Jeff Duncan, of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reports Saints rookie LB Courtney Watson takes over as the starter at middle linebacker.
Dolphins middle Linebacker Zach Thomas missed his second consecutive start due to an injured hamstring, but is hopeful to return in Week 15.
NO - Charles Grant – Grant has once again reached the pinnacle of the DL position, claiming the #1 spot after 14 weeks, and 3 solid performances in a row. Grant clearly hit a wall a few weeks back, but is finishing as strong as he started the season.
NYG - Osi Umenyiora - Since Michael Strahan’s season ending injury, Osi has been the lone bright spot for the struggling Giants defensive line. Osi had his best day of the season, and scored his first touchdown returning a fumble recovery in Week 14.
IND - Dwight Freeney - Freeney has been a major bust this season, and it's well documented his lack of production in past copies of this report. But the last 2 weeks he has put together 2 quality starts with 6 sacks and 8 tackles and this should not be overlooked, but start him with caution, as he has been up and down all season.
SD - Donnie Edwards - How do you top a 12 tackle, 8 assist performance from Week 13. How bout with 9 tackles, 7 assists, with 4 pass defense, 2 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in Week 14. Edwards is on fire right now, and calling him a must start is a complete understatement.
PIT - James Farrior - Farrior the last month has also been on fire. Versus the Jets last week he had 6 solo tackles and 5 assists to go with 1 INT, and the week before was just as impressive with 8 solo tackles and a pass defense. Farrior has been the main man for the Steeler’s LB core this season.
CAR- Dan Morgan - When healthy, there are few LB’s in the league better than Morgan at piling up huge stats from week to week, but health as always has been the concern for Morgan owners this season. After missing 4 of the past 5 games, due to a concussion, Morgan returned to the Carolina lineup and had 6 tackles, 3 assists and 2 INT.
SD – Terrance Kiel - Kiel has been a solid SS for San Diego this season, but his fantasy production is anything but consistent. This past Sunday he had his finest day of the season with 11 solo tackles and 4 assists. But next week vs. the hapless Browns, he should be right back to single digit tackle totals because the number of opportunities will be limited vs. the hapless Browns offense. .
DEN- Kenoy Kennedy - Kennedy has put together 2 solid games in a row for the first time since week 4 and 5 of the season. Kennedy is an intimidating hitter who is known for wreckless play and fines from the Commissioner’s office, but he can also be a force for the Bronco’s and his owners in the playoffs, if his head is screwed on straight.
MIN – Brian Russell – Russell was a top 5 DB from a year ago, and the addition of A Winfield has taken a big bite out of his production. So its no surprise this past week when Winfield was sidelined that Russell had his best game of the season. Watch this situation closely, as a healthy Winfield hurts Russell’s production.
DET– James Hall- Hall is having a breakout season for the Lions, but as of late has been hot one week and cold the next. In his last 4 games his production has gone from 3 tackles and 2 sacks to a single tackle to 3 tackles, an INT and a sack back to just a solo tackle and assist. Based on this trend, he should have a decent game in Week 15.
CIN – Justin Smith - Smith is turning a fine season into a disaster for owners, on the brink of the fantasy playoffs. Smith has just 2 assists a week ago and just 1 tackles and 2 assists this past week. I'd avoid him if you can.
TB – Derrick Brooks - Brooks has bounced back from a sub par season in 2003, to rank in the top 10 for LBs this season. But last Sunday Brooks disappointed his fantasy owners with the worst game of the season. Brooks only had 1 tackle and 3 assists.
NYJ – Eric Barton- Since the return of Sam Cowart to the Jets lineup Barton’s numbers have suffered the most at the LB position. Vilma is still getting his, but Barton has dropped off considerably. Barton the past 2 weeks combined has only 4 solo tackles and 2 assists.
STL - Adam Archuletta - Archuletta is having another solid season for the Rams defense, which is what makes this past Sunday's performance head scratching. Archuletta did not post a single statistic in Week 14, and most definitely hurt his owners in the process.
OAK – Charles Woodson - As so many times is the case, one week after putting Woodson on the Who’s Hot list, I have to turn right around and bounce him to the Who’s Not list. Woodson in Week 13 coming of his finest performance of the season dipped down in week 14, to his worst. What a difference a week makes.
John Abraham is listed as out Week 15, Coach Herm Edwards said “he is getting better, but he won’t be able to play this week“.
Grant Wistrom is out four to six weeks with a severe torn MCL.
Brian Urlacher has undergone an MRI, but the results are not yet available. However, it appears Urlacher will not be able to play this week and very well could end up on IR.
David Elfin, of the Washington Times, reports Redskins CB Shawn Springs (concussion, shoulder, sternum) is doubtful to play during Week 15.
Saturday, Dec. 18
Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants, 1:30 p.m. - LB James Farrior, DB Troy Polamalu, LB Nick Greisen.
Washington at San Francisco, 5:00 p.m. - DL Cornelius Griffin, LB Antonio Pierce, DB Sean Taylor LB Derek Smith.
Carolina at Atlanta, 8:30 p.m . - DL Patrick Kerney, LB Keith Brooking, DL Julius Peppers, LB Dan Morgan.
Sunday, Dec. 19
Buffalo at Cincinnati, 1:00 p.m. - DL Aaron Schobel, LB London Fletcher, DL Landon Johnson, DB Madieu Williams.
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m. - LB Dat Nguyen, DB Roy Williams, LB Jeremiah Trotter, DB Brian Dawkins.
Denver at Kansas City, 1:00 p.m. LB DJ Williams, LB Al Wilson, LB Kawika Mitchell, LB Scott Fujita.
Houston at Chicago, 1:00 p.m. - LB Jamie Sharper, LB Lance Briggs, DB Mike Green, DB Charles Tillman.
Minnesota at Detroit, 1:00 p.m. - DL Kevin Williams, DB Corey Chavous, DL Shaun Rogers, LB Teddy Lehman.
San Diego at Cleveland, 1:00 p.m. - LB Donnie Edwards, DB Terrance Kiel, DL Kenard Lang, DB Robert Griffin.
Seattle at N.Y. Jets, 1:00 p.m. - LB Isaiah Kacyvenski, LB Jonathon Vilma, LB Sam Cowart.
St. Louis at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. - DL Leonard Little, DB Adam Archuletta, DL Bert Berry, DB Adrian Wilson.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:05 p.m. - DB Tebucky Jones, LB Derrick Brooks, DB Ronde Barber.
Jacksonville at Green Bay, 4:15 p.m. - DL John Henderson, LB Mike Peterson, LB Nick Barnett.
Tennessee at Oakland, 4:15 p.m . - LB Brad Kassell, LB Keith Bullock, LB Danny Clark.
Baltimore at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m . -LB Ray Lewis, DB Ed Reed, LB Cato June,LB David Thornton.
Monday, Dec. 20
New England at Miami, 9:00 p.m. - LB Tedy Bruschi, DB Rodney Harrison, LB Morlon Greenwood.
Next in Line
BAL - Marques Douglas
NYJ - Shaun Ellis
JAX - Marcus Stroud
GBP - Aaron Kampman
DAL - Greg Ellis
PHI - Jevon Kearse
CIN - Justin Smith
DET - James Hall
NOS - Darren Howard
BAL - Kelly Gregg
BUF - Takeo Spikes
JAX - Akin Ayodele
MIN - EJ Henderson
CAR - Will Witherspoon
CLE- Warrick Holdman
NYG - Kevin Lewis
SDC - Steve Foley
CIN - Brian Simmons
SF - Jamie Winborn
NOS- Courtney Watson
SF- Tony Parrish
BUF - Lawyer Milloy
PHI - Michael Lewis
BAL - Will Demps
CLE - Anthony Henry
NEP - Eugene Wilson
BAL - Gary Baxter
OAK - Stuart Schweigert
SEA - Ken Hamlin
GBP - Darren Sharper
Team Defense - Top 5 Plays of the Week
Houston vs. Chicago. The Chicago offense is outright bad, and Houston held the high powered Colts to their lowest point total of the season.
Washington vs. SF. San Francisco had an offensive explosion last week, but this week they meet a stout Redskins defense.
San Diego vs. Cleveland. Cleveland can’t get out of its own way on offense and the Chargers defense is one of the best of the 04 season.
New England vs. Miami. New England gave up 28 points to Cincinnati last week, but scored again on defense for the 3 rd time in 5 weeks, and they should continue this trend this week.
Philadelphia vs. Dallas. Dallas only scored 13 points on the 32 nd ranked defense in the NFL at home last week vs. New Orleans. Philly will stuff the run and pick off Vinny repeatedly.