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Start/Bench List - Week 16
Whitney Walters
December 23, 2004
Friday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Saturday NYG at CIN BAL at PIT BUF at SF Mon 9 PM
DEN at TEN SD at IND CAR at TB ARI at SEA (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
Baltimore (8-6) at Pittsburgh (13-1) Back to top
Baltimore - Wildcard playoff spot.
Pittsburgh - First round bye and home field advantage.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller B Hasn't been a fantasy starter all year and isn't going to start being one week 16 on the road facing the league's #1 defense.
RB Jamal Lewis (Q) S2 This will be a great battle to watch unfold. The league's top run defense against one of it's most powerful runners. In week two Lewis only managed 62 yards against the Steelers but did score twice. Unless he can bust a long one Lewis isn't likely to get you 100 yards, but unless you have a sweet matchup with your #3 RB you likely don't have the option of sitting Lewis this week.
WR Travis Taylor
Clarence Moore
B Both Taylor and Moore have some potential each week, but with Heap back in the mix now the available looks have decreased. Moore is intriguing due to his height and leaping ability which has resulted in a team high four touchdowns this season, but in 10 of his 13 games he's had two or fewer catches.

Todd Heap (Q)

S2 Hasn't disappointed since his return. A difficult matchup this week but Heap's talent and key role in the Ravens passing game keep him a fantasy starter regardless of opponent.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger B If Manning and his crew can struggle against the Ravens there just isn't much fantasy hope for the rookie this week.
RB Duce Staley (Q) B Will start off the week questionable again. Until Staley plays a complete game with no setback he's off limits to fantasy owners.
RB Jerome Bettis (P) S2

The Bus rolled for 36 carries last week and looked like he could go another dozen. He'll need that strength and energy this week because the Steelers offense will be put on his back. The Ravens weakest point is up the middle and teams that can pound the ball right up the gut all day have had success this season. Sounds right up Bettis' alley doesn't it?

WR Hines Ward (P) S2

The absence of Burress' ability to stretch the field vertically has hindered Ward's production but he and Roethlisberger connected well last week for the first time in a couple of months. Quick quiz. When was Ward's top fantasy game this season? Yep. Week two against the Ravens.

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 X Randle El had his best game as a pro last week but don't expect a repeat as he doesn't match up very well with the Ravens secondary.
Carolina (6-8) at Tampa Bay (5-9) Back to top
Carolina - Wildcard playoff spot.
Tampa Bay - Barely alive for a wildcard playoff spot.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme X

The Bucs #1 pass defense are a tough draw for Delhomme this week. He'll likely get by as there are some matchups to exploit with the injured Tampa safeties. But he shouldn't be relied on as your fantasy starter.

RB Nick Goings S2

Tampa Bay's weakness is against the run so you can bet the Panthers keep feeding Goings the ball in this matchup. Should return to his 100 yard ways this week.

WR Muhsin Muhammad X

Muhammad has quietly been one of the more consistent fantasy receivers this season and remains Delhomme's best option in the passing game. Seven of the past eight games have been solid fantasy efforts. The Bucs however are going to make it very hard to make it eight of nine.

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 week in Tampa.
TE Kris Mangum B Protection for Delhomme will be key this week so look for Mangum to stay home a lot in max protect blocking schemes.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brian Griese X Threw for a season low 118 yards last week against the league's worst defense. Doesn't exactly instill confidence in his fantasy owners. This isn't a bad matchup, but it isn't really a good one either. In this type of situation you'd like to lean confidently on your fantasy starter. Last week's poor play makes that hard.
RB Michael Pittman S2

The Panthers are solid against the run but without Kris Jenkins eating up space in the middle they struggle to hold their own against a strong running game. Pittman provides just that so look for the Bucs to keep the running game cranking this week.

RB Mike Alstott X Got only two carries last week but both were down by the goal-line. That about sums up Alstott's fantasy value at this point. TD-only league potential but that's about it.
WR Michael Clayton S2

Fantasy's top rookie receiver just keeps getting it done. Went 8-for-77 last time these teams met. He should throw in a score as well in this week's rematch.

WR Joe Jurevicius X

His size produces matchup problems for most secondaries but Jurevicius has been a non-factor for three weeks now.

WR Joey Galloway X Despite the inconsistent passing game Galloway has found the end-zone four times in the past three games. His speed will come in handy this week against a still struggling Panthers secondary.
TE Ken Dilger B Dilger has shown promise since Griese took over at quarterback but as long as he keeps putting up single catch games (six so far) he can't be relied on.
New England (12-2) at N.Y. Jets (10-4) Back to top
New England - First round bye and home field advantage.
NY Jets - Wildcard playoff spot.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady (P) X As is typically the case with Brady, if you are looking for a solid 200 yards and 2 touchdowns then he's your man. Nothing about this week's matchup with the stingy Jets defense should lead you to believe he's good for more then that.
RB Corey Dillon S2 Big game on the road in cold weather. This one has Dillon written all over it.
WR Deion Branch X Since the big game in his week 11 return Branch has been mostly forgettable, just eleven catches in the past four games. With the receiving corps back to full speed the ball is once again being spread around in typical Patriot fashion. What that means is that Branch, ...
WR David Givens (Q) X ... Givens and ...

David Patten


... Patten can get you a spike in production on occasion, but for the most part they will be average at best.

TE Daniel Graham (Q) B I guess it takes a rib injury for this guy to perform. Who knows. Scored his first touchdown in TEN weeks Monday night. As consistent as Graham is it may be another ten weeks before his next score. Fauria getting quite a bit of playing time doesn't help.
New York Jets
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S2 Not only did Pennington shake off his funk and have his best game since retuning to action, he had his best fantasy game of the season last week. The Patriots will surely throw every look in the book at him on Sunday, but that is mainly to mask their severe disadvantage in the secondary. Pennington man struggle early but should settle in and have a good game in this critical matchup.
RB Curtis Martin S2 Still going strong and always motivated to play well against his old team. Tough challenge against the very stout Patriots run defense, but he'll get it done.
RB LaMont Jordan B As the season wears on Jordan is seeing a bit more action in relief of Martin. But it's still not enough to warrant a spot on your fantasy lineup.
WR Santana Moss S2 The Jets finally got the ball to Moss last week and it paid off. They should repeat that strategy Sunday against an injury depleted New England secondary that just doesn't matchup well with Moss or ...
WR Justin McCareins   S2

... McCareins, how had been Pennington's main target since returning.

WR Wayne Chrebet B

His role in the passing game has diminished this season and he completely disappeared last week.

Buffalo (8-6) at San Francisco (2-12) Back to top
Buffalo - Wildcard playoff spot.
San Francisco - Out of the playoff race.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe S2 The Niners aren't stopping anyone right now and Bledsoe should improve on his low totals from the past two cold weather games. With McGahee likely out more of the offensive production will fall on his shoulders.
RB Shaud Williams X With McGahee likely to sit this one out the undrafted rookie from Alabama will be introduced to the fantasy world this week. He's a small, speedy back that fits the third-down back mold. If called on this week he'll do okay against a solid Niner run defense, but nothing special.
WR Eric Moulds S2

Moulds remains Bledsoe's prime target in the passing attack and the emergence of Evans on the other side only helps. He should do just fine this week against the struggling San Francisco secondary.

WR Lee Evans S2 Teams are still focused on trying to take Eric Moulds out of games which is allowing Evans to work against primarily single coverage. He's taking advantage and has scored in each of the last four games. The Niners secondary brings nothing to this matchup that would make you believe Evans won't keep his solid production going.
TE Ryan Neufeld B Neufeld is a third stringer forced into action because of injuries. Not worth your attention.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ken Dorsey B

Has put up five touchdowns in the past two games, but has looked bad doing it. That look will continue to be on display in another meaningless game for the Niners against the #3 defense in the NFL.

RB Kevan Barlow B Expected to return to the starting lineup this week. Against the Bills... forget about it.
RB Maurice Hicks B May get a few carries but is back to being Barlow's backup.
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. That potential won't get a boost this week facing the Bills' smothering pass defense.
TE Eric Johnson X Still holds some potential as the best option in a terrible San Francisco passing attack and Dorsey finally started looking his way last week.
Washington (5-9) at Dallas (5-9) Back to top
Washington - Barely alive for a wildcard playoff spot.
Dallas - Barely alive for a wildcard playoff spot.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Patrick Ramsey X Ramsey has shown some improvement since taking over the starting job at mid-season, but that has rarely translated into fantasy production worthy of your starting lineup. You don't really expect that to change now do you?
RB Clinton Portis S2 The Redskins seem to have finally figured out that their running game needs more touches for Portis to succeed. He's averaged 33 a game over the last three and has scored four times. They know their best chance of moving the ball lies with Portis so look for the trend to continue.
WR Lavernues Coles S2

Even though he's playing with a toe injury that will require off-season surgery Coles is the workhorse of the passing game. Unfortunately the Redskins' ineffective passing game have led to average fantasy performances week after week. The Cowboys are just vulnerable enough in the secondary to make Coles a borderline starter this week.

WR Rod Gardner B Gardner usually has a few good games each season but spends the rest of the time frustrating fantasy owners with his inconsistent play. Well last week was one of those good games. Now it's back to frustration mode.
TE Chris Cooley (P) X 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 several games lately and is effective around the goal-line.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vinny Testaverde B

The Vinny show is coming to a disappointing end. There is no official word on the starter this week for the Cowboys but it'll likely be Testaverde given the difficult matchup with the Redskins defense. If he puts up a couple of picks he may find himself on the bench by the end of the game however.

RB Julius Jones S2 The 30+ carry games seem to be in the past but Jones is still getting a good workout each week. No doubt he'll get his 20-25 touches again this week, but the Washington defense allows just 83 YPG on the ground and only four teams have given up fewer touchdowns. Don't expect a huge game but he should get you enough to warrant starting him... barely.
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 this week Vinny will be under too much pressure for many deep routes to develop.

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 Redskins. He could easily end up as the top receiver for the Cowboys as he was last week.
Arizona (5-9) at Seattle (7-7) Back to top
Arizona - Barely alive for a wildcard playoff spot.
Seattle - Division title.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh McCown X McCown continues to improve his play, making better decisions on audibles and working through his reads better. This improvement will serve him well this week as he'll see plenty of blitzes and favorable matchups in the secondary and underneath with TE Jones.
RB Emmitt Smith (P) X Still not 100% and losing some carries to backup Josh Scobey. As a result his opportunities for high output are very limited. Last week's 95 total yards was his highest total since week seven and he's scored only once in his last four games. Even against a Seattle defense that is below average in stopping the run Smith isn't a strong play this week.
WR Anquan Boldin S2 Still adjusting to the life of a split end, but improves weekly. Hasn't found the end-zone this year and the underachieving Seattle secondary could very well remedy that.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Bryant Johnson
X Things are starting to settle down now that McCown is back behind center. Both Fitzgerald and Johnson had one of their better games of the season last week. Nothing about this matchup with the struggling Seahawks secondary should make you doubt that trend continuing this week.
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.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck (P) X Use Hasselbeck with caution this week. He threw four interceptions when facing Arizona in week seven and the elbow on his throwing arm will not be 100%. Look for the Seahawks to lean on the running game more in this matchup.
RB Shaun Alexander S1 No way Alexander and the Seattle running game don't get it going against the Cardinals and their 27th ranked run defense.
WR Darrell Jackson S2 Jackson matches up will against the Cardinal secondary, as he does with most secondaries. With Robinson back and the likelihood of the passing game being limited this week, Jackson come with some risk as a fantasy starter.
WR Jerry Rice X Seems to have found a nice rhythm with Hasselbeck since taking over Robinson's starting spot. Now that Robinson is back it could be the end of Rice's fantasy value however. Prior to Robinson's suspension Rice was averaging a single catch a game as a Seahawk.
WR Koren Robinson X Returns from his suspension but it is still unclear as to his role this week. He will surely play as the Seahawks can stretch the shallow Cardinal secondary with 3-WR and 4-WR sets. Since he wasn't all that effective prior to his suspension you shouldn't count on him being effective in his first game back.
WR Bobby Engram B Engram has stepped up the past couple of weeks but will take a back seat again with the return of Robinson.
TE Itula Mili X Still plays a role in the passing game but his fantasy value is limited since that role can be minimal at times and the enigma Jerramy Stevens taking some of the looks.
Cleveland (3-11) at Miami (3-11) Back to top
Cleveland - Out of the playoff race.
Miami - Out of the playoff race.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kelly Holcomb (Q)
Luke McCown

The Browns want to get Holcomb back in the lineup this week but it won't be known until game time whether or not he'll be able to go. Against the Dolphins pass defense it really doesn't matter who the QB is for Cleveland.

RB Lee Suggs S2 Expected to get the starting job back this week and should be a nice fantasy start. As good as the Dolphins are against the pass they are as bad against the run.
RB William Green B

Has performed poorly of late and will go back to the bench.

WR Dennis Northcutt
Antonio Bryant

Both Northcutt and Bryant have the skills and talent to be a factor. Bryant stretches the field well and helps open up the underneath routes for Northcutt. But this week against a tough and stingy Miami pass defense neither will be of much use to your fantasy team.

TE Aaron Shea (Q)
Steve Heiden (Q)
B The tight ends are a part of the plan in Cleveland but the instability at quarterback has hurt their production.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB A. J. Feeley (P) X

Other than the shootout against the Bills a couple weeks back and their big win last week Feeley is having a forgettable fantasy season. But any time you play the Browns you get a ratings upgrade. Still not startable though.

RB Sammy Morris U 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, but hey, this is Cleveland. If you are in need of a sleeper running back this week Morris is your man.
RB Travis Minor X Splitting carries with Morris but will take a back seat this week as Morris is the stronger runner.
WR Chris Chambers
Marty Booker
X There are matchup advantages that both Chambers and Booker can exploit against the suspect Cleveland secondary. It's not likely that both will produce and the more consistent bet remains Chambers.
TE Randy McMichael (P) S2 McMichael is back on track now and remains a great asset to the passing game with his size and speed creating matchup problems for most defenses.
Philadelphia (13-1) at St. Louis (6-8) Back to top
Philadelphia - Nothing. Has clinched first round bye and home field advantage.
St. Louis - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2 The Rams defense hasn't shown up for work in a while and McNabb will again have to put the Eagle offense on his back. If you get bonus points for QB rushing yardage McNabb should give you a nice little scoring bump this week. The threat of being rested in a meaningless game presents risk this week.
RB Brian Westbrook S2 Westbrook is the one player that will see the biggest boost in fantasy production with Owens out of the lineup. He might not see a lot of extra carries but he will be the teams primary receiver for sure. The Rams defense presents a great matchup this week but as with McNabb, the threat of being rested in a meaningless game presents some risk.
WR Todd Pinkston (Q) X Conventional wisdom would have you thinking Pinkston's production would take off now that he's the #1 WR option in the Philly offense. But if you've seen him play the last couple of weeks you'd think conventional wisdom should be thrown out the window along with the Eagles Super Bowl dreams. Pinkston's been the #1 option on this team in the past and all that has meant is more rushing yards for McNabb.
WR Freddie Mitchell (P) B Yeah right. Mitchell and his one-catch-a-game is going to suddenly be a fantasy factor.
TE L.J. Smith U Smith remains a difficult matchup for most linebackers underneath. He may play a bigger role in the passing attack now but the presence of Chad Lewis cuts into his fantasy potential.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger (P) X

Expected to return to action this week. He will surely provide a kick in the rear for the Rams offense, but lets not forget he wasn't really living up to expectations prior to the injury. He'll be under intense pressure all night and you shouldn't expect him to light it up in his first game back.

RB Marshall Faulk
Steven Jackson
B Arizona has one of the worst run defenses in the league and so what do the Rams do? They give Faulk a whopping TEN carries last week. Even worse Faulk averaged just over two yards on each. Jackson was active last week but didn't get a single carry. The Rams running game is strictly off limits.
WR Torry Holt S2

If the Rams offensive line can hold off the Philly blitz long enough there should be some great matchups to exploit deep against the Eagles secondary.

WR Isaac Bruce X Should see an uptick in production with Bulger back under center. Bruce has been favored more this season by Bulger.

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