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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 7
Steve Gallo
October 23, 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 (TOs) based on their season average.  Basically, if your LB is facing a RED team then it isn't a good matchup, conversely a GREEN team would be a GOOD matchup.  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)).  Good luck & enjoy!

Star Rating System:
Five-Star Play: Studly performance anticipated
Four-Star Play: Above average solid starter
Three-Star Play: Starter
Two-Star Play: Bench ‘em or possible sleeper
One-Star Play: Bench ‘em no matter what
* Star Ratings boxes are now color coded to show the tackle opportunities the team they are facing is giving up:
average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green)  This will help so that you don't have to continually scroll up to the reference chart and also if you are stuck between who to start out of say two 3 Star players then you will probably want to go with the one that has a "Green" matchup versus a "Red" matchup.

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 6: Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, Seattle, Tennessee

Tackle Opportunities(TOs) given up by teams offense, Team base schemes, Defensive Coordinators and three down linebackers (remember Scheme Matters)

Team Avg TOs
Given Up/Wk
Defensive
Scheme
Defensive
Coordinator
Three down linebackers
ARZ 49 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor
ATL 49 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 50 3-4(Multi Front) Greg Mattison Ray Lewis
BUF 45 Tampa 2 Perry Fewell Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison
CAR 47 4-3 & Tampa 2 Ron Meeks Jon Beason, Thomas Davis
CHI 46 Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs, Nick Roach
CIN 47 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 42 3-4 Rob Ryan Eric Barton, Kamerion Wimbley
DAL 46 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 52 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 46 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote, Julian Peterson
GB 46 3-4 Dom Capers Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett
HOU 50 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 50 Tampa 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 49 3-4 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 47 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Mike Vrabel, Tamba Hali
MIA 56 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter
MIN 50 Tampa 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 56 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 57 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 53 4-3 Bill Sheridan Antonio Pierce, Michael Boley (inj)
NYJ 48 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott
OAK 39 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard
PHL 45 4-3 Sean McDermott None (Will Witherspoon should assume the role soon)
PIT 53 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L. Timmons
SD 42 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 49 4-3 Gus Bradley Aaron Curry
SF 41 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 44 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis
TB 42 4-3 Jim Bates Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes
TEN 44 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck
WAS 43 4-3 Greg Blache London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo

REMINDER:  STAR BOXES ARE COLOR CODED BASED ON THE TACKLE OPPORTUNITIES THE TEAM THEY ARE FACING IS GIVING UP ON AVERAGE.

Minnesota at Pittsburgh

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

VikingsThe Vikings looked like they had the Baltimore Ravens put away early in their week 6 game but they let the Ravens back into the game and that almost cost them their first loss of the season.  This week they travel to face the defending Super Bowl Champions and if they want to stay undefeated will need to play 60 minutes of football like they did at the start of the Ravens game. This could very well end up being a preview of this years Super Bowl but the Steelers do have a big advantage of playing in front of their home crowd.

Defensive Line:  A major weakness for the Steelers is their OL and a major strength for the Vikings is the DL which is led by Jared Allen and the "Williams Wall" (Kevin and Pat).  Look for Allen to have a huge game and the Vikings DL to set the tone for this game.

Linebacker:  EJ Henderson should be one of the better LB plays this week as he should be very active in trying to stop the Steelers running attack which will be led by Rashard Mendenhall. Each of the last three weeks has seen Chad Greenway eclipse his previous week's points scored, look for that trend to continue.

Secondary:  Last week Antoine Winfield left the game with what is being called a turf toe injury and will most likely not play this week.  Don't look now but Winfield is not the Vikings best fantasy DB, that distinction is currently held by Cedric Griffin.  Griffin is currently tied for 3rd among DBs in fantasy points scored and is just 2 points shy of being tied for 1st with Tyvon Branch. Even if Winfield were playing Griffin has solidified himself as a must start each and every week.

INJURY UPDATE: CB Antoine Winfield (toe) missed practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.  S Madieu Williams (quadricep) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE to play this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
James Farrior
Troy Polamalu
Lawrence Timmons
3 STAR
James Harrison
Ryan Clark
2 STAR

None

1 STAR
Brett Keisel
Casey Hampton
Lamar Woodley

SteelersThe Steelers get the edge in this game since they will be playing in front of their home crowd.  While this could be a preview of this years Super Bowl this game means more for the Steelers than the Vikings.  The Steelers are currently tied for first at 4-2 with the Bengals and will need a win to guarantee they don't give up their share of first place.  Win or lose it won't matter to Steelers IDP owners because the Vikings are giving up the 5th most tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: If you are in a DT mandatory league and have serious bye week issues then you can look at Casey Hampton.  However, I would avoid the Steelers DL if at all possible.

Linebacker:  James Harrison always has the chance of going nuts and logging multiple sacks and forcing a fumble or two but this week I would expect to see the Vikings really try and control the clock with their running game.  Harrison should still be a safe start but don't expect one of those monster games.  Lawrence Timmons seems to be getting back into the swing of things and should be an above average start. James Farrior may be getting up there in age but he is still very startable on a weekly basis and this week his matchup is pretty juicy.

Secondary:  Troy Polamalu made his way back to the football field last week but wasn't as productive as many owners would have liked.  Polamalu logged just 2 solos and 2 assists but he was able to intercept a pass thrown by Josh Cribbs. The Browns weren't a great tackle matchup to start with so we should see Polamalu increase his stats as he gets his game legs back.  The one thing that should be of concern is that he did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday.  If you plan on starting Polamalu you will need to check the Friday injury report and keep an eye on game day inactives.

INJURY UPDATE: S Troy Polamalu (knee) participated fully in Friday practice and is listed as PROBABLE for this weeks game.


San Francisco at Houston

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Patrick Willis
Nate Clements

3 STAR
Dashon Goldson
Mark Roman
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Justin Smith
Takeo Spikes

49ersThe Niners are tied for their Division lead with the Cardinals at 3-2. Coming off of a bye week they will be packing their bags and heading to Houston to face a Texans team that has been up and down this year.  I would think that Mike Singletary will have this team ready to rock and roll as they try to keep at least a share of their division lead.  The Niners are giving up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities in the league but this week they do get Frank Gore back and they will probably look to use Gore and the running game to keep the high powered Texans passing game off the field.

Defensive Line:  So, I wonder if there are any Justin Smith owners still out there? If so, do yourself a favor and cut your ties and look elsewhere for fantasy DL help..

Linebacker:  Did you know that excluding QBs there are only three players (Welker, MJD & Ray Rice) that are scoring more PPG than Patrick Willis.  Yeah, Willis is that kind of stud. He is the type of LB that you just plug and play each and every week.  The Niners also placed reserve LB Jeff Ulbrich (concussion) on IR.

Secondary:  Michael Lewis suffered his 3rd concussion since August  versus the Falcons back in week 5. Lewis is practicing on a limited basis but Singletary has stated he doesn't know if he will be able to play in this weeks game.  Safety Reggie Smith has been ruled out for this week and if Lewis can't go Mark Roman would start in his place.

INJURY UPDATE: S Michael Lewis (concussion) and S Reggie Smith (groin) are OUT for this weeks game.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
DeMeco Ryans
Brian Cushing
Amobi Okoye
Bernard Pollard
2 STAR
Dunta Robinson
Mario Williams
1 STAR
Connor Barwin
Antonio Smith

TexansSo far this year from week to week you just don't know which Texans team is going to show up.  If they want to make a run at a playoff spot they will need to start playing much more consistently.  The Texans offense is near the top of the league in tackle opportunities given up and that has their defense ranking near the bottom in tackle opportunities faced.  If you are a Texans IDP owner look for the return of Frank Gore for the Niners to be a big plus for your IDP players.

Defensive Line:  Over the past two weeks Mario Williams has scored 5 points.  That is 5 combined points in two weeks, not 5 points/week.  Williams is still being listed on the injury report with a shoulder injury and has practiced on a limited basis this week.  Williams is the type of DE that you normally are able to just plug in and play but his lingering shoulder injury is a concern.  I wouldn't relegate him to the bench just yet but you will want to keep him on a short leash.  Amobi Okoye is a very good play this week if you are in a DT mandatory league.

INJURY UPDATE: DE Mario Williams (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE for this weeks game.

Linebacker: Don't let last week's performance by DeMeco Ryans lull you into a false sense of hope for continued top 5 production.  Last week was a tale of two halves for Ryans.  If you were watching the box score last week you saw Ryans jump out in the first half and log 8 solos & 3 assists in 26 tackle opportunities.   That means that in the 2nd half he posted just 1 assist on 14 tackle opportunities.  Sure his TOs were limited but still the 1 assist was very disappointing. Ryans is still going to be a fantasy starting LB but he is not a top 10 LB anymore.  Rookie LB Brian Cushing had a fantastic game versus the Bengals as he not only posted 6 solos & 3 assists but also added an INT and 2 forced fumbles.  The main concern with Cushing right now is the foot injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday.  It will be hard to keep Cushing out of your lineups but you have to make sure he practices on Friday and then still check the game day inactives on Sunday too.

INJURY UPDATE: LB Brian Cushing (foot) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was able to participate in Friday's practice on a limited basis and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  After putting  up 8 tackles versus the Cardinals safety Bernard Pollard only posted 4 solos and 2 assists versus the Bengals.  This week expect Pollard to be involved in run support to try and help keep Frank Gore in check.

INJURY UPDATE: S Nick Ferguson (knee) is OUT for this weeks game.


San Diego at Kansas City

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Eric Weddle
Stephen Cooper

2 STAR
Shawne Merriman
1 STAR

Larry English
Kevin Burnett
Quentin Jammer

ChargersWho would have thought that the Chargers coming off of a bye week and playing at home would have lost to the Denver Broncos. I doubt the Chargers overlooked the Broncos but whatever the reason they lost they need to right their ship fast.  Sure it looks like the Chiefs should be an easy win but going to KC to play is never an easy thing.  If Chargers fans aren't calling for Norv Turner's head yet they surely will be if they lose to the Chiefs.

Defensive Line: Different week same statement: look for DL help somewhere else.

Linebacker:  Stephen Cooper had a ho hum 4 solo game versus the Broncos but at least he was able to throw in a forced fumble too.  Cooper has been a very good fantasy LB since he returned from a league imposed suspension last year but this week I would temper expectations versus a Chiefs offense that could struggle.  Kevin Burnett suffered an ankle injury versus the Broncos and his availability for this weeks game is up in the air.  Burnett did not participate in practice on Wednesday. 

INJURY UPDATE: LB Kevin Burnett (ankle) missed practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary:  Eric Weddle remains the top Chargers secondary option and a top fantasy option as well.  Last week both Kevin Ellison and Steve Gregory played a larger part with the release of former starter Clinton Hart.  Neither are fantasy relevant at this point.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

 Mike Brown

3 STAR
Demorrio Williams
Brandon Flowers
2 STAR

Brandon Carr
Corey Mays

1 STAR
Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Glenn Dorsey
Tyson Jackson

ChiefsGood news for Chiefs fans is that they finally got the monkey off their back and logged their first win of the season.  Bad news is that the monkey's name was the Washington Redskins. Seriously, a win is a win but I mean even the Lions beat the Redskins.  Unbelievably, the Chargers are giving up below average tackle opportunities so far this season but something tells me this week will still be an above tackle opportunity for the Chiefs.

Defensive Line: Big news on the DL is that the Chiefs traded DL Tank Tyler to the Carolina Panthers. Glenn Dorsey got off to a hot start but that fizzled out as I expected it would.

Linebacker: I finally stop talking about Derrick Johnson and he puts up better stats than Demorrio Williams did.  Both players played in approximately 50% of the teams defensive snaps and that will do nothing more than suck the fantasy value from each of them.  Tamba Hali isn't a starting fantasy LB and should only be considered if he has a premium matchup.  This week is not a premium matchup so leave him on your bench or better yet on your waiver wire.

Secondary: If the Chargers can come in and control the clock like I expect then Mike Brown should be a very nice start this week.  Look for Brandon Flowers to get his share of tackles as he tries to keep the Chargers passing attack in check.


Green Bay at Cleveland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Aaron Kampman
Nick Barnett

2 STAR

Charles Woodson
Brandon Chillar
Al Harris

1 STAR

Atari Bigby
Nick Collins

Cullen Jenkins
AJ Hawk

PackersThe Packers are tied for 2nd in their division with a 3-2 record but they need to fix their OL issues or this season is going to be a bust sooner rather than later.  This week they get to face a Browns team that looks like it couldn't beat a rented mule with a Derrick Anderson pass (because we all know he would miss). The Packers should have little trouble chalking up their 4th win but they better take their echinacea so they don't catch the flu from the Browns.

Defensive Line: While Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins are playing pretty well NFL wise I would look elsewhere for fantasy DL help.

Linebacker:  Nick Barnett is finally off of his limited snap count and is the LB to own on the Packers defense.  Going forward Barnett should put up LB2 numbers with some upside to be a LB1.  On the other end of the spectrum is that former first round selection AJ Hawk only played in 9 defensive snaps and put up a big donut in the box score. If I asked who you thought was leading the team in sacks I am sure you would guess converted stud DE Aaron Kampman but that would be the incorrect guess.  The Packers leader in sacks is rookie Clay Mathews with 4 sacks.  Neither are strong plays this week but if due to byes you had to roll the dice I would do so with Kampman.

INJURY UPDATE: LB Brandon Chillar (neck) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: The Packers got Atari Bigby back last week but outside of picking off a Lions pass he was very quiet in the box score.  Bigby looks like he will be about as effective in the box score on a weekly basis like Nick Collins has been all season long and that is not a compliment.  As pointed out earlier this year the Packers scheme that is being implemented by Dom Capers is not very fantasy friendly for the safety position.

5 STAR
Kamerion Wimbley
4 STAR
Abram Elam
3 STAR
Eric Barton
Shaun Rogers
2 STAR

Kaluka Maiava

1 STAR

David Bowens
Kenyon Coleman
Brodney Pool

BrownsThe Browns aren't just making their fans sick, they evidently are making themselves sick too as 11 Browns were listed on the injury report due to illness. As bad as the Browns are...yeah I couldn't think of anything else to write after that. Browns IDPs face a Packers team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities but this week look for the Pack to put up above average TOs.

Defensive Line:  Shaun Rogers is one of those DTs that can actually be used as a starter in combined DL leagues.  This week doesn't have the look of a great match-up on paper but Rogers should still be a solid start.  Outside of Rogers  I wouldn't want to have to start any other Browns DL.

Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson has been one of the lone bright spots for the Browns this year. He led the league in tackles last year and was on pace to be among the league leaders again.  Unfortunately, for the Browns, their fans and Jackson owners he injured his shoulder in last weeks game and has been put on injured reserve.  Nothing solid has come out of Browns camp saying who will replace Jackson but no matter who it is you shouldn't expect them to match Jackson's production.  Rookie Kaluka Maiava played some snaps for Jackson after he was injured last week and while he could get the starting call it is hardly written in stone.  The big winner if there are any from this situation is probably going to be Eric Barton owners.

Secondary:  Abram Elam may not be an elite NFL talent but right now he is putting up very good fantasy numbers.  This week he should be busy trying to contain the Packers passing attack.  CB Eric Wright was involved in automobile accident in the wee hours of the morning on Friday October 23rd.  He was treated at the hospital and then released.  If Wright is able to play this week he could be a sneaky play in CB mandatory leagues, just make sure he is going to be active and play before inserting him into your lineup.
UPDATE: The Browns reportedly brought in S Clinton Hart (former Charger) for a tryout but there is no word on if he will be signed to a contract or not.

INJURY UPDATE: CB Eric Wright (shoulder) did not practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Indianapolis at St. Louis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Bob Sanders
Robert Mathis
Gary Brackett
2 STAR
Clint Session
Antoine Bethea
Dwight Freeney
1 STAR
Tyjuan Hagler
Jerraud Powers

Colts On the surface this looks like it should be a cake walk for the Colts and it very well may be but the Colts do have issues when it comes to stopping the run so this game could end up closer than expected.  If you are planning on starting your Colts IDPs you have to hope that the Rams can establish some form of a running game otherwise Colts IDP owners are going to be disappointed this week.  The Rams are currently giving up 5th fewest tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line:  Normally you would think this should be a great matchup for Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.  Unfortunately, they could be very limited in their opportunities this week so they are risky starts.  With that in mind Mathis is the safer start since he is more consistent in recording tackles.  Both could very well log  multiple sacks this week but banking on that is a bit risky.

Linebacker:  Gary Brackett should be able to put up starting LB numbers while he tries to keep Rams RB Steven Jackson under wraps.  Clint Session lost nickle snaps a few weeks ago but is once again playing in the nickle package so he will retain starters value going forward but this week you would be best served to leave him on the bench.

Secondary:  Bob Sanders practiced fully on Wednesday which marks his first full practice of the year.  He did sit out practice on Thursday but that was reported as something that Sanders normally does during the season and isn't of any concern.  Coach Caldwell said that if Sanders is ready to play on Sunday he should start.  My bet is that Sanders does start this week and is a huge factor in helping to solidify the Colts run defense which should help him fill the box score nicely.

INJURY UPDATE: S Bob Sanders (not injury related) did not participate in Friday's practice.

5 STAR
James Laurinaitis
4 STAR

Oshiomogho Atogwe

3 STAR

Paris Lenon
Ronald Bartell
James Butler

2 STAR
Craig Dahl
1 STAR
Leonard Little
James Hall
Chris Long

RamsThe Rams came so close to notching their first win last week versus the Jaguars and I am sure that scared the crap out of Jags fans.  I know people are really down on this team but I truly think that coach Spagnuolo will get this team turned around. At least the Rams struggles have been beneficial for their key IDPs as they are facing the 2nd most tackle opportunities/game.  This week they face a Colts team that is tied for 5th in tackle opportunities given up/game.

Defensive Line:  The Colts do not give up many sacks and that is why the Rams DL are ranked as 1 Star plays.  James Hall also left last week's game with a groin injury and that injury has kept him from practicing on Wednesday & Thursday.

INJURY UPDATE: DE James Hall (groin) after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday was a limited participant in Friday's practice and is listed as QUESTIONABLE for this weeks game.

Linebacker:  The Colts have given up some huge tackle games to opposing MLBs and this week that trend should continue.  Rookie James Laurinaitis currently ranks 15th in fantasy points scored. Will Witherspoon should be a great play this week versus the Colts. Oh wait a second Witherspoon doesn't play for the Rams any more as he was traded to the Eagles for rookie WR Brandon Gibson and a 5th round pick. Coach Spagnuolo has said that Paris Lenon will replace the departed Witherspoon at WLB for the Rams.  I would expect Lenon to be startable as a LB2/3 this weekend.

Secondary:  James Butler practiced fully on Wednesday and Thursday and as of now looks like he will make his return this week versus the Colts.  Craig Dahl stands to lose the most value if Butler is able to return to full duty.  If Butler is not able to play on Sunday then bump Dahl up to a 3 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE: S James Butler (knee) participated fully in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE for this week.


New England at Tampa Bay

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Jerod Mayo
Brandon McGowan
2 STAR

Leigh Bodden
Shawn Springs

Brandon Meriweather

1 STAR
Junior Seau
Ty Warren
James Sanders
Mike Wright

PatriotsThe Patriots are good in normal weather but they are downright scary when it snows.  If you don't believe me go and look what the Patriots did to the Cardinals in the snow last year.  A trip across the pond will just help to fan the flames of their hot offense.  The biggest issue this week is  going to be the limited number of snaps Patriots IDPs face.

Defensive Line: If you need help at DT in DT mandatory leagues you can give Vince Wilfork a look this week.  Mike Wright had put up some nice numbers earlier this season but as cooled off of late.

Linebacker:  The return of both Jerod Mayo from injury and Junior Seau from "retirement" means that Gary Guyton owners won't have much to smile about from here on out.  The big news last week was that Adalius Thomas was a healthy scratch.  Of course we haven't gotten any real answers as to why so if you are thinking of starting Thomas you would best be served to look for a LB with a more sure future.

Secondary:  Brandon McGowan has quietly ascended the DB rankings and sits as the #2 overall DB just one point behind the #1 ranked Tyvon Branch.  McGowan is a risky start versus what could be a very limited number of tackle opportunities.  As a point of reference SS Quintin Mikell only recorded 1 solo and 2 assists versus Tampa Bay.

5 STAR
Barrett Ruud
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Tanard Jackson
Geno Hayes
Ronde Barber
Aqib Talib
Sabby Piscitelli

2 STAR

James Wilkerson
Stylez White

1 STAR

Quincy Black

BuccaneersAbout the only thing that Tampa Bay has going for itself on Sunday is that it will not be snowing in London for this matchup versus the Patriots. If you own key Tampa Bay IDPs this is a week that you smile just a bit more as you put them in your lineup.  Reason being they are facing a Patriots team that is giving up the 2nd most tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: In case you missed the update last week the Buccaneers traded Gaines Adams to the Chicago Bears for a 2nd round pick.  That means that both Stylez White the DE formerly known as Greg White and James Wilkerson will see enough snaps to make them spot starters for IDP owners.  This however wouldn't be a spot I would start either in.

Linebacker: Match-ups don't get much better than this for Barrett Ruud owners. By the start of next week don't be surprised to see Ruud sitting atop the LB rankings.  Geno Hayes has been pretty solid as a LB3 for much of the season and should be a very solid start this week.

INJURY UPDATE: LB Barrett Ruud (elbow) was limited in practice on Wednesday but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as PROBABLE for this week.

Secondary: Sabby Piscitelli has really cooled off and had 3 consecutive poor performances until this past week versus Carolina where he posted 20+ fantasy points.  The good thing to note is that Tanard Jackson also had a fantastic game with 20+ fantasy points scored. What that should tell you is that both players can be productive at the same time but with that said you can't expect both to put up numbers like that each week.  More than likely they will both be very up and down but this week should be an up week for both.


Buffalo at Carolina

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Paul Posluszny

3 STAR

Keith Ellison
Marcus Stroud

2 STAR
Aaron Schobel
1 STAR
Chris Kelsay
Terrence McGee
Donte Whitner
Bryan Scott

BillsI wonder how many Bills players like roller coasters.  The Bills started off the season almost upsetting the Patriots in week 1, then they bounced back to beat a poor Tampa Bay team.  After that the Saints came marching in and all the Bills did was to shut down Drew Brees and the Saints vaunted passing attack but they did lose 27-7.  That game was then followed up with a 38-10 drubbing by the Miami Dolphins, which was then followed up by a 6-3 loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns.  Then comes a trip to NY to face a tough Jets team.  All the Bills did in that game was give up over 3 bills in rushing yards yet they still walked away with an OT win.  Go figure.  The Magic 8 Ball says this week the coaster is on its way down again.

Defensive Line:  Aaron Schobel is a risky start this week as I can see the Panthers limiting the number of times that Jake Delhomme throws the ball this week.  If the Panthers are able to get DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart going then Marcus Stroud should be a solid DL play this week.  In DT mandatory leagues I would bump Stroud up to a 4 Star play.

Linebacker:  Paul Posluszny made his return to the field last week versus the Jets and he had a fantastic stat line where he logged 9 total tackles and recorded a key interception too.  I think we should see Carolina try to establish their run and that should bode well for a 2nd big week for Posluszny owners.  Keith Ellison had much of his early season value come from playing in nickle snaps but with all the Bills injuries at LB Ellison is now firmly entrenched as a 3 down LB and is a solid start this week.

Secondary: The Bills have really been hammered by the injury bug this year on the defensive side of the ball.  SS Bryan Scott (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday but did participate on a limited basis in Thursdays practice.  Terrence McGee (knee) also missed Wednesday practice but like Scott participated in a limited fashion in Thursday's practice.  While Donte Whitner played this past week his ankle injury is hindering him as he did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday.  George Wilson and Jarius Byrd have gotten playing time due to the injuries but both could lose their value in the blink of an eye if both Scott and Whitner are able to get back on the field together. Until we know who will play you shouldn't risk sticking any of these guys in your lineup.

INJURY UPDATE: S Brayn Scott (ankle) and S Donte Whitner (ankle) have been ruled OUT versus Carolina.  Terrence McGee practiced fully on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

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

Panthers Normally, playing at home in front of your fans is a good thing.  For Jake Delhomme he had better hope he doesn't give the ball away like Grandma does with Halloween candy or there is not telling how ugly it could get at Bank of America Stadium.  The Bills are only giving up the 6th fewest tackle opportunities/game so temper your expectations from Panthers IDPs.

Defensive line: I had to look twice because I just couldn't believe that the Bills only gave up 1 sack to the Jets last week. This week conventional wisdom would say that even Julius Peppers is a risky start but I really think that Panther fans will make a ton of noise and Peppers is going to be all over the Bills starting QB. It should also be noted that the Panthers traded with the Chiefs to acquire Tank Tyler.  Tyler won't have much fantasy value as a DT/DL but he will possibly have a very big impact on the fantasy stats of Jon Beason.

Linebackers:  Thomas Davis appeared on the Thursday injury report when he did not participate in practice due to a hamstring injury.  I will update his status on Friday but if he doesn't practice on Friday he will be a very risky start this week.  Look for Jon Beason to make the most of the acquisition of Tank Tyler.  This isn't the best of match-ups but Beason should still post starting numbers.

INJURY UPDATE: LB Thomas Davis (hamstring) missed practice in Wednesday and Thursday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.  LB Na'il Diggs is also listed as QUESTIONABLE but participated fully in practice on Thursday and Friday.

Secondary:  Last week Chris Harris led the secondary with 4 solos and 2 assists but that production did come on just 36 tackle opportunities. Harris should return to a solid starter once the Panthers face better tackle opportunity match-ups.  Same goes for Richard Marshall for this week and in the future. 


NY Jets at Oakland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
David Harris
2 STAR
Calvin Pace
Bart Scott
1 STAR

Jim Leonhard
Darrell Revis
Kerry Rhodes

JetsThe Jets really took off like well a Jet to start the season as they soared to 3-0 but then they started their descent and it was a steep and fast return to earth and a 3-3 record.  I highly doubt the Jets will roll into Oakland and take them lightly after the Raiders knocked off the Eagles last week.  I expect Coach Ryan to have his Jets ready to return to the win column and I am sure that will lend itself to us being inundated with stats about how many wins Mark Sanchez has in California (USC if you know what I mean). 

Defensive Line: While last weeks loss was a big blow the bigger blow is that the Jets lost DT Kris Jenkins for the rest of the year due to a torn ACL injury.  There is no other real fantasy value on the Jets DL.

Linebacker: In case you have been sleeping in a cave, David Harris is the man to own on the Jets defense. Last week Harris recorded 17 total tackles versus the Bills.  This week he will likely be limited due to limited tackle opportunities.  Still you should have him in your lineup just be realistic in your expectations.  Calvin Pace and Bart Scott should both be benched this week unless you don't have any other options due to bye weeks. 

Secondary: The Raiders are completing an average of just under 12 passes per game.  That means you leave the Jets secondary on your bench.  If you are in a big play league you could roll the dice hoping for an INT but if it were me I wouldn't.

5 STAR
Kirk Morrison
4 STAR
Thomas Howard
Tyvon Branch
3 STAR

Richard Seymour

2 STAR
Michael Huff   
1 STAR
Greg Ellis

RaidersThe Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles.  There I said it but I have to say that as a Philly fan the Phillies took much of the sting from the loss to the Raiders away when they disposed of the LA Dodgers to make their way to a 2nd consecutive World Series appearance. Sorry about that, this is supposed to be about the Raiders.  Well you know the saying, "even a blind squirrel..." well the Raiders have adopted a new saying, "even a blind pigeon..." 

Defensive Line: Richard Seymour said the Raiders will make the playoffs.  Well if that is going to happen then Seymour is going to have to put the team on his back (not gonna happen) so we might as well give Seymour a 3 Star day to show we believe he can. While I don't believe that Seymour can carry the Raiders to the playoffs I do believe he could be a good start this weekends for his IDP owners.

INJURY UPDATE: DE Richard Seymour (illness) and DE Greg Ellis (knee) both missed practice on Friday and are listed as QUESTIONABLE for this weeks game.

Linebacker: Last week Thomas Jones and company rushed for 318 yards.  I don't expect a repeat of that but I do expect the Jets to lean heavily on their rushing attack and that bodes very well for Kirk Morrison's owners.  Thomas Howard is also an above average start this week and don't be surprised to see Howard pick off Mark Sanchez this week.  Ricky Brown is still OUT due to injury.

Secondary:  Tyvon Branch has been a pleasant surprise this year and he should have no problem adding to his league leading fantasy ranking among DBs.  Michael Huff can be bumped up to a 3 star play in big play leagues. 


Atlanta at Dallas

5 STAR
Curtis Lofton
4 STAR
Mike Peterson
3 STAR

Eric Coleman

2 STAR

John Abraham
Stephen Nicholas

1 STAR
Jamaal Anderson

FalconsIf you are a regular reader in our forums then you probably know that I wasn't very high on the Falcons this year.  I said that I could see them winning just 5 games and that I saw 8 wins as their ceiling.  Well I said it in the forums and will say it here, I was wrong.  The Falcons current record of 4-1 puts them 1 game behind the division leading Saints.  This week they head to Dallas to play a Cowboys team that is coming off of a bye week so that will make winning a bit tougher for the Falcons. 

Defensive Line:  John Abraham is one of the best pass rushers in the game but he can be very inconsistent and tough to rely on as a fantasy starter.  This week I would look at leaving Abraham on your bench unless you are in a bye week bind.

Linebacker: Nothing has changed with regards to Curtis Lofton, he is still a must start plug and play stud. Mike Peterson currently ranks as the 26th best LB and is on pace for 93 solo tackles.  Peterson should have no problem keeping his value as a mid level LB2 going forward.

Secondary:  Last week the Falcons lost Brian Williams for the season when he tore his ACL.  Eric Coleman should lead the secondary in tackles this week as he helps to try and contain Jason Witten and the Cowboys rushing attack.

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
3 STAR
DeMarcus Ware
Jay Ratliff
2 STAR

Ken Hamlin
Terrence Newman
Pat Watkins
Gerald Sensabaugh

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysThe Cowboys couldn't have had a better bye week when every team in their division lost last week.  As bad as the Cowboys may have looked this year they now find that they are only 1 game back in the loss column behind the Giants. This week Cowboys IDPs face a nice match-up as the Falcons are giving up above average tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line:  The Falcons have shown that they are more then just a one trick running pony this year but if the Falcons decide to run Michael Turner 25+ times this week then Jay Ratliff will be a solid start this week in DT mandatory leagues.

Linebacker:  Normally, I am very cautious when recommending to start an OLB in a 3-4 but this week with 6 teams on a bye I think that Ware is a safe start as a LB2/3 with some upside if he can get to Matt Ryan multiple times.  Bradie James and Keith Brooking should both be solid starts in this above average match-up this week.

INJURY UPDATE: LB DeMarcus Ware (foot) practiced fully all week but is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  In his first game replacing Gerald Sensabaugh, Pat Watkins was less than inspiring with his 4 solo, 1 assist day versus the Chiefs in their week 5 OT game.  If you are really in a bind due to bye week issues you can start Watkins but I would look for better options if at all possible.

INJURY UPDATE: SS Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb) practiced fully this week and is listed as PROBABLE for this weeks game.


Chicago at Cincinnati

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Lance Briggs
3 STAR

Danieal Manning
Charles Tillman
Adewale Ogunleye
Nick Roach

2 STAR
Zachary Bowman
Alex Brown
Gaines Adams
1 STAR
Hunter Hillenmeyer

BearsThe Bears are a team that looks like they are going to be inconsistent all year long. This week they travel to face a Bengals team that is much improved this year.  To me the key is that the Bears have to TRAVEL and that will make pulling out a win a tough road to hoe.  This week their key IDPs face a Bengals team that is giving up the league historical average for tackle opportunities. 

Defensive Line:  In case you missed the news last week the Bears sent a 2nd round pick to the Buccaneers for former first round pick, Gaines Adams.  Adewale Ogunleye should remain the most valuable DL for the Bears because it looks as if Alex Brown and Gaines Adams will be splitting snaps on the opposite side of the line.

Linebacker:  Lance Briggs remains the best fantasy option in Chicago and should be an above average play this week.  Look for Nick Roach to have an expanded role as the Bears starting MLB.  Pisa  Tinoisamoa was put on injured reserve.  Hunter Hillenmeyer was limited in practice on Wednesday but did return to practice without limitations on Thursday.

Secondary: Danieal Manning and Charles Tillman should still remain the top two plays in the Bears secondary.  They do present a bit of risk this week if the Bengals commit to their running game, led by Cedric Benson.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Dhani Jones
Keith Rivers
Nedu Ndukwe
Leon Hall
Johnathan Joseph
2 STAR
Rey Maualuga
Frostee Rucker
Robert Geathers
1 STAR
Domata Peko
Roy Williams

BengalsThe Bengals are currently tied with the Steelers for first in their division.  They will have a chance to take over sole possession of 1st place this week if they can knock off the Bears as the Steelers have a tough match-up versus the undefeated Minnesota Vikings.  This week is a slightly below average tackle opportunity match-up for Bengals IDPs. 

Defensive Line: It sure seems like the defensive side of the ball is getting hit with more major injuries this year than the offensive side of the ball is.  Antwan Odom is another casualty to a torn ACL and has been lost for the season.  The Bengals will look to Robert Geathers and Frostee Rucker to pickup the slack from the loss of Odom.  Don't expect either to put up the type of fantasy numbers that Odom was.

Linebacker:  Keith Rivers has been a pretty big disappointment for the most part this year.  Much of that has to do with him not playing all 3 downs. Until Rivers can secure a 3 down roll in this defense he looks to be a risky start as a LB.  With that said, due to bye weeks and what I perceive to be a good match-up for Rivers this week I think he is a safe start as a LB3.  Rey Maualuga is going to continue to be a very poor and inconsistent play while he is starting at SLB.  If you are in a keeper league you may want to try and acquire him now while his value is a bit depressed.  I would expect him to be given a very good shot at starting at MLB next year.

Secondary:  Leon Hall went from just shutting down the oppositions top WRs to putting up very good fantasy numbers.  He currently ranks 17th among all DBs in fantasy points scored and more than likely is a free agent in many leagues.  Roy Williams is still missing practice due to his forearm injury and that could lead to another start for Nedu Ndukwe.  Whoever starts of the two is the 3 star play. 

INJURY UPDATE: S Roy Williams (forearm) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL for this weeks game.


New Orleans at Miami

5 STAR
Roman Harper
4 STAR
Scott Shanle
3 STAR
Charles Grant
Jonathan Vilma
Darren Sharper
2 STAR

Tracy Porter
Jabari Greer
Will Smith

1 STAR
Sedrick Ellis
Kendrick Clancey
Scott Fujita

SaintsWhen the Saints and Giants met last week I am sure that many thought the Giants would win and those that didn't couldn't have ever envisioned the Saints winning the way they did. It is safe to assume that everyone knows that the Saints have one of the top passing offenses in the league but what I think they would be shocked to know is that the Saints rank 4th in rushing.  Add to it that the Saints defense is playing very well and you have a team that is 100% for real.  This week will be a real test for their defense versus the Dolphins rushing attack and will go a long way towards determining the winner.

Defensive Line:  Charles Grant was the leading tackler on the DL versus the Giants.  He only posted 4 solo tackles but that was on just 36 tackle opportunities.  This week versus the Dolphins he should see around 10-15 more tackle opportunities so start him with confidence.  Will Smith hasn't been as consistent as Grant and that is why he is only a 2 Star play this week.

Linebacker: If you are Vilma owner you have to be losing patience with his poor play so far.  This match-up really warrants a 5 Star play but with how Vilma has been playing I just can't rank him that high.  He absolutely should be in starting lineups this weekend and if he has a big game you might actually want to think about trying to sell high.  Scott Shanle has been outperforming Vilma all year and should continue that trend this week.

Secondary:  SS Roman Harper has been an extremely solid play all year.  Harper has yet to score less than double digits and currently ranks 15th among all DBs.  With the matchup he has this week he could very well top 20+ fantasy points versus the Dolphins.  Jabari Greer has been a pretty good play most weeks but both he and Tracy Porter should be benched this week as the Dolphins should try to keep the Saints offense off the field by controlling the clock with their running game.

5 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
4 STAR
Channing Crowder
3 STAR

Gibril Wilson

2 STAR

Joey Porter

1 STAR
Jason Taylor
Akin Ayodele

DolphinsEven though the Dolphins got a very good performance from Chad Henne in his first start you would have to think that the Dolphins will try to limit the number of times they need Henne to throw the ball in an effort to control the clock.  The Dolphins have done a great job this year in controlling the clock.  Currently, the Dolphins rank 2nd in tackle opportunities given up/game but that has been detrimental to the Dolphins IDPs as they have faced the fewest tackle opportunities/game this year. 

Defensive Line:  Looking for DL help? Well, don't look here.

Linebacker:  The Saints have given up some really nice games to opposing MLBs and that is the reason why Channing Crowder is a 4 Star play. Crowder has been a big disappointment for the most part this year but much of that has to do with how few tackle opportunities the Dolphins are facing.  Joey Porter looks to be healthy and should be back in the starting lineup this week but Drew Brees doesn't take many sacks so Porter is a risky start.  Don't take the risk just keep Porter on your bench this week.

Secondary:  Yeremiah Bell has by far been the better fantasy player this year compared to Gibril Wilson but this week both should be in starting lineups.  Expect the entire Dolphin secondary to be tested but the rotation they are using really makes it hard to recommend starting anyone other then Bell and Wilson.


Arizona at NY Giants

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

CardinalsThe Cardinals probably couldn't be dealt a worse hand in having to travel to NY to face the Giants after the Giants got man handled by the Saints last week.  On top of that coming east from out west always seems to make things difficult for the travelling team.  This week Cardinals IDPs face a Giants team that is giving up the 3rd most tackle opportunities/game and that should bode well for their key IDPs.

Defensive Line: Another week goes by and no Cardinal DL posted fantasy relevant numbers. Darnell Dockett could change that this week but I wouldn't be willing to take that chance.

Linebacker: Last week Karlos Dansby had a very disappointing 1 solo performance but I wouldn't read to much into that since he only faced 22 tackle opportunities. Expect Dansby to be one of the top performing LBs this week.  Gerald Hayes seems to be playing 3 downs again and as long as that trend continues he will continue to be a solid start as a LB2/3.  This week versus what should be a heavy does of the Giants rushing attack Hayes should be a low level LB1 or high level LB2.

Secondary: We all know that Adrian Wilson is not the same player that he once was but this week both him and Antrel Rolle should be solid starting options in all leagues. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
CC Brown
3 STAR

Antonio Pierce
Chase Blackburn
Corey Webster
Michael Johnson
Justin Tuck

2 STAR

Osi Umenyiora

1 STAR
Mathias Kiwanuka

GiantsThis game will go a long way in showing just how good of a team the Giants are.  If they respond as they should then we know they can take a punch and not curl up and die.  If they let the Cardinals come East and punch them in the face and hang a 2nd consecutive loss on them, then you have to question if they are truly a Super Bowl contender.  The Cardinals are giving up above average tackle opportunities so expect decent numbers from the Giants IDPs.

INJURY UPDATE: LB Michael Boley (knee), DT Chris Canty (calf) & CB Aaron Ross (hamstring) are all OUT versus the Cardinals

Defensive Line:   Kurt Warner should be just slightly scared because I have a feeling that Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are really going to make Warner's Sunday a long day.  Tuck is the safer start of the two since he is more consistent with recording tackles. Umenyiora has been a huge disappointment for much of this year and you probably should relegate him to your bench until he starts to show some life.  Of course this will be the 1st week you bench him and he will completely blow up.

Linebacker:  Antonio Pierce put up 9 total tackles versus the Saints last week and he should put up solid starting numbers again this week.  Chase Blackburn is seeing time while Michael Boley is on the mend and Blackburn like Pierce should be a solid start this week.

Secondary:   You ever pickup a guy right before your game starts, put him in your lineup and then decide to look at some other waiver wire players and then switch out the first player for another waiver wire guy?  Yeah, well I was that guy last week.  The guy I nabbed off the wire was CC Brown and I got him into my lineup with 3 minutes to spare but that was when I started looking again and ended up swapping CC Brown out for Craig Dahl.  Don't make the mistake I made last week (luckily it didn't cost me a win) just put Brown in your lineup and leave him there this week.


Philadelphia at Washington

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Trent Cole
3 STAR
Will Witherspoon
2 STAR

Quintin Mikell
Akeem Jordan

1 STAR
Darren Howard
Victor Abiamiri

EaglesLuckily for the Eagles the Phillies are in the playoffs and were able to secure a return trip to the World Series.  Trust me the Philly fan base isn't happy about losing to the Raiders but the blow was softened a ton by the Phils.  This week the Eagles can't afford to play down to their competition and they have to really put it to the Redskins.  Believe it or not the Eagles will be the first team the Redskins have faced this year that have a win.  The expected struggles from the Redskins offense means that you should really temper expectations from your Eagles IDPs.

Defensive Line: Trent Cole is easily one of the best DEs in the league and really is a guy that you just have to plug into your lineup.  The Redskins wont present many tackle opportunities but Cole should still be an above average start against what looks to be a patchwork OL for the Redskins. Victor Abiamiri injured his knee versus the Raiders and has been ruled out for this weeks game.

Linebacker: The Eagles made a splash at the trade deadline when they sent rookie WR Brandon Gibson and a 5th round pick to the Rams for Will Witherspoon. Omar Gaither was injured in the Raiders game and after Witherspoon was acquired it was revealed that Gaither has suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot.  Gaither will require surgery and is expected to be put on season ending IR. Andy Reid has said that Witherspoon will play 3 downs but in this weeks game I would expect Jeremiah Trotter to still see some time on running downs.

Secondary: Quintin Mikell was one of the top DBs in the league earlier in the season but lately the limited tackle opportunities have really negatively affected his production.  If you have better options you should look at leaving Mikell on your bench.  I also wouldn't expect much from the Redskins passing attack and wouldn't even consider playing any Eagles secondary players.

5 STAR
Andre Carter
4 STAR
London Fletcher
3 STAR

Reed Doughty

2 STAR

Rocky McIntosh

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo
Chris Horton
Albert Haynesworth

RedskinsSix straight weeks, six winless teams is what the Redskins started the season out facing and coming out of those 6 games 2-4 is a pretty big indictment on just how bad the Redskins are. With their loss to the previously winless Chiefs last week Daniel Snyder saw fit to remove play calling duties from coach Jim Zorn.  The play calling wasn't stellar but it sure isn't the main reason the Redskins stink right now.  In my opinion, Zorn is a lame duck coach and it is only a matter of time before he is relieved of all his duties. 

Defensive Line:  Andre Carter was a player I really liked as a sleeper this year as I thought the acquisition of Albert Haynesworth would be a big boon for Carter.  Well so far so good if you are a Carter owner as he is one of the few bright spots on the Redskins.  Carter currently ranks 2nd among all DLs in fantasy points scored.  This week Carter faces an Eagles team that has given up sacks in bunches the past couple of weeks and Carter is a must play as a top 5 DL this week.

INJURY UPDATE: DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle) did not participate in Friday's practice.

Linebacker: The sky is blue, the sun comes up in the East and sets in the West, water is wet and London Fletcher is a stud.  Some things just never seem to change.  Brian Westbrook could be much more involved in the game plan this week and that should help to keep Fletcher an above average 4 Star play this week.  Brian Orakpo is a risky play this week but he could very easily be the guy that logs multiple sacks so if you have bye week issues and want to roll the dice then doing so with Orakpo while risky presents plenty of upside.

Secondary:  Reed Doughty led the Redskins secondary in tackles last week versus the Chiefs when he posted 8 total tackles.  If you are in a re-draft league it is time to cut bait with Chris Horton but if you are in a dynasty league you should still stash him if you can.  You would think that the Redskins cornerbacks would be good plays versus the Eagles passing attack but the Eagles tend to strike with big plays and that really limits the production you will get from their corners.

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