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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 7
Steve Gallo
October 22, 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 this years stats.  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 40 56 3-4 Bill Davis Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Greg Toler, Paris Lenon
ATL 57 48 4-3 Brian VanGorder Kroy Biermann, John Abraham, Curtis Lofton,
Sean Weatherspoon, William Moore
BAL 54 44 3-4 & 4-3
Greg Mattison Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, Dwan Landry
BUF 41 58 3-4 George Edwards Paul Posluszny, Andra Davis, Donte Whitner,
Dwan Edwards, Kyle Williams
CAR 43 55 4-3 Ron Meeks Charles Johnson, Jon Beason, James Anderson,
Dan Connor, Charles Godfrey
CHI 49 50 Tampa 2 Rod Marinelli Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Brian Urlacher,
Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings
CIN 52 46 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones, Nedu Ndukwe, Leon Hall (CB mandatory leagues)
CLE 48 51 3-4 Rob Ryan TJ Ward, Scott Fujita, Kenyon Coleman
DAL 54 43 3-4 Wade Phillips Jay Ratliff, Bradie James
DEN 53 49 3-4 Don Martindale DJ Williams, Mario Haggan, Brian Dawkins (injured)
DET 51 51 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Kyle Vanden Bosch, Louis Delmas
GB 46 51 3-4 Dom Capers BJ Raji (DT mandatory leagues), Desmond Bishop,
Clay Mathews, Charles Woodson, AJ Hawk
HOU 51 54 4-3 Frank Bush Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans (injured reserve) ,
Bryan Cushing, Zac Diles, Bernard Pollard
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,
Daryl Smith, Sean Considine
KC 50 49 3-4 Romeo Crennel Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry
MIA 53 48 3-4 Mike Nolan Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell
MIN 48 50 4-3 & Tampa 2 Leslie Frazier Jared Allen, EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway,
Antoine Winfield
NE 52 56 3-4 Bill Belichick &
D-Staff
Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung
NO 53 48 4-3 Gregg Williams Will Smith, Roman Harper, Jonathan Vilma,
Sedrick Ellis (DT mandatory leagues)
NYG 53 47 4-3 Perry Fewell Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka (injured), Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Terrell Thomas
NYJ 50 46 3-4 Mike Pettine Sione Pouha (DT mandatory leagues), Shaun Ellis,
David Harris, Jim Leonhard
OAK 51 48 4-3 John Marshall Trevor Scott, Richard Seymour (DT mandatory leagues), Rolando McClain, Tyvon Branch, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Huff
PHL 52 50 4-3 Sean McDermott Trent Cole, Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell, Nate Allen
Elis Hobbs (CB mandatory leagues with return points),
PIT 47 51 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons,
Troy Polamalu,
SD 53 46 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Paul Oliver,
Antoine Cason
SEA 46 51 4-3 Gus Bradley Earl Thomas, Lawyer Milloy, Lofa Tatupu, Chris Clemons
SF 47 50 3-4 Greg Manusky Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson, Taylor Mays,
Nate Clements
STL 53 48 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis, Oshiomogho Atogwe, James Hall,
Bradley Fletcher
TB 48 48 Tampa 2 Raheem Morris Stylez White Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes,
Aqib Talib (CB mandatory leagues)
TEN 49 54 4-3 Chuck Cecil Jason Babin, Stephen Tulloch, Alterraun Verner
Chris Hope, Michael Griffin
WAS 46 56 3-4 Jim Haslett London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall

REMINDER:  STAR RANKING BOXES ARE COLOR CODED BASED ON THE TACKLE OPPORTUNITIES THE TEAM THEY ARE FACING IS GIVING UP ON AVERAGE THIS YEAR.

QUICK GAME LINKS

BYE WEEK TEAMS: Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis & NY Jets

Cleveland at New Orleans

5 STAR
TJ Ward
4 STAR
Joe Haden
3 STAR

Eric Wright
Abram Elam

2 STAR

Ahtyba Rubin
Scott Fujita
Eric Barton
Kenyon Coleman
Sheldon Brown
Matt Roth
David Bowens
Chris Gocong

1 STAR

Robaire Smith (injured reserve)
Shaun Rogers

BrownsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  45
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 Browns DL has been far from stellar from a fantasy standpoint this year, that is with the exception of Ahtyba Rubin, who in DT mandatory leagues has been a boon for his owners.  This week one would probably think he isn't that great a play versus the Saints since perception is that they don't run the ball that much.  However, while the Saints do run the ball less than the league average (26.99) this year they are running it a respectable 24.67 times/game.   I don't think that Rubin is a solid play in combined leagues but he should still be a 3 star play in DT mandatory leagues.  Kenyon Coleman's knee injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday but even at 100% this week I wouldn't have Coleman in my starting lineup.

Linebacker: As we well know by this point the Browns LBs are going to be risky plays from week to week and this week is no different.  Versus a Saints team that will most assuredly spread them out with multiple WR sets and is why I am not ranking Scott Fujita or any other Browns LBs above a 2 star play.  That doesn't mean that I don't think Fujita or even Eric Barton for that matter could post 5 or more solos this weekend, just that I think there is far to much risk to expect that produciton.

Secondary: While TJ Ward will technically hold the rookie moniker all year his play has looked anything but "rookieish".  Ward should be in line for very big this week.  Since week 3 an opposing safety has logged at least 6 solo tackles versus the Saints with Charles Godfrey's 6-2-0 line being the best over that time.  This week with the shaky LB play in front of Ward I expect we will see him eclipse double digit tackles this week.  Joe Haden may not be technically starting but the rookie should get tried enough to make him an above average play this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Jonathan Vilma
Roman Harper
2 STAR

Jabari Greer
Malcolm Jenkins
Patrick Robinson
Sedrick Ellis
Jo-Lonn Dunbar
Remi Ayodele
Alex Brown
Jeff Charleston
Danny Clark

1 STAR
Junior Galette
Leigh Torrence
Will Smith
Scott Shanle

SaintsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:53
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:

Roman Harper (hamstring) & Will Smith (groin) were both limited in practice all week but both are listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Scott Shanle (hamstring) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.  He missed 2 days of practice but returned in a limited fashion on Friday.

Defensive Line:  Will Smith was able to get back on the field last week after being inactive back in week 5 but with the goose egg he posted it would have been better for his owners had he been inactive again.  Evidently it looks like his groin is still an issue and as of Wednesday it limited him in practice too. At this point Smith needs to be left on benches until he shows that he is healthy and going to be able to make a difference in the box score for his owners too.  Smith isn't the only one on the Saints DL that isn't performing for fantasy owners.  Alex Brown has been just as big a disappointment.  Well maybe not as big since expectations weren't as high but then again when you are being outscored by the two starting DTs on your team then you know you aren't doing much.  In DT mandatory leagues both Sedrick Ellis and Remi Ayodele have both been pretty good plays and so far do lead the Saints DL in fantasy points.

Linebacker: One assist.  One gosh d#mn f#@*ing ASSIST!  I am sure that is what was emanating out of the mouths of many Jonathan Vilma owners last week.  If it makes anyone feel any better I too felt that sting, as I had Vilma firmly planted on the bench in one league and then with less than 2 minutes to go before he would have been frozen I re-inserted Vilma back into my starting lineup.  I had him ranked as a 3 star play last week but did point out that there was risk involved due to the matchup and that risk came to fruition. A key contributing factor was also the fact that the Saints played quite a bit of 3-4 last week too.  This week Vilma has another one of those risky matchups and once again I am going to give him a 3 star ranking but suggest that if you have a better option you look at taking it.  I see Vilma's upside as around a 5-2-1 this week.

Secondary:   Roman Harper and his hamstring are still listed on the injury report and he was limited in Wednesday's practice because of said hamstring.  However, since returning to the lineup in week 5 Harper hasn't let it affect his play as he has logged 14 tackles with 3 forced fumbles and a pass defended.  His tackle opportunities could be limited some this weekend but I still see Harper having a solid 4 star day.  Outside of Harper I would leave Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer all on the bench versus the Browns.  Check back for a Friday Injury Update on Harper's hamstring too.


Jacksonville at Kansas City

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Daryl Smith
3 STAR
Sean Considine
Aaron Kampman
Justin Durant
Kirk Morrison
2 STAR

Courtney Greene
Don Carey
David Jones
Rashean Mathis
Derrick Harvey
Tyson Alualu
Terrance Knighton

1 STAR
Russell Allen

JaguarsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 54

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

Defensive Line:  I am sure that with the perception of how bad the KC passing attack is that many would think this should be a good matchup for Aaron Kampman and the Jaguars DL but truth be told this isn't a very good matchup at all.  Zero is the word.  That is how many sacks the Chiefs have given up to opposing DEs so far this year.  And it isn't like they are giving up a plethora of tackles either as Robert Mathis is the only DE to log more than 3 solo tackles against them. If you are in a pinch in a DT mandatory league you can give Tyson Alualu a look as fellow DT Ahtyba Rubin was able to post a stat line of 4-2-0 with an interception back in week 2. 

Linebacker:  Daryl Smith still remains the safest play among Jaguars LBs and this week he should see plenty of opportunities to rack up tackles versus Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.  Last week Kirk Morrison was able to post a respectable 6-1-0 stat line but with Justin Durant now back from his ankle injury he could start to siphon some of those tackles back away from Morrison so realize that Morrison has little upside to his ranking. 

Secondary: Hey you, get out.  No wait, come back, no on second thought get out, again. That is pretty much how the Jaguars have treated Gerald Alexander this year.  Alexander was cut prior to the start of the season only to be brought back and then released again after this past week's game versus the Titans.  On top of that the Jaguars also deal Anthony Smith to the Packers so to say they have had some turnover at the safety position is putting it mildly.  Sean Considine missed last week due to a hamstring injury but the release of Alexander signals that Considine should be ready to return to action this week.  At the strong safety position Courtney Greene looks to have the starting gig but look for him to share some snaps with Don Carey too.  Of the three only Considine makes for a safe play.  If you are thinking about starting David Jones or any other CB for the Jaguars I would recommend against it due to the fact that the Chiefs are completing just 15.6 passes/game.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Derrick Johnson
Tamba Hali
2 STAR

Brandon Flowers
Brandon Carr
Eric Berry
Mike Vrabel
Jovan Belcher
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: 49

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

Defensive Line: For the most part there really isn't much value on the Chiefs DL.  Glenn Dorsey has put up not so bad numbers in 3 games but the rest of his games were very forgettable.  Add in that outside of Trent Cole's 8-0-2 in week 3 that opposing DEs and DTs have been pretty bad versus the Jaguars and it makes it easy to leave Dorsey and his fellow DL on the bench.

Linebacker: Outside of a week 3 hiccup versus the Niners (3-2-0) Derrick Johnson has been racking up tackles week in and week out.  The past two weeks he has totaled 9 combined tackles each week and outside of week 3 has logged at least 7 combined tackles.  This week I have him at a 3 star ranking based on how poorly the Jaguars tend to play on the road.  His floor this week is probably 5 solos but if the Jaguars can commit to the run a bit then that would give him a bit of upside and he could end up posting another 7+ combined tackle day. Tamba Hali of course is another one of those rush OLBs that you really need to get into the sack column to make much noise in the box score, well this week with the issues that the Jaguars have at QB i could see Hali having a very nice game. The risk associated with his reliance on sacks is why he is a 3 star instead of a 4 star play.

Secondary: Eric Berry is the big name in the Chiefs secondary but it is CB Brandon Carr that has lead all Chiefs secondary players in tackles since week 3. This week versus what should be a very limited Jaguars passing attack I would easily leave Carr, Berry and Brandon Flowers all on the bench. 


Philadelphia at Tennessee

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Trent Cole
Stewart Bradley
Quintin Mikell
3 STAR
Nate Allen
2 STAR

Brandon Graham
Ellis Hobbs
Moise Fokou
Ernie Sims
Asante Samuel

1 STAR
Akeem Jordan
Omar Gaither

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.

Defensive Line: Right now I have Trent Cole ranked based on the assumption that Kerry Collins will be the starting QB. The Titans coach did say he expects for Vince Young to play this week but he missed practice on Wednesday and until he gets back to practice I am going to take the coach speak with a grain of salt.  Of course with that said Collins also missed practice on Wednesday.  Worst case scenario Cole is still a 3 star play and should be in starting lineups no matter the matchup.  Rookie Brandon Graham is making strides and has the look of a player that will become fantasy relevant in the very near future.  In dynasty leagues he is definitely a buy if you can get him.

Linebacker: Look for Stewart Bradley to make the most of a good opportunity this week.  The Titans are running the ball a whopping 31.67 times per game and that has allowed some opposing ILBs to have some very nice game against the Titans.  Bradley doesn't have to share many tackles among his fellow LBs so he should be good for a 7-8 solo game this week. 

Secondary: The Titans have been a mixed bag when it comes to giving up tackles to opposing secondaries but with Stewart Bradley and Trent Cole being the main guys to eat up tackles in the front 7 I am expecting a very good game from Quintin Mikell.  Mikell should be a vital part of the Eagles defense as he helps try to keep RB Chris Johnson in check.  Yes I know, easier said than done.  Nate Allen has performed well for a rookie safety and this week looks like he should once again be in starting lineups.  Especially if you are in bigger play scoring systems.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Chris Hope
Alterraun Verner
Stephen Tulloch

3 STAR

Jason  Babin
Michael Griffin
Cortland Finnegan

2 STAR

Will Witherspoon
Gerald McGrath
Vincent Fuller
Colin Allred
Dave Ball

1 STAR
Jacob Ford
Jason McCourty
William Hayes

TitansAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 52

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

Defensive Line: Try and guess who produced the following stat line, 5-6-4 (and a pass defended).  That stat line belongs to Jason Babin but the catch is that is his production over the last 3 weeks.  Four sacks in 3 weeks is definitely nothing to shake a stick at and on a fantasy level that stat line has accounted for 29 fantasy points (9.67 PPG).  The is no doubt that is DL1 production but I can't look past the fact that he has only eclipsed 2 solo tackles exactly once all year long.  As the rest of the Titans DEs also get healthier it should be expected that Babin's production is also going to become much more inconsistent.  This week versus a patchwork Eagles OL he should be able to get to the QB (Vick or Kolb) and should at worst put up DL2 type numbers this weekend.  Just realize if he doesn't get to the QB a goose egg could very well be a possibility.

Linebacker:  Stephen Tulloch is playing like he likes being a top 5 LB and doesn't plan on going anywhere.  Over his last four games he is averaging 12 total tackles/game.  Last week Curtis Lofton put up 11-3-0 against the Eagles and a DeSean'less Jackson Eagles team might just need to run the ball a bit more this week and that puts Tulloch in line for a very good matchup.  Even at a 4 star ranking I see Tulloch with some upside this week.  In deeper leagues you can look at Gerald McGrath or Will Witherspoon for help if you are having bye week issues.

Secondary: Prior to last week's game against the Jaguars, Chris Hope had posted 6+ tackles each week since week 2.  Look for Hope to bounce back against the Eagles passing attack this week.  Sure I said the Eagles could look to run the ball more this week but it isn't like they are going to just put the ball in the air 15 times.  I know that Alterraun Verner came crashing back down to Earth last week as he posted just 1 solo.  Sorry but there is no way I am going to hold last week against him knowing that he was facing a pathetic Jaguars passing attack.  He should be good for 7 or more tackles this week.  In CB mandatory leagues I think it is safe to bump him up to a 5 star play.


Buffalo at Baltimore

5 STAR
Paul Posluszny
Donte Whitner
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Andra Davis
Kyle Williams

2 STAR

Dwan Edwards
Leodis McKelvin
Jairus Byrd
Drayton Florence
Akin Ayodele
Chris Kelsay
Marcus Stroud

1 STAR
Terrence McGee
Torell Troup

BillsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  47
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 43

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

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Terrence McGee (back) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Kyle Williams (ankle) missed practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  Much was made of the Bills switching to a 3-4 scheme for this year but did you know that the Bills ran a 4-3 defense in their week 5 game against the Jaguars.  Dwan Edwards and Marcus Stroud were listed as the starting DEs with Kyle Williams and Torell Troup manning the two DT positions. The move looks to be a permanent one, for this season at least, as coach Chan Gailey basically said the change was an attempt to improve the leagues worst rush defense.  As for how the change will impact the Bills DL we will have to wait and see but some value should be able to be mined, at least compared to the value we got from their 3-4.

Linebacker: For those wondering the 4-3 switch puts Andra Davis at MLB, Paul Posluszny at WLB and Chris Kelsay at SLB (at least for now).  The Bills defense is far from strong so they are going to see an above average amount of tackle opportunities so I see no reason to worry about Posluszny playing WLB and this week there should be plenty of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to make Posluszny a 5 star play and Davis a safe 3 star play.

Secondary:  The move back to the 4-3 could very well have a slightly negative impact on the secondary but only if the front 7 start to steal away tackles that were making it to Donte Whitner.  Over his last 3 games Whitner is averaging more than 11 total tackles a game.  Look for him to easily match that number this week. Basically, I am saying that I don't foresee the 4-3 switch hurting Whitner.  Terrence McGee is still fighting a back injury that has kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Terrell Suggs
Ray Lewis
2 STAR

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

1 STAR
Tavares Gooden
Tom Zibikowski
Cory Redding

Ravens Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  52
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: Tough matchup this week for Terrell Suggs owners as he faces a Bills team that is giving up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities in the league this year (41).  No DL has recorded more than 3 solo tackles against the Bills this year and on top of that the Bills have only surrendered 4 sacks to opposing DL.  Still as bad as that sounds if you are a Suggs owner you have to plug him in your lineup and hope he can pull off a 3-3-1.5 like Aaron Kampman did versus the Bills.  Just realize the floor could completely fall out on Suggs this week.  For  reasons already stated about limited tackle opportunities is why Haloti Ngata is a 2 star play.

Linebacker:  The fact that Ray Lewis ranks 14th in total tackles by LBs this year is really nothing short of amazing when you realize that the Ravens have faced the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities on the year, having faced an average of just 44 tackle opportunities/game. Lewis has found a way to be productive on the nominal amount of opportunities that he has faced so I see him as still being able to put up starting numbers for his owners once again.  Outside of Lewis I wouldn't even consider using Jameel McClain or Jarrett Johnson as bye week fillers in deeper leagues.

Secondary:  The Bills offense on average this year is averaging just 16.2 pass completions per game.  That just isn't going to cut it when it comes to expecting decent fantasy numbers from Dwan Landry or any other Ravens secondary player.  The only other worthwhile news surrounding the Ravens secondary is that it looks like Ed Reed could see his first action of the year this week.


Cincinnati at Atlanta

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Dhani Jones
Nedu Ndukwe
Chris Crocker

3 STAR
Leon Hall
2 STAR
Rey Maualuga
Michael Johnson
Keith Rivers
Robert Geathers
Jonathan Joseph
1 STAR
Domata Peko
Jonathan Fanene

BengalsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 42

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

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Jonathan Joseph (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but returned in a limited fashion on Friday.  He is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Antwan Odom will start serving a 4 game league imposed suspension for violating the substance abuse policy this week.  Considering that Odom suffered a knee injury in his last game and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks  because of it and coupled with his poor play to date means this is good news for his owners as they won't be able to get  burned by starting him. At this point there isn't a Bengals DL that I would feel comfortable starting. 

Linebacker: For the most part the Falcons have been a fruitful matchup for the oppositions top fantasy LB.  That is why it looks like Dhani Jones is set up for a very nice week.  Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers have the ability to put up nice games but both have been inconsistent this year and unless you are in a serious bind with bye weeks I would leave both on the bench.

Secondary:  Chris Crocker has put up the following numbers in his last two starts; 16 solos, 2 assists, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.  Yeah, that is pretty good.  Look for Crocker to stay hot versus the Falcons passing attack.  Filling in for the injured Roy Williams is Nedu Ndukwe who is just about equally as hot as Crocker.  Ndukwe has posted 14 solos, 6 assists and 1 fumble recovered over his last two games and just like Crocker I see him continuing his hot play.  In CB mandatory leagues Leon Hall looks to be a very nice play this week but fellow starter Jonathan Joseph wasn't able to practice on Wednesday so his status for week 7 is currently up in the air a bit.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Curtis Lofton
William Moore
3 STAR

Stephen Nicholas
Kroy Biermann
John Abraham
Brent Grimes
Jonathan Babineaux

2 STAR

Mike Peterson
Eric Coleman
Thomas Decoud

1 STAR
Jamaal Anderson
Dunta Robinson
Sean Weatherspoon (OUT)

FalconsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  50
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 56

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

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Sean Weatherspoon (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Dunta Robinson (head, knee) did not practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: While Kroy Biermann, John Abraham and even Jonathan Babineaux have had games where they put up good numbers this year they have all been very inconsistent.  So with that said when you factor in that only Charles Johnson was able to post more than 3 solos against the Bengals it is easy to see that starting any of the Falcons DLs is a risky proposition.  And after all that I am ranking both Biermann and Abraham as 3 star plays but that is based on how I see this game playing out.  I see the Falcons building a big lead and Biermann and Abraham cashing in later in the game as they pin their ears back against the Bengals passing attack.  Of course that makes them risky 3 star plays.  As for Babineaux, he should be able to log some early tackles while the Bengals attempt to establish their running game with Cedric Benson.

Linebacker: On the injury front, Sean Weatherspoon has been ruled out for this week's game.  That means that Stephen Nicholas will once again get the start in his place and should be a strong 3 star play versus the Bengals rushing attack.  Curtis Lofton is dealing with a knee injury that limited him in practice on Wednesday. Currently due to that knee injury Lofton does make for a risky 4 star play but if he is able to practice all week and it looks like he won't be limited than I think the 4 star ranking is solid.  Just be sure to check back for the Friday Injury Report Update.  Just in case you need to hear this, Mike Peterson is nothing more than an afterthought for fantasy purposes at this point.

Secondary:  Outside of the Ravens game the Bengals have given up some very nice games to opposing safeties. I don't think we will see William Moore put up 12 solos and 4 assists like Patrick Chung did when he faced the Bengals but I do think we could see him log 10+ combined tackles.  Thomas Decoud has only had one game this year where he has put up more than 5 combined tackles so I wouldn't expect much more than a 3 solo, 2 assist type game from him this week.  At best you would be looking at 5 solos but that would be risky expecting that production.  Brent Grimes hasn't been much better than Decoud but over his past two games he has been able to log 16 solos and 4 assists and looks like he should be a solid play this week against Batman and Robin (Ochocinco and Owens, you decide who is who).


Washington at Chicago

5 STAR
Brian Orakpo
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

London Fletcher
LaRon Landry
Rocky McIntosh

2 STAR

DeAngelo Hall
Carlos Rogers
Kareem Moore
Lorenzo Alexander
Andre Carter

1 STAR
Albert Haynesworth
Phillip Daniels
HB Blades

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

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

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

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

LaRon Landry (achilles), Carlos Rogers (shoulder), DeAngelo Hall (back) & Rocky McIntosh (head) are all listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. Landry is the only one of the four not to practice fully on Friday, he was a limited participant.  Landry should be good to go this week but you really need to monitor the inactive report before starting him.  With this week not looking like a great matchup it might just be best to look for help elsewhere and leave Landry on your bench.

Linebacker:  Last week it was expected that a concussion was going to keep Rocky McIntosh from playing but now it looks like he is progressing enough to practice and looks like he should be good to go this week. Looking at the production of opposing LBs versus the Bears makes this look like a tough matchup for McIntosh, as well as London Fletcher.  However with that said did you know that McIntosh and Fletcher have recorded at least 7 combined tackles in each game they have played in this season.  So as bad as the matchup looks I can't see not ranking them as 3 star plays.  Just understand that their looks like it will be limited by the matchup.  Now that matchup for Brian Orakpo, that looks to be one of the best matchups any rush OLB is going to have this year.  If you are an Orakpo owner you should run, not walk to get him into your lineup this week.  Granted this matchup also looked good for Clay Mathews in week 3 when all he could muster up was 3 solo tackles in what was a disappointing performance but that is the risk you run with big play rush OLBs. 

Secondary:  LaRon Landry is easily one of the best DBs in the NFL this year and in most weeks is a don't even think about it plug and play stud but this week might not be one of those weeks.  At this point I must have your attention so stay with me here.  Landry has one week where he left owners feeling a bit empty to say the least.  That was in week 4 versus Philadelphia where he posted just 4 solos and 1 assist.  The reason that Landry had so few tackles was because the Redskins used him to try and limit the Eagles vertical passing attack.  Well this week with a visit to Chicago one has to assume that the Redskins could end up doing the same as they did versus the Eagles.  I am not in anyway advocating to sit Landry but want to point out that he very well could have a less than stellar week this week.  For most of the year DeAngelo Hall has been racking up tackles but he too had his worst performance versus the Eagles so with that in mind and the fact that the Bears are only averaging 14 completions over their last four games it becomes easily apparent that he is a risky play this week, as is fellow CB Carlos Rogers.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Brian Iwuh/Lance Briggs
3 STAR

Israel Idonije
Julius Peppers
Charles Tillman
Brian Urlacher

2 STAR
Chris Harris
Danieal Manning
Tim Jennings
1 STAR
Nick Roach
Zackary Bowman
DJ Moore

BearsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  48
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:

Lance Briggs (ankle) practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Brian Urlacher (groin), Danieal Manning (back) & Chris Harris (knee) are all listed as PROBABLE this week. All three practiced fully on Friday.

Defensive Line:  While Julius Peppers has basically been a frustrating fantasy play for much of this year if you own him you have to keep running him out there.  If you really feel you have better options then they are worth considering but if you spent a high enough pick to acquire Peppers it is doubtful you would have a player with as much upside as Peppers.  Trust me the week you finally sit him is when he will post 5 solos, 3 sacks with a couple of forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.  Actually, if everyone could sit Peppers this week we could test that theory out. And to do my part I will keep Peppers in my lineup in the one league that I own him in.  But in all seriousness as risky as it may seem to start Peppers I think you have to just keep plugging and playing him.  Israel Idonije isn't going to be posting sacks like he did in the Carolina game but he should be good for more than the measly 2 assists he logged last week.  I wouldn't call him a strong 3 star play but I do think that he should put up low level DL2 type numbers this week.

Linebacker: Last week Lance Briggs ankle injury kept him from playing and on Wednesday it also kept him from practicing.  Brian Iwuh got the start at WLB for Briggs and all he did was lead the team in tackles with an 8-2-0 stat line.  If Briggs can't go this week look for Iwuh to be worthy of another spot start. Brian Urlacher on the other hand was able to post a 10 point fantasy effort but it was on just a ho-hum 4-2-0 stat line.  Urlacher always has some upside considering his penchant for big plays but this week I don't see him as much more than a 3 star play.  Also it should be noted that Urlacher missed practice on Wednesday with a groin injury. Make sure to check back for the Friday Injury Report Update on Urlacher and Briggs.

Secondary: The Redskins have completed 26 and 29 passes in their past two games and if this game ends up a shootout the Redskins could approach the 30 completion mark again and that would make Charles Tillman a very nice 3 star play with some upside.  Both Chris Harris (knee) and Danieal Manning (back) also missed practice on Wednesday and at this point I wouldn't feel comfortable ranking them above a 2 star play.


Pittsburgh at Miami

5 STAR
Lawrence Timmons
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Troy Polamalu
2 STAR
Ike Taylor
Bryant McFadden
William Gay
Lamar Woodley
James Farrior
Ryan Clark
James Harrison
1 STAR
Aaron Smith
Brett Keisel
Evander Hood

SteelersAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  52
2000-2009 Versus week 4 opponent: 54

Notes: Star ranking boxes are now color coded based on tackle opportunities given up by opponent for the 2010 season. 

Defensive Line: The Steelers run a 3-4 scheme that basically renders their DL useless for fantasy purposes.  Even if you are looking for bye week help you should do it elsewhere.

Linebacker:  Last week all signs pointed to a very bad matchup for the Steelers but that isn't how it played out.  Lawrence Timmons racked up 9 solos, 2 assists, 2 sacks and an interception while facing just 23 completions and 22 rushing attempts.  But Timmons wasn't the only Steeler to light up the scoreboard.  Fellow LB James Harrison had a 10-1-1.5 line and also added a forced fumble.  Timmons should be in line for a very big game against the Dolphins but Harrison is supposedly contemplating retirement due to being fined for one of his hits versus the Browns.  I doubt that Harrison actually calls it quits but until there is confirmation one way or other I have no choice but to rank him as a 1 star play.

UPDATE: James Harrison has now backpedaled and said that he will not be retiring. He has now been bumped up to a 2 star play.

Secondary: Outside of Charlie Peprah's 9 solo, 2 assist week last week opposing safeties haven't really fared very well against the Dolphins. Troy Polamalu is an always dangerous player for opposing teams to keep an eye on but in the fantasy football world his upside looks to be limited by his matchup and the strong play of the Steelers LBs.  Opposing CBs have fared a bit better than their counterparts at safety but trying to peg if Ike Taylor or Bryant McFadden is the better play is a risky proposition.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
3 STAR
Cameron Wake
Karlos Dansby
Channing Crowder
Jason Allen
2 STAR

Vontae Davis
Chris Clemons
Sean Smith

1 STAR
Kendall Langford
Quentin Moses
Randy Starks
Bobby Carpenter
Tim Dobbins

DolphinsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 4 opponent: 43

Notes: Star ranking boxes are now color coded based on tackle opportunities given up by opponent for the 2010 season.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT UPDATE:

Karlos Dansby (knee) practiced fully all week but is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report. 

Defensive Line: If you are looking for DL help from the Dolphins DL you have big problems.  Do yourself a favor and just look elsewhere for help.

Linebacker: Sure Ben Roethlisberger is back at QB for the Steelers but they are still running the ball almost 32 times/game.  That should bode well for Karlos Dansby and Channing Crowder.  Granted Dansby has been up and down this year but it doesn't help that the Dolphins are seeing below average tackle opportunities.  Believe it or not but even with almost 32 rushing attempts/game the Steelers are still giving up less than average tackle opportunities too.  But I see enough rushing attempts faced for Crowder and Dansby to be 3 star plays this week.  Cameron Wake is a risky 3 star play and it is nothing more than a gut feeling but I see him getting to Roethlisberger multiple times on Sunday.

Secondary:  The only reason I see Yeremiah Bell being such a good start is because I see him being busy in run support.  Expecting the Steelers to complete 25-30 passes just doesn't seem very realistic and if they are anywhere near their average of 13.4 completions/game  then you shouldn't expect anything worthwhile from the rest of the secondary..


St. Louis at Tampa Bay

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

James Laurinaitis
Oshiomongo Atogwe
James Butler

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

RamsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  48
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:  Last week was by far the best game combined that James Hall and Chris Long have had all year long as they combined for a 5-0-4 stat line. With production like that you would think I would expect for them to build on that performance but that isn't the case.  For the season the Buccaneers have given up just 2 sacks to opposing DL. So while I can't advocate starting Long, I can say that it is at least nice to see him starting to make some noise.  Keep an eye on him because he did have a nice run towards the end of last season and maybe he will be able to get a slightly earlier start this year.

Linebacker:  Last week the Buccaneers limited MLB Jonathan Vilma to just one assist so I am sure that has James Laurinaitis owners a bit worried about this weeks matchup.  There were a couple of key factors that hurt Vilma that shouldn't affect Laurinaitis this week.  For starters the Saints played a 3-4 defense for much of the game and the other part was that they jumped out to a big early lead and that limited the Buccaneers to just 18 rushing attempts for the game.  This week I would expect the Buccaneers to fare a bit better against a Rams team coming into their stadium so when all is said and done look for Laurinaitis to be a safe 3 star play.

Secondary:  Over the past two games starting SS/FS combos have averaged 8.5 total tackles against the Buccaneers. So I think it is safe to look for both Oshiomongo Atogwe and James Butler to both put up good numbers this week.  As for Bradley Fletcher or any other Rams secondary player it is best to leave them on the bench this week.  On the injury front Ronald Bartell has a thigh injury that has kept him out of practice so far on Wednesday and Thursday.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Cody Grimm
3 STAR

Ronde Barber
Aqib Talib

2 STAR

Barrett Ruud
Geno Hayes
Sean Jones
Quincy Black

1 STAR

Gerald McCoy
Stylez White
Kyle Moore

Buccaneers Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
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:

Barrett Ruud (toe) practiced fully on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: Right now the Buccaneers DL is a mess for fantasy purposes.  Stylez White hasn't recorded more than 1 solo in a game since week 2 and production like that makes it easy to bury him as a 1 star play.  And at the other starting DE position there is Kyle Moore who is fighting not just poor fantasy production but also a shoulder injury.  Moore was inactive last week but did return to practice in full on Wednesday but for Thursday was back to limited participation. Like White, I am burying Moore as a 1 star play until we see something.

Linebacker: Seeing Barrett Ruud rank 28th in total tackles among LBs is something that no one really saw coming this year and while he has struggled he is also now dealing with a toe injury.  That injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday and had him practicing in a limited fashion on Thursday.  When you look at the fact that the Rams haven't exactly been the best of matchups for opposing LBs it is easy to see why I have Ruud and Geno Hayes as 2 star plays this week and  I know it is easier to see than to accept.  Now with all that said I have to say that as much as I have looked at this game I just can't get a firm grasp on it and feel pretty uneasy with ranking it.

Secondary: Since taking over as the starting FS rookie Cody Grimm has filled up the box score with 16 solos, 6 assists, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 2 passes defended.  Those stats put Grimm at 16.33 PPG over that 3 game stretch. I think that Grimm's hot start couple with the fact that he is facing a rookie QB, albeit a well playing rookie QB I think that Grimm is in for a nice week.  Ronde Barber is defying mother nature and has been putting up nice numbers too and has racked up 22 total tackles in his last 3 games. 


San Francisco at Carolina

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

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

49ersAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  45
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:

Justin Smith (hand) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report but he did practice fully on Thursday and Friday.

Nate Clements (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday & Thursday but returned in a limited fashion on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line:  The Panthers are coming off of a bye week and the major change is that Matt Moore will be back under center so that in and of itself changes the dynamic of this matchup versus the matchup the Bears had with the Panthers prior to the bye.  If Jimmy Clausen were starting I would easily push Justin Smith up to a 4 or possibly even 5 star rank this week.  But for now that isn't the case so I have Smith ranked as just a 3 star play instead.  I guess that Smith owners are hoping that Moore stubs his toe and can't play this week.

Linebacker:  Sometimes it is so easy to get spoiled and that is something that Patrick Willis has done since entering the league, spoil his owners with great fantasy production.  However, this year it his owners feel far from spoiled but should they?  Believe it or not Willis is still on pace for 125 total tackles this year.  For comparisons sake, that is still a far cry from the 174 (2007), 141 (2008) & 152 (2009) total tackles he has logged each year since entering the league but 125 total tackles is a far from chopped liver.  This week Willis owners will still need to have him in their lineups but his upside will be dictated by how well the Panthers offense can run the ball this week.

Secondary: With as bad as the Panthers offense has been it is hard to rank anyone as a 3 star play against them which is why both Dashon Goldson and Taylor Mays are ranked as 2 star plays this week.  Sure it isn't easy to sit either player but the risk of a bad game is just to great in my humble opinion.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Jon Beason
James Anderson
Charles Godfrey

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

Panthers Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
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: The Niners have put together a pretty good OL and they have done a very good job limiting opposing DLs this year.  That is major factor in Charles Johnson being ranked a 2 star play.  What might seem odd is seeing DT Derek Landri as a 3 star play.  The reason is that I think that Landri will be able to rack up enough tackles of Frank Gore to warrant his 3 star ranking. If you buy into a meaningless trend like a player producing every other week then you will also like the fact that Landri has produced very good numbers in alternating weeks this season and this week in the trend is for the good week.

Linebacker: The big question surrounding the Panthers LBs is going to be if James Anderson can stay as hot as he was prior to the bye. The Niners haven't been the best matchup for opposing LBs but there have been just enough good games by the opposition to feel good about ranking both Jon Beason and James Anderson as 4 star plays.  Dan Connor is a bit riskier as a 3 star play but if the Niners can build a lead like I expect then Connor should be able to pad his stats in the 2nd half when they start to eat at the clock with the running game.

Secondary:  Charles Godfrey may not be a household name but he does have 23 total tackles over his last 3 games.  This week he should be busy in both run support and pass coverage making him a solid 4 star play.  Richard Marshall has been more cold than hot this year but is always capable of a big week but at this point the risk of that bad week doesn't make starting him a very prudent thing to do.  Leave him on your bench and find starting help elsewhere.


Arizona at Seattle

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Paris Lenon
3 STAR
Kerry Rhodes
Daryl Washington
Greg Toler
2 STAR
Calais Campbell
Darnell Dockett
Clark Haggans
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Adrian Wilson
1 STAR
Joey Porter
Gerald Hayes

Cardinals 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.

Defensive Line: Pretty much outside of the Seahawks game versus the Rams they have been brutal matchups for opposing DL.  Initially I as leaning towards making Calais Campbell a 3 star play but after digesting the numbers a bit more I couldn't bring myself to give him or Darnell Dockett anything other than 2 star rankings.

Linebacker: With the expectations surrounding rookie Daryl Washington I am sure that it is hard to believe that last week was the 1st time all season that he out-tackled veteran Paris Lenon.  Of course that took Lenon putting up his lowest total of the season too.  Last week the Bears starting three LBs put up an average of 6-2-0 versus the Seahawks so expecting a 4 star performance from Lenon and a 3 star from Washington doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.  It should be noted that Gerald Hayes looks like he could get back on the field this week but as far as fantasy impact there won't be any this week.  However, it is expected that once Hayes can get his legs back under him that he very well could take over at the spot being manned by Lenon but Lenon would then move over and take the place of Washington.  Washington of course would be the one who then would be moving to a situational role.  But we are probably a few weeks away from that happening and if the Cardinals continue to lose it wouldn't surprise me to see Cardinals keep Washington right where he is.

Secondary: Last week it looked as if the Seahawks passing attack had some life breathed into with addition by subtraction with Deion Branch being dealt back to the Patriots.  Outside of week 1 the Seahawks have given up at least 5 solos to one opposing CB each week and that should bode well for Greg Toler this week.  And with how tough a place Seattle is to play for opposing teams Toler could very well be on the field a ton this week.  Kerry Rhodes production since week 2 have been very solid and this week he shouldn't really have much of a problem keeping up with that pace.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Earl Thomas
Lawyer Milloy
Chris Clemons

2 STAR

Lofa Tatupu
Red Bryant
Kelly Jennings
Aaron Curry
David Hawthorne
Walter Thurmond
Jordan Babineaux
Marcus Trufant

1 STAR
Colin Cole
Brandon Mebane

SeahawksAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2000-2009 Versus week 4 opponent: 48

Notes: Star ranking boxes are now color coded based on tackle opportunities given up by opponent for the 2010 season.

Defensive Line: Looking at the stats opposing DLs have put up against the Cardinals it is apparent that they aren't the best of matchups but with that said playing in what is a very loud stadium in Seattle should help Chris Clemons to get to the QB this week.  Just realize that there is a bit of risk in his 3 star ranking.  In deeper leagues I think he is a much safer play.

Linebacker:  When your starting LBs are Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and David Hawthorne it is just hard to explain how poorly the three have played this year.  At this point I am treating the three of them like the Dolphins and Steelers DLs.  For the season the three have combined to log 5 or more solos just 4 times.  Hawthorne has one where he logged 6 solos but outside of that game he hasn't logged more than 2 solos in a game.  Tatupu had two games with 5 solos and Curry has one game with 5 solos but he hasn't logged more than 3 solos in any other game.  With numbers like that you would have to expect that the Seahawks are seeing below average tackle opportunities/game but that isn't the case as they are facing the 8th highest tackle opportunities/game this year.  Basically that is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo to say leave these guys on your bench for the foreseeable future.

Secondary:  Well if the LBs and DL aren't racking up tackles that must mean that the secondary is getting a ton of action.  Or are they?  Even the secondary has had a tough go of it lately.  Lawyer Milloy had a nice 3 game stretch earlier in the season but has since cooled off.  Rookie Earl Thomas also started the year out hot but after 3 strong performances he too has cooled off.  How I am actually ranking both Milloy and Thomas as 3 star plays actually has me scratching my head a bit but I have a gut feeling that they both end up with double digit fantasy performances this week.


Oakland at Denver

5 STAR
Tyvon Branch
4 STAR
Michael Huff
3 STAR

Richard Seymour
Matt Shaughnessy

2 STAR
Trevor Scott
Quentin Groves
Kamerion Wimbley
Stanford Routt
Rolando McClain
1 STAR
Nnamdi Asomugha
Mike Mitchell
Lamarr Houston

Raiders Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 47
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:

Tyvon Branch (back) was limited in practice all week and is QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Defensive Line: While the Broncos haven't given up more than 3 solos in any game to an opposing DL they have given up a sack in all but one game.  With how Matt Shaughnessy has been playing I have no qualms about making him a 3 star play this week.  I am expecting low level DL2 numbers with some upside as the Broncos are completing an average of 25.83 passes/game.  While the Broncos passing attack seems to be getting all the press their running game has been pretty good to and that should help Richard Seymour put up respectable numbers this week. 

Linebacker: I honestly don't know if there is a more frustrating player than Rolando McClain to figure out this year.  His play has been extremely disappointing and at this point after a 1-1-0 against the Niners who ran the ball 31 times I just don't see how I can even think about ranking him above a 2 star play. Sadly in redraft leagues I think it is time to just finally cut ties with him.  Unfortunately for fantasy it isn't like any other Raiders LBs are stepping up and racking up stats in place of what McClain was expected to do.

Secondary:  What is one man's struggles is evidently another's riches as both Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff have been scoring well compared to their teammates at LB.  Branch isn't putting up the huge numbers like he did last year but this week he should see plenty of opportunities that will help remind owners of last years production.  I highly doubt that Huff can keep up his 109 total tackle pace but this week he too looks like a strong play for fantasy owners.

5 STAR
DJ Williams
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Perrish Cox
Nathan Jones
2 STAR

Champ Bailey
Jason Hunter
Mario Haggan
Renaldo Hill

1 STAR
Ryan McBean
Justin Bannan
Jarvis Moss
Jamal Williams

BroncosAverage 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:

Brian Dawkins (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week. 

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

Linebacker: Due to a rash of injuries and facing a potent Jets rushing attack the Broncos made a change in their defensive scheme and used a 4-3 which put DJ Williams at MLB. Eleven total tackles and a sack later and his owners aren't complaining.  This week brings a Raiders team that also likes to run the ball so look for the same 4-3 and look for Williams to continue to rack up tackles like he has all year long.

Secondary:  The Broncos secondary is missing half their starters as Brian Dawkins will once again be out due to injury and starting CB Andre Goodman is on injured reserve.  That means that Perrish Cox will once again be starting opposite Champ Bailey.  The Raiders passing attack has been far from stellar but this week they should need to pass a bunch late as I see the Broncos building a good size lead as the game goes on this week.  Last week with Dawkins out  it wasn't David Bruton getting the start but instead Nathan Jones started at safety. Jones did have a nice 6-1-0 stat line and should be able to put up at least 5 solos this week.


New England at San Diego

5 STAR
Patrick Chung
Jerod Mayo
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Devin McCourty
2 STAR

Brandon Spikes
Rob Ninkovich
Tully Banta-Cain
Brandon Meriweather
Darius Butler
Vince Wilfork
Jermaine Cunningham

1 STAR
Gary Guyton
Kyle Arrington
James Sanders
Gerard Warren
Mike Wright

PatriotsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  55
2000-2009 Versus week 4 opponent: 54

Notes: Star ranking boxes are now color coded based on tackle opportunities given up by opponent for the 2010 season.

Defensive Line: The Patriots 3-4 scheme limits the fantasy value of their DL and therefore none of their DL are safe starts.

Linebacker:  Repeat after me, Jerod Mayo is a plug and play LB, Jerod Mayo is a plug and play LB!  Got it?  Good!  All that Mayo has done over the past 3 weeks is post a stat line of 32-12-1, yeah and that is including a paltry 6-3-1 from week 3. Rob Ninkovich and even Brandon Spikes have made some noise in the box score in recent weeks but relying on either really is a bit of a risky proposition.  If I had to pick one of the two to have the better numbers this week it would probably be Ninkovich but I think they are both best left on the bench.

Secondary:  Patrick Chung has had some big weeks but hasn't been as consistently posting big tackle games like some of the other top safeties but even with that said Chung is a must weekly start.  His 5 star ranking is probably one level to high but the Chargers are home and in need of a win in a bad way.  Phillip Rivers and company will be tossing the ball around a ton and Chung has the ability to make plays in both the running and passing games so I am expecting to see a big game.  Rookie Devin McCourty could very well be in for a pretty good workout versus Phillip Rivers and the Chargers passing attack. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Paul Oliver
3 STAR

Kevin Burnett
Eric Weddle
Stephen Cooper
Antoine Cason
Quentin Jammer

2 STAR
Shaun Phillips
1 STAR

Luis Castillo
Brandon Siler
Darrell Stuckey

ChargersAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
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 Chargers 3-4 scheme doesn't offer fantasy value for it's DL.  But if you own any Seahawks LBs you might be able to consider taking a look at the Chargers DL because you couldn't get much worse value.  Of course I am just kidding and shouldn't insult the Chargers DL like that.

Linebacker: With the Patriots giving up top 11 tackle opportunities there should be an above average chance that Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper can put up solid games.  Over the past couple of games Cooper and Burnett have flip flopped with who had the better game but the guy that ended up on the short end with regards to tackles was at least able to pad his stats with a sack. 

Secondary: Paul Oliver put up another solid fantasy effort while he starts in place of the suspended Steve Gregory.  But make no mistake about it his play on the NFL field isn't anything to write home about.  Gregory should have zero problem regaining his starting job once he returns suspension.  Eric Weddle had a fantastic game last week but you shouldn't put much stock in that performance as Weddle is in a role now that will limit his tackle opportunities more then they have been in the past.


Minnesota at Green Bay

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

VikingsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009: 52
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:  Hi, my name is Steve and I am a Jared Allen fan.  They say the first step is admitting you have a problem and well I have a Jared Allen problem.  I just can't bring myself to rank him lower than a 3 star play.  I know the numbers aren't there this year but the talent still is and come hell or high water I am not going to have my readers with Allen on their bench when he finally goes off.  There I said it but I still can't stop it.  Just in case Allen reads this (I know he won't but humor me), please grow the mullet back!

Linebacker:  I am sure that people know that Chad Greenway is playing great football and putting up fantastic fantasy numbers but did you know that he is on pace to record 125 solos and 38 assists.  I highly doubt he can keep that pace up but it just goes to show just how good he is playing.  With all that said this could be a tough week for Greenway when you realize that only 3 LBs have posted more than 5 solos versus the Packers this year.  EJ Henderson has definitely been overshadowed by Greenway this year but outside of one bad game he has still be a strong LB2.  In his last two weeks he has logged 9 total tackles but the only unfortunate part is that they have been 4-5-0 and 3-6-0 stat lines and his solo to assist ratio is limiting his fantasy production some.  But last week he was able to log 2 interceptions and 2 passes defended to help pad his stats.

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield has surprisingly been very up and down this year.  I don't think you can ever really sit a guy like Winfield but this week against the Packers passing game he should be a very nice 4 star play.  Asher Allen isn't near the player that Winfield is but when he is on the field teams are going to throw at him and that gives him decent upside, especially this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Charles Woodson
Desmond Bishop
3 STAR

AJ Hawk
Tramon Williams

2 STAR

Clay Matthews
Nick Collins
Frank Zombo
Charlie Peprah

1 STAR
Ryan Pickett
Cullen Jenkins
Brad Jones
BJ Raji
Anthony Smith

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:

Clay Matthews (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and is QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

AJ Hawk (groin) missed practice on Wednesday and then was a limited participant in practice the rest of the week.  He is listed as PRBOBABLE on the injury report.

Charles Woodson (toe) practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday but then didn't practice on Thursday or Friday.  He is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

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: In two games since replacing the injured Nick Barnett in the starting lineup Desmond Bishop has logged 13-10-1 with 2 passes defended.  The Vikings should present plenty of opportunities for Bishop to stay on his two game roll. I was very close to ranking him as a 5 star play so there is some upside to his current ranking.  I may have been a bit harsh a few weeks ago when I referred to AJ Hawk as fools gold.  All that Hawk has done over the past three games is to put up the following stat line 19-15-0 including an interception and 3 passes defended.  If you are in a bind at LB due to byes, injuries or just an under-performing player you can give Hawk a look.

Secondary: Limiting Brett Favre and the passing game and utilizing Adrian Peterson to keep the Packers offense is probably the Vikings best chance to get out of Green Bay with a win this week but you just know that Brett Favre is going to not only put the ball in the air this weekend but he is going to put the ball in the air more than he should and more than likely especially when he shouldn't.  Look for Charles Woodson to have a very good day what very well should include a pick.  Outside of Woodson I think that Tramon Williams should be a safe start and of course a very nice play in CB mandatory leagues but outside of those two I wouldn't worry about any other of the Packers secondary players. And yes that includes Charlie Peprah.


NY Giants at Dallas

5 STAR
Justin Tuck
4 STAR
Kenny Phillips
Antrel Rolle
3 STAR

Osi Umenyiora
Terrell Thomas
Michael Boley
Jonathan Goff

2 STAR

Aaron Ross
Corey Webster

1 STAR
Jason Pierre-Paul
Keith Bulluck

GiantsAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  51
2000-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 46

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

Defensive Line:  The breakdown for this game is about as simple as two plus two equaling four.  Justin Tuck is real good.  Osi Umenyiora is real hot.  The Cowboys pass the ball a bunch.  Tuck is a great play this week and Osi is a very good one.  Osi has more risk because he will need to get to Tony Romo to put up good numbers. End breakdown.  Oh and I guess I should add that believe it or not but no DL has recorded more than 3 solos versus the Cowboys this year but I wouldn't let that change anything this week.

Linebacker:  The Cowboys have been a fantastic matchup for opposing LBs this year so Michael Boley should be in line for a very good game this week.  However, with that said Boley has been up and down this year, mainly due to the different defensive packages the Giants have employed this year. Because of the way the Cowboys have been feeding opposing LBs I am going out on a limb and ranking Jonathan Goff a 3 star play too.

Secondary: Not only have the Cowboys been a good matchup for LBs but they have also been a very good matchup for some CBs.  Outside of two weeks a CB has led the oppositions secondary in tackles against the Cowboys.  Look for Terrell Thomas to put up some good numbers but I think that we will see Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle be the top scoring secondary players this week.  If the game is close at the end you can surely look for Rolle to take advantage of a Tony Romo errant pass.

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
Bradie James
3 STAR
None
2 STAR

DeMarcus Ware
Keith Brooking
Gerald Sensabaugh
Allan Ball
Anthony Spencer
Mike Jenkins
Terance Newman
Jay Ratliff
Sean Lee

1 STAR

Marcus Spears
Igor Olshansky

CowboysAverage Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up
2007-2009:  49
2002-2009 Versus week 3 opponent: 51

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

Defensive Line:  About the only value on the Cowboys DL is with Jay Ratliff and that would only be in DT mandatory leagues.  And as it stands now even Ratliff is putting up substandard numbers even for a DT mandatory league.

Linebacker: Currently Bradie James is the only Cowboys LB that has put up consistent fantasy numbers and is the only one worth putting into starting lineups.  Over his last 3 weeks he has put up a 19-4-0 stat line and also added a forced fumble and fumble recovery to his stats too.  Keith Brooking has plenty of talent to put up a good week but the problem is that he isn't getting any younger and that talent hasn't helped him over the past two games. This is a big MUST win for the Cowboys but if for some reason they do lose and things continue to get worse then you could see LB Sean Lee start to get even more playing time as the season progresses. Actually, even if the Cowboys do turn it around we could see that happen with Lee.

Secondary:  The Cowboys secondary has been a fantasy mess this year. Basically every week there is a different secondary player that is the leader in tackles for them but there is no consistency.  Actually  there is a bit of consistency as Gerald Sensabaugh has led the secondary in tackles twice this year. However, those games weren't even back to back and the "bit" i was referring to was more sarcasm than anything else. There are really just two things that I am sure of for the Cowboys secondary this weeks; 1 is that a secondary player will have a very good game and 2 is that you best guess at who it will be is no better than mine and actually throwing a dart would probably lead to better results.


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