This is part 3 in the weekly IDP Game Breakdown series. The final part of this weekly series is a narrative that will explain what to expect in the upcoming game for each team's DL's, LB's and DB's. It also acts as a supplement to the star rankings (Part 2 of the weekly series) so that owners can see the reasoning and thought process that generated those star rankings. Also, Part 1 of this series is used as a major resource in writing the narrative for each positional breakdown. In addition, each teams breakdown will be preceded by that team's average tackle opportunities given up for the past three years.
Team Tackles Allowed | Player Star Ratings | Injury & Practice Report NEW
The IDP Game Breakdowns are based on a 12-team league with 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)).
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).
Tackle opportunity stats as well as other stats utilized in the breakdowns are derived from data provided by NFLData.com.
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!
Oakland at Buffalo
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 45, 2009: 45, 2010: 52
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 53, 2009: 53, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: Yaaaaaawwwwnnnnnnnn! (Streeeeeeeeeetch) Yaaaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn! Oh I am sorry, I was dozing off. Yes, it was great that football was finally back but man that Oakland vs Denver Monday Night game was just hard to keep my eyes open for. That may have been the case last week but one thing is for sure, the Raiders DL aren't to be slept on. Matt Shaughnessy didn't have a huge game but he did get into the sack column. A first week 7 point effort is not going to scare me off of Shaughnessy. I see no reason not to have him in starting lineups this week. Richard Seymour did his job for fantasy owners and they should expect more of the same this week. He is a very strong play in DT mandatory leagues. Tommy Kelly didn't have as good a week as Seymour but his 7 points is a respectable number for a DT.
Linebacker: Rolando McClain, or as one of our forum users called him, Rolando McLame, was well ummm, lame in week 1. I know many have lofty expectations for McClain so that will make his week 1 performance sting even more. I don't think McClain will be horrible this year but I also don't see him as a LB1 like many do. If you lower your expectations to a LB3 with some upside you will be in the right zip code for McClain. Against the Bills I would expect McClain to bounce back some but don't expect anything more than LB3 numbers. If he puts stinkers up for 3-4 weeks then we can talk about cutting bait. Five solos and a forced fumble gave Quentin Groves a nice 13 point game in week 1. Groves will undoubtedly have some nice games but I have a hard time seeing him as someone that can put up numbers like that on a consistent basis.
Secondary: Tyvon Branch didn't have a huge game in week 1 but his 14 points were more than respectable. Branch should be pretty busy this weekend and is a must start in all formats. Michael Huff is dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss practice on Wednesday. As it stands now the safe play is to keep Huff on the bench this week. However, if you are in dire straights then you have to make sure to monitor the injury report before putting Huff into your lineup. Chris Johnson scored 14 points too but I wouldn't put to much stock in that because expecting him to do that consistently is probably a pipe dream. Last week, SS Jon McGraw led the Chiefs in tackles, this week SS Branch should keep that trend going
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 49, 2009: 45, 2010: 46
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 49, 2009: 54, 2010: 56
Defensive Line: The Bills DL struggled last week but you have to realize that the Bills offense owned the time of possession which led to very few tackle opportunities. The Raiders should once again lean heavily on Darren McFadden so I am looking for Kyle Williams to bounce back this week. One of the most difficult things to do in week 2 is to keep from over-reacting to what happened in week 1, good or bad.
Linebacker: As I pointed out the Bills defense wasn't on the field much due to their offense. In fact there were so few opportunities that only 3 players had more than 4 solo tackles. To make matters worse, none of them were LBs. I am sure that Nick Barnett owners weren't very happy but when a team runs the ball just 18 times and completes just 22 passes it is going to be hard for opposing LBs to put up much stat wise. Resist the urge to bench Mr. Barnett this week and keep him in your lineup. Andra Davis put up the goose egg but the biggest factor in that performance was that the Chiefs got behind early and needed to throw the ball. That meant more nickle defense and more Bryan Scott. Scott is a SS but in the nickle he played a hybrib LB position.
Secondary: George Wilson owners were probably saying, "Why is Bryan Scott racking up so many tackles". Scott did lead the team with 9 solos but he isn't really a threat to Wilson's starting gig or fantasy points. Scott made the most of his hybrid LB position he played, that much is for sure but he is more matchup dependant than many will care to admit. This week against a weaker Radiers passing attack I think we see Scott have another good game. Again, this was an odd game due to time of possession and a big lead. Stay cool and start Wilson with confidence, I mean it isn't like Wilson was chopped liver, he did record the 2nd most solos, five.
Green Bay at Carolina
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 51, 2009: 53, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 48, 2009: 44, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: The Packers DL play a vital role in the success of their 3-4 scheme but offers little to no fantasy value. Look for B.J. Raji to rack up his fantasy stats in the first quarter when the Panthers should be able to run the ball more than they will in the next 3 quarters.
Linebacker: Desmond Bishop got off to a flying start last week but this week could be a bit trying. I am not sold on Cam to be as effective as he was in week 1 so I see the Panthers as a team that will present problems for opposing LBs this year. I know there is no way anyone is going to bench Bishop this week but everyone should temper their expectations some
Secondary: Aberration, that is what I see Morgan Burnett's week 1 performance as. Simply put I think that Burnett will finish close to #40 than he will to top-5. Charles Woodson had an unexpected clunker of a performance in week 1 but he has shown his fantasy prowess in Dom Caper's scheme each of the past two seasons. A player like Woodson usually bounces back after a poor performance but facing what could be an offensively challenged offense could lead Woodson to a not so great game again. Tramon Williams injured his shoulder in week 1 and did not practice on Wednesday so he availability is in questions for week 2. If Williams can't go then Sam Shields should see the field even more.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 47, 2009: 51, 2010: 46
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 51, 2009: 49, 2010: 54
Defensive Line: You drafted Charles Johnson high enough that you aren't ever going to bench him but if ever there was a week to possibly contemplate that it would be this week. The two leading DL for the Saints did so with 2 solos, 1 assist and zero sacks each. Granted Johnson is a much better DL than the all the ones the Saints ran out against the Packers last week but that doesn't mean he couldn't struggle with this matchup this week.
Linebacker: The big news is that Jon Beason tore his Achilles and is lost for the season. Thomas Davis should see the biggest increase in fantasy value but now James Anderson also steps into a 3-down roll. Dan Connor is slated to replace Beason at MLB but he is only a 2-down LB and that will limit his production. This week I see the Packers jumping out to an early lead by throwing the ball around but after they get by double digits they should start pounding the ball more and that should help Davis and Anderson have decent week's this week.
Secondary: The Packers surrendered nice fantasy numbers to the Saints DBs last week and this week should be more of the same. I would look for Charles Godfrey to be the leader this week but Sherrod Martin also should post good numbers. Last week Roman Harper led the Saints in tackles with 9 and this week Godfrey should be in that same neighborhood.
Arizona at Washington
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 49, 2010: 41
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 49, 2009: 49, 2010: 55
Defensive Line: The Redskins gave up four sacks to a Justin Tuckless Giants team last week. JPP notched two of those sacks but with his talent that shouldn't surprise anyone. However, Dave Tollefson logged one of those four sacks. You know you just looked at that sentence a bit cross eyed and said, "Dave Tolleson, who the hell is that?", and that is exactly my point. If Tolleson can get to Rex Grossman then I can't help but see good things for Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett this week. Neither lit up the box score last week but they also only faced a just above average number of tackle opportunities (51). Look for Dockett to be a fringe DL3 in combined leagues and a solid DT2 in DT mandatory leagues. Campbell I see as a nice DL2 with DL1 upside this week.
Linebacker: Fantasy owners finally got to rejoice when Daryl Washington was named a starter for this year. In week , he didn't disappoint either. His 18.50 points were the 11th most by a LB and nothing to be ashamed of. However, he didn't come out of week 1 healthy and now has missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. If Washington can't practice on Friday he will very likely not play this week. At this point I think Washington is too risky to start and fantasy owners would be best served by going to their bench for a replacement this week. Speaking of replacements, if Washington can't go I suspect we would see both Paris Lenon and Stewart Bradley as the starting ILBs for the Cardinals this week.
Secondary: At one point this pre-season it sure seemed like a long shot for Adrian Wilson to be on the playing field for week 1. Well, he did play but his 3 solo, 1assit performance wasn't anything to write home about. Wilson might gut it out on the field but for fantasy owners he should be firmly planted on the waiver wire or your bench, at least until he shows that he can put up viable fantasy numbers. While Wilson struggles, Kerry Rhodes continues to put up very good numbers. His 5-2-1 accounted for 15 fantasy points, a very solid outing for a DB many probably drafted as a bargain this summer. CB Patrick Peterson showed how electric a player he can be, but relying on him to run back punts to put up solid IDP numbers isn't something I would recommend doing. Peterson did log 5 solos so there is hope that he could end up being a solid IDP option and his return duties can then just be icing on the cake. This week I think Peterson is worth starting as a DB3. Heck, he might even run back a Rex Grossman pass for a TD too.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 52, 2009: 49, 2010: 47
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 44, 2009: 50, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: Washington plays a 3-4 defense that basically renders their DL useless in the realm of fantasy football.
Linebacker: The Cardinals were almost 50-50 on their run/pass ratio last week which is a good sign since it seems like they are at least committing to the run and not just going to be a chuck it all over the field offense. London Fletcher logged 8 tackles against a Giants team that ran the ball just 20 times. Unfortunately for Fletcher owners only 3 of those tackles were solos. This week I would expect him to flip things a bit and finish with a 5-3-0 type line. Rocky McIntosh put up a 7 combined tackle effort last week and I see no reason he can't do it again, but this time I am expecting a 5-2-0 type line. Brian Orakpo has been limited in practice on Wednesday and Thurday so those of you in big play leagues might want to have another option lined up and raring to go should he not be able to play on Sunday.
Secondary: LaRon Landry's hamstring has kept him from practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday. Will he or won't he play is still the big mystery, but my stance hasn't changed at all. Keep Landry on the bench until we see him in live game action. In the meantime, if Landry can't go then Reed Doughty is the play. Doughty showed in week 1, with his 11 combined tackles, that he can put up very nice numbers when given the chance, something he has done in previous seasons too. DB is too deep a position to worry about handcuffing a player like Landry at but if you have issues that you need to address Doughty is a perfect fill-in, that is if Landry can't go.
Baltimore at Tennessee
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 53, 2009: 52, 2010: 52
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 44, 2009: 48, 2010: 47
Defensive Line: Talk about coming out "Guns a blazin'", Terrell Suggs and his Ravens teammates completely destroyed the Steelers last week. Of course Suggs isn't going to keep up his week 1 pace but I do expect we see him fighting for the top DL spot all year. CJ2K didn't really get things going last week and for Haloti Ngata to have much value this week he will need for CJ2K to get things jump started. Running against the Ravens defense isn't exactly an easy thing to do but I do think we see him carry the ball at least 20 times this week and if that happens then Ngata should be able to live up to his 3-Star rating.
Linebacker: Ray Lewis is Ray Lewis and that is really all that needs to be said. Start the monster this week, you won't be disappointed in the least. Unfortunately, the same thing can't be said for Jameel McClain or Jarret Johnson. Those two should only be looked at in the deepest of deep leagues and even then you are likely barking up the wrong tree.
Secondary: There are some decent issues to hit on this week with regards to the Ravens secondary. First, Tom Zbikowski started at SS, and not only did he start but he played 64 snaps, compared to just 9 snaps, yes NINE, for Bernard Pollard. Wait, don't panic yet, the Steelers were down and down big so they threw the ball a ton and that means that Zbikowski is on the field. On second thought if you are a Pollard owner you might want to panic. Or at least look for a better more consistent option. At best what the upcoming weeks is going to show us is that both Pollard and Zbikowski are going to be very risky fantasy plays. Another issue I want to hit on is Ed Reed. Reed is just a phenomenal NFL football player. In week 1 he was also a phenomenal fantasy football player, however I wouldn't expect him to continue with that trend. Reed just doesn't rack up tackles consistently enough to be a solid starting fantasy option. The last issue to address is at CB, rookie Jimmy Smith suffered an ankle injury in week 1 so that takes him out of the mix for now. Cary Williams and Ladarius Webb are the starting CBs and Webb had a fantastic game in week 1. All he did was rack up 11 total tackles and then threw in a 1/2 sack for good measure. Webb is a nice talent but at best he projects as a low level DB3/4. I would be shocked if Webb hits 6 total tackles this week.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 49, 2009: 49, 2010: 44
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 49, 2009: 52, 2010: 58
Defensive Line: Upside, risk, risk, upside. Sometimes I feel upside down trying to figure out certain players or teams. Well the Titans DL fits that description. William Hayes and Jason Jones have the talent (upside) to be productive NFL and fantasy players but they also always seem to be injured or fighting injury (risk). Hayes did have a sack, the only one registered by the Titans DL last week but it just isn't enough to make me feel good about him as a fantasy option. Jones didn't even play in week 1, due to, yep you guessed it, an injury. Jones is expected to return to the lineup in week 2 but like with Hayes I just can't get excited about that. What does get me excited is that Derrick Morgan is expected to get back on the field this week. There is no way I start him but keep an eye on him and see if he shows the former explosiveness that he had before he blew out his knee last year.
Linebacker: Last week I pointed out that the Titans led the league in tackle opportunities last season. Well, they are at it again as they led the league in tackle opportunities faced with 66 last week. That of course was a big factor in Barrett Ruud being able to log 14 total tackles (8-6). Ruud owners couldn't ask for a much better week 2 matchup. With Ray Rice coming to town I wouldn't be surprised to see Ruud surpass his week 1 production. Hell, Will Witherspoon might even prove to be a decent LB3 start this week.
Secondary: Big news in the Titans secondary is that Chris Hope was second on the team in tackles with 8. However, the bigger news is that Chris Hope injured his shoulder in week 1 and it has caused him to miss practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. As enticing a matchup as Hope looks to have this week there is a ton of risk running him out in your starting lineup. At best you will need to wait until Sunday when inactives are announced but even then I think the risk far outweighs the gains. Sit Hope and look for a safer option this week. If Hope is sidelined Michael Griffin should be the one to benefit. At worst I see Griffin as a high level DB3 but his upside is DB1 this week. Jason McCourty also did a very nice job starting in week 1, posting a 5-0-1 with a forced fumble. Just don't get to hyped because he isn't going to hold that type of value all year.
Seattle at Pittsburgh
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 45, 2009: 51, 2010: 46
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 54, 2009: 52, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: Chris Clemons isn't Terrell Suggs and the Seahawks are definitely not the Ravens but that doesn't mean this is any less of a good matchup for Clemons. Big Ben should be on his back at least 3 more times this weekend and I think that Clemons could get two of them. A 4-0-2 with a forced fumble wouldn't be a surprise at all. Don't confuse a good matchup for DL with an upset win. The Steelers should win this game going away but that doesn't mean the Seahawks DL doesn't have some fun along the way. Outside of Clements the rest of the Seahawks DL is just to risky to start. In deeper leagues I will say that you could roll the dice with Raheem Brock. Yes, the same Raheem Brock that recorded just 1 solo tackle while playing in just 25 snaps.
Linebacker: Last week I wrote the following, "Repeat after me, David Hawthorne is going to be a stud LB this year. Say it again, one more time. OK, now that we have that out of the way let me say that Hawthorne is a plug and play LB this year.", and I still believe it too. Hawthorne ended up being inactive and KJ Wright was his replacement. Well, this week Hawthorne isn't on the injury report and is practicing fully. GET HIM IN YOUR LINEUPS THIS WEEK. Do not be gun shy, I will be very shocked if Hawthorne doesn't log 10 total tackles against the Steelers. I should also point out that Hawthorne only got a 3-Star rating because there was no injury report info when I was assigning ratings. At this point I would have no problem changing his rating from 3-Stars to 5-Stars. Aaron Curry had a solid 5 solo tackles in week 1 but with Hawthorne out I would be lying if I didn't say I was expecting more. I know Hawthorne being back might scare you off from starting Curry but I think Curry is a nice start this week too. Probably not the 4-Star rating I gave him before I knew Hawthorne would be practicing fully but at least a 3-Star play.
Secondary: Kam Chancellor was one of only 5 defensive players in week 1 that recorded double digit solos. His 10 solos tied him for the league lead with D'Qwell Jackson, Lawrence Timmons, Sean Lee and Devin McCourty. I honestly think that Chancellor could hit the 10 solo mark again this week. Earl Thomas ended up having a very nice week 1, logging 7 solos and 2 assists but I wouldn't expect him to do that regularly. This week against the Steelers I think he is a bit of a risky play. The Steelers will put the ball in the air but I really see them committing to the run much more this week and that makes Thomas a bit of a risky start.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 51, 2009: 52, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 46, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: The Steelers run a 3-4 scheme that basically renders their DL useless for fantasy purposes.
Linebacker: He's back!! Well, Lawrence Timmons didn't actually go anywhere but his week 1 performance shows that we may get more pre-bye 2010 Timmons in 2011. OK, so Timmons was a monster last week, just realize that he also 31 rushing attempts. This week the Seahawks might have trouble giving up 31 total tackle opportunities. What I am getting at is that you should temper your expectations for Timmons just a bit this week. He is still a must start. James Harrison showed no ill effects from his back injury and this week he could be in for another nice game, except I think he gets to the QB this week. As for the other James, James Farrior it looks like his fantasy relevance may be coming to an end. Farrior and Larry Foote were used pretty much in a 2 to 1 rotation. Farrior played 45 snaps while Foote played in 23.
Secondary: Troy Polamalu might be a huge part of the Steelers defense and their overall success but when it comes to fantasy success it is all about the Steelers LBs. Polamalu didn't have a terrible week 1, but when you have 6 total tackles and just 3 are solos you aren't really doing your fantasy owners much good. Ryan Clark ended up with the same exact line as Polamalu. Both are DB3's this year, with Polamalu having a more upside but this week I think we see the opportunistic Polamalu. Hence his 4-Star rating. Clark on the other hand I see as a risky play and that is why he only has a 2-Star rating.
Jacksonville at NY Jets
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 50, 2010: 53
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 47, 2009: 51, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: Aaron Kampman's knee kept him out of week 1 and so far this week he has yet to practice. I gave Kampman as well as Matt Roth and Austen Lane all 2-Star ratings but since then I have dug a bit deeper and suggest that they all be looked at as 1-Star plays for now. Roth and Jeremy Mincey started at DE last week and outside of the one sack by Roth they didn't do a thing. Lane who I like as a sleeper played in just 14 snaps, hard to make an impact when you see the field so little. Even John Chick saw the field more than Lane did, 20 times vs 14. At this point the only Jaguars DL worth risking a start on is Tyson Alualu. I love Alualu in combined as well as DT mandatory formats this week. In DT mandatory leagues I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a top 3 DT this week.
Linebacker: Paul Posluszny struggled last week, and that might be putting it mildly. Just don't overreact and sit him this week. With a Jets team that loves to run the ball coming to town I wouldn't be surprised to see Posluszny have the best game he could have all season this week. I think that is easily a 4-Star play and I was very close to giving him 5-Stars this week. I have Daryl Smith and Clint Sessions both as 2-Star plays and in hindsight they probably both should be 3-Star plays. Just realize that neither presents much upside at all.
Secondary: Dwan Landry outplayed Courtney Greene in week one but this week I think there is enough to go around to make both solid 3-Star plays. Drew Coleman didn't start but he did make the most of his 48 snaps played but he isn't someone that I would run out and roster.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 53, 2010: 52
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 51, 2009: 45, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: The Jets are another one of the many 3-4 teams that offers very little in the way of fantasy value for their DL. Yes Mike Devito had a 3 solos with a sack and forced fumble, but trust me, Devito isn't a guy you will be able to count on from week to week.
Linebacker: David Harris got off to a decent 2011 logging 6 solos an assist versus the Cowboys. In what looks to be a nice matchup against MJD for Harris looks like it won't come to fruition. Harris missed practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday due to a toe injury. Bart Scott isn't normally as good a fantasy option as Harris is but in week 1 he logged 1 more solo than Harris plus he added a sack too, and he did that playing in just 55 snaps to the 70 Harris played in. If Harris can't play this week I would seriously think about getting Scott into lineups against the Jaguars.
Secondary: I have Jim Leonhard ranked as a 3-Star play and the rest of the Jets secondary are ranked as 2-Star plays or worse. The reason is that I just don't trust the Jaguars passing game to do much in this game. Even Leonhard's 3-Star rating gives me pause. I think there are plenty of better matchups out there and would suggest you look for one.
Chicago at New Orleans
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 48, 2009: 47, 2010: 47
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 53, 2009: 53, 2010: 49
Defensive Line: Here is the deal, Julius Peppers is a weekly must start. Now with that said, I need to point out just how hard it was for me to give him a 3-Star rating this week. Over the years, Drew Brees has been one of the least QBs in the NFL. The Packers got to him 3 times which is surprising. All I am saying is that you would have to be crazy to bench Peppers but don't be surprised if he only logs a 7 or 8 point game this week. Henry Melton had a nice 2 sack effort in week 1 and as long as the Bears continue to use him at DT and DE he will continue to put up nice numbers. He may not have another multi-sack game this season but I do still expect him to be a very good play in DT mandatory leagues. Israel Idonije played in more snaps than any other Bears DL but he wasn't all that productive, considering he logged just 4 measly points.
Linebacker: My deepest condolences go out to Brian Urlacher after he lost his mother this week. There is speculation that Urlacher will play on Sunday but I would have a hard time putting him in my starting lineup. On one hand he could be just mad at the world and have it translate into a great statistical day but on the other hand his head may not be in the game like it should be and he could struggle. I just think it is a risky play to use him this weekend. I know I said I expected big things from Lance Briggs last week, well I was wrong. Briggs did next to nothing and instead it was Urlacher with the huge week.
Secondary: In the Star Ratings I have Chris Harris as a 3-Star play, Major Wright a 3-Star play and Brandon Meriweather a 2-Star play. The reason I don't have Meriweather as a 3-star play is because I think it is risky to expect him to see enough snaps to be productive. Actually, I should say that's how I SAW it. With Chris Harris being unable to practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to a hamstring injury I see things much differently now. I see Meriweather and Wright both as 3-Star plays and I think Meriweather actually has a bit more upside to him and could put up 4-Star worthy numbers. Charles Tillman will be busy as usual, especially against the Saints passing attack.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 52, 2009: 54, 2010: 54
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 48, 2009: 50, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: Will Smith will be serving the last of his two game suspension this week. That means that Turk McBride and Cameron Jordan should be starting again. Yes, I said again. I know it wasn't expected for Jordan to get the start at DE but he did. Unfortunately, he didn't do much, logging just 2 solos and an assist. However, when you look at that in the correct context it isn't quite as bad. Jordan played in just 28 snaps, so while that isn't many snaps he at least was productive while he was on the field. Veteran Jeff Charleston didn't start but played in 40 snaps. He managed the same stat line as the rookie. At this point I don't really like anyone on the Saints DL for fantasy purposes. At best, Sedrick Ellis in DT mandatory leagues would be my only play.
Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma ended up having a decent week 1 but if you are a Vilma owner you know you were nervous. For what seemed like an eternity Vilma hadn't recorded a single solitary stat but then boom he turned what looked like a lost week into an acceptable performance. I can admit that I own Vilma in 2 leagues and I don't have much confidence in him. Maybe it was the 1 assit game he had last year that has me "scared", I don't know. All I know is that I am still starting him but I am in deep leagues. If I were in a 12 team league I think I would look for a LB that wouldn't give me so much heartburn. Jonathan Casillas got the start at WLB but Scott Shanle came off the bench to play in 45% more snaps. To top it off Shanle was productive too, his 5-2-0 was equal to the stat line of Vilma and Vilma played in over 22% more snaps. With all that said, I still wouldn't start Shanle in anything but the deepest of leagues.
Secondary: Roman Harper made the most of his week 1 matchup, logging a team leading 9 total tackles and adding in a 1/2 sack too. This week the matchup against the Bears may not be as sweet as last week's matchup but it is still a sweet matchup. Harper should have no problem continuing his DB1 production. Jabari Greer also had a nice week 1 and week 2 should prove fruitful too.
Kansas City at Detroit
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 45, 2009: 49, 2010: 53
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 54, 2009: 54, 2010: 54
Defensive Line: A 3-4 defense that doesn't present much fantasy value at all. Glenn Dorsey is worth a look at times but this week against the Lions I wouldn't look his way.
Linebacker: Derrick Johnson put up a respectable 5 solo tackles in week one but when you factor in that the Chiefs faced 39 rushing attempts it leaves you wondering why Johnson didn't have a much better stat line. All I can really say is that, it happens. I wouldn't worry, I still see Johnson putting together a great year and this week against the Lions he should have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself. Tamba Hali had a very nice 4-2-1 line and I think he could add to his sack total this week but I think he will have trouble logging more than 3 solos. Outside of Johnson and Hali the Chiefs don't have any other fantasy viable LBs.
Secondary: Eric Berry tore his ACL and it was a blow not to just fantasy owners but also to the Chiefs defense. Many defensive backs accumulate fantasy stats because they aren't actually very good players but that wasn't the case with Berry. Jon McGraw replaced Berry and he put up a 8 solos in the box score. McGraw isn't Berry, at least in NFL terms but in fantasy terms he should be productive taking over for Berry at SS. With the Lions passing attack I also think that Kendrick Lewis is a solid play.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 43, 2009: 48, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 54, 2009: 53, 2010: 51
Defensive Line: Ndamukong Suh, beast. That really pretty much says it all, doesn't it? I think so! We know the Chiefs will try to establish their running game and Suh will be front and center stopping it. Then when the Chiefs decide they better try and pass the ball he will be there to remind Matt Cassel about his sore ribs. I like Kyle Vanden Bosch to build on his solid week 1 performance. His 3 solos don't say much but his sack and forced fumble says that he is being disruptive and if he is being disruptive the stats will follow.
Linebacker: One of the big questions this past pre-season surrounded how the Detroit LB situation would play out. Well, week one wasn't really a fruitful week, none of the starting LBs had more than 4 solos but when you consider that they only faced 16 running plays you might be willing to give them a pass of sorts. Stephen Tulloch did register a sack so that helped to lessen the sting some. Justin Durant may have had as many solos as Tulloch (4) and one more than Levy (3) but when it came to snaps Durant only played in 21 snaps. Levy and Tulloch played in 58 and 65 respectively. Sure that means that Durant was more productive in his time on the field but with such a disparity it tells me that Durant is the odd man out in nickle situations and if he is playing barely a third of the snaps that Tulloch and Levy are that makes him a very risky play.
Secondary: Amari Spievey led the team with 7 tackles, all solos. Louis Delmas failed to log a single tackle and considering he played in excess of 60 snaps should make one scratch their head. Well this week you won't need to wonder if you should or shouldn't start Delmas because he is dealing with a hip injury that has kept him out of practice all week. Both CB Chris Harris and CB Eric Wright had productive days against a Buccaneers team that put the ball in the air 46 times. This week against an anemic Chiefs passing game, I just can't call it an attack, I don't see Harris or Wright being near as productive as they were in week one.
Cleveland at Indianapolis
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 42, 2009: 47, 2010: 47
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 53, 2009: 54, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: Jabaal Sheard is the guy on the Browns DL that dynasty owners are expecting big things from this year, and beyond. Sheard was only able to put up 3 solos in week one but that isn't exactly horrible for the rookie. However, fellow rookie, DT Phil Taylor had a much better showing, logging 5 solos and an assist. Taylor has the makings to be a great DT for DT mandatory leagues. Taylor may have had the better week 1 but this week I think Sheard takes advantage of facing Kerry Collins.
Linebacker: If people forgot about D'Qwell Jackson because of his injuries the past two years he sure made it a point to let everyone know that he is back and back with a vengeance. As I pointed out in the Seahawks secondary write-up, Jackson was one of just 6 players to record double digit tackles in week 1. I think that Jackson will prove to be a plug and play stud LB again but this week against the Colts I do have a bit of concern because I just have no faith in the Indy offense to sustain any sort of offensive attack and that is why I only gave Jackson a 3-Star rating. If the Colts can muster any sort of consistency on offense then I have no doubt that Jackson puts up 5-Star numbers.
Secondary: TJ Ward will more than likely see his numbers slip some this year and a large part of that will be because of D'Qwell Jackson. That doesn't mean that Ward won't still be a viable fantasy option because he will be, just temper your expectations from top 5 to low level DB1 at best. This week like with Jackson I am not enthralled with the matchup but I still think Ward should be in starting lineups. Joe Haden is never really going to be a great, hell, even good fantasy CB but he sure has heck is one fantastic NFL CB. A matchup against Peyton Manning would have been way interesting, Kerry Collins, not so much.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 49, 2009: 49, 2010: 53
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 52, 2009: 55, 2010: 52
Defensive Line: In my opinion this is what will decide this game. If the Browns want to have any chance to win this game they will need to keep Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis off of Colt McCoy. The thing that the Browns should be able to do to help with that is run big Peyton Hillis. Like always, Freeney is a risky play because he doesn't log many tackles but Mathis should be a solid option because he can have an impact in the running game.
Linebacker: The Colts get rid of one Mr. Glass (Bob Sanders) and now it seems as if Gary Brackett has taken on the Mr. Glass roll. Brackett is dealing with a shoulder injury and has already been ruled out for this week. Also, Ernie Sims is out due to injury, if Sims and Brackett got married they could be Mr. & Mrs. Glass. Anyway, that means the Colts will be reshuffling their starting LBs. Look for Pat Angerer to slide over to MLB from his SLB spot. Kavell Connor will remain at WLB and Phillip Wheeler will more than likely take over at SLB. Angerer ends up the big winner in all of this. Well, him and his fantasy owners that is. If the Browns give Hillis at least 20 touches I wouldn't be surprised to see Angerer put up a 20 point or better effort this week.
Secondary: I think everyone was expecting a bit more from the Browns passing attack against the Bengals but that didn't materialize. If the Browns continue to struggle there then Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey will make for poor options this week. I pegged Melvin Bullitt as a sleeper for this year, well I whiffed and Bullitt is still asleep. Keep an eye on him and if he wakes up be ready to pounce. In the meantime, while Bullitt is snoozing, it looks like Antoine Bethea will continue to be the Colts best fantasy option in the secondary.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 52, 2009: 45, 2010: 48
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 47, 2009: 54, 2010: 49
Defensive Line: The Buccaneers have the horses to develop their DL into a stout fantasy and NFL line. Unfortunately, the key word is develop and that means that Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers and Gerald McCoy just aren't ready yet for primetime fantasy play.
Linebacker: All three of the Buccaneers LBs had very nice week 1 stat lines but that is pretty easy to do when you face 59 tackle opportunities. Quincy Black and Geno Hayes led the way, each totaling 8 total tackles, but I am sure that the rookie infatuation that many suffer from will result in people running to their waiver wires to pick up Mason Foster because of his 7 tackle effort. Nothing has changed, Foster is still a 2-down LB and expecting him to put up those types of numbers week in and week out is a pipe dream at this point in time. The Vikings did struggle offensively last week and with one of the best if not the best RBs in the league they could really look to force feed their running game and that could give Foster another nice pop in week 2, and that is why I have him as a 3-Star play this week. Just don't get to in love with starting him on a consistent basis is all.
Secondary: Ronde Barber just continues to do what he does, produce. I mean a 6-1-0 line for a 62 year old is pretty damn nice. Barber plays well in run support so this week he should be able to at least hit the 5 solo plateau. I don't know how many of you remember it but Sean Jones used to be a beast back when he was with the Browns. Jones had a week that will more than likely cultivate those memories but you need to resist the urge to grab Jones off your wavier wire or to trade for him. The Bucs scheme will make Jones an inconsistent play at best. Week 1 was an aberration, let someone else deal with him.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 52, 2009: 55, 2010: 49
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 47, 2010: 49
Defensive Line: No slow start for Jared Allen this year, last week he logged 3 solos, 3 assists, 1 interception, 1 pass defended and a 1/2 sack. Allen might not have the best matchup against the agile Josh Freeman but you can't bench him. Kevin Williams, like Will Smith is serving the final game of his two game suspension. Brian Robison sits on many peoples sleeper lists, well his 6.5 points wasn't horrible, more like sleep walking but not horrible. I am expecting a similar line from Robison this week.
Linebacker: Chad Greenway pretty much picked up right where he left off last year. This week he may not have as many tackle opportunities so pare back your expectations just a bit. Erin Henderson outscored his big brother EJ in week 1 and in week 2 he will probably do it again. Mainly because EJ ended up on the injury report on Thursday due to a knee that kept him from practicing. Monitor the situation closely. If EJ plays I think he is a safe 3-Star/LB3 play this week but if he can't go then I would bump Erin up to a 3-Star play.
Secondary: Antoine Winfield looks like he wanted to remind people about that huge week 16 he had last year. I know I am probably in the minority but I think Winfield is in for a very good year and this week I think he keeps rolling along. Outside of Winfield I just don't have it in me to rely on Jamarca Sanford, Husain Abdullah or even Cedric Griffin. I know that Sanford's 9 total tackles has you salivating but he played 25 fewer snaps then all the other starters in the secondary. Sure that means that he made the most of his opportunities but the last thing I want to do is pin my hopes on a guy that is seeing 30% fewer snaps then the rest of the starters.
Dallas at San Francisco
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 48, 2009: 51, 2010: 52
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 48, 2009: 47, 2010: 49
Defensive Line: Outside of DT Jay Ratliff in DT mandatory leagues the rest of the Cowboys DL has no fantasy value.
Linebacker: The changing of the guard is upon us in Big D. Rob Ryan has shown that he has confidence in second year LB Sean Lee and Lee did his part too by logging 10 solos, 2 assists and an interception, in just 55 snaps. Lee and Bradie James started at ILB but James was the one rotating out with Keith Brooking. Combined James (24) and Brooking (29) played two fewer snaps than Lee did. I think it is safe to say that Lee is a good get for teams and under the aggressive Ryans could be a fringe LB1.
Secondary: The Cowboys secondary should be referred to as a M.A.S.H. Unit. Michael Jenkins, Terrence Newman and Orlando Scandrick were all injured at one point or another against the Jets in week 1. All three are on the injury report this week, Newman and Scandrick missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and Jenkins was limited in both practices. If for some crazy reason you are thinking about playing any of them, then you should see a doctor.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 48, 2009: 45, 2010: 45
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 51, 2009: 51, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: The 49ers do play a 3-4 but Justin Smith has still found a way to be a productive fantasy DL. I know people are just going gaga (not Lady Gaga) over what Ray McDonald did in week 1 but trust me, do not fall for it. McDonald will be lucky if he accumulates 15 fantasy points over his next 3 games.
Linebacker: Patrick Willis got outscored by Parys Haralson and NaVorro Bowman scored just as much, the sky must be falling, right? Wrong! Haralson has always been highly touted but just seemed to never get it done consistently for the 49ers. It isn't like he flipped a switch and turned into DeMarcus Ware, he just had a great game, they will more than likely continue to be few and far between. I think because Haralson has been around so long and plays OLB that people aren't going to be as awestruck with him as they are 2nd year LB NoVorro Bowman. Bowman has the makings of a hot waiver wire commodity but in most 12 team leagues I don't see him as being a solid weekly starter. I could be wrong because the 49ers offense could be just that bad that the defense is on the field so much that Ken Norton even ends up being a solid play again.
Secondary: We're not in Kansas (Buffalo actually) anymore toto, that is as it pertains to Donte Whitner. Whitner didn't put up a huge stat line like he was in Buffalo last season but there isn't anything to be ashamed about with 5 solos. The only thing that was a bit disappointing is that he did play in over 70 snaps. With that many snaps you really would expect a more productive line. Madieu Williams got the start next to Whitner because Dashon Goldson was unable to play due to injury. Didn't seem to matter that Williams started because he only managed to record one lousy little solo tackle. Goldson is still on the injury report but he was at least able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Whitner really is the only one that is viable for fantasy lineups.
Cincinnati at Denver
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 48, 2009: 51, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 51, 2009: 47, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: Robert Geathers started at DE for the Bengals in week 1 but he is dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday or Thursday. If he can't go on Sunday look for Carlos Dunlap to move into the starting lineup with Michael Johnson. The entire Bengals DL was pretty unproductive from a fantasy standpoint last week. I mean Johnson only had 1 solo but he did add an interception, Geathers could only muster 1 solo and Dunlap, he had a big fat goose egg. Looks like you should just move on and find better option than what the Bengals DL presents but if you look a bit deeper into the numbers you will see that someone actually had a pretty good day and was very close to having a top notch fantasy day too. Believe it or not but Carlos Dunlap had 3 QB hits, no one else in the NFL had more than the 3 he had. I know that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades but I think it counts in fantasy football too, at least when you are trying to find that diamond in the rough.
Linebacker: Last week I talked about patience and how it isn't a trait many fantasy owners have but for those that did with Rey Maualuga it was about to pay off. Well that payoff didn't happen in week 1, so all I will say is just be patient for a bit more. Heck you have waited this long what can it hurt. The Broncos and their running game could be just what he doctor ordered. I say run Rey out again and be confident that he will make an impact this week. Thomas Howard actually had a solid 11 point effort but what you might not realize is that was comprised of 8 total tackles. Unfortunately, only 3 were of the solo variety. The thing that I liked about Howard's week 1 performance is that he played in 73 snaps and Brandon Johnson only saw the field for 4 snaps. Howard is probably depth at best for 12 team leagues but in deeper leagues I think it is safe to start him as a LB3.
Secondary: Reggie Nelson had a very strong 7-2-1 performance last week against the Browns. I know that will make him a big free agent pickup for teams but I think he is more fools gold then real gold. I know it sounds like a cop-out but I am still in avoid mode with regards to the Bengals secondary.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 49, 2009: 51, 2010: 48
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 52, 2009: 50, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: Just when we think we have Elvis Dumervil back he goes and hurts his shoulder in the game and only plays 17 snaps. That shoulder injury has also kept Dumervil from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. Jason Hunter stepped in when Dumervil got hurt and he ended up with a very nice 6 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. You just know Dumervil owners are cussing under their breathe saying those stats belong to Elvis! I doubt we see Dumervil play this week so that means Hunter will see more time on the field again and against the Bengals I actually wouldn't be surprised to see him have another productive day. Dumervil has a 4-Star rating but that was prior to realizing that his shoulder injury would most likely keep him out of this week's game. I would lower Dumervil to a 1-Star and make Hunter a 3-Star play.
Linebacker: Von Miller got out of the gates fast and hard but at the end of the night all he was able to do was record just 3 solos and 2 assists, add in the forced fumble and you get a solid 11 point effort but that isn't game changing like many were expecting. I still think Miller is a risky start most weeks but this week I actually think he should be in starting lineups. DJ Williams will be out again so that means that Wesley Woodyard will once again start in his place, Yipeee. Sense my sarcasm? Well you should. Actually, that may not be fair because he did post a solid 5 solos and an assist against the Raiders.
Secondary: Brian Dawkins is one of my all-time favorite Eagle players, I hated to see him leave and initially hated even more seeing him in another team's uni. Well, I learned to accept that he left and I have always wished him well. This past Monday night was a prime example of why I like Dawkins so much. There was a play were a defensive player came flying over a blocker in an attempt to get to the QB, the Monday Night crew initially said, wow look at Von Miller, but then they realize, it wasn't Miller but Brian Dawkins. Dawkins is like a rocket, when he launches he usually hits his target. Dawkins led the Broncos in tackles and there is no reason he shouldn't do that again this week. Champ Bailey probably had the most surprising week 1, recording 5 solo tackles. Normally, teams avoid Bailey so he doesn't usually impact the box score like that. Unfortunately, for the Broncos and fantasy owners, more so the Broncos, Bailey is dealing with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be key if Bailey hopes to play on Sunday.
San Diego at New England
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 47, 2009: 49, 2010: 53
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 53, 2009: 49, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: The Chargers 3-4 scheme doesn't offer consistent fantasy value for it's DL and this week I wouldn't expect much out of Antonio Garay against the Patriots potent passing attack.
Linebacker: The Patriots looked unstoppable on Monday night and this game has the makings of another shootout. Even though the Patriots gave up 54 tackle opportunities the Dolphins starting ILBs, Karlos Dansby (5) and Kevin Burnett (3) combined for only 8 solo tackles. Being at home against what should be a pretty potent Chargers offense I actually see the Patriots leaning on their running game a bit more and that is why I have Donald Butler as a 4-Star play and Takeo Spikes as a 3-Star play. If you don't agree and think the Patriots are gonna just chuck the pigskin all over the field again then you should lower each of them by one star.
Secondary: Eric Weddle should have no problem having a productive week 2. Even if the Patriots do run the ball more, Weddle will be active enough to warrant plugging into starting lineups. However, if the Patriots do throw the ball a ton then he could be in for a very big game. Bob Sanders made it thru week 1 without any injuries and he isn't even listed on the injury report, yet, I should say. So if Sanders is healthy and playing you might as well use him while you can. His 3 solos and 3 assists might not seem like much but he only faced 33 tackle opportunities.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 56, 2009: 55, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 46, 2010: 52
Defensive Line: The Patriots tried to revamp their DL this past offseason and it looked like they were going to give us some viable fantasy DL. Well if week 1 is any indication then it is going to be a long year if you are looking for fantasy production from the Patriots DL. I still think that Andre Carter could have some fantasy value, I know he only logged 1 solo and a sack but he did have 3 QB hits. As it stands right now I think I am going to step to the side and just keep an eye on the Patriots DL. I recommend you do the same.
Linebacker: I wouldn't worry about Jerod Mayo's 5 solo tackle performance from Monday night. This week he gets to play at home and don't forget just how much the Patriots scorekeeper likes to give out assisted tackles. I bet we see Mayo with 5-6 solos and 6-8 assists this week. Brandon Spikes was inactive last week so we will still have to wait to see what happens when Spikes gets on the field and how sub-packages work out. I for one am not very high on Spikes but I know there are some that are.
Secondary: Patrick Chung had a bang up week 1, posting 9 solo tackles and adding a sack for good measure. Against the Chargers potent offense Chung should pickup right where he left off. What is crazy is that Chung's 9 solos didn't lead the team, hell they didn't even lead the secondary. Devin McCourty had a monster 10 solo, 1 assist game. The difference between the two may have been 1 solo, 1 assist and a sack but when it comes to fantasy reliability it isn't even close, Chung is by far the safer and better play.
Houston at Miami
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 52, 2009: 53, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 47, 2009: 48, 2010: 51
Defensive Line: It is official, Wade Phillips has completely killed the value of the stud DL in Houston. Sorry people but JJ Watt isn't a stud DL. I will actually be surprised if he can log 5 solo tackles in more than 3 other games this year.
Linebacker: DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing had a pretty uneventful week one but when a player faces just 36 tackle opportunities that is to be expected. This week both should fare slightly better against the Dolphins. My biggest concern is if the Dolphins come out flat after their Monday night tit with the Patriots or do they come out with all cylinders firing. Mario Williams first game as an OLB shows exactly why he is a poor play in tackle heavy leagues. Yes, he did score 13 fantasy points, but you have to look deeper. By looking deeper you see that he had 2 sacks, that's great, but he also only had 2 solos, not so great, especially when you realize that the solos came from the sacks. Oh and he had a forced fumble, another thing that you just can't rely on happening consistently.
Secondary: The week 1 game against the Colts didn't really show us anything about the Texans secondary. I mean it is hard to judge the expected production when they only faced 32 tackle opportunities and of those, half were completed passes. The Dolphins threw the ball well so we will get to see how Glover Quinn and company respond in week 2. For me I say stand on the sidelines and just watch for now.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 55, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 48, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: The Dolphins play a 3-4 scheme that basically renders their DL fantasy irrelevant. You should look elsewhere for DL help.
Linebacker: The Dolphins LBs didn't do all that well against the Patriots last week but seeing just 21 rushing attempts by their RBs could be the reason. I think it is safe to assume that the Texans will run the ball a bit more and that should lead to a very good day for Karlos Dansby. I also think we see Kevin Burnett put up solid numbers this week too. I am expecting 5-6 solo tackles from him. Cameron Wake is another of the many very talented rush OLBs in the game today. Watching the game against the Patriots and then looking at the box score it was hard to believe that all he logged was 3 solos and 1 sack. I think he is a risky start this week but do yourself a favor and just key on him when you are watching the game. You will surely come away very impressed.
Secondary: Yeremiah Bell' was plenty busy against the Patriots as he racked up 9 total tackles, unfortunately he had to share 4 of those tackles with his teammates. This week I think Bell once again is in the 9 tackle range but I think it is more in the 7-2 area code. Chris Clemons hamstring allowed Reshad Jones to start and he took advantage of that, leading the team with 8 solos and 4 assists. Clemons hamstring has kept him from practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday so I would expect to see Jones back out there racking up fantasy points. I don't see him out-doing Bell again but he should still be a solid 3-Star play.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 47, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 47, 2009: 51, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: Don't panic because you spent a high pick on DE Trent Cole and he only netted you 9 points in week 1. Cole was drafted as a top 3 DE and that is exactly where I expect him to end up when all is said and done. You might not realize it but if you score more than 9 points a week you are a top 12 DE and Cole is going to average more than just 9 points/week. What, you say you saw him rotating out a lot?!?!?!?! Well, it is true that he and the entire DL were rotated but don't fret because that is just to keep Cole, Cullen Jenkins and everyone else fresh. In Jim Washburn you must trust! What you might find odd is that Juqua Parker actually played in more snaps, 40, then Jason Babin did, 37. Again, I don't think it is anything to worry about. This week they face an Atlanta team that got obliterated by the Bears last week and I think that means it will be tough sledding for the Eagles. Still I ranked both Cole and Babin as 3-Star plays and in DT leagues Cullen Jenkins should prove to be a fruitful play too.
Linebacker: Some, heck, many found it curious that the Eagles would enter the season with rookie Casey Matthews as their starting MLB. The pre-season didn't do much to make you feel like it would be a solid move either. Well if you felt that way about it after the pre-season I can't imagine how you felt after the Rams very first rush of the season last week. Yes, the defense gave up a big run and they also let Carnell Williams have a pretty decent day. While that is all concerning, as long as Matthews is starting and racking up tackles fantasy owners don't give a crap how much rushing yardage he and the rest of the team allow. Unfortunately, Matthews didn't really rack up a ton of tackle. I mean 4 solo tackles isn't a whiff but it sure isn't what fantasy owners are expecting. FWIW, I should point out that Matthews played in approximately 20% fewer snaps than Jamar Chaney did. Those 20% could very well why Chaney had a productive 6 solo, 12 point day and Matthews did not. I am not saying to cut bait with Matthews, just pointing out that he may not be the no brainer play that many had hoped for. This week you are probably going to be gun-shy and not want to start Matthews but against the Falcons I think he should be a solid play. Same with Chaney but I see Chaney with a bit more upside.
Secondary: All the hub-bub prior to the start of the season surrounded the Eagles terrific trio at CB but for fantasy purposes they get a big ol' meh. Fantasy owners wanted to know how the safety spots were going to shake out. Well after week 1 it looks like it's Jarrad Page and Kurt Coleman that are the ones to own. Between them they played every snap at safety except for one snap that Nate Allen played in. Against the Falcons passing attack I think that both should be in starting lineups this weekend.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 53, 2009: 57, 2010: 54
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 48, 2009: 50, 2010: 49
Defensive Line: I know that the first thing I need to do is to tell everyone to put down the Kroy Biermann kool-aide. Yes, Biermann's 18 points were the 3rd most by a DL in the league for week 1, but if you really look at Biermann's numbers you will see my reason for pause. Let's break it down, Biermann had 18 points, did you know that 10 of those points came on one play, yes one play, the interception. He got 3 points for the interception, 1 point for a pass defended and 6 points for the TD he scored. How many passes do you think Biermann will be intercepting and running back for TDs this year? Exactly! Add to it that Biermann only played in 38 snaps and it is easy to see that you should let someone else have that headache. Ray Edwards 2 point performance wasn't very encouraging but those types of days happen to DEs. Edwards still should be able to be a solid DL2 and this week against the Vick led Eagles he has a decent chance to hit pay dirt with his first sack of the season. If you were impressed with Biermann's stat line you should really be 100 times more impressed with what John Abraham did. Abraham put up just 3 less points but had more tackles and sacks than Biermann and he did that on 4 fewer snaps too. On the Injury front the Falcons will be without DT Jonathan Babineaux, look for Vance Walker to replace him but don't expect to see any fantasy relevance.
Linebacker: It looks like the Falcons have two must start LBs now. Sean Weatherspoon is healthy and put up a rock star like 20 point performance in week 1 and his running mate Curtis Lofton also had a nice 18 point, 8 solo tackle effort of his own. People might see the Eagles as a pass happy team but don't sleep on the fact that they have LeSean McCoy and McCoy will get his touches and that should translate into solid production for the Flacons duo in week 2. If there are any Mike Peterson dynasty league owners I think it is safe t o say that Mr. Peterson has finally come to the end of his fantasy life. In week 1, Peterson played in just one single snap. Peterson used to be a fantasy beast but fantasy owners are a "what have you done for me lately" type crowd, and rightfully so, happy trails Mr. Peterson, happy trails.
Secondary: It might seem odd to see the entire Falcons secondary with 3-Star ratings but against the Eagles this week that is just how I see it playing out. The Eagles fed plenty of value into Rams secondary players in week 1 and if this game turns into the shootout that I expect it could then Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson, William Moore and crew will be the ones to benefit. I know that Moore and Grimes didn't do much against the Bears last week but I am expecting a rebound from both this week.
St. Louis at NY Giants
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 47, 2009: 48, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 51, 2009: 53, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: The Rams DL was pretty lackluster fantasy wise in week 1. Chris Long led the way with 7 points, like I said, lackluster. James Hall had a career type year last year but 2011 didn't start off so grand, all Hall could manage was 5 points. Then there is Robert Quinn the highly touted rookie that everyone was waiting to see hit the field running, well they are still waiting because he was inactive for week 1. That was a surprise but I trust we will see Quinn make some noise this year on the field.
Linebacker: You want to know what one of the most amazing things to happen in week 1 was? James Laurinaitis actually logged an assist at home. You might be wondering why that is so shocking, well consider that in his first two years in the league he has only logged a total of 7 assists in his 16 home games. Laurinaitis has a nice matchup against the Giants running game and the NY scorekeeper won't hurt either.
Secondary: In the secondary I am sure people are clamoring about Craig Dahl. Dahl had a fantastic season in 2010 and 2011 got off to an awesome start to. Just realize that Dahl is not being used the same as he was last season. His 8 solos and 1 assist might make you think he will be the better play than Quintin Mikell going forward but I think that is highly doubtful. Mikell didn't have a big tackle week last week but he was able to supplement his scoring by adding a sack and forced fumble. If it makes anyone feel any better I am a Mikell owner and plan on starting him each and every week this year. At CB, Bradley Fletcher is dealing with a toe injury that could keep him out of action on Monday night.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 51, 2009: 51, 2010: 52
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 48, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: Justin Tuck didn't play in week 1 and is still being limited in practice due to his neck injury. However, most think that Tuck will be back on the field this week. The thing that makes Tuck a risky play is that he plays on Monday night and if he has any sort of setback you could be left without any options to plug in to play for him. As hard as it is to sit Tuck the prudent thing is probably to do just that. I have him as a 3-Star rated play but that does come with a fair amount of risk. While Tuck wasn't there for his owners Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) sure made it a point to take advantage of his chance to shine. JPP put up 20 points, good for second best among all DL and his stat line was very Tuck-like, 5 solos, 1 assist, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. JPP is only starting because Osi Umenyiora had knee surgery but I will be very surprised to see Osi get back a full time starting gig with the kid showing what he can do.
Linebacker: Everyone expected that the Giants would sign Kawika Mitchell after Jonathan Goff went down with a torn ACL, well as of this writing they have yet to sign Mitchell or any other veteran LB. Looks like they are going to roll with rookie Greg Jones. Even though he stated Jones only played 35 snaps and could only muster up 4 solo tackles. Comparatively, Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka both played in 66 snaps. Boley was the only LB to hit double digits and at best he doesn't look like he will be much more than a LB3 or depth for most fantasy teams. This week against the Rams I think Boley and Jones should both hit 10 fantasy points but I don't see much upside so I wouldn't criticize you if you went another direction.
Secondary: I made no secret about how much I like Kenny Phillips this year and in week 1 his 16 points show that he has the promise to fulfil my expectations for him. With not much at LB in front of him I just can't see him not being a big fantasy factor this year. This week, no matter if Steven Jackson is out or Carnell Williams is in his place I see Phillips once again approaching the 20 point plateau. Phillips wasn't the only productive DB for the Giants in week 1 against the Redskins, Antrel Rolle also put up a respectable 13 points on 6 solos and an assist. Like Phillips I see more of the same for Rolle this week, plus he is always a threat to pick off a pass and take it to the house.