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!
NY Jets at Denver
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 doesn't have much fantasy value as it is, against a Tim Tebow led rushing offense they will have even less value.
Linebacker: Will the Broncos really run the same type of offense that they did last week? The answer to that is, it depends. If the Jets can jump out to a big lead, then the answer is no, but if the Jets plod along and don't put the Broncos away early then we will be lucky to see Tebow attempt a bakers dozen worth of passes. My rating for David Harris and Bart Scott is under the assumption that the Broncos will run the ball in excess of 80% of the time this week. Calvin Pace's rating is one of the riskiest of the entire week. If, like I said, the Jets can get out to a big lead and force the Broncos to throw the ball, then that is when Pace will rack up a sack or two.
Secondary: Eight passes, EIGHT, consider yourself warned if you decide to start any of the Jets DBs.
I toyed with giving both Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard both 3-star ratings, but I just couldn't bring myself to give two opposing DBs 3-star ratings against a team that is willing to throw the ball just 8 times. I flipped a coin, and it came up Eric Smith in run support. C'mon man, I am not that crazy, sure, Leonhard or Smith "could" have a good day, thing is, the risk just isn't worth it. Move along.
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: If you saw what Andre Carter did last week against the jets (5 solos, 1 assist & 4.5 sacks) then you completely understand why Elvis Dumervil is a 4-star play. Dumervil only has one double digit game to his credit so far this year, but I think this week is a good risk/reward week to have him in your lineup. Outside of taking a shot on Dumervil the Broncos DL is pretty worthless for fantasy purposes. Robert Ayers is actually the top scoring Broncos DL and in 10 games he has scored 3 or fewer points in six of 9 games. Enough said.
Linebacker: DJ Williams hit a small speed bump in weeks 8 & 9, but last week his 22 point outburst surely made owners quickly forget about those two weeks. Williams should once again be big for his owners, after all he is facing a Jets team that ranks 5th in points to LBs. Sean Lee (26 pts) and Donald Butler (27 pts) both had fantastic games against the Jets, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see Williams join them with a 20+ point effort. Last week, I tweeted and posted in the forum that I liked Joe Mays as a sleeper last week, 8 solos, 1 assist and 17 fantasy points later, my sleeper was a hit. As I outlined in the forum, Mays is a base-d LB, he won't see much if any time in sub-packages, and last week he had two things break his way, one was that Wesley Woodyard was inactive due to injury, and second was that he faced a team that was averaging over 30 rushing attempts/game. This week against a Jets team that would be crazy not to run Shonne Green and company 35+ times, I once again like Mays as a solid play.
Secondary: This is not a good game for DBs all around, as noted above the Broncos rank 32nd in average points to DBs, and the Jets aren't much better, ranking 30th. When you couple that with the play of the Broncos DBs this year, and you have yourself a game where it is best to be on the sidelines for. Brian Dawkins once was a fantasy DB god, but no longer is that true. For the season, Dawkins has just 3 double digit games to his name. The top scoring DB on the Broncos isn't even a starter, it is their nickle cornerback, Chris Harris, who ranks 82nd. A forum user named BAKE asked about Harris, this is what I replied with, "
Harris is a nickle/slot CB...if you look at the Chiefs they are a horrible matchup this week....I could be wrong but I don't think any nickle/slot CB has hit double digits in points against the Chiefs this year.". I was correct in that a nickle.slot CB had yet to score in double digits against the Chiefs this year, that is until Harris put up 17 points on the strength of 8 solos and a pass defended. Speaking of pass(es) defended, have you ever wondered exactly what consituted one? I have a source at the NFL and he provided me with a definition that you can read HERE.
Buffalo at Miami
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 49, 2009: 45, 2010: 46
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 49, 2009: 54, 2010: 56
Defensive Line: The Bills DL have been a mess for fantasy purposes all year, of course much of that is due to the foot injury suffered by Kyle Williams. On the season Dwan Edwards and Marcel Dareus are the top two scorers for the Bills DL, ranking 29th and 28th respectively. That puts them square in the DL3 range, which should be depth for most leagues. Spencer Johnson was a DL I liked a lot last week, unfortunately after two straight 11 point efforts, Johnson flopped with a measly 5 fantasy points. Against a Dolphins team that ranks in the bottom half of the league for points to opposing DL, I think you would be best served to look for DL help elsewhere.
Linebacker: After 7 consecutive double digit performances, Nick Barnett posted just 7 points in what looked to be a very nice matchup. This week Barnett gets to face a Dolphins team that ranks 7th in points to opposing LBs, so once again, it seems like a very nice matchup for Barnett. I can't say that I am 100% confident that he will have a good week, but fwiw, I do plan on starting him in my SOFA IDP League. Rookie Kelvin Sheppard also had a trying week last week, so I can't blame you if you find it hard to stomach his 3-star rating this week. Make no mistake about it, there is risk with the rookie, so he does make for a better play in deeper leagues. As far as dynasty leagues go, I think the kid has a bright future.
Secondary: Last week it was nice to see George Wilson put his week 7 flub behind him, putting up 14 fantasy points. What hurts is that he did that in just 33 snaps, as a stinger ended his day early last week. As of this writing Wilson missed practice on Wednesday due to the stinger, stay tuned in to the injury report this week to see if Wilson will be a go or not against the Dolphins. This might be a bit hard to believe but the Dolphins rank 6th in points to DBs. Jairus Byrd didn't get the preseason hype that Wilson got and for the most part he is still flying under the radar, but he shouldn't be. All that Byrd has done is rack up 135 fantasy points, which ranks 6th among DBs. Wilson is the top dog with 25 more points than Byrd, for those that are mathematically challenged, Wilson has scored 160 fantasy points. Both should easily be penciled in to starting lineups this week, that is if Wilson is able to get past his injury issue.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 50, 2009: 55, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 48, 2010: 48
Defensive Line: The Dolphins play a 3-4 scheme that basically renders their DL fantasy irrelevant. You should look elsewhere for DL help.
Linebacker: The Dolphins LBs will get to face a Bills team that got out of the gates fast with a 4-1 record but since has won just 1 of their next 4 games, including 2 losses in their last 2 games. If the Bills want to make the playoffs and show that their early season success wasn't a fluke they are going to need to rely on Fred Jackson, to both run and catch the ball. If the Bills do lean on Jackson then look for Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett to both decent enough games. Dansby is on a roll, since returning from a week 5 bye, he ranks 2nd in fantasy points scored among all LBs. Not only is Dansby on a roll but so is Kevin Burnett, over that same period of time he ranks 9th in fantasy points scored, and that even includes an 8 point effort in week 6. I have both players with 3-star ratings but I see very little downside and plenty of upside for each player. The Bills currently rank just 21st in points allowed to opposing LBs, which is why I only have them as 3-star plays. However, in 4 of their 5 wins they ran the ball at least 25 times, with their win against the Patriots being the only game where they ran less, and in those 4 games they gave up very nice fantasy points to the oppositions key LBs. Jamar Chaney (17 pts) and Rolando McClain (20pts) are examples of two LBs that had success against the Bills this year. So with that in mind, and seeing how bad the Bills need a win, coupled with how poorly Miami plays at home, I think it is safe to say that I feel very good about Dansby and Burnett this week.
Secondary: Yeremiah Bell is coming off a season worst 4 point effort against the Redskins, but it is only his first single digit performance of the year. When you look at the rankings you will see that the Bills are pretty much a middle of the road matchup for opposing DBs. Couple that with the struggles that Bell has had over the past couple of weeks and you are probably thinking about benching him, well don't. After 3 weeks into the season the Bills were a top 10 matchup for opposing DBs, and this week I think that Bell should at the very least hit the 10-12 point range, and I see some upside in his 3-star rating, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him put up 15+ points either. Against a passing attack that could be without Steve Johnson, I think it is a bit risky to rate Vontae "hiccup" Davis a 3-star play, but Davis, when he has been on the field has been a pretty solid DB option.
Dallas at Washington
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 and it would be best to seek out fantasy help elsewhere.
Linebacker: Sean Lee owners had to be a bit conflicted last week, on one hand they were happy he was able to play, but on the other hand they had to worry how effective he would be with a cast on his hand. Well, while his presence on the field was a positive for the Cowboys, the cast did seem to hinder Lee, allowing him to record just 3 solos and an assist. Surprisingly, the Redskins are a great matchup for opposing LBs, ranking 3rd in average points allowed. So in what should be a no brainer 5-star matchup, Lee owners will once again have to make a difficult decision. I can safely say, as a Lee owner, I will have him in my lineup this week. I just will be tempering my expectations some and if he by chance does go off then that will be the icing on the cake. If you are in a Geriatric Fantasy League, then and only then should you give consideration to starting Keith Brooking. Good news for dynasty owners is that Bruce Carter played in 13 snaps last week, he is definitely a buy as far as I am concerned.
Secondary: The Redskins aren't exactly a good matchup for opposing DBs, ranking 21st in points allowed to DBs. I know I have said I can't get a good feel for the Cowboys DBs, and for the most part I still feel that way. However, with that said, after looking at what Gerald Sensabaugh and Terence Newman have done over the past three weeks I can see that I need to amend their star ratings from a 2-star to a 3-star rating. If you take Newman's performance out 5 weeks you get a DB that ranks 9th in fantasy points scored.
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: There are two things that I really want to hit on this week, with the first being London Fletcher. At the start of the season Fletcher was scoring well, just not like we were used to seeing Fletcher score. Well since the Redskins week 5 bye, Fletcher has scored 105.50 fantasy points (21.10 PPG), more than any other LB has. Yep, he is the #1 scoring LB over the past 5 weeks. This week Fletcher looks to once again be a strong play. The other thing I wanted to address this week is Fletcher's running mate at the other ILB spot, Perry Riley. Yes, Perry Riley, not Rocky McIntosh. Last week Riley got the starting nod over McIntosh and by all accounts he did well, so I would expect to see him starting again this week. Riley is probably still stashed on some rosters in deeper dynasty leagues, but if he is available in your league I would recommend rostering him if you can. The Redskins may have issues on the offensive side of the ball but on the defensive side they do have some players, and that includes Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan. In the scoring system we use I am normally not high on rush OLBs, but Kerrigan is making it hard for me to dismiss him as a viable weekly fantasy LB. He currently ranks 29th in points scored among LBs, making him a LB3, and from a consistency standpoint, he has scored in double digits in all but two weeks. His 2-star rating is probably to low, so I will give it a second and third look and possibly upgrade him at some point.
Secondary: LaRon Landry is quietly starting to produce like the LaRon Landry we saw last season. Since the Redskins bye week, Landry ranks 5th among DBs in fantasy points scored. The Cowboys are a pretty neutral matchup for DBs, but Landry needs to be in your lineup, because you just never know when he is going to blow up. OJ Atogwe missed another week, but this time he probably burned an owner or two. While the Redskins didn't deactivate Otogwe, they didn't play him either, due to his injury he was evidently just available in emergency. This week things look more promising for Atogwe, as he practiced fully on Monday. But after last week's debacle I think it would be best to wait and see Atogwe actually get back on the field before inserting him into lineups. I know that won't be easy, especially seeing that Reed Doughty has put up 17 and 18 points in his stead the past two weeks. This week, Doughty would also make a risky play since he could go back to his reserve roll, could rotate with Atogwe, or even play every down if Atogwe has a setback. So if you want to play Doughty just wait and see what Mike Shanahan has to say about the issue. Yes, there is a bit of sarcasm in that previous sentence.
Oakland at Minnesota
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: Since Christian Ponder took over as the starting QB for the Vikings they rank 30th in average points allowed to opposing DLs. For the season the entire Raiders DL has put up just 6 double digit performances. Richard Seymour & Tommy Kelly each have two, and LaMarr Houston and Jarvis Moss each have one. This week I think they all make for risky plays, I currently have Seymour as a starter in DT mandatory leagues, but I am starting to waiver a bit on that, especially with him missing practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury. The Vikings do rank 6th in rushing attempts up the middle with 88, so if he plays, as well as Kelly should have some opportunity this week.
Linebacker: After missing week 9 due to injury, Rolando McClain was back in action, while he didn't have a big week, his 11 fantasy points were at least serviceable. This week he catches a Vikings team that really needs to feed Adrian Peterson the ball more than they were able to last week. Since week 7 (the start of the Ponder era) the Vikings rank 11th in points to LBs, so McClain should be able to minimally hit double digits, but I see his upside in the range of 15+ points this weekend. Aaron Curry seems to have found some new life with his new team, posting back to back double digit games. Curry has never lived up to expectations, and that really doesn't look like it will change. What Curry is at best, is a LB4/5 that at times will look like a LB3. This week, I think he continues his positive trend, and will look more like a LB3, rather than the LB4/5 that he really is. Kamerion Wimbley, what can I say, other than a blew it last week. I rated Wimbley a 1-star play, and he went off to the tune of 27 points. It was his second consecutive double digit performance, but before you get all gah-gah over Wimbley realize that those 27 points were more than he scored in his prior three games combined, and at the start of the year it took him until week 5 to hit 27 fantasy points. That all adds up to a very risky pass rushing LB.
Secondary: Tyvon Branch might not be putting up top 5 numbers like his owners had hoped for, but he is still a low level DB1. For the year he ranks 11th in fantasy points scored among DBs, and while he isn't putting up huge weeks, he has scored in double digits each and every week. This week he faces of against a Vikings team that is a pretty middle of the road matchup for DBs. They have given up the occasional big game so there is some upside in his 3-star rating. By all accounts it looked like Michael Huff would play last week, but Huff ended up on the inactive list, catching many fantasy owners off guard. Huff's ankle held him to a limited practice on Monday, and at this point I think the prudent thing to do is to wait until you see him back on the field before you even consider putting him into your lineup. Veteran Matt Giordano started in place of Huff, but he wasn't anything special, and doesn't deserve any consideration as a waiver wire add.
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 the beast of all beasts. Does anyone even remember the slow start that Allen had last year? Doubtful, because this year has been pedal to the metal since the season started. In my opinion, Allen is as valuable a commodity as Tomlinson was when he was at his peak. Think about what LT would command in a trade back then, sure a stud RB is more valuable than a DL, but don't let that fool you. Allen plays a position that is even thinner than the RB position. I own him in multiple leagues and honestly I don't think anyone could come up with a deal that would pry him away from me. Brian Robison has scored 13 total points over his last four games. That right there should say it all.
Linebacker: Last week I said I expected Chad Greenway to approach the 16 points he scored against the Packers in their week 7 matchup, and he did, scoring 15 points. Greenway is a must start if you own him and this week against the Raiders rushing attack I see him as a very strong 3-star play. Actually, I am considering bumping his rating up to 4-stars. EJ Henderson, didn't fare so well last week, but playing in only 33 snaps makes it hard to have an impact in the box score. As I pointed out last week, EJ only played in 34 snaps in the Vikings/Packers first matchup, so seeing him on the field for 33 shouldn't have been much of a surprise. This week I think he has a bit more upside but not enough to warrant being in starting lineups.
Secondary: Just when fantasy owners get Antoine Winfield back, and start to think how nice it will be to have him in their lineups for the stretch run, pooof, he is gone again. A neck injury is what kept Winfield out earlier this year, but against the Packers he broke his clavicle and has been placed on IR. His loss will now throw Cedric Griffin back in the mix as a starting CB, as he and Asher Allen are expected to be the starting CBs going forward. I see both Griffin and Allen as solid plays, not just for this week, but going forward too. Winfield wasn't the only secondary player injured against the Packers, Husain Abdullah suffered a concussion and his availability for week 11 is cloudy at best.
Tampa Bay at Green Bay
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: Jared Allen had a huge game against the Packers last week, but guess what, the Buccaneers don't have a DL near as good as Allen. However, they do have Michael Bennett who I see being a DL2 option this week. Bennett hasn't been flashy this year, posting just two double digit games but he has done enough to rank as the #15 overall DL in fantasy scoring. Albert Haynesworth had a very nice game in his first week with the Buccaneers, but this week he a knee has kept him out of practice on Monday. On the positive side of things, he was a full participant in practice on Thursday. However, against the pass happy Packers I don't see him as a very good fantasy play this week.
Linebacker: Rookie Mason Foster has easily become the best fantasy option at LB on the Buccaneers. Earlier in the season Foster wasn't playing every down, but the last two weeks he has played in all but one defensive snap. Considering he isn't coming off the field now is why I gave him a 3-star rating, but understand that there isn't any upside in that rating, but instead plenty of risk. Geno Hayes was replaced in the starting lineup by Adam Hayward last week. Hayward went on to have a very nice fantasy week, posting 15 fantasy points. I wouldn't rush to the waiver wire to add Hayward, he started, and did have a productive day, but he only played in 36 of 66 defensive snaps. Hayes who was replaced by Hayward played in just 5 fewer snaps. Sure Hayward could put up decent enough numbers in limited snaps, I just am not willing to bet o that happening consistently. Quincy Black had a tough fantasy week last week, much like he has had a tough fantasy year, but this week I think he makes for a decent LB3 option.
Secondary: For the most part, cornerbacks, not safeties, have had better production against the Packers this year. Ronde Barber is riding a 4 game double digit scoring streak, and of the 3 Buccaneers DBs that I rated a 3-star play, I think he is the safest and best play. Sean Jones was putting up monster numbers at the start of the season, but no longer is that the case. Jones put up 7 and 8 point efforts against a pass happy Saints team this year, so expecting him to improve on those numbers against the Packers wouldn't be wise.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 51, 2009: 53, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 48, 2009: 44, 2010: 46
Defensive Line: The Packers DL play a vital role in the success of their 3-4 scheme but offers little to no fantasy value.
Linebacker: Desmond Bishop continues to carry many a fantasy team. This week against a Buccaneers team that could prove to be a trying matchup you still couldn't convince me to not have Bishop in my starting lineup, and truth be told, he will be in 3 of my lineups. I am sure it is just coincidence but in the three leagues I own Bishop in, my teams are all in the playoff hunt, with two of the teams already having a playoff spot locked up and the other team is currently leading the division. The one league I don't own Bishop in, I am not out of the playoff race, but they are a long shot. The point is, Bishop is the type of LB that can help to carry a team, and to do that he has to be in your lineup, so Buccaneers or not, keep plugging Bishop in. AJ Hawk of course was drafted much higher than Bishop, but that doesn't mean squat to fantasy owners. While Bishop has thrived this year, Hawk has struggled, posting just double digits in 3 games. At best Hawk is a LB5 that you hope you don't have to rely on. This week, should be no different, even if he has scored in double digits the past two weeks.
Secondary: On the season the Buccaneers have given up double digit performances 22 times to DBs. That is an average of 2.44 DBs/game, My best guess is that three Packers, Charlie Peprah, Morgan Burnett, and Charles Woodson all hit double digits against the Buccaneers this week. Burnett has the least upside of the three, but he still should be a solid enough option to be a DB3 for most teams. I have Peprah as a 4-star play, but with how Josh Freeman has been throwing interceptions, Woodson actually has the most upside, meaning, don't be surprised to see Woodson take a pick-6 to the house this week.
Carolina at Detroit
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: When your defensive line is facing a team that ranks #9 in points surrendered to DLs, you get the 10th ranked (Greg Hardy) and 16th ranked (Charles Johnson) in your starting lineup. I am sure that no one expected to see Johnson, who was signed to a mega deal prior to the start of the season, being outscored by Hardy. What makes the duo 3-star rated plays is that the Lions have either been, good, no sacks allowed in 3 games, awful, 5 sacks in 2 games, and mediocre, allowing 2 or 3 sacks in a game 3 times. What you have to hope for is one of those awful games, and that upside is why they both should be in lineups this week.
Linebacker: The Panthers LBs will be lucky to see the Lions run the ball much more than 20 times this week. That will limit the production of Dan Connor, and is why he belongs on benches this week. James Anderson on the other hand is a must weekly start. With all the injuries the Panthers have suffered this year it has allowed Omar Gaither the opportunity to get on the field, and he has made the most of it. In each of his last two games has scored 17 points. Gaither won't keep up production like that, but I do see him as a viable LB2/3 for the remainder of the season.
Secondary: There is no doubt that the Lions are a passing team, on the season they are averaging 40.6 pass attempts/game, and just 22.89 rushing attempts. One would figure that would equate to a good matchup for opposing DBs, but that just isn't the case. The Lions rank just 21st in points to DBs, and a big reason has to be that they are only completing 24.22 of those pass attempts/game. Even though it isn't the best of matchups, I still think that Charles Godfrey should be in lineups this weekend. Since week 7, Godfrey is averaging 13.667 PPG, good for 22nd best among DBs.
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: I am not sure if anyone has heard, but evidently Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player. We could sit here and debate the merits of hard play versus dirty play ad nauseam, but at the end of the day that doesn't matter to fantasy owners. What matters is if their player is racking up fantasy points. Something Suh hasn't really done that well this year. Expectations were high after he finished as the #5 overall scoring DL last year. Suh isn't a must weekly start like he was last year, but if you are in a DT mandatory league, I know you really don't have a choice but to keep plugging him into your lineup. The upside is just to high to ignore. I am interested to see how rookie phenom Cam Newtown handles the pressure that Suh will undoubtedly get on him.
Linebacker: The Panthers rank in the top ten in fantasy points allowed to LBs this season. I have both Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy as 3-star plays but much of their value ties in to how big a lead the offense jumps out to. If the game stays tight then I see them both having better games, sadly, I think this ends up a blowout and they will each barely hit double digits.
Secondary: The Panthers are also a good matchup for DBs, just as they are for LBs. Chris Houston got off to a very fast start this year, thru the first 5 weeks of the season he ranked 12th in scoring among DBs, that might be low level DB1, but hey, it is still a DB1. Since then his production hasn't really fallen off much, what hurt is that he only put up 2 points last week, and outside of last week, he has scored 9 or more points in every game.
Jacksonville at Cleveland
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: Last week I pretty much bagged on the entire Jaguars DL, and while what I had to say mostly did and still does apply, it doesn't for Jeremy Mincey. I know there are times when it seems like writers, myself included, have an axe to grind or just don't seem to give certain players any love, well I am here to say that isn't why I lumped Mincey in with the entire DL last week. It purely was me thinking that Mincey couldn't keep up his current level of production. It surely had nothing to do with me not liking him, hell I had him rostered in a league all last year, but I did cut him loose this preseason. That is after I couldn't shake even a late pick from any of my league mates for him. Well, I guess we all missed the boat, because since week 5, Mincey actually ranks as the #3 overall scoring DL. Over that span of time he has outscored the likes of Suggs, JPP & Peppers. I am not saying that Mincey is a must start or anything like that, but you sure could do worse than Mincey as a starter this week.
Linebacker: The Browns have given up big games to a slew of LBs this season. In three of the last four games the Browns have given up 20 or more points to a teams LB. Paul Posluszny very easily could make it 4 of 5 weeks. Posluszny hasn't been the super stud LB1 that he was in Buffalo but he has still been a good fantasy option. This week I think owners will be reminded of those Buffalo days. Outside of Poz, you can expect Daryl Smith to keep up with his very solid play. Smith has scored in double digits every week since week 2.
Secondary: The Jaguars secondary gets shook up a bit this week by the loss of Rashean Mathis who has been put on injured reserve. The Jaguars will most likely move veteran Drew Coleman into the starting lineup. The Jaguars defense has been very good this year, and the loss of Mathis will be felt, but if the Jaguars don't want it to hurt they are going to need 2nd year CB and former William & Mary CB Derek Cox to step up.
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 Jaguars rank 2nd in points allowed to opposing DL, so this week owners of Ahtyba Rubin & Jabaal Sheard should be smiling. Rubin burst on the scene last year, and this year he again ranks in the top 10. In DT mandatory leagues he is a big asset to his owners, and against the Jaguars he should get back into to double digits this week. Sheard hasn't scored more than 6.5 points in his last four games, but he still ranks inside the top 20. That is no small feat fro a rookie DL. As long as you aren't leaning on Sheard as a DL1 you should be in good shape.
Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson came back down to Earth a bit last week, scoring just 13 points. I know that 13 points is a very good week for many LBs, but not Jackson, who was coming off of back to back 20 point efforts. This week, I truly do think we could see Jackson back in the 20 point range. Outside of Jackson, there really isn't a Browns LB that is worth taking a risk on in your starting lineup.
Secondary: TJ Ward is still out with his foot injury. As expected Usama Young replaced him in the starting lineup last week, but he didn't exactly light up the box score. Young scored just 8 points, the same number he scored in each of the previous two games, when he wasn't starting. Against the "passing" game of the Jaguars Young as well as every other Browns DB should be on the bench this week. Only Joe Haden garnered more than a 1-star rating and that is only because I think he could pick off a pass or two this weekend, but there is no way I was willing to give him a 3-star rating when the Jaguars rank dead last in points allowed to DBs. For the record, I wrote the previous sentence before I even check to see where the Jaguars ranked, don't worry, I at least checked to make sure I wasn't giving out bad information.
Cincinnati at Baltimore
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 Ravens have put the ball in the air over 50 times/game in their last three games. Should the Ravens continue to try to act like the Packers or Patriots then Michael Johnson and company will have plenty of chances to pad their fantasy stats. However, excluding Carlos Dunlap, Johnson and the rest of the Bengals DLs have combined for just 2 double digit point games in their last four games. Hence the 2-star rating or worse for Johnson and his teammates. Dunlap would have rated a 3-star play but he missed last week due to injury, and that injury (hamstring) he has been limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If there is enough good news on Dunlap after Friday's practice is complete I very well could change his status from "injured" to a 3-star play.
Linebacker: After missing three games, Rey Maualuga was finally able to get back on the field last week. He didn't have a big week but his 11 points were very solid. This week against a Ravens team that really needs to get back to feeding Ray Rice the ball he makes for a very strong play. Even with the Ravens crazy play calling and pass heavy attack of late they still rank 4th in points to opposing LBs. Thomas Howard has been a bit inconsistent, but he has had some very nice games too. This week I see Howard being able to have a very good game. His 4-star rating might be a tad overzealous, but that doesn't change the fact that I see this as a strong matchup for him.
Secondary: The big news regarding the Bengals DBs this week is that Leon Hall tore his Achilles and has been lost for the year. Hall may not be a big fantasy producer but he is by far the Bengals best player in their secondary. Fantasy wise the impact will be minimal, as Reggie Nelson should remain the best fantasy option. Kelly Jennings is expected to replace Hall, but fantasy wise I am not expecting much. Pacman Jones, if he was healthy very well could have challenged for that starting spot, and with Jones there would have been some upside. It also doesn't help that Nate Clements and Chris Crocker each missed practice on Wednesday due to knee issues.
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: You don't sit players like Terrell Suggs, but this week you have to seriously temper expectations for him. For starters the Bengals rank 26th in points to DLs, and on top of that they could be without their #1 WR, AJ Green. If Green can't go then I think we see the Bengals really try and grind out the game on the ground to help protect "Big Red" (Andy Dalton). Haloti Ngata rebounded with a 14 point effort, much more of what his owners are used to seeing, instead of that 3 point effort he had the previous week. This week, against a Bengals team that runs the ball almost 30 times/game I really like him as a 3-star play, but unlike Suggs I see him having some upside in his rating.
Linebacker: The most important issue with the Ravens LBs this week is that Ray Lewis is dealing with a foot/toe injury. That injury has kept Lewis out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and that makes his status for week 11 tenuous at best. Rumors are that the injury will keep him out at least this week, but maybe more.
Secondary: Bernard Pollard continued his strong play last week, and this week against the Bengals I like him in what should be a big defensive battle. Pollard will likely be spending a ton of time in the box, and if for some reason Ray Lewis can't play this week then you can look at Pollard as a strong 5-star play. Since week 6, Pollard has scored in double digits each and every week and he is averaging 13.40 PPG and ranks 7th in fantasy points scored among DBs.
Seattle at St. Louis
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 45, 2009: 51, 2010: 46
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 54, 2009: 52, 2010: 53
Defensive Line: Chris Clemons is the epitome of inconsistency. This year he has scored in double digits 3 times (14, 14 & 15), and scored 3 or fewer points (0, 1, 2 & 3) four times. That makes Clemons a big risk/reward DL, much like Dwight Freeney has been over the years. I have Clemons as a 3-star play, but just barely. If you need a solid but unspectacular DL then Clemons isn't your guy, but if you need to swing for the fences then his 3-star rating will fit you well.
Linebacker: I gave David Hawthorne a 5-star rating last week, and I fully expected him to hit the 20 point plateau. Hawthorne didn't produce like I had hoped, but his 17 fantasy points were far from chopped liver. This week, I have him as a 5-star play once again, and against the Rams that rank #1 in average points to LBs, I think that rating is very well deserved. Hawthorne isn't the only Seahawks LB that I expect to produce good numbers this week. I also think that Leroy Hill is in line for a very good week, and if you are dealing with injury or bye week issues then KJ Wright makes for a nice sleeper play too.
Secondary: Kam Chancellor didn't have a great week last week, but that is because he ended up suffering a mild concussion that knocked him out of the game. Luckily for Chancellor and his owners the concussion was mild, and he has been cleared to practice and is expected to play this weekend. I have ridden Chancellor in all four of my leagues and I plan to do the same this week. I suggest you do the same. I initially had him rated "injury" but that will be updated to a 4-star play. Earl Thomas has six consecutive double digit performances and over that span of time his PPG average is 14.50, and the 87 fantasy points he has scored ranks as the 7th most by a DB. In hindsight his 2-star rating is to low and he should at least be a 3-star play 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: I batted .500 last week with regards to the Rams DLs. My "hit" was saying that I was lowering Chris Long to a 2-star play from the initial 3-star play that I gave him. A big part of my reasoning was that Long had never in his career strung together three consecutive double digit games, well, after a 7 point game in week 10, Long still has never put up three consecutive double digit games. My "out" came at the hands of James Hall. I really felt that Hall was the Rams DL to have in starting lineups last week, but his 2 point effort shows that I was way wrong. This week, against a Seahawks team that ranks 11th in points allowed to DLs I have them both as 3-star plays. Yes, both have a fair amount of risk associated with their ratings, but I think playing at home is what pushes them up to a 3-star level.
Linebacker: The Seahawks rank in the bottom 10 in points allowed to LBs which is why James Laurinaitis is only a 3-star play. Laurinaitis has scored 20 or more points in two of his last three weeks, but this week I think he is more likely to score under is 15.444 PPG average. Since the Rams bye in week 5, WLB Chris Chamberlin has scored 54 fantasy points ( 10.80 PPG), which ranks 30th among all LBs. That makes Chamberlin a solid LB3 over that time span. This week due to the poor matchup, Chamberlin presents a bit to much risk for my taste, which is why I have him as a 1 star play. My 1-star rating is probably a tad pessimistic, at worst he should be a 2-star play, so I will be updating his rating. i just wouldn't look to start him unless you were in real dire straits.
Secondary: Quintin Mikell hasn't exactly lived up to expectations this season. Granted he hasn't been a flop, ranking 23rd in fantasy points scored by a DB, thus making him a DB2. However, Mikell was a guy that many, myself included that felt he would be much better than that this year. His last two weeks have been less than stellar too, but this week against a Seahawks team that actually ranks 10th in points to DBs he should be a solid enough 3-star play. Darian Stewart has shown some nice flashes this year but last week he suffered a neck injury, and that shortened his day last week. The injury limited him in practice on Wednesday but on Thursday he was able to practice in full and as long as he doesn't suffer a setback on Friday he should be good to go this week. A player that was injured last week and won't be playing this week is CB Al Harris. Harris tore his ACL and has been put on IR, ending his season. Harris was replaced in the lineup by Josh Gordy. Gordy could be a sneaky play as teams could try to "pick" on him, but with as poor as the Rams secondary has played the all get "picked" on.
Arizona at San Francisco
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 is just one of four DLs to have broken through the 100 point plateau so far this year. Campbell has been everything and then some from what I expected this season. Not only does Campbell rank 4th in points but he has been very consistent too, his worst performance is a 4 point effort in week 7, so at the very worst you know he is going to give you some sort of production. This week I don't particularly like his matchup, but if you own him I do think he should be in your lineup, he will be in mine, that much is for sure.
Linebacker: Darryl Washington is starting to make a name for himself, yes dynasty owners know who he is and have high expectations for him, but next year, I think re-draft owners will feel the same way. He has now put up two consecutive 20+ point games, and I know that when you start seeing that type of production you expect it to be a weekly occurrence. However, that isn't always the way things work out, this week against a 49ers team that ranks 31st in points to LBs, Washington will be hard pressed to just hit the 10-12 point range. Paris Lenon, has been pretty solid since the Cardinals bye week, but this week, I really think he should be on the bench.
Secondary: The 49ers aren't as bad a matchup for DBs as one might think. Nine DBs have racked up 6 or more total tackles against the 49ers this year. Of those 9 DBs only one was a CB, so that makes Richard Marshall slightly risky as a 3-star play, but Marshall is really the only player in that secondary that currently warrants starting consideration. Patrick Peterson is electric and at any moment he could take an INT or punt to the house, but his tackle numbers aren't exactly impressive. So far he has recorded 3 or fewer tackles in 4 games, and only once has he recorded more than 5 solos in a game.
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 Cardinals are a very nice matchup for opposing DLs, ranking 5th in average points given up. Unfortunately, the only DL the 49ers really have that is worthy of fantasy consideration is Justin Smith. Smith isn't flashy but he puts up fantasy points. He currently ranks 7th in total points with 84.50, good for a PPG average of 9.389. Like I said, solid, but not flashy.
Linebacker: The Cardinals are a slightly below average matchup for LBs, but there is no way you are going to sit the #1 (NaVorro Bowman) or #3 (Patrick Willis) LBs this week or ever. Bowman was a guy I didn't buy into early in the year but I am man enough to say I was wrong. Bowman is simply in beast mode, let him put your fantasy team on his back and carry you to the playoffs and hopefully to a fantasy championship. So Bowman and Willis are no brainer plays, but the guy I really like this week is rookie Aldon Smith. As noted in the DL section the Cardinals are giving up big points to opposing DLs, while Smith isn't a DL, his main job will be to rush the QB, and I have a feeling he could get to Skelton multiple times this weekend.
Secondary: Against a Cardinals team that ranks just 22nd in average points allowed to DBs you have to consider the risks associated with starting any of the 49ers DBs. I am willing to give Dashon Goldson a 3-star rating due to his solid play this year. I know that Donte Whitner had a very nice 15 point effort last week, but he has been a bit inconsistent and with this matchup I think there is enough risk to keep him as a 2-star play.
San Diego at Chicago
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 limits their DL enough that you should look for fantasy help elsewhere. The only exception would be Antonio Garay who is a top 5 DT for DT mandatory leagues. For the season only two DTs have recorded more than 2 solos against the Bears, Frank Okam (3 solos) and Ndamukong Suh (3 & 4 solos) who did it twice. Looks like a tough day for Garay owners in week 11. Also, I should point out that Garay missed practice on Wednesday with what is listed as a hip injury.
Linebacker: Donald Butler was on the field for 75.4% of the teams defensive snaps last week, pretty much in line with his snap percentage over the past four games. Butler was able to cobble together a solid 12 fantasy points, but like I do every week, I have to point out that he is a risky play considering he isn't playing every down. The good news is that at least he is productive in the snaps he gets on the field for. This week against a Bears team that is averaging 31 rushes/game over their last 6 games he could be a bit of a better play than one would anticipate against the Bears pass happy attack. There has been a gaggle of LBs that have scored very well against the Bears, Lofton (16 pts), Weatherspoon (20 pts), Dan Connor (14 pts), Levy (22 pts), and Greenway (15 pts), but on the other end of the spectrum Desmond Bishop scored just 10 points against the Bears, and James Anderson's 7 points effort was his 2nd lowest total of the season. Takeo Spikes is listed on the injury report with a concussion but he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, so he should be good to go for this week.
Secondary: Steve Gregory (thigh) like Spikes, is listed on the injury report, and also like Spikes, he too practiced fully on Wednesday. There are a couple of main factors that led to Gregory only garnering a 2-star rating. The first and most important thing is that he has just been an inconsistent scorer this year, next, the Bears rank just 26th in points to DBs, and lastly, he missed last week due to injury. Add all those things together and I see a big red flag that screams risky play. Eric Weddle on the other hand I see as a safe enough play to warrant a 3-star rating. Weddle has posted a couple of 5 point stinkers this year, but I think he should be plenty active against the Bears this weekend. At a minimum he should be good for 5 solos, which will get him into double digit territory.
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: So often it seems like big name free agents sign for oodles of cash and then proceed to stink up the joint for their new team. Luckily for the Bears that hasn't been the case with their signing of Julius Peppers. Since joining the Bears last year, Peppers has recorded 14 sacks, 16 QB hits, and a mind blowing 59 QB pressures. Safe to say that Peppers is making his presence felt on the Bears defense. This year, Peppers has been dealing with an knee/MCL issue, but he just keeps plugging along. Peppers 13 point effort against the Lions is his best of the year since scoring 17 points back in week 1. This week against a Chargers OL that, ummmm, to be nice, is a bit beat up, Peppers very well could top his week 1 effort.
Linebacker: Linebackers for the most part have feasted against the Chargers this year. They rank 2nd in average points to LBs, and if not for the Jets and Raiders game they most assuredly would be ranked #1. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been pretty much tearing it up of late, with Urlacher leading the charge with his back to back 20+ point outbursts. If you own either or both, don't think twice about it, just get them in your lineups.
Secondary: You can't talk about the Bears secondary without talking about "Peanut", Charles Tillman. As usual, Tillman is having another fantastic fantasy season, currently ranking 5th among DBs in fantasy points scored. In his last four games he has topped 20 points in three of them, with the only blemish being a nasty 5 point effort in week 9. When you put Tillmans strong play and the fact that the Chargers rank 4th in average points allowed to DBs it is easy to see why he is a 5-star play this week. I wouldn't expect Tim Jennings to repeat his 29 point effort from last week, but I do think that he can build on it and put up a double digit score. At safety it looks as if Major Wright is coming around and could end up being a viable fantasy starter. His 16 points are very nice, but what I liked more is that it was his second consecutive week scoring in double digits. This matchup up against the Chargers should get him to three straight.
Tennessee at Atlanta
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: I know this probably seems like a cop-out, but once again I am just warning everyone, STEER CLEAR OF THE TITANS DLs! Derrick Morgan is a guy I have liked for dynasty leagues, but at this point I am starting to wonder if I wasn't dead wrong on him. I think he is still worth stashing in dynasty leagues, but his ZERO points last week, when he played in excess of 50 snaps is concerning. But Morgan wasn't the only one stinking up the joint, nary a Titans DL scored in double digits.
Linebacker: Barrett Ruud missed last week due to a groin injury, and he was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Colin McCarthy. McCarthy's 13 points isn't going to blow anyone's socks off, but the rook held his own. Ruud's groin issue seems to be behind him, as he moved from a limited participant in practice on Wednesday to a full practice on Thursday. So look for Ruud to be back at his starting MLB spot this week. Next year however, that is another question. Ruud only signed a 1 year deal with the Titans so he most likely won't be back, and that means that McCarthy very well could be the heir. The fact that the Titans thought enough of him to keep him on the field for 100% of their defensive snaps does say volumes. McCarthy is easily a buy in dynasty leagues. When I published the star ratings, Ruud's injury was still up in the air, that is why he got the "injured" tag, and McCarthy got 2-stars. In the Friday update you can look for Ruud to move to a 3-star play.
Secondary: What a good week this looks to be for Jason McCourty owners. Why you ask? Because they get to plug McCourty the #2 scoring DB (tied with Roman Harper) into their lineups against a Falcons team that ranks #2 in points allowed to DBs. A perfect storm of sorts, but perfect storm or not, McCourty has flat out produced this year. Jordan Babineaux put up another solid effort last week, but I can't help but see him as a risky fantasy option going forward. Babineaux played in 100% of the teams defensive snaps last week, but Chris Hope did get back on the field. With Hope working his way back into the fold, he played 31 of 69 snaps, it sets up a rotation at best. So with as much uncertainty that surrounds Hope and Babineaux I think it would be best to leave both on the bench until we get a better look at how things will play out going forward.
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: Ray Edwards and John Abraham have been bad for fantasy purposes this year. Heck, you could dress the entire Falcons DL in Titans jersey and you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference. On the season the Falcons DLs have combined for two, yes TWO double digit games. One was by Abraham back in week 1 and the other by Corey Peters in week 7. Yes, that is bad. Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere for fantasy help, the risk associated with Abraham, Edwards, et al just isn't worth it.
Linebacker: Curtis Lofton (6th) and Sean Weatherspoon (7th) both rank in the top 10 in scoring among LBs. To say that they have been very nice fantasy options this year doesn't do them justice. For the season the duo are two of just five LBs that have scored in double digits each and every week this season. That sort of consistency, coupled with their upside is exactly why they are in the top 10. However, this week they face a Titans team that ranks just 30th in points allowed to opposing LBs, so they definitely have an uphill battle to keep their double digit scoring streak going this week. Even with this matchup being so poor I was very tempted to give both Lofton and Weatherspoon 4-star ratings, but in the end decided that 3-stars was more prudent. So temper your expectations for this week, but that doesn't mean they don't have what it takes to overcome this poor matchup and still put up stellar numbers.
Secondary: The poor and inconsistent play of the Falcons secondary, coupled with the poor matchup they have is why Brent Grimes and company rate no better than a 2-star rating. The Titans aren't as bad a matchup for DBs as they are for LBs, but still ranking 28th isn't good, and when you factor in the poor fantasy play, this becomes a matchup to avoid. On the injury front, William Moore's quadricep injury has kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
Philadelphia at NY Giants
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: Fade to black, that is what happens at the end of movies, and unfortunately it looks like that is also what is happening to Jason Babin's season. Thru eight weeks Babin ranked 6th in points scored among all DL, but in his last two weeks he has scored a combined ONE fantasy point, and that point came on a pass defended. Some might want to blame second year DL Brandon Graham as the reason, but Graham has only played in 41 snaps (27.2%) the past two games. While Babin has played in over 100 snaps and is garnering his normal 70+% of the defensive snaps. At this point you just have to sit Babin down, and hope he wakes up before the fantasy playoffs get here. It took three weeks, but Trent Cole finally his double digits this week. His first two games back after his injury were pretty uneventful, so it is nice to see Cole making an impact in the box score again. I have Cole as a 4-star play but that has more to do with the Eagles/Giants rivalry than it does the Giants 21st ranking in points to DL.
Linebacker: I am expecting the Eagles to see a heavy dose of Brandon Jacobs this weekend. That is why I have Jamar Chaney as a 4-star play, and honestly, I toyed with a 5-star rating, and still might very well upgrade him at some point. But 4 or 5 stars, no matter, just get Chaney into your lineups this weekend. We are all well aware of the fact that they Eagles made a change at LB earlier this season, benching rookie Casey Matthews, which led to Chaney taking over at MLB and rookie Brian Rolle moving into the starting WLB spot. Well last week, quietly the Eagles made another change at LB, this time they benched Moise Fokou and replaced him with Akeem Jordan. No real fantasy value is attached to the move but I did think it was worth pointing out that the Eagles are still somewhat unsettled at the LB position.
Secondary: Elite Manning has been throwing the rock around nicely this season. But this week I have sinking feeling that Tom Coughlin is going to reel in the passing game some and really rely on the run. That makes things a bit dicey for the fantasy prospects of the Eagles secondary. I have Kurt Coleman as the only 3-star or better play. Since week 6 Coleman's fantasy play has been stellar, at least for the most part, over that time he ranks 6th in fantasy points scored, and that includes a bye week and a 2 point performance against the Cowboys in week 8. Nate Allen is expected back in the lineup this week, recovered from his concussion, so that means that rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett is going back to the bench. In other news the Eagles released safety Jarrad Page.
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: Throw all the stats out the window for the Giants DLs this week. I don't care that the Eagles rank 32nd in points allowed to opposing DLs. The Giants always seem to bring the heat in this heated NFC East rivalry. Anyone remember the night that Osi Umenyiora recorded 849 sacks against the Eagles? OK, so I embellished that a bit, but you get the point. I only gave a 3-star rating to each of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, but I fully expect one of them to have a 5-star type game. Figuring out who was the hard part, but if you own any or all of them, I would get them in the lineup this weekend.
Linebacker: Michael Boley has been far and away the Giants best LB this year, however an injury forced him from last week's game against the 49ers and as a result he ended up with his 1st single digit performance of the season. As it stand right now, Boley's hamstring injury has kept him from practicing on both Wednesday and Thursday. As it stands now, things don't look good for this week, so if you are a Boley owner you should start making plans to not have him in your lineup this weekend.
Secondary: With Michael Boley ailing I think we should see Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips benefit. I have both as 3-star plays but my concern is if the Eagles have to start Vince Young at QB and it causes a sputtering offense to sputter some more. With that said, I do think Rolle and Phillips should be in lineups this week, and I see them having a decent amount of upside, but likewise I see plenty of risk too.
Kansas City at New England
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 severely limits the fantasy value of their DL, look for fantasy help elsewhere, even if it is on the Titans DL. On the injury front Glen Dorsey is dealing with a knee injury. He was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and is considered "day-to-day".
Linebacker: Derrick Johnson is a must start no doubt about it LB. I know that Johnson doesn't get the accolades that many other LBs get, but he is as consistent as they come. He has scored in double digits in all but one week, and the week he didn't he scored 8 points. Since the bye in week 6, Johnson has scored 79 fantasy points, 3rd most over that time frame. Outside of Johnson this week there really isn't another Chief LB worth the risk in starting lineups. Yes, Jovan Belcher has put up back to back double digit games but he isn't what I would all a reliable option. Only give him a look if you are in dire straits due to injuries and such.
Secondary: Both Brandon Flowers (back) and Brandon Carr (ankle) should be solid plays this weekend, but only if they can get on the field. Both were limited participants in practice on Thurdsay, so make sure to monitor their progress this week before inserting them into your lineup. On top of the two Brandons, I also like Kendrick Lewis to have a solid game against the Patriots passing attack. Lewis in four games after the Chiefs bye has scored 44 fantasy points, so he has been a pretty solid DB3 over the past month and against Tom Brady he should get a pretty good workout. The only thing that could limit him is the Patriots lack of a deep passing attack. I know that safety Jon McGraw put up some strong numbers earlier in the year but since returning from injury he has been very inconsistent. His lack of coverage skills could limit the time he spends on the field this week, which is why I seem him as a risky fantasy option.
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Given Up: 2008: 56, 2009: 55, 2010: 51
Average Tackle Opportunities/Game Faced: 2008: 46, 2009: 46, 2010: 52
Defensive Line: The Patriots were going to fix their pass rush this year, or so we were told. Well for the most part, Bill Belichick didn't get it fixed very well. But one piece that he brought in has started to pay dividends. In case you have been under a rock I am talking about Andre Carter. Carter had a massive game against the Jets in week 10, logging 5 solos, 1 assist and 4.5 sacks (a NE record). Since week 5, Carter's 71.50 fantasy points are second only to Jared Allen's 83.0 points. This week, Carter gets to tee off against a Chiefs team that will be trotting Tyler Palko out as their starting QB. I see good things continuing for Carter owners this week, but not so good things for Palko.
Linebacker: The Chiefs rank 8th in average points allowed to opposing LBs, and honestly, that is surprising considering just how quickly they abandon the run once they get down big in games, and lately they have been down early and often. Jerrod Mayo surely has struggled since returning from his MCL injury and more than likely those struggles are injury related and will unfortunately continue for the rest of the season. That puts Mayo owners in a tough spot because he is usually a plug and play LB. However, now you really need to assess the matchup and decide if the risk of starting him is worth it. This week, I am probably being a bit optimistic with his 4-star rating, but it isn't like you are going to sit him this week, just realize that there is some risk that normally isn't in a Jerrod Mayo rating. Brandon Spikes knee still has him not practicing, so it looks like another week on fantasy benches for him. Rob Ninkovich had a fantastic 23 point game last week, and it was also his 2nd straight double digit performance, but call me skeptical because I just don't see him doing it for a third week in a row. Chase the points if you must, but I would recommend against it.
Secondary: The Patriots
Infirmary secondary, is about as beat up as a unit can get. Last week, Patrick Chung's foot injury kept him out of the Jets game. This week Chung practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday, but with his game being on Monday night, it would be best to find an other option, because at best we are probably looking at a GTD decision and you don't want to get caught with him being declared inactive again. Devin McCourty is also one of the walking wounded, he suffered a shoulder injury against the Jets, and he has yet to practice this week. With as beat up as the Patriots secondary is, and the fact that they are facing a Palko led Chiefs team is what leads me to say that everyone except for Kyle Arrington should be on fantasy benches this week. I have Arrington as a 3-star play but that is because I think he will pick off a Palko pass on Monday night. So even he has plenty of risk.