Friday, January 1, 2010

Week 17 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Chris Johnson and DeSean Jackson, or to bench Keith Null and David Clowney. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 17.

Watch ‘em roll

Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles at Cowboys. He’s riding a two-game streak of 300-plus passing yards into a monster showdown with Dallas for the divisional crown. Look for more aerial fireworks as both teams find greater success passing than rushing.

Donald Brown, RB, Colts at Bills. Joseph Addai is unlikely to play much, if at all, in this contest, giving the rookie a chance to rack up big numbers against the NFL’s worst rush defense. Indy is likely to stick to its ground game to keep the heat off QB Curtis Painter, so Brown should see an abundance of carries.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears at Lions. His 74-yard outing against the Vikings on Monday night was hardly awe-inspiring, but it was better than most expected. Meanwhile, the leading candidate for 2009 Bust of the Year “honors” had his only 100-yard game of the season against Detroit in Week 4. Give Forte one more chance against the Lions.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills vs. Colts. Regardless of who takes the snaps, Buffalo should lean on its running game against Indy’s backup defenders in the frigid confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jackson is the team’s workhorse, and he should have little trouble finding the end zone for the first time since Week 13.

Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens at Raiders. Baltimore needs a win to secure a playoff birth, and Mason needs to atone for last week’s dropped TD pass. Oakland is unlikely to stand in the way of either objective.

More thumbs up: QBs Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady; RBs Jonathan Stewart, Justin Snelling, Frank Gore, Knowshon Moreno, Mike Bell, Darren Sproles, Brandon Jackson, Quinton Ganther, Jerome Harrison; WRs Mike Sims-Walker, Santonio Holmes, Terrell Owens, Muhsin Muhammad, Sidney Rice.

Roll ‘em back

Drew Brees, QB, Saints at Panthers. The Saints have locked up the NFC’s top seed, rendering this game meaningless. Meanwhile, they’re facing a Carolina defense that has held the Giants, Vikings, Bucs and Patriots to 10 points or fewer over the last four games. Even if Brees plays more than a half (which would be somewhat surprising), he’ll have a tough time posting his first multi-touchdown game since Week 14.

Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers vs. Falcons. He was limited to 30 rushing yards in his last meeting with Atlanta, though he took his only reception eight yards for a score. The Falcons’ run defense has been suffocating its opponents recently, so don’t expect Cadillac to follow-up last week’s impressive outing with another.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles at Cowboys. Now that Brian Westbrook is back, the rookie is stuck in a full-fledged committee backfield. Factor in Dallas’ fifth-ranked run defense, which has turned up the heat down the stretch, and both Philly backs belong on your bench.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Broncos. The last time these teams met, Matt Cassel played so poorly he was benched. He hasn’t done much better since; and with Denver still fighting for their playoff lives, their stingy secondary will blanket Bowe throughout this contest.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals at Jets. He’s talking a lot of smack (surprise!), but don’t expect him to back it up this time. Not only is Ochocinco likely to be pulled early in a mostly meaningless game for his team, but Darrelle Revis will be all over him as the Jets seek a victory and a postseason berth.

More thumbs down: QBs Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer; RBs Joseph Addai, Pierre Thomas, Arian Foster, Laurence Maroney, Tim Hightower, LaDainian Tomlinson, Cedric Benson, all Raiders; WRs Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Bryant, Devery Henderson, Roy Williams, Chris Chambers, Hines Ward.


Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears at Lions. Even though Devin Hester is expected to return for the finale, Aromashodu will have another grand opportunity to shine. Jay Cutler has targeted the shooting star a whopping 31 times over the last three games, including last week’s overtime winner. Johnny Knox’s knee injury is likely to keep him on the sidelines, opening the way for Aromashodu to continue his impressive audition for a 2010 starting job against the toothless Lions.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…schedules your league’s championship game in Week 17 again next season. Play it in Week 16, as Pete Rozelle intended, and wage a “Free for All Bowl” over the final weekend instead.

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