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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 13
Steve Gallo
December 4, 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).

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

Team Avg TOs
Given Up/Wk
Defensive
Scheme
Defensive
Coordinator
Three down linebackers
ARZ 49 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor
ATL 49 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 50 3-4(Multi Front) Greg Mattison Ray Lewis, Jarret Johnson
BUF 42 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Perry Fewell Paul Posluszny, Bryan Scott (still a DB or SS in many leagues)
CAR 48 4-3 & Tampa 2 Ron Meeks Jon Beason
CHI 44 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer
CIN 52 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 42 3-4 Rob Ryan Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens, Kaluka Maiava
DAL 46 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 47 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 46 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote
GB 50 3-4 Dom Capers Nick Barnett, Clay Mathews
HOU 52 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 44 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Tamba Hali
MIA 52 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder
MIN 54 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 55 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 53 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 51 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 46 4-3 Sean McDermott Will Witherspoon
PIT 50 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L Timmons
SD 47 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 48 4-3 Gus Bradley Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne
SF 41 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 46 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis
TB 42 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.

NY Jets at Buffalo

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

Kerry Rhodes

JetsWhile slim the Jets still have a chance to make a run at the playoffs. This week they will be on the road but not playing in this country as the game is in Toronto.  Last week the Jets established their running game and reduced their reliance on rookie QB Mark Sanchez. This year there have been two games where Sanchez threw the ball fewer than 20 times. Last week was one of those games and like last week the other was a win too.  Look for more of the same this week.  If you are looking to secure a playoff spot this week don't expect a ton of help from your Jets IDPs.  The Bills present one of the worst tackle opportunities that a team can face.

Defensive Line:  Last week I warned about chasing stats with Shaun Ellis and stated he could put up just 2 solo tackles.  Well that is exactly what what Ellis did.  This week if you are really thin at DL you can give Ellis a look see. 

Linebacker: Last week the Jets only faced 40 total tackle opportunities and only 25 were rushing attempts.  No wonder why David Harris was only to post 4 solos & 2 assists but at least he was able to add a sack to help salvage his fantasy day.  This week the pickings could be just as slim for Harris and Bart Scott.  I think Harris is the safer 3 star play and conventional wisdom says that Scott should be a 2 star play this week so his 3 star ranking is really thin ice.  Calvin Pace has a sack in back to back games and this week he could very easily continue that streak.  If you need to swing for the fences Pace is the type of guy you can try that with this week.

Secondary:  Eric Smith did end up getting the start at SS last week over Kerry Rhodes and Smith racked up 8 solo tackles.  Rhodes may not have started but he did make the most of his playing time by picking off two passes.  This week neither are very good starts versus what should be a limited Bills offense.  The interesting matchup in the secondary will be with Darrell Revis versus TO.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Revis shut Owens down but if Owens "demands" the ball enough don't be surprised when Revis picks one off and takes it to the house.

5 STAR
Paul Posluszny
4 STAR

Bryan Scott

3 STAR

George Wilson
Chris Kelsay

2 STAR
Jairus Byrd
Donte Whitner
Aaron Schobel
1 STAR
Marcus Stroud
Drayton Florence
Terrence McGee

BillsEveryone knows that the Bills are not a very good team which is why it is shocked whenever I look at their record and see 4 wins.  Ryan Fitzpatrick took over for an injured Trent Edwards the first time these two teams met.  All Fitzpatrick did in that game was lead the Bills to an OT win.  Look for the Jets to run the ball close to 40 times this week, making many Bills IDPs very good plays. 

Defensive Line:  It is going to be hard for the Bills DL to post big games since the Jets will more than likely be limiting their passing attack.  Chris Kelsay should be active enough in run support to make him a solid low level DL2 this week.  Aaron Schobel is a bit riskier but does have the ability to post quality stats.

Linebacker: Paul Posluszny had a big day in the previous meeting between these two teams.  Just remember that he also had almost an entire extra quarter to put stats up.  In week 6 playing WLB next to Poz was Keith Ellison and Ellison logged 12 total tackles but Ellison is now on IR.  Bryan Scott has assumed the WLB job now and he has been a very nice play since taking over.   If Scott is still listed as a DB or SS in your league bump him up to a 5 Star play.

Secondary:  Jairus Byrd is a player that should be talked about when DROY honors are discussed.  He won't win the award but he does at least belong in the discussion.  This week he makes a risky start due to groin injury that is limiting his participation in practice.  Terrence McGee is another player in the secondary that is fighting injury.  Even if those guys were 100% I wouldn't be expecting much production since the Jets will be keeping Sanchez in check.  George Wilson put up some very good numbers when he was filling in at SS for the injured Bryan Scott.  Now that Scott is playing WLB, Wilson has been able to keep putting up productive numbers.  Wilson is the only secondary player for the Bills that I think is able to put up solid stats this week.


St. Louis at Chicago

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Oshiomogho Atogwe

3 STAR

James Laurinaitis
Ronald Bartell
James Butler

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

RamsThe Rams season can't end enough for their fans but I have said it before that I really think that they have the right coach and are headed in the right direction.  The Rams season might be hopeless but their IDPs should help fantasy GMs have some success in the playoffs.  This week they are facing a Bears team that is giving up below average tackle opportunities but I expect the Bears to put forth a very nice effort this week.  Also, it doesn't hurt that Jay Cutler has thrown like 293 interceptions this year. 

Defensive Line:  Chris Long may seem like he has been a bust but he is starting to come along. I wouldn't be looking to start long but he is easily a buy low candidate in dynasty leagues.  The Bears don't have the best OL in the world so if you are in dire need of a starter James Hall could be worth a look.

Linebacker:  I think that James Laurinaitis is a very safe 3 Star play this week and I was this close to ranking him a 4 Star play.  For the most part the Bears have given up very nice games to opposing ILBs but there have been a couple of clunkers that lead me to my conservative 3 Star ranking.

INJURY UPDATE: James Laurinaitis (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  The Bears, namely Jay Cutler like to throw the ball.  Unfortunately for Bears fans Cutler likes to throw it to the defense too. At least that isn't an unfortunate thing for IDPs.  Atogwe Oshiomogho should be the biggest beneficiary in the secondary as he has a pretty good nose for the ball.  Ronald Bartell and James Butler should also be busy enough to warrant starting as low level DB2's.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Hunter Hillenmeyer
Danieal Manning

2 STAR
Adewale Ogunleye
Alex Brown
Jamar Williams
Zachary Bowman
1 STAR
Charles Tillman
Lance Briggs

BearsDysfunctional would be a good way to describe the Bears right now.  They have some dysfunctional things going on in the media with Brian Urlacher spouting off.  Then there is Matt Forte spouting off about what Brian Urlacher is spouting off about.  Then there is the dysfunctional passing attack led by the dysfunctional passer, Jay Cutler.  Hey, you throw 20+ picks in a season you deserve to have your passing attack called dysfunctional. Top it all off with some of their key IDPs being injured and you have a dysfunctional scenario for fantasy owners too.

Defensive Line:  Not one DE has recorded more than 4 solo tackles versus the Rams this year.  That means you leave your Bears DEs on your bench.

Linebacker:  Lance Briggs is nursing a knee injury and it is currently unclear if he will be available to play this week or not.  But a league source says that Briggs is expected to be inactive this week.  So far Briggs has missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.  If Briggs can't go look for Jamar Williams to start in his stead.  Williams could put up decent numbers but for the money, Hunter Hillenmeyer would be the better play among the Bears LBs.

INJURY UPDATE: Lance Briggs (knee) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary: Like Briggs, Charles Tillman is nursing an injury but his is a concussion and his status for this week isn't 100% clear yet either.  Tillman didn't practice on Wednesday but returned to a full practice on Thursday.  With the added emphasis the NFL is putting on concussions I think Tillman is a very risky start this week.  With all that said the Rams passing offense is much to be desired and doesn't really even present a good matchup for healthy players.  More often than not, opposing CBs have not fared very well against the Rams this season so if at all possible you should look for other options if you need to start a CB this week.  At safety Danieal Manning has been a big time performer for much of the season.  This week Manning should be a safe start as a DB2 but he does present some upside.

INJURY UPDATE: Charles Tillman (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


New England at Miami

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Brandon Meriweather
3 STAR
Brandon McGowan
Gary Guyton
Jerod Mayo
2 STAR

Ty Warren
Vince Wilfork
Leigh Bodden
Patrick Chung

1 STAR
Mike Wright
Shawn Springs

PatriotsSixty minutes!  Not the show but that is how long a football game is and that is how long you are supposed to play.  Funny how Belichick only plays those 60 minutes when his team is the one running up and down the field.  With just over 5 minutes to go in their Monday night game with the Saints Belichick did the unthinkable, he pulled some of his key superstar starters.  Sure he was losing by 21 but he had the great Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker on his side.  Sure things were bleak, very very bleak but what ever happened to playing 60 minutes?  Everyone is expecting the Patriots to just  bounce back from that loss but don't go and underestimate the Dolphins.  This week you have to wonder how the Patriots will respond if they actually have to play 60 minutes knowing that their coach has given up on them multiple times this season.

Defensive Line: The Patriots DL helps to set the tone for their defense and with both Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork not operating at 100% it is easy to see why the Patriots defense looks less than stellar.  The Dolphins and their running game presents a nice opportunity but I would still have a hard time starting any Patriots DL this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Ty Warren (ankle) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  Jerod Mayo should be a 5 Star play in this game but he hasn't looked as dominant as he was last season. Mayo more than likely is being slightly limited by his early season knee injury.  You can still pencil him in and hope for a big week but I just can't drop a 5 Star ranking on him with how he has played.  In dynasty leagues I would be buying Mayo at every chance I got.

Secondary:  Brandon McGowan is losing some snaps to rookie Patrick Chung and that has really hurt his fantasy value of late.  This week I think that McGowan should be able to log enough tackles to be a low end DB2 but nothing more.  Brandon Meriweather has been up and down all year but look for him to lead the secondary in tackles this week.  I wouldn't rely on any of the Patriots CBs to post solid stats this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
Channing Crowder
3 STAR
Gibril Wilson
Akin Ayodele
2 STAR

Joey Porter

1 STAR
Jason Taylor

DolphinsThe Dolphins simply can't afford to lose this game this week.  I think that many are overlooking them and that really could play to their favor.  Ricky is running like the Ricky of old and as long as they keep running him and stop with the passing the team will be fine.  Ricky really hurt his team and fantasy owners when he threw that interception last week, Dan Marino he is not, Jay Cutler, maybe but definitely not Dan.  This week looks good for Dolphins IDPs since the Patriots lead the league in tackle opportunities given up. 

Defensive Line: Normally, Tom Brady is a pretty hard guy to get sacks on but last week the Saints did a pretty good job pressuring Brady.  Sure Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling or Randy Starks could get to Brady this week but I think there are safer and more consistent options at DL that I would rather roll with.

Linebacker: Channing Crowder has 20 total tackles over his last 3 games.  So the good news isn't only that Crowder is starting to reward his fantasy owners but that he is also facing a Patriots team that is very charitable when it comes to giving up tackle opportunities. To make it even more enticing I should point out that the Patriots have given up 34 total tackles to their opponents main ILB over the past 3 weeks. If the Dolphins are going to pull off a win they are going to need to control the clock and get pressure on Tom Brady.  If they are able to create that pressure look for it to come from Jason Taylor and Joey Porter.  Both Porter and Taylor are risky starts because they are going to live or die by the big play/sack this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Joey Porter (knee) did not practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  We know that the Patriots are going to throw the ball and that makes Yeremiah Bell a very good start this week.  The key will be to see if they are able to control Wes Welker they way the Saints did.  Expect the Dolphins young CBs to get tested this week but relying on Sean Smith, Vontae Davis or Nathan Jones in fantasy lineups is a risky proposition.  If you were forced to start sitting Gibril Wilson due to his poor play this year you can look at getting him back into your lineup this week.


Philadelphia at Atlanta

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

Akeem Jordan
Sean Jones
Sheldon Brown

1 STAR
Joe Mays

EaglesThey say a win is a win and while that is true that doesn't mean that you can just brush off a teams performance in those wins.  The Eagles have won their last two games but they looked less than stellar doing so against the Bears and Redskins.  This week the Eagles travel to face a Falcons team that hasn't looked very good of late.  On top of that the Falcons will be without their starting QB and RB due to injuries.  The Eagles are right in the thick of the wild card chase and even the division race as they are only one game back of the division leading Cowboys.  This week the Eagles need to take advantage of depleted Falcons team and make this win convincing. 

Defensive Line: Trent Cole hasn't put up any real monster games over the past four or five weeks but his last two weeks have been very serviceable efforts. Chris Redman gets the start this week over an injured Matt Ryan and if Redman tries to hold the ball to long it could spell a big day for Cole. 

Linebacker: Akeem Jordan is back practicing and hopefully for the Eagles he can get back on the field this week.  Jordan was able to practice fully on Wednesday but then was limited on Thursday.  According to NFL reporter, Adam Caplan, "They (Eagles) didn't plan to work him much this week.  May not start even if he can play."  Look for an injury update on Jordan on late Friday evening.  With the news that Jordan may return to the field this week, Will Witherspoon owners can smile.  Witherspoon should have a solid day this Sunday if he is manning the Eagles MLB position. If Jordan isn't able to play much then Witherspoon is still a solid play he just won't have the upside he would playing MLB.

INJURY UPDATE: Akeem Jordan (knee) did not practice on Friday and has been ruled OUT for this week. 

Secondary: Quintin Mikell may not be putting up spectacular numbers this year but has been pretty consistent.  On a weekly basis you can more often than not expect 10+ points from him.  Mikell could be a bit more active in run support this week with Chris Redman under center.  Asante Samuel looks like he is going to be a good play this week.  The Falcons for the most part this year have given up good games to the oppositions lead CB. 

5 STAR
Curtis Lofton
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Mike Peterson
Chris Houston
Eric Coleman

2 STAR

Thomas Decoud
Jonathan Babineaux

1 STAR
John Abraham
Stephen Nicholas

FalconsThe Falcons got one of those, a win is a win type wins last week.  Last week on the final play of the game versus the Buccaneers, the Falcons won the game on a passing TD to Roddy White. That win pushed the Falcons record to 6-5 and at least for now keeps them in the playoff chase. Their IDPs will be facing the big strike offense of the Eagles and that could limit their opportunities this week. 

Defensive Line:  The Eagles line can definitely be beat for sacks and John Abraham probably should be ranked higher than a 1 Star play but his play has been so poor this year that he is just to risky to rely on as a starter. 

Linebacker: Curtis Lofton is currently the 3rd ranked LB in PPG and this week like most others, Lofton is a no brainer stud start.  Over the past 3 games the Eagles have given up at least 9 tackles to the oppositions leading tackler at LB. Look for Lofton to keep that trend going. Lance Briggs posted a huge game from his WLB position versus the Eagles so look for Mike Peterson to have a solid day.  Peterson won't post double digit tackles like Briggs did but he will be solid enough. 

Secondary:  Desean Jackson is more than likely going to be out in this game due to the concussion he suffered versus the Redskins. Losing Jackson takes away a bit from the Eagles deep game.  Eric Coleman had his worst performance since week 5 last week. From week 6 thru week 11 Coleman had recorded at least 7 total tackles in every game.  Look for a bounce back in the box score for Coleman this week.  One week it is Chris Houston leading the Falcons CBs in tackles then it's Brent Grimes.  One of the Falcons CBs is in for a good game and my dart landed on Houston this week.


New Orleans at Washington

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Darren Sharper
Roman Harper
Will Smith
Jonathan Vilma
2 STAR

Scott Shanle

1 STAR
Charles Grant

SaintsIf the Saints are running on all cylinders and they sure are a fun team to watch.  That is if you aren't a fan of one of their last 11 opponents.  This week the Saints will look to run their franchise best ever win streak to 12 games.  The Redskins sure don't look like a team that will put up much of a fight but it is the NFL so as they say, "Any given Sunday".  This week I would temper expectations for Saints IDPs since the Redskins are giving up below average tackle opportunities.

Defensive Line:  Last week Will Smith ended the Saints/Patriots game with a sack of Tom Brady. Wait a minute, Tom Brady was pulled with just over 5 minutes to go in the game because the Saints were winning by three touchdowns.  Smith ended the game by sacking backup QB Brian Hoyer.  Smith is playing pretty well of late and the Redskins OL is closer to Hog crap then the Hogs of old. Expect a solid week with some upside for Smith.  Unfortunately, for Charles Grant owners Grant has been very up and down and is to risky to recommend as a starter.

Linebacker: The Redskins have given up some very nice games to opposing LBs so don't hesitate to plug Jonathan Vilma into your lineup this week. Vilma is much closer to a 4 Star ranking than a 2 Star play this week.  I just can't rank him higher because I can see the Redskins laying a complete egg on offense if the Saints jump out to a big early lead. 

INJURY UPDATE: Jonathan Vilma (knee) & Scott Fujita (knee) were both limited in practice all week and are listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:   The Saints have suffered their fare share of injuries in the secondary and I really thought it might cost them this past week versus the Patriots.  However, unbelievably the Saints plugged both Mike McKenzie and Chris McAllister into their lineup and neither disappointed.  This week I just can't see the Redskins being able to get out of their own way and that should limit the secondaries opportunities.  The only DB worth starting is Roman Harper.  Harper's 16 point outburst versus the Patriots helped to vault him into the top 5 DBs in fantasy points scored. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Reed Doughty
Laron Landry
3 STAR

London Fletcher
Rocky McIntosh

2 STAR

Andre Carter
Justin Tryon

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo
Albert Haynesworth

RedskinsI would say that this is the Redskins Super Bowl but the truth is that the Redskins would take as much out of beating a rival NFCE team as they would the Saints.  The Redskins do have some talent and playmakers on their team but they don't have the firepower on offense to keep up with the Saints.  However, on the defensive side of the ball the Redskins are far from bad.  They may be missing a few key players on defense this week but those that do start should be solid IDP options.

Defensive Line:  The Redskins don't have much of a chance to beat the Saints but their chance is a bit better if Albert Haynesworth is able to play in this game.  Andre Carter has struggled to put up solid numbers in 3 of the last 4 weeks.  This week it doesn't get any easier versus Drew Brees who takes very few sacks.

INJURY UPDATE: Albert Haynesworth (ankle ) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: All that London Fletcher has done the past two weeks without Albert Haynesworth playing is record 25 total tackles.  Fletcher may be losing a step or two but it sure seems like he likes playing without Haynesworth.   If it is announced that Haynesworth is going to miss this game then bump Fletcher up to a 4 Star play.  Brian Orakpo is having a very good rookie season but relying on him in fantasy leagues is a risky proposition at best.

Secondary:  The Redskins secondary is going to be very busy this week.  Unfortunately, it could be chasing Saints receivers into the end zone instead of tackling them.  Reed Doughty and Laron Landry are the safest plays this week in the Redskins secondary.  DeAngelo Hall's knee injury will keep him out of this game so look for Justin Tryon to be picked on a bit by Drew Brees and company.

INJURY UPDATE: DeAngelo Hall (knee) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.
INJURY UPDATE: Justin Tryon (hip) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Tennessee at Indianapolis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Nick Harper
Cortland Finnegan
Keith Bulluck

3 STAR

Chris Hope
Stephen Tulloch

2 STAR

David Thornton
Michael Griffin
Kyle Vanden Bosch

1 STAR
William Hayes
Tony Brown

TitansThe Tennessee Titans have reeled off five consecutive wins to pull their record to 5-6.  All this after starting the season 0-6. Last week, Vince Young did something he did in his final collegiate game and that was to beat Matt Leinart on the final play of the game.  Young took his Titans 99 yards on their final possession and tossed the game winning TD to rookie Kenny Britt with no time remaining on the game clock.  This week Young and company will be looking to even their record but facing the undefeated Colts will not make that win easy pickings.  On the defensive side of the ball you can expect a good game from the Titans key IDPs since the Colts are giving up the 6ht most tackle opportunities/game this year.

Defensive Line:  Peyton Manning is one of the most difficult QBs in the NFL to sack so I wouldn't expect much from the Titans DL this week.  Quentin Groves (4 solos) is the only DL this year to record more than 3 solo tackles against the Colts. In their previous meeting Kyle Vanden Bosch led the Titans DL in solos with just 3.

Linebacker:  Keith Bulluck led the Titans LBs in tackles last week versus the Cardinals and this week he should not only lead them but put up close to double digit tackles this week too.  Stephen Tulloch and David Thornton are both very capable LBs but the last time that Thornton was able to log more tackles than Tulloch was back in week 8. 

Secondary:  If there is any question as to how much Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper meant to the Titans just look at how well the defense has played since both returned from injury.  Last week the two of them helped to limit Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to a combined 9 catches for 87 yards with no touchdowns. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Clint Session
Gary Brackett

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

Colts Well the Streak continues for the Colts as they pushed their win streak to 11-0 and also pushed their record to 15-1 versus the Texans with Peyton Manning at the helm.  The Colts have been winning but the last month has been close game after close game.  Good teams win close games and that is what the Colts do.  The Texans really had the Colts backs to the wall but then they blinked and it was all over.  This week the Colts defense will be tested by RB Chris Johnson who will be looking for his 7th consecutive game with 125+ yards rushing.  If the Titans are able to run the ball like they have the past 5 games you can expect the Colts IDPs to have a very good game. 

Defensive Line:  Last week Darnell Dockett had a monster game against the Titans.  Dockett posted 6 total tackles with 3 sacks.  Robert Mathis is one of the top DEs in the game and you better believe that he and the Colts were looking at the game tape to see what Dockett was taking advantage of.  I wouldn't expect a 3 sack week from Mathis but 4-5 solo tackles with a sack looks pretty achievable.  Dwight Freeney is still be limited by an abdomen injury and is a risky start at this point in time.

INJURY UPDATE: Dwight Freeney (abdomen) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday but is still listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  If the Titans want to knock off the Colts they are going to need to run the ball 30+ times to limit the time the Colts offense has the ball.  Look for Gary Brackett and Clint Session to be very busy as they try to keep Chris Johnson in check. It should also be noted that Brackett is dealing with a foot injury so look for an injury update late Friday evening.

INJURY UPDATE: Gary Brackett (foot) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Vince Young completed 27 of 43 passes for 387 yards last week but that isn't the type of game plan you should expect.  Look for Young to be closer to his previous four game passing average of 156 yards than 300 yards this week.  That will limit the value of CBs Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey but both Antoine Bethea and Melvin Bullitt should be busy helping to support the run defense.


Oakland at Pittsburgh

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Tyvon Branch
Kirk Morrison
3 STAR

Trevor Scott

2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Michael Huff 
Richard Seymour
Thomas Howard
Greg Ellis

RaidersThe only thing that is really worth saying about the Raiders is that they are so bad it is creating a ton of opportunities for the key IDPs.  This week the Silver and Black travel to Pittsburgh for their next loss this season.  The Raiders are shaking up their defense a bit but like most weeks this will be a very good matchup for Raiders IDPs.

Defensive Line: Greg Ellis was able to return to the starting lineup versus the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day but he was only able to post 1 solo and 1 assist in the first half .  Ellis then didn't play a single snap in the second half.  Do yourself a favor and look for DL help some place else.  There is only one Raiders DL that is worthy of starting right now and that is because he isn't playing DL anymore.  Trevor Scott got the start at WLB last week over normal starter Thomas Howard and this week Scott is once again going to start at WLB.  Scott is ranked a 3 Star play based on being a WLB so if he is still a DL in your league then you should bump him up to a 4 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE: Greg Ellis (knee) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Linebacker: Kirk Morrison was the one that was close to losing his job prior to the start of the season but he was able to hold on to the very productive MLB position.  Well after 11 weeks a Raider LB has lost their job but it wasn't Morrison, it was Thomas Howard.  I also don't think it is as much as Howard losing his job as the Raiders wanting to find a spot for Scott to play.  Ricky Brown was the starting SLB earlier in the year but he was put on IR and moving Howard to SLB actually make some sense considering Howard played SLB in college.  Make no mistake about it though, this move kills Howard's fantasy value.

Secondary:  Last week Tyvon Branch left his owners scratching their heads wondering how a guy that had put up such great numbers all year could just muster up just 1 solo and 1 assist versus the Cowboys.  Well games that like happen and you just have to be able to shake it off and get back at it.  Don't hesitate to keep Branch in your lineup as he has shown all year that he is one of the best options at DB this season.

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

SteelersThe Steelers are an organization that always seems to be nothing but rock solid.  Yet this week there were some kinks in their armor as Hines Ward questioning if Big Ben shouldn't be playing instead of missing the game due to a concussion.  Lose a couple of games that you feel like you should win and normally would win and I guess that can test even the stablest of organizations.  This week the Steelers should be able to get right versus a very bad Raiders team.  Unfortunately, relying on Steelers IDPs isn't the wisest thing to do this week.  The Raiders are the worst team in the league in giving up tackle opportunities and the only team giving up less than 40 TOs (39).

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

Linebacker:  There is plenty of talent among the Steelers LBs but this week they all are for the most part very risky starts.  The only one worth considering is James Harrison and I would even temper expectations for him.

Secondary: It is plain as day that Troy Polamalu is the key cog that makes the Steelers tick.  Polamalu is still not practicing but this week the Steelers should have no problem securing a win without Polamalu.  If you are thinking about relying on Ryan Clark or any other Steelers DBs please remember that it is the Raiders that they are playing.


Denver at Kansas City

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

Andra Davis
Champ Bailey
Elvis Dumervil

1 STAR
Robert Ayers

BroncosAfter four straight losses the Broncos were finally able to get back into the win column.  Their 7-4 record says that they are right back in the mix for a playoff spot and a win versus the lowly Chiefs will help to make those 4 consecutive losses a distant memory.  However, I can't put much weight on them getting that win in their own house versus a Giants team that has lost it even more than the Broncos have. I am fully expecting to see the Broncos win streak snapped at one game. 

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

Linebacker: I think we are going to see an ugly football game this week.  Can't really say why but I don't think we see much offense outside of a big play here and there.  DJ Williams has been great this year and has been in or near the top 10 in LBs all year long. If you own Williams you probably own him as your LB1 and can't really sit him down.  This week don't expect much more than low level 3 Star production.

Secondary: Brian Dawkins is another player that has done very well this year but he is a risky start versus the Chiefs offense.  Expecting any of the Broncos CBs or other DBs to put up starters numbers this week is really nothing more than a pipe dream.

INJURY UPDATE: Brian Dawkins (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday but practiced on Friday in a limited fashion and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
None
2 STAR

Demorrio Williams
Glenn Dorsey
Brandon Carr
Mike Brown
Brandon Flowers
Jovan Belcher

1 STAR
Tamba Hali

ChiefsIf Chiefs fans thought beating the Steelers was great wait until their team knocks off their division rival Broncos. Arrowhead Stadium is going to be the difference maker this week.  I doubt we see a strong performance by the Chiefs offense but I do think a big play or two is going to get the Chiefs another win.

Defensive Line: The Chiefs scheme doesn't really lend itself their DL putting up strong numbers.  This week should be no different.  Glenn Dorsey has had some nice games this year and has put up decent number for 3 straight weeks but this week with limited upside I would probably leave Dorsey on the bench.

Linebacker:  Last year the Rams were a mess (much like this year) but on top of that they were a mess with who was playing what position and how many snaps.  It got to the point that  no matter the matchup IDP owners were best served to just completely ignore the Rams.  Well the Chiefs are starting to feel similar to last years Rams to me. 

Secondary: The Broncos are a different team with Kyle Orton under center then they are with Chris Simms.  Now considering I am expecting a subpar performance by the Broncos offense this week which will limit the Chiefs opportunities can you imagine what would happen if Orton had to leave the game for Simms.  Basically, there is no upside in starting any Chiefs DBs this week.  Sure one or more of them could post 5, 6 or more tackles but banking on it would be risky business.


Tampa Bay at Carolina

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Barrett Ruud
Tanard Jackson
Sabby Piscitelli

2 STAR

Geno Hayes
Aqib Talib
Ronde Barber

1 STAR

Quincy Black
James Wilkerson
Stylez White

BuccaneersThe Buccaneers need to learn how to finish because they had the Falcons beat last week and then let them off the hook.  Josh Freeman is looking better and better so there is some hope.  The concerning part is that Raheem Morris keeps firing his coordinators.  This week Buccaneers IDPs will face a better than average Panthers running game and a passing attack led by Matt Moore.

Defensive Line: The best case scenario if you have to start a Buccaneers DL is that you hope that Matt Moore isn't able to "feel" the rush and takes some ill advised sacks.  For me I would pass on both Stylez White and James Wilkerson. 

Linebacker: Nine was the number last week for Buccaneers starting LBs.  The trio of Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes and Quincy Black all recorded 9 solo tackles.

Secondary: This week the Panthers will be starting Matt Moore at QB so I would probably not expect the Buccaneers secondary to have many opportunities this week. However, with Raheem Morris now coaching the defense we could see more Tampa 2 looks and that could add to the value of Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib. 

INJURY UPDATE: Aqib Talib (hamstring) did not practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

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

Panthers Carolina lost a real yawner to the Jets last week and has virtually eliminated them from the playoff race. Sure we knew that they weren't really a playoff team but now with 7 loses they can easily look towards next year.  It will be interesting to see how Matt Moore is able to perform at QB while Jake Delhomme is on the mend. 

Defensive Line: Julius Peppers had his best game in a month last week.  Peppers is still playing thru the hand injury but seems to be dealing a bit better with it.  This week look for Peppers to make a big play or two in front of the hometown crowd.  For the most part DE's have not fared well against the Buccaneers but Peppers and Trent Cole had very good games against them earlier this year.  Look for Peppers to come close to replicating his performance.

Linebacker: The Buccaneers are giving up below average tackle opportunities so don't expect a big game from Jon Beason.  Beason should still be able to put up starter worthy numbers just don't expect stud like stats.  James Anderson continued the trend of the Panthers WLB putting up good numbers.  Anderson posted 10 total tackles last week but this week he could find it tough to post more than 4 solo tackles.

Secondary:  Richard Marshall is averaging 8 total tackles over his last two games which is much better then his early season production.  Or should I say lack of production.  Unfortunately, over the past 3 weeks the Buccaneers haven't given up more than 5 solos to any DB.  Proceed with caution if you feel the need t o start any of the Panthers DBs.


Houston at Jacksonville

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Brian Cushing
3 STAR
DeMeco Ryans
Bernard Pollard
2 STAR
Mario Williams
1 STAR
Connor Barwin

TexansThe Texans are another good team that really needs to learn how to finish.  Early on last week it looked as if the Texans were going to exercise their demons against the Colts.  However, it just wasn't meant to be. This week the Texans very well could be playing for Coach Kubiak's job.  I don't expect Kubiak to get the axe before the end of the season but how they Texans bounce back from that bad loss to the Colts surely is going to be a major part in if Kubiak retains his job.

Defensive Line: The only way I can put a positive spin on Mario Williams right now is to say he is a fantastic buy low candidate for dynasty league owners.  Williams looks like he is still being limited by the shoulder injury he was dealing with earlier this year.  As hard as this pill is to swallow you just have to leave Williams on your bench unless you truly have no other options.

Linebacker: Don't be surprised once the NFL season is over to hear that Brian Cushing was named the DROY (defensive rookie of the year).  Cushing has been nothing short of phenomenal for most of his rookie campaign and to top it off he has been playing thru a foot injury.  Look for Cushing and even DeMeco Ryans to have an impact in the box score as they spend much of their day corralling Maurice Jones-Drew.

INJURY UPDATE: Brian Cushing (foot), DeMeco Ryans (ankle) and Zach Diles (illness) are all listed as probable on the injury report. 

Secondary:  I know that many dynasty league owners were very disappointed when Bernard Pollard was released by the Chiefs earlier this year.  Many owners held on to Pollard hoping he would land in a good spot and while it didn't happen overnight it did happen.  Pollard has been nothing short of awesome since he made his way back to the field for the Texans.  Since week 4, Pollard has put up the 4th most fantasy points by a DB.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Justin Durant
Derek Cox
Reggie Nelson
2 STAR

Daryl Smith
Derrick Harvey

1 STAR
Gerald Alexander
Sean Considine

JaguarsWe all know that the Jaguars have had some issues with blackouts due to a lack of fan support.  Of course that lends itself to people speculating that the team will eventually be moved.  While that might be true I will say that if the Jaguars to end up looking for a new home they should stay away from the West coast and North West of the US.  Why you ask?  Because they have scored an entire 3 points this year in games in SF and Seattle.  Not to worry the Jaguars return to the empty confines of their home stadium this week where 4 of their 6 wins have come. 

Defensive Line:  Last week Derrick Harvey had his second strong fantasy game in a row.  The Texans have only given up more than 4 solo tackles to a DE once this year so expecting a 3rd strong fantasy performance looks like a stretch.

Linebacker: Justin Durant is listed on the injury report with a head injury so that is a bit concerning.  Especially with the NFL cracking down on concussions.  Durant did practice in full on Thursday so he should be good to go this week but make sure you keep a very close eye on the Sunday inactives to make sure he doesn't have any setbacks.

INJURY UPDATE: Justin Durant (head) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Rashean Mathis remains out this week due to injury. The Texans have been a good play for DBs this year so look for Derek Cox and Reggie Nelson to each record a minimum of 5 solo tackles. 


Detroit at Cincinnati

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Larry Foote
3 STAR

Louis Delmas

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

LionsWell as hard as this is to believe I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Packers won the game but long term I think the Lions will win the war.  What I mean by that is that I think the Lions will win the NFCN division title before the Packers do. Of course it won't happen until the Vikings have run their course but it will happen and it is going to happen before it does for the Packers.  There now I gave Lions fans something to look forward too. 

Defensive Line: When Cliff Avril and Jason Hunter combine for just 2 solo tackles with an assist and no sacks versus the Packers how can you even consider starting them against anyone?  The answer is that you can't.

INJURY UPDATE: Dewayne White (toe) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  Larry Foote is averaging over 7 tackles/game this year and the Bengals are giving up an average of almost 13 total tackles/game to opposing ILBs.  Expect Foote to have a very good game this week.  Julian Peterson once again took full advantage of playing the Packers and their poor OL but this week I wouldn't expect the same type of performance.

INJURY UPDATE: Ernie Sims (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Louis Delmas is another player that should be in the discussion about DROY this year.  He may not win but he most certainly is going to be part of a young Lions core that is going to turn this team around.  FS have been hit or miss against the Bengals but Delmas is a player and has a nose for the ball so look for him to be on of those hits at FS this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Louis Delmas (ankle) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.
INJURY UPDATE: Kalvin Pearson (hamstring) has been ruled OUT for this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Nedu Ndukwe
Dhani Jones
Leon Hall
2 STAR
Keith Rivers
1 STAR
Rey Maualuga
Brandon Johnson

BengalsThe Bengals are coming off a bye week so they should have no problem disposing of the Lions this week. I know that the Bengals didn't really have a bye week but I think that is what I am calling the Browns from now on.  The Bengals haven't looked nearly as good without Cedric Benson so they will really be happy to see him back on the field.  This part of the Bengals schedule is supposed to be cake so they would be best served to make sure they don't look past anyone and notch the wins that they should.

Defensive Line: I don't care if I was in a $30,000 league like Henry Muto you couldn't pay me to start any of the Bengals DL this week.  There just aren't any difference makers on the DL and no one is stepping up consistently so do yourself a favor and pass on the Bengals DL too.

Linebacker: Dhani Jones has been far from stellar this year but with that said he has been productive at times.  And when you look at it you see a trend that Jones has not had two consecutive poor tackle games this year. Considering last week was a poor game for Jones I would look for the bounce back game this week.  Keith Rivers has been another disappointing LB this year. Outside of Jones I think starting any other Bengals LB versus the Lions is a risky proposition.

Secondary:    After two consecutive very poor outings you can expect Leon Hall to get back to posting solid starting numbers.  When you look at who Hall played his last two games (Oak, Clev) it is very easy to see why his and the rest of the secondary had their production limited.  The Lions are giving up below average tackle opportunities but Nedu Ndukwe should also post solid starters numbers this week.


5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

None

2 STAR
Stephen Cooper
Kevin Burnett
Kevin Ellison
Shawne Merriman
1 STAR

Steve Gregory
Eric Weddle
Shaun Phillips
Brandon Siler

San Diego at Cleveland

ChargersThe Chargers on a bye week this week or at least you should treat their IDPs like they are.  Seriously, the Browns are so bad that they really are like a bye week for teams that face them now. To make matters worse the Browns are giving up the 3rd fewest tackle opportunities/game this year.

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

Linebacker:  Yes the Browns have had some LBs put up fantasy starter numbers against them this year.  However, I can't see having confidence in starting any Chargers LBs this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Shawne Merriman (foot) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary:  Eric Weddle is expected to miss a couple of weeks due to injury and that is a good thing for his owners this week.  Otherwise you might be tempted into starting him.  Just like the LBs I wouldn't feel very comfortable starting anyone from the Chargers secondary against the Browns.

INJURY UPDATE: Eric Weddle (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week.

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

Jason Trusnik

1 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Kamerion Wimbley

BrownsThe Browns can't win and I don't just mean foot ball teams.  This week the Browns added three more players to injured reserve. Brodney Pool, Shaun Rogers and Jamal Lewis are the two players and there is serious speculation that this is the end of Jamal's career.  This week I would expect the Chargers to have this game well in hand before the midpoint of the 2nd quarter.  At that point the Chargers should lean heavy on their running game and that bodes well for the Browns IDPs.

Defensive Line: The Browns and their fans don't have much to hand their hats on but at least their defense wasn't god awful.  Shaun Rogers is an all pro and even the awful Browns will feel the loss of Rogers. 

INJURY UPDATE: Kenyon Coleman (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Linebacker: David Bowens still has DL eligibility in many leagues and playing one of the Browns ILB spots is a boon for his value.  If Bowens is still DL eligible in your league you can bump him up to a 4 Star ranking.

INJURY UPDATE: David Bowens (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.
INJURY UPDATE: Kamerion Wimbley (knee) did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was able to practice on Friday in a limited fashion and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Abram Elam was putting up very good numbers early in the season and then he started to lose snaps and his fantasy production took a hit.  Over the past few games Elam has been very up and down.  DB is a deep position and you would be best served to look for DB help some place else.

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


Dallas at NY Giants

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
DeMarcus Ware
Gerald Sensabaugh
2 STAR

Jay Ratliff

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysThe Cowboys faced a poor Raiders team on Thanksgiving and while they did log a win they didn't look very good in doing so.  But hey as has been said a few times already, a win is a win.  The bigger news is that the calendar just changed to DECEMBER.  In case you didn't know, December is Tony Romo's kryptonite. Look for all media outlets to go crazy after the Cowboys go into the Meadowlands and lose to the Giants.  Of course if they pull of a win they will still go crazy talking about how it looks like Romo has put his previous poor Decembers behind him. 

Defensive Line:  The Giants aren't running the ball particularly well so I wouldn't expect much from Jay Ratliff this week.

Linebacker: You know not only has Romo been poor during December but the Dallas defense has also gone into hibernation in Decembers past.  Bradie James and Keith Brooking should be active enough for IDP owners to get LB2 production from both of them this week.  DeMarcus Ware is a game changer and will need to step up if the Cowboys want to avoid another December swoon.

Secondary:  Gerald Sensabaugh looks like he should be in line for a decent weeks production.  The Giants have given up over 8 tackles to strong safeties over the past 3 games. I wouldn't even think about trying to  figure out how the production for the Cowboys CBs will be divided up so do yourself a favor  and follow my lead.

INJURY UPDATE: Ken Hamlin (ankle) has been ruled OUT for this week.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Justin Tuck
3 STAR

Michael Boley
Jonathan Goff
Aaron Rouse

2 STAR

Osi Umenyiora

1 STAR
Mathias Kiwanuka

GiantsThe Giants are a good team.  They just aren't a great team.  Earlier this year when they jumped out of the gate and reeled off 5 straight wins people thought the Giants were something that they weren't and that is a great team.  Injuries have been part of the problem but inconsistent play on both sides of the ball is much more to blame.  NFCE division battles are almost always just that, a battle.  This week should be no different but look for the Giants to turn it up a notch in front of their hometown fans.  Besides it wouldn't be the NFCE if the standings weren't all muddied up.

Defensive Line:  Good news, bad news for Osi Umenyiora owners. It is being reported that Osi is going to be seeing fewer defensive snaps.  In a way that could be a blessing in disguise.  On one front if his snaps are limited you have to keep him on your bench and then by limiting his snaps and using him in situations that put him in situations to succeed could help to get him back on track.  I think the biggest issue for Osi is that the injuries on the Giants DL has really limited the amount of rotating they could do at the position.  I would look for Justin Tuck to be very active this week.

Linebacker:  Antonio Pierce has officially been put on IR due to his neck injury.  Initially, Chase Blackburn is who replaced Pierce in the starting lineup but this week the Giants are shaking up more than just their DL.  Second year LB Jonathan Goff will get the start at MLB this week.  The Cowboys should try to establish the run this week so look for Goff and Michael Boley to both have productive games.

Secondary: Since posting a goose egg in week 9 DB Aaron Rouse has posted 7 solo tackles in each of his last two games.  This week he should still be good for a minimum of 5 solos but the addition of speed that Goff adds to the LBs could eat into the opportunities that Rouse has been cleaning up on.  This week the question that matters most for Giants fans is will their secondary be able to tackle Miles Austin or will they act like he has been bathed in Crisco and let him slip away for a couple of big back braking TDs?


San Francisco at Seattle

5 STAR
Patrick Willis
4 STAR

None

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

49ersJust when you thought that the Niners were done and out of it they notch a win and the Cardinals lose to the Titans.  Of course you are saying but they are still 2 games back of the division leading Cardinals so what is there to crow about.  Well the thing to realize is that the Cardinals next two games are against the Vikings (this week) and then against this San Francisco team.  If and that is a big if the Niners can win this week and then knock off the Cardinals next week and the Vikings can knock off the Cardinals for them this week the Niners would actually be the leader in the NFCW with just 3 games to play.  But it all starts in Seattle and the Niners will have to take care of business if they want that shot at winning the NFCW.

Defensive Line:  Don't expect to get starter numbers from the Niners DL this week.

Linebacker:  Patrick Willis is going to have a full load on his shoulders this week.  I am sure that many IDP owners are going to be leaning on Willis for wins this week and if the Niners defense is going to shut down the Seahawks you better believe it will be because Willis puts the team on his shoulders.

Secondary:  Nate Clements remains out this week due to his shoulder injury.  Also a quadriceps injury kept Michael Lewis from practicing on Wednesday.  The Seahawks have given up some pretty big games of late to DBs so look for Dashon Goldson to put up solid numbers this week.  If Lewis is unable to play due to his injury I would bump Goldson up to a 4 Star play.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

David Hawthorne
Jordan Babineaux

2 STAR

Leroy Hill
Aaron Curry

1 STAR
Patrick Kerney

SeahawksThe Seahawks just lost their President and General Manager, Tim Ruskell who resigned presumably because his contract wasn't going to be extended after the season ended. How the players respond this week is anyone's guess but the one thing that is a constant is that playing in Seattle is never really very easy for the opposition.  On the defensive side of the ball I would expect most of the Seahawks IDPs to be limited this week.  The Niners are giving up the 2nd fewest tackle opportunities/game this year.  Yes, the Niners are giving up even fewer tackle opportunities/game then the Browns are.

Defensive Line: Starting any of the Seahawks DL is risky business this week.  Since week 5 only one DL has posted more than 4 solo tackles versus the Seahawks so even though Patrick Kerney had a decent game last week I wouldn't expect one this week. 

Linebacker:  David Hawthorne has been a huge pickup for IDP owners this year.  Since week 8 Hawthorne has put up more fantasy points then any other LB in the league and that includes Patrick Willis too.  But this week expecting much versus a Niners team that has struggled to give up tackle opportunities I just can't rank Hawthorne any higher.  In no way can you even think about sitting him but you have to understand that his upside look to be limited this week.  Leroy Hill and Aaron Curry have been hit or miss the past few weeks and this week both make for a risky play and is why they are both listed as 2 Star plays.

Secondary:  Like Hawthorne, Jordan Babineaux has really been on fire since week 8. Babineaux doesn't rank 1st like Hawthorne does but he does rank 3rd in fantasy points scored among DBs over that time frame.  If you have Babineaux you have to plug him into your lineup this week too but just make sure you understand that his upside looks like it will be limited too.


Minnesota at Arizona

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Jared Allen
EJ Henderson
3 STAR
Cedric Griffin
Chad Greenway
Ray Edwards
2 STAR
Antoine Winfield
Kevin Williams
Madieu Williams
1 STAR
Tyrell Johnson
Pat Williams

VikingsThis is a big game this week and could end up having big implications on playoff seedings when all is said and done.  As good as the Vikings are playing they need to keep pace with the Saints who remained undefeated and still have a one game lead over the Vikings. This game should provide plenty of opportunities for the Vikings IDPs too.  The Cardinals are giving up above average tackle numbers and if Kurt Warner can't go this week they will probably try to lean on their running game a bit more so that should bode well for Vikings IDP owners.

Defensive Line:  After two very poor games for Jared Allen he put up a good game for his owners last week.  Allen still ranks as the overall number 1 DL in fantasy football and you can't bench him.  You just have to plug and play him because otherwise you are going to miss out on multiple sack games.  The other day I actually heard Jared Allen's name mentioned as the most valuable Viking this year.  Sure the Vikings QB is getting all the press but people don't realize just how much Allen means to this team. 

Linebacker:  EJ Henderson is extremely capable of putting up a double digit tackle effort and this week I suspect that Henderson approaches double digits. Just two weeks ago rookie James Laurinaitis put up 16 solo tackles versus the Cardinals and the week before that David Hawthorne racked up 11 tackles. Chad Greenway is a good LB but is a slightly risky start because since the bye week he hasn't eclipsed 4 solo tackles.

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield (foot) was expected to return to the lineup last week but ended up being inactive again.  This week Winfield is practicing but even if he plays you would be best suited to leave him on your bench for a week to see how he does his first week back.  Cedric Griffin continues to be a top CB option and solid DB option but even his numbers fell off once Winfield went out with his injury. 

INJURY UPDATE: Antoine Winfield (foot) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

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

CardinalsThe Cardinals had better hope that Kurt Warner is able to return to the lineup as soon as possible because Matt Leinart doesn't look like he has what it takes to lead this team to victories. A loss this week could put the Cardinals in a position where they could fall out of first place in the NFCW next week when they play San Francisco.  The Vikings have shown that they can both pass and run the ball extremely effectively so look for Cardinal IDPs to have very good games this week.

Defensive Line: Darnell Dockett had a monster game last week as he logged 6 total tackles and added 3 sacks for good measure.  Dockett has logged 6 total tackles in two of his last 3 games and has gotten into the sack column in three straight games.  At this point if you own Dockett you just have to ride his semi hot hand and hope it continues.

Linebacker: This should be a great matchup for Karlos Dansby this week but Dansby is fighting a shoulder injury he suffered in last week's game. So far Dansby has practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday.  Look for an injury update Friday evening.  There is some risk due to the injury in ranking Dansby a 5 Star play but if he is able to play he should have no problem posting a huge stat line.  Gerald Hayes has been a bit inconsistent this year but look for him to put up solid starters numbers this week.  If for some reason Dansby can't go this week then I would bump Hayes up to a 4 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE: Karlos Dansby (shoulder) was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Both Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle should be plenty busy this weekend.  If Warner can't start you can expect both to be active closer to the line of scrimmage and if Warner does start then both will be very busy trying to keep tabs on Fitzgerald and Boldin.


Baltimore at Green Bay

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

Ed Reed
Kelly Gregg
Tavares Gooden

1 STAR
Haloti Ngata

Ravens The Ravens look like they are in search of a new identity.  In years past their identity was their in your face stingy defense.  But that defense isn't near as good as it was in past years.  If it was there is no way that Dennis Dixon would have looked as good as he did in the 1st half of their game last week.  This week a trip to Lambeau will show us what this team is made of and maybe give us an idea as to what their true identity is this year. 

Defensive Line: It is clear that the Ravens miss Terrell Suggs.  Dwan Edwards has stepped up and is making his share of tackles but what is missing is the relentless pressure that a player like Suggs brings to the table. The Packers should present a great opportunity for the Ravens DL but I don't think they have the ends without Suggs to get it done.  In DT mandatory leagues you can bump Kelly Gregg up to a 3 Star play.

INJURY UPDATE:  Terrell Suggs (knee) did not practice on Thursday and Friday. 

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis is still the face of the Ravens defense and while he has the drive and desire he isn't the same player he was a few years ago.  But even with a slightly diminished skill set Lewis is a top notch fantasy LB.  The Packers have been good to excellent plays for ILBs this year in all but about two games so if you own Lewis get him into your lineup.  You also know that Lewis will look to make a statement on national TV.  If the Ravens are going to pull out a win and remain in the playoff hunt Ray Ray is going to need to carry this defense and get the team fired up.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ray Lewis (foot) was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday.

Secondary:  Ed Reed is much like Lewis in that he has lost a step but is still a fantastic player.  The major difference is that Reed has a much bigger impact NFL wise than he does fantasy wise.  Sure he can take an interception to the house but he is far to inconsistent when it comes to tackles. Again this is a big stage and Reed is the type of a player that steps up at times like those. At the end of the day both Dawan Landry and Ladarius Webb will probably have better stats but it will be Reed that plays a major factor in the outcome of this game.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ed Reed (ankle, hip) did not practice on Thursday and Friday.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Nick Barnett
3 STAR

Charles Woodson

2 STAR

AJ Hawk
Brandon Chillar

1 STAR
Nick Collins
Atari Bigby
Cullen Jenkins

PackersThe Packers had little trouble disposing of the Lions on Thanksgiving and in doing so solidified their place in the playoff race.  This week will surely be a big test and one that the Packers really need to win.  Luckily, they will be playing in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. What will go along way towards determining the winner of this game will be the play of Aaron Rodgers.  If Rodgers holds the ball to things could get ugly quick but if Rodgers can make good quick decisions he could use the Ravens aggressiveness against them. The Ravens are among the league leaders in tackle opportunities given up per game so that should work out well for key Packers IDPs.

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

Linebacker: In two of his last three games LB Nick Barnett has put up 8+ tackles.  This week I would expect the Ravens will try to establish their running game to control the clock and keep the Packers offense off the field as much as possible.  AJ Hawk posted a few nice games while Brandon Chillar was out with a hand injury.  Chillar is now practicing fully and I would suspect he will once again start to steal some stats from Hawk.

INJURY UPDATE:  Brandon Chillar (hand) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

Secondary:Charles Woodson is good, really, really good.  Woodson was a man among boys on Thanksgiving versus the Lions.  The problem is that he is a bit inconsistent when it comes to tackles so he does make for a slightly risky start.  This week he is showing up on the injury report with a shoulder injury that limited him in practice on Thursday.  Look for an injury update later this weekend.

INJURY UPDATE:  Charles Woodson (shoulder) was limited in practice on Thursday but practiced fully on Friday.

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