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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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)
 
 

Baltimore (8-7) at Oakland (5-10)

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Baltimore
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco has shaken off his mid-season slump and thrown multiple scores in each of his last two. While the Ravens will likely take care of this one on the ground, Flacco has demonstrated he can take advantage of opportunities presented in the passing game as well. And in a week with slim pickings at quarterback, that's enough to at least warrant fantasy consideration.

RB Ray Rice S1

Rice has triplel-digit yards from scrimmage in 12 of 15 games this season, and with the Ravens' playoff hopes hanging in the balance you can expect him to be used early and often against an Oakland defense that's allowed seven different backs to score and six to roll up at least 100 combo yards—and that's just in seven home games. Rice's fantasy value is threatened only by the prospect of Willis McGahee stealing a touchdown or two.

RB Willis McGahee S3

It's not unheard of for a team to have two productive fantasy backs against the Raiders, and with McGahee a threat to swipe a score early and pick up garbage-time yardage late he's a decent bet to contribute in Week 17.

WR Derrick Mason
S3

Mason's no sure thing—especially after being limited in practice by a knee injury that has him listed as questionable—but had he not dropped a sure TD last week against the Steelers he would be toting a three-game scoring streak into this match-up. He'll draw the full attention of Nnamdi Asomugha, but two of the three WR TDs the Raiders have surrendered in Oakland have gone to WR1s so he's not a hopeless cause.

WR Kelley Washington
Demetrius Williams
B

After the running game takes its bite and Mason takes his, there just doesn't project to be enough left over for any of the secondary targets.

TE

Todd Heap

U Any guy with four touchdowns in two games warrants consideration, but the Raiders have shut out the tight end position in 14 of 15 games so Heap's run of luck is unlikely to continue in Oakland.
DT Ravens S2 They may not have Ed Reed, but they're playing for a playoff spot and will be facing Charlie Frye. What did Meat Loaf say? Two out of three ain't bad.
Oakland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Charlie Frye B

Sure, he threw for 333 yards last week. But Frye also has zero TDs and four picks and now gets to face a motivated Ravens defense that's allowed multiple touchdown passes just once in the last nine games.

RB Michael Bush
Justin Fargas
Darren McFadden
B

Maybe Bush gets the carries. Maybe Fargas has a swan song in Oakland. Maybe Al Davis calls down from the owner's box and demands more touches for former first-round pick McFadden. Doesn't matter; the Ravens have allowed just one RB TD in the last five games, and a three-game split of little is... well, very little.

WR

Louis Murphy
Chaz Schilens


B The Ravens have allowed three WR TDs in the last seven games; the Raiders have seven WR TDs all year. Schilens would be the closest thing Oakland has to a go-to receiver, but there's little upside in this passing game to begin with and even less when you consider that Baltimore needs to win to get into the postseason.
TE Zach Miller B

Since giving up two TDs to Jermichael Finley a month ago the Ravens have held Greg Olsen to one catch and Heath Miller to 3-35. Zach Miller has upside, as evidenced by his nine catches for 110 yards last week. But with a touch match-up and an inconsistent quarterback, he's a high-risk, low-reward fantasy play.

DT Raiders B Tough to see the Raiders mounting much of a defensive charge against a motivated Ravens unit.
 

Kansas City (3-12) at Denver (8-7)

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Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel B

Earlier this year the Broncos chased Cassel on the heels of an 84-yard, two-INT effort. Now he's back, in a venue where Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have combined for five TD passes and five other visiting quarterbacks have combined for a total of two. Oh yeah, and the Broncos need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Wanna bet we get to see Brodie Croyle again?

RB Jamaal Charles
S3

It took a little more doing against a tougher defense, but Charles was able to extend his streak of 100-yard outings to three in Cincinnati last week. With few other options at their disposal expect the Chiefs to work Charles again, against a defense he scored on just one month ago and in its last home game surrendered 133 yards to Michael Bush

WR

Chris Chambers
Dwayne Bowe

B

The Broncos have allowed four WR TDs in the last three games after giving up seven through the first 12. Champ Bailey can't cover both Bowe and Chambers, but Andre Goodman is no slouch. And it's still Matt Cassel throwing the ball in their general direction. No KC receiver topped 36 yards in the previous meeting with Denver, and it's unlikely there will be a significant enough improvement to make either Chief a fantasy commodity.

TE Leonard Pope
Brad Cottam
B

Denver gave up 131 and one to Brent Celek and three TDs to Dallas Clark in just the last month. However, neither is on the Chiefs roster—nor is there anything comparable.

DT Chiefs B A porous KC defense against a Broncos team that needs to win to keep playing—in Denver? Nothing in that sentence suggests the Chiefs' D/ST will offer fantasy value.
Denver
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kyle Orton S3

The Chiefs have allowed multiple passing scores in half of their road games, including their last two; they gave up a pair to Orton in the earlier meeting as well. Kyle has multiple TDs in two of three and at least 275 yards in two of three as well, so in a must-win game you have to like Orton's chances of putting up something to help fantasy owners.

RB

Knowshon Moreno


S1 Moreno has laid three consecutive eggs since his last fantasy helper, a two-TD outing against... the Chiefs. With KC having allowed 631 rushing yards and three RB TDs in the three games since, it's an ideal opportunity for Moreno to redeem himself.
RB

Correll Buckhalter

S3 The General isn't seeing quite the number of touches he was earlier in the year, but this match-up might present him with that opportunity. It did a month ago when he turned 12 carries against the Chiefs into a season-high 113 yards, so there's a distinct possibility Buck will offer fantasy value this time around as well.
WR Brandon Marshall B

Marshall has been ruled out of this game; you can choose to place the blame on his hamstring, his attitude, or his coach, but whatever the reason he won't be on the field.

WR Eddie Royal
Brandon Stokley
Jabar Gaffney
B

This trio combined for two catches in the previous meeting with the Chiefs. If Marshall is indeed unable to go one of them will have to step up... you would think. Of course, the Broncos could also just run on every play.

TE Tony Scheffler
Daniel Graham
B

Since Graham scored in the Week 13 meeting with KC—Denver's first TE TD in a month and a half—Broncos' tight ends have combined for a whopping seven catches. With the entire passing game in upheaval and Scheffler benched, best avoid the situation entirely.

DT Broncos S3 Denver knocked Matt Cassel out of the last meeting and now has the additional motivation of a must-win outing. Can they take Brodie Croyle down as well?
 

Philadelphia (11-4) at Dallas (10-5)

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Philadelphia
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

A bad sign for a predominantly passing team like the Eagles: the Cowboys have allowed multiple touchdown passes in just one of the last eight games, holding the likes of Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, and McNabb (227 and one in the Week 9 meeting) to single scoring strikes. Dallas has also held three straight visiting QBs to one TD or less, meaning McNabb has his work cut out for him. Yardage shouldn't be an issue, especially given the sheer volume of passes the Eagles tend to throw, and one touchdown is almost a given; it's a second one that would push him off the fringe into true fantasy helper territory.

RB LeSean McCoy
Brian Westbrook
Leonard Weaver
B

Philly is still splitting carries three ways, which will make it extremely difficult to produce a fantasy starter against a Cowboys defense that hasn't allowed a back to top 67 yards in Dallas and has given up just two RB TDs at home—both to backs who saw at least 18 carries. McCoy is the only Eagle back to reach that number, most recently in Week 11 and never in a week where Westbrook was also in the lineup.

WR DeSean Jackson
S2 The Cowboys held Jackson to 2-29 in the previous meeting; since then he's gone on a five-game scoring streak with three 100-yard games to his credit. Dallas won't make things easy; they've allowed just three WR TDs and two 100-yard games in the seven games since holding Jackson (and the rest of Philly's wideouts) down. But Jackson remains the best bet among Philly's receivers to put up solid fantasy numbers.
WR Jeremy Maclin S3 If there's another helper in the Eagles' wide receiving corps it's Maclin, who has seen his production climb steadily since posting 3-44 against Dallas back in Week 9. If the Cowboys devote too much attention to Jackson, it will be Maclin making them pay with his deep speed; there's certainly upside in that role.
TE Brent Celek
S2 Celek scored in the previous meeting with Dallas; since then the Cowboys have given up two more TE TDs and a couple of 70-yard efforts while Celek has four scores and three outings of 60 yards or better. He's a vital part of Philly's game plan, and that translates into looks... and catches... and fantasy production.
DT Eagles S3 You know the Eagles are going to blitz Tony Romo, but the Cowboys haven't had multiple picks or allowed a defensive TD since Week 2 so they're a risky fantasy play at best.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S2

Romo has ducked the December collapse with 249 or better in five straight and multiple TDs in three of the last five. He'll face a Philly D that gave up 307 and one to him in the earlier meeting and has allowed multiple passing scores every other week since Week 10; sadly, this is a single-score week. On the bright side. the Eagles have allowed multiple scores to each of the other NFC East QBs they've faced on the road, so there's upside here as well.

RB Marion Barber S2

Barber has run the ball well of late, with 125 yards and three TDs the last two weeks. He was held to 50 yards on 12 carries in the previous meeting, but at home should find the going a little better; doesn't hurt that Philly has given up multiple RB TDs in two of the last four games, either.

RB Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
B

Jones has seen an uptick in workload and productivity—at least 50 yards in three straight games, at least 49 yards in three straight at home—but he's still the junior partner in a crowded backfield and Philly has allowed two 50-yard rushers in the same game just once all year. Choice scored from the Wildcat formation in the earlier meeting, but he's getting even fewer touches than Jones. Neither can be trusted with a fantasy start here.

WR Miles Austin S2

Philly held Austin to just one catch in the earlier meeting, but it was a 49-yard TD. You can expect him to draw heavy coverage once again, but between the roll Austin is on—TDs in four of five, three 100-yard games in that span—and a Philly D that's allowed at least one WR TD in five straight he's a must play in this game for the division crown.

WR Roy Williams
Patrick Crayton
U

Williams had 75 yards in the earlier meeting with Philly while Crayton had 74. Both have obvious limitations—like, they have a total of four catches between them over the past two weeks—but the last four WR TDs the Eagles have allowed have gone to secondary targets. Too much focus on Austin and one of these guys could step up with another big game. Sure, it's a fantasy risk, but at least they've got something to play for.

TE Jason Witten S2

The Eagles have allowed a TE TD in four of five NFC East games; care to guess which one drew the goose-egg? Witten had four catches for 43 yards in the previous meeting, but if you're in a yardage league his three 100-yard games over the past five weeks makes him a dependable fantasy contributor. Last week he was pulled down at the one; maybe this week he busts down the door and returns to the end zone for the first time since Week 2.

DT Cowboys S3 Dallas hasn't produced a defensive TD since Week 3, but they're very capable of putting enough pressure on Donovan McNabb to produce a mistake that can be quickly turned into six the other way.
 

Tennessee (7-8) at Seattle (5-10)

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Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Vince Young B

Young laid a big egg last week against the Chargers, but a very forgiving Seattle secondary—they've allowed at least one passing TD in 10 straight games—should allow him to finish on a positive note. Of course, for him a positive note would be a TD and something in the 200-yard range; unless he augments that with a rushing score—something the Seahawks haven't given up to a quarterback all year—he's at best a fringe fantasy starter.

RB Chris Johnson S1

With a playoff berth off the table, the Titans' lone remaining task is to get Johnson to the 2,000 yard mark. That means he's all but guaranteed 128 yards. Seattle hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Frank Gore took them for 207 back in Week 2, but last week the Packers combined for 146 and a week before Tampa Bay's two-headed backfield rolled up 133. So the 235 he needs to break Eric Dickerson's NFL record... not out of the question.

WR Kenny Britt
Nate Washington
Justin Gage
B Seattle has allowed 20 WR TDs this year, but none the last two weeks. And with this game all about Johnson getting to 2,000, don't expect the Titans to fight that trend. Even if they do, they have three wideouts with a relatively equal shot at the minimal yardage and limited touchdown(s) the Tennessee passing game provides. Any could score, but all are a risk.
TE Bo Scaife B Scaife was shut out last week and isn't a significant enough factor in the Titans offense to warrant fantasy consideration.
DT Titans S3 Matt Hasselbeck has thrown eight picks in two games; there should be ample opportunity for the Titans to score a defensive touchdown.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3 It's essentially a lost season for Hasselbeck, who has one multiple touchdown outing in the last two months and eight picks in the last two games. The Titans secondary, while better of late, still has its soft spots; trusting Hass to exploit them for much more than adequate yardage and a touchdown is, at this point in the season, a fantasy.
RB Justin Forsett S3

Unfortunately, Julius Jones now looks as if he'll play through injuries this week, denying Forsett the opportunity of being the Seahawks' primary ballcarrier against a Tennessee defense that's allowed at least one RB TD in each of its past five road games and triple digit combo yardage in two of the last four.

RB Julius Jones B

Jones is shrugging off rib and foot injuries to participate in this meaningless contest. And because the Seahawks don't seem willing to give Forsett a larger share of touches than Jones when the two both play, all he's doing is sapping fantasy value from Forsett.

WR

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Deion Branch

B The Seahawks have produced one WR TD in the past seven games; Tennessee has allowed just one in the past five. There is nothing here that can be trusted with a fantasy start.
TE John Carlson S2 Carlson made a ton of friends in the fantasy community by scoring in each of the last three weeks; if you're forced to fill out a lineup for this week as well, it's worth noting Carlson will face a Tennessee defense that's allowed TE TDs in three straight
DT Seahawks B What's left of the Seattle defense offers little of fantasy value.
 

Cincinnati (10-5) at New York Jets (8-7)

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Cincinnati
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer B

Strike one: Palmer's become a game manager whose pair of two-TD games over the past fortnight represent his first multi-touchdown outings in two months. Strike two: the Jets have allowed the fewest passing touchdowns and the fewest passing yards in the NFL. Strike three: the Jets have a playoff spot to play for; the Bengals don't. You could risk using Palmer, but don't be surprised if he's limited both in production by the Jets and in playing time by his coach.

RB Cedric Benson B

Benson has more than handled the tough defenses thrown in front of him. However, with nothing to play for it's unlikely he'll be taxed with a 20-carry workload here. The match-up with a Jets' defense that has allowed just two RB TDs in seven home games is tough enough to consider benching Benson; the fact that you'll likely see Larry Johnson more this week than you did last week is the final straw.

WR Chad Ochocinco
B

Ocho loves to put on a show, and he's already thrown down the gauntlet for shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. But with the very real possibility that these teams will reconvene in Cincinnati next week, don't expect the Bengals to tip their hand with regards to how they plan to get the ball to Ochocinco. This week will be like the first round of a heavyweight fight, with the two combatants feeling each other out. Next week, the slugging begins.

WR Laveranues Coles S3 The Jets haven't allowed a WR TD in the last five games, but with all the focus on Ocho and Revis it wouldn't be at all surprising if Coles scored for the third straight week.
DT Bengals B If the Bengals had something to gain with a win here they'd be a good fantasy play against the rookie QB; instead, look for a steady diet of basic coverages as they keep their best blitz packages and other wrinkles under wraps in case they need them in Week 18.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Sanchez hasn't produced noteworthy fantasy numbers since prior to the Jets' Week 9 bye, and despite the fact Cincy has nothing to play for it's tough to see that changing this week. Look for the Jets to rely on their ground game while the Bengals throw some basic coverages at the rookie; even with the vanilla schemes there's enough talent in the Cincy secondary to keep Sanchez's numbers well below the level of fantasy helper.

RB Thomas Jones S2

Jones has 100 yards or a touchdown or both in 11 of his past 12 games, a stretch that's been surprisingly light on quality run defenses; eight of the dozen rank in the top half of the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs, while Jones has faced just two of the 10 toughest defenses against that position. The Bengals are among the better run defenses, though they'll use this week to adapt to the loss of rookie linebacker Rey Maulaluga. That, coupled with what will likely be a very straightforward and basic defense, should open the door for Jones to extend his run of success

RB Shonn Greene B

Greene has barely contributed helpful numbers against soft defenses; despite the lack of motivation, Cincy should put up enough of a fight to limit the Jets to just one fantasy helper at running back.

WR Braylon Edwards

S3

Edwards has two touchdowns in the last month; no other Jets wideout has scored since Week 11. Cincy's pass defense has been top notch all year, but over the past month they've allowed Calvin Johnson (123- 1), Sidney Rice (39-1), and Vincent Jackson (108-2) to post quality fantasy efforts against them. Edwards is as close as the Jets come to a WR1, so if there's anything to be culled from the Gang Green passing game it will come from Edwards.

WR Jerricho Cotchery

B

No other member of the Jets' wide receiver corps warrants fantasy consideration, especially if either of the Bengals' quality corners take out their Pro Bowl snubs on Gang Green.

TE Dustin Keller B

Keller hasn't been involved enough in the Jets' offense to deserve a vote of fantasy confidence this week.

DT Jets S3 So long as it's Carson Palmer and the starters it's unlikely the Jets' defense will produce any fantasy help. However, much like last week, if the Bengals go to the bullpen then the floodgates will open. At minimum it's a possibility worthy of consideration.

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