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Start/Bench List - Week 16
By Whitney Walters
December 18, 2003
 
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at TB BAL at CLE NYG at DAL ARI at SEA DEN at IND
KC at MIN CIN at STL NO at JAC SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
NE at NYJ DET at CAR TEN at HOU SF at PHI GB at OAK
  MIA at BUF WAS at CHI   (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 (3-11) at Tampa Bay (7-7)  
Sat, Dec 20, 1:30 PM ET on FOX at Raymond James Stadium Back to top
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick B

May be a great talent, but the team is falling apart around him. He can't be expected to shoulder the entire offense and help your fantasy team, especially against a Tampa team that seems to have rediscovered how to play a little defense.

RB T.J. Duckett  X

About the only thing you can be sure of this week for the Falcons is that they will run Duckett. However, the Bucs are improving on defense and the Falcon offensive line is in shambles. So don't expect much.

WR Peerless Price X

Caught only one of the eight balls thrown his way last week. Price may be the main man in the passing game, but right now that isn't saying much. His speed may present a few down field opportunities this week.

WR

Brian Finneran B His size typically presents the promise of a matchup advantage. However, Finneran continues to be banged up and was never all that fast anyway. He doesn't have what it takes against the Bucs zone style of coverage.
TE Alge Crumpler X

There were plenty of opportunities for Crumpler last week against the Colts' cover-2. Vick did a poor job of finding his tight end when in trouble. That must improve this week against the similar Tampa schemes for Crumpler to have any value.

Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson X

The Bucs have turned more to the run of late since pass protection continues to be a problem. They are completing under 20 passes a game over the past five games. Only 4 TDs in that time also. The fact that the Falcons' pass defense is the worst in the NFL gives Johnson some upside, but with the running game in high gear he won't be called on as much.

RB Michael Pittman B

Seven carries in the past two games (both wins). The season's over for Pittman for fantasy purposes.

RB Thomas Jones S2 Has received 54 carries in the past two Tampa wins and averaged over four yards on each of those carries. He's also scored three rushing TDs in the past four week, something Pittman never did. The Falcons' run defense is simply terrible.
WR Keenan McCardell S2 The Bucs most consistent wideout went over 1000 yards last week and continues to put up solid numbers. Hasn't seen the end-zone in four weeks. Should be able to exploit the big cushion provided by aging CB Ray Buchanan.
WR Charles Lee X Since being thrust into the starting lineup a few weeks back, Lee has held his own and occasionally surprised. Against another very weak secondary he could surprise again.
TE Ken Dilger (P) B Injuries this season have made Dilger, and any other TB tight end, fantasy death. The most productive TE has been Sapp, and that's just wrong.
 
Kansas City (12-2) at Minnesota (8-6)  
Sat, Dec 20, 5 PM ET on CBS at Metrodome Back to top
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green S2 With Holmes likely going off in this one Green will be required to do little. Which means he's only a borderline starter this week with an upside only if the Chiefs decide to air it out in what should be a high scoring game.
RB Priest Holmes (P) S1 Oh my. This could be fun to watch. Unless of course you are playing AGAINST him this week.
WR Eddie Kennison
Johnnie Morton
X Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum (you can determine which you feel is which) are the third and fourth options in the not-always-consistant KC passing game. If you have a Chief receiver on your roster, it better be Gonzo.
WR Dante Hall B One catch, then 11 catches, then back to one catch. Yeah, that's the kind of predictable production your team should rely on. Forget it.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 Stud. Just start him.
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper S2

The Chiefs are a solid matchup for Culpepper, but the running game may dominate given KC's ineptitude in run defense. Still, there should be enough production in this high scoring game for CPep to warrant a fantasy start.

RB Michael Bennett (P)
Moe Williams (P)
Onterrio Smith (P)
X All three are injured. All three will play. All three will get carries. What a waste of a great rushing matchup. You can take your chances with Bennett or maybe Smith, but if you have another good matchup on your roster with lower risk you might want to consider it.
WR Randy Moss S1 May not always come through in the crunch for his "real" team, but continues to come up big for his fantasy teams.
WR Nate Burleson
Kelly Campbell
D'wayne Bates
B

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

TE Jim Kleinsasser S2 It's been one injury after another for Kleinsasser. He remains the starter and is a very tough competitor. Due for a touchdown this week.
 
New England (12-2) at N. Y. Jets (6-8)  
Sat, Dec 20, 8:30 PM ET on ESPN at Giants Stadium Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady is rarely going to give you elite QB type numbers and six times this season he's gone TD-less in a game. The Jets pose a stiff challenge this week as they play solid pass defense and have allowed only 11 TDs, a league low. Troy Brown's healthy return however provides just enough of a boost to push Brady into starter status this week.

RB Antowain Smith X The Jets boast one of the league's worst run defenses but that may not matter. Smith has been the main ball-carrier the past two weeks as the team has been playing at home in the snow. With a clear but cold evening expected this Saturday there is no telling how much playing time coach Belichick will give Smith. A high risk starter if you turn to him.
RB Kevin Faulk  U Saw a few more carries last week but the show was Smith's. That should change this week in New York, but expect him to be more of a factor in the short passing game than the running game.
WR David Givens B

Slides back into the #3 spot with the return of Brown. That combined with the emergence of TE Graham make Givens an option to be avoided now.

WR Troy Brown S2 After missing over a month with a leg injury, Brady's favorite target returned last week and they seemed to pick up right where they left off.
WR Deion Branch (P) X

The Pats continue to spread the ball around to all four receivers, the TE and backs. As a result it's rare that more than one wideout has a solid fantasy game. So the upside just isn't going to be there consistently for Branch now that Brown is back.

TE Daniel Graham S2 Graham should continue his fine late season production this week. The Jets do have one of the better pass defenses in the league statistically, but they are weak underneath due to lack of speed and athleticism at linebacker.
New York Jets
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington B The Pats are playing great defense right now. They've allowed a league low 11 passing TDs and are second in the NFL with 22 interceptions. This will not be an easy one for Pennington and the struggling Jet passing attack.
RB Curtis Martin X Looks like the old guy has a few volts left in that battery. He'll likely need a jump start after this one as the Patriots are playing some of the toughest run defense in the league.
WR Curtis Conway B With Moss drawing the opponents best coverage, you would think Conway could produce more consistently. But he does not. The strong secondary play of the Patriots provides no matchup advantage this week.
WR Santana Moss X

Was held to a single catch in week three against New England. Both teams are very different now but that won't result in much of a change in Moss' chances as the Jets are struggling through the air and the Pats secondary has improved.

TE Anthony Becht B Has become a complete non-factor in the Jets' passing attack.
 
Baltimore (8-6) at Cleveland (4-10)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium Back to top
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Anthony Wright B After three straight weeks of declining numbers, had a slight improvement last week against the Raiders. It's not enough to warrant any fantasy consideration this week against a better opponent in the Browns. Another stinker like his last two efforts and it may be back to the bench.
RB Jamal Lewis S1 The yardage is great, and it will surely come again against the Browns. But how about a few touchdowns as well this week.
WR Marcus Robinson X Wright's go-to receiver and only real downfield threat was completely shutout last week by the double-teaming Raiders. He can expect similar treatment this week as well as he is obviously the team's only solid down field threat.
WR Travis Taylor B With Robinson shut down last week it was time for Taylor to fill the void in the passing game. In typically Taylor fashion he caught only three of the ten balls thrown his way.
TE Todd Heap S2 The extra attention given to Robinson last week really opened things up for Heap, and for a change Wright found him.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Couch B

Not a lot of deep analysis here. The OL is in tatters and the Ravens are coming to town. Couch will be lucky to just finish the game.

RB Jamel White B

A battered offensive line, a touch defensive opponent and a rookie running back (Suggs) itching to get some work. Avoid White and the Browns' running game this week.

WR Dennis Northcutt X

Northcutt remains the most dangerous option in the Browns' passing game due to his speed. Couch won't have much time in the pocket however and the Ravens bring a young but aggressive secondary to bear.

WR Andre' Davis B

The ball is being spread around too much for Davis or ...

WR Quincy Morgan B ... Morgan to have much value. Both have put up single catch games in the past few weeks.
TE Keith Heinrich  B Two weeks, two catches, two touchdowns. Oh yeah, and three yards.
 
Cincinnati (8-6) at St. Louis (11-3)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Edward Jones Dome Back to top
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna X

The Bengals must have success running the ball in order to pull the Rams out of their cover-2 zones and open up the passing game. The Rams aren't great run stoppers so the odds of that occurring are about 50-50. Those are Kitna's odds of having a good game as well.

RB Corey Dillon S2 The Rams do struggle to stop the run and Dillon is expected to be over the flu and start Sunday. If he's close to 100% he should do well as the Bengals will look to run the ball as much as possible in order to eat up the clock and keep the St. Louis offense off the field.
RB Rudi Johnson X Should see some additional carries in his backup role this week as Dillon may still be slowed physically due to recovering from the flu and the fact that the Bengals will look to run the ball more this week.
WR Chad Johnson S2 Zone coverages have given Johnson trouble in the past as he continues to hone his route running skills. He's on a serious roll right now, catching five TDs in the last four weeks. He's gotten you this far, no sense in turning away now.
WR Peter Warrick (P) B Late week scratch due to a scope operation on his knee. Will not play this week but is expected back for next.
WR Kelly Washington U He's a Chad Johnson clone and has had some big plays this season as the #3 WR. With the late week scratch of Warrick he'll get a chance to start and do some damage in the Rams' secondary.
TE Whoever B In the past month three different TEs have caught passes with only one of those (Matt Schobel) having more than a single catch.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S2 Good but not great. Bulger has thrown for more than a single TD only once in the past seven weeks. It's another borderline recommendation this week, but this should be a high scoring affair and the explosiveness of this offense keep Bulger in starter status.
RB Marshall Faulk S1 Has had under 20 carries only once since returning to action following the knee surgery. Look for more of the same this week and great production against a Bengal team that struggles stopping the run.
WR Torry Holt S1 Has all the skills and is one of the elite receivers in the league now.
WR Isaac Bruce (Q) B Expected to miss practice this week due to a slight ankle sprain, but not the game. It's likely that he will not be 100% and his main role will be to draw coverage from Holt. Unless late week reports state that he's VERY close to 100% healthy it's best to find another option.
WR Mike Furrey
Dane Looker
B If Bruce has to sit this one out one of these guys has a chance to shine. The most likely scenario however is for both to see about 3-5 catches.
TE Brandon Manumaleuna B Actually ended the game last week with negative yards receiving.
 
Detroit (4-10) at Carolina (9-5)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Ericsson Stadium Back to top
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joey Harrington B

The Panthers aren't a great pass defense, but the Lions aren't even a good passing offense. There's also a good chance that the team will want to get a look at backup Mike McMahon these last two games.

RB Shawn Bryson B

Bryson will likely continue seeing playing time on passing downs, but his carries are going to take a serious drop now as the team gets a look at their rookie Pinner. It's a shame since Bryson is coming off his best rushing game of the season.

RB Artose Pinner B Look for the rookie to start sharing the rushing load with Bryson and possibly even get the majority of the carries. Make him an interesting prospect for next season, not a late season answer for your team this year.
WR Az-Zahir Hakim B

Coming off his best fantasy performance of the season and now the team is going to start tinkering with their QB and other positions.

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 Regardless of all the potential personnel changes now going on, Ricks remains the best fantasy option in the Lions' passing attack. Under the heavy blitz packages Carolina will be bringing, both QBs better keep one eye in Ricks at all times.
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme U Against a suspect pass rush and a secondary that has been decimated by injury, Delhomme should have plenty of opportunities to make plays.
RB Stephen Davis (Q) B

Age or overuse could be taking it's toll as Davis doesn't seem to have the same burst he had at the start of the year. The ankle and knee tweaks he suffered last week may give the Panthers an excuse to rest him this weekend. He may only play sparingly.

RB DeShaun Foster S2 A healthy and rested DeShaun Foster is expected to get a bulk of the work this weekend, if not start. Great matchup against the spiraling Lions. If he starts then plug him into your lineup. If he doesn't then he is still a solid play.
WR Steve Smith S2 Smith continues to lead the way in the Panthers' passing attack and ...
WR Muhsin Muhammad X ... Muhammad continues to disappoint.
TE Kris Mangum B Back from injury just in time, but the TE plays almost no role in the Panthers' passing game.
 
Miami (8-6) at Buffalo (6-8)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Ralph Wilson Stadium Back to top
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Fiedler (P) X

Outside the Dallas game three weeks ago Fiedler has been forgettable as a fantasy QB since his return. It's not going to get any better against another solid defense and the cold in Buffalo.

RB Ricky Williams (P) S2

Ricky's best effort (153 yards, TD) came in week three against these Bills. But he appears to be wearing down slightly and the Bills' defense is much improved since that meeting.

WR Chris Chambers (P) X As with last week's matchup with great press cover corners, Chambers' explosiveness and speed could allow him to get behind the coverage for some big plays. The down side is the weather. The colder it gets the less likely Fiedler is of getting him the ball deep and accurately.
WR James McKnight
Derrius Thompson
B Outside of Chambers and McMichael there is no fantasy factor in the Miami passing attack.
TE Randy McMichael X

Last week McMichael finally took advantage of his matchup and in one game topped his production from the previous five combined. The potential for a repeat is not high thanks to the strong play of SS Lawyer Milloy.

Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe B Too big a disappointment this season to warrant consideration under any condition or against any opponent.
RB Travis Henry S2 Draws another tough matchup this week in the #4 ranked Miami run defense. The Bills should supplement the running game by throwing to Henry on screens and short dump-off routes as the Miami linebackers have a tendency to be too aggressive and over-pursue. Henry's a borderline start.
WR Eric Moulds B Still doesn't look 100% and appears to serve as more of a decoy on many plays. Over the last four games he's averaging about 3 catches for 40 yards and hasn't scored since week two.
WR Josh Reed X Will not enjoy the usual light coverage since the Dolphins have the talent at corner to single cover Moulds. Don't expect much from Reed.
WR Bobby Shaw X

This week does not bring the matchup advantage he enjoyed last week as the nickel coverage unit of the Dolphins is very solid.

TE Mark Campbell B In a shocking development last week, Campbell not only caught more than a single pass, he hauled in his first TD of the season.
 
N. Y. Giants (4-10) at Dallas (9-5)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Texas Stadium Back to top
New York Giants
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jesse Palmer B

Will make his second start on Sunday, and he'll be fortunate to have it go as well as his first.

RB Tiki Barber X

Has scored only three TDs this year and his rushing numbers get worse with each passing week. The injury depleted offensive line will be no match for the Dallas aggressive front. The Giants will have no choice but to turn to Barber due to all the receiver injuries and a rookie at QB. Just don't expect too much from his effort.

WR Amani Toomer X

Since being torched on Thanksgiving CB Mario Edwards has given his opponents much more cushion to protect against being burned deep. Toomer still has the ability to occasionally produce fantasy worthy numbers but that has happened only twice over the last seven weeks. To make it three in eight he will have to take advantage on underneath routes.

WR Ike Hilliard (D) B

If Hilliard even makes in on the field this week he will not be close to 100%. With Palmer at the helm you should forget Hilliard for the rest of the season.

TE Vishante Shiancoe X With both Shockey and Rivers likely done for the season, Shiancoe stepped in last week and actually scored a TD. That gives him one more than Rivers and half of Shockey's total this season. May actually catch a few more balls these final two weeks with all the receiver injuries.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Quincy Carter S2

After Carter's worst two game stretch this season he gets a break this week in the form of the Giants. New York lost another corner last week and this injury depleted secondary is ripe for the picking. Look for Carter to bounce back this week and rediscover his wideouts and tight end.

RB Troy Hambrick S2

It's December and Parcells loves to run the ball. The Cowboys have racked up 71 carries in the past two games with Hambrick getting 33 of those last week. Look for more of the same this week against a Giants' defense that spiraling further down the drain each week.

RB Richie Anderson X In deeper leagues that award points for catches Anderson has been paying off for his owners most of the season. He's also scored three touchdowns in the last three weeks.
WR Joey Galloway B

Even though the passing game should get it going this weekend, Galloway has been a major disappointment since week three and should be avoided.

WR Terry Glenn (P) S2

Due to injury the Giants are starting corners that would be backups on most teams. Glenn's speed should have them running for their life all afternoon.

WR Antonio Bryant X

Could surprise, but we've been waiting on that since week two. Most likely to see not much better than his 2-35 season average.

TE Jason Witten S2 Look for Witten to bounce back this week against the overmatched Giants secondary.

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