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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 2
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
September 12, 2008
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Each week, Darin Tietgen and Steve Gallo will break down each matchup and offer ratings on the more important IDPs.  This week, Darin will take the home teams and Steve tackles the away squads.  Hopefully these breakdowns and ratings will help you make some key decisions on who to start this week.  Good luck!

Rating System:
Five-Star Play: Studly performance anticipated
Four-Star Play: Solid start
Three-Star Play: Decent start or sleeper
Two-Star Play: Bench ‘em, unless you need a sleeper in a large league
One-Star Play: Bench no matter what

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins

 
New Orleans Saints: 
Will the Redskins struggles on offense continue and limit the upside of Saints IDP players?  The unfortunate answer for owners of Saints players is yes and yes.  However, Jonathan Vilma should still be active enough to be a four-star play this week.  At the end of the day, Clinton Portis is going to think he was at an alumni party with how much he will have seen Vilma.  There are also reports that Roman Harper is nursing a pulled hamstring that limited his playing time in the fourth quarter versus the Buccaneers.   If Harper is indeed limited (which should be expected) the two that will benefit the most will be Clinton Portis and Kevin Kaesviharn.  Look for the Saints defensive line, anchored by Will Smith and Charles Grant to keep the pressure on the Redskins passing offense but don’t expect much fantasy wise from Sedrick Ellis.  Ellis is going to continue to grow but fantasy owners should allow him to sit and learn from their bench.  Rookie Tracey Porter looks to get his 2nd start of his young career.  Porter should post better stats this week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him log his first interception as a professional.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Jonathan Vilma (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kevin Kaesviharn (DB)
Charles Grant (DL)
Will Smith (DL)
Tracey Porter (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Roman Harper (DB, Two-Star due to injury concerns)
Scott Fujita (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Scott Shanle (LB)
Sedrick Ellis (DL)

Washington Redskins:
The Redskin D was led by LB London Fletcher last week, and this week should be no different as the multi-faceted Saint offense will make Fletcher a busy bee.  Jason Taylor is again a risky start, despite him practicing this week.  Fellow DE Andre Carter may not be a great start this week, as the Saint OL should protect QB Drew Brees well in this matchup.  The defensive backs are all decent starts, with FS LaRon Landry being the best of the bunch.

Five-Star Plays:
London Fletcher (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
LaRon Landry (DB)
Andre Carter (DL)
Rocky McIntosh (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Reed Doughty (DB)
Carlos Rogers (DB)
Fred Smoot (DB)
Jason Taylor (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Marcus Washington (LB)


New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams

New York Giants:
After a dismal performance is week one Antonio Pierce had many of his owners on the ledge and ready to jump.  With that said it was just one week and you shouldn’t make any rash decisions based solely off of a poor statistical performance in week one.  However, this probably isn’t going to be the week that Pierce is able to get back on track but that will most likely have more to do with the struggles of the Rams offense then Pierce’s performance.  If you think the Rams will be able to commit to giving Steven Jackson the ball 25 plus times then you can feel confident in running Pierce out for week two.  If you have what looks to be a better option for this week I would personally probably sit Pierce this week.   Mathias Kiwanuka seemed to answer the question on how he would respond being switched back to defensive end.  Expect “Kiwi” to continue to pay dividends and don’t be shocked if he logs a multi sack game this week.  Of course having Justin Tuck wreak havoc from the other side of the line is going to help too.  In the defensive backfield the big fantasy news was that 1st round rookie selection Kenny Phillips was not a starter.  At some point this season Phillips should ascend to a starting S position but until then just keep an eye on how he performs in relief duty while you let him season on your bench.  Another rookie to keep your eye on is linebacker Bryan Kehl (5 solo tackles) who didn’t start but split time at WLB with starter Gerris Wilkinson.  Look for Aaaron Ross to have an ok day due to some garbage completions by the Rams.

Five-Star Plays:
Justin Tuck (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Mathias Kiwanuka (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Fred Robbins (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)
Aaron Ross (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Antonio Pierce (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Gerris Wilkinson (LB)
Bryan Kehl (LB)
Danny Clark (LB)

St. Louis Rams:
The Rams were simply horrible on defense (and offense for that matter) last week, and should have similar problems this week against the defending champs.  LB Will Witherspoon, despite a pedantic Week 1, should be the best Ram IDP start.  Rookie DE Chris Long had a quiet debut, and should be held in check this week, especially since Leonard Little will most likely be out again.  Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is a decent start, as he’ll likely need to help the Ram corners in covereage.  James Hall will again fill in for Leonard Little and could have a decent game, especially if Long has a better week against the G-men.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Will Witherspoon (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Oshiomogho Atogwe (DB)
James Hall (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Corey Chavous (DB)
Chris Long (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Leonard Little (DL)


Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings

Indianapolis Colts: 
Versus the Bears in week one, the Colts run defense looked bad, 2006 bad.  Cutting their best defensive tackle (Ed Johnson) when they found out that he was arrested for marijuana possession isn’t going to help either.  However, it is probably a plus for fantasy owners of Robert Mathis since this will most likely mean more snaps for him helping to make him a good start this week.  Dwight Freeney wasn’t his old dominant self but even when he is, he is inconsistent at best for fantasy owners.  Gary Brakett and Freddie Keiaho should get very acquainted with Viking running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor this week.  Because Keiaho missed 5 games due to injury last year he may still be under the radar in your league but he shouldn’t be.  The Colts Tampa-2 scheme has proven to be fantasy gold in the past and we should see more of what Keiaho posted in week one as the season progresses.  Expect the Colts to use Bob Sanders to try and help limit the Vikings running game.  Sanders is healthy and a must start in all leagues.  Don’t expect much from the Vikings passing game so in turn don’t expect too much from Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden or Antoine Bethea.

Five-Star Plays: 
Freddie Keiaho (LB)
Bob Sanders (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Gary Brackett (LB)
Robert Mathis (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Antoine Bethea (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kelvin Hayden (DB)
Marlin Jackson (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Dwight Freeney (DL)

Minnesota Vikings:
The vaunted Viking D was a bit unimpressive in their opener, and face a daunting task in facing a bitter Colt squad this week.  Bump DE Jared Allen down in your rankings this week, although it’s next to impossible to bench the guy.  The best play is DB Antoine Winfield, who is a terrific tackler from the cornerback spot.  He’ll be very busy against the Colt pass game.  Fellow DB Cedric Griffin is also startable this week.  And the under-rated E.J. Henderson should put up good numbers this week. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
E.J. Henderson (LB)
Antoine Winfield (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Jared Allen (DL)
Chad Greenway (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Darren Sharper (DB)
Ray Edwards (DL)
Tyrell Johnson (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Kevin Williams (DL)


Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders: 
The Raiders looked absolutely pathetic versus the Broncos this past Monday night.  Due to that, the first thing that needs to be said is, step away from the ledge.  Kirk Morrison is not a guy you should be dropping.  He is still going to be a top LB this year and he should have a much better game versus the Chiefs this week.  Last week the Patriots were able to get to Chiefs QBs four times for sacks and this week Derrick Burgess should be a productive DE play that sees him log his first sack of the year.  Thomas Howard garnered much of his value last year from 6 interceptions and 2 touchdowns.  Look for Howard to still approach 90-100 tackles this year with a shot at adding an interception here and there.  Gibril Wilson is the other player on the Raiders that will be a solid weekly starter.  Look for Wilson to be active in run support versus what should be a good dose of Larry Johnson.  DeAngelo Hall was ABUSED by rookie WR Eddie Royal but make no mistake about it, Hall is a better CB then he showed in week one.  I don’t think he is going to be a consistent scorer at CB but he is a better CB then he showed on Monday night.

Five-Star Plays: 
Kirk Morrison (LB)
Gibril Wilson (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Derrick Burgess (DE)

Three-Star Plays:
Thomas Howard (LB)
Tommy Kelly (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
DeAngelo Hall (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Nnamdi Asomugha (DB)

Kansas City Chiefs: 
The Chiefs defense has some heavy-hitters that could cause the Oakland Raider offense some problems this week.  Hopefully the confidence you have in the likes of Bernard Pollard and Derrick Johnson will pay off this week.  They are solid starts this week, with a host of other Chief defenders also being very startable.  The Raider offense didn’t really show much last week, and this could be one of the sloppier games in the NFL this week.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Derrick Johnson (LB)
Bernard Pollard (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Pat Thomas (LB)
Tamba Hali (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Brandon Flowers (DB)
Jarrad Page (DB)
Chris Crocker (DB)
Donnie Edwards (LB)
Turk McBride (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Patrick Surtain (DB)


Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Buffalo Bills: 
Paul Posluszny let fantasy owners down in week one when he only posted 3 solos & 3 assists.  Expect Jacksonville running backs to run the football much more than the 14 times they did versus the Titans with Posluszny being the main beneficiary.  Keith Ellison has taken over for Angelo Crowell (IR) but didn’t come close to posting fantasy stats like Crowell has in the past and you shouldn’t expect that to change either.  Kawika Mitchell should post better tackle numbers this week but don’t expect to him add another sack like in week one.  Aaron Schobel, usually a slow starter, came out of the blocks on fire last week and there is no reason to expect him to slow down with the injuries that Jaguars have on their offensive line.  Aston Youboty and Donte Whitner combined for 14 tackles in week one but I would temper expectations considering the Tampa-2 scheme that the Bills play.  Terrence McGee still has kick off duties and should continue to be a serviceable start at the DB position. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Paul Posluszny (LB)
Aaron Schobel (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Marcus Stroud (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

Three-Star Plays:
Kawika Mitchell (LB)
Terrence McGee (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Aston Youboty (DB)
Donte Whitner (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Keith Ellison (LB)

Jacksonville Jaguars: 
This is going to be a game where the Jag defense has to play well if they’re to hold off an upstart opponent.  With the Jag offense likely stalling out due to their patchwork offensive line, the defense will have to be the key factor in this game.  The Buffalo Bill offense looked sharp against a highly-touted Seattle defense last week.  LB Mike Peterson will likely have a big game defending the run, and safety Brian Williams has come out of nowhere to be the best DB name on the Jags IDP side.  No other Jag IDPs are worthy of a start unless you’re in a larger league.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Mike Peterson (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brian Williams (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Rashean Mathis (DB)
Justin Durant (LB)
John Henderson (DL)
Reggie Nelson (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers: 
Nick Barnett (8 solo) & AJ Hawk (7 solo, 3 assists) had fantastic fantasy production versus what was a limited amount of tackle opportunities in their game against the Vikings (49 tackle opportunities).  The Lions don’t look like a very good team (offensively or defensively) which could make both Barnett and Hawk risky plays this week but I still think that both are going to get theirs and would start them both with confidence.  Aaron Kampman started his season off on a good note registering logging 5 tackles and a sack.  Look for Kampman to add to his sack total this week and have a monster game versus a poor Lions offensive line.  The defensive backfield should be able to pick of a pass or two with Jon Kitna (43 INTs in last 33 games) being under center.  Since interceptions are hard to predict it will be hard to recommend starting Al Harris, Charles Woodson or Nick Collins.  Normally, Atari Bigby would be the safe start but he is listed as Questionable (Bicep) to play versus Detroit.

Five-Star Plays: 
Aaron Kampman (DE)

Four-Star Plays:
Nick Barnett (LB)
AJ Hawk (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Bigby (DB, if he plays)

Two-Star Plays:
Al Harris (DB)
Charles Woodson (DB)
Nick Collins (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Brady Poppinga (LB)

Detroit Lions: 
The Lion defense looked completely lost on many occasions last week.  That’s not good, especially when you’re about to face a very confident Green Bay Packer offense.  LB Jordan Dizon was one of the mesmerized Lion defenders, but likely shook the first-game jitters and will outplay fellow LB Paris Lenon.  Super-stud LB Ernie Sims will be bumped down a bit this week with his ankle injury. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Jordan Dizon (LB)
Ernie Sims (LB)
Dwight Smith (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Gerald Alexander (DB)
Dewayne White (DL)
Leigh Bodden (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Jevon Kearse (DL)


Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals

Tennessee Titans: 
As a team the Titans ran roughshod defensively over the Jaguars sacking David Garrard 7 times.  You shouldn’t expect defensive tackles Tony Brown and Albert Haynesworth to log 2 sacks each again this week.  Nick Harper led the Titans with 8 solo tackles but don’t expect such stellar production against what is looking like a hapless Bengals offense.  What you can expect to see is Kyle Vanden Bosch (“KVB”) harass Carson Palmer all day long.  Fantasy owners should plug “KVB” into their lineup with the expectations of possibly seeing a multi sack day.  Last year I know people that laughed (I laughed too) when ESPN’s fantasy magazine ranked Keith Bulluck as the 26th LB.  They were wrong, Bulluck ended up as the 57th ranked LB.  Many Bulluck owners were in denial last year and even going into this year there were many that were hoping (me included) to see Bulluck bounce back.  However, after a week one clunker fantasy owners will be better served leaving Bulluck on the bench (hoping for that turnaround that never materialized last year) for now.  If you missed it Cortland Finnegan is turning into a very nice fantasy CB but this week probably won’t be one of his better statistical days.  Chris Hope is another once dominant fantasy producer that like Bulluck should remain on your bench until he shows some of his old spark.

Five-Star Plays: 
Kyle Vanden Bosch (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Tony Brown (DL, DT mandatory leagues)

Three-Star Plays:
Nick Harper (DB)
Cortland Finnegan (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Albert Haynesworth (DL)
Michael Griffin (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Keith Bulluck (LB)
Chris Hope (DB)

Cincinnati Bengals:
Another team that’s an absolute mess to start out the season, and they don’t even have any major injuries to blame.  LB Keith Rivers had a solid debut, and should follow that up with another solid game against the run-heavy Titan offense.  DB Marvin White should put up solid yet unspectacular fantasy stats as he’ll likely help in coverage against QB Kerry Collins’ deep ball.  The rest of the Bengal IDPs, including LB Dhani Jones, are marginal starts this week.  The guy that could shoot up from two-star to three-star would be DE Robert Geathers.  Consider him a decent sleeper this week.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Keith Rivers (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Marvin White (DB)
Dhani Jones

Two-Star Plays:
Johnathan Joseph (DB)
Domata Peko (DL)
Leon Hall (DB)
Dexter Jackson (DB)
Robert Geathers (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Chris Houston (DB)


Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears: 
The Bears defense produced three top ten fantasy players versus the Colts (Lance Briggs #5 LB, Adewale Ogunleye #4 DE & Charles Tillman #10 CB).  Going into the season it looked as if the Bears offense was going to struggle and allow the defense to spend a ton of time on the field.  Versus the Colts the offense was actually pretty effective, especially running the football.  I for one still think that the Bears offense is going to struggle much of the season and still give the defense plenty of opportunities.  Brian Urlacher posted 8 solos in week one (128 pace) and should continue to be a solid play versus a Panther team that will look to run the ball more than the 29 times they did versus the Chargers.  Lance Briggs will continue to post solid numbers from his WLB position and won’t always need a defensive TD to do so.    In the defensive backfield start Charles Tillman with extreme confidence but leave Kevin Payne and Mike Brown on your bench until we see more from either of them.  On the defensive line I would still run out Adewale Ogunleye and look for him to post his first sack of the year to go along with what should be a handful of tackles.  Mark Anderson is a better player than the goose egg he posted versus the Colts but he is a pass rush specialist and that lends itself to being very hit or miss.  On the other hand Alex Brown should remain an option as a DL2 or DL3 with his production on running downs.

Five-Star Plays: 
Brian Urlacher (LB)
Charles Tillman (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Lance Briggs (LB)
Adewale Ogunleye (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Alex Brown (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
None

One-Star Plays:
Mark Anderson (DL)
Kevin Payne (DB)
Mike Brown (DB)
Nathan Vasher (DB)

Carolina Panthers: 
The aggressive Panther D featured a host of solid IDP performers last week against the Chargers.  Look for those performers, and studs who didn’t perform (ahem, Mr. Peppers) to have a good game against the Bears.  LB Jon Beason is as close to a five-star start as you’ll get, but we’ll temper our expectations.  DB Chris Harris should be a good play, especially if the Bear offense can move the chains a bit.  Expect DE Julius Peppers to come alive in this one. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Jon Beason (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Julius Peppers (DL)
Chris Harris (DB)
Richard Marshall (DB)
Two-Star Plays:
Na’il Diggs (LB)
Chris Gamble (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons: 
One has to wonder what this week will bring with Brian Griese at the helm for the Buccaneers.  Keith Brooking didn’t post Keith Brooking like numbers from his WLB spot in week one but he should post better numbers going forward.  Curtis Lofton is the new man in the middle manning the MLB spot but he has a ways to go before he is a plug and play MLB for fantasy owners.  Michael Boley continues to be a top producing SLB (not the norm) and is currently the only plug and play LB on the Falcons.  The Falcon offense won’t get to play the Lions every week so they will have their struggles and in turn their defense will be the beneficiary.  John Abraham had a phenomenal week posting 3 sacks and even though he is a force at the DE position when healthy you just can’t expect him to post multiple sack games consistently.
Five-Star Plays: 
None

Four-Star Plays:
Michael Boley (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Keith Brooking (LB)
Curtis Lofton (LB)
John Abraham (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Lawyer Milloy (DB)
Brent Grimes (DB)
Chris Houston (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Jamaal Anderson (DL)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 
The Buc defense actually played rather well in a hostile environment last week and held down a prolific offense to 24 points.  They’ll be able to do much better things against a rookie quarterback and team that may have a bit of unfounded confidence.  I mean, the Falcons only beat the Lions, come on.  The Buc IDP to stick with this week is LB Barrett Ruud.  DBs Jermaine Phillips and Ronde Barber will be good starts, as they are most weeks.  Question is, will this be the week DE Gaines Adams puts it all together?

Five-Star Plays:
Barrett Ruud (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Jermaine Phillips (DB)
Ronde Barber (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Tanard Jackson (DB)
Jovan Haye (DL)
Gaines Adams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Philip Buchanon (DB)


San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers: 
Patrick Willis owners might still have to wait another week to see him post numbers like he did last year.  The Seahawks are a mess on offensive and that should limit the production of the 49ers IDP players.  Willis is still a must start but expect moderately good numbers.  Michael Lewis is probably the only other IDP worthy of starting for the 49ers this week.  There really isn’t much more to say then this should be a very ugly game with a bunch of three and outs (on both sides of the ball).  The only other thing really worth noting is that it seems that Justin Smith is going to retain his DL designation in league management software.  However, with that said I would still temper expectations on Smith’s statistical performance going forward due to the 3-4 defense that the 49ers employ.

Five-Star Plays: 
None

Four-Star Plays:
Patrick Willis (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Michael Lewis (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Justin Smith (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Everyone else

Seattle Seahawks: 
Good news for the Hawks: they return home to Seattle, where they play infinitely better football.  Real good news for the Hawks: they get DT Rocky Bernard back this week.  And even better news:  they face the usually-hapless San Francisco 49ers this week.  Will that mean their defense will again be dominating?  Not so fast, as the Niners have played their NFC West rivals pretty tough, despite being rather pathetic on offense.  Still, you have to start the likes of LB Lofa Tatupu and DE Patrick Kerney.  The interesting players here will be the other DEs:  Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp.  I wouldn’t mind giving either a shot this week.  The DBs could see lesser action this week, but you still start Marcus Trufant. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Lofa Tatupu (LB)
Patrick Kerney (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Marcus Trufant (DB)
Julian Peterson (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Lawrence Jackson (DL)
Darryl Tapp (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Deon Grant (DB)


New England Patriots @ New York Jets

New England Patriots:
 Losing Tom Brady may be bad for the Patriots and their offense but it should be a positive for owners of some of the Patriots IDPs.  Rodney Harrison will continue to be a DB1 or DB2 and Jerod Mayo looks like he has top 20-25 upside in spite of the Patriots 3-4 scheme.  Ellis Hobbs seems to have kept his return duties and is a viable DB in leagues that award return points.

Five-Star Plays: 
None

Four-Star Plays:
Rodney Harrison (DB)
Ellis Hobbs (DB)
Jerod Mayo (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Adalius Thomas (LB)
Mike Vrabel (LB)
Vince Wilfork (DL, DT mandatory leauges)

Two-Star Plays:
Richard Seymour (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Tedy Bruschi (LB)

New York Jets: 
Well the Jets and their fans are looking at this game two ways:  one, sure, you’re not facing Tom Brady.  But two, you still have to face Randy Moss and a well-thought-out scheme by Bill Belichick and company.  Expect LB David Harris to have a high-tackling game, and DB Kerry Rhodes to be one of the better DB starts this week.  There are few IDP sleepers in this group (DB Dwight Lowery and LB Calvin Pace to name two), so dig deep.

Five-Star Plays:
Kerry Rhodes (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
David Harris (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
None.

Two-Star Plays:
Calvin Pace (LB)
Darrell Revis (DB)
Dwight Lowery (DB)
Shaun Ellis (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

San Diego Chargers: 
Shawne Merriman tried to tough out the season but opted after one week to have surgery and go on IR.  The main beneficiary will be opposing offenses.  The Chargers will replace Merriman with Jyles Tucker but make no mistake he isn’t Shawne Merriman.  Tucker will get to the QB some this year but don’t expect it to be this week versus the Broncos.  Shaun Phillips stepped up but in tackle heavy scoring Phillips is still too inconsistent to rely on as much more than a LB4.  Clinton Hart should continue to be very productive from the SS position.  Antonio Cromartie should remain on your bench this week because he has missed practice due to a hip injury that has him questionable for this week’s game.  Matt Wilhelm owners can expect better numbers this week as they try to enjoy the time that Stephen Cooper is missing from the Charger lineup due to a league imposed suspension.

Five-Star Plays: 
Clinton Hart (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
None

Three-Star Plays:
Matt Wilhelm (LB)
Shaun Phillips (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Eric Weddle (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Jyles Tucker (LB)

Denver Broncos: 
The Broncos will again be led by LB D.J. Williams, who should rack up a host of tackles (probably many vs. LT) and could approach double-digits solos this week.  Fellow LB Nate Webster could be a solid play, but don’t expect DB Champ Bailey to put up huge numbers, unless he finds a way to pick off a Philip Rivers pass.

Five-Star Plays:
D.J. Williams (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Nate Webster (LB)
Champ Bailey (DB)
Elvis Dumervil (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
Jamie Winborn (LB)


Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals

Miami Dolphins:
In years past this is where you would be reading about Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor as must starts but those days are now a thing of the past.  Today, the Dolphins to own in IDP leagues are Yeremiah Bell and Channing CrowderMatt Roth a once promising DE lost much if not all of his dynasty value when he was re-designated a LB in the Dolphins 3-4 scheme.  While Roth did post respectable numbers in week one, they are not indicative of the type of production you should expect on a weekly basis.  Both Bell and Crowder are really the only safe starts versus the Cardinals.
 
Five-Star Plays: 
None

Four-Star Plays:
Yerimiah Bell (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Channing Crowder (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
None

One-Star Plays:
Matt Roth (LB)
Joey Porter (LB)

Arizona Cardinals: 
It could be a rather vanilla day for the Card IDPs, facing a Dolphin offense that could stall out very easily.  Don’t expect huge things from LB Karlos Dansby, unless he’s able to make a big play (which he can do).  DB Adrian Wilson is a must-start, as he always is, but could have an average outing. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Karlos Dansby (LB)
Adrian Wilson (DB)
Darnell Dockett (DE)

Two-Star Plays:
Gerald Hayes (LB)
Travis Laboy (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Antrel Rolle (DB)


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers: 
James Harrison posted what should be his yearly high score in week one where he totaled 7 solo tackles, 2 assists, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble.  Last year, Harrison only topped 5 solos 5 times and only had one multi sack game (3.5 sacks) so expecting a repeat performance isn’t very prudent.  Troy Polamalu is still the only Steeler  that IDPers can start consistently but if LBs Lamar Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison continue to improve that could change.  James Farrior will still have productive days but the youngsters should continue to eat into his tackle opportunities.

Five-Star Plays: 
None

Four-Star Plays:
Troy Polamalu (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
James Harrison (LB)
James Farrior (LB)
Ike Taylor (DB)
Ryan Clark (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
LaMar Woodley (LB)
Lawrence Timmons (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Larry Foote (LB)

Cleveland Browns: 
Ouch.  DB Sean Jones will be on the sidelines for a few weeks, which means there really isn’t much fantasy relevance here in Cleveland.  LB D’Qwell Jackson could be busy, but aside from him, we recommend keeping your distance.  DB Eric Wright could have a serviceable game, especially if the Steelers decide to air it out a bit.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
D’Qwell Jackson (LB)
Eric Wright (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Leon Williams (LB)
Kamerion Wimbley (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Andra Davis (LB)
Shaun Rogers  (DL)


Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens: 
Ray Lewis used to be the measuring stick for fantasy LBs but Ray is getting older and while still a dominant player he isn’t as dominant as he once was.  The Texans have next to no running attack so that could severely limit Ray as well as fellow linebacker Bart Scott.  Don’t expect Terrell Suggs to log 3 sacks like James Harrison did last week versus the Texans but still look for Suggs to have one of the better days among fantasy DLs. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Terrell Suggs (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Ray Lewis (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Bart Scott (LB)
Two-Star Plays:
Chris McAlister (DB)
Dwan Landry (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Ed Reed (DB)

Houston Texans: 
The Texans may be playing with more on their minds than just football, with Hurricane Ike staring them in the face.  But don’t expect their super-studs LB DeMeco Ryans and DL Mario Williams to lose a step, especially against the Ravens.  Start them with confidence and expect big fantasy numbers.  LB Zach Diles came out of nowhere last week, but will return to Earth this week.  If he has another good game, he might be a must-add.  The remaining Texan IDPs are nothing but fodder.

Five-Star Plays:
DeMeco Ryans (LB)
Mario Williams (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Amobi Okoye (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Morlon Greenwood (LB)
Zach Diles (LB)
C.C. Brown (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles: 
This should be a very good early season division battle.  Last week both Stewart Bradley and Quintin Mikell made the most out of very limited tackle opportunities versus the Rams.  The Cowboys should give the Eagles much more in the way of tackle opportunities to work with allowing Bradley and Mikell to lead the way again.  Both Bradley and Mikell look to bring back fantasy relevance to the MLB and SS positions that were perennial top producing fantasy gigs.  Brian Dawkins is an emotional leader and always finds a way to get up for Cowboys week.  Trent Cole is one of the top DLs in the league but versus what is a stalwart offensive line he should be in for a very tough week.  The trio of Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard will look to corral the Cowboy passing attack but none of the three are very strong fantasy plays.  Omar Gaither disappointed owners posting one single solo tackle versus the Rams.  Gaither may not have the upside that some had hoped when he assumed the MLB job last year but as a WLB at the end of 2006 he was able to post very respectable statistics so all is not yet lost with him.

Five-Star Plays: 
Stewart Bradley (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Quintin Mikell (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brian Dawkins (DB)
Omar Gaither

Two-Star Plays:
Asante Samuels (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Trent Cole (DB)
Lito Sheppard (DB)
Sheldon Brown (DB)

Dallas Cowboys: 
Wahoo!  An NFC rivalry game here in Week Two on Monday Night Football.  What could be better?  Expect a lot of offense, but there could be some good IDP plays here too.  LB Demarcus Ware should be active in this one, and log at least one sack.  Veteran safety Ken Hamlin is also a pretty solid play.   Don’t be fooled into playing “PacMan”, unless you have no better DB options.   

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Demarcus Ware (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ken Hamlin (DB)
Zach Thomas (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Pacman Jones (DB)
Greg Ellis (LB)
Bobby Carpenter (LB)
Roy Williams (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Terence Newman (DB)

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