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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)
Buffalo at New York Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick B

Fitz threw for two scores despite just 128 yards in the earlier meeting, and of late his touchdown magic has left him as well: he has multiple TD tosses in just one of his last five and two of his last nine games. On the bright side, the Jets have nothing to play for so he’ll be seeing plenty of backups; whether that’s enough to trust an offense that’s topped 20 points just once in the past nine games is up to you. Fitzpatrick didn't practice all week because of a knee injury, so there's a chance he may not even play.

RB Fred Jackson S3

Fred hasn’t scored in more than a month, but he could very well be facing a Jets defense that’s given up seven RB TDs in the past seven games—and that’s even before they lick the stamp and mail it in on a game that means nothing to their playoff positioning. He’s consistently getting double-digit touches, which he’s turned into 81 yards against the Patriots and 112 yards against the Browns, so some productivity against a shell of the Jets isn’t out of the question.

WR Steve Johnson S3

Johnson scored in the earlier meeting with Gang Green, and with David Nelson and Lee Evans out of the mix all he has to do is be a brighter blip on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s radar than Donald Jones; we like his chances.

WR David Nelson B

Chan Gaily said it would take a miracle for Nelson to play this week after suffering a rib injury last week; since Nelson was ruled out, you have to assume there was no miracle to be found.

DT Bills B The Jets haven’t allowed a defensive touchdown all season, and even if we’re treated to the quarterback stylings of Mark Brunell expect a conservative game plan that won’t afford the Bills many opportunities to end that streak.
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Mark Sanchez B

Right now Rex Ryan seems undecided on using his banged up quarterback in a meaningless game, though he’s already said he won’t play all four quarters. After being limited in practice all week, Sanchez may not play at all; that might give Mark Brunell a chance to throw his first touchdown pass since 2006.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Shonn Greene

Both ends of the Jets’ RBBC scored for the first time in more than two months last week, against a top-10 run defense no less. So a date with the bottom-feeding Bills—who gave up 133 and 2 to LT and 117 yards to Greene in the earlier meeting—should set both backs up nicely for as long as Rex Ryan keeps them in this meaningless contest. If you’re looking for a deep sleeper, meet the Jets’ No. 3 back, Joe McKnight.

WR Santonio Holmes


Holmes has five of the last seven WR TDs the Jets have recorded, though only one has come in the last month. If any Jet receiver is to have value it’s Holmes, though he may lose both his starting quarterback and playing time to reserves in a game that can do nothing for the Jets’ postseason seeding.

WR Braylon Edwards


Edwards scored in the earlier meeting with Buffalo but has taken a back seat to Holmes over the past seven games with just one 100-yard game and one TD in that span. His upside is significantly lower than Holmes, and with all the circumstances conspiring against him he’s best left on the bench.

TE Dustin Keller S3

Keller hasn’t scored since Week 4, when he scored twice... against these very Bills. Buffalo gave up three TE TDs last week and has allowed a league-high 11 this season, so if Keller survived this long on your roster here’s your payoff.

DT Jets S3 Gang Green got their first defensive score in almost three months last week, and with the lineup likely filled with backups looking to make a name for themselves expect some chances to be taken.
Cincinnati at Baltimore Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer B

Palmer put up his worst game of the season (167 and 0) back in Week 2 against the Ravens. After throwing for 269 and 4 last week you might think Palmer would be back in fantasy’s good graces, but that was his first decent fantasy outing in a month. Now he goes on the road to face a Ravens defense that a) has gained Ed Reed since that earlier meeting and b) could wind up with a first-round bye with a win; doesn’t bode well for Palmer, does it?

RB Cedric Benson B

Benson ground out three yards per carry in the earlier meeting with Baltimore, but he was barely over two last week against San Diego and ceded the touchdown to Bernard Scott. Only two teams have allowed fewer RB rushing scores than Baltimore, and only two teams have surrendered fewer rushing yards. With the Ravens motivated for this one, you’re bound to find better options than Benson.

WR Andre Caldwell
Jerome Simpson

Caldwell has actually been the more consistent entry with back to back 80-yard games, though Simpson’s 6-124-2 last week made a bigger splash. The Ravens have given up five WR TDs in the last three games, so there’s a chance one or both of Cincy’s future divas could state their case for 2011 fantasy sleeper

TE Jermaine Gresham B The rookie rediscovered the end zone last week, but he didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful. Even if he goes, the Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends so Gresham shouldn't be in your lineup.
DT Bengals B The Ravens haven’t served up a return TD all season; don’t expect the Bengals to snap that string.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Joe Flacco S3

Flacco has multiple TDs in three straight, four of five, and eight of 10. More importantly, in the 13 games since he threw four picks against the Bengals he has tossed a total of four INTs. Cincy has allowed only one TD pass in its last three road games, but with Baltimore playing for a shot at a bye and Flacco sharper than he was in Week 2 he’s a solid revenge play this week.

RB Ray Rice S3

Cincy held Rice to 87 rushing yards, but with 30 receiving yards he posted a triple-digit combo yardage day without a touchdown. That stat line is par for the course for Rice this season; he has just five TDs despite 10 games with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. At this point it would be foolish to bank on touchdowns from Rice, just as it would be silly to think he won’t be a yardage helper in performance leagues.

WR Anquan Boldin
Derrick Mason
T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Wasn’t Boldin supposed to give Baltimore a true WR1? In three games since his big outing against Pittsburgh he’s had just six catches for 58 yards; meanwhile, Mason has 11 catches for 170 yards and three TDs. And you just know Housh would like to get back at his former mates as well. Any one of them could be a helper, but none of them are must-starts.


Todd Heap

B Even if Heap does play, which given his perpetually injured status is hardly a given, he’d be tough to trust with a start against a defense that’s allowed only three TE TDs this season.
DT Ravens S3 The Bengals have served up six DST TDs this season; the Ravens have three in the last six weeks. Any time you’ve got Ed Reed on your side you have a chip and a chair.

Jacksonville at Houston

Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Trent Edwards B

Evidently something in Edwards’ 56% completion percentage or 381 passing yards in three games or 1:4 TD-to-INT ratio has the Jaguars convinced this is the guy who can get them this must-win game. Despite the cushy matchup against the league’s softest secondary, start Edwards at your own risk. Now if the Jags opt for Todd Bouman, who at least put up 222 and 2 against the Chiefs in his spot start...

RB Maurice Jones-Drew B

MoJo is officially a no-go again this week.


Rashard Jennings

S3 Maurice Jones-Drew is unlikely to be around for this one, missing a second straight game with a knee injury. Had Jennings not laid an egg against a bottom-10 Redskins run defense, we’d be more excited about him getting the bulk of the carries against the same Texans defense MoJo took for 100 yards and two TDs back in Week 10. Instead, it’s more of a cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Mike Sims-Walker
Mike Thomas

S3 Only one team has given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Texans, but that means nothing if the quarterback can’t get the ball to them. Thus far we’ve seen nothing to suggest Edwards can feed either of these guys enough to make them viable fantasy options, so you’re starting them in hopes of either a) Edwards suddenly developing competency; b) the Texans’ secondary being so bad even Trent Edwards can toast them; or c) something heavy falls on Edwards between now and kickoff, opening the door for Todd Bouman, who at least found MSW for a touchdown in his one start.

Marcedes Lewis

S2 Lewis will be an option with either backup quarterback in the game, as both have demonstrated a fondness for checking down. And while the Texans haven’t allowed a TE TD in six weeks, only one team has allowed more yardage to tight ends and only one team has given up more receptions to the position as well so Lewis is an option in TE-mandatory leagues with performance scoring systems.
DT Jaguars B

The Jags haven’t scored a defensive touchdown all year, and they’re unlikely to start now.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Schaub managed just fine in Denver last week without Andre Johnson, and the Jaguars are equally as fantasy-friendly to quarterbacks. Schaub has thrown for 300 yards in four straight, has multiple touchdowns in four of the last five, and has at least 250 yards or multiple touchdowns (or both) in 10 consecutive outings. The Texans can play spoiler, and Schaub will lead the charge.
RB Arian Foster
S2 The Jags have motivation, however slim the chances of Tennessee beating Indy, but that won’t be enough to slow Foster. They held him to 56 yards and a touchdown in Jacksonville, but Foster has five 100-yard games and three multiple-touchdown efforts in Houston and should entertain the crowd with another big day.
WR Jacoby Jones S2 Jones stepped up in Andre Johnson’s spot last week, producing 5-115 against the Broncos. He’s also scored twice in the last month and is the Texans’ best bet to replace the 9-146-1 AJ posted in Jacksonville back in Week 10.
WR Kevin Walter S3

Walter was less targeted last week but he too has played better of late with 13-150-1 on 22 targets over the past three weeks. He also scored in the front end of the series with Jacksonville and could be considered a fringe fantasy helper as well.

TE Owen Daniels S2

Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Jaguars, and over the past three weeks we’ve seen why, when healthy, Daniels is a Pro Bowl caliber tight end: 32 targets, 17 catches, 209 yards, and a touchdown. He’s Schaub’s go-to guy with Johnson sidelined and should be in line for another solid showing here.

DT Texans B Houston doesn’t have a return TD this year, so despite the favorable matchup with Trent Edwards you can’t really bank on one here.
Dallas at Philadelphia Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Steven McGee S3

McGee put up decent numbers (111 and 1) in half a game against a defense that ranks in the bottom third (read: toughest) of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. While there's a chance Jon Kitna could play, after he sat out of practice all week it's more likely it's McGee who faces a defense that’s allowed more fantasy points to QBs than all but four other teams—a defense that just let Joe Webb beat them. Hey, if your league is still playing games that count in Week 17 you may as well go to the bullpen for McGee.

RB Marion Barber
Felix Jones

With three chefs in the kitchen it’s a lot messier, but after seeing Barber and Jones bogart most of the carries last week (with MB3 scoring) and knowing that Jones had a nice combo yardage day against Philly in the earlier meeting, they’re the more reliable options. And against a defense that’s allowed 10 RB TDs (three receiving) in the last eight games, there’s room for both to carve out some fantasy value.

WR Miles Austin S2

Austin was held in check in the earlier meeting with Philly, but 13 targets last week (compared to four for all other Cowboy wideouts) suggest that McGee knows who his downfield go-to guy is. And after seeing Percy Harvin drop 100 yards on the Eagles last week, you have to think Austin can do it with his backup QB.

TE Jason Witten S1

Witten has scored in five straight games and has a date with the second-most fantasy friendly defense against tight ends queued up—a team he took for 69 yards and two TDs less than a month ago. With 11 targets for eight catches and a touchdown last week, it’s clear McGee knows where to find him.

DT Cowboys B Despite six Philly turnovers in the last two games, it’s tough to see the Dallas defense coming up with some fantasy points here.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Michael Vick B

The fantasy MVP is nursing a quad injury and didn't practice all week. There’s little reason for the Eagles to risk him, so while he's listed as questionable you can rule him out

RB LeSean McCoy

McCoy rolled the Cowboys for 149 rushing yards in the earlier meeting and would be an even better play with Kolb under center. However, with Philly locked into the No. 3 seed you can expect Jerome Harrison to get plenty of carries and take a bite out of McCoy’s fantasy value—maybe even enough to create some of his own.

WR DeSean Jackson
B With Jackson nursing a sore foot and Philly already set as the three seed, don’t expect him to see much if any action on Sunday. He didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable, but it will be shocking if he plays.
WR Jeremy Maclin
S3 You may see enough of Maclin on Sunday for him to abuse the most fantasy-friendly secondary in the league, carving out a piece of the 210 and 1 Jackson dropped on Dallas in the earlier meeting.
WR Jason Avant
S3 This may be your sleeper play of the week at wideout, as Philly has no reason to put Jackson and Maclin at risk. That leaves Avant, Riley Cooper, and Chad Hall to exploit the aforementioned weak Cowboys secondary, with Avant the safest bet to put up helpful fantasy numbers.
TE Brent Celek
S3 Whether it’s Vick checking down to avoid the kind of beating he took at the hands of the Vikings or Kolb who never met a checkdown he didn’t like, Celek is back in business as a fantasy helper this week—at least as long as he’s on the field; expect Clay Harbor to see plenty of work in this one as well.
DT Eagles B The Philly blitz did nothing to rattle rookie Joe Webb last week, and with the playoffs looming they’re likely to employ a vanilla preseason scheme against McGee—ruining what could have been a very exploitable matchup.
New York at Washington Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

It was less Washington holding Eli to 161 and zero back in Week 13—one of just two games without multiple touchdowns Eli has posted over the past three months—than it was the Giants’ running game overpowering the Redskins. With neither back doing a great job of holding on to the football and the Redskins having given up 266 yards or more in three straight games, enough of the offensive onus will be back on Manning for him to put up helpful fantasy numbers.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Brandon Jacobs

One month ago the Big Blue ground game blew up the Redskins to the tune of 200 rushing yards and four TDs. The next week they gouged Minnesota for 219 and two, but since then they’ve stubbed their collective toes against Philly and Green Bay; worse, Bradshaw and Jacobs have taken turns infuriating Tom Coughlin by putting the ball on the ground. Washington’s defense has shored up as well, allowing just one RB TD in the three games since being basted by the Giants. Assuming Bradshaw and Jacobs don’t lose their grips, this is still a must-win game for the Giants and they’ll stick with the ground-heavy attack that put them in position to qualify for the playoffs. That means plenty of Bradshaw and Jacobs, with fantasy value theirs for the taking.

WR Mario Manningham
Derek Hagan

The Giants played their earlier game against the Redskins without Hakeem Nicks, and it was Hagan who stepped up with 7-65 to pace the team’s receivers. Manningham was quieter that day (2-36), but he’s made noise with back-to-back 100-yard efforts, a total of 245 yards and three TDs in the last two games. Both should be fantasy helpers with the Giants needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

TE Kevin Boss

Boss is one of the few tight ends who hasn’t had much success against the Redskins; he and Bear Pascoe split four catches and 49 yards in the earlier meeting. However. Boss has scored in three of the last five and has consistently stepped into the void when Giant receivers go down with injury, so he’s at least worthy of consideration here.

DT Giants S3 Few teams get after the quarterback like the Giants, and Rex Grossman is the kind of quarterback who can be harried into mistakes—mistakes that lead to defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Rex Grossman S3

Rex torched the Cowboys, whiffed against the Jags, and now catches a reeling Giants’ defense that’s allowed 646 passing yards and seven passing TDs in the past two games. New York has something to play for and Grossman isn’t Mike Vick or Aaron Rodgers, the two QBs that have torched Big Blue over the past fortnight, but after watching him drop the ball in Jacksonville it’s likely your expectations have already been lowered appropriately.


Ryan Torain

S3 Torain missed the Week 13 meeting with New York, but James Davis carved out 81 combo yards against Big Blue. Now it’s Torain’s turn; he comes in with 352 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns over his last three games. While the Giants may be playing for a shot at the playoffs, Torain will be looking to secure a starting job heading into next season so he has motivation of his own.
WR Santana Moss
Anthony Armstrong
S3 Grossman knows where to find Moss; he’s targeted him 22 times in two games, for 157 yards and two touchdowns. His big arm also brings Armstrong into play as well; though he’s been targeted just nine times in two games, Rex helped him produce his first 100-yard game of the season. The Giants just allowed two 100-yard receivers last week and four WR TDs in the past two games, so there should be plenty to go around.
TE Chris Cooley S3

Cooley has seen 18 balls in Grossman’s two games, producing a pair of five-catch outings for a total of 110 yards. The only downer was that while Cooley scored in Dallas, last week Fred Davis vultured his touchdown. The Giants have allowed TE TDs in back-to-back games, giving Cooley a chance of adding a TD to the 6-61 he posted in the earlier matchup with New York.

DT Redskins B Despite facing a Giants’ team with a propensity for turning the ball over, the Redskins defense hasn’t shown enough playmaking ability to be banked on for fantasy points.

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