Steeler tight ends.
New York Jets
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S2 Pennington's ability to sell fakes, get rid of the ball quickly and spreading it around will cause havoc with a Steeler secondary that spends much of it's time on the field looking confused.
RB Curtis Martin X Getting it going late in the season. Has averaged 23 carries over the last three games. Should maintain that pace this week but the Steelers are solid against the run so Martin will put up only average numbers.
WR Curtis Conway U The toastable CB Dewayne Washington lost his starting job a few weeks ago but is now back in the starting lineup due to injury. Conway has remained a solid performer since taking over the Chrebet. He may surprise this week taking Washington deep a few times.
WR Santana Moss S2

Won't face the stiff press coverage he did last week and will have more room to run. The Jets will likely stick to the controlled, short passing game they moved towards a few weeks back. The result has been fewer big play opportunities for Moss.

TE Anthony Becht B Logic would have you thinking Becht would become more valuable with Chrebet gone but he's had only a single catch or less four times in the past five weeks.
 
San Francisco (6-7) at Cincinnati (7-6)  
Sun, Dec 14, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Paul Brown Stadium Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB

Jeff Garcia

S2

Maybe his career day last week against the terrible Cardinals broke the ice for Garcia. Maybe he's just finally close to healthy. Whatever the case it had to be rewarding to any fantasy owners that stuck with him this season. It won't come so easily against the Bengals this week, but if the offense can keep it's groove on Garcia is worth some attention.

RB Garrison Hearst (D) B Expected to sit out one more game as his scoped knee recovers.
RB Kevan Barlow S2 Barlow's first career start may have been a glimpse into a soon to be Hearst-less future (177 total yards and a TD). Yes it was Arizona, but the Bengals have their problems stopping the run and are anything but rock solid.
WR Terrell Owens (P) S2 If the Niner offense is going to start clicking, Owens will always be at it's center. But please, the dancing has to stop. Mime? Come on.
WR Tai Streets (P) B Streets has been fading since mid-season. With all the scoring last week he managed only a single catch. At least it was for a touchdown. Does't warrant fantasy attention any more.
TE Jed Weaver B Stay away from the Niner tight ends.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna X

Going into last week Kitna was one of the hottest fantasy QBs. The Ravens put a stop to that. The Niners apply decent pressure on the quarterback, but if Kitna can get enough time in the pocket the down field opportunities will be there.

RB Corey Dillon S2 Statistically the Niners are solid against the run. They do however struggle against phyiscal running attacks. Can you say Corey Dillon? I thought so. Unfortunately retains the downside of giving up carries to Rudi Johnson.
RB Rudi Johnson B Just hasn't been as effective with the shared role since Dillon's return.
WR Chad Johnson S2 The Niner corners, Plummer and Webster, have shown slight improvement this season but they still give up way too much. Only two teams have allowed more passing TDs and Johnson is bigger and faster than both of them.
WR Peter Warrick S2 After a couple of sub-par games Warrick got it going again last week. He excels from the slot because he has a knack for finding openings in the secondary and does a good job of getting quickly up field. Those skills will serve him well against the struggling Niner secondary.
WR Kelly Washington B Has his moments, but the inexperienced rookie is receiving only limited looks in the passing game. May have a few chances to get deep this week for a big play.
TE Whoever B In the previous three weeks three different TEs had caught passes and only one of those had more than a single catch. Schobel stepped up with TWO catches last week. Wow.

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