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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
 
Seattle (7-6) at NY Jets (9-4) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Seattle - Division title.
NY Jets - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2 Hasselbeck has lit it up the past two weeks, but the weak opponents (DAL, MIN) had a hand in his numbers. The Jets won't be quite so forgiving, allowing only three passing TDs in their past six games. In both 2002 and 2003 Hasselbeck got hot in December and we could be watching it happen again in 2004. If you believe in the hot streak then plug him in, of you believe in the Jets defense at home then find another option this week.
RB Shaun Alexander S2 The Jets now rank sixth in run defense and will present a tough challenge for the league's top scoring running back. With the passing attack clicking for Seattle now Alexander should be working against only 7-man fronts which will provide enough running room for a solid performance.
WR Darrell Jackson S2 Jackson has but together two fine efforts against two weaker opponents the past two weeks. Now the test will be can he keep it going when facing what has become a strong cover-2 zone run by the Jets. Jackson will excel when the Jets mix in man cover schemes.
WR Jerry Rice X Has found a rhythm with Hasselbeck and a place in the offensive flow. Rice can still get it done for fantasy owners on occasion but the matchups say this won't likely be one of those weeks.
WR Bobby Engram (P) U Engram showed up in the stat sheet last week with his best fantasy game of the season and he has now scored in two of the last three games. His matchup with the suspect nickel and dime corners of the Jets provides another good opportunity. He could easily repeat last week's performance.
TE Itula Mili X Still plays a role in the passing game but has been slowed by minor injuries of late. Only good for a few catches a game.
New York Jets
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington X Seattle doesn't pose a difficult matchup for Pennington but he has not played well since his return and the Jets passing game looks out of sync. His past five games have been sub-200 yard efforts and word is starting to come out of New York that his shoulder is still bothering him. This may be a good matchup for Pennington but until he shows it on the field it's hard to rely on him.
RB Curtis Martin S2 Injuries to the Seattle linebackers have made it tough for them to stop the run this season. Now with the loss of top DE Wistrom the Jets will surely push this matchup advantage to it's limits Sunday. Look for Martin to get plenty of touches and have a great game.
RB LaMont Jordan B Jordan may see a few more touches in this matchup as the Jets will pound there advantage in the running game. But don't expect it to be enough to warrant a spot on your fantasy lineup.
WR Santana Moss X Moss is banged up and continues to disappoint this season. He may hold a matchup advantage with the underachieving Seattle corners but he's shown little so far that should make you believe he'll be able to exploit that for your fantasy team.
WR Justin McCareins   X

McCareins has been Pennington's main target since returning but that's equated to just eight catches for 125 yards in the past two games. That's only slightly better than the production he's provided all season.

WR Wayne Chrebet X

The Jets are running more 3-WR sets now that Pennington is back. This has increased Chrebet's potential, but not enough to make him a fantasy starter.

 
Dallas (5-8) at Philadelphia (12-1) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Dallas - Wildcard playoff spot.
Philadelphia - Home field advantage.
 
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vinny Testaverde B

The wheels seem to be falling off the Vinny party bus. He's making key mistakes and has thrown 13 interceptions in the past seven games vs. only eight touchdowns. Don't expect that trend to change on the road in Philly.

RB Julius Jones S2 After three games of 30+ carries Jones looked a bit tired late in the Saints game last week and only received 23 carries. No doubt he'll get his 25-30 touches again this week and may do some damage. The Eagles defensive front has been improved of late but suffered some injuries last week that may hurt their effectiveness.
WR Keyshawn Johnson X

Johnson could be fairly active in this matchup as a "hot" receiver either on out routes or over the middle. Testaverde will be under a heavy pass rush all day. That may translate into some average fantasy production, but not likely more than that.

WR Quincy Morgan B

Morgan is giving the Cowboys some speed and big-play ability, which they need to stretch defenses vertically. Unfortunately Vinny won't have the time in the pocket for many deep routes to develop this week.

TE Jason Witten S2 Witten's ability to get open over the middle and down the seams will be of great value this week against the Eagles. He could easily end up as the top receiver for the Cowboys this week.
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S1 Could easily get back to his 4+ touchdown ways this weekend against the reeling Dallas defense.
RB Brian Westbrook S2 Westbrook has been limited to just 12 carries in three of the past four games. But his fantasy strength is coming in the passing game where he's accounted for 310 yards and six touchdowns in those same four games. With the Eagles likely locking up home field advantage this week you better use Westbrook while you can.
WR Terrell Owens (Q) S1 Owens always seems to do just a little better against the Cowboys.
WR Todd Pinkston (P) X Out produced Owens last week but didn't look particularly good doing it. Pinkston seems to have settled into his #2 WR role and is averaging a team high 18.9 yards per catch. His only touchdown of the season came five weeks ago against Dallas but remains a starter in only very deep leagues that have to start three or four receivers.
TE L.J. Smith X Smith remains a difficult matchup for most linebackers underneath and has scored in the past two games. The focus will likely be the wide receivers this week however.
 
St. Louis (6-7) at Arizona (4-9) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
St. Louis - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
Arizona - Mathematically still in playoff hunt, but barely.
 
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chris Chandler X

Chandler is expected to fill in again for the injured Bulger. The Rams may want to throw the ball but Chandler's six interceptions last week could have them thinking twice about that strategy. The Cards are much better against the pass than the run so look for a lot of handoffs for Chandler and little fantasy value.

RB Marshall Faulk (P) B According to all reports Faulk was able to play last week but wasn't in on a single snap. His playing status will be unpredictable again this week and it's likely he'll be on the sidelines watching this game.
RB Steven Jackson (Q) B Jackson may partake in some limited practices this week but his sprained knee has him very questionable to play on Sunday. Look for a final decision to come late in the week or even on game day.
RB Arlen Harris S2 Odds are that Harris will get his second straight start Sunday. Against a terrible Cardinals run defense that could be just what the fantasy doctor ordered for some fortunate playoff team looking for a little running back help.
WR Torry Holt S2

As expected Holt saw the bulk of the action last week in the passing game. With Chandler still at the helm look for a repeat against Arizona.

WR Isaac Bruce X Still banged up and has disappeared with Chandler behind center. As the fill-in QB gains more confidence you should start to see an uptick in Bruce's production.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh McCown X McCown didn't score last week but he looked good, completing almost 60% of his passes on his way to a 300-yard effort. He'll have another chance to shine as this matchup has the makings of a shootout, or at least more offense than you would think.
RB Emmitt Smith (P) S2 Toughed out the toe injury last week for 18 carries and a touchdown. Even though Smith isn't 100% he can still be productive against a Rams run defense that's allowing almost 140 YPG.
WR Anquan Boldin S2 Getting McCown back helps stabilize the passing game but Boldin is still adjusting to his move from the slot to split end. Last week saw season highs in catches and yards, so there's still hope. That hope should be rewarded with his first touchdown of the season on Sunday.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Bryant Johnson
B Since Boldin's return and with all the quarterback shuffling, Fitzgerald has been startable only once and Johnson not at all.
TE Freddie Jones U Jones has been more active the past month in the passing game plan then he's been all season. McCown looks to Jones to keep drives going and around the goal-line.
 
New Orleans (5-8) at Tampa Bay (5-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
New Orleans - Mathematically still in playoff hunt.
Tampa Bay - Mathematically still in playoff hunt.
 
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Brooks B Brooks is barely effective most weeks and has tossed nine interceptions in the past four games. Don't expect much out of him this week against the Bucs' #1 pass defense. Brooks had his season low of 106 passing yards in week five when he faced Tampa.
RB Deuce McAllister S2 The Saints finally committed to the run last week. The result was a season high 30 carries for McAllister. The offensive line is still struggling due to injuries but the Saints only hope of moving the ball against the Bucs is on the ground. Look for another heavy workload for McAllister this weekend.
WR Joe Horn S2 Despite the Saints' struggles in the passing game Horn has remained one of the more consistent fantasy receivers this season. He had one of his worst games in week five against Tampa Bay, but was able to score. So there is some hope he can get his owners just enough this week to warrant them sticking with him.
WR Jerome Pathon B

Given every opportunity to succeed this season, Pathon has fallen flat. He had his second catch-less game of the season last week.

WR Donte' Stallworth X Stallworth seems to have shaken off his mid-season funk as last week he posted his second 100-yard game in the past four. He could help your fantasy team with some good matchups, but this week isn't one of them.
TE Boo Williams X Because of the Saints poor pass protection the tight ends are being asked to stay in and block more. The big games for Boo are a thing of the past.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brian Griese S2 It doesn't get much tastier than a feast on the Saints defense.
RB Michael Pittman S2

Pittman and the Bucs running game should get it cranking again this week against the Saints and their 32nd ranked run defense.

RB Mike Alstott X Will get his typical 6-10 touches, which could mean a short touchdown or two given the right situation.
WR Michael Clayton S2

Fantasy's top rookie receiver just keeps getting it done. This is a pretty easy matchup to analyze. The Saints defense stinks, start Clayton.

WR Joe Jurevicius X

Jurevicius has taken a back seat to Galloway the past two weeks, but with Clayton on the other side Jurevicius has the ability to win most of his matchups due to his size.

WR Joey Galloway X Galloway is playing through a bothersome groin injury and had his best fantasy effort of the season last week. This week's matchup with the terrible Saints defense is very tempting.
TE Ken Dilger (P) B Dilger has shown promise since Griese took over at quarterback but as long as he keeps putting up single catch games (five so far) he's too inconsistent to rely on.
 
Jacksonville (7-6) at Green Bay (8-5) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Jacksonville - Wildcard playoff spot.
Green Bay - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
 
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich S2

Only one team has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers and Leftwich will put them to the test on Sunday. Jacksonville's depth at receiver will push Green Bay's secondary beyond it's limits.

RB Fred Taylor S2

Taylor is finding plenty of running room as the Jags spread the field with multi-WR sets. The Green Bay run defense had shown some mid-season improvements but has surrendered almost 300 total rushing yards in the past two games.

WR Jimmy Smith (P) S2

Even though Jacksonville spreads the ball around in the passing game, Smith remains the focus and a weekly fantasy starter. Has the bonus of facing the forgiving Packer secondary this weekend.

WR Troy Edwards X Edwards or Williams could surprise this week but neither should be relied on, even facing a good passing matchup with Green Bay. The ball is spread too thin.
TE Kyle Brady
Todd Yoder
B Both Brady and Yoder stay active as the Jags do spread the ball around in the passing game. Neither are of consistent fantasy value however.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre S2 The Jags defense is decent statistically but they just don't match up well in the secondary with the Green Bay receivers. Add in the fact that they typically only get pressure on the quarterback through the blitz and this is a week you can count on Favre bouncing back from his mini two game slump.
RB Ahman Green S2 Difficult challenge for Green this week. The Jags are solid run stoppers and he's still working through the aftermath of the rib injury. He looked strong on his 28 touches last week however and the Pack will need to get him that many touches this week to keep the Jags' defense off balance.
WR Javon Walker
Donald Driver
S2 Both Walker and Driver have the size and speed to create mismatches with the Jacksonville corners. Favre and the Packers love working the vertical game on the perimeter so look for both these receivers to get their chances down the sidelines and in the red-zone.
TE Bubba Franks X Franks continues to have a role in the passing game but is being slowed by back problems. If he can stay on the field Favre will keep looking to his big tight end when the perimeter is covered. Still a favorite target around the goal-line.
 
Tennessee (4-9) at Oakland (4-9) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Tennessee - Out of the playoff race.
Oakland - Out of the playoff race.
 
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Billy Volek X

There may be an official "game-time decision" from the Titans this week, but you can bet the farm on Volek being the starter Sunday. With Mason possibly hobbled or out the Titans don't have favorable matchups with the Oakland secondary. Volek looked great on Monday night but the passing game should struggle this weekend.

RB Chris Brown (Q) X Great matchup with the swiss cheese Oakland defense. Won't matter however as Brown will likely be the starter again but fail to finish the game when his turf toe flairs up. That's been his M. O. lately and there is no indication that will change any time soon.
RB Antowain Smith X Has looked impressive in his late game relief of Chris "my toe hurts" Brown. Great for the Titans but nothing your fantasy team can rely on.
WR Derrick Mason (Q) X At this time there is no official word on Mason's status. He limped through the Monday night game but was ineffective and was scheduled for an MRI exam on his ankle this week.
WR Drew Bennett S2

Bennett has put up a couple of monster games the past two weeks but may find the going much tougher this week. Without Mason on the other side CB Charles Woodson can use his size and speed to focus on stopping Bennett. He remains a fantasy starter since he may be the top WR option for Volek, but look for his production to be limited.

TE Erron Kinney (Q) X

The Raiders don't defend the tight end well and Kinney will be needed in the Titans passing game. What keeps him from being a sure fantasy starter is the presence of fellow tight ends Meier and Troupe.

Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins S2 Collins was on a nice three game streak prior to last week's stinker against the Falcons. The loss of Curry has hampered the playmaking ability of the WR corps but the Titans secondary is riddled by injury. Collins should get back on track at home this week.
RB Amos Zereoue B Since Wheatley went down four or more different backs have touched the ball each week. Zereoue remains the starter and has the most carries of the group. For whatever that's worth.
WR Jerry Porter S2

Porter is by far the best down field option Collins has with Curry out. With the Titans secondary starting a rookie at one corner and the underachieving Andre Dyson at the other look for Porter to make some serious noise Sunday.

WR Doug Gabriel X

Gabriel may be the starter but he hasn't performed like it for most of the season. Gets an upgrade this week due to the sorry state of the Titans secondary, but don't even consider turning to him for help.

TE Doug Jolley
Teyo Johnson
B

Have combined for only four catches in the past three games.

 
Baltimore (8-5) at Indianapolis (10-3) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Baltimore - Wildcard playoff spot.
Indianapolis - First round bye and home field advantage.
 
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller B Boller showed another flash of his potential last week with a career high four touchdowns. Indy does present a favorable matchup in the passing game, but before you get too excited let's not forget who we are talking about here and the fact that he put up a 172-yard, zero touchdown stinker just two weeks ago against an even worse Bengal defense. Having Heap back does help, but not enough for you to turn to him as your starter in the fantasy playoffs.
RB Jamal Lewis (Q) X The Ravens limited him to just eight carries last week. Early reports are that they will increase his load significantly in this big game. In HC Brian Billick words, "If he has to go 60 snaps, he will." Good news for Lewis owners, but his less than 100% health and the improved play of the Indy defense present some risk this week.
RB Chester Taylor (P) B Has played well while filling in for Lewis but is expected to move back into his role as backup this week. Should still get a few series as they rest Lewis, but it won't be enough to have him in your fantasy lineup.
WR Travis Taylor
Clarence Moore (P)
B Both Taylor and Moore have some potential each week, but with Heap back in the mix now the available looks will decrease. Moore is intriguing due to his height and leaping ability, which has resulted in a team high four touchdowns this season.
TE

Todd Heap

S1 And BAM, just like that we have another stud tight end to start this week.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2 Yes it's Baltimore and yes he loses his weekly S1 status. But he's gotten you this far so you should stick with him.
RB Edgerrin James S2

This will be an interesting matchup. The Colts will try to run James right at the heart of the penetrating one-gap Raven defensive front. They have shown to be vulnerable to teams that can run right at them. James will get his touches, possibly several in the passing game.

WR Marvin Harrison
Reggie Wayne
S2 With Stokley at least slowed this week the down field will belong to Harrison and Wayne. Cornerbacks Gary Baxter and Chris McAlister get more credit as great cover corners than they truly deserve and both have been under-performing lately. Look for Manning to go right at them with Harrison and Wayne and for them to win enough of those matchups to make them starter worthy.
WR Brandon Stokley (Q) B His groin injury may sideline him this week.
TE Marcus Pollard S2 If Stokley can't play then look for Pollard to take up some of the slack. With Harrison and Wayne stretching the secondary Pollard (along with James) will have plenty of opportunities on underneath routes. Pollard also has the speed to stretch the Raven linebackers beyond where they are used to covering.
TE Dallas Clark (P) X With Stokley possibly out or at least limited look for more 2-TE sets from the Colts. That means Clark will get more snaps. He's pretty banged up still however and shouldn't be relied on this week.
 
New England (12-1) at Miami (2-11) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
New England - First round bye and home field advantage.
Miami - Out of the playoff race.
 
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady (P) X Mr. Consistently Average won't even be that this week. While there are a lot of problems in Miami, they are still playing hard and have maintained a top 3 ranking against the pass all season.
RB Corey Dillon S1 Injuries have made it difficult for the Dolphins front seven to stand up to most rushing attacks. They are giving up almost 140 YPG on the ground and the Patriots will surely test this unit heavily with Dillon.
WR Deion Branch X Since the big game in his week 11 return Branch has been mostly forgettable, just seven catches for 108 yards in three games. That isn't likely to change this week against the Dolphins.
WR David Givens (Q) B Givens was a game-time scratch last week and isn't a lock to play on Monday night. It's best to avoid him right now unless there are clear signs he will be 100% back.
WR

David Patten

X

Patten stepped in last week for the injured Givens and posted his best game since week three. He may need to step up again but don't expect the same kind of results facing the visiting Dolphins.

TE Christian Fauria X With Graham sidelined due to a rib injury Fauria is expected to start again this week. He could be active underneath if the Patriot receivers can stretch the secondary.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB A. J. Feeley (P) B

Other than the shootout against the Bills a couple weeks back Feeley is having a forgettable fantasy season.

RB Travis Minor (P)
Sammy Morris
X Morris is back and he and Minor are splitting carries in the second worst rushing offense in the league. Not exactly what your fantasy team needs. Don't expect much out of them against New England.
WR Chris Chambers
Marty Booker
X With CB Ty Law still out there are some matchup advantages with both Chambers and Booker to exploit against the patchwork New England secondary. It's not likely that both will produce and the more consistent bet remains Chambers.
TE Randy McMichael U McMichael got back on track last week with a nice 5-for 62 outing. He remains a great asset to the passing game with his size and speed creating matchup problems for most defenses.

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