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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.

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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