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Start/Bench List - Week 17
By Whitney Walters
December 24, 2003
 
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at NE CHI at KC JAC at ATL CAR at NYG PIT at BAL
SEA at SF CLE at CIN NYJ at MIA MIN at ARI END OF
PHI at WAS DAL at NO STL at DET DEN at GB REGULAR SEASON
  IND at HOU TB at TEN OAK at SD (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
 
Buffalo (6-9) at New England (13-2)  
Sat, Dec 27, 1:30 PM ET on CBS at Gillette Stadium Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Buffalo - Nothing to play for.
New England - Must win to guarantee home field throughout playoffs.
 
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe B New England's defense is brutal and Bledsoe may not even finish the game.
RB Travis Henry X Draws another tough matchup this week in the #4 ranked New England run defense. He'll likely get 20+ carries as usual, but it is unlikely that it will result in much production. Henry's a borderline start.
WR Eric Moulds B Ending the season still less 100% healthy and mostly a fantasy non-factor each week. Hasn't scored since week two.
WR Josh Reed B Will not enjoy the usual light coverage since the Pats have the talent at corner to single cover Moulds. Don't expect much from Reed.
WR Bobby Shaw X

This week does not bring a real matchup advantage as the nickel coverage unit of the Patriots is very solid. Remains the best passing game option for the Bills however.

TE Mark Campbell X In a shocking development Campbell has had 7 catches and a TD in the past two games. If you are in need of TE production this week and can live with 3-4 catches and about 30 yards then Campbell is your man.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady is rarely going to give you elite QB type numbers, but he's tossed two TDs in four of the past five games. The Bills pose a stiff challenge this week as they play solid pass defense. Expect Brady to get just enough to push him into starter status this week.

RB Antowain Smith X 62 carries in the past three games would seem to indicate that he'll be carrying the rock for the Pats from here on out. But with Belichick you just never know. Odds are that they will keep turning to him now that they are in a groove and need to pound the ball in December. Expect a decent workload but for the production to be limited by the very stout Buffalo run defense.
RB Kevin Faulk  B Not getting the carries now that Smith has emerged. More surprising is that he's not getting the work in the short passing game you'd expect. Only 4-24 in the past three games.
WR David Givens X

Slides back into the #3 spot with the return of Brown and promptly puts up his biggest fantasy game of the season last week. Such is live with the Pats. They will continue to spread the ball around in the passing game, making Givens, ...

WR Troy Brown X ... Brown and ...
WR Deion Branch X

... Branch viable options each week. All three have the potential for giving you a solid fantasy effort, or giving you close to nothing.

TE Daniel Graham X A great talent but still has an annoying tendency to disappear (like last week's 1-4 outing). The Pats are still looking his way so the production is likely to come more than it is not.
 
Seattle (9-6) at San Francisco (7-8)  
Sat, Dec 27, 5 PM ET on FOX at 3Com Park at Candlestick Point Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Seattle - Must win for a shot at the playoffs.
San Francisco - Nothing to play for.
 
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2 It's been three weeks since his last multi-TD game. The Niners present a good opportunity to break that trend but Hasselbeck and the Seahawks continue to struggle on the road.
RB Shaun Alexander S2 The Niners have improved in run support but Alexander is the driving force of the Seattle offensive attack and Holmgren is showing more confidence in him as the team approaches the goal line.
WR Koren Robinson X Can't keep pace with DJax this year but against a San Francisco secondary that has been hit with some injuries and has been suspect most of the season he could find some success. An iffy start this week.
WR Darrell Jackson X Missed most of last week after suffering an ankle injury early in the contest. Expected to play in this important game however and could come through against the injury depleted Niner secondary.
WR Bobby Engram U

When an opposing secondary is thinned by injury the place that can show up the most is in nickel coverage against a team's #3 WR. Engram is a solid #3 and has the potential to surprise this week.

TE Itula Mili S2 Eleven catches for 139 yards in the past two games. It seems Seattle may have finally settled on using it's TE more in the passing game plan.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB

Jeff Garcia

X

Has rebounded and is closing out a disappointing season well. Has thrown eight TDs in the last three games and has looked sharp. This week he gets a young secondary but loses his #1 down field target. Always a threat to score with his legs.

RB Garrison Hearst B Expected to sit this final meaningless game out.
RB Kevan Barlow S2 Barlow continues to post great fantasy efforts as the starter for the Niners. Could be working his way into the first round of fantasy drafts next season if he ends up the full time starter. There are no indications that the Seahawks' defense can slow him down this week.
WR Terrell Owens B Out with a broken collarbone.
WR Tai Streets (P) X Streets moves up to #1 this week. Likely to find the going a bit tougher against a young but aggressive Seattle secondary that doesn't have to devote any extra attention to stopping TO this week.
WR Brandon Lloyd
Cedrick Wilson
B One will start and the other will see more action as the #3 WR this weekend. Neither should be relied on for your fantasy team in this final week.
TE Jed Weaver B Has seen his usage increase over the past month, but is still only good for a few catches a game and hasn't sniffed the end-zone all season.
 
Philadelphia (11-4) at Washington (5-10)  
Sat, Dec 27, 8:30 PM ET on ESPN at FedEx Field Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Philadelphia - Must win to guarantee NFC East title and first round bye.
Washington - Playing for the owner. Yeah right.
 
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

A high scoring overtime game and you still only get 238 yards and a single TD out of McNabb. That's been the story of his 2003 fantasy campaign. Washington's defense is sub-par at best and this is an important game on the road. That pushes McNabb into borderline starter status this week.

RB Brian Westbrook S2 There continues to be no rhyme or reason to how the three Eagle RBs are used. Case in point is last week where despite Buckhalter's absence Westbrook still only touched the ball 10 times, about his average. Against a terrible Redskin run defense I'd still want the most productive Philly back in my lineup.
RB Duce Staley X

Picked up the goal-line slack last week with Buckhalter inactive, scoring twice. That trend may continue as Andy Reid turns to the reliable vet in these critical late season and playoff games. Or it may not. Such is life as a Philly back.

RB Correll Buckhalter B Will return this week but may stay in the doghouse for a while. Only has value in TD-only leagues anyway.
WR James Thrash X The ball is being spread around too much in this offense for any one receiver to stand out consistently. Thrash has only seven grabs and no scores in the last three games.
WR Todd Pinkston
Freddie Mitchell
B Pinkston stepped up last week with the teams FIRST 100-yard came for a receiver this season. Just highlights how the Eagles continue to spread the ball in the passing game, making none of their WRs of any fantasy value.
TE L.J. Smith
Chad Lewis
B Smith is likely to remain out this week. The TE hasn't been a big part of the Eagle passing game this year so don't expect much out of Lewis.
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Hasselbeck B

Meaningless game against the blitz-happy Eagle defense. Forget about it.

RB

Rock Cartwright

B With Skins are just not running the ball well and Cartwright's workload may be diminished by the return of Canidate.
WR Laveranues Coles X Despite the stress fracture in his foot, Coles remains the only real fantasy option on this team. Will struggle against the tough Philly secondary this week and his QB will be under duress all night.
WR Rod Gardner B Has had a few brief moments this season but his lack of consistency keeps him from being a viable fantasy option.
 
Chicago (7-8) at Kansas City (12-3)  
Sun, Dec 28, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Arrowhead Stadium Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Chicago - Playing for pride and a .500 record this season.
Kansas City - Must win to guarantee first round bye and a home playoff game.
 
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman B Looked solid last week against an inferior Redskin defense. Should close out his rookie season with another solid effort against an equally inferior Chief defense. Being on the road at Arrowhead tips the scale enough to where you wouldn't want to be relying on him for your fantasy team this week.
RB Anthony Thomas S2 Will continue to get a heavy dose of work. Against a Chiefs' defense that's allowing a league worst 5.2 YPC on the ground, that's a good thing.
WR Marty Booker
Dez White
Justin Gage
David Terrell
B Some of the bench is starting to get playing time as the season comes to a close. Six receivers had at least one catch last week. This limits the fantasy value of any of the top starters as the ball is being spread around. White and Gage also suffered injuries last week and may sit this one out.
TE Desmond Clark 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.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green S2 Back at home against Chicago and playing for the bye and home field. That should snap Green back into fantasy shape. Chicago brings little pressure so Green will have plenty of time in the pocket.
RB Priest Holmes S2 Going for the TD record but only needs one to break it. If the game is out of hand after he get it don't be surprised to see him take an early seat on the bench.
WR Eddie Kennison
Johnnie Morton
X Just flip a coin on these two inconsistent receivers. As only the third and fourth options in a not-always-consistant KC passing game, they bring little fantasy value each week.
WR Dante Hall B Three of the past four games have been single-catch efforts.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 Stud. Just start him.
 
Cleveland (4-11) at Cincinnati (8-7)  
Sun, Dec 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Paul Brown Stadium Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Cleveland - A win over their cross-state division rival would be a nice ending.
Cincinnati - Must win to have a shot at the final AFC playoff spot.
 
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Couch B

The OL is in tatters and providing Couch little time in the pocket. Don't look for much in this matchup on the road against a fired up Bengals' defense.

RB Lee Suggs X Looks to get one final showing before going into dry-dock for the off-season. Will get the carries but behind that battered offensive line against a very motivated Bengal defense on the road, don't expect much.
RB Jamel White B

Suggs will get most of the work in this one.

WR Dennis Northcutt X

Northcutt remains the most dangerous and consistent option in the Browns' passing game thanks to his speed. Couch should be able to find him enough to warrant some fantasy attention this week. Just not much.

WR Andre' Davis B

One catch a game over the last four.

WR Quincy Morgan B There just aren't enough balls to go around to make a secondary receiver in the Brown's passing attack of any consistent fantasy value.
TE Keith Heinrich  B Forget the Brown TE.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna X

Has been bit by the interception bug lately (5 in the past three games). Look for the Bengals to emphasize the run this week and for Kitna to be asked to do only what is needed to move the chains in the passing game.

RB Corey Dillon S2

A great matchup against a Browns defense that has shown a dislike for stopping big, power runners. The Bengals will likely run the ball 30+ times in this game. The problem becomes determining the carry distribution between Dillon and Johnson. My bet is that Dillon gets the lion's share of the carries this week and has a good game running the ball.

RB Rudi Johnson X There will be a lot of carries to go around this week but Johnson will likely see only a typical backup's share.
WR Chad Johnson S2 With Warrick likely out or at a minimum slowed, Johnson is "the man."
WR Peter Warrick B May have to sit out another game due to his arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Even if he does get onto the field it will not be at 100%.
WR Kelly Washington X

Didn't step up in his first start last week, but he did pull in the only passing TD of the game. Look for an improvement this week as his size and speed are no match for the Cleveland corners.

 
Dallas (10-5) at New Orleans (7-8)  
Sun, Dec 28, 1:00 PM ET on FOX at Superdome Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Dallas - Could be playing for NFC East title and a first round bye if Philly loses Saturday.
New Orleans - Nothing after last week's disappointing defeat.
 
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Quincy Carter X

On a good day he'll only get you about 250 and 2 TDs. Hasn't had one of those in weeks. He'll just keep doing what he's called to do, just enough to win games.

RB Troy Hambrick X

In the past nine games Hambrick has tallied more than 20 carries only twice and against the same opponent, Washington. The Saints can not stop the run but unless Hambrick gets a full workload he'll remain only an iffy starter 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 four weeks.
WR Joey Galloway B

After he caught the first pass of the game he completely disappeared last week. Galloway has been a major disappointment since week three and should be avoided.

WR Terry Glenn S2

Glenn's speed and great burst will be no match for the man-to-man matchups he will get this week from the Saint corners.

WR Antonio Bryant B

Rarely much better than his season average of 2 catches for 35 yards.

TE Jason Witten S2 Only one catch last week but it was a big one. Look for Witten's role in the passing game to continue to increase.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Brooks B Brooks hasn't lit it up this season, but his late season play should quiet most of his critics. He's been solid and hasn't thrown an interception since week 11. But for fantasy this week he'd be better off on your bench against the Cowboys.
RB Deuce McAllister S2 Hasn't hit 100 yards in three weeks and last week had his lowest rushing total since week three. His receiving numbers keep him in starter status most weeks but this matchup will be tough. Only a borderline starter this week in this meaningless game against the very stingy Dallas run defense.
WR Joe Horn B Will miss the final game due to the shoulder injury suffered last week.
WR Donte Stallworth B Hasn't been a factor in the passing game all season.
WR Jerome Pathon U

With Horn out, Pathon could surprise.

TE Boo Williams S1 Second on the team in catches, yards and TDs since taking over as the starter five weeks ago. Has reached stud TE status.
 
Indianapolis (11-4) at Houston (5-10)  
Sun, Dec 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Reliant Stadium Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Indianapolis - Must win to take the AFC South and gain home field for the first week.
Houston - Close out an improved second season on a positive note.
 
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1 Easy call. The Texans secondary is just plain bad and they have no pass rush.
RB Edgerrin James S2 The Houston run defense is terrible but James may be pulled late if this one gets out of hand.
WR Marvin Harrison S1

Needs 8 catches for his fifth straight 100-catch season. Should get it easily.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 Shocked everyone with an o-fer Sunday night. No way that happens this week against the undermanned Houston secondary.
WR Troy Walters
Brandon Stokley
B Walters seems to have fallen behind Stokley as the #3 WR since breaking his nose. One of these guys may get some late game catches after Harrison goes to the bench.
TE Marcus Pollard S2 One of the few remaining "no reason needed" TE starts this season.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr B After last week's defensive meltdown you can bet the Colts will be out for redemption in this one.
RB Domanick Davis X

68 yards shy of a 1000-yard rookie season. Should get at least that and maybe his seventh touchdown.

WR Andre Johnson X The rookie has great talent, but up until last week his play had been very inconsistent and he'd been dropping way too many passes. Carr will surely be looking for his big-time target.
WR Corey Bradford B Bradford surprised last week with his second multi-catch game and TD in the past ten games. Not likely to repeat any time soon.
WR Jabar Gaffney B

Gaffney has become no more than a zero-to-one-catch-a-game receiver.

TE Billy Miller X Continues to play a role in the passing attack for the Texans. Hasn't scored in four week so he's due.
 
Jacksonville (5-10) at Atlanta (4-11)  
Sun, Dec 28, 1:00 PM ET on CBS at Georgia Dome Back to top
WEEK 17 "WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Jacksonville - Shooting for their third straight 6-10 season and 2004 momentum.
Atlanta - Playing for pride and for their jobs next season.
 
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich X Hasn't been a fantasy option all season but receives a slight upgrade this week thanks to the pathetic Falcon pass defense.
RB Fred Taylor S2 Should have little trouble continuing his very strong finish to the season.
WR Jimmy Smith S2

As Taylor keeps tearing things it on the ground Smith will likely find himself in some very favorable single-coverage matchups with the inferior Atlanta corners.

WR Troy Edwards B Only seven catches since KJ joined the team five weeks ago.
WR Kevin Johnson X Johnson has had his moments since joining the Jags and may have another this week in this very favorable matchup with the Falcons.
TE Kyle Brady B No longer a fantasy factor.
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick X

The Jags are an up-and-comming defense and Vick threw only his first passing TDs of the season last week. May make a few big plays, but will mostly be kept in check.

RB T.J. Duckett  X

Received a season high 27 carries last week but only generated 93 yards. Against the Jags stout run defense he'll need that many carries again to make him a worthy starter. Scored in eight straight weeks until last Sunday.

WR Peerless Price X

His hit-n-miss performance continues since Vick's return. His speed may present a few down field opportunities this week, but don't look for much.

WR

Brian Finneran B His size typically presents the promise of a matchup advantage, especially in the red-zone. However, Finneran continues to disappoint.
TE Alge Crumpler X

Remains one of the best goal-line threats the Falcons have.

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