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IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 13
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
November 28, 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
Note:  Scoring system used for these breakdowns – solo tackle (2 pts), assisted tackle (1 pt), sack (3 pts), forced or recovered fumble (3 pts), interception (3 pts) and pass defensed (1 pt). 

San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills:
Paul Posluszny owners should expect a very good week versus the 49ers.  Reason being is that MLBs have averaged 9 tackles/week versus the 49ers and the last 3 MLBs have hit double digit tackles.  Fellow LB Kawika Mitchell should also be an above average play this week.  Unfortunately, Aaron Schobel still isn’t practicing and looks to miss a juicy matchup versus a 49ers team that has given up the second most sacks in the league this year.  Instead, look for Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay to be chasing down QB Shaun Hill.  Denney should be a slightly better play.  In leagues that require CBs Terrence McGee is a must start and if you league awards return points rookie Leodis McKelvin is worth a look.

Five-Star Plays:
Paul Posluszny (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Terrence McGee (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kawika Mitchell (LB)
Ryan Denney (DL)
Chris Kelsay (DL)
Leodis McKelvin (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Marcus Stroud (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Keith Ellison (LB)

San Francisco 49ers:  
The Niners travel across the country to snowy Buffalo.  Figure Patrick Willis will rack up plenty of tackles against the versatile Bill offense.  Fellow LB Takeo Spikes will also figure in plenty of plays against his old squad.  Michael Lewis is the best DB play for the Niner D.  DL Justin Smith has the opportunity to make a few big plays.   

Five-Star Plays: 
Patrick Willis (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Takeo Spikes (LB)
Justin Smith (DL)
Michael Lewis (DB)
Nate Clements (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Manny Lawson (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals:
Akeem Jordan in his first start of the season last week posted 9 tackles so expect Brandon Johnson to be a strong play from the same WLB position.  For a little over a month Dhani Jones production as really fallen off.  Jones has gone from the NFL leader in tackles to a risky weekly start even in what seems to be above average matchups.  Marvin White should be active enough to be a solid play but Nedu Ndukwe has yet to practice this week and may not be ready to hit the field yet.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Marvin White (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brandon Johnson (LB)
Domata Peko (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
Dhani Jones (LB)

One-Star Plays:
John Thornton (DL)
Nedu Ndukwe (DB, due to injury risks)

Baltimore Ravens
Great matchup for the Raven IDPs this week, despite the Bengals likely struggling to move the ball.  LB Ray Lewis should again rack up tackles and make big plays.  DL Terrell Suggs will be a game changer.  Even LB Bart Scott should rack up enough tackles to be a solid play.  Don’t expect much out of the secondary, although Ed Reed has been playing well and could disrupt enough to warrant a start.  DL Haloti Ngata could wreak some havoc in the middle against a soft Bengal OL.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
Bart Scott (LB)
Ed Reed (DB)
Haloti Ngata (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Jim Leonhard (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers:
A.J. Hawk has fared pretty well playing MLB and looks to have what should be his most productive game yet versus a heavy rushing attack by the Panthers.  Don’t expect Brandon Chillar to repeat his double digit (10) tackle effort but he should be in line for a good week.  Aaron Kampman has struggled of late and a matchup versus the team that has given up the 5th fewest sacks this year isn’t what the doctor ordered to help his ailing owners.  Mike Montgomery should be good for up to 5 tackles.  Charles Woodson and Atari Bigby look to be the best plays in the Packers defensive backfield.

Five-Star Plays:
A.J. Hawk (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Brandon Chillar (LB)
Atari Bigby (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Charles Woodson (DB)
Mike Montgomery (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Aaron Kampman (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Nick Collins (DB)
Carolina Panthers: 
Another solid matchup for the Panther IDPs.  The secondary should be plenty busy against the Packers’ pass attack.  The combo of Richard Marshall and Chris Harris should be the best, although Chris Gamble should also fare well.  Look for LBs Thomas Davis and especially Jon Beason to have huge games and DL Julius Peppers should also fare well. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Jon Beason (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Julius Peppers (DL)

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

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
Charles Johnson (DL)


New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins:
Good news/ Bad News for London Fletcher owners.  Good news is that this is an excellent matchup versus the Giants this week.  Bad News is that Fletcher has been in a protective boot this week and is a VERY risky start.  Rocky McIntosh will be the biggest beneficiary should Fletcher not be able to go.  Look for H.B. Blades to get the start if Fletcher can’t go.  Don’t be afraid to keep Chris Horton in your lineups this week.  Look at last week as an aberration and start him with the utmost confidence.

Five-Star Plays:
London Fletcher (LB, VERY risky start due to injury)
Chris Horton (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Rocky McIntosh (LB, move up to Five-Star if Fletcher is inactive)

Three-Star Plays:
H.B. Blades (LB, only if Fletcher is inactive)
Jason Taylor (DL)
LaRon Landry (DB)
Two-Star Plays:
Carlos Rogers (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Andre Carter (DL)

New York Giants: 
Big game for the Giants coming off a huge win in the desert.  Some say this could be a “trap game”, but DL Justin Tuck will do everything to ensure that the Super Bowl Champs down the Skins.  He and LB Antonio Pierce are the Giants’ best starts and rookie DB Kenny Phillips has come on strong as of late and is a solid start. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Justin Tuck (DL)
Antonio Pierce (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kenny Phillips (DB)
Mathias Kiwanuka (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
James Butler (DB)
Danny Clark (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Aaron Ross (DB)


New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Barrett Ruud is a top 10 LB and one that just needs to be in your lineup.  This week’s matchup isn’t the best but still expect decent numbers, just nothing outrageous.  However, Rhonde Barber owners should be licking their chops with the pass happy Saints coming to town.  Derrick Brooks surely isn’t what he used to be but should have a decent game this week.  Don’t expect much from Gaines Adams, Kevin Carter or Greg White since the Saints have given up just 9 sacks this season (2nd fewest in the league).

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Rhonde Barber (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Barrett Ruud (LB)
Sabby Piscitelli (DB)
Tanard Jackson (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Gaines Adams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Kevin Carter (DL)
Greg White (DL)
Jovan Haye (DL)

New Orleans Saints: 
The Saints are coming off a big win at home last week against the Packers and will hopefully be ready for a big test in Florida.  LBs Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita will need to be able tacklers this week against the run attack of the Bucs.  DB Roman Harper continues his steady play and represents a fine start; likely better than fellow safety Kevin Kaesviharn.  Don’t expect much from DLs Will Smith or Bobby McCray, although both are startable in a pinch.

Five-Star Plays: 
Jonathan Vilma (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Roman Harper (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Scott Fujita (LB)
Kevin Kaesviharn (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Will Smith (DL)
Bobby McCray (DL)
Sedrick Ellis (DL)
Jason David (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Indianapolis Colts @ Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns:
D’Qwell Jackson is now the NFL leader in tackles and should be a good play this week versus the Colts.  Sean Jones is a stud DB but he is far from healthy and his season has been a big roller coaster ride.  Hopefully, you can find a much safer play than Jones until he gets healthy, if ever that can happen.  Shaun Rogers is currently a top 4 DL but he is fighting a shoulder injury and is a risky start.  It’s not easy to find a replacement for someone like Rogers but until he shows the shoulder injury is behind him it’s something to consider. 

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
D’Qwell Jackson (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brodney Pool (DB)
Leon Williams (LB)
Eric Wright (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kamerion Wimbley (LB)
Andra Davis (LB)
Corey Williams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Sean Jones (DB, due to injury concerns)
Shaun Rogers (DL, due to injury concerns)

Indianapolis Colts:
The weather could make this an ugly affair.  Expect all three Colt LB – Freddie Keiaho, Gary Brackett and Clint Session – to all have solid outings.  DB Melvin Bullitt will likely fill in for Bob Sanders again and should produce.  His safety mate Antoine Bethea will also play well against the downfield attack of the Browns. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Gary Brackett (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Freddie Keiaho (LB)
Melvin Bullitt (DB
Clint Session (LB)
Antoine Bethea (DB)
Robert Mathis (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Dwight Freeney (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Miami Dolphins @ St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams:
*Warning:  Due to Coach Scott Linehan’s comments a couple of weeks ago no Ram is a safe play as anyone can be benched at any given time.  With that said Will Witherspoon looks to be the safest play and he does have 3 consecutive solid performances.  Leonard Little is fighting a hamstring injury and is losing the battle.  Keep him out of your lineup.
Remember, you have been warned.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Will Witherspoon (LB)

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

Two-Star Plays:
O.J. Atogwe (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Leonard Little (DL)

Miami Dolphins: 
Should be a productive afternoon for most Fin IDPs, especially LB Joey Porter, who is chasing the single-season sack record.  He’ll likely get to the Ram QB at least once.  LB Channing Crowder should rack up enough tackles to warrant a start in all leagues.  DB Yeremiah Bell continues his solid season and should figure in on plenty of tackling and pass defense plays. 
 
Five-Star Plays: 
Joey Porter (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Channing Crowder (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Yeremiah Bell (DB)
Renaldo Hill (DB)
Matt Roth (DL)
Vonnie Holliday (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Will Allen (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers:
Stephen Cooper has been one of the best fantasy LBs in the league since coming back from his league imposed drug suspension but last week he had his worst performance of the year.  Cooper is wearing a big bulky brace on his arm due to an injury and that is most likely the cause for his poor week.  He should still be a good start this week.  Matt Wilhelm was back in the starting lineup last week over Tim Dobbins but nothing has come out of San Diego stating why.  The best bet is to leave both on your bench unless you don’t have any other options.  Eric Weddle & Quentin Jammer have been beasts of late and both should continue that trend versus the Falcons.
 
Five-Star Plays:
Eric Weddle (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Stephen Cooper (LB)
Quentin Jammer (DB)

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

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

One-Star Plays:
Igor Olshansky (DL)

Atlanta Falcons:
Tough draw for the upstart Falcon team, traveling across the country to sunny San Diego.  They’ll have their hands full with LT and Gates and the downfield speed of Vincent Jackson.  Look for veteran Keith Brooking to post the best stats for the Falcon IDPs, with rookie Curtis Lofton chipping in.  Sack-master John Abraham should get to the Bolt QB once, so give him a shot. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Keith Brooking (LB)
Curtis Lofton (LB)
John Abraham (DL)
Lawyer Milloy (DB)
Michael Boley (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Erik Coleman (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders:
The last couple of games have seen the Chiefs really limit the production of opposing teams MLBs and that means you should probably temper expectations for Kirk Morrison a bit this week.  Thomas Howard on the other hand may be able to pull a “Scott Fujita” and post double digit tackles versus the Chiefs.  Tyler Thigpen has revived the Chiefs passing attack so look for Chris Johnson to have a decent game but make no mistake that Gibril Wilson is the main man in the Raiders secondary.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Gibril Wilson (DB)
Thomas Howard (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Kirk Morrison (LB)
Chris Johnson (DB)
Derrick Burgess (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Tommy Kelley (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Gerard Warren (DL)

Kansas City Chiefs: 
LB Rocky Boiman has come on strong with the regular Chief linebackers out with various maladies.  He’ll be racking up tackles this week.  Derrick Johnson is also a fine start for the Chief LBs.  DB Bernard Pollard has played well lately and represents the best DB start for the Chiefs.  With injuries to the ends, Jason Babin fills in, and could produce.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Rocky Boiman (LB)
Derrick Johnson (LB)
Jason Babin (DL)
Bernard Pollard (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Brandon Carr (DB)
Brandon Flowers (DB)
Glenn Dorsey (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Jarrad Page (DB)


Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers: 
The worst performance by an ILB/MLB  over the past month versus the Patriots was Channing Crowders 8 tackle performance last week (all others were double digit games).  That bodes well for James Farrior.  Joey Porter was able to get to get to Matt Cassel just one time last week but I expect to see James Harrison have another of his big games this week.  Look for Troy Polamalu to have a very productive day also as the last three weeks have seen the oppositions leading safety record, 11, 9 & 8 tackles.  Look for Polamalu to top double digits this week or to possibly add another big play to his stats.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
James Harrison (LB)
James Farrior (LB)
Troy Polamalu (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Lawrence Timmons (LB, if the weather grounds the passing game move down to One-Star)
Ike Taylor (DB)
Aaron Smith (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
LaMar Woodley (LB)
Aaron Smith (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Brett Keisel (DL)

New England Patriots:
Big, big game for both AFC powers.  The Pats’ D will be led by super-rook Jerod Mayo, who could put up another double-digit solo tackle effort against the Steelers.  Fellow LB youngster Pierre Woods could also put up solid numbers. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Pierre Woods (LB)
Brandon Meriweather (DB)
Ellis Hobbs (DB)
Richard Seymour (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Mike Vrabel (LB)
James Sanders (DB)
Vince Wilfork (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Tedy Bruschi (LB)


Denver Broncos @ New York Jets

New York Jets:
Look for Eric Barton to continue piling up tackles this week.  The Broncos have given up an average of over 8 tackles/game to the oppositions leading ILB tackler in 3-4 schemes over their last 3 matchups.  Darrelle Revis, Ty Law and Dwight Lowery should have a busy day against the Broncos passing game. Did you know, Abram Elam has out tackled teammate Kerry Rhodes 21 to 9 over the past 3 weeks.  Rhodes has stud ability but at this point in time is a riskier play then Elam.

Five-Star Plays:
Eric Barton (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Darrelle Revis (DB)
Abram Elam (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ty Law (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Dwight Lowery (DB)
Calvin Pace (LB)
Kerry Rhodes (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Kris Jenkins (DL)

Denver Broncos: 
Tough draw for the Broncos, traveling to the east coast to face a red-hot Jet squad.  With injuries affecting the linebackers, Jamie Winborn becomes the top Bronco IDP.  Wesley Woodyard should also see enough tackling opportunities to warrant a start.  No other Bronco IDPs are worthy of starting this week unless you’re in a very deep league.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Jamie Winborn (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Wesley Woodyard (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Marquand Manuel (DB)
Karl Paymah (DB)
Spencer Larsen (LB)
Elvis Dumervil (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings:
You didn’t really expect Chad Greenway to have a repeat of his week 11 performance did you?  Of course not but surely we expected better than his paltry 3 tackles.  Well the good news is that Greenway gets a very nice matchup this week when he faces a Bears team that is giving up just over 8 tackles/game to the oppositions leading OLB.  Jared Allen has been playing thru an injury and has taken away much of his effectiveness.  He is a hard player to sit but call it a hunch that he is going to have a big week this week.  Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin have been very good starts all year and that shouldn’t change this week.  Start Napoleon Harris at your own risk.  Last week, 9 of his 12 points came on a fluke fumble recovery for a TD.

Five-Star Plays:
Chad Greenway (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Jared Allen (DL)
Antoine Winfield (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Cedric Griffin (DB)
Madieu Williams (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Napoleon Harris (LB)
Ben Leber (LB)
Ray Edwards (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Daren Sharper (DB)

Chicago Bears: 
This NFC North battle will feature its share of offense, but there should be plenty of big defensive plays to make IDPs on both sides to have great fantasy stats.  Let’s start with LB Lance Briggs, who should be busy chasing down Adrian Peterson.  Super-DB Charles Tillman will also be busy.  LB Brian Urlacher has been up and down this season but will likely be “up” for this matchup.  

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Lance Briggs (LB)
Charles Tillman (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brian Urlacher (LB)
Corey Graham (DB)
Adawale Ogunleye (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Alex Brown (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

Houston Texans:
Demeco Ryans has logged 28 tackles over the past 3 weeks and looks to be returning to the Ryans of old.  In their last matchup he was only able to log 3 tackles but the Jaguars have given up some big tackle games up to MLBs this year and Ryans looks to be on a roll so keep him in your lineups.  Mario Williams’s production the past 3 games has been extremely poor and this week could be another statistically light production week.  In their first matchup Williams logged just one tackle.  Xavier Abidi came back down to earth after his double digit tackle game in week 11 but Adibi should rebound and have a solid game this week.

Five-Star Plays:
Demeco Ryans (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Xavier Adibi (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Dunta Robinson (DB)
Mario Williams (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Kevin Bentley (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Omobi Okoye (DL)
Will Demps (DB)

Jacksonville Jaguars: 
The Jags have had a disappointing season on both sides of the ball.  Their IDPs could be better than normal, though, on Monday night against an offense that yields plenty of fantasy production to opposing defenses.  Young LB Justin Durant, who’s benefiting from Mike Peterson’s issues, represents the best Jag IDP start.  Peterson should see enough of the field to warrant a start in larger leagues.  DB Reggie Nelson will be busy in the backfield and rookie Derrick Harvey should chase down the Texan QB a few times.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Justin Durant (LB)
Reggie Nelson (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Gerald Sensabaugh (DB)
Brian Williams (DB)
Derrick Harvey (DL)
Rashean Mathis (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

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