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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 9
Steve Gallo
November 6, 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 9:  Buffalo, Cleveland, Minnesota, New York Jets, Oakland, St. Louis

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 47 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor
ATL 48 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 51 3-4(Multi Front) Greg Mattison Ray Lewis, Tavares Gooden
BUF 43 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Perry Fewell Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison (inj)
CAR 49 4-3 & Tampa 2 Ron Meeks Jon Beason, Thomas Davis
CHI 46 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs
CIN 49 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 40 3-4 Rob Ryan Eric Barton, Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens
DAL 47 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 50 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 46 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote
GB 48 3-4 Dom Capers Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett
HOU 52 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 50 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 46 3-4 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 46 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Mike Vrabel, Tamba Hali
MIA 52 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter
MIN 51 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 55 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 56 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 52 4-3 Bill Sheridan Antonio Pierce, Michael Boley (inj)
NYJ 51 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott
OAK 39 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard
PHL 44 4-3 Sean McDermott Will Witherspoon
PIT 50 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L Timmons
SD 44 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 48 4-3 Gus Bradley Aaron Curry
SF 41 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 44 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis, Paris Lenon
TB 41 4-3 Jim Bates Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes
TEN 47 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck, David Thornton
WAS 44 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.

Baltimore at Cincinnati

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
Kelly Gregg
Fabian Washington
2 STAR

Tavares Gooden

1 STAR
Ed Reed
Haloti Ngata

RavensThe Ravens will look to knock off their second division leading opponent in two weeks.  Last week the Ravens needed a win over the undefeated Broncos if they wanted to stay in playoff contention. This week could actually end with the Ravens tied for the lead in their division.  First the Ravens need to take care of the Bengals and next the Ravens need the Broncos to bounce back from their first defeat of the season to knock off the Steelers.  This week Ravens IDPs face a Bengals team that is giving up above average tackle numbers but I would temper expectations some as I expect the Ravens to control the clock in this contest.

Defensive Line:  The Bengals haven't give up more than 3 solos to any DE this year.  Terrell Suggs did post 3 solos and 3 assists in their first meeting this year but failed to log a sack.  Conventional wisdom would say not to expect much more than 3 solos this week but thanks to Chad Ochocinco Suggs may be playing with a bit more motivation.  All that Ochocinco did was send Suggs a gift basket with deodorant in it. Suggs may not be racking up sacks this year but he surely doesn't stink. Haloti Ngata has been a disappointment in DT mandatory leagues this year and to make matters worse this week he missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday due to an ankle injury.

INJURY UPDATE:  Haloti Ngata (ankle) did not participate in practice this week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis was also a recipient of an Ochocinco gift basket.  Last game Lewis almost took off Ochocinco's head so this time he might actually break Chad in two.  Lewis has made the most of limited tackle opportunities this year and this week if the Bengals feed Cedric Benson the ball he could be in for a huge day.  Lewis had a big 10 tackle effort in the first meeting with the Bengals so it isn't out of the realm to expect a repeat performance.  Tavares Gooden looks to be healthier than in the recent past and in larger leagues can be looked at as a LB3/4 this week.

Secondary:  The entire secondary also received deodorant filled gift baskets from Ochocinco this week too.  In their first meeting this year Ed Reed had one of his best tackle efforts in the past few years.  The cherry on top was the INT that he took to the house for a pick 6.  Fabian Washington put up 5 solo tackles in the first meeting and is worth considering if you are in need of a bye week cover.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Dhani Jones
Nedu Ndukwe/Roy Williams

3 STAR
Rey Maualuga
Keith Rivers
Leon Hall
2 STAR
Domata Peko
Robert Geathers
Johnathan Joseph
1 STAR
Frostee Rucker

BengalsThe Bengals come off their bye week to face a big division foe in the Ravens who just knocked off the previously undefeated Denver Broncos.  Earlier this year the Bengals shocked many when they beat the Steelers and will now have to do the same versus a very formidable Ravens team.  With a win the Bengals could very well end the week with sole possession of 1st place in their division.  The Ravens are giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities/game so expect good statistical production from the key Bengals IDPs.

Defensive Line: Through 6 weeks with Antwan Odom in the lineup the Bengals DL averaged 17.2 total tackles per game. In their first game without Odom in week 7 the entire DL recorded a miniscule 4 total tackles. Until we see if anyone will step up on the DL don't even consider starting any Bengals DL.

Linebacker:  The Ravens have been among the league leaders all year in tackle opportunities given up but that didn't help many of the Bengals LBs back in week 5.  Dhani Jones only logged 3 solos while Keith Rivers put up a big donut.  The one LB that did have a decent game with 6 solo tackles was rookie Rey Maualuga. I wouldn't expect a repeat performance from any of those LBs this week.  Look for Jones to bounce back and put up solid numbers and even Keith Rivers should be looked at as a LB3 this week. 

Secondary:  Roy Williams is still being hindered by his forearm injury and has practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday.  My gut says that we see Williams get back on the field this week but if he doesn't then look for Nedu Ndukwe to be a very good replacement.  Which ever player starts is the one that stays as a 4 star play and the other should be looked at as a 1 star play. Check back later on Friday evening for an injury update.

INJURY UPDATE:  Roy Williams (forearm) was a limited participant in practice this week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Arizona at Chicago

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

CardinalsThe Cardinals are another one of those teams that seems to be on a bit of a roller coaster ride this year.  Last week at home they got beat by a Panthers team that is a shadow of its former playoff self.  This week they will have to travel to the unfriendly confines of Soldier Field.  Temper expectations from Cardinals IDPs this week since the Bears are giving up just 46 tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: Calais Campbell is probably a name that is a bit hot among the fantasy community since he put up 8 combined tackles with a half sack last week.  I would look at Campbell in a slightly different light.  He is someone that is going to be more cold than hot in the box score.  So far thru 8 weeks, Campbell has only eclipsed more than 4 total tackles just twice this year.  Last week was one of those weeks and the other was back in week 1.  And in those 7 games, 4 of them have yielded 2 or fewer total tackles. Now with all that said if you are in a bind you could look at Campbell as a bye week fill in but don't be upset if you see him post 2 solos with 1 assist.

Linebacker: Outside of a one week hiccup (3 points scored) by Karlos Dansby he has been a very solid performer this year.  Ignoring his week 6 disaster Dansby is averaging 15.7 PPG which is less than 1 PPG from being a top 10 LB.  This week Dansby should be a solid LB2 with some upside.   Gerald Hayes (back) missed practice on Wednesday but did return to participate in a limited fashion on Thursday.

INJURY UPDATE:  Gerald Hayes (back ) was a limited participant in practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Considering that QB Jay Cutler has a penchant for throwing interceptions you really have to get both Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson into your lineups.  Don't be surprised to see each of them pick off Cutler this week.  Rolle is still fighting thru a foot injury but he is practicing this week, albeit in a limited fashion but he still is practicing.  A handful of Bears opposing CBs have had productive fantasy days so you could look at sneaking Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie into your lineup too.

INJURY UPDATE:  Antrel Rolle (foot) was a limited participant in practice on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury

5 STAR
Charles Tillman
Danieal Manning
4 STAR
Lance Briggs
3 STAR

Adewale Ogunleye
Zachary Bowman
Hunter Hillenmeyer

2 STAR
Nick Roach
Alex Brown
1 STAR
Al Afalava
Gaines Adams

BearsThe Bears are still in the hunt for a wild card birth this year and will need to notch a win this week versus the reigning NFC Champion Cardinals if they want to keep their record above .500.  The Bears really need to get their running game going if they want to make a serious push towards the playoffs. For much of the season the Cardinals were giving up above average tackle opportunities so this could be a very good matchup for key Bears IDPs. 

Defensive Line:  Adewale Ogunleye (ankle) was limited in practice on Wednesday but he was able to practice fully on Thursday.  Kurt Warner isn't very mobile so there is always the chance for a big sack day for opposing DLs.  Ogunleye probably won't light the world on fire but is really the only Bears DL I would consider starting right now.  Gaines Adams will have a big impact for this defense but don't expect it to come to pass this year.

Linebacker:  Just like Ogunleye, Lance Briggs was limited in practice on Wednesday but returned to a full practice on Thursday.  Looking at what some other top LBs have done versus the Cards this year I would expect to see Briggs put up around 10 total tackles.  Nick Roach was a hotter pick up not to long ago but Hunter Hillenmeyer is now tacking snaps away from him.  Look for Hillenmeyer to be a LB3/4 this week while Roach is a fringe start at best due to his loss of nickle snaps.

Secondary:  Danieal Manning ranks 2nd among all DBs and he should be extremely busy with the Cards offense. I was wrong in saying that Manning should have been benched versus the Browns as he put up 21 points.  At this point Manning has shown that you just need to keep him in your starting lineup each and every week.  CB Zachary Bowman should also be a solid start against a potent passing attack.

INJURY UPDATE:  Danieal Manning (back) was a limited participant in practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury


Washington at Atlanta 

5 STAR
London Fletcher
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Andre Carter
Rocky McIntosh
Albert Haynesworth

2 STAR

Reed Doughty
Chris Horton
Laron Landry

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo

RedskinsSo if you think the Redskins were able to fix all their ills over their bye week then raiser your hand. If you are a Redskins fan with your hand up you need to put it down because Jim Zorn wouldn't even raise his hand right now.  The two big issues with this team is leadership (from top to bottom, yes that includes Dan Snyder) and the offensive line. All signs point to Washington going to Atlanta and getting their rear handed to them but something in my gut says Washington could actually get out of the ATL with a win.  Win or lose it should be a good week for some of the Redskins IDPs.

Defensive Line:  In a season where there isn't much to smile about for Redskins fans at least Andre Carter is playing very well. If you are a Carter owner you have to be giddy with his #2 DL ranking.  Carter is hot and really should be a starter in all formats until he cools off. Albert Haynesworth should see one of his best matchups this week as he will try to limit the effectiveness of the Falcons running game that is led by Michael Turner.  In DT mandatory leagues bump Haynesworth up one level.

Linebacker: The Redskins defense is probably going to be on the field a ton this week and the biggest benefactor will be London Fletcher and his owners. Rocky McIntosh should also be a solid start as a LB2/3 this week.  The Falcons are in dire need of a win and should really lean on Turner and that bodes well for both Fletcher and McIntosh.

Secondary:  Normally, this would be an extremely juicy matchup for the starting SS but with the way that Washington has utilized both Reed Doughty and Chris Horton both are risky starts. If I had to pick one of the two to start over the other this week my gut says that it is Horton that makes a difference in the box score.

INJURY UPDATE:  Chris Horton (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Curtis Lofton
John Abraham
3 STAR

Eric Coleman
Mike Peterson

2 STAR

Brent Grimes
Chris Houston
Thomas Decoud

1 STAR
Stephen Nicholas

FalconsThe Flacons have never had back to back winning seasons.  Hard to believe but it is true.  Well this year it started to look as if the Falcons would have no trouble posting their second consecutive winning season but coming off of two consecutive losses has to make their fans feel a little uneasy.  If the Falcons do indeed win 9+ games then they have to win games like this versus the Redskins. Coming off of a short week and playing a key division game next week could make this a trap game.  The Redskins have been struggling on offense so that could limit the tackle opportunities for Falcons IDPs.

Defensive Line:  John Abraham is one of the best pure pass rushers in the game but that doesn't preclude him from being a very streaky player.  Look for Abraham to have one of those games that makes you smile very big when you look at your live scoring updates.

INJURY UPDATE:  John Abraham (foot) missed practice on Wednesday and then was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: Curtis Lofton is good, really good but this week could be a tough week if the Redskins can't get their offense in gear.  Even with that said I have a hard time ranking Lofton anything less than a 4 star play.  Mike Peterson has been very solid this year and probably a safe play as a LB3/4 this week but if you have better options I would give them serious consideration.

INJURY UPDATE:  Curtis Lofton (knee, ankle) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Last week a potent Saints passing offense really helped Brent Grimes and Eric Coleman fill the box score.  This week I would be hesitant about running Grimes out as a starter.  Coleman should be safe as a DB3 but just like Peterson if you have better options with more upside I would seriously give them consideration over Coleman.


Green Bay at Tampa Bay

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Nick Barnett

2 STAR

Charles Woodson
Al Harris
Aaron Kampman

1 STAR

AJ Hawk
Nick Collins
Atari Bigby

Cullen Jenkins

PackersThe Packers couldn't have asked for a better opponent to this week.  After coming off of a demoralizing loss to the Vikings in what was Brett Favre's "homecoming" game the Packers get to face the Tamp Bay Cupcakes, oops I mean Buc-cakes.  While the Packers should get back in the win column this week don't expect much from their IDPs as the "Buc-cakes" offensive struggles will limit their tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line:  The Packers scheme isn't exactly fantasy friendly but this week I wouldn't be surprised to see one of their DLs post some decent numbers.  That doesn't mean I would feel safe in running out Cullen Jenkins or Johnny Jolly.

Linebacker: Nick Barnett is averaging 9 total tackles/game over his last four games.  A poor Tampa Bay offense should limit his tackle opportunities this week but I would still look at him as a low level LB2 or high level LB3 this week.  Brandon Chillar has been lost for a few weeks after having hand surgery and that will be a blow to the Packers defense. AJ Hawk had been seeing a decrease in snaps played but the coaching staff has stated that Hawk should pickup a good portion of Chillar's snaps.  Starting Hawk would still be a risky proposition.  Especially against a team like Tampa Bay.

Secondary: This week you should treat the Packers secondary like they are on a bye.  Most weeks they won't be good plays due to scheme but when you add in the offense they are facing this week it makes for an easy decision to find DB help somewhere else.

5 STAR
Barrett Ruud
4 STAR
Sabby Piscitelli
Aqib Talib
3 STAR

Tanard Jackson
Geno Hayes
Ronde Barber
Stylez White

2 STAR

James Wilkerson

1 STAR

Quincy Black

BuccaneersAnd then there was one.  The "Buc-cakes" are coming off their first non losing week since the start of the season, their bye week. All that is missing from this season is the Bucs wearing their original uniforms from when they entered the league.  Don't be surprised to see the Bucs win a game or two this year but that won't change the fact that this team has miles to go to be competitive again.  At least for IDP owners the Bucs misfortunes means good things for many of their defensive players.

Defensive Line: Neither Stylez White or James Wilkerson are close to being what Jared Allen is but that Packers OL looks to still be in shambles and one of those two should have a very good day this Sunday.  Past performance suggests it is Wilkerson that is the better play but I am willing to say that it is White that is the one that ends up posting starters numbers.

Linebacker: The Packers need to get their running game going and this has the looks of a game that they will be able to do that. Look for Barrett Ruud to be the biggest beneficiary.  Rudd currently ranks as tied for 8th among LBs in PPG with 16.429 ppg. I fully expect to see Ruud increase that PPG this week.  Geno Hayes has been a solid yet unspectacular LB this year.  Hayes is a solid play this week and should put up at a minimum 10 points versus the Packers.

Secondary: The Packers have no problem putting the ball in the air and this week the Tampa Secondary should see their fair share of passes.  Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson are the safest plays but something tells me that Aqib Talib is in for a big play this week.


Miami at New England

5 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Akin Ayodele
Channing Crowder

2 STAR

Gibril Wilson
Chris Clemons

1 STAR
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter

DolphinsThe Dolphins should petition the NFL to make the Patriots where Jets uniforms this week. At least the scoreboard makes it look like the Dolphins have the Jets numbers but look a little deeper and you see a team that scored just one offensive touchdown.  Offensive production like that isn't going to cut it for this weeks trip to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots.  Between benching and injuries it won't be easy to decide which IDPs to play this week in what should be a very good tackle opportunity match-up.

Defensive Line:  Different week, same story with the Dolphins DL...move along, nothing to see here from a fantasy perspective. Now this is when you want to say but what about Randy Starks.  His last few games have been fairly productive but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.  If you are in a DT mandatory league then you could give Starks a look but if it were me I would look for help some place else.

INJURY UPDATE:  Jason Ferguson (elbow) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Linebacker:  At least this week Channing Crowder (shoulder) is practicing.  He isn't practicing fully yet so there is still some concern about his status for this week. The only thing keeping Crowder from being a 2 star play is the fact that the Patriots give up the 2nd most tackle opportunities/game this year. Joey Porter is back in the news this week.  He is talking about how he hates the Patriots and how Tom Brady has his own set of rules. If you get points for players that put up bulletin board material then Porter would be a 5 star guy but if not then he is nothing more than a 1 star play.

INJURY UPDATE:  Channing Crowder (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary:  The only Dolphins DB that is safe to start is Yeremiah Bell.  Bell is coming off of his worst game of the year but for the most part has put up very good numbers so I wouldn't worry about plugging him into my starting lineup.  The owners that need to worry are Gibril Wilson owners as he has been benched in favor of Chris Clemons. The situation seems very fluid so I will try to keep my eye on the developments and will post any updates that I come across.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Jerod Mayo
Brandon McGowan
3 STAR
Ty Warren
Brandon Meriweather
2 STAR

Leigh Bodden
Shawn Springs

Gary Guyton
Junior Seau

1 STAR
Mike Wright

PatriotsThe Patriots were on a serious tear going into their bye week and now come out of their bye to face a rival Dolphins team that has won 3 of their last 4 games.  The extra week of preparation along with hosting this game at Gillette will go a long way to notching another win for the Patriots.  If the Dolphins are able to establish their running game then key Patriots IDPs could be in for big games.

Defensive Line: The Dolphins will try to establish their running game this week and that could make DT Vince Wilfork a solid play in DT mandatory leagues.  However, I think the Dolphins are going to get taken out of their running game early by the Patriot offense so that does add some risk to starting any Patriots DL.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ty Warren (ankle) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  Jerod Mayo hasn't been great since returning from his knee injury but he has been solid.  Look for Mayo to get off to a fast start in the first quarter but then look for him to cool off as the Dolphins try to get into catchup mode.  This is a big divisional game for the Patriots and Dolphins and exactly the type of game that guys like Mayo make a difference in.  That is why he is a 4 star play this week.

Secondary:  Brandon McGowan should be busy early on in run support and then finish it off by defending the Dolphins passing game.  McGowan has been racking up tackles but this week look for him to add a couple of big plays to the box score too.


Kansas City at Jacksonville

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Demorrio Williams
Mike Brown

3 STAR
Corey Mays
2 STAR

Brandon Carr
Brandon Flowers
Jon McGraw

1 STAR
Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Glenn Dorsey
Tyson Jackson

ChiefsThe Chiefs added veteran WR Chis Chambers to help with their playoff push this year.  Just checking to see if you are actually paying attention. This week coming off their bye the Chiefs head to Jacksonville to face Jaguars team that laid a big egg versus the previously winless Titans. Supposedly David Garrard is being told that he won't have the ability to audible out of running plays which means that MJD will probably carry the ball 20+ times.  It also means the Chiefs should be able to stack the box and that could be good things for their IDPs.

Defensive Line: If you need some bye week help you can give Glenn Dorsey a look see but I wouldn't expect much more than 2-3 total tackles.

Linebacker:  Maurice Jones-Drew will be fed the ball this week and Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays will be the biggest beneficiaries among the Chiefs LBs.  Tamba Hali and Mike Vrabel make their noise rushing the passer but I would expect Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio to really limit what David Garrard does with the football this week.

Secondary: Jarred Page has been placed on IR and is being replaced in the starting lineup by Jon McGraw.   Mike Brown has been the most consistent Chiefs DB this year and looks like he could be in for a pretty nice week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Jon McGraw (thigh) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Derrick Harvey
3 STAR
Justin Durant
2 STAR

Daryl Smith
Gerald Alexander
Reggie Nelson

1 STAR
Derek Cox
Rashean Mathis

JaguarsLast week I said that I thought the Jaguars would be leaving Tennessee with a loss and I ended up being right.  Well this week I think the 218 fans that attend the game this week will see their Jaguars notch their 4th win to pull back up to .500 again. Jaguars IDPs will probably struggle this week as I expect the Chiefs to have problems trying to run the ball and establishing their offense.

Defensive Line:  For the most part I have been saying to avoid the Jaguars DL this year.  Well this week I am going to give you a bye week special.  Look for Derrick Harvey to have his best game of the season this week versus the Chiefs.  I will go out on the limb and say Harvey posts 4 solos, 2 assists and 2 sacks with a forced fumble this week. 

Linebacker: Justin Durant is healthy and is a must start even against an offensively challenged Chiefs team.  Don't expect much more than 7 combined tackles but that still should be enough to make him a low level LB1 or high level LB2.  Daryl Smith owners should be very cautious since this doesn't look to be the best matchup on paper and Smith just isn't the same playmaker that Durant is.

Secondary: Maybe just maybe the Chiefs were be able to get their passing offense going but I sure wouldn't want to bet my life on it.  The Chiefs did acquire veteran Chris Chambers who was cut loose by the Chargers earlier this week.  Even with that said start any and all Jaguars secondary players at your own risk.  On the injury front Rashean Mathis owners will be pleased to hear that Mathis is participating fully in practice this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Rashean Mathis (finger) practiced fully all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.


Houston at Indianapolis

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

TexansFor the first time in team history the Texans are 2 games above .500.  Unfortunately, getting to three games above .500 won't be easily accomplished as the Texans have to travel to face an undefeated Colts team. I do think the Texans are a good team and possible playoff team but I also think they will miss TE Owen Daniels much more than people realize.  The Colts are among the league leaders in tackle opportunities given up per game so expect a good week from most Texans IDPs.

Defensive Line: This isn't easy to say but plant Mario Williams on your bench and do not start him until he is able to put up consecutive solid performances.  In two of his past four games Williams has but up dreaded goose eggs. On top of that Williams is still being hindered by a shoulder injury that is making him a limited participant in practice.  To make matters worse he faces the Colts this week who prior to last week had only surrendered 1 sack to DL all year.

INJURY UPDATE:  Mario Williams (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: Don't look now but Brian Cushing is the 4th ranked LB in points scored this year. First Cushing started out by consistently out scoring DeMeco Ryans but now Cushing is out scoring all LBs except for Curtis Lofton, Patrick Willis and Kirk Morrison.  Cushing is still being listed on the injury report as being limited in practice by his foot injury but at this point if he is active you have to start him.  Ryans has definitely disappointed his owners this year but that is only because they were expecting top 5 stud like numbers. He hasn't lived up to those expectations but he is still a top 20 LB and is averaging just 2.5 PPG less than Cushing.

INJURY UPDATE:  Brian Cushing (foot) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  As much success as the Colts are having throwing the football you would think that the Texans secondary would be a good play this week.  However, only 4 CBs have posted more than 5 solo tackles versus the Colts this year.  Safeties have had slightly better success, with 5 posting 6 or more solo tackles. I am tempering my expectations for Bernard Pollard since pass coverage is not his strong suit.

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

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Jerraud Powers

3 STAR
Robert Mathis
Dwight Freeney
Gary Brackett
Bob Sanders
Antoine Bethea
2 STAR
Clint Session
1 STAR
None

Colts The Colts were able to remain undefeated by pulling out a win in a very tight game versus the Niners last week. If it seems like the Colts always get off to fast starts it is because they do.  They are 7-0 for the fourth time in the past five years.  On top of that they have won 16 consecutive regular season games too.  With the coaching staff turnover I think that many sort of wrote the Colts off before the season even started and what we have learned is that you don't write off a Peyton Manning led team.  As far as Colts IDPs go they get to face a Texans team that is giving up the 3rd most tackle opportunities/game but I would back off of expectations just a bit due to the loss of their starting TE.

Defensive Line:  The Texans have only given up 3.5 sacks to opposing DEs this year and that makes Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney slightly risky starts.  The only reason I am bumping them up to 3 star plays is because of home field advantage and the fact that I see a bunch of points being scored in this game and that will lead to an above average number of tackle and sack opportunities for the duo. 

Linebacker:  Gary Brackett hasn't done much since returning from his injury but this week he faces a Texans team that is giving up just over 9 total tackles to opposing teams top LBs.  Clint Sessions is a bit riskier of a start and should probably be left on the bench this week.

Secondary:  You knew it wouldn't take long, Bob Sanders is back on the injury report with an apparent elbow injury that has kept him out of practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Check back late Friday for an injury update. Marlin Jackson also tore his ACL in practice this week and is now done for the year. Antoine Bethea should continue to be the anchor for the Colts ailing secondary.

INJURY UPDATE: Bob Sanders has been lost for the rest of the season due to a torn biceps tendon & Kelvin Hayden is OUT for this week.


Carolina at New Orleans

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Jon Beason
Thomas Davis

Richard Marshall
Chris Harris
3 STAR
Chris Gamble
2 STAR
Julius Peppers
1 STAR
Damione Lewis

Panthers The Panthers looked DONE after losing at home to the Bills the previous week and then this week all they do is go on the road and knock off the reigning NFC champion Cardinals.  Establishing the run was a very big part of securing their win and will be vital in trying to limit the number of times the Saints potent offense gets to see the field. That will be easier said then done in the Super Dome so expect the Saints to still give up enough tackle opportunities this week to make Panthers IDP owners very happy.

Defensive line: Julius Peppers really filled up the box score last week.  To bad it was with all 1's.  1 sack, 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 1 pass defended, 1 defensive TD.  I am sure that Peppers owners will gladly take that kind of production but one would expect more tackles from the #2 ranked DL. The past couple of weeks teams have been getting pretty good pressure on Drew Brees but that doesn't do enough to make me ignore just how hard Brees normally is to sack.  That is one of the main reasons that Peppers is a 2 star play.  Along with his recent lack of tackles.

Linebackers: For the most part LBs have done very well versus the Saints this year.  Look for both Jon Beason and Thomas Davis to have very productive days against the Saints offensive assault.  For what it is worth over the past 3 weeks starting LBs versus the Saints are averaging just over 7 total tackles per game.

Secondary:  If ever there was a week to plug your secondary players into your lineup it is the week that they face the Saints.  Richard Marshall has been a huge bust so far this year but look for him to fill the box score this week.  The same goes for Chris Gamble and Chris Harris.

INJURY UPDATE:  Charles Godfrey (ankle) did not participate in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Roman Harper
3 STAR
Jonathan Vilma
Scott Shanle
Darren Sharper
Will Smith
Charles Grant
2 STAR

Jabari Greer
Tracy Porter

1 STAR
Scott Fujita

SaintsThe Saints hopefully won't take the Panthers lightly this week because if they do they very well could get handed their first loss of the season.  The defense will have to step up big to stop DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  If the defense can stop those two then then should move to 8-0 as I don't expect Jake Delhomme to be able to keep up in a shoot out with Drew Brees. 

Defensive Line:  Charles Grant and Will Smith have been an extremely frustrating pair this year.  They are either very hot or very cold with their production.  There just isn't really any middle ground.  Either could easily go off for 3-4 solo tackles with 2 sacks or put up just 1 lonely solo tackle.  In deeper leagues you can't really bench them but if you are in a 12 team league or smaller they are each just barely fringe starters due to their inconsistency. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Kendrick Clancy (knee) & Sedrick Ellis (knee) have both been ruled OUT for this week.

Linebacker: Over the past two weeks Jonathan Vilma has racked up 16 total tackles and while not spectacular his owners are happy to see him bouncing back.  This week I really think the Panthers will establish their running game and Vilma will benefit a ton from it.  Actually, I am just foolish enough to think that the Panthers could pull out a win but that all hinges on how effective their running game can be.  The more effective the running game the better numbers for Vilma and Scott Shanle.

INJURY UPDATE:  Scott Fujita (calf) did not participate in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  I really expect the Panthers to continue to limit the number of times that Jake Delhomme puts the ball in the air and that makes opposing secondaries poor fantasy plays.  However, Roman Harper is the exception and should be looked at as a top DB option every week.  The only reason Darren Sharper is a 3 star play is because of his penchant for the interception and the penchant for Delhomme to throw an interception or five.


Detroit at Seattle

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Louis Delmas
Cliff Avril
Larry Foote
Julian Peterson

2 STAR
Ernie Sims
Dewayne White
Marquand Manuel
1 STAR
Jason Hunter
DeAndre Levy

LionsThe Lions logged their first win of the season earlier this year versus the Redskins and looked like coming out of their bye week they would be able to notch win number two.  The winless Rams were their opponents and the Lions were at home coming off of a bye.  Unfortunately for Lions fans the Lions have not taken the next step as they were unable to beat the Rams.  If the Lions can't win at home coming off of a bye against a team as hapless as the Rams then don't expect them to go into Seattle and come away with a win.

Defensive Line:  Both Cliff Avril and Dewayne White were very disappointing last week in what looked to be a very nice matchup.  This week has the looks of another nice matchup but considering this is the Lions I have a hard time expecting much of anything at this point in time.  If I had to pick someone on the Lions DL to start it would be Avril but only as a low level DL2.  Jason Hunter is being limited in practice by an ankle injury.

Linebacker:  Ernie Sims is healthy so Ernie Sims is a starter again. Sims does play with a reckless abandon so if you are a DeAndre Levy owner you may want to stash him away if you can. Still the safest option at LB on the Lions is Larry Foote.  Normally, I don't like to recommend rush OLBs but Julian Peterson can get after the QB and the Seahawks do have issues on their OL.

Secondary:  Rookie Louis Delmas has been a very solid DB2 and this week looks to be no different.  If you are in a bye week bind or need a CB in CB mandatory leagues you may want to give Phillip Buchanon a look see. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

David Hawthorne
Patrick Kerney

2 STAR

Aaron Curry
Leroy Hill
Darryl Tapp
Jordan Babineaux

Josh Wilson

1 STAR
Deon Grant
Marcus Trufant

SeahawksThe Seahawks are another team that has had its fair share of injuries this year.  Even considering their injuries it is hard to imagine the Lions coming into Seattle and leaving with a win. Qwest Field isn't an easy place to play and that should be a major reason the Seahawks will dispose of the Lions this week.  If you own any Seahawks IDPs you should temper expectations some because the Lions are giving up below average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line: Don't look know but Patrick Kerney is NOT listed on the injury report.  If ever there was a week to plug Kerney into your starting lineup this would be it. Qwest Field can be an extremely loud and difficult place to play and this week I expect to see rookie Matthew Stafford struggle and Kerney to take advantage.  Darryl Tapp is a bit riskier play due to his rotational snaps but he too could be in for a decent day.

Linebacker:  Leroy Hill returned to action last week posted a respectable 5 solo tackles but the guy that really made some noise last week was Lofa Tatupu's injury replacement, David Hawthorne.  All Hawthorne did was log 5 solos, 3 assists, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble and 2 sacks.  Hawthorne has no doubt been a bit of a waiver wire darling this year but he looks to lose some of his value once Hill takes over for him in the nickle defense. 

Secondary:  I don't expect the Lions to be very effective on offense this week so I would take a pass on the entire Seahawks secondary. 


Tennessee at San Francisco

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Chris Hope
Keith Bulluck
David Thornton

2 STAR

Stephen Tulloch
Cortland Finnegan
Nick Harper
Kyle Vanden Bosch
William Hayes

1 STAR
Michael Griffin

TitansThe Titans finally got their first win of the season last week.  As bad as the Titans have looked at times this year they clearly are not that bad so it was just a matter of time before they got their first win.  This week they travel to face a much improved San Fran team. Look for the Titans to give the Niners all they can handle and possibly notch two wins in a row.     

Defensive Line:  Kyle Vanden Bosch finally logged his first sack of the year last week.  Now we just have to hope that he can build on that.  From where I am standing I would still leave Vanden Bosch on the bench until he shows he can be productive for consecutive weeks. 

Linebacker: I wouldn't read to much into the poor performances by Keith Bulluck and Stephen Tulloch last week since the Jaguars only gave up 30 tackle opportunities. While Bulluck and Tulloch struggled David Thornton had a great stat line with 7 total tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.  Thornton has worked his way back into the nickle defense and that is a main reason why Tulloch is a 2 star play.

INJURY UPDATE:  David Thornton (hip) did not practice on Wednesday or Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Chris Hope has been very inconsistent over the last 4 games and is becoming hard to rely on as a DB1.  I still think that Hope is a DB2 at worst but keep him on a short leash especially considering how deep the DB position is. Good news for the Titans last week was that Cortland Finnegan was able to return to the field of play.  Finnegan is a solid tackler and will be a welcomed addition to the Titans defense.  On the injury front Nick Harper (forearm) is practicing on a limited basis this week. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Both Nick Harper (forearm) and Vincent Fulluer (groin) were limited participants in practice on Friday and are each listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Patrick Willis

3 STAR
Michael Lewis
Dashon Goldson
2 STAR
Justin Smith
1 STAR
Takeo Spikes

49ersSan Francisco put up a pretty good fight versus the undefeated Colts last week but came up just a bit shy. The Niners will need to stay focused and not get caught flat this week or they will get beat by the Titans. As a team the Niners ran for 113 yards versus the Colts but 64 of those yards came on one Frank Gore run. The Niners will need to do a much better job running the ball not just this week but going forward too.

Defensive Line:  Justin Smith has only logged more than 4 solo tackles once this year and he still hasn't logged a sack yet.  Last week Smith did add in 4 assists to help with his box score but relying on him as a starter at this point is risky at best.

Linebacker:  I no this isn't much of a limb to go out on but with that said, Patrick Willis will not allow Chris Johnson to run for 200+ yards this week.  Expect Willis to be extremely active and racking up tackles all over the field.

Secondary:  Big news in the secondary is that Nate Clements is going to be out for at least 6 weeks with a shoulder injury.  If the Niners were facing anyone other than Vince Young I might be willing to bump up Clements replacement Tarell Brown to a 3 star play because I would expect the opposing QB to "pick" on Brown.  However, I am not so sure that Vince Young can pick on anyone with his arm.

INJURY UPDATE:  Nate Clements (shoulder) is OUT this week.


San Diego at NY Giants

5 STAR
Eric Weddle
Stephen Cooper
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Shawne Merriman
Steve Gregory

2 STAR
Kevin Burnett
1 STAR

Larry English

ChargersThe Chargers have to be one of the most perplexing teams to try and figure out this year.  Still they sit at 4-3 and will try to win three games in a row for the first time this year.  Unfortunately, they have to fly all the way to the East coast to face a Giants team that has lost three consecutive games.  There were two major parts of the "unfortunately" in the previous sentence; 1 being traveling from the West coast to the East coast and 2 being facing a Giants team that will be looking to stop their losing streak.  I wouldn't expect a Chargers win this week but I would expect to see some top notch fantasy production from their key IDPs.

Defensive Line: The Chargers DL presents no fantasy value you at all.

Linebacker:  The Chargers are playing musical injured LBs. First it was Stephen Cooper who got hurt a few weeks ago and then Kevin Burnett got hurt and missed some time.  Now Burnett's replacement Tim Dobbins got injured last week.  At least for the Chargers sake it looks like Burnett will return to the field this week.  Look for Cooper to have a very big week this week as I expect the Giants to set the tone with their running game. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Tim Dobbins (knee) missed practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.  Kevin Burnett (ankle) practiced on a limited basis on Thursday but did not practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  I also expect Eric Weddle to have a big day in run support.  The Giants really can't afford to lose a 4th straight game and with as bad as Eli Manning has looked of late I surely think that Tom Coughlin will be leaning hard on big Brandon Jacobs.  Steve Gregory could also garner a look as a bye week fill in if the need is there and you don't have many options.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Antonio Pierce
Aaron Rouse
Justin Tuck
Osi Umenyiora

2 STAR

Corey Webster
Mathias Kiwanuka

1 STAR
Michael Johnson
Michael Boley
CC Brown

GiantsThe Giants are reeling from three consecutive losses and in two of those losses gave up 40+ points to their opponent.  Their defense looks like it really misses Kenny Phillips but that just means that their leaders need to step up.  Expect to see the Giants really lean on their rushing game this week. If the Giants can't get their running game going expect to see the Chargers pin their 4th consecutive loss on them.

Defensive Line:   Lately the Giants DL has been nothing like their dominating DL that we have come to know.  This week coach Coughlin has called  out his leaders and I am expecting to see Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora answer the bell.  I know Osi has been an extreme disappointment this year but this week looks like one of those weeks that you don't want to have to say, "Why did I leave Osi on  my bench?".  Chris Canty is also set to return to action this week and that should give the DL a big shot in the arm too.

INJURY UPDATE:  Chris Canty (calf) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  The Giants will also be getting Michael Boley back from injury this week. Just be cautious with Boley in his first week back and leave him on your bench for a week.  Look for Antonio Pierce to have a solid yet unspectacular day. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Michael Boley (knee) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  After posting consecutive double digit tackle days in weeks 6 & 7 CC Brown cooled off some in week 8 posting just 5 solo tackles versus the Eagles.  This week I would expect production around 7 -10 total tackles for Brown.  Aaron Ross (hamstring) is still not practicing.

BREAKING NEWS: Tom Coughlin has confirmed that Aaron Rouse will replace CC Brown in the starting lineup.
INJURY UPDATE:  Aaron Ross (hamstring) has been ruled OUT this week.


Dallas at Philadelphia

5 STAR

None

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

Jay Ratliff
Gerald Sensabaugh

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysThe Cowboys head into Philly riding a three game winning streak and looking to leave Philly in sole possession of first place in the NFCE. Tony Romo has played extremely well during that streak as he has not thrown a single interception in those last three wins.  Depending on which Tony Romo shows up this week will go a long way towards determining who wins this tilt.  Will it be the Tony Romo of the last three games or the week 17 2008 Tony Romo?  Answer that question and you will know who wins this game.  The Eagles have a quick strike offense and that has been limiting the number of tackle opportunities they are giving up to their opposition. 

Defensive Line:  The Eagles are not a run between the tackles kind of team so I wouldn't expect much from the Dallas DL this week.

Linebacker:  Only 3 LBs have put up more than 5 solo tackles this year versus the Eagles.  So with that in mind I would temper expectations for both Bradie James and Keith Brooking.  Both should probably be 2 star plays based on the numbers but something tells me that they both end up with starting numbers.

Secondary:  The Eagles really have a fast strike offense this year and that is limiting the number of tackle opportunities that teams are facing.  Only 3 DBs have totaled more than 5 tackles versus Philly this year so don't look to the Dallas secondary for much help this week either..

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Will Witherspoon
Quintin Mikell
3 STAR
Trent Cole
Akeem Jordan
Asante Samuel
Sean Jones
2 STAR

Jason Babin

1 STAR
Sheldon Brown

EaglesDallas week in Philly is always a very big week and this week is no different.  Many Phillies fans will be looking for the Eagles to help ease their suffering from their World Series loss to the Yankees and the best way to ease that pain will be with a win over the Cowboys and in turn take over sole possession of 1st place in the NFCE.  The Eagles will need to protect Donovan McNabb if they hope to have any chance to beat the Cowboys this week. 

Defensive Line: Trent Cole is a tough player to sit but this week he is a bit of a risky start.  Over their last 3 games the Cowboys have only allowed one DL to log more than 3 total tackles and over that same span Tony Romo has been sacked just one time.

Linebacker: Will Witherspoon is averaging 7 total tackles per game since joining the Eagles two weeks ago.  This week is a hard week to predict how Witherspoon will do.  There are some starting MLBs that have had great days versus the Cowboys this year but then you have Curtis Lofton and Barrett Ruud who both logged exactly 3 solo tackles when they played the Cowboys.  With this game being in Philly I am thinking that Witherspoon ends up a very good play this week.

Secondary: Sean Jones finally cracked the starting lineup but you might want to think twice before putting him in your starting lineup this week.  The defensive coordinator for the Eagles has stated that both Victor Harris and Quintin Demps will also see some playing time this week.  Quintin Mikell has been relatively quiet the past 5 games but I really expect him to bounce back with a strong performance versus the Cowboys this week.  Asante Samuel normally isn't a great fantasy option but this week I think we could see Samuel pick off one or two Romo passes.  Romo has done a very good job protecting the ball the past three weeks but I do think that comes to an end this week.


Pittsburgh at Denver

5 STAR
Troy Polamalu
4 STAR
James Harrison
3 STAR
James Farrior
Lawrence Timmons
2 STAR

None

1 STAR
Brett Keisel
Casey Hampton
Lamar Woodley
Ryan Clark

SteelersThe Steelers are coming off of a bye week and heading to Denver to face a Broncos team that just got knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.  This game could be a preview of a playoff game later this year but in my opinion it will go a long way to show which of these teams is the real contender in the AFC. 

Defensive Line: There is little to no fantasy value on the Steelers DL so please look elsewhere for DL help.

Linebacker:  This is a very big game for the Steelers and in big games you have to be able to rely on your big time players stepping up. Look for James Harrison to put on a clinic with his pass rush this weekend. Elvis Dumervil has been on fire this year and Harrison will not want to be upstaged.  I have Lamar Woodley ranked as a 1 star player but that has more to do with his poor fantasy play this year than what I expect from him in this game.  I can just as easily see Woodley racking up a multi sack game as I can Harrison but the risk is far greater in relying on Woodley.

INJURY UPDATE:  Lawrence Timmons (ankle) did not practice on Thursday or Friday.

Secondary:  This is the exact type of game that a player like Troy Polamalu thrives on.  I expect Polamalu to be all over the field this weekend.  Look for him to rack up at least 7 tackles and for good measure I am expecting to see a sack and interception.  The cherry on top very well could be a fumble recovery for a TD. Ryan Clark is in danger of missing this game due to injury so if you need to rely on him make sure to check the game day inactives before inserting him into your lineup.

5 STAR
DJ Williams
Brian Dawkins
4 STAR
Elvis Dumervil
Champ Bailey
3 STAR
Andra Davis
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Robert Ayers

BroncosThis weeks game versus the Steelers will go a long way to showing just how good this Broncos team actually is.  A big question is how they will bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season last week versus the Ravens. Their showing this week will show if they have the mental toughness to actually lay claim to one of the better teams in the NFL this year.  The Steelers are among the league leaders in tackle opportunities given up per game so that bodes well for many of the Broncos IDPs.

Defensive Line: Just like the Steelers there is no fantasy value on the Broncos DL.

Linebacker: Look for DJ Williams to have another very productive day against and offense that is giving up above average tackle opportunities.  You may wonder why Williams is a 5 star play but Andra Davis is only a 3 star play.  Well the reason for that is because as much as the Steelers are thought to be a running team they sure do like to throw the rock.  Davis comes off the filed just enough on passing downs to keep him from being anything more than a 3 star play this week.  The sneaky play if you are in a serious bind could be Wesley Woodyard.  Elvis Dumervil owners should run to get him into their lineups this week. Big Ben is known to take a sack or two and I really think that James Harrison and Elvis Dumervil are going to bring the best out of each other this weekend.

Secondary: Brian Dawkins is a player much like Troy Polamalu in that he knows how to get up for a big game.  Dawkins has lost a step for sure but he is playing lights out this year and this week should be no different.  Champ Bailey won't get tested much but I do think that Big Ben is going to try and fit a pass in that he will wish he never threw.

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