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IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 7
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
October 17, 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

Dallas Cowboys @ St. Louis Rams

Dallas Cowboys:
The Rams are giving up an average of 1 sack every 9.87 pass attempts.  That bodes well for DeMarcus Ware to build on his 9 straight games with at least 1 sack.  Zach Thomas could struggle stat wise versus what looks to be a Rams team that is going to need to pass to keep up with the Cowboys.  Thomas could put up some early stats when the Rams are still able to run the ball with Steven Jackson.  Adam Jones has been suspended and that opens up a starting spot for 1st round selection Mike Jenkins to try and take advantage of.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
DeMarcus Ware (LB)
Mike Jenkins (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ken Hamlin (DB)
Greg Ellis (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Zach Thomas (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Jay Ratliff (DL)

St. Louis Rams: 
The Rams look to stay hot after their surprising Week 6 win against the Skins.  Unfortunately, they’re playing a bitter Cowboy team that has had its share of problems.  Regardless of who’s at QB for the Cowboys, the Rams should have some trouble containing TO and the newly-acquired Roy Williams.  LB Will Witherspoon should have a solid effort in defending both the run and chasing down TE Jason Witten.  DE Leonard Little is back and should have a good chance at getting to the Cowboy QB, whoever that may be.  LB Piso Tinoisamoa has been playing well as of late, and is a serviceable start.  The secondary will have its hands full, and Oshiomogho Atogwe represents the best start there.

Five-Star Plays: 
Will Witherspoon (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Leonard Little (DL)
Piso Tinoisamoa (LB)
Chris Long (DL)
Oshiomogho Atogwe (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
Corey Chavous (DB)


San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers:
With 1 second left in the half versus the Eagles the 49ers blocked a FG attempt and ran it back for a TD.  At that moment 49er fans were probably thinking, our luck just might be changing.  As luck would have it the 49ers got thumped 40-26, allowing the Eagles to outscore them 23-0 in the 4th quarter.  Well now it looks as if their luck just got worse.  They now have to trek across country to face the defending Super Bowl Champion NY Giants who just got smacked around on national TV by the Cleveland Browns.  Patrick Willis and Brandon Jacobs will be spending so much time at the bottom of piles that Willis could probably be charged with stalking.  Nate Clements and Michael Lewis should be pretty busy against the Giants passing attack too.  Takeo Spikes has strung together three very strong performances and this should be a fourth for him.

Five-Star Plays: 
Patrick Willis (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Takeo Spikes (LB)
Michael Lewis (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Justin Smith (DE/LB)
Nate Clements (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Walt Harris (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Manny Lawson (DE)

New York Giants: 
Look for the Giant defense to rebound after their disappointing Week 6 stumble.  DL Justin Tuck is a fantastic play this week, as he should have little difficulty in getting to the Niner QB J.T. O’Sullivan.  LB Antonio Pierce has had a pretty vanilla season thus far, but should be a decent run this week.  Opposite Tuck is DL Mathias Kiwanuka, who should also find plenty of opportunities at getting to the QB.  The secondary won’t give you much, but rookie DB Kenny Phillips is the best start out of the bunch.

Five-Star Plays: 
Justin Tuck (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Mathias Kiwanuka (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Antonio Pierce (LB)
Fred Robbins (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Kenny Phillips (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens:
Ray Lewis should be a very good play against the Ronnie & Ricky running show in Miami.  The Ravens bring pressure about as well as any team and Terrell Suggs should be able to say hello to QB Chad Pennington a couple of times this weekend.  Bart Scott is probably the only other Raven IDP that is worthy of a start this weekend.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Ray Lewis (LB)
Terrell Suggs (DE/LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Bart Scott (LB)
Haloti Ngata (DL, for DT-mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
Jim Leonhard (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Chris McAlister (DB)

Miami Dolphins: 
Should be a busy week for LB Channing Crowder.  The Ravens should run the ball upwards of 35 times this week.  Fellow LB Joey Porter is coming off a big game against the Texans, and he has good value, especially in leagues that give big points for sacks.  DB Yeremiah Bell has been a good surprise for the Fins, but this isn’t the best week to expect big numbers. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Channing Crowder (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Joey Porter (LB)
Yeremiah Bell (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Akin Ayodele (LB)
Philip Merling (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

Tennessee Titans
The Titans roll into KC as the last undefeated team in the NFL.  The Titans should have little problem running their record to 6-0 but expecting much from their IDPs might not be wise.  The Chiefs will be without RB Larry Johnson and will probably put up a bunch of three and outs thus limiting opportunities for the Titans.  With that said, Kyle Vanden Bosch should be a strong play from his DE position.  Keith Bullock and David Thornton have both been disappointing for the most part this year and this week doesn’t look like the light at the end of the tunnel either.  Cortland Finnegan could have his worst statistical performance season to date.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE)

Three-Star Plays:
Chris Hope (DB)
Tony Brown (DL, for DT-mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
Keith Bullock (LB)
David Thornton (LB)
Stephen Tulloch (LB)
Cortland Finnegan (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Nick Harper (DB)
Albert Haynesworth (DL)

Kansas City Chiefs: 
The Chiefs host the 5-0 Titans this week and face a daunting task of stopping the surprising Titan offense.  Expect their LBs to be especially busy defending this run-heavy offense.  Derrick Johnson hasn’t been great this season, but he’s a nice LB start this week.  Fellow LB Demorrio Williams is a good start as well.  If you are looking for a Chief DB to go with, it has to be rookie corner Brandon Flowers.  DB Bernard Pollard hasn’t really wowed anyone but remains consistent.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Derrick Johnson (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Demorrio Williams (LB)
Brandon Flowers (DB)
Tamba Hali (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Bernard Pollard (DB)
Turk McBride (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers
Welcome to the Woodley and Harrison highlight show.  Yes, expect LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison to harass the Bengals all day long.  The only thing to remember is that these two aren’t consistent tacklers so even if this seems like a prime matchup there is still a good risk of a letdown.  Troy Polamalu is coming off of his worst performance of the year but he should bounce back to a double digit scoring week.

Five-Star Plays: 
James Harrison (LB)
LaMarr Woodley (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Troy Polamalu (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
James Farrior (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ike Taylor (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Bryant McFadden (DB)

Cincinnati Bengals: 
Another week, another tough matchup for the winless Bengals.  This week, it’s the Steelers coming to southern Ohio.  Figure the Bengals will have plenty of trouble in stopping the patchwork Steeler offense that may or may not feature RB Willie Parker.  Either way, the Bengals will likely be playing catch-up all game and the IDPs could see inflated stats based on their inability to stop anyone.  Figure LB Dhani Jones will continue his hot play, and rookie LB Keith Rivers should also put up decent stats.  The DB pair of Marvin White and Nedu Ndukwe have been putting up good stats and that should continue this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Dhani Jones (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Nedu Ndukwe (DB)
Keith Rivers (LB)
Marvin White (DB)
Domata Peko (DL, for DT-mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
Robert Geathers (DL)
Antwan Odom (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None. 


Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings
This is a reunion week of sorts for the Vikings as they have resigned former MLBs Napoleon Harris and Dontarrious Thomas.  Due to the loss of E.J Henderson to IR and David Herron injured one of these two former and now current Vikings LB should get the start at MLB this week.  However, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber should continue to be the most valuable Viking LBs and both look to be solid plays this week too.  Believe it or not Cedric Griffin has outscored Antoine Winfield in 2 of the last 3 weeks but both look to be weaker plays this week.  Look for Jared Allen to log his first multi sack game of the year.

Five-Star Plays: 
Jared Allen (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Chad Greenway (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ben Leber (LB)
Antoine Winfield (DB)
Cedric Griffin (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Darren Sharper (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Dontarrious Thomas (LB)
Napoleon Harris (LB)

Chicago Bears:
The Bears host their NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, this week.  The Bears are coming off a somewhat-shocking Week 6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  Figure the Bear defense will come back this week and will put tons of pressure on QB Gus Frerotte.  Both Bear stud LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are good starts this week as they’ll be busy containing super-stud RB Adrian Peterson.  DB Kevin Payne is a surprise performer this season and is a good start this week.  The DL pair of Alex Brown and Adawale Ogunleye are solid starts as they should be able to get to the Viking QB.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Brian Urlacher (LB)
Lance Briggs (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kevin Payne (DB)
Alex Brown (DL)
Adawale Ogunleye (DL)
Charles Tillman (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Corey Graham (DB)
Mike Brown (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints
The Panthers should provide plenty of tackle opportunities to make Jonathan Vilma a very strong play this week.  Will Smith and especially Charles Grant are generating a very good pass rush and both should be solid plays this week with Grant being a bit better play.  Roman Harper should be busy helping out with both the run and pass this weekend.

Five-Star Plays: 
Jonathan Vilma (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Roman Harper (DB)
Charles Grant (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Will Smith (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Randall Gay (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Mike McKenzie (DB)

Carolina Panthers: 
The Panther IDPs should put up very good stats this week as they defend against the multi-faceted Saint offense.  LBs Jon Beason and Thomas Davis should have their hands full, yet they should put up good tackle numbers, especially Beason.  DL Julius Peppers is having another disappointing season, and his prospects look somewhat bleak this week as he rushes against one of the top OLs in the NFL.  The DBs have been awesome this season, and their trio of Chris Harris, Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble are all playable this week.
 
Five-Star Plays: 
Jon Beason (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Chris Harris (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Julius Peppers (DL)
Chris Gamble (DB)
Richard Marshall (DB)
Thomas Davis (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
Tyler Brayton (DL)


San Diego Chargers @ Buffalo Bills

San Diego Chargers
If Stephen Cooper is still available on your waiver wire you should grab him.  Cooper has been extremely solid in his 1st two games back from a league mandated suspension.  Tim Dobbins looks to have unseated Matt Wilhelm as the other starting ILB next to Cooper.  Eric Weddle has been a very productive safety this year and that trend should continue versus the Bills.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Stephen Cooper (LB)
Eric Weddle (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Clinton Hart (DB)
Tim Dobbins (LB)

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

One-Star Plays:
Quentin Jammer (DB)

Buffalo Bills:
The Bills might be without DL Aaron Schobel this week, something that would really affect their pass rush.  Ryan Denney would start in his place, and while he’s a solid NFLer, he’s no Schobel.  LB Paul Posluszny is the best Bill IDP start this week, while DB Donte Whitner represents the best secondary choice.   

Five-Star Plays: 
Paul Posluszny (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Donte Whitner (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ryan Denney (DL)
Kawika Mitchell (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Detroit Lions @ Houston Texans

Detroit Lions
Well the Lions shook things up a few weeks ago when they finally canned Matt Millen and this week they shook things up again when they dealt Roy Williams to the Cowboys.  The question now is, “when will they shake things up on defense?”.  Dewayne White is a lesser known name on the DL but should be a solid play in deeper leagues this week.  Ernie Sims is still a top LB but could struggle versus the Texans offensive game plan.  The shakeup that fantasy owners would like to see is Jordan Dizon to get major playing time going forward.  At some point the Lions are going to have to cut the strings and let the kid learn on the fly.  If you can stash him on your roster until that happens this year it could pay big dividends.  The defensive backfield should be busy with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and crew.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Leigh Bodden (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Daniel Bullocks (DB)
Ernie Sims (LB)
Dewayne White (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Jared DeVries (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Alex Lewis (LB)

Houston Texans: 
The Texans are coming off a much-needed win, and stare a pretty lousy Detroit Lion team in the face this week.  LB DeMeco Ryans will likely make more game-changing plays, but he may have fewer tackling chances this week.  DL Mario Williams is really coming into his own, and is a top IDP start this week.  LB Zach Diles has been a nice surprise, but may be limited in his opportunities this week.  DB Brandon Harrison may have some chances this week; get him in your lineup as a solid #2 fantasy DB.

Five-Star Plays: 
Mario Williams (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
DeMeco Ryans (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brandon Harrison (DB)
Zach Diles (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Will Demps (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Cleveland Browns @ Washington Redskins

Cleveland Browns
Can the Browns actually upset two teams from the NFC East in consecutive weeks while on the road?  Logic says that there is no way, especially with Washington coming off an embarrassing loss at home versus what was a previously winless Rams team.  Look for Washington coach Jim Zorn to establish his running attack led by Clinton Portis early on.  D’Qwell Jackson has scored in double digits in all but one week this year and this week could be one of his best, tackle wise.  Sean Jones has started to practice again and could see some playing time this weekend.  As bad as his owners want to be able to start him you should sit him this week to see how much the Browns actually play him.  Mike Adams was a waiver wire darling during the time Jones has missed due to injury and this very well could be the last viable week to start him.
 
Five-Star Plays: 
D’Qwell Jackson (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Shaun Rogers (DL, for DT-mandatory leagues)

Three-Star Plays:
Eric Wright (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Mike Adams (DB)
Andra Davis (LB)
Brandon McDonald (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Willie McGinest (LB)

Washington Redskins: 
LB London Fletcher has been up and down this season, but expect more of an “up” this week as he should be busy with the inside running of RB Jamal Lewis.  Rookie DB Chris Horton has been terrific and is a terrific start here this week as the Brown offense looks to continue surging forward.  LB Rocky McIntosh should also have a serviceable day.  DL Jason Taylor should see more field time this week, but may not start.  He and Andre Carter are solid starts this week. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
London Fletcher (LB)
Chris Horton (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Andre Carter (DL)
Jason Taylor (DL)
Rocky McIntosh

Two-Star Plays:
LaRon Landry (DB)
Carlos Rogers (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders

New York Jets
A visit to the run first Oakland Raiders is going to bode very well for David Harris owners.  Outside of Harris and possibly Kerry Rhodes I would have a hard time recommending starting any other Jets versus the Raiders.

Five-Star Plays: 
David Harris (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Kerry Rhodes (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
None.

Two-Star Plays:
Eric Barton (LB)
Calvin Pace (LB)
Bryan Thomas (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Darrelle Revis (DB)
Dwight Lowery (DB)
Vernon Gholston (LB)

Oakland Raiders: 
The Raider D looked pretty lousy last week against the Saints and face another high-powered offense this week.  QB Brett Favre should have no trouble throwing against the Raider DBs.  As he’s coming up more and more in run coverage, DB Gibril Wilson is again a big-time start.  LBs Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are good starts as they look to use their speed against the Jet offensive line. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Gibril Wilson (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Kirk Morrison (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Thomas Howard (LB)
Deangelo Hall (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Nate Clements (DB)
Kalimba Edwards (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Indianapolis Colts @ Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts tried to sure up their DL this week when they sent a 4th round pick to the Bills for DT John McCargo.  However, McCargo failed his physical and won’t be joining the Colts.  Gary Brackett and Freddy Keiaho should both continue to benefit from the Colts porous DL.  Bob Sanders is still out and Melvin Bullitt will get another start at SS and should have a productive week. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Freddy Keiaho (LB)
Melvin Bullitt (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Gary Brackett (LB)
Antoine Bethea (DB)
Marlin Jackson (DB)
Robert Mathis (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Clint Session (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Dwight Freeney (DL)

Green Bay Packers: 
Another tough matchup for the Packer D.  They host the now-hot Colts and should see plenty of QB Peyton Manning and his WRs, since RB Joseph Addai is out.  Look for LB A.J. Hawk to have the best stats out of the Packer IDPs, with fellow LB Nick Barnett also producing well.  CB Charles Woodson could put up big numbers as he shadows WR Reggie Wayne all day.   DL Aaron Kampman is a steady force, but may see reduced numbers this week.   

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
A.J. Hawk (LB)
Charles Woodson (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Nick Barnett (LB)
Aaron Kampman (DL)
Nick Collins (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
None.


Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Seattle Seahawks
Talk about a dead team walking.  The Seahawks and their fans look to be in for a very very long season.  Just as fantasy owners seem to be having with Lofa Tatupa.  He is coming off of his best game of the season by far but has been wildly inconsistent.  The Buccaneers probably don’t present one of the better matchups that he will face this year either.  Patrick Kerney is one of the top DLs in the game but is probably a lower level DL1 at best this weekend.  Marcus Trufant owners can’t be happy with the production that they are getting this year but that is the risk you run when a player really relies on big plays to score.  Which is sort of ironic considering he too is coming off his best game of the year where he recorded 8 solo tackles and 1 assist.  In his previous 3 games he totaled 7 combined tackles.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Lofa Tatupu (LB)
Patrick Kerney (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Marcus Trufant (DB)
Rocky Bernard (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Kelley Jennings (DB)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 
The Buc D is playing good aggressive football that’s resulting in good IDP numbers.  However, it could be a lean week with the struggling Seahawks in town.  The IDPs may not have to make game-changing plays as the Hawk offense implodes under their backup QB.  LB Barrett Ruud has been real solid this year, but his stats have dipped a bit in the past few weeks.  DB Ronde Barber might be the best Buc IDP bet this week as he’ll be involved in stopping whatever the Hawk offense can muster up; whether it be on the ground or through the air.  DL Gaines Adams has been so-so, but could have a monster effort this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Ronde Barber (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Gaines Adams (DL)
Barrett Ruud (LB)
Derrick Brooks (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jermaine Phillips (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots

Denver Broncos
Many feared that D.J. Williams position switch from MLB to WLB would severely hinder his production.  However, Williams just keeps plugging away.  He is currently on pace for 141 tackles better known as his total number of tackles in 2007.  Elvis Dumervil has been a complete and utter bust for fantasy owners.   His season to date numbers look like a stat line from a game that his owners would have been expecting: 4 tackles, 1 assist & 1 sack (yes those are his season to date numbers).  Don’t expect Dumervil to put it together versus the Patriots either.  Nate Webster is putting up very nice stats.  The type of stats that people were banking on Niko Koutouvides to put up as a sleeper this year.  Unfortunately, Niko has just been sleeping.  The Champ Bailey versus Randy Moss matchup should be a fun one to watch but I wouldn’t expect much stat wise from Champ.  Boss Bailey could be busy if he gets matched up on Wes Welker in the slot.
 
Five-Star Plays: 
D.J. Williams (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Nate Webster (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Marquand Manuel (DB)
Boss Bailey (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Champ Bailey (DB)
Dre Bly (DB)

One-Star Plays:
John Engleberger (DL)
Elvis Dumervil (DL)

New England Patriots: 
The Pats are 3-2 and face a 4-2 Denver squad that should move the ball effectively against them.  The Pat secondary has been pretty solid at home, but they haven’t faced an offense like this one led by Jay Cutler.  Expect DB Rodney Harrison to be the busiest of Pat IDPs, and LB Jerod Mayo could also have a solid stat line.  LB Adalius Thomas could be effective if he’s able to get to the QB. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Rodney Harrison (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Jerod Mayo (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ellis Hobbs (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Mike Vrabel (LB)
Tedy Bruschi (LB)

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