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IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 15
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
December 12, 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). 

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams

Seattle Seahawks: 
The Seahawks and the people of the Pacific Northwest can’t finish this season fast enough.  It’s been a complete and utter disappointment.  Good news for those that have Seahawk IDPs (especially playmakers like LB Lofa Tatupu); on the menu this week is fried Ram.  Don’t expect a bunch of tackle chances, but there will be opportunities to make game-changing plays.  DEs Baraka Atkins and Darryl Tapp should have little trouble getting to the Rams’ QB.  And sack-artist LB Julian Peterson is a decent start.  Avoid the defensive backs. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Lofa Tatupu (LB)
Darryl Tapp (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Baraka Atkins (DL)
Julian Peterson (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kelly Jennings (CB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

St. Louis Rams:
For the past few weeks we have been saying just how risky it is to start any Rams starters and this week another starter finds is being relegated to the bench.  Veteran Corey Chavous is being replaced by Todd Johnson.  So, once again I will tell you to start any and all Rams at your own risk.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Pisa Tinoisamoa (LB)
O.J. Atogwe (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
None.


Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

Buffalo Bills
LB Paul Posluszny is wildly talented, but has cooled off in the last third of the season.  He’ll have some tackle opportunities this week, and should make some “other” plays as well.  DB Terrence McGee will again be a solid play as he matches up on either of the Jet WRs.  Versatile LB Kawika Mitchell is a sneaky play this week as he makes plays against the run and pass.  The DL has a few decent options in Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, but they could easily disappear.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Paul Posluszny (LB)
Terrence McGee (DB))

Two-Star Plays:
Ryan Denney (DL)
Chris Kelsay (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

New York Jets:
He’s baaaack!  David Harris sure did make his return to the lineup a noticeable one.  Eric Barton owners probably aren’t as excited.  Kris Jenkins & Shaun Ellis have accounted for 12 of the Jets 37 sacks this season.  The Bills rank in the bottom 3rd for sacks allowed so it could be a good week for Jenkins and Ellis.

Five-Star Plays:
David Harris (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Abram Elam (DB)
Eric Barton (LB)
Kris Jenkins (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)
Calvin Pace (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kerry Rhodes (DB)
Shaun Ellis (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Dwight Lowery (DB)
Bryan Thomas (LB)


San Francisco 49ers @ Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers: 
HC Mike Singletary has his team playing well and the defense can definitely keep leading them to victories no one expected.  LB Patrick Willis is having another awesome season and will be a top IDP play this week as he chases down runners in the Wildcat formation. Fellow LB Takeo Spikes should also put up solid stats, as should DB Michael Lewis. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Patrick Willis (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

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

Two-Star Plays:
Justin Smith (DL)
Nate Clements (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Walt Harris (DB)

Miami Dolphins:
Channing Crowder owners have to be just giddy after seeing what David Harris did versus the 49ers last week.  Crowder and Yeremiah Bell have by far been the best to Dolphin IDPs this year and that shouldn’t change this week.  Joey Porter gets yet another sweet matchup where he gets to face the 3rd most sacked team in the NFL.  Porter needs just 3 ½ more sacks to register 20 for the season, he might just pull it off this week.

Five-Star Plays:
Joey Porter (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Channing Crowder (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Yeremiah Bell (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jason Allen (DB)
Matt Roth (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Charlie Anderson (LB)


San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

San Diego Chargers: 
The Bolts are amidst an incredibly disappointing season and need to escape Kansas City with a win this week.  Standing in their way – at least defensively – is a pretty quirky offense that could heat up and torch the Charger secondary with ease.  Figure LB Stephen Cooper will be a catalyst; especially if he’s spending time in the Chiefs’ backfield.  DB Eric Weddle could have a solid effort, or he may only put up modest stats.  He’s usually a fine pick but he comes with a little risk this week.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Stephen Cooper (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Eric Weddle (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Shaun Phillips (LB)
Antonio Cromartie (DB)
Jamal Williams (DL)
Quentin Jammer (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Kansas City Chiefs:
Last week Derrick Johnson started at MLB forcing Rocky Boiman to WLB.  Both LBs were productive but this bodes very well for DJ owners.  Look for both to be solid starts this week.  Jarrad Page has been a solid DB this year but don’t expect him to lead the tackles this week like he did last week where he posted 8 solos & 1 assist.  In other news, Tamba Hali matched his season high in tackles but went sackless, again.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

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

Two-Star Plays:
Brandon Flowers (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Tamba Hali (DL)


Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Green Bay Packers: 
This is just what the doctor ordered for the Packers, coming off a tough loss at home to the Texans; albeit it’s an away game.  At least they should be able to handle this struggling Jacksonville squad.  DL Aaron Kampman could put up multiple sacks and get 4-5 solos.  LB A.J. Hawk should perform well as he chases down the Jags’ MJD.  Charles Woodson will move forward as the team’s strong safety.  This bodes well for his fantasy stats for the short and long term.  And despite his many mistakes, LB Desmond Bishop looks like a starter and will have fantasy value.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
Nick Collins (DB)
Desmond Bishop (LB)
Mike Montgomery (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
None.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Look for Daryl Smith to have what could be a huge week this week versus the Packers.  Over the past month the Packers are giving up an average of 9 tackles to opposing MLBs.  Justin Durant should be a solid play just don’t expect stud like numbers.  Brian Williams was putting up extremely good numbers earlier in the season from the SS position but since he has taken over as a starting CB his numbers have suffered.  This week look for Williams to have an above average week.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Daryl Smith (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Justin Durant (LB)
Gerald Sensabaugh (DB)
Brian Williams (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
John Henderson (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Derrick Harvey (DL)


Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts

Detroit Lions:
Well Detroit fans, what are you gonna do?  You blew a chance at your first win last week, and now travel to Indy to face one of the best offenses in the NFL (granted, they haven’t been world-beaters like in years previous).  Godspeed.  The best IDP options for the Kitties this week should be the somewhat disappointing Ernie Sims and fellow LB Paris Lenon.  DB Dwight Smith will also put up respectable numbers this week as he plays both the run and pass.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Ernie Sims (LB)
Paris Lenon (LB)
Dwight Smith (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Leigh Bodden (DB)
Dewayne White (DL)
Cliff Avril (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Indianapolis Colts:
Buster Davis started last week’s game in Gary Brackett’s MLB position but Davis didn’t come close to filling Brackett’s shoes.  All that Davis could muster was 3 assists.  This week it won’t be any easier facing a Lions squad that will struggle on offense.  Freddy Keiaho & Bob Sanders led the team in tackles last week but don’t expect them to log 15 combined tackles this week.  Robert Mathis & Dwight Freeney combined for 4 sacks last week and very easily could do the same this week too.

Five-Star Plays:
Robert Mathis (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Dwight Freeney (DL)
Freddy Keiaho (LB)
Bob Sanders (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Clint Session (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Buster Davis (LB)
Kelvin Hayden (DB)


Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

Tennessee Titans: 
The Titans continue to play solid overall defense and have had some nice individual performances as well.  LB Keith Bulluck is looking more like his once-studly self, and should post solid numbers this week. He’ll be fine as a second fantasy LB.  DB Chris Hope will also post good numbers as he plays against the run and pass.  Big DL Albert Haynesworth should continue his stellar season with a big effort against the Texans. 
 
Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Albert Haynesworth (DL)
Chris Hope (DB)
Keith Bulluck (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Cortland Finnegan (DB)
Nick Harper (DB)
Michael Griffin (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
David Thornton (LB)
Stephen Tullloch (LB)
Tony Brown (DL)
Jevon Kearse (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Houston Texans:
After some early season struggles DeMeco Ryans is performing like the stud everyone expected him to be.  This looks to be another strong matchup versus a Titans team that loves to run the football.  Xavier Adibi will continue to get his feet wet and should post better stats this week.  Mario Williams probably helped to carry a few teams into the playoffs a couple of weeks ago but last week he had an abysmal game.  He should post starters stats but he doesn’t have much upside this week.

Five-Star Plays:
DeMeco Ryans (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Mario Williams (DL)
Xavier Adibi (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Omobie Okye (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

One-Star Plays:
Kevin Bentley (LB)


Washington Redskins @ Cincinnati Bengals

Washington Redskins:
The Redskins have faced some tough opponents this season and have generally looked decent.  They get a bit of a break here this week against a real weak Bengal offense.  LB London Fletcher should amass enough tackles this week and will have game-changing opportunities.  Fellow LB Rocky McIntosh should be in for enough work too.  DB Chris Horton will also post respectable fantasy stats as he plays center field against whoever is playing QB for the Bengals these days.   DL Jason Taylor has been a bit of a disappointment but very well could have his best effort this week. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
London Fletcher (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Chris Horton (DB)
Rocky McIntosh (LB)
Jason Taylor (DL)
LaRon Landry (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Andre Carter (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Cincinnati Bengals:
Look for Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson to have above average games as the Redskins come to town and set the tone with their running game.  Nedu Ndukwe could possibly play this week but would be a risky start coming back from his injury.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Dhani Jones (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brandon Johnson (LB)
Domata Peko (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)
Leon Hall (DB)
David Jones (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Nedu Ndukwe (DB)
Chris Crocker (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Antwan Odom (DL)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 
Another tough draw for the Bucs here in the NFC South.  The Buc IDPs, though, will benefit from the versatile offense on the other side.  LB Barrett Ruud will likely post huge numbers this week as he’ll be seeing plenty of RB Michael Turner.   DB Jermaine Phillips should see plenty of action in both the pass and run defense.  Super-CB Ronde Barber will cover WR Roddy White and should have opportunities at making plays.  

Five-Star Plays: 
Barrett Ruud

Four-Star Plays:
Jermaine Phillips (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Ronde Barber (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Derrick Brooks (LB)
Gaines Adams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.  

Atlanta Falcons:
The Buccaneers have given up some nice tackle stats to LBs so look for the trio of Keith Brooking, Curtis Lofton and Michael Boley to all be solid plays this week.  John Abraham is on the injury report this week with what is listed as a thigh injury and that could limit his production this week.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Keith Brooking (LB)
Michael Boley (LB)
Curtis Lofton (LB)
Chris Houston (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
John Abraham (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Jamaal Anderson (DL)


Minnesota Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals

Minnesota Vikings: 
This is the week to start your Viking DBs.  They’ll see plenty of action as the Cards will throw all day long.  Super stud DB Antoine Winfield should have one of his better outings this week.  Opposite Winfield is Cedric Griffin, who should see just as much action as Winfield.  LB Chad Greenway will have fewer tackling opportunities this week but is still a top play. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Antoine Winfield (DB)
Chad Greenway (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Madieu Williams (DB)
Jared Allen (DL)
Cedric Griffin (DB)
Darren Sharper (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ben Leber (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Brian Dawkins (DB)

Arizona Cardinals:
Gerald Hayes had a huge week last week and could be in line for another solid outing versus the Adrian Peterson led rushing attack of the Vikings.  Karlos Dansby & Adrian Wilson are the leaders of the Cardinals defense and both should lead the way statistically this week too.  Travis LaBoy could be a sneaky play this week if you are short on options at LB.

Five-Star Plays:
Adrian Wilson (DB)
Karlos Dansby (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Travis LaBoy (LB)
Gerald Hayes (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Antrel Rolle (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DB)


New England Patriots @ Oakland Raiders

New England Patriots: 
The Patriots will be playing with heavy hearts this weekend following the passing of QB Matt Casselʼs father.  The defense should have no problem ensuring the Pats have a lead for Cassel.  Figure LB Jerod Mayo will have a major impact despite limited tackling chances.  DB Brandon Meriweather is also a solid start.  And aside from maybe LB Mike Vrabel, the older Pat IDPs should probably be avoided.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Jerod Mayo (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brandon Meriweather (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Mike Vrabel (LB)
Vince Wilfork (DL)
Richard Seymour (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Oakland Raiders:
Look for the Patriots to completely dominate this game and the Raiders defense to be on the field a ton.  Kirk Morrison should post double digit tackles and Gibril Wilson should be a top play too.  Thomas Howard has struggled of late but this week there should be plenty to go around for Howard too.

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

Four-Star Plays:
Thomas Howard (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Derrick Burgess (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Jon Alston (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.


Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos: 
Two words, Bronco fans:  uh and oh.  Your run defense has been extra shoddy this season and now you face the best run offense in the NFL.  LB Jamie Winborn should be busy this Sunday.  Ditto with Nate Webster.  Ditto with Wesley Woodyard.  Aside from the LBs, we advise you sit all other Bronco IDPs. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Jamie Winborn (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Nate Webster (LB)
Wesley Woodyard (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Marquand Manuel (DB)
Elvis Dumervil (DL)
Dre Bly (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.
Carolina Panthers:
Tough matchup for Jon Beason owners this week as the Broncos come to town with Tatum Bell as their #1 RB.  However, Beason is just too much of a stud to consider benching.  He should still be good for a half dozen of tackles.  Thomas Davis has performed pretty well during the second half of the season and should be a solid start this week.  Richard Marshall is coming off of his best performance of the year and should be extremely busy this week versus the Broncos high octane pass offense.

Five-Star Plays:
Richard Marshall (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Jon Beason (LB)
Chris Gamble (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Thomas Davis (LB)
Julius Peppers (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Chris Harris (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Charles Godfrey (DB)


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers: 
Oh man, this is going to be ugly.  Two of the best defenses in the NFL squaring off in an incredibly important AFC battle.  Figure the LB James pair of Farrior and Harrison will each be busy against the RB trio of the Ravens.  DB Troy Polamalu is having a terrific season and will have yet another solid game. 

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

Four-Star Plays:
James Farrior (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Lamarr Woodley (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Lawrence Timmons (LB)
Aaron Smith (DL)
Ike Taylor (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Baltimore Ravens:
If you like offense you better find another game to watch because this looks to be the defensive battle of the year.  Ray Lewis should post above average numbers from his MLB position.  Also, look for Terrell Suggs to register at least one sack this week and a multi sack game is not out of the realm of possibility.  Ed Reed might be able to score more TD’s this week then both offenses combined. 

Five-Star Plays:
Terrell Suggs (DL)

Four-Sar Plays:
Ray Lewis (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Bart Scott (LB)
Jim Leonhard (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Ed Reed (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Trevor Pryce (DL)


New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants: 
Ah, it must be nice to be NBC with their ability to snap up the best games of the week.  Gotta love the defending champs against America’s Team, a team that was all but poised to cruise into the playoffs and on into the Super Bowl.  But the Boys have had their share of many troubles this season.  Now, they face an almost do-or-die type of game against the Giants.  The Giants’ D will be up for the task, and you’ll want their big name IDPs in your lineup this weekend.  LB Antonio Pierce has had an up-and-down season but will figure importantly in this one.   We don’t need to tell you to start DL Justin Tuck, but it may not dawn on you to also start Mathias Kiwanuka.  Young DB Kenny Phillips is coming on at the right time and is a solid start this week. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

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

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
None.

Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys played a great game defensively last week but still came away with a loss due to a Tony Romo miscue.  Look for Zach Thomas and Bradie James to lead the defense in defending what should be a Brandon Jacobless running attack.  Demarcus Ware will have to be a difference maker this week to force Eli Manning into making Tony Romo type mistakes so that the Cowboys can send the Giants home with their second consecutive loss.

Five-Star Plays:
Bradie James (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Demarcus Ware (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Zach Thomas (LB)
Ken Hamlin (DB)
Jay Ratliff (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

Two-Star Plays:
Anthony Henry (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Kevin Burnett (LB)


Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles

Cleveland Browns: 
And as the polar opposite to what NBC gets on Sunday night, we get this gem of a Monday Night affair.  The Browns?  Really?  This game should be over by halftime.  But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid their IDPs.  In fact, LB D’Qwell Jackson and DB Sean Jones are likely two of the better IDP starts this week.  DB Eric Wright should be tested enough by QB Donovan McNabb to post good numbers.  Ditto with safety Brodney Pool. 

Five-Star Plays: 
D’Qwell Jackson (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Sean Jones (DB)

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

Two-Star Plays:
Leon Williams (LB)
Brandon McDonald (DB)
Shaun Rogers (DL)
Kamerion Wimbley (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Eagle IDPs have a poor matchup this week versus a struggling Browns offense.  Last week, Keith Bulluck was the leading tackler among Titans LBs with just 3 solos and 2 assists so don’t expect a big week from Stewart BradleyAkeem Jordan has played very well since taking over for Omar Gaither at WLB but this is a week where he should be firmly planted on your bench.  Quintin Mikell & Brian Dawkins should be solid starts for the Eagles this week.  However, Trent Cole should be one of the best DL plays of the week.

Five-Star Plays:
Trent Cole (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Quintin Mikell (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Brian Dawkins (DB)
Stewart Bradley (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Akeem Jordan (LB)
Sheldon Brown (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Broderick Bunkley (DL)
Chris Gocong (LB)

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