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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fantasy football: Start-and-sit list for tonight's Chargers-Titans game

We'll keep this brief today, but before we get to the start-and-sit lists, here's a link to today's column on the fantasy prospects of Jerome Harrison, Michael Bush and those difficult-to-figure-out Indianapolis Colts.

Good news for owners of Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates: The Titans are terrible defending the pass (No. 31 at 265 yards per game). Tennessee has allowed the second-most touchdown passes (28), but does have 19 interceptions. The Titans are effective against the run (No. 9, 100.4 yards per game), but have yielded 12 TDs on the ground.

The Chargers rank 21st defending the run (116.9 yards per game, only eight rushing TDs allowed) and are No. 13 vs. the pass (213 yards per game, 21 passing TDs allowed).

Good luck in your championship game, and Merry Christmas.


Chargers: QB Philip Rivers, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Vincent Jackson, TE Antonio Gates, K Nate Kaeding

Titans: RB Chris Johnson, K Rob Bironas


Chargers: RB Darren Sproles, WR Malcom Floyd, defense and special teams

QB Vince Young, WR Kenny Britt, WR Justin Gage, defense and special teams

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist for Week 15

It's semifinal week, and Steven Jackson owners aren't feeling so well after word broke that their durable back has "flu-like symptoms," the news coming one day after the Rams sent everyone home because of an outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Jackson is officially listed as questionable, but he's been questionable every week lately, and he seems to practice less often than Brian Westbrook during his productive seasons.

I'd expect Jackson to play. If he's active, the matchup is favorable -- Houston ranks 20th against the run and has allowed 14 touchdowns on the ground. If Jackson sits, I wouldn't start one of his backups (Samkon Gado and Kenneth Darby).

More injury updates:

-- Falcons running back Michael Turner again will be a game-time decision because of an ankle injury. He's not a good play against the Jets' No. 11 run defense.

-- Titans quarterback Vince Young will be a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury, but he did go through a full practice Friday. Young is no better than a No. 2 QB for a home game against Miami.

-- Falcons QB Matt Ryan was "extremely limited" by turf toe this week, and I wouldn't consider him an option against the Jets' top-ranked pass defense, one that has more than twice as many interceptions (15) as TD passes allowed (seven).

-- Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has said all week that he plans to play despite a knee injury, but don't be surprised if the Cardinals decide they can beat the Lions without him. If Fitzgerald sits, teammate Steve Breaston is a very good option against the league's worst pass defense.

-- Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) will be a game-time decision. None of the Lions' other receivers should be considered if Johnson doesn't play.

-- Vikings receivers Percy Harvin (migraines) and Sidney Rice (illness) are both listed as questionable. Harvin expects to play after sitting out last week, and Rice missed practice Friday but might be OK for Sunday. They are lower-echelon No. 2 or upper-level No. 3 receivers at Carolina.

-- Seattle's Nate Burleson is out because of a high ankle sprain, and fantasy owners shouldn't expect the receiver to help them the rest of the season.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals, at Lions: Tim Hightower was benched last week after losing another fumble, and Wells had 103 total yards on 16 touches. The rookie from Ohio State should have a big day against the Lions' 24th-ranked run defense.

-- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos, vs. Raiders: Another impressive rookie, Moreno should benefit from his backup, Correll Buckhalter, likely sitting Sunday's game because of an ankle injury. Moreno has three TDs in his last three games, and the Raiders' No. 30 run defense has allowed 20 scores on the ground.

-- Arian Foster, RB, Texans, at Rams: The latest in the Texans' running-back tryouts of 2009, this rookie from Tennessee had 88 total yards on 17 touches last week. He should be Houston's goal-line back against the Rams, who rank 27th vs. the run and have given up 19 rushing TDs.

-- Chris Chambers, WR, Chiefs, vs. Browns: Dwayne Bowe's return from a suspension could help Chambers, who has cooled off the last two games (six catches for 61 yards and zero TDs). The Browns have the league's eighth-worst pass defense.

-- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks, vs. Buccaneers: With zero TDs in his last five games and 15 catches for 139 yards in his last four, this former No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout is performing like a No. 4. Expect Houshmandzadeh to break out against the Bucs, who rank seventh vs. the pass but have given up 24 passing touchdowns.

More matchups I like:

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks, vs. Buccaneers; Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens, vs. Bears; Chris Jennings, RB, Browns, at Chiefs; Kenny Britt, WR, Titans, vs. Dolphins; Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers, at Seahawks; Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins, at Titans; Robert Meachem, WR, Saints, vs. Cowboys

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Matt Forte, RB, Bears, at Ravens: This 2009 first-round fantasy pick is only an asset in point-per-reception leagues. Forte has one TD in his last six games and shouldn't start in any format against the Ravens (No. 6 vs. the run, seven rushing scores allowed).

-- Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys, at Saints:
He hasn't reached the end zone in his last six games, and he has rushed for 61 yards or fewer in nine of his last 10 contests. The Saints aren't very good at stopping the run (No. 19, 15 rushing TDs given up), but if tonight's game is a blowout, Barber's impact will be minimal.

-- Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, WRs, Jets, vs. Falcons: We'll count these two disappointments as one, and if any owners are tempted to play either because the Falcons struggle against the pass (No. 30), one word of advice: Don't. Edwards has 10 catches for 132 yards and a TD in his last four games, and Cotchery has six receptions for 106 yards and zero scores in his previous three.

More matchups I don’t like:

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals, at Chargers; Roddy White, WR, Falcons, at Jets

Last week

The start list had a big hit in Jamaal Charles (143 yards rushing, one touchdown, seven catches for 38 yards), three decent plays in Fred Jackson (99 yards rushing, three receptions for 23 yards), Joe Flacco (230 yards passing, one TD) and Alex Smith (144 yards passing, two TDs, two interceptions) and one dud (Davone Bess, who caught three passes for 22 yards).

The sit list was 3-for-3, as Kevin Smith (69 yards rushing, two catches for 19 yards), Carson Palmer (94 yards passing, one TD) and Cadillac Williams (14 yards rushing) all had mediocre to poor days.


1. y-Drew Brees, Saints, vs. Cowboys (No. 21 vs. the pass)
2. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, at Lions (No. 32)
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers, vs. Bengals (No. 12)
4. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Rams (No. 19)
5. Tom Brady, Patriots, at Bills (No. 5)
6. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Panthers (No. 6)
7. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, vs. 49ers (No. 27)
8. y-Tony Romo, Cowboys, at Saints (No. 23)
9. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, at Steelers (No. 13)
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Packers (No. 3)
11. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, vs. Buccaneers (No. 7)
12. Joe Flacco, Ravens, vs. Bears (No. 8)
13. Eli Manning, Giants, at Redskins (No. 4)
14. Alex Smith, 49ers, at Eagles (No. 18)
15. Kyle Orton, Broncos, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
16. Jason Campbell, Redskins, vs. Giants (No. 9)
17. Carson Palmer, Bengals, at Chargers (No. 10)
18. Chad Henne, Dolphins, at Titans (No. 31)
19. Jay Cutler, Bears, at Ravens (No. 11)
20. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, vs. Browns (No. 25)
y-Plays Saturday night

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Panthers (No. 26 vs. the run)
2. Ray Rice, Ravens, vs. Bears (No. 25)
3. Chris Johnson, Titans, vs. Dolphins (No. 13)
4. Thomas Jones, Jets, vs. Falcons (No. 23)
5. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, vs. Browns (No. 29)
6. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, at Titans (No. 7)
7. Cedric Benson, Bengals, at Chargers (No. 21)
8. x-Steven Jackson, Rams, vs. Texans (No. 20)
9. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, at Bills (No. 32)
10. Frank Gore, 49ers, at Eagles (No. 10)
11. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, vs. Vikings (No. 4)
12. Beanie Wells, Cardinals, at Lions (No. 24)
13. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Packers (No. 2)
14. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, at Redskins (No. 22)
15. Fred Jackson, Bills, vs. Patriots (No. 16)
16. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, vs. Raiders (No. 30)
17. y-Pierre Thomas, Saints, vs. Cowboys (No. 8)
18. Quinton Ganther, Redskins, vs. Giants (No. 9)
19. z-Jason Snelling, Falcons, at Jets (tied for No. 11)
20. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, vs. Bengals (No. 3)
21. Ryan Grant, Packers, at Steelers (No. 1)
22. Arian Foster, Texans, at Rams (No. 27)
23. Chris Jennings, Browns, at Chiefs (No. 28)
24. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, vs. 49ers (No. 5)
x-Make sure Jackson (illness) is active; y-Plays Saturday night; z-This is assuming Michael Turner (ankle) is inactive; If Turner plays, he's a No. 2 running back.


1. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Rams (No. 19 vs. the pass)
2. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, at Lions (No. 32)
3. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
4. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, vs. 49ers (No. 27)
5. y-Marques Colston, Saints, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
6. Wes Welker, Patriots, at Bills (No. 5)
7. Randy Moss, Patriots, at Bills (No. 5)
8. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, vs. Bengals (No. 12)
9. Derrick Mason, Ravens, vs. Bears
10. x-Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, at Lions (No. 32)
11. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, at Chargers (No. 10)
12. Steve Smith, Giants, at Redskins (No. 4)
13. Donald Driver, Packers, at Steelers (No. 13)
14. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Packers (No. 3)
15. y-Miles Austin, Cowboys, at Saints (No. 23)
16. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Packers (No. 3)
17. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, vs. Buccaneers (No. 7)
18. x-Calvin Johnson, Lions, vs. Cardinals (No. 28)
19. Steve Smith, Panthers, vs. Vikings (No. 16)
20. Greg Jennings, Packers, at Steelers (No. 13)
21. Roddy White, Falcons, at Jets
22. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, at Eagles (No. 18)
23. x-Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Panthers (No. 6)
24. Hakeem Nicks, Giants, at Redskins (No. 4)
25. Chris Chambers, Chiefs, vs. Browns (No. 25)
26. Terrell Owens, Cowboys, vs. Panthers (No. 14)
27. x-Percy Harvin, Vikings, at Panthers (No. 6)
28. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, vs. Browns (No. 25)
29. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, at Seahawks (No. 29)
30. Kenny Britt, Titans, vs. Dolphins (No. 22)
31. y-Robert Meachem, Saints, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
32. y-Roy Williams, Cowboys, at Saints (No. 23)
33. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Giants (No. 9)
34. Steve Breaston, Cardinals, at Lions (No. 32)
35. Davone Bess, Dolphins, at Titans (No. 31)
36. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns, at Chiefs (No. 24)
x-Make sure Fitzgerald (knee), Johnson (knee), Rice (illness) and Harvin (migraines) are active; y-Plays Saturday night

Are you starting Jamaal Charles and/or Quinton Ganther this week? Kleps looks at 10 surprising players who will have a big impact on the fantasy playoffs. The link also includes this week’s audiocast with Kleps and Sports Editor Mark Podolski.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fantasy football: Start-and-sit list for tonight's Colts-Jaguars game

Monday, Colts coach Jim Caldwell said his 13-0 team, which has nothing to play for but perfection and fantasy owners the next three weeks, was going to "approach the 14th game exactly like we did one through 13."

A day later, the Colts' injury report was released after practice. Twenty-nine players were listed as not participating, including Peyton Manning ("glute injury"), Joseph Addai (knee), Reggie Wayne (foot) and Pierre Garcon (knee). In other words, Indy's definition of healthy will change possession by possession from Weeks 15 to 17.

If you are in your league's semifinals and have Manning, Addai, Wayne or Dallas Clark, you should root for two things (in addition to your players) tonight: 1. A close game against the Jaguars; 2. A Colts win.

If the game is close, I'd expect Manning, Addai, Wayne and Clark to play most of it. If it's not, I'd be surprised if we saw them wearing a helmet in the second half.

Should the Jags stay competitive and the Colts win, consider this quote from Wayne when he was asked about going 16-0 this week: "It'll be tough to tell Peyton Manning he'll be in two series, I'll be in two series. We'd be flipping out. It's right there. The closer you get to that, the harder it's going to be. You do it now. I need to see what it tastes like."

If Indy is 14-0 heading into next week's home game against the Jets, you would think the Colts' studs would at least play into the third quarter. If Indy loses tonight, it likely will be one- or two-series-and-out for Manning, Addai, Wayne and Clark, and you will be starting backups in your championship game.

Let's take Caldwell's one-at-a-time approach and worry about Week 15 first: If you have a very good backup QB, running back or wide receiver with a favorable matchup (say, Brett Favre at Carolina or Jamaal Charles vs. the Browns), I would play him instead of one of your Colts. Otherwise, start Manning, Addai, Wayne and Clark and hope for a 31-28 win.

On to tonight's start-and-sit lists:


Colts: QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, WR Reggie Wayne, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Austin Collie, TE Dallas Clark

Jaguars: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR Mike Sims Walker

Quick slants: Manning needs 95 yards for his 10th 4,000-yard season in 12 years. ... Addai has accounted for 13 touchdowns (nine rushing, three receiving, one passing) in as many games and has been a top-five back in PPR formats. With his top backup, 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown, out with a chest injury for the third straight week and Mike Hart and Chad Simpson next in line at running back, he seems to be the most likely to be benched in the coming weeks. ... Wayne, who has been bothered by a foot injury, has only 11 catches for 110 yards and one TD in his last three games after totaling 76 receptions, 968 yards and eight TDs in his first 10. ... Clark has five TDs in his last four games. ... Garcon and Collie might benefit the most should Wayne rest in Weeks 16 and/or 17. Garcon has 19 receptions for 348 yards in his last four games, and Collie has scored a TD in two consecutive contests. ... Jones-Drew has been limited to 276 yards and two scores on 82 carries (3.4 average) in his last four games. He had 169 attempts, 860 yards (5.1) and 12 TDs on the ground in the Jags' first nine. ... Sims-Walker, who has battled a calf injury, has two catches for 18 yards the last two weeks. He should bounce back tonight.


Colts: K Matt Stover, defense and special teams

Jaguars: QB David Garrard, WR Torry Holt, TE Marcedes Lewis, K Josh Scobee, defense and special teams

Quick slants: Stover has scored five points or fewer in four of his last five games. ... The Colts' defense ranks 17th overall in yards (337.4 per game) but is tied for second in points allowed (16.7). Indy ranks 17th against the run (110.4 yards per game) and 20th vs. the pass (227). ... The Jags' defense ranks 20th overall (346.5 yards per game), 20th in scoring (22.1 points), 14th vs. the run (107 yards per game) and 26th vs. the pass (239.5 yards per game). ... Garrard is on pace to throw for 3,676 yards, but he has only 10 TD passes and hasn't had a TD toss in seven of 13 games. ... Holt, who is 85 receptions shy of 1,000 for his career, has yet to score a touchdown in his first season with Jacksonville. ... Lewis hasn't had a TD since Week 4. ... Scobee has scored four points or fewer in three of his last four.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist for Week 14

We'll breeze through this quicker than normal, thanks to some unforeseen problems (see tank, hot water), so let's get to this week's key injuries:

-- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is listed as questionable with right shoulder and finger injuries, but I wouldn't worry about Brian Hoyer getting the start in a game New England can't afford to lose.

-- Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likely will be a game-time decision because of a toe ailment, but I wouldn't start him even if he was healthy against the Saints, who have almost twice as many interceptions (23) as TD passes allowed (12).

-- Falcons running back Michael Turner is listed as questionable with a sprained anke and will be a game-time decision, but don't plan on him being active against the Saints.

-- Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is probable, and the Rams' Steven Jackson is questionable after missing practice all week with a back injury, but he's had the same routine the last two weeks and not missed a game.

-- The Eagles' Brian Westbrook is out again, and the Bucs' Cadillac Williams is questionable with a back injury. He's not a good play against the Jets.

-- Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson will return from a concussion.

-- Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker is doubtful with a calf injury. Mike Thomas will start in his place and should be considered a low-level No. 3 receiver against the Dolphins, who rank 24th vs. the pass.

-- Vikings receiver Percy Harvin is questionable after missing practice Thursday and Friday because of migraine headaches, but I would expect him to be active Sunday against the Bengals.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

San Francisco QB Alex Smith (vs. the Cardinals, No. 27 vs. the pass), Ravens QB Joe Flacco (vs. the Lions, No. 32 vs. the pass), Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (vs. the Bills, No. 32 vs. the run), Bills running back Fred Jackson (at the Chiefs, No. 27 vs. the run) and Dolphins receiver Davone Bess (at the Jaguars, No. 23 vs. the pass) round out this week's list.

More matchups I like:

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars, vs. Dolphins; Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins, vs. Jaguars; Ryan Grant, RB, Packers, at Bears; Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins, at Raiders; Terrell Owens, WR, Bills, at Chiefs; Kenny Britt, WR, Titans, vs. Rams; Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers, vs. Cardinals; Devery Henderson, WR, Saints, at Falcons

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

Bengals QB Carson Palmer (at the Vikings, No. 21 vs. the pass), Lions running back Kevin Smith (at the Ravens (No. 6 vs. the run) and Bucs running back Cadillac Williams (vs. the Jets, No. 17 vs. the run) comprise this week's selections.

More matchups I don’t like:

Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, RBs, Cardinals, at 49ers; LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers, at Cowboys; Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers, vs. Jets

Last week

The start list had three hits in Jonathan Stewart (120 yards rushing, one TD, one reception), Matt Forte (91 yards rushing, one TD, one catch) and Kyle Orton (180 yards passing, two TDs, one interception). Pierre Thomas (18 yards rushing, eight catches for 64 yards) was decent in point-per-reception leagues, and Jason Avant (three receptions for 36 yards) stunk in all formats.

On the sit list, benching Cardinals running backs Tim Hightower (50 yards rushing, one catch, one fumble) and Beanie Wells (28 yards rushing) was the right call, but sitting Tony Romo (392 yards passing, three TDs, no picks) certainly was not.


1. Drew Brees, Saints, at Falcons (No. 29 vs. the pass)
2. Tom Brady, Patriots, vs. Panthers (No. 6)
3. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, at 49ers (No. 30)
4. Peyton Manning, Colts, vs. Broncos (No. 2)
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, at Bears (No. 9)
6. Philip Rivers, Chargers, at Cowboys (No. 20)
7. Matt Schaub, Texans, vs. Seahawks (No. 25)
8. Tony Romo, Cowboys, vs. Chargers (No. 8)
9. Alex Smith, 49ers, vs. Cardinals (No. 27)
10. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Giants (No. 7)
11. Brett Favre, Vikings, vs. Bengals (No. 12)
12. Joe Flacco, Ravens, vs. Lions (No. 32)
13. David Garrard, Jaguars, vs. Dolphins (No. 24)
14. Carson Palmer, Bengals, at Vikings (No. 21)
15. Kyle Orton, Broncos, at Colts (No. 19)
16. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, at Texans (No. 14)
17. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Packers (No. 3)
18. Jason Campbell, Redskins, at Raiders (No. 18)
19. Chad Henne, Dolphins, at Jaguars (No. 23)
20. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, vs. Bills (No. 4)

1. Chris Johnson, Titans, vs. Rams (No. 28 vs. the run)
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, vs. Dolphins (No. 14)
3. Ray Rice, Ravens, vs. Lions (No. 19)
4. Thomas Jones, Jets, at Buccaneers (No. 31)
5. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, vs. Bengals (No. 2)
6. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, at Jaguars (No. 11)
7. Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. Broncos (No. 16)
8. Steven Jackson, Rams, at Titans (No. 8)
9. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, vs. Bills (No. 32)
10. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, at Patriots (No. 15)
11. Frank Gore, 49ers, vs. Cardinals (No. 12)
12. Cedric Benson, Bengals, at Vikings (No. 3)
13. Ryan Grant, Packers, at Bears (No. 25)
14. Fred Jackson, Bills, at Chiefs (No. 27)
15. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, vs. Eagles (No. 7)
16. Pierre Thomas, Saints, at Falcons (No. 23)
17. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, at Colts (No. 18)
18. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, at Panthers (No. 26)
19. Marion Barber, Cowboys, vs. Chargers (No. 21)
20. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, at Giants (No. 10)
21. Matt Forte, Bears, vs. Packers (No. 3)
22. Julius Jones, Seahawks, at Texans (No. 22)
23. Quinton Ganther, Redskins, at Raiders (No. 30)
24. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, at Cowboys (No. 9)

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, at 49ers (No. 27 vs. the pass)
2. Andre Johnson, Texans, vs. Seahawks (No. 25)
3. Marques Colston, Saints, at Falcons (No. 29)
4. Wes Welker, Patriots, vs. Panthers (No. 6)
5. Reggie Wayne, Colts, vs. Broncos (No. 2)
6. Randy Moss, Patriots, vs. Panthers (No. 6)
7. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, at 49ers (No. 27)
8. Roddy White, Falcons, vs. Saints (No. 22)
9. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, at Cowboys (No. 20)
10. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, at Colts (No. 19)
11. Derrick Mason, Ravens, vs. Lions (No. 32)
12. Calvin Johnson, Lions, at Ravens (No. 15)
13. Donald Driver, Packers, at Bears (No. 9)
14. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, at Vikings (No. 21)
15. Steve Smith, Giants, vs. Eagles (No. 10)
16. Steve Smith, Panthers, at Patriots (No. 13)
17. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, at Giants (No. 7)
18. Miles Austin, Cowboys, vs. Chargers (No. 8)
19. Greg Jennings, Packers, at Bears (No. 9)
20. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, at Texans (No. 14)
21. x-Percy Harvin, Vikings, vs. Bengals (No. 12)
22. Terrell Owens, Bills, at Chiefs (No. 28)
23. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, at Texans (No. 14)
24. Sidney Rice, Vikings, vs. Bengals (No. 12)
25. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, vs. Cardinals (No. 30)
26. Devery Henderson, Saints, at Falcons (No. 29)
27. Davone Bess, Dolphins, at Jaguars (No. 23)
28. Pierre Garcon, Colts, vs. Broncos (No. 2)
29. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, at Giants (No. 7)
30. Mario Manningham, Giants, vs. Eagles (No. 10)
31. Donnie Avery, Rams, at Titans (No. 31)
32. Kenny Britt, Titans, vs. Rams (No. 16)
33. Chris Chambers, Chiefs, vs. Bills (No. 4)
34. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, at Buccaneers (No. 11)
35. Santana Moss, Redskins, at Raiders (No. 18)
36. Mike Thomas, Jaguars, vs. Dolphins (No. 24)
x-Make sure Harvin is active.

Which teams have the best matchups the next three weeks, and which have the worst? Kevin Kleps has the answers here.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fantasy football: Start-and-sit list for tonight's Steelers-Browns game

Brady Quinn has thrown for 675 yards and accounted for eight touchdowns (seven passing and one rushing) in his last three games. In that same span, the once-vaunted Steelers defense -- minus safety Troy Polamalu -- has allowed Matt Cassel, Joe Flacco and Bruce Gradkowski to throw for a combined 845 yards and six touchdowns, with zero picks.

All of which might tempt a desperate owner to think with his heart and not his head and start Quinn tonight against the Steelers.

One word of advice: Don't. As well as Quinn played in parts of losses to the Lions and Chargers, he still should not be in anyone's fantasy lineup -- especially in Week 14, which should mark the start of your league's postseason. Quinn is no better than a No. 2 QB in fantasy, and that would have to be as a low-end No. 2 in 12- and 14-team leagues.

Before we get to the rest of the start-and-sit list, here are a few notes on the defenses:

-- The Steelers have the No. 5 overall defense and are the league's best against the run, giving up only 77.8 rushing yards per game and 3.6 yards per attempt. Pittsburgh has allowed three rushing TDs in 12 games.

-- The Steelers are much more ordinary against the pass, the area at which Polamalu's injury is most evident. Pittsburgh is No. 17 vs. the pass and has only eight interceptions, compared to 15 TD passes allowed.

-- The Browns are the league's worst defense at 400.3 total yards per game, and Cleveland ranks 29th vs. the run (154.2 yards per game, 14 TDs) and 26th against the pass (246 yards per game, 18 TDs, six picks).


Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Santonio Holmes, TE Heath Miller, K Jeff Reed, defense and special teams

Browns: None

Quick slants: The assumption here is Hines Ward will not play because of a hamstring injury. If he is active, start the Steelers' receiving leader (72 receptions, 922 yards, six TDs). ... Roethlisberger threw for 417 yards, two TDs and one pick in the Steelers' win over the Browns in Week 6. He has thrown for 3,145 yards in 11 games, a total that is 368 shy of his career high of 3,513, set in 2006. ... Mendenhall has rushed for 842 yards in nine games as the Steelers' lead back. He has six TDs in that span. ... Holmes, who had five catches for 104 yards in the last meeting against the Browns, has scored a TD in two straight games and has 34 receptions for 490 yards in his last five contests. ... Miller, who had five catches for 80 yards and a score in Week 6 vs. the Browns, has only two catches for 29 yards in his last two games. He had 54 receptions for 490 yards and five TDs in the first 10. ... The Steelers forced four turnovers and had a pair of sacks in the last meeting against the Browns. ... Reed had nine points in the Steelers' 27-14 victory.


Steelers: WR Mike Wallace (if Ward is active)

Browns: QB Brady Quinn, RB Jerome Harrison, RB Chris Jennings, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, K Phil Dawson, defense and special teams

Quick slants: Quinn's eight TDs in the last three games are three better than the Browns' team total on offense in the first nine games. ... Harrison, who has battled an illness all week, is probable for tonight. He was effective last week (35 yards rushing, seven catches for 62 yards and two TDs), but shouldn't be much of a fantasy option until Weeks 15 and 16, when the Browns play at Kansas City and play host to Oakland. ... Massaquoi has two TDs in his last three games, but has only three catches for 36 yards in his last two. ... Dawson, who has 29 points in seven games, scored a combined 228 in 32 games from 2007-08.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist for Week 13

This week's injury roll call is more extensive -- and slightly more optimistic -- than the list of Eric Mangini complaints in the NFL players' association database.

-- Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return from a concussion to start against the Raiders. Kurt Warner is also expected to start, but the Cardinals QB is a much more questionable play than his Steelers counterpart. Warner split practice reps with Matt Leinart all week and could be a game-time decision, which leaves owners in a quandary because the Cards face the Vikings in the Sunday night game. If you have a productive backup, playing him is the safe route, or you can pick up Leinart and have him as insurance in case Warner is inactive.

-- Falcons QB Matt Ryan is out, as are running backs Clinton Portis (Redskins) and Brian Westbrook (Eagles), along with Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

-- At running back, the Bengals' Cedric Benson is expected to return from a hip injury, and backup Bernard Scott is out because of turf toe, which leaves Benson to get the majority of the carries and Larry Johnson available for a handful of opportunities against the woeful Lions.

-- Falcons running back Michael Turner is expected to be a game-time decision, but he's likely to sit Sunday's home game vs. the Eagles. Jason Snelling should start, but the electric Jerious Norwood might be the more effective play -- although neither is better than a No. 3 back against Philly's eighth-ranked run defense.

-- The Panthers' DeAngelo Williams (ankle injury) is also a game-time decision, which could be good news for Jonathan Stewart owners vs. the Bucs (more on that later).

-- The Rams' Steven Jackson missed practice all week because of a back injury, but he did the same the week before, then ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He should start.

-- The Seahawks' Julius Jones will return from a bruised lung, and backup Justin Forsett, who has rushed for 262 yards, scored four TDs and caught 13 passes for 106 yards the last three weeks, is questionable after injuring his quadriceps Friday in practice. Jones should get the majority of the carries but isn't a very good play vs. the 49ers (No. 5 vs. the run).

-- The Texans' Steve Slaton is questionable with a shoulder injury. He, too, will be a game-time decision. If he sits, Chris Brown should start against the Jaguars (No. 10 vs. the run).

-- Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has been limited this week by a knee ailment, but he should play and be considered a No. 2 receiver against Philly.

On to the start-and-sit advice for what likely is the final week of your league's regular season:

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos, at Chiefs: He's been dreadful in the last five games, during which the Broncos are 1-4, throwing three touchdown passes and five interceptions. But here's a gut feeling: That will change as Orton accounts for a couple of touchdowns vs. the Chiefs, who rank 30th defending the pass.

-- Matt Forte, RB, Bears, vs. Rams:
He's been one of the season's biggest busts (nice to have you aboard, Jay Cutler). Forte has rushed for only 135 yards and has been a much more productive receiver (22 catches for 248 yards) in his last four games, a span in which he has zero TDs. Forte should end that run of futility vs. the Rams, who rank 28th vs. the run and have given up 16 rushing touchdowns.

-- Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints, at Redskins: With 11 rushing attempts in each of the last three games, this is another hunch play. Thomas has been very effective when he's gotten the chance (5.6 yards per carry and seven touchdowns on 136 touches this season). He should reach the end zone against the Redskins (No. 25 vs. the run).

-- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers: Whether Williams sits or not (although I'm guessing he will), Stewart should be a quality play vs. the Bucs, against whom he rushed for 110 yards and a TD in Week 6. Tampa ranks 30th stopping (not stopping?) the run and has allowed 12 rushing TDs.

-- Jason Avant, WR, Eagles, at Falcons: He has 17 catches for 276 yards and a TD in his last three games, and his role should expand with DeSean Jackson out. The Falcons rank 27th vs. the pass.

More matchups I like:

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears, vs. Rams; Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers, at Panthers; Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos, at Chiefs; Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, WRs, Vikings, at Cardinals; Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts, vs. Titans; Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers, at Seahawks

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys, at Giants:
Two reasons: 1. It's December (let's just say it's not a good month for Romo). 2. Romo threw for 127 yards, one TD and three picks in Week 2 against the Giants. I know New York is a different team now, but it's a must-win for the hosts, and Romo never seems to play well in these moments.

-- Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, RBs, Cardinals, vs. Vikings: One week, Wells is productive (the rookie had three touchdowns in a two-game span prior to his dud of a Week 12). The next, it's Hightower, who scored his first TD in four games last week. The latter has been bothered by a thumb injury, and the Vikings are always strong against the run (No. 2, only three rushing TDs allowed).

More matchups I don’t like:

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions, at Bengals; Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants, vs. Cowboys

Last week

The start list had a pair of hits in LaDainian Tomlinson (39 yards rushing, two TDs) and Jamaal Charles (93 yards rushing, one TD, three catches for 54 yards). Carson Palmer threw for 110 yards and a TD (not as well as we expected vs. the Browns), Marion Barber (61 yards rushing, two catches for 41 yards) was effective in limited opportunites (but still not a productive fantasy play), and Michael Crabtree (four catches for 54 yards) was a dud.

The sit list was right on Brandon Jacobs (27 yards rushing, three catches for 30 yards), correct on Steve Slaton in non-PPR formats (57 yards rushing, four catches for 49 yards) and way off on Knowshon Moreno (88 yards rushing, one TD, two catches for 19 yards).


1. Peyton Manning, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31 vs. the pass)
2. Tom Brady, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23)
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers, at Browns (No. 24)
4. Drew Brees, Saints, at Redskins (No. 1)
5. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
6. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Jaguars (No. 26)
7. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
8. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
9. Carson Palmer, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 32)
10. x-Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
11. Kyle Orton, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 30)
12. x-Kurt Warner, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
13. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 22)
14. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
15. Tony Romo, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 4)
16. Alex Smith, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 25)
17. Eli Manning, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
18. Joe Flacco, Ravens, at Packers (No. 6)
19. David Garrard, Jaguars, vs. Texans (tied for No. 14)
20. Vince Young, Titans, at Colts (No. 20)
x-Make sure Warner and Roethlisberger aren’t last-minute scratches.


1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, vs. Texans (No. 22 vs. the run)
2. Chris Johnson, Titans, at Colts (No. 15)
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 14)
4. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 31)
5. x-Steven Jackson, Rams, at Bears (No. 24)
6. Frank Gore, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 18)
7. Cedric Benson, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 19)
8. Ray Rice, Ravens, at Packers (No. 4)
9. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, at Browns (No. 29)
10. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers (No. 30)
11. Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 7)
12. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, vs. Patriots (No. 16)
13. Matt Forte, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 28)
14. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 23)
15. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 12)
16. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 27)
17. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, vs. Broncos (No. 17)
18. Ryan Grant, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 6)
19. Pierre Thomas, Saints, at Redskins (No. 25)
20. Marion Barber, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 11)
21. Jerious Norwood, Falcons, vs. Eagles (No. 8)
22. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers, at Panthers (No. 26)
23. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 9)
24. Rock Cartwright, Redskins, vs. Saints (No. 20)
x-Make sure Jackson (back injury) is active.

1. Randy Moss, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23 vs. the pass)
2. Reggie Wayne, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31)
3. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Jaguars (No. 26)
4. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, vs. Lions (No. 32)
5. Wes Welker, Patriots, at Dolphins (No. 23)
6. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, at Chiefs (No. 30)
7. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
8. Marques Colston, Saints, at Redskins (No. 1)
9. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
10. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, at Browns (No. 24)
11. Donald Driver, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
12. Jason Avant, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
13. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, vs. Texans (tied for No. 14)
14. Calvin Johnson, Lions, at Bengals (No. 16)
15. Percy Harvin, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
16. Steve Smith, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
17. x-Roddy White, Falcons, vs. Eagles (No. 9)
18. Miles Austin, Cowboys, at Giants (No. 4)
19. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, vs. Vikings (No. 19)
20. Steve Smith, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers (No. 11)
21. Derrick Mason, Ravens, at Packers
22. Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Cardinals (No. 29)
23. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
24. Greg Jennings, Packers, vs. Ravens (No. 12)
25. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, vs. 49ers (No. 28)
26. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Raiders (No. 17)
27. Chris Chambers, Chiefs, vs. Broncos (No. 5)
28. Pierre Garcon, Colts, vs. Titans (No. 31)
29. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, at Seahawks (No. 25)
30. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, at Falcons (No. 27)
31. Devin Hester, Bears, vs. Rams (No. 22)
32. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, at Panthers (No. 3)
33. Mario Manningham, Giants, vs. Cowboys (No. 21)
34. Donnie Avery, Rams, at Bears (tied for No. 14)
35. Kenny Britt, Titans, at Colts (No. 20)
36. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Saints (No. 18)
x-Make sure White (knee injury) is active.

In this week’s column, we break down five things to watch, along with five waiver-wire acquisitions, heading into the final week of the regular season in fantasy. The link also includes this week’s audiocast with Kleps and Sports Editor Mark Podolski.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantasy football: Start and sit for Thursday's Jets-Bills game

Darrelle Revis is a Pro Bowl cornerback -- a player who is relevant in fantasy only when he intercepts your quarterback and returns it for a touchdown or takes a pick back for a score to benefit your defense.

Revis, however, is so effective that we all must fear starting any No. 1 wide receiver who faces the Jets in a given week.

Revis -- with apologies to the Titans' Kenny Britt, the Dolphins' Davone Bess/Greg Camarillo/Ted Ginn Jr./Brian Hartline and the Raiders' Louis Murphy -- has played against six elite wide receivers this season. One of the game's best, Randy Moss, has had the unfortunate task of being guarded by Revis twice in 11 weeks.

In a combined seven games vs. Revis, Andre Johnson, Moss, Marques Colston, Terrell Owens, Mike Sims-Walker and Steve Smith (the Carolina version) have 26 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The per-game averages: 3.7 catches for 27.6 yards.

The Jaguars' Sims-Walker -- who, judging by the video highlights on, didn't even score his TD against Revis -- is the only one of the six who had more than 35 yards vs. the Jets. The breakdown of the six wideouts' stats vs. Revis and the Jets:

-- Week 1, Andre Johnson: 4 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TDs
-- Week 2, Randy Moss: 4-24-0
-- Week 11, Moss: 5-34-1
-- Week 4, Marques Colston: 2-33-0
-- Week 6, Terrell Owens: 3-13-0
-- Week 10, Sims-Walker: 3-49-1
-- Week 12, Steve Smith: 1-5-0

All of which leads me to make the Master of the Obvious Recommendation that you sit the Bills' Owens tonight against the Jets, despite the fact that our favorite VH1 reality star is coming off his two best games of the season.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, Owens has 14 receptions for 293 yards and two TDs in two games. In nine games before Buffalo entered yet another QB era, T.O. had one TD, zero 100-yard games and one game in which he had more than 60 yards receiving.

If you have a better option as your No. 3 receiver, bench Owens. And hope you don't have your top receiver facing Revis in the fantasy playoffs (we're talking to you, Roddy White owners).

Before we get to the start-and-sit lists for tonight's game, here are a few quick notes on the defenses:

-- The Bills are the league's worst against the run (165.1 yards per game, 16 rushing TDs allowed) but rank seventh defending the pass. Buffalo has the second-most interceptions in the NFL (21), has allowed the second-fewest TD passes (9), and opposing QBs have posted the second-worst rating (61.2).

-- The Jets, not surprisingly, are very good vs. the pass (No. 2, 176 yards allowed per game). New York has given up the fewest TD passes (7), and opposing passers have the third-worst rating (65.9). The Jets rank 13th vs. the run at 108.2 yards per game and have allowed eight rushing TDs.

On to the start-and-sit advice ...


Jets: RB Thomas Jones, TE Dustin Keller, K Jay Feely, defense and special teams

None (unless you're weak at wide receiver and can't do better than T.O. as your No. 3)

Quick slants: Jones rushed for 210 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against Buffalo in Week 6, a game the Bills won, 16-13 in overtime. He has a rushing TD in six of his last eight games and has had 21 or more attempts in six straight. ... Keller is the only Jets pass-catcher I would play because of his production in his last four games (21 catches for 240 yards and a score). ... The Jets rank second in total defense (283.9 yards per game) and have forced the seventh-most turnovers (21).


Jets: QB Mark Sanchez, WR Braylon Edwards, WR Jerricho Cotchery

Bills: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Marshawn Lynch, RB Fred Jackson, WR Terrell Owens, WR Lee Evans, K Rian Lindell, defense and special teams

Quick slants: Sanchez has thrown for only 502 yards in his last three games, and has two TDs and seven picks in that span. ... Cotchery had one catch for 12 yards last week. ... Edwards hasn't scored in his last three games and has four catches for 50 yards in his last two. The former Browns wideout has had only one game with more than 79 yards receiving (he had three catches for 40 yards in the first meeting with Buffalo). ... Fitzpatrick has thrown for 543 yards and rushed for 55 yards in two games, with three total TDs (one on the ground). But he's also thrown three interceptions. ... Jackson (73 yards rushing, two TDs) was productive last week after getting the start over Lynch, but he had only 15 carries for 52 yards and zero TDs against the Jets in Week 6. ... Lynch, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury, has zero TDs in his last four games and has rushed for 43 yards or fewer in five straight. ... Evans, after scoring four times in a four-game span from Weeks 6-10, has three catches for 55 yards and no scores in two games with Fitzpatrick behind center.

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