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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 10
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
November 7, 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, Steve will take the home teams and Darin 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

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens: 
Both LB Ray Lewis and DL Terrell Suggs haven’t been disappointing this season and surely won’t put up meager stats this week either.  The Texans play much better at home and will somehow move the ball on this stout defense.  The Raven IDPs will have plenty of tackling opportunities and of course they have the potential to make the big, game-changing play.    LB Bart Scott should have a serviceable game, but the buck really stops there when you’re considering non-elite Raven IDPs.  The secondary is far too inconsistent to rely on fantasy-wise.

Five-Star Plays: 
Ray Lewis (LB)
Terrell Suggs (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Bart Scott (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ed Reed (DB)
Jim Leonhard (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Houston Texans:
The Houston Texans took a big blow to their season as Zach Diles broke his leg in practice this week and is now done for the year.  DeMeco Ryans has been disappointing of late for his owners but expect him to have a very good game this week versus the Ravens.  Morlon Greenwood will probably be the main beneficiary from the Diles injury but this could be the break that rookie Xavier Adibi needs to make some noise.  Look for Mario Williams to have another productive week.  The Ravens have given up 5 sacks over the past 3 weeks and Williams has logged at least 1 sack in 4 of the past 5 weeks.

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

Four-Star Plays:
Nick Ferguson (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Morlon Greenwood (LB)
Will Demps (DB)
Omobi Okoye (DL, in DT mandatory leagues.)

Two-Star Plays:
Kevin Bentley (LB)

One-Star Plays:
DeMarcus Faggins (DB)


St. Louis Rams @ New York Jets

St. Louis Rams
It just doesn’t get any easier for the Ram squad.  They looked re-energized under new HC Jim Haslett, but are now affected by the injury bug.  Their offense will have trouble moving the ball and their IDPs could definitely be winded in what projects to be a high-scoring affair against Brett Favre and the Jets.  LB Will Witherspoon will, as always, be a solid #2 fantasy LB, and DBs Oshiomogho Atogwe and the suddenly surging Jason Craft should be busy enough in the secondary to warrant starts.  Rookie DL Chris Long is also a fine start as he’ll likely be able to beat the Jet OL to get to Favre.   His DL mates James Hall and Leonard Little are also good choices this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Chris Long (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
James Hall (DL, in DL-mandatory leagues)
Leonard Little (DL)
Will Witherspoon (LB)
Oshiomogho Atogwe (DB)
Jason Craft (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Piso Tinoisamoa (LB)
Fakhir Brown (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

New York Jets:
David Harris was a very highly drafted LB that was giving his owners fits with his performance this year.  Well Harris is now done for the year after having groin surgery.  At least Harris owners won’t be second guessing if they should start or bench him now.
Dwight Lowery has been a pleasant surprise in deeper leagues that start CBs at least up until last week that is.  Last week Lowery was benched and for the short term will look to share some snaps with veteran David BarrettKerry Rhodes owners could be the big winners with the Harris injury.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Kerry Rhodes (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Eric Barton (LB)
Darrelle Revis (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Abram Elam (DB)
Kris Jenkins (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Dwight Lowery (DB)


Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills: 
The Bills looked like they were on their way to a division title – or at least a good shot at it – when the Patriots lost Tom Brady.  Well, now that we’re at the mid-point of the season, the prospects aren’t as rosy.  Well, here’s the Bills’ chance to make something happen in the division.  They travel out to Foxboro to take on a rather beatable Patriot squad who’s starting a RB with more names than touchdowns.  Look for LB Paul Posluszny to continue with his solid fantasy output and LB mate Kawika Mitchell is again a nice sleeper.  DB Terrence McGee should be busy trailing Randy Moss on Sunday, and backup safety Bryan Scott will be tested.  The Bills will likely be without their pass rush presence, Aaron Schobel.  His replacement(s) aren’t really worth a look this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Paul Posluszny (LB)

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

Two-Star Plays:
Chris Kelsay (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

New England Patriots:
This is a HUGE game in the direction that the AFC East is going to and I am in the minority thinking that the Bills are going to leave Gillette Stadium with a win.  To do that I expect the Bills to establish the run with Lynch and that will bode well for rookie LB Jerod Mayo.  Last week, Brandon Meriweather had his best game since replacing the injured Rodney Harrison and looks to build on that this week.  The Bills have given up the 7th most sacks in the NFL so look for Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel to have good weeks too.

Five-Star Plays: 
Jerod Mayo (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Brandon Meriweather (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Adalius Thomas (LB)
Mike Vrabel (DL)
Ellis Hobbs (DB)
Gary Guyton (LB)
Vince Wilfork (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Tedy Bruschi (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Deltha O’Neal (DB)


Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

Green Bay Packers: 
It’s pretty disappointing to say, but you can no longer rely on once-studly LBs Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk for consistent fantasy points.  Both will likely put up decent numbers this week as they chase down super-stud Adrian Peterson.  But the best Packer play will likely be DE Aaron Kampman, who will lead the pass rush against the Viking O-line.  Fellow DE Mike Montgomery has come on as of late, and will likely post solid stats as well.  The defensive backs will likely score well with the return of Atari Bigby.  He and Nick Collins are better starts than either of the corners, despite the Packer corner duo having terrific seasons.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Aaron Kampman (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
A.J. Hawk (LB)
Atari Bigby (DB)
Nick Collins (DB)
Nick Barnett (DB)
Charles Woodson (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Al Harris (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Minnesota Vikings:
Jared Allen is listed as questionable to play this week due to a 3rd degree shoulder sprain.  If you have any other viable option you should strongly consider leaving Allen on the bench due to this injury.  Chad Greenway has averaged 6.25 tackles/game since E.J. Henderson was lost for the season back in week 4.  Madieu Williams made a big splash last week in his first game as a Viking with 8 tackles and an interception.  Don’t expect Williams to put up 8 solos/week but he should be an above average play this week versus the Packers passing game.  Also look for Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin to continue to add on to their very good seasons that they are both enjoying.

Five-Star Plays: 
Antoine Winfield (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Chad Greenway (LB)
Cedric Griffin (DB)
Madieu Williams (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ben Leber (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kevin Williams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Darren Sharper (DB)
Jared Allen (DL)


Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins

Seattle Seahawks: 
Oh the poor, poor Seahawks.  An esteemed “Huddler” on the message boards summed it up pretty well, in talking about the start of the college basketball season:  “After a terrible baseball season, the most horrific college football season imaginable, an NFL season that's been very disappointing, and a season without an NBA franchise starting up, college basketball comes as a welcome relief to the people in my neck of the woods.”  Disappointing?  To say the least, right?  The Seahawks looked poised to take down yet another NFC West title, but have a 2-6 record and things don’t look to be getting any better, especially this week as they travel further than any other NFL team could: all the way to Miami, FL to face the Dolphins, who are likely better than their 4-4 record.  LB Leroy Hill has been on fire lately and is the better play than Lofa Tatupu.  That doesn’t mean Tatupu won’t post good stats this week; he likely will.  DL Patrick Kerney is going under the knife and could be out for the season.  Young pass rushers Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson will have to step up.  The normally studly secondary has been rather passive and disappointing, fantasy-wise. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Leroy Hill (LB)
Darryl Tapp (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Lofa Tatupu (LB)
Lawrence Jackson (DL)
Rocky Bernard (DL, in DT-mandatory leagues)
Julian Peterson (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Marcus Trufant (DB)
Deon Grant (DB)
Josh Wilson (DB)
D.D. Lewis (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None. 

Miami Dolphins:
These aren’t your 2007 Dolphins and that is a good thing for Dolphins fans.  Joey Porter is still leading the league in sacks with 11.5 and has recorded a sack in all but one game this year.  Channing Crowder and Yeremiah Bell are the other two Dolphins that are very good starts this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Channing Crowder (LB)
Yeremiah Bell (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Joey Porter (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jason Allen (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Charlie Anderson (LB)


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars:
This is definitely the week to get your Jag IDPs into the starting lineup.  Yeah, the Lions are playing “better football” and are at home, but this aggressive Jag D will likely cause all sorts of havoc on the field.  DB Brian Williams has been a consistent performer this season and will again post good stats.  LB Mike Peterson has been ruled out this week, so bump up Justin Durant and to some degree, Daryl Smith.  Pass rushers Paul Spicer and Derrick Harvey are definitely worth a shot against this Lion squad.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Brian Williams (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Rashean Mathis (DB)
Reggie Nelson (DB)
Paul Spicer (DL)
John Henderson (DL)
Derrick Harvey (DL)
Justin Durant (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Daryl Smith (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Detroit Lions:
Ernie Sims has severly underperformed the past two weeks and is now on pace for less than 80 solo tackles for the year.  While some are probably thinking about benching him he should be in lineups this week.  Dewayne White has averaged 16.25 PPG over the past 4 weeks and for the season ranks as the #4 DL.  The Jaguars have had issues with their offensive line and you should play White while his hand is hot.  Call me crazy but I think the Lions defense helps them to their first win of the season.  Leigh Bodden and Daniel Bullocks will lead the defensive backfield.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Ernie Sims (LB)
Dewayne White (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Paris Lenon (LB)
Daniel Bullocks (DB)
Leigh Bodden (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jared DeVries (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Alex Lewis (LB)


Tennessee Titans @ Chicago Bears

Tennessee Titans: 
The Titans actually have a tough test on their hands this week, and that’s not just a Bears homer talking.  The Bears will bear down on D and even with Rex Grossman at the QB helm, the offense should be able to plug away at this incredible Titan D.  Look for veteran LB Keith Bulluck to again be the leader of this defense and score well.  DL Albert Haynesworth has been dominant this season, and could be a force against the Bear OL, especially if Grossman reverts to the Grossman of old.  Look for DB Chris Hope to be a factor in the defensive backfield as he tracks down errant Grossman tosses.  And finally, LB Stephen Tulluch has taken the “second LB” torch from David Thornton.    
 
Five-Star Plays: 
Albert Haynesworth (DL, in DT-mandatory leagues.  4-star play otherwise)

Four-Star Plays:
Keith Bulluck (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Chris Hope (DB)
Stephen Tulluch (LB)
Nick Harper (DB)
Kyle Vanden Bosch (DL)
Cortland Finnegan (DB)
Michael Griffin (DB)
Tony Brown (DL, in DT-mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
David Thornton (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Chicago Bears:
Bears IDPs look to be in for a very good week with the rush heavy attack of the Titans coming to town.  Look for Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to lead an aggressive d that will look to force the Titans into errors.  Kevin Payne has been very good in run support for fantasy owners and he should be an above average play versus the Smash and Dash of LenDale White and Chris Johnson.  The Titans have given up the fewest sacks (4) in the NFL this year.  Normally, you should leave Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye on your bench but playing in Chicago I expect the crowd to make it tough going for the Titans passing attack and in turn Brown and Ogunleye could be in for good weeks.

Five-Star Plays: 
Urlacher (LB)
Briggs (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Kevin Payne (DB)
Adewale Ogunley (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Alex Brown (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Mark Anderson (DL)


New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

New Orleans Saints:
Should be another productive day for the Saint IDPs as they travel to Atlanta to face the surprising Falcons.  LB Jonathan Vilma will be a top IDP play this week, while safeties Kevin Kaesviharn and Roman Harper will both produce.  With Charles Grant out, Will Smith and Bobby McCray are the ends, with Smith being the better pick.    

Five-Star Plays: 
Jonathan Vilma (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Roman Harper (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kevin Kaesviharn (DB)
Will Smith (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Bobby McCray (DL)
Scott Fujita (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Atlanta Falcons:
John Abraham has been nothing short of phenomenal in some games this year and abysmal in others.  This week looks like it could be one of those abysmal weeks since Drew Brees is one of the harder to sack QBs in the league.  Cutis Lofton hasn’t been a force like many had hoped for but last week he did manage to log 5 tackles in just 17 tackle opportunities versus the Raiders.  Versus the Saints passing attack he is probably a below average play this week.  Michael Boley has been fighting thru injury and hasn’t been able to recapture the same magic he had last year.  Look for Keith Brooking to lead the Falcon defense this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Keith Brooking (LB)
Chris Houston (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Michael Boley (LB)
Curtis Lofton (LB)
Erik Coleman (DB)

One-Star Plays:
John Abraham (DL)


Carolina Panthers @ Oakland Raiders

Carolina Panthers: 
LB Jon Beason projects well this week as the Panthers face a struggling Raider offense in Oakland.  He should rack up the tackles despite the Raiders not moving the ball well.  Figure LB Thomas Davis to be a sneaky play this week as well, especially if he’s able to make a few big plays.  This could be the week DL Julius Peppers decides to have one of his standard huge games, especially if he’s able to get into the Raiders’ backfield.  Don’t expect the stellar secondary to score well, though.  This Raider team may have a ton of trouble working the air game.

Five-Star Plays: 
Jon Beason (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Julius Peppers (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Thomas Davis (LB)
Chris Harris (DB)
Chris Gamble (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Richard Marshall (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Oakland Raiders:
Kirk Morrison owners have to love just how pathetic the Oakland offense has been playing.  Morrison as well as Thomas Howard should be in every fantasy lineup this week.  Derrick Burgess is still fighting a tricep injury and can’t get back on the field because of it.  Gibril Wilson is currently the top ranked DB and this week should only help to build on his top ranking.  In case you missed it the Raiders released DeAngelo Hall this week.  Yep, crazy Al is at it again.

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

Four-Star Plays:
Thomas Howard (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Jay Richardson (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Michael Huff (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Nmandi Osomugah (DB)


Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs: 
LB Donnie Edwards is starting to regain form and just in time to play his old squad, the Chargers.  They’ll need every ounce of his effort if they are to slow down LT and Antonio Gates.  Fellow LB Pat Thomas has been playing well since emerging as a preseason sleeper, and of course Derrick Johnson is always worth a starting spot.  The DE pair of Turk McBride and Tamba Hali have been disappointing (more so Hali) and are only to be relied upon in larger leagues.  The secondary has a couple serviceable starters in Bernard Pollard and Brandon Flowers.  Brandon Carr is worthy of a look in larger leagues.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None

Three-Star Plays:
Donnie Edwards (LB)
Derrick Johnson (LB)
Pat Thomas (LB)
Brandon Flowers (DB)
Bernard Pollard (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Tamba Hali (DL)
Bernard Pollard (DB)
Turk McBride (DL)
Brandon Carr (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

San Diego Chargers:
Rumor has it that Larry Johnson is going to play this week and that has to make Stephen Cooper owners very happy.  Tim Dobbins was the leading tackler for the Chargers in their last game and it looks as if Dobbins gain is Matt Wilhelm’s loss.  Eric Weddle has had a very solid season and should be active in run support this week too.

Five-Star Plays: 
Stephen Cooper (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Eric Weddle (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Tim Dobbins (LB)
Shaun Phillips (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Antonio Cromartie (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Matt Wilhelm (LB)



Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Indianapolis Colts: 
The Colt IDPs have been pretty decent this season, despite DB Bob Sanders being out for most of it.  He’s back with a vengeance and should be a top IDP play this week as the Colts host the hot Pittsburgh Steelers.   Sanders will be closely followed in fantasy production by LBs Gary Brackett and Freddie Keiaho.  Antoine Bethea is also a strong DB play.  The upfront linemen have been inconsistent and should be started only if you have no better options.

Five-Star Plays: 
Bob Sanders (DB)
Gary Brackett (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Freddie Keiaho (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Antoine Bethea (DB)
Robert Mathis (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Tim Jennings (DB)
Clint Session (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Raheem Brock (DL)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
LaMarr Woodley & James Harrison have had some very big games this year but they have also been inconsistent and versus the Colts they may find it hard to sack Peyton Manning.  James Farrior is the elder statesmen among the LBs but he should be a good play versus the Colts.  Look for Troy Polamalu to be as active as ever and be the emotional leader on the defensive side of the ball.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
James Farrior (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Troy Polamalu (DB)
Lawrence Timmons (LB)

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

One-Star Plays:
Tyrone Carter (DB)


New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

New York Giants: 
It’s safe to say that the Giant D is “en fuego” right now.  Who woulda thunk it, with Michael Strahan moving on and Osi Umenyiora out for the season.  DL Justin Tuck is literally a man among boys and is dominating the competition right now.  On the other end, Mathias Kiwanuka has had a few decent games and is an OK 2nd fantasy DL for most rosters.  LB Antonio Pierce has been somewhat inconsistent but has been playing better.  He’s safe to slide into most rosters this week.  The DBs haven’t been great but young Michael Johnson is starting to come on.

Five-Star Plays: 
Justin Tuck (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Antonio Pierce (LB)
Michael Johnson (DB)
Mathias Kiwanuka (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Danny Clark (LB)
Sammy Knight (DB)
Fred Robbins (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Look for Stewart Bradley and Quintin Mikell to have very good games much like they did early in the season.  Zach Thomas logged 11 tackles versus the Giants last week with Bradie James adding 12 of his own.  Omar Gaither has been very good with only one bad game over the last 6 weeks.  Look for him to be active in run support as well as blitzing Eli Manning.  Look for Trent Cole to get after Eli Manning, not the way Osi did versus the Eagles last year but still expect Cole to have a good game.

Five-Star Plays: 
Stewart Bradley (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Quintin Mikell (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Omar Gaither (LB)
Trent Cole (DL)
Brian Dawkins (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Asante Samuel (DB)
Chris Gocong (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Lito Sheppard (DB)


San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers: 
It’s a good week to own Niner IDPs.  HC Mike Singletary, once a stud IDP himself, is on the warpath.  You’d think this set of young (and a few vet) IDPs is going to come to play on the national stage.  Add that to the fact that they’re facing a rolling Cardinal squad, and the IDPs should be plenty busy come Monday night.  Look for DBs Michael Lewis and Nate Clements to have one of their better fantasy games of the season.  LB Patrick Willis, a must-start every week, is going to have a monster game.  Figure Takeo Spikes to be a good LB start as well.  Hybrid DL/LB Justin Smith is definitely startable and even 2nd CB Walt Harris is usable in large leagues. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Patrick Willis (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Nate Clements (DB)
Michael Lewis (DB)

Three-Star Plays:

Takeo Spikes (LB)
Justin Smith (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Manny Lawson (LB)
Walt Harris (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Arizona Cardinals:
Don’t look now but the Cardinals are leading the NFC West by three games with a 5-3 record.  Karlos Dansby will be very active in keeping Frank Gore in check and Adrian Wilson seems to be on his way back to that super stud DB that everyone was used to.  On the other side of the coin is Gerald Hayes who is losing nickel snaps and much of his value that he had in the past is withering away.  Antrel Rolle has shown that he has a nose for the ball and is a playmaker from the FS position.  Travis LaBoy has been limited in practice but if he plays he is in line for a very good day.  The 49ers have been sacked a league leading 34 times so expect a big week from the Cardinals defense this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
Karlos Dansby (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Adrian Wilson (DB)
Travis LaBoy (LB, watch the injury report closely)

Three-Star Plays:
Antrel Rolle (DB)
Bert Berry (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Rod  Hood (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Darnell Docket (DL)

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