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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
KC at MIN CIN at STL NO at JAC SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
  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
New Orleans (7-7) at Jacksonville (4-10)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at ALLTEL Stadium Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Brooks X The Jags' secondary and pass rush aren't great, but injuries along the Saints’ offensive line have weakened the pass protection. Before last week's explosion Brooks hadn't thrown for more that a single touchdown in a game for five weeks. Don't expect anything close to last week.
RB Deuce McAllister S2 Still looking for that 10th 100 yard rushing game. Won't likely get it this weekend against an increasingly stout Jags run defense. But as last week showed, McAllister can still be a factor in the short passing game.
WR Joe Horn S2 After faltering for four weeks Horn is back with two great fantasy performances in a row. The Jags provide a difficult challenge defensively for the Saints, but Horn will still get his chances against their average at best secondary.
WR Donte Stallworth (P) B Still slowed by injury and should be avoided.
WR Jerome Pathon B

Even in the offensive explosion of last week Pathon only managed three catches for 45 yards. If one hadn't been a TD it would have been another of his many forgettable performances.

TE Boo Williams S1 Second on the team in catches, yards and TDs since taking over as the starter four weeks ago. Williams should have plenty of room to rome this week as Horn draws safety help deep and Deuce draws it up to the line in run support.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich B Hasn't been a fantasy option all season. That isn't going to change now.
RB Fred Taylor S2 The Patriots held Taylor in check last week, but no body is going to confuse the Saints' run defense with the Pats'. They will have a hard time stopping one of the league's most underrated rushers.
WR Jimmy Smith S2

With Taylor tearing things up on the ground Smith will likely find himself in some very favorable single-coverage matchups with the inferior Saint corners.

WR Troy Edwards B Only six catches since KJ joined the team four weeks ago.
WR Kevin Johnson U Johnson finally got into the act last week with his best day as a Jag. Should keep it going this week regardless of which small and aging Saints corner he draws in coverage.
TE Kyle Brady B No longer a fantasy factor.
Tennessee (10-4) at Houston (5-9)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Reliant Stadium Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair (Q) S2

First order of business, McNair will play this week, have no doubt. With Volek gone he'll also likely play the entire game unless they blow the Texans out (which is a possibility). So unless you have carried a great backup on your roster this season you should go back to McNair this week. Houston has a non-existent pass rush and suspect secondary.

RB Eddie George S2 The Houston run defense has shown some slight improvement of late but they still occupy a spot at the bottom of the rankings. George has been running strong in the second half of the season but still doesn't get many scoring opportunities.
WR Derrick Mason S2 The emergence of McCareins and the tight ends has really helped open things up for Mason down field. He rarely has to face double coverage now.
WR Justin McCareins S2

Has scored a TD in five of the last six games and has become a consistent, but not explosive, fantasy factor. Great matchup this week against the suspect Houston secondary.

TE Frank Wycheck
Erron Kinney
X With the lack of depth at WR, the Titans have increased their usage of the TE. Unfortunately both Wycheck and Kinney are active each week, hurting each others fantasy value.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr (P)
Dave Ragone
B Carr is again expected to return to action this week. Either way, whether it's him or Ragone, neither should find much success against the Titans' pass rush.
RB Domanick Davis X

Davis looks healthy now and has had a remarkable rookie season for the Texans. Don't expect a remarkable performance this week against the #1 rush defense in the league.

WR Andre Johnson B The rookie has great talent, but his play has been very inconsistent of late and he's dropping way too many passes.
WR Corey Bradford B Both Bradford and ...
WR Jabar Gaffney B

... Gaffney have become kings of the 0-1 catch game.

TE Billy Miller B Will meet his match this week in SS Tank Williams who is big, fast, great in coverage and a solid open-field tackler.
Washington (5-9) at Chicago (6-8)  
Sun, Dec 21, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Soldier Field Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Hasselbeck B

There may be some advantages on the perimeter in this matchup and the Bears offer little in the way of a pass rush. But after last week's offensive meltdown it's hard to trust any piece of the Redskins' passing game.


Rock Cartwright

B With Canidate and Betts still ailing the running game will again fall on the shoulders of Cartwright and Morton, with Cartwright taking the lead. In the last six weeks the Bears have allowed only 108 rushing yards a game against some of the best offenses in the league. They are much improved and Cartwright will surely struggle.
WR Laveranues Coles (P) X It was revealed this week that Coles has been battling a stress fracture in his foot. Could explain his mediocre production most of the season. Or it could just be that the Redskin offense stinks. Either way Coles isn't likely to light it up in the final two games.
WR Rod Gardner (P) B Has had a few brief moments this season but his lack of consistency keeps him from being a viable fantasy option.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman B Shaky in his first NFL start, but hey he got the win. Not a fantasy option.
RB Anthony Thomas S2 The Redskins give up almost 140 rushing yards a game and only two teams have allowed more than their 18 rushing TDs this season. With the rookie running the show you can bet Thomas will get a heavy workload.
WR Marty Booker
Dez White
Justin Gage
David Terrell
B With a rookie under center the passing game is limited as a result. With that being the case you should not look to the Chicago passing attack for much fantasy production.
TE Desmond Clark (Q) B Has been a consistent 3 catch for 30 yards performer all season. Now that he's hurt (turf toe) he's not going to get you even that.
Arizona (3-11) at Seattle (8-6)  
Sun, Dec 21, 4:15 PM ET on FOX at Seahawks Stadium Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh McCown B Held his own last week in his first NFL start and ran the ball well, but this rookie is not worth your attention this season.
RB Marcel Shipp  X The Seattle run defense is about average, but the Arizona running game is way below that. And with Smith around to vulture the touchdowns (he has the Cards' only two by a RB) Shipp falls off the fantasy radar.
WR Anquan Boldin S2

The most interesting matchup for the Cards this weekend as two of the league's top rookies battle it out. Both have great talent but size may ultimately give Boldin the advantage over CB Marcus Trufant.

WR Bryant Johnson  B Johnson moved into the starting lineup opposite fellow rookie receiver Boldin last week. Made absolutely no difference.
TE Freddie Jones X The second best option in the passing game behind Boldin, even with the rookie under center. Don't expect much from Jones this week however as the Seahawks are one of the better defenses at shutting down opposing TEs.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2 If there's ever a time to get it going again it's at home against the terrible Cardinal secondary with your playoff chances hanging in the balance.
RB Shaun Alexander S2 It will be difficult for Arizona to stack the line to stop the run as it did last week against Carolina. The Seahawks can use three-receiver sets to force them into nickel packages. Spreading the field will open the running lanes for Alexander.
WR Koren Robinson S2 Can't keep pace with DJax this year but against the hapless Arizona secondary he makes a solid start this week.
WR Darrell Jackson S2 Continues to lead the way in all receiving categories this season for the Seahawks. Excellent matchup this week with the constantly out manned Cardinal secondary.
WR Bobby Engram B

Has the ability to surprise, but has disappeared in two of the last three games.

TE Itula Mili B Had his moment last week against zone coverage. The focus goes back to the wideouts this week.
San Diego (3-11) at PIttsburgh (5-9)  
Sun, Dec 21, 4:05 PM ET on CBS at Heinz Field Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees X What do you do if you have only a single down field option (Boston), find your big play RB and TE. That seems to be working for Brees and the passing game.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson S2 The Steelers remain solid against the run, but they'd better have an answer for LT in the passing game if they want to slow him down this week.
WR David Boston (P) S2

You'd think with the Chargers passing game putting up over 600 yards and 4 TDs in the last two games that Boston would be in the middle of it all. Wrong. He hasn't even totaled 100 yards receiving and his nagging neck injury seems to be limiting his effectiveness. The Steelers inadequacies at cornerback provide him a nice change to rebound this week.

WR Kassim Osgood
Reche Caldwell
B The Pittsburgh secondary doesn't provide much of a threat, but the lack of talent shown by the raw Osgood and ineffective Caldwell provides no advantage.
TE Antonio Gates U Brees always did like going to the tight end, and he really going to learn to like this promising rookie. With no depth at WR Gates could again play a big role in helping the Chargers spread the field in multi-receiver sets.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tommy Maddox S2 Flopped in the know at New York last week. But this week the Chargers on a clear day at Heinz field will provide a great bounce back matchup. They've allowed a league leading 33 passing TDs and don't provide much of a pass rush. Should easily have his first multi-TD game since Arizona in week 10.
RB Jerome Bettis (P) X

Despite a solid matchup here Bettis' opportunities may be limited due to the even better matchup the Steelers have in the passing game. May be fortunate to get 20 carries.

WR Plaxico Burress S2

Shut down due to weather last week. The Chargers offer nothing that can match up against Burress' combination of size and speed. Solid start this week.

WR Hines Ward (P) S2 Even put up decent numbers last week in a snow storm. CB Quentin Jammer may be starting to play up to his potential, but Ward is too crafty to allow him to take him out of his game with physical press coverage.
San Francisco (6-8) at Philadelphia (11-3)  
Sun, Dec 21, 4:15 PM ET on FOX at Lincoln Financial Field Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments

Jeff Garcia


Has thrown six TDs in the last two games and has looked sharp. A nice late season push for the owners that stuck with him. This week on the road in Philly may be another story. The Eagles' secondary continues to improve and if Garcia can't buy some time via the scramble his down field options will be limited. Not a strong play this week.

RB Garrison Hearst (Q) B Expected to sit out one more game as his scoped knee recovers.
RB Kevan Barlow S2 Barlow continues to impress thanks to his first starting opportunity as a pro. Will be the key to the Niners moving the ball this week as the passing game is likely to struggle but the Philly defense can be run on. They are allowing 135 YPG over the last six.
WR Terrell Owens (P) S2 Really clicking with a healthy Garcia now and will be challenged this week by corners Taylor and Vincent. TO never meet a challenge he didn't take head on. Should be fun to watch.
WR Tai Streets (P) X Streets had been fading since mid-season while struggling with a leg injury. He appeared to finally get it going last week and will be needed Sunday against the very tough Philly secondary to help spread the field. I wouldn't plug him back into your lineup however.
TE Jed Weaver B Stay away from the Niner tight ends.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

Despite the Eagles' success this season McNabb has put together just an average fantasy campaign. Barely top 20 in most leagues. The Niners bring one of the league's better pass rushes to town so McNabb may have limited time in the pocket. If he can use his running ability to bye time however, he should be effective.

RB Brian Westbrook S2 Amazing how he can remain so effective a fantasy scorer with so few touches (only 11 last week). You just can't sit a guy this explosive. Ride him to the end.
RB Duce Staley B The occasional TD on anywhere from three to eight touches a game. While it's great when it happens, the risk of getting left with very little if he doesn't score is just too high to make him a starter.
RB Correll Buckhalter X Suffers from too few carries but has scored a TD in four of the last five games. Has the added downside of being a non-factor in the passing game.
WR James Thrash X The ball is being spread around too much in this offense for any one receiver to stand out. Thrash however remains the most consistent of the bunch and the only viable fantasy wide receiver. As with most weeks it's likely you have a better option though.
WR Todd Pinkston
Freddie Mitchell
B The way the Eagles are spreading the ball in the passing game these two just don't get numbers even close to warranting fantasy attention. Both have seen the end-zone only once this year.
TE L.J. Smith (D)
Chad Lewis
B With Smith likely out Lewis must step up this week. Niner SS Tony Parrish matches up well but Lewis should be able to use his size advantage to gain position over the middle. The TE hasn't been a big part of the Eagle passing game this year so don't expect much.
Denver (9-5) at Indianapolis (11-3)  
Sun, Dec 21, 8:30 PM ET on ESPN at RCA Dome Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Plummer X The Colts feature one of the top pass defenses in the league and they have thrown their "soft" reputation out the window this season. With Portis slowed at best more of the game plan will fall on Plummer. He'll have his hands full as the Indy secondary has the talent and schemes to limit his receiving options on the perimeter. His success in this matchup will go a long way to proving his worth to the Broncos' future.
RB Clinton Portis (Q) S2 Man, what timing? All indications early in the week have Portis ready to go this weekend despite the ankle and knee sprains. But you just never know. All I can say is keep an eye on our Priority News for updates this week. If the signs are good that he's close to 100% then you might as well play him unless you have a much better option. The fact that Indy is playing some great defense right now, the game is on turf, and it's a night kickoff (so no pregame warmup news in the morning) all make this a risk filled decision this week.
RB Mike Anderson X On the off chance that Portis doesn't play at all, Anderson could have some success running on the Colts as they do not hold up well against physical, straight-line power backs.
WR Rod Smith S2 Vertical plays are tough to come by against this defense and Smith isn't the deep threat he used to be. But he excels at finding soft spots in zone coverages and that will surly come in handy Sunday night.
WR Ashley Lelie X

Lelie seemed to get back some of his early season form last week. If his improvements can continue it will pay big dividends for the Broncos' offense as his deep speed will help open things up underneath.

WR Ed McCaffrey B Had a couple of nice catches last week but ended the game with a mild concussion.
TE Shannon Sharpe S1 Sharpe will be a great weapon against the aggressive cover-2 zone schemes used by the Colts' secondary.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1 The Broncos play some great pass defense statistically, but they give up way too many big plays. Manning will make them pay at home in the dome.
RB Edgerrin James S2 Denver still brings one of the toughest defenses in the league into Indy on Sunday. No matter. You have to play The Edge.
WR Marvin Harrison S1

The Broncos bend but don't break style of pass defense will give Harrison plenty of chances this week.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 Has not been too consistent from week to week but his quickness and sharp route running make him a potential fantasy factor each week.
WR Troy Walters (P) B Walters was a great sleeper pick for a few weeks, but the broken nose seems to have slowed him a bit. He's not likely to be a factor in this one.
TE Marcus Pollard S2 Not that you really need a reason to start Pollard, but SS Kenoy Kennedy is not a good down field defender, and that's where Pollard is at his best.
Green Bay (8-6) at Oakland (4-10)  
Mon, Dec 22, 9:00 PM ET on ABC at Network Associates Coliseum Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre (P) S2 Don't get too caught up in Oakland's effort against the Ravens last week. You just can't confuse Anthony Wright and the Baltimore passing game with Favre and Green Bays'.
RB Ahman Green S1

Amazingly held to form last week and got less than 20 carries on the road. Going up against the worst run defense in the league could break that season-long trend.

WR Donald Driver X

Week, after week, after week of little to nothing and then... BAM, we get 8-112 and a TD. It would be hard to stick Driver back into your starting lineup given his disappointing season, but at least he showed some life. CB Charles Woodson will be asked to use his physical tools to neutralize Driver. Will be an interesting matchup and may result in more disappointment for Driver owners.

WR Robert Ferguson S2

Has overtaken Walker in catches this season and seems to be back in favor in the passing attack. Will see a lot of single man-coverage and has the skills to take the upper hand enough to warrant getting him in your lineup this week.

WR Javon Walker (P) B

Leads all receivers in touchdowns with seven but his catch totals leave a lot to be desired for fantasy owners. Over the past eight games he's averaging only two catches per. Too many options and too few passes to go around.

TE Bubba Franks
Wesley Walls
X The TE should get some additional work Monday night as the Raider safeties continue to struggle in coverage (see Heap last week). Problem is that both Franks and Walls are being used about equally, with Franks getting the edge down by the goal-line.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rick Mirer B In his seven starts this season he's thrown only THREE touchdowns. I don't care who the opponent is, Mirer will never be a fantasy starter. End of story.
RB Charlie Garner B Still good for a few catches a game, but hasn't had 10 or more carries, or seen the end-zone, in six weeks.
RB Tyrone Wheatley B Has performed well since Garner's injury, but he's only getting about a dozen carries a game. If he doesn't score then he ends up being worthless fantasy-wise. Also, the Packers are very solid against the run.
WR Jerry Rice X

At least he's snuck in for a couple of late season touchdowns. Otherwise, what a sad way for the greatest of all time to go out.

WR Tim Brown B

If anyone on this team is due to score it's Brown, who hasn't sniffed the end-zone since week four. No way is that enough to warrant fantasy consideration of any kind this week.

WR Jerry Porter B

Since his 7 catch game a month ago his numbers have decreased each week, ending in a single catch game last week.

TE Whoever B

The two TEs have four catches in the past four games.

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