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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 15
Whitney Walters
December 15, 2005
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM  
TB at NE ARI at HOU PIT at MIN CIN at DET ATL at CHI  
KC at NYG CAR at NO SD at IND CLE at OAK Mon 9 PM  
DEN at BUF NYJ at MIA SEA at TEN DAL at WAS GB at BAL  
  PHI at STL SF at JAC   (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 (5-8) at St. Louis (5-8) Back to top
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mike McMahon (P) X

McMahon threw for over 100-yards for the first time in three weeks against the Giants (190 yards in an overtime game). But he only completed 44% of his passes and couldn't find the end-zone. Obviously there is some upside for McMahon this week against the terrible Rams defense, but he's hurting after suffering hip and knee injuries last week. There's a chance he'll give way to Koy Detmer again this week.

RB Ryan Moats U

Moats dominated the stat sheet in the Eagles first game without Westbrook, but what may be more telling for his remaining fantasy value is that he only carried the ball on 11 of the teams 24 rushing attempts. There are only certain packages the team feels comfortable putting the rookie in, so don't look for 20-plus carries. He's not going to rip off 40 and 18 yard touchdowns every week like he did against the Giants, but against the reeling Rams defense this week he's a good bet to get at least one more long TD.

RB Lamar Gordon (P) X Has worked his way back from injury right when the team needs him most. He'll be the designated short-yardage back for Philly and will get the goal-line carries when they present themselves.
WR Greg Lewis X

1-for-9, 1-for-9, and 1-for-8. That sums up Lewis' fantasy value over the past three weeks. There may be a bit of an upside this week against the struggling Rams secondary, but what does that mean - 2-for-18?

WR Reggie Brown U

Brown has been the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal Eagles passing game since McMahon took over. Bold prediction of the week - Brown uses his great talent to put up a 100-yard game on the Rams' talent-less cornerbacks.

TE L.J. Smith X

Smith just isn't getting as much attention in the passing game since McNabb went down. He's had just two catches in each of the last three games.

St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick X

Yep, I'd say the shine of that off-the-bench performance against Houston three weeks ago has worn off Mr. Harvard. Despite throwing five interceptions last week the rookie will keep his starting job for another week. The Philly defense can fluster the best of quarterbacks with its many coverage schemes and blitzes. Despite the talent he has at receiver, don't expect things to improve much for Fitzpatrick this week.

RB Steven Jackson S2

Jackson owners have to be scratching their heads. All that talent seems to be going to waste in an ineffective running game. In every game this season when he's received 20-plus carries he's come up big. Unfortunately that's been only once in the past five games. The Eagles present another great opportunity for the Rams to establish a solid running attack. Will they squander another one? Let's hope not.

WR Torry Holt S2 Fitzpatrick's poor play is dragging down the fantasy value of his receivers. Despite that there is one thing you can take to the bank each week - the rookie knows who his biggest weapon is and Holt will get his catches (26 in the three weeks with Fitzpatrick).
WR Isaac Bruce X

Bruce is back and the definite #2 WR in the passing game plan. Should be able to put up some marginal numbers against the struggling Roderick Hood, the replacement for injured CB Lito Sheppard.

WR Kevin Curtis B

Curtis has fallen out of favor since Fitzpatrick took over at quarterback. Should be expected as an inexperienced rookie isn't going to look much beyond his first or second down field reads on a play.

 
Pittsburgh (8-5) at Minnesota (8-5) Back to top
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger (P) X

Big Ben returned to his marginally fantasy relevant ways last week as the Steelers turned to what they do best, run the ball. Roethlisberger barely gave his injured thumb a workout, throwing just 20 passes. The Vikings are not going to run up a score on Pittsburgh so look for the Steelers to try and grind out another win with minimal reliance on Big Ben's arm.

RB Willie Parker  S2 Parker didn't score last week but he did lead the way with 113 total yards. Look for the Steelers to feed Parker the ball in this matchup. On the nice warm Metrodome turf his speed will serve him well against the Vikings linebackers who can be slow to close against the run.
RB Jerome Bettis (P) X

Bettis again showed last week why he's one of the best bad weather running backs to ever play the game. Weather will not be a factor Sunday in Minnesota and he did come out of the game re-aggravating his quad injury. Look for the Steelers to limit his carries this week.

WR Hines Ward (P) S2

The Vikings secondary is a veteran unit and has improved greatly since their early season struggles. Roethlisberger's ailing thumb also works against Ward as the Steelers are limited to shorter routes. As with last week's tough matchup, Ward will remain just productive enough to warrant a place in fantasy starting lineups.

WR Antwaan Randle El X Randle El has been fairly consistent this season. That rarely translates into a starting role on most fantasy teams however. This week will be no different. Look for his typical 4-for-50 performance.
TE Heath Miller S2

Miller went catch-less last week but won't be needed as a blocker so heavily this week and should get back to catching passes. The Vikings are very susceptible to big tight ends so it may be time for the rookie to find the end-zone again.

Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson X

Johnson's effectiveness can be greatly limited by applying pressure and forcing him out of his rhythm and out of the pocket. The Steelers love to blitz and do it very well. Don't expect much from Johnson in this matchup.

RB Mewelde Moore (P) B

Moore was active last week but for the second week in a row had just a single carry. He's battling nagging ankle and quad injuries and his inability to give much effort last week may have been the last straw. HC Tice has made no secret of his displeasure with Moore and this is starting to look like a repeat of what happened last year to the oft-injured back.

RB Michael Bennett X

Bennett suffered an arm stinger last week but should be fine and will likely start again. Look for the Vikings to try and get Bennett outside, using his speed and cutback abilities to find running lanes against the quick and aggressive Steelers defensive front. Look for only moderate success, and with Fason and possibly even Moore taking carries, Bennett isn't a good start this week.

RB Ciatrick Fason X The rookie had season highs in carries (6) and yards (19) last week and scored his third touchdown. With Moore in the doghouse Fason has become an effective short-yardage back that now has the coach's confidence.
WR Nate Burleson
Travis Taylor
Marcus Robinson
Koren Robinson
X

In previous weeks someone has taken center stage in the passing game. Last week no one did. That's par for the course in the Vikings passing game. Johnson is running a fairly efficient attack and spreads the ball around to all his receivers and tight ends (7 different non-backs caught at least one pass last week).

TE Jermaine Wiggins X

Wiggins has become a favorite target of Johnson's, but he may be kept in more this week to help pickup the Steelers' many blitzes.

 
San Diego (8-5) at Indianapolis (13-0) Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

As we've seen this season, matchups with the Colts come down to "can you score with them" and that falls on the quarterback's shoulders. Brees had career highs in attempts and completions last week and you can bet it will need to be more of the same against the Colts. His effectiveness will depend exclusively on protection and how well he can find the openings in the Indy cover-2. Look for marginally successful results with some late-game stat padding. Borderline starter.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Q) S1 Indy will be tough, but this is a big game and Tomlinson is made for big games.
WR Keenan McCardell X

Both McCardell and ...

WR Eric Parker X ... Parker will have matchup advantages against the suspect Indy cornerbacks. If Brees can get time in the pocket, both should find enough success down field to make them middle of the road fantasy prospects this week.
TE Antonio Gates S1 Gates was made for a cover-2 defense and its soft spots down the middle.
Indianapolis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

It's Manning at home against an improving but still suspect secondary. You know what to do.

RB Edgerrin James S2 Despite all the success in the passing game lately, James hasn't carried the ball fewer than 24 times in six games. The Chargers are bringing their talented linebackers and its #1 ranked run defense into town Sunday. James' production may take a dip, but he's still a solid fantasy starter.
WR Marvin Harrison S2

What can you say? Harrison is scorching opposing defenses and seems almost un-coverable at times.

WR Reggie Wayne S1 It's been all about Harrison lately, but this week it's Wayne's turn to take center stage in the passing attack.
WR Brandon Stokley B

As teams flood the field with pass defenders, the Colts are using more 2-TE sets and having great success. A byproduct of that is Stokley is on the field much less and is now a non-factor in the passing game. He's caught only one pass in the last three games.

TE Dallas Clark X

After his huge game in week 11 (125 yards and a TD), Clark has just two catches in each of the last three games. The Colts are using a lot of 2-TE formations which means his production is split with ...

TE Bryan Fletcher X ... Fletcher, who has become a viable option for Manning. Combined Fletcher and Clark would make a great fantasy tight end, but unless your league uses team tight ends they are of little value.
 
Seattle (11-2) at Tennessee (4-9) Back to top
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2

Hasselbeck gets a second tasty matchup in a row. Tennessee shares one thing in common that matters in this matchup. They both have allowed a league leading 26 passing touchdowns. Don't expect another blowout, but do expect another fine performance from Hasselbeck.

RB Shaun Alexander S1

Better use him while he's still playing and chasing the rushing crown and TD record.

WR Bobby Engram S2

Last week's two touchdowns were Engram's first such effort since 2003. He's not a typical TD scorer as the Seahawks feel they have better red-zone options in Jurevicius, Hackett and now Jackson. But the Titans give up passing TD's like Angelina Jolie gives up ... oh, sorry. Never mind. Engram's a good play this week.

WR Darrell Jackson B

Expected to start this week and face his best matchup of the remaining three games. However, he had knee surgery and has missed nine games. If you expect him to start off with a full workload and be highly productive your expectations are way too high. You've made it this far without him, don't waste a valuable lineup spot on such a risky play.

WR D.J. Hackett B

Jackson's return to the starting lineup impacts Hackett's value the most of all the Seahawks receivers. There's a big difference between running at the #3 slot and the #4 behind Jurevicius.

WR Joe Jurevicius U

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. You won't see 8-9 catch games out of him as in weeks 5 and 12, but he'll remain a third-down and red-zone threat and maintain consistent possession receiver type numbers.

TE Jerramy Stevens X

Stevens found the end-zone last week after a two month absence. Still only had three catches and at this point that's about the best you can expect out of him.

Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair (Q) S2

This isn't a particularly good matchup with the Seattle defense, but with the way the Seahawks offense has been cranking, McNair will need to put up some good numbers just to keep the Titans in this game.

RB Chris Brown (Q) S2

With all the ink many defenses have received this year it might be surprising to learn that the Seahawks have allowed just three rushing touchdowns this season, a league low. They've also allowed just one 100-yard rusher. With Henry out this week Brown will again get the bulk of the work out of the backfield. Only because of that does he gain borderline starter status this week.

RB Travis Henry (Q) B Henry is now receiving significant playing time and has produced over 200 total yards in the past three games. But he's still just Brown's backup and is expected to miss this game due to an ankle injury.
WR Drew Bennett X

Bennett may be McNair's most reliable down field target, but he's dropped catchable balls in the past two games and may be falling out of favor. The passing game seems all about the backs and tight ends lately so don't look for much from Bennett or ...

WR Tyrone Calico X ... Calico, who has also been plagued by critical drops lately.
TE Ben Troupe (Q)
Bo Scaife
S2

With Kinney expected to miss another week the tight end production will go to Troupe and rookie Scaife again. In this offense that's potentially a lot of production. There could easily be 10-12 catches between them this week and Troupe is a proven factor in the red-zone.

 
San Francisco (2-11) at Jacksonville (9-4) Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith has now played five games in his rookie campaign, and he's thrown for over 100 yards just once.

RB Kevan Barlow (Q) X

All things considered Barlow has sucked it up and put together a fairly decent season for the Niners. He's run hard and played hurt. That's no consolation to any fantasy owners that took a late-round chance on him, but he's been a much maligned back and it's worth noting.

RB Frank Gore B

The season is long over for the Niners but they are still not giving the rookie Gore much of a look. He only had two carries last week.

WR Brandon Lloyd X

With Battle likely down with a stress fracture in his knee, Lloyd is the only Niner receiver that has shown any fantasy worth at all this season. Unfortunately that worth was with someone other than the rookie Smith at quarterback.

Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

Garrard's legs are keeping his fantasy value afloat as he's run for two touchdowns since taking over three weeks ago while his passing numbers are nothing to get excited about. Any QB playing the Niners gets an upgrade.

RB Fred Taylor (P) X

After sitting out two complete games Taylor returned last week and received just 10 carries. What's worse is the paltry 19 yards he gained. Backup Jones put up 43 yards with only seven carries. The Niners are the remedy for what ails any running game, but at this point you have to wonder just how effective Taylor can be in what's become an injury filled season; and also how much of the workload the coaches are willing to give him.

RB Greg Jones X

Jones will continue to get some carries in games as the Jags like his strong, bruising style of running. With Taylor the starter Jones has little fantasy value though.

WR Jimmy Smith S2

Since Garrard took over at QB, Smith has been getting the bulk of the looks and has scored twice and had a 100-yard game (only his third of the season).

WR Ernest Wilford U

Outside of Smith the passing production is being spread thinly amongst the other wide receivers. Wilford has been the only one that has received consistent looks under Garrard and since it's the Niners that are coming cross-country he gets an upgrade this week.

WR Matt Jones
Reggie Williams
B

Too inconsistent and too few looks in the passing game

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