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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 15
Whitney Walters
December 16, 2004
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
PIT at NYG BUF at CIN SD at CLE STL at ARI BAL at IND
WAS at SF HOU at CHI SEA at NYJ NO at TB Mon 9 PM
CAR at ATL DEN at KC DAL at PHI JAC at GB NE at MIA
  MIN at DET   TEN at OAK (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
 
Pittsburgh (12-1) at NY Giants (5-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Pittsburgh - First round bye and home field advantage.
NY Giants - Mathematically still in playoff hunt.
 
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger B Even against the worst of defenses Big Ben is only a desperation fantasy starter. The Giants have problems but few are on the defensive side of the ball against the pass. The rookie may have a fine fantasy future but the present just doesn't get it done for fantasy owners.
RB Duce Staley (Q) X In his second week back from the hamstring injury, Staley again ended the game on the sidelines resting his hammy. The Giants are solid against the run but the second ranked running game will still get it done. Problem with Staley is his current tendency towards limited action. He'll surely give it a go on Saturday but you are better off finding a more reliable option at running back.
RB Jerome Bettis S2

While Staley remains limited by his recovering hamstring, The Bus is the back to ride in a Steelers uniform. He and Staley may end the game with similar carries but it's Bettis that's more productive and will get the scoring opportunities at the goal-line.

WR Hines Ward X

Ward's numbers continue to hurt his fantasy owners. He just doesn't seem to have a strong chemistry with Roethlisberger yet. The absence of Burress' ability to stretch the field vertically isn't helping either. Since Burress went down Ward has only six catches and is seeing constant double coverage.

WR Plaxico Burress (Q) X

Burress will again be expected to play but it's only a 50-50 chance right now that he'll take the field. Even if he does the odds are against him being effective with a hamstring that's less than 100%.

WR Antwaan Randle El B Even with Burress out Randle El isn't effective enough in the limited Steelers passing attack to warrant any fantasy attention.
New York Giants
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning B

What else can really be said at this point. Manning will not be a fantasy option this year for anyone.

RB Tiki Barber B In the past two games against tough run defenses (WAS, BAL) Barber has averaged just 2.7 YPC and has become an almost non-factor in the passing game. He's also fumbled three times. This matchup with the #2 run defense in the league is not looking good. If you have a better matchup with one of your usual backup backs you may want to turn to them this week.
WR Amani Toomer B

The passing game is in the tank under the guidance of Manning and Toomer continues to struggle with a lingering hamstring injury. He has only seven catches in the past four games with Manning and has yet to score this season.

WR Ike Hilliard B Barely registered on the fantasy radar before Manning took over.
TE Jeremy Shockey S2 With the wide receivers limited most weeks and the running game struggling, Shockey is currently Manning's best, and most used option in the passing game. But that passing game isn't producing much and will be hard pressed to get anything going this week against Pittsburgh.
 
Washington (4-9) at San Francisco (2-11) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Washington - Mathematically still in playoff hunt, but barely.
San Francisco - Out of the playoff race.
 
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Patrick Ramsey U Ramsey is improving and has the ability to put up some fantasy production as he did two weeks ago against the Giants. The Niners present a great matchup. They don't have the secondary to hang with Coles and Gardner and Cooley and Portis will have plenty of openings underneath. If you are in a bind at quarterback this week Ramsey could bail you out.
RB Clinton Portis S2 The Redskins seem to have finally figured out that their running game needs more touches for Portis to succeed. The Niners have improved against the run lately but if Portis can get 25+ carries the Redskins should be able to wear the Niners down and he should produce.
WR Lavernues Coles (P) S2

Even though he's playing with a toe injury that will require off-season surgery Coles is the workhorse of the passing game and logged a 100 yard effort last week, something he hadn't done since week four. Look for a similar outing this week as the Niners just don't have the talent in the secondary to matchup.

WR Rod Gardner B Gardner has the size and skills to hurt the Niners but has a minimal role in the passing game. Rarely tops three catches a game.
TE Chris Cooley U The H-back has been sporadically productive this season but has become more reliable in the short passing game. He's been a fantasy factor in four of the past five games and is effective around the goal-line.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ken Dorsey B

Don't let his three touchdowns last week fool you. Against the Washington defense this week he shouldn't be even close to your starting lineup.

RB Kevan Barlow (Q) B Poor performance, injury, a season in the trash and a mouth that would be best kept shut may land Barlow a place on the Niners bench for the rest of the season.
RB Maurice Hicks (P) X Hicks isn't as powerful as Barlow but his "quick to the hole" style seems to produce better behind the suspect o-line. HIcks should get another start this week but the chore is much tougher against the Skins' stingy run defense. Don't expect much.
WR Cedrick Wilson
Brandon Lloyd
B Both Wilson and Lloyd continue to play fairly well but Dorsey's poor play and limited arm strength hurt their potential. The Redskins will be without standout CB Shawn Springs this week and that may boost Wilson's and Lloyd's value a bit. But not to fantasy starter status.
TE Eric Johnson X Still holds some potential as the best option in a terrible San Francisco passing attack, but Dorsey isn't going his way much. Three of the last four games have produced two or fewer catches.
 
Carolina (6-7) at Atlanta (10-3) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Carolina - Wildcard playoff spot.
Atlanta - First round playoff bye and home field advantage.
 
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S2

With the running game limited this weekend the offense will fall on Delhomme's shoulders. The Panthers matchup well with Atlanta's secondary and if the o-line can handle the pressure and give Delhomme time in the pocket he should be able to work those matchups on his way to a solid performance.

RB Nick Goings (P) X

The Panthers keep feeding Goings the ball and he just keeps on rolling. The Falcons' run defense has taken it on the chin some lately but they will still pose Goings' toughest challenge since taking over as the starter, by far. Don't expect his fifth 100-yard game or a score.

WR Muhsin Muhammad S2

Muhammad has quietly been one of the more consistent fantasy receivers this season and remains Delhomme's best option in the passing game. Six of the past seven games have been solid fantasy efforts. The Falcons provide a good opportunity to make it seven of eight.

WR Keary Colbert X Aside from a couple of big weeks Colbert has had a typical rookie season at wide receiver, inconsistent and struggles with route running and getting open. Don't look for that to change this season.
TE Kris Mangum B The Carolina tight ends are being mainly used in max protect blocking schemes.
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick   X

At this stage of his learning curve Vick remains too inconsistent to be relied on. Last week's 145 yard, zero TD performance against a terrible Oakland defense at home is a prime example. It's fantasy playoff time and now is not when you need to turn to Mr. Hype, especially against an improving Panther defense.

RB Warrick Dunn X Dunn will have to carry the load now with Duckett sidelined. This week brings a difficult matchup however for the speed back. The Panthers strength on defense is their speed and range sideline to sideline. Dunn will have to find some running room up the middle, not his strength. Look for him to struggle this week.
RB T.J. Duckett (O) B Out at least two weeks.
WR Peerless Price
Dez White
Brian Finneran
B There's not really much more that can be said about this receiving corp. As a group they have struggled with injuries and have been major disappointments. None can be recommended as fantasy starters and only Price is even worth taking up a spot on your roster.
TE Alge Crumpler S2 In the midst of a monster season Crumpler is having a December to forget. The last two games have brought his fantasy owners a single catch in each. Not what you are looking for at playoff time. He loses his stud starter status but it's hard to go against him with all his potential.
 
Buffalo (7-6) at Cincinnati (6-7) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Buffalo - Wildcard playoff spot.
Cincinnati - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe S2 The Bengals aren't stopping anyone right now. In the past three games they've allowed 48, 26 and 35 points. Bledsoe had a setback last week in the wind and snow but has been playing well. He'll get it done this week as the running game will be in high gear and his receivers have matchup advantages to exploit. A snowy day in Cincinnati may take a bite out of this prime matchup.
RB Willis McGahee S1 Another week and another terrible run defense to face. And for fantasy owners another week of watching McGahee rack up fantasy points for their teams.
WR Eric Moulds S2

Moulds remains Bledsoe's prime target in the passing attack but had a bunch of drops in the snow last week. He should bounce back against the struggling Bengals secondary.

WR Lee Evans S2 Teams are still focused on trying to take Eric Moulds out of games which has allowed Evans to work against primarily single coverage. He's taking advantage and has scored in each of the last three games. The Bengals pose little threat that this trend won't continue.
TE Ryan Neufeld B Neufeld is a third stringer forced into action because of injuries. Not worth your attention.
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer (Q) B

Palmer has been playing the best ball of his short career lately but the knee injury he suffered last week is expected to keep him out of this game.

QB Jon Kitna X Expected to get the start this week but has a tough challenge with the #3 pass defense coming to town. Kitna can be effective but he's not worth turning to given this week's matchup.
RB Rudi Johnson X Johnson has popped for big games a few times this season, but most week's he puts up only average fantasy numbers. The past two weeks have seen just that against some of the better defenses in the league (BAL and NE). The week it's the Bills who are sporting one of the top run defenses in the league. Don't look for much from Johnson this weekend.
WR Chad Johnson S2 Johnson is showing a knack for coming up big against the toughest defensive challenges. He gets another chance to do just that this week against Buffalo. Had a great chemistry last season with Kitna so if he gets the start at QB that should improve Johnson's chances.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh X Three big games in a row is unheard of for Houshmandzadeh, but that's what we're looking at now. Keeping that going against the Bills will be tough, but the tough matchups of the past two weeks haven't hurt.
 
Houston (5-8) at Chicago (5-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Houston - Mathematically still in playoff hunt, but barely.
Chicago - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr X After a great start Carr finds himself sliding to non-starter status most weeks regardless of opponent. That will be the case again this week with Chicago. He's thrown a multi-TD game only once since week five. While the Bears may provide enough cushion for him to get another, the odds aren't all that good.
RB Domanick Davis S2

About the only consistent Texan right now for your fantasy team. He adds to his rushing by being very active in the passing game and has scored at least once in each of the past six games.

WR Andre Johnson S2 The Houston passing game is struggling and Johnson flopped last week with a 3-for-34 performance. He remains the prime target for Carr however and prior to last week's downer he had been performing well. Keep him in your lineup.
WR Jabar Gaffney
Corey Bradford
B Is there even another receiver on this team other than Johnson? As far as fantasy players are concerned the answer is no.
TE Billy Miller B Miller has only a single fantasy worthy effort all season. His next may be a long time coming as he's not a vital part of the passing game for the Texans.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Hutchinson X As with his first week as the starter, he gets another very favorable matchup. No team has allowed more passing touchdowns then the Texans. There may be enough good things happening this week to make a few of his teammates sleeper fantasy options, but not enough for himself to be in that category.
RB Thomas Jones X

The Bears patchwork offensive line is playing fairly well and getting Jones just enough room to stay productive, barely. Jones hasn't crossed the goal-line in almost two months so he's way overdue.

WR David Terrell U

The Bears passing game has been improved but only slightly effective under Hutchinson. The Houston secondary is simply terrible and is beat frequently. If you believe in matchups and are looking for a little sleeper help this week at wide receiver Terrell is worth a shot. But it's a long shot.

WR Bobby Wade
Bernard Berrian
B Beyond Terrell and the tight end there are no fantasy options in the Bears passing game.
TE Dustin Lyman

U

Since Hutchinson took over the tight end has played a larger role in the passing game for Chicago. Lyman had only two catches last week but he was targeted seven times. Only Terrell had more. Houston has difficulties covering tight ends and Lyman may surprise this week if he again fills in for the injured Clark.

 
Denver (8-5) at Kansas City (5-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Denver - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
Kansas City - Mathematically still in playoff hunt, but barely.
 
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Plummer S2 Two games, zero touchdowns, six interceptions. There can be no better cure for a passing slump than the Chiefs secondary. They have been beyond terrible, giving up over 300 yards and three touchdowns in the FIRST HALF last week to Billy Volek. If Plummer can shake off the interception blues he could have one of his better games this week.
RB Reuben Droughns (P) S2 Droughns seems to have lost his swagger and gave way to an impressive effort by backup Tatum Bell last week. But Bell suffered a separated shoulder and Droughns will likely have to carry the load. Will be used just enough this week to set up the play-action passing game. Look for just an average game, nothing special.
WR Rod Smith S2 Just keeps plugging away. This one simply falls into the category of great matchup this week.
WR Ashley Lelie S2

Ditto for Lelie. Doesn't get the number of looks Smith does, but when he does they are big ones.

TE Jeb Putzier X Can be a threat to score but his overall production is sporadic at best.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green (P) S2

Statistically the Broncos remain one of the top pass stopping units. But as of late they have failed to get enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks and as a result they are giving up big plays. Look for Green to get just enough time this week at home to help your fantasy team.

RB Derrick Blaylock (Q) X

Still the starter but has been out performed by Johnson the past two weeks. This trend could very well continue as the Chiefs seem to want to get a look at Johnson and he's performing at a high level. Also, the Broncos run defense continues to be one of the league's best so don't look for Blaylock to carry your team this week.

RB Larry Johnson X Thanks to Blaylock's injury problems and the season being over for the Chiefs, Johnson is getting a chance to show his skills. And show them he is. He's totaled almost 300 yards and scored four touchdowns in the past two games. His numbers will take a big hit this week against the Broncos however.
WR Eddie Kennison X Kennison is having a strong second half of the season and remains a good long-ball threat. Usually brings his A-game against his former team, the Broncos. May pop a long one this week, but that's likely about it.
WR Johnnie Morton (Q) S2 Morton's versatility make him a prime target of Green's. If Denver pulls Bailey off to cover Gonzalez as they did in week one there will be some favorable matchups to work in the secondary.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 Was frustrated in week one when the Broncos put CB Champ Bailey on him most of the game. The Denver linebacker play has improved this season so that tactic may not be used as much this time around.
 
Minnesota (7-6) at Detroit (5-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Minnesota - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
Detroit - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper S2 Even though the Vikings offense continues to struggle, Culpepper puts up fantasy worthy numbers each week. The Seahawks secondary has been underachieving of late and Culpepper should have another fine game.
RB   Onterrio Smith S2

Smith has been the starter for three weeks and is performing better each week. Last week he got all the carries inside the 10-yard line and scored. Bennett did get some work last week (5 carries) and remains a threat to take some of Smith's production. But against the reeling Lions Smith is a great start.

WR Randy Moss S1 Moss had his best game since returning last week and looked more himself out there. That's all I needed to see to make him a must start this week against a Lions secondary that simply doesn't have the talent to match up with him.
WR Nate Burleson X Burleson has not been very productive since Moss' return. Most teams seem to be able to handle him with the starting CB not on Moss. That may not be the case this week against the injury depleted Lions secondary.
WR Marcus Robinson S2

With coverage once again rolling to Moss' side of the field, Robinson is beginning to exploit the matchup advantages he has on most nickel corners. That trend should continue this weekend.

TE Jermaine Wiggins X

Wiggins doesn't score touchdowns like a top tier tight end, but he can rack up yardage like one. Culpepper has favored him in the red-zone in the past, but that is Moss' domain now.

Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joey Harrington B

Half of his last four games have been sub-100 yard efforts. Could be on the verge of losing his starting job again as there are grumblings out of Detroit that they may go another direction this week. Even though this is a good matchup, avoid the Detroit quarterback this week.

RB Kevin Jones S2 The rookie is showing his stuff. This week shouldn't be much different. The Vikings are allowing a league worst 4.9 YPC and you can bet the Lions will push at that average all day with Jones. If they can keep from falling behind big Jones should have another nice game.
WR Roy Williams
Az-Zahir Hakim
Tai Streets
B

Regardless of matchup it's difficult to recommend any member of the Lions passing game right now. Someone may get it done this week if the Lions are forced to play catchup all afternoon, but do you really want your fantasy team's playoff hopes riding on that?

TE Stephen Alexander B After a brief moment of hope a few weeks back, this talented tight end seems on his way back to non-factor status.
 
San Diego (10-3) at Cleveland (3-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
San Diego - Division title and first round bye.
Cleveland - Out of the playoff race.
 
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2 Brees has not performed at a high level the past two weeks against two of the tougher pass defenses in the league. Cleveland doesn't fall into that category so Brees should get back on track Sunday.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 Tomlinson owners must be licking their chops with this playoff matchup.
WR Eric Parker U Parker showed his potential last week with his first 100-yard game of the season and his first score since week six. He'll be called on again if McCardell can't go and could surprise against the woeful Cleveland defense.
WR Keenan McCardell (Q) B McCardell tweaked his hamstring and may be sidelined for a game or two.
WR Kassim Osgood X Should see more looks this week with McCardell out or slowed. The focus of the offense will likely be Tomlinson and Gates this week however with a little Parker thrown in for good measure.
TE Antonio Gates S2 Gates has just three catches in the last two games as defenses are getting better at disrupting his routes. But the past two games have been against top pass defending units. That won't be the case in Cleveland. Gates should bounce back this week with a solid performance.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Luke McCown X

McCown will get another start and may actually put up some decent numbers this week as the Chargers still struggle in the secondary and getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. But that may be a bit easier this week as the Browns lost their starting center, Jeff Faine, last week.

RB William Green B

The past two weeks against tough run stopping teams Green and the Cleveland running game have been terrible. Don't expect that to change when facing the league's #1 run stopping unit this week.

WR Dennis Northcutt X

Sill gets it done now and then. Having Bryant to stretch the field has helped open up some of those underneath routes Northcutt is best suited for.

WR Antonio Bryant U

Last week's stinker followed back-to-back 100 yard games for Bryant. He has the skills to get behind the suspect San Diego secondary and may make some noise again this week.

TE Aaron Shea (Q)
Steve Heiden
B The tight ends are a part of the plan in Cleveland but the instability at quarterback has hurt their production.

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