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Start/Bench List - Week 17
John Tuvey
Updated: December 31, 2010
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MIA at NEP OAK at KCC JAC at HOU ARI at SFO 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)
Miami at New England Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Chad Henne B

Henne put up nice numbers (305 and 2) earlier this season, and he’s had decent yardage (276 and 278) the past two games, but that all happened at home; in seven road games Henne averages 191 passing yards—only once has he topped 235—and less than one TD per contest. The Pats have the top seed all sewn up so they may be less motivated than usual, but a Bill Belichick team is unlikely to roll over. Even in this thin week you should be able to do better.


Ronnie Brown


On the bright side, at least Brown showed up this season with touchdowns against the Bills and Lions the past two weeks. That duo, however, has allowed the third- and fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs. The Patriots have allowed roughly half the rushing scores either Buffalo or Detroit has surrendered, and after seeing Brown produce 11-27 on the ground in the earlier meeting with New England he can’t be trusted here.


Ricky Williams


Ricky hasn’t scored in almost a month, and while he did score a receiving touchdown in the front end of this series it would be a stretch to bank on him for fantasy help in your title game.


Brandon Marshall


In the earlier meeting it was Davonne Bess and not Marshall who posted the bigger numbers. But after seeing Marshall targeted 28 times the past two games, producing 21 catches for 208 yards, it’d be tough to sit him against a New England secondary that’s allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts.


Davonne Bess


Despite our lack of faith in Henne Bess is also worthy of consideration for a start this week. He scored in the earlier matchup against New England, scored last week despite Marshall seeing twice as many targets, and is a consistent supply of PPR assistance.


Anthony Fasano


The Patriots have gone five games without allowing a TE TD; the Dolphins have gone three games without scoring one. Fasano doesn’t do enough yardage-wise to overcome a lack of TDs, so he’s bench fodder this week.

DT Dolphins B New England has played 11 turnover-free games this season, including the last seven; they didn’t cough up the ball in Miami, and unless they’re playing backups in the second half of this one it’s tough to see them giving the Dolphins a shot at a defensive score here.
New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tom Brady S2

Brady didn’t need to do much in the earlier meeting, throwing for 153 and 1 while his defense and special teams rolled up a 41-14 win. There’s also a chance Brian Hoying takes more than a few snaps, as he’s done in two of the Patriots’ last three games—but not before Brady got in a couple touchdown passes in each. In fact, Brady has multiple TDs in eight straight games and if he plays a full 60 minutes here he’s money to put a final stamp on his MVP season. Be advised, however, that New England has already sewn up the No. 1 seed and home field advantage so there’s a risk of a heavy dose of Hoying.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis


Law Firm has scored in six straight at home; he also dented the mighty Miami run D for 16-76-1 back in Week 4. He’ll likely give way to Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor at some point, but he’ll likely do enough to help your fantasy team first.


Danny Woodhead


Woodhead touches the ball a little less regularly than BJGE, but he’s been almost as effective including 13-93-1 on the ground in Buffalo last week. Again, expect Woodhead to be mugging on the sidelines in a stocking cap by the time this one wraps, but he’s a decent bet to contribute something to your fantasy bottom line before he hits the bench.

WR Wes Welker S3 This offense runs through the tight ends now, but Welker still sees enough looks to be a PPR helper. And it’s not above Belichich to let Welker have a little fun with his former teammates.
WR Deion Branch B Branch has just four catches in the two games since his three-game scoring streak came to a halt. When you factor in the Patriots’ tight end-heavy attack, a stout Miami secondary, and the very real possibility Brian Hoying could be throwing and Branch could be on the sidelines watching Brandon Tate run his routes, there’s not much upside here.
TE Rob Gronkowski S3 No reason to rush Aaron Hernandez back for a meaningless game, so the risk here is that Alge Crumpler steals Gronk’s thunder. The Dolphins let Brandon Pettigrew find the end zone last week, but he’s more of a Hernandez type than a Gronk or Crumpler type. The rookie is still usable in TE-mandatory leagues, but if Hernandez practices all week he might be the better play here.
DT Patriots S2 The last time these clubs met the Patriots produced both defensive and kick return touchdowns; in fact, New England has two defensive scores in the past three weeks. Henne threw a pick six last week, and even if it’s second teamers late in the game they’re looking to make a name for themselves; what better way than with a defensive score?
Tampa Bay at New Orleans Back to top
Tampa Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Josh Freeman S3

Yes, Freeman announced his presence with authority in tearing up an awful Seattle secondary for five touchdowns. Yes, he’s a solid sleeper fantasy quarterback heading into 2011. But he steps up in class here against a New Orleans secondary that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in the league and surrendered only two multiple-touchdown games all season. Freeman has been so-so on the road as well, throwing just one TD in four of six away from the Bay. Another breakout game is possible, but against a motivated foe that could wind up with a No. 2 seed it hardly seems likely.

RB LeGarrette Blount


Four of Blount’s five games with either a TD or 100 yards (or both) came against defenses ranked in the bottom six against the run. The Saints aren’t nearly that soft; moreover, they just went into the Georgia Dome and held a similarly styled back (Michael Turner) to 48 yards and no score. Blount hasn’t been involved at the goal line and isn’t involved in the passing game either, so he’ll have to get his between the 20s. He’s hot, with 100 yards in three of his last four, but this is not a favorable matchup for him.

RB Carnell Williams


If you’re in a PPR league and stretching for help this week, consider Caddy. He had seven catches for 63 yards in the earlier meeting with the Saints, as the ground game was able to produce just 25 yards; he also has multiple receptions in five straight games and will be facing a New Orleans defense that’s allowed 43, 80, 61, 38, 77, and 61 receiving yards to running backs over the past six games.

WR Mike Williams

With Arrelious Benn out for the year, Williams is the Bucs’ lone go-to guy; though Sammie Stroughter scored in the earlier matchup with the Saints, neither he nor Michael Spurlock nor Maurice Stovall are involved enough to trust with a fantasy start. Even Williams is iffy against a secondary that’s allowed just five WR TDs this season, but four TDs in four games suggest the rookie deserves the benefit of the doubt.

TE Kellen Winslow S3

The Saints have allowed just three TE TDs this season, but if you’re in a performance-based or PPR league it’s worth noting that Winslow was targeted 10 times in the earlier meeting. Those 10 targets resulted in a season-high seven catches, a total K2 matched last week in rolling up 98 yards and scoring twice. In TE-mandatory leagues, he’s worth a look.

DT Buccaneers S3 It’s been two months since the Bucs scored a defensive TD, and despite Brees giving one up last week don’t bank on two in a row.
New Orleans
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Drew Brees S2

Brees has 300 yards or multiple touchdowns in 11 straight games, hitting both those marks in five of those tilts. He rolled the Bucs for 263 and 3 in the earlier meeting, and there’s little reason to think he’ll put up lesser numbers at home against a Tampa Bay defense that has lost several key defenders to injury since that game.


Pierre Thomas


Chris Ivory dropped 158 yards on the Bucs in the earlier meeting, one of eight players to rush for triple digits against Tampa Bay. He’s unlikely to play here... but Thomas is, and he looked plenty healthy with 19-63-1 and 7-39 receiving against Atlanta last week.


Reggie Bush


Reggie is barely usable in PPR leagues, hasn’t scored since Week 2, and hasn’t had a regular season game with double-digit fantasy points since Week 14 of last year. He’s missed two of the last three meetings with Tampa Bay and has a total of 85 yards from scrimmage against the Bucs since blowing up for 14-51 rushing and 8-112-1 receiving against them in Week 1 of 2008. So if you’re not in a PPR league where his three or four catches might actually help, you can do better this week.

WR Marques Colston

Colston had minor knee surgery earlier this week and missed all three days of practice. He's listed as questionable, but logic tells you he's not going to play. You wanna trust him to be on the field and productive in what will likely be a meaningless game, you're on your own.

WR Robert Meachem
Lance Moore

The wildly inconsistent Meachem has two 100-yard games in the past month; he also has a zero-catch game and a 17-yard effort. He scored in the previous meeting with Tampa Bay, making it three straight against the Bucs with a total of four TDs in those games. Moore remains involved as well, with TDs in two of his last three and three of his last five. He also scored in the front end of this series and, though he missed both meetings with the Bucs last season, has TDs in back-to-back games against Tampa Bay. Long story short, Brees gets everyone involved with no real rhyme or reason as to who might step up in any given week. On the bright side, with Colston likely out of the mix there's one less mouth to feed.

TE Jimmy Graham S3 Three TDs in the past two games is nice; having Drew Brees go to you in a key divisional battle with the game on the line suggests the Saints have plenty of confidence in their rookie tight end. And five targets for Graham compared to one for the rest of New Orleans’ tight ends says he’s moved to the fore of the pecking order.
DT Saints B The Bucs aren’t giving up defensive scores, and the Saints aren’t producing them like they used to.

Carolina at Atlanta

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments

Jimmy Clausen

B On the bright side, Clausen has two TDs. However, they didn’t come in the same game and we’re still waiting for anything resembling a fantasy helper. After seeing him throw for 107 yards and no TDs at home against the Falcons, getting one this week seems highly unlikely.

Jonathan Stewart

S3 That Stewart’s month-long run of success came to a halt in Pittsburgh is hardly a shock. Stewart had decent success (18-133) at home against a pretty good Atlanta run defense, and he’ll get enough carries to replicate at least a portion of that success as the Panthers play out the string.

Mike Goodson

B Stewart has taken over the bulk of the workload, leaving Goodson with just 18 touches and 74 yards over the last two weeks. His earlier score against the Falcons now seems flukish and unlikely to happen again in Atlanta.
WR Steve Smith B

How far down has Clausen dragged this passing game? Not only has Smith not scored since Week 2, it’s been five games since any Carolina wideout has found the end zone. No reason for that to change now.

DT Panthers B With a two seed on the line, don’t expect the Falcons to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to defensive scores.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S3

Carolina’s secondary has been solid; they haven’t allowed more than one TD pass in a game since Week 10, and that includes limiting Ryan to 227 and 1 three weeks ago. Ryan’s numbers have been subdued of late, with five straight under 250 yards, and he’ll likely lean heavily on the ground game this week. It’s not a benchable matchup, but it’s not a situation where you should be going out of your way to start him, either.

RB Michael Turner S1

Turner owes you one. And while it may come too late for those of you with Week 16 championship games, it’s likely to come here. Turner rushed for 112 yards and three TDs in Carolina three weeks ago and has scored in four straight against the Panthers. In two games against them in the Georgia Dome, Turner has 222 yards and five touchdowns. With Atlanta playing for a top seed, expect a heavy dose of Turner early; by the time he gives way to Jason Snelling he should have rolled up more than enough to win any Week 17 fantasy bowls.

WR Roddy White S3

The same Carolina secondary that limited White to 8-79 in the earlier meeting has allowed only one WR TD in the last five games. White’s numbers have been down a bit since that big 138 and 2 showing in Week 10—no 100-yard games, a four-game scoreless streak—but he’s found the end zone in two straight and will be Ryan’s go-to guy as the Falcons look to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.


Tony Gonzalez


Gonzo scored in the earlier matchup with the Panthers (as well as two of three against Carolina as a member of the Falcons) and remains a viable play in TE-mandatory leagues, though don’t expect anything huge: he’s topped 51 yards only once since Week 3.

DT Falcons S1 Atlanta has defensive scores in two straight games and faces Jimmy Clausen at home in a game to secure home field advantage. Gotta like those odds.

Minnesota at Detroit

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Webb S3

This, of course, assumes Favre doesn’t pass the concussion tests and return to the lineup for one final hurrah (and really, would you bet against him going out with a five-TD showing?). He's listed as doubtful and flunked the test on Wednesday, so unless he can copy off someone else's paper you're likely to see Webb this week. Tough to give a starting nod to a guy who has yet to throw his first NFL touchdown, but Webb’s performance in prime time against the Eagles suggests he possesses that “it” factor necessary to be a successful NFL quarterback. He’s got the feet (and the rushing touchdowns) to be a successful fantasy one, and while Detroit hasn’t allowed multiple TD tosses since Tom Brady took them for four on Thanksgiving—in fact, they’ve only allowed three in the four subsequent games—there should be some yardage to be had as well, both running and throwing. A 65% completion rate in Philly suggests competence, and when you factor in the likely rushing score he’s a viable fantasy quarterback. And for you Yahoo!s: he’s an S2 wide receiver.

RB Adrian Peterson S2

AP showed no ill effects from his thigh bruise in running all over the Eagles Tuesday night for his fifth 100-yard game of the season. His high-water mark came back in Week 3, 160 and 2 against the Lions, but that was at home; Peterson is slightly less effective on the road, though he has 260 yards in three games against the Lions in Detroit. He’s scored in three straight against Detroit, has topped 100 rushing yards in four of five against Detroit and five of seven career meetings with the Lions, and with Webb still learning is the key to Minnesota’s offense.

WR Percy Harvin


Not only has Harvin accounted for one-third of Webb’s completions and 40 percent of his yardage, he’s being used on end arounds and in the backfield as the Vikings make an effort to get the ball into his hands. Receivers haven’t had a ton of success against the Lions of late, but with the explosive Harvin clearly Webb’s go-to guy he belongs in fantasy lineups.

WR Sidney Rice


After taking a helmet-to-helmet shot Tuesday night Rice will need to pass the league’s concussion tests before being cleared to play in the season finale. He's currently listed as doubtful, suggesting that he's either not ready to go or making the mistake of copying Brett Favre's answers for the concussion test.

TE Vishante Shiancoe S3

Shank ranks right behind Harvin in targets for Webb with 12 in two games, but he’ll have an even tougher go of it against a Detroit defense that’s allowed only three TE TDs this season, just one in the last nine games. It’s been that long since a Vikings tight end has scored, but Shiancoe’s targets make him a viable option in TE-mandatory leagues, especially those with PPR scoring systems.

DT Vikings S3

If the Vikings give the same effort against Detroit they did against Philly, they’re going to get to Hill and cause some problems.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Shaun Hill S3

Hill has alternated multiple-touchdown starts, and this would be a one-TD week. The Vikings’ battered secondary could actually comply, having allowed multiple scores just once in the last five games. In fact, Hill’s worst fantasy showing of the season (237 and 1) came back in Week 3 against Minnesota. Hill’s yardage usually pushes him into fantasy helper range, so as long as he has Calvin Johnson to throw two he’s a viable option.

RB Maurice Morris S3

The last time the Vikings visited Ford Field they gave up 223 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Of course, they were facing the Giants at the time. Morris found the end zone last week against a similarly tough Miami defense, and considering he’s getting the bulk of the Lions’ carries and none of the eight RB TDs the Vikings have allowed came at Metrodome he has a decent shot at a score here as well.

RB Jahvid Best S3

We’re starting to see some of that explosiveness Best flashed in the season’s first fortnight prior to injuring his toes. Specifically, Best is involved in the Lions’ passing game and that’s been an Achilles’ heel for the Vikings, who have allowed speedy backs like Felix Jones (10-61) and LeSean McCoy (4-41) to take advantage of them in the screen game. Don’t be surprised if Scott Linehan finds multiple ways to make the Vikings regret trading out of the first round and allowing Detroit to add Best to their arsenal.

WR Calvin Johnson S3

Physically the Vikings don’t match up well with Megatron, as their best cover corner is the diminutive Antoine Winfield. However, that hasn’t translated into big games for Johnson, whose best effort against the Vikings is an 85-yard, one-TD showing back in 2007. On the bright side, Megatron has scored in all three home meetings with Minnesota and he’s still the most heavily targeted Detroit receiver. On the dim side, Johnson didn't practice all week because of an ankle injury and is officially a game-time decision. If he plays you should use him, but you'll need to track him all the way up to kickoff.

WR Nate Burleson B

You could play the revenge card here, as Burleson missed the earlier meeting with Minnesota due to injury. But secondary targets aren’t getting enough attention in Detroit to warrant a fantasy start so unless Calvin Johnson is ruled out don’t reach for Burley here.

TE Brandon Pettigrew S2

The Vikings have surrendered four TE TDs in their last three road games, and with Pettigrew a Hill favorite—4.5 targets per game in non-Hill starts, 8.7 targets per game in games where Hill starts—he’s at minimum a PPR helper in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Lions B With Webb under center the Vikings’ game plan has tended towards the conservative, which doesn’t lend itself to defensive touchdowns.

Oakland at Kansas City

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

Campbell has had only one multiple touchdown effort in his last seven games, including a 229 and 1 effort at home against the Chiefs back in Week 9. KC has been even stingier in Arrowhead, giving up no 300-yard games and holding three of the last four visiting QBs to one or fewer touchdowns. Nothing suggests Campbell is going to be a big fantasy helper here.

RB Darren McFadden

After such a promising start—triple-digit combo yardage in each of his first seven games—McFadden has had the one monster game, a couple helpers, and three outright dogs. His 114 yards from scrimmage against KC in Week 9 was the last quality effort in his hot streak, but the Chiefs need a win to clinch the third seed so don’t expect them to mail this one in. Worse, McFadden didn't practice all week because of a toe injury and is listed as questionable.

RB Michael Bush

Bush has been relegated to junior partner in the Oakland RBBC, and his limited touches won’t give you much fantasy help here. Now if McFadden is a no-go because of his toe...


Jacoby Ford


Like usual, wide receiver touchdowns are tough to come by in Oakland. However, Ford has a variety of ways in which he can find the end zone—returns, reverses, and deep balls—and his 6-148 against the Chiefs in the front end of this series is a high-water mark for Raider WRs. It’s still a bit of a crapshoot trusting an Oakland wideout, especially with Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens, and Darrius Heyward-Bey still in the mix, but if you want to swing for the fences Ford has the home run in his arsenal.

TE Zach Miller S3

Miller missed the last game with KC and hasn’t had much luck against them when he has played, but he’s averaging eight targets per game over the last three as he’s put his foot injury behind him; that sort of workload makes him a viable option in TE-mandatory leagues, especially with PPR scoring.

DT Raiders S3 Oakland tallied a return TD against the Chiefs in the earlier meeting and has three such scores in the past seven games. Like with Ford—fitting, since he’s the ringleader of the Raiders’ return-game resurgence—it’s a swing-for-the-fences move to hope for an Oakland DST score... but three-for-seven isn’t a bad batting average.
Kansas City
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S2

Cassel’s 314 and 3 last week against the Titans would seem to indicate he’s fully recovered from his appendectomy, and with the three seed dangling like a carrot in front of KC he should at minimum build on the 216 and two he posted against the Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders give up an average of two TD passes per road game—the only one who didn’t was Philip Rivers, who threw for 280 yards—so Cassel should be money this week.

RB Jamaal Charles
S2 Charles touched the ball just 15 times in his previous meeting with the Raiders, yet still amassed 100 yards from scrimmage. He’s reached triple-digit combo yards in six of seven home games, including 117 and two last week against Tennessee, and an Oakland defense that has allowed triple-digit combo yards to opposing backfields in six of seven road games as well as multiple RB TDs in three of their last four on the road seems ill equipped to stop him. There's also word out of KC that the Chiefs may load up Charles in hopes of helping him win the rushing title. He trailes Arian Foster by 56 yards, so he'd need a substantial showing to sew that one up; his fantasy owners would be all in favor.
RB Thomas Jones

The last time Oakland went on the road they gave up matching 100-yard, one-TD games to the Jacksonville backs. KC is more of a job share than Jax, with Jones racking up fantasy points almost as consistently as Charles. With a three seed on the line, he’s definitely a viable fantasy option this week.


Dwayne Bowe


As Cassel bounces back, so goes Bowe who snapped a three game drought with 6-153-1 last week. He took Oakland for 53 and a touch in the earlier meeting and he should be in business again against a Raider secondary that’s surrendered five WR TDs in the last three games.

DT Chiefs B Would you believe the Raiders haven’t given up a defensive touchdown all season? Well, that probably jinxed it. The Chiefs just scored their first return TD in nine games, but another one doesn’t appear to be in the offing.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Big Ben’s first game back from suspension was a 257 and 3 outing against the Browns. While the TDs have been down a bit since (Roethlisberger has just three scoring strikes in the last five games) he’s putting up plenty of yardage (at least 246 in seven straight) and should be a solid play in a game the Steelers need to win to claim the AFC North and a first-round bye.

RB Rashard Mendenhall


While the Browns are no longer a pushover on the ground—they’ve allowed just four RB rushing scores all year—Mendenhall got them for 84 yards and a score earlier in the year and has touchdowns in 10 of his 15 games. Again, the Steelers have plenty of motivation and you can bet Mendenhall will get 20 or so touches with which to work his magic against the Browns.

WR Mike Wallace

Just as the Steelers hoped, Wallace walked right into the numbers vacated by Santonio Holmes (5-104, 6-93) with 3-90-1 in his earlier meeting with the Browns. Wallace brings back-to-back 100-yard efforts into this tilt, but while Cleveland hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since their Week 8 bye it’s tough to see them slowing Wallace in a must-win game for Pittsburgh.

WR Hines Ward

Ward has scored in five of his last seven against the Browns, with at least five catches in five of the last six meetings. Cleveland is fresh off allowing a pair of Raven receivers to score; no reason the Steelers can’t pull off a similar feat.

TE Heath Miller S3

Miller hasn’t scored since Week 6, when he faced the Browns, but he’s been targeted at least five times in each of his last five full games, including 5-73 last week. That makes him viable in TE mandatory leagues, especially with PPR scoring.

DT Steelers S2 The AFC North is on the line, and the Browns are on the other side; you wanna bet against the Steel Curtain?
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

McCoy’s 281 and 1 against Pittsburgh in Week 6 was impressive, but he hasn’t approached that yardage total since and he has just one multiple TD outing in six starts since then. The Steelers have surrendered a total of three passing touchdowns in the last six weeks, making it an even tougher row for McCoy to hoe.

RB Peyton Hillis


Hillis banged out 41 rushing yards and added 49 receiving in the earlier meeting, but the cumulative touches are taking their toll: he didn't practice all week because of sore ribs and while Eric Mangini says Hillis will play there's hardly any guarantee. Even if he does, he hasn’t scored since Week 12 and would be a long shot to offer more than a token fantasy contribution this week.

WR Brian Robiskie B

The Steelers have allowed one WR TD in the last seven games, so while Robiskie has been red-hot with scores in each of the past two games—bringing his personal total to two and the Browns’ receiving corps’ total to five—it would be tough to bank on him or any other Cleveland wideout for help here.

TE Ben Watson U

Watson scored in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh and is seeing enough targets to warrant consideration in TE-mandatory leagues with PPR scoring, but considering that only one tight end has scored on the Steelers in the 10 games since Watson found the end zone he’s likely to be little help in other formats.

DT Browns B The Steelers have turned the ball over just twice in the last three games, which makes it extremely tough for opponents to score defensive fantasy points against them.

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