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IDP Game Breakdowns: Week 9
Steve Gallo
November 4, 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 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
 
 
 
 

NY Jets at Buffalo

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: 
The Jets DL is pretty much a wasteland for fantasy purposes.  Mike Devito had back to back double digit games back in weeks 1 and 2 and none since, plus he is dealing with an injury that kept him out of the Jets last game.  After Devito no other Jets DL has more than 1 double digit game this year.  Add in that the Bills rank 27th in points to DL and it is easy to see how bad a play any Jets DL is this week.

Linebacker: This year, David Harris hasn't been the consistent fantasy force that he has been in the past.  He put up 21 and 19 points in weeks 4 and 5, but in his last two games he has scored just 5 points in each game.  This week he faces a Bills team that is giving up the 10th most PPG to LBs. Normally, this would most likely be a 4-star game for Harris but his ankle injury and his poor fantasy play of late has me a bit concerned, which is why he is only a 3-star play this week.  The ankle injury kept Harris from practicing fully on Wednesday.  Depending on how practice goes the rest of the week I could end up downgrading Harris. Bart Scott, like Harris has been a bit inconsistent this year.  Thru the first four weeks of the season he hit double digits each week, but the last three weeks he only hit double digits once and the other two games were 3 and 5 points. Scott's recent inconsistency is concerning but I think he is a solid bye week filler/LB3 this week.  One other thing that I will be watching this week is how much more Aaron Maybin is integrated into the defense. 

Secondary:  The Bills aren't exactly a good matchup for opposing DBs.  Ranking both Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard both as 3-star plays might be a tad ambitious, but I think both should be able to eek out 10-12 points.  Plus I think each has a bit of upside this week too. 

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: 
Marcel Dareus had a HUGE game last week against the Redskins.  Dareus had been playing outside on the Bills DL, but against the Redskins the Bills moved him inside to DT, and the move paid off, to the tune of 2 solos, 2 assists and 2 1/2 sacks.  I wouldn't expect a repeat of that production but I do think he should hit double digits again this week.  Dwan Edwards didn't hit double digits last week but his 9.5 points was still a solid fantasy day.  If you have bye issues Edwards could be worth a look but against a Jets team that ranks 23rd in PPG average to DLs I think he would be best suited as a bench player this week.  Kyle Williams foot injury will once again keep him from playing this week. 

Linebacker: Nick Barnett has been having a very nice fantasy year in Buffalo this season, scoring in double digits in every game except for week 1, and averaging over 15 PPG. Did you know that he is also the only Bills LB to score in double digits this season?  There are a few things that concern me with Barnett but this week against a Jets team that is giving up the 3rd highest PPG average to LBs I see him as a very strong play.  The matchup looks to be so strong that I am also giving rookie Kelvin Sheppard a 3-star rating, just realize that their is some risk in starting Sheppard, but I think the matchup warrants taking a shot with him.  Oh, and those concerns about Barnett...in 3 of his 7 games he has recorded 4 or fewer solos, and he has really relied on big plays to add to his production.  Currently Barnett is on pace for 75 solos and 57 assists, which is the equivalent of 207 points, but when you add in his big plays his pace looks like 252.57 points, a pace I think he has a hard time keeping up over the 2nd half of the season.

Secondary:  Only the Jaguars are a worse matchup for opposing DBs than the Jets are.  Not good news for George Wilson owners, but that doesn't mean you are going to bench him.  You just can't, but you should temper expectations, or should you?  Wait, what, Wilson has a  5-star rating?  I see the Jets controlling this game and using their running game to grind out the clock in the 2nd half, and if that happens I can see Wilson racking up tackles in that scenario, which is why I have him as a 5-star play.


Seattle at Dallas

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:
 Like many DEs, Chris Clemons can be a bit inconsistent, as evidenced by his 2 point performance last week.  The Cowboys rank 22nd in average points to DL so it isn't like he has a very good matchup this week, still I think he is a 3-star play. Kedric Golston (13pts), Mike Devito (12 pts), Andre Carter (15pts), and Jason Babin (12pts) all had success against the Cowboys so it isn't like it is a horrible matchup for Clemons.  Outside of Clemons the rest of the Seahawks DL aren't relative for fantasy purposes.

Linebacker:  David Hawthorne's 10 points were the fewest he has logged since scoring 5 points in week 2.  Think of the 10-12 point range as Hawthorne's floor going forward.  This week Hawthorne faces a Cowboys team that ranks 6th in average points to LBs. The Cowboys didn't have much of a chance to lean on their running game last week but this week I expect we see the Cowboys take control of this game and that should equate to a heavy dose of rookie DeMarco Murray. Another little known fact is that the Cowboys rank 1st in the NFL with an average gain of 7.42 yards on runs up the middle. Add all that up and it is easy to see why I like Hawthorne so much this week.  After Hawthorne the fantasy community can look to Leroy Hill and KJ Wright as very nice options this week too.  Hill has scored in double digits in 5 straight games.  Wright has only scored in double digits once this year so his 4-star rating might be a bit optimistic, but I do see plenty of upside this week for the Seahawks LBs.

Secondary: Only three DBs have a higher PPG average than the 17.167 average that Kam Chancellor has.  Of those three, one, Antoine Winfield, hasn't played since week 4.  Chancellor will continue to rack up tackles, and in my mind he is as plug and play as a DB can get. Even with the Cowboys being nothing more than a middle of the road matchup for DBs I feel very good about where I have Chancellor rated this week. The Seahawks young starting CBs both garnered 3-star ratings, but there is a bit of risk if you decide to rely on them. 

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: 
Jay Ratliff was injured and left last week's matchup with the Eagles, but Ratliff is said to be ok.  Against a Seattle team that hasn't run the ball well I would leave Ratliff on fantasy benches this week. 

Linebacker: The big news about the Cowboys linebackers is that Sean Lee dislocated his wrist in last week's game and he very likely won't play this week.  There is also a chance that Lee may need surgery and could end up on IR.  That would be a huge blow for fantasy owners that have been riding Lee's 17.0 PPG average that he had thru 7 weeks.  The loss of Lee meant more time for Bradie James and Keith Brooking, not a good thing for the Cowboys defense.  Rookie Bruce Carter is a nice sleeper, but he is going to need to learn the defense more before he can garner enough snaps to be a viable fantasy option.

Secondary:  Gerald Sensabaugh (18 pts), Abram Elam (12 pts), and Terence Newman (12 pts) were all solid fantasy producers last week.  This week against a Seahawks team that should be behind early they should be able to put up similar numbers this week.  However, I have zero confidence in the Seahawks offense being able to move the ball consistently, hence the trio all getting just 2-star ratings.


Cleveland at Houston

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 played the most snaps out of all Browns DL last week.  His production of 5 fantasy points isn't what you would expect from a DL that played in 66 snaps, but the key is that the Browns think enough of him to keep him on the field as much as they have.  With the Texans ranking in the top 5 in average points to DL I think that Sheard makes for a solid DL2 play this week.  Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor were the high scores among the Browns DL last week, posting 16 and 10 points respectively.  This week against a Texans team that will once again feed Arian Foster the ball early and often there will be plenty of upside for each but Rubin is the one that I see as the better play. Mainly because the Texans rank 2nd in the NFL in rushing attempts over their left guard. 

Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson had owners worried for much of his week 8 tilt against the 49ers but at the end of the day he filled the box score up with 10 solo tackles.  It was his 3rd performance with 20 or more fantasy points of the season.  Jackson, if you need to hear this, needs to be in lineups each and every week. This week I wouldn't be surprised at all if we see him approach the 30 point plateau.  On the injury front it looks like the Browns will be without WLB Chris Gocong. Gocong suffered a neck stinger, should he miss any time on the field he would most likely be replaced by Kaluka Maiava.  Of course Maiava is also on the injury report for a knee issue, and like Gocong he was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. 

Secondary: Last week I warned TJ Ward owners that he should be benched against a 49ers team that wasn't a good matchup.  Hopefully, you heeded my warning, otherwise you saw Ward put up one measly fantasy point for you.  This week the Texans aren't nearly as bad a matchup but they aren't much more than a middle of the road matchup either.  However, making matters worse is that Ward (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Might be a bit of a cop-out by not rating him yet this week but I will after I see how he progresses in practice.  At best he will be no more than a 3-star play, and most likely he is going to get a 2-star rating.  Also, in case you are wondering, Ward played in 66 of 67 snaps last week, so his 1 point performance wasn't because he missed a ton of snaps because he hurt his knee.

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: The Texans 3-4 defense severely limits the fantasy viability of their DL.  JJ Watt did get back into the double digit scoring column, but he is a very risky play due to his inconsistent scoring.

Linebacker: If you own Brian Cushing or any other Texans defensive player you can't be very happy about their matchup this week.  Yes, I know that the Browns are giving up an average of 53 tackle opportunities/game, but I see risk in this week's matchup.  First, Peyton Hillis is still nursing an injury/contact dispute, or whatever the issue is, he isn't playing, second, Hardesty suffered a calf injury and is out for at least a couple of weeks. Then you have Mohamed Massaquoi dealing with a concussion that kept him out of last week's game.  Makes me wonder if and how the Browns will move the ball this week, and that is why I only have Brian Cushing as a 3-star play.  Even that rating for Cushing gives me a bit of pause.  As for his running mate, DeMeco Ryans, he still belongs on fantasy benches. Ryans has played in just an average of 60% of the teams defensive snaps this year, last week he played in 64.1%.  For those wondering how the loss of Darryl Sharpton, who tore his quadriceps tendon last week, will impact Ryans future output, it won't.  Sharpton hasn't played in more than 12 snaps in any one game this year, and last week with Sharpton going down with an injury Ryans still wasn't able to play in more than 41 snaps.  I know that I along with many others thought that Ryans would be able to return to his elite status, sadly, it hasn't happened and doesn't look like it will, at least not this year. 

Secondary:  When Wade Phillips was in Dallas his DBs weren't the best fantasy options, and that looks to be the case in Houston too.  Troy Nolan replaced Danieal Manning at one of the starting safety spots, and he was able to record 10 fantasy points.  The Browns rank 13th in average points allowed to DBs, so this isn't a horrible matchup but as stated above in the LB write-up, I have concerns about the Browns offense, or lack thereof this week.  I think it would be best to leave Nolan, Glover Quin and Jonathan Joseph all on the bench this week.


Atlanta at Indianapolis

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:  Make no mistake about it, this is a horrible matchup for each and every Falcons defensive player this week. The Colts rank 32nd in tackle opportunities given up this year with an average of 42/game.  That is bad, very bad.  John Abraham and Ray Edwards are the only two Falcons with better than a 2-star rating.  The Colts are giving up the 9th highest average in PPG to opposing DL, and that was the major contributing factor in Abraham and Edwards being rated 3-star plays. I should also point out that I not only see very little upside in their ratings, but see a ton of risk in them too.

Linebacker: I can't begin to even describe how difficult it is to give a top 15 LB a 2-star rating, so now imagine how it must feel to give a top 10 and a top 15 LB each a 2-star rating.  That is where I am this week regarding Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton.  I know it won't be easy to bench Weatherspoon, the 10th ranked LB, but against a Colts team that ranks dead last in average PPG allowed to LBs it really is the prudent move. Lofton hasn't been chopped liver this year either, ranking 15th, but of the two he is the one with the lowest floor this week.  As hard as it will be, I can safely say that I am benching Weatherspoon in the IDP SOFA Expert League this week and suggest you follow suit.

Secondary:  The Colts aren't quite as bad a matchup for DBs as they are for LBs, but that isn't saying much as they still rank only 29th in average points to DBs.  That means it will be very risky to run William Moore, Brent Grimes or any other Flacons DB out in your starting lineup 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:  It is as easy as 1-2-3 to explain why I gave every Colts DL a rating of 2-stars or less. One, Robert Mathis has scored 1, 2, and 3 points respectively in each of his last three games.  Two, the number of points Dwight Freeney scored last week.  It was also the first week he didn't either score in double digits or put up a goose egg.  Three,  you don't need any other reasons to Bench Freeney, Mathis and their fellow DL.

Linebacker: No team in the league has faced more rushing attempts than the Colts have.  The Colts have faced 277 rushing attempts, take the Colts out of the equation and the average rushing attempts faced/team is just 190.35.  As long as the Colts offense continues to struggle and teams get out to leads on the Colts their defenders will continue to see a inordinate number of rushing attempts.  Don't confuse the high number of rushing attempts with the Colts being poor against the run.  They aren't great against the run, but their 4.16 YPC average against, ranks 14th.  All this adds up to Pat Angerer continuing to be a top option for fantasy owners at LB. I expect that Angerer will see plenty of Michael Turner this weekend.  Also, helping Angerer's fantasy prospects is that the Indy home scorer has been very assist happy this year.  Kavell Conner's struggles continue, and while I have him as a 2-star play this week I was very close to giving him a 3-star rating.  Conner is still giving way to Ernie Sims in sub-packages but against a Falcons team that could be in far fewer spread WR sets, he could actually surprise with a good fantasy week.  Don't be surprised to see me bump him up to a 3-star play at some point this week.

Secondary:  Another key number for Colts defenders is 60, no not E:60 from ESPN, rather the 60 tackle opportunities they are facing on a weekly basis.  Yes, that ranks 1st in the NFL, and it is why Antoine Bethea has also been such a strong fantasy producer this year.  This week, like Angerer, I see Bethea as a very strong fantasy play.  Outside of Bethea, I would have a hard time relying on any other Colts DB.  Jerraud Powers and David Caldwell have each had nice games but they have had far more poor games, and are therefore far to risky to be in fantasy lineups.  Since taking over at CB for Jacob Lacey, Kevin Thomas has put up back to back double digit games, so if you were going to pick a sleeper of the bunch it would be him.


Miami at Kansas City

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: Up until the Dolphins bye in week 5, Karlos Dansby was the only viable fantasy LB on the Dolphins, and even that was debatable.  Thru the first four weeks of the season Dansby was a very inconsistent fantasy producer.  However, over his last four games he has really turned things around, reeling off four consecutive double digit games and a PPG average over that span of time of 15.50. Since the bye the Dolphins have also shown to have not just one, but now two, viable fantasy LBs, Dansby, and Kevin Burnett.  Burnett has scored in double digits in each of his past two games and has shown a bit of the spark that many were hoping to see from Burnett this year.  Against a Chiefs team that is ranked 25th in average PPG allowed to LBs, makes both slightly risk plays.  Dansby seems to be the safer of the two, which is why he has the 3-star rating.  I initially had Burnett rated as a 1-star play, but that did seem low, which is why I bumped him up to a 2-star play.  Cameron Wake was a beast last year, he was inconsistent as a fantasy LB, but still he was a beast. This year, he has simply been inconsistent.

Secondary: Yeremiah Bell has been fantasy gold this year, ranking 4th in points scored by DBs.  This week I have yet to give him a star rating because a toe injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday.  As of this writing there was no further information available on Bell's status.  As soon as I am able to gain more information I will then update Bell's star rating.  My gut says that we will see Bell back at practice and on the field this weekend, but I think waiting for more information is a reasonable expectation.  Sean Smith has been the next best Dolphins DB this year and outside of a couple of blips he has been a very nice play this week.  For the season, Smith has been thrown at 47 times, and that ranks as 14th most among CBs this year.  As long as teams keep throwing at Smith he should continue to put up solid numbers.  Also, on the injury front CB Vontae Davis is still dealing with a hamstring injury.

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

Linebacker: Derrick Johnson is on fire. As I like to say, ride the hot hand.  This week he gets a Dolphins team that surprisingly ranks in the top 10 in average points allowed./game to LBs, so there is no reason to expect to see Johnson slow down much if at all.  I know the 5-star rating is probably a bit ambitious, but 4-star or 5-star you are still going to have him in your lineup this week.  Tamba Hali also had a nice game on Monday night, recording 3 solos, 1 assist and 2 sacks, good for 15 fantasy points. I have Hali as a 3-star play but like always, when it comes to rush OLBs you have to realize that there is added risk in their rankings because of how inconsistent they can be. 

Secondary: It sure seems like injuries are way up this year.  Maybe it has to do with the lockout, who know the reason.  The Chiefs got hit early by the injury bug, losing RB Jamaal Charles and SS Eric Berry to season ending injuries.  Veteran Jon McGraw replaced Berry in the starting lineup, and for the most part he has had some fantasy success.  Last week, the injury bug bit McGraw, he injured his shoulder against the Chargers, and at this point his status for this week is unknown.  The Dolphins rank 5th in average PPG allowed to DBs so if his prospects end up looking good for this week you can expect me to upgrade him to a 3-star play.  With or without McGraw in the lineup I like both Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers as 3-star plays.  One thing I noticed prior to ranking Carr and Flowers was that every team except the Jets had a CB put up double digits against the Dolphins, and those games weren't just 10 and 11 point games.  They consisted of three games between 11 and 17 points, two 20+ point games.


Tampa Bay at New Orleans

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:
 This is a matchup where you need to look at the stats and then be able to really understand not only what you see but why you are seeing it.  Currently,  the Saints rank 19th in average points allowed to opposing DL.  That ranking is obviously low enough that starting any of the Buccaneers DL is a risky proposition.  What the numbers don't tell you by simply looking at them is that it took a 5 sack week by the Rams last week to move the Saints from one of the worst to just barely below average matchup for DLs.  You can look at that two ways, one it was an aberration, or two, as the Saints OL has issues and could continue to struggle.  Well for me, I am classifying last week as an aberration.  So couple that with the poor and inconsistent play of the Buccaneers DL and it should be very easy to see why Michael Bennett and Adrian Clayborn are just 2-star rated plays.  The Buccaneers are expected to get DT Gerald McCoy back this week, I don't expect him to make much of a fantasy impact but the Buccaneers defense will be better off with him on the field.

Linebacker: Back in week 6 Mason Foster scored just 4 points against the Saints.  If you have a good memory then you know that I ranked Foster a 4-star play that week.  Of course that was based on the number of times the Saints run the ball and where they ran the ball.  Where my logic ended up being faulty was that even though the Saints run the ball they do so much of the time in multi-WR sets.  Because Foster doesn't play in sub-packages he only played in 24 snaps that week. So with hindsight on my side I feel good about rating Foster as only a 2-star play.  Geno Hayes and Quincy Black should be plenty active as they rarely come off the field, and the Saints are giving up 59 tackle opportunities/game so they should be solid LB3's with some upside this week.

Secondary: The Saints are the premier matchup for opposing secondaries, as no other team gives up more PPG to DBs than they do.  Back in week 6, Ronde Barber, EJ Biggers and Tanard Jackson led the secondary with 14 points each.  Sean Jones (8pts) and Aqib Talib (4pts) each had one of their worst performances of the year against the Saints.  So it seems like both ends of the spectrum are at play this week.  I am willing to bet that Talib is able to hit double digits this week, but Jones lack of coverage skills leads me to his 2-star rating this week.

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: Last week on the strength of 5 solos and 2 sacks, Will Smith put up 16 points. In a week when most of the Saints offense and defense was flat, Smith put up his best game of the season. The rest of the Saints DLs combined to score a grand total of 17 points, yes, just one point more than what Smith scored.  Normally, I would say to ride the hot hand but Smith is facing a Buccaneers team that ranks 28th in PPG average to DLs, and to make matters worse, back in week 6 all Smith could do was put up 1 fantasy point. 

Linebacker: Smith wasn't the only Saints defensive player to make an impact in the box score.  Jonathan Vilma was held out of practice all week last week, but he was still a full go on Sunday against the Rams. Vilma rewarded owners that played him with his best output of the season with 18 fantasy points. I started Vilma, so I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but that doesn't mean I am all warm and fuzzy about Vilma yet.  Of his 18 points only 6 points came off of 3 solo tackles.  The other 12 points came from a forced fumble, fumble recovery and defensive TD.  All stats that you just can't count on consistently.  So yes, at the end of the day Vilma was productive, but don't neglect to realize why.  This week against the Buccaneers, a team that he scored 10 points against in week 6, I have him rated as a 2-star play. The more I think about it that rating might be one star to little, check back late Friday to see if update Vilma to a 3-star play or not.

Secondary:   Roman Harper has been very inconsistent over the past four games.  He did post an 11 point game against the Buccaneers in week 6, so with that in mind and how inconsistent he has been I saw fit to lower him from a 4-star to 3-star play.  I still think that Harper is capable of putting up top 5-10 numbers going forward so I will say that if you are considering dropping Harper, you shouldn't.  Jabari Greer has also been somewhat inconsistent, and to make matters worse he hasn't shown much upside either. Knowing that Greer has had 59 passes thrown at him makes his lack up upside and inconsistency even harder to understand.  The fact that only 50.8% of those passes have been completed against Greer is one reason for his lack up upside.  That reception % ranks 15th, Darrell Revis ranks 1st allowing just a 30.3% completion % against him.  For the record, those 59 passes rank 2nd only to the 61 that have been thrown at CB Chris Houston of the Lions.


San Francisco at Washington

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: 
The Redskins gave up ten sacks to the Bills last week.  Yes, TEN sacks to a team that for the season had only gotten to the QB just 5 times prior to last week.  If you are a Justin Smith owner you have to be smiling just a tiny little bit.  Outside of Smith I wouldn't play any other 49ers DL.

Linebacker:  Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman look to have a bit of a challenging matchup this week.  The Redskins OL seems to be in shambles and their running game is non-existent.  Most other LBs would be a 2-star play, but I have Willis and Bowman both as 4-star plays.  For starers, I do expect that each could get to the QB and force a turnover or two this weekend. On top of that the despite their struggles the Redskins actually are a strong matchup for opposing LBs.  However, good or bad matchup, it doesn't matter because you wouldn't take either out of your starting lineup.  If you are in a bind due to injuries or bye week issues a player worth a long look is rush OLB Aldon Smith.  Smith has shown some nice flashes the past few weeks, and against a Redskins team that gave out sacks on Sunday like people gave out candy on Monday to trick-or-treaters, I see him as a high risk/reward play this week.

Secondary: Almost as surprising as the Redskins being a strong matchup for LBs they are also a top 10 matchup for opposing DBs. It might be hard to fathom that Dashon Goldson rates as a better play than Donte Whitner, but Goldson has scored in double digits every week he has played.  Whitner on the other hand hasn't scored in double digits since week 2.  The story line I am most interested in this week is the return of Carlos Rogers to DC, where he started his career.  The "revenge" factored into my thought process when I gave Rogers a 3-star rating.

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:  London Fletcher went from being a risky start to putting up 37.50 points.  Yes, thirty-seven and a half, it wasn't a typo.  That is what happens when you log, 12 solos, 8 assists, 1 interception, 1 pass defended, and a 1/2 sack.  That is just a downright sick line for any player, let alone one as old as Fletcher.  So, coming off a performance like that I have Fletcher rated as just a 3-star play.  Unfortunately, the 49ers are the next to worst matchup for opposing LBs.  Rocky McIntosh was able to extend his streak of double digit games to 7.  Unfortunately, it looks like he lost some snaps to Keyaron Fox, and that limited his upside, which is why he only posted 11 points.  Combined, Fox and McIntosh put up 19 fantasy points.  As far as the split in snaps, McIntosh played in 45, with Fox playing in 22.  If you were wondering, Fletcher played in all 67 defensive snaps.

Secondary:  In a secondary that includes the likes of Laron Landry and OJ Atogwe it is probably hard to believe that CB DeAngelo Hall is probably the best fantasy option in the Redskins secondary.  Hall has a five game streak of double digit scoring.  Over that streak he has scored between 10-13 points, so not much upside, but at least a solid play as a DB3.  Landry has yet to  hit his stride, and I know that his owners,  which I am one of, are hoping that he is able to find the mojo he had last season before he got injured.  As for how they rate this week, I know Hall has his streak but against a limited 49ers passing attack I think we see Hall dip into single digits this week. I might still be blinded by Landry's past production but I think he is the safest bet for a good game this weekend.  Atogwe has a weak passing attack and injury to contend with, so I think he is by far the worst play of the bunch this weekend.


Denver at Oakland

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: 
NEWS FLASH!!!!!  Elvis Dumervil is NOT on the injury report this week.  Yes, Dumervil has practiced fully on both Wednesday and Thursday.   Now, the next step is for Dumervil to make an impact in the box score.  For the season, Dumervil has scored 15 fantasy points, yes, I said SEASON.  Dumervil is a talent but fantasy wise he has been nothing other than frustrating so far this season.  Against a Raiders team that ranks 29th in average PPG given up to DLs I wouldn't be running to put Dumervil in my lineup.  If you don't have any other options then and only then should you put him in your starting lineup.  Who knows, you could get lucky and Dumervil could put up a multi-sack game. The rest of the Broncos DL equals fantasy irrelevant. 

Linebacker: The Raiders look like they will be without Darren McFadden this week, but that doesn't mean they will stray away from their running game.  I look for Michael Bush to shoulder most of the load.  DJ Williams should bounce back from a poor week 8, his first sub 10 point game.  Last week, Joe Mays put up a goose egg, but if you remember correctly I pointed out that he was a risky play against a pass happy Lions.  Mays played in just 23 snaps, while Wesley Woodyard played in 43.  Since the Broncos didn't play much in their base defense is why Woodyard was able to record 13 points.  This week, I think that Mays should be the better play of the two. 

Secondary: Rookie Rahim Moore looks like he will have his starting job back this week, not because he earned it, but because Quinton Carter suffered a concussion last week. Joe Mays wasn't the only one to struggle against the Lions passing attack, Brian Dawkins posted just one lousy fantasy point.  This week, against what should be a heavy run game, Dawkins should be able to hit the 10-12 point range. 

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:
I absolutely LOVE this matchup that the Raiders DL has this week.  Unfortunately, I also hate it.  Why the love/hate with this matchup?  Well, I love that they are facing a Broncos team that has given up seven sacks in each of their last two games.  The hate part, not being able to nail down who should be a 4 or 5-star play.  So what did I do?  I was a bit of a cop-out and gave each and every Raiders DL a 3-star rating.  Heck, the Broncos are giving up so many sacks I almost gave Matt Shaughnessy a 3-star rating, and he is on injured reserve.  In DT mandatory leagues I think you have to get Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelley in your lineups.  As for Lamarr Houston, Jarvis Moss and even Desmond Bryant, if you own them I think you have to find a way to get them into your starting lineup, there is just to much upside to ignore.  I for one have Lamarr Houston covering Jared Allen's bye this week, my fingers are crossed

Linebacker: Rolando McClain has had the bye week to let his ankle heal up, but McClain wasn't able to practice on Wednesday or Thursday.  Friday's practice will be a big indicator in figuring out if McClain has a shot to play this weekend or not.  My best guess is that best case scenario we are looking at a full fledged GTD.  If you are going to roll with a Raiders LB this week the sneaky play in my eyes is rush OLB Kamerion Wimbley.  If there is one thing that Wimbley can do, it is get after the QB, and Tim Tebow probably won't get rid of the ball soon enough, allowing Wimbley to make an impact in the box score this week.  I did give him a 4-star rating but there is almost as much risk as their is upside in that rating. 

Secondary:  Tyvon Branch has taken his owners are a very nice ride so far this year, but this week could be a major speed bump.  Facing the pass completing challenged Tim Tebow could severely limit Branch's opportunities this week.  I have him as a 3-star play but just barely, I am hoping that the Broncos run the ball enough for him to hit 10 points this week. Outside of Branch I wouldn't risk any other Raiders DB in my starting lineup this week. 


Cincinnati at Tennessee

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:
 Just in case you have a short memory or a case of amnesia, allow me to remind you that the Bengals DL hasn't been very good for fantasy purposes this year.  Carlos Dunlap has showed a bit of life in his past two games, scoring 10 and 9 points, but he has been limited in practice this week by a groin injury.  Against a Titans team that ranks in the bottom 7 of the league in average points allowed to opposing DL, it should be quite apparent that Michael Johnson, Dunlap or any other Bengals DL should be anywhere but on fantasy benches this weekend.

Linebacker: Earlier reports had Rey Maualuga as possibly returning to action in week 9 for the Bengals.  However, after two days of practice Maualuga has yet to practice this week.  Dan Skuta has filled in for Maualuga, but he hasn't done much fantasy wise.  That is unless you think 7 and 4 points are good scores.  The Titans are pretty much a poor matchup across the board for the Bengals defense.  Only the 49ers and Colts have been a worse matchup for opposing LBs.  I have Skuta as a 2-star play but the more i think about it, he should be downgraded to a 1-star play. Also, Maualuga isn't the only Bengals LB dealing with an injury, Thomas Howard's hamstring has made him a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

Secondary: Outside of a poor week 5, Reggie Nelson has been a solid producer.  Unfortunately, the Titans are a bottom 10 team in PPG average surrendered to opposing DBs.  Rather than plugging Nelson into your lineup, with only 4 teams on a bye this week you should be able to find a better option.  Nate Clements, Chris Crocker and Leon Hall have all had some good games this year, but they have all also been very inconsistent.  So in a poor matchup like this one, I would look elsewhere for DB help this week. Also, to make matters worse, both Crocker and Clements are dealing with knee injuries.

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: 
Plague, the plague boss, the plague.  Jason Jones was yanked from the starting lineup, so it figures that he would post a 12 point game.  Don't be fooled, Jones and the rest of the Titans DL still need to be avoided at all costs.

Linebacker:  Barrett Ruud had an abysmal matchup last week, but Ruud was still able to post a 12 point game for his owners.  Those owners should feel very fortunate because Ruud was only able to manage 3 solos, but an interception and a couple of passes defended salvaged his day.  This week, he faces a Bengals team that ranks 15th in average PPG to LBs, so while not a great matchup, it is much better than last week's.  Hopefully Ruud should once again be able to hit that 10-12 point range at a minimum.  Will Witherspoon had put up a couple of nice scores, but last week he logged a big ol' donut.  The main reason was that Witherspoon only played in 35 snaps, giving way to Gerald McGrath who played in 42 snaps.  If the Titans continue to use the two LBs situationally, then you can consider each of their fantasy values to be next to nothing.

Secondary: The Bengals are a middle of the road matchup for opposing DBs, but I still see Jason McCourty being a strong play this week.  For the season  McCourty has been thrown at 56 times, the 7th most in the league, a big contributor to his #2 overall DB ranking.  Jordan Babineaux will get another start while Chris Hope continues to recover from his broken arm.  Michael Griffin has posted two nice games after the Titans bye week, but a hip injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday and limited him in practice on Thursday.  After the Friday practice is complete I will update his star rating from injured t an actual number.


St. Louis at Arizona

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: 
It was a mirage i tell you.  There are times that you just have to see things for yourself, and then there are times that when you do see something you just can't believe what you saw. Well, the latter is how I am looking at the Rams DL performance last week.  Chris Long, absolutely went into beast mode, logging 3 solos, 1 assist and 3 sacks.  Yes, Long got to Saints QB Drew Brees three times.  Don't get me wrong, Long is long on talent but he has never been consistent enough for fantasy owners to rely on, and the fact that all three of his solos came due to sacks I think it is easy to see why he is such a risky fantasy option.  The only reason that I have Long as a 3-star play this week is because he will either be facing a hobbled Kevin Kolb or a backup QB. 

Linebacker:  James Laurinaitis has been a rock solid LB2 this year, but last week he too went into beast mode, racking up 25 fantasy points.  The Cardinals actually present as a very nice matchup for LBs, ranking 8th in average PPG allowed.  If the Cardinals had a 100% heathy Beanie Wells, funny reading that isn't it, then I would most likely have Laurinaitis as a 5-star play.  Outside of Laurinaitis you really don't need the risk associated with the rest of the Rams LBs.

Secondary: Since the Rams bye in week 5, both Darian Stewart and Quintin Mikell have been tearing it up.  Over that three week span of time, Stewart, and his 45 fantasy points, is tied with Yeremiah Bell for the most points scored by a DB.  Mikell is right on his heels with 44 points scored.  This week they both get a tough matchup against a Cardinals team that ranks 27th in average PPG allowed to DBs, but with how they have been playing you need to keep them in your lineups.  Just temper your expectations some for this week is all.

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:
Calais Campbell has been all that an more for his owners so far this year. Currently, Campbell ranks 5th in both fantasy points with 76, and PPG with a 10.857 average.  This week against a Rams team that ranks 6th in average PPG to opposing DL he should have no problems living up to his top 5 rankings. Initially, I had Darnell Dockett as a 3-star play but due to his inconsistent scoring I decided to lower him to a 2-star play.

Linebacker: The Rams have one thing going for them, Steven Jackson, or should i say the Arizona LBs have one thing going for them, Steven Jackson!?!?!  Steven Jackson was running like a man possessed against the Saints last week, and he was also the one firing the team up in the huddle too. An angry Jackson may not be very fun to tackle, but that doesn't matter to fantasy owners, so long as their LB is making those tackles.  Well if you own Darryl Washington, you should be very happy this weekend.  I am not a huge fan of Paris Lenon, but I think even he should be able to put up 10 points this week. 

Secondary: It looks like Sam Bradford very well might play this weekend, however, if  he does the Rams will probably look to lean on their running game to keep the pressure off of Bradford.  If that happens then my 2-star ratings for most of the Cardinals secondary will end up looking good.  However, if OC Josh McDaniels decides to open up the passing game then you will miss out on a couple of good plays in the Cardinals secondary.  One thing that does need to be pointed out is that last week AJ Jefferson was benched for Richard Marshall.


NY Giants at New England

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 key DLs are almost as beat up as the Steelers LBs are. Justin Tuck is at least coming back from injury, he was indeed on a snap count last week, and that limited his fantasy production.  Osi Umenyiora is also now listed on the injury report with a knee and shoulder injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday.  He was able to progress to a limited practice on Thursday.  Even Jason Pierre-Paul (neck ) was limited in practice on Thursday. More than likely the entire trio will play this weekend, but unfortunately, they are facing a Patriots team that ranks dead last in average PPG allowed to opposing DL.  I have JPP as a 3-star play, but don't be shocked if you see me downgrade him to 2-stars.

Linebacker:  Michael Boley is averaging 14.00 PPG and is a very nice LB2.  Against the Patriots short passing game he should once again be able to put up solid LB2 numbers. A nice sleeper play this week is Jacquian Williams.  Williams does come with quite a bit of risk, he didn't play in a single snap last week, but this week I think he gets used a lot against the Patriots potent passing attack.

Secondary: Only the Eagles and Saints are giving up more points to opposing DBs than the Patriots are.  Antrel Rolle is coming off of his worst performance of the season last week, but he has by far been the best Giants DB for fantasy purposes this year.  Kenny Phillips has been right there with Rolle for the most part but he hasn't been quite as consistent, hence the disparity in their ratings this week.  Corey Webster has quietly put up double digits in four straight weeks, and this week should make it five in a row.

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
: This is almost a wasted week for fantasy owners, by that I mean that the Giants rank 3rd in points to opposing DL.  Talk about a great matchup and not having the horses to take advantage of it.  At least, Andre Carter will make this matchup payoff for fantasy owners. Over his last three games, Carter is averaging 14.333 PPG and ranks 3rd with 43 fantasy points scored over that time frame too.  In DT mandatory leagues, I think it is safe to run Vince Wilfork out into starting lineups this week. 

Linebacker: Jerod Mayo got back out on the field last week, but he only played in a limited number of snaps.  I know that if you are a Mayo owner that you want to get him back into your lineups, but I think you still need to practice some patience with Mayo.  First, I would like to see him take a full complement of snaps, rather than hope he plays full time, and second the Giants rank 28th in average PPG allowed to LBs.  So with those two things working against Mayo, I have to recommend leaving him on fantasy benches this week.  Brandon Spikes had a huge 23 point game last week, and this week I am rating him a 3-star play, but I am wavering a bit on if I should downgrade him or not.

Secondary:  Patrick Chung is one of just 8 DBs that is averaging more than 15 PPG this season.  Last week, the Steelers passing attack had Chung very busy, so busy he racked up a season high 24 fantasy points.  This week he faces a Giants team that is in the top 12 for average points allowed to opposing DBs.  So while he probably won't exceed the 20 point barrier he remains a solid 4-star play. Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty have both been pretty solid DB2 options this year.  Outside of a 2 point effort in week 5, Arrington has been the better fantasy option. 


Green Bay at San Diego

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: When you own a player like Desmond Bishop, and he is on a bye, it feels like he has been out of your lineup for a month.  Well that false feeling will be alleviated this week, and Bishop owners are not just smiling because they have their stud back, but also because he faces a Chargers team that ranks 1st in average PPG allowed to LBs. If you have any injury issues or need a bye week filler, even AJ Hawk looks like a decent enough play this week.

Secondary: Morgan Burnett's last three games have been very inconsistent (6pts, 18pts, 6pts).  So even though the Chargers rank 4th in average points allowed to DBs, I think it is best to rate him as a 3-star play.  That allows for some upside in the rating, and will hopefully help to quell the expectations that he will produce like he did earlier in the season. Since week 4, Charlie Peprah is averaging 13.50 PPG and against the Chargers he should actually increase that average.  Charles Woodson has been rather inconsistent this year but this week I think he is safe in starting lineups. 

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: 
The Chargers 3-4 isn't very fantasy friendly so you would be best served by looking for DL help elsewhere.

Linebacker: The Packers rank 26th in average PPG allowed to opposing LBs.  So the first thing that we know is that the Packers aren't a very good matchup for the Chargers LBs this week.  The other thing you need to know is that Donald Butler has played in an average of just 39.6 defensive snaps over his last 5 games. I know that Butler has posted double digits in all but one game this year, but that doesn't mean he doesn't present a fair amount of risk, and this week could easily be the perfect storm where he is off the filed even more against the Packers multi-WR sets.  Just factor in the poor matchup and that risk and I think it is easy to see why I have Butler as a 2-star play. Takeo Spikes hasn't been as productive as he was last season, but he has still been a viable fantasy LB.  His floor this year has been in the 8-9 point range, and when you can get that out of a LB3 that is actually not a bad thing.  This week Spikes is a bit risky as a 3-star play but at worst he should approach that 10 point threshold. 

Secondary: With the passing attack of the Packers it would stand to reason that one would expect them to be a good matchup for opposing DBs.  Unfortunately, that isn't the case, the Packers rank just 21st in average PPG to opposing DBs.  Shocking?  I know it was for me, especially when I checked and found that the Packers rank just 18th in passing attempts/game.  Even more shocking is that teams like the Redskins and Titans are putting the ball in the air more than the Packers are. However, don't confuse attempts with success, while the Packers rank just 18th in pass attempts/game they rank 4th in passing yard, and don't forget they have had their bye while many others haven't. As I dug a bit deeper into this matchup the more I realized that Eric Weddle needed to have his 4-star rating lowered to 3-stars. 


Baltimore at Pittsburgh

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 lived up to his 5-star rating last week, putting up 25 massive points, and those points didn't come on just sacks.  Suggs only had 1 sack, but he added 9 solos and 4 assists.  That is one heck of a day for a DL.  This week, Suggs owners should have a huge smile on their face, not only does he face a Steelers team that he hates, but a Steelers team that has given up more average PPG to opposing DL then any other team in the NFL.  Yes, Haloti Ngata owners should be smiling too.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis owners got a small scare last week, as he suffered a shoulder stinger and had to leave the game for a bit.  He did return but he had his worst performance to date this year, it was also the first time he didn't post a double digit score.  You can bet that Lewis will be up for this game, so it doesn't matter that the Steelers rank 22nd in average PPG to LBs.  Just keep Lewis in your lineup, he is "only" a 4-star play, but there is a very good chance I will be updating that ranking to 5-stars.

Secondary:  The Steelers look like they have become enchanted with the passing game, but they do have one heck of a receiving corps so why not. Lardarius Webb got off to a torrid start to the season but in his last two games combined he has only scored 7 points.  This week against a Steelers team that ranks 8th in average PPG to DBs I think we see Webb produce more like he did at the start of the season, and not like the last two weeks.  Bernard Pollard is just the opposite of Webb, he got off to an extremely slow start, but over his last three games he is averaging 13.67 PPG.  Unfortunately, I think that Pollard is a very risky option this week, I know he has played in every defensive snap in his last four games, but against the Steelers passing attack he will be a huge liability.  I own Pollard in one league and I will not be playing him this week.  Not even giving it a second thought either.

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: The Steelers LBs are so beat up that there is a chance that DL Brett Keisel might actually see some time at OLB this weekend. If you are looking for a Steelers LB to start I would give that nod to Larry Foote, but he is about it.  Yes, it is that bad.  Practice wise, James Farrior (calf), James Harrison (eye) and Lamarr Woodley (hamstring) all practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday and Thursday, but none of the three are likely to play against the Raveans.

Secondary: With the Steelers LBs being decimated by injury I think we see both Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu have big games, but because they didn't produce in week one I am tempering my rating.  The Ravens had their way with the Steelers back in week one and don't be shocked if you see more of the same. Ike Taylor had his first double digit game of the year last week, and against a Ravens team that will and should lean heavily on Ray Rice I think he is a risky option and should be left on fantasy benches.

Chicago at Philadelphia

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: Good news for Julius Peppers owners, he isn't on the Bears injury report.  Looks like the bye week came at a good time for Peppers as he was able to rest up his knee.  Peppers gets to face Michael Vick, you know, the QB that DeMarcus Ware sacked 4 times last week.  I know that Ware plays OLB and Peppers plays DE, but both are charged with getting after the QB.  For the most part the Eagles have done a good job of keeping Michael Vick clean this year, last week not withstanding.  However, a healthy Peppers should always be in fantasy lineups.  One other thing that I like about this matchup for Peppers is that the Eagles rank 1st in the NFL with 59 rushing attempts outside of their LT.

Linebacker: If the Eagles offense can click like it did last week against the Cowboys then Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs might not be rated high enough. One thing is for sure, Urlacher and Briggs will do a better job at defending the pass than Bradie James and Keith Brooking did last week.  As if you needed any other reasons to have Urlacher and Briggs in your lineup, consider that the Eagles rank 5th in average PPG allowed to opposing LBs.

Secondary: Teams have thrown the ball plenty at the Bears starting CBs, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.  Tillman has been thrown at 50 times and Jennings 51 times, ranking 12th and 11th respectively.  The Eagles might be running the ball more than usual but that won't stop them from putting the ball in the air.  Both should be very nice plays this week but Tillman isn't he 3rd overall scoring DB for nothing, which is why he gets a 5-star rating this week.  I also think that Major Wright is in line for his best game of the season this week, and won't be shocked to see him hit 15+ points.

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 didn't do much fantasy wise in his first week back form a calf injury, but it was good to see that he at least recorded one sack, and also didn't seem to be on a snap count. Cole played in 34 defensive snaps, the only DL to play in more was Jason Babin who played in 35. This week against a Bears OL that has looked suspect at times this year, you have to like Cole to get back to putting up top tier fantasy numbers. I initially gave Cullen Jenkins a 2#-star rating, but upon further thought I decided that after scoring just 3 points combined in his last two games that he is to risky to recommend as a starter in even DT mandatory leagues this week.

Linebacker:  The Bears have given up a fair share of solid games to opposing LBs and Jamar Chaney should be a solid 3-star play with some upside this week. Rookie Brian Rolle had a horrible 3 point week last week, but considering the lack of tackle opportunities that the Eagles saw last week I am willing to give him a pass.  I know it probably seems a bit risky, but i see Rolle having a 10-12 point performance this week.  So at worst he is a nice bye week LB3.

Secondary: I think there is still some risk associated with the Eagles DBs, but even with that, this matchup is strong enough to warrant giving both Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen both 3-star ratings.  I know that last week I said that I wouldn't be shocked to see rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett see snaps coming out of the bye.  Well he didn't see a single snap so the chances of him seeing significant playing time any time soon isn't very good. 


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