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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 5
Steve Gallo
October 8, 2010
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Weekly, I will break down each team’s matchup and offer ratings on the more important IDPs.  Preceding the game breakdowns is a reference chart that lists each team’s average tackle opportunities (TOs) given up, defensive scheme, defensive coordinator & fantasy relevant IDPs.  In addition the reference chart is color coded to identify teams that are giving up average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green) TOs based on their last 3 season averages (2007-2009).  Starting in week 4, TOs will be based off of this seasons statistics.  Basically, if your LB is facing a RED team then it isn't a good matchup, conversely a GREEN team would be a GOOD matchup.  The historical average for TOs is 50 (highlighted in yellow) and anything 49 or less will be in red and anything above 51 will be in green.  Tackle opportunities are described as rushing attempts & pass completions faced plus sacks given up.  Average tackle opportunities are derived from data provided by nfldata.com.  Ratings are based on a 12-team league that assumes the following starting requirements: 2 defensive linemen (DL) (defensive ends (DE) & defensive tackles (DT)), 3 linebackers (LB), 3 defensive backs (DB) (cornerbacks (CB) & safeties (S)). 

Star Rating System:
Five-Star Play: Studly performance anticipated
Four-Star Play: Above average solid starter
Three-Star Play: Starter / Sleeper
Two-Star Play: Bench ‘em unless you don't have other options
One-Star Play: Bench ‘em no matter what

* Star Ratings boxes are now color coded to show the tackle opportunities the team they are facing is giving up:
average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green)  This will help so
that you don't have to continually scroll up to the reference chart and also if you are stuck between who to start out of say
two 3 Star players then you will probably want to go with the one that has a "Green" matchup versus a "Red" matchup
(remember Scheme Matters). 

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).

Follow me on twitter @IDPSteve and if you have any questions, criticisms, or suggestions feel free to e-mail me at IDPSteve@gmail.com. For specific lineup questions please be sure to visit our IDP Forum.  Good luck & enjoy!

Team Avg TOs
Given Up
Year To Date
Avg TOs
Faced
Year To Date
Defensive
Scheme
Defensive
Coordinator
Fantasy Relevant IDPs
ARZ 39 58 3-4 Bill Davis Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Greg Toler
ATL 63 45 4-3 Brian VanGorder Kroy Biermann, Curtis Lofton,
Sean Weatherspoon
BAL 50 43 3-4 & 4-3
Greg Mattison Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain
BUF 40 58 3-4 George Edwards Paul Posluszny, Donte Whitner
CAR 43 56 4-3 Ron Meeks Charles Johnson, Jon Beason, James Anderson,
Dan Connor
CHI 44 50 Tampa 2 Rod Marinelli Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs,
Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings
CIN 53 46 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones, Nedu Ndukwe, Leon Hall (CB mandatory leagues)
CLE 48 51 3-4 Rob Ryan TJ Ward, Joe Haden (CB mandatory leagues)
DAL 53 43 3-4 Wade Phillips Jay Ratliff, Bradie James
DEN 58 46 3-4 Don Martindale DJ Williams, Mario Haggan, Brian Dawkins
DET 51 51 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Kyle Vanden Bosch, Louis Delmas
GB 46 47 3-4 Dom Capers BJ Raji (DT mandatory leagues), Desmond Bishop,
Clay Mathews, Charles Woodson
HOU 55 51 4-3 Frank Bush Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 55 51 Tampa 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session, Antoine Bethea,
Robert Mathis
JAX 52 49 4-3 Mel Tucker Aaron Kampman, Kirk Morrison, Justin Durant (injured), Daryl Smith
KC 49 46 3-4 Romeo Crennel Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry
MIA 51 49 3-4 Mike Nolan Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell
MIN 51 47 4-3 & Tampa 2 Leslie Frazier Jared Allen, EJ Henderson,
Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield
NE 51 54 3-4 Bill Belichick &
D-Staff
Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung
NO 55 49 4-3 Gregg Williams Will Smith, Roman Harper
Sedrick Ellis (DT mandatory leagues) Jonathan Vilma
NYG 52 50 4-3 Perry Fewell Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka (injured), Michael Boley, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips
NYJ 50 45 3-4 Mike Pettine Sione Pouha (DT mandatory leagues), David Harris
OAK 55 46 4-3 John Marshall Trevor Scott, Richard Seymour (DT mandatory leagues), Rolando McClain, Tyvon Branch,
PHL 49 51 4-3 Sean McDermott Trent Cole, Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Quintin Mikell,
Elis Hobbs (CB mandatory leagues with return points)
PIT 46 52 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons,
Troy Polamalu,
SD 54 43 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Eric Weddle, Paul Oliver
SEA 44 55 4-3 Gus Bradley Earl Thomas, Lawyer Milloy, Lofa Tatupu
SF 46 52 3-4 Greg Manusky Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson, Taylor Mays
STL 53 48 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis, Oshiomogho Atogwe
TB 49 46 Tampa 2 Raheem Morris Gerald McCoy (DT mandatory leagues) Stylez White Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes, Sean Jones,
Aqib Talib (CB mandatory leagues)
TEN 49 54 4-3 Chuck Cecil Jason Babin, Stephen Tulloch,
Cortland Finnegan, Chris Hope, Michael Griffin
WAS 42 59 3-4 Jim Haslett London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, LaRon Landry

REMINDER:  STAR BOXES ARE COLOR CODED BASED ON THE TACKLE OPPORTUNITIES THE TEAM THEY ARE FACING IS GIVING UP ON AVERAGE.  FOR THE FIRST THREE WEEKS THE AVERAGES WILL BE BASED ON THE PREVIOUS THREE YEARS (2007-2009).  Starting in week 4, data from this year will be used. 

QUICK GAME LINKS

BYE WEEK TEAMS:  MIAMI, PITTSBURGH, SEATTLE & NEW ENGLAND

Jacksonville at Buffalo

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Daryl Smith
Aaron Kampman
2 STAR

Kirk Morrison
Anthony Smith
Gerald Alexander
David Jones
Rashean Mathis
Derrick Harvey
Justin Durant

1 STAR
Courtney Greene
Russell Allen
Sean Considine
Tyson Alualu
Terrance Knighton

JaguarsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 49

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Justin Durant (ankle) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Sean Considine (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  Last week I said that Aaron Kampman looks like he will have the most fantasy value of all the Jaguars DLs but so far he has been frustrating in the box score.  The Bills present a good matchup for most DEs but with as poor as Kampman has played to start the season he is a risky 3 star play.  Only start Kampman if you have bye week issues.  Derrick Harvey still has yet to have the light go on and at this point the bulb might be completely burned out.  Even in the most dire of bye week situations I wouldn't start Harvey at this point.

Linebacker:  Kirk Morrison was finally able to put up a very good fantasy week last week as he scored 18 points. Morrison has been frustrating and while I would like to say that he has turned the corner I just can't say that yet.  Once Justin Durant gets back from injury then if Morrison continues to post solid numbers will we be able to say for sure if he has turned the corner or not.  Daryl Smith has tailed off a bit the past two weeks and this week facing a Bills offense that is mediocre on its best day doesn't set Smith up for much success this week.  Justin Durant is at least practicing some this week but versus the Bills coupled with his ankle injury is a recipe for keeping him planted on the bench this week.

Secondary: The Bills passing attack is simply atrocious.  Starting Gerald Alexander, Anthony Smith or Rashean Mathis is a risky proposition at best.  Sean Considine is still being limited in practice by a hamstring injury so he should be off limits until we see him back in game action.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Paul Posluszny
Donte Whitner
Kyle Williams

2 STAR

Dwan Edwards
Leodis McKelvin
Jairus Byrd
Drayton Florence
Akin Ayodele
Chris Kelsay
Andra Davis

1 STAR
Marcus Stroud
Terrence McGee

BillsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  47
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 50

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Terrence McGee (back), Keith Ellison (knee) & Bryan Scott (knee) have all been ruled OUT for this week.

Andra Davis (shoulder) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as PROBABLE for this week on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  Surprisingly Kyle Williams has scored double digit fantasy points in 3 of 4 games this year.  This week he should be able to make it 4 of 5 as long as Maurice Jones-Drew is able to play this week.  Outside of Williams it would be best to take a pass on the rest of the Bills DL.  Yes that also include Dwan Edwards.

Linebacker: Paul Posluszny turned in a very nice 20 point effort in his return from injury last week.  The Bills defense should continue to see plenty of snaps and Posluszny easily is the LB that will benefit the most.  Andra Davis missed week 4 due to injury but Akin Ayodele filled in and did a decent job as he posted 14 fantasy points.  This week Davis is practicing and could return to the field.  At this point I am ranking both as 2 star plays unless we hear that Davis will be out again or that one of the two is going to start and get the majority of the snaps. 

Secondary:  The Jaguars have been a Jekyl and Hyde team this year and depending on which team shows up will greatly affect the value of the Bills secondary this week. Look for Donte Whitner to be the safest play no matter if it is Jekyl or Hyde that shows up. Terrence McGee has a back injury that kept him out of last week's game and also out of practice on Wednesday.


Denver at Baltimore

5 STAR
DJ Williams
Brian Dawkins
4 STAR
Mario Haggan
3 STAR
None
2 STAR

Champ Bailey
Andre Goodman
Renaldo Hill

1 STAR
Robert Ayers
Jason Hunter
Ryan McBean
Justin Bannan
Jarvis Moss
Jamal Williams

BroncosAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 47

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

Defensive Line: The Broncos play the fantasy unfriendly 3-4 defense thus rendering their DL for the most part useless. 

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Andre Goodman (quadricep) was limited in practice all week and is QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: The Ravens look like they have strayed from their run 1st philosophy but this week I expect the Ravens to easily handle the Broncos which will allow them to lean on their running game for much of the second half.  That bodes well for DJ Williams owners. So far Williams has been boon or bust with two 20+ point efforts sandwiched around to single digit fantasy scores.  Look for Williams to post back to back 20 point efforts for the 1st time this season.  The last two weeks the Ravens top opposing ILB has logged 9 and 15 total tackles.  Mario Haggan should also be able to get in on some of the action this week and that adds to his upside thus earning him a 4 star ranking.

Secondary:  Brian Dawkins has been off more than he has been on this year and yes I warned of that prior to the season starting.  However, this week the matchup looks juicy and should help to remind owners of just how good Dawkins play was last year.  As for the rest of the Broncos secondary even with the Ravens newly found passing success I would take a pass.

5 STAR
Terrell Suggs
4 STAR
Ray Lewis
3 STAR
Dawan Landry
2 STAR

Chris Carr
Fabian Washington
Jameel McClain
Jarrett Johnson
Haloti Ngata
Kelly Gregg

1 STAR
Tavares Gooden
Tom Zibikowski
Cory Redding

Ravens Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  52
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 50

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Tavares Gooden (shoulder) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Defensive Line: The Broncos are leading the league in passing offense with 339.5 yards/game.  And to get to those lofty numbers they have put the ball in the air the 2nd most times in the NFL this year, an average of 43.75 times/game.  What does that have to do with the Ravens DL you ask?  Well that just means that Terrell Suggs will have plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc on Kyle Orton.  Look for Suggs to have his best game of the year this week.  Haloti Ngata has been a pleasant surprise for his owners and is putting up very nice numbers but this week I doubt the Broncos are able to run the ball much at all and that means Ngata will also need to get to the QB to make noise in the box score.  That risk makes him a 2 star play for me but if you have bye week issues I can see plugging him into your lineup too.

Linebacker:  This isn't the best matchup on paper for Ray Lewis but it is a home game and I am willing to bet that Lewis not only logs his fare share of tackles but I fully expect to see a forced fumble and/or recovery this week too.  Jameel McClain has provided decent LB3/4 value in deeper leagues but this week he is probably best left on the bench.

Secondary:  The Ravens play maker in the secondary has been Ed Reed for years but with Reed on the PuP it is Dwan Landry that is leading the charge in the secondary now.  Landry has put up double digit fantasy points in 3 of 4 weeks and there is no reason to think he won't continue that trend versus the pass happy Broncos.  Look for Landry to nab an interception this weekend too.


Kansas City at Indianapolis

5 STAR
Derrick Johnson
4 STAR

Eric Berry

3 STAR
Brandon Flowers
Brandon Carr
Jovan Belcher
2 STAR

Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Javier Arenas
Glenn Dorsey

1 STAR
Tyson Jackson
John McGraw
Kendrick Lewis
Demorrio Williams
Corey Mays

ChiefsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 48

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Tyson Jackson (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: It looks like Tyson Jackson will make his way back to the football field this week.  Jackson is a good NFL talent but he doesn't possess any fantasy relevance at all.  Same goes for the rest of the Chiefs DL.  Sure there will be games when Glenn Dorsey will put up 4-5 solos with a sack but relying on that production week in and week out isn't something I would be willing to do.

Linebacker: The Chiefs are coming off a bye week and find that they are the only undefeated team in the NFL thru 4 weeks.  The reason that is important is that I doubt the Chiefs would tinker with what has worked so far in this young season.  That means that I expect Derrick Johnson to come out of the bye still as the starter and best fantasy value among Chiefs LBs. Against the Colts offense I also expect for Jovan Belcher to have nice starting value this week.  In deeper leagues Belcher has made for a nice LB3/4 but this week even in 12 team leagues he should be startable.  If you are having bye issues and contemplating starting Tamba Hali or Mike Vrabel I would recommend that you stop contemplating and just keep them on your bench or waiver wire.  I don't expect either to do much tackle wise and neither can be counted on to sack  Peyton Manning.

Secondary: This week the Colts passing attack should give plenty of value to the Chiefs secondary.  Eric Berry should still be the top play but both Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers should get plenty of work chasing Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie down.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Robert Mathis

3 STAR
Gary Brackett
Clint Session
Antoine Bethea
2 STAR
Kelvin Hayden
Jerraud Powers
Dwight Freeney
DaJuan Morgan
1 STAR
Phillip Wheeler
Melvin Bullitt (injured reserve)

Colts Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 53

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Antoine Bethea (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday.  He is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. Unless there is a setback in pre-game warmups I expect that Bethea will start in what is an already thin secondary for the Colts.

Gary Brackett (back), Clint Session (hamstring) & Jerraud Powers (foot) are all listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  With this game being in the Colts home dome I would expect that Matt Cassel is going to be in for a long day which means good things for Robert Mathis owners.  The only way that Cassel stays off his back is if the Chiefs can find a way to stay unbeaten by utilizing their running game.  I don't see that happening and that is why Mathis is a strong 4 star play.

Linebacker: Clint Session was able to get back on the field last week so unless he suffers a setback in practice this week he should be in fantasy owners starting lineups.  It is doubtful that the Chiefs will be able to run the ball as much as they would like but they should be able to run it enough with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles to make Session a safe 3 star play.  The same goes for Gary Brackett.  Last week Brackett was having a tough statistical day but later in the game he was able to record enough tackles to put up his best score (16 points) of the year.

Secondary:  First the Colts lost Bob Sanders for what should be a large chunk of the season and then last week his replacement, Melvin Bullitt suffered a broken bone in his shoulder and has now been lost for the season.  Look for DaJuan Morgan to replace Bullitt in the starting lineup but I wouldn't run out and nab him off the waiver wire and put him in my lineup just yet.  Look for Antoine Bethea to lead the secondary in fantasy scoring this week but temper expectations against what should be a limited KC passing attack.


Green Bay at Washington

5 STAR
Clay Mathews
4 STAR
Charles Woodson
3 STAR

Desmond Bishop

2 STAR

Nick Collins
AJ Hawk
Frank Zombo

1 STAR
Ryan Pickett
Cullen Jenkins
Brandon Chillar
Brad Jones
BJ Raji
Tramon Williams
Morgan Burnett(injured reserve)
Nick Barnett (injured)

Packers Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 49

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Nick Barnett (wrist) & Brandon Chillar (shoulder) have been ruled OUT for this week.  Barnett met with a specialist on Friday about his injury but he will be consulting with team doctors prior to making the decision to have season ending surgery or not

Nick Collins (knee) and Charles Woodson (toe) are both listed as PROBABLE for this week..

Defensive Line:  The Packers DL play a vital role in the success of their 3-4 scheme but offers little to no fantasy value.

Linebacker: The Packers look like they will be losing LB Nick Barnett for the season due to a wrist injury.  Barnett was initially told by doctors that he should have immediate surgery on his wrist for what they called "quality of life" issues.  Barnett is going to get a second opinion on Friday, October 8th to help him make what looks to be a difficult decision on to play or not to play the rest of this season.  Desmond Bishop will be the biggest benefactor as he will replace Barnett in the starting lineup.  This week Bishop makes for an ok start and if you believe that Ryan Torain will breathe enough life into the Redskins running game then Bishop will have 4 star upside.  AJ Hawk had a great game in week 4 but I would say his performance was more fools gold then real gold.  Donovan McNabb is nursing a sore thigh and if he is anywhere less than 100% that will bode very well for Clay Mathews.  Just realize that Mathews is a risky 5 star play due to his need for sacks and big plays to score well. 

Secondary: Rookie SS Morgan Burnett suffered a torn ACL and has been placed on injured reserve by the team.  As I have pointed out numerous times in the past the Packers 3-4 scheme doesn't really produce much opportunity for their safeties so from a fantasy perspective this isn't that big of a hit.  Of course with that said I hate to see any player get hurt.  Charles Woodson should continue to be the top option in the Packers secondary and this week I have him ranked as a 4 star play but understand it is a weak ranking and I was very close to ranking him as a safer 3 star play.

5 STAR
LaRon Landry
4 STAR
Rocky McIntosh
London Fletcher
DeAngelo Hall
3 STAR

Carlos Rogers
Brian Orakpo
Kareem Moore

2 STAR

Lorenzo Alexander
Andre Carter

1 STAR
Albert Haynesworth
Phillip Daniels
Reed Doughty

RedskinsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 47

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

LaRon Landry (wrist) practiced fully all week but is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.  I fully expect that Landry will start and play this week.

Defensive Line:  Washington plays a 3-4 defense that basically renders their DL useless in the realm of fantasy football.

Linebacker:  The Packers running game has been less than impressive but overall their offense can put up prolific numbers.  The Redskins defense has the ability to stifle the best of offenses but this week I have a deep gut feeling that the Packers are going to have one of those big offensive outbursts.  If that happens like I expect it to than the their should be plenty of tackle opportunities for Rocky McIntosh and London Fletcher to make their fantasy owners happy.  If you are looking for a risk/reward play then you can look at Brian Orakpo this week. The Packers may not be giving up sacks left and right like they did last year but that might just be because their OL have learned how to hold better rather than letting their star QB get pounded into the ground.  If Orakpo can avoid being held he could easily post a double digit sack week.  It should also be mentioned that Lorenzo Alexander has replaced Andre Carter as a starter at OLB. Alexander has little to no fantasy value at all even as a starter.

Secondary:  LaRon Landry had a pedestrian 9 point effort in week 4 versus the Eagles, his first poor performance of the season.  No need to worry though as much of that had to do with the Redskins utilizing Landry to help take away the Eagles deep passing attack.  This week look for Landry to return to the roll he had in the first three weeks.  DeAngelo Hall isn't on the injury report as of this writing so look for him to have a very good week, especially in CB mandatory leagues.


St. Louis at Detroit

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

James Laurinaitis
Oshiomongo Atogwe
James Butler

2 STAR
Craig Dahl
Chris Long
Larry Grant
James Hall
Bradley Fletcher
Ronald Bartell
1 STAR
Na'il Diggs

RamsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  48
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 47

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

Defensive Line:  Well, well guess who put up fantasy relevant numbers this past week.  Chris Long, did that's who.  Long was able to record 4 solos, 1 pass defended and a 1/2 sack which was good for 10.5 fantasy points. Maybe just maybe Long is ready to start producing on a weekly basis.  No opposing DL against the Lions has logged more than 3 solo tackles so Long has an uphill battle this week. James Hall had another very nice game last week but his production has been very up and down this year and considering the Lions don't look like a very good matchup is why Hall is just a 2 star player this week.

Linebacker:  James Laurinaitis had his first real pedestrian performance of 2010 in week 4 as he was only able to log 9 fantasy points on 4 solos and 1 assist.  The surprising thing is that he actually was able to log an assist while playing at home.  In case you weren't aware of this the Rams home scorekeeper is far from generous when giving out assists.  Outside of Laurinaitis you should leave Larry Grant and Na'il Diggs on your bench this week.

Secondary:  Oshiomongo Atogwe was held out of the Rams starting lineup last week due to injury and Craig Dahl started in his place.  Atogwe did play some last week but nowhere near his regular amount of snaps.  This week he isn't on the injury report so he should be back as a starter for both the Rams and fantasy owners.  James Butler is far from a household name in fantasy circles but his last two weeks have been solid enough to rely on as a DB3.  This week Butler should be able to fill that same role again as I see him adding another double digit performance to his season total.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Louis Delmas
Kyle Vanden Bosch
Ndamukong Suh
Jonathan Wade
Chris Houston

2 STAR
Julian Peterson
CC Brown
Cliff Avril
Zack Follett
1 STAR
Alphonso Smith
DeAndre Levy (injured)

LionsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  46
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 52

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

DeAndre Levy (groin, ankle) has been ruled OUT for this week.

CC Brown (quadricep) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but practiced in a limited fashion on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Louis Delmas (groin) was limited in practice all week but is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Outside of the Raiders game the Rams have given up a nice performance to an opposing DL in each game.  This week I look for Kyle Vanden Bosch to mirror what Chris Clemons (4 solos & 2 sacks) or Darnell Dockett (6 solos) did versus the Rams.  Ndamukong Suh's value will most likely hinge on if Steven Jackson can play or not this week.  As of this writing Jackson was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.  If Jackson doesn't play I would bump Suh down to a 2 star play.

Linebacker: For the season ALL of the Lions LBs have combined for just 50 solo tackles and 17 assists.  To put that in a bit of perspective, James Anderson (34 solos, 11 assists) and Jon Beason (21 solos, 14 assists) have combined for 55 solos and 25 assists.  And to hammer the point home a bit more, the 50-17 isn't just from the Lions starting LBs but from everyone one of their LBs combined. Should be pretty easy to understand why no Lions LB is ranked above a 2 star play.  DeAndre Levy of course has the most potential to put up fantasy relevant numbers but his ankle injury looks like it could keep him out thru the Lions bye week.

Secondary: With such poor tackling happening in front of the secondary it is no wonder that Louis Delmas is averaging almost 15 PPG.  Oh and Delmas for the season has logged a total of 22 solos and 3 assists.  CC Brown was also able to take advantage of the poor tackling in front of him to post 3 nice weeks to start the season but last week he only posted a disappointing 5 fantasy points.  This week Brown has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a quadricep injury so check back for the Friday Injury Report Update to see if it looks like Brown will be able to play this weekend.


Chicago at Carolina

5 STAR
Julius Peppers
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Brian Urlacher
Lance Briggs
Israel Idonije

2 STAR
Danieal Manning
Charles Tillman
Tim Jennings
Charles Grant
1 STAR
Nick Roach
Chris Harris
Zackary Bowman

BearsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  48
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 45

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Major Wright (hamstring) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Defensive Line:  If you don't like massacre then you probably won't want to watch this week's Bears/Panthers game.  Simply put I expect for Julius Peppers to single go off in a big way against his former team.  Can you say welcome to the NFL Jimmy Clausen.  Also it should be noted that the Bears released Mark Anderson and signed veteran Charles Grant.  Grant shouldn't be much more than a situational/depth type player.  If anything this should add to the value of Israel Idonije. 

Linebacker: About the only chance the Panthers have to keep this a respectable game and to keep their QBs (yes I said QBs) healthy is if they can run the ball 35+ times.  Unfortunately, I don't see that happening because if I did then both Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher would be 5 star plays.  But as it is they are 3 star plays but make no bones about it there is risk in those rankings facing the Panthers this week.

Secondary: Don't look for much value in the Bears secondary this week.  Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman could have some added value if the Panthers have success running the ball but I have already stated that I doubt they can run it as much as they would need to.  Add in the fact that Jimmy Clausen has only completed 16 and 11 passes in his first two NFL starts and it is easy to see that you should be avoiding the Bears DBs this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Jon Beason
James Anderson
Charles Godfrey

3 STAR
Richard Marshall
Chris Gamble
Charles Johnson
2 STAR
Greg Hardy
Dan Connor
Tyler Brayton
Derek Landri
1 STAR
Jamar Williams
Sherrod Martin
Everette Brown

Panthers Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 52

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Sherrod Martin (concussion) and Jamar Williams (neck) have been ruled OUT for this week.

Defensive Line: Normally when your defense is on the field a ton it means good things for fantasy owners.  Well that doesn't seem to be the case for the Panthers DL.  The Panthers have faced the 4th most tackle opportunities thru 4 weeks yet their top performing DL is DT Derek Landri who ranks 26th among all DL.  Only Landri and fellow DT Ed Johnson have logged more than 4 solos in a game this year.  All of that leads to what should be a benching of the Panthers DL but when you consider they will be facing a Mike Martz offense with a backup QB starting it makes for an interesting dilemma to say the least.  Call me crazy but I am going to project Charles Johnson to be a safe start this week.

Linebacker: James Anderson continues to defy the odds of producing numbers like he does from his SLB position.  At this point you don't wonder why or question it, you just get on for the ride and enjoy it while it lasts.  Jon Beason owners may be a bit envious but don't feel to bad for them as Beason is still averaging 14.5 PPG.  Dan Connor makes for a risky play this week as the Bears should be in multi WR sets plenty and that could severely limit the number of snaps that he is able to play this week.

Secondary:  If Jay Cutler was starting this week I would more than likely have Richard Marshall as a 4 star play but with Todd Collins taking over the reigns I have tempered my expectations.  Even with Collins under center I do still expect Charles Godfrey to be an above average play this week.


Tampa Bay at Cincinnati

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Barrett Ruud
Geno Hayes
3 STAR

Ronde Barber
Sean Jones

2 STAR

Gerald McCoy
Kyle Moore
Stylez White
Aqib Talib

1 STAR

Quincy Black

Buccaneers Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 54

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Kyle Moore (shoulder) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report for this week.

Defensive Line: Even with the Buccaneers coming off of a bye I find it hard to rank Stylez White, Kyle Moore or Gerald McCoy anything more than 2 star plays this week.  For starters the Bengals have yielded just 2.5 sacks to opposing DL and also only 2 DL have recorded more than 4 solos against them this year.  Not exactly numbers that make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Linebacker: One thing that I really expect the Bengals to do this week is to get their rushing attack going at home.  Look for both Barrett Ruud and Geno Hayes to eclipse 7 solo tackles this week.  And even if the Bengals don't overly commit to running the ball this week the prospects still look good for Ruud and Hayes.  The Bengals have given up some big performances to the following LBs this year, Jerod Mayo (12 combined tackles), Ray Lewis (10 combined tackles), James Anderson and Jon Beason (9 combined tackles each) and even Matt Roth and Scott Fujita (11 combined solos and 3 sacks) combined to put up some nice stats versus the Bengals.

Secondary: Sean Jones and Ronde Barber should both fare well no matter the game plan that the Bengals implement this week.  Both are able to hold their own in run support and if the Bengals decide to air it out both will have no problem racking up enough tackles to put up DB3 type numbers this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Dhani Jones
Nedu Ndukwe
2 STAR
Leon Hall
Rey Maualuga
Michael Johnson
Jonathan Joseph
Antwan Odom
Keith Rivers
1 STAR
Chris Crocker
Robert Geathers
Jonathan Fanene (injured)
Roy Williams (injured)

BengalsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 45

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Jonathan Fanene (hamstring) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Roy Williams (knee) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.  Williams was diagnosed with an MCL sprain and is expected to miss the next 3-4 weeks.

Dhani Jones (hamstring) was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Antwan Odom is a shell of his former self and looks like he hasn't rebounded as well as others have from his ACL injury.  At this point you should look elsewhere for DL help as the Bengals DL are far from fantasy relevant.  If you don't believe me look no further than Robert Geathers who leads the Bengals with a whopping 19 fantasy points scored year to date (4.75/game).

Linebacker: Dhani Jones is still doing what Dhani Jones does, quietly putting up solid fantasy numbers for his owners.  Jones currently ranks 20th among all LBs in fantasy points scored (56 point, 14 PPG).  This week I am still ranking Jones as a 3 star play but understand it is a weak ranking and offers no upside at all.  Keith Rivers may have had a fantastic fantasy game but don't be fooled into thinking he has turned the corner.  He is still a situational player and that makes him a risky play. 

Secondary:  Roy Williams injured his MCL and will be out for the near future.  Nedu Ndukwe will replace Williams in the starting lineup.  In the past when Ndukwe has had to fill in and start he has been able to put up solid numbers.  I think he will do the same this time around but just like Dhani Jones he is a weak 3 star play with no upside this week.  Basically, I am saying that I don't like the Buccaneers offense on the road this week, even if they are coming off a bye.


Atlanta at Cleveland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Curtis Lofton

2 STAR

Seam Weatherspoon
Brent Grimes
Dunta Robinson
Thomas Decoud
Mike Peterson
John Abraham
Stephen Nicholas
Eric Coleman
William Moore
Kroy Biermann
Jonathan Babineaux

1 STAR
Jamaal Anderson

FalconsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 46

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Curtis Lofton (knee) and Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) are both listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report but both players practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

Defensive Line: This might be hard to believe but no Falcons DL has recorded more than 3 solo tackles in a game this year.  John Abraham was the player that pulled off that feat in week 3 against the Saints.  So yes that means that 2, yep TWO solos tackles or worse is the norm for Falcons DL this year.  Couple that with the fact that the Browns have only surrendered 2 sacks to opposing DLs and that Kelly Gregg (5 solos) and Terrell Suggs (6 solos) are the only DLs to log more than 2 solo tackles against the Browns and you can easily see why the 2 star ranking is the highest ranking for the Falcons DLs.

Linebacker: So far thru 4 weeks there has only been one week where Curtis Lofton hasn't recorded at least 8 combined tackles.  Lofton currently ranks 10th among fantasy LBs in fantasy points scored and is averaging 18 PPG.  The Browns are giving up below average tackle opportunities so that is the main reason that Lofton is only ranked as a 3 star play this week.  Last week it was Stephen Nicholas who stepped into the starting lineup due to an ankle injury to Sean Weatherspoon and all Nicholas did was log 12 solos with an assist.  Nicholas looks like his time in the starting lineup will be short lived as Weatherspoon was able to fully participate in practice on Thursday. When you put 2 and 2 together with Weatherspoon coming back from injury and facing the Browns you don't get 4 but instead you get a 2 star ranking.

Secondary:  Eric Coleman was active for the Falcons week 4 game but it was William Moore who got the start.  The question that has yet to be answered is if Coleman will be able to regain his starting SS spot at some point in time or if 2nd year safety William Moore will be able to hold him off.  I think we are seeing the beginning of the William Moore era in Atlanta but I still would like to see how the next couple of weeks play out before I can rank either Coleman or Moore as anything better than a 2 star play. 

5 STAR
TJ Ward
4 STAR
Joe Haden
3 STAR

Eric Barton
Scott Fujita

2 STAR

Eric Wright
Sheldon Brown
Matt Roth
Abram Elam
David Bowens
Chris Gocong

1 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Robaire Smith
Shaun Rogers

BrownsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  45
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 50

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

Defensive Line: Short, sweet and to the point, there is no other consistent fantasy value on the Browns DL.

Linebacker: The Browns ILB positions should be providing plenty of fantasy value with the number of tackle opportunities that they are facing. Sadly for fantasy owners no Browns LB has really stepped up to take the place of D'Qwell Jackson. Scott Fujita has been the best and most consistent Browns LB as he has posted three consecutive double digit fantasy efforts.  Eric Barton has two double digit fantasy weeks but has been frustratingly ineffective in his other two games.  If there is a week where you should be able to comfortably plug Fujita and Barton into starting lineups it would be this week versus the Falcons who are giving up a league high 63 tackle opportunities/game.

Secondary: TJ Ward lived up to his 5 star ranking last week as he led all Browns defenders with 9 total tackles (6 solos, 3 assists).  Ward is clearly making fantasy owners take note as the rookie is averaging 17 PPG for the season.  However, it isn't just fantasy owners that are noticing Ward, the NFL also took notice of Ward's hit on Jordan Shipley last week and slapped him with a fine for the hit. Fellow rookie Joe Haden should also put up nice numbers this week too as I expect that the Falcons will look to try and exploit the rookie if they can.


NY Giants at Houston

5 STAR
Justin Tuck
4 STAR
Antrel Rolle
3 STAR

Michael Boley
Kenny Phillips

2 STAR

Aaron Ross
Corey Webster
Keith Bulluck
Jonathan Goff
Osi Umenyiora

1 STAR
Jason Pierre-Paul
Mathias Kiwanuka (injured)

GiantsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 47

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Mathias Kiwanuka (neck) and Keith Bulluck (toe) have been ruled OUT for this week.

Kenny Phillips (knee) was only able to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday this week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  Last week I said I expected Justin Tuck to put up top 2-3 numbers for all DL against the Bears, Mike Martz offense.  Well I was off by just a bit because Tuck was the top scoring DL for the week as he put together a 26 point fantasy effort.  With Mathias Kiwanuka being out due to injury Tuck saw plenty of snaps at LB in the Giants "Elephant" package.  Basically, that package is a dime like package that the Giants use to beef up their front 7 with. As long as Kiwanuka is out this just adds a ton to the value that Tuck already had.  Osi Umenyiora should also see some added value as his snaps should increase while Kiwanuka is out with his injury.  Umenyiora also had a huge game as he posted 22 fantasy points against the Bears.  Unfortunately, Umenyiora was listed as questionable due to a knee injury and many owners probably left him on their bench (like me) rather then risk taking a goose egg if he wasn't able to play in the Sunday night game.

Linebacker:  Last week Michael Boley had a very poor 1 solo, 1 assist week for his owners.  When you look at the numbers a bit deeper and realize that when you subtract out the 10 sacks the Giants recorded there were only 31 tackle opportunities for Boley to take advantage of. This week against the Texans I would expect Boley and the rest of the Giants to see many more tackle opportunities. As it is Boley offers up enough risk that I can't recommend starting Jonathan Goff or Keith Bulluck (missed practice Wed. & Thurs).

Secondary: Coach Coughlin stated that Kenny Phillips was held out of practice on Wednesday due to his knee being "tired and sore".  Remember that Phillips had knee surgery last year so it makes plenty of sense that the Giants are being cautious with him. As long as there aren't any setbacks I see no reason to not rank Phillips a solid 3 star play this week. Last week Antrel Rolle fell victim to the poor performance of the Bears offense as he was only able to log 4 fantasy points.  Prior to last week Rolle was averaging 14.33 PPG and there is no reason for me to think that he won't bounce back this week versus the Texans potent offense.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Mario Williams
Bernard Pollard
3 STAR
DeMeco Ryans
2 STAR
Zac Diles
Brian Cushing
Glover Quinn
Eugene Wilson
Kareem Jackson
Troy Nolan
Mark Anderson
1 STAR
Antonio Smith
Darryl Sharpton
Xavier Adibi
Amobi Okoye

TexansAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2002*-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 49
*1st year in the NFL .

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Mario Williams (groin) was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Bernard Pollard (neck) was limited in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Eugene Wilson (hamstring) was also limited in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Mario Williams popped up on the injury report as being limited in practice on Thursday due to a hamstring issue.  It may be nothing but it is something that I will monitor and update in the Friday Injury Update Report.  If Williams is able to play I would expect him to do very well as the Giants have given up some big games to opposing DEs this year.  Both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were able to log 2 sacks each when they faced the Giants in week 2.  Mathis was able to add in 4 solos while Freeney logged 2 solos and an assist.  The Texans also signed Mark Anderson who was cut earlier in the week by the Bears.  Don't expect much from Anderson but he is worth keeping an eye on if he can get increased play opposite of Williams.

Linebacker: The big question this week is how will Brian Cushing do in his first week back in the lineup as he returns from a 4 game league imposed suspension.  In my opinion you should leave Cushing on the bench to see just how he bounces back. Even if I think you should wait on Cushing it is easy to see that Zac Diles value has to take a hit. DeMeco Ryans shouldn't see his value take much if any of a hit with Cushing back in the lineup as Diles was playing well thru the 1st four weeks.

Secondary:  Starting strong safeties are averaging just under 7 total tackles/game versus the Giants so look for Bernard Pollard to once again be a top option at the DB position. Other news in the Texans secondary is that Eugene Wilson missed week 4 with a hamstring injury and his replacement was Troy Nolan who notched 5 combined tackles and 2 interceptions. Nolan's performance prompted coach Gary Kubiak to say that Nolan is going to get "a lot more playing time" after his week 4 performance.  Until we see exactly what a lot more means I am going to rank Nolan as a 2 star play.


New Orleans at Arizona

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Jonathan Vilma
Alex Brown
2 STAR

Malcolm Jenkins
Sedrick Ellis
Jo-Lonn Dunbar
Scott Shanle
Jabari Greer
Remi Ayodele
Leigh Torrence
Roman Harper

1 STAR
Danny Clark
Tracy Porter (injured)
Will Smith

SaintsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:53
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 47

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Tracy Porter (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Roman Harper (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Will Smith (groin) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but returned to practice in a limited fashion on Friday, he is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  Both Will Smith and Alex Brown have each only had one good game so far this year.  Smith surely is frustrating his owners after the nice season he put together last year.  Even Brown owners have to be frustrated as the outlook for Brown to be a viable DL2 was high when he joined the Saints.  Since the Saints are facing Max Hall who will be starting his first NFL game I want to be able to rank Will Smith as a 4 star play but a groin injury has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday which is why he is only a 1 star play right now.  Since I think the Saints are going to get to Hall a few times I am going to go out on a limb and rank Brown a 3 star play.

Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma owners shouldn't be panicking over his poor performance last week as he only faced 37 tackle opportunities.  Unfortunately, this week's matchup doesn't look much better so he does make for a bit of a risky 3 star play.  Outside of Vilma I wouldn't even think about starting Jo-Lonn Dunbar or Scott Shanle.

Secondary:   Roman Harper is being limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury and when coupled with the poor offensive attack he will be facing I had no desire to rank him higher than a 2 star play. At CB the Saints are going to be without Tracy Porter for around 4-6 weeks as he sprained his MCL.

5 STAR
Daryl Washington
Greg Toler
4 STAR
Paris Lenon
3 STAR
Kerry Rhodes
2 STAR
Calais Campbell
Darnell Dockett
Clark Haggans
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Adrian Wilson
1 STAR
Joey Porter

Cardinals Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 51

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Paris Lenon (pelvis) practiced fully on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: This week with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell facing the Saints and the hard to sack Drew Brees I wouldn't be so quick to expect much from the duo. With bye weeks I am sure it is hard to sit players like Dockett and Campbell but just realize that there is very little upside for them this week.

Linebacker: Daryl Washington owners are surely stymied by his lack of production the past two weeks and they rightfully should be.  However, no matter how bad his performances have been the past two weeks this week the matchup looks prime as all get out for Washington.  The rookie has the speed needed to take advantage of the tackle opportunities that the Saints passing attack will afford him.  It may seem like I am crazy ranking Washington a 5 star play but i am completely committed to that ranking. Paris Lenon was on the injury report last week with a pelvis injury but he was still able to play and put up not just solid numbers but his 3rd consecutive 20 point fantasy effort. Unless there is news that Lenon's injury gets worse I see him as a strong play this week but just not as strong as the rangy Washington.

Secondary: Greg Toler will no doubt get challenged early and often by Drew Brees.  Look for him to have a very big game because of it.  Kerry Rhodes has surprisingly put up good numbers and falls under the ride the hot hand strategy. I am pretty sure that prior to the start of the season that no one would have pegged Toler and Rhodes as top 10 DBs, nor would many have seen Adrian Wilson ranking down in the low 40s.


Tennessee at Dallas

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Alterraun Verner
Michael Griffin
Stephen Tulloch

3 STAR

Will Witherspoon
Cortland Finnegan
Chris Hope
Jason  Babin

2 STAR

Vincent Fuller
Colin Allred
Gerald McGrath
Dave Ball

1 STAR
Jacob Ford
Jason McCourty (injured)
William Hayes
Derrick Morgan (injured)

TitansAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 50

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Jason McCourty (forearm) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Jacob Ford (ankle) practiced fully all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Due to injuries Jason Babin and Dave Ball started week 4 at DE for the Titans.  In deeper leagues Ball could be a nice bye week filler but Babin has been a big surprise so far this year as he ranks 5th among all DL in fantasy scoring.  Babin could start to see fewer snaps as the Titans DEs get healthy so there is a bit of risk starting him and that risk is why he is just a 3 star play.  As Jacob Ford and William Hayes try to get healthy to help bolster the DL, rookie Derrick Morgan tore his ACL has been placed on injured reserve by the team.

Linebacker:  Stephen Tulloch was a preseason favorite of mine to end the season as a top 10 LB.  Well 4 weeks into the season and I still feel the same.  Currently, Tulloch is just 2 points (1 solo tackle) from ranking as a top 10 LB.  I don't think Tulloch will have a huge game this week but he should be able to keep pace with those in the top 10.  Will Witherspoon currently ranks in the top 30 and has had 3 solid performances during the Titans first 4 games.  Look for Witherspoon to post 10-12 fantasy points this weekend. Also it should be noted that Gerald McGrath has finished with his 4 game suspension and will see his first action of the season this week.  McGrath will only provide fantasy value in very deep leagues.

Secondary: If you are asking, "Who is Alterraun Verner?", the answer would be that he is the rookie CB replacing the injured Jason McCourty.  Yes, Verner logged an eye popping 11 solo tackles in his first start.  That folks is what we refer to as the "rookie CB rule".  If you aren't familiar it simply means that QBs will usually pick  on inexperienced rookie CBs over seasoned veterans when they can.  I wouldn't look for Verner to log 11 solos again but he should still be a strong 4 star play, especially in CB mandatory leagues. Verner won't be the only Titans DB having a good day as I fully expect Michael Griffin to post another strong fantasy effort this week. This year strong safeties are putting up better numbers versus the Cowboys but Griffin has put up double digit solos twice so far this year and Chris Hope has yet to do that even once.  Hope should still be a solid 3 star play but the upside this week is with Griffin.

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Gerald Sensabaugh
2 STAR

DeMarcus Ware
Jay Ratliff
Anthony Spencer
Allan Ball
Mike Jenkins
Terance Newman

1 STAR

Sean Lee

CowboysAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2002-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 44

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

Defensive Line:  Due to scheme the Dallas DL doesn't present much if any fantasy value.  In DT mandatory leagues Jay Ratliff is the only DL worth starting from the Cowboys DL but this week versus Chris Johnson and his penchant to bounce runs to the outside I would probably leave Ratliff on the bench too.

Linebacker: Starting ILBs versus the Titans are averaging over 7 total tackles/game.  And a couple of those ILBs have put up massing games (Timmons & DJ Williams).  For the most part this season Bradie James and Keith Brooking are performing very similarly which is why I have both as 3 star plays instead of one as a 4 star play and the other as a 3 star play.  DeMarcus Ware as usual is a 2 star play due to his inconsistent fantasy output. 

Secondary:  For the most part the Cowboys secondary hasn't been anything special this year from a fantasy perspective.  Only 3 times has any Cowboys DB eclipsed 4 solo tackles this year.  Allan Ball recorded 6 solos in week 1 and in week 3 both Terrance Newman and Gerald Sensabaugh recorded 7 solos versus the Texans.  I rolled a 3 sided dice and it came up Sensabaugh this week. Even though he is a 3 star play I would only look to use him as a bye filler or in deeper leagues.


San Diego at Oakland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Kevin Burnett
Paul Oliver
Stephen Cooper

2 STAR
Eric Weddle
Quentin Jammer
Antoine Cason
Shaun Phillips
Brandon Siler
Darrell Stuckey
1 STAR

Luis Castillo
Shawne Merriman
Steve Gregory (suspended)

ChargersAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 52

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Larry English (foot) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Brandon Siler (foot) and Darrell Stuckey (hamstring) both missed practice all week and are listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Shawne Merriman (calf) practiced fully on Friday but is still listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: The Chargers 3-4 scheme doesn't offer fantasy value for it's DL.

Linebacker: Darren McFadden got off to a fast start for the Raiders but it looks like a balky hamstring will keep him out this week.  With that said the Raiders will just look to feed Michael Bush the ball and that should equate to plenty of tackle opportunities for Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper to share.  But the big news coming out of San Diego is that the Chargers not only could trade Shawne Merriman by the October 19th deadline but that they could possibly cut him, according to beat writer Kevin Acee.  Shaun Phillips hasn't gotten much press from me this year and in general doesn't get much from the national media either.  Well it should be said that Phillips is a very good OLB and has the ability to put up monster games like he did in with his 34 point effort in week 4.  The problem is that Phillips just isn't consistent enough to start in tackle heavy formats.  If you are thin at LB due to byes then Phillips is always worth a look if the matchup looks good.  This week I would say that in deeper leagues he could make a decent bye fill option.

Secondary: The Chargers have lost Steve Gregory for four games due to a league imposed suspension for testing positive for PEDs.  While many may expect or should I say hope that rookie Darrell Stuckey will start in place of Gregory it isn't going to happen.  Paul Oliver will take over for Gregory and at least for four weeks should provide good value for fantasy owners.

5 STAR
Tyvon Branch
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Rolando McClain
Richard Seymour

2 STAR
Trevor Scott
Matt Shaughnessy
Lamarr Houston
Quentin Groves
Kamerion Wimbley
Stanford Routt
Michael Huff
1 STAR
Nnamdi Asomugha
Mike Mitchell
John Henderson (injured)

Raiders Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 47
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 46

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

John Henderson (foot) has been ruled OUT this week.

Quentin Groves (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday.  He is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: This just in, John Henderson has a stress fracture in his foot, Richard Seymour is the best fantasy option among the Raiders DL and the rest are risky fantasy plays at best.  Yep, that about covers the Raiders DL for fantasy purposes.

Linebacker: Considering how fantasy owners are concerned with the performance or should I say lack of performance of Rolando McClain it isn't surprising that people started to surmise that McClain might be losing his starting gig when news surfaced that Ricky Brown was taking 1st team snaps at MLB.  Well coach Tom Cable put that to rest when he announced that McClain was missing from practice due to a loss in his family.  Thoughts and prayers to McClain and his family.

Secondary:  Tyvon Branch had his first single digit fantasy performance for the year in week 4 and currently ranks 16th among DBs in fantasy scoring.  I wouldn't worry to much about his 8 point performance because last year he had 4 single digit scoring games and two of those were lousy 4 point efforts.  Even though he currently ranks 16th compared to his 2nd overall ranking last year I wouldn't worry to much as his PPG this year sits at 13.50 and last year it was just 1.31 PPG higher.  This week he should have no problem putting up a 15+ point game versus the Chargers.  For the year the Chargers are surrendering just shy of 9 total tackles per game to opposing strong safeties.  Outside of Branch forget about starting any other Raiders DB.


Philadelphia at San Francisco

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Trent Cole
Stewart Bradley
3 STAR
Nate Allen
Ernie Sims
2 STAR

Quintin Mikell
Brandon Graham
Ellis Hobbs
Moise Fokou

1 STAR
Akeem Jordan
Omar Gaither
Darryl Tapp
Asante Samuel (injured)

EaglesAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 49

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Asante Samuel (concussion) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Defensive Line: Trent Cole seems to be doing the great game, ok game, great game, ok game dance this year.  If he keeps up that trend then this week should be a great game.  Unfortunately, the trends for DLs versus the Niners aren't very good.  That might make Cole's 4 star ranking a bit of a head scratcher but actually that is why he isn't a 5 star play.  Outside of Cole I wouldn't expect anyone to have Daryl Tapp or even rookie Brandon Graham in their lineups.

Linebacker: News is that there will be a change at one of the starting LB positions for the Eagles this week.  SLB Akeem Jordan looks like he will be replaced in the starting lineup by 2nd year LB Moise Fokou.  Neither LB has any fantasy relevance playing the SLB position in the Eagles scheme but it could be a shot in the arm to help solidify the Eagles rushing defense.  Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims are the only Eagles LBs worthy of fantasy starter status.  Bradley should be a slightly stronger play this week versus the Frank Gore led rushing attack but Sims does present a bit of upside, especially now that we are into bye weeks.

Secondary: The Niners have been a mixed bag when it comes to performances by opposing DBs against them.  Quintin Mikell should be the strongest play in the Eagles secondary but this week look for Nate Allen to dial up another big play and outscore Mikell because of it.  Asante Samuel suffered a concussion last week but looks like he should be able to play this weekend but isn't someone that should be in fantasy lineups.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Dashon Goldson
Justin Smith

3 STAR
Patrick Willis
Taylor Mays
2 STAR
Navorro Bowman
Shawntae Spencer
Nate Clements
1 STAR
Manny Lawson
Parys Haralson
Travis Laboy
Takeo Spikes

49ersAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  45
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 49

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

Defensive Line:  For the most part opposing DLs against the Eagles haven't really fared all that well.    Kyle Vanden Bosch has been the most productive DL versus the Eagles this year as he was able to grind out a 2 solo, 4 assist and 1 1/2 sack day back in week 2.  Justin Smith is similar to Vanden Bosch in that his motor just doesn't stop.  Plus when you add in the fact that Smith will be chasing down the less fleet of foot Eagles QB this week it is easy to see why I have him as a 4 star play.

Linebacker:  Patrick Willis owners have to be scratching their head wondering why he isn't putting up massive numbers like he has since he entered the NFL.  Well at this point in time I don't have an answer. The Niners are facing an above average number of tackle opportunities (52) so that isn't the issue.  Look a little deeper and you will see that his first two weeks were very Willis like as he put up back to back 20 point efforts.  Willis is human and you just can't expect to  see him put up 20 point efforts every week.   In 2009 he had 4 games where he scored 15 points or fewer but none were in back to back weeks.  Sure we should keep an eye on Willis but unless there is some serious injury news there is no way I don't just continue to plug and play him.

Secondary: Taylor Mays sure did make a splash in his first start last week and his recovery of the blocked punt for a TD was just plain sick. Mays should be a pretty good start versus the Eagles but I am going to play it safe and give him just a 3 star ranking until we see a bit more from the rookie.  While Mays could lead the Niners secondary in tackles this weekend I am going to say that I expect Dashon Goldson to outperform him against the Eagles.  Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer make for risky starts considering we don't know what to expect from Kevin Kolb in the Eagles passing game this weekend. 


Minnesota at NY Jets

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Antoine Winfield
Chad Greenway
EJ Henderson
3 STAR
Jared Allen
2 STAR
Madieu Williams
Ben Leber
Asher Allen
Pat Williams
Kevin Williams
Ray Edwards
1 STAR
Tyrell Johnson
Jamarca Sanford
Husain Abdullah

VikingsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 52
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 46

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Chris Cook (knee) missed practice on Thursday and Friday.

Defensive Line:  One way the Vikings can improve their chance of winning in New York is if Jared Allen can have a big game and rattle Mark Sanchez. Ray Edwards continues to underperform and until he shows any semblance of life should be firmly planted on fantasy benches.  In DT mandatory leagues look for Kevin Williams to be a nice option versus the Jets rushing attack.

Linebacker:  Don't read to much into EJ Henderson's 4 point performance in week 3.  It was a dud for sure but I look for Henderson and Chad Greenway to be plenty busy this weekend.  The Jets have given up some nice statistical days to opposing LBs and this week should be no different.

Secondary:  The Jets will surely look to use their rushing attack to try and keep the Vikings offense sitting on the sidelines as much as possible. While Mark Sanchez has played much better of late he has only completed 29 total passes in his last two games.  So I don't expect Antoine Winfield to rack up many tackles against Jets WRs but he will be plenty busy in run support.  Cedric Griffin made his 1st appearance in 2010 versus the Lions in week 3 and was able to log 3 solo tackles.  Griffin has made a very fast recovery from a torn ACL suffered this past postseason.  I wouldn't be willing to put Griffin in my starting lineup just yet but keep an eye on him because he has been fantasy relevant in the past.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
David Harris
Jim Leonhard
3 STAR
Bart Scott
Sione Pouha
Shaun Ellis
2 STAR
Kyle Wilson
Jason Taylor
Antonio Cromartie
Bryan Thomas
Calvin Pace
Darrelle Revis
1 STAR

Eric Smith
Brodney Pool
Mike Devito
Vernon Gholston

JetsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 58

Notes: Star rankings are based off of average tackle opportunities given up by current week's opponent.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Shaun Ellis (knee) was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday.

Calvin Pace (foot) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

Jason Taylor (elbow) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

Defensive Line: Sione Pouha should be able to put up a much better week this week versus the Adrian Peterson led Vikings rushing attack.  Last week, Pouha was only able to record 1 solo and 1 assist but considering that Bills only gave up 31 tackle opportunities a stat line like that isn't very hard to understand.  The Vikings are giving up an average of 51 tackle opportunities so look for better numbers this week.  Shaun Ellis has been a solid scorer this year, as long as you look past his week 2 one point performance.  This week look for Ellis to put up solid DL2 type numbers.

Linebacker: If you are a David Harris owner you are more than likely very frustrated with his performance thru 4 weeks.  However, when you realize the Jets are facing an almost league low 45 tackle opportunities/game his 11.25 PPG is a bit easier to swallow.  Currently only 3 teams (SD, DAL & BAL) are facing fewer tackle opportunities/game (43/game) than the Jets.  This week as stated above facing the Vikings running game should be a big boon for Harris as well as Bart Scott.

Secondary:  Look for safety Jim Leonard to be extremely active in run support this week.  That is unless the Vikings actually do end up acquiring WR Randy Moss from the Patriots.  As of now the Moss trade is nothing  more than an unsubstantiated rumor. With Brett Favre and the Vikings WRs looking less than stellar so far this year I wouldn't expect much from the rest of the Jets secondary this week and that includes Antonio Cromartie and even Darrelle Revis who is expected to return to the the starting lineup.


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