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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List - Week 16
John Tuvey
Updated: December 26, 2009
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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: Unclear situation / Could go either way
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)
 
 
Carolina (6-8) at New York Giants (8-6) Back to top
Carolina
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B Moore's 299 and three against the Vikings on Sunday night feels like an aberration. Not that the Giants' secondary is any less capable of being torched by Steve Smith, who accounted for more than half of Moore's yardage. But after Moore's big game at home, we're asking him to prove it on the road before trusting him with a start in a fantasy title game.
RB

DeAngelo Williams

B Williams aggravated his ankle injury early in last week's win over the Vikings; he didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful so it's tough to recommend him for a fantasy start this week.
RB

Jonathan Stewart

S3 Stewart isn't a great play, but in addition to the distinct possibility that he's Carolina's feature back this week he has this mild trend working in his favor: the Giants have allowed RB rushing scores in four of their last six home games, including two of the last three, and it's been short-yardage backs like Leonard Weaver, Tim Hightwoer, Jason Snelling, and Michael Bush doing the damage.
WR Steve Smith S2

Three of the last four WR1s to visit the Meadowlands have come away with big fantasy days, including DeSean Jackson (178 & 1), Miles Austin (104 & 1), and Vincent Jackson (58 & 2). Smith is the only show in town, he's coming off a big game against the Vikings, and he's scored in two of his last three road games. You want to be the one to tell him you're benching him in the fantasy championship game?

WR Muhsin Muhammed
Dwayne Jarrett
B

Even with Moore knocking on the door of 300 passing yards last week no secondary targets put up good numbers. No reason to expect that to change here.

TE Dante Rosario
Jeff King
Gary Barnidge

B

The good news is, the Giants have allowed seven TE TDs and nine different TEs to top 50 yards in just the past 11 games. The bad news is, Carolina's top performing tight end is a moving target from week to week. Sadly, despite the cushy match-up you can't start any one of them with confidence.

DT Panthers B Despite shutting down the Vikings last week there's little reason to think the Panthers' defense will provide anything to help your fantasy squad this week.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S3

Manning is on a mini-roll, with multiple touchdown tosses in four straight games and well over 300 yards in two of them. Carolina will challenge that roll, as they've gone seven straight games without giving up multiple TDs to opposing quarterbacks. That may be a bit misleading, as they haven't exactly been facing a murderer's row of passers. The key might be how heavily the Giants lean on the ground game against a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in stopping the run. Pencil Eli in for adequate yardage and a TD or two; don't go out of your way to start him, but neither should you run away screaming.

RB Brandon Jacobs
Ahmad Bradshaw

S2

The Panthers have allowed a running back rushing score in every road game they've played; however, they haven't allowed more than one in any road game. You'd think that would favor Jacobs, but it's been Bradshaw who has been the more productive back. Against Carolina there should be enough for both backs; they've allowed eight 50-yard rushers in seven road games, plus four games of 30 or more receiving yards as well. Despite his injuries Bradshaw has been the better play this year, but either warrant fantasy consideration.

WR Steve Smith

S3

Carolina has given up just three WR TDs on the year, and when you factor in the yardage they've allowed—only seven receivers have topped 75 yards, and you can count on one hand the number of times two wideouts from the same team have topped 50 yards in a game—this is clearly a tough match-up. Smith gets the narrow nod because he's been the one constant among Giants receivers this year, but it's a tepid not at best.

WR Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks

B

Nicks is, um, nicked and there just hasn't been much in the way of leftovers against Carolina. If you'd like an outside shot at 50 yards and no score, however, then this is the match-up for you.

TE Kevin Boss S3

Boss is a better play than the Giants' secondary receivers, but only marginally. He's scored in three of the last four home games and faces a defense that's allowed two TE TDs and three 60-yard receivers at the position over the past six games.

DT Giants S3 The Giants' pass rush would seem likely to rattle Moore, but we though the same thing last week about the Vikings' pass rush and that didn't work out so well.
 
Houston (7-7) at Miami (7-7) Back to top
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 After allowing just three multiple touchdown games through the first 12 weeks of the season the Dolphins have now given up two in the past three. With Schaub posting back-to-back 360-yard efforts it's clear the Texans have pinned their playoff hopes to him. Schaub's fantasy owners should do the same.
RB Ryan Moats
Arian Foster
Chris Brown

B So much for the Foster showcase, which lasted all of three touches until he put the ball on the carpet and Gary Kubiak gave him the hook. At least this isn't a match-up where you feel compelled to start Houston's back du jour only to watch him cough up a fumble and spend the rest of the afternoon in Kubiak's doghouse killing your fantasy team. Only one visiting back has topped 52 yards in Miami, so while an opposing back has scored in five of six in South Beach there isn't enough fantasy potential here to outweigh the risk of whichever Texans back you bet on dropping the ball—literally and figuratively.
WR Andre Johnson S1 Johnson has 20 catches for 389 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks, and he's failed to score or top 100 yards just once in seven road games. Miami has allowed at least one WR TD in every home game this year and just gave up 167 yards to Wes Welker in their most recent home date. You've ridden him this far; might as well ride him home.
WR Kevin Walter
David Anderson
Jacoby Jones
B

Feels like there should be a startable second option here, as the Dolphins have allowed at least two wideouts to reach or exceed 60 yards in four of their last five home games. However, aside from Walter's touchdown last week the pickings have been slim for secondary targets; like, 40 yards and an outside shot at a touchdown slim. That'll happen when your WR1 is getting close to 200 yards a game.

DT Texans B The Texans defense has done nothing to warrant fantasy attention.
Miami
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S3

Henne has posted two 300-yard games in his last three outings, and with Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat on the shelf is developing into a viable fantasy play. Houston has allowed 235 yards or more in three of their last four, the only exception being Keith Null—which doesn't really count. So you're looking at adequate yardage and a touchdown, maybe two... that's right on the cusp of fantasy usability.

RB

Ricky Williams

S2

Ricky has scored in four of five since taking over feature duties from the fallen Ronnie Brown, with three 100-yard games in that span. Houston has actually been solid against the run, shutting out three straight backfields and allowing only one 100-yard rusher and six RB TDs over the past 10 games. Expect the Dolphins to give Ricky enough carries to be at minimum a fantasy helper in most scoring formats.

WR

Davonne Bess
Greg Camarillo
Brian Hartline
Ted Ginn, Jr.

B Houston isn't giving up much to opposing wide receivers—they haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 6—and when they do it's to unexpected sources; the last two WR TDs they've allowed have gone to Nate Hughes and Danny Amendola. So whichever Dolphin you least expect to do anything, that's who'll have the big game. Funny, that's the pattern the Dolphins use as well; they've only begun to post fantasy relevant games over the past month, but no receiver has had back-to-back games of at least 75 yards and Hartline is the only Dolphin wideout to score in consecutive week—and he's been shut out the last two games. If this were a roulette wheel Hartline would be the green zeroes; the other guys would be "the ball jumps out of the wheel, rolles across the casino floor, and bounces into a slot machine, which pulls triple cherries".
TE Anthony Fasano

S3

Houston has allowed TE TDs in three of the last four games and Fasano scored last week; it's almost too good to be true. Of course, you have to worry about Kory Sperry and/or Joey Haynos stealing Fasano's touchdown, but if you're stuck in a TE mandatory league Fasano is as good a flier to take as any.

DT Dolphins B Miami's defense hasn't been a fantasy helper since midseason.
 

Seattle (5-9) at Green Bay (9-5)

Back to top
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 How sad is it that at best Hasselbeck is a fringe fantasy play against a secondary that just gave up 503 passing yards? Hass has just one multiple touchdown game in his last seven and hasn't topped 256 yards in his last five. He's also dribbled down his leg in what seemed to be good matchups earlier this year, so start him with trepidation if you must.
RB Julius Jones
Justin Forsett
B

Jones and Forsett split touches—and 134 yards from scrimmage—last week at home against a soft Bucs run D. Whiffing at that cushy match-up, it would be lunacy to expect much if anything on the road against a Packers run defense that's allowed one RB rushing score in Lambeau this year and allowed only Adrian Peterson (97 and the aforementioned TD) and Cedric Benson (141 yards back in Week 2) to top 61 yards against them.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Deion Branch
Deon Butler
Ben Obomanu

B Seattle wideouts have a grand total of one WR TD in seven road games, so there's very little to like here. Of the wideouts Green Bay has allowed to score of late (Mike Wallace twice last week, Johnny Knox) it would make sense that a speed guy like Branch is the best play. However, he's simply too risky to be trusted, especially after turning 10 targets and a cushy match-up against the Bucs into just four catches for 28 yards.
TE John Carlson
S3 Carlson has suddenly turned into the Seahawks' most reliable receiver, with touchdowns in each of his last two games. He gets a Packers defense that has allowed three TE TDs in the past four at Lambeau and just gave up 118 yards to Heath Miller last week.
DT Seahawks B The Packers just put up 36 in Pittsburgh; coming home to face the Seahawks might feel like a passing scrimmage.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers has multiple passing TDs and at least 263 yards in four of his last five; he has the same streak working for him in Lambeau. Against a Seattle secondary that's allowed at least 256 yards in each of its past six road games and a total of 14 passing scores in that span, the sky's the limit.

RB

Ryan Grant

S2

Grant broke tradition by scoring against a good run defense last week in Pittsburgh; let's hope he goes back to his pattern and abuses a soft Seattle run D that's allowed RB TDs in six of seven road games, a total of eight in all.

WR Donald Driver
Greg Jennings


S2

The amount of bandwith used each week to parse between Driver and Jennings as to which would be the better fantasy play has been otherworldly (do we need to copyright anybody on that word?). Thankfully, the Seahawks will save us all some time this week; they've allowed multiple WR TDs in four of their last six road games, and using a TD or 50 yards as a bench mark they've allowed three quality WR starts in five of six away from Seattle. So Driver or Jennings, Jennings or Driver, take your pick this week; either and both should have their way with the Seahawks' secondary.

WR James Jones
Jordy Nelson

U

Jones scored and Nelson caught four balls for 71 yards last week; looking at the stats above, you could certainly extend the fantasy love to Green Bay's tertiary targets.

TE Jermichael Finley

S1 Over the past seven games Seattle has allowed three TE TDs and four tight ends to top 70 yards. Finley has scored or topped 70 yards in three straight and did both last week, making him one of the better fantasy plays at his position again this week.
DT Packers S2 "We're gonna take the ball and we're gonna score" ring a bell with anyone?
 
Oakland (5-9) at Cleveland (3-11) Back to top
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Charlie Frye B

The Frye Guy? Losman? JaMiracle? You'd think a match-up with a defense that just allowed Matt Cassel to throw for 331 and two against them might provide a glimmer of fantasy hope, but there's just too much confusion here to trust any of them with a fantasy nod. Frye has been cleared to start, but the Raiders will have Daryl Lamonica on stand by just in case.

RB Justin Fargas

B

Fargas left last week's win over Denver with a knee injury and did not practice all week. He's listed as doubtful, suggesting Michael Bush will handle the bulk of the workload this week.

RB Michael Bush

S2

Bush stepped in for the injured Fargas against the Raiders and rumbled for 133 yards and a touchdown. This projects to be a softer match-up against a Cleveland defense that's allowed eight RB TDs and two 100-yard rushers in six home games. With so much uncertainty at the quarterback position don't be surprised if Oakland doles out another 33 rushing attempts—of which Bush should see the majority; that, in turn, should lead to another big fantasy outing.

RB Darren McFadden

U

McFadden wasn't forgotten last week, and neither was he unproductive with 74 yards on a dozen carries. The Browns have allowed multiple backs to put up decent numbers in the same game already this season—three different Charger backs scored against them in Week 13—so there's some upside here.

WR

Louis Murphy
Chaz Schilens


B Schilens' late touchdown salvaged fantasy value for the receiving corps, but with Frye back in charge this group is simply too inconsistent to be trusted against a secondary that's held the last three teams to visit—Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and San Diego—without a WR TD.
TE Zack Miller S3

Tight ends have a touchdown or at least 59 yards in each of the last five against the Browns; lower that minimum yardage number to 40 and the streak extends to nine games. Miller has been cleared to return from his concussion, just in time to enjoy a very friendly match-up.

DT Raiders B A match-up with the interception machine that is Derek Anderson should produce more than apathy, but against the Raiders it doesn't.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Derek Anderson
B

Oakland has allowed at least one passing touchdown and at least 224 passing yards in every road game this year. Sadly, everything Anderson has done this year begs you not to use him despite the friendly match-up. He's thrown a pick in every start—and three in the game where he relieved Brady Quinn at halftime; he's topped 125 yards once in five starts and finished under 100 in three of his last four; and he's completing a JaMarcus-like 42.9 percent of his passes.

RB Jerome Harrison


S2

It can safely be said that never in the history of fantasy football has a record-breaking play been left on more benches than Harrison's 283 and three last week. If you're chasing last week's points you have this on your side: Oakland has allowed seven RB TDs in as many road games and eight backs to rush for at least 65 yards in those tilts. The Raiders' stuffing of Knowshon Moreno (42 yards, no scores) last week is a cautionary tale, but when the options are Derek Anderson throwing picks or running the ball at the fourth-friendliest fantasy run defense you have to think the Browns will opt for the latter.

RB Chris Jennings


U

It's not that Eric Mangini isn't to be trusted, but... no Browns back has received double-digit carries in back-to-back games since Jamal Lewis hit injured reserve. At least there's upside to this match-up, as the Raiders have allowed secondary backs to rush for at least 56 yards four times in seven road games—all in games where the feature back scored and had at least 65 yards of his own. So if for some reason you're forced to plug Jennings into the mix, you won't be left holding the bag while his back-up blows up.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
S3

Massaquoi owns the Browns' most recent WR TD and is also their most consistently targeted receiver; as such, he's the most likely bet to exploit an Oakland secondary that has allowed eight WR TDs and three 100-yard games on their last five road trips.

WR Joshua Cribbs
S3

Cribbs can score so many different ways—in the Wildcat, as a return man, as a pass catcher—that if you're desperate for receiver help he has to enter into the conversation as a viable fantasy starter.

TE Evan Moore

B

Oakland has shut out tight ends in 13 of 14 games this year, while Moore has vanished as quickly as he rose from obscurity two weeks ago against the Chargers. You can do better.

DT Browns B If you get points for returns, then Cribbs makes the Cleveland D/ST an every week start; otherwise, there's nothing compelling about this group.
 
St. Louis (1-13) at Arizona (9-5) Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Keith Null
B

There's a "null and void" joke in here (unless someone at Yahoo! made it, in which case it's evidently off limits), but we'll save that for Week 17 so there's at least something to write about. Suffice it to say you want no part of the Rams' passing game this week.

RB Steven Jackson
S3

The mere fact that Jackson keeps showing up despite the injuries, despite there being nothing to play for, commands your admiration. But the key question here is, which Cardinals defense shows up? Will Jackson face the one that held Adrian Peterson to 19 yards, or the one that allowed 100-yard games to the previous two feature backs to visit Arizona? The Cards have allowed a feature back to rush for 100 yards and a touchdown in five of their last six games overall, including Jackson's 116 and 1 at home earlier this year, but the worry is that the injuries have taken their toll as Jackson has finished below the century mark in three of his last four. He's still worthy of a play, but the fade has taken away his automatic starter status. Note that he didn't practice at all this week and is officially listed as questionable.

WR Donnie Avery
Danny Amendola
Brandon Gibson

B

In two games under Null this trio has 141 yards and one touchdown combined. If you do the math, that's 70.5 yards and half a touchdown split three ways. Tough to see that improving in Arizona this week, even out of desperation.

DT Rams B You have to respect their effort last week against the Rams. Not enough to use them this week in Arizona, of course, but still... respect.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S1

The Rams haven't allowed multiple touchdown passes in a game since... well, since the last time they faced Warner five weeks ago. Now he gets them on his turf, where he's thrown for at least 242 yards and one touchdown in every game, multiple scores in each of his last four, 285 yards or more in five of six and more than 300 yards three times. There's just one thing left to say: Welcome home, Kurt; welcome home.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
S2 Wells bounces from one soft match-up to another. The Rams have allowed three 100-yard efforts in seven road games this year, along with seven RB rushing scores and a back with at least 63 yards in every outing. The rookie has scored in two straight, topped the century mark last week, and is poised to help teams win fantasy titles here.
RB Tim Hightower
S3 While Wells is taking the bulk of the carries there is bound to be some passing yardage here as three of the last four backfields to face the Rams have had a back produce at least 45 receiving yards. Mix in Hightower's occasional goal line touch and he's still a viable play even though he's strumming second fiddle.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

S1

Fitzgerald has scored in two straight at home, three of four in Arizona, and four of six in front of the home crowd—not to mention five of seven overall. He's also had just one game under 70 yards at home, and that was a 66-yard effort. His 87 and 1 against the Rams in St. Louis, prior to them losing Oshiomogho Atogwe, feels like a starting point.

WR Anquan Boldin

S1

Since returning from his ankle injury Boldin has been every bit as involved as Fitzgerald. He also loves the home cooking, with four games of 80 yards or better and three touchdowns in six outings, and went for 108 and one in the earlier meeting with St. Louis. Maybe he's a half-step behind Fitz, but for fantasy purposes both are must-starts.

WR Steve Breaston
B

Breaston was shut out by the Rams in the earlier meeting and barely made an appearance in the stat sheets against Detroit. With the running game taking a larger share of the workload there isn't enough to go around to feed a third receiver.

DT Cardinals S2 A home date with Keith Null has all the makings of a great fantasy start, tempered only by an Arizona D/ST that has but two return scores all year.

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