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Start/Bench List - Week 17
John Tuvey
Updated: January 2, 2010
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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)
New Orleans (13-2) at Carolina (7-8) Back to top
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees B

And so much for Brees playing this week and the Saints trying to get some rhythm back prior to the playoffs.

QB Mark Brunell B

The Saints' backup will be facing a Panthers team that's playing as well as anyone right now, hasn't allowed multiple passing scores in a game since Week 8, and hasn't allowed more than one passing score to a visiting QB since Week 1. Good luck with all that.

RB Pierre Thomas B

Thomas says he'll be fine after leaving last week's loss to the Bucs with bruised ribs. But while the Saints may agree, they're giving him this week off just to make sure.

RB Mike Bell S2

Carolina's run defense has been significantly better of late, but with Thomas out that likely means Bell sees 15 or more carries. And with Brees not playing, the Saints' game plan will probably be heavier on the run. That should be enough to generate a decent fantasy outing, though Lynell Hamilton certainly lurks.

RB Reggie Bush S3

New Orleans backs combined for a dozen catches and 68 receiving yards against the Panthers in the earlier meeting, so if the Saints truly are sans Thomas Bush should see the bulk of that work—which, in turn, makes him a viable fantasy play this week.

WR Marques Colston
Robert Meachem

The Panthers have allowed just one WR TD since giving up two to the Saints in Week 9; the saving grace is that they've allowed eight different wideouts to top 60 yards since then, so there should be yardage here. Colston was held to just one catch in the previous meeting, but he's still the most reliable target in this arsenal. Meachem had 98 yards and a score and has played his way into regular starter status as well, though expectations should be kept at least somewhat in check—especially with Brunell at the helm and not Brees.


Devery Henderson


Henderson had three grabs for 93 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting with Carolina and can't be discounted here; however, he falls to the end of the pecking order and would require a leap of faith to trust with a fantasy start at this juncture.

TE Jeremy Shockey
Dave Thomas
B The Saints would like to work Shockey back into the mix after having him miss time with a toe injury, and with Thomas doubtful because of a calf injury they may need to. However, you wouldn't expect them to overdo it and it's not as if the Panthers are a soft touch against tight ends; they've allowed only one touchdown to the position in the past six games
DT Saints B Don't expect anything fancy from the Saints; they want to get in, get out, work out the kinks, stay healthy, and get ready for their postseason run.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Moore B Moore has back-to-back 300-yard games, but now he'll be without his top (only?) target, Steve Smith. Take out Smith's numbers and Moore's average game since taking over as starter—112 yards and a touchdown—is downright ugly.

DeAngelo Williams

B Williams missed last week's game with an ankle injury, and he's officially listed as doubtful for Week 17. Looks like more Stewart this week.

Jonathan Stewart

S2 Stewart was limited to 24 yards on 13 carries in the previous meeting, but he's had 100 yards and a touchdown in three of the last four games and would seem to be in line for the majority of the carries here. Somebody has to make up for the 149 yards and two scores Williams had against New Orleans earlier this year, and of late that somebody has been Stewart.
WR Steve Smith B

A broken arm will keep Smith from playing this week.

WR Muhsin Muhammed
Dwayne Jarrett

You saw how much of Moore's production has been dependant on Smith; without him, this passing game isn't even worthy of afterthought status.

TE Dante Rosario
Jeff King
Gary Barnidge

Too many cooks, not enough broth—and a match-up with a defense that's allowed only one TE TD all year.

DT Panthers B Unless the Saints go to the bench—and it sounds like that's not the plan—there's no logic to throwing a defense out in front of them.
New England (10-5) at Houston (8-7) Back to top
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S3

The Texans have allowed multiple passing touchdowns just twice in the past two months; it helps that they've been facing the likes of Keith Null and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brady had been in a minislump of his own prior to last week's four-TD outburst, and while the team has struggled on the road Brady has three 300-yard efforts and multiple TDs in four of seven away from New England. You can't trust Bill Belichick to play Brady for any significant amount of time, especially with rumors that both Randy Moss and Wes Welker will be sitting this one out, so the better move would be to find an alternative to Brady this week.

RB Laurence Maroney
Sammy Morris
Fred Taylor
Kevin Faulk

Maroney hasn't touched the ball since fumbling at the goal line last week. Morris took over the bulk of the carries but gave way late to Taylor, and Faulk remains the third down back. That's four spoons dipping into a bowl that won't be nearly as full as the 193 yards from scrimmage New England backs posted last week. You want no part of this headache.

WR Randy Moss S3 Moss comes off a three-TD game and might stun a Houston secondary that hasn't seen much in the way of receiver talent since Indy left town a month ago. And with no critics left to answer, Moss may sit this one out. Start him at your own risk.
WR Wes Welker S3 With a 22-catch game Welker would break not only Brandon Marshall's single-game record but also Marvin Harrison's season mark of 143. It's not out of the realm of possibility; then again, neither is Welker joining Moss and Brady on the sidelines for the bulk of this game.
TE Ben Watson
Chris Baker
B Not that the Patriots don't use the position, especially in the red zone, but good luck identifying which tight end will be the flavor du jour. The upside isn't worth the risk.
DT Patriots B New England has their playoff seed locked up, so while they may not be just going through the motions they have significantly less motivation than the Texans.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S1 The Texans have taken what slim playoff hopes they have and pinned them to Schaub's throwing arm; he's responded with 1,018 yards and five touchdowns during Houston's three-game charge. Schaub has four straight multiple-TD efforts at home, with at least 264 yards in each of them, and he'll face a New England defense that, even when motivated, gave up a combined 1,033 yards and 11 TDs on the the road to Chad Henne, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning.
RB Ryan Moats
Arian Foster
Chris Brown
B The good news is, you don't need to waste any brainpower trying to guess which back Gary Kubiak will give carries to this week. The Patriots haven't allowed a running back rushing score since Week 10, so even if he picks a horse and rides it odds are that horse won't go very far or reach the end zone.
WR Andre Johnson S1 The Patriots have allowed six WR TDs and three 100-yard receivers in the past five weeks, none of them to a receiver as gifted as Johnson. During the Texans' three game winning streak Andre has contributed 460 yards and three touchdowns, and you can bet he'll be the focal point again this week.
WR Kevin Walter
David Anderson
Jacoby Jones

The Texans have had three non-AJ WR TDs in their past nine games, and it's been a month since the Patriots allowed a second wideout to contribute a touchdown or anything resembling significant yardage. You could reach for Jones, who scored last week, or Walter, who scored the week before, but there's more risk than upside here.

DT Texans B The Texans defense has done nothing to warrant fantasy attention.

Atlanta (8-7) at Tampa Bay (3-12)

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Ryan initially hurt his ankle in the Week 12 win over Tampa Bay, and it wasn't until last week's 250 and three that he looked to be all the way back from the injury. The Bucs haven't allowed multiple TD tosses since Chris Redman's 243 and two in relief of Ryan, but the way Ryan looked against a stout Bills' pass defense last week suggests he's up to the task.

RB Michael Turner B

At this juncture there's no reason to risk Turner; conversely, if he goes and aggravates the injury he'll have plenty of time to heal. Either way, despite the match-up it's too risky to pin your fantasy hopes to Turner's fragile ankle.

RB Jason Snelling
Jerious Norwood

The Bucs have given up at least one RB TD in every game since Week 5, including a touchdown to Norwood in the Week 12 meeting where Turner got hurt and Norwood returned. Snelling might be the more likely bet this time around given the distribution of touches, but either back is worthy of fantasy consideration.

WR Roddy White S3

Since White scored on the Bucs in Week 12 they've allowed exactly one more WR TD. While that makes expecting an upgrade over the 57 and one from that earlier meeting tricky, the fact that Roddy has scored in three of his last five and topped 100 yards in two of those games suggests it's not a bad bet.

WR Michael Jenkins
Marty Booker

Atlanta's alternative targets are far too inconsistent and the Buccaneers' secondary far too stingy to look for any fantasy help from the nether regions of the Falcons' WR depth chart.


Tony Gonzalez


Gonzo had nine catches for 83 yards in the previous meeting, and the Bucs are at best a middle of the pack defense against tight ends. Gonzo is listed as questionable and practiced on a limited basis later in the week, so with nothing at stake his contributions may be somewhat limited.

DT Falcons S3 Atlanta scored a defensive touchdown just last week, and they'll face a quarterback who's thrown 11 picks in four games. So we're sayin' there's a chance.
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S2

The Falcons have held the last two quarterbacks they've faced to one or zero touchdowns; prior to that they allowed multiple passing scores in five straight, including 250 and two to Freeman in Week 12. While the rookie has been shut out in three of his last four it's been by top-10 pass defenses; the Falcons rank much, much closer to the bottom. He's been better on the road than at home, but he should take advantage opportunity to leave the Tampa fans with a good taste in their mouths heading into the offseason.

RB Carnell Williams


Atlanta hasn't allowed a running back rushing score since Week 11, but since then they've given up four RB receiving scores—including one to Cadillac in Week 12. Williams posted129 yards and a score on 24 carries last week and should get the bulk of the touches once again, with a decent shot at providing something to help your fantasy stat line.

WR Antonio Bryant

Bryant caught three balls for 91 yards and a score in the earlier meeting, and he appears set up for success again. Over their past five road games the Falcons have surrendered seven WR TDs and three 100-yard receivers.

WR Maurice Stovall

Tampa's secondary targets haven't contributed anything of fantasy note in more than a month, and it's tough to see that changing this week; Atlanta hasn't allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game since Week 7, and only twice all year have two receivers topped 60 yards in the same game.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

K2's seven catches and 81 yards from the earlier meeting are high-water marks against Atlanta, so if yardage helps your cause he's your guy. However, the Falcons have given up just one TE TD in the past five weeks and Winslow hasn't scored since Week 9, so a touchdown seems a much longer shot.

DT Buccaneers B With Ryan back at the helm the Falcons are less likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to defensive scores.
Washington (4-11) at San Diego (12-3) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell S3

Campbell peaked in the near-miss against the Saints; since then his touchdowns have declined each week and his yardage has settled in near or just below the 200 mark. He'll face a San Diego secondary that has no reason to care, and even when it did it allowed multiple scores in three of four—including three to Brady Quinn. Odds are good Campbell will get you his 200 and one; they're not nearly as good he'll go dramatically beyond.

RB Quinton Ganther
Rock Cartwright
B The Chargers have allowed exactly two RB rushing scores since Week 8, to Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson. Speed-wise you've got half of a medal-winning 4x100 team in that duo, something the Redskins roster cannot replicate. Ganther has seen his touches and productivity decline since scoring twice against the Raiders in Week 14, and there's just as great a chance that Cartwright and Marcus Mason cut into his workload as there is the Chargers mail it in defensively.
WR Devin Thomas
Santana Moss
B The Titans were the first team in a month not to score a WR TD against the Chargers; sadly, it's been almost that long since a Redskins wideout found the end zone. Moss was the more targeted entity last week, but he's too hit-or-miss—far too often miss—to be trusted with a fantasy start here.
TE Fred Davis S3

Davis has been Campbell's go-to guy, and he'll be facing a San Diego secondary that has seen three NFC East tight ends and allowed two of them to score. In this dysfunctional offense, that's about as positive a trend as you can get.

DT Redskins B Much like last season, Washington fielded a stout defense that did nothing fantasy-wise.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S3

Under normal circumstances Rivers would likely scoff at a Redskins' defense that hasn't allowed multiple passing touchdowns in seven road games this year, then go out and throw for 250 and two. However, with the second seed clinched it's more likely the Bolts treat this like the third preseason game: Brees starts, gets some work in, and is wearing a ball cap by the middle of the third quarter. The Chargers have already said as much, indicating that Billy Volek will see significant work here. Tough to trust Rivers with a fantasy match-up here, especially if you have a compelling alternative that's not in danger of an early exit.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson S3 You're not starting LT for the yardage; he's topped 60 yards just once in the past month and hasn't reached triple digits all year. But he keeps finding ways to score, and even with likely just one half of work he's a decent bet to tally one against a Redskins defense that's allowed RB TDs in five of its last six road games.
RB Darren Sproles S3 Sproles scored three touchdowns on seven touches last week. He should see an uptick in workload as the team looks to rest LT for the postseason, but he'll also lose looks to Mike Tolbert and Jesse Hester. Somewhere in between is his fantasy value, though odds are he's used up his three TD game for the year.
WR Vincent Jackson B

Jackson has come out of his mini-slump with 298 yards and two TDs the past three weeks, so he's good to go. The match-up is in his favor as well; over the past month the WR1s Washington has faced have fared well: DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, and Steve Smith (NYG) have all scored and Miles Austin caught nine balls for 92 yards. Now the bad news: he missed two practices this week (including Friday's) with an Achilles' tendon injury and could very well sit this one out. Nothing to play for, might as well rest him.

WR Malcolm Floyd S3 Here's a sneaky source of fantasy help. Over the past five games the Redskins have given up touchdowns to seven different wideouts and allowed six to go over 60 yards—and that includes a date with the Raiders in which neither happened. The rub is that Floyd hasn't done anything of fantasy note in more than a month, and that it might be Billy Volek throwing to them for most of the game. But hey, at least he'll be on the field.
TE Antonio Gates S2

The Skins haven't allowed a TE TD since Week 9, but they gave up 117 yards to Jason Witten last week and pulled him down just shy of the stripe. Gates has scored in three straight and had two 100-yard games right before that; in other words, he's the brightest blip on the Chargers' passing game radar right now. Even if he sits, he's likely to get his before he gets gone.

DT Chargers B If the Bolts were playing for something then yes, their defense would be a good start against Jason Campbell. But there's nothing stopping them from turning this into the third preseason game, so look for help elsewhere.
Green Bay (10-5) at Arizona (10-5) Back to top
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S3

Rodgers has had one bad road game this year; this might be just his second in away whites in which he doesn't throw for multiple touchdowns and at least 246 yards, but only because the Pack has little to play for—plus, they may have to turn around and face the Cardinals in the Wild Card round next week. Expect Green Bay to treat this like the third preseason game: a half-plus of Rodgers, then some Matt Flynn to close it out.


Ryan Grant
Brandon Jackson
Ahman Green


The Packers already worked Jackson and Green into the mix last week, and both scored. Arizona's run defense has been Jeckyll and Hyde all season, and if there's still something to play for (the #2 seed might still be up for grabs) expect the meaner of the two. Either way, Green Bay will be sharing carries with no back likely to emerge as a fantasy helper

WR Donald Driver
Greg Jennings


Between an Arizona pass defense that's allowed just five WR TDs in seven home games and the probability that for much of the game it will be Flynn and not Rodgers throwing to Driver and Jennings, the fantasy upside is minimal

WR James Jones
Jordy Nelson

Jones and Nelson get the upside tag because with nothing on the line for the Packers you'll likely see as much or more of them than you will Driver and Jennings.

TE Jermichael Finley
S3 Finley has 70 or more yards in four straight games and three TDs over that span, so he's an integral part of the Green Bay attack. However, don't expect the Packers to open the entire bag of tricks in a relatively meaningless game against a team they might be seeing again seven days later.
DT Packers B With the Packers set as a wild card and the Cardinals a potential playoff foe, don't look for much more than Green Bay's base D. That means fewer blitzes, less pressure, and less opportunities for defensive scoring.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kurt Warner S2

Arizona won't necessarily be ruled out of a first-round bye by kickoff, which would be great news for anyone looking to Warner for fantasy help. He's had multiple touchdown passes in five straight home games and thrown for at least 242 yards in every home game this year. The Pack has given up multiple scoring strikes in three of its last four on the road, and the last time they left Green Bay they surrendered 503 and three to Ben Roethlisberger. So long as there's something on the line for the Cards, Warner will be firing. The risk, of course, is that if things don't fall as the Cards need them to, you'll see Warner in a ball cap and Matt Leinart taking snaps for the majority of this game.

RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Wells is nursing a groin injury and could very well sit this one out even if the Cardinals still have something to play for in the late game. Can't risk a zero here.
RB Tim Hightower S3 Hightower has handled early touches as well as third-down work, and he could be the better play against a Green Bay defense that's allowed three RB receiving TDs in the last eight games. May not seem like much, but when you consider the Pack has allowed a total of seven RB TDs all year, that might be an area the Cards can attempt to exploit.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin

If that first-round bye is still in play, so too will be Fitz and Boldin. Fitzgerald has scored in three straight at home; over that same span Boldin has two TDs and two 100-yard games. Worst-case you'll get a half-plus—specifically, six catches from Fitz to get to 100, 16 yards from Boldin to get to 1,000—from the A team before Matt Leinart, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet take over. Best-case, the Cardinals will be highly motivated to put this one in the W column.

WR Steve Breaston
Early Doucet

Like Nelson and Jones above, there's upside here if the starters exit early. Best of all for the Cards, that could happen whether Arizona has something to play for (they'll come in once Fitz and Boldin have built a lead) or not.

DT Cardinals S3 The Cards land on the start side because they still have something to play for and they may get to make that play against a Matt Flynn-led offense.

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