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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 14
Whitney Walters
December 8, 2005
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM  
CHI at PIT NE at BUF NYG at PHI KC at DAL DET at GB  
CLE at CIN OAK at NYJ SF at SEA MIA at SD Mon 9 PM  
HOU at TEN STL at MIN WAS at ARI   NO at ATL  
IND at JAC TB at CAR BAL at DEN   (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
 
St. Louis (5-7) at Minnesota (7-5) Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick X

As expected, it's a lot different starting a game as an inexperienced rookie than it is coming off the bench. Fitzpatrick struggled last week but did manage a rushing TD. Look for his play to improve. The Vikings' secondary has finally gotten it together, picking off 12 passes in the last five games. But there's a lot of firepower at Fitzpatrick's disposal. Enough for at least moderate success this weekend.

RB Steven Jackson (P) S2

Jackson has one good game sandwiched between two poor ones in the last three. The 11 carries last week just isn't going to cut it. He must remain active running the ball in order to provide the balanced attack rookie Fitzpatrick needs to have success. Look for the Rams to get back to running the ball against the Vikings.

WR Torry Holt S2 Fitzpatrick may be inexperienced, but he knows who his weapons are in the passing game. 58% of his passes went Holt's and ...
WR Isaac Bruce S2

... Bruce's direction last week. Don't expect that to change any time soon.

WR Kevin Curtis X

With a new QB under center, most opposing defenses know that Holt and Bruce will be the focus of the Rams passing game. That makes Curtis a key option in 3-WR sets. He's only had 8 looks from Fitzpatrick in the past two games. Look for that to increase a bit each week as he gains confidence in the offense.

Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson S2

Johnson got it going last week with his highest yardage total of the season, 256 yards. This week's matchup provides a great opportunity for an even bigger game. The Rams defense is just simply terrible. The unit gave up almost 300 yards and three TD's to Carr just two weeks ago.

RB Mewelde Moore B

Moore left last week's game very early after aggravating his sprained right ankle. He's saying that he'll be ready to go Sunday, but we all know how this usually goes with Moore. Don't expect much, if anything, out of him this week.

RB Michael Bennett (P) S2

Will likely be given the start this weekend and should pay off for any fantasy owners that still have him on their rosters and need some help at running back this week. The Rams allowed two, yes two, 100-yard rushers last week. Now that's hard to do even if you are trying.

WR Nate Burleson
Travis Taylor
Marcus Robinson
Koren Robinson
X

Two weeks ago it was Marcus Robinson that went off with three touchdowns. Last week the other Robinson (Koren) pulled in a nice 80-yard TD and ended with 148 yards on the day. Evidence that there are no favorites in the passing game for Minnesota and the ball is being spread around to all receivers and the tight ends. Chances are good that someone will have a big game this week against the terrible Rams secondary. The problem is figuring out who it will be. If I had to pick a favorite it would be Koren because of his talent and skill level. Another candidate is Marcus but he's mostly being used in the red-zone. Taylor is a slight possibility and Burleson is a long-shot.

TE Jermaine Wiggins S2

Wiggins had his first catch-less game of the season last week. Don't worry. The Redskins are the top defense against tight ends. The Rams are nearly the worst.

 
Tampa Bay (8-4) at Carolina (9-3) Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chris Simms X

The production just hasn't been there lately, as Simms has struggled in the past three games, averaging just 148 yards with only one touchdown. Don't expect that to change much. The running game is back on track and Simms won't be asked to do a whole lot.

RB Carnell Williams S2

The Caddy is back, averaging nearly 100 yards a game over the last three. You can bet he'll get his 20-plus carries this week, but it'll be touch sledding against one of the top run defenses in the league.

RB Mike Alstott X

After scoring five touchdowns in four games, the goal-line specialist didn't get a touch last week. That's what you get sometimes when you need goal-line situations to get carries. Those situations can present themselves any week. Relying on them in anything but a TD-only scoring league is tough to do.

WR Michael Clayton B

Has gone without a reception in three of the last four games. May be the biggest receiver bust of the season.

WR Joey Galloway S2

Galloway's early season success has him seeing much more aggressive coverage as the season wears on. You should expect nothing less from the Carolina CB's Gamble and Lucas. Despite the coverage, Galloway usually gets at least one shot each game at breaking a long one.

TE Alex Smith B

Smith is still good for a couple of catches each week, but he'll spend a lot of his time blocking for Caddy and protecting Simms this week.

Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme X

Delhomme rebounded a bit last week with his first multi-TD game since week eight. He's stepped up against the stingy Bucs defense before. Last season he put up 6 TD's in their two meetings. His reliance on Steve Smith this season may cause problems. Only four of his 19 TD's have gone to a WR other than Smith. Look for Tampa to aggressively try to take Smith out of the equation, and if Delhomme can't find his other options it could be a long afternoon.

RB Stephen Davis B

Davis' fantasy value has fallen faster than an Internet bubble stock. In the last three games he's had 15 carries for 36 yards. Most importantly, all five of the goal-line carries last week went to Foster.

RB DeShaun Foster S2

Foster is healthy, fresh and ready to go. Last week he tore up the Falcons defense for 180 total yards and two touchdowns. The production won't come as easily this week against the strong Bucs defense, but the Panthers have to see what they have in this soon to be free agent. So far they must be liking what they have.

WR Steve Smith S2

Over the last month Smith has not been the dominant fantasy force he was earlier in the season. Teams are very focused now on limiting him as they know the Carolina passing attack is very one-dimensional. The Bucs will apply the same approach this weekend.

WR Keary Colbert X

Even with opposing defenses focusing on Smith in the passing game, Colbert has topped out at just four catches for 32 yards in the past month. Delhomme does seem to be looking his way a bit more often lately and the breakout may happen sooner or later, but you can't afford to start him and hope for it.

TE Kris Mangum
Michael Gaines (Q)
B Both Mangum and Gaines had become a bit more active lately, but last week both went without a catch. Neither are fantasy options.
 
New York Giants (8-4) at Philadelphia (5-7) Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Manning struggled last week after playing well for a good while. Philly on the road is not exactly a good spot to get your act back together. But this version of the Eagles is not the Eagles of old, and Manning put up three TD's on them just three games ago. Look for him to bounce back this week.

RB Tiki Barber S2

Barber continues to put up the numbers and is on pace for career totals in yards. But watching Brandon Jacobs trot out onto the field last week with the Giants at the 1-yard line is a disheartening sight Barber owners will have to get used to. Barber hasn't tasted the end-zone since week 10.

WR Plaxico Burress S2

Burress struggled along with the rest of the passing game last week. Against these Eagles earlier in the season he has his second best fantasy performance. So don't let last week's letdown prevent you from feeling confident in starting Burress this week, especially given the state of the Philly secondary that is down one star cornerback - Lito Sheppard.

WR Amani Toomer S2

Dallas gave the passing game fits last week, but before that matchup the Manning-to-Toomer connection was humming right along. Look for Toomer to start humming again this weekend with mostly single coverage with Lito Sheppard's inferior replacement at CB.

TE Jeremy Shockey S2

The Eagles held Shockey to just a single 1-yard TD catch in their last meeting. That makes three games in a row that he's been limited by Philly (just 5 catches for 71 yards). While history may not be in his favor, his solid play this season is.

Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mike McMahon X

McMahon's best day came in week 11 against the Giants, his first start after McNabb went down. Since then he's been horrible and hasn't passed for over 100 yards or a score. This rematch may provide a decent matchup advantage for him, but now the offense is without its best weapon (Westbrook) and McMahon should be avoided.

RB Ryan Moats
Lamar Gordon (P)
X

With Westbrook out for the remainder of the season it will be up to the rookie Moats and the veteran Gordon to carry the load out of the backfield. Who will get the bulk of the work is the big question now. Gordon has an obvious experience advantage in this style of offense, performed well earlier in the season and has good receiver skills. Moats on the other hand is smaller and the better runner of the two with more speed. Until this actually plays out in game situations it all just speculation. My take is that both will see time with Moats having more upside.

WR Greg Lewis X

Lewis is the primary read on most of Philly's down field plays. Thanks to the poor play overall that's translated into 1-for-9 performances in the past two games. There may be a bit of an upside this week against the struggling Giants secondary, but the Philly receivers should be avoided at this point.

WR Reggie Brown X

Brown burned the Giants secondary for a long touchdown in week 11, but other than that one play he's been ineffective just like the rest of the Eagles passing game. Now that Westbrook is out Brown is the only game breaker left on offense. That gives him a bit up an upside in this rematch.

TE L.J. Smith S2

Smith is still getting the looks in the passing game but has done less with them lately - catching only two balls in each of the past two games. He remains a valuable target for QB McMahon and should stay in your fantasy lineup against the Giants.

 
San Francisco (2-10) at Seattle (10-2) Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

With all the attention going to Indy and Chicago it may be a surprise to most that the team that actually leads the NFL in sacks is the Seahawks. Smith did get the ball down field last week against the Cardinals and nearly threw for 200 yards. That's about the best you could expect this week on the road in Seattle.

RB Kevan Barlow (Q) X

Barlow was a late scratch against Arizona last week, killing a pretty good matchup. With the jittery Smith at QB the Niners need an effective running game to help keep the pressure off their franchise signal caller. Unfortunately with the season coming to and end, so might Barlow's chances to carry the load out of the backfield. The Niners may start working Gore more into the mix, hurting what little fantasy value Barlow had.

RB Frank Gore B

Surprisingly played last week despite a hip flexor injury that had him listed as doubtful. He looked good (as he usually does) and with the season winding down the Niners may start giving the rookie a better look by giving him more touches.

WR Brandon Lloyd
Arnaz Battle (D)
X

Unfortunately, even though Lloyd and Battle are great young talents, their fantasy value is tied to their rookie quarterback.

Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2

Since the offense basically wasn't needed in the Monday night blowout, Hasselbeck's numbers were off. Look for another blowout here but for the quarterback to have a much better fantasy performance.

RB Shaun Alexander S1

Alexander had his lowest yardage total of the year last week but still crossed the goal-line twice. Money.

WR Bobby Engram S2

Last week's weirdness aside, Engram had been consistent and improved each week since his return from injury. No weirdness this week. Engram has a big day against the league's worst pass defense.

WR Darrell Jackson (Q) B Did some running last week and is expected to give it a go Sunday against the Niners. Don't expect much more than spot duty to test the knee. He's at least a week away from being a fantasy option.
WR D.J. Hackett X

Even with Jackson's return Hackett will still see some looks out of the slot because he has a nice size advantage over most nickel cornerbacks. Those looks will not be shared with Jurevicius however, limiting the rookie's fantasy value.

WR Joe Jurevicius X

As Jackson works his way back into the starting WR role Jurevicius will move back to the slot where he's difficult for most overmatched nickel cornerbacks to handle. His looks may start to decrease, but the one's he gets will still be in the red-zone so he will maintain some fantasy value going forward.

TE Jerramy Stevens X

Stevens had four quick catches in the first quarter Monday night but then went silent. After a fairly consistent season his production over the last month has been anything but. At this point you're looking at a 4-catch game being about the best you can expect.

 
Washington (6-6) at Arizona (4-8) Back to top
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Brunell X

Brunell's big game against the Rams last week never materialized thanks to a running game that accounted for 257 yards of offense. His days of 250-plus yard, multi-TD games are a fading memory. The Cardinals do present a good opportunity this week. After all, they did give up 3 TD's to Harrington just last month. But with his options down field severely limited he's a risky start.

RB Clinton Portis S1

Only the Texans have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Cardinals this year. Start Portis with confidence this week.

WR Santana Moss (P) S2

The lack of an effective #2 receiver is limiting Moss' ability for big games. He had a season low three catches last week in a killer matchup with the Rams. He remains a borderline weekly fantasy starter simply because there's no one else for Brunell to throw the ball to other than Cooley.

WR Taylor Jacobs X

Jacobs has moved into the #2 WR spot due to injuries to Patten and Thrash. The results have been mixed. Even his best game two weeks ago (4 catches for 44 yards) isn't really fantasy worthy for most teams.

TE Chris Cooley S2

Cooley found the end-zone again last week and remains Brunell's only other viable option besides Moss.

Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner X

Warner is making 300-yard games a habit. He's had four since his return to the starting lineup five games ago. The Redskins on the other hand have allowed just one all year and haven't surrendered a passing touchdown in two weeks. Who gives this week? Likely Warner.

RB Marcel Shipp (P) B

His neck injury may improve, but he's likely to take a permanent back seat to Arrington from here on out.

RB J.J. Arrington X

Arrington got the start last week and had a season high in carries and yards. The season is winding down for the Cardinals and there's no reason not to keep the rookie out there gaining in game experience. That bodes well for his future, but the present against Washington does not bode well for fantasy owners.

WR Anquan Boldin
Larry Fitzgerald
S2

Boldin and Fitzgerald are huge talents and make 100-yard games seem routine. They may be limited this weekend by a very good Washington defense, but both remain solid fantasy starts regardless of matchup. Fitzgerald may have the upper hand in this matchup as he'll face rookie CB Carlos Rogers most of the afternoon.

WR Bryant Johnson X Has been solid since his return two weeks ago from the shoulder injury. The no. 3 option in a passing game with dominant no. 1 and no. 2 options is no place to look for receiver help for your fantasy team.

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