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Start/Bench List - Week 17
John Tuvey
Updated: December 31, 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)

San Diego at Denver

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San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S2

Rivers went for 233 and 4 when these teams met back in Week 11, but after laying an egg in Cincy last week all he has left to play for is pride. Still, he’s pretty prideful so even against a Denver defense that’s gone four straight without allowing an opposing QB to throw multiple touchdowns he’s a decent fantasy play.

RB Ryan Mathews S2 With Mike Tolbert sidelined Mathews will get an opportunity to prove A.J. Smith was smart to trade up and get him as well as improve his fantasy value heading into 2011. Doesn’t hurt that he’ll face a Denver defense that’s given up more fantasy points to running backs than any other team.
RB Darren Sproles S3 Sproles scored and had five catches for 60 yards in the previous meeting. Since Mathews can’t pass protect, Sproles will be on the field plenty—enough to catch at least five passes, as he’s done in each of the last three games. And seeing as the Broncos have given up the second-most RB receiving touchdowns in the league, don’t rule out a score as well.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 Jackson gets one final chance to put a couple extra zeroes on his contract, or at least convince A.J. Smith he’s worthy of the franchise tag. He’s been Rivers’ primary target each of the past two games, and money is a great motivator.
WR Malcom Floyd S3 Floyd practiced fully both Thursday and Friday and should be ready for this game. He should supercede the other secondary targets and maybe even V-Jax as one of Rivers' favorite go-to guys.
WR Legedu Naanee
Kelley Washington
B Rivers can’t throw to Jackson on every play, and with no Antonio Gates he’ll have to work in the secondary targets. However, neither Naanee nor Washington has been consistent enough to be trusted with a fantasy start in the final week of the season, and Malcom Floyd's surprising availability doesn't help them.
TE Randy McMichael B

To put it in the simplest terms: he's not Antonio Gates.

DT Chargers B

For having the No. 2 defense in the league, the Chargers have been a huge fantasy disappointment.

Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tim Tebow S3 Yes, only the Saints have allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Chargers. But when you consider that Tebow is also the Broncos’ goal line back and should be able to hit on at least one big play to Brandon Lloyd, that’s enough to at least earn him consideration for a Week 17 start.
RB Knowshon Moreno B Owshon is questionable for this week’s tilt after being limited in practice both Thursday and Friday, but even if he goes he can’t be trusted.
RB Correll Buckhalter B The General was solid in relief of the injured Moreno last week with 92 combo yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, the Broncos have already indicated they’ll go with “the hot hand” at running back so unless Buckhalter is on fire prior to the game it’s tough to bank on him here.
WR Brandon Lloyd


Lloyd scored against the Bolts in the previous meeting and has been Tebow’s favorite target each of the past two games. With San Diego having just surrendered three WR TDs to the Bengals—without TO and Ochocinco—there’s no reason to think Lloyd can’t get back in the end zone again.

WR Jabar Gaffney
Eddie Royal


Last week was not only the first time the Chargers allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game, it was the first time they allowed two different receivers to top 56 yards in the same game. Suffice it to say that WR2s and WR3s are not good plays against San Diego.

DT Broncos B Defense hasn’t exactly been one of Denver’s strong suits this season.

Arizona at San Francisco

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB John Skelton B

Skelton threw for 183 and 1—his first NFL touchdown—against the softest secondary in the league. In other words, that’s as good as it gets.

RB Tim Hightower
Chris Wells
B Patrick Willis will be out for the Niners, but aside from Hightower’s gouging of the worst run D in the league a couple weeks ago Arizona backs have done nothing of fantasy note—certainly not enough for you to put faith in their Week 17 production.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

That Fitz was targeted just three times against the worst secondary in the league is a travesty. And with the incompetent John Skelton still at the helm, why would this start against a Niners defense that’s allowed the fifth most fantasy points to wideouts be any more productive? Fitz gets the token start because he’s talented enough to make something out of nothing, but even he needs a little help from his quarterback.

WR Andre Roberts

Roberts saw nine targets last week, turning them into 110 yards and John Skelton’s first NFL touchdown. It’s another soft matchup, but with Fitzgerald still on the field it’s tough to trust Roberts will get the bulk of the looks again.

DT Cardinals S2 The Cards have eight defensive touchdowns already this season, and while the Niners haven’t given one up since Week 5... well, it is Alex Smith at quarterback.
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S3

Would you believe Alex Smith has multiple touchdown tosses in each of his last three home starts? He gets one more chance to get booed by the Bay Area faithful, facing an Arizona secondary that’s allowed multiple TDs in only two of its last seven games. Because the Cards have been slightly more generous on the road, where they’ve allowed multiple TDs in two of the last three, we’ll give Smith a narrow starting nod in his San Francisco swan song.

RB Brian Westbrook
Anthony Dixon

You may recall the last time the Niners faced Arizona Frank Gore was injured 52 yards into what was going to be a huge outing; Westbrook and Dixon stepped in with 190 combined rushing yards and a TD each. Now Westy and Dix get to face Arizona at home, without ceding any touches to Gore. Considering the Cardinals have given up a 100-yard rusher or a running back touchdown—or both—in nine straight games, this should be another big day for the San Fran ground attack.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Crabtree scored in the previous meeting with Arizona, but that was with Troy Smith at the helm. Alex shows a little less favoritism, but Crabtree is still the San Francisco wideout with the best shot at being a fantasy factor.
WR Josh Morgan B Morgan’s three biggest fantasy games have come with Alex Smith at the helm, but they haven’t been all that big—or at least not big enough to trust him with a fantasy start here.
TE Vernon Davis S2

No Niner was happier with the quarterback switch than Davis who’s scored in five of Alex Smith’s last six starts. Arizona has allowed TE TDs in each of the last two games, adding more fuel to the fire.

DT 49ers B This defense wasn’t much of a fantasy helper with Willis; even against Skelton, it’s tough to bank on them without him.

Chicago at Green Bay

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jay Cutler S3

Cutler threw for 221 and 1 in the earlier meeting, way back in Week 3. His picked up his pace since then, with multiple TDs in two straight, three of five, and five of eight. Green Bay has allowed multiple scores in back to back games, so they’re willing to help. Here’s the question: if Atlanta locks down home field advantage during the early games, will Lovie Smith still go all out in this one?

RB Matt Forte S3

Forte just took the second-toughest run defense for 169 combo yards and a touchdown, why should he fear the third-toughest? A few reasons, actually: last week’s game was at home, this one’s on the road; it’s also against the same defense that held him to 43 yards from scrimmage in the earlier meeting; and Forte could be resting while Chester Taylor and Garrett Wolfe get carries if Lovie decides to pull his starters. Not that either of them are worthy of fantasy consideration this week.


Johnny Knox

S3 Green Bay gave up their first WR TDs in a month and a half last week, while the Bears scored three WR TDs for the second straight week. Knox has three of those six TDs and went for 94 yards in the earlier meeting with the Packers, so if Lovie is playing his starters Knox is the safest play among Chicago’s wideouts. If it’s backups, of course, all bets are off.
TE Greg Olsen


While Olsen has been absent from the Chicago attack of late, he scored in the earlier matchup with Green Bay and would face a defense that’s allowed five TE TDs in the last five games. So if the starters are in, Olsen is worth considering in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Bears B The Bears D is solid, but despite what Lovie says it’s unlikely you’ll see Devin Hester returning kicks. Besides, the Pack offense is pretty prolific and they have much more to play for than Chicago does.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

Rodgers went for 404 and 4 in his first game back from a concussion; he’s also had four straight (and six of seven) at Lambeau with multiple touchdowns and at least 289 yards in five straight at home. The Bears have allowed multiple touchdowns only twice—to Tom Brady and Michael Vick. Rodgers belongs in that category, and with a playoff berth on the line look for him to go big rather than go home.


Brandon Jackson
John Kuhn


Jackson had 39 combo yards in the previous meeting with Chicago, and there’s no reason to expect a dramatic improvement. Kuhn’s three TDs last week were cute, but that felt more like a novelty act than a guy you’d bank on to score on one of his half-dozen touches per game.

WR Greg Jennings


Jennings scored in the earlier meeting in Chicago, but where he really thrives is at home: back-to-back 100-yard games and six Lambeau Leaps in as many home dates. The Bears have allowed WR TDs in five straight, and if they’re in any way taking this one easy Jennings should have little trouble extending his home success.

WR James Jones


The Bears haven’t allowed multiple WR TDs in the same game all season long, so if a secondary target is going to carve out some fantasy value it will likely be via yardage. Last week’s 124-yard effort by Jordy Nelson notwithstanding, Jones is the more likely candidate to get behind the Bears D and eat up yardage.

DT Packers S2 Green Bay at home on a mission facing Jay Cutler is a good play. If Lovie goes to the bullpen for one of Chicago’s craptastic backups, suddenly the Packers D becomes a phenomenal play.

Tennessee at Indianapolis

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kerry Collins S3

Collins threw for 244 and three against Indy just three weeks ago, and he’s thrown for multiple touchdowns and at least 235 yards in each of the two games since as well. But that was a bit out of desperation; the Titans would rather run the ball and keep Peyton Manning off the field. Jeff Fisher has also indicated that, while he’s playing to win, he wouldn’t be above experimenting with younger players—especially on offense. How will that impact the play-calling and Collins’ opportunity to put up another solid statistical game? Hard to say. Pencil him in for moderate success, but don’t get greedy.

RB Chris Johnson S2

CJ rushed for 111 and a score and caught eight balls for another 68 yards in the Week 14 loss to Indy. Since then, however, the Colts have shored up their run D in holding Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden to a combined 91 rushing yards and zero TDs. Don’t bet against Johnson, especially since he’ll be involved in the passing game if the Titans are forced to play catch-up, but this won’t be a walkover for him.

WR Kenny Britt
S3 Only one wide receiver has scored on Indy in the last five games, and only one has topped 60 yards. Britt is the Titans’ leading candidate to do both, with 18 targets for 10-217-1 over the past two weeks. No other Tennessee wideout is consistent enough to warrant mentioning.
TE Jared Cook
S3 Bo Scaife scored twice and Craig Stevens once in the earlier meeting with Indy, part of a late-season run in which the Colts have surrendered seven TE TDs in the last seven games. However, both Scaife and Stevens have been usurped by Cook, one of those younger players Fisher may want to test drive more extensively this week. He was targeted nine times last week (compared to a combined once for Scaife and Stevens) and produced 5-96-1, so he’s an intriguing sleeper play in TE mandatory leagues this week.
DT Titans B Manning seems to have moved beyond his “pick six” stage, and the Titans haven’t scored a defensive touchdown in two months anyway.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S1

Peyton threw for 319 and 2 in the Week 14 win over Tennessee, the first of three straight quarterbacks to take the Titans for at least 314 yards and multiple touchdowns. That game also fell in the middle of a six-game multiple-touchdown stretch for Manning, who has been en fuego with his back to the proverbial wall as the Colts need to win out to take the division. No reason to bet against him misstepping here.

RB Joseph Addai S3 Addai is still working his way back into shape after taking two months off, but he’s the only Indy back you can trust to produce fantasy points. He’ll still share carries with one or two other backs, but Addai is the only one with fantasy value.
WR Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garçon

With three straight scoreless outings Wayne has shed his “go-to” status; now he’s just another one of Manning’s many targets. He caught four balls for 106 yards in the earlier meeting with Tennessee, but Garçon is being targeted just as frequently and has scored four times since Wayne’s last touchdown. Both are in play here, because any receiver with a pulse and a horseshoe could be Manning’s next target.

WR Blair White S3

White is a poor imitation of Austin Collie, but he’ll have to do. And with 34 targets and four touchdowns in the last seven games, he’s doing just fine.

TE Jacob Tamme S3

Tamme continues to churn out fantasy helpers, but the Titans held him in check in the earlier meeting and have now gone a month without allowing a tight end touchdown. Despite the matchup, Tamme still helps in PPR leagues and gets enough looks to be worthy of a start in TE mandatory leagues as well.

DT Colts B The Colts have forced just three turnovers in the last six games; that’s no way to generate defensive fantasy points.

St. Louis at Seattle

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St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford S2

Bradford broke a month-long scoreless streak with a touchdown toss against the Niners last week, but now he gets to face a Seattle secondary that’s allowed 11 passing touchdowns in the last three games and 19 in the past six. He went for 289 and two at home against Seattle back in Week 4; now watch him put the finishing touches on his ROY season by carving up the Seahawks in Seattle with the NFC West title on the line.

RB Steven Jackson S2

Who says Jackson can’t find the end zone with a road map and a flashlight? He’s now scored in two straight, three of four, and four of six. He’s also piling up decent combo yardage along the way, much like the 22-70 rushing/3-54 receiving he posted against Seattle earlier this year. Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Seahawks, so what Bradford can’t get through the air Jackson should be able to get on the ground—with, of course, a little overlap.


Danny Amendola


Over the past two games Amendola has twice as many targets as any other Rams wideout, and against a Seattle defense that’s allowed the third most fantasy points to wideouts those targets should lead to plenty of productivity.


Danario Alexander
Brandon Gibson
Laurent Robinson


Mark Clayton was Bradford’s go-to guy in the earlier meeting. Now that duty has shifted to Amendola, with Alexander (11 targets the past two games), Gibson (12 targets), and Robinson (11) all fighting for attention. None is a sure thing, but all have a favorable matchup with a shaky Seattle secondary and could be considered if you’re in a pinch.


Michael Hoomanawanui


Hoomanawanui scored in two straight before injuring his ankle; he got a full practice in on Friday, just in time for a favorable matchup with a Seattle defense that’s allowed four TE TDs in the past five weeks, including two to Kellen Winslow last week alone.

DT Rams U The Rams don’t have a return TD all year, but the Seahawks have surrendered two in the past three weeks and will most likely be trotting out Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. So we’re sayin’ there’s a chance.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck B Hasselbeck sat out two days of practice and worked on a limited basis Friday, but the Seahawks hope he can go Sunday night; of course, if your other option was Charlie Whitehurst you'd hope for Hass, too. It may not make a difference who goes for Seattle, as only four quarterbacks all year have thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Rams, and Drew Brees is the only one to turn the trick in the last month. Hasselbeck threw for 191 and zero in the earlier meeting, and there’s no reason to expect much more here.
QB Charlie Whitehurst B Whitehurst doesn’t even have multiple TDs in the four games combined in which he’s played, totaling 315 yards and three picks to go with his one touchdown. He's not an option.
RB Marshawn Lynch B

Lynch has been seeing the bulk of the carries, but he hasn’t been doing much with them. Only five teams have allowed fewer RB TDs than the Rams, so a score won’t be easy to come by, either. It’s do or die for the Seahawks, but they just don’t seem to have the right bullets to fire.


Mike Williams
Ben Obomanu

B On the bright side, Obomanu is the proud owner of Whitehurst’s lone pro TD. However, the way Whitehurst’s few downfield looks are being distributed, neither he nor Williams are viable fantasy plays this week. If Hasselbeck goes their outlook is slightly more optimistic, but not enough to warrant a fantasy play.

John Carlson

B If it's Whitehurst at the helm Carlson is bound to see an uptick in looks; however, the Rams have allowed just three TE TDs all year so he can’t be trusted with a fantasy start in Week 17.
DT Seahawks B The Seahawks will need a 13th and 14th Man to rattle Bradford, and their defense will have plenty to worry about without worrying about scoring.

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