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Start/Bench List 2008 Week 16

Congrats to those of you partaking in your championship game this week. It’s been a long season and your decisions have brought you to the title game. Don’t stray from your strategy that brought you this far. Pay close attention to your studs. You should feel comfortable starting all your studs this week, but next week will be a different story. The balance of playing the matchups against the “stud”-meter becomes tough this late in the season. When in doubt, ask the Tank.

When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:

1) Studs – Always play your studs. Each position will include a list of players that are considered studs and should not be benched. If you have the luxury of needing to decide between studs, check out the matchups or feel free to let the shark tank assist you in your decisions. This list will change from week to week.

2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.

Enough of the chit-chat, onto the list!!

Quarterbacks

Studs

Kurt Warner, Arizona at New England

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay at Chicago

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis at Jacksonville

Jay Cutler, Denver vs. Buffalo

Drew Brees, New Orleans at Detroit

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia at Washington

Tony Romo, Dallas vs. Baltimore

Philip Rivers, San Diego at Tampa Bay

Start

Matt Cassel, New England (vs.

Arizona): The Patriots have plenty to play for this late in the season, and

Cassel performed extremely well last week despite his thoughts and emotions being with his family. Look for a return to normalcy for Cassel this week and another big performance passing as coach Belichick rides

Cassel‘s hot streak into the final week which will determine the winner of the AFC East.

Brett Favre, N.Y. Jets (at Seattle): Speaking of the AFC East, Favre and the Jets had a surprising come-from-behind victory last week as their defense scored on a fumble return thanks to J.P. Losman, who was sacked and fumbled late in the fourth quarter (why he was even passing, I’ll never know). Favre has cooled off as of late throwing only one TD and five INTs in the past four games. Look for Favre to turn things around against a Seahawks pass defense ranked dead last in passing yards allowed.

Bench

Jason Campbell, Washington (vs.

Philadelphia): The last time

Campbell faced the Eagles (in Week 5), he threw for 176 yards and no TDs or INTs. That was when the Redskins still had aspirations of the playoffs this season. At 7-7, those hopes are all but gone. Expect another mediocre performance from

Campbell as Philly’s defense holds him in check and continues their playoff push.

Kerry Collins,

Tennessee (vs.

Pittsburgh): Once again Collins reminded us how poorly he can play as he posted a stinker in

Houston last week. Collins will be the downfall of the Titans in the postseason, don’t let him ruin your fantasy playoff run too.

Running Backs

Studs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Atlanta

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia at Washington

Ladainian Tomlinson, San Diego at Tampa Bay

Matt Forte, Chicago vs. Green Bay

Michael Turner, Atlanta at Minnesota

Clinton Portis, Washington vs. Philadelphia

Start

Steve Slaton, Houston (at

Oakland): Slaton was very impressive last week reaching 100 yards rushing against a solid Titans defense. Look for Slaton to find things much easier against a Raiders defense ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. If

Oakland allowed Sammy Morris to rush for 117 yards last week, Slaton is poised to claim the best RB stats of the week.

Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo (at

Denver): Lynch continues to sway his critics (present company included) with his recent performances rushing for over 100 yards in three of the past five games, including 127 yards against the Jets last week. Look for another solid day on the ground from Lynch against the Broncos who haven’t been able to stop anyone from running the ball all season.

DeAngelo Williams,

Carolina (at N.Y. Giants): Williams has averaged an amazing 8.8 yards per carry over the last two games including three TDs. This doesn’t even include his four TD performance in Week 13. If you own Willams, you’re starting him no questions asked. The Giants run defense may be tough, but you can’t afford to take the chance having Williams on your bench this week. Stick with the hot hand.

Bench

Tim Hightower, Arizona (at New England): He may be the starter in Arizona, but 24 carries in three weeks combined is not what you want to see from your starting RB unless he’s catching 8-10 passes per game (for the record, Hightower has eight receptions in the past three games).

Arizona will continue to pass, pass and pass some more in

New England, leaving Hightower relatively useless.

Jamal Lewis, Cleveland (vs.

Cincinnati): Lewis has faced some tough run defenses lately (

Tennessee,

Philadelphia), but that doesn’t excuse the fact that defenses simply don’t believe that Ken Dorsey can beat them. Even the Bengals can figure that out (I think). Look for Cincy to load up and stop the run, holding Lewis to minimal yardage which should keep him on your bench.

Willis McGahee, Baltimore (at

Dallas): Six carries for 18 yards? What you talkin’ about Willis?! Le’Ron McLain’s presence along with the

Dallas defense make McGahee’s chances of success this week slim and none. Sorry Willis, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.

Wide Receivers

Studs

Anquan Boldin, Arizona at New England

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona at New England

Randy Moss, New England vs. Arizona

Wes Welker, New England vs. Arizona

Greg Jennings, Green Bay at Chicago

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis at Jacksonville

Andre Johnson, Houston at Oakland

Brandon Marshall, Denver vs. Buffalo

Marques Colston, New Orleans at Detroit

Steve Smith, Carolina at N.Y. Giants

Terrell Owens, Dallas vs. Baltimore

Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. New Orleans

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati at Cleveland

Start

Jerricho Cotchery

,

N.Y. Jets (at

Seattle): I know, I know, Cotchery has failed miserably the last three weeks to live up to expectations. I just can’t ignore this matchup. I mean the Seahawks are the worst team in the league against the pass and the Jets are battling for the AFC East title. How can you not like Favre and Cotchery to post big numbers this week? I prefer Cotchery over Laveranues Coles however. Call it a hunch.

Roddy White,

Atlanta (at

Minnesota): Quite frankly, White should have been on the Studs list a few weeks ago. He has been unreal this season. The Vikings will be able to stop Michael Turner, but slowing down Matt Ryan and his favorite target won’t be as easy. Look for another solid game from White as he looks to add to his already impressive seven games with over 100 yards receiving.

Eddie Royal,

Denver (vs.

Buffalo): Who is running the ball for

Denver this week? Do you think Terrell Davis will come out of retirement to take a few draws up the middle? While Mike Shanahan loves the running game, look for him to lean more on the passing attack against the Bills which means plenty of action for Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to go around. Royal has at least five catches in each of the past three games and that will continue this week.

** Updated 12/17 **

Anthony Gonzalez,

Indianapolis (at

Jacksonville): Marvin Harrison has been ruled out for Thursday’s game.  Look for Gonzalez to capitalize on his opportunity.  With Joseph Addai‘s status in question, G

onzalez will be the benefactor of extras passes and double coverage on Reggie Wayne.

Bench

Lee Evans,

Buffalo (at

Denver): The biggest downside to the resurgence of Marshawn Lynch is the disappearing act of Lee Evans. Evans has a combined seven catches for 45 yards over the past two games. Not exactly starter material if you ask me. With more Marshawn on tap in

Denver, the most you’ll see out of Evans is him blocking on the sidelines as Lynch runs past.

Mark Clayton, Baltimore (at

Dallas): Clayton continues to show why you don’t rely on WRs who post one big game. After his five-catch, 164-yard, and a TD game in Week 13, Clayton has caught a total of five passes for 57 yards in two weeks. The

Dallas defense, which is ranked eighth in the NFL in passing yards allowed, has plenty to play for and will keep Clayton and the Ravens passing attack in check.

Santana Moss

,

Washington (vs.

Philadelphia): Moss posted his best game in almost two months last week against the Bengals catching seven passes for 72 yards and a score. That was the Bengals, this week it will be the Eagles who will make it very difficult for Jason Campbell to get on track. Moss won’t find the same openings as last week and

Campbell won’t be able to adjust to the constant pressure of the Eagles defense.

Vincent Jackson,

San Diego (at

Tampa

Bay):

Jackson has posted back-to-back strong games, but those stats came against the likes of

Oakland and

Kansas City.

Tampa

Bay is ranked third in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed and

Jackson along with Phillip Rivers will feel the difference immediately. The Chargers will find success running the ball limiting

Jackson‘s chances at a third consecutive big game.

Tight Ends

Studs

Dallas Clark, Indianapolis at Jacksonville

Owen Daniels, Houston at Oakland

Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans at Detroit

Jason Witten, Dallas vs. Baltimore

Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Miami

Antonio Gates, San Diego at Tampa Bay

Chris Cooley, Washington vs. Philadelphia

Start

Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets (at

Seattle): First Brett Favre, then Jerricho Cotchery, now Keller? Sorry Thomas Jones owners, I’m really digging the Jets passing attack this week. Keller has been quiet the last two weeks catching only five passes for 49 yards. Look for a return to the six-catch, 75-yard mark his was averaging between Weeks 10 and 13.

Donald Lee, Green Bay (at Chicago): Lee had his biggest game of the season the last time he faced the Bears catching six passes for 33 yards and a score. Look for another strong day from Lee as the Bears continue to struggle in defending the pass.

Bench

Bo Scaife,

Tennessee (vs.

Pittsburgh): Six catches for 38 yards combined over the past three games doesn’t not a starter make.

Todd Heap, Baltimore (at

Dallas): Heap is averaging 26 yards per catch over the past two weeks which is unheard of for a TE. Expect two catches for 10 yards this week to even things out which should be enough warning to keep him on your bench against

Dallas.

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