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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 8
Whitney Walters
October 27, 2005
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week
ARI at DAL GB at CIN OAK at TEN MIA at NO BUF at NE ATL, IND,
CHI at DET JAC at STL WAS at NYG KC at SD Mon 9 PM NYJ, SEA
CLE at HOU MIN at CAR   PHI at DEN BAL at PIT  
      TB at SF   (times ET)
    Player List by Position
Start/Bench Codes (SBC) Early Injury Status
S1: Must start, 1st string. X: No start or bench indications / Could go either way. (O): Out    (D): Doubtful
S2: Solid starter, 2nd string. B: Bench 'em / Too much risk. (Q): Questionable
U: Upside player / Possible sleeper. (P): Probable
 
Philadelphia (4-2) at Denver (5-2) Back to top
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb (P) S2

Since the 300-yard game streak ended McNabb and the passing game have struggled. Last week he had a season high 35 completions, but just didn't look good throwing the ball and rarely connected deep. Averaged a season low 8.2 yards per completion. Denver has plenty of young talent in the secondary and loads of speed at linebacker, but they have played inconsistent in coverage all season and can be burned. Denver also has a league low 8 sacks on the season through seven games.

RB Brian Westbrook S2

Had a season high 20 touches last week, but half came on receptions. The Eagles' running game is basically nonexistent. In the past three games Westbrook has averaged just 8 carries for 17 yards. Those three games have been against three of the top run stopping defenses. This week brings the fourth. As long as he stays active in the passing game, Westbrook is a fantasy starter.

RB Lamar Gordon B In the last four games has only one or zero carries in three of them. He's not even getting goal-line chances as the Eagles passed the ball three straight times from inside the 5-yard line last week.
WR Terrell Owens (P) S1 Yeah, he's only had 103 yards in the past two games. And yeah, he'll see plenty of CB Champ Bailey. But what are you going to do, sit him?
WR Greg Lewis X

Lewis had been providing some decent fantasy production, but has tailed off over the past two games, gaining only 63 yards on seven catches. As is the case every week, Lewis will see plenty of one-on-one coverage with Owens drawing the doubles. And as is also the case every week, it's hard to produce as the fourth option on most plays.

TE L.J. Smith S2

With the attention defenses are giving Westbrook and Owens, Smith has become a favorite target for McNabb. Denver's used to handling top tight ends living in the AFC West, so don't look for Smith to go off in this matchup.

Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Plummer (P) X

Despite a couple of solid outings Plummer has been a fantasy disappointment this season. He hasn't topped 200 yards passing in four of the Broncos' last five games. The Eagles will apply a ton of pressure on Plummer so look for Denver to move the pocket around with rollouts and bootlegs. Look for the results to be moderately successful and for Plummer to get close to another one of those 200-yard games.

RB Mike Anderson X

The Eagle run defense has shown improvements lately with the stellar play of LB Jeremiah Trotter and the return of DT Darwin Walker. Any unit that can hold LT to just 7 yards rushing is doing something right. Look for Anderson and ...

RB Tatum Bell X

... Bell to get plenty of carries, but to be limited in their effectiveness.

WR Rod Smith X

Smith has been hit-or-miss over the past month as the passing game has been ineffective at times. He'll be lining up against CB Sheldon Brown, a very athletic corner on his way to becoming one of the league's best. Smith doesn't have the speed anymore to challenge him deep and will have to rely on his smart route running to find success.

WR Ashley Lelie S2

Seems to finally be snapping out of his early season slump. He's had 8 catches for 145 yards in the past two games. That's more yards than he had in the previous five games combined. Will draw CB Sheppard in coverage on most downs. Lelie will have his chances down field as Sheppard struggles with fast vertical receivers.

TE Jeb Putzier U

Putzier has worked his way back into the flow of the passing game over the past two weeks. Look for him to have one of his better games this week and be a sleeper start at tight end. The Eagles will once again sell out at stopping the strength of the Broncos offense, the run. With Smith and Lelie stretching the field Putzier will be left to roam the middle and will be a solid target for the pressured Plummer.

 
Tampa Bay (5-1) at San Francisco (1-5) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chris Simms U

There are quarterback binds all over fantasy nation due to a rash of injuries and a bye week that finds three regular fantasy starters sidelined. Have no fear, Phil's boy is here. This week opportunity and matchup meet to present a nice sleeper start. The game plan will be simple but Simms has what it takes to manage it, and the Niners are flat out terrible in the secondary. The possibility of Cadillac sitting out only improves his chances as more of the offense will rest on his shoulders.

RB Carnell Williams (Q) X

The Caddy has been up on blocks for a month now and it's time to fire up the engine again. At least that's what I think. But I'm not John Gruden. There's a good chance he'll rest Williams again for this very winnable game. The Niners are in a world of hurt, but they still have some talent along the defensive front that will prevent making running the ball a cake-walk. Regardless, look for another Sunday decision on Cadillac's playing status.

RB Michael Pittman X Even if Williams returns to the starting lineup this week, Pittman will retain his new role as his backup and more importantly in the passing game. As a backup Pittman won't get many carries, but in leagues where receptions are rewarded he can make a nice injury or bye week fill in. If Pittman gets the start Sunday then he should get the start for you also.
WR Michael Clayton S2

We have a major sophomore slump going here. Started the season out okay but over the past four injury slowed weeks he's had just four catches for 38 yards. Clayton is too talented to not work into the game plan and his great catching ability will be a benefit to new QB Simms. With the week off to rest his nagging injuries Clayton should be ready to go this week and start to recapture his rookie season form. ... If that isn't enough to motivate you, don't forget who the opponent is this week.

WR Joey Galloway S2 The speedy Galloway is on a tear this season and should have no troubles getting behind the makeshift Niner secondary.
TE Alex Smith B Two fantasy worthy performances out of six are not good odds for your team. Smith has loads of talent, but he's coming along slowly.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith (Q)
Ken Dorsey
B

It's looking like Smith won't play this week and backup Dorsey gets the pleasure of facing the top defense in the league. Oh yeah, the Bucs also acquired Tim Rattay a few weeks back. Now you don't think he'll be sharing any of the Niner playbook with his new team do you? Noooo... Of course not.

RB Kevan Barlow B

Continues to run hard and hold off the rookie Gore for the starting RB job. But this week will be ugly. Look elsewhere for fantasy help at running back.

RB Frank Gore B

Bolstered his case for more playing time last week with a speedy 72-yard touchdown run. But his other 8 carries were about as average as usual, gaining just 17 yards.

WR Brandon Lloyd B

There's no nice way to put this. The Niners are going to suck hard this week. Forget about the passing game and bench Lloyd and ...

WR Johnnie Morton B ... Morton if you usually play them.
WR Arnaz Battle (Q) B It's possible that Battle could return to action. Here's a tip kid. Wait a week.
 
Buffalo (3-4) at New England (3-3) Back to top
Buffalo
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kelly Holcomb X

Holcomb has been solid since taking over as the Bills' starter, but this is a tough road game. Despite the defensive struggles New England is having, you still only consider Holcomb if you are desperate this week. There's no way he tops his typical performance of around 160 yards and 1-2 touchdowns.

RB Willis McGahee S2

After four straight games in which he scored a touchdown, McGahee was shut out of the end-zone in Oakland last week. The Patriots are struggling in every facet of their defense, but the run defense may get a boost this week with the return of LB Tedy Bruschi and more importantly DL Richard Seymour. McGahee's still a solid start, but there's a chance the Pats may start to turn things around and for him to struggle.

WR Eric Moulds S2

Moulds has been Holcomb's top target since taking over at QB. He no longer has the downfield speed of his youth, but he remains very good at gaining separation on inside routes. This will serve him will this week against the injury riddled New England secondary.

WR Lee Evans X

Last week was a banner day for the Bills receivers other than Moulds. Like Reed, Evans pulled in his first TD of the season. The 19 yards is nothing to get excited about however and typical of his production this season. There isn't a lot of passing production to spread around in the Bills offense, but it gets an up tick this week facing the Patriots and their injury weakened secondary.

WR Josh Reed B

The Bills passing game is beginning to click and Holcomb has gained enough comfort to start moving the ball around to his slot receiver. Last week Reed had his best game since week 2 with four catches, 31 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Reed's success may be short lived as pre-season star Roscoe Parrish was active last week and should begin to cut into Reed's playing time. Parrish had moved ahead of Reed as the #3 WR before breaking his wrist.

New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady (P) S2

Brady's 1821 passing yards are tops in the NFL, but his touchdown total of eight is middle of the pack. This game provides a much better rushing matchup so look for Brady to be a bit limited in his production this week. The Patriots have had two weeks to prepare their offensive game plan so Brady remains a solid fantasy start.

RB Corey Dillon (Q) X

In a move that has yet to be explained fully, Dillon was a last minute scratch in week 6. He's started this week limited in practice and on the injury report as questionable. In New England's world that means he'll either be on the sideline in street clothes or get 25 carries. We won't know until game time and the kicker for fantasy owners this week is that New England plays the night game, which will be too late for most owners to react to Dillon's status. A shame since Buffalo presents a great matchup for the Pats running game. The more Dillon can practice this week the better, but there's no telling what Belichick will do.

RB Patrick Pass X Here's the simple part. If Dillon plays Pass won't. If Dillon sits Pass plays and is a great fantasy start this week. The not so simple part is that this won't likely be known until kickoff Sunday night, and maybe not even until the first NE offensive series and we see who trots out onto the field with the starting unit.
WR

Deion Branch

S2

Branch has already blown by his 2004 receiving totals and remains Brady's prime target even though the ball is going to many receivers lately. Look for the Bills to give Branch plenty of single coverage with their solid corners. The schemes will be too good and Branch is too talented for that coverage to hold up all night.

WR

David Givens

S2

Givens has produced this season in the Patriots passing attack and is the biggest target Brady has down field. The ball continues to be spread around by the Patriots, but more often than not Givens will be a top recipient of the action along with Branch.

WR Troy Brown (Q)
Bethel Johnson
Tim Dwight
B The Patriots are spreading the ball around in the passing game, so these three will trade off getting a nice catch or two here or there. Between them they have 12 catches in the past three games. Nothing that warrants fantasy attention.
TE Daniel Graham
Ben Watson
B

The tight end position has been highly sporadic this season for New England. They have two highly talented receivers in Graham and Watson but they are being used a lot this year for pass protection. Between them they've had only two games with more than one catch.

 
Baltimore (2-4) at Pittsburgh (4-2) Back to top
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Anthony Wright B Wright topped out at 230 yards and two touchdowns in week five and almost bottomed out last week against Chicago. It doesn't get any easier this week against the Steelers.
RB Jamal Lewis X

The Ravens remain steadfast in their support of Lewis and his 2.9 YPC average. The result - a running game that leaves the offense in long third downs that the weak passing game has trouble converting. Expect more mediocrity from Lewis this Monday night in Pittsburgh.

RB Chester Taylor B

Despite being the more effective back, the Ravens are sticking with Lewis. Which means another week of 10-12 touches for Taylor.

WR Derrick Mason X

Other Baltimore receivers get some looks from Wright, but Mason is the only one producing. He leads all Raven wide receivers by a mile. He had been averaging seven catches a game going into last week's difficult matchup in Chicago. The Bears did a good job limiting him and the passing game. The Steelers will do the same.

WR Mark Clayton (Q) B

Still recovering from a sprained ankle and may not play this week.

TE

Todd Heap

S2

Heap's numbers have improved each passing week and he had a season high 7 catches against Chicago last week. He's a great pass-catching tight end and the Ravens best down field option besides Mason. In each of the past five games he's had a catch of 20 yards or more. Wright will need him badly in this matchup and will look for him often.

Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger X

Big Ben put up his second nine completion game last week. Amazingly that's not far off his season average of 12. The big difference last week was the 93 yards passing, a career low. As opponents gear up to stop the run, the Steelers will turn to Roethlisberger more. But until then he's a marginal fantasy performer that's best suited for your bench most weeks.

RB Willie Parker S2

As expected, Parker got it going again against the Bengals poor run defense last week. The last three weeks have not been good ones for the Ravens run defense. They've given up almost 130 YPG, well above their season average. They are also without Ray Lewis this week. So things are looking up for Parker and his fantasy owners.

RB Jerome Bettis (P) U

Bettis got back in action last week with 13 carries, two of which were inside the 5-yard line. All good signs for The Bus. The Ravens' defense is in a world of hurt and you can bet the Steelers will pound them with Bettis Monday night. Look for 15 carries and his second touchdown this season.

WR Hines Ward (P) S2

The Steelers' passing game is very limited but Ward remains it's top benefactor. His four catches a game aren't much, but in three of his five games he's had over 80 yards. He's also scored five touchdowns, behind only Steve Smith and Keenan McCardell.

WR Antwaan Randle El (P) X

Just can't seem to break out of that 2-3 catch mold this season. They are typically long ones as Randle El is averaging a team high 22.8 yards per catch. Going catchless last week doesn't help his reliability.

TE Heath Miller S2

It appears that the tight end has finally arrived in Pittsburgh. The big rookie can tie a franchise record on Monday night with a touchdown catch, making it four games in a row with a score.

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