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The Shot Caller's Report
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups

I apologize for the abbreviated version, folks, but my baby daughter has decided to join the family a week and a half early. In fact, by the time you read this, she'll likely be helping her daddy prep for the upcoming championship weekend. Trust me. He needs all the help he can get. If you have specific lineup questions, please e-mail them to me. I should be back in front of a computer no later than Friday afternoon. Thanks for your understanding and, as always, good luck!


Must Start: The Top 10

1. Peyton Manning vs. DEN - If you faced him last week, you're probably not playing this week. If you face him this week, good luck. Denver's pass defense is pretty good but also ultra-conservative (a league-worst eight interceptions this year). Peyton should shine again.

2. Trent Green @ MIN - How does 13 TD passes against two interceptions sound? Those are Green's numbers over the last six games. Oh, almost forgot. He threw for over 300 yards in four of those contests, as well. He's a phenomenal start indoors against a suspect Vikings D.

3. Daunte Culpepper vs. KC - That suspect D should yield plenty of KC points and that means Minnesota will need Culpepper to go nuts again. Fortunately for his owners, he usually does when the Vikes are playing from behind. Expect him to rebound from a sub-par game in the Windy City, albeit in a losing effort.

4. Matt Hasselbeck vs. ARI - He seems like the perfect championship start. He's putting up big numbers this year and Arizona hasn't stopped anyone of late, not even (gasp!) Kordell Stewart. One caveat, though: he threw only 19 passes in the first meeting between these teams. If Shaun Alexander is enough to bludgeon the hapless Cards, Hasselbeck's numbers could be slightly disappointing.

5. Marc Bulger vs. CIN - That Marvin Lewis D is starting to give up some serious points (29.0 per in the last four games). Luckily, Kitna & Co. are picking up the slack. Bulger directs the second-highest scoring home offense in the league (34.6 points/game) so I gotta think he'll have some success this weekend.

6. Brett Favre @ OAK - Favre doesn't get out to the Left Coast very often (I should know) but when he does, he usually lights it up. Is it the weather? Hard to tell. The matchup in Oakland is definitely a good one for him, regardless. The Raiders aren't rolling over and dying but they still don't play very good defense (29th in the league).

7. Donovan McNabb vs. SF - Remember that "lateral" he threw to Correll Buckhalter for a score on Monday night? Cost me a playoff game. Sigh. No matter. It's a dynasty league and I'm feeling pretty good about McNabb for next year. If you're still alive, forget about next year and live in the now.

8. Jeff Garcia @ PHI - He has nine touchdowns (six passing, three running) in his last TWO games. That's pretty amazing, even if you consider six of them came against an atrocious Arizona team. The Eagles aren't the Cardinals but they're not exactly Dallas or Tampa, either (19th in the league in total defense). Expect Garcia to put up some decent numbers at the Linc.

9. Jon Kitna @ STL - Like Green, Kitna also has 13 TD passes over the last six games (against three INTs). The two differ only when it comes to yardage. Of course, that's irrelevant if you're in a TD-only league. Even if you're not, it's hard to overlook a guy that doesn't turn the ball over much and has two viable weapons in the passing game (Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick).

10. Michael Vick @ TB - How do you advance to your championship game when Vick puts up NEGATIVE numbers? Face someone who's dumb enough to start Tim Hasselbeck. True story, folks. I'm putting him right back in the lineup even though his matchup with Tampa is less than ideal.

Running Backs

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Priest Holmes @ MIN - Only Atlanta has given up more rushing touchdowns than Minnesota (19) this year. Can you say dream matchup? Priest visits the Metrodump with 22 TDs under his belt. I GUARANTEE he'll add at least another to go along with 100+ yards this weekend.

2. Ahman Green @ OAK - Not to be outdone, the Raiders have given up 18 rushing touchdowns on the season. Even better for Green owners, they're giving up almost 150 yards per game, good for 32nd (aka, last) in the league. Batman should run wild at Network Associates and make Shot Caller a league champion in the process.

3. LaDainian Tomlinson @ PIT - Joe Horn got all the pub but this guy got all the yards. All the yards as in the MOST receiving yards of any player (not just any receiver) last week. Has Coach Schottenheimer finally figured out how to utilize him? LaDainian owners can only hope so since he faces a lackluster Curtain D this Sunday.

4. Jamal Lewis @ CLE - He had no problem grinding out yards against the crummy Raiders front (125 to be exact) but couldn't find his way into the endzone. Bummer. Chances are pretty good he won't be shut out again in Cleveland.

5. Shaun Alexander vs. ARI - Arizona isn't terrible against the run (114.6 per game) but probably doesn't stand a very good chance of slowing down Alexander and a HIGHLY motivated Seahawks squad. Expect him to get a lot of work in a game Seattle simply must win...and will.

6. Deuce McAllister @ JAX - If you saw the final before you browsed the box score, you were probably disappointed. You'd think he could score at least once in a rout of that magnitude. Nevertheless, 145 total yards is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. He needs to break a three-game TD drought in Jacksonville, though.

7. Marshall Faulk vs. CIN - As mentioned previously, the Bengals are starting to give up lots of points and even bigger chunks of yardage, mostly on the ground (4.6 per carry and 129.4 per game). The Rams need to keep pace with the Eagles for home-field advantage so Marshall should have a nice day.

8. Clinton Portis @ IND - He'd be right behind Holmes and Green if he were 100%…but he isn't. In fact, he's still officially listed as questionable. Muddying the waters is the fact Denver has a capable backup in Mike Anderson. Do you roll the dice? Search me.

9. Edgerrin James vs. DEN - Like Lewis, he gathered plenty of yards but no scores in the big win over Atlanta. If Denver mobilizes to slow down Peyton (they have to, don't they?), Edge should have a pretty big day. At the very least, you can expect 80-100 yards and a score or two.

10. Fred Taylor vs. NO - Though you couldn't have guessed it last week, the Saints are pretty feeble vs. the run (4.6 per carry and 136.6 per game). Taylor was neutralized in Foxboro but will have no trouble finding room to run in Week 16. He's a great start if you're still breathing.

11. Kevan Barlow @ PHI - Lost in the hubbub over Philly's long winning streak is the fact they don't defend the run very well (4.5 per carry and 127.8 per game). Indeed, Ricky and the Dolphins gashed them for 177 rushing yards on Monday night. Barlow is capable of doing the same as he tallied over 150 total yards to go along with two scores last week.

12. Jerome Bettis vs. SD - Blame the blizzard for his modest output in New York. San Diego can't slow anyone down and if Maddox manages to get something going in the passing game (he will), the Bus should find plenty of room to roam. It might be his last home game, too. Just another factor to think about.

13. Ricky Williams @ BUF - He's gone over the century mark four of the last five games, an encouraging sign when you consider the competition has been pretty stiff (Baltimore, Dallas, and Philly). Oddly enough, Buffalo qualifies as stiff competition with a defense that ranks 7th against the run and 2nd overall.

14. Thomas Jones vs. ATL - You don't think "workhorse" when you think Thomas Jones but 34 carries and 134 yards (his totals last week) say otherwise. Facing a Falcons D that gives up boatloads of yardage, he could be the sneaky start of the week and a championship game MVP.

15. Travis Henry vs. MIA - For the second consecutive week, he faces a very solid run defense. That's not a good enough reason to sit him down, though. He's likely your #2 back if you've made it this far and 80-100 yards is pretty good production from a #2 back. Keep him in the lineup.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Randy Moss vs. KC - Two high-octane offenses + two crappy defenses = shootout city in Minneapolis this Saturday. Even with a few duds this season, Moss is averaging over 100 yards and almost one touch per game. There's absolutely no reason to think the 28th-ranked Chiefs D will slow him down.

2. Torry Holt vs. CIN - He's averaging even more yards per game than Randy (108.4) but has fewer touchdowns (11). Of course, Randy doesn't have to share catches with Ike Bruce. Neither, for that matter, will Holt if the gimpy Reverend is forced to sit (high ankle sprain). He's a great start as usual.

3. Marvin Harrison vs. DEN - I promised you vintage Marvin and he came through with a vintage performance (seven catches, 117 yards, and two scores). He might have trouble matching those numbers against a decent Denver D but come on…would you really consider sitting him? Lemme answer that one for you: NO!

4. Chad Johnson @ STL - You'd think an ex-Duck might harbor some bitterness toward an ex-Beaver who's been fined more money than most of us make in a year. You'd be wrong. As the irrepressible receiver said of himself this week, "that's just Chad." God, I love players who use the third person.

5. Terrell Owens @ PHI - He's hitting his stride just in time for championship week. Though I expect the Niners to struggle a bit in Philly, he should be able to put up decent numbers (and maybe even a score or two) against an average Eagles pass defense. Besides, who else is Garcia gonna throw it to?

6. Hines Ward vs. SD - The setup may not be ideal (read: nothing to play for) but San Diego seems to bring out the best in an opponents' passing game (a mind-boggling 33 TDs yielded this year). Maddox and Co. should make up for a poor effort in the snow with a big day at Heinz in Week 16.

7. Darrell Jackson vs. ARI - Arizona hasn't won on the road. Seattle hasn't lost at home. Call me crazy but I smell "total butt-kicking" this Sunday. If butts do indeed get kicked, you can expect Mr. Jackson to be one of the kickers. He's the most reliable of a generally unreliable group.

8. Derrick Mason @ HOU - Whoever lines up under center will certainly know where to find this guy. Now that teams are forced to reckon with Justin McCareins, Mason is finding even more holes in opposing secondaries (over 111 yards receiving/game in his last three). It goes without saying the Texans are lousy vs. the pass (239.1 yards/game). Keep him in your lineup.

9. Keenan McCardell vs. ATL - His numbers have been disappointing in the past month but that has a lot to do with the emergence of Thomas Jones and a reliable running attack. The tonic? A league-worst Falcons pass defense (249.4 yards/game). McCardell should find the end zone this Saturday.

10. Joe Horn @ JAX - Most will remember him as the guy who placed the most expensive three-second call in history. We'll remember him as the guy who slayed many a championship contender in Week 15. Don't expect similar numbers this week as his gratuitous act likely earned him a great, big bull's eye.

11. Anquan Boldin @ SEA - The change in signal-callers doesn't seem to have affected his production. In fact, only Moss and Holt have more receiving yards this year. The problem, as always, is that he doesn't catch enough touchdown passes. Don't expect that to change with Josh McCown running the show.

12. Tony Gonzalez @ MIN - If it's touchdowns you're looking for, look no further. Gonzo has scored four of them in his last three games and should find paydirt again this weekend facing a porous Vikings secondary.

13. Steve Smith vs. DET - Another game, another 50+ receiving yards. All we need him to do now is find the endzone again…which he should do against a beleaguered Lions squad.

14. Santana Moss vs. NE - He picked a heckuva time to fall off the face of the earth. Games in blustery Buffalo and snowy Jersey haven't helped and now comes a visit from the big, bad Pats. He stays in the Top 15 on potential alone.

15. Jimmy Smith vs. NO - The return to balmy Jacksonville should work wonders for Leftwich and the Jacksonville passing attack. Smith only caught two balls in Foxboro last week but made the most of them by tallying 73 yards. Expect a solid day from him in Week 16.