If you are flipping to this page of the newspaper to get some fantasy football advice, it can mean only one thing: That you are still alive and kicking in your league's playoffs. If this is the case, I offer my congratulations. If not, I apologize for making such a painful assumption.
The NFL playoff picture is starting to clear up a little. This can be very frustrating for fantasy owners. There is nothing in fantasy worse than knowing you have three of the best players in all of football on your roster, but are scared to start them because they won't get enough playing time because their team is already assured a playoff berth.
Although frustrating, this is good information to have. For instance, the key match-up of Week 16, a possible Super Bowl preview, will take place this week between the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts. The Seahawks are playing for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but the Colts? They have home field sewn up in the AFC and after getting beaten in Week 15, have very little reason to play their starters on either side of the ball.
If you have Edgerrin James, Peyton Manning or Marvin Harrison, you may want to consider sitting them this week. It stinks that you may want to consider starting a sure-fire starter in the playoffs, but you just have to do what you have to do.
Also, remember that weather can greatly affect this week's outcome. I suggest waiting until the last minute to set your lineup. The weather forecasts must be known before making those crucial, last-minute decisions.
Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) -- The Colts have nothing to motivate them in Week 16. Their starters will be given few opportunities to injure themselves, meaning the Seahawks should be able to have their way with a patch-work Colt defense. A victory for the Seahawks means home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Hasselbeck is the NFC's highest-rated passer and has thrown seven touchdown passes the last two weeks. Look for him to throw two more against a Colt defense that has nothing to play for in Week 16. START HIM.
Ryan Moats (PHI) -- The Eagles offense will be lining up against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Cardinals "D" has more holes than Augusta National. Moats has scored three touchdowns the last two weeks and averaged 96 yards per game over that span of time. Arizona is incapable of keeping that from occurring again. This week, look for Moats to eclipse the century mark and cross the goal line at least once. START HIM.
Chris Cooley (WAS) -- First, make sure Cooley qualifies at running back in your league. If he does, he has been nothing but solid for the 'Skins and has recently become the go-to guy in their offensive scheme. He caught six passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns. If he doesn't qualify at running back, he will make a good starter at tight end. Expect a solid showing this week against the Giants. START HIM.
Donte Stallworth (NO) -- OK, I'm sticking my neck out here in predicting the unpredictable, but Stallworth is heading up against the Lions, who have a way of making stars of average wide receivers. Although he dropped five passes for legitimate reasons (they hit him in the hands), he did catch five while accumulating 102 yards and a score. Playing him deep in your league playoffs is a risk, but then again, so is driving to and from work. START HIM.
Bobby Engram (SEA) -- Keep in mind the Colts will be resting their starters throughout the game. On the flip side, the Seahawks are seeing this as a must-win game. Winning this game will send a message to the AFC's probable Super Bowl representative. It will also guarantee them home-field throughout the NFC playoffs. With Alexander drawing attention from opposing defenses, Hasselbeck and Engram have amassed solid numbers. Look them to fare well again. START HIM.
Alge Crumpler (ATL) -- Though Crumpler caught just two passes for 14 yards last week, he is a solid start against the Bucs in Week 16. Against the same Tampa Bay defense on Week 11, Crumpler scored a touchdown. He will in no way light up the scoreboard, but he is a solid pick as tight ends go. START HIM.
Jaguars (JAC) -- The Jags pounce into Houston to face an offense that is, pardon the pun, downed right offensive. Look for the Jags to tally several sacks while holding the Texans in check. If the pass rush proves to be tardy, you get a bonus. David Carr will have an opportunity to throw the ball, which could conceivably land in the arms of Jaguar defenders, making a defensive touchdown a distinct possibility. This is an easy one. START THEM!
The football season is rapidly coming to a close, meaning I will be focusing on baseball as soon as next week. I ask that you send any and all questions you may have concerning the upcoming 2006 baseball season. Baseball is having one of its most exciting off-seasons ever. If you have any questions concerning keeper leagues, points leagues, auction leagues, prospects, sleepers, etc., fire me an email and we will address your question in print. I appreciate and look forward to receiving your emails. Feel free to include any fantasy football or baseball questions, suggestions or comments you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.