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IDP Game Breakdowns and Player Rater - Week 16
Darin Tietgen & Steve Gallo
December 19, 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). 

Baltimore Ravens @ Dallas Cowboys

Baltimore Ravens: 
Big Saturday matchup pairing a hot Cowboy team up against a stellar – and likely PO’ed – Ravens defense.  The Ravens have the big hitters to make an impact on the defensive side of this ball game.  LB Ray Lewis will be all over the field and is a top LB pick for this weekend.  DE Terrell Suggs has been stellar this season and will likely get to QB Tony Romo at least once.  DB Ed Reed has had a resurgent season and will be a factor in the backfield.  Other Raven IDPs you can rely on include LB Bart Scott and DB Jim Leonhard if you’re in a larger league.  DL Haloti Ngata is an option in leagues that start DT.   
Five-Star Plays: 
Ray Lewis (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Terrell Suggs (DL)
Ed Reed (DB)

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

Two-Star Plays:
Jim Leonhard (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Dallas Cowboys:
Demarcus Ware needs 4 sacks over his final two games to break the NFL sack record.  Look for Bradie James has averaged over 22 points/game over the past 3 games and looks to have a fantastic match-up this week.  Jay Ratliff is a must start in DT mandatory leagues and Zach Thomas is another good start versus a run heavy Raven team.

Five-Star Plays:
Bradie James (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Demarcus Ware (LB)
Jay Ratliff (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)
Zach Thomas (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
None.

Two-Star Plays:
Ken Hamlin (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Marcus Spear (DL)


San Diego Chargers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

San Diego Chargers:
A very disappointing season for the Bolts, especially the defense.  Sure, they lost the heart and soul of their unit, but they have plenty of other playmakers.  LB Stephen Cooper has done well in the absence of Shawne Merriman, and he’ll likely excel this week.  DB Eric Weddle has been up and down in the last half of the season but could be effective this week.  DB Quentin Jammer has been hot, but he’s unreliable.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Stephen Cooper

Three-Star Plays:
Eric Weddle (DB)
Quentin Jammer (DB)
Antonio Cromartie (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Shaun Phillips (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Look for Pro Bowl snubbed Barrett Ruud to have a big game this week.  Ronde Barber has been big contributer for fantasy owners over the past month (17.75 ppg) and should be a very strong play versus the Chargers this week.  Derrick Brooks may have made the Pro Bowl but should only be started in deeper leagues this week.  Gaines Adams has had an inconsistent year and isn’t someone I would want to rely on in a championship week.  Jermaine Phillips has been the highest scoring DB over the past 3 weeks but owners will need to find a replacement for him because he broke his arm in last week’s game.

Five-Star Plays:
Barrett Ruud (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Ronde Barber (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Sabby Piscatelli (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Gaines Adams (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Cato June (LB)
Jovan Haye (DL)


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers: 
This figures to be one of the best games of the weekend, pairing a couple of tough defenses.  The Steelers may have trouble stopping the Titan ground game, so figure the LB pair of James Farrior and James Harrison will be great starts.  Ditto with DB Troy Polamalu as he comes up in coverage and plays the pass well too.  Lamarr Woodley and Aaron Smith are startable in larger leagues.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
James Harrison (LB)

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

One-Star Plays:
Lawrence Timmons (LB)
Ike Taylor (DB)

Tennessee Titans:
This week Keith Bulluck and Chris Hope are both top IDP options versus the Steelers.  Stephen Tulloch owners will also want to make sure he is in their starting lineups this week.  The loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch & Albert Haynesworth hurts their owners but will help to add to the chances the LB’s and DB’s will get this week.

Five-Star Plays:
Chris Hope (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Keith Bulluck (LB)
Nick Harper (DB)
Tony Brown (DL, in DT mandatory leagues.)

Three-Star Plays:
Stephen Tulloch (LB)
Cortland Finnegan (DB)
Dave Ball (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
David Thornton (LB)
Jevon Kearse (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Michael Griffin (DB)


San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

San Francisco 49ers: 
The Niners could be in trouble here as the Rams look to close out the 2008 season on a strong note.  Steven Jackson appears ready to roll, so go ahead and put LB Patrick Willis into your lineup without hesitation.  Ditto with DB Michael Lewis who will play the pass as well as run.  LB Takeo Spikes is a sneaky play this week as he’ll likely chase down S-Jax when Willis is tied up.   DL Justin Smith has had a nice season and is likely a solid play against the struggling Ram offense. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Patrick Willis (LB)

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

Three-Star Plays:
Nate Clements (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Manny Lawson (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Mark Roman (DB)

St. Louis Rams:
Same Rams team, same warning, start any Ram at your own risk.  If you really feel the need to start a Ram then roll the dice with Pisa Tinoisamoa or O.J. Otogwe.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

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

Two-Star Plays:
Leonard Little (DL)
Chris Long (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Will Witherspoon (LB)
Ronald Bartell (DB)


Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots

Arizona Cardinals: 
Tough draw for the Cards, a week after getting spanked by the Vikings.  Traveling to the chilly northeast is not what the doctor ordered for this high-flying offense.  Expect Bill Belichick’s crew to test the Cardinals’ defense with a host of short crossing routes, which could make for a busy day for the likes of LBs Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes.  DBs Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson have both been playing well and will finish with good stats at the end of the day. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
Antrel Rolle (DB)
Gerald Hayes (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Darnell Dockett (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Bert Berry (DL)

New England Patriots:
Rookie Jerod Mayo has been very good for most of the year but you should temper expectations versus the pass happy Cardinals.  Look for Brandon Meriweather to be an extremely good play this week too.  Also, Ellis Hobbs should be another good DB start.

Five-Star Plays:
Brandon Meriweather (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Ellis Hobbs (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
James Sanders (DB)
Jerod Mayo (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Gary Guyton (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Vince Wilfork (DL)
Ty Warren (DL)


Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins:
The Fins better not take this Carl Peterson-less Chiefs team lightly, especially not at Arrowhead Stadium.  Expect good stats from DB Yeremiah Bell, but if the Chiefs are in this game late, the better stats could be from LB Channing Crowder.  DB Renaldo Hill could be busy, especially in the first half as the Chiefs look to establish WR Dwayne Bowe.  And you can never count out sack master Joey Porter.  Get him into your lineup as he looks to rack up more sacks.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
Renaldo Hill (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Matt Roth (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Kansas City Chiefs:
One has to wonder just how the Chiefs defense will respond this week after completely blowing a certain win last week.  Derrick Johnson will get his second start at MLB and should be a slightly above average start versus the Dolphins.  Rocky Boiman wasn’t as productive from his WLB position as he was when he was starting at MLB but should still be a good start in deeper leagues.  Tamba Hali had his best game of the season and most likely he was on your bench.  Don’t be fooled into thinking he is a good start this week just because of last week’s explosion.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Derrick Johnson (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Rocky Boiman (LB)
Brandon Flowers (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jarrad Page (DB)
Brandon Carr (DB)
Tamba Hali (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Demorrio Williams (LB)
Maurice Leggett (DB)


New Orleans Saints @ Detroit Lions

New Orleans Saints: 
Could be a good day to start Saint IDPs.  The Lions are going to be scratching and clawing their way to their first (and likely only) victory.  LB Jonathan Vilma has had a good season but has shown that he can disappear.  The “other” LBs have traded off good games, so both are risky starts – but could be classified as sleepers (Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle).  More than likely, the DL pair of Will Smith and Bobby McCray should share 2-3 sacks. 
 
Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Will Smith (DL)
Jonathan Vilma (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Roman Harper (DB)
Scott Fujita (LB)
Bobby McCray (DL)
Josh Bullocks (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Scott Shanle (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Detroit Lions:
The Saints have been very good matchups for opposing LB’s over the past three weeks and that bodes well for Paris Lenon and Ernie Sims owners.  Dewayne White returned from injury last week but I would still refrain from starting him versus a Saints team that doesn’t give up many sacks.  Daniel Bullocks should also be an above average start this week.

Five-Star Plays:
Daniel Bullocks (DB)

Four-Star Plays:
Ernie Sims (LB)

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

Two-Star Plays:
None.

One-Star Plays:
Cliff Avril (DL)
Dewayne White (DL)


Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals:
This in-state matchup has never looked uglier.  If you actually have to use Bengal IDPs this week, LB Brandon Johnson is probably your best bet, although he’s hardly a household name and could post weak stats rather easily.  DB Leon Hall is a decent play as he could defend some passes. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Brandon Johnson (LB)
Leon Hall (DB)
Dhani Jones (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Chris Crocker (DB)
Rashad Jeanty (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Cleveland Browns:
This is a hard game to forecast not knowing which Bengals team is going to show up.  My money would be on an ugly game from both sides so I would temper expectations for most IDP’s in this game.  With that said, D’Qwell Jackson has been to think about benching so ride him one more game.  Sean Jones owners will find it hard to sit him and he should have a decent game with some upside too.  If you are a Brandon McDonald owner just count your blessings with what you got last week and don’t be greedy because you will be disappointed.  Shaun Rogers has been a beast for most of the year and especially in DT mandatory leagues but he suffered an injury last week and that makes him a risky start this week.
 
Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
D’Qwell Jackson (LB)
Sean Jones (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Andra Davis (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Eric Wright (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Leon Williams (LB)
Shaun Rogers (DL)
Brandon McDonald (DB)


New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks

New York Jets: 
Big game for the Jets, who are still alive in the playoff race.  Fortunately, they have their super stud LB back healthy (David Harris) and his fill-in (Eric Barton) will play well alongside.  Even Calvin Pace should put up solid LB fantasy numbers.  DL Shaun Ellis has been a game-changer and could make noise this weekend against a struggling Seahawk offense. 

Five-Star Plays: 
David Harris (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Shaun Ellis (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Calvin Pace (LB)
Eric Barton (LB)
Kerry Rhodes (DB)     

Two-Star Plays:
Bryan Thomas (DL)
Abram Elam (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Darrelle Revis (DB)

Seattle Seahawks:
The Jets bring a potent running game into Seattle and that bodes well for Lofa Tatupu owners.  Also, Rocky Bernard makes a decent play in DL leagues and a very good play in DT mandatory leagues.  Julian Peterson is a risky start if he isn’t getting to the QB and Favre has only been sacked 4 times in the past 3 weeks.  LeRoy Hill has missed the last couple of weeks due to injury and will probably miss this week too but even if he plays he would be a risky play in his return to the lineup.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Lofa Tatupu (LB)
Rocky Bernard (DL, in DT mandatory leagues)

Three-Star Plays:
Josh Wilson (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Julian Peterson (LB)
Darryl Tapp (DL)
Marcus Trufant (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Lawrence Jackson (DL)


Houston Texans @ Oakland Raiders

Houston Texans: 
If this game were in Houston, you could mark down the victory for the Texans and fill out a box score for their IDPs.  But with this game in Oakland, the game could take on a whole new look.  Expect LB DeMeco Ryans to have a solid game regardless of how well the Raider offense performs.  DB Eugene Wilson has played well lately and could have a big game, especially if the Raiders can move the ball through the air.   DL Mario Williams could again be a game-changer; you know you gotta start him.

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

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

Three-Star Plays:
Eugene Wilson (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Kevin Bentley (LB)
Dunta Robinson (DB)
Amobi Okoye (DL)
Xavier Adibi (LB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Oakland Raiders:
Look for Kirk Morrison to continue to build on his top 5 LB status this year from his MLB position versus the Texans.  Derrick Burgess and Gibril Wilson are also two very strong starts this week.  Thomas Howard has been a disappointment over the past 3 weeks so I would look for a better option for this week.

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

Four-Star Plays:
Derrick Burgess (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Kalimba Edwards (DL)
Chris Johnson (DB)
Nnamdi Asomugha (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Thomas Howard (LB)

One-Star Plays:
Justin Miller (DB)


Buffalo Bills @ Denver Broncos

Buffalo Bills: 
The Bills have had some pretty disappointing games and disappointing stats from their IDPs have followed.  LB Paul Posluszny tops that list, and don’t expect his stats to improve this week.  Fellow LB Kawika Mitchell could actually outscore him.  DB Donte Whitner will have a terrific game as he works against the Bronco passing game. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

Three-Star Plays:
Paul Posluszny (LB)
Kawika Mitchell (LB)
Donte Whitner (DB)

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

One-Star Plays:
None.

Denver Broncos:
D.J. Williams had a very uneventful return to the starting lineup last week.  Look for him to post much better numbers this week versus the Marshawn Lynch Bills running game.  Jamie Winborn, Nate Webster and Wesley Woodyard owners will probably be best served looking for other options this week (especially Woodyard owners).  Rookie Josh Barrett had a solid game last week and could be a sneaky play in larger leagues this week.  Look for Elvis Dumervil to get back into the sack column this week.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Star Plays:
D.J. Williams (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
None.

Two-Star Plays:
Nate Webster (LB)
Jamie Winborn (LB)
Josh Barrett (DB)
Elvis Dumervil (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Wesley Woodyard (LB)


Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins

Philadelphia Eagles: 
Should be another doozie between the NFC East rivals.  The Eagles are soaring, while the Redskins are.. well.. boring.  Eagle IDPs you should certainly look at this week include LB Stewart Bradley, who should rack up close to 10 combined tackles, if not more.  DL Trent Cole may have a chip on his shoulder after being left off the Pro Bowl roster.  Figure he’ll get at least one sack.  Young LB Akeem Jordan is a sleeper pick for this week as he’ll chase down what Bradley can’t get to. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Stewart Bradley (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Trent Cole (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Akeem Jordan (LB)
Quintin Mikell (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Darren Howard (DL)
Brian Dawkins (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Washington Redskins:
Look for London Fletcher to have a very big game versus the Eagles.  Especially, considering that Rocky McIntosh grabbed some pine in last week’s game in favor of Alfred FincherChris Horton should be a solid play as he returns from an injury but make sure you check the Friday Injury Report.  LaRon Landry should have one of his better tackle weeks versus the Eagles passing game.

Five-Star Plays:
London Fletcher (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Chris Horton (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
LaRon Landry (DB)
H.B.Blades (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Jason Taylor (DL)
Andre Carter (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Rocky McIntosh (LB)
Alfred Fincher (LB)


Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings

Atlanta Falcons: 
The surprising Falcons are making it happen not only on the offensive side of the ball, but on the defensive side as well.  Thanks to the likes of DL John Abraham, this defense is putting up big time efforts against quality opponents.  Figure Abraham should play well against the Viking OL.  The LB pair of Curtis Lofton and Keith Brooking should be busy all day chasing down RB Adrian Peterson. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
None.

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

Two-Star Plays:
Erik Coleman (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Minnesota Vikings:
Look for Kevin Williams to be a good start in DT mandatory leagues versus the Turner led Falcon rushing attack.  Chad Greenway has been a top 15 LB this year and should be in your lineup for this strong matchup this week.  Antoine Winfield and Madieu Williams should be above average plays this week but Cedric Griffin owners will probably need to look for a better option.  Jared Allen has been limited in practice but if he is active and playing he is a must start.

Five-Star Plays:
None.

Four-Sar Plays:
Kevin Williams (DL, in DT mandatory leagues.)
Jared Allen (DL)

Three-Star Plays:
Madieu Williams (DB)
Antoine Williams (DB)
Chad Greenway (LB)

Two-Star Plays:
Cedric Griffin (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Ben Leber (LB)



Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants

Carolina Panthers: 
This should be one heck of a game, pairing a couple of offenses that can move the ball both through the air and especially on the ground – and a couple of hard-hitting defenses with pure athletes making things happen.  In Carolina’s case, it will be DL Julius Peppers that likely makes the big plays, with LB Jon Beason also getting in on the big play action.  Beason will also rack up a bunch of tackles, making him a top play this week.  The talented secondary will also figure in on these big play chances, so go ahead and start them with some confidence. 

Five-Star Plays: 
Jon Beason (LB)

Four-Star Plays:
Julius Peppers (DL)

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

Two-Star Plays:
Chris Gamble (DB)

One-Star Plays:
None.

New York Giants:
The Giants will be looking to right their ship and they will need Justin Tuck to be a big part of that.  Look for Tuck to be a very good play this week.  Antonio Pierce should be a big beneficiary due to the Panthers potent rushing attack.  Aaron Ross should be a solid play in big leagues as he chases Steve Smith around.
Five-Star Plays:
Justin Tuck (DL)

Four-Star Plays:
Antonio Pierce (LB)

Three-Star Plays:
Aaron Ross (DB)

Two-Star Plays:
Chase Blackburn (LB)
Mathias Kiwanuka (DL)

One-Star Plays:
Danny Clark (LB)


Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers: 
The Packers head down the interstate to Chicago for what should be another solid game in this rivalry.  LB A.J. Hawk has been on the inconsistent side but should rack up enough tackles in this one to make a solid #2 LB play.  DB Charles Woodson is settling nicely into his role as a safety, and is a nice pick for this week.  And finally, DE Aaron Kampman should register at least a sack this week, so play him with a good deal of confidence. 

Five-Star Plays: 
None.

Four-Star Plays:
Charles Woodson (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
A.J. Hawk (LB)
Aaron Kampman (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Brandon Chillar (LB)
Tramon Williams (DB)
Nick Collins (DB)
Mike Montgomery (DL)

One-Star Plays:
None.

Chicago Bears:
Look for the Bears defense to play inspired as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Expect Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to be very good starts this week.  Charles Tillman has been a top 10 DB this year and should be a plug and play in your lineup on a weekly basis.  The Packers are middle of the pack when it comes to giving up sacks so Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye aren’t strong starts but in deeper leagues are startable.

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

Four-Star Plays:
Charles Tillman (DB)

Three-Star Plays:
Adewale Ogunleye (DL)

Two-Star Plays:
Alex Brown (DL)
Kevin Payne (DB)
Corey Graham (DB)

One-Star Plays:
Mike Brown (DB)

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