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IDP Interactive - Week 5
Steve Gallo
October 4, 2008
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Welcome to our week 5 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 alexgaddis needs  help with this week.

Alexgaddis wrote,
Need 3 of these four LB's this week
            1. James Harrison
            2. Chad Greenway
            3. Antonio Pierce
            4. Keith Rivers”

The first thing I did was to take a look at the matchup that alexgaddis has this week (with the link he provided) and what I found is that it looks like he is going to be in a tight battle.  As we all know in tight battles the last thing we want to do is leave points on our bench.  Just looking at the names there isn’t one player that truly stands out as the guy to bench but let’s take a look at some numbers and see if we can figure out who to start and who to bench this week.

I am going to be utilizing a new metric I am calling IDP TOP (Tackle Opportunity Production) to help analyze the above four LBs.  The basic definition of IDP TOP is that it measures the performance of a player based on the number of tackle opportunities that they have.  The higher the IDP TOP the better.  Tackle opportunity is currently being defined as the number of rushing attempts plus the number of completions that a defense faces in a game.  Below is an example to help better understand IDP TOP.

Example:
NY Giants Offense has: 26 rushes and 19 completions for a total of 45 tackle opportunities (TOs).
New England Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists. 
            TOP for Bruschi on solo tackles is .111 (5 divided by 45)
            TOP for Bruschi on assists is .067 (3 divided by 45)
            TOP for Bruschi on combined tackles is .178 (8 divided by 45)

Green Bay Packers Offense has: 14 rushes and 19 completions for a total of 33 TOs.
New York Giants DB Gibril Wilson recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists.
            TOP for Wilson on solo tackles is .152 (5 divided by 33)
            TOP for Wilson on assists is .091 (3 divided by 33)
            TOP for Wilson on combined tackles is .242 (8 divided by 33)

In the above example what TOP helps to illustrate is that just looking at the recorded tackles doesn’t tell the entire story.  Both players recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists yet Gibril Wilson was 36% to 37% more productive then Bruschi was.  If Bruschi had achieved the same TOP as Wilson he would have recorded 7 solo tackles and 4 assists.  It might not seem like much but it surely can make a difference.  Ok, now that we have given an example of IDP TOP let’s take a look at the choices that alexgaddis is confronted with this week.

James Harrison: 
This week Harrison faces the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Jaguars on offense have given up an average of 49 TOs. Let’s take a look at what Harrison’s IDP TOP is for each week and his season to date average.

                       Solo/Assists      SOLO TOP      ASSIST TOP     COMBINED TACKLE TOP
Week 1                7/2                     .156                 .044                        .200
Week 2                4/0                     .093                 .000                        .093
Week 3                2/1                     .041                 .020                        .061             
Week 4                6/5                     .122                 .102                        .224    
Season              19/8                    .102                 .043                        .145

Now when we take Harrison’s TOP season averages multiplied times the average number of TO’s the Jaguars are giving up this season we come up with the following projected tackles: 5 solo tackles & 2 assists for 7 combined tackles.  However, Harrison’s big fantasy games come from his sacks but sacks for OLBs are hard to predict and are rarely produced in a consistent manner.  Also, OLBs in a 3-4 defense are generally inconsistent when it comes to tackles which is why there is such a large fluctuation in Harrison’s TOPs.

Chad Greenway:
This week Greenway faces the New Orleans Saints.  The Saints on offense have given up and average of
53 TOs.  Let’s take a look at what Greenway’s IDP TOP is for each week and his season to date average.

                         Solo/Assists       SOLO TOP      ASSIST TOP     COMBINED TACKLE TOP
Week 1                    6/2                    .133                  .044                              .178    
Week 2                    6/0                    .133                  .000                              .133    
Week 3                    4/5                    .108                  .135                              .243    
Week 4                    7/4                    .135                  .077                              .212
Season                 23/11                  .128                  .061                              .190

Using the Saints average number of TOs we get the following projected tackles for Greenway: 7 solo tackles & 3 assists for 10 combined tackles. 

Antonio Pierce:
This week Pierce faces the Seattle Seahawks who are coming off of a bye week.  The Seahawks on offense have given up and average of 49 TOs.  Let’s take a look at what Pierce’s IDP TOP is for each week and his season to date average.

                        Solo/Assists       SOLO TOP      ASSIST TOP     COMBINED TACKLE TOP
Week 1                  1/2                      .026                   .051                             .077    
Week 2                  3/0                      .083                   .000                             .083
Week 3                10/3                      .182                   .055                             .236
Week 4            BYE WEEK
Season               14/5                      .108                   .038                             .146

Using the Seahawks average of TOs we get the following projected tackles for Pierce: 5 solo tackles & 2 assists for 7 combined tackles.  Many fantasy owners were ready to jump off the ledge after Pierce got off to such a horrible start but his week 3 performance gave them hope for a return to the Antonio Pierce of old. 

Keith Rivers:
This week Rivers faces the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys on offense have given up and average of
48 TOs.  Let’s take a look at Rivers IDP TOP for each week and his season to date average.

                       Solo/Assists       SOLO TOP      ASSIST TOP     COMBINED TACKLE TOP
Week 1                 9/1                       .148                  .016                         .164
Week 2                 4/4                       .073                  .073                         .145
Week 3                 0/2                       .000                  .039                         .039                   
Week 4                 6/2                       .109                  .036                         .145
Season              19/9                       .086                  .041                         .126

Using the Cowboys average of TOs we get the following projected tackles for Rivers: 4 solo tackles & 2 assists for 6 combined tackles.

The Final Answer!
The numbers show that Rivers is the LB that should be left on the bench this week.  However, one thing you may want to consider is that the Cowboys are coming of a stunning home loss to a division rival where the Cowboys only ran the ball 11 times.  With that said I am expecting the Cowboys to come out with guns blazing. They will use the run to set up their big pass play offense and will probably exceed their average TOs season to date.  Couple that with the inconsistent IDP TOP that James Harrison has exhibited and a very strong argument can be made to play Rivers and instead keep Harrison on the bench.  I looked at Harrison’s 2007 production the week after he recorded at least one sack (he is coming off such a game) and only two out of five times did he exceed double digit points the week following the week with a sack.  So my final answer is to start Greenway, Pierce and Rivers and bench James Harrison this week.

alexgaddis, thank you for taking the time to share your question with us and good luck this week in what should be a very tight battle for you. 

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 idpsteve@gmail.com

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