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IDP Interactive - Week 2
Steve Gallo
September 13, 2008
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Welcome to our week 2 edition of IDP INTERACTIVE.  In our IDP Forum you will find a thread entitled "IDP INTERACTIVE" pinned to the top where you can submit your questions for consideration.  If you question is not chosen to be answered in this column every effort will still be made to answer your question in the IDP Forum. 

Now let’s take a look at the question that forum member Tford has offered up.

Tford wrote,
My LB corps: (Need to Start 4); Week 1 starters in bold

Harris, David NYJ LB vs Patriots Sun 2:15 p.m. MT
Henderson, E.J. MIN LB
vs Colts Sun 11:00 a.m. MT
Jackson, D'Qwell CLE LB vs Steelers Sun 6:15 p.m. MT
Koutouvides, Niko DEN LB vs Chargers Sun 2:15 p.m. MT
Pierce, Antonio NYG LB at Rams Sun 11:00 a.m. MT
Thomas, Zach DAL LB vs Eagles Mon 6:30 p.m. MT
Webster, Nate DEN LB vs Chargers Sun 2:15 p.m. MT
Wilhelm, Matt SDC LB at Broncos Sun 2:15 p.m. MT

My gut says: Harris, Henderson, Jackson and Wilhelm this week. Thoughts?

Well, after taking a look at the matchup that Tford has this week in his league I have to say that I don’t think it will matter which LBs he starts.  Many times when I am having a hard time deciding on who to start I will make it a point to look at my opponents presumed lineup.  Hopefully, you are able to discern if you need to take additional risks or make safer plays dependent upon your opponent’s lineup.   This week looks like an easy win for Tford so he can be a bit more conservative in his choices.  It is always great to have a perceived great matchup versus your opponent when you have a few difficult lineup decisions to make.  Since there really aren’t any strong trends to look at this early in the season let’s take a look at some historical production for the above listed LBs (excluding Koutouvides since he isn’t starting). 

David Harris - Since week 8 of last year Harris has only once posted fewer than 5 tackles.
As a reserve vs NE in week 1 of last year he posted 2 assists but in week 15 he posted 8 tackles in a 20-10 losing effort.  What is even more interesting about that week 15 matchup is that the Patriots ran the ball 35 times and only completed 14 passes.  It is probably safe to expect to see a very similar split in those numbers this weekend since Bill Belichick will most likely be looking to limit the number of opportunities for his new starting QB, Matt Cassel.  I would think that Harris should be good for at the very least matching his week 15 output of 8 tackles.

E.J. Henderson - We have to go back to week 9 of 2004 to find the only time that Henderson faced the Colts.  In that meeting he posted 7 tackles (2nd best to Antoine Winfield’s 13 tackles).  That game saw the Colts led by Edgerrin James run the ball 31 times for 144 yards while Peyton Manning completed 23 passes for 268 yards and 4 TDs.  While many things have changed much has stayed the same, in that the Colts still have a top passing offense (rusty but still) and very good rushing game.  The thing that will probably be the biggest factor limiting Henderson’s opportunities could be his teams own rushing game.  The Colts defense is looking more and more like their 2006 run defense that couldn’t stop anyone.  Looking at last year’s production also shows that Henderson only logged fewer than 5 tackles twice in 16 games (both times posting 4 tackles).  So in looking at his historical production I think it is safe to assume that a worst case for Henderson this week will be 4-5 tackles but looking at his averages leads me to believe he will log a minimum of 6-8 tackles this week.

D’Qwell Jackson - In 3 career games played versus the rival Steelers, Jackson has 18 tackles.
His worst performance was a 4 tackle effort in week 11 back in 2006 when the Steelers only ran the ball 20 times.  Look for the Steelers to run the ball much more than that this week and in turn look for D’Qwell to at least match his 3 game average of 6 tackles. 

Antonio Pierce - Pierce had many fantasy owners ready to jump off a ledge due to his poor performance is week 1.  This week Pierce faces a Rams team that made Stewart Bradley the waiver wire darling for many leagues.  Looking a bit deeper it is easy to see that Bradley made the very best out of limited tackle opportunities.  Since Pierce performed so poorly last week it is probably safe to just leave him on the bench for a week to see if and how he responds.  Many people will point to a poor year last year as reason for pause with Pierce but looking at the numbers from week 16 thru the Super Bowl show that Pierce turned the corner.  Over that time Pierce logged 39 tackles (6.5/game average) and that was with a one game clunker with 2 tackles.  Still with the Rams looking horrible on offense and a poor showing in week 1 it is best to leave Pierce on the bench.

Zach Thomas - Since this will only be his 2nd game manning an ILB position in Wade Phillips 3-4 we don’t really have any historical evidence to look at.  But what we do know about Thomas is that when healthy he rarely if ever posts fewer than 6 tackles.  Actually, since 2004 he has only posted fewer than 6 tackles four times.  The concerning part is that one of those times was just last week (5 tackles).    Now if you want to look a bit deeper at last week you will notice that those 5 tackles were made with very limited tackle opportunities, 29 (11 completions and 18 rushes).

Nate Webster - With Webster what you have is a bad LB in a very productive scheme.  Last year D.J. Williams was a top 5 LB in most scoring formats while manning the MLB position that Webster now plays.  Webster doesn’t even come close to having the talent that Williams does but in a productive scheme like the Broncos run that won’t matter much.  The risk you run with a guy that lacks talent like Webster is that they lose their job but Tford has Koutouvides as sort of a handcuff.  Last year, Williams only posted 4 tackles or less 3 times.  With just 48 tackle opportunities versus Oakland Webster was still able to log 11 tackles so it looks as if the Denver MLB spot is still going to be very productive this year.  The wildcard this week is just how much the Chargers will be able to commit to the run with what looks to be a dinged up LT.

Matt Wilhelm - With Stephen Cooper out due to a league imposed suspension Wilhelm owners are hoping for much better production than he gave them in week 1 versus the Panthers.  Last year in 2 games versus the Broncos Wilhelm logged 14 tackles.  With Shawne Merriman put on IR there could be more opportunities for a guy like Wilhelm to take advantage of.

The Final Answer!

In my opinion, I think that you are correct in thinking that Harris, Henderson, Jackson and Wilhelm are who you should start.  Wilhelm is the only one that an argument could be made to bench and no one would fault you if you started either Thomas or Webster over him.  Like I said at the beginning I don’t think you have much to worry about in your matchup this week so you could probably pick your starters by throwing darts but what I hope is that I was able to show everyone how you can look at things a bit differently when there aren’t any real early season trends to use. 

Tford, thanks for taking the time to share your question with us and good luck in your league.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed our first installment with IDP Interactive and I look forward to seeing more questions in the coming weeks.  If you have any comments or recommendations on what you would like to see in IDP Interactive you can email me at

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