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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 3
Steve Gallo
September 25, 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: 2 defensive linemen (DL) (defensive ends (DE) & defensive tackles (DT)), 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  ("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 & Tampa 2 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 (inj), 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, Geno Hayes
TEN 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck,  Stephen Tulloch
WAS 4-3 Greg Blache London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo

Cleveland at Baltimore

5 STAR
Shaun Rogers
4 STAR
D’Qwell Jackson
Eric Barton
Abram Elam
3 STAR
Brodney Pool
2 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Kamerion Wimbley

1 STAR

David Bowens

BrownsThe Browns defense will face a Ravens team that thru two weeks is offering up a league best 59 tackle opportunities. The Browns offense hasn't really shown anything so this looks to be a great matchup for Browns defenders. 

Defensive Line:  Shaun Rogers ranks tied for second in the NFL in tackles by a DT with ten.  Rogers TOP is .187 and with the expected 59+ tackle opportunities he should face versus the Ravens looks to be one of the best DT plays this week.  If you find that you are in a bind at DE this week you can probably look at Kenyon Coleman as a guy that will at least get you a few tackles.

Linebacker: After seeing D'Qwell Jackson lead the league in tackles last year one would expect that he would be doing much better for his owners after two weeks.  Especially when you look at the fact that the Browns have faced the 6th most tackle opportunities in the league so far.  Jackson's TOP was .186 last year but this year his TOP has decreased by 35% to .121.  Eric Barton was a much better value in drafts and is currently out producing Jackson with a .150 TOP.  I doubt that trend will continue but this week Barton is still an above average play.  The OLB's in the Cleveland scheme aren't consistent enough to warrant consideration to be put into starting lineups.

Secondary:  Abram Elam probably isn't a sleeper in many leagues any more.  All that Elam has done is rack up 14 solo tackles and that ranks 2nd among DBs year to date.  Elam could very easily approach double digit tackles this week.  If you find that you are in a tight place at DB you could look at running Brodney Pool out.  Don't expect Pool to approach double digit tackles like Elam but he should log around 4-5 tackles.

5 STAR
Terrell Suggs
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Ray Lewis
2 STAR

Tavares Gooden
Haloti Ngata
Kelly Gregg

1 STAR
Ed Reed

RavensThe Ravens defense will be facing what has been a hapless Cleveland Browns team. Cleveland is ranked 29th in giving up tackle opportunities to the opposing team.  Don't be surprised to see their average of 40 tackle opportunities decrease this week which will limit the production for many Ravens defenders.

Defensive Line:  Week 1 Joe Thomas rendered Jared Allen basically worthless but even in a limited number of snaps look for the Ravens to put Terrell Suggs in a position to be very successful this week, even with the possibility of facing a below average number of tackle opportunities.  If you are required to start DTs this probably isn't the best week to be starting Kelly Gregg or Haloti Ngata.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis is a year older but his play is still top notch.  Lewis completely blew up RB Daren Sproles last week to seal the Ravens week 2 win.  Since 2006 Lewis has seen his IDP TOP fall from .194 in 2006, .185 in 2007 & .182 in 2008.  However, this year Lewis is making the most out of limited opportunities and he has a robust IDP TOP of .228.  Lewis most likely won't be able to keep up that sort of production but if he does he could vault himself up to the top of the LB Rankings when his tackle opportunities increase.  Currently, the Ravens rank 29th in tackle opportunities faced for the season.  This week should be a limited production week for Lewis and the rest of his LB teammates but with Lewis anything is possible.

Secondary:  Since 2007 in 34 regular season games safety Ed Reed has only recorded 4+ solo tackles twice. Yep, that is not a typo. TWICE, not once, not three times...TWICE!  Reed is a great NFL player and future HOFer but in tackle heavy leagues Reed shouldn't even be rostered. This week expect limited production from all of the other Ravens DBs and yes that included Ed Reed.


Kansas City at Philadelphia

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Mike Brown 
Brandon Flowers
Brandon Carr

3 STAR
None
2 STAR

Demorrio Williams
Derrick Johnson
Tank Tyler

1 STAR
Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Glenn Dorsey
Tyson Jackson

ChiefsThe Chiefs head to Philly to face an Eagles team that will have a much different look then it did in the first two weeks of the season.  This will be Michael Vick's return game to the NFL and he should see some wildcat snaps this week with Kevin Kolb as the starting QB.  Philadelphia thru two weeks ranks 9th in tackle opportunities allowed to opposing defenses, so the KC defenders should see an above average number of tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line: Tank Tyler currently leads all NFL defensive linemen with 12 solo tackles and is tied for the lead in total tackles (14) with Minnesota DE Ray Edwards.  Glen Dorsey has been converted from a DT to a DE in the Chiefs new 3-4 defensive scheme and so far Dorsey is doing pretty well.  Dorsey ranks 10th among NFL DEs in total tackles with 8.  I wouldn't bank on either Tyler or Dorsey keeping up their current pace but the Chiefs defense should be on the field a ton this year so they could rack up their stats from the shear volume of tackle opportunities that they will face.

Linebacker: The Chiefs defense has faced the 12 most tackle opportunities so far this year yet they only have one LB that ranks in the top 50 in total tackles.  That player is Demorrio Williams and he just barely sneaks into the top 50 ranking 48th.  The Chiefs are just rotating their LBs far to much to allow any of them to have much fantasy value.  At best in my opinion Derrick Johnson is the only Chief that is worthy of a roster spot and that is only if you have a deep roster.  Johnson currently isn't starting but if and when that happens if he sees a majority of snaps could see production that could land him in the top 25.

Secondary: Mike Brown is surprisingly the only Chiefs defensive back that ranks in the top 50, ranking 11th. However, this week this secondary will see a pass happy Eagles team and that should equate to better than average stats that we have seen so far.

5 STAR
Trent Cole
4 STAR
Quintin Mikell
3 STAR
Akeem Jordan
2 STAR

Victor Abiamiri

1 STAR
Omar Gaither
Victor "Macho" Harris

EaglesThis is a game where the averages may not tell the entire story.  The Eagles on paper are going to be facing a good matchup versus a Chiefs team that ranks 15th in tackles opportunities allowed with a slightly above average 48 tackle opportunities per game.  The problem is that the Chiefs played the Raiders last week where they gave up a whopping 62 tackle opportunities.  Yet the week before versus a stout Ravens defense they could only muster up 33 tackle opportunities.  The Eagles defense will probably be much closer to facing 33 tackle opportunities then they will 62 so while the numbers show this as an above average matchup for the Eagles I think it is safe to say it will be anything but.

Defensive Line: Trent Cole is the premier DE on the Eagles and currently ranks 16th in total tackles by DEs and 4th in sacks.  The unknown guy on the Eagles defensive line is Victor Abiamiri but he is someone worth keeping an eye on as he ranks 10th among DEs in total tackles but he has yet to register a sack this season.  Both players will more than likely be limited by a lack of opportunities this week but you just can't bench Cole.  There is something about this matchup that just has the feel of a big game in waiting for Cole.

Linebacker: Akeem Jordan is probably a name you weren't very familiar with to start the season but is one you should know now.  Jordan is really putting together a nice season with 14 tackles, 1 sack and 2 interceptions.  I wouldn't expect him to keep up his 2 game interception string going but he is making the most of the loss of Stewart Bradley this season.  Temper expectations for Jordan this week but don't get discouraged if you see his worst performance of the season this week.  Omar Gaither struggled to put up fantasy stats two years ago when he was the starting MLB and it seems as if the same will be true this year.  Gaither should be serviceable for the Eagles defense at MLB but doubtful he will be for fantasy teams.

Secondary: Quintin Mikell currently ranks in the top 3 in tackles by DBs while Mikell probably won't end up as a top 3 DB he should easily end up staying in the top 10.  If he has a poor performance this week due to his matchup see if you can target him as a trade option if his owner is the type to make rash decisions.


NY Giants at Tampa Bay

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Michael Boley
3 STAR

Michael Johnso
Osi Umenyiora

2 STAR

Antonio Pierce      

1 STAR

Mathias Kiwanuka 

GiantsThe Giants defense has faced the 27th fewest tackle opportunities so far this year which has made it a challenge for their defenders to register solid stats.  This week the Giants will travel to Tampa Bay and face a Buccaneers team that ranks 11th in tackle opportunities allowed per game (50). 

Defensive Line:   At the time this is being written the status of Justin Tuck for this week is currently unknown.  If I had to guess I would expect that he will not play this week.  I will make it a point to post an injury update once I have solid information regarding Tuck's status.  If Tuck isn't able to go Kiwanuka could see an increase in snaps which could help his stat line but his play so far has been pretty uninspiring to say the least.  Osi Umenyiora had a quiet week 2 after making plenty of noise in week 1.  Osi is a stud and you can expect him to bounce back this week but don't expect stud numbers this week because without Tuck he could see more double teams.  If you are in a DT mandatory league you will want to look elsewhere for help because the Giants rotation seems to be limiting all of their fantasy production.

Linebacker:  Michael Boley made his Giants debut in week 2 and had a nice stat line.  Look for Boley to make the most out of his opportunities pursuing from his WLB position. If Tuck doesn't play that could allow Boley to get to some tackle that he wouldn't normally be able to.  Look for Antonio Pierce to have enough of his production siphoned away by Boley to make him a below average play.

Secondary:   Kenny Phillips really has the look of a player that is ready to make the step from good player to stud.  Phillips should be busy helping to clean up versus the Tampa Bay running game and with the way that Leftwich throws the ball another interception isn't out of the realm of possibility either.  Starting any other Giants DBs is spotty at best but if you need an option outside of Phillips you could look at safety Michael Johnson.

Injury Update: Kenny Phillips has been placed on IR and the Giants were awarded Packers castoff Aaron Rouse via waivers.  For this week I have bumped up Michael Johnson and also moved Michael Boley up to 4 Stars.

5 STAR
Barrett Ruud
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Sabby Piscitelli
Ronde Barber
Aqib Talib
Geno Hayes

2 STAR
None
1 STAR

Quincy Black
Gaines Adams

BuccaneersThe Giants will probably be looking to getting their running game going this week and that should bode well for Tampa Bay IDPs.  The Giants rank 8th in tackle opportunities given up and Tampa Bay has faced a middle of the road 16th most tackle opportunities so far on the year. Coach Raheem Morris is on record as not being happy with his defensive players so let's see how they respond this week.

Defensive Line: Gaines Adams was called out by his head coach who hinted at possibly replacing him.  Coach Morris said he doesn't feel like Adams is playing as "fast and hard as he did a year ago".  Look for Adams to put forth a much better effort this week.  That is if you think keeping his starting job is important to him.  Adams has yet to register a sack this year and getting to Eli Manning won't be easy but as can be seen Adams has plenty of motivation but I still think he is a risky play this week.

Linebacker: If you are a Barrett Ruud owner step away from the window ledge.  Sure you aren't getting the production you expected when you drafted him but Ruud will bounce back.  His stat line in week 2 is a bit  misleading in that he only registered 5 solo tackles but then you look at the 9 assists he logged and you realize he was involved in 14 tackles on 56 tackle opportunities.  That is a .250 IDP top and to put that in perspective for you, back in 2007 when Patrick Willis recorded 174 total tackles he had a .205 IDP TOP average.  So yes there is hope for Ruud because those assists will start to become solo tackles and this week should be one of his best match ups of the year.  Geno Hayes makes for a solid LB3 as he looks to have a three down role locked up.

Secondary:  Some players seem like they can't ever catch a break but not Jermaine Phillips.  Unfortunately for Phillips the breaks he catches are bone breaks.  Phillips suffered a broken thumb in week 2 that has landed him on injured reserve.  the Buccaneers they caught another break this week.  Unfortunately, it was a break to the thumb of starting safety Jermaine Phillips.  Sabby Piscitelli was already having a great fantasy season (not so much on the NFL level) and should continue to be a good start as long as he remains in the starting lineup.  Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber have both been very good in the new Buccaneers scheme.  This week both should be decent options as a DB2 versus what looks to be a stronger then believed Giants receiving group.


Green Bay at St. Louis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Charles Woodson

2 STAR

AJ Hawk
Nick Barnett
Brandon Chillar
Aaron Kampman
Cullen Jenkins
Al Harris

1 STAR

Nick Collins

PackersGood news, bad news of sorts.  The good news is that the Packers aren't the worst in the league in giving up tackle opportunities to their opposition (rank 31st).  The bad news is that the Packers defense is facing the Rams who are the worst in the league in tackle opportunities allowed.  The Packers on average have faced above average tackle opportunities so far this year, yet no Packers IDP has been establish their self as an above average fantasy option.  Imagine how disappointing this week could be statistically if you own any Packer IDPs.

Defensive Line:  Cullen Jenkins has done a very good job so far this year logging 8 tackles and 2 sacks.  The problem is that expecting him to keep up that pace (64 tackles, 16 sacks) just isn't realistic. Where this is a nice matchup in that the Rams OL is far from stellar you can't ignore the fact that the Packers won't face many tackle opportunities in this game.  Buyer beware if you decide to start Jenkins as it will be an all or nothing kind of week.  As I basically said earlier this year, all other Packers defensive lineman should be on your bench and this week is no different.

Linebacker:  Seriously, if you own any of the Packers LBs you shouldn't consider starting any of them this week.  That is unless you are in an extremely deep league and you just can't avoid it.  Converted LB Aaron Kampman could salvage a good day if he is able to sack Marc Bulger.

Secondary:  The big news this week in the Packers secondary is that they released former 3rd round pick Aaron Rouse.  To replace Rouse the Packers signed former Colt safety Matt Giordano.  At this point Giordano and the rest of the secondary outside of Charles Woodson are waiver wire fodder at best.  At this point in time the information available only says that injured safety Nick Collins may miss this weeks game.  I will look to update when more information is available.

INJURY UPDATE:  It is being reported that even though he has missed practice that Nick Collins will play on Sunday.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Oshiomogho Atogwe
James Laurinaitis
Chris Long

3 STAR

Will Witherspoon 

2 STAR
James Butler
Ronald Bartell
1 STAR
Leonard Little

RamsThe Rams have faced a  league leading 58 tackle opportunities so far on this young season.  This week they face a Packers team that is next to last in tackle opportunities allowed so something has to give in this matchup.  The Packers were really lighting it up in the preseason and have struggled since the season started but I would be willing to bet we see the Pack snap out of their early season funk and that should mean more above average to great tackle opportunities for Rams defenders.

Defensive Line:  If you own Chris Long run don't walk to get him into your lineup this week.  Long will be going against the same side of a patchwork OL that Antwan Odom abused for 5 (yes, FIVE) sacks last week. Outside of long the rest of the Rams defensive line should remain on your bench.  If you are in a deeper league you could look at starting Leonard Little but only if you are really in a pinch.

Linebacker:  Rookie LB James "Little Animal" Laurinaitis has really taken advantage of the above average number of tackle opportunities that the Rams have faced.  Laurinaitis currently finds himself ranked just outside the top 5 among LBs (7th) and with how much time the Rams defense will spend on the field this year he shouldn't stray to far from that lofty ranking.  WLB Will Witherspoon has benefited from both his move to WLB and the above average snaps faced and is averaging 8 tackles/game.

Secondary:  Oshiomogho Atogwe is tied for 4th in total tackles among DBs and looks to have a juicy matchup versus a Packers team that should give him plenty of opportunities this week.  Fellow safety James Butler isn't the big play type player that Atogwe is but in deeper leagues can be bumped up one star level.  CB Ronald Bartell has been a pleasant surprise averaging 5.5 tackles/week.  If you are in a CB mandatory league you can look at Bartell as a high level CB2 versus the Packers.


Tennessee at NY Jets

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Stephen Tulloch
Tony Brown

3 STAR

Keith Bulluck
Kyle Vanden Bosch
Chris Hope
Cortland Finnegan

2 STAR
David Thornton
Chris Gamble
1 STAR
Michael Griffin

TitansThe Titans are in dire need of a win or they will match their 2008 loss total just 3 weeks into the season.  Luckily in fantasy football a team doesn't have to win to end up with good fantasy statistics. This week the Titans face a Jets team that believe it or not with a rookie QB that ranks 7th in tackle opportunities allowed.

Defensive Line: Not only have the Jets given up above average tackle opportunities but they also give up a good amount of tackles to defensive linemen.  Kyle Vanden Bosch hasn't really gotten things going yet this season but you should look for him to put up his best tackle numbers of the year so far.  Tony Brown is also a top play in DT mandatory leagues this week.

Linebacker: Keith Bulluck is the big name but Stephen Tulloch looks like he is the budding fantasy star at LB on the Titans.  Expect Tulloch to be a solid low tier LB1 and high LB2 this week.  You may find this hard to believe but Tulloch currently is tied for 4th in total tackles among all LBs.

Secondary: Chris Hope and Cortland Finnegan sit atop the food chain in the Titans secondary and both should be looked at as solid starting options this week.  Hope probably presents a bit more upside in run support. The Titans have faced the 5th most tackle opportunities so far this year and the Jets rank high in tackle opportunities allowed but a limited passing game could limit the secondary production just a bit.

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

Vernon Gholston
Darrell Revis

JetsThe Jets defense is their own worst enemy this year in that they have been unbelievably good in limiting their opponents offenses.  However, with that comes a limited amount of tackle opportunities and that is why it is no surprise the Jets currently rank 32 or should I say dead last in tackle opportunities faced. That is what happens when you face the likes of the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams, oops wait the Jets shut down the expected to be high powered Texans offense and a Brady & Moss led Patriots team.  No wonder no Jets IDPs ranks inside the top 25.

Defensive Line: Don't expect much from a defensive line that has far more NFL value than fantasy value to put up fantasy relevant stats.  Kris Jenkins is a very good player and in DT mandatory leagues is really the only option on the Jets DL.

Linebacker:  If you own David Harris and Bart Scott and couldn't figure out what was wrong with them then look no further than the limited number of tackle opportunities that they have faced.  At least the outlook for an increase in fantasy stats improving for Harris isn't to far off on the horizon.  Harris is averaging 8 total tackles/week and has an IDP TOP of .216 so if he is able to see even an average number of tackle opportunities his owners would be looking at double digit tackles. Fwiw, the Titans average exactly the NFL historical average of 47 tackle opportunities so keep your fingers crossed that the Titans can be the first team to put up solid tackle opportunities versus the Jets.

Secondary:  Jim Leonard and Kerry Rhodes both should probably be ranked as a 2 star play this week but I just have a feeling the Titans are going to do their best to control the clock to try and escape NY with a win.  If you start multiple DBs then look at Leonard and Rhodes as higher level DB3s this week.


Atlanta at New England

5 STAR
Curtis Lofton
4 STAR
Eric Coleman
3 STAR

Mike Peterson

2 STAR

Stephen Nicholas
John Abraham

1 STAR
Jamaal Anderson
Kroy Biermann

FalconsThis game is going to be a tone setter for the NFL season. The questions at hand are if the Patriots are going to bounce back at home versus what looks to be a playoff caliber Falcons team or will the Falcons go into Gillette Stadium and lay waste to a Patriots team that got spanked last week in NY?  Smart money is on the Patriots bouncing back but their defense does miss Jerod Mayo so if Atlanta can get Michael Turner going then watch out.

Defensive Line:  The Falcons lost rookie DT Peria Jerry for the season to what is being reported as a PCL and MCL injury.  If the Falcons have any hope of beating the Patriots they are going to need to pressure Tom Brady and DE John Abraham is their best hope.  Brady has been one of the harder QBs to sack in recent years but lately he looks a bit "anxious" in the pocket so expect the Falcons to devise a game plan to take advantage of Abraham's pass rush.

Linebacker: Last year Curtis Lofton wasn't a three down LB and a matchup versus a pass happy team like the Patriots would have meant benching Lofton would have been a prudent decision.  However, this year Lofton is a three down LB and among the league leaders in tackles with an average of 9.5/game.  Basically what I am saying is, get Lofton in your lineup!  Mike Peterson is also making his owners proud with an average of 8 tackles per game.  As long as Peterson is healthy, which is something he has had trouble with in the past, he makes a solid lower tier LB2 and a very nice LB3. 

Secondary:  You have to know your opponent in order to make informed decisions and knowing the Falcons secondary is going to be facing the NE passing attack you can expect for safety Eric Coleman to pickup where he left off last week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Gary Guyton
3 STAR
Ty Warren
Derrick Burgess
Vince Wilfork
Leigh Bodden
2 STAR

Adalius Thomas
Pierre Woods
James Sanders
Mike Wright
Brandon Meriweather

1 STAR
Shawn Springs
Patrick Chung

PatriotsMake no mistake about it, the Patriots and their fans have to be worried about the start of their season.  They were a "take a knee and start at the 20" from being upset by the Bills in week 1 and then they got their nose bloodied by a Jets team being led by a rookie QB. Sure people expect that Bill Belichick will right the ship and have NE ready to lay waste to the Falcons. Just remember before Bill was labeled a genius he was the coach of the Cleveland Browns where he compiled a won loss record of 36-44. 

Defensive Line:  Both Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork rank in the top 10 in tackles by DTs and both should be solid plays this week in DT mandatory leagues.  Mike Wright saw significant snaps with the Patriots playing much more of their 4-3 defense and if you are in a real bind and want to roll the dice he could put up DT2 numbers this weekend but there is some inherent risk if the Patriots use more of their normal 3-4 looks.

Linebacker:  Still no specific news on when we can expect to see Jerod Mayo return to the starting lineup.  Did you expect anything else from the Patriots regarding an injury.  If you were a Mayo owner that was able to snap Gary Guyton then that should have softened the blow a bit as Guyton is averaging 7 tackles/game.  This week Guyton could very well approach double digit tackles but that hinges on if you think the game is close or a blowout.  If it is a New England blowout then that could limit Guyton's opportunities this week. 

Secondary:  If you are a Brandon Meriweather owner you have to be wondering when he is finally going to get things going.  In two weeks he has yet to record more than 3 solo tackles in a game and with the loss of Jerod Mayo one would have expected Meriweather would have been a bigger beneficiary in the stat line.  Even though this looks like it could be a good matchup you will probably want to put Meriweather on your bench until you see something from him.

INJURY UPDATE:  Brandon Meriweather was limited in practice on Friday due to an ankle injury. 

Washington at Detroit

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Andre Carter
London Fletcher
3 STAR

Chris Horton

2 STAR

Albert Haynesworth
Rocky McIntosh

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo

Sure the Redskins almost lost to the Rams last week but that was much more on the offense than the defense.  Outside of a 58 yard jaunt by RB Steven Jackson the Redskins held the Rams to a 68 yards with a 3.4 YPC and they held their passing attack, umm strike that, their passing game to just 125 yards. Lots of people think this game could be where the Lions snag their first win in over 2 seasons.  I think the Lions do have more weapons on offense than the Rams but I still think the Redskins defense will stifle them just enough to get our of Motown with a win.  It really isn't of any surprise that the Lions rank in the bottom of the league with regards to tackle opportunities allowed and that should limit the fantasy production of the Redskins defenders. But guess what, the Redskins rank in the bottom of the league seeing a below average number of tackle opportunities on the season. Yet  five Redskins (Haynesworth, Carter, Fletcher, Horton & Hall) all rank in the top 7 in total tackles at their respective positions.

Defensive Line:  Look for Albert Haynesworth to make running between the tackles for Kevin Smith a very difficult thing but I think this is a week where a lack of production will hurt Haynesworth's fantasy stat line. If there is a big game to be had on the defensive line look for it to come from Andre Carter.  I expect Carter to take advantage of facing a rookie QB and to  his sack total.

Linebacker:  If you really want to see just how important the IDP TOP metric is just look at London Fletcher.  He is just one tackle shy of leading the league.  Thomas Davis of the Panthers currently is the league leader in tackles with 28 compared to Fletcher's 27.  If you look at the IDP TOP for these two you will see exactly how great Fletcher has been this year.  Fletcher has an IDP TOP of .310 compared to Davis' IDP TOP of .262.  What that means is that once Fletcher starts facing average to above average tackle opportunities it looks like he is really going to light up the fantasy scoreboard.  Just in case you are wondering Fletcher has logged his 27 tackles on just 87 opportunities while Davis has logged his 28 on 107 opportunities.  If you are a Rocky McIntosh owner I would expect below average numbers this week.  Last week Chad Greenway had a great fantasy day but that was due to two interceptions and I think that McIntosh will struggle in the tackle department just like Greenway did last week.

Secondary:  During the second half of his week 1 game Chris Horton found himself on the bench and it left many worried about his immediate future.  All Horton has done is just keep performing so he is going to be a plug and play option for the foreseeable future.  This week he won't be a stud but he is startable.  If you are in CB mandatory leagues you can look at plugging DeAngelo Hall in. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Larry Foote
Marquand Manuel
Anthony Henry
3 STAR

Louis Delmas

2 STAR
DeAndre Levy
Julian Peterson
1 STAR
Dewayne White
Cliff Avril

LionsThe Lions are a team that seem to be going in the right direction.  Yes, even if they still have yet to win a game this year they are going in the right direction.  All Lions fans need to do to feel better about their team is to remember that Matt Millen is now longer running their franchise into the ground.  The Lions will win a game this year and it will probably be over a team they have no right in beating but I don't think that team will be the Redskins.  From a fantasy perspective IDPers have to like that the Lions have faced the 4th most tackle opportunities thru two weeks. 

Defensive Line:  Even with all the tackle opportunities the Lions are facing their defensive lineman are nothing more than waiver wire fodder. 

Linebacker:  The Lions look like they will have to go without Ernie Sims this week due to a shoulder injury. Rookie LB DeAndre Levy is expected to play if Sims can't go.  Levy is a bit miscast as an OLB in the Lions view but feel good enough to give him the start over second year pro Jordon Dizon.  If Sims is out the Lions will really need Julian Peterson to step up his game if they want to pull out a win this week.

Secondary:  The name causing a buzz in the Lions secondary is rookie FS Louis Delmas but it is veteran Anthony Henry that is the leading tackle in the secondary.  Henry is an excellent play this week in CB mandatory leagues and is even a very good option in DB leagues.


Jacksonville at Houston

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Justin Durant
Rashean Mathis
3 STAR
Daryl Smith
Derek Cox
2 STAR

Derrick Harvey
Quentin Groves

1 STAR
Sean Considine
Reggie Nelson

JaguarsThe Jaguars were unable to avoid an 0-2 start when they got steam rolled in their home opener by the Kurt Warner led Arizona Cardinals.  The question I have is sort of like the "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?",  if there are no fans there to see the loss, does it really count as a loss?  Well evidently 15 fans showed up to watch the home opener so the loss does count.  On the fantasy football side of things the Jaguars have seen almost as many tackle opportunities (rank 2nd in TOs faced) as they have fans in the seats.

Defensive Line:  The defensive line for the Jaguars has one whole sack so far this year and to make matters worse it belongs to Reggie Hayward, who is out for the year with a broken leg.  Quentin Groves & Derrick Harvey should ride the pine until either shows a pulse in the box score.

Linebacker: Justin Durant has made the most of his move to MLB and ranks 4th in the NFL in total tackles.  While that is a good thing for his owners make note that the Jaguars have faced the 2nd most tackle opportunities in the league.  Hopefully Durant will start to take better advantage of the much better than average number of tackle opportunities he is seeing.  Daryl Smith owners have also reaped the rewards of all those tackle opportunities but be cautious because a decline in those opportunities will more than likely manifest into a sharp decline in production for Smith.

Secondary: Rashean Mathis could be in for a very productive day as he tries to keep Andre Johnson in check.  Also, Derek Cox should reap the benefits of facing the Texans passing attack.

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

TexansWhich Texans team will show up this week?  There hasn't really been a more "Sybil" like team thru the first two weeks of the season.  This week the Texans defense will face a Jaguars team that ranks in the bottom 20% of the league in tackle opportunities allowed.  That very well could limit most players but the Texans happen to have a couple of studs that should still get theirs this weekend.

Defensive Line:  One of those studs is Reggie Bush who they selected with the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.  Oops, I mean "Super" Mario Williams.  The Texans took some flack and made some people scratch their heads when they took Williams over Bush but Williams is growing into one of the best DEs in the NFL.  He is a must start even with the expected limited opportunities this weekend.

Linebacker:  DeMeco Ryans is the other stud.  Ryans struggled thru some nagging injuries last year that seemed to hurt his stat line at times. Ryans owners would like to have seen more tackles with all the opportunities that he has seen but he is still on pace to finish with over 125 total tackles. 

Secondary:  Everyone was wondering where Bernard Pollard would land after being cut earlier this year by the Chiefs.  Well after 2 weeks have passed in the regular season Pollard has found a new home. Keep an eye on the situation and see how it plays out before you do anything with regards to Pollard.  Once the Texans get healthy I wouldn't be surprised to see Pollard get cut again.


San Francisco at Minnesota

5 STAR
Patrick Willis
4 STAR

Michael Lewis

3 STAR
Takeo Spikes
2 STAR
Nate Clements
1 STAR
Justin Smith

49ersMany people are shocked that the Niners sit atop their division at 2-0 but they shouldn't be.  Coach Singletary is a fiery guy and I for one am not surprised to see him getting what he gets out of his team.  This week the defense gets a Vikings team that likes to run the ball and that should present many good opportunities for the Niners key IDPs.

Defensive Line:  If you drafted DE Justin Smith expecting DL1 numbers you have to be extremely disappointed with his performance so far.  You would think that the San Francisco coaches would be just as disappointed but that couldn't be farther from the truth.  The coaching staff has praised the play of Smith so far this year.  So if you read between the lines that says they will keep using him the way they have and that means a huge hit to his fantasy value.  At this point he is probably safe to drop but considering what you probably paid to draft him if you have a deep enough bench you may want to stash him for a bit to see if he can once again regain fantasy relevance.

Linebacker:  Do you really need me to tell you to get Patrick Willis in your lineup this week?  No I didn't think you did.  So how about I try to project his total tackles for you this week.  As for an over/under I would probably set the line at 11 solo tackles.  Currently there really isn't another fantasy relevant LB on the Niners.

Secondary:  Michael Lewis should see plenty of action in run support versus Adrian Peterson this week.  He is a solid DB1 in all tackle heavy format leagues.  If you own Nate Clements you have to worry if the Vikings game managing QB will put the ball in the air enough to make Clements startable.  If you get decent points for interceptions you probably can gamble playing Clements in CB mandatory leagues since he is facing the all time NFL leader in interceptions throws.  The odd thing is he hasn't thrown a single INT yet this year, so he is due.

5 STAR
Jared Allen
4 STAR
Antoine Winfield
3 STAR
EJ Henderson
Cedric Griffin
2 STAR
Chad Greenway
Kevin Williams
1 STAR
Madieu Williams
Tyrell Johnson
Pat Williams

VikingsThe Vikings will face a San Francisco team that will look to pound the rock in what should be a great RB showdown between Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore.  The Niners do a good job at protecting the ball as they have only had one turnover on the season.  The Vikings defense has 5 takeaways but this week don't be surprised if they take a goose egg there.

Defensive Line:  Last week Jared Allen had a nice bounce back from his poor week 1 performance versus up and coming LT Joe Thomas.  Allen's stat line in week 2 was 4 solos, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble but this week Allen gets to face another young up and coming LT in Joe Thomas.  I think this time Allen wins in his battle versus the Joes.  Kevin Williams was nonexistent in the box score last week but those things happen to DL at times.  Still if you are in a DT mandatory league you should start him.

Linebacker:  Chad Greenway earned the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for week 2 by picking off 2 Stafford passes and logging 4 total tackles.  Fortunately, for Greenway owners that he picked off those passes otherwise he would have had a subpar week.  EJ Henderson on the other hand has looked good returning from injury as he is averaging 7 solo tackles/game.

INJURY UPDATE: MLB EJ Henderson (shoulder) was limited in Friday practice and is listed as Questionable for Sunday.

Secondary:  The Niners could make for a dicey matchup with regards to CBs Antoine Winfield & Cedric Griffin.  Of the two Winfield is better in run support and more likely to still have a very good game.


New Orleans at Buffalo

5 STAR
Jonathan Vilma
4 STAR
Roman Harper
Tracy Porter
3 STAR
Scott Shanle
2 STAR

Jabari Greer
Darren Sharper
Will Smith
Charles Grant

1 STAR
Sedrick Ellis
Kendrick Clancey
Scott Fujita

SaintsSure this is an IDP article but I have to give it up for Drew Brees.  Brees is as they say on ESPN, enfuego.  Seriously, what Brees is doing is just phenomenal. Now back to your regular scheduled IDP article.  The Saints defense as seen below average tackle opportunities which makes it a tougher road to hoe to put up fantasy relevant numbers.

Defensive Line:  As a Will Smith and Charles Grant owner I can't even tell you how hard it is to do this part of the article.  I know you are like why I am I reading something by an DIP writer that owns both Smith and Grant.  Well to tell you the truth I not only own both of them, I own both of them in the same league.  Now don't go and judge so quickly because it happens to be a 32 team league where we start between 3-4 DLs.  That is a league where I can't even consider benching those two and I know that other owners are probably ready to toss them back into the waiver pool but I would say that maybe you should wait it out one more week.  The Bills OL has played pretty well considering how maligned it was coming into the regular season. OK, so who is with me?  Yeah that is what I thought.  If you are a gambling man get Smith or Grant into your lineup but if you have safer options don't give them a second thought.

Linebacker: If you are a Jonathan Vilma owner you have to be semi disappointed with his early season performance.  Because Vilma surely wasn't drafted as one of the first handful of LBs off the board to rank 40th in fantasy points scored after two weeks.  Just realize the Saints are seeing below average tackle opportunities so there is hope for an increase in his stats.  Based on this matchup and his performance to date Vilma probably shouldn't be a 5 Star play but I have a feeling this is a big week for him.  If you own Scott Shanle you probably are in a deeper league and have enjoyed his production.  Not to be a buzz kill but I wouldn't expect Shanle to keep up his current pace (128 total tackles).

Secondary:  Look for Tracy Porter to continue to build on a decent start.  Darren Sharper showed last week that he still has the wheels to take a pick to the house but as far as fantasy plays go he is a risky play at best. Roman Harper doesn't seem to get the credit or respect that he should in fantasy circles.  If you own Harper put him in your lineup and ride him to a top 10 season at DB this year.

5 STAR
Bryan Scott
4 STAR

Keith Ellison
Terrence McGee
Donte Whitner

3 STAR
Kawika Mitchell
2 STAR
Marcus Buggs
Leodis McKelvin
1 STAR
Marcus Stroud
Aaron Schobel

BillsThe Bills IDPs look to face a perfect storm of sorts this week.  The Bills have faced the 6 most tackle opportunities so far and this week they get a Saints team that is giving up the 2nd most tackle opportunities. So it looks like a very good week awaits some Bills defenders.

Defensive Line:  The Saints have not allowed more than 3 solo tackles to any DL over the first two weeks of the season. Simply put, bench your Bills DLs. End of story!

Linebacker:  There are many people that look at the box score and think that Keith Ellison is the one that replaced Paul Posluszny in the starting lineup but that isn't what happened.  Marcus Buggs is who replaced Posluszny in the base defense.  Now that is where if you are paying attention you realize why Ellison has had such a nice stat line the first two weeks.  Ellison is playing in the nickle over Buggs and trust me when I tell you Ellison has saw plenty of action in the nickel.  Week 1 was versus a pass happy Patriots team and in week 2 the Buccaneers were forced to abandon the run early when they fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter.  This week Ellison is an excellent start versus a Saints team that likes to put the ball in the air every now and then.

Secondary:  The Bills secondary should be plenty this weekend but look for SS Bryan Scott to be the most productive of the bunch.  Last week Eagles SS Quintin Mikell posted a gaudy 11 solo tackles versus the Saints so there is reason for high expectations this week from Scott.  Terrence McGee and Donte Whitner should both be solid starts while they try to help track down the multitude of Saints receivers. 


Chicago at Seattle

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Lance Briggs
3 STAR

Alex Brown
Adewale Ogunleye
Charles Tillman

2 STAR
Al Afalava
Kevin Payne
Danieal Manning
1 STAR
Hunter Hillenmeyer

Good news/bad news kind of week for the Bears.  Good news is that they will probably be facing backup QB Seneca Wallace instead of the injured Matt Hasselbeck. Bad news, that probably means fewer tackle opportunities for the Bears defense.  Good news,  probably means the Bears can chalk up another win.  Bad news,  playing in Seattle at Qwest Field is never an easy thing.  Good news, they aren't calling for rain in Seattle.  Bad news, it is going to rain on one of these teams parades this weekend.

Defensive Line:  Lovie Smith has said that if Alex Brown doesn't practice on Friday that it doesn't mean that he won't play on Sunday.  If you are a Brown owner and want to start him this week you will need to keep a very close eye on the Sunday inactives.  Adewale Ogunleye doesn't seem to get the respect that he should among fantasy GMs.  This week he is a slightly risky start as no DLs thru two weeks have really had an impact in the box score versus the Seahawks.

Linebacker:  Lance Briggs was already going to be a strong start this week but now TJ Houshmandzadeh went and gave Briggs and his defensive mates some bulletin board material.  Expect Briggs to make a statement with his play and if you are a TJ owner and see him going across the middle you might want to close your eyes.

Secondary:  Look for the Seahawks to struggle with the passing offense and in turn look for the entire Bears secondary to struggle to do much in the box score because of it. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Aaron Curry
3 STAR

Patrick Kerney
Jordan Babineaux

2 STAR

Darryl Tapp
Lawrence Jackson
David Hawthorne

1 STAR
Deon Grant
Lofa Tatupu

SeahawksAt some point you just have to wonder who in the Seahawks organization sold their soul to the devil and then p*@#ed him off.  The injury bug that plagued the team last year has found its way into 2009.  From Walter and Julius Jones to Matt Hasselbeck on the offensive side of the ball and Leroy Hill, Marcus Trufant and Lofa Tatupu on the defensive side of the ball you just have to feel for both the team and their fans.  Well at least the Seahawks were lucky enough to face the Rams in week 1 to log a win early.

Defensive Line:  Patrick Kerney and Lawrence Jackson played well last week and combined for 7 tackles , 3 sacks with 1 forced fumble.  Darryl Tapp is a guy that is owned in plenty of leagues but the rotation that he and Jackson are in makes them both a risky start most weeks. 

Linebacker:  As of now I can say that Lofa Tatupu did not practice on Thursday due to his hamstring injury.  I will do my best to provide an injury update on Friday or Saturday evening but even then if I report that Tatupu is going to play (which I doubt) or practiced on Friday I would proceed with extreme caution.  The last thing you want to do is plug a guy in that tweaks a hammy on the first series and gets you a donut. If you find yourself in a real bind at LB and are in a deeper league you could give David Hawthorne a look but the LB that needs to be in your lineup is rookie Aaron Curry.  The Bears will look to get their running game going and when they decide to throw the ball Curry will be playing in the nickle too.

INJURY UPDATE:  The Friday injury report shows that Lofa Tatupu did not practice.  Even if Tatupu does end up playing on Sunday you should look for another option.

Secondary:  Small but surprising fact, a CB has led the team in tackles in each of the first two weeks (wk1: JWilson 5 solos, wk2: JBabineaux 8 solos).  Even with that there should be better options at the DB position.  If you are going to roll the dice Babineaux is the best bet in the secondary.  At least while Josh Wilson is injured.


Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

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

Casey Hampton
Tyrone Carter

1 STAR
Brett Keisel

SteelersThe Steelers will be looking to get back on the right side of .500 this week after suffering their first loss of the season to the Bears last week.  You can blame that loss on Jeff Reed if you want to but for me the Steelers defense needs to get more pressure from their dynamic LBs.

Defensive Line: The Steelers defensive line is valuable from an NFL standpoint but if you are in need of a DE or DT you really would be best served to look elsewhere for better options.

Linebacker:  The big news for the LBs this week is that Lawrence Timmons fully took part in practice on Thursday and looks like he will be in the starting lineup come Sunday.  James Harrison has forced 2 fumbles (1 each week) but has yet to record a sack.  The Bengals OL isn't anything to write home about so look for Harrison and Lamar Woodley to finally get things going with their pass rush.

Secondary:  While watching the Steelers and Bears game last week when I saw Tyrone Carter hit TE Greg Olsen with the crown of his helmet I was looking for a flag that never came but then I said surely the NFL will end up fining him. Sure enough Carter finds his wallet $5000 lighter for his hit on Olsen.  While his wallet is lighter and the fine was lighter than I expected one thing is true and that is Carter isn't a light hitter.  Ryan Clark isn't Troy Polamalu but if you need a DB2/3 this weekend Clark should suffice.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Dhani Jones
Antwan Odom
Roy Williams

3 STAR
Keith Rivers
Rey Maualuga
Johnathan Joseph
2 STAR
Leon Hall
1 STAR
Domata Peko

BengalsThe Bengals defense is like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect.  Last year the Bengal defense finished in the top 12 and this year they are ranked 11th.  So far this year the Bengals have faced just 76 tackle opportunities which ranks as the 3rd worst.  To put that in a slightly different light on Monday night versus the Dolphins the Colts defense faced 71 tackle opportunities. If you own any Bengals defenders you will be happy to know that the Steelers are giving up above average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line: Okay so admit it you were looking at the box scores on Sunday and when you saw that Antwan Odom had 5 sacks you figured that had to be an error.  Then you realized it wasn't an error and then to make matters worse you realized you were playing against him.  This week you have to plug Odom into your lineup versus what is a sack friendly Steeler OL.  Don't expect 5 sacks again or 4 for that matter but you very easily could see him add 2 more to his yearly total.

Linebacker: Second year LB Keith Rivers had his season ended last year on a nasty block by Hines Ward.  Luckily, Rivers lack of production so far this year seems to have more to do with the lack of opportunities then it does from the broken jaw he suffered last year. 

Secondary:  SS Roy Williams has been a very nice surprise after just two weeks but this week he could be a big liability versus the Steelers passing game.  If you think the Steelers will be able to get out to a comfortable lead and will be running the ball a bunch in the fourth quarter in an effort to salt the game away then you could be in for a very big week from Williams.  However, if the Steelers get caught flat and have to play from behind then Williams will be an iffy start.  He is an ultimate boom or bust player this week but I am willing to bet on the boom.


Miami at San Diego

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
Channing Crowder
3 STAR

Gibril Wilson

2 STAR

Akin Ayodele

1 STAR
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter
Sean Smith
Vontae Davis

DolphinsThe Dolphins offense was the biggest hinderance to their defensive  players.  Versus the Colts the Dolphins offense controlled the clock holding the ball for 45 minutes.  That left their defense just 15 minutes of time against the Colts who were only able to log just 14 completions and 11 rushing attempts.  With such low numbers like that it is easy to see why Dolphin defenders didn't do much fantasy wise.  This week the Dolphins have to travel cross country to San Diego and to top it off they have to work on a short week.  The one thing the Dolphins do have going for them is that the Chargers give up 10 more tackle opportunities than the Dolphins average.

Defensive Line:  There is no fantasy relevant player on the Dolphins defensive line.  Gone are the old days when Jason Taylor was a top stud playing DE but now that 4-3 defense has given way to the Bill Parcels 3-4 and Taylor is just a run of the mill LB for fantasy purposes.

Linebacker:  If you are a Channing Crowder owner you have to be pulling your hair out.  The thing is it really can't get any worse and Crowder should bounce back.  So continue to have a bit of patience and it will more than likely pay off in the end for you.  Just remember things are never as good or bad as they seem.  Both Jason Taylor and Joey Porter really have negligible value in tackle heavy leagues and are only roster worthy in the deepest of leagues.  To make matters worse Porter is being limited by a hamstring tweak.

Secondary:  They aren't lighting up the box score yet but you have to keep plugging along with both Gibril Wilson and Yeremiah Bell.  They are still very solid DBs so start them with some confidence. Rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will continue to dilute each others stats with their sharing of snaps.

5 STAR
Stephen Cooper
4 STAR
Eric Weddle
3 STAR

Quentin Jammer
Kevin Burnett

2 STAR
Clinton Hart  
1 STAR

Shawne Merriman

Don't expect the Dolphins to give up 70 plus tackle opportunities again this week but still Miami is very good matchup for select Charger IDPs. The biggest risk for Chargers IDP owners is that the Dolphins come out flat after suffering a tough loss to the Colts.

Defensive Line:  The Chargers have moved DT Jamal Williams to injured reserve.  To help soften the blow the Chargers have signed DT Alphonso Boone but the truth is that you don't just replace a guy like Williams.  Teams will probably look to exploit the Chargers weakness by running it up the middle on them and that could mean good things for the Chargers ILBs.

Linebacker:  Stephen Cooper could log what will be his best game of the year this week.  If the Dolphins have success running Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams then Cooper will be very active on Sunday. Kevin Burnett showed a bit of life in week 2 where he recorded 5 total tackles.  This week you should be able to rely on Burnett as a low level LB2 and higher level LB3.  He is still a bit of a risky play unless you are in deeper leagues.

Secondary:  If fantasy leagues scored according to pass coverage then Eric Weddle would be nothing more than waiver wire fodder but fantasy leagues don't score that way, they score tackles and Weddle knows tackles. Weddle is about as close to a tackle monster as you will find in any secondary in the NFL.  Start him with confidence this week and don't kid yourself he is going to be in your lineup every week except on his bye and even on the bye week he will probably log a few tackles.


Denver at Oakland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Elvis Dumervil
3 STAR
None
2 STAR

Brian Dawkins
Andra Davis
DJ Williams

1 STAR
Champ Bailey

BroncosSo one has to ask, is it time to eat crow with regards to the Broncos defense?  You know, the defense that has a horrible DL with players that don't fit the 3-4 scheme they are now playing. Before I agree to eat any crow let me give you some stats on the Broncos defense.  They rank, 1st in points allowed(6.5), 2nd in total yards allowed, 3rd in sacks, 5th in interceptions, 10th in passing yards, 10th in rushing yards & 6th in rushing YPC (2.9). Wow, is really all I can say.  Time to eat crow?  I say NO.  The Broncos have to show me more when they play the varsity teams in the NFL and not the Bengals and Browns of the world. Expect another week of great defensive numbers as they face the offensively challenged Oakland Raiders.

Defensive Line:  I did give the Broncos DL some credit last week for the good play in week 1 but that still doesn't change the fact that none of their DL are fantasy relevant.

Linebacker: Expect DJ Williams and Andra Davis to struggle in the box score this week as the Raiders are giving up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities/game.  Elvis Dumervil had a phenomenal game last week but trust me when I tell you he is not a guy you can consistently stick into your starting lineup.

Secondary:  Man, as an Eagles fan it pains me to see Brian Dawkins wearing another teams colors but I do enjoy seeing him play well.  Dawkins has been very productive considering that the Broncos have faced a below average number of tackles opportunities thus far.  Don't even think about starting Champ Bailey or any other CB for the Broncos since Jamarcus Russell could struggle to complete double digit passes (something he didn't do last week). 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Greg Ellis
3 STAR

Kirk Morrison
Thomas Howard
Michael Huff

2 STAR
Richard Seymour
Tyvon Branch             
1 STAR
Ricky Brown

RaidersDoes anyone else think the Raiders can win another game this year with Jamarcus Russell completing single digit passes?  Didn't think so but as Al Davis likes to say, "Just win baby!".

Defensive Line: Just in case you didn't notice it Greg Ellis is having a monster season.  Thru two weeks he has 8 solos tackles, 3 sacks with 1 forced fumble.  Basically what I am saying is to get Ellis in your starting lineup and do so with confidence while you ride his hot hand.

Linebacker: So how many of you overreacted to Kirk Morrison's first week and cut him loose?  Kicking yourself now aren't you.  Remember like I said earlier in this article, "it is never as good or bad as it looks.".  I know I surely didn't expect Morrison to bounce back in such a big way.  Especially in a game that I expected to be limited in tackle opportunities.  Thomas Howard is still putting up big tackle numbers but you have to expect him to fall off his current pace at some point in time.

Secondary:  Due to injury Michael Huff finds himself back in the starting lineup.  Huff must be part feline because he seems to have 9 lives.  It is doubtful that Huff will keep the starting job long term but while he is starting he should be an above average start.


Indianapolis at Arizona

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Gary Brackett
Kelvin Hayden
Antoine Bethea
3 STAR
Clint Session
Melvin Bullitt
2 STAR
Robert Mathis
1 STAR
Tyjuan Hagler
Dwight Freeney

Colts I wouldn't be surprised if the Colts defenders were still taking oxygen after Monday nights game.  Gassed is putting it mildly when talking about Colts defenders at the end of that game.  Now on a short week they have to travel across the country to play the Cardinals.  The Cardinals have given up the 8th most tackle opportunities so for those of you that own Colt defenders you can expect another good week.

Defensive Line:  Both Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney were able to record a sack but neither have been very reliable in the tackle department.  For this matchup Mathis and Freeney owners would probably be best served to let them ride pine if they have better options. 

Linebacker:  Gary Brackett put up 7 solo tackles versus the Dolphins and normally 7 solos is a good thing but don't forget that Brackett faced 71 tackle opportunities.  Still Brackett makes for a nice low level LB1 and great LB2 most weeks.  Clint Session seems to be settling in nicely to his WLB position and the more comfortable he gets the better his numbers could get too.

INJURY UPDATE:  LB Gary Brackett (knee) did not practice on Friday and is listed as Questionable for Sunday.

Secondary:  Nothing special in the Colts secondary while Bob Sanders is out due to injury.  Just don't forget that it is the pass heavy attack of the Cardinals that the Colts secondary is facing this week.  Look for safety Antoine Bethea and CB Kelvin Hayden to fill the box score with at least 6+ tackles each.

5 STAR
Karlos Dansby
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Adrian Wilson
Gerald Hayes
2 STAR
Calais Campbell
Darnell Dockett
Chike Okeafor
1 STAR
Antrel Rolle

CardinalsThe Cardinals have yet to face above average tackle opportunities this year and it shows in their IDPs lack of tackles.  This week a Colts team comes to town that is giving up the 5th fewest tackle opportunities but that is largely because they only had the ball for 15 minutes versus the Dolphins on Monday night.  In week one versus the Jaguars the Colts completed 28 passes and rushed the ball 31 times so with that in mind you have to think the Colts present a good matchup for the Cardinals.

Defensive Line: Last week I pretty much said I was skeptical of Calais Campbell's week 1 performance and also stated not to expect much from Darnell Dockett in week 2.  Well I was sort of right and sort of wrong.  See I was wrong because I said to expect about 3 tackles out of each of them and not to expect Campbell to get back into the sack column.  Well Dockett posted 4 solos but he did add a forced fumble but Campbell was only able to produce 1 assist which happened to be on a shared sack so his stat line ended up 0-1 .5.  This week Campbell should be on your bench versus Peyton Manning as he doesn't give up many sacks.  If you are in a DT mandatory league then you could look to play Dockett as a DL2 but nothing more. If I am wrong I will be back next week to apologize to both of them.

Linebacker: Sure Karlos Dansby is averaging 6 tackles per week but Dansby owners want and expect more and well that is what they got this past week when he added a sack and forced fumble to his stat line.  Dansby may not get the press or recognition that many of the other top flight stud LBs get but make no mistake, Dansby is a top flight stud LB and he should be in your lineup every week. 

Secondary: Adrian Wilson seems to be the kind of player that just can't do enough to keep his owners happy. That happens to be understandable because expectations have been high for Wilson since he posted back to back 100+ tackles in 2004 & 2005.  So is it that we are all in love with his past glory or is it is freakish athletic ability?  Honestly, it is probably a bit of both.  Last week Wilson didn't put up a ton of tackles but he did add a half sack.  This week I think we can expect to see Wilson help with coverage on Dallas Clark this week and that could give him a bump in tackles.  He should be a solid DB3 this week with a bit of upside to DB2 but I fear that Wilson's time as one of the premier fantasy DBs may have come and gone.  Now with that said I would take him on my NFL team in a heart beat.


Carolina at Dallas

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

Panthers The Panthers are heading into a matchup versus the Cowboys who have rushed the ball for more yards then any other team  so far this year.  But you really need to look at it a bit more in-depth than that.  While the Cowboys have the most rushing yards what matters is tackle opportunities and its rushing attempts that add to tackle opportunities and the Cowboys rank in the bottom half of the NFL in rushing attempts. To make matters worse for the owners of Panthers IDPs is that the Cowboys rank 29th in total tackle opportunities allowed.

Defensive line:  Julius Peppers can be very streaky and last week was one of those performances on the wrong side of the kind of streak you want to see.  Still you have to plug Peppers into your lineup this week.  Just keep your fingers crossed that Flozell Adams doesn't keep up his tripping ways. 

Linebackers:  There are times when things don't really change just the names change.  Last year Jon Beason led the NFL with 110 solo tackles and this year after two weeks another Panther sits atop the NFL in tackles with 28 but this time it isn't Jon Beason, instead it is Thomas Davis.  Davis sure is making the most of the time while Beason is less than 100% from a knee injury.  Expect Beason at some point to see his tackles increase and Davis to see his decrease but in the mean time ride the hot hand.

Secondary:  Chris Harris practiced on Thursday but is still at risk of missing this weeks game.  Currently he is listed as a 1 Star play and even that is risky due to the injury.  If he is able to play I would probably still only bump him up to 2 Stars at most.  Richard Marshall is a guy I have been high on for a couple years and was really excited to see what he would finally do with starters snaps.  Unfortunately he hasn't really performed very well yet.  I wouldn't cast him off just yet and if you have the ability to wait it out a bit I think it will pay off in a big way in the not so far off future.

INJURY UPDATE:  DB Chris Harris (knee) is OUT vs the Cowboys. 

5 STAR

Bradie James

4 STAR
Keith Brooking
Ken Hamlin
3 STAR
DeMarcus Ware
Jay Ratliff
Terrence Newman
Ken Hamlin
2 STAR

Anthony Spencer

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysI just can't see the Cowboys losing their first two games ever in their new digs and to keep that from happening I am expecting a big effort from the defense.  The Panthers run the ball enough to make this a good matchup for select Cowboy IDPs and then there is Jake Delintercepcihomme which bodes well for the secondary too.

Defensive Line:  If you are in a DT mandatory league then Jay Ratliff is a solid option but otherwise him and the rest of the Cowboys DL is nothing more than waiver wire fodder.

Linebacker:  Bradie James has been up and down thru two weeks and hopefully for James owners his trend holds because that would make this an up week.  Keith Brooking also falls into the up and down syndrome and just like James this week should be an up week.  Actually, it isn't the trend of every other week as much as the running game that the Cowboys will face that makes them good starts this week.  Demarcus Ware is by far the Cowboys best player but for fantasy purposes he is just to inconsistent.  However, if you think he can get to Delintercepcihomme for multiple sacks then you should plug him into your lineup.

Secondary:  Last week 5 of the top 6 tacklers for the Cowboys were secondary players but you have to realize the Giants only ran the ball 26 times while putting it in the air almost 40 times.  Terrence Newman and Ken Hamlin are probably the safest bets if you are going to start any of the Cowboys secondary.

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