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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 17
Whitney Walters
December 30, 2004
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM
MIA at BAL CLE at HOU DET at TEN ATL at SEA KC at SD
PIT at BUF SF at NE MIN at WAS TB at ARI

Sun 8:30 PM

GB at CHI CIN at PHI   IND at DEN DAL at NYG
NO at CAR NYJ at STL   JAC 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
 
Miami (4-11) at Baltimore (8-7) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Miami - Out of the playoff race.
Baltimore - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB A. J. Feeley (D) B

Could wrap up a forgettable season on the sideline watching backup Sage Rosenfels struggle against a Raven team fighting for their playoff lives.

RB Sammy Morris B Morris is getting the majority of the carries in the second worst rushing offense in the league. This week he draws the Ravens, who aren't world stoppers like in the past but are surely good enough to send Morris to your bench.
RB Travis Minor B Only seeing spot duty now as Morris gets the bulk of the workload.
WR Chris Chambers
Marty Booker (D)
B There are matchup advantages that both Chambers and Booker can exploit against a Ravens secondary that sometimes lapses. Neither will produce enough to warrant any fantasy attention this week however.
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. Lead the team in receiving last week and that could repeat itself this week against the Ravens' aggressive schemes.
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Boller B So what do you get when you pit the league's second worse passing offense against the league's top passing defense? Not much if you're a fantasy owner.
RB Jamal Lewis (Q) S2 With the passing game likely shut down look for the offensive load to be placed squarely on Lewis' shoulders. As good as the Dolphins are against the pass they are just about as bad against the run. The Ravens will need to ride Lewis to the playoffs so look for a big game.
WR Whoever B Moore, Hymes or Johnson have some potential some weeks, but TE Heap has taken back his spot as the top Ravens receiver.
TE

Todd Heap (Q)

X Last week had his first poor performance since his return as he aggravated his ankle injury. This would have been a difficult matchup without the injury but now it's become one that should be avoided by fantasy owners unless there is late week word that he's recovered well.
 
Pittsburgh (14-1) at Buffalo (9-6) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Pittsburgh - Nothing. Has clinched first round bye and home field advantage.
Buffalo - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tommy Maddox B Steps in for the injured rookie and faces the #3 pass defense on the road. Not exactly a place to look for a sleeper quarterback this week.
RB Duce Staley (Q) X Early word is that Staley may be the starting running back for the Steelers. But it will likely only be to knock off some of the rust prior to their playoff bye week. Don't look for more than a half game worth of action.
RB Jerome Bettis (D) B

Expected to sit this one out due to a mild ankle sprain.

RB Verron Haynes (P) U Should carry the load on Sunday and may even end up the starter. Could surprise but getting much production against the stingy Buffalo defense will be a challenge.
WR Hines Ward (P) X

His role is unknown and of all the starters, Ward may play the most. But like the others he will likely spend much of this game resting on the sidelines.

WR Plaxico Burress (P) B

With a hamstring that is still less than 100% you can bet the Steelers will rest Burress for most of this game.

WR Antwaan Randle El U Randle El has really come on the past two games and may finally be showing signs of reaching his potential as a slot receiver. Look for him to get most of the action Sunday with Ward and Burress likely resting.
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe X The Bills are winning but Bledsoe is having a fantasy December to forget. Over the past three games he's averaging only 150 yards and a single TD a game. And that was against three of the poorest pass defenses in the league (CLE, CIN, SF). But the week prior to those games he did torch Miami's #1 pass defense, so there is some hope. Just not enough to push him to fantasy starter status.
RB Willis McGahee S2 McGahee shook off the knee injury for a great fantasy game last week. Should get more carries Sunday but it will be difficult to do as well facing the league's #1 run defense. Makes borderline starter status on the fact that the Bills are fighting for a playoff spot and the hope that some Steelers defenders are rested for the playoffs.
RB Shaud Williams B The undrafted rookie had 93 yards and a score last week as McGahee was unable to take a full load because of the minor knee injury. That won't be the case this week however so expect Williams to see only spot duty.
WR Eric Moulds S2

Moulds remains Bledsoe's prime target in the passing attack and the emergence of Evans on the other side has helped his production as opposing secondaries can no longer ignore him.

WR Lee Evans S2 The rookie is one of the hottest December receivers out there. Teams continue to focus on Eric Moulds allowing Evans to work against primarily single coverage. In the last four games he's had only one game under 90 yards and has scored six touchdowns. As with McGahee and the rest of the Bills he reaches borderline starter status as fantasy owners hope the Steelers under perform in this meaningless game.
 
Green Bay (9-6) at Chicago (5-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Green Bay - Nothing. Has clinched division title and can not improve playoff seed.
Chicago - Out of the playoff race.
 
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brett Favre B Don't expect to see Favre for more than a series or two to start the game.
RB Ahman Green B Green is still not 100% and suffered a mild head injury last week. Look for the Packers to take the opportunity this week to rest their star running back.
WR Javon Walker
Donald Driver
X Great matchup this week against the suspect Chicago secondary, but that matchup is weakened by the real possibility of both Walker and Driver spending at least half the game with a ball cap on, not a helmet.
WR Antonio Chatman
Andrae Thurman
U With Walker and Driver likely taking much of this game off, both Chatman and Thurman will get a chance to show their stuff. One could surprise but that possibility is remote with backup Craig Nall at quarterback.
TE Bubba Franks X Franks is never going to get you much yardage but can pull in the occasional score with six so far this season.
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Hutchinson B The Bears may be playing out the season with Hutchinson at quarterback but your fantasy team shouldn't be.
RB Thomas Jones S2

Jones had his highest carry total and yardage since early in the season last week but he still hasn't scored since week seven as the Chicago offense gives him few opportunities. One of his best game of the season was the 152 yard effort in week two against the Packers.

WR David Terrell
Bobby Wade
Bernard Berrian
B

The Bears passing game has been only slightly effective under Hutchinson and never good enough to make any of these guys fantasy worthy.

TE Desmond Clark

X

Since Hutchinson took over the tight end has played a larger role in the passing game for Chicago, but that hasn't translated into consistent fantasy production.

 
New Orleans (7-8) at Carolina (7-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
New Orleans - Wildcard playoff spot.
Carolina - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Brooks X Brooks always has good fantasy potential and can still help himself with his rushing scores (leads the league with four), but many weeks he leaves his fantasy owners wanting. He put up 250 yards and three touchdowns on the Panthers just four weeks ago. What are the odds of his repeating that performance on the road in a must win game? History shows they are not good.
RB Deuce McAllister S2 Continues to get a heavy workload and that won't change this week. McAllister was completely shut down four weeks ago against Carolina and the Panthers have been one of the top run defenses over the second half of the season. If the passing game can find success it will help open up the running lanes.
WR Joe Horn S2 Despite the Saints' struggles in the passing game Horn has remained one of the more consistent fantasy receivers. He's one of only nine receivers with double digit touchdowns already this season.
WR Donte' Stallworth (Q) S2 Stallworth seems to finally be recognizing some of his big game potential but still requires a good matchup to warrant fantasy starter status. This week presents one of those. The Panthers week secondary can leave them open to big plays if they don't get to the quarterback.
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.
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S1

Delhomme is just flat out getting it done regardless of opponent, but facing the horrible Saints' defense this week make him an even better play.

RB Nick Goings S2

Goings has the fresh legs of a six-game starter and the Panthers keep feeding him the ball. He's had over 30 carries in three of the past four games. Don't look for him to slow down much against the worst run defense in the league.

WR Muhsin Muhammad S1

Muhammad now leads all receivers with 14 touchdowns this season and continues to quietly put up one of the most consistent fantasy seasons for a receiver this year.

WR Keary Colbert (Q) B Colbert has been held to a single catch in three of the past four games and tweaked his ankle last week. Don't look for much even against the Saints.
TE Kris Mangum B Protection for Delhomme remains the primary role for Mangum and the other Carolina tight ends.
 
Cleveland (3-12) at Houston (7-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Cleveland - Out of the playoff race.
Houston - Out of the playoff race.
 
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Luke McCown X

There were rumblings last week that the Browns wanted to get Holcomb and his cracked ribs back in the lineup. Don't expect them to push him out there in this final meaningless game. McCown will likely finish out the season with a decent game against the Texans secondary.

RB Lee Suggs S2 Suggs returned to the starting lineup last week and carried the ball for a franchise high 38 times. Don't expect another 38 this week but Suggs will again carry the load for the Cleveland offense.
RB William Green B

Has performed poorly of late and didn't get a single carry last week.

WR Dennis Northcutt
Antonio Bryant
X

Both Northcutt and Bryant have the skills and talent to be a factor, as Northcutt showed last week. Bryant hasn't been a fantasy factor for weeks so if you want to put a little faith in a Brown receiver this week, Northcutt is the choice.

TE Aaron Shea (Q)
Steve Heiden
B The tight ends are a part of the plan in Cleveland but the poor quarterback play and injuries have limited their production.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr X Carr has found himself in non-starter status most weeks since mid-season. Almost slides into borderline starter status this week thanks to the woeful Cleveland defense, but it's likely the running game will still take center stage.
RB Domanick Davis S1

There are few hotter running backs than Davis right now. He's scored in each of the past eight games and the horrible Browns run defense isn't likely to stop that streak.

WR Andre Johnson S2 Along with the Houston passing game Johnson has struggled to produce. Last week's 46 yards were the most he's had in three weeks, but he did manage to find the end-zone. He's still Carr's prime target but will be limited as the running game will again carry the Texans offense. Johnson is a borderline starter.
WR Jabar Gaffney
Corey Bradford
B Occasionally one of these guys stands up and gets noticed, but for the most part they are bit players in the Carr-to-Johnson show.
TE Billy Miller B Making the zero catch game a habit this season.
 
San Francisco (2-13) at New England (13-2) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
San Francisco - Out of the playoff race.
New England - Nothing. Has clinched first round bye and can not win home field advantage.
 
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ken Dorsey B

Expected to start the final game for the Niners this season, but the finger injury he suffered last week may limit his effectiveness and playing time.

RB Kevan Barlow S2 Returned to the starting lineup last week and looked good against a very tough Buffalo defense, rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown. Will likely carry the offensive load again this week as the quarterback play has been terrible.
WR Cedrick Wilson B With Lloyd like out due to the toe injury he suffered last week look for Wilson to be the primary target and for ...
WR Curtis Conway
Rashaun Woods
B ... both Conway and rookie Woods to get most of the attention down field.
TE Eric Johnson X Still holds some potential as the best option in a terrible San Francisco passing attack.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady (P) X The Niners are ripe for the picking but this is a meaningless game that Brady may not finish.
RB Corey Dillon X Prime matchup for Dillon but don't expect him to play the whole game. The Pats need him for a playoff run and they will want to protect his health.
WR Deion Branch
David Givens (Q)
David Patten
X With this game meaning little to the Pats and easy to win with backups don't expect much from any single New England wide receiver.
TE Daniel Graham (Q) B Graham has scored in each of the last two weeks, but with his ribs still bothering him it's likely the Patriots will rest him this week. Look for backups Fauria and even Weaver to play more.
 
Cincinnati (7-8) at Philadelphia (13-2) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Cincinnati - Out of the playoff race.
Philadelphia - Nothing. Has clinched first round bye and home field advantage.
 
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer (Q)
Jon Kitna
X

Again the Bengals are saying Palmer is expected back in the lineup this week, but his knee is still not be 100%. Logic would dictate sitting your star QB for the final meaningless game of 2004. Odds are Kitna will play in this one and do okay if the Eagles laugh off another meaningless game.

RB Rudi Johnson S2 The Eagles are allowing 117 yard rushing a game and can be run on. Look for Johnson to get plenty of carries in this matchup and do well, especially if the Eagles don't bother to show up again.
WR Chad Johnson S2 Kitna has always favored Johnson and he could be in for another solid performance this week facing a Philly secondary that will be without one starter and likely rest some others.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh X Ditto for T.J. but Kitna seems to prefer Johnson.
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb B Will play only as much as the Eagles to believe he'll need to remain sharp for the playoffs.
RB Brian Westbrook B Ditto for Westbrook.
WR Todd Pinkston (P) B And for Pinkston.
WR Freddie Mitchell B And for...
TE L.J. Smith B ... oh why bother with any Eagles this week.
 
N.Y. Jets (10-5) at St. Louis (7-8) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
N.Y. Jets - Wildcard playoff spot.
St. Louis - Division title or wildcard playoff spot.
 
New York Jets
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington S2 Big game against a suspect defense. A prime spot for Pennington to step up and stick it to his critics. Will he do it? Likely. Will that translate into a big fantasy game? Not as likely. Look for the Jets to emphasize the run but if the Rams can keep scoring the Jets will have to counter. Pennington is a borderline starter.
RB Curtis Martin S2 Last week's 33 rushing yards was a season low. Thankfully for his fantasy owners there were 44 receiving yards to throw in the mix. The Jets will need to get back to their run-first approach if they want to move the ball consistently against a Rams defense that is lacking against the run.
WR Santana Moss S2 Moss is the only real vertical threat in the Jets' arsenal. Look for Moss to challenge the suspect St. Louis zone coverages deep in this matchup.
WR Justin McCareins   S2

Isn't a big playmaker, but McCareins' size poses matchup problems for smaller cornerbacks. The Rams don't have a corner that stands taller than 5-10.

WR Wayne Chrebet B

His role in the passing game had diminished to almost nonexistent prior to last week's four catches. Pennington always likes to spread the ball around so Chrebet may be good for a few more catches this weekend, but that's about it.

St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S2

Looked a bit rusty Monday night as expected. Should shake that off this week and have a nice fantasy game to close out the season. In this critical game you can bet HC Mike Martz won't be able to resist his love for the pass. Look for Bulger to be dropping back all afternoon.

RB Steven Jackson (P) X Returned from injury last week and received a mind-boggling (at least for the Rams) 24 carries, only to leave the game with a bruised knee. His playing status is up in the air, but even if healthy it's likely the Rams will turn back to the passing game in this matchup.
RB Marshall Faulk B Faulk looked as old as I've seen him look Monday night. He may be the primary ball-carrier if Jackson's knee keep him sidelined, but it's best not to rely on him.
WR Torry Holt S2

Should close out the regular season strong.

WR Isaac Bruce S2 Plenty of passing go to around in this matchup and as has been the case most of the season the Bulger-to-Bruce connection is in sync.

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