Week 17 in Fantasy Football is different than every other week. The whole concept of studs (ASYS) goes out the window. You need to know the playoff scenarios so that you don’t get stuck with a would-be stud who rests the entire second half. This week’s start bench list will focus on those players that have something to play for this week, even if that something is simply pride.
Marc Bulger,St. Louis (vs. Minnesota): The Rams need a win and lots of help in order to get into the playoffs. With Bulger and company facing the team that has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL, expect the aerial attack to begin early and last all day long.
Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta): Even though the Eagles have clinched a playoff spot, they can win the division and play at home in the first round of the playoffs with a win this week. Garcia will continue his solid play against a susceptible Falcons secondary.
J.P. Losman, Buffalo (vs. Baltimore): The loss last week ended the Bills playoff chances and any hopes of you starting Losman this week. Baltimore can clinch home field and/or a first round bye and Losman won’t put up much of a fight.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle (vs. Tampa Bay): The Seahawks have clinched the division and even with a win this week, their 9-7 record probably won’t be enough to move above the four seed. Look for Hasselbeck to play sparingly as the Seahawks attempt to return to the Super Bowl with all of their weapons intact.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (vs. Arizona): Even if LT only plays a quarter, he’s a better start than 75% of the RBs out there.
Mike Bell, Denver (vs. San Francisco): Mike received more carries than Tatum and Tatum’s fumble doesn’t bode well for more carries. Denver can clinch a playoff spot with a win, so you can be sure Shanahan will pound it on the ground until San Fran proves they can stop the run. Even if carries are split between the Bells, expect enough to go around to make Mike (and even Tatum if desperate) solid plays this week.
Ladell Betts, Washington (vs. N.Y. Giants): While Washington doesn’t have a playoff spot to fight for, they can play the role of spoiler as Joe Gibbs will look to take out the Giants this week. Betts cracked the 1,000-yard mark last week, but you know he’d love to finish the season with six straight 100-yard rushing games AND taking out the Giants in the final week.
Edgerrin James, Arizona (vs. San Diego): James has rushed for over 100 yards in three of the past four games and he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark last week. Despite his recent success, don’t expect much from James against the Chargers this week even with San Diego’s second-stringers playing.
Arlen Harris, Detroit (vs. Dallas): Harris wasn’t terrible against the Bears last week (10 carries for 44 yards), but the Lions won’t do much against the Dallas defense this week and Harris will finish out very poorly with Kevin Jones on the shelf.
Willis McGahee, Buffalo (vs. Baltimore): McGahee has suffered his fair share of injuries and won’t carry the full load against the Ravens this week. Even if he did, the expectations would be very low against a playoff-ready Baltimore defense.
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh): The Bengals need a win and some help to get into the playoffs. You can bet Ocho Cinco will do whatever it takes to do his part to improve on the one-catch for 11 yards he posted the last time he faced the Steelers.
Terrell Owens, Dallas (vs. Detroit): Despite Owens griping (again!) about not getting the ball enough, T.O has four TDs in the past three games. Even if Owens doesn’t catch 10 passes this week, he’ll play a prominent role in the Dallas offense making him worthy of a start.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (vs. Miami): It’s been the Marvin Harrison show lately for Indy, but look for Manning to shift more action Wayne’s way as the Colts try and clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss by the Ravens.
Reggie Brown, Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta): Look for Garcia to go up top more often this week and Brown will be the main target. Look for much better numbers than the three-catch, 27-yard performance from last week.
Chris Chambers, Miami (vs. Indianapolis): No playoff hopes + Cleo Lemon = bench time for Chambers.
Darrell Jackson, Seattle (vs. Tampa Bay): Jackson didn’t play last week and will likely sit out this week in order to be ready for the playoffs next week. Look elsewhere.
Keyshawn Johnson, Carolina (vs. New Orleans): Johnson has struggled without Delhomme at QB. The Panthers need a win and some help to make the playoffs, but Keyshawn won’t be able to contribute much to their cause this week.
Jerricho Cotchery, N.Y. Jets (vs. Oakland): With Coles dinged up last week, Cotchery had a solid performance against the Dolphins. Look for Coles to bounce back this week and Cotchery will struggle against a tough Raiders pass defense as the Jets try to win and secure their spot in the playoffs.
L.J. Smith, Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta): Expect big things from the Philly passing attack this week with enough to go around to make Smith a solid starter this week.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. Cincinnati): The Steelers will need to score some serious points to keep up with the Bengals this week. Even though the Steelers will not have a chance to repeat as champs this year, look for Roethlisberger to move the ball in the air utilizing Miller early and often.
Antonio Gates, San Diego (vs. Arizona): Gates has been quiet lately and won’t see much of the field this week against the Cardinals. Start him if you must, just hope he gets some action early on in the game.
Kellen Winslow, Cleveland (vs. Houston): Winslow struggled with a knee injury and poor play from QB Derek Anderson last week. Don’t expect much better than the two-catch, 27-yard outing Winslow posted last week as he looks ahead to next year.