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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 2
Steve Gallo
September 18, 2009
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Weekly, I will break down each team’s matchup and offer ratings on the more important IDPs.  Preceding the game breakdowns is a reference chart that lists each team’s scheme, defensive coordinator & projected three down linebackers.  Ratings are based on a 12-team league that assumes the following starting requirements: 1 defensive tackles (DT), 2 defensive ends (DE), 3-4 linebackers (LB), 2 defensive backs (DB) (cornerbacks (CB) & safeties (S)).  As the season progresses trends will become apparent and allow me to utilize IDP TOP as a viable tool for these game breakdowns.  Good luck & enjoy!

Rating System:
Five-Star Play: Studly performance anticipated
Four-Star Play: Above average solid start
Three-Star Play: Decent starter or sleeper
Two-Star Play: Bench ‘em, unless you don’t have better options
One-Star Play: Bench ‘em no matter what

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).

Team base schemes, defensive coordinators and three down linebackers (remember Scheme Matters)

Team Scheme Defensive Coordinator Three down linebackers
ARZ 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor
ATL 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 3-4 Greg Mattison Ray Lewis
BUF Tampa 2/Cover 2 Perry Fewell Kawika Mitchell
CAR 4-3 Ron Meeks Jon Beason, Thomas Davis
CHI Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs
CIN 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 3-4 Rob Ryan D'Qwell Jackson, Eric Barton, Kamerion Wimbley
DAL 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote, Ernie Sims
GB 3-4 Dom Capers Aaron Kampman
HOU 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans
IND Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 4-3 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Mike Vrabel, Tamba Hali
MIA 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter
MIN Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 3-4 Dean Pees Adalius Thomas
NO 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 4-3 Bill Sheridan Antonio Pierce, Michael Boley
NYJ 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott
OAK 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard
PHL 4-3 Sean McDermott Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan
PIT 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley
SD 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 4-3 Gus Bradley Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry
SF 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis, Will Witherspoon
TB 4-3 Jim Bates Barrett Ruud
TEN 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck,  Stephen Tulloch
WAS 4-3 Greg Blache London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo

CAROLINA at Atlanta

Expect the Panthers defense to spend a bit more time on the field this week versus the Falcons.  The Falcons will look to get their running game going and that should bode well for the Panthers front seven.  This past week versus the Eagles, the Panther defensive saw a limited amount of tackle opportunities due to the Panther offense’s horrible play. 

Defensive line:  If you are a Julius Peppers owner he is more than likely your top DE and is about as plug and play as you get at the DE position.  This week should be no different.  If you play in DT mandatory leagues Damione Lewis should be a solid play this week versus the running game of the Falcons that is led by Michael Turner.  Both Tyler Brayton  & Charles Johnson should continue to share time opposite Peppers and are really only roster worthy in deeper leagues with Johnson being rosterable in dynasty leagues

Linebackers:  Jon Beason returned and was able to start and play after suffering an MCL injury in the preseason but he was far from LB we have come to know and love in IDP land.  Just remember it is just week 1 and Beason should bounce back as his knee continues to heal.  Thomas Davis owners were the biggest beneficiaries from Beason’s struggles as he posted 16 combined tackles versus the Eagles.  Davis is a safe start in start 3 LB leagues and does present some upside as a LB2 but don’t expect him to continue with his week 1 pace.  If you are in a deep league or dynasty league and own Beason you may want to consider stashing former 3rd round draft pick Dan Connor as insurance should Beason’s knee regress.

Secondary:  Chris Harris got hurt in pregame warm-ups last week and while active for the dame didn’t play a single snap.  As of Wednesday, he hadn’t practiced yet this week.  Until Harris can get on the field and show he is healthy, he should remain on your bench.  As many of you may know I am extremely high on Richard Marshall this year.  Don’t let a poor week 1 scare you off from starting Marshall this week.  He should be active in run support against a solid Falcons running game along with doing his best to limit Falcons receivers.  Don’t be surprised to see Marshall bait second year QB Matt Ryan into an interception.  Chris Gamble is still a solid play as a DB3 in larger leagues.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Thomas Davis 
Julius Peppers  
Richard Marshall
Jon Beason
Damione Lewis
Chris Gamble Chris Harris

Just like the Falcon’s offense will look to establish their running game you can expect the same from the Panthers this week.  The Panther’s offense, namely Jake Delhomme looked horrible in week one and Coach Fox will want to feed the ball to both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to help take some pressure off the passing game.  Facing a heavy running attack will mean good things for Falcons IDP’s.

Defensive Line:  The Panthers are sticking with QB Jake Delhomme and that could mean big things for John Abraham this week.  In his last two games, Delhomme has thrown nine, yes NINE interceptions and if Delhomme tries to compensate by holding the ball longer than he should that could lead to a multi sack game for Abraham.  Jamaal Anderson continues to disappoint dynasty owners that had high hopes when they drafted him a few years ago.  If you haven’t cut bait yet you should unless you are in an extremely deep league.  Don’t expect Kroy Biermann to reproduce his 5 tackle, 2 sack day again.  The stash and hold for dynasty leaguers is Lawrence Sidbury.  

Linebacker: Curtis Lofton is the real deal and is a must start this week.  Of Lofton’s 11 total tackles, 5 came on just 22 rushing attempts.  The Panthers should look to establish their running game with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to help protect their passing game.  Mike Peterson should be a solid start in start 3 LB leagues.  Strong side linebacker (SLB) Stephen Nicholas will be inconsistent at best this year with both Lofton and Peterson eating up the tackles.

Secondary: Eric Coleman was looked at as a sleeper in the preseason and to be honest even though it looks as if he slept thru week 1 he is still a viable sleeper this year.  Especially, when you realize that the defensive front 7 racked up 36 tackles out of the 43 tackle opportunities the Falcons faced.  Chris Houston has some value in deeper leagues that require CB’s.  William Moore is still a good prospect to stash for dynasty owners.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Curtis Lofton
John Abraham
None Mike Peterson
Eric Coleman
Stephen Nicholas Jamaal Anderson
Kroy Biermann



HOUSTON at TENNESSEE

Houston, we have a problem. The Texans offense was severely limited by the Jets defense and the Texans defense didn’t do much to baptize rookie QB Mark Sanchez in the NFL.  Truth is it is still only one week and I expect the Texans to bounce back on both sides of the ball.  Facing a 0-1 Titans team on the road surely won’t be easy but I still expect a much better effort this week.

Defensive Line: Mario Williams is a stud and playmaker that needs to be in your lineup on a weekly basis unless you are in a league that starts a very minimal amount of IDPs.  Look for Williams to get his first sack of the early season this week.  The Texans added Antonio Smith to help keep Williams from being double-teamed and in the long term that should pan out well.  Rookie Connor Barwin will be worked in as the season progresses so that could limit both his and Smith’s value this year.  Amobi Okoye is a good start this week in DT mandatory leagues if you think that the Titans will be able to grab a lead and run the ball more often than not.

Linebacker:  DeMeco Ryans looks to be healthy this year and should easily be a top 5-10 LB this year.  He should improve upon his 4 solos(8 total tackles) he logged in week 1.  Start him with confidence.   Zac Diles was the waiver wire darling last year up until he broke his leg but this year he was thrust into a starting role when second year LB Xavier Adibi struggled in the preseason.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Diles will have the same impact he had last year.

Secondary: Dunta Robinson & Dominique Barber are the best players in the Houston secondary but I wouldn’t expect much versus the Titans.  Barber was able to return a fumbler for a TD last week so if you are in a big play league and find yourself in a bind you could start him in a pinch.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
DeMeco Ryans Mario Williams Zac Diles
Amobi Okoye
Dominique Rodgers
Dunta Robinson Connor Barwin
Antonio Smith

Albert who?  The Titans played well versus the Steelers but make no mistake about it the Titans will miss Albert Haynesworth but his absence should help boost the stats of other Titans IDP’s.  One other thing is certain and that is the Titans have some playmakers in their secondary that should get ample opportunities this week.

Defensive Line:  Matt Schaub looked like a deer in headlights versus the Jets in week 1 so expect the Titans to put the pressure on.  Tony Brown got good pressure against the Steelers and I would expect he will do the same this week.  In DT mandatory leagues Brown is going to be a very nice player this year.  Kyle Vanden Bosch isn’t the no brainer start at DE like he has been in the past but against the Texans this week he should be in line for a decent game and is safe to start as a DE2.

Linebacker: Keith Bulluck bounced back last year from an abysmal 2007 campaign but in week 1 versus Pittsburgh he looked like he has lost a step.  David Thornton who normally plays in the nickel was banged up and sat out of many nickel snaps in favor of Stephen Tulloch who took full advantage of those extra snaps.  Tulloch is a solid start as a LB2/3 in larger leagues but he presents some risk if he starts giving way on those nickel snaps.

Secondary: The Titans have a strong yet somewhat underrated secondary.  Cortland Finnegan always seems to be around the ball, is a very good tackler, is a solid start as a DB2 in moderate size leagues, and is a CB1 in CB mandatory leagues.  Chris Hope hasn’t returned to form from a few years ago but he is still a solid option and is safely a DB2 with DB1 upside in all league formats.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Stephen Tulloch
Chris Hope
Cortland Finnegan
Keith Bulluck
Tony Brown
Kyle Vanden Bosch
David Thornton
Chris Gamble
Michael Griffin


MINNESOTA at DETROIT

With a running game led by Adrian Peterson, you can expect the Vikings to be among the league leaders in time of possession.  That is important because it will contribute towards the Vikings defense facing what will probably be below average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line:  Jared Allen did his best Houdini impression week 1 versus the Browns but OL Joe Thomas deserves a ton of credit for holding Allen in check.  You can expect Allen to be a man on a mission this week.  Last week, the Saints DL didn’t register any sacks versus the Lions but this week Allen will make amends for his previous poor performance.  The Williams Wall should be a major force in the middle of the d-line but don’t expect much in the way of actual fantasy value.

Linebacker: EJ Henderson missed the final 12 games of 2008 due to a foot injury but his return to the field this year shows that he is back at full strength.  Henderson put up 8 combined tackles with a sack and that was with him sitting out approximately the final 7 minutes of the game.  He should be a solid LB2 in smaller leagues and LB1 in larger leagues but this week versus the Lions don’t be surprised if he struggles a bit.  Chad Greenway was pretty pedestrian versus an offensively challenged Browns squad and will probably suffer the same fate versus an equally inept Lions offense.  If you are in extremely deep leagues or are in a bind with injuries, you should be able to look to Ben Leber at times this season.  However, this isn’t one of those weeks.

Secondary: Vikings CB’s Antoine Winfield & Cedric Griffin are both top 5 CBs in CB mandatory leagues yet still are DB1/2 in DB leagues too.  They may not see a large number of tackle opportunities this week but don’t be surprised to see them nab a few errant Matthew Stafford passes.  Both safeties, Madieu Williams & Tyrell Johnson should be benched in this matchup unless you are in a 32 team that starts multiple DB’s.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Jared Allen None EJ Henderson
Antoine Winfield
Cedric Griffin
Chad Greenway
Kevin Williams
Madieu Williams
Tyrell Johnson
Pat Williams

The Lions have two things going for them this week, first being that they will be playing in friendly confines of their home stadium and second being that they don’t have to face Drew Brees again this week.  However, they will be facing the formidable rushing game of the Vikings.  The Lions defense should get above average tackle opportunities this week.

Defensive Line: The Lions pass rush is nothing to write home about but QB Brett Favre still seems to be finding his game sense and that could lead to a sack for either Cliff Avril or Dewayne White.  Even with that I would leave all the Lions defensive lineman on the bench.

INJURY UPDATE:  Cliff Avril has missed practice all week due to a hamstring injury and is listed as Doubtful on the injury report.

Linebacker: Larry Foote sat out a bunch of 3 & 4 WR sets last week versus the potent Saints passing attack but this week should be all about Adrian Peterson.  Look for Foote and Ernie Sims to possibly have their best tackle games of the year this week.  Julian Peterson was acquired from the Seahawks this past offseason in hopes of helping to bolster the LB corps and add some punch to the pass rush.  This week I doubt Peterson will get many opportunities to get after the QB so unless you are in a pinch leave him on your bench.

Secondary: Louis Delmas has the look of the playmaker the Lions so desperately were hoping for when they drafted him this past April.  It remains to be seen how Delmas will factor into run support from his FS position so he is a risky start this week.  Anthony Henry had a very nice stat line week 1 but that was obviously inflated due to the Saints passing attack.  Marquand Manuel should be busy in run support and looks to be a solid DB2 in average size leagues and a DB1 in larger leagues. 

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Larry Foote
Marquand Manuel
Ernie Sims Julian Peterson Dewayne White
Cliff Avril
Anthony Henry


nEW ENGLAND AT NEW YORK JETS

Sure, the Patriots got the win this past week over a spunky Bills team but Tom Brady doesn’t look completely like the Tom Brady of old and to make matters worse the defense seemed to miss Richard Seymour.  Add in that starting MLB Jerod Mayo was injured and that win loses a bit of its luster.  Look for the Jets to pound the rock in order to limit the time the Patriot offense is on the field. 

Defensive Line: Expect to see Derrick Burgess and Jarvis Green see a good amount of work as ends in a 4-3 defense which will help increase their value this week.  Still starting them is only recommended in 16+ team leagues.  Vince Wilfork &  Ty Warren will make it difficult for the Jets to run inside and both could approach 4-5 solo tackles this week.  If you are in a DT mandatory league I would put them in the 2nd level of starters.

Linebacker:  Jerod Mayo unfortunately suffered an MCL injury early in the Patriots week 1 game.  In true Patriots fashion getting exact information on how long Mayo will be out how severe the injury is and how long he will be out is like pulling teeth.  A 6-8 week absence would not be surprising but if you have a deep enough roster you should hold him until we are able to find out more conclusive information. With Mayo’s loss expect to see the Patriots run more of the 4-3 that they unveiled in the preseason.  Gary Guyton looks like the guy that will replace Mayo at MLB.  Don’t expect him to equal Mayo’s production but if you are in a larger league that starts at least 3 LB’s you should be able to start him as your LB3 with some possible upside.  Adalius Thomas & Pierre Woods should be the go to LB’s in 4-3 sets but both are fringe starts for the most part and that is even for the deepest of leagues.  As far as Tully Banta-Cain goes don’t read too much in to his stat line.  He was able to take advantage of a weak Bills OL.

Secondary: Brandon Meriweather should see an uptick in his tackle stats with Mayo on the mend.  I would consider Meriweather a fringe DB1 in all size leagues.  James Sanders & rookie Patrick Chung should split just enough snaps to make both nothing more than bench material.  Don’t expect much from CB’s Leigh Bodden or Shawn Springs as the Jets will look to control the clock with their running game and limit the chances rookie Mark Sanchez has to take in the air.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Brandon Meriweather Gary Guyton
Ty Warren
Derrick Burgess
Vince Wilfork
Adalius Thomas
Pierre Woods
Shawn Springs
Leigh Bodden
Patrick Chung
James Sanders

Expect the Jets to bring pressure to try to knock Brady off his game.  The Jets secondary did a fantastic job against a Texans team that is supposed to be one of the better offenses in the league this year.  Actually, a lot of that can be attributed to one specific player but we will discuss him when we get to the secondary.

Defensive Line: Kris Jenkins is a major cog that makes the Jets 3-4 go but don’t expect much fantasy wise versus the Patriots.  Don’t expect an impact from Marques Douglas either.  For the most part in this defense he is waiver wire fodder.

Linebacker:  Bart Scott was handpicked by Coach Ryan to follow him to the Jets and will need to be at his best to help the Jets defense contain a potent Patriots offense.  David Harris seems to have assumed the Ray Lewis spot in Coach Ryan’s defense and looks like he is going to be a low level LB1 in all leagues with some upside to be elite this year.  Vernon Gholston will continue to replace suspended LB Calvin Pace this week.  If you are a Gholston owner, (I know there aren’t many of you out there) please keep him on your bench this week.

Secondary:  If you want to see, one heck of a matchup this week make sure you key on Darrelle Revis as he tries to shutdown Randy Moss.  Unbelievably last week was no fluke when Revis for the most part rendered Andre Johnson irrelevant.  Lito Sheppard should be the beneficiary most weeks as the season goes on as QBs avoid Revis but this week I don’t think he will have much a game covering the Patriots third WR.  Jim Leonhard & Kerry Rhodes should be very busy lending help to defend the Patriot passing game so expect them both to struggle to accumulate many tackles this week. 

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
David Harris Bart Scott Jim Leonhard
Kerry Rhodes
Kris Jenkins
Darrell Revis
Sheldon Brown
Vernon Gholston


aRIZONA AT JACKSONVILLE

The Cardinals were upset at home by San Francisco but when you look at the numbers, you have to scratch your head knowing they lost the game.  The San Francisco rushing attack was held to 25 carries for 22 yards with a 0.84 YPC.  Therefore, they must have given up like 400 yards thru the air but no, they only gave up 209 passing yards and sacked QB Shaun Hill three times.  The Jacksonville rushing attack will be another test this week and if the Cardinals can play the run that well this week, they probably will leave Florida with a win. 

Defensive Line: The Jags are going to run the ball a fair amount of time but I doubt it is inside the tackles so expect Darnell Dockett & Calais Campbell to put up around 3 tackles each.  Before you go expecting Campbell to get back into the sack column this week realize that the Jaguars only surrendered one sack last week and that was to former Pro-Bowl DE Dwight Freeney.

Linebacker: Karlos Dansby should be very productive this week as he tries to keep Maurice Jones-Drew under wraps.  Gerald Hayes  should be a solid start as a LB3 in deeper leagues.  Chike Okeafor  will look  to pressure David Garrard but as stated above the Jaguars only gave up a single sack last week.

Secondary: Adrian Wilson really disappointed his owners last week but expect a bounce back week as Wilson is used in run support to try to limit MJD’s effectiveness.  I think that Wilson can still be started as a DB1 in all leagues this week.  The lackluster Jaguars passing attack will more than likely limit the rest of the Cardinals secondary.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Karlos Dansby Adrian Wilson Gerald Hayes
Chike Okeafor
Calais Campbell
Darnell Dockett
Antrel Rolle

The Jaguars will be looking to avoid going 0-2 to start the season so expect them to lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew in both the running and passing game.  However, if the Jaguars do lose this game at home there won’t be many fans in the stands to witness it.

Defensive Line: On the injury front, Reggie Hayward is out for the year with a broken leg.  Quentin Groves & Derrick Harvey should get plenty of opportunities to get to QB Kurt Warner this week.  Both are fringe DL2 starts this week.

Linebacker: Justin Durant’s week 1 performance shouldn’t have caught anyone by surprise.  Durant is a big time athletic talent at LB and when he was anointed the starting MLB job earlier this year his week 1 performance is exactly the sort of upside we were hoping for.  Daryl Smith is back to his OLB spot after manning the middle last year and Smith had a very good game last week.  Just don’t expect quite so much success versus the pass happy Cardinals.  Durant is a no brainer plug and play LB1 this year and Smith is really only someone to rely on as a LB3 in larger leagues. 

Secondary: Rashean Mathis is a cagey veteran that should be in for a solid week as he tries to limit the production of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.  If you own rookie CB Derek Cox you should look to start him as a DB2 or CB1 as he looks to benefit greatly from the “rookie corner syndrome”(meaning he is going to get picked on in a big way and that could mean a bunch of tackles).  Reggie Nelson &  Sean Considine aren’t consistent enough to start most weeks and this week shouldn’t be any different.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Justin Durant Daryl Smith
Derek Cox
Rashean Mathis
Quentin Groves
Derrick Harvey Sean Considine
Reggie Nelson


OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY

The Raiders defense played well for much of their game versus the Chargers but broke when it mattered most.  The Chiefs were only able to put up 206 combined offensive yards versus the Ravens but stayed in the game much longer than anyone would have imagined with such a lack of offense.  That lack of offense also led to a lack of tackle opportunities as no Raven accumulated more than 4 solo tackles.  Don’t be shocked to see the same thing happen in this game.

Defensive Line: Richard Seymour & Greg Ellis are both solid sleeper plays this week if you start 2 or more DL.  The Chiefs gave up a sack 12.5% of the time when they dropped back to throw the ball so don’t be surprised if Seymour and Ellis each log a sack or two.

Linebacker: Sure Kirk Morrison has been beastly in past seasons but he looked anything but in week 1 versus the Chargers.  If you own Morrison, you probably drafted him as your LB1 and that will make it hard to bench him but this week he really should ride the pine.  Ricky Brown & Thomas Howard each put up 7 solo tackles from their OLB spots but this week versus an offensively challenged Chiefs team you will be lucky if they log 7 solos combined. 

Secondary: Nnamdi Asomugha has far greater value NFL wise then he does fantasy wise.  What I am trying to say is that QB’s avoid throwing at Asomugha and you should avoid putting him in your starting lineup.  Tyvon Branch led the team in tackles in week 1 and should be a solid lower level DB1 most weeks but again the Chiefs offense is bad and should severely limit Branch’s and the entire teams tackle opportunities.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None Greg Ellis
Richard Seymour
Thomas Howard
Ricky Brown
Tyvon Branch
Kirk Morrison

Look for the Raiders to run the ball more than they did in their loss to the Chargers on Monday night and in turn create more than the 44 tackle opportunities then they did in week 1.  Expect the Chiefs IDP’s to score well this game if the above does indeed hold true. 

Defensive Line: Oakland will run the ball this week but don’t expect  rookie Tyson Jackson, second year player Glenn Dorsey or any other Chiefs defensive linemen to be effective fantasy producers this week.  The Chiefs scheme just doesn’t do much for DL production.

Linebacker: Demorrio Williams is actually currently a starter for the Chiefs defense but make no mistake about it that it will be short lived.  Derrick Johnson is easily the Chiefs best LB and sooner than later he will work his way back into the starting lineup.  Corey Mays was pegged as a sleeper for larger leagues this preseason but still isn’t much more than a LB4 or LB5 in even the largest leagues.  Last year Tamba Hali didn’t register his first sack until his 7th game played so at least he got the monkey off his back early this year.  With that said his move from DE last year to OLB this year severely impacts his fantasy value.  Rushing from the edge should help him surpass the 3 sacks he logged last year but he won’t log enough tackles to be anything more than waiver wire fodder this year.

Secondary: Brandon CB Brandon Flowers missed week 1 due to a shoulder injury and that opened the door for backup Maurice Leggett to start and have a nice game.  Normally this is where I would say to keep a close eye on the injury report but the truth is that I would bench both this week versus the Raiders.  Mike Brown on the other hand should be extremely active in run support and is a solid start as a low level DB2 in leagues that start 2 or more DB’s.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None Mike  Brown
Demorrio Williams
Corey Mays
Derrick Johnson
Brandon Carr
Mike Vrabel
Brandon Flowers (injury concern)
Tamba Hali
Glenn Dorsey
Tyson Jackson


ST. LOUIS AT WASHINGTON

Steve Spagnuolo sure does have his hands full as he looks to rebuild the Rams.  Sure the offense was shutout but the defense didn’t do much better by allowing Julius Jones to rush for 117 yards with a TD.  On top of that they also gave up 3 passing TD’s and didn’t record a single sack.  The Redskins are looking to avoid an 0-2 start and will need to establish the run with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts.  Securing the win shouldn’t be too hard for Washington and when they look to run the clock down in the second half the Rams IDP’s should rack up quite a few tackles.

Defensive Line: The Redskins only gave up 2.5 sacks to the Giants defensive line so I would temper expectations from Chris Long, Leonard Little and the rest of the Rams defensive linemen.

Linebacker: Since the Rams don’t have a DL as stout as the Giants you can expect rookie James Laurinaitis to out produce what Antonio Pierce did last week when he logged 6 combined tackles.  Will Witherspoon should also be a strong start as a LB2 versus the Redskins running attack.  Both Laurinaitis and Witherspoon should see a ton of tackle opportunities late in games as teams look to salt the game away with a ball control running attack.

Secondary: Both Oshiomogho Atogwe and James Butler picked off a pass last week but Atogwe was much more productive with tackles and that should remain a constant.  Of the two Atogwe is the one to start.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
James Laurinaitis

Oshiomogho Atogwe

Will Witherspoon

James Butler
Chris Long
Leonard Little

Look for the Redskins to bring a ton of pressure at QB Marc Bulger who will probably be lucky to be left standing at the end of the game.  Albert Haynesworth and rookie SLB Brian Orakpo look to make their home debuts in the nation’s capital. 

Defensive Line:  Expect Albert Haynesworth to make it rough running inside for Steven Jackson.  Haynesworth is a guy that gets a ton of sacks but I can see him making noise in his first start at FedEx Field.  Andre Carter is a guy that I like as a sleeper this year and this week he could have a breakout rushing QB Marc Bulger.

Linebacker: London Fletcher is still a stud.  Sure, he has lost a step but he just keeps producing and as long as he does he should be in your starting lineup as a LB1.  Don’t be surprised to see Brian Orakpo log the first sack of his young career but in tackle heavy leagues you still need to keep him on the bench.  Actually, he isn’t really even roster worthy in tackle heavy leagues.  Rocky McIntosh makes for a solid LB3 in larger leagues but this week I just don’t see enough tackle opportunities to make him a viable starter.

Secondary:  Chris Horton is a player that many fantasy GM’s are relying on as their DB1 and while he did log 9 combined tackles last week only 4 were of the solo variety.  I would still proceed with caution regarding Horton as I see Haynesworth limiting his opportunities this year.  If you have better options behind Horton I would definitely consider starting them over Horton this week.  Everyone else in Washington’s secondary belongs on the pine too.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None London Fletcher
Andre Carter
Albert Haynesworth

Rocky McIntosh

Brian Orakpo
Chris Horton


CINCINNATI AT GREEN BAY

Devastating is the only way to describe the way the Bengals lost to the Broncos in week 1.  Marvin Lewis has had his struggles as a head coach but I feel safe in saying that he will make sure we never see another team score a TD like that against the Bengals ever again.  Yeah, yeah I know but the Bengals could use whatever silver lining can be found in that loss.

Defensive Line: Antwan Odom logged 3 solos, 1 assist and 2 sacks in week 1.  That is the sorta shot in the arm the Bengals had hoped Odom would supply when they signed him last year.  I don’t think he will log multiple sacks this week but he is still a decent start as a DL3 in deeper leagues.  Domata Peko should continue to be a solid DT2 with some upside in DT mandatory leagues.

Linebacker: Keith Rivers & Rey Maualuga are the big name draft picks from the past two years but Dhani Jones is the one playing the three down LB part.  In week 1, Jones played in 54 of the Bengals defensive snaps while Rivers and Maualuga combined only played in 55 total snaps.  Until those two start to see more snaps, Jones remains the only safe start at LB.  In deeper leagues, Rivers can be relied upon as a LB3/4 at best and Maualuga should be nothing more than bench depth.  Now it is a different story if you are in a dynasty league.  If that is the case, they both deserve to be on a roster.

Secondary: If you are in CB mandatory leagues both Leon Hall & Johnathan Joseph should be safe starts.  SS Roy Williams is still a liability in coverage and I just can’t see the Bengals running the ball enough this week to make Roy a safe play.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Dhani Jones Antwan Odom
Domata Peko
Johnathan Joseph
Leon Hall
Keith Rivers
Roy Williams
Rey Maualuga

The questions that need to be answered are, “Was the Packers new 3-4 defense that good?” or “Was Jay Cutler just that nervous in his first start as a Bear?”.  Truth is, it was probably a good combination of both.  Just remember that they face the Bengals this week and it is doubtful that they will feed Cedric Benson the ball 25 times, as the Bears did with Forte.

Defensive Line:  Cullen Jenkins played well in week 1 but don’t expect a repeat this week.  At best, most weeks Jenkins will be relegated to an injury or bye week replacement in deeper leagues.  All other Packers defensive lineman should also be benched this week as well as most weeks this year. 

Linebacker: Dom Capers 3-4 defense did a very good job in week 1 but for fantasy purposes, not one LB stood out.  The Packers used a rotation at LB and until we can figure out exactly how it will play out weekly there is inherent risk in starting AJ Hawk, Nick Barnett or Brandon Chillar.  Aaron Kampman currently seems to be the only three down LB and his value is suppressed by the defensive scheme.  Expect the Packers defense to play well NFL wise but fantasy wise proceed with caution if you have to start any of their LB’s.

Secondary: Nick Collins may have been a top option at DB in 2008 but expecting a repeat of 2008 isn’t realistic.  Simply put Dom Capers scheme doesn’t present many tackle opportunities for the FS.  If you ran Collins out as a starter in week 1 don’t make the mistake two weeks in a row.  Al Harris & Charles Woodson should be busy with the Bengals passing game and are solid starts as a CB2 in CB mandatory leagues.  In DB combined leagues, I would keep them on the bench.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None

None

AJ Hawk
Nick Barnett
Brandon Chillar
Aaron Kampman
Al Harris
Charles Woodson
Nick Collins

Cullen Jenkins



TAMPA BAY AT BUFFALO

Tampa played the Cowboys pretty well for much of the 1st half but their vulnerabilities were finally exposed and the Cowboys won going away.  The Bucs will have to improve their pass rush if they hope to leave Buffalo with a win.

Defensive Line: Gaines Adams was drafted by many as their DL2 with hopes of him taking a big step forward this year to DL1 status.  While week 1 was a complete failure don’t be so fast to jettison Adams to your bench.  This week he faces a Bills OL that is extremely inexperienced and he should be able to capitalize because of it.  Sure the Bills OL played well in week 1 but I expect a big letdown after a devastating defeat at the hands of the Patriots.

Linebacker: Barrett Ruud owners surely didn’t get what they expected from the LB1 last week and this week could be another tough matchup if the Bills aren’t able to sustain their offense.  I still will stand by my expectation that Ruud will end the year as the top ranked LB.  While you might feel a bit uneasy starting him this week, don’t.  Just get him in your lineup and leave him there.  Quincy Black & Geno Hayes had decent games in week 1 but expect that Ruud will start to pilfer some of their tackles.

Secondary: Jermaine Phillips was supposed to be moved to WLB but the suspension of Tanard Jackson nixed that.  Phillips is a solid start from the SS position so there is no reason to drop him if you drafted him as a WLB.  Sabby Piscitelli had the biggest statistical day on the team last week but don’t read to much into it because NFL wise he played very poorly.  Piscitelli is a risky start because it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see 1st year head coach Raheem Morris bench him if his poor play continues.  While Ronde Barber has clearly lost a step but is still startable in larger CB mandatory leagues.  Second year player Aqib Talib is worth keeping an eye on in dynasty leagues.  Both CB’s could easily end up with interceptions in this game.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Gaines Adams
Barrett Ruud
Jermaine Phillips
Sabby Piscitelli
Geno Hayes
Ronde Barber
Aqib Talib
Quincy Black

The Bills are another team that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and will have to find a way to put a tough week 1 loss behind them.  Anyone care to take a guess on the over/under on how many times Leodis McKelvin takes a knee on kickoffs that reach the end zone.  No matter how good your defense is you can’t have mistakes like that and give opposing teams short fields to work with.

Defensive Line: Aaron Schobel looked good in week 1 as he returned to the starting lineup after missing the final 11 games last year due to injury.  At this point Schobel looks like a Mid to high level DL2 in most leagues.  He won’t put up the stud like stats he did a few years ago but he should be a solid start for much of this season.  No other Bills defensive lineman really warrant starting this week.

Linebacker: Paul Posluszny is going to miss approximately 6 weeks due to a broken arm he suffered in week 1 at Gillette Stadium.  Luckily, this break isn’t as bad as the one he suffered two years ago, at get this, Gillette Stadium.  Keith Ellison put up monster numbers week 1 once Posluszny left the game but that was because he played in the nickel against the Patriots multi WR sets.  Marcus Buggs is actually the backup to Posluszny and according to Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell, "Marcus Buggs would be Posluszny's replacement for the foreseeable future".  Even with that said, I wouldn’t expect much from either Buggs or Ellison.  Kawika Mitchell owners are the ones that should be the biggest beneficiaries while Posluszny is out.  As far as roster management goes if you have enough bench spots to hold onto Posluszny you should as it has been reported he had a successful surgery and he is expected to play later this season.

Secondary: Leodis McKelvin pretty much single handily cost the Bills an upset win in week 1.  It will be interesting how the 2nd year player responds to what should be a tough hometown crowd.  In CB mandatory leagues normally you shouldn’t hesitate to start Terrence McGee but the Tampa Bay passing offense is anything but stellar and that could limit tackle opportunities.  Bryan Scott should see his value increase while Posluszny is out and is a safe DB2 play this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Terrence McGee missed practice on Friday (back) and is listed as Questionable on the injury report.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None Kawika Mitchell
Aaron Schobel
Bryan Scott
Marcus Buggs
Keith Ellison
Terrence McGee
Leodis McKelvin
Marcus Stroud


SEATTLE AT SAN FRANCISCO

Versus the Rams in week one, the Seahawk defense saw only 35 tackle opportunities which was the 4th fewest for the week.  This week San Francisco will look to jump-start their running game which was putrid versus the Cardinals last week.  That should lead to more tackle opportunities, especially for the front seven.

Defensive Line: Last week the defensive line along with the rest of the defense struggled to put up fantasy production but that can be attributed to the 35 tackle opportunities (4th fewest in league)that they faced.  DT Brandon Mebane is a sleeper I love in DT mandatory leagues and think this week we could see him start to show some of that upside.  Patrick Kerney and Daryl Tapp will mostly be inconsistent producers this year and should really only be started as DL3 in deep leagues.  If Kerney shows any flashes of his former dominance then you can look at starting him in smaller leagues.

Linebacker: Leroy Hill only played in 11 snaps this year before being injury and missing the rest of the game and he is out for this week too.  His replacement is Will Herring but offers little upside and isn’t really even worth picking up off the waiver wire.  The big surprise from week one is that rookie Aaron Curry played in 97% (63 of 65) of the team’s defensive snaps  while veteran MLB Lofa Tatupu only played in 68% (44 of 65) of the defensive snaps.  Both should be above average plays this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Lofa Tatupu has not practiced this week and is listed as questionable.  His Star ranking has been adjusted.

Secondary:  Versus what should be a heavy dose of Frank Gore the Seahawks secondary players are afterthoughts for fantasy GM’s this week.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Aaron Curry Brandon Mebane
Patrick Kerney

Lofa Tatupu (injury risk)         Darryl Tapp

Deon Grant

The San Francisco defense probably won’t see as many passes to running backs this week but the Seahawks are good enough on offense that they should produce above average tackle opportunities.

The pressure will be on the defense if they want to start the season at 2-0 and start to take command of what looks to be a weak division.

Defensive Line:  DE Justin Smith is fighting an elbow injury and missed practice because of it.  That makes him an added risk as a starter.  At best a healthy Smith would be a DL2/3 this week so proceed with caution and if you need to start him check the injury report and keep an eye on the game day inactives.

Linebacker:  Patrick Willis is a stud and there shouldn’t be any reason at all to think about benching him this week or any other week.  It was surprising to see Takeo Spikes put up a big old goose egg in week 1 but even at his best Spikes upside is that of a LB4/5 in very deep leagues.

Secondary:  Michael Lewis didn’t do much in week 1 but he should bounce back and be a solid low level DB1 or high level DB2 at worst.  Nate Clements logged 5 combined tackles in week 1 but don’t expect to see the Seahawks to put the ball in the air 44 times like the Cardinals did.  Only start Clements in CB mandatory leagues as a CB2 this week.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Patrick Willis None Michael Lewis Nate Clements
Takeo Spikes
Justin Smith (Injury risk)


PITTSBURGH AT CHICAGO

The Steelers started the season down one of its starters (Lawrence Timmons) and will now be down at least one more starter for week two.  Unfortunately, for the Steelers it is Troy Polamalu who suffered a partially torn MCL.  If Timmons is out again the Steelers have the depth to cover his loss but make no bones about it there is no replacing Polamalu.

Defensive Line: The defensive line of the Steelers led by Casey Hampton & Aaron Smith should help to limit the production of Bears RB Matt Forte but neither are worthy of starting in fantasy leagues.

Linebacker:  If the Bears run Matt Forte 25 plus times then expect James Farrior to have another solid outing but if you think Cutler will be airing it out more often than not then be weary of starting Farrior.  I think this week Farrior makes a solid LB2 and a great LB3 option.   Keyaron Fox will get another start in place of injured Lawrence Timmons and is a LB3 at best in deeper leagues this week.  Look for James Harrison & LaMarr Woodley to try and pressure Jay Cutler into making mistakes like he did in week 1 versus the Packers.  Both Harrison and Woodley could have banner days if they are able to get Cutler for a sack or two.  The problem is that if they don’t get those sacks you most likely will be looking at a less than stellar stat line.  In big play leagues start both of them without trepidation but in tackle heavy leagues they will be inconsistent at best.

Secondary:  There is both good news and bad news for the Steelers secondary this week.  The bad news is that they will be without Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu due to an MCL injury but the good news is that it wasn’t a season ending.  As far as replacing Polamalu, from an NFL standpoint just forget it but from a fantasy perspective, Ryan Clark should see a bump in production.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None James Farrior James Harrison
Lamar Woodley
Ryan Clark

Keyaron Fox

Casey Hampton

The Bears are another team that is known for their defensive prowess and like the Steelers they too will be without one of their leaders.  Brian Urlacher, who like Polamalu isn’t a guy that you just replace suffered a wrist injury.  Don’t be surprised to hear that the Bears have brought in a veteran or two in hopes of softening the blow from losing Urlacher.

Defensive Line:  Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown should be able  to capitalize against the weak offensive line of the Steelers.  Big Ben narrowly escaped a few sacks in the season opener but in the windy city he might not be so lucky.  Start both players as mid level DL2 with upside for DL1 stats this week.

Linebacker:  Brian Urlacher has been placed on IR and has already had successful surgery to his injured risk.  Hunter Hillenmeyer will handle the MLB spot for Urlacher.  Hillenmeyer has been in the defense long enough to be a solid replacement but don’t expect him to put up Urlacher type numbers.  Lance Briggs should be the big beneficiary from the loss of Urlacher and is a low level LB1 in all formats going forward.  Nick Roach and Jamar Williams are slated to split time at SLB replacing Pisa Tinoisamoa who has a strained PCL.  Neither player is worthy of starting in fantasy leagues.

Secondary:  CB Charles Tillman is still not 100% and should remain on the bench until he is closer to 100%.  Rookie SS Al Afalava looks to be a solid sleeper but is a bit of a risky start this week due to a shoulder injury that has limited him in practice this week.  If you decide you need to start Afalava make sure you keep a close eye on the injury report.  If Afalava is limited or can’t go then Kevin Payne is worth a look if you start at least 3 DB’s in you league.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Lance Briggs Adewale Ogunleye Alex Brown
Hunter Hillenmeyer
Al Afalava (Injury risk)
Mark Anderson
Kevin Payne
Charles Tillman


CLEVELAND AT DENVER

This game could actually be even lower scoring then the week 1 game between the Broncos and Bengals.  If the Bronco offense remains inept, expect the Cleveland defenders to have a less than stellar game.  Only two players for the Bengals recorded 5 or more tackles versus the Broncos. 

Defensive Line:  Shaun Rogers was a great play in DT mandatory leagues last year and got off to a good start this year.  However, last week the Broncos were putrid on offense and if that repeats itself this week, it will negatively affect Rogers as well as Kenyon Coleman, Robaire Smith & Corey Williams.

Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson & Eric Barton are by far the best fantasy options on the Browns but again you have to be aware that they will more than likely face a limited number of tackle opportunities this week.  Jackson was drafted to be a LB1 for most teams and you still need to run him out there this week just temper your expectations.  Barton was a much better value in drafts, is probably being relied on as a LB2 or LB3, and is still startable this week but just like for Jackson, you should temper expectations this week.  Kamerion Wimbley and David Bowens are both playing significant snaps but are risky starts in tackle heavy leagues. 

Secondary:  Abram Elam played in all but 3 of the defensive snaps in week 1 and is a solid upside sleeper but again expect a limited number of tackle opportunities to depress his value this week.  Avoid the Browns CB’s this week.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None D’Qwell Jackson
Eric Barton
Abram Elam
Shaun Rogers
Kamerion Wimbley

David Bowens

Just as I expect the Browns defenders to have a less than stellar day due to the Broncos ineptness on offense, I expect the same for the Bronco defenders.  With that said, the Bronco defense did play much, much better then I or probably anyone else would have expected in week 1, especially against the run, where they gave up just 86 yards on 27 attempts.

Defensive Line:  Let’s give the Bronco DL some credit for a nice week 1 because honestly more often than not the Broncos DL is going to be a huge liability on the field of play.  I dare anyone outside of Denver to name any of the defensive line starters for the Broncos. Yeah, see you couldn't do it so do you still need to be told to leave all the Broncos DL on your waiver wire.

Linebacker: DJ Williams had a tough week 1 because he was only able to log 3 solo tackles but on a positive note he did add 7 assists.  I still expect Williams to end up being a top 5 LB but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have another tough outing versus a weak Browns offense. Andra Davis outperformed Williams in week 1 but that won’t happen very much. 

Secondary: Brian Dawkins was extremely productive in his first regular season game with the Broncos as he led the team in tackles.  Dawkins isn’t the plug and play DB that he used to be a few years ago for the Eagles but should be able to be relied on as a DB3 in larger leagues.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None None DJ Williams
Andra Davis
Brian Dawkins Elvis Dumervil


BALTIMORE AT SAN DIEGO

At first blush you have to scratch your head when you realize that not one Ravens defender recorded more than 4 solo tackles.  To realize why you just have to look at the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities (35) that the Chiefs surrendered.  The Chargers could be without running back LaDainian Tomlinson but they should still have no problem in putting up solid tackle opportunities for the Ravens.

Defensive Line:  Terrell Suggs is basically a plug and play at the DE position but he has missed practice this week due to a concussion so before you plug him into your lineups this week make sure you check the injury report and inactive listHaloti Ngata had a poor week 1 but in DT mandatory leagues, he should still be in your lineup. Kelly Gregg seems to always be fighting an injury but his week one production was solid for an interior lineman. Trevor Pryce & the rest of the Ravens defensive line shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups unless you are in extremely large leagues.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis is still good enough to be a low level LB1 this year and is a good play versus the Chargers this week. Tavares Gooden missed much of week 1 due to an injury but it is said he was just held out as a precaution and should be good to go for this week.  If you have a less risky option I would look at those options.

Secondary:  The Ravens secondary is much better NFL wise then it is fantasy wise so unless you are in larger leagues that start 3 or more DBs you should avoid them if at all possible.  Ed Reed is always a much better play in big play leagues over tackle heavy leagues.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Ray Lewis Terrell Suggs (injury risk)
Haloti Ngata
Tavares Gooden (injury risk)
Kelly Gregg
Ed Reed

After just one week, it doesn’t get any better that to face the team that offered up the most tackle opportunities (65).  Most of the Chargers defense struggled to put up good stats versus the Raiders but this week there should be plenty to go around.  You just have to wonder if we could actually see a shoot out between what is normally two very strong defenses since Baltimore showed in week 1 that they can air it out when they want to.

Defensive Line:  The Chargers 3-4 scheme pretty much renders their DL useless on a fantasy level.  However, if you are in a DT mandatory league Jamal Williams would be worth a look.

Linebacker:  The Ravens ran the ball 41 times last week that was 2nd to only the Jets.  While the Ravens may not run it 40 times this week, they will run it enough to keep Stephen Cooper as a strong LB1. Kevin Burnett was at the top of some people’s sleeper charts but really flopped in week 1 but he could rebound as a nice LB3 play this week.  Shawne Merriman has never been a safe play in tackle heavy leagues and to top it off he looks a bit “off” his game so far.  Unless you think Merriman is going to record, multiple sacks this week you should leave him on your bench.  ,

Secondary:  Eric Weddle led the secondary in tackles last week and looks to have a juicy matchup this week.  Easily plug Weddle in your lineup as a DB1.  Antonio Cromartie can make the spectacular interception at times but the problem is without the big plays he ends up invisible as was evident in week 1.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
Stephen Cooper Eric Weddle

Kevin Burnett

Clinton Hart
Shawne Merriman
Jamal Williams

Antonio Cromartie



NEW YORK GIANTS AT DALLAS

So you thought the Giants defense was good last year, well don’t look now but this isn’t your 2008 Giants defense, this one looks to be much improved.  That has to be just a bit scary when you realize just how good they were in 2008.  Now get this, they aren’t even completely healthy yet.  If the Giants are going to struggle this year it will be on offense.  The Cowboys will be hosting their first regular season home game in their new digs, so the Giants will most likely need their defense to carry them to a win. 

Defensive Line:   It isn’t any secret that both Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are the studs on the Giants DL.  Plug and play them both and don’t even think about sitting them.  As expected with the return of Osi from a season ending injury last year Mathias Kiwanuka would be the one to lose out due to a loss of snaps.  Week 1 “Kiwi” was only able to muster up 1 solo and 1 assist but the shocking thing is that he played in 40 of the team’s defensive snaps compared to the 39 Tuck played in and the 37 that Osi played in.  The moral of the story is that Kiwi owners have a sliver of hope that he will still see enough snaps to be a productive DE for them.  Tuck and Osi are both DE1’s at this point and at best until Kiwi shows something he isn’t anything better than a DE4 in larger leagues.

Linebacker:  Antonio Pierce should be active in run support versus the talented RBBC the Cowboys will utilize.  Michael Boley returns from a league imposed suspension but would be better off left on your bench until we see him with some live game action under his belt.

Secondary:   Kenny Phillips was solid yet unspectacular in week 1 but look for him to grow into a solid DB1 option for fantasy owners.  This week expect a bit more production than what Phillips put up last week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Kenny Phillips missed Friday practice (knee) and is listed as Questionable versus Dallas.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Justin Tuck
Osi Umenyiora
Antonio Pierce
Kenny Phillips

Michael Boley

Mathias Kiwanuka

The Giants ran the ball 31 times versus the Redskins in week 1 and if they hope to have any chance to win this game they are going to need to run the ball just as much if not more.  That bodes well for the interior of the Dallas defense.  Expect the Cowboys defense to be playing with a chip on their shoulder because they most assuredly don’t want to get shown up in their first regular season action in Jerrah’s Temple, oops I mean Cowboy Stadium.

Defensive Line:  Jay Ratliff is a must start in DT mandatory leagues versus what should be a hard and heavy rushing attack for the Giants. Marcus Spears & Igor Olshansky are severely limited by the Cowboys 3-4 scheme and should be avoided in fantasy leagues.

Linebacker:  Bradie James & Keith Brooking both had a very good game versus the Bucs in week 1.  Both should have no problem being solid starts this week with James having LB1 type upside.  DeMarcus Ware  is one of the best players in the NFL but from a fantasy perspective, in tackle heavy leagues he is a risky start.  This doesn’t look like a great matchup for Ware but it is the home opener for the new Cowboy Stadium so if you think Ware will be a bit more motivated by that then plug him in and hope for the best.

Secondary:  The Cowboy secondary is by far the defenses weakest link but I doubt the Giants air it out enough to make any of their starters worthy of starting in fantasy lineups.  Outside of Ken Hamlin if your best options at DB are in the Cowboy secondary, you should take a long look at your waiver wire.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR

Bradie James

Keith Brooking
Jay Ratliff
DeMarcus Ware
Ken Hamlin

Anthony Spencer

Marcus Spears



NEW ORLEANS AT PHILADELPHIA

If you are a Saints fan, you have to be happy about the shellacking your team gave the Lions but you still have to be somewhat concerned on the defensive side of the ball.  The Saints were able to intercept rookie Matthew Stafford 3 times but in what should have been a juicy passing rushing matchup couldn’t even muster up a single sack by the defensive line.

Defensive Line:  Saints fans along with Will Smith and Charles Grant owners got good news earlier this week when Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the Saints DE’s would not be suspended this year.  Unfortunately for Smith and Grant owners last week they were basically invisible for what should have been a juicy matchup.  The Eagles are supposed to have one of the better OL’s this year but Shawn Andrews was placed on IR and more than likely Kevin Kolb will get his first NFL start this week so Smith and Grant will get a chance to redeem their selves. 

Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma salvaged what was a pedestrian performance last week by recording the Saints only sack.  Still don’t over think things as Vilma is a solid start as a LB1 in just about every league format.  Scott Fujita &  Scott Shanle should only be looked at as starters in deeper leagues that start 3 LB’s and even then they really should be nothing more than depth or waiver wire fodder.

Secondary: Tracy Porter picked up where he left off last year prior to his injury.  I have been high on Porter since early last year and nothing has changed my opinion on him.  I think he is a solid start as a DB2  in combined leagues and as a CB1 in CB mandatory leagues.  Jabari Greer is currently starting opposite of Porter but rookie Mike Jenkins will be nipping at his heels.  Darren Sharper has his fare share of INTs for his career and added two more this past week but INTs are not something you can count on so if you are in a tackle heavy league you should be starting Roman Harper.  Harper will split some snaps with Pierson Prioleau but should still put up above average numbers this season.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Jonathan Vilma
Roman Harper
Tracy Porter
Will Smith
Charles Grant
Jabari Greer
Darren Sharper
Scott Shanle
Sedrick Ellis
Kendrick Clancey
Scott Fujita

Many wondered how the Eagles defense would respond this season after the loss of former Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson to cancer.  In week 1 the defense responded in a big way scoring a defensive TD and creating 12 turnovers.  The poor play of Panthers QB Jake Delhomme sure didn’t hurt either but this week they will surely be tested by the high flying Saints offense, led by Drew Brees.

Defensive Line: Drew Brees is one of the least sacked QBs in the league so that could limit the production of both Trent Cole & Victor Abiamiri.  However, the Saints are starting a backup to their main backup and that could lead to good things for Cole.  Due to the expected tough matchup, you will probably want to bench, all of the Eagles DE’s with the exception of Cole. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Victor Abiamiri didn't practice Friday due to a groin injury and is listed on the injury report as Questionable.

Linebacker: Both MLB Omar Gaither & WLB Akeem Jordan had a decent day versus the Panthers but this week I would expect the more athletic Jordan to be the better play.  Gaither can be started in deeper leagues but if the Saints fall behind early and have to pass, even more than usual it will hurt Omar’s stat line.  In case you haven’t been following closely, Joe Mays who was a preseason darling of many (I had a different take, IDP Hits: Philly MLB) not only lost out on the starting MLB competition but was also inactive for week 1.  Any value that he may have had has all but disappeared at this point.

Secondary: Asante Samuel continues to be a very good NFL CB but poor fantasy option.  The best option in the Eagles secondary is second year starter Quintin Mikell.  Mikell should continue to be a strong DB1 in all formats for this week and beyond.  The shocker for many was that the starting FS last week wasn’t Quintin Demps or veteran Sean Jones but instead rookie Victor “Macho” Harris.  Harris is a converted CB so his value comes from being able to play the pass well, which will hurt his overall fantasy value.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Quintin Mikell
Akeem Jordan
Trent Cole
Omar Gaither

Victor Abiamiri

Victor "Macho" Harris


INDIANAPOLIS AT MIAMI

The Colts defense did a pretty good job corralling Maurice Jones-Drew last week and overall played just well enough to pull out a 14-12 win.  The Dolphins were pretty lackluster on offense last week and if they repeat that performance this week the Colts will come away with a rather easy win but not much stats wise for the defense.  However, you have to expect the Dolphins will play better at home and present better tackle opportunities for the Colts.

Defensive Line:  Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are very good starts at DE this week.  Mathis is the more consistent producer of the two but keep in mind that last week the Dolphins gave up 2 sacks each to John Abraham and Kroy Biermann.

Linebacker:  Gary Brackett isn’t a “sexy” LB but he is workman like and makes a very good LB2 and a solid LB1 in larger leagues. Clint Session started week 1 at WLB and produced a respectable 6 combined tackles.  Session is someone to keep an eye on as the Colts WLB has a history of very good production.

Secondary:  Bob Sanders is still injured and will continue to be replaced in the starting lineup by Melvin Bullitt.  Don't expect Bullitt to put up Bob Sanders like numbers.  Antoine Bethea is a safe play as a DB3 in larger leagues.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Gary Brackett
Robert Mathis
Dwight Freeney
None Clint Session Tyjuan Hagler
Kelvin Hayden
Marlin Jackson

The Dolphins will need their defense to step up if they want to avoid a fourth consecutive 0-2 season start.  With that said Manning is only 4-7 against the Dolphins in his career and has thrown more interceptions then touchdowns versus Miami too.  Top that off with the fact that the Colts currently own the NFL’s longest regular season winning streak with 10 in a row and you realize something has to give in this matchup.

Defensive Line:  While Jason Ferguson is a solid anchor for their 3-4 his fantasy production is limited because of scheme so don’t expect to see him log many more sacks this year. 

Linebacker:  Channing Crowder had a rough start to the season posting just 3 solo tackles but expect him to bounce back sooner than later.  In smaller leagues Crowder is nothing more than depth but if you are in 12 team leagues or bigger that start at least 3 LB’s then Crowder is at least a LB2.  Joey Porter and Jason Taylor both make their living getting to the QB but this week they face the difficult to sack Peyton Manning.  Only in big play leagues should Porter or Taylor be in starting lineups.

Secondary:  Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson will both be top options at DB this week and both look like they could end up in the top 10 at year’s end.  Rookie Sean Smith got the start in week 1 over fellow rookie Vontae Davis but the coaching staff is on record this week saying that the two will share snaps.  Sharing is never a good thing in fantasy football so leave both on the bench until one seizes the majority of snaps.

5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR 2 STAR 1 STAR
None Yeremiah Bell
Gibril Wilson

Channing Crowder

Akin Ayodele

Jason Taylor
Joey Porter
Sean Smith
Vontae Davis

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