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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 4
Whitney Walters
September 28, 2006
Sunday Early Sunday Early Sunday Late Sunday Night Bye Weeks   Player List by Position  
ARI at ATL MIN at BUF DET at STL SEA at CHI DEN, NYG,   Early Injury Status  
DAL at TEN NO at CAR CLE at OAK Monday Night PIT, TB   (O): Out    (D): Doubtful  
IND at NYJ SD at BAL JAC at WAS GB at PHI     (Q): Questionable  
MIA at HOU SF at KC NE at CIN       (P): Probable  
     
Start/Bench Codes (SBC)  
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) X: No matchup advantage or disadvantage  
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Good matchup) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)  
U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)    
 
New Orleans (3-0) at Carolina (1-2) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees B

Brees did little for his fantasy owners in the big Monday night game, throwing for just 191 yards and no scores. Carolina's defense has struggled some this season but they got some of their swagger back last week. There also can't help but be some letdown after the highly emotional game Monday night. Don't expect much from Brees this week.

RB Deuce McAllister S2

McAllister continues to be the primary ball carrier for the Saints. He's averaging 18 carries for 70 yards and has scored the only two running back touchdowns. The Panthers run defense has been suspect so far this year but they held the Bucs to just 63 yards last week. Don't expect much more than Deuce's average in this tough matchup following the huge emotional high of the Monday night home coming.

RB Reggie Bush S2

Bush had yet to come close to matching his week one 119-yard level. He's had 145 total yards in the past two games. His explosiveness will get him a long touchdown soon but don't look for any short scores. The Saints ran Bush twice Monday night inside the 5-yard line with little success. He always has upside due to his promise of a big-play, but remains an iffy starter in non-PPR leagues.

WR Joe Horn B

The 11-year veteran may have lost a step but he remains an effective receiver that Brees continues to look for in critical situations. The big games are behind him. If you need a solid 3-5 catch, 40-60 yard game for your fantasy team then Horn will get you that most weeks.

WR Marques Colston   S2

The big rookie just keeps producing. He continues to impress and had his biggest day Monday night with 7 catches for 97 yards. This looks to be just the beginning for Colston. He's big, talented and has gained the confidence of his quarterback. He'll be limited this weekend like the rest of the Saints, but his red-zone presence keeps him a borderline starter.

WR Devery Henderson (Q) B

Obviously not getting the looks that Horn, Colston or even Bush are getting. But he has scored in each of the last two games.

Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jake Delhomme S2

Amazing what a little Steve Smith can do for you. There are still protection problems due to the injuries along the offensive line, but Smith's presence makes all the difference. Look for Delhomme to keep it going this week with the Superdome hung-over Saints coming to town.

RB Deshaun Foster S2

Foster bounced back last week and ran strong against the Bucs on his way to 82 yards on 20 carries. The Saints played out of their minds on Monday night and shut down the Falcons' #1 run offense. The odds of a letdown this week are very good. The Panthers will look to establish the running game as always and Foster looks to be the primary beneficiary until Williams' role stabilizes.

RB DeAngelo Williams B

For the second time in three games Williams was a virtual non-participant in the Carolina game plan. In week two Williams broke out and showed everyone his potential. Then last week he was surprisingly given only four carries. Until the Panthers show a commitment to keeping their talented rookie on the field he's of little use to fantasy players except as Foster insurance.

WR Steve Smith (P) S2

Whew! He played. He caught the ball. He made plays down field after the catch. Smith may not be 100%, but he's back. Get him in your lineup.

WR Keyshawn Johnson S2

It is not a stretch to think Johnson could see a rejuvenation of his career this season opposite all the attention Smith draws. Keyshawn quietly averaged 70 catches, 900 yards and 6 touchdowns in the past two seasons in Dallas. He could easily top those numbers this year. Delhomme got used to the reliable receiver with Smith out and now will find him even more to his liking in single coverage against opposing #2 or #3 cornerbacks.

WR Drew Carter
Keary Colbert
B With Smith back both Carter and Colbert will now be reduced to minor roles in the Panthers' passing attack. Not that it's much different from what they've been so far.
 
San Diego (2-0) at Baltimore (3-0) Back to top
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers B

Rivers has played well so far but has yet to get much of a test. Week one it was Oakland and week two brought Tennessee to town. He wasn't fantasy starter material in those games and he surely isn't this week against a swarming Ravens defense that leads the league in sacks and interceptions.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 First a bye week, now the Ravens and next week the Steelers. This a rough three week stretch for LT owners. But he's a stud and will retain his S1 status even though he'll be limited on the road in Baltimore. He'll remain very active in the short passing game, leading the team with 10 catches.
WR Keenan McCardell (Q) B

Outside of Gates there is no receiver in the passing game worth considering.

WR Eric Parker B

See above.

TE Antonio Gates S2 Gates should be busy Sunday. He's a big target with great hands and Rivers will need to lean on him. Look for plenty of short routes and dump off passes against a fierce Baltimore pass rush that leads the league in sacks with 16.
Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steve McNair U

McNair looked much better last week in Cleveland and had his best game of the season, throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown. This week presents his toughest challenge so far. The Chargers are the #1 ranked pass defense. That ranking was built on the backs of two terrible teams however - Oakland and Tennessee, and the Chargers' weakness on defense is their secondary. The Ravens' offensive line will give their QB enough pocket time to take advantage. Most will say to sit McNair this week, but I think he will find enough success down field to make him starter worthy.

RB Jamal Lewis S2

Lewis is looking as strong as he has in a couple of years. The key to this game will be using Lewis and Co. to wear down the Chargers' athletic but smallish defensive front. The going will be tough however and it's likely the Ravens will continue to limit his carries to around 20. So there's little upside with Lewis this week, or this year.

RB Mike Anderson
Musa Smith
B

Both Anderson and Smith have each had only one game with over 5 carries. Even though Smith was banged up last week, Anderson didn't get a single snap. Both will likely see action this week since the Ravens' game plan will be to pound the ball. Smith continues to have the most upside given his strong running and work as a third-down back.

WR Derrick Mason S2

Mason got it going last week with an outstanding 132 yard effort. The focus will be on the running game this week but you can bet the Ravens will take their shots down field against the weak San Diego secondary.

WR Mark Clayton B

What do you know? McNair finally found his talented second-year receiver last week. Clayton was targeted more than Mason and actually out-caught him 8 to 7. Clayton is a solid playmaker with excellent run after the catch skills. This passing game will continue to go through Mason and Heap however and you shouldn't expect startable numbers from Clayton very often.

TE

Todd Heap (Q)

S1 Through three games Heap is McNair's primary target. That's not changing any time soon.
 
San Francisco (1-2) at Kansas City (0-2) Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith B

Smith had his best game as a pro last week, throwing for almost 300 yards and a touchdown. The Niners are doing a great job of playing to Smith's strengths and not asking him to do too much. The results so far are good. San Francisco has the #6 passing offense and is one of only two teams that have played three games with no interceptions. A fantasy starter on the road at Arrowhead? No. But the future is looking bright.

RB Frank Gore (Q) S2

Gore is banged up but will play. The question now is will he lose goal-line carries due to his fumbling problem and the success of fellow running back Michael Robinson. While Robinson keeps being referred to as the "bigger" back, truth is he's really the "taller" back. Both Gore and Robinson weigh in at about 215 pounds. Also, OC Norv Turner has never been a goal-line back kind of guy. So let's not overreact here. All it will take is a highly productive and fumble free game this week and all this talk will quiet down. The highly productive part will be easy against the Chiefs.

WR Antonio Bryant S2

Bryant cooled off last week despite a favorable matchup with an injury riddled Philly secondary. This week its youth vs. experience. The CB duo of Surtan and Law are getting a bit long in the tooth. Bryant is young, fast and full of spunk. This week - youth prevails.

WR Arnaz Battle B

Battle is only a serviceable #2 WR and is below Bryant, Gore and now Johnson in the pecking order. He'll get you 2-4 catches a week and will rarely be a fantasy option.

TE Eric Johnson S2 Johnson led the Niners with 82 catches in 2004 before some injury problems. And last week when he filled in for the injured Vernon Davis he ended up leading all receivers, going 7-for-87 and a touchdown. That pretty much sums up his fantasy value for the next 4-6 weeks while Davis heals.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Damon Huard B Huard's first start in week two netted just 133 yards and no touchdowns. The off week will surely help, and the Chiefs are home, and the Niners are a fairly favorable matchup. But no way should you be considering Huard as your fantasy starter.
RB Larry Johnson S1

Lost in the doom and gloom of the Trent Green-less Chiefs is the fact that LJ put up 315 total yards in the first two games of the season. Downside - no touchdowns. Prepare yourself for a long season of that type of production. With or without Green the 2006 Chiefs will not score at nearly the pace they did last season. Without Green we do know that LJ will face more of a stacked box on most downs.

WR Eddie Kennison B Both Kennison and ...
WR Samie Parker B ... Parker are off limits until Green returns. And only on occasion even then.
TE Tony Gonzalez S1 Gonzo was slowed in week two against the Broncos as usual. This week however will be much different. Huard will look to him often and he'll produce against a Niner defense that's been very suspect against the tight end so far this season.
 

Detroit (0-3) at St. Louis (2-1)

Back to top
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna U

As expected Kitna had his way with the Packers secondary last week. The task won't be so easy Sunday in St. Louis. You can bet former St. Louis coach and now Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz will have more than a little motivation in this matchup. The Lions will look to run more and Kitna won't duplicate his huge game last week, but he should produce enough to warrant plugging him into your lineup if your other QB is off or has a bad matchup.

RB Kevin Jones S2

Jones saw his production improve last week with 125 total yards and a score. He still hasn't cracked the 100-yard rushing barrier since 2004. If the Lions will commit to getting their star RB 20 or more carries they may see that happen Sunday against a Rams defense that has shown itself to be suspect against the run, allowing 130 yards and a score each game. Look for more 2-TE sets from Detroit to help with run blocking.

WR Roy Williams S2

Williams' 138-yard, 1 TD against the Packers was his biggest game since week 10 last year. The WR talent beyond Williams is extremely limited and Kitna will always be looking his way. He's at his best when he can match up with corners that like to press at the line of scrimmage because he's always stronger and more physical. Enter physical CB Fakhir Brown of the Rams.

WR Mike Furrey U Furrey has been making the most of his opportunities as he's moved into the starting lineup as the #2 WR for Detroit. He's right behind Williams with 14 catches. No other receiver on the roster has more than two. Opposite coverage drawing Roy Williams is a good spot for an up-and-coming WR.
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Marc Bulger S2

Bulger and the Rams' passing game finally got it going last week and he had his first 300-yard game of the year. The Lions have been torched by Grossman and Favre the past two weeks. I'd say we have the makings for a great matchup here.

RB Steven Jackson S2

Jackson is one of the few backs in the league that runs with attitude. He appears to run angry. I like that in a running back. This is an interesting matchup. Jackson is averaging almost 100 yards a game and the Detroit run defense is about the only thing working consistently. They are allowing just 80 YPG (6th in the NFL) and haven't yielded a touchdown.

WR Torry Holt S1 Holt had his first big game of the season last week as the Rams' passing game is starting to click. Look for more of the same Sunday against the lowly Detroit secondary.
WR Isaac Bruce S2

Bruce has lost a bit of his edge thanks to his 12 years in the league. But he can still get it done each week. Most times that will mean 3-5 catches and 60-80 yards. This week against the Lions' secondary it means more.

WR Kevin Curtis
Shaun McDonald
B Between them just 7 catches for 44 yards through three games. As Bulger becomes more comfortable with the passing game you will see the Rams use more 3 and 4-WR sets, allowing Bulger to spread it around a bit more. But it's likely that will never be to the level that makes either of these receivers' fantasy options.
TE Joe Klopfenstein B Still just the two catches in week two. So far the tight end isn't being worked into the game plan for St. Louis.
 
Cleveland (0-3) at Oakland (0-2) Back to top
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Charlie Frye U

Frye leads all quarterbacks with three rushing touchdowns, bolstering his fantasy numbers. The running game should get on track this weekend, helping balance the offense. His young studs Edwards and Winslow are quickly becoming weapons. Oh yeah, he's playing the Raiders. Frye is a nice sleeper QB play this week.

RB Reuben Droughns (Q) S2

Droughns sat out last week but is expected to play Sunday. The Cleveland backs are averaging just 35 YPG rushing - worst in the league. But Droughns and his owners catch a break this week as he travels to Oakland, land of the hapless Raiders and their sieve-like defense.

WR Braylon Edwards S2

Edwards is coming on strong and put up his second 100-yard game in a row last week. He still loses focus and drops catchable balls, but he's now the focus of the Browns' passing attack. Keeping with the theme of this team's analysis - it's the Raiders, start him.

WR Joe Jurevicius (Q) B May return this week but more likely next.
WR Dennis Northcutt B

Has filled in adequately for the injured Jurevicius, but this passing game begins with Edwards and ends with Winslow.

TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (Q) S2

Hasn't learned to use his mouth properly yet, but the rest is coming along just fine. Through three games he's the top fantasy tight end and leads the league in catches with 19 and yards with 197. Have I mentioned yet that the Browns play the Raiders Sunday?

Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Andrew Walter   B

Well you asked for him - now you got him. With two weeks to prepare for a poor defense you'd hope OC Tom Walsh and crew could put together a nice simple game plan that would lead to some success for the young QB in his first NFL start. The way the season has gone so far for the Silver and Black that may be too much to ask. Still, Cleveland can't stop the run and you have to believe with Moss gives the kid enough of a weapon to succeed.

RB Lamont Jordan S2

This is a risk but you have to do it. The Oakland offensive line has been terrible and Jordan is averaging just 1.9 yards on each of his 29 carries this season. And no catches. NO CATCHES! The guy caught 70 balls last season. Are you kidding me? Come on Art, Tom, toss him a few. Bottom line here is Cleveland just can't stop the run. Jordan has to get it going in this matchup.

WR Randy Moss S2

Moss has just six catches for 79 yards through two games. The Browns have no one in the secondary that can contain even the 2006 slower version of Randy Moss. So they will likely use two or three defenders at a time. If the Raiders know what they are doing they'll send Moss in motion a lot making it more difficult to double cover him. I know that seems like a big if so far this season - but you got to have hope.

WR Jerry Porter B Porter is by far the Raiders most talented WR outside of Moss. But so far he's been unwilling or unable to extract himself from HC Art Shell's doghouse. He's been a non-injury deactivation in each of the Raiders games. Until he sees the light of day he's off limits.
WR Alvis Whitted
Ronald Curry
B

With Porter in the stands Whitted has been the starting #2 WR and Curry running the slot, where he's best suited. Both have been terrible along with the offense. Neither are fantasy options.

TE Courtney Anderson
Randal Williams
B

A pressured, young QB's best friend can be a big tight end (OR A RUNNING BACK!). Both Anderson and Williams were getting some looks with Brooks under center and that will likely continue. But with neither taking the lead in production, both should be avoided.

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