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Start/Bench List - Week 16
John Tuvey
Updated: December 24, 2010
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CAR at PIT WAS at JAC SFO at STL NYG at GBP Start/Bench List by Position
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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 at Pittsburgh Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments

Jimmy Clausen

B Yes, the Steelers’ D is a different animal sans Troy Polamalu. But Clausen still hasn’t given us a multi-TD game or even hit the 200-yard mark yet. A sudden fantasy explosion in Pittsburgh on a short week seems highly unlikely and a foolish bet for your fantasy title game.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 At the heart of the Panthers’ running game rejuvenation has been a very favorable schedule, though they did find some success against two top-six defenses (Atlanta and Baltimore). However, both of those games were at home; this trip to Pittsburgh will present an even greater challenge. If you’re looking to start Stewart this week, cling to this: in a pair of lopsided losses over the past two months, the Panthers still gave Stewart 39 carries, with which he produced 225 yards and a touchdown. With that workload he could threaten the high-water mark by an opposing back at Heinz Field: BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ 87 yards in Week 10.

Mike Goodson

B Goodson’s scoring streak ended last week and will be hard-pressed to reboot against a Steelers defense that’s given up just one RB TD at home all year, especially with Stewart still handling the bulk of the carries.
WR Steve Smith B

The Steelers have allowed exactly one WR TD since Week 9; the Panthers have one since Week 8. Pittsburgh hasn’t given up a WR TD at home since T.J. Houshmandzadeh got them back in Week 4; Smith hasn’t seen the end zone since Week 2. Banking on any sort of fantasy help from Smith this week would be bucking just about every trend known to man.

DT Panthers B Carolina’s defense has played well, particularly in the secondary, but they may be without Chris Gamble again and aren’t likely to threaten Big Ben enough to produce any fantasy help here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

Big Ben has delivered solid yardage—six straight with 246 or better—but he hasn’t produced a multiple touchdown game in a month. Carolina’s secondary won’t make things any easier; they’ve held five straight foes to one or fewer passing scores and only one opposing quarterback has topped 300 yards. If you’re in a yardage-based league Ben should help; otherwise, you likely have better options.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


Mendenhall sees the league’s best run defense in practice every day, and last week he took the second-best for 100 yards on 17 carries. That sets him up nicely for a very big day against a Carolina defense that ranks sixth in fantasy friendliness to running backs and has given up 460 yards and eight touchdowns to running backs in its last three road games.

WR Mike Wallace
Hines Ward

Only three teams have given up fewer fantasy points to wide receivers than the Panthers, in part because they have a talented secondary and in part because teams are so busy running on them they don’t bother to throw. Carolina has given up just four double-digit fantasy point games to wideouts this season, none in the same game, so you’ll be fortunate to get a helper from one of these guys. Wallace has been the more consistently targeted of late, with Emmanuel Sanders horning in on some of Ward’s action underneath. Still, Hines is eminently capable of a PPR/performance league helper on a weekly basis so he can’t be discounted entirely. Best-case you have another option with a more favorable matchup, because there’s nothing to suggest a big game for either Steeler receiver.

TE Heath Miller B

Five of the six TE TDs the Panthers have allowed have gone to fellow NFC South teams, though they’ve given up yardage to tight ends from teams from across the NFL; in fact, only the Titans and Texans have allowed more. Miller, however, hasn’t delivered much of either and is still bothered by concussion issues. You can find a better option for your fantasy bowl.

DT Steelers S2 The Steel Curtain, at home, against Jimmy Clausen. Dial it back a notch with Polamalu out, but it’s still an incredibly favorable matchup.
Dallas at Arizona Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jon Kitna S2

You could say Arizona has held five straight quarterbacks under 200 passing yards and given up just four TD tosses during that span; you could also say teams have been so busy running the ball (almost 800 yards and seven RB TDs over that same five games) they haven’t bothered to throw. That hasn’t been much of a problem for Kitna, who has multiple TDs or 300-plus yards in five of his last six games. So while the numbers might scare you, they shouldn’t; after putting up 313 yards on one of the best secondaries in the league (New Orleans), Kitna’s a safe fantasy play regardless of opponent.

RB Felix Jones

Felix is your yardage-league play; he’s had at least 83 combo yards in each of the last six games, hitting triple digits thrice but only scoring twice in that span. Arizona has given up 906 yards from scrimmage to opposing running backs over the past five games, so given enough touches Jones can be a fantasy helper. Unfortunately, with MB3 back in the mix he may not get those touches.

RB Tashard Choice

Tashard is your TD-league play; he’s scored in three of the last four games despite getting fewer touches than his backfield mate in three of the last four games. Arizona has given up seven running back touchdowns over the past five games, so given enough Carries Choice can be a fantasy helper. Unfortunately, with MB3 back in the mix he may not get those touches, either.

RB Marion Barber

MB3 has been sidelined by a calf injury and missed the past three games, but he practiced fully all week and expects to play. Unfortunately, all his return does is downgrade the fantasy value of both Jones and Choice.

WR Miles Austin S3

Austin owns the Cowboys’ only WR TD in the past month, but he’s topped 50 yards just once in the past two months. With Dallas expected to run the ball effectively in Arizona and Jon Kitna developing a serious man-crush on Jason Witten, Austin is a fringe fantasy helper at best this week.

WR Roy Williams B

Williams missed last week’s tilt with a groin injury and was limited all week in practice; he's officially listed as questionable. No need to risk a valuable fantasy roster spot on whether or not Roy can go, as he'll be facing a defense that has shut out wide receivers in three straight games.

TE Jason Witten S1

After getting gouged early on—Arizona gave up four TE TDs the first five weeks—the Cardinals have been significantly tougher against the position of late. Of course, they haven’t seen a tight end targeted like Witten is since they were giving up scores to Antonio Gates and Zach Miller back in the first month of the season. With 32 catches for 350 yards and four TDs over his last four games, Witten has become Jon Kitna’s go-to guy and should extend that run of success this week.

DT Cowboys S2 Despite the abysmal quarterback play Arizona hasn’t served up a defensive touchdown in almost two months. Dallas has three return scores in the past six games, at least one interception in six straight, and eight picks in the past three so they’re at least worth a shot against a John Skelton-led offense.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB John Skelton B

The Cowboys have allowed multiple touchdowns in three straight and eight of nine, at least 260 yards in all nine of those contests. If Red had even one touchdown in his 76 pro attempts or had managed to top even 200 yards in either of his two NFL starts, we’d be mildly optimistic. But your chance of hitting on this reach are even lower than Skelton’s 46.1% completion percentage.

RB Tim Hightower
B Hightower has been slightly more reliable at home, but after last week’s 6-16 egg in Carolina it’s tough to trust him with a start against even an average at best Cowboys run defense. So... don’t.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells
B Since his last touchdown back in Week 8, Wells has turned 31 carries into 101 yards. Ugh.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

No team has given up more fantasy points to WRs than the Cowboys, who have served up a 100-yard receiver in four straight (and eight in the last nine games) and allowed at least one WR TD in every game since Week 1. Despite the down numbers Fitz has been targeted 153 times this season (third in the league); more importantly, in Skelton’s two starts Fitz has caught 71% of his targets as compared with 48 percent under previous quarterbacks. This is about as favorable a matchup as Fitz can get; at least you know they’ll be throwing at him.

WR Steve Breaston

Breaston has just four catches in Skelton’s two starts, so despite the favorable matchup you can’t bank on him exploiting the Cowboys when all of Arizona’s attention is directed towards Fitz.

DT Cardinals S2 The Cards have five defensive or return TDs in their last six home games; it’s almost like they know the offense isn’t going to score so they take it upon themselves.

Detroit at Miami

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill B

Hill took more first-team snaps than Drew Stanton and is expected to get the start this week. However, only four teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Dolphins, so it may be a moot point.

RB Maurice Morris B

Morris has a pair of fantasy helpers over the past month, but those came against a pair of friendly-defenses; the Bucs rank 10th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, while the Patriots rank 13th. The Dolphins rank 26th and are a decidedly tougher matchup; after watching them hold Peyton Hillis, Darren McFadden, the Jets’ backfield and Fred Jackson to a combined 176 yards (and zero TDs) in the past month, don’t look for Morris to give you much help here.

RB Jahvid Best B

Since stubbing his toe after scoring five touchdowns in the first two games, Best has done absolutely nothing—unless you’re into 59 combo yards per game and zero TDs. This isn’t the matchup for him to get healthy.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

Doesn’t matter who the QB is, and for the most part it doesn’t matter who the opponent is: Megatron delivers. Over the past 11 games he has 11 touchdowns and four 100-yard efforts, and even though the Dolphins have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers you risk missing out on a score and a 100 yards every time you sit CJ.

WR Nate Burleson B

Only twice all year have the Dolphins allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game, though one was last week against the Bills. Usually a second target is lucky to crack 50 yards against Miami, and with Megatron clearly being the primary receiver you can’t trust Burleson for fantasy help here.

TE Brandon Pettigrew B

The combination of a reduced role, the return of a healthy Tony Scheffler to the game plan, and a Miami defense that’s given up the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends conspire to bench Pettigrew this week.

DT Lions B Detroit’s defense has been nothing special fantasy-wise.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne S3

Henne’s last fantasy helper--his only multi-TD game in the last eight, his only 300-yard game in the last nine--came against an Oakland defense that ranks right around where the Lions rank against quarterbacks. And with Detroit potentially down a pair of secondary regulars (both Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey are listed as questionable), the door could be open for a legitimately solid outing for Henne.


Ronnie Brown


Brown has laid enough eggs this season to serve every fan at Joe Robbie Pro Player Land Shark Sun Life Stadium a pregame omelet. Back in August the prospect of facing the Bills and Lions during your fantasy playoffs made Brown quite appealing, but for the most part he’s failed to deliver. A touchdown last week against the Stay-Puft soft Bills suggests he’s usable, but not with anywhere near the confidence you’d like to have heading into your fantasy bowl.


Ricky Williams


Same matchups, same disappointments for Ricky, and with only two-thirds the opportunity Brown has been getting. Two thirds of a fringe start lands Williams on the bench side of the ledger.


Brandon Marshall


Marshall has scored in both games since his return from injury, turning 18 targets into 13 catches, 122 yards and a pair of scores. Detroit has given up just one WR TD the past three games, but the last two times a receiver has seen double-digit targets against them they’ve turned in touchdowns. With Marshall firmly back in the crosshairs of Henne’s radar, he’s back to being a solid fantasy play.


Davonne Bess


You know the drill with Bess: PPR gold, but gold-colored lead in most every other scoring format. He hasn’t scored in two months and has one 100-yard game in his last 18, but he also has at least six catches in three of his last four and eight of his last 11 with Henne at the helm.


Anthony Fasano


Only one team has given up fewer touchdowns to tight ends than the Lions, and since Fasano isn’t much of a yardage guy—just two games of more than 49 yards this year—there’s no reason to go mining for help here.

DT Dolphins B The Dolphins aren’t producing defensive touchdowns, and the Lions aren’t serving them up. That’s a bad fantasy combo.

New England at Buffalo

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

At his current rate Brady could fall out of bed on his throwing shoulder, then stumble out and throw multiple TDs against the 85 Bears. He’ll have to settle for picking on the ’10 Bills, who haven’t been horrible against the pass but did serve up 252 and three to Brady in the earlier meeting.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Law Firm scored the first of his dozen TDs this season back in Week 3 against Buffalo, part of a 16-98-1 outing. He’s scored in eight of 11 since then, thwarted only by defenses that rank first, second, and 12th in RB TDs allowed. The Bills, on the other hand, have allowed the third-most fantasy points to backs as well as a100-yard rusher or a RB TD—or both—in five straight games... and eight of the last nine... and 12 of 14 this season. About the only thing keeping BJGE from S1 status is the presence of Woodhead in some goal line packages.


Danny Woodhead


Tougher to trust Woodhead with a fantasy play here. He’s only scored in one of his last five road games and two of his last seven overall, and his combo yardage has checked in under 75 yards in three of his last four and seven of his last nine. The Bills have been soft against the run, but not since Week 8 when they faced the two-headed Chiefs backfield have they let two backs put up fantasy helpers in the same game. He’s usable in a PPR league but tough to plug in otherwise.

WR Wes Welker
Deion Branch
S3 There’s a score to be had here, as the Bills have allowed at least one WR TD in 10 of their last 12 games. However, they’ve allowed a second receiver to score in the same game only twice in that span, and only twice more has a secondary receiver topped 50 yards. So one but probably not both Pats wideouts will help your fantasy club, which flies in the face of what they’ve done recently: in seven of the past nine games, Welker and Branch have scored within two fantasy points of each other. Welker’s the better PPR play (26 catches to 16 over the past month), but Branch has the edge in TDs (4-3) and yards (361-327) in that span; choose your Pat accordingly. Also note that Branch sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday before returning for a limited session Friday, though he played last week after a similar schedule.
TE Anthony Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski
S2 Both TEs were helpers in the last outing against Buffalo, Gronk with 3-43-1 and Hernandez with 6-65. They’ve been alternating helpful fantasy weeks, with Hernandez scoring twice last week, Gronkowski once the week before, etc. In fact, the Buffalo game is as close as they’ve come to having fantasy helpers at the same time. The trends favor Gronkowski: in addition to the alternating weeks thing, Gronkowski has been better on the road with 19-227-4 in his past four away from Foxboro while Hernandez has just 8-85-2 in that same span. Hernandez missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hip injury, then returned for a litmited session Friday so you'll want to keep an eye on his status prior to kickoff. But against the third-most fantasy friendly defense for tight ends, both are certainly playable.
DT Patriots S2 The Patriots have defensive scores in back to back games, an added bonus to facing an offense that’s been held under 20 points in seven of its last eight games.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S3

Fitz got back in the saddle with his first multiple-touchdown game in a month, just as the Patriots were showing cracks against the Matt Flynn-led Packers. The last time Fitzpatrick faced the Bills he put up a respectable 247 and two, so facing the third-most fantasy friendly defense against quarterbacks puts him back on the start side of the ledger.

RB Fred Jackson S3

Assuming Fred continues to hold off CJ Spiller for carries, the sheer volume should allow him to carve out some fantasy productivity here. He topped 100 yards against both the Browns and Bengals, who have been tougher against backs than the Pats, and with the 20-plus touches he’s averaged over the past six games he’s capable of a Brandon Jackson (22-99 last week) or Maurice Morris (75 combo yards and two TDs) type of outing.

RB C.J. Spiller B

Spiller’s lone career TD came against the Patriots back in Week 3, but he hasn’t topped more than 45 combo yards in a game since then and can’t be trusted with a fantasy start.

WR Steve Johnson
David Nelson

Johnson’s 3-66-1 in New England back in Week 3 launched a five-game scoring streak, but he was scoreless for three straight and five of six before rediscovering the end zone last week. The Pats allowed two Packer wideouts to score on them last week and have allowed a TD or at least 60 yards to 11 different wideouts in the past six games, a promising trend not only for Johnson but also Nelson, who has a three-game scoring streak of his own.

DT Bills B The lone DST score the Pats have allowed was a Buffalo kickoff return back in Week 3. Don’t look for lightning to strike twice.

Washington at Jacksonville

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman S2

Last week Grossman capitalized on a fantasy-friendly matchup by throwing as many touchdowns as he had in his last 11 games combined. The Jags are right there with the Cowboys in terms of inability to slow opposing passers; they’ve allowed multiple scoring strikes in two straight and three of four, at least 225 passing yards in five of six, and either multiple TD tosses or 240-plus yards in 13 of 14 games this season. And so, strange as it sounds, it would appear that there’s nothing stopping Rex from another big game.


Ryan Torain

S2 Which Jacksonville defense will show up this week, the one that limited Chris Johnson and Peyton Hillis to a combined 101 yards on 34 carries over the past five weeks? Or the one that’s allowed Darren McFadden and Donald Brown to run roughshod on them for a combined 152 and three the past two? Perhaps the more important question is, will Rex Grossman stop throwing enough to give Torian more than the 11 carries he got last week? The saving grace is that Torain remained involved as a receiver with six catches, 48 yards and a touchdown so even if this week’s game plan is all about Rex there’s room for Ryan to be a fantasy helper.
WR Santana Moss
Anthony Armstrong
S2 That over the past five weeks the Jaguars have actually allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers tells you just how awful they were prior to that, because overall they still rank fourth in most fantasy points allowed to the position. And even though they’ve played better, it’s not like Jacksonville’s secondary is bullet-proof: they just gave up 8-87-2 to Austin Collie in roughly one half of action and let Louis Murphy score the week before that. Rex Grossman targeted Moss 13 times last week, hitting him for a pair of scores and 72 yards; Armstrong took advantage of Grossman’s big arm for a season-high 100 yards. Both are in play again this week, especially if Rex’s attempts climb past 40 once again.
TE Chris Cooley S3

The Jags have been better against tight ends, giving up just one TE TD since their Week 9 bye. But while Cooley was ignored by Rex early on, at crunch time Grossman turned to his tight end for a two-point conversion and the game-tying touchdown. He’ll be involved in the flight pattern, but he’s not the brightest blip on the radar like he used to be.

DT Redskins B We’ve seen nothing from the Redskins to warrant fantasy consideration.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB David Garrard S2

After a two-week hiccup—one which he filled with a pair of rushing touchdowns—Garrard is back on the multiple touchdown trail, right on time to take advantage of an injury-depleted Redskins secondary that just surrendered 305 and two to Jon Kitna.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew B

Jones-Drew failed to practice all week because of the knee injury that cost him touches last week, and while he's officially listed as doubtful Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio indicated that unless something changed dramatically MoJo would be a no-go this week.


Rashard Jennings

S2 With Jones-Drew likely to miss this tilt, that opens the door for Jennings to put up big fantasy numbers against a Washington defense that’s given up the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs. Moreover, the Skins have allowed seven RB TDs in the last four games and at least 102 yards from scrimmage to the running back position in every game this season. Sure hope you handcuffed.

Mike Sims-Walker

S3 The Redskins have allowed only one WR TD in the past five games, and just one 100-yard receiver over that same span. But Sims-Walker is back on David Garrard’s radar, with three TDs in the last two games, and has forced his way back into the fantasy picture. After missing practice both Wednesday and Thursday with the ankle injury that's been bothering him for quite some time, MSW practiced in full on Friday and should be good to go.

Mike Thomas

B While MSW is ascending, Thomas appears to be waning in the Jacksonville attack; over the past two games Jason Hill has nearly as many targets, just as many catches, and more yards and touchdowns. Unless you’re banking on return yards, Thomas isn’t involved enough in the Jaguars offense to be trusted with a fantasy start.

Marcedes Lewis

S2 Lewis has at least 50 yards in five of his last seven, with four TDs in that span, and he’s scored in back-to-back at home and four of seven in Jacksonville this year. His last shot to entertain the sellout crowd comes against a Redskins defense that’s allowed TE TDs in back-to-back games at least 49 yards to the position in five straight, and is fresh off getting gouged by Jason Witten for 140 and one. So it’s not too tough to like Lewis’ chances this week.
DT Jaguars B

Rex made a couple of typical Rex mistakes last week, but for the most part the Jags defense has been indifferent to providing much in the way of fantasy assistance.


New York Jets at Chicago

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New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Last week’s rushing score was nice, but Sanchez has now gone three straight games without throwing a touchdown pass. While the shoulder issue that limited Sanchez in practice all week shouldn't prevent him from playing, it’s impossible to like his fantasy prospects against a Bears defense that has allowed only MVP candidates Brady and Vick to throw multiple touchdowns against them this season.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Shonn Greene

The Bears have allowed only one RB TD in the past six weeks; the Jets haven’t scored any in the past eight games. Only two teams have given up fewer yards from scrimmage to running backs than the Bears, so there’s no help coming on that front either. Put your Jets backs into hibernation unless you play a Week 17 championship game.

WR Santonio Holmes


While the Bears have allowed a WR TD each of the past four games, the Jets have only one in that span—and it belongs to Holmes. He’s been the most consistently targeted Jet over that span, so if Chicago’s largess continues Santonio is the most likely to take advantage.

WR Braylon Edwards


Edwards hasn’t scored in a month, and his 8-100 against the Steelers last week was more than his cumulative total from the previous three weeks combined. With Holmes as the Jets’ primary target, the bottom has fallen out on the market for Braylon’s fantasy value.

TE Dustin Keller B

It’s been almost three months since Keller was a fantasy helper, so despite the Bears loosening up against tight ends—both of the TE TDs they’ve allowed have come in the past four games—he’d be tough to trust with a fantasy start this week.

DT Jets S3 Gang Green has two return TDs in the past month, but going toe-to-special-teams-toe with the Bears is a bad idea. However, I love the matchup of Rex Ryan against Jay Cutler more than a pair of petite size 4s with strawberry red toenail polish. Too soon?
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Cutler’s had a couple multiple-touchdown outings, but pulling that off against the Vikings or Eagles is one thing; doing so against a Jets defense that’s held five of the past six quarterbacks they’ve faced to one passing score is another thing entirely. He gets an S3 because of the likelihood the Jets’ run D will force him to throw more than the 24 times per game he’s averaged over the past five weeks.

RB Matt Forte B

Six of the seven RB TDs the Jets have allowed this season have come in the past six weeks, but that’s still not enough reason to bank on Forte this week. Put it this way: in two games against the teams directly below (in theory, easier to run on) the Jets in the rankings, Forte has a combined 76 yards from scrimmage and averages less than three yards every time he touches the ball. Oh, and he’s losing goal line looks to Chester Taylor, so he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.


Johnny Knox

S3 Knox likely draws Darrelle Revis, but the Island is clearly bothered by his hamstring injury; he spent most of the Steelers game on Emmanuel Sanders and gave up 7-78. With Knox usually the apple of Cutler’s eye, he’s the safest fantasy play here.

Earl Bennett

S3 Bennett’s not a bad play either, based on sheer volume of targets. He’s likely to face bracket coverage with Antonio Cromartie on Hester, and coming out of the slot he’ll be a hot read for Cutler when the Jets blitz. Consider him a PPR helper but a fringe play at best in other scoring systems.

Devin Hester

B The kick return king is targeted too infrequently—he’s averaged two catches per game over the last month—to be a reliable fantasy factor. Now if you get to include his return yards and scores...
TE Greg Olsen


The Jets have surrendered TE TDs in three of their last four road games, including last week to Matt Spaeth. And while Olsen has been somewhat of an afterthought of late, he has scores in two of his last three at home. With the Jets focusing so much attention on the outsides, Olsen might very well find room in the middle of the field—especially at the stripe, making him a decent fantasy play in TD-heavy scoring systems.

DT Bears S2 You have a tough defense at home against a mistake prone and hobbled young quarterback; and then you add the possibility of another return TD from Hester. That’s not a bad tandem to plug into your lineup come fantasy bowl time.

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