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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 4
Steve Gallo
October 2, 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.  In addition the reference chart is color coded to identify teams that are giving up average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green) tackle opportunities based on their season average.  The historical average for tackle opportunities is 47 (highlighted in yellow) and anything 46 or less will be in red and above 47 will be in green.  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).

Teams on BYE in week 4:  Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina & Philadelphia

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(Multi Front) 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, David Bowens
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, Brian Cushing
IND Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 3-4 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

Detroit at Chicago

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Larry Foote
Marquand Manuel
3 STAR

Louis Delmas
Anthony Henry
DeAndre Levy

2 STAR
Julian Peterson
1 STAR
Dewayne White
Cliff Avril

LionsThe Lions won.  The Lions WON!  The LIONS WON!!  THE LIONS WON!!! Congratulations to the Detroit Lions on their first regular season win (like anyone would be referring to playoff wins) in their past 20 games.  Just in case you aren't good with math the Lions win versus the Washington Redskins snapped their 19 game losing streak.

Defensive Line:  Same thing as last week, avoid playing any of the Lions defensive linemen unless you just can't help it.  Injuries aren't helping either as DeWayne White didn't participate in practice on Wednesday and Cliff Avril was limited in that same practice.

INJURY UPDATE:  Dewayne White (hamstring) is listed as Doubtful on the injury report and he did not practice all week. Cliff Avril (hamstring) is listed as Questionable and had limited participation in Friday practice.

Linebacker:  DeAndre Levy got the first start of his early career in place of the injured Ernie Sims.  His stat line wasn't all that impressive with just 3 solos and 3 assists but there are a few good things to note about his performance.  The Redskins only presented 41 tackle opportunities and Levy was in on 6 of them.  So in a matchup that should present better tackle opportunities he could very easily be looking at posting 5-6 solo tackles.  The other thing of note is that the Levy produced those 6 total tackles in limited snaps as he was sharing time with Jordon Dizon.  The Bears should present a better matchup this week so if you are in a pinch Levy could be looked at as a LB3 option. Playing next to Levy at MLB is Larry Foote who should continue to be a solid play as a LB2. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Ernie Sims (shoulder) is listed as Questionable on the injury report and had limited participation in Friday practice.

Secondary:  Both Louis Delmas and Anthony Henry led the secondary in tackles versus the Redskins.  This week both are above average plays against a Bears team led by QB Jay Cutler but the best play is probably going to be SS Marquand Manuel.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Adewale Ogunleye
3 STAR

Danieal Manning
Charles Tillman

2 STAR
Al Afalava
Kevin Payne
Zachary Bowman
1 STAR
Hunter Hillenmeyer
Lance Briggs
Alex Brown

BearsGood news/bad news again for the Bears this week.  Good news is that they can't be the team that the Lions got off their schneid against.  Bad news is that their team is a bit of a M.A.S.H. unit. While the Lions could ride the wave of their latest success to a second consecutive win I wouldn't bet the farm on that happening.  Even if the Bears are without all three of their starting LB's.

Defensive Line:  Alex Brown (ankle) missed Wednesday practice and while he was on the injury report last week and while he played he only recorded 1 solo tackle.  If you can you should leave Brown on your bench until he is closer to 100%.  On average the Lions are giving up just shy of 2 sacks per game so Adewale Ogunleye should be good play this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Alex Brown (ankle) is listed as Questionable on the injury report and had limited participation in Friday practice.

Linebacker:  First the Bears lost Brian Urlacher for the season due to a wrist injury.  Now Lance Briggs was reported to be in a boot and he also missed practice on Wednesday.  Then there is Urlacher's replacement, Hunter Hillenmeyer who missed practice on Wednesday due to a rib injury and is in danger of missing this weeks game.  If Hillenmeyer can't go Lovie Smith has said there is a good chance Nick Roach could start at MLB.  Let's not forget about Pisa Tinoisamoa who plays SLB also missed practice, due to a knee injury.  That would more than likely mean that Jamar Williams will get to play at SLB this weekend.  Basically, the LB core is a mess right now and playing any of them is a risky proposition.  Lance Briggs is easily the best start of the bunch but you will need to keep a close eye on the injury report, Friday practice report & game day inactives. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Hunter Hillenmeyer (rib) & Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) are listed as Doubtful on the injury report and both missed practice all week.  Lance Briggs (foot) is listed as Questionable on the injury report and had a limited participation in Friday practice.

Secondary: If the Bears have a band-aide at each starting LB spot you can expect the secondary to see a slight uptick in their opportunities. The problem is currently trying to figure out who is going to be the man in the secondary.  Charles Tillman has done it before and looks to be returning to his old form. 


Seattle at Indianapolis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Aaron Curry
3 STAR

Lofa Tatupu

2 STAR

Darryl Tapp
Lawrence Jackson
Will Herring

1 STAR
Deon Grant
Patrick Kerney
Jordan Babineaux

SeahawksSeattle is another team that has been hit hard by the injury bug and looks like they will continue to struggle until they get starting QB Matt Hasselbeck back. Seattle is normally a very difficult place to play and for a while it looked like the Seahawks actually were going to knock the Bears off but as we know they let the lead slip away late and were unable to respond.  This week it doesn't get any easier going to the Colts.

Defensive Line:  Patrick Kerney is the only defensive lineman to record a sack last week.  At this point in time Kerney is really the only safe DL play on the Seahawks because he is playing the majority of defensive snaps.  While Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson continue to play in a rotation which limits both of their opportunities.

Linebacker:  David Hawthorne really lit up the scoreboard while playing for injured MLB Lofa Tatupu.  However, Tatupu practiced fully on Wednesday and relegate Hawthorne back to a backup role. Just because Tatupu practiced fully you shouldn't cease keeping an eye on the injury report because it wouldn't be a surprise to hear that Tatupu tweaked his hammy again.  Leroy Hill remains OUT and rookie Aaron Curry should continue in his three down role.  Last week all Curry did was record 7 total tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble.  Expect better than average tackle numbers versus an Colts team that has given up 46 tackle opportunities on average and that includes the poor 15 TO's they gave up to Miami earlier in the year.

Secondary:  Last week was the first time in this young season that a DB didn't lead the Seahawks in tackles.  Josh Wilson started the season looking like a good starting option and then he got hurt.  Up stepped Jordan Babineaux who put up some decent stats and now Babineaux is hurt.  Wilson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice and Babineaux (shoulder) was a non-participant. Due to injury right now it would be best to stay away from the Seahawk defensive backs.

INJURY UPDATE: Jordan Babineaux (shoulder) is listed as Probable on the injury report after practicing fully on Thursday and Friday.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Antoine Bethea
Freddie Keiaho

3 STAR
Clint Session
Melvin Bullitt
Jerraud Powers
2 STAR
Robert Mathis
1 STAR
Tyjuan Hagler

Colts People are probably going to overlook just how impressive the Colts win was Sunday night versus the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals (they deserve to have the typed at least once this year) but they shouldn't as the Colts had to prepare on a short week and had to travel across the country too.  The Colts lie the Seahawks also have their own fare share of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.  While this matchup might seem like a bad one for Colt defenders it actually looks like a good matchup.  The Seahawks are giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities year to date.

Defensive Line:  Dwight Freeney will miss at least a few games due to a quadriceps injury.  That could spell bad news for Robert Mathis owners as he could see extra attention from double teams without the formidable pass rush of Freeney opposite him.  If Hasselbeck by some miraculous way is under center then you can push Mathis up to 3 stars due to a lack of mobility versus that of backup QB Seneca Wallace.

Linebacker:  Freddie Keiaho started at MLB in place of injured Gary Brackett.  Keiaho in previous seasons has manned the starting WLB slot for the Colts. If Brackett is going to miss more time don't be so quick to dismiss Keiaho's 4 tackles versus a Cardinal team that only ran the ball 12 times.  Brackett already has missed Wednesday's practice so if he doesn't practice on Friday Keiaho could be a slick move as he should put up 6+ tackles versus the Seahawks. Believe it or not both Clint Session and Tyjuan Hagler are both healthy but as far as fantasy relevance goes Session is the guy to own even after a zero solo, 2 assist game last week. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Gary Brackett (knee) is listed as Questionable on the injury report and he missed practice all week.

Secondary:  Another week will go by where the Colts will be without the services of Bob Sanders.  The Colts are also beat up at CB and that opened the door for rookie Jerraud Powers to play versus the Cardinals.  Seattle won't throw the ball much but if Powers does indeed end up starting you can bet the Hawks will try and pick on him.   Powers could very well lead the secondary in tackles for a second straight week.


Tennessee at Jacksonville

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Keith Bulluck
Stephen Tulloch
Chris Hope

2 STAR

David Thornton
Chris Gamble
Tony Brown
Kyle Vanden Bosch

1 STAR
Michael Griffin

TitansIn last weeks article I said the Titans were in dire need of a win or they would equal their 2008 loss total in their first 3 games this year.  Well as you know they have equalled that total and now are in an even more dire need of a win.  Coach Fisher says he is standing behind starting QB Kerry Collins but the truth is that the defense will need to step up and hold MJD in check if they Titans want to log their first win of 2009.

Defensive Line: Defensive line play by the Titans hasn't really been anything to write home about. Kyle Vanden Bosch has not returned to the dominate DE that he once was and while Tony Brown has been an OK play in DT mandatory leagues he too hasn't been very consistent.  As the season wears on I think we will continue to see just how much Albert Haynesworth is missed by this defense.

Linebacker: The ailments on the defensive line have been somewhat of a boon for the linebackers.  The big news outside of Keith Bulluck recording 12 total tackles this past weekend is that David Thornton is playing in the nickel again.  That is worth keeping an eye on as it could negatively impact what Stephen Tulloch is able to do going forward.  Tulloch still led the team with 7 solos last week while he gave way to Thornton but if you see a dip in his numbers you will now understand why. This week the Titans face a Jaguar team that is giving up on average 44 tackle opportunities per game.  Last week the Jets gave up 48 tackle opportunities so production levels should remain pretty similar.

Secondary: Chris Hope and Nick Harper led the secondary last week with 5 solo tackles each.  Hope continues to be a solid play at the DB position.  Cortland Finnegan has proven to be a good play in both DB and CB mandatory leagues but this week he sat out Wednesday's practice due to an injured hamstring. Hamstrings can be dicey things to deal with so leave Finnegan on your bench until we know for certain he is operating at 100%.

INJURY UPDATE:  Cortland Finnegan (hamstring) is listed as Doubtful on the injury report and he did not practice all week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Justin Durant
3 STAR
Daryl Smith
Derek Cox
Gerald Alexander
2 STAR

Rashean Mathis

1 STAR
Sean Considine
Quentin Groves
Derrick Harvey

JaguarsThe Jaguars were staring an 0-3 start in the face as they headed to Houston to face the Texans last week.  However, their offense, better known as MJD carried the team to a win.  The defense really didn't do much but they did make a play at the goal line to force a turnover that ended up being the difference in the game.  Also it should be noted that it looks as if the Jaguars have officially converted to a 3-4 defense.  Thru 3 weeks to start the season approximately 78% of their defensive snaps have been in a 3-4 defense.

Defensive Line:  The Jaguars transition to the 3-4 has basically rendered their defensive linemen useless for fantasy purposes.  Look elsewhere if you need help on the DL. 

Linebacker: Justin Durant continues to just plug along.  Durant is coming off of an 8 tackle performance that led the team last week.  The Titans on average are giving up 46 tackle opportunities per game and Durant netted his production last week on 48 TO's so look for a similar production level this week.  Darryl Smith also continues to be productive as he recorded 7 total tackles versus the Texans last week.  Smith also added a forced fumble to help pad his fantasy stats. He isn't very flashy but he has been solid so far this year.

Secondary: The Jaguars secondary had a ho hum day in week 3 even with Matt Schaub putting the ball in the air 36 times for 300 yards.  The Titans aren't a prolific passing team so I would temper expectations for Rashean Mathis & Derek Cox this week.  Also, Sean Considine missed practice on Wednesday with a groin injury.

INJURY UPDATE:  Sean Considine (groin) is listed as Doubtful on the injury report and he did not practice all week.


NY Giants at Kansas City

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Osi Umenyiora

2 STAR

Antonio Pierce      
Michael Boley
Michael Johnson
Mathias Kiwanuka

1 STAR
Aaron Rouse

GiantsThe Giants defense gets what should be another cupcake of an opponent which bodes well for their fans but not the best for Giants IDP owners. Last week versus the Chiefs the Eagles pulled many of their defensive starters early in the 4th quarter.  Don't be surprised to see the Giants doing the same thing this week if they too blow out the Chiefs, like they should.

Defensive Line:   Justin Tuck dressed for last weeks game but he only played in 8 snaps.  Tuck's shoulder kept him out of Wednesday's practice so monitor the injury report before you consider inserting Tuck into your starting lineup.  Normally, I would say to keep a close eye on the game day inactives but like last week Tuck could be dressed and still not see much playing time.  If he practices Friday and is active then consider putting him in your lineup but if he doesn't practice on Friday leave him on your bench until further notice.  Last week Osi Umenyiora put up a big old goose egg for his owners and we all know just how much a goose egg hurts.  The thing is with Osi is that he is a stud and you just need to keep plugging and playing him.  When a team only completes 11 passes and runs the ball 10 times it is going to be hard for even someone like Chuck Norris or Tedy Bruschi to put up solid fantasy stats.

INJURY UPDATE:  Justin Tuck (shoulder) is listed as Probably on the injury report and fully participated in Friday practice.

Linebacker:  The ineptness of the Tampa Bay offense last week rendered all of the Giants LBs worthless.  This week's matchup isn't much better but I doubt it can be as bad as last weeks.  If you have some depth you really should look at sitting both Michael Boley and Antonio Pierce this week. 

Secondary:   Last week the inept Chiefs offense limited safety Quintin Mikell of the Eagles to just 4 solo tackles and no other secondary player had more.  This week shouldn't be any better for the Giants secondary and to make matters worse you don't know how or if the Giants will integrate Packers castoff Aaron Rouse into their game plan. Both CB's Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery were limited in Wednesday's practice due to hamstring issues.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Mike Brown 
Demorrio Williams

3 STAR
Brandon Flowers
2 STAR

Derrick Johnson
Tank Tyler
Brandon Carr

1 STAR
Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Glenn Dorsey
Tyson Jackson

ChiefsThe only thing the Chiefs really have going for them this week versus last week is that they will at least be in the friendly confines  of their home stadium.  However, as far as IDP performance goes facing a Giants team that likes to run the ball should bode better for you if you own any Chiefs IDPs.  The Giants are ranked 2nd in tackle opportunities allowing almost 20% more tackle opportunities then the NFL historical average.  Now to figure out if and who is safe to start in Chiefs land.

Defensive Line: Tank Tyler still ranks first in tackles among NFL defensive tackles but his 3 solo effort versus the Eagles isn't the sort of production you want from a plug and play DT.  Tyler got a great start to the year but you can't expect him to keep up the pace he was at.  He should be a good play this week in DT mandatory leagues but be forewarned that last weeks 3 tackle game was not something to blow off. I warned you earlier in the season that this scheme will make it difficult to rely on Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson and in week three the two of them putt up a grand total of zero tackles.

Linebacker: If we can end up with a good read of who is going to get solid playing time at the ILB positions for the Chiefs then there could be some nice value to have.  Demorrio Williams had a great stat line but I am still concerned that he isn't really a very good NFL LB. I keep pimping Derrick Johnson and that is because I think he will eventually find his way back into the starting lineup and at that point could be a gem of a find.  Last week Johnson was inactive but this week he is listed as having had a full participation in practice on Wednesday.  Corey Mays could see an uptick in snaps with the release of veteran Monty Beisel.  If it is announced that Derrick Johnson is going to start then move him up to 4 star and bump Williams down to a 2 star play.

Secondary: Mike Brown had a poor 3 solo effort last week versus the Eagles but this week expect him and CB Brandon Flowers to be pretty busy in run support.  Flowers is a better start in CB mandatory leagues but if you find yourself in a pinch feel free to run him out in DB leagues too.


Tampa Bay at Washington

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Barrett Ruud
3 STAR

Sabby Piscitelli
Geno Hayes

2 STAR
Ronde Barber
Aqib Talib
1 STAR

Quincy Black
Gaines Adams

BuccaneersThe Buccaneers are not a good team right now.  Actually, they are pretty darned bad as can be seen by the paltry 86 yards of offense they put up last week.  Yes, you read that right 86 total yards (58 passing yards & 28 rushing yards) for the entire game.  Not a quarter or one drive, the entire game.  This is where most people might say well this is the kind of team that the Redskins need to face to get a win to even their season record at 2-2.  Except I say Redskins just might be the type of team the Buccaneers need to face to get their first win of the season.  After all the Redskins allowed the Detroit Lions to get not just their first win of the season but their first win since week 16 of 2007.

Defensive Line: Last week Gaines Adams owners had to worry about how he would respond to being called out.  Well this week Adams owners need to worry about the injury report since he has missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices.  I will preach to be patient with Adams before you throw in the towel on him but this week looks like he should be on the shelf due to injury concerns.  Stylez White starts opposite of Adams on the Tampa DL but doesn't even deserve a spot on fantasy benches. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Gaines Adams (groin) is listed as Questionable on the injury report and had limited participation in practice on Friday.

Linebacker:  Last week I suggested that Barrett Ruud owners stay away from the ledge and said that he would bounce back.  He sure liked be ranked a 5 Star play because he led the the team with 14 tackles (10 solo, 4 assists).  This week Ruud should still be in lineups but if the Washington offense struggles it could limit is opportunities a bit.  Geno Hayes isn't going to put up Derrick Brooks type numbers in this defense but he should remain a viable LB3 with some upside as a LB2 at times.

Secondary:  While Sabby Piscitelli has been pure gold for his fantasy owners I can't help but have some fear with regards to how poor his NFL play is.  Ride Sabby while you can but keep an eye and ear open to make sure he doesn't at some point end up his coaches doghouse. Thru three weeks only Giants safety Michael Johnson and Rams cornerback Ronald Bartell have recorded more than 5 solo tackles versus the Redskins so temper your expectations from Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Andre Carter
3 STAR

London Fletcher
Reed Doughty

2 STAR

Rocky McIntosh

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo
Chris Horton
Albert Haynesworth

RedskinsLast week I started the Redskins breakdown with "sure the Redskins almost lost to the Rams" and this week I am starting with, this week the Redskins almost lost to the Lions. Oops, sorry about that, I mean the Redskins LOST to the Lions.  I know a few Redskins fans and to say they have looked dejected this week is putting it mildly.  Well the good news for Redskins fans is that the media is starting to buzz with rumors that Mike Shanahan might be getting a call sooner rather than later.

Defensive Line:  Albert Haynesworth gave Redskins fans and IDP owners a scare last week when he left the field with an injury.  He did end up returning to the game.  The injury was called a gluteal injury or to put as Forrest Gump would, he hurt his buttocks and it has kept him from practicing.  In DT mandatory leagues look elsewhere for help this week.  Andre Carter ranks 5th in tackles by a defensive end in the NFL and also has 1 sack a pass defended and a forced fumble so he remains a solid play as a DL1/2 in most leagues.  This week he faces an inexperienced Josh Johnson who is making his first NFL start at QB and even in limited opportunities should fare very well.

INJURY UPDATE:  Albert Haynesworth (glute) is listed as Probable on the injury report and practiced fully on Friday.

Linebacker:  London Fletcher is still a stud and there really isn't any other way to put it.  The only thing that looks like it will slow Fletcher down is a lack of tackle opportunities and then he will still probably put up solid numbers. At this point in time don't even think about it just keep Fletcher in your lineup. Coming into the season I really thought that the addition of Haynesworth would limit Fletcher's production and so far I have been wrong.  Rocky McIntosh has been solid posting at least 5 total tackles in each game this year.  He isn't flashing some of those big games we have seen in previous seasons from him but he is startable as a LB3 with some upside based on matchup.

Secondary:  If you are a Chris Horton owner and are scratching your head trying to figure out why Horton only recorded 3 solos and 1 assist while Reed Doughty was able to put  up 6 solos with 1 assist.  Scratch your head no more, the reason is that Horton was benched again and replaced by Doughty.  Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache has already stated that Horton is not being replaced in the starting lineup by Doughty so if you are looking to make a waiver acquisition Doughty is someone to look at.   


Baltimore at New England

5 STAR
Ray Lewis
4 STAR
Terrell Suggs
3 STAR
Brendon Ayanbadejo
2 STAR

Tavares Gooden
Haloti Ngata
Kelly Gregg

1 STAR
Ed Reed

RavensThe Ravens sure do look like they are for real and this should be a statement game as to just how for real they are.  If you are a Ravens IDP owner you have to be happy when you realize the Patriots present the 2nd most tackle opportunities per game.  The twist is that the Ravens have faced the 3rd fewest tackle opportunities so far this season.  The question to ask is, is the Ravens defense so good that it is limiting their tackle opportunities or was it the teams they faced?  My answer would be the teams they faced but this weeks matchup should go a long way in helping to answer the question based on the numbers.

Defensive Line:  Tom Brady doesn't look as well protected as he did back in 2007 when it seemed like no one ever even got a finger nail on him.  That is outside of the Giants in the Super Bowl.  Still, Suggs is a stud that you just have to plug and play no matter if Brady were getting protection like 2007 or not.  Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg are both options in DT mandatory leagues but if the Patriots are forced to sling the ball all day it could severely limit their fantasy effectiveness.  

 

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis should be a top play at LB this week but the sneaky play is starting Brendon Ayanbadejo.  I know you are scratching your head because Tavares Gooden is the starter and Ayanbadejo is a reserve but Ayanbadejo is seeing a very good portion of snaps in 3 WR sets.  Just look at what a LB like Keith Ellison did versus the Patriots due to the nickel snaps he played in.  Ellison logged 16 total tackles, now I am not saying that is what Ayanbadejo will do but if you are in a bind at LB or in deeper leagues the brazen move would be to run him out there this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Tavares Gooden (shoulder, head) is listed on the injury report as having limited participation in Friday's practice.

Secondary:  Last week safety Ed Reed did the two things he does best. One he added to his career interception total and the other thing was to log less than 5 tackles again.

5 STAR
Gary Guyton
4 STAR
Brandon Meriweather
3 STAR
Adalius Thomas
Leigh Bodden
2 STAR

Derrick Burgess
Ty Warren
Pierre Woods
James Sanders
Mike Wright
Patrick Chung

1 STAR
Shawn Springs

PatriotsI still think Patriots fans have something to worry about with their team.  Up six points on the visiting Falcons with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter and facing a 4th and one from their own 24 yard line, Coach Belichick decided to go for the first down. A head scratcher for sure.  In he end it led to a field goal but I think it is pretty easy to see that Belichick felt some sort of desperation to go for it at that point in the game.  These definitely are not your 2007 New England Patriots. 

Defensive Line:  Big news on the defensive line is that DT Vince Wilfork has missed both Wednesday and Thursday practice. Wilfork will probably need to practice on Friday to play versus the Ravens.  Unless you are strapped at DL you should really look at other options this week. I wouldn't expect much from any of the other Patriots DL this week either.

INJURY UPDATE:  Vince Wilfork (ankle) & Mike Wright (shoulder) were both listed on the injury report as having limited participation in practice on Friday.

Linebacker:  Jerod Mayo is still not practicing so that means Gary Guyton gets the start against a Ravens team that is giving up the most tackles opportunities per game.  Adalius Thomas probably won't make much noise with his pass rush this week but he should be a solid LB2 this week on the tackles he should rack up. 

INJURY UPDATE: Jerod Mayo (knee) is listed on the injury report as having limited participation in practice on Friday.

Secondary:  Brandon Meriweather was an injury concern last week but he did end up playing.  While he still hasn't recorded more than 3 solo tackles in a game yet he did log 7 total tackles which means he is around the ball carrier.  This game could easily be his best of the season. 

 


Oakland at Houston

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Kirk Morrison
Thomas Howard
Tyvon Branch 
Greg Ellis

2 STAR
Richard Seymour
Michael Huff           
1 STAR
Ricky Brown

RaidersThe "Black Hole" would be a great place for the Raiders to go. No wait, let's make that where Al Davis should go.  This team isn't very good on offense and that is OK because that bodes well for Raiders IDP owners.  The Raiders are the league leader in tackle opportunities faced. They are facing almost 20% more tackle opportunities than the leagues historical average.

Defensive Line: Just about when Greg Ellis was probably being picked off of many waiver wires he put up his biggest clunker of the year with just 2 solo tackles.  The Texans have given up multiple sacks in 2 of their 3 games so there is some hope that Ellis could have a rebound week.

Linebacker: Kirk Morrison put together another solid week with 9 total tackles and looks like he is returning to a plug and play LB.  Thomas Howard is also continuing with his solid season and can still remain in lineups as a LB2. 

Secondary:  SS Tyvon Branch is 3rd among NFL defensive backs with 25 total tackles and should be busy versus the Houston passing attack.  Michael Huff will have his stats limited because he is playing Free Safety but if you are in a big play league Huff is worth a look as a starter this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Mario Williams
3 STAR
DeMeco Ryans
2 STAR
Amobi Okoye
Zac Diles
Dominique Rodgers
Dunta Robinson
Antonio Smith
1 STAR
Connor Barwin

TexansThe Houston "Sibyls" just might end up being a name that sticks. The Texans can't afford to not get a win at homer versus the lowly Raiders.  At least if they still have hopes of competing for a playoff spot this year.  This week looks to present some tough sledding for Texans IDPs as they face a Raiders team that is giving up the fewest tackle opportunities per game. Only 3 players have racked up more than 5 solo tackles versus the Raiders this year (DJ Williams 7, Tank Tyler 7 & Stephen Cooper 13).

Defensive Line:  Due to tackle opportunities Mario Williams isn't really a strong play but I still expect him to make the most of limited opportunities so you have to plug him in and hope he can get to Jamarcus Russell, which I think he will.  If you are in a deeper league and have been starting Antonio Smith you will want to make sure you keep him on the bench this week.  That is unless you can live with what could be a 1 solo, 1 sack type day or worse.

Linebacker:  DeMeco Ryans only put up 4 solos with 2 assists last week versus a Jaguars team that is giving up almost 10% more tackle opportunities than the Raiders.  This is the week if you have better a better matchup with one of your depth LBs that you should look at starting them over Ryans.

Secondary:  The only thing to keep an eye on in the Texans secondary this week is to see how newly acquired Bernard Pollard is being used.  Versus the challenged Raiders offense I wouldn't start any Texan defensive backs.


Cincinnati at Cleveland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Antwan Odom

3 STAR
Keith Rivers
2 STAR
Dhani Jones
Roy Williams
Leon Hall
Johnathan Joseph
1 STAR
Rey Maualuga
Domata Peko

BengalsThe Bengals shocked many in the football world with their 23-20 win versus the Steelers last week.  This week with a win versus the Browns and a Ravens loss to the Patriots the Bengals will be in a tie for first place in their division with 25% of the season completed.  Unfortunately, for Bengal IDP owners their players get to face a Cleveland Browns team that is offering up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities per game in the league.

Defensive Line:  Browns LT Joe Thomas held Jared Allen in check back in week one but Elvis Dumervil exploded for 4 sacks versus the Browns in week 2.  So basically what that says it that who knows what Antwan Odom is going to do this weekend.  I would probably run Odom out in my starting lineup but there is some risk of a flop like Allen had in week 1.

INJURY UPDATE: Domata Peko is listed as Questionable on the injury report but had a full participation in Friday's practice.

Linebacker: Both Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones had solid performances last week versus the Steelers.  This week temper expectations because of limited opportunities.  Ray Lewis was only able to put up 3 solo tackles versus the Browns if you need a point of reference.

Secondary:  Roy Williams was the top tackler in the secondary versus the Steelers with 7 total tackles but just like the LBs you have to temper expectations this week and really look for other options in what looks to be a very bad matchup.

INJURY UPDATE: Roy Williams (forearm) & Johnathan Joseph are listed as Questionable on the injury report.  Joseph participated fully in Friday's practice but Williams is listed as having limited participation.

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

Kamerion Wimbley
Brodney Pool

1 STAR

David Bowens
Kenyon Coleman

BrownsBrowns defenders faced a great matchup last week and while this weeks matchup isn't as strong on paper I would expect the Bengals to really try to establish the run and that should mean good things for a few Browns IDPs.  The Browns have faced the 3rd most tackle opportunities in the league and that is largely due to their struggles on offense.  To try and fix the offense Coach Mangini is benching Brady Quinn in favor of Derek Anderson.  I highly doubt it makes a difference but hey they don't call him Mangenius for nothing or do they?

Defensive Line:  Shaun Rogers put up a pedestrian 3 solo tackles this past week yet still is 3rd overall among NFL DTs.  In DT mandatory leagues Rogers is still a solid start.  Corey Williams missed practice on Thursday and Kenyon Coleman how missed practice on Wednesday participated in practice on Thursday but it was in a limited fashion.

Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson posted 11 total tackles last week and should be another good start this week.  Kamerion Wimbley surprised last week with 5 solo tackles and a sack but banking on that type of production weekly isn't a wise proposition. 

Secondary:  If you are looking for a big name in the Browns secondary you aren't going to find one but if you are looking for solid DB1 production then Abram Elam is your man. Brodney Pool and the rest of the Browns secondary will probably be limited by the lack of passing that the Bengals will need to do to secure their 3rd win of the season.


Buffalo at Miami

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Aaron Schobel
George Wilson

3 STAR

Kawika Mitchell
Marcus Buggs
Terrence McGee
Chris Kelsay

2 STAR
Keith Ellison
Donte Whitner
1 STAR
Marcus Stroud

BillsThe Bills have been slammed by injuries this year and that makes for rough sledding for good teams let alone young teams like the Bills.  The Bills defense did a great job keeping Drew Brees in check last week so facing Chad Henne shouldn't worry them to much but facing the Dolphins running game is another thing.  Last week Pierre Thomas saved the day for the Saints and both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will try to do the same for the Dolphins.

Defensive Line:  The defensive line is really about the only place the Bills haven't been hit hard by injury.  I would expect Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay to have very productive days this weekend.

Linebacker:  This could be the week that Marcus Buggs makes a big splash in the box score.  I would expect to see very little 3+ WR sets by the Dolphins which should keep Buggs on the field for more plays in a base defense.  Expect Keith Ellison to see limited opportunities versus what should be a less than stellar Dolphins passing attack.

Secondary:  This week the Bills secondary will be minus a few starters.  Bryan Scott will miss this week with a bum ankle and is being replaced by George Wilson.  Scott will make his way back to the starting lineup at some point but that won't happen for starting CB Leodis McKelvin who broke his leg and has been placed on injured reserve.  Drayton Florence will replace McKelvin in the starting lineup.

INJURY UPDATE:  Bryan Scott (ankle) and Donte Whitner (thumb) are both listed as OUT on this weeks official injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Gibril Wilson
Yeremiah Bell
Channing Crowder

2 STAR

Akin Ayodele

1 STAR
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter
Sean Smith
Vontae Davis

DolphinsThe Dolphins lost Chad Pennington for the year in last weeks game versus the Chargers.  Look for the Dolphins to lean heavily on their running game which very well could eat a ton of the clock and limit the time and opportunities their defenders have to make tackles and plays.  Ted Ginn owners should be a bit excited to see what Chad Henne and his arm can do for the long ball.

Defensive Line:  Same story just a different week, there is no fantasy relevance on the Dolphins DL.  Yes, that even means that Kendal Langford and his 4 solo tackles and sack from last week should remain on your bench, no nix that, he should actually be on your waiver wire.

Linebacker:  Channing Crowder posted a respectable 6 total tackles last week and looks to be a solid start as a LB3 this week.  If you think Henne will hold the ball to long and be indecisive then Jason Taylor could be a solid play as long as he logs a sack but I think it would be best to leave Taylor out of starting lineups.  Joey Porter is another LB that has more value in big play leagues but he has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to injury.

INJURY UPDATE:  Joey Porter (hamstring) is listed as Questionable on the official injury report.  He did not participate in practice at all this week.

Secondary:  Both Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson were drafted as top options at DB for this season but it is Bell that is living up to that status while Wilson is startable but not studly like many had hoped. 


NYJets at New Orleans

5 STAR
David Harris
4 STAR
Bart Scott
3 STAR
Kerry Rhodes
2 STAR
Kris Jenkins
Dwight Lowery
Jim Leonhard
Darrell Revis
1 STAR

Vernon Gholston

JetsThe Jets and their defense are for real. Coach Ryan has this team believing in itself and winning games that many counted as losses when the schedule was released.  This week the Jets will get a real test as they travel to New Orleans to face a highly potent Saints offense.  Sure the Bills did a very good job keeping Drew Brees in check but doing the same in the New Orleans will be a bit more difficult for the Jets.  Good news is that the Saints present the 2nd best tackle matchup for a team to face.

Defensive Line:  Last week was the first week that a DL posted more than 3 solo tackles versus the Saints so the odds are that Kris Jenkins and the rest of the Jets DL will be irrelevant fantasy wise this weekend.

Linebacker: The Saints have given up 9 total tackles to one opposing LB in each of their 1st 3 games.  So look for David Harris to have a huge double digit tackle game this weekend.  Bart Scott should be serviceable as a LB3. 

Secondary:  The Saints have also given up double digit tackles to a DB each week except for last week where Bryan Scott was held to 8 total tackles.  Jim Leonard missed some practice this week and could be limited so that could open the door for Kerry Rhodes to put up solid stats like he did in week 2.  Lito Sheppard looks like he will be a go for Sunday and if that is the case then move him up to a 3 Star play.  Darrell Revis is establishing himself as one of the leagues best shutdown corners and that will just limit the amount of times QBs test him. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Lito Sheppard (quadricep) & Donald Strickland (ankle) have both been ruled OUT for this week's game.

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

Jabari Greer
Darren Sharper
Will Smith
Charles Grant

1 STAR
Sedrick Ellis
Kendrick Clancey
Scott Fujita

SaintsThis game has all the makings of one of the best games of the week. Sure the Saints passing offense was frustrated last week in Buffalo but expecting the Saints to be held in check for two consecutive weeks seems like a stretch.  Still the Jets have a fantastic defense and will give the Saints all they can handle.  What is much more surprising isn't how well the Saints offense is performing but how well their defense is playing overall. With regards to the defense their defenders will be facing a Jets team that is giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities per game.

Defensive Line:  Will Smith and Charles Grant broke out of their funk last week, combining for 8 total tackles, 2 1/2 sacks with a forced fumble.  Just don't get to happy because that was against a Bills OL that is far from superior.  This week won't be as productive for the duo but we have to hope they don't end up looking like they were suspended.

INJURY UPDATE:  Kendrick Clancy (knee) has been ruled OUT versus the Jets.

Linebacker: The Saints are playing more and more 3-4 sets and that could be exactly why Jonathan Vilma has been struggling to post stud like tackle numbers.  If the Saints stay committed to the 3-4 you have to wonder what that will do to Vilma's psyche after what he went thru in NY with the Jets when they switched to a 3-4 defense.  Scott Shanle is on pace to record just shy of 120 total tackles so I suggest you ride him while he is still hot, especially in a matchup that looks to be as strong as the one the Jets present.

Secondary:  Roman Harper is tied for 3rd in tackles among safeties in the NFL and remains a solid DB1 in all leagues.  If you are in CB mandatory leagues Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer will remain solid options as long as the Saints are putting up big points and forcing their competition to throw the ball in catchup mode.


Dallas at Denver

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
Gerald Sensabaugh
Bradie James
3 STAR
DeMarcus Ware
Jay Ratliff
Terrence Newman
2 STAR

Anthony Spencer
Ken Hamlin

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysThe Cowboys got he monkey off their back and secured their 1st win in their new digs.  Still Cowboy fans know that their team has issues that need to be corrected if they are going to challenge for a playoff spot this year.  Last week the Cowboys best weapon was QB Jake Delhomme and well that doesn't really say much for the Cowboys offense.

Defensive Line:  Jay Ratliff remains a top option in DT mandatory leagues but the rest of the Dallas defensive line still remains an afterthought to fantasy GMs.

Linebacker:  Last week I had Bradie James ranked as a 5 Star play and I am sure that his 3 solo, 3 assist performance wasn't what his owners were expecting.  Well it wasn't what I was expecting either but considering the Panthers only ran the ball 16 times being involved in 6 tackles isn't anything to sneeze at.  The Broncos have been giving up above average tackle numbers but just barely above average. We are thru three weeks of the season and DeMarcus Ware has yet to register a single sack.  Players like Ware can be streaky with their sacks and because they also rely so much on sacks to put up fantasy points is why they are risky fantasy starts.  Keith Brooking should be a solid LB3 most weeks but this week will probably be a week you should leave him on your bench.

Secondary:  The Broncos tend to give up bigger tackle numbers to opposing strong safeties so look for Gerald Sensabaugh to have a very good game this week.

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

Elvis Dumervil

1 STAR
Champ Bailey

BroncosThe Broncos are 3-0.  No, seriously the Broncos sit atop their division after three weeks without a single defeat.  One of the wins came against what looks to be a very solid Bengals team (just ignore that once in a lifetime bounce they got) but their other 2 wins are against the Browns and Raiders.  I would say that the bigger surprise isn't that they are 3-0 but that their defense is playing as well as it is. This week the defense faces a Cowboys team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line:  In Mike Nolan's 3-4 the defensive line isn't highlighted with regards to the box score.  The play up front sets the tone for the rest of the defense and the DLs play is  easily one of the most surprising things so far this season.

Linebacker:  DJ Williams owners have to be a bit frustrated but just remember that so far the Broncos have faced the 4th fewest tackle opportunities in the league this year.  Sure Andra Davis has done a bit more on those same TO's but both should see improved tackle opportunities as the season progresses. The Dallas running game is a bit banged up so expecting a heavy dose of runs is probably out of the question this week.  Elvis Dumervil is a good football player and can get after the QB but I repeat if you try to rely on him as anything more than a LB4 on a weekly basis you are going to be sorely disappointed more often than not.  OLB rush LBs in a 3-4 defense can put up big sack numbers but they aren't very consistent with tackles and when the sacks aren't there neither is their fantasy production.

Secondary:  The Broncos may not be a big rival of the Cowboys but you can bet your bottom dollar that Brian Dawkins will bring the same fire he brought to the Cowboys like when he was a member of the Eagles.  Dawkins seems to have found London Fletcher's fountain of youth so ride him while his wheels are still on.  You just know that he is going to get to Romo on a blitz call.


St. Louis at San Francisco

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Oshiomogho Atogwe
James Laurinaitis

2 STAR
Will Witherspoon 
Ronald Bartell
Craig Dahl
Chris Long
1 STAR
Leonard Little
Paris Lenon

RamsThe Rams are still in search of their first win and looking for it against what looks to be a very solid San Francisco squad means they will probably still be looking for that first win when they finish playing on Sunday.  The Rams defenders have faced the 2nd most tackle opportunities in the league so far but this week they face a Niners team that will be without RB Frank Gore and that wont help the below average number of tackle opportunities that the Niners normally give up.  If Gore were healthy and playing I would probably be bumping up most Rams one star level.

Defensive Line:  Last week looked to be a juicy matchup for Chris Long owners but all he could muster was 4 total tackles without recording a sack but if you got Leonard Little into your lineup you saw him rack up 2 tackles with 2 sacks.  This week I would look for other options if you have them at DL.

Linebacker:  James Laurinaitis had the worst game of his young career last week but he should rebound and be a solid start this week but his upside is probably going to be limited some.  David Vobora will miss this week's game due to suspension and he looks to be replaced in the starting lineup by former Lion Paris Lenon.

Secondary:  Don't get used to seeing Oshiomogho Atogwe have such a poor performance as he did last week.  It surely will not be the norm with him.  He is safe to be a plug and play DB that you don't really need to think about. James Butler left the game due to injury and was replaced last week by Craig Dahl and this week Dahl will start in Butler's place too.  In deeper leagues Dahl can be looked at as a DB3.

INJURY UPDATE:  James Butler (knee) is listed as OUT on the official injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Patrick Willis
2 STAR
Michael Lewis
1 STAR
Justin Smith
Nate Clements
Takeo Spikes

49ersSan Francisco has nothing to hand their heads about as they are playing very good football and were just a Brett Favre miracle away from being 3-0.  Coach Singletary basically told his team that they will get a chance at retribution later this year (meaning the playoffs).  I for one think that is a distinct possibility too.  As for the fantasy side of this game versus the Rams IDP GMs need to temper their expectations since the Rams rank 3rd worst in tackle opportunities allowed.

Defensive Line:  The Niners DL has been basically invisible fantasy wise and this week really shouldn't be any different.  As hard as it probably is to admit it, Justin Smith is not consistently going to put up fantasy relevant numbers this year.

Linebacker:  If you were ever going to think about benching Patrick Willis this would be the week to do so.  The Rams are a team that is in shambles on the offensive side of the ball and Willis will be lucky if he is able to log 5 solos this week.  I initially ranked Willis a 2 Star play but the truth is that you really can't bench a guy like Willis but you should be ready for one of his worst performances of the year.

Secondary:  Michael Lewis is another player that is normally a very safe start but this week is easily worth benching versus the Rams.  Nate Clements continues to be a top notch CB but he too will be severely limited by a passing attack that looks like it will be led by Kyle Boller.  Yep, I said Kyle Boller.


San Diego at Pittsburgh

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Eric Weddle
Stephen Cooper
3 STAR

Quentin Jammer
Kevin Burnett

2 STAR
Clinton Hart  
1 STAR

Shawne Merriman

In recent years the Chargers have been slow starters at times so their 2-1 record isn't all that bad but the thing that has to sting is that they sit in second place in their division 1 game back of the Denver Broncos. Just like last year you can expect the Broncos to falter and the Chargers to ascend to the top of their division.  However, the loss of Jamal Williams from the middle of their defense won't make things any easier.  This week expect good performances from the Charges top IDPs.

Defensive Line:  If you are looking for DL help from the Chargers you need to go find a white flag and start to waive it. Seriously, there is zero fantasy value on the Chargers DL.

Linebacker:  Stephen Cooper put up really good numbers last year when he returned from a league induced suspension and this year he has picked up where he left off.  So far Cooper ranks in the top 10 among NFL LBs in tackles and is on pace for 149 total tackles.  Kevin Burnett was on many peoples sleeper list and for the first couple of weeks looked like he was just asleep but last week he led the team with 13 total tackles and a sack. Don't expect those numbers weekly but if Burnett is getting comfortable in his role he could easily be a LB2 going forward.

INJURY UPDATE:  Shawne Merriman (groin) is listed as Questionable on the injury report but he participated fully in practice on Friday.

Secondary:  Eric Weddle is among the top 5 in tackles by defensive backs and last week he added an INT for a TD to his box score too.  With all the tackles that Weddle racks up those big plays are just gravy and the type of things that can put a team over the top (yes, Eric Weddle helped my competitor give me my 1st loss of the season last week in one of my leagues).  The Steelers have put the ball in the air at least 35 times each game so far this year so Quentin Jammer should get a fare share of opportunities to make plays this week.  In a CB mandatory league Jammer is a bit better of a play but is still a DB3 in most leagues this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
James Farrior
3 STAR
Ryan Clark
2 STAR

James Harrison
Lawrence Timmons
Lamar Woodley
Tyrone Carter

1 STAR
Brett Keisel
Casey Hampton

SteelersThe Steelers had better make sure they aren't still in shock from losing to the Bengals last week or they could easily be staring at a .500 record by the end of Sunday.  Defensively, they are facing a Chargers team that has given up below average tackle opportunities but just barely below average. 

Defensive Line: The Steelers defensive line is big part of their success but fantasy wise they are just like the Chargers DL and hold little to no fantasy value at all.  If you need to start any of the Steeler DL you had better be in an extremely deep league.

Linebacker:  Lawrence Timmons finally found his way back into the starting lineup but was anything but spectacular with a paltry 3 solo tackles.  The Steelers really do have one of the most talented LB corps in the entire NFL but they are struggling to light up the box score like many are used to.  James Farrior is by far the safest start of the bunch but don't be surprised if James Harrison or even Lamar Woodley go off in any given week and log multiple sacks with some additional big plays.

Secondary:  It is very apparent that he Steelers severely miss Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu.  Good news is that Troy says he could be ready to play soon and for the Steelers yesterday isn't soon enough.  With Polamalu out Ryan Clark presents as a DB2/3.


Green Bay at Minnesota

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

AJ Hawk

2 STAR

Nick Barnett
Brandon Chillar
Aaron Kampman
Al Harris

1 STAR

Nick Collins
Charles Woodson
Cullen Jenkins

PackersWho really wants to talk about defense in this matchup?  I mean we know it is all about Brett Favre returning home and no other story line matters.  What should be interesting is what headlines we will see on Tuesday morning depending on who wins this game. 

Defensive Line:  Cullen Jenkins has missed practice this week and could be a risky start because of it. If you are short at DL and need to run Jenkins out there you really need to look at the Friday practice report and game day inactives if he misses practice on Friday.  Still there should be better options on your waiver wire if nee be.

Linebacker: Nick Barnett has been on a snap count coming back from last years injury.  During the 1st two weeks Barnett was being rotated on series to limit his snaps and he was finding it hard to get into a rhythm. Last week the Packers had Barnett on a snap count too but instead of rotating series just left him in until he hit his snap count and he responded much better putting up 6 total tackles.  Until he is taken off his snap count you should leave him on your bench.  AJ Hawk has also struggled this year due to the rotation among all the Packers LBs but this past week he had a great 10 tackle performance which was actually one more tackle then he had logged in the first two weeks combined.  The Packers should see their fare share of Adrian Peterson this week but starting Brandon Chillar, Aaron Kampman or any  other LB is a risky proposition.

Secondary: Charles Woodson has been the best Packers secondary player but he missed practice this week due to a foot injury.  The Vikings don't really present much of a passing threat and if Woodson is slowed by a bad wheel he becomes a risky play this week.  Atari Bigby has been ruled out for this weeks game with a knee injury.

 

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

VikingsSo who thinks that a schism still exists in the Vikings locker room?  Funny what a miracle game winning TD pass can do for team chemistry.  Like it or not Brett Favre does make the Vikings a favorite to make the Super Bowl for the NFC.  This game versus the Packers is big for Favre but I can't wait to see when he returns to Green Bay.

Defensive Line:  You don't really need me to tell you to start Jared Allen because this is a very nice matchup, do you?  Well just in case you said yes, the Packers are giving up an average of 4 sacks per game. Look for Ray Edwards to bounce back from his worst performance of the year too.

Linebacker:  EJ Henderson was a risky start last week because he was missing time at practice due to injury and well all he did was start and put up 13 total tackles.  Henderson, as long as he is healthy and by that I mean in the starting lineup is someone that you just keep in your starting lineup.  Chad Greenway has been solid but doesn't rack up big tackles like Henderson does.  I expect the Packers to have a tough time running the ball and that should limit Greenway some. 

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield is normally a very studly DB play but his year he really has only had one superb game (week 2).  This week versus the Packers passing attack Winfield should put up the type of studly numbers that we are used to him putting up.  Cedric Griffin has been a top 10 DB in each of the past two years and should be right around the top ten by the end of the year again.  However, this week Griffin has been limited in practice due to a hand injury.  Keep a close eye on his Friday practice status as well as game day inactives but if you can find a decent option to replace him this week that might be the more prudent thing to do.

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