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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 12
Steve Gallo
November 27, 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:

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).

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 50 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor
ATL 48 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 49 3-4(Multi Front) Greg Mattison Ray Lewis, Jarret Johnson
BUF 43 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Perry Fewell Paul Posluszny, Bryan Scott (still a DB or SS in many leagues)
CAR 49 4-3 & Tampa 2 Ron Meeks Jon Beason
CHI 46 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer
CIN 51 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 42 3-4 Rob Ryan Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens
DAL 46 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 46 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 46 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote
GB 50 3-4 Dom Capers Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett
HOU 51 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 50 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 48 4-3 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 45 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Tamba Hali
MIA 51 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter
MIN 52 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 55 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 54 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 52 4-3 Bill Sheridan Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn
NYJ 49 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace
OAK 39 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard
PHL 45 4-3 Sean McDermott Will Witherspoon
PIT 50 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L Timmons
SD 46 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 48 4-3 Gus Bradley Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne
SF 40 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 45 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis
TB 41 4-3 Raheem Morris Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes
TEN 48 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck, David Thornton
WAS 46 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.

Green Bay at Detroit

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Nick Barnett

2 STAR

AJ Hawk
Charles Woodson

1 STAR
Nick Collins
Atari Bigby

Cullen Jenkins

PackersThe Packers have run off two wins in a row to run their record to 6-4 and jump right into the thick of the playoff race.  This week they won't be able to let their guard down like they did a few week's ago versus the Buccaneers. To make the playoffs the Packers are at the least going to need to beat the teams they are supposed to.  Last week wasn't a good week for Packers IDPs and this week is far from a good matchup so don't expect much improvement.

Defensive Line:  No real fantasy value on the Packers DL.

Linebacker: Last week Nick Barnett burned his owners when he only posted 2 solo tackles.  When you realize that Barnett only faced 26 total tackle opportunities than it is easy to see why he had such a poor week.  This week look for Barnett to bounce back some. In their last matchup Barnett did post 8 solos with an assist so he should be a safe start this week as a LB3 with some upside.  Bad news is that Aaron Kampman was lost for the season when he suffered a knee injury in last week's game.

Secondary: Charles Woodson was only able to post 3 solo tackles last week. Surely a disappointment for owners that were expecting to see a repeat of the numbers he posted the week prior versus the Cowboys.  While there is no other real fantasy value in the Packers secondary it will be interesting to how the loss of Al Harris will effect the overall defense.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Louis Delmas
3 STAR

Larry Foote
Julian Peterson

2 STAR
Ko Simpson
DeAndre Levy
Cliff Avril
Jason Hunter
1 STAR
Dewayne White

LionsWOW, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW,  WOW...WOW!!  What an unbelievable comeback for the Lions. Prior to the NFL draft this year I questioned if the Lions should use the 1st overall pick on a QB and I thought that they made the wrong decision to take Stafford with the first pick.  Well if this past week showed me anything is that the Lions look like they actually did make the right pick.  Stafford is a gamer and will be a major part of the Lions rebuild. I don't think the Lions are going to make it two in a row but their IDPs should at least do well this week.

Defensive Line:  This should be an excellent matchup for the Lions DL this week but the truth is that it isn't worth the risk to try and figure out which Lions DL to play.

Linebacker:  Since the Lions DL is so hard to gauge and the Packers OL has been thoroughly abused this year I would look at Julian Peterson as a sneaky play.  Well maybe not such a sneaky play if you realize that in their earlier meeting Peterson logged 6 solos, 4 assists, 2.5 sacks and forced 2 fumbles.  Larry Foote has by far been the most consistent and safest LB to start this year and this week should be no different.

Secondary: The Packers have given up some very good games to safeties this year, including the 7 solo, 2 assist effort back in week 6 by rookie Louis Delmas.  Last week Delmas was back on the field and put up a respectable 6 solos and 2 assists.  It is safe to say that the tooth/jaw injury that made for a goose egg in week 10 is a thing of the past and nothing to worry about.


Oakland at Dallas

5 STAR
Kirk Morrison
4 STAR
Tyvon Branch
3 STAR

Thomas Howard

2 STAR
Greg Ellis
1 STAR
Michael Huff 
Richard Seymour
Matt Shaughnessy

RaidersThe good the bad and the ugly.  That seems to be what we get with the Raiders this year.  The good being that the team looks like it responded well to the benching of Jamarcus Russell.  The bad is that they still aren't a very good team and the ugly is what that win was over the Bengals last week.  However, it was a win and a win is a win. The best thing about the Raiders of course is the fact that their IDPs have faced the 2nd most tackle opportunities in the league this year.  This week they face a Cowboys team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities but this week look for the Cowboys to run the ball and run the ball even more and that will add to the value for select Raiders IDPs.

Defensive Line: Greg Ellis returned to the field last week and post 3 solos and a sack.  Ellis got off to a hot start to the season but cooled and then missed time due to injury.  Ellis is still listed on the injury report as being limited in practice due to the knee injury so he makes for a risky start.  Matt Shaughnessy had a few nice weeks and is a guy that dynasty owners should keep an eye on but for this week I would look elsewhere for DL help if you could help it.

Linebacker: Kirk Morrison had a slightly disappointing week last week as he was only able to log 4 solo tackles with a fumble recovery.  However, for the most part this season the Cowboys have given up very good numbers to opposing MLBs.  Look for Morrison to get back to posting top notch LB1 numbers this week.  Expect him to not only approach but to surpass double digit tackles this week.  Thomas Howard should also be busy enough to warrant a start as a solid LB3 with some upside this week.

Secondary:  All Tyvon Branch did last week was widen his gap on the #2 DB in the league in fantasy points scored as he put up his best weekly points total all season (29 pts.).  The Cowboys look like they are willing to lessen their reliance on their passing game so that will limit the production of the rest of their secondary.

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 lead the NFCE with a 7-3 record and it is a good thing that their record and not their overall performance is what counts.  I am sure that many Cowboy fans have already blocked out last week and who can blame them.  Sure they got a win versus a divisional rival but that rival was the Redskins and the Redskins came oh so close to actually shutting out the Cowboys.  I doubt they take the Raiders lightly on turkey day and I am looking for them to play with more passion and heart than we have seen in the past couple of weeks.  For the most part their IDPs are poor plays this week because the Raiders are giving up the fewest tackle opportunities in the league this year.

Defensive Line:  So far this year only two DLs have posted more than 5 solo tackles versus the Raiders.  One was Justin Tuck (6 solos) and the other was DT Tank Tyler who posted 7 solo tackles.  Odds are that the Cowboys DL will not post fantasy relevant numbers.  If you are in a bind you could take a chance on Jay Ratliff and hope for a Tyler like performance.

Linebacker: The overall numbers from this year don't really support ranking DeMarcus Ware as a 4 Star play but I really expect to see Ware step up big on the Thanksgiving day stage.  Earlier this year the Raiders did give up very strong performances to Calvin Pace (6 solo, 1 assists, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles & 1 pass defended), Elvis Dumervil (5 solos & 2 sacks) & a combined 10 tackles, 4 sacks and 1 forced fumble to Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips.  Look for Ware to join that group with a top notch performance.  Bradie James and Keith Brooking have been pretty solid this year but this week they really are risky starts and should be looked at as nothing more than low level LB3s at the very best.

Secondary:  Not a single secondary player has posted more than 5 solo tackles versus the Raiders this year.  I think that pretty much sums it up as well as need be.  Start your Cowboys secondary players at your own risk.


NY Giants at Denver

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Justin Tuck
Michael Boley
Aaron Rouse

2 STAR

Osi Umenyiora

1 STAR
Mathias Kiwanuka

GiantsThe Giants finally got off the schneid and ended their four game losing streak.  Now at 6-4 the Giants are right in the thick of the playoff race.  They trail the division leading Cowboys by one game and will need to win this week if they want a chance to pull into a tie for the division lead next week when they face the Cowboys.  When the Giants look across the field they will see a Denver Broncos team that they understand all to well since the Broncos are currently at 4 consecutive losses just like they were.  The Broncos offense is really struggling of late and that doesn't bode well for Giants IDPs.  The Broncos were once won of the leading teams in tackle opportunities given up but now they are giving up below average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line:  In two of the past four weeks Andre Carter and Terrell Suggs combined to record 10 solos, 3 assist, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.  Justin Tuck is right there with those guys when it comes to talent so don't be surprised to see Tuck have a nice day on Thursday.  Osi Umenyiora has been very disappointing this year and unless you have absolutely no other options you really should leave him on your bench.  Now with that said I wouldn't be surprised to see Umenyiora post his first multi sack game of the year this week but the risk really isn't worth it.

Linebacker:  Late last week it was shockingly announced that Antonio Pierce was being ruled out indefinitely due to a bulging disc injury that was found after an MRI was done on Friday.  Chase Blackburn replaced Pierce in the starting lineup and he did post 3 solos with 4 assists but his upside is limited by the return of Michael Boley to the starting WLB slot.  Boley posted a fantastic 11 solos, 2 assists and a sack last week.  Don't expect Boley to post double digit tackles every week but he should be good as a low level LB1 or high level LB2 the rest of the way this year.

Secondary: Aaron Rouse had a nice bounce back week in the box score in his second start as he posted 9 total  tackles.  Not bad considering the previous week he only posted 1 assist.  The best news coming out of week 11 was that CB Aaron Ross actually made it back on to the playing field for the first time all season.  Ross won't really hold much fantasy value but he should provide the Giants defense a nice boost.

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

Champ Bailey
Elvis Dumervil

1 STAR
Robert Ayers

BroncosThat's four in a row for the Broncos and I don't mean wins.  The Broncos not only have lost 4 games in a row but they really aren't playing well. They say that good teams find ways to win games that they would normally lose. About 5 weeks ago we were able to look back at week 1 and say that the reason the Broncos won that game versus the Bengals was because they were a good team that found a way to win.  Well now we know that really it was nothing more than straight up luck.  The Broncos may not be the team that people thought they were at 6-0 but I do think they have enough resolve to pull out a win in front of their hometown fans on Thanksgiving night. 

Defensive Line: No fantasy value exists on the Broncos defensive line.

Linebacker: The Giants will most likely look to really establish their running game with Brandon Jacobs and DJ Williams should be right in the middle of many of those plays.  He currently ranks 8th in fantasy points scored and facing a Giants team that has given up 9+ total tackles to opposing LBs nine times.  Look for Williams to make it ten times.  Andra Davis should also post solid starters numbers. When the Chargers played the Giants both Stephen Cooper (7 solos, 6 assists) and Brandon Siler (7 solos, 1 assist) were able to post very good numbers.  Elvis Dumervil has put up some extremely big numbers at times this year but he is so inconsistent that it is risky to start him.  If you are a big underdog and need a huge week from a LB this week then that is when you actually roll the dice and play Dumervil.

Secondary: Brain Dawkins had one of his worst games of the year last week versus the Chargers.  This week look for Dawkins to really feed off the crowd and get his team fired up.  For one Dawkins knows what it takes to beat the Giants and I expect to see him step up and lead with his play on the field.  Secondly, if the Giants are able to establish their running game Dawkins will be very active playing in the box in run support.


Miami at Buffalo

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Channing Crowder
Yeremiah Bell
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter
2 STAR

Gibril Wilson

1 STAR
Akin Ayodele

DolphinsThe Dolphins have really rebounded from their poor play to open the season. This week they head to Buffalo to face a division rival that they really should beat. Coming off of a big road win versus the Panthers and having the extra time to prepare from playing on Thursday night should help the Dolphins secure their 6th win of the season and try to jump into the playoff hunt.  This week you should temper your expectations for Dolphins IDPs as they face a Bills team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: You could try and roll the dice with Randy Starks if you are in a bind but for the most part there isn't any real fantasy value on the Dolphins DL.

Linebacker: Channing Crowder got off to a very slow start this season as he only posted 22 total tackles thru week 9.  In his last two weeks he has turned things around, posting 14 total tackles.  I wouldn't expect a big day from Crowder since the Bills offense is anything but stellar.  At the very best he should be looked at as a low level LB3 this week.  Recommending Jason Taylor and Joey Porter as 3 Star plays is a bit risky because they are going to need to make an impact in the sack column to have fantasy relevance.  The Bills OL can be had so if you need a big week and can afford the risk then go ahead and plug one of those guys in your lineup.

Secondary:  This year for the most part DBs have not scored very well against the Bills but there have been some above average performances. If you are a Yeremiah Bell owner you will be pleased to know that Bell's week 4 performance (8 solo tackles) was the best by a DB against the Bills this year.  Look for Bell to be a solid DB2 play this week.

5 STAR
Paul Posluszny
Bryan Scott
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Jairus Byrd
Donte Whitner

2 STAR
Aaron Schobel
Chris Kelsay
Terrence McGee
1 STAR
Marcus Stroud
Drayton Florence

BillsWell the firing of Dick Jauron may not have made a difference in the win column (yet) but the Bills look to have a bit of fight in them.  They surely don't know how to finish yet but that will come.  Not this year but when they hire a new coach this offseason.  Until then Bills fans don't really have much to look forward too.  Unless they happen to own Bills IDPs then there should be much to cheer for.  The Bills have faced the most tackle opportunities/game so far this year and that doesn't look to change this week.  Look for a big week from key Bills IDPs

Defensive Line:  The Miami OL is playing pretty well as evidenced by the fact that they haven't surrendered a sack to opposing defensive linemen in the last three weeks.  On top of that only three times has a DL recorded more than 4 total tackles versus the Dolphins this year.  With all that said that is why Aaron Schobel and crew are all 2 star or worse plays this weekend.

INJURY UPDATE: Marcus Stroud (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: Many people probably do not realize this small fact but Paul Posluszny is the number 1 ranked LB in PPG this year. Posluszny is currently averaging 19.333 PPG and is followed in the rankings by Patrick Willis (19.300) & Curtis Lofton (18.700).  The main reason that "Poz" is a bit under the radar is because of the 4 weeks he missed due to a broken arm.  Since returning from that injury Poz has been on fire averaging 20.8 PPG.  This week Poz is about a strong a 5 Star play as you can get as he faces a Miami team that is giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities/game this year.  Keith Ellison was a nice play for much of the season but has since been placed on IR and has been replaced at WLB by SS Bryan Scott.

Secondary:  As mentioned above Bryan Scott has replaced the injured Keith Ellison at WLB but in most leagues he is still listed as a DB or SS which is why I am including him in this section.  Scott is a great play this week for the same reasons that Poz is. Also since Scott has returned from injury he is averaging 22 PPG.  It looks like George Wilson is going to be starting over Donte Whitner and if that is the case he replaces Whitner as the 3 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE: Jairus Byrd (groin) and Terrence McGee (knee) are listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Carolina at NY Jets

5 STAR
Jon Beason
4 STAR

None

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

Panthers Carolina lost a home game versus the Dolphins that they really couldn't afford to lose.  At this point for all intents and purposes the Panthers are out of playoff contention. That is unless they can go on a Titans type run but even then they will need to extend that win streak two more games.  Not only have the Panthers been inconsistent on offense but they have suffered some pretty big losses on their defense. This week their IDPs face a Jets team that is in the midst of a three game losing streak.  Look for the Jets to try and get their running game going so they can protect their rookie QB a bit.  The Jets are giving up above average tackle opportunities and should present a decent matchup for key Panthers IDPs.

Defensive Line: Julius Peppers is an elite talent at the DL position and one of the best overall defensive players in the NFL.  However, a broken hand has really hindered his performance over the past few weeks.  Starting Peppers is risky business as long as he is being limited due to the hand.

Linebacker: The Panthers had to suffer thru a Jon Beason injury early in the season and during that time Thomas Davis was really establishing himself as a top performing WLB.  Well, Beason was able to get healthy and Davis continued to excel but then Davis suffered a season ending knee injury back in week 9.  Davis was then replaced in the starting lineup by Landon Johnson and Johnson put up a respectable 13 total tackles over the past two weeks.  But then the injury bug struck again and Johnson was the the one that it hit.  Johnson has now been put on IR and looks like he will be replaced by James Anderson at WLB.  Look for Anderson to post decent numbers from that productive WLB spot.  Let's just hope that he is able to steer clear of that nasty injury bug.  Dan Connor told the media that he was taking snaps at SLB this week and that Anderson was taking them at WLB.  If Na'il Diggs isn't able to go this week then Connor probably will play SLB but if Diggs does play we could see a rotation of sort with Anderson and Connor.

Secondary:  Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez has thrown like 293 interceptions this year so that could be nice for someone in the Panthers secondary.  Richard Marshall struggled to put up decent stats earlier in the year but he is active in run support and since he very well could be a recipient of a Sanchez gift is why he is ranked as a 3 Star play.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
David Harris
3 STAR
Bart Scott
Eric Smith
Darrell Revis
2 STAR
Calvin Pace
Shaun Ellis
1 STAR

Kerry Rhodes

JetsWell the J. E. T. S. Jets, Jets Jets sure are riding a roller coaster this year.  Earlier this year they looked like the read deal and a team that could easily challenge for not just a playoff spot but a division title.  Well as the past three weeks have shown the Jets aren't there yet and still have some work to do.  The good news for Jets fans is that Sanchez does look like he will develop into a good NFL QB and while brash coach Ryan should be successful as a head coach too.  This week their IDPs face a Panthers team that is giving up above average tackle opportunities/game and that should bode well for some of their IDPs.

Defensive Line:  Shaun Ellis had a huge week last week against the Patriots.  Ellis recorded 8 total tackles and tacked on 2 sacks with a forced fumble too.  Ellis has the ability to put up a monster game like that on occasion but starting him is a risky proposition as he can just as easily put up a measly 2 solos. The Panthers have given up some decent games to opposing DL but I just can't see taking the risk and starting Ellis.

Linebacker: David Harris had a huge 12 tackle & 3 assist day last week versus the Patriots.  This week I don't expect Harris to as productive as last week since I doubt the Panthers will put up over 60 tackle opportunities this week like the Patriots did last week.  I still think that the Panthers are going to force their run game to try and control the clock so don't fear plugging Harris in your starting lineup and expecting low level LB1 numbers this week.  Bart Scott won't be a game changer this week for fantasy owners but he should still be able to log around 5-6 tackles this week. 

Secondary:  Big news is that Kerry Rhodes looks to have lost his starting job to Eric Smith.  If I get a better confirmation then I will pull Rhodes from a 3 Star ranking.  Jim Leonhard surprisingly played last week and showed just how tough and gritty he was by getting back onto the field.  This week Darrell Revis gets to see if he can put the clamps on Steve Smith.  Unfortunately for Smith owners his own QB has put the clamps on him for the most part this season.  Still Delhomme has shown a penchant for throwing balls that he shouldn't and Revis very well could pick off a pass of 5 this weekend.


Cleveland at Cincinnati

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
David Bowens
Kaluka Maiava
2 STAR

Kamerion Wimbley
Jason Trusnik
Abram Elam
Shaun Rogers

1 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Brodney Pool

BrownsThe Browns had their hearts ripped out of them last week on a final untimed play due to a pass interference call in the end zone.  Many feel that Coach Mangini made a bonehead play when he called a TO that allowed QB Matt Stafford to re-enter the game.  I think Mangini looked at the score board and realized that he was about to fall out of the running for the #1 overall pick next year.  Well that really is about all the Browns have to look forward too.  Honestly, I didn't check to see if the Browns still own their own #1 for next year but for the fans sake I sure hope they do.  This week look for the Browns IDPs to have a good week as they face a Bengals team that is giving up above average tackle opportunities/game this year. 

Defensive Line: Shaun Rogers has led or tied for the lead in tackles by Browns defensive linemen 5 of 11 weeks this year.  That is actually not bad for a DT. While Rogers has been the best option on the Browns DL this year I wouldn't expect to see him post good numbers this week. The Bengals have only given up two good tackle games to opposing DL this year and on top of that Rogers has only logged 2 solos and 2 assists over the past 3 weeks.

INJURY UPDATE: Shaun Rogers (ankle) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: David Bowens and Kaluka Maiava look to have cemented their spots at ILB for the Browns and both should be solid plays versus the Bengals.  In some leagues Bowens is listed as a DL and in those leagues you should bump his star ranking up one level.  looks like he is the LB to own after the Browns lost both D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton. He makes an above average start versus the Lions this week.  Rookie Kaluka Maiava also had a nice game last week and should post LB3 type numbers this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  David Bowens (knee) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Abram Elam posted a very nice 7 solo tackles last week but still remains a risky start due to the limited snaps he has been seeing.  DB is a deep position and you really would be best suited to look to other teams to get help if you need it.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
None
2 STAR
Nedu Ndukwe
Dhani Jones
1 STAR
Robert Geathers
Keith Rivers
Rey Maualuga
Brandon Johnson
Johnathan Joseph
Leon Hall
Domata Peko

BengalsIn a matter of 15 seconds the Bengals went from looking at a two game lead in their division just maintaining their one game lead that they started the day off with.  Lucky for them that the Chiefs were able to knock the Steelers off too.  At least the Bengals do have the tie breaker over the Steelers if they need it this year.  But back to last week, the Bengals can't let a team like the Raiders hang around long enough to steal a win.  Hopefully for the Bengals that they are able to learn and grow from this very bad loss.  This week on the IDP front don't expect much versus the Browns.  Sure the Browns lit up the scoreboard last week but after that horribly demoralizing loss you can expect the Browns to crawl back  into their hole.

Defensive Line: Even if the Bengals were facing what looked to be a good matchup I wouldn't be ranking any Bengals DL more than a 2 star play.  That should say all that needs to be said.

Linebacker: The Browns have given up some nice games to opposing LBs this year but coming off such a tough loss I just can't see the Browns putting up much of a fight and that will severely limit the opportunities that they allow.  Dhani Jones had a very good game the last time these two teams met but this week I think he is a risky start. 

INJURY UPDATE: Keith Rivers (calf) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Prior to last week the Browns were averaging around 3.7 yards/play. That is just horrible.  To think the Browns have turned the corner is just wishful thinking.  Do yourself a favor and find DB help elsewhere.


Indianapolis at Houston

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Clint Session
Gary Brackett

3 STAR
Antoine Bethea
Melvin Bullitt
Robert Mathis
Jerraud Powers
Jacob Lacey
2 STAR
Dwight Freeney
1 STAR
None

Colts Well the Colts are 10-0 and will look to be the 11-0 and win their 20th consecutive regular season game. One thing that you may not realize is that the Colts have won their last four games by a combined total of just 10 points. The Texans just lost a tough home battle with the Titans so you would think that they will be fired up to knock the Colts off in their building.  However, when you look a little deeper you see that Peyton Manning is 14-1 against the Texans.  So now the question has to be does that mean the Colts will win again or that that 1 loss is an omen of something to come this weekend. 

Defensive Line:  Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are one of the best DE tandems in the NFL but Mathis is the more consistent and therefore a highly rated fantasy DL.  Mathis was outplayed by Freeney the last time these two teams played in week 9.  This week I think that Mathis steps up and outplays Freeney.

INJURY UPDATE: Dwight Freeney (abdomen) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  In week 9 against the Texans Clint Session led the Colts in tackles with 13 solos, 1 assist and even added an interception for good measure.  Gary Brackett didn't put up numbers like Session but he did post a respectable 5 solos and 2 assists.  This week I see a bit of regression for Session and a slight uptick for Brackett.  Both should still be looked at as high level LB2s with some upside.

Secondary:  The Texans sure do seem to be missing TE Owen Daniels but that doesn't mean that they aren't still going to pass the ball any less.  Both rookies, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey were solid in the last game versus the Texans. Look for Melvin Bullitt to have another solid game this week.

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

TexansThe Texans took a punch to the gut last week when they lost a close battle to the Titans. Coming off a loss like that makes you wonder if the Texans are going to be able to get the monkey off their back when it comes to the Colts.  Odds are Texans are going to be staring a 5-6 record in the face after this week.

Defensive Line: Mario Williams has been pretty disappointing this year and makes for a risky start.  Especially when you consider that Peyton Manning is one of the least sacked QBs in the NFL.  What you may not know is that Williams has recorded 4 sacks in his last four games versus the Colts.

Linebacker: The Texans may be struggling to win games that they should win but they sure did win in the NFL draft this year.  Rookie Brian Cushing is really making an impact and is playing as well as one could imagine.  Fantasy owner sure have to be liking his production.  Look for Cushing to continue adding to is team leading tackle total.  DeMeco Ryans hasn't lived up to the top 5 expectations that many had of him but he has been a solid LB2 for most of the season.

INJURY UPDATE: DeMeco Ryans (ankle) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report and Brian Cushing (foot) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Last week while watching the Texans play the Titans I about choked when I heard John Gruden say that Bernard Pollard was good in coverage (not sure of the exact quote but you get my point). Pollard can hit, that is undeniable.  But cover, cover are we talking about cover?  Seriously, Pollard was released by the Chiefs because he is a liability in coverage.  Well in fantasy football we don't really care if a guy is good or not we just want them to rack up stats and Pollard has been doing that.  Look for Manning to exploit the Texans secondary but that will in turn just add to their opportunities to rack up those oh so precious stats.


Tampa Bay at Atlanta

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Barrett Ruud
Tanard Jackson
Sabby Piscitelli
3 STAR

Geno Hayes

2 STAR

Aqib Talib
Ronde Barber

1 STAR

Quincy Black
James Wilkerson
Stylez White

BuccaneersThe Buccaneers still have a way to go before they are a really competitive team on a weekly basis but it does look like they may have drafted a QB that has a bright future.  I think it would be asking to much to expect the Bucs to go to the Georgia Dome and knock off the Falcons but if they can put forth an effort like they did versus the Packers or Dolphins earlier this year then they will have a chance to give the Falcons their 3rd consecutive loss.  On the defensive side of the ball I would expect to see good production since the Falcons are giving up above average tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: Since week 7 only one Buccaneers DE has topped 3 solo tackles (Crowder-4).  Expecting to get solid fantasy production from Stylez White, James Wilkerson or even Tim Crowder at this point borders on lunacy. 

Linebacker: Barrett Ruud is still plugging away as a solid top 10 LB and this week he should be busy trying to keep the Falcon running game in check.  Geno Hayes currently sits as a LB4 in the season rankings in points scored but this week is a good matchup and you should expect to see Hayes post LB3 type numbers.  Hopefully you didn't get caught chasing stats with regards to Quincy Black.  Two weeks ago Black did post 9 solos but those sort of week will be extremely few and far between for Black as long as he is manning the SLB position.

INJURY UPDATE: Barrett Ruud (ribs) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Earlier in the season Sabby Piscitelli was really tearing it up and posting very good numbers but then Tanard Jackson returned from a 4 game league imposed suspension.  Since returning Jackson is actually the leader in PPG among all DBs with 16.667 PPG (Tyvon Branch 16.300).  Actually, on a technicality he would be second if you still consider Bryan Scott a DB (18.400 PPG).  Both should be very busy helping to defend Tony Gonzalez and the other Falcons receivers.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Curtis Lofton
Eric Coleman

2 STAR

Mike Peterson
Chris Houston
Thomas Decoud

1 STAR
John Abraham
Stephen Nicholas
Jonathan Babineaux

FalconsThe Falcons currently on the outside looking in with regards to a playoff spot.  They still have a shot but they need to stop the bleeding and put an end their two game losing streak. They surely need to take advantage when they play teams like the Buccaneers if they want to stay in the playoff race. Hopefully the Falcons aren't looking ahead to their next two opponents, the Eagles and Saints who will both be making visits to the Georgia Dome.  This week temper your expectations for Falcons IDPs.

Defensive Line:  John Abraham is another one of those premier DEs that is having a very disappointing season.  Abraham has the ability to blow up on any given week, no matter the matchup but his inconsistent play is what makes him a very risky start.

Linebacker: Conventional wisdom says that the Bucs shouldn't be a good matchup for the MLB.  However, since rookie QB Josh Freeman took over starting duties for the Bucs opposing MLBs have scored fairly well. Lofton isn't a guy you are going to bench anyway but you might want to temper your expectations a bit this week.  Mike Peterson has been more than solid this year but I do think the defense steps up this week and that will limit the tackle opportunities so starting anyone other than Curtis Lofton at LB is probably a bit risky.

INJURY UPDATE: Curtis Lofton (knee & groin ) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  With Antonio Bryant getting healthier and Freeman getting more comfortable with his starting gig SS Eric Coleman should remain a safe and solid start this week.  Chris Houston, Thomas Decoud and the rest of the Falcons secondary should be avoided this week. The only reason to be considering any one outside of Coleman should be because you are in extremely large leagues.


Washington at Philadelphia

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Andre Carter
3 STAR

Reed Doughty

2 STAR

London Fletcher
Rocky McIntosh
Laron Landry

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo
Albert Haynesworth

RedskinsSnake bitten is about one of the only ways you can put it.  First the Redskins lose Ladell Betts to injury when he is replacing an injured Clinton Portis.  Then they lose a game that they had control of for most of the day.  In the NFL you can't give points away (missed FGs) and you have to be able to make a stop on defense when you need too.  The Redskins gave points away and then couldn't get off the field on that one possession where Tony Romo drove the Cowboys down the field for their only TD of the game. This week the Redskins head to Philadelphia to face a division rival that is in the hunt for a playoff spot.  Can they play a better spoiler this week?

Defensive Line:  Last week the Redskins were without the services of Albert Haynesworth and for the most part they played well without him.  That is except for the most important drive of the day.  The Eagles OL can be had but they don't give up many tackle opportunities couple that with the knee injury that Haynesworth is fighting and you have a recipe for benching him.  Andre Carter on the other hand is a very good play this week.  With a big week and another subpar performance by Jared Allen, Carter could take over possession of the #1 DL in fantasy football.

INJURY UPDATE: Albert Haynesworth (ankle) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: This summer I stated how I thought the acquisition of Albert Haynesworth could be detrimental to London Fletcher's tackle numbers.  Well, at the start of the season and thru the first 4 games of the year it looked like Fletcher wasn't going to be effected as he was averaging double digit tackles/game.  Well since week 5 it had been another story and Fletcher was looking rather pedestrian in the box score for the most part.  That is until last week, when he posted 13 combined tackles but be warned because that was without Haynesworth in the lineup. 

Secondary:  The Eagles are giving up below average tackle opportunities but they do like to throw the ball down field.  In his last three games Reed Doughty is averaging a tad over 7 tackles/game.  In their last meeting both Doughty and Chris Horton combined for 6 solo tackles when they were being used in a rotation.  Look for Doughty to put up around those same 6 solo tackles. 

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

Joe Mays
Sean Jones
Sheldon Brown
Asante Samuel

1 STAR
Akeem Jordan
Chris Gocong

EaglesThe Eagles will need a win to keep pace with the division leading Dallas Cowboys.  The Eagles did get one early gift this season and that was a loss by the Giants to the Broncos on Thanksgiving night.  Sole possession of 2nd place and a solid grip on a wild card spot is up for grabs this week.  If you own any Eagles IDPs I would temper expectations some as the Redskins are giving up below average tackle opportunities and on top of that are down to their 3rd string running back.

Defensive Line: This could be a battle of top DL this week.  Trent Cole is currently ranked 3rd in fantasy points scored and is just 13 points behind the 2nd place Andre Carter.  Cole had been a bit of a funk of late but last week he was at least able to scrape together an 11 point performance with 5 total tackles and a sack.  Cole looks to be in for a very big day versus a beat up Redskins OL.

Linebacker: No definitive word yet on if Akeem Jordan will be able to return to the field this week.  That means the Eagles will be playing with their lineup shuffled a bit again.  Expect to see them continue with the lineup they used last week where Will Witherspoon manned the WLB slot, Chris Gocong played his normal SLB and Jeremiah Trotter and Joe Mays split time at MLB.  Witherspoon is really the only one of the bunch that is worthy of starting and that is only as a low level LB3 this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Akeem Jordan has been officially ruled OUT for this week.  Jeremiah Trotter (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: The Eagles secondary could be a little bit busy if the Redskins can't get anything going on the ground but then again the Redskins probably won't be able to get much going on thru the air either.  At best Quintin Mikell is worth a start as a DB3.  For the most part this season the Redskins have given up pretty mediocre numbers to opposing DBs but they have given up the occasional gem, like the 12 solo effort former Eagle Brian Dawkins logged against them earlier this year. Philly fans had better hope Mikell doesn't log 12 solos because that would probably mean they got beat by the Redskins.

INJURY UPDATE: Asante Samuel (neck) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Seattle at St. Louis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

David Hawthorne
Patrick Kerney
Darryl Tapp

2 STAR

Jordan Babineaux
Leroy Hill
Aaron Curry

Deon Grant
Marcus Trufant

1 STAR
Josh Wilson
Marcus Trufant
Lawrence Jackson

SeahawksThe Seahawks rear ends are probably still sore from the beating that they took last week at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings.  Unfortunately for Seahawks fans their team seems to have gotten derailed by injuries again.  The season probably can't end fast enough for Seattle but at least they have some players that IDP owners are excited about.  Those IDPs will probably see a good dose of Steven Jackson on Sunday but with the Rams offense being led by Kyle Boller they could be very challenged to move the ball much at all so temper your expectations some.

Defensive Line: Both Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp are slightly risky 3 Star plays.  Kyle Boller has the arm to get the ball deep to the Rams WRs and I think him waiting to try and throw those deep balls could give those two just enough opportunities to make some noise on the stat sheet this week.  But by all means if you have safer options you really should use them.

Linebacker:  Since taking over as the starting MLB due to Lofa Tatupu's injury, David Hawthorne has been a gem for IDP owners.  Since their week 7 bye all Hawthorne is doing is averaging 23.5 PPG.  This week he will be hard pressed to come close to that but he is to hot to sit and still he should put together a solid day chasing down Steven Jackson. Rookie Aaron Curry has really fallen off on the stat sheet as the season has progressed.  Look no further than the return of Leroy Hill as a major part of that.  Hill started rotating with Curry in the nickle when he returned from injury and now has taken over nickle responsibilities entirely.  In dynasty leagues you should try and buy Curry if you can find a frustrated owner.  He will be more than a 2 down LB in years to come.

Secondary:  The truth here is that you just can't expect Kyle Boller to step in for the Rams and really do much with the passing offense.  Sure he very well could have a solid day but it really isn't worth the risk.  With how deep the DB pool is do yourself a favor and walk away from the Seahawks secondary this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

James Laurinaitis
Oshiomogho Atogwe
Ronald Bartell

2 STAR
James Butler
James Hall
1 STAR
Leonard Little
Chris Long
Paris Lenon

RamsThe Rams are currently still in the running for the #1 overall pick in the draft but something tells me that this week they will notch win number 2 and drop out of the running.  Look for the Rams to rely heavily on Steven Jackson in this game and ride their stud RB to a win.  Yes, Rams fans your team even knows how to screw up losing.

Defensive Line:  Last week the Vikings thoroughly dismantled the Seahawks but the one thing that they didn't do was have anyone on their DL register a single sack.  That doesn't mean that James Hall and company can't have a good day but I wouldn't be betting on it.

Linebacker:  Rookie James Laurinaitis had a monster game last week as he posted 16 solo tackles.  Yes, SIXTEEN solo tackles.  If Laurinaitis hit the rookie wall he surely smashed thru it last week.  This week he will be hard pressed to approach double digit tackles but should still be a solid option as a LB2 with some upside.  There really isn't any other Rams LB worth starting unless you are in a 32 team league that starts 8 LBs.

Secondary:  The Seahawks are pretty stingy when it comes to allowing fantasy points to the opposing secondary so be cautious if you do indeed start Oshiomogho Atogwe this week.  At best Atogwe is a fringe low level DB3 this week.  Opposing CBs have fared a bit better so if you are in a CB mandatory league Ronald Bartell is a bit of a safer start.  In DB leagues Bartell is also just a fringe DB3.


Kansas City at San Diego

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Brandon Carr
Mike Brown
Brandon Flowers
2 STAR

Demorrio Williams
Derrick Johnson
Jon McGraw
DaJuan Morgan
Glenn Dorsey

1 STAR
Tamba Hali
Corey Mays

ChiefsThe Chiefs won the Super Bowl.  Well not really but it was a very big win for a young and rebuilding team that they registered against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week the Chiefs will be brought back down to earth but hey enjoy that big win while you can.  On the IDP side of things the Chiefs face a Chargers team that unbelievably giving up below average tackle opportunities/game this year. 

Defensive Line: No fantasy value on the Chiefs DL.  If you are in a DT mandatory league you can consider Glenn Dorsey this week.

Linebacker:  Demorrio Williams and Derrick Johnson continue to be used in a rotation and that is severely draining the value that one play could have in this defense.  If we see the Chargers use a more traditional set this week then that will bode well for Williams and if they use more 3 and 4 WR sets then that will help Johnson.  Point being neither are safe starts.  Rookie Jovan Belcher got some significant snaps at LB this past week and had a very good game posting 7 solo tackles.  He is worth keeping an eye on in deeper dynasty leagues.  If you are a Corey Mays owner and are wondering what happened I suggest you go back and read the previous two lines.

Secondary: For the most part this season the Chargers have given up some pretty good games to opposing DBs.  The thing to worry about is that if the Chargers jump out to a big lead they may not need to throw the ball much and that is what makes Mike Brown, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr slightly risky starts.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Stephen Cooper
Eric Weddle

2 STAR
Kevin Burnett
Shawne Merriman
1 STAR

Larry English
Shaun Phillips
Brandon Siler
Steve Gregory

ChargersThe Chargers took over sole possession of first place in the AFCW last week but if they want to keep it they will need to dispose of a feisty Chiefs team.  If they stumble they will find that they are once again tied for the division lead with the Broncos who were able to put a halt to their 4 game slide. I don't think the Chargers are going to stumble.  What I see is a team that is really starting to come together and could make some noise in the playoffs this year.  However, that would be in spite of Norv Turner, not because of him. 

Defensive Line: The Chargers DL presents no fantasy value so look for DL help some place else.

Linebacker:  The Chiefs aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut so I wouldn't expect any sort of big days from Stephen Cooper or Kevin Burnett.  Jamaal Charles looked pretty good but believe it or not the Chiefs brought in Chris Perry for a tryout.  Yes the KC stable is pretty thin. 

INJURY UPDATE: Shawne Merriman (foot) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Eric Weddle has been money for much of the season but this week he does present a bit of risk.  Over the past three weeks the Chiefs have given up at least 6 or more solos to an opposing safety but in their last meeting Weddle only logged 3 solo tackles.  Of course he did add a sack to this stat line that day too.


Jacksonville at San Francisco

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

Daryl Smith
Reggie Nelson
Derek Cox

1 STAR
Derrick Harvey
Gerald Alexander

JaguarsThe Jaguars were able to eek out a win last week versus a lowly Bills team. The Jaguars are actually right back in the thick of the playoff hunt but performances like last week could very quickly have them on the outside looking in again. Rhetorical question, if the Jaguars make the playoffs and there are no fans to witness it, then did they actually make the playoffs?

Defensive Line:  At this point in time relying on any Jaguars DL is risky business.  Look elsewhere for DL help it at all possible.

Linebacker: Justin Durant (concussion) missed last week's game but it is being reported that Jack Del Rio is on record as saying that Durant will start this week versus the Niners.  When he has played Durant has been more than solid, averaging 16.6 PPG (7th best among LBs) but relying on a guy coming off of a concussion could be dicey.  One bad hit could easily end Durant's day this weekend so proceed with caution.

INJURY UPDATE: Justin Durant is not listed on the injury report and is expected to start this week.

Secondary: Injury information is lacking this week due to the Holiday so look for an update later this weekend.  Even if everyone in the Jaguars secondary were 100% healthy they still probably wouldn't rank above a 2 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE: Rashean Mathis (concussion) has been officially ruled OUT for this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Patrick Willis

3 STAR
Michael Lewis
Dashon Goldson
2 STAR
Tarell Brown
Shawntae Spencer
1 STAR
Justin Smith

49ersThe Niners weren't able to push their record to the .500 mark last week and now sit at 4-6 a whopping 3 games behind division leading Arizona.  The Niners got behind big to the Packers but to their credit they never stopped fighting but unfortunately they did come up short. No one said rebuilding a winning culture would be easy but Niners fans can rest easy knowing that they have coach that will get the job done.  This week a healthy dose of MJD should bode well for key Niners IDPs.

Defensive Line:  On the year only one DE has posted more than 4 solo tackles against the Jaguars. Don't expect Justin Smith to be the 2nd.

Linebacker:  We all know that Patrick Willis is a beast. There are two types of fantasy owners with regards to Willis.  Those that own him and those that wish they did.  Look for Willis to put up double digit combined tackles this week.  The only thing keeping Willis from being a 5 Star play is that the Jaguars have had times where they struggle offensively on the road.

Secondary:  Results by opposing DBs versus the Jaguars has been a bit of a mixed bag this year.  Still, you should be confident in starting both Michael Lewis and Dashon Goldson this week.  On the injury front, CB Nate Clements is still out due to his shoulder injury.


Chicago at Minnesota

5 STAR
Danieal Manning
4 STAR
Lance Briggs
3 STAR

Hunter Hillenmeyer
Charles Tillman

2 STAR
Adewale Ogunleye
Alex Brown
Nick Roach
Zachary Bowman
1 STAR
Al Afalava
Gaines Adams

BearsWell the Bears have shown that they are a team that just can't get it done this year.  Now they have to go on the road to face division rival Minnesota who happens to have the 2nd best record in the NFC. At this point in the season the Bears aren't just playing for pride but also probably for some people in the organizations jobs.  On the IDP front the Bears face a Vikings team that is giving up the 3rd most tackle opportunities/game this year.  Look for another very good day from the Bears key IDPs.

Defensive Line:  The defensive line is the one area that I would avoid this week. Brett Favre has been sacked 21 times this year but I think expecting a big game from Adewale Ogunleye or Alex Brown is asking for a bit much in Minnesota this week.

Linebacker:  Evidently there is a chance that Adrian Peterson will be limited or could miss this game this week but in either event Lance Briggs should easily post low level LB1 numbers.  Hunter Hillenmeyer had a string of 3 straight games with 5 solo tackles broken last week.  Look for Hillenmeyer to bounce back some this week.

Secondary: Did you know that Charles Tillman is the best at stripping the ball from opposing players?  Well that is what the Sunday night crew kept telling us.  Tillman had a great game posting 7 total tackles while forcing 3 fumbles.  No doubt that Tillman and fellow secondary mate Danieal Manning will have their hands full with the Vikings receivers.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Jared Allen
EJ Henderson

Chad Greenway
Ray Edwards
Antoine Winfield
2 STAR
Cedric Griffin
Kevin Williams
Madieu Williams
1 STAR
Tyrell Johnson
Pat Williams

VikingsLooks like the old man is really making an impact for the Vikings. As good as Favre has been playing I do think that the great play of the entire team is being somewhat overshadowed by Favre.  I think that Vikings players will be able to deal with that if they are able to finally get that elusive Super Bowl victory.  This week I would temper expectations for Vikings IDPs as the Bears are giving up below average tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line:  Tow horrible games in a row for Jared Allen has to have many of his owners not only scratching their heads but also worried. The playoffs are just around the corner for fantasy owners so I say let Allen get those poor plays out of his system now.  Don't make the mistake of sitting him this week or any week for that matter.  You just have to keep plugging him in.  Ray Edwards has put together a nice run and warrants starting consideration too.

Linebacker:  EJ Henderson has been hit or miss for the last month but this week he should be on the hit side of things.  While on the surface the matchup looks like a bad one the numbers actually show that MLBs have fared very well against the Bears.  Look for Henderson to post minimally 6-7 solos this week.  Chad Greenway should also be in line for a solid LB3 type day with 5-6 solos too.

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield (foot) should return to the starting lineup this week.  Unfortunately, the injury report hasn't been released yet but once it is I will update Winfield's status and then rank him accordingly.  Last week Cedric Griffin almost did a complete disappearing act in the box score as he only logged 2 points on the day.  Expect Griffin to rebound some this week and maybe he can even get his hands on one of those tasty Jay Cutler interceptions.

INJURY UPDATE: Antoine Winfield (foot) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Arizona at Tennessee

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

CardinalsThe Cardinals have reeled off three consecutive wins and have taken complete control of the NFCW.  This week the test is to see how they handle a Titans team that has bounced back from an 0-6 start to win four consecutive games. Luckily the Cardinals get the Titans on a short week of rest but the key is going to be if Kurt Warner is under center or not. The Titans are running the ball a ton and running it well too.  Look for that trend to continue and for Cardinals IDPs to benefit.

Defensive Line: The Cardinals are another one of those teams that run a scheme that just isn't conducive to fantasy production for their DLs.

Linebacker: If ever there was a week that Karlos Dansby was going to post double digit solo tackles this would be it.  Over his last five games Dansby has recorded at least 6 tackles.  Gerald Hayes should also benefit from the running attack of the Titans and post solid LB2/3 type numbers this week. 

INJURY UPDATE: Karlos Dansby (shoulder) and Gerald Hayes (back) are both listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Adrian Wilson is so hard to gauge this year but again simply due to the fact that the Titans are averaging 40 rushing attempts over their last four games makes him a 3 star player. Antrel Rolle is probably best left on the bench this week.

5 STAR
Cortland Finnegan
4 STAR

Nick Harper

3 STAR

Chris Hope
Keith Bulluck
Stephen Tulloch

2 STAR

David Thornton
Michael Griffin

1 STAR
William Hayes
Tony Brown

TitansThe Tennessee Titans sure do look like a completely different team the past 4 games.  Vince Young is playing the QB position well, Chris Johnson is just dominating when he touches the ball and the defense is getting healthy and making plays when they need to.  Coming off a short week of prep to face the Cardinals is a tough task but at this point the Titans look much more like a team that had a 13-3 record last year than one that started the season off 0-6.  The key to a 5th consecutive win lies in Chris Johnson's feet and how well the secondary can handle the vaunted Cardinals passing attack.  Of course facing Matt Leinart instead of Kurt Warner would help too.

Defensive Line:  Last week Tony Brown had a monster 8 tackle and 2 sack performance versus the Texans.  Just don't get caught chasing the stats because there have only been two DL this year to record more than 3 solos versus the Cardinals and both were just 4 solo efforts.

Linebacker:  Keith Bulluck had a horrible game last week versus the Texans but those things can happen to the best of players.  Look for Bulluck to bounce back this week and expect him to minimally post 5-6 solos.  Stephen Tulloch and David Thornton have been much harder to gauge this year but if I had to pick one of the two to start this week it would be the younger Tulloch.

INJURY UPDATE: David Thornton (hip) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Last week the Titans had their starting CBs together for the first time in what seemed like ages.  Both Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper should be extremely busy this weekend versus Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Arizona receiving crew.  Chris Hope has seen his play fall off since returning from the Titans bye week so he is a bit of a risky 3 Star play but I think we will see Hope active enough against the Cardinals passing attack to warrant his 3 Star ranking.


Pittsburgh at Baltimore

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

SteelersThe Steelers got beat by the Chiefs.  The Chiefs!  The only solace for the Steelers is that it wasn't the Bungles.  Oh, wait that's right the Bungles aren't the Bungles anymore and actually swept the defending Super Bowl Champions.  Well I guess that there is some solace in that they didn't get beat by the Browns.  Big Ben got knocked out of last week's game due to a blow to the head and the Steelers season rests not on Big Ben's shoulders but that head of his.  If the Steelers have to keep Ben on the bench for any amount of time they are going to be in big trouble.

Defensive Line: Limited by scheme the Steelers DL present no real fantasy value.

Linebacker:  Three of the last four weeks ILBs have put up 9 or more tackles versus the Ravens.  Look for James Farrior to be a solid starting option this week.  If Big Ben isn't able to play I would look at bumping Farrior up to a 4 Star play.  James Harrison cooled off some in the past two weeks.  Sure he logged a sack in each of the past two weeks but he has also only logged 3 combined tackles each week too.  Look for a rebound in the tackle numbers versus the Ravens offensive attack.

Secondary: Troy Polamalu missed last week with a knee injury and looks like he is going to be out this week too. Check back later for an injury update.  Losing both Polamalu and Big Ben is about the worst case scenario there is for the Steelers. 

5 STAR
Ray Lewis
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Dawan Landry
2 STAR

Ed Reed
Kelly Gregg
Tavares Gooden

1 STAR
Haloti Ngata

Ravens Finally the Ravens have a potent enough offense and it is their defense that isn't holding up it's end of the bargain.  However, last week you have to give the defense kudos for keeping them in that game versus the Colts.  This week I would look for the Ravens to put it all on the line in front of their hometown fans.  The Steelers have been giving up above average  tackle numbers so look for a good week from very particular Raven IDP. 

Defensive Line: This would have been a game that Terrell Suggs probably would have been a 5 Star play in but sadly he will miss this game due to the knee injury he suffered against the Browns.

INJURY UPDATE: Terrell Suggs (knee) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Linebacker:  If more teams could play the game with the heart, emotion and ferocity that Ray Lewis does they would win many more games. The only problem is that Lewis can't do it all by himself.  Missing a player the caliber of Terrell Suggs is a big thing for a defense like this to overcome.  But this week look for Lewis to put this defense on his back and add all the fire and fight that the Ravens need to pull out a win versus the Steelers.

INJURY UPDATE: Ray Lewis (foot) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  If Ray Lewis is fired up you had better believe that Ed Reed is going to be right there too.  Reed will struggle to put up decent fantasy stats, that is unless he is able to add one of those patented big plays that Ed Reed is known for.  The safer play in the secondary this week is Dawan Landry.  Also if you are in a CB mandatory league you could look at Ladarius Webb as a sneaky play.

INJURY UPDATE: Ed Reed (illness, foot) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


New England at New Orleans

5 STAR
Brandon McGowan
4 STAR
Leigh Bodden
3 STAR
Brandon Meriweather
Jerod Mayo
2 STAR

Gary Guyton
Ty Warren
Vince Wilfork

1 STAR
Mike Wright
Shawn Springs

PatriotsThe Patriots failed in an earlier attempt this year to knock off one of the NFL's unbeaten when they lost to the Colts in Indy.  Now they get a second chance to knock off another unbeaten team.  Could it be two consecutive dome losses for the Patriots?  It sure could but whatever happens I bet the offensive explosion New Orleans will be a sight to see.  Now watch these two teams play a 6-3 game.  Nah, never happen.  Well no matter how this games turns out the Patriots IDPs should fare well as the Saints are giving up the 2nd most tackle opportunities/game this year.

Defensive Line: This isn't a week I would be looking at starting any Patriots DL. Drew Brees doesn't take many sacks and I have a feeling the Saints aren't going to run the ball very much this weekend.  You will be best served to leave Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork on your bench.

Linebacker:  Last year this would have been a 5 star matchup for Jerod Mayo but since returning from injury he really hasn't been able to put together the type of production that his owners were hoping for.  Only once since week 6 has Mayo topped 5 solo tackles.  This week he should be a safe 3 Star play that comes with quite a bit of upside.  There have been a handful of MLBs/ILBs that have posted double digit tackles versus the Saints.  Gary Guyton could be a safe start in larger leagues but that really is about it.

Secondary:  Look for the Patriots secondary to have a big tackle day versus the Saints passing attack. Leigh Bodden is coming off of a 3 interception performance and should be a very good play this week.  Shawn Springs on the other hand is a risky play since he was a healthy scratch earlier this year when the Patriots felt that they needed more speed in their secondary. 

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

Darren Sharper
Will Smith

1 STAR
Charles Grant

SaintsIf the Saints are actually going to give an undefeated season a run a win this week versus the Patriots could be just enough to propel them towards their goal.  The Saints surely won't be looking ahead but NE isn't the last difficult game on their schedule. This week looks like it is just going to be a track meet of all track meets.  So sit back and enjoy the fireworks.  On the defensive side of the ball look for the Saints IDPs to fare very well since the Patriots are the only team that is giving up more tackle opportunities/game than they are.

Defensive Line:  The team that is able to be the most disruptive with their DL will most likely be the team that wins this game but there is no way I am going to suggest that Will Smith or Charles Grant be started this week.  The real key to this game could come from the return of Sedrick Ellis to the field. 

Linebacker: Don't think twice about it just plug Jonathan Vilma into your lineup this week.  Scott Shanle should also be pretty busy helping to defend Wes Welker this week.  There have been some extremely nice double digit performances by LBs versus the Patriots this year so you should feel confident in starting either LB.

Secondary:  If the Saints have an area of weakness it is currently in the secondary.  They are fighting thru injuries and if the secondary can't step up that could be disastrous for their unblemished 10-0 record.  Roman Harper will by far be the best play in the Saints secondary.  But look for Darren Sharper to make an impact in this game.  He may not have the fantasy stats to show for it at the end of the day but don't be surprised to see the cagy old vet have his hand in the outcome of this game.

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