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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 17
Whitney Walters
December 29, 2005
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM  
DEN at SD BAL at CLE DET at PIT HOU at SF STL at DAL  
NYG at OAK BUF at NYJ MIA at NE TEN at JAC    
Sun 1 PM CAR at ATL NO at TB CHI at MIN    
ARI at IND CIN at KC SEA at GB WAS at PHI (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
 
Houston (2-13) at San Francisco (3-12) Back to top
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Carr U About the only constant for the Niners this season has been the terrible play of their defense against the pass. Still, Carr's a tough play. But he does have a lot to play for (like his job next season) and has shown some improvement over the past few games. Has some definite upside this week.
RB Jonathan Wells (P) X Wells has filled in nicely for the injured Davis, but he came out of last week's game with a quad injury that may keep him out of this matchup. A risky play unless you hear Sunday morning that he's a go and close to 100%.
RB Vernand Morency U The promising rookie may get the start this week. He's averaged over 4 YPC in his limited work this season. Given a full workload he could surprise against a Niner defense that allows 116 yards and over a touchdown per game on the ground.
WR Andre Johnson S2

Johnson remains Carr's prime target and one of the more talented WR's in the league. He'll get one final hurrah on Sunday against the terrible Niner secondary.

WR Jabar Gaffney
Corey Bradford
B

It seems like every year Bradford has a couple of big games. With last week's 100-yard, TD effort pretty much ensures he won't have another big one this week. Gaffney's been fairly ineffective since Johnson's return from injury.

San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

For the third time in four games Smith threw for over 100 yards. He also had double digit completions for just the second time all season last week. Still no touchdowns and still has no place on a fantasy team.

RB Frank Gore S2

With Barlow placed on IR this week, Gore will get another start. Despite playing with two shoulders that will require off-season surgery, Gore has been effective in the past two games. He's rushed for 147 yards on 29 carries and scored twice last week. He'll split time with Hicks as he did last week, but facing the #31 rushing defense in the league is a good matchup even with a part-time workload.

RB Maurice Hicks U Hicks will likely see 10-12 touches like he did last week behind Gore. Thanks to a 73-yard touchdown run, all he needed was 10 carries to be effective. You can't count on that every week so don't expect a repeat this weekend. What you can count on is some decent production with some upside if Gore is slowed by the shoulder injuries.
WR Brandon Lloyd
Arnaz Battle
X

When your QB's best accomplishment each week is being able to throw for over 100 yards, your value as a fantasy receiver is very, very limited. Lloyd and Battle are young, talented and have a good NFL future ahead of them, but expecting more than 40-50 yards out of either of them is wishful thinking.

 
Tennessee (4-11) at Jacksonville (11-4) Back to top
Playoff Picture: JAC - Have clinched wildcard spot  
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair (Q) B

McNair left last week's game with a pectoral muscle strain and isn't expected to practice much this week. Word is he'll try and play Sunday, but this game means nothing to either team so it shouldn't be much of a surprise to see backup Billy Volek start or at least finish up this game.

QB Billy Volek U This sleeper rating is based on Volek getting significant playing time. The Jags defense gave up nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns last week to David Carr and is really struggling against the pass lately. If Volek plays he'll do well.
RB Chris Brown (Q) B

Like McNair, Brown came out of last week's game banged up. And also like McNair, he may not play much in this final regular season game. Going into tough Jacksonville isn't a good matchup for him even if healthy.

RB Travis Henry X Henry's ankle is still not 100% and he's running like it. Regardless, he'll probably carry the bulk of the load from the backfield Sunday. On the road against the Jaguars isn't a good play for a hobbled running back.
WR Drew Bennett (Q) S2

Bennett seems to be in a late season groove as he scored his third touchdown last week in two games. Regardless of the QB Bennett will be the prime down field target and will likely produce some marginal fantasy numbers this week. Borderline starter as he's a bit banged up and may be limited.

WR Courtney Roby X With Calico out again, this time with a strained hamstring, the rookie will get his chance to start this week. Don't expect fireworks in this meaningless game against a tough division opponent on the road.
TE Ben Troupe (Q) X

Troupe had a 100-yard game two weeks ago but was shut out last week in Miami and left the game with a sprained ankle. His effectiveness is a big question going into the season finale.

TE Erron Kinney (Q) U

Kinney returned from knee surgery last week but was a very ineffective 1-for-6 receiving. Should improve this week and with Troupe possibly slowed or out he could put up some decent numbers.

Jacksonville
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Byron Leftwich (Q)
David Garrard
B/S2

Leftwich's biggest game of this season was against the Titans, one game before he went down with the ankle injury. He may get another crack at them this week. The odds are not good that the Jags will throw him out there this quick, but he has returned to practice this week and may start or at least play some. Either way he's not a fantasy starter this week. If he sits and Garrard gets the final start of the season, then Garrard is a decent play.

RB Fred Taylor X

With Jones out with a neck injury, Taylor got 20-plus carries last week for the first time since week eight. The results were good - 101 yards and a score. He seems to be back to full speed, which is where the Jags want to keep him for the playoffs. So don't be surprised if he takes an early exit in this meaningless game.

RB LaBrandon Toefield U With Jones expected to sit and Taylor likely limited, Toefield may end up with the bulk of the carries this week for Jacksonville. He scored three touchdowns last week and is a big runner that's good around the goal-line. Could be a nice sleeper pick this week.
WR Jimmy Smith (P) S2

Until last week, Garrard has only had eyes for Smith. The QB situation may be in doubt this week with the possible return of Leftwich, but either way Smith will get his... until his early exit anyway.

WR Ernest Wilford
Matt Jones
Reggie Williams
X

For the first time since Garrard took over at QB, someone out-produced Jimmy Smith. Wilford logged 118 yards and a score last week. Until that effort the receiver corps had been a fantasy wasteland outside of Smith. With Leftwich possibly returning Sunday it's a complete crap shoot with these receivers. Leftwich looked Jones' and Wilford's way before the injury, but there's no guarantee he'll do the same in his first game back.

 
Chicago (11-4) at Minnesota (8-7) Back to top
Playoff Picture: CHI - Have clinched #2 seed  
Chicago
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman X

Grossman has played well since his return to the field, but he by no means at the top of his game. This game means nothing for the Bears' playoff position, but you should expect Grossman to get a good amount of work in this final game.

RB Thomas Jones B

Jones is the most important offensive player for the Bears. He can reach a 1300 yard milestone with just 27 more yards rushing. Look for him to take a seat shortly after hitting that mark Sunday.

RB Adrian Peterson U Once Jones goes to the sideline, look for Peterson to carry the load. He's been very effective backing up Jones this season, once gaining 120 yards in his only start. He should put up some good numbers this week against a Vikings team that has little to play for.
WR Muhsin Muhammad S2

Muhammad scored his fourth touchdown last week and will likely play as along as Grossman is in the lineup. They can benefit from as much work together as possible.

WR Justin Gage
Bernard Berrian
X

Outside of Muhammad, Grossman has played no favorites, spreading the ball fairly evenly between Gage and Berrian. Neither will put up more than marginal fantasy numbers.

TE Desmond Clark

B

Has gone catchless in Grossman's two games. Not a good sign for such a talented tight end. He will need to be worked into the passing attack more as the Bears move into the playoffs.
Minnesota
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Brad Johnson B

This may be a meaningless game for the Bears as far as the playoffs go, but it's not going to be meaningless to a Bears' defense. Johnson should not be in your lineup this week.

RB Mewelde Moore
Michael Bennett
Ciatrick Fason
B

The Vikings backfield is a complete mess and any back could get the work depending on what mood HC Tice is in. This week the odds are with Fason as the young players will get a good look in the meaningless finale.

WR Nate Burleson
Travis Taylor
Marcus Robinson (P)
Koren Robinson
X

The passing game is not running as smoothly now as it was when QB Johnson took over seven weeks ago. As a result the ball is being spread thinly amongst the Vikings wide receivers. Only once has a WR had more than three catches in the past three games. Johnson is likely to struggle this week against the Bears so don't expect much out of this crew.

TE Jermaine Wiggins (P) X

Wiggins shook off his bum ankle to lead the team in catches last week with seven. It's the most action he's seen since week 11 and he scored his first touchdown of the season. He had 10 catches for 68 yards in week 6 against the Bears, but both the MIN passing attack and CHI defense are vastly different now.

 
Washington (9-6) at Philadelphia (6-9) Back to top
Playoff Picture: WAS - Still playing for wildcard/division  
Washington
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Brunell (P) X

Brunell left last week's game with a mild knee sprain. He's expected to start in this critical game but will not be 100%. Philly's in a downward spiral but this is their final home game of the season. Don't expect them to lie down. And don't expect a whole lot from a less than full speed Brunell.

RB Clinton Portis S1

Portis may be losing some carries to backup Ladell Betts, but that hasn't prevented him from averaging more than 25 carries a game over the last month. Washington must win this game and they will run Portis at the weak Vikings defense all day. Especially with the uncertainty at quarterback.

WR Santana Moss S2

After a quiet but marginally consistent two months, Moss had a monster game last week with 160 yards and three touchdowns on just five catches. That effort surely won a few fantasy super bowls out there. With one more TD Moss will be the first Redskins with 10 in a season since Gary Clark in 1991. He'll hit that mark.

WR Taylor Jacobs
James Thrash
B

Amazingly, for the past two weeks Moss has been the only Redskins WR to catch a pass.

TE Chris Cooley S1

As close to a fantasy lock at tight end you'll find this week.

Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mike McMahon (P) B

The Redskins have allowed more than a single passing touchdown only once all season. The same goes for 300-yard passing games. Don't expect either out of McMahon this week.

RB Ryan Moats B

Without a long TD run Moats isn't worth anyone's fantasy attention, as his 9 carry, 13 yard effort against Arizona last week showed.

RB Reno Mahe (Q) B Mahe saw some action last week. Yeah, big deal.
WR Greg Lewis
Reggie Brown
B

Needless to say the Philly passing game is off limits for all fantasy owners...

TE L.J. Smith B

... Sadly that goes for Smith as well.

 
St. Louis (5-10) at Dallas (9-6) Back to top
Playoff Picture: DAL - May still be playing for wildcard spot, will know before kickoff  
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jamie Martin (P) X

Martin got the start last week and will close out the Rams' season as the starter. He's coming off a career high 345 yards passing last week, but don't forget that was against the lowly Niners. It'll be tougher going Sunday night in Big D.

RB Steven Jackson (P) S2

Jackson was limited by a hip pointer last week (16 carries, 28 yards) but he was able to at least score a touchdown. Look for improvement this week but only marginal success at Dallas. Borderline starter.

WR Torry Holt S2

Holt owners were glad to see Martin at QB again as he had his best game of the season last week. The success won't come as easily this week, but he'll still be able to produce starter numbers.

WR Isaac Bruce X

Bruce owners were also glad to have Martin back. Fitzpatrick didn't look his way often but with Martin under center last week Bruce had his best game since week 12.

WR Kevin Curtis
Shaun McDonald
B

Curtis and McDonald combined for three catches last week. Both have fallen completely off the map and are not fantasy options.

Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Bledsoe S2

Consistently mediocre is about the best way to describe Bledsoe's fantasy season. This week may be one of the non-consistent games however. The last time Bledsoe faced a poor pass defense was KC three weeks ago. The result was a 332 yard, 3 TD performance. While that may be too much to ask, he's surely to have a solid game this week against the traveling Rams. He's still a risky start since this game may be meaningless for the Cowboys depending on the previous game results.

RB Julius Jones S2

So just where was THAT Julius Jones all fantasy season? Prior to last week's monster 34 carry, 194 yards, 2 TD game against one of the elite run defenses in the league, Jones had rarely carried the ball more than 16 times. If given even 2/3 of that workload this week against the porous Rams defense he's a solid fantasy start. But just like Bledsoe, there's some risk that the Cowboys will be out of the playoffs before kickoff.

RB Marion Barber B

Just getting 8 carries a game over the last month. There's still a chance Parcells will turn to him again, but it's too high a risk to take for your fantasy team.

WR Keyshawn Johnson U

Johnson's possession receiver role in the Dallas passing game is invaluable. But the fantasy facts are that he's rarely productive enough to be a starter. He averages less than 50 YPG and has topped 60 yards only four times. If this is a meaningful game then Johnson does have some upside against the terrible St. Louis secondary.

WR Terry Glenn S2

Glenn continued his fine season last week with his game winning TD grab. As with Johnson, Glenn has a great matchup with the Rams secondary Sunday night.

TE Jason Witten S2

Last week Witten had his second 1-catch game in four weeks. Thankfully sandwiched between them was two games with a total of 11 catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns. He remains a solid start most weeks.

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