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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
 
Detroit (6-9) at Tennessee (4-11) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Detroit - Out of the playoff race.
Tennessee - Out of the playoff race.
 
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joey Harrington (P) X

The Titans defense may be suspect, but so is Harrington's level of play. He will probably play out this meaningless game but don't expect much.

RB Kevin Jones S2 The only real positive to come out of another disappointing Lions season. The rookie has carried the ball at least 25 times in three of the last four games and has scored in each. The Lions will stay committed to the run against a Tennessee defense knocked by injury.
WR Roy Williams S2 Williams seems to be adjusting to his nagging ankle injury a bit better of late and he remains Harrington's prime target. Could be good for score this week facing the injury depleted Titans secondary.
WR Az-Zahir Hakim (Q) X

Still isn't starting following his injury layoff, but he's the only decent fantasy wide receiver on this team outside of Williams.

TE Stephen Alexander (P) B After a brief moment of hope a few weeks back, this talented tight end has worked his way back to non-factor status.
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Billy Volek (Q) X

Volek will close out 2004 for the Titans. Last week's flop against Denver will likely temper the Volek enthusiasm spurred on by the previous two monster games. Those games came against the worst two pass defenses in the league however. This week he pulls Detroit and their suspect secondary but is sporting a bruised knee suffered last week. Overall a mixed bag for this meaningless game.

RB Antowain Smith S2 With Chris Brown shut down for the season the rushing load falls on Smith's shoulders. He responded with just 59 yards last week but did score. He'll improve on those numbers at home against a Detroit defense allowing 120 YPG on the ground.
WR Derrick Mason (Q)
Drew Bennett (Q)
X Both Mason and Bennett have been great late season fantasy plays and that shouldn't change this week facing the Detroit secondary. The risk of limited playing time in a meaningless game hurts their value though. Both are just borderline starters this week at best.
TE Ben Troupe U

With both Kinney and Meier still hurt Troupe becomes the best option at tight end for the Titans. Could surprise as Volek will be pressured behind an offensive line riddled with injuries.

 
Minnesota (8-7) at Washington (5-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Minnesota - Wildcard playoff spot.
Washington
- Out of the playoff race.
 
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper S2 The running game will struggle against the outstanding Washington defense so the offense's success will fall on Culpepper this week. He has the weapons down field and the running ability to keep his starter status even against the Skins.
RB Onterrio Smith B

Was inactive last week but is expected to play Sunday. He'll come off the bench but won't likely get enough action for your fantasy team.

RB Michael Bennett X Bennett will be the starter again after another fine effort last week. The yardage will not come easy against a Washington defense vying to be the the league's best in 2004.
WR Randy Moss S2 Despite this struggles last week Moss is looking stronger and should step up in this must win for the Vikings. Double coverage by the fine Washington secondary won't make it easy on him however.
WR Nate Burleson S2 With the attention Moss will draw in this matchup the door will be open for some potential big plays on the other side of the field. Burleson is riding a two game mini-streak of 100-yard games and has scored three times in that span. He has a shot to keep that streak going this week.
WR Marcus Robinson B Robinson has disappeared, catching only three passes in the last three games. His talent always gives him the potential for a good game but he can't be relied on now.
TE Jermaine Wiggins S2

Wiggins doesn't score touchdowns like a top tier tight end, but he can rack up catches and yardage like one. With the Redskins secondary focused on stopping Moss and Burleson look for Wiggins to get some additional looks underneath.

Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Patrick Ramsey X The Minnesota defense has been downright awful and Ramsey has shown some improvement lately. But do you really want to put your fantasy team into Ramsey's hands in week 17? Didn't think so.
RB Ladell Betts S2 With Portis down for the count Betts will get the start. Betts isn't as explosive as Portis but his straight-ahead power running style is actually a better fit for the blocking schemes employed by the Redskins. The Vikings give up a league high 4.7 YPC so look for Betts to do well.
WR Lavernues Coles S2

Even though he's playing with a toe injury that will require off-season surgery Coles remains the workhorse of the passing game. Unfortunately the Redskins' ineffective passing game have led to average fantasy performances week after week. The Vikings are vulnerable enough in the secondary however 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. He's likely used up his good game allotment for 2004.
TE Chris Cooley 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.
 
Atlanta (11-4) at Seattle (8-7) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Atlanta - Nothing. Has clinched first round bye and can not win home field advantage.
Seattle - Division title.
 
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub B

If Vick plays at all it will only be briefly. Look for Schaub to get most of the playing time and do little with it.

RB Warrick Dunn
T.J. Duckett (Q)
X Duckett may be back, maybe he won't. Dunn may play most of the game, maybe he won't. Either could be relied on this week for your fantasy team, then again maybe they shouldn't.
WR Peerless Price
Dez White
Brian Finneran
B With Schaub likely running the show again you should forget about the Falcon passing game.
TE Alge Crumpler (Q) B Don't expect to see Crumpler on the field much, if at all, this week.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck (P) X Use Hasselbeck with caution this week. He was inconsistent prior to the elbow injury and it likely won't be 100% by Sunday. Also, the Seahawks will know at kickoff whether or not this game matters. If it doesn't Hasselbeck may see only limited action. Look for the Seahawks to lean on the running game more.
RB Shaun Alexander S2 The Falcons remain strong against the run, but the Saints put up 160 yard on them last week in a similarly meaningless game. Look for the Seahawks to ride Alexander to the playoffs. However, if the Seahawks don't need to win this game you could see Alexander go to the sidelines early and the backups get some work.
WR Darrell Jackson S2 The passing game will likely struggle under either an inconsistent Hasselbeck or an average at best Kitna. Either way Jackson remains the best bet against a suspect Atlanta secondary.
WR Jerry Rice B With Robinson back last week Rice went catchless for the first time in a Seattle uniform.
WR Koren Robinson X In Robinson's return last week he had only a single pass go his way... and it wasn't caught. Should see more action this week as he presents matchup problems for the Falcon secondary. But as we've learned this season, nothing is for certain when it comes to Robinson.
WR Bobby Engram B Engram played well prior to last week's 1-for-3 stinker, but with Robinson back and the quarterbacks unsettled it's best to steer clear of him.
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.
 
Tampa Bay (5-10) at Arizona (5-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Tampa Bay - Out of the playoff race.
Arizona - Out of the playoff race.
 
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brian Griese (Q) S2 The Cardinals are solid against the pass but just don't have the horses in the secondary to match up with the multi-WR sets Tampa Bay can employ. Griese should close out the season strong if he plays. He's suffering from a hip injury that may put him on the bench or at least limit his playing time in this game. A risky start this week.
RB Michael Pittman S2

The Arizona run defense should provide Pittman a nice opportunity to bounce back from last week's disappointing effort.

RB Mike Alstott X Has received only three carries in the past two games. Alstott is always a threat to get a short touchdown and that may be more likely this week facing the Cardinals sieve like defense.
WR Michael Clayton S2

Fantasy's top rookie receiver just keeps getting it done. Nothing about this matchup with Arizona should make you think that won't continue until the final gun blows on the Bucs season Sunday.

WR Joe Jurevicius X

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

WR Joey Galloway S2 Despite the inconsistent passing game Galloway has found the end-zone five times in the past four games. His speed will come in handy this week against a suspect Cardinal 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.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh McCown B McCown continues to improve his play, making better decisions on audibles and working through his reads better. That won't likely translate into much this week facing the league's #2 pass defense.
RB Emmitt Smith X Still not 100% and since this isn't going to be the final game of his career there's no need to push him. Has seen the end-zone only only once in the past five weeks. Even against a Tampa Bay defense that is below average in stopping the run Smith isn't a strong play this week.
WR Anquan Boldin X Still adjusting to the life of a split end, but showed great improvement last week with his second 100-yard effort in the past three games and his first score. Don't expect a repeat this week against the very stout Bucs secondary.
WR Larry Fitzgerald X The same goes for Fitzgerald after his fine performance last week.
TE Freddie Jones X Jones has been more active the past month in the passing game plan then he's been all season. McCown will be under a lot of pressure in this matchup and may look for Jones more often if he's not kept in for pass protection.
 
Indianapolis (12-3) at Denver (9-6) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Indianapolis - Nothing. Has clinched division title and can not win first round bye.
Denver - Wildcard playoff spot.
 
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning X If coach Dungy is serious about playing his starters in this one then Manning is his usual fantasy starter self. If he's bluffing then Manning could get his 50th touchdown and take a seat on the sideline. A risky fantasy start this week against a solid Denver defense.
RB Edgerrin James X

Ditto for James.

WR Marvin Harrison
Reggie Wayne
X And another ditto for Harrison and Wayne.
WR Brandon Stokley S2 If you are going to take a chance on a Colt receiver this week then Stokley may be your best bet. Since he's the #3 WR, even if they rest their starters he'll get enough playing time to be productive.
TE Marcus Pollard (D) B His ankle is not 100% and it would be unlikely for the Colts to push him back into action for this meaningless game.
TE Dallas Clark X Clark hasn't scored since week 10 and Denver has the athletes at linebacker and safety to limit his effectiveness. Don't expect much.
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Plummer X If the Broncos can run the ball successfully they will be able to break Indy out of their preferred cover-2 zone schemes in the secondary. This will provide Plummer and the passing game better man-on-man opportunities down field against the burnable Colts cornerbacks. If that can happen it will interesting to see how much of this game Shanahan places in the hands of his mistake-prone quarterback.
RB Reuben Droughns (P) S2

The workload swung back to Droughns last week and he didn't disappoint with 121 total yards and three touchdowns. If you are looking for a definitive answer to how he'll be used this week, talk to Shanahan if you really think that will help. Here's the likely breakdown. With Bell still nursing his shoulder separation look for the stronger Droughns to carry most of the load and ...

RB Tatum Bell (P) X ... for Bell to dozen or so touches he got last week. Denver's best chance of winning this game is to generate time consuming drives. And to do that you need to run the ball... a lot.
WR Rod Smith S2 See the Plummer comments above. Both Smith and ...
WR Ashley Lelie S2

... Lelie are iffy starters this week.

TE Jeb Putzier X His production remains sporadic but he could be a factor this week underneath facing a suspect linebacker corps.
 
Jacksonville (8-7) at Oakland (5-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Jacksonville - Wildcard playoff spot.
Oakland - Out of the playoff race.
 
Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich (P) S2

The Jags are playing for their playoff lives but Leftwich was beat up badly last week and will be only a week removed from a concussion. That typically spells a poor performance from a quarterback. But the flat out horrible play of the Oakland defense may be enough to counter that. Could be a risk but Leftwich earns fantasy starter status this week.

RB Fred Taylor (Q) S2

Last week showed just how critical Taylor's talent and playmaking ability is to the Jacksonville offense. His sprained knee may not be 100% but the Jags need him. His only down side against the swiss cheese Raiders defense is if the Jags build a big lead he will surely be rested.

WR Jimmy Smith 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 Oakland secondary on Sunday.

WR Troy Edwards
Reggie Williams
X Edwards or Williams could surprise this week but neither should be relied on, even facing a good passing matchup with the Raiders. 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.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins (P) X The season is over for the Raiders and they played like it last week. Penalties and dropped balls killed what little effectiveness the Oakland offense has. Don't count on that being corrected against a very solid and motivated Jacksonville defense.
RB Amos Zereoue
Justin Fargas
Zack Crockett
B All three are getting touches and for the most part are ineffective. You should avoid this mess.
WR Jerry Porter
Doug Gabriel
X

See the Collins comments above.

TE Teyo Johnson S2

Johnson has put up 101 yards and a score in the past two games. For the Oakland offense that's an accomplishment for the talented youngster. He may be the best fantasy bet in this game for Oakland. If you are hurting at TE due to your typical starter being hurt or sitting this week out, Johnson could be a nice sub for you.

 
Kansas City (7-8) at San Diego (11-4) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Kansas City - Out of the playoff race.
San Diego
- Nothing. Has clinched division title and can not win first round bye.
 
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Green (P) S2

The Chargers' secondary stepped up against the mighty Colts passing attack last week, but they still have a ways to go before they'd be a concern to an opposing fantasy quarterback. A long ways.

RB Larry Johnson (P) S2 If there's one area where pride kicks in during a meaningless game it's in the trenches. This will be an interesting matchup between the powerful Chiefs offensive line and the very stingy Chargers defensive front. Johnson will likely struggle but get enough action to warrant a fantasy start.
WR Eddie Kennison (P) S2 With Morton slowed by injury Kennison is Green's best vertical option. He's had a strong second half of the season and that should continue Saturday against a San Diego secondary that has shown some signs of improving but are still vulnerable.
WR Johnnie Morton (D) B The Chiefs won't likely rush him back into action.
WR Samie Parker
Chris Horn (Q)
X Both Parker and Horn will continue to get some chances thanks to Morton being out with a bad knee. With the season winding down look for the Chiefs to continue to take a look at these potential future starters.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 As last week showed, you should never bet against Gonzo.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees X A great matchup gone bad due to the typical week 17 factors. This game means nothing for the Chargers playoff position so look for Brees to take an early seat on the sideline and for the San Diego faithful to get their first look at their high-paid rookie, Rivers.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson X You can bet Tomlinson will spend much of this game resting up for the Chargers first playoff game next week.
WR Eric Parker
Kassim Osgood
X With the likelihood of Rivers taking the field for much of this game, all bets are off for the receivers in what could have been a great matchup with the league's worst pass defense.
WR Keenan McCardell (Q) B With nothing to play for the Chargers will likely rest McCardell tweaked hamstring one more week.
TE Antonio Gates X Gates saw a lot of action last week and a record setting 13th touchdown grab. Don't expect San Diego to use their prized tight end much this week.
 
Dallas (6-9) at N.Y. Giants (5-10) Back to top
"WHAT TO PLAY FOR" FACTOR
Dallas - Out of the playoff race.
N.Y. Giants - Out of the playoff race.
 
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vinny Testaverde B

Vinny may start the game but it's likely Henson will finish it.

RB Julius Jones S2 The Giants run defense seems to get worse each week. You can bet they'll get a heavy dose of Jones Sunday night.
WR Keyshawn Johnson X

Johnson has been solid in an ineffective Dallas passing game this season. That's how he'll likely end the season, solid.

WR Quincy Morgan B

Morgan has given the Cowboys some much needed speed and big-play ability. Given the meaningless nature of this game however no wide receiver other than Keyshawn should be considered for your fantasy team.

TE Jason Witten S2 Depending on how this game goes Witten should end the year as the top Cowboys receiver in most categories.
New York Giants
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning B

Well... Manning got his shot and the Giants are out of the playoffs. Only time will tell if that was the right way to go with this season. As for this week... Manning hasn't been a fantasy starter all year, why would he start now?

RB Tiki Barber S2 Barber should close out a career season Sunday night with another fine performance against the Cowboys.
WR Amani Toomer (Q)
Ike Hilliard
B

Even though Manning has shown some slight improvement over the past two weeks the vertical passing game to Toomer and Hilliard remains severely limited. That isn't likely to change this week even against a suspect Dallas secondary.

TE Jeremy Shockey (Q) S2 With the wide receivers limited most weeks, Shockey remains Manning's best and most reliable option in the passing game.

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