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IDP Game Breakdowns: Week 3
Steve Gallo
September 23, 2011
 

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!

QUICK GAME LINKS
 
 

New England at Buffalo

Patriots
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 currently rank as the 31st worst passing defense in the NFL. That might seem odd to point out in the DL portion of the write-up but it isn't because everything starts up front.  The easiest way for the Patriots to help their pass defense will to be by getting to the QB.  The Bills are a surprising 2-0 and throw the ball around pretty well.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 350+ yards this week.  I also wouldn't surprised to see Andre Carter or Sean Ellis get to him multiple times, but due to their inconsistency this year I think they are risky plays.

Linebacker: The Bills are middle of the road when it comes to giving up points to opposing LBs. Mayo owners should have no qualms starting him this week but Brandon Spikes owners on the other hand should probably not try to force him into their lineups.

Secondary:  Patrick Chung should continue his great 2011 season with this matchup against the Bills.  The Bills currently rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to DBs. Sergio Brown isn't exactly a household name but after Chung he is the next best fantasy option in the Patriots secondary. In case you haven't been paying attention Brown has put up 12 and 16 points the last two weeks.

UPDATE:  Reports are that Patrick Chung has had thumb surgery and is OUT for this week's game.

Bills
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: 
After his 2010 season many bought Kyle Williams being a top option at DL this season.  Week 1 wasn't exactly what owners were expecting but he put up a respectable 3 solos and 2 assists last week. Williams isn't an attractive option this week against the vaunted Patriots passing attack.  Rookie Marcell Dareus is starting to get his feet wet and it showed with a nice 4 solo effort against the Raiders.  Dareus like Williams isn't an attractive option against the Patriots.

Linebacker: Thru two weeks the patriots have given up 5 solos to each of the main fantasy LBs that opposed them. Karlos Dansby notched just solos but Donald Butler added 3 assists too.  Nick Barnett should see plenty of snaps and a 5 solo 2 assist line should be pretty doable and I would have no issue starting him this week.  However, Andra Davis would be on the bench if I owned him.  The Patriots will run the ball on occasion but with how they are throwing it all over the field makes Davis an extremely risky play because he will most likely be on the sidelines for a large number of snaps this week.  If you are in a big play league and own Shawne Merriman you would be best served to sit him down too.  Tom Brady just happens to be one of the more difficult QBs in the NFL to sack so I am not expecting Merriman to be doing any dancing this weekend.

Secondary:  George Wilson owners need to make sure that they have him in their starting lineups this weekend.  The Patriots have been a boon of a matchup for opposing safeties.  Reshad Jones and Yeremiah Bell combined for 21 total tackles in week 1 and the combo of Eric Weddle and Bob Sanders combined for 18.  Bryan Scott had a big week 1 but struggled in week 2, only logging 2 solo tackles.  This week I think he struggles again, simply because he will probably see the field a lot less against the Pats passing attack. The player I like in the Bills secondary in addition to Wilson is Jairus Byrd.  He might be a slightly risky play but I think he is able to put up a combined 6-7 tackles.


Jacksonville at Carolina

Jaguars
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: 
The Jaguars DL for the most part is a fantasy wasteland. After two games only Tyson Alualu has more than 3 solos in any game but his value is strictly in DT mandatory leagues.  Matt Roth has recorded both of DL's sacks this year but he remains a risky play because you could just as easily get a 1 solo, 1 sack game like he had in week 1 as you can a 3 solo, 1 sack game like he had last week.  The Jaguars really could use a healthy Aaron Kampman, that much is for sure.

Linebacker:  After a trying week 1, Paul Posluszny sort of bounced back.  He logged 8 total tackles but he split his solos and assists right down the middle. Pessimists will see Posluszny still isn't getting stud like solo tackle totals and opptimists will see that he was around the ball enough to get credit for 8 total tackles.  I still think there is plenty of hope for Poz but ranking him this week is a bit perplexing.  I mean you would think that with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that the Panthers would be running the ball a lot but they are not.  Instead Cam Newtown is throwing for 400+ yards each week.  I think we are more likely to see Poz put up an 8-2 this week than we are to see Newton pass for 300+ yards again this week.  Daryl Smith just continues to be Daryl Smith.  Solid with little upside.  This week should be more of the same.

Secondary: Does Cam Newton have another 400+ yard day in him for week 3?  I don't think so.  Newton and the Panthers have been a nice matchup for opposing DBs but this week I have a gut feeling that Courtney Greene, Dwan Landry and the rest of the Jaguars DBs could be in for a disappointing week this week. Especially Courtney Greene since Dwight Lowery is replacing him in the starting lineup.

Panthers
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:
Charles Johnson and his owners have to be licking their lips about this upcoming game against the Jaguars.  Blaine Gabbert is all set to get his 1st NFL start and Johnson and fellow DL Greg Hardy will be right there to help initiate him too.  I love Johnson as a 5-Star play this week and think that Hardy should also be in starting lineups. 

Linebacker: Thomas Davis has torn his ACL again.  That makes it three straight years that Davis has torn his ACL.  Sad to see such a great talent unable to realize it on the field.  I am a Davis owner and stashing him on my IR but I only have about a .000001% feeling that we see him playing in the NFL again. With Beason and Davis now done for the year the starting LBs will be Dan Connor at MLB, with James Anderson and Jason Williams manning the OLB positions.  Coach Rivera also pointed out that Jason Williams would be replaced in the nickel by Thomas Williams.  I fully expect to see Anderson start producing like he did in the first half of 2010. 

Secondary:  The Jaguars will try to establish MJD to help Gabbert in his first NFL start and that should bode well for the prospects of Charles Godfrey this week, however Godfrey suffered a concussion in week 2 and is in jeopardy of not playing this week.  Jordan Pugh looks like he will replace Godfrey if he can't go.  I wouldn't expect much more than 5 solos from Pugh. Outside of that, I don't see much fantasy value in the Panthers secondary this week.


Denver at Tennessee

Broncos
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: 
Elvis Dumervil has a ton of talent but to produce he needs to be on the field and healthy. Heathy is something that Dumervil is not.  His injured shoulder isn't keeping him out of practice but it did limit him on Wednesday.  The Titans played over their heads against the Ravens last week but no matter how you slice it they still held Terrell Suggs to just 2 solos, 1 assist and 2 passes defended.  Note that I didn't include any sacks.  Well that is because he didn't get to Matt Hasselbeck, that doesn't mean that Dumervil can't or won't but I wouldn't want to bet on him until I see him healthy and doing what he does. The frustration for owners of Robert Ayers continues to grow.  In week 1 they watch Jason Hunter go off for 17 points and then in week 2 they see Hunter outscore Ayers again.  This time Hunter's measly 4 points were enough to best the 3 points that Ayers put up. 

Linebacker: DJ Williams is finally back on the field, practice field that is.  On Wednesday Williams was able to at least practice on a limited basis.  As of this writing there is nothing definitive about him playing this week against the Titans.  With him practicing and if he doesn't suffer any setbacks this week I wouldn't be surprised to see him at least get on the field for some snaps this week.  Wesley Woodyard has done an admirable job filling in for Williams and this week I have Woodyard ranked as a 3-Star play but if Williams does indeed get back on the field then Woodyard should be downgraded.  As for Williams, you have to leave him on your bench until we see that he won't be limited by the dislocated elbow he suffered in the pre-season.  I know that many are high on Von Miller and I have been hard on him but this week I have a feeling that we see Miller have an absolute beast of a game.  There aren't going to be many weeks where I will say I think it is safe to start Miller.  However, this week, get him in your lineups.

Secondary:  The Titans have two major weapons that Brian Dawkins and Rahim Moore will be busy trying to keep in check, Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt.  I think Dawkins is the safer play as he should be in the box a ton trying to keep Johnson in check and that should net him at least 6-7 solo stops.  Moore should be busy helping keep the Titans passing game and Britt in check.  The only problem is that I think Moore is a bit riskier as a start.  Champ Bailey is still dealing with a hamstring injury and he missed practice on Wednesday because of it.

Titans
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: 
Back when Baskin Robbins had just 31 flavors if your flavor of choice was plain old reliable vanilla then Dave Ball just might be the DL for you.  Ball has put up 10 and 11 points respectively in the past two weeks but just like vanilla ice cream, he doesn't really excite me.  Seems like same old, same old for William Hayes and Jason Jones as they have each missed one of the first two games.  They are sort of like frozen yogurt, you know it is good for you and you want to give it a try but you just can't bring yourself to do it.  Well that is how you should look at Hayes and Jones if you have them on your team, you can think about starting them, just don't do it. So far we have talked about plain old vanilla ice cream and nasty frozen yogurt, I think it is about time we talk about something a bit more exciting, rocky road.  Yeah, rocky road is a good ice cream but it is also the type of career that Derrick Morgan has had due to injury.  Morgan got back on the field after blowing out his knee last year and his first game was a decent enough 9 point effort. I am looking for Morgan to build on last week's performance.

Linebacker:  Yes, Barrett Ruud stunk it up last week and I know there are many impatient fantasy owners that feel like dumping him.  All I can say is do NOT do that and just step off the ledge. On paper last week Ruud had what looked to be an incredible matchup.  Unfortunately that didn't materialize. I mean who would have thought that the Ravens would only run the ball just 17 times, add in their 15 completions and it adds up to just 32 tackle opportunities.  Like I said, get off the ledge, and then go put Ruud back in your starting lineup for this week.  If there was anything relevant to say about Akeem Ayers or Will Witherspoon but there really isn't so Ruud gets all the love.

Secondary: Chris Hope missed last week due to a shoulder injury.  Hope is still dealing with the injury but he was at least able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday.  If he can progress to a full practice on Friday that probably would mean he would play this week, but I think it is safest to just wait and see him back on the field before plugging him back into starting lineups.  The plays I like most this week in the Titans secondary are Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan.  If Hope does get on the field then I would drop Griffin from a 4-Star to a 3-Star play.


NY Giants at Philadelphia

Giants
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: 
The Giants defensive line always seems to do well against the Eagles. Then again, when you have players like Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora it is easy to understand why.  Add in the fact that Michael Vick takes a good amount of sack and that if he doesn't play it could be Mike Kafka getting his first NFL start.  Talk about baptism under fire.  Coach Coughlin says that Umenyiora is day to day but it is worth pointing out that he didn't practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker:  If you look at the number of fantasy points the Eagles have given up to opposing LBs you might come to the conclusion that you should sit Michael Boley and Greg Jones this week. Looking at the raw numbers shows that the Eagles are indeed one of the 10 worst in giving up points to LBs but a deeper look shows that they have given up good games to fantasy relevant LBs.  In week 1, James Laurinaitis logged 5 solos, 1 assist a fumble recovery and a pass defended and in week 2 both Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton had big games for fantasy owners.  Boley should present a bit more upside but I think both are attractive plays for this week.

Secondary: Last week in the 2nd half against the Rams the Giants lost another starter in their secondary, Aaron Ross.  This time it wasn't due to injury but due to poor play.  Michael Coe is who replaced Ross.  Coe could get "picked" on my the Eagles this week but I have to admit that I wouldn't feel comfortable with him in my starting lineup.  I might sound like a broken record but my plays would be Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips. If you are a Deon Grant owner you might want to think twice about starting him, he has been diagnosed with a serious brain injury better known as cantactworthadamnititis.  Cantactworthadamnititis strikes victims very unexpectedly but there is some research that shows that it strikes during times in NFL football games where that players team needs a timeout.

Eagles
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:
Trent Cole was solid yet unspectacular in week 1, but owners were still left feeling a bit unfulfilled.  Well in week 2 Cole put up the type of game that his owners are used to seeing. At home against the division rival Giants I would again expect Cole to put up tier 1 DL numbers.  Jason Babin currently ranks 15th in DL scoring, I am not so sure that he will be able to sustain that ranking but I do think he will remain a solid fantasy option as a low level DL2 and at worst a DL3. The Giants have given up 7 sacks to DL on the year and in each game they have given up a sack to 3 different ones. Juqua Parker (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker:  The Eagles are making a change to their starting LBs this week.  The big change is that Jamar Chaney is moving back to MLB and Casey Matthews is now going to man the WLB position.  Fantasy owners, of Chaney that is have to be ecstatic about this move.  Last year Chaney showed what his upside was and fantasy owners should get to see more of that production as soon as this week against the Giants running game.

Secondary: I would expect that the Giants will try to really focus on the run this week and that should keep Jarrad Page motoring along.  During the pre-season Kurt Coleman looked like he was going to be pretty productive fantasy player, but thru two weeks his numbers are pretty anemic. So far this season the Giants have given up at least 5 total tackles to eight opposing DBs,


Houston at New Orleans

Texans
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: I know you think that there is value on the Texans defensive line but I beg to differ.  If you want to try and chase JJ Watt's points then have at it but I don't think it will take long for you to realize that wasn't a very wise move.

Linebacker: I am sure that there were many fantasy owners that got burned by DeMeco Ryans lack of production last week. As we know Ryans is coming back from an Achilles injury he suffered last year and he is also dealing with an elbow injury too.  What hurt Ryans was that the Texans played a bunch of dime and Brian Cushing was the only LB they used in that sub-package.  Evidently the Texans are handling Ryans with kid gloves.  At some point I expect the Texans will take the gloves off and when that happens we will see more of the Ryans of old that we are used to seeing.  Resist the urge to dump him because he will pay dividends. Also, as long as Ryans is sitting snaps that adds value to Cushing.

Secondary:  The Texans DBs aren't exactly lighting up the box score with fantasy stats but they are holding their own NFL wise. Last week both Jonathan Joseph, 14 points, and Glover Quin, 10 points had decent games. This week, the pass happy Saints could help Joseph and Quin put up their best numbers yet.  So far at least 1 CB in each game has logged at least 7 solos against the Saints and at safety Morgan Burnett had a huge week against them in week 1.  Risk reward is there for this week so I would make it a point to get both into my lineup.  I even think that Kareem Jackson will put up starters worthy numbers.  I currently have Daniel Manning as a 2-Star play but each time I look at it I keep thinking that I should also make him a 3-Star play.

Saints
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 has finished up serving his two game suspension and he should immediately help the team's pass rush. From what I saw Smith was being drafted as a  backup and sometimes not being drafted at all.  That means that Smith owners should have solid options that they can start over him.  If you haven't been able to tell I am big on wanting to see a player back on the field before I put him in my starting lineup(s).  Junior Galette currently leads the Saints DL in fantasy points scored.  I like Galette and actually rostered him in a dynasty league last year but if Galette is your leading fantasy scorer you know their are issues with the Saints pass rush.  At this point just look for help elsewhere because relying on the likes of Galette, Sedrick Ellis, Turk McBride and rookie Cam Jordan just isn't very wise.

Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma owners are probably a bit panicked but just like with Ruud and Ryans I am going to try and talk  you back in off the ledge.  I know it isn't easy because I am a Vilma owner so I feel the frustration too but like Ruud, Vilma didn't have many tackle opportunities in week 2.  The Bears only ran the ball 12 times and completed just 19 passes.  As far as opportunities go that was a pretty thin week last week.  This week I see a better matchup but Vilma is dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday.  Vilma isn't the only Saints LB that missed practice on Wednesday, Jonathan Casillas also missed practice with what is listed as a foot and knee injuries.  Before the practice report was released on Wednesday I had already ranked Vilma as a 3-Star play, but depending on how Thursday and Friday practice goes he could easily turn into a 2-Star play.

Secondary:   What Vilma is leaving his owners yearning for, is what Roman Harper is giving his owners.  As well as Harper is playing it is hard to believe he only ranks 4 in fantasy points scored by a DB.  Hey that isn't anything to sneeze at, but I am just shocked he isn't actually #1 overall.  About the only thing that could slow Harper down is an injury, and don't look now but due to an ankle injury, Harper missed practice on Wednesday.  Make sure you check out the Friday IDP injury and practice report to see if Harper looks like he will be good to go come Monday. Tracy Porter also didn't practice on Wednesday, he is still dealing with calf injury.


Detroit at Minnesota

Lions
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
: Suh, stud, start him. Kyle Vanden Bosch, stud, start him.  Cliff Avril, injured, sit him. Nick Fairley, injured, sit him.  That is pretty short and to the point.  I am actually going to be surprised if Ndamukong Suh doesn't knock Donovan McNabb out of this game.  Of course to help keep McNabb healthy the Vikings are going to give the rock a lot to Adrian Peterson.  I have a feeling Suh and Peterson are going to be spending a good amount of time together on Sunday.  Of course the stats don't really back that up because the Vikings are only giving up an average of 10.5 total tackles per game to opposing DLs and no DL has more than 3 solos against the Vikings so far in this young season.  I know that Suh hasn't really produced like last year but he will come around and this week could very well be  when that happens.  Vanden Bosch on the other hand is hot, so ride him until he cools off.

Linebacker: Due to a knee injury DeAndre Levy missed practice on Wednesday.  The Vikings have given up some nice games to opposing LBs so let's hope that Levy can progress as the week goes on, and is able to play on Sunday.  While Levy's status might be a bit iffy there is nothing iffy about my expectations for Stephen Tulloch this week.  Let me step out on a limb and say that I expect Tulloch to log at least 8 solo stops and for him to score around 20 fantasy points.

Secondary: Louis Delmas is still dealing with a hip injury.  It didn't keep him from playing last week but you still need to monitor the injury report but in all honesty if it were me I would just bench him until he starts showing up bigger in the box score.  Full disclosure, I am a Delmas owner and he is firmly planted on my bench.  Erik Wright and Chris Houston actually are the Lions leading fantasy scorers but this week you need to ask yourself if you are really confident enough to start either of them against Donovan "39 passing yards" McNabb.

Vikings
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: 
Jared Allen had a disappointing week 2 but hey at least he didn't stumble out of the blocks like he has i the past.  The Lions are doing a pretty good job of protecting Matthew Stafford from opposing DLs.  Actually the next sack that an opposing DL gets will be the first that a DL has logged against the Lions this season. That might make you feel like benching Allen but not me, especially when I see that Tim Crowder logged 4 solos and an assist and Michael Bennett logged 4 solos too.  Allen has the talent  to make something out of nothing, so keep him in your lineups this weekend, I am.  I should also point out that Allen was a limited participant in Wednesday practice.  Brian Robison isn't nearly the player that Allen is and him I would be benching. It should also be noted that Kevin Williams has completed his two game suspension. 

Linebacker:  Thru two weeks LBs have been hit and miss against the Lions so projecting Chad Greenway and the brothers Henderson isn't easy this week. Older brother and MLB EJ was limited in practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury.  EJ isn't getting any younger or faster and the last thing you want to be against the Lions and their speedy RB Jahvid Best is slow.  Greenway is by far the safest and best play among the Vikings LBs this week.

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield is putting up great numbers and this week he gets a Lions offense that is going to give him plenty of opportunities too. I know that Winfield was inconsistent last year but put that out of your head and realize that Winfield has always been one of the best tackling CBs in the NFL and he has never been afraid to stick his nose in to help keep the running game in check.  I know that Husain Abdullah and Jamarca Sanford have been pretty solid so far this year and this week they look to be in line for another solid game.


Miami at Cleveland

Dolphins
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 Browns haven't really given up the types of games to opposing LBs that you would expect.  Especially when you know they have a battering ram named Peyton Hillis at RB. I still think that the Browns are going to be a prime matchup for opposing LBs going forward but at this point the numbers don't show that. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't start Karlos Dansby, it just means you might not have the upside that you should. Kevin Burnett hasn't done much fantasy wise and this week will probably be more of the same.  I am not giving up 100% on Burnett for this year but at this point his value lies mainly in deeper leagues.

Secondary: Yeremiah Bell has been very consistent this year.  He has logged 9 total tackles in each game and this week, production wise, I see no reason for him not to be in that same area code.  Reshad Jones has been starting due to a hamstring injury that Chris Clemons is dealing with.  Clemons did practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday so I recommend monitoring the injury report. Because if it looks like Clemons might play I would probably sit Reshad Jones to see how the Dolphins utilize them.

Browns
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:
 Rookie Jabaal Sheard showed last week the type of upside that he has. He hit the jackpot with a bunch of firsts, he got his first sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Colts in week 2.  In dynasty formats I really love Sheard and think he could grow into a top 10ish DL but this year he will most likely suffer some growing pains.  This week he faces a Dolphins team that hasn't given up much to opposing DLs so I suggest keeping him on the bench this week.

Linebacker: It won't matter if the Dolphins put the ball in the air 40+ times or run it 30 times, D'Qwell Jackson is going to get his, no matter what.  After seeing Jackson suffer season ending injuries each of the past two years it is nice to see him bounce back and not only put up good fantasy numbers but also play good football.  All that adds up to a "START HIM" again and don't think twice about it.

Secondary: TJ Ward owners are probably cussing D'Qwell Jackson out but hey there is an ebb and flow to almost everything. To say Ward isn't putting up the numbers his owners expect is putting it lightly but DBs have a very hard time repeating top 10 performances. All you have to do is look at what Ward did last year to see that he did indeed have some "human" games fantasy wise. So at this point I wouldn't cut bait but I might shorten the leash up just a bit.  Joe Haden is a stud in the making, that is if he isn't there yet.  Unfortunately, that won't translate into fantasy points very often but what you are seeing with Haden is a player that could be really, really special.


San Francisco at Cincinnati

49ers
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: 
Last week the Broncos defensive line logged just three solo tackles and one assist against the Bengals.  That is putrid to say the least.  I doubt that the 49ers end up with such paltry stats, so if you are a Justin Smith owner I think he is a safe enough play.  He probably doesn't present much upside but should still be in starting lineups.

Linebacker:  In week 1 Patrick Willis got outscored by teammate Parys Haralson and in week 2 he was out-tackled by NaVorro Bowman.  Both scored 20 points so it isn't like Willis isn't being productive but it looks like he finally is getting some help.  Bowman is surely to be a big waiver wire addition in many leagues.  I know I said I wasn't sold on Bowman and believe it or not I still am not.  Not to the point that I don't think he will be a productive fantasy producer but to the point that I don't think he is going to put up consistent studly numbers like Willis does. 

Secondary: Outside of Donte Whitner there is next to no value in the 49ers secondary.  Whitner isn't putting up numbers like he did in Buffalo but his 11 and 14 points aren't chopped liver either.  Whitner has been a fantasy stud but that doesn't always equate to a player being an NFL stud and last week's performance was a prime example of that.  Whitner bit big on the play action that allowed the Cowboys to get into field goal range.  Whitner isn't in danger of losing his job but I just wanted to point it out because those are the types of plays that can lead to a player losing their starting job.

Bengals
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:
 Michael Johnson was a sleeper for many this year but with how he has performed in the first two weeks you can bet he is on everyone's radar now.  If he isn't then you need to pounce because Johnson isn't a fluke, he has always had the talent but now he is being utilized to his strengths. On the injury front, Robert Geathers missed last week and many felt that Carlos Dunlap would play more snaps and be more productive.  Well he did play in an increased number of snaps from his week 1 total, unfortunately the increase was just ONE snap.  He played in 33 snaps in week 2 versus the 32 in week 1, but at least he was more productive, putting up 8 points versus his donut in week 1.  I still like Dunlap's prospects but you might need to be a bit more patient.  Jonathan Fanene played in just as many snaps as Dunlap did in week 2 but he wasn't as productive.  Fanene is a nice NFL player but he isn't someone you should be relying on from week to week for fantasy production.

Linebacker: Rey Maualuga had a nice bounce back week against the Broncos last week, 13 points isn't a studly performance but I think it shows that Maualuga has some upside and isn't just going to fade into oblivion.  The Niners gave up 11 total tackles to Sean Lee last week so this very well could be a big week for Maualuga.  Thomas Howard was somewhat of a surprise acquisition this offseason but so far he has paid dividends for both the Bengals and fantasy owners. Howard should post between 10-15 fantasy points this week so if you are having issues at LB I think he makes for a nice play.

Secondary: Reggie Nelson wasn't able to live up to what he did in week one but at least he cracked double digits with his 10 point effort in week 2.  I think the Bengals secondary is already mucked up enough to stay away from for fantasy reasons and there isn't anything compelling that can change my mind at this point in time.  I do currently have Nelson as a 3-Star  play but I am scratching my head every time I think about it.  If you want a risk reward play this week I think Nate Clements fits the bill, a little revenge against his former team seems like it could pay off in a nice fantasy week.


NY Jets at Oakland

Jets
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: 
Mike Devito has had back to back solid games and currently ranks as the 10th best DL in fantasy scoring.  Who would have thunk it.  Devito might be a nice DL2 in deep leagues but in 12 team leagues I have a hard time seeing him continue with this type of production.  With all that said, I think Devito is a solid play against the Raiders this week. 

Linebacker: This game will most likely be a slug fest with both teams trying to run the ball down the others throat.  That would normally bode well for LB David Harris, but Harris is dealing with a toe injury and that very well could limit his production again.  I say again because last week he was limited to just 38 snaps and that most likely was due to the toe.  This week he has been a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.  I don't think he is a  risk  for missing the game but I do think he is a risky fantasy start.  Seeing he is still being limited by the toe makes me say he should be lowered from a 3-Star to a 2-Star play this week. 

Secondary:  With Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool spliting time at FS it looks like Erik Smith is going to be the DB to own in the Jets secondary.  Smith's 14.5 PPG average is 23rd best among DBs. There is probably a good chance that Smith is available on waivers and if he is and you need a solid play this week you shouldn't hesitate to pick him up.

Raiders
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:
Thru two weeks the Raiders DL have yet to really get things going.  Matt Shaughnessy has been the most consistent but 7 points in each week isn't anything to really write home about.  Like some of the LBs I have told people to be patient with I think the same patience should be given to Shaughnessy, Richard Seymour and the rest of the gang.  This week against a Jets team that likes to run the ball between the tackles I expect to see Seymour have a nice game.  Outside of Seymour I would take a pass on the rest of the gang, with the exception of Tommy Kelly in DT mandatory leagues.

Linebacker: Will the real Rolando McClain please stand up!  Truth be told McClain isn't as bad as week 1 but also not as good as his week 2 numbers would suggest.  This week I think he has a prime matchup and that is why I have him as a 4-Star play, but if he was any other top tier LB he would easily have been a 5-Star play this week.  Combined Sean Lee and Paul Posluszny recorded 20 total tackles against the Jets this year, so it is easy to see that the upside is there for McClain this week.

Secondary:  Based on the numbers that opposing safeties have put up against the Jets this year you probably feel like this is a bad matchup for Tyvon Branch.  The numbers do flesh out that way but make no mistake about it that the Jets haven't played against any safeties like Branch.  Look for Branch to put up in the neighborhood of 20 points this week.  Michael Huff should also be a solid play this week but I don't see as much upside for Huff. CB Chris Johnson has had a couple of decent games from a fantasy perspective but I don't see him as a good play this week or even long term this year.  A spot start here and there, sure, but that is about it.


Baltimore at St. Louis

Ravens
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: 
Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata are tearing it up this year.  Suggs is currently the #1 overall DL, but that isn't really much of a surprise because Suggs was easily considered a tier 1 DL.  Ngata on the other hand has somewhat surprised, it isn't like he wasn't expected to be productive, because he was, but top 3 productive, no one saw that coming.  I am not a betting man but I wouldn't bet on Ngata keeping up his current pace. He should be able to maintain productive fantasy production but I see him more as a DL2. In DT mandatory leagues he is easily a DL1 and he should be the cream of the crop there all season long.  What might be hard to believe is that Ngata is the only DL in the entire NFL that currently ranks inside the top 15 of fantasy DLs.

Linebacker:  The Rams have given up more to OLBs than they have to MLBs this year.  However, they haven't faced a MLB like Ray Lewis either.  Lewis should be in for a solid game but his upside will be severely limited by the official scorer in St. Louis.  In the Rams only home game in week 1, only 2 assisted tackles were awarded and both of those were to Rams players.  Oh and in a way I feel bad for the Rams because you know that Lewis is going to be extra fired up after the thumping the Ravens took at the hands of the Titans last week.

Secondary:  Ten, ten can usually be considered a good thing. A guy is top 10 at his position, that is a good thing.  When a woman is a 10, that is a good thing.  Finding 10 bucks on the ground, that too is a good thing. However, ten isn't always a good number, like when it refers to the number of snaps a DB named Bernard Pollard played in against the Titans in week 2.  Yes, Pollard only played in 10 snaps last week, Tom Zbikowski played in 73.  Zbikowski isn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard but he is averaging 11 PPG and that makes for decent production from your DB3.  Oh and since we are talking about 10, both Ladarius Webb (3rd) and Ed Reed (7) rank in the top 10 among DBs.  Both have had a fantastic start but I don't see either of them being able to keep it up. 

Rams
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: 
Last week saw Chris Long, James Hall and rookie Robert Quinn all record a sack.  For Long it was his 2nd of the season and Hall and Quinn's first.  Long seems to string together games with sacks but the fantasy production is never what it seems like it should be. I have long (yeah I went there) been a fan of Long's and I keep waiting and waiting for him to really break out.  Sadly, I don't think it is ever going to happen.  This week I think it is best to sit Long as well as Hall and Quinn.

Linebacker:  Just a nasty little reminder to James Laurinaitis owners that this game is being played in St. Louis.  That means Lil' Animal's upside will be limited by the official scorer. If you are new to fantasy football and didn't know Laurinaitis is nick named Lil' Animal because he is the son of former Road Warrior, Animal.  On the injury front, Ben Leber didn't practice on Wednesday but was able to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday. 

Secondary: Quick, tell me who the Rams leading fantasy DB is. I said quick, more than likely everyone guessed Quintin Mikell, and that would have been a good guess because he is their 2nd highest scorer at DB.  The correct answer would be CB Justin King.  Scratching your head? Yeah I know and I understand too.  Just realize that in the first two weeks the Rams have faced the Eagles and the Giants.  In week 1 the Eagles gave up the 9th most fantasy points to DBs and in week 2 the Giants gave up the 4th most.  I am not trying to dis King, just add some perspective is all.  This week I see both King and Mikell as being startable but Mikell is the one I see having the big week.


Kansas City at San Diego

Chiefs
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:
Last week I recommended staying away from Glenn Dorsey against the Lions and I got that one right as Dorsey only scored 3 points.  This week against the Chargers I would do the same, leave Dorsey on the bench.

Linebacker: Saying that Derrick Johnson is in a funk is putting it mildly, and that says something when the player you are talking about is averaging double digit fantasy points. That is because many, myself included were expecting big, big things from Johnson this season.  Well,  I am still expecting them and I think he is a perfect buy low candidate.  If you can, you should trade for him before the Chargers game because his value could skyrocket.  The reason being that the Chargers have given up the 6th most points to LBs, as evidenced by the big games of Erin Henderson, Chad Greenway and Jerod Mayo against the Chargers. 

Secondary: Jon McGraw has made the most of his time replacing Eric Berry. Currently, among DBs, McGraw ranks 6th in fantasy points scored. The Chiefs aren't really taking him off the field and are using him at OLB at times and that has helped his fantasy production. The one thing you aren't likely to get with McGraw are any sacks because the Chiefs have only had him rush the passer three times so far this season. I already pointed out how many points the Chargers have given up to LBs, well they have given up even more to DBs.  For the season no team has given up more fantasy points to opposing DBs than the Chargers have.  That is why I have also rated Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis as 3-Star plays.

Chargers
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: 
I bagged on Antonio Garay pretty good last season but so far this year he is doing a pretty good job.  His 9 and 10 point weeks won't get him confused with the top tier studs at the position but if you play in a DT mandatory league he is a top tier stud.  Actually, the only DTs to score more fantasy points than Garay are Haloti Ngata and Cullen Jenkins. Even though Garay is playing well you just can't look past the fact that he is facing a Chiefs team that is severely challenged right now.  Even in DT mandatory leagues I would sit Garay this week.

Linebacker: The Chiefs offense is horrific right now and because of it Donald Butler and Takeo Spikes are very risky starts.  In hindsight I think I should have rated them both 2-Star plays instead of 3-Stars.  In big play leagues this might be the week that you should run with Shaun Phillips.

Secondary: The Chiefs offense is bad and with Jamaal Charles on IR their running game is even worse.  That means the Chiefs will need to rely on QB Matt Cassel.  Normally if a team has to rely on their QB because they have to throw the ball that is good for the opposing DBs but I have little fait in Cassel.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him complete fewer than 15 passes and the majority of those will go underneath to RB Dexter McCluster.  All that adds up to not much in the way of opportunities for Eric Weddle or Bob Sanders.


Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Falcons
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:  The Buccaneers are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to surrendering fantasy points to the opposing DL.  Couple that with Ray Edwards foot limiting him in practice on Wednesday and Thursday and John Abraham's thing limiting his participation in practice on Thursday and I think it is easy to see why I have both ranked as just 2-Star plays. 

Linebacker: The Falcons have two very productive fantasy LBs and I think both are weekly no brainer must starts.  This week against a Buccaneers team that has given up the 2nd fewest points to opposing LBs their upside is severely limited but there is no way that I could sit either of them. 

Secondary:  It might seem a bit curious that I didn't rank a single Falcons DB better than a 2-Star play, especially when you consider that the Buccaneers have given up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing DBs.  While that should be a good matchup I can't look past the fact that the Falcons have just ONE DB ranked in the top 50.  Yes, just one, and that is Dunta Robinson and he ranks 49th. I can't even begin to put into words how disappointed I am in the lack of production from William Moore.  As you most likely know I was very high on Moore coming into the season but as it stands now I am pretty close to jumping off.

Buccaneers
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:
 It looks pretty clear that the Buccaneers DL isn't going to offer up fantasy value anytime soon.  You would probably be better off looking at the Chiefs DL for help, and yes that is sarcasm but that is how bad it is.

Linebacker: You might think that with Michael Turner that the Falcons would give up good numbers to opposing LBs but that hasn't been the case yet.  They rank among the worst in the league as of now so temper your expectations for Mason Foster and Geno Hayes this week.  Quincy Black is dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday.  If Black can't practice on Friday I doubt we see him play on Sunday, but even if he manages to practice in some capacity I would be leery of putting him in my lineup.

Secondary: Sean Jones is currently the 5th highest scoring DB, yes I said 5th.  By all accounts, Jones plays in a system that should limit his fantasy value but right now he is bucking those trends.  I might be a pessimist but I will be shocked if he finishes the season as a DB1.Jarrad Page had a productive 5 solos and 4 assits against the Falcons last week so Jones could very well be in line for another strong week. Along with Jones I also think that both Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib are solid options against the Falcons this week.


Arizona at Seattle

Cardinals
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:
There are two major things working against Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and the rest of the Cardinals DL.  First, is that they have all pretty much stunk up the joint this year and second is that the Seahawks have given up the 2nd fewest points to opposing DL.  To put that into a bit of perspective, the Seahawks are giving up an average of just 17 PPG to DL, Terrell Suggs is averaging 17.5 PPG.  Thought that might drive home my point.

Linebacker: The Seahawks might not be giving up many fantasy points to DL but that isn't the case with LBs. The Seahawks rank 5th in points allowed to LBs so that gives the Arizona LBs some upside this week.  Unfortunately, Daryl Washington is fighting a calf injury.  The injury kept him out of week two's tilt and it also forced him to miss practice on Wednesday. However, Thursday he was able to practice in a limited fashion.  Friday's practice will be a key one for Washington but more than likely he will be at best listed as Questionable for Sunday's game this week.  With Washington out of the lineup last week, Stewart Bradley was finally able to get on the field, and he actually had a nice game too.  Washington isn't the only one battling injuries either, Paris Lenon was forced out of last week's game with a groin injury, but this week he is practicing fully so he should be good to go.  As far as the ratings go I think that Bradley is the safest bet, that is because he is fully healthy, Lenon I have as a 2-Star play simply because I think a bum groin makes for a dicey situation and I think that Washington is far to risky to run out this week. So a great looking matchup is pretty much wasted due to the uncertainties caused by the injuries. 

Secondary: The Seahawks are also one of the worst teams when it comes to giving up points to opposing DBs too. Basically, that is why Kerry Rhodes is the only Cardinal with a 3 or higher star rating.   I mean do you really see Tavaris Jackson doing anything with the passing game that will create opportunities for the Cardinals secondary.  I know that I don't.

Seahawks
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 didn't exactly have a nice game like I projected last week.  He didn't completely crap the bed as he did muster up 7 points.  As good as I thought his matchup was last week is how bad it looks this week. The only reason I have him as a 3-Star play is because I think he benefits from the 12th man in Seattle this week. Other than Clemons just pass, pass, pass on the rest of the Hawks DL.

Linebacker:  Big news at LB this week for the Seahawks, and get this, it doesn't have anything to do with David Hawthorne.  The news surrounds former 1st rounder and 4th overall pick, Aaron Curry.  Curry confirmed on Thursday that he has lost his starting job to rookie KJ Wright.  I think that many were unhappy with what Curry has done for the Seahawks, and I don't just mean fantasy wise but I am not sure how many of us actually thought he was on the hot seat.  My guess is that this ends up being a fluid situation and one that fantasy owners should stay away from.  On the David Hawthorne front, I still say that patience is what Hawthorne owners need to practice.  Sure Hawthorne didn't put up much in week 2 but he only played in 41 snaps.  I would suspect that the healthier he gets the more snaps the Seahawks will play him and the better his production will be.  The good news is that he is NOT on the injury report at all.  Full practices on Wednesday and Thursday are very good signs.

Secondary:  After two weeks Kam Chancellor ranks 8th among DBs in fantasy points scored and with the "issues" the the Seahawks are having at LB there is no reason to expect to see him fall  from the top 10.  Even when Hawthorne gets 100% healthy I still see Chancellor putting up big numbers.  For me he is a must start, don't even think about it start at DB.  Earl Thomas isn't in the top tier with Chancellor but he is putting up solid DB3 numbers.  This week's matchup looks like a solid matchup for Thomas but I think the Cardinals are going to be severely challenged to do much offensively in Seattle this week.  If you disagree and think the Cards will have success throwing the ball then feel free to bump Thomas up to a 3-Star play.



Green Bay at Chicago

Packers
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. 

Linebacker: Desmond Bishop, if you own him then good for you.  If you don't, trade for him if you can.  Bishop is showing he is 100% worth the money and extension the Packers signed him to earlier this year.  The Bears are actually in the bottom part of the league when it comes t o points allowed to opposing LBs. That doesn't mean that you sit Bishop, what it means is that we are going to see just how much upside he has this week.  I will be very shocked if Bishop lays an egg this week.  In the star ratings I have Clay Matthews as a 3-Star play but he is dealing with a quadriceps injury that has caused him to miss practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.  At this point, even if he plays I think he should be dropped to a 1-Star play.

Secondary: So far I have egg on my face with regards to Morgan Burnett.  Burnett currently is tied with Antoine Winfield as the #1 fantasy DB.  However, due to the season ending neck injury to Nick Collins, this week Burnett is expected to shift from SS  to FS.  Charlie Peprah will take over at SS. This week both should get plenty of opportunities against the Bears passing attack.  Just don't be shocked to see Burnett to come way back down to Earth in the coming weeks.  On the injury front Charles Woodson's foot injury has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday and Tramon Williams shoulder has limited him in practice both days.

Bears
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: Last week I pointed out just how bad a matchup that Julius Peppers had but I also said that Peppers is the kind of DL that you just simply do not bench.  Peppers did prove that he had bad matchup, 2 point bad.  Hopefully, my concerns about the matchup made some of you decide to go against me and bench him.  This week has another less than stellar matchup but guess what, just like last week I am here to say that you can't bench Peppers.  Well you can but I wouldn't., and I am backing that up as I have him starting on one of my teams this week.  Oh and yeah, I started him last week too. As far as Israel Idonije, Henry Melton et al. goes, bench them, the entire lot of them.

Linebacker: It is hard to believe that with as potent an offense that the Packers have that they are giving up a below average number of tackle opportunities.  The numbers say that this isn't a prime matchup but Jonathan Vilma and James Anderson were able to scrape together decent enough games against the Packers, so I say if those two can do it then so can Brian Urlacher.  I know that Urlacher had a poor fantasy performance last week but I am more than willing to give him a pass considering he lost his mother less than a week before his game on Sunday.  Lance Briggs, who I was expecting a big game from in week 1 stepped up his game in week 2.  This week does the pendulum swing back to Urlacher or can Briggs keep the momentum going?  My best guess is that each has around a 12-15 point week against the Packers.  Urlacher's nose for the ball gives him a bit more upside.

Secondary: Injuries are the name of the game with regards to the Bears DBs.  Chris Harris missed week 2 because of a hamstring injury but he has at least been able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday and Thursday. Harris looks like he will probably be able to go this week but that doesn't mean I would have him in starting lineups.  Major Wright is dealing with a head and neck injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday.  My money would be on Wright being the one that misses a game this week.  If that is the case then look for Brandon Meriweather to take his place in the lineup.  If Harris ends up not being able to go then Craig Steltz would probably be the one to take his place.  This week, leave the Bears safeties on your bench and instead get Charles Tillman in your lineups.


Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

Steelers
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:  This is going to be a very weird week for me with regards to the Steelers LBs.  First let me point out that the Colts are giving up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities in the league this year, 41.  FOURTY-ONE, that is horrible beyond all belief.  That means that there won't be many chances for Lawrence Timmons to make many tackles but Timmons isn't someone you can really bench.  I doubt he puts up studly numbers so don't be surprised if he puts up just 10-12 points.  James Harrison, I absolutely LOVE this week.  With Kerry Collins under center, Harrison owners should be smiling from ear to ear.  I think we could easily see Harrison end up with 4-5 solos, 2 sacks and a forced fumble or two.  BIG numbers are there for the taking.  LaMarr Woodley could also have just as big a game but he isn't nearly as consistent as Harrison so that is why I have him as a 2-Star play but I wouldn't argue to much with you if you said you thought he should be a 3-Star play.

Secondary: Troy Polamalu might seem like a good play at first blush but when you really break it down you will realize that isn't the case.  For starters only the Broncos are giving up fewer points to opposing DBs than the Colts are.  Want to see a stat that is just down right ugly?  Try this on for size, this year with Kerry Collins under center the Colts are completing an average of 17.5 passes per game, during Peyton Manning's career with the Colts completions were 23.11 per game.  That means that Collins is completing almost 25% fewer passes.  Yeah, leave Polamalu and the rest of the Steelers secondary on the bench this week.

Colts
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:  When you have a rookie DT scoring more fantasy points than your supposed DL1 you know you have problems.  Well that is exactly what is happening with Robert Mathis.  Rookie Drake Nevis has outscored him by 6 points this year, and sadly it isn't like Nevis scored 20+ points each week, meaning that Mathis was putting up respectable numbers, because he wasn't.  I know if you are a Mathis owner you have to be scared to death about putting him in your lineup this week but trust me, this is a very good matchup for Mathis.  If he craps the bed this week then I will re-evaluate Mathis but this week, give him one more try.  The Steelers have given up the 4th most points to opposing DL this year and this week their offense is going to be on the field a ton.  That all adds up to what should be a huge amount of tackle opportunities for Mathis this week.

Linebacker: I am sure that everyone thinks the Colts LBs have a great matchup this weekend and to be fair my initial feeling before digging into the numbers was that they indeed had a strong matchup.  However, upon digging a bit I shockingly found that the Steelers have given up the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing LBs.  This week I think the Steelers push away from that stat.  I don't own Pat Angerer in any league but if I did I would most definitely have him in my starting lineup.  Gary Brackett's shoulder is still keeping him out of practice so Angerer doesn't have any threat of not playing MLB this week.  Kavell Connor had a really nice game last week and I think this week he should have another strong effort. Ernie Sims has already been ruled out for this week too.

Secondary:  The Steelers are also giving up a bunch of points to opposing DBs (4th most) and that is why I have Antoine Bethea and CBs Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacy all as 3-Star plays.  If Melvin Bullitt wasn't dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday he too would have been a 3-Star play. 


Washington at Dallas

Redskins
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:  If you are trying to figure out why London Fletcher isn't putting up big numbers like he usually does, look no further than their lack of tackle opportunities. Thru two weeks the Redskins and Texans are tied for the fewest tackle opportunities faced with just 39/game. That makes Fletcher's 11 points he scored in each game look pretty grand.  This week Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh get to face a Cowboys team that is giving up 51 tackle opportunities/game and they rank 1st in points given up to opposing LBs too.  I think both Fletcher and McIntosh are in line for 15-20 point games this week.  With Tony Romo sounding like he is going to play with a punctured lung I wouldn't expect much from Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan this week.  I know that seems like faulty logic but if the Cowboys do indeed let Romo play you better believe that they are going to be max protecting their franchise QB.

Secondary:  LaRon Landry' practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday and after practice he was quoted as saying, "You'll see me Monday.", hopefully by see him he means on the field playing.  Of course that is what he meant, but just realize that players are almost always optimistic with regards to injuries.  My best advice is that you shouldn't play Landry if you have other decent options.  The fact that he is playing on Monday makes him an even riskier play because if he can't go then you probably won't have any options left to plug in for him.  Full disclosure, in one of my dynasty leagues I own Landry, Chancellor & Dawkins and I am seriously thinking about playing Landry over Dawkins, but more than likely I will end up sitting Landry because the added risk just isn't worth it. 

Cowboys
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.  Add in that the Redskins rank 9th in points to opposing DLs and you can see why Ratliff is a good start in DT mandatory leagues.

Linebacker: Second year LB Sean Lee has really burst onto the scene this year. Lee was a coveted LB in dynasty leagues but I don't think any dynasty league owners expected him to come out of the gate like he has.  If you want to get your head around just how active and well Lee is playing just look at last week when he logged 11 total tackles on just 48 snaps played.  This week Lee very well could log double digit solo tackles, he is as much a must start at this point in the time as Patrick Willis is.  Yes, that says something and what it says is all good.  As good as Lee has been is about how bad and inconsistent both Bradie James and Keith Brooking have been.  At this point, Lee is the only "star" worth looking at on the Cowboys.

Secondary:  About the best thing you can do with regards to the Cowboys DBs is to avoid them at all costs.  However, if  that isn't good enough for you, Abram Elam should have enough value to warrant a start this weekend, but if you go that route it probably shows you are in pretty bad shape at DB.  With regard to injuries, Orlando Scandrick didn't practice on Thursday and he isn't expected to play this week.  Both Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman practiced fully on Thursday and both should be on the field on Monday.



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