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IDP Game Breakdowns: Week 8
Steve Gallo
October 28, 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 (Available late Friday)

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

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


Arizona at Baltimore

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:
If you saw what Jeremy Mincey did against the Ravens last week then you have to like the prospects for Calais Campbell this week.  Campbell had his worst game of the season last week, a 4 point stinker, yet he still ranks 5th overall among DL with a 10.75 PPG average.

Linebacker: On Monday night against the Jaguars, the Ravens offense looked absolutely putrid.  I am looking for the Ravens to get back to what they do well, run the ball and play top notch defense. A healthy dose of Ray Rice is why I have Daryl Washington as a 5-star play this week, and it is also why I think Paris Lenon is a nice bye week filler and a solid 3-star play.  If the Ravens decide to play like they did this past Monday night then Joey Porter could be a sneaky play, but I think the odds of that happening are long.

Secondary: Kerry Rhodes is out after breaking his foot and having surgery on it.  He is expected back at some point later this season.  As for this week I think that Adrian Wilson is the safest bet against the Ravens.  I know that Wilson hasn't hit double digits since week 3 but this week he should be able to play up in the box quite frequently.  Richard Marshall put up 17 points last week, which is one point more than he scored in the previous three games combined.  Marshall is a player that can put up solid fantasy numbers, but his inconsistency is what keeps me from rating him more than a 2-star play.

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 rewarded owners that stuck with him by putting up a 12 point effort on Monday night that was his best performance since his 25 point outburst to start the season in week 1.  Haloti Ngata didn't have the type of game that I was expecting him to have.  His 7 points were the fewest he has scored all season and it was also the first time he didn't score in double digits.  I wouldn't consider it more than a hiccup in what is turning out to be a fantastic 2011 season for Ngata.  This week I have Suggs rated higher than Ngata mainly because I see the Cardinals needing to abandon the run quite early in this contest.  Normally, this would have been a 3 to 4-star play for Suggs but with how poorly the team played on Monday and how Suggs talked to the media I see him playing with a huge chip on his shoulder this week.  I wouldn't want to be Kevin Kolb on Sunday, that much is for sure.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis currently ranks 6th in fantasy points scored, and that is with the Ravens having faced the 8th fewest tackle opportunities year to date.  This week, Lewis gets to face another team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities, but with how he is playing, I can't justify not giving him a 4-star rating.  Like Suggs, look for Lewis to play like a man possessed this weekend. 

Secondary:  Yes, Bernard Pollard has had two consecutive very nice games.  No, Bernard Pollard is not a plug and play DB, and he has not magically returned to the stud DB that he once was.  He remains a liability in coverage, with his strength being in the box.  His last two matchups fit his skill set perfectly, this week against the Cardinals, not so much.  Even if Pollard is forced to play more snaps due to the injury to Tom Zbikowski I see him as a very risky fantasy option this week. While Bernard Pollard flourished against a Jaguars team that couldn't pass the ball, the exact opposite happened to Ladarius Webb.  Webb put up just a meager 2 points but with the "passing attack" of the Jaguars that shouldn't surprise you.  This week, look for Webb to get back to putting up strong fantasy numbers.  Both he and Cary Williams should be in lineups against the Cardinals.  Rookie Jimmy Smith got on the field for the first time all season last week.  However, all he played was on special teams. Smith will work his way into the Ravens secondary but it might take him a few weeks, and fantasy wise he might not hold any value this year, but in dynasty leagues next year could be promising.

Minnesota at Carolina

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 is playing lights out.  Allen has already logged 11.5 sacks for the season. Over the last five weeks he has multiple sacks in four of those weeks.  Allen has been a notorious slow starter, and if this is a slow start then the NFL better watch out.  With Allen being the center of attention for opposing offenses you would like to think that Brian Robison would have been able to take advantage of playing opposite of Allen.  However, Robison has been inconsistent, scoring in double digits twice, with his other five games all being below 6.5 points.  In deep leagues you can bump Robison up to a 3-star play but in 12 team or smaller leagues you will want to leave him on your bench.

Linebacker:  The Panthers have been a middle of the road matchup for opposing LBs, and because of that I only see Chad Greenway being startable against them this week.  Greenway got off to a slow/inconsistent start this year but over the past three weeks he is 16.667 PPG, which is good for 5th best over that time frame.  EJ Henderson played in just 50% of the Vikings defensive snaps last week, and his lack of playing time makes him a risky option for fantasy owners.  This week against the Panthers who won't run as many multi-WR sets as the Packers did last week should keep EJ on the field a bit more this week but that doesn't mean I am willing to give him more than a 2-star rating.  His little brother Erin played in 100% of the teams defensive snaps but his snap count has been up and down enough to also make him a risky fantasy option. 

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield has now missed three consecutive games, and as a Winfield owner, I know how frustrating waiting for him can be.  Winfield was able to practice some last week so there is a chance he could end up playing this week, but I wouldn't bet on it.  A more likely scenario is that Winfield sits out this week and then the bye next week and we see him back on the field in week 10.  Not the best case scenario for fantasy owners but if you can wait for him he should be able to help in the stretch run for teams trying to secure a playoff birth.  Cedric Griffin and Asher Allen should once again be the starters if Winfield can't go and I like both as 3-star plays this week.  The other player I like in the Vikings secondary is safety Husain Abdullah.  He won't light up the scoreboard like George Wilson but he should be good for 10-12 points this week.

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 currently ranks 16th in PPG with an average 8.429, which isn't all that far off his 9.50 PPG average last year.  Last year, Johnson got off to a slow start too, averaging just 7.33 PPG thru the first 7 weeks of the season.  However, from week 8 thru week 16 he averaged 10.944, and that was the 5th best PPG over that time frame.  What I am trying to get at is that if you drafted or acquired Johnson you need to keep putting him into your lineup. Of course it isn't guaranteed that he will turn things around like last year but at least there is some history showing that he could.  It is also funny how draft status/expectations can influence how one feels about a player. Look no further than Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson.  Johnson owners are frustrated because they feel like Johnson isn't living up to their expectations.  Then on the other hand you have Hardy owners that are ecstatic over Hardy's production this year, 5th in total points scored and 10th in PPG average. The difference between the two teammates?  Try 5 total points and just .714 PPG worth of greater production for Hardy vs Johnson.  This week on paper neither has a very good matchup but I still think that each should be in lineups. 

Linebacker: It is hard to believe that the Vikings rank just 22nd in points to opposing LBs.  Especially when you consider that they have given the ball to Adrian Peterson an average of  20.86 times/game.  Just like with the Panthers DEs I see this as a better matchup than what the numbers show.  If you own James Anderson you know how dynamic he can be and this week against what should be a healthy dose of Peterson I think he is one of the stronger plays at LB that there is this week.  Anderson not only ranks as the #5 LB in points scored but over the past three weeks no LB has scored more points than he has.  Ride the hot hand!  Dan Connor had a nice 18 point week last week and this week I like him to again have a solid game.  Connor isn't the type of LB you can just plug into your lineup, meaning he is much more matchup dependant, and this week I see him having a nice matchup against the Vikings running game.

Secondary:  Christian Ponder may have sparked the Vikings offense some, but he didn't do much to help how opposing DBs have done against the Vikings, which isn't all that good.  Charles Godfrey isn't a tier 1 DB but he has been serviceable.  For the season he is averaging 11.00 PPG, and over the last three weeks he ranks as a top 15 DB.  This week isn't a great matchup for him but I do think he is worthy of a 3-star rating.  Outside of Godfrey I would leave Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn and Chris Gamble on the bench this week. 

Jacksonville at Houston

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: 
Jeremy Mincey showed enough on Monday night that I am sure he is garnering some attention from owners needing help at DL.  Mincey is most likely on your waiver wire, if you are in a real bye week bind then he is worth a look, but his value lies in deeper leagues of 16 teams or larger.  Mincey is playing more snaps than any other Jaguars DE, so he does have that going for him.  This week I have him as a 3-star play, but I am not 100% sold on that rating.  Don't be surprised to see me adjust it down to 2-stars at some point this week.  .Matt Roth and Aaron Kampman are splitting reps at LDE, and that is pretty much killing the value of each player.  I do expect that over the next few weeks we will see Kampman start to get more playing time, but until then he is nothing more than a bench warmer at best. 

Linebacker:  Monday night might have been an ugly game for most, but I am sure Daryl Smith owners didn't think it was so bad.  Of course that is because Smith was a force, both NFL and fantasy wise.  Smith is like Rodney Dangerfield, he gets no respect.  Well, ranking 12th among LBs in points scored should get him some respect from the fantasy crowd.  NFL wise, Smith got props from teammate Paul Posluszny.  Posluszny was quoted as saying, "Unbelievable. He's done that for years. Everyone here says he's a Pro Bowl player. Why he hasn't been voted there who knows? But he's a Pro Bowl player and he showed it tonight.".  Granted, Poz is a teammate but he speaks the truth. Poz was the big free agent brought in during the offseason and so far it looks like the Jaguars investment is paying off.  Poz is also paying off for fantasy owners, ranking 10th in points scored, but his little talked about teammate, Smith is just 3 fantasy points behind him.  With Arian Foster and the Texans next on the docket I like both players to have a very strong week.

Secondary: Only once so far this year has an opposing team faced the Texans and not seen multiple DBs in their secondary rack up at least 5 total tackles.  The best bets to make it 7 of 8 weeks for the opposing DBs would be Dawan Landry and Rashean Mathis.  On the season both players have been inconsistent but with byes upon us I think that each makes for a solid 3-star play. 

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: The Texans 3-4 defense severely limits the fantasy viability of their DL.  Over the Texans last four games their DL has just one double digit performance to their credit.

Linebacker: Zip, zero, nada, that is what DeMeco Ryans scored this past weekend.  Of course playing in just 15 snaps, the fewest he has played in this season, easily explains the goose egg.  Ryans isn't being used in sub-packages, and until that changes his value lies only in his name.  In re-drafts Ryans is a clear cut, as hard as that is to believe.  Brian Cushing continues to be the Texans LB to own, but it isn't like he hasn't been a frustrating fantasy option for his owners too.  Cushing has put up double digits in 4 of 7 weeks but only once (weeks 1-2) has he done so in consecutive weeks.  As frustrating as that can be at least his floor seems to be the 8-9 point range.  This week against a Jaguars team that has to lean on the run should set up both Cushing and Ryans for a good week.  Unfortunately, I don't have the nerve to give Ryans more than a 2-star rating, and it probably wouldn't matter one way or another, as I am sure you don't have the nerve to start him anyway.

Secondary:  Last week Danieal Manning was listed on the injury report as PROBABLE and the injury listed was a fibula.  So when it was reported that he broke his fibula all I could do was to cringe, and wonder if the Texans should have even had him on the field.  Here is to a quick and healthy recovery.  Fantasy wise, this week I rated the entire secondary a 1-star play, and that is being generous.  At one point I was toying with a -100-star rating.  Seriously, the Jaguars are just a horrid matchup for opposing DBs, and no wonder when you realize they are completing just 13.14 passes/game.  Not exactly the type of matchup that makes me want to put Glover Quin, Jonathan Joseph or any other Texans DB into my starting lineup.  Also, I should point out that Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen each played in 28 snaps last week.

Miami at NY Giants

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: Karlos Dansby is now averaging 16.333 PPG over his last 3 games.  That is the type of production that Dansby owners got used to in the past and that they were hoping for this year.  Last week, his 22 points were the most he has scored all season long,, and if you remember, last week I wrote that I was tore between Dansby having a 2-star or a 4-star matchup so I just went and rated him a 3-star play.  This week is much of the same, the Giants rank as one of the worst matchups for opposing LBs, 30th actually.  However, with the Giants running game and the fact that Brandon Jacobs is expected to return to action this week I can see Dansby having a 4-star type matchup, but then looking at this year's numbers I can't help but think the matchup screams 1-star or 2-star matchup at best.  So what did I do?  You guessed it, I rated Dansby a 3-star play again.  If Dansby wasn't playing so well I would probably have given him a 2-star rating, but he is playing well, hence the 3-star rating.  Cameron Wake also had a nice week 7, topping double digits for the 2nd time this year.  This week I have him as a 4-star play, and as usual such a high rating for a rush OLB, means that there is plenty of risk associated with that rating.  So you are wondering, why if the Giants rank 30th in points to opposing LBs would I have Wake as a 4-star play.  Well the reason is that Wake's main job is to rush the passer, and that is something he does very well.  Still not seeing it?  Try this, no team is giving up more points to opposing DL than the Giants are. 

Secondary: Yeremiah Bell has been a bright spot on a Dolphins team that doesn't have much going for it.  Bell ranks 7th in fantasy points scored and has scored in double digits in every game this season.  This week facing a Giants team that is giving up the 12th most points to DBs I see no reason to think that Bell won't keep up his strong play.  With the Giants running the ball approximately 15% more to the right than they do to the left I am also looking for Sean Smith to be a solid start this week too.  Vontae Davis was QUESTIONABLE to play last week, but his hamstring injury didn't keep him from playing.  This week the hamstring kept him from practicing on Wednesday. Hamstring's can be funny things, which is why I am not rating Davis for this week.  Especially, not knowing if he is going to practice on Thursday or Friday.

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: 
I know that Justin Tuck owners are just itching to get him back into their lineups, but I think they need to wait at least one more week.  Tuck has now missed the Giants last 3 games, plus add in the bye week and tuck hasn't seen the field in over a month.  He did practice on Wednesday, albeit in a limited fashion, so it looks like he is progressing.  Jason Pierre-Paul has been huge for his fantasy owners and while much of that has to do with his immense talent, it also has much to do with both Tuck and Osi Umenyiora not being healthy and allowing JPP to play as much as he has. If Tuck does play then JPP will most likely see a decrease in his snaps played but that might not be such a bad thing for him.  With regards to JPP's snaps, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said, "If we could reduce that to 40, 45 plays a game he could produce even better numbers because sometimes he plays slow at times. We think that’s because he’s winded." So just maybe, less will be more.  I rated Umeniyora and JPP as just 3-star plays but I do see some upside in each player this weekend.  Tuck is a wild card, but in my opinion is just to risky to rate this week.  One last thing, the Dolphins have allowed the 3rd most sacks in the league so far this year.

Linebacker:  Michael Boley has quietly put up double digits in every game this year, and against a Dolphins team that is giving up the 6th most points to LBs he should be able to keep that streak going. Honestly, I am not sure what is more shocking to me, that Boley is a solid LB2 or that they Dolphins are giving up the 6th most points to LBs. After Boley, fantasy wise, what you have with the Giants is, "all or nothing" (Jacquian Williams), "inconsistent" (Mathias Kiwanuka), and "nothing" (Greg Jones).  Should be pretty easy to see why none were rated above a 2-star play.

Secondary: The Dolphins have been friendly to opposing DBs this year, much like they have been to LBs.  Except the Dolphins rank even higher in points to DBs, ranking 5th.  With that in mind and how Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle have 4-star ratings this week. Corey Webster has had three very nice consecutive games but this week I have a feeling the Dolphins passing attack could struggle and that adds up to leaving Webster on the bench for me.

New Orleans at St. Louis

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: After last week's scrimmage the Saints DL should be well rested for their second consecutive scrimmage.  The Rams have taken a huge step backwards this year and with a potent Saints team coming to town, it doesn't appear that things are going to get much better this week.  FWIW, I did pick the Rams to cover the spread this week.  Now, back to the Saints DL, Will Smith came off of his two game suspension, and put up two consecutive 10 point games, but since then, over his next three games he has scored a grand total of SIX fantasy points.  OUCH! At least this week Smith gets to face a Rams team that has given up the 2nd most sacks in the league.  If he can't impact the box score this week, then I don't know when he can.  I know he seems like a risky 3-star play, but truth be told I would have had him as a 5-star play had he been playing even remotely well.  With the bye weeks upon us you could do worse than to have Smith in your starting lineups.  Outside of Smith, I am passing on the rest of the Saints DL.  That doesn't mean I don't think that Cameron Jordan, Turk McBride or Jeff Charleston can't or won't have a good week, it is that they are just to risky to rely on.

Linebacker: For fantasy purposes the Saints LBs are a true mess.  For starters, Jonathan Vilma, the former stud, is playing anything but like a stud.  Last week, Jonathan Casillas didn't start but played more snaps then any other Saints LB, of course that was probably just because they wanted to get Casillas some extra work in that scrimmage.  This week, the Saints travel to St. Louis where they will face a Rams team that has given up the 2nd most points to opposing LBs, like Will Smith, if ever Vilma was going to breakout, this would be the game. Don't get me wrong, Vilma hasn't been as bad as Smith has been, but still his lack of scoring is why he only got a 3-star rating, instead of a 5-star rating.

UPDATE:  Jonathan Vilma (knee) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.  At this point he becomes a risky fantasy option.  Check the IDP Injury & Practice Report to see his official status for this week's contest.

Secondary:   Roman Harper has put up subpar numbers in two of his last three games. Last week, it wasn't like Harper had a good matchup, he didn't, but to make matters worse he played in just 28 snaps, the fewest of any Saints starters in their back 7.  This week things don't look much better as Harper is facing a Rams team that ranks just 22nd in points to opposing DBs.  I gave Harper a 3-star rating and I think it is a good rating, I know is performance over the past three weeks might scare you but I see Harper having a good week and I even see some upside for him too. Then again, I also think the Rams are going to cover the spread against the Saints.  The rest of the Saints secondary are 2-star plays simply because  of the risk associated with playing the Rams this week. 

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: 
We can make this quick and painless.  The Saints are not a good matchup for most DLs.  The Rams starting DLs, Chris Long, and the rest of his compadres have scored a grand total of 110 fantasy points this year.  That is just 9.5 points more than Jared Allen has scored this year.  Trust me when I say, LEAVE THEM ON YOUR BENCH THIS WEEK.

Linebacker:  SCORER ALERT, SCORER ALERT!  The Rams return to play at their home stadium this week, the same stadium where the official scorer gives out assisted tackles like Scrooge gave out Christmas gifts before he got visited by all those ghosts.  That means that James Laurinaitis' upside will be somewhat limited this week.  The Saints only rank 22nd in points to LBs but they have yielded some very nice games to opposing LBs too, Desmond Bishop 20pts, Lance Briggs 21 pts & Paul Posluszny 27 pts all cracked the 20 point barrier against the Saints.  Laurinaitis will be hard pressed to crack the 20 point barrier due to his home scorer but a 15 point game should be achievable.  I currently have him rated as a 3-star play, and that has the most to do with the hometown scorer, I am toying with bumping him up to a 4-star play.  Chris Chamberlain has seen his snaps increase the past couple of weeks, but he isn't someone I am ready to recommend running out into starting lineups to help cover a bye. If you are in a deep league, sure he is worth a look there but otherwise not.

Secondary: Quintin Mikell has been pretty darned solid this year. This week his owners should be rewarded with a very good week.  Darian Scott has been quite the surprise and has made for a decent DB3 option for owners.  This week I think he too is in line for a nice game.  Craig Dahl has been rather inconsistent and I am sure that frustrates his owners, but there is a reason why Dahl has been so inconsistent.  He just isn't playing in that many snaps.  Since week 1 when Dahl played in 71 of 71 snaps for the Rams he has played in just 109 snaps (38, 20, 22, 16 & 13) of 359 snaps.  Hard to score consistently when you aren't getting on the field. Do yourself a favor and leave Dahl on the bench, and not just this week but for good, or until he finds a way to get on the field more.

Indianapolis at Tennessee

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:  Here is a not so fun fact, Colts rookie DT Drake Nevis is averaging 6.25 PPG.  Having a hard time figuring out why that isn't a fun fact? Well the reason is because that PPG average leads ALL Colts DL.  So, not so fun for Robert Mathis owners, or even Dwight Freeney owners knowing that they are averaging fewer than 6 PPG.  Mathis has put up just 3 points in his last two games, and Freeney, he put up another donut.  That gives Freeney four donuts and three double digit games for the season, talk about being all or nothing.  I have Mathis as a 3-star play but the more I think about it the more I have to drop him down to a 2-star play. 

Linebacker: Pat Angerer had his first single digit performance of the season last week, but even with that he is still the 4th ranked LB in PPG with an 18.143 average.  Angerer faces a Titans team that hasn't been a very good matchup for opposing LBs, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be in starting lineups this week.  It just means you should temper expectations for him.  Kavell Connor's stats have really taken a hit the past three weeks.  Yes, losing those sub-package snaps to Ernie Sims is the culprit.  Until Sims pulls a hangnail or something you have to proceed cautiously with Connor.

Secondary:  I am not thrilled with the matchup that the Titans present to the Colts secondary this week.  Don't get me wrong, Antoine Bethea still needs to be in lineups this week.  However, like Angerer I think you need to temper your expectations some.  Outside of Bethea I think it would be best to avoid the rest of the Colts secondary. 

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: 
Fifteen points, no that isn't how many points Jason Jones scored last week.  Nor is it how many points Dave Ball scored.  Not even how many points Jurrell Casey scored, and you know what, it isn't how many points Shaun Smith scored either.  Fifteen points is how many points those four starters combined to score last week.  Yes, the Titans DL is a fantasy wasteland, treat them like the plague.

Linebacker:  Opposite ends of the spectrum converge in this game.  At one end you have Colts team that ranks 32 in points to LBs, and at the other end you have a Titans team that has faced the 3rd most tackle opportunities this year.  The glut of tackle opportunities goes a long way in explaining how and why Ruud has put up very strong numbers this year. However, Ruud does have to very poor games, and yes, you guessed it, in those two games he had very limited tackle opportunities.  In week 2 versus the Ravens he had just 35 tackle opportunities, and in week 3 against the Broncos he had 48.  This week I would be very surprised if Ruud and the Titans saw more than 45 tackle opportunities.  For the season no team is giving up fewer tackle opportunities than the Colts, who are giving up just 40/game.  I know it isn't easy to sit a player like Ruud, but if ever you were going to do so, this would be the week.

Secondary: Chris Hope is still out with a broken forearm. Jordan Babineaux has done a nice job filling in, but unfortunately this week he, like Ruud and the rest of the Titans defense has a horrible matchup.  I know that Jason McCourty has three consecutive games with 20 or more points scored, but I just can't see playing him this week.  I can see why you would want him in your lineup but I think he is a very risky play this week.

Washington at Buffalo

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:  London Fletcher has played in 214 consecutive games, the most among all active LBs, and the 2nd most among all active defensive players, with Ronde Barber having played in 215 consecutive games.  The reason I point this out is because a hamstring injury kept Fletcher out of practice on Wednesday, and it looked as if him playing this week could be in jeopardy. Fletcher was able to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday so the prospects of him continuing his streak look promising. Fantasy wise, since the Redskins bye in week 5, Fletcher has looked much more like the London Fletcher of old.  Over his last two games he has scored 18 and 17 points.  Production like that won't be easy to come by against a Bills team that ranks 25th in points allowed to LBs.  Most LBs would probably garner a 2-star rating in a game like this but not Fletcher, he should be able to cobble together a solid week, even if it is against a slightly subpar matchup.  Same goes for Rocky McIntosh, he doesn't have the pedigree that Fletcher does, but this year all he has done is produce, and produce well.  I have no issues with either of those two being in starting lineups this weekend.  Before you go thinking about plugging Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan into you lineups, allow me to point out that the Bills have given up the fewest sacks (7) in the NFL this year.

Secondary:  Laron Landry is healthy and playing, not putting up studly numbers, but at least he is on the field for his owners.  Against a pretty potent Bills passing attack that features a fair amount of Fred Jackson I think that Landry is in line for a very nice week.  It will help having OJ Atogwe back in the lineup this week.  With Atogwe missing last week, Landry was used more as a FS, with Reed Doughty taking on SS responsibilities.  Doughty responded with an 18 point effort.  This week, Atogwe is practicing, albeit in a limited fashion.  Be sure to check out the Friday Injury & Practice Report to see how Atogwe winds up being listed for this week's game.  At CB, DeAngelo Hall's hip injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.  Hall may play this week but most likely he will be a GTD, if you have other options you should use them.  I will be lowering his 3-star rating to 2-stars.

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: 
Kyle Williams foot injury is not just keeping him out of practice, but it will also keep him from playing this week.  Williams hasn't been officially ruled out just yet, but that is just a formality. This might be hard to believe but Dwan Edwards is the only Bills DL to score in double digits this season.  He has accomplished the feat three times, that would make you think he is a pretty solid option at the DL spot.  Unfortunately that isn't the case, in his other three games he has scored just 2, 3 and 0 points.  With a player that up and down it is best to leave him on the bench.

Linebacker: Nick Barnett is quietly having a very nice fantasy season.  He currently ranks 10th in PPG among LBs with a 15.667 avearge.  With a PPG average like that you might think that Barnett is racking up tackles hand over fist, but he isn't.  In his six games this year he has had 4 or fewer solo tackles three times. What Barnett has been able to do is supplement his tackles, or should I say lack of tackles, with the big play, be it an interception, forced fumble or a defensive TD.  Relying on stats like that can be a risky proposition, but I think Barnett will continue to rack up enough tackles to remain a solid weekly starter.  Kelvin Sheppard got the start over veteran Andre Davis in the Bills last game, but all he could muster up was a 6 point effort.  Barnett remains the only viable fantasy option on the Bills.  On the injury front, the Bills placed Shawne Merriman on injured reserve.  Merriman has already had surgery on his Achilles and hopes to be ready to play in 2012. 

Secondary:  The George Wilson show will continue after a one week reprieve due to the bye week.  Wilson has picked up right where Donte Whitner left off last year, exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for when they drafted him.  Wilson's 19.50 PPG average is tops among ALL IDPs, yes, not just DBs, ALL IDPs.  How I have him as a 4-star play kind of has me scratching my head, but then I remember he is facing a Redskins team that will be without Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Tim Hightower, plus has John Beck making just his 2nd start. 

Detroit at Denver

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
: Did you hear?  Evidently the Falcons think that Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player.  Good thing the Falcons didn't play back in the 50's, 60's or 70's.  Suh is a choir boy compared to how some defensive players were back in those decades. Fantasy wise all that matters is that Suh is a stud. Sure he has had a few poor games this year but most DL do, but with Suh a huge game is always a possibility, so when a player presents that much upside and little downside you keep him in your lineup.  The Broncos surrendered 7 sacks to the Miami Dolphins this week.  The upside is there, not just for Suh but the entire Lions DL this week.

Linebacker: Justin Durant returned to the field to see his first action since week 3.  He only played in 45 of 80 snaps, partially explaining why he only scored 7 points. DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch combined to play in all but 3 of the Lions defensive snaps, but it was Levy who made the impact in the box score, putting up 18 points, compared to the 8 that Tulloch scored.  Tulloch and Levy have both been used to rush the passer 28 times this year, and against a Tim Tebow led Broncos team that looks to be susceptible to the blitz don't be surprised to see one or both to log a sack this weekend.

Secondary: The prospects for a big week from any of the Lions DBs doesn't look very good.  Yes, Yeremiah Bell did have a very nice 19 point week against the Broncos last week, but the Lions don't have a safety that plays like Bell does.  Of all the Lions DBs I tend to think that Louis Delmas is the one that should have the best game but to say I didn't waffle on his rating would be lying.  I know Chris Houston has been huge this year, but I can't get the 1st 55 minutes of last week's Broncos game out of my mind, and that is why Houston has a 2-star rating.

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 "I'm hurt again" Dumervil (ankle) isn't practicing, again.  Want to know just how bad/frustrating a season it has been for Dumervil owners?  How about the fact that Dumervil has scored just one more point than Derrick Harvey, and trust me, that isn't a good thing.  As it stands now the Broncos DL and the Titans DL are both in the "plague" category for me.

Linebacker: The Lions rank just 18th in points to opposing LBs and much of that has to do with their lack of a running game.  DJ Williams is averaging 17 PPG since returning to the starting lineup.  So, good matchup, bad matchup, it doesn't matter, Williams is the type of LB you play every week.  Wesley Woodyard did very well when he started for Williams while he was out with his injury, and since Williams has returned he hasn't been as productive but he is still playing in a fair amount of snaps.  This week against a pass happy Lions team I am suspecting we see Woodyard on the field a bit more and that is why I have him as a 3-star play.  Joe Mays snap count us up when Woodyard's is down, and down when Woodyard's is up.  So with that in mind I don't expect to see Mays on the field very much this week, hence his 2-star rating.

Secondary: In case you missed it, rookie 2nd round pick Rahim Moore lost his starting job to rookie 4th round pick Quinton Carter.  Fantasy wise, Carter has limited value at best.  In dynasty leagues, Moore is a hold, don't go dumping him just yet.  Brian Dawkins 15 point effort was his first double digit game since week 1, this week I think we see Dawkins put up his 3rd double digit score of the year. 

New England at Pittsburgh

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
: Fantasy wise the Patriots DL as a whole belongs in the same plague category with Titans and Broncos.  For the season the entire, yes I said ENTIRE, Patriots DL has had a player score in double digits just twice.  TWICE!  And to think, the genius, I mean Bill Belichick was supposed to be ramping up his pass rush. One of the players that he brought in to help that pass rush was Andre Carter, and guess what, Carter has both double digit scores for the Patriots defense.  So, outside of Carter you should avoid all other Patriots DL.  The Steelers rank 3rd in points to DLs, and that is why Carter is a 4-star play.  I know that I said to avoid all other Patriots DLs but against the Steelers I think that Vince "The interception machine" Wilfork is a solid play in DT mandatory leagues.

Linebacker: Jerod Mayo practiced on Wednesday and Thursday in a limited fashion.  Coach Belichick says that Mayo is day-to-day, that means he is most likely going to be a GTD.  I know his owners are chomping at the bit to get him back in the lineup, especially against a Steelers team that presents a very nice matchup.  I am not opposed to starting Mayo this week, but to do so you are going to need to monitor the inactives to see if he is going to play or not.  Gary Guyton is currently a 3-star play but if Mayo does indeed play then Guyton should be looked at as a 2-star play at best.  Actually, don't be surprised if at some point I lower Guyton to a 2-star play.  Brandon Spikes should make a solid starter this week, with or without Mayo in the lineup.

Secondary:  This Steelers team isn't like the Steeler's team your dad remembers from back in the day.  By that I mean they will throw the pigskin around a lot, especially when needed.  Well, this weekend, I think they are going to need to throw the ball around.  That makes both Patrick Chung and Kyle Arrington very good plays this weekend.  I also think that Devin McCourty is a solid option to help cover any bye issues you may  have.

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: Uncle, I said UNCLE.  I give, and I am sure what Lawrence Timmons owners know what I mean.  Timmons has been utterly useless since he has moved to OLB while James Harrison recovers from his broken orbital bone.  The only Steeler LB that I feel comfortable saying to play this weekend is James Farrior.  Farrior won't come off the field much at all, so even against the Patriots vaunted passing attack he should be able to scrape together a 10-12 point day.  LaMarr Woodley is always a risky start due to him needing to get to the QB to make an impact in the box score, well guess what, Tom Brady doesn't take many sacks.  Leave Woodley and the rest of the Steelers LBs on your bench.

Secondary: The fantasy value this week lies with the Steelers secondary.  The Patriots have surrendered the 4th most points/game to opposing DBs.  That, plus the fact that this is a big game between two heavy weights gets Troy Polamalu a 4-star rating.  Ike Taylor is the other DB to get a 4-star rating, and that is because there are rumblings that Taylor might be shadowing Wes Welker this week.  Of course Mike Tomlin then did come out and say that wasn't true, which is why I think it is.

Cleveland at San Francisco

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:
 The Browns DL had a very quiet and somewhat disappointing week 8. Ahtyba Rubin led the way with 9.5 points, meaning that no Browns DL scored in double digits.  This week Rubin, Jayme Mitchell and rookie Jabaal Sheard should be in line for much better production as they face a 49ers team that ranks 5th in average points allowed to opposing DL.

Linebacker: All you need to count how many LBs are having a better year than D'Qwell Jackson is one finger.  Yep, just one, because Desmond Bishop, 18.714 PPG, has a higher PPG average than the 18.583 that Jackson possesses.  However, this week Jackson will be hard pressed to keep his PPG average at its current level.  The reason being is that he has an uphill battle against a 49ers team that ranks 31st in average points/game to opposing LBs.  I am not saying you bench Jackson this week, because you don't, just understand that you might have to settle for a 12 point type week.  Scott Fujita missed last week's game due to injury, but he is expected back this week.  As far as fantasy relevance there really isn't any.

Secondary: By now, TJ Ward owners should have come to grips with the fact that Ward isn't going to be putting up numbers like he did last year.  Why do I point this out after he has put up back to back solid games with 14 and 19 points respectively?  Because I don't want you to fall into a false sense of security with him.  This week, against a 49ers team that ranks 28th in average points allowed to DBs, he belongs on the fantasy bench.  Last week there was a positive for the Browns defense and that was Joe Haden getting back on the field.  Not much fantasy value, but still it is nice to see the young up and comer back out there.

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 Browns offer up a pretty good matchup for the 49ers DL, ranking 7th overall in average points allowed to DL.  Of course the 49ers only have one viable fantasy DL, Justin Smith.  Smith may not put up gaudy numbers, but he is workman like, and is a low level DL1 or high level DL2.  Currently, he ranks 8th in PPG average among DL.

Linebacker:  Just like the 49ers the Browns aren't a very good matchup for LBs, ranking 29th in average points allowed to LBs.  Just like with D'Qwell Jackson, it doesn't mean you bench Patrick Willis or NaVorro Bowman, you just have to temper your expectations for them this week.  Both Willis (16.667 PPG) and Bowman (17.500 PPG) are in the top 7 in PPG average.

Secondary: This almost looked like a carbon copy matchup.  Both the 49ers and Browns are good matchups for DLs, and then both are very poor matchups for LBs, but that is where the similarities stop.  Unlike the 49ers, the Browns are actually a good matchup for opposing DBs, ranking 8th in average points allowed to the position.  I have Donte Whitner as a 4-star play and that is because I think he has just a bit more upside than Dashon Goldson (3-star) does.  I know that seems odd with the scores that Goldson and Whitner have put up so far but I think that a healthy Whitner makes a big impact this week.

Cincinnati at Seattle

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:
 The Bengals have some talent on their DL, but that hasn't equated into solid fantasy production for the likes of Michael Johnson or Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap did put up a 10 point game prior to the bye, and it was by far his best performance of the year.  It might also be hard to believe but that double digit game plus the 20 point game that Johnson had in week 2 are the only double digit performances Johnson and Dunlap have between then this year.  Jonathan Fanene started out putting up solid numbers the first three weeks of the season but in his last three games he has logged just 11 points, and hasn't topped 5 points in any of those games.  I initially gave Michael Johnson a 3-star rating, but that rating is going down to 2-stars.

Linebacker: Rey Maualuga is still dealing with an ankle injury that will keep him from playing this week.  Dan Skuta started for him prior to the bye and is expected to start for him again, but i should note that Skuta is also being limited in practice with a groin injury.  Reports are that Maualuga hopes to be able to return in week 9 when the Bengals face off against the Titans. 

Secondary: Reggie Nelson has had a pretty good season so far this year, he has scored in double digits in all but one week, but against a Seahawks team that ranks 24th in average points allowed to DBs I don't think he is a very good play this week.  In deeper leagues you can probably get away with playing him but in 12 team leagues I would look for a better option.  Nate Clements has scored in double digits in three of the Bengals past four games, but the one week he didn't hit double digits all he could muster up was a 2 point effort.  Inconsistent play like that, coupled with a poor matchup is why Clements and the rest of the Bengals DBs rate no higher than a 2-star play.

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:
 The Bengals rank a lowly 30th in average points allowed to DL.  That makes Chris Clemons a bit of a risky 3-star play, but his overall play this season is what swayed me to give him 3-stars versus a 2-star rating.  For the season, Clemons ranks 9th in PPG with a 9.50 average, and that includes a 1 point effort in week 4.  One thing that Clemons does have going for him this week is the 12th man.  As we all know, Seattle is a tough place to play, and I think facing a rookie QB is enough to keep Clemons in starting lineups this week. 

Linebacker:  David Hawthorne was the scorn of many fantasy owners early in the season, but since week 3 he is averaging 16.50 PPG. Not only has Hawthorne ramped up his scoring, but since week 4 he has played in all but 2 of the Seahawks defensive snaps. I for one am expecting Hawthorne to produce in the second half of the season the way he was expected to produce at the start of the season.  The Bengals will be without starting RB Cedric Benson this week, but Bernard Scott is expected to take Benson's workload and the offense isn't supposed to change this week.  If that is the case then Hawthorne is easily a 4-star play, and I even see a bit of upside in that rating.  Leroy Hill has put up double digits in four straight games, he is the epitome of a solid LB3 that you can rely on.

Secondary: The Bengals aren't a great matchup for DBs but they aren't horrible either, and with the way Kam Chancellor is playing this year there is no way you think about benching him anyway.  Chancellor currently ranks 5th among DBs with a PPG average of 17.600.  Not only is that a great PPG average but even including LBs there are only 8 players out of all defensive players that are scoring more PPG than Chancellor is.  Due to a season ending injury to Walter Thurmond, Richard Sherman moves into the starting lineup.  I have him as a 3-star play because I feel pretty confident that the Bengals will look to exploit the newly promoted starter.

Dallas at Philadelphia

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: 
The Cowboys 3-4 defense severely limits the value of their DL. Jay Ratliff has been all or nothing this year but this week against the Eagles I see him as a nice option in combined leagues and as a very good play in DT mandatory leagues.  Much of that has to do with the success the Eagles have had running the ball "up the middle" this year, ranking 3rd with an average gain of 6.52 yards/carry, and isn't like they have only run a few plays "up the middle", they rank 9th in the NFL with 50 plays run right "up the middle".

Linebacker: The Eagles and Cowboys rivalry can be heated at times, and that might be putting it mildly.  Sean Lee has been superb this year, yes he had a poor game last week, but he is also one of only two LBs (Desmond Bishop) that has scored 20+ points 4 times this season.  I own Lee in one league and I can guarantee you he is going to be in my lineup this weekend. DeMarcus Ware is a beast, there is no doubt about that, but this week I see him as a risky fantasy play.  For starters, he is a rush OLB, and we know for Ware to make an impact in the box score he needs to get to the QB, something he is of course very good at.  However, getting to the QB hasn't been an easy thing for the Eagles opposition so far this year.  For the year the Eagles have only surrendered 9 sacks, the third fewest in the league.

Secondary:  I know this may sound like a cop-out but I don't have a very good feel for the Cowboys secondary.  There are times when a unit on a defense is just so hard to read and predict.  For me, the Cowboys secondary is one of those units right now.  I have no qualms saying I have very little confidence in the 3-star ratings I gave to Abram Elam and Terrence Newman. Honestly, I kept flip flopping on who was a 3-star play, Elam or Gerald Sensabaugh, and the same goes for Newman and Mike Jenkins.  Sorry, wish I could say it wasn't so but, it is, what it is.  Hopefully, I am on for far more of the other teams secondary players.

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:
I think it is pretty common knowledge that after an injury that I like to see that player hit the field before I will recommend putting him in fantasy lineups. This week, that isn't the case, Trent Cole (calf) is practicing in full and against the Cowboys I fully expect to see Cole not only play but play well.  I for one will be starting him this week.  Sure I am a bit worried he will be on a snap count or could be rusty, but the upside he presents makes the risk palatable.  The 3-star rating for Cole has more to do with the fact that the Cowboys rank 22nd in points to DL.  Jason Babin scored 12 combined points in the last two games that Cole missed,  Cole's presence should free up Babin to make a better impact in the box score.  If you are in a DT mandatory league, you probably already know this, but Cullen Jenkins belongs in your lineup this week.  Jenkins is coming off a 2 point stinker in week 6, but this week look for the Cowboys to try to attack the middle of the Eagles defense with their running attack.  Why?  Try because the Eagles are giving up 7.64 yards/carry on rushes "up the middle", and that ranks 31st in the NFL. 

Linebacker:  If the Cowboys attack the Eagles defense up the middle with their rushing attack like they should then Jamar Chaney should have little problem living up to the 5-star rating that I gave him.  I also like rookie WLB Brian Rolle to have a productive Sunday night against the Cowboys.  Something along the lines of a 10-14 point performance is what I am expecting for the rook.

Secondary: I bet if the Eagles brass does play fantasy football that they don't have Asante Samuel on their team.  Granted, Samuel has a penchant for the big play INT, but he and tackles go together like oil and water.  Fantasy wise the Eagles brass would be having Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman in their starting lineups.  The one thing that does concern me with regards to the safeties is that I could see the Eagles using rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett much more than anyone is anticipating this week, if that happens then either Allen or Coleman owners aren't going to be very happy.  Don't be surprised if I lower each of their ratings to 2-star plays, not because of a poor matchup but because of the risk I just explained.

San Diego at Kansas City

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 isn't very fantasy friendly so you would be best served by looking for DL help elsewhere.

Linebacker: The Chiefs have run the ball 174 times this year, 64 of those runs were "up the middle".  That makes it look like Donald Butler and Takeo Spikes should see a bunch of action in the middle of the Chargers defense, however, the Chiefs are 28th in points allowed to LBs.  My best guess is that each is able to cobble together just enough solos and assists to reach the 10-12 point range.  If you are a Donald Butler owner allow me to point out that he played in 57 of 81 snaps last week.  Much better than the 55 of 106 snaps he played in, in week 4 & 5 combined.  Just something to keep an eye on is all.

Secondary: Consider that the Chiefs haven't completed more than 22 passes in any one game this year, their average is just 18 completions/game, and you would likely suspect that the Chargers DBs don't have a very good matchup.  However, that isn't the case, the Chiefs actually rank 6th in points to DBs.  Odd, I know, but as I have said many times before, it is, what it is.  Eric Weddle owners shouldn't have any qualms in putting him in their lineups this week, and I think the same for Steve Gregory owners. The Chargers are expected to have a new starter in their secondary this week.  Marcus Gilchrist will be taking over for veteran Antoine Cason. 

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:
The Chiefs 3-4 defense renders their DL inconsistent and risky fantasy options.

Linebacker: Prior to the Chiefs bye in week 6 Derrick Johnson wasn't putting up bad fantasy numbers, he just wasn't putting up any monster games like many expected from him.  Well that changed in week 7 as he exploded with 25 points.  Hopefully, Johnson can keep it going this week, while doubtful that he puts up 25 points again, he does have a very nice matchup.  The Chargers are giving up the 3rd most points to opposing LBs and prior to last week his game against the Chargers in week 3 was his best week of the season (14 pts).  Tamba Hali had one of his three double digit scoring efforts against the Chargers in week 3.  I currently have Johnson as a 4-star play and Hali as a 2-star play, but in looking at it I am going to be bumping both up one additional level.

Secondary: You can't count on the type of performance that the Chiefs got from their secondary last week, but when it happens you sure can smile about it.  That is if you were starting Brandon Flowers or Kendrick Lewis.  Unless you were playing against one of them or left them on your bench.  Raises hand as someone that had Flowers on their bench last week, luckily it didn't cost me a win.  Jon McGraw bounced back after the bye week and put up a very nice 15 fantasy points.  He played in all but 2 of the teams defensive snaps so if you have bye week issues I think he can be looked at as a decent option.  I currently have him as a 4-star play and that might seem a bit high but the Chargers are giving up the 3rd most points to DBs and I think he as well as the rest of the Chiefs starting secondary makes for good plays this week.

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