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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 16
Whitney Walters
December 21, 2006
Thursday Sunday Early Sunday Early Sunday Late Christmas Night   Player List by Position  
MIN at GB BAL at PIT NO at NYG ARI at SF PHI at DAL   Early Injury Status  
Saturday CAR at ATL TB at CLE CIN at DEN NYJ at MIA   (O): Out    (D): Doubtful  
KC at OAK CHI at DET TEN at BUF SD at SEA     (Q): Questionable  
  IND at HOU WAS at STL       (P): Probable  
  NE at JAC            
     
Start/Bench Codes (SBC)  
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)  
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Solid matchup) X: No matchup advantage or disadvantage  
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)  
 
Arizona (4-10) at San Francisco (6-8) Back to top
Playoff Picture: SF - Playing for division and playoff spot.  
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Leinart S2

As the o-line play and the running game improve, so does the overall effectiveness of the offense and the passing game. Former starter Warner's best game was against the Niners in week one when he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Niners defense hasn't improved in the fifteen weeks since and Leinart should have one of his better games in his weekend visit to the Bay Area.

RB Edgerrin James S2

James didn't keep his 100-yard game streak going, but had a very solid 63 yards on just 14 carries - a 4.5 YPG average. The Cards have been able to stabilize their offensive line and it's paying off. The same front five have been in place for a month now. James hasn't seen the Niners since he put up 73 yards and a touchdown on them in week one. He'll top those numbers in this rematch with their porous run defense.

WR Anquan Boldin
Larry Fitzgerald
S1 San Francisco is very thin in the secondary due to a rash of injuries, but they still have starting CB's Harris and Spencer available. They'll have their hands full dealing with Boldin and Fitzgerald.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith U

Smith bounced back last week from a bad stretch of games, playing well in the big win over Seattle. If he continues his sharp play he'll do well against the Cardinals. Arizona has ranked at the bottom of the pass defense rankings all season and is giving up over 270 YPG over the past month. As most opponents they face do, the Cardinals will attempt to stack the line of scrimmage to stop Gore, giving Smith some nice matchups to exploit in the passing game.

RB Frank Gore S1

Gore started his fantasy assault this season in week one, when he put up 170 total yards and two touchdowns on the Cardinals. The assault won't end with this rematch.

WR Antonio Bryant B

What started as a promising season has devolved into a forgettable one. Over the last seven games Bryant has scored and caught more than two balls only once. And that was in the same single game. He's also been benched for disciplinary reasons and appears to be in the dog house.

WR Arnaz Battle U

The passing game has been limited, but it's Battle that has been the leading fantasy wideout over the second half of the season. He's getting 4-6 balls a game and should see a few more this weekend in this favorable matchup with Arizona. The Cards don't have much to offer in the secondary, but what they do offer (CB Rolle) will likely be focused on Bryant.

TE Vernon Davis S3

The short passing game has been the most successful part of the air attack lately and Davis is finally making some noise. He's gone 6-89 and scored in each of the past two games. The talented rookie is a matchup nightmare and could be the best fantasy option in this Niners passing game for the remainder of the season.

 
Cincinnati (8-6) at Denver (8-6) Back to top
Playoff Picture: CIN - Playing for a spot.   DEN - Playing for a spot.  
Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer (P) S2

The wheels fell off the Palmer fantasy train last week in Indy and there are reports surfacing that Palmer came out of the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Early word is that it's "minor" and he won't miss any time. It still has to be a concern heading into another tough road matchup in Denver. The Broncos have held four of the last five quarterbacks they've faced without a touchdown.

RB Rudi Johnson S3

The Denver run defense isn't statistically as strong as it was in the first half of the season. But in the past five weeks they've faced SA, LJ and LT twice (all the "initials" backs) and held there own. Cincy still struggles to run the ball more often then not and Johnson only gained 79 yards last week on the league's worst run defense.

WR Chad Johnson (P) S2

This A-list matchup between Johnson and CB Bailey should be very entertaining. I hope Chad gets his fill of those McDonalds pancakes Sunday morning, because he'll need the extra fuel in his tank.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh S2

Look for the Bengals to do what most Denver opponents are doing these days. Attack the "other" Denver cornerback, Darrent Williams. Williams may not even play due to injury. He was inactive last week. TJ should do very well in this matchup.

WR Chris Henry U

Henry is a hit-or-miss fantasy prospect that may fall on the hit side this week with CJ locked up. But a "hit" for Henry may amount to just a couple of catches and a score.

Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

The talented rookie is improving each week. He looked very sharp last week and showed off his rocket arm early with a perfect deep strike to Walker. The league worst Bengals pass defense was dissected last week by PManning and should provide Cutler enough opportunities for his continued slight fantasy success.

RB Tatum Bell S2

After two very impressive weeks, TBell regressed with a horribly ineffective performance last week against a weak opponent. He gained just 29 yards on 18 carries and was replaced by the much more effective MBell. This week brings an equally good matchup for TBell, but last week's effort underscores the risk of making him your fantasy starter.

RB

Mike Bell

B

Despite the surprising strong showing last week, MBell will remain the change-of-pace backup to TBell. You can't rely on him as a fantasy starter.

WR Rod Smith U

It has been a slow fantasy year for Smith but he remains a reliable target in the passing game. This week he gets something he's seen very little of this season, a matchup advantage in the secondary. He could surprise against the weak play of CB James.

WR Javon Walker (P) S2

Walker suffered a mild shoulder separation last week but is expected to be in the starting lineup. That's a good thing since he'll likely draw rookie CB Johnathan Joseph, who has exceeded expectations, but whose inexperience can be costly.

TE

Tony Scheffler

U

Cincinnati has proven to be a very favorable fantasy matchup for opposing tight ends all season. The Cutler-to-Scheffler connection has been strong since the rookies got into the lineup. But normal starting TE Stephen Alexander is recovering from his rib injury and may start cutting into Scheffler's playing time.

 

San Diego (12-2) at Seattle (8-6)

Back to top
Playoff Picture: SD - Clinched division, playing for home field.   SEA - Playing for division and playoff spot.  
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

Rivers has had a rough month. Seattle on the road isn't a real good spot for a bounce back. The Seahawks defense has been pretty unforgiving to quarterbacks this year. They've allowed just two big fantasy games, and both were in the first six weeks of the season. Throw in the fact that LT himself can carry most of the offensive load on his shoulders and you have a borderline fantasy starter at best.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S1 Will continue to carry many fantasy teams to their league championship.
WR Eric Parker (Q)
Keenan McCardell
B

Does this team even have wide receivers? Haven't noticed any for quite some time.

TE Antonio Gates S1

Gates' three game fantasy hot streak came to a screeching halt last week. The passing game will pick it up Sunday and he'll bounce back.

Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S2

Still seems a bit rusty from the time out and adjusting to the knee brace. The Chargers are aggressive up front and are solid in coverage. This will be a difficult matchup. Look for Hasselbeck to find his matchup advantages down field and exploit them. He'll have to throw a bit more this week to keep pace with a San Diego offense that scores 32 points per game.

RB Shaun Alexander S2

Has only had one 100-yard game (actually it was a 200-yarder) since his return, but the last four starts have been solid ones. The Chargers present a very difficult matchup this week, so expect more of the same.

WR Deion Branch B

Branch is getting the looks from Hasselbeck, but that isn't translating into fantasy numbers on the field. He's averaging just 3-4 catches for 42 yards since Hasselbeck's return. That may turn around, but until it does it's best to avoid going with Branch.

WR Nate Burleson B Burleson remains in the starting lineup for the injured Jackson, but Hasselbeck only has eyes for Branch, Hackett and Stevens.
WR D. J. Hackett S2

Even with starter Jackson out, the Seahawks are wisely keeping Hackett at his normal slot receiver spot. From that position he has a matchup advantage over most nickel corners. That will hold true this weekend as well.

TE Jerramy Stevens B

Just when you think Stevens has fallen completely out of favor he pops off his biggest fantasy game of the season. He'll play a key role again this week against the weak coverage of the San Diego safeties. The problem is he has a very bad track record of week-to-week success.

 

Philadelphia (8-6) at Dallas (9-5)

Back to top
Playoff Picture: PHI - Playing for a spot.   DAL - Clinched spot. Playing for division.  
Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jeff Garcia S3

Garcia is having good success holding the offense together. This matchup looked bad a few weeks ago, but the Dallas pass defense has begun to buckle. They are not generating much pass rush now with LB Ellis out and the coverage is starting to break down in the secondary. The Cowboys have been torched for 654 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns in the past two games.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

Westbrook was held in check week five against the Cowboys, but hasn't really been since. The Dallas run defense has faltered a bit lately, allowing over 117 YPG over the past three weeks. Regardless of matchup Westbrook remains the driving force behind this offense. Look for Philly to work him heavily in the short passing game.

WR Donte' Stallworth S3

Stallworth may be healthy but his new quarterback isn't looking his way that often. That may have something to do with Stallworth being a long-ball threat and Garcia lacking the arm to utilize him. He maintains a borderline starter status due only to his big play ability.

WR

Reggie Brown

S3

While Stallworth has had a big game with Garcia at QB, Brown has been a much more consistent producer. In Garcia's four starts, Brown has had three 70-plus games and scored a touchdown in three of the games. He has little upside, but if you need some consistent points at WR you could do a lot worse.

TE L.J. Smith S2

Smith isn't the focus in the passing game he was under McNabb, but he still plays a key role. Especially in the red-zone. He's scored three touchdowns in the past five games and made a couple of big catches in his first meeting with Dallas this year.

Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo pulled out of his mini-slump last week, looking much sharper. The Eagles banged up secondary present a very favorable matchup for Romo. Look for him to keep his sharp play going this week and help Owens erase the memory of that first awful meeting of the season.

RB Julius Jones S3

One of Jones' four 100-yard games came against Philly earlier this season. But it also came on a season high 26 carries. Jones doesn't get anywhere near that much action now and is struggling with the carries he does get. He's averaged just 11 carries over the last four games, and take away the 77-yard touchdown two weeks ago and he's averaging just 2.9 YPC. The Cowboys will want to continue establishing the running game in this matchup, but it's hard to rely on Jones' limited production at this point. A better option is ...

RB Marion Barber S2

... Barber, who is averaging 6.8 YPC over the past four games and continues to score touchdowns at an amazing clip for a non-starting back. His 15 scores rank him third in the NFL.

WR Terrell Owens S1

One of Owens' worst games of the season was when he returned to Philly in week five. A lot has happened since then. Most importantly for this matchup have been all the injuries in the Eagles' secondary. Odds are slim that unit will hold Owens down for a second game.

WR Terry Glenn S2

Glenn continues to play at a high level and will have a very favorable matchup in this game with the injury depleted Philly secondary that will send the best they have Owens' way.

TE Jason Witten S3

Witten hasn't scored since week eight as the wideouts get the end-zone favor in this passing game. But he still produces startable fantasy numbers most weeks... barely.

 

N.Y. Jets (8-6) at Miami (6-8)

Back to top
Playoff Picture: NYJ - Still playing for a spot.  
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Pennington (P) S3

This is no easy matchup for Pennington. He struggled against the Dolphins at home in week six and will likely again in Miami. The Dolphins are the third best pass defense in the league and are only one of three teams to allow just single digit passing touchdowns on the season. They've given up only eight in 14 games.

RB Cedric Houston (Q) B

The Jets seem to have settled on Houston as their primary ball carrier but he may be limited due to the calf injury he suffered last week. That could open the door for him to lose carries to surprising rookie Washington. This is a very difficult matchup for either Houston or ...

RB Leon Washington B ... Washington as the 79 yards McGahee rushed for last week is the most Miami has given up to a back in seven weeks.
WR Laveranues Coles (Q) S3 Coles' production has been up and down this season due to injuries and the general inconsistent play of the offense. But he has scored a touchdown in three of the past four games. He's banged up again with a back injury and won't likely be 100% Monday night.
WR Jerricho Cotchery S2

As is the case many weeks, with Coles taking the primary coverage, Cotchery gets to utilize his great combination of size and speed against an overmatched cornerback. That wasn't the case in week six as he had just a single six yard catch against the Dolphins. He should fare much better this time around.

TE Chris Baker B

If he catches more than a single pass it's a big game for Baker. He's had three of these "big" games in a row. Still, he shouldn't be relied on as a fantasy option.

Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joey Harrington (P) S3

Harrington completely and utterly stunk last week. You can't help but rebound from a performance like that. And the Jets will help. There are mismatches in the secondary to exploit with Chambers, Welker and McMichael, and New York doesn't generate much of a pass rush so Harrington should be comfortable in the pocket. A big plus for him.

RB

Ronnie Brown (Q)

S2

Morris doesn't posses Brown's strength or explosiveness, so look for the Dolphins to start Brown if he can play. Brown has been cleared to practice and should begin that on Thursday. If his broken hand doesn't have a setback he'll play and is a decent matchup against the Jets weak run defense. He had one of his biggest fantasy games of the season against them in week six.

WR Chris Chambers S2

Chambers was a surprising shutout last week. But it wasn't for trying. Harrington and Lemon threw his way 12 times, four of those down by the goal-line. With Booker out this week, Harrington will be looking Chambers' way even more than usual. That's bound to pay off. It just has to. Right?

WR Marty Booker (D) B Not expected to play this week due to the ankle injury he suffered early in last week's game.
WR Wes Welker S3

Welker has been a consistent 3-5 catch performer most of the season and he'll see a bit more action this week with Booker likely out.

TE Randy McMichael B

McMichael is what he is this season. He hasn't topped five catches since week nine and has fallen below that total in all but one game since then. On the plus side, he did have his best game of the season in week six against the Jets when he went 8-72.

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