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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 17
Steve Gallo
January 1, 2010
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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).  Tackle Opportunity statistic derived from data provided by nfldata.com

Team Avg TOs
Given Up/Wk
Defensive
Scheme
Defensive
Coordinator
Three down linebackers
ARZ 48 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 42 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, James Anderson
CHI 44 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer
CIN 51 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 44 3-4 Rob Ryan Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens, Kaluka Maiava
DAL 48 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 48 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 45 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote
GB 49 3-4 Dom Capers Nick Barnett, Clay Mathews
HOU 51 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 49 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Starters being rested
JAX 48 4-3 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 46 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Tamba Hali
MIA 53 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder
MIN 52 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier Chad Greenway, Ben Leber
NE 54 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 53 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 50 4-3 Bill Sheridan Michael Boley
NYJ 50 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace
OAK 41 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Trevor Scott
PHL 46 4-3 Sean McDermott Will Witherspoon
PIT 48 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L Timmons
SD 48 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 48 4-3 Gus Bradley Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne
SF 42 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 46 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis
TB 43 4-3 Raheem Morris Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes
TEN 48 4-3 Chuck Cecil Stephen Tulloch
WAS 45 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.

Indianapolis at Buffalo

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
None
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Sit ALL your Colts.

Colts The Colts are just biding their time until their first playoff game.  Starters were pulled last week versus the Jets and just like that the Colts undefeated season went up in flames.  Do your self a favor and keep each and every Colt you own on the bench this week.

Defensive Line:  The Colts are going to sit their top dogs this week and so should you.

Linebacker:  You know, last week I said that all the Colts were risky plays and that you should avoid them at all costs.  Well, I should have taken my own advice but instead I started Gary Brackett as one of my 3 LBs.  Luckily it didn't cost me a win in the Consolation Bowl.  I wouldn't start any Colts LB knowing that no one is really going to see a full game of action.

Secondary:  Same goes for the secondary, sit them all this week.  The only thing worth noting is that Antoine Bethea got hosed by not being named a Pro Bowler.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Aaron Schobel

3 STAR

Paul Posluszny
George Wilson
Donte Whitner
Chris Kelsay

2 STAR

Kyle Williams
Drayton Florence
Nic Harris
Bryan Scott

1 STAR
Marcus Stroud

BillsThe Bills are a double digit FAVORITE versus the 14-1Colts.  Seriously, that's what happens when a team like the Colts decide to take a month long nap before their first playoff game.  Even with the Colts second stringers set to see massive amounts of playing time I find it hard to believe the Bills will win, let alone win by DOUBLE DIGITS. 

Defensive Line:  Well If Aaron Schobel is actually going to retire after this season he is going out in a blaze of glory.  Schobel logged 4 solo tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles last week against Atlanta.  This week the Colts look like they will be giving Schobel an extra Christmas gift (Curtis Painter) to play with. While Peyton Manning doesn't give up many sacks I wouldn't expect the same from the rookie, Painter. If this is Schobel's final home game of his career look for him to go out in style.

Linebacker: Since the Colts are going to be sitting their starters there is no way to really gauge how effective their offense will be and that makes it difficult to rank Paul Posluszny and the rest of the LBs.  I would like to think the Colts will run the ball enough to make Posluszny and the WLB safe starts.  The reason I say WLB instead of a player is because rookie Nic Harris started at WLB last week in place of the injured Bryan Scott (concussion).  Harris had a great week too, posting 12 total tackles.  You will have to keep an eye on the injury report to see if Scott will remain out due to his concussion.  Also now it seems that Harris is also missing practice due to a knee injury so both are risky starts at this point.

INJURY UPDATE: Both Bryan Scott (head) and Nic Harris (knee) have been ruled OUT for this week and Harris was placed on IR too.

Secondary:  Last week the Bills put rookie DB Jairus Byrd on injured reserve and this week he became a Pro Bowler for the AFC.  Just like with the LBs I think that the DBs are a bit of a risk depending on how effective the Indy offense is but even then I think George Wilson and Donte Whitner should be productive enough to warrant starting.


New Orleans at Carolina

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

Scott Fujita
Charles Grant

1 STAR
Scott Shanle

SaintsThe Saints dropped their second game in a row in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is a DYK (Did you know) for you.  No team that has lost to the Buccaneers in the regular season has ever gone on to win the Super Bowl that year.  Unlike the Colts and some other teams I expect the Saints to play their starters in an effort to get sharp and back on track for the playoff run.  The Panthers should pose a formidable foe and also offer up above average tackle opportunities this week too.

Defensive Line:  Will Smith is currently 4th in the NFL (2nd in the NFC) with 13 sacks.  Over his last 2 games he has logged 11 solo tackles and 3 sacks.  When a DL is that hot you just play him and hope he can keep it up.  Charles Grant has been up and down this year but last week he posted a very nice stat line of 4 solos, 4 assists, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass defended. Since he has been up and down it is hard to recommend starting him but if you are thin at the position he could be worth a look.

Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma has had a pretty good year this year both fantasy and NFL wise.  Vilma was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad as a reserve.  For the season he ranks 13th among LBs in fantasy points scored and since week 7 he has posted double digit points each week.  This week Vilma looks to be in line to log a nice day versus what should be a run heavy Panthers attack.

INJURY UPDATE:  Scott Shanle (concussion) is listed as DOUBTFUL and Jonathan Vilma (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE for this week.  I would be shocked to see either play this weekend.

Secondary:   Roman Harper is soundly situated in the top 10 of DBs for fantasy scoring this year but over his past 4 games he has been less than stellar.  Look for Harper to take advantage of a nice matchup this week and put up solid DB1 type numbers.  Darren Sharper is another Saints DB that has had a nice year and this week versus the semi-inexperienced Matt Moore he could be in for one of those big play kind of days too.  Tracy Porter is returning to form but without Steve Smith in the lineup one has to wonder how much passing the Panthers will actually do.

INJURY UPDATE: Darren Sharper (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE for this week. 

5 STAR
Jon Beason
4 STAR

Richard Marshall
James Anderson

3 STAR
Julius Peppers
Chris Harris
Chris Gamble
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Damione Lewis

Panthers The Panthers may not make the playoffs but they are doing their best to spoil it for other teams.  Last week, their 41 point effort basically laid the Giants playoff hopes to rest and the week prior their 4th quarter drubbing of the Vikings looks like it was the start of some bad times for them.  The Saints need to bounce back after 2 straight losses and will be looking to do what they can against the Panthers in Carolina.  Look for Panthers IDPs to have a pretty good game.

Defensive Line: Julius Peppers is 10th in the NFL (7th in NFC) with 10.5 sacks and ranks 7th in fantasy points scored among DLs.  So it is safe to say that Peppers has been a DL1 this year. The hard part has been dealing with his peaks and valleys. He is coming off of a nice 11 point effort last week so you might think it is safe to start him and ride some of that wave.  Well not to fast, this year Peppers has posted back to back double digit fantasy points just once, ONCE. Add that little tidbit to the fact that he is facing Drew Brees who typically isn't sacked very often and you can see the risk involved in starting Peppers.  But here is the thing, stud DLs are not easy to come by and in week 17 I think I would want to have a guy like Peppers in my lineup. 

Linebacker: Jon "Beaston", yes that is his nickname to me.  All that Beaston has done this year is amass the 2nd most fantasy points of any LB.  Outside of two games he has scored double digits in every game too. This week I would expect a monster game from him and even if he stumbles a bit you know he will be good for at least 12 points minimally.  James Anderson has posted very solid numbers since he slid into the starting WLB role and that should continue this week. 

Secondary:  We know the Saints are going to throw the ball and we also know they will try to establish their running game too. That means good things for CBs like Richard Marshall who play both the pass and run well.  Over the past 4 weeks Marshall has put up top 10 fantasy points.  Look for that trend to continue too, I expect Marshall to be a top 5 DB this week.  With all the love that Drew Brees spreads around in the secondary you have to expect that Chris Harris and Chris Gamble will be safe solid starts too.

INJURY UPDATE:  Richard Marshall (ankle) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 


Atlanta at Tampa Bay

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Mike Peterson
Eric Coleman
Brent Grimes

2 STAR

Curtis Lofton
Thomas Decoud
Jonathan Babineaux
John Abraham

1 STAR
Stephen Nicholas

FalconsThe Falcons have never had two consecutive winning seasons in their entire history.  Actually they have only had 9 winning seasons ever.  This week they have a chance to break the steak and post consecutive winning seasons. The Buccaneers gave the Falcons all they could handle in their first meeting but this time with Matt Ryan under center I think the Falcons will easily dispose of the Buccaneers and finally get that monkey off their back.

Defensive Line: John Abraham has a sack in each of the past 2 games but in those games has only logged a combined 3 tackles.  The Buccaneers gave up very good games to both Will Smith and Charles Grant last week so there could be some hope that the Falcons DL can fare as well.  This year Abraham is far to up and down for my tastes and I would recommend leaving him on the bench this week. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Jamaal Anderson (chest) & Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder) are listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker: If you are a Curtis Lofton owner you are probably in full on panic mode at this point in time.  Thru 13 weeks he ranked 2nd among all LBs in fantasy points scored with a weekly average of 17.9 PPG.  But over the past 3 weeks Lofton is barely averaging over 8 PPG and last week's 2 point performance was a killer.  To make matters worse Lofton did not practice on Wednesday with his hamstring and shoulder being listed as the reasons.  At this point it is hard to bench a guy like Lofton but if you are playing for all the marbles in week 17 that actually looks to be the prudent move.  If Lofton is limited, Mike Peterson should be able to step up and stay productive for his owners.  If Lofton does not play this week then I would bump Peterson up to a 4 star play.

INJURY UPDATE:  Curtis Lofton (shoulder, hamstring) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. Lofton missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but did practice in a limited fashion on Friday.

Secondary:  Last week all of the Saints starting secondary players put up solid to very good numbers.  This week I think it is safe to rely on Eric Coleman and Brent Grimes as starters.  Over the past two weeks they have combined to record 31 total tackles.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Geno Hayes
Tanard Jackson
3 STAR

Barrett Ruud
Aqib Talib
Ronde Barber

2 STAR

Sabby Piscitelli
Quincy Black

1 STAR

James Wilkerson
Stylez White

Buccaneers The Buccaneers will look to extract some revenge from a last second loss they suffered at the hands of the Falcons earlier this year.  I wouldn't expect the Buccaneers to actually pull off the win.  They have far more to lose with a win then they do to gain.  It was bad enough that last week's win took them out of the running for the rights to draft Ndamukong Suh.  The Buccaneers defenders could be in for an overall nice day versus a Falcons team that is giving up above average tackle opportunities/game. 

Defensive Line: If you are playing in week 17 you are more than likely playing for a championship. Since a championship is nothing to sneeze at do you really want to rely on a DL like James Wilkerson or Stylez White? That's what I thought, they aren't worth the risk.

Linebacker: Barrett Ruud is the big name in the Buccaneers LB group and he should be a safe solid start this week but it is Geno Hayes that looks like the big play.  Last week Hayes recorded 9 solos and 1 assist and he did that in 3 quarters.  He evidently was late because he didn't allow for the time change from Tampa to NO so he was benched for the 1st quarter. The last time the Buccaneers faced the Falcons Hayes recorded 9 solos so I would expect a big day from him again.

Secondary: The Falcons look like they will present a nice matchup for the Bucs secondary this week.  Tanard Jackson should be a good play this week.  Two weeks ago he only posted 8 points but last week he did bounce back posting 14 points.  The only DB in the secondary I would be a bit leery of starting would be Sabby Piscitelli.  Piscitelli has had some big games this year but he has only produced double digit fantasy points in one week out of the past 5 weeks. In case you hadn't noticed, thru 4 games this year Piscitelli was a top 15 DB but since Jackson returned in week 5, Piscitelli ranks 82nd among DBs.  Talk about falling off a cliff.


San Francisco at St. Louis

5 STAR
Patrick Willis
4 STAR

Michael Lewis

3 STAR
None
2 STAR
Dashon Goldson
Tarell Brown
Shawntae Spencer
1 STAR
Justin Smith

49ersThe Niners may not be a  playoff team but they truly are making strides.  This isn't a big game in the scheme of the NFL playoffs but it is a big game for the Niners because with a win they will finish at 8-8 and avoid a losing season.  The Rams were without Steven Jackson last week and if he can't go this week that could make for a long day for Niners IDPs.

Defensive Line:  No fantasy value on the Niners DL.

Linebacker:  Patrick Willis is ranked as a 5 Star play with the expectation that Steven Jackson will play this week.  Should Jackson not be able to go I would bump Willis down to a 3 Star play.  This week Willis was also named to the Pro Bowl. 

Secondary: The Rams don't give up a ton of tackles to all of the opposing secondary but they do usually give up a big game to one of the oppositions DBs.  I would expect Michael Lewis to be the Niners safety that has that big game.  Dashon Goldson has shown flashes this year but for this game I would leave him on the bench.

INJURY UPDATE:  Nate Clements (shoulder) has been ruled OUT for this game. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

James Laurinaitis
James Butler

3 STAR

Craig Dahl
Ronald Bartell

2 STAR
None
1 STAR
James Hall
Leonard Little
Chris Long

RamsWhile other teams are trying to pull out a win to secure a playoff spot the Rams are probably looking at securing the 1st overall pick in the draft with a loss.  If the Rams somehow beat the Niners and the Lions can knock off the Bears then the Lions and not the Rams would pick 1st overall.  So the question is will the Rams even screw up losing?

Defensive Line:  Chris Long might seem like a bust to many people but he is coming along. Long has a sack in 5 of his last 8 games.  That might not say much but it is a glimmer of hope for dynasty owners.  Still with all that said I wouldn't start any of the Rams DL.

Linebacker:  How safe you feel starting James Laurinaitis should be tied to how well you think the Niners will play this weekend.  I wouldn't worry about Laurinaitis hitting any rookie wall either.  Since week 11 he ranks as the 5th best LB in fantasy points scored. As far as the rest of the Rams LBs go I wouldn't even consider starting any of them even in the deepest of leagues.

Secondary:  Over the past few weeks the Niners have been OK matchups for some opposing DBs but with the poor LB play surrounding James Laurinaitis I would expect a slight increase in tackle numbers by the Rams safeties.  Over the last 3 weeks both James Butler (14.33 PPG) and Craig Dahl (15.00 PPG) have been very strong plays. The floor is probably 5 tackles for each this week.


NY Giants at Minnesota

5 STAR
Michael Boley
4 STAR
Jonathan Goff
3 STAR

Aaron Rouse
Justin Tuck
Mathias Kiwanuka

2 STAR

None

1 STAR
Osi Umenyiora

GiantsFor those that follow this article weekly you will know that it is of no surprise to me to see them get beat by the Panthers.  However, what was surprising was how little heart they displayed as they rolled over in their final game ever in Giants Stadium. At least for Giants fans there is hope at the end of the tunnel because this team is chock full of top players and they should be able to get back to being a playoff contender next season.

Defensive Line:  Five snaps!  That is all that Osi Umenyiora played in last week and to make matters even worse they very well could be the final snaps for Osi as a Giant.  Justin Tuck remains a safe start with some upside this week.  Also, it should be safer to start Mathias Kiwanuka this week since I highly doubt that Umenyiora gets off the bench this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  After missing practice on Thursday, Justin Tuck (knee) practiced in a limited fashion on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker:  The Vikings need to fix their sinking ship fast and the best way to do that is to get Adrian Peterson back on track.  Look for Boley to be very active as he tries to keep Peterson in check this Sunday.  If the Vikings decide to run a ton of spread formations then Jonathan Goff will be a risky 4 Star play but I think there will be enough base running plays to allow Goff to record at least 6-7 tackles.

Secondary: The Giants secondary is so banged up that it isn't even funny.  One of the major contributing factors to the teams demise this year is due to the loss of Kenny Phillips.  Aaron Rouse should be a solid play as he helps to defend the run while being peppered with Brett Favre completions to Sydney Rice and Percy Harvin.

INJURY UPDATE:  Aaron Ross (hamstring) & Corey Webster (knee) have been ruled OUT for this game.

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

VikingsThe Vikings ship is taking on water and if they don't want to go down with the ship they need to do something about it, quickly.  The OL play has been pretty horrible of late and that just makes it tough to do anything well.  The OL needs to play well to keep Favre off his rear so his 40 year old body can make it thru the playoffs.  You did know he was 40 right.  Yeah, he turned 40 earlier this year.  Just wanted to make sure to point out that he was 40 just in case you missed hearing that in the media.  Also the OL needs to play better so that the running game, led by Adrian Peterson can get back on track.  Of course, Peterson also needs to secure the ball better too. 

Defensive Line:  OK, Jared Allen still ranks as the #1 overall DL in fantasy football but his performance over the past 7 weeks has been erratic at best.  Over that span only twice has he posted double digit fantasy points.  The problem is that you really can't afford to sit him because if you do you just know you are going to regret it.  With the amount of times the Giants are throwing the ball I think that Allen will be a good play this week.  On top of that he has been getting pressure on opposing QBs but he has just been late to get the sacks and tackles that fantasy football owners care about.  Ray Edwards has been solid this year but also erratic.  This week I think he should make a good play as a DL2 this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Pat Williams (elbow) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker:  MLB/ILBs have fared very well against the Giants this year.  If Jasper Brinkley was playing in more than just base downs he would easily be a 4 or 5 Star play this week.  Look for Chad Greenway to be very active against the Giants passing attack.  Greenway has been workmanlike for the most part this year but over the past two weeks he has been a bit more glamorous, posting an average of 9.5 total tackles each week. 

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield has been very good since returning from injury. Over his last 3 games he has recorded 23 solo tackles.  Against the Giants I would expect his floor to be 6-7 solo tackles.  Cedric Griffin was hot earlier this year but really cooled off once Winfield was out of the lineup.  The good news is that Griffin posted a respectable 5 solo stops last week.  This week I think it is safe to rely on Griffin as a mid level DB3 with some upside.

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


Pittsburgh at Miami

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Lawrence Timmons
James Farrior
3 STAR
James Harrison
Lamar Woodley
Ryan Clark
Tyrone Carter
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
William Gay

SteelersWell after pulling off back to back wins the Steelers have a shot at the playoffs.  Unfortunately, it isn't a win and you're in scenario but after the string of losses this team suffered I think just having a hope and a prayer is really all that they can ask for.  You just have to wonder what team is going to show up this week for the defending Super Bowl champions.

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

Linebacker:  The Dolphins have been a great matchup this year for opposing LBs.  This week look for the ILB duo of Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior to be extremely busy trying to keep the Dolphins rushing attack in check.  On the outside James Harrison and Lamar "the quote machine" Woodley will do their best to pressure Dolphins QB, Chad Henne.   For Harrison, it has been 5 games since he last recorded a sack.  So that means he is due! Woodley on the other hand has been hot of late, recording 9.5 sacks over his last 7 games.

Secondary:  Troy Polamalu started running this week. At least in a straight line, according to coach Mike Tomlin.  The Steelers really could use Polamalu this week but odds probably don't favor his return this week.  Even if he does play he would make for a very risky fantasy start.  Look for Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter to lead the way in the box score for the Steelers secondary.

INJURY UPDATE:  Troy Polamalu (knee) practiced in a limited fashion all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

5 STAR
Yeremiah Bell
4 STAR
Gibril Wilson
3 STAR
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter
2 STAR

Channing Crowder
Akin Ayodele

1 STAR
Randy Starks

DolphinsThe Dolphins have had opportunity upon opportunity to grab control of a playoff spot and at each pass they have come up short.  The Dolphins can still get in but for that scenario to kick in I think they would actually need some college teams to lose too.  Look for the Dolphins to try and play spoiler this week, as that is about as good as it's probably going to get.

Defensive Line: The Dolphins 3-4 scheme makes it hard to rely on their DLs for solid and consistent fantasy production.

Linebacker: Will the Steelers commit to the run or will they continue to pass, pass and pass?  The Dolphins defense as a whole seems to do much better than they do individually with regards to fantasy stats.  So do yourself a favor and avoid the Dolphins LBs this week.  If you truly are in need of a big game from a LB then take a look at Joey Porter and Jason Taylor.  We all know that the Steelers can give up their fare share of sacks.

Secondary:  Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson have had some weeks where both of them have been super solid plays.  Then there were weeks where Wilson disappeared.  Much like last week.  But this week I think we can expect both players to put up well above average numbers against the Steelers passing attack.  Wilson does carry some risk so weigh your options and go from there.


New England at Houston

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

Tully Banta-Cain

1 STAR
Vince Wilfork
Ty Warren

PatriotsDon't look now but the Patriots are starting to heat up at the most opportune time.  This game means much more to the Texans than the Patriots because with a win and some help they could sneak into the playoffs.  But on the other side this game also can help to decide if the Patriots end up with a 3rd or 4th seed. Don't be shocked to see the Patriots take this one on the chin as they have only won one time all year in their opponents stadium.

Defensive Line: Both Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork are practicing this week so there is a good chance both will be able to give it a go this week.  I wouldn't want to start either at this point but it would be good news for the Patriots if they could get both back into their starting lineup.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ty Warren (ankle) & Vince Wilfork (foot) are listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker:  Akin Ayodele hung 8 solos on the Texans last week, how can you not have Jerod Mayo in your lineup this week.  Mayo is a player i would be looking to acquire in dynasty leagues if I could.  His value should be a bit depressed from some less than stellar performances when he came back from his knee injury but he looks to be headed back towards the top of the LB pile.

Secondary:  Look for Brandon Meriweather to be very active against the Texans passing attack.  Andre Johnson has a chance to eclipse 1600 yards receiving and something tells me that Meriweather is going to be busy helping out over the top in coverage quiet a bit.

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

TexansThe Texans were in a nice position earlier this year to take hold of a playoff spot but they weren't able to sustain their play and win some games that they should have.  Now they have put together a 3 game win streak and while they mathematically have a shot at the playoffs it is probably too little to late.  the Patriots ranks 1st in tackle opportunities given up/game so the table looks to be set for Texans IDPs.  The only concern is if they Patriots decide to rest any of their starters and their offense stalls because of it.

Defensive Line: Up, down, Up, down, down, down, Up, down...that pretty much seems to sum up Mario Williams season pretty well.  As talented as Williams is I wouldn't think twice about starting him this.  Leave him on your bench and if by chance he goes off it will just give you one last thing to be mad at him about this year.

Linebacker: Let's just make this simple and straight to the point.  Start Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans this week.  The Patriots have been a super matchup for opposing LBs this year. Really that is all that needs to be said.  If you don't believe me just go back and read the Bills LB write-up the week they played the Patriots.

INJURY UPDATE:  Brian Cushing (ribs, foot)  missed practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Secondary:  Bernard Pollard is another of the no brainer just stick him in your lineup and smile type plays this week.  Outside of Pollard I wouldn't consider starting any other Texans DBs.


Chicago at Detroit

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Lance Briggs
Hunter Hillenmeyer

2 STAR
Danieal Manning
Craig Steltz
Alex Brown
1 STAR
Gaines Adams

BearsWhile Bears fans have suffered for the most part thru a miserable season, this past Monday night they got a slightly late Christmas gift that made them smile just a bit.  That gift was a big ol' beat down of the division rival Vikings. Jay Cutler looked good and hope now springs eternal in Chi-town and at this point in time that's not a bad thing.

Defensive Line:  Alex Brown and Gaines Adams are nice players but not ones you should be relying on in week 17.  Even if they are facing the Lions they make for a risky play.  Dynasty leaguers should look to acquire Gaines Adams in the offseason because I think he makes a fantastic buy low candidate.

Linebacker:  Lance Briggs is the big man on campus when it comes to the Bears LBs this year.  That statement is well supported by the fact that Briggs was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad.  But this past Monday night it was Hunter Hillenmeyer who lit up the box score. Hillenmeyer actually helped to lead me to a win in a consolation bowl in one league and the owner that I beat referred to Hillenmeyer as Hulkenmeyer and that seems to be a very good nickname after last week's performance.  Not only did "Hulkenmeyer" record 15 total tackles with a pass defended but he also caused the fumble in OT that led to the Bears winning TD.  This week I would temper expectations from both versus what should be a very limited Lions offensive attack.

INJURY UPDATE:  Lance Briggs (back) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report. 

Secondary: The big news with regards to the Bears secondary is that Charles Tillman had to spend time in the hospital after cracking a rib and bruising his lung.  Tillman should be OK but we still wish him a fast and speedy recovery.  The Bears secondary does have the ability to put up nice numbers but versus the Drew Stanton led attack of the Lions I would leave them all on the bench this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Charles Tillman (ribs) has been ruled OUT for this week and Danieal Manning (calf) & Al Afalava (knee) are listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

DeAndre Levy
Marvin White
Louis Delmas
Ernie Sims

2 STAR
Julian Peterson
1 STAR
Larry Foote
Cliff Avril
Jason Hunter
Dewayne White

LionsThe Lions actually have something to play for this weekend.  Or should I say lose for?  With a Lions loss and a Rams win the Lions would secure the #1 overall draft pick in this April's rookie draft.  Ndamukong Suh would be a great piece to add to the Lions defense but while I think the Lions will lose this week I also think the Rams will lose so the Lions will have to settle for being 2nd worst. I guess in the grand scheme of things that's not so bad after last years 0-16 campaign.

Defensive Line: Don't even consider starting a Lions DL this week. They just aren't worth the risk.

Linebacker:  The Bears still aren't running the ball very well so I would temper expectation for Larry Foote and Ernie Sims.  I would expect the Lions might also want to see what they have on their bench so there is some added risk in starting either this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Larry Foote (foot) has been ruled OUT for this game.

Secondary: Last week Jay Cutler looked good and he only threw 1 interception but there were numerous passes that easily could have been intercepted but weren't.  That means that both Marvin White and Louis Delmas should be solid plays this week.  Both should be able to log at least 5 tackles and then add in the upside of intercepting Cutler and you can see that they are 3 Star plays with upside.

INJURY UPDATE:  Louis Delmas (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 


Jacksonville at Cleveland

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

Gerald Alexander
Reggie Nelson
Derek Cox

1 STAR
Sean Considine
Derrick Harvey

JaguarsThe Jaguars really needed a win badly last week but they just couldn't make it happen when they needed it most.  This team has some key parts but they still need to add a player here and there before they are going to be able to be a serious playoff contender.  Normally, the Jaguars don't travel well this year but against the Browns they should be able to get back into the win column to finish the year on a good note.  But I should also point out that the Browns are currently riding a 3 game winning streak too.  With the success of the Browns running game of late I would expect good things from some of the key Jaguars IDPs.

Defensive Line:  The defensive line is an area that the team will need to address this offseason. Coach Del Rio pointed out that they aren't generating enough of a pass rush and without a pass rush it is hard to win in this league.   Joe Thomas has shut down some prolific pass rushers this year so I wouldn't expect much of anything from Derrick Harvey in this season finale.

Linebacker:  Justin Durant and Daryl Smith should both benefit greatly from the Browns new found running attack. While Durant has been lights out when he has played this year it should be noted that he is being pulled when the teams runs the 3-4 in favor of Russell Allen.  Allen isn't really making an impact in the box score but if this continues next year it is enough be a cause for concern for dynasty owners.

Secondary: Even with the Browns riding a 3 game win streak they aren't passing or should I say completing enough balls to make the opposing secondary safe starts.  Reggie Nelson or Gerald Alexander could be productive enough in run support but I wouldn't be willing to bank on it during championship week.

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

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

David Bowens
Mike Furrey
Mike Adams
Kaluka Maiava

2 STAR

Jason Trusnik
Kamerion Wimbley

1 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Robaire Smith
Abram Elam

BrownsThe Browns have won 3 games in a row.  That's 3 in a row.  Relish in it because you more than deserve it.  As far as fantasy games go I would expect the Jaguars to try and get MJD going for a final hurrah and if they can that should bode well for their defensive stats.  Problem is that no one on the defense is really stepping up and being "the guy".  It really has been a team effort and there no shame to that but there also isn't much fantasy help in it either.

Defensive Line: Robaire Smith, Kenyon Coleman and Corey Williams all did not practice on Wednesday.  There is far to much risk in starting any of these 3 this week so do yourself a favor and just more along.

INJURY UPDATE: Kenyon Coleman (ankle, elbow) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 

Linebacker: Even though it looks like the Jaguars will be a good matchup for the Browns LBs I would have to say that you should pass on them.  One week it is David Bowens, the next it's Jason Trusnik and so on and so on.  The only reason I have Bowens and Kaluka Maiava as 3 Star plays is due to their upside.  Bowens very well could be able to take advantage of Matt Roth getting extra attention and Maiava looks to be the one to benefit most if the Jaguars run the ball 20+ times.

Secondary: Mike & Mike, no not that Mike & Mike, Mike Adams and Mike Furrey led the Browns secondary in tackles last week.  Both are slightly risky plays this week but if you are a bit desperate and need a low level DB3 then give them a look this week.  For those of you that man not know this, Mike Furrey is a converted WR.


Philadelphia at Dallas

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

Akeem Jordan
Quintin Mikell
Sean Jones

1 STAR
Jeremiah Trotter

EaglesThe Eagles currently sit as the #2 seed in the NFC.  Of course they can thank the Chicago Bears for knocking off the Vikings which catapulted the Eagles up to the #2 seed.  But it is far from locked up.  Normally it is lose or go home but this week, in this game, it is win and go home... to host a playoff game. They will need to beat their hated division rival the Cowboys on the road to secure that spot and a bye in the playoffs.  Last season we all know what the Eagles did to the Cowboys in week 17 but this year the game isn't in Philadelphia and the Cowboys look to be playing much better football.  I have a distinct feeling that this game is going to be much better NFL wise than fantasy wise. 

Defensive Line: In big games you start big time players. Trent Cole is a big time player both NFL wise and fantasy wise.  More than likely the success of the Eagles will hinge on the play of the DL and it will have to be Cole that leads that charge.

Linebacker: The Eagles have taken their hits at LB this year but luckily Akeem Jordan seems to be at or close to 100% now and that helps out tremendously with their depth.  Of course Jordan is being used situationally so his fantasy value is limited.  On the fantasy front the best chance for safe solid production will come from Will Witherspoon as he mans the WLB for the Eagles.  Also of note is that Moise Fokou has taken over the starting SLB job from Chris Gocong.  When Gocong was starting at SLB opposing TEs were having very good days against the Eagles so if you are looking at starting Jason Witten this week understand that the Eagles previous stats versus TEs could be a bit misleading now.

Secondary: The Eagles secondary isn't playing as well as it needs to if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs. Safeties Quintin Mikell and Sean Jones have been lackluster at best.  This week Mikell has a bit of upside but with DB being so deep I would look for a more consistent option.  At CB Asante Samuel made the Pro Bowl again but truthfully Sheldon Brown is probably playing at a higher level.

5 STAR

None

4 STAR
DeMarcus Ware
3 STAR
Jay Ratliff
2 STAR

Keith Brooking
Bradie James
Anthony Spencer

1 STAR

Gerald Sensabaugh

CowboysThe Cowboys are coming off of another December win that saw them shut out the Washington Redskins.  As a team the Cowboys seem to be playing much better ball so I would give them better than a punchers chance at winning this game and the NFCE.  If the Cowboys are able to pull off a win and both the Vikings and Cardinals lose the Cowboys could actually end up as the 2nd seed and get a bye in the process. The Cowboys have been in this position before, everything on the line but I am sure that their fans hope they perform much differently then the last time. Another thing to note is that while the Cowboys have seemed to put to rest their December demons they now need to tackle their week 17 demons.  The Cowboys have currently gone 0fer the decade in week 17 games.  That would be 9 consecutive losses in the final week of the season. Believe it or not that isn't even a record.  The record is 14 games and is held by the Packers.

Defensive Line:  The Eagles are not a running team and that could limit the opportunities for Jay Ratliff.  I won't be surprised if Ratliff can register a sack but I doubt he can garner enough tackles to warrant starting this week.

Linebacker: The Eagles possess a big strike offense and because of that they don't sustain many drives and are giving up below average tackle opportunities/game.  Now with all that said, you start big time players in big time games.  And just like I said you start Trent Cole for the Eagles, you do the same with DeMarcus Ware for the Cowboys. You can be almost 100% sure that for the Cowboys to win this game Ware will need to be a big part of things.  Keith Brooking and Bradie James are risky starts and thusly ranked as 2 Star plays because the Eagles are giving up so few tackle opportunities/game like noted earlier.

Secondary:  If you must play a Cowboys DB this week it would probably be best to play Mike Jenkins but truthfully I just don't have a comfort level recommending any of the Cowboys secondary this week.  That doesn't mean that I expect them to all flop but that I just can't peg who looks to be in line to post the best fantasy numbers.


Kansas City at Denver

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Mike Brown

3 STAR
Demorrio Williams
Brandon Flowers
2 STAR

Tamba Hali
Brandon Carr

1 STAR
Glenn Dorsey

ChiefsThe Chiefs might be looking to play spoiler versus their division rival, the Broncos this week.  However, even if the Chiefs are able to knock the Broncos off they can't eliminate them from the playoffs.  A Chiefs win surely would make things much more difficult for the Broncos but that is it. The Chiefs IDPs should be in for a decent week against a Broncos team that will be playing full tilt to try and secure a win.

Defensive Line: The Chiefs 4-3 scheme is the contributing factor in their DL having basically no fantasy value at all.

Linebacker: This is a situation where one of the Chiefs LBs should be a4 Star play but the truth is that the inconsistency that we have gotten from Demorrio Williams make it hard to even rank him as a 3 Star play.  MLB/ILBs have fared very well of late against the Broncos but the last time these teams met Williams was only able to muster 4 solos and 2 assists.  The big winner the last time these two teams met was Tamba Hali. In that game Hali recorded 9 solos, 1 assist, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.  I highly doubt we see Hali come close to those numbers this time but if you really need a huge score and are thin at LB you could swing for the fences with him.

Secondary: The last time these 2 teams hooked up Mike Brown led the Chiefs secondary with 8 solo tackles.  I think it is safe  to expect him to to lead the Chiefs secondary again this weekend.  Brandon Flowers might not be on many peoples radar but in his last 8 games he has recorded at least 5 total tackles in every game but one.  Of course that was in week 15 when I actually started him in a semi-final game.

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

Champ Bailey
Andre Goodman
Andra Davis

1 STAR
Robert Ayers

BroncosThe Broncos are in an odd spot this week. They are not currently in the playoffs but they are still alive and kicking.  The funny thing is that they don't actually have to win this week to get in.  Of course that means that they would require all sorts of help but still it is an odd situation to say the least. More than likely the Broncos will be on the outside looking in when all is said and done and it will be a long offseason of what ifs and almost type of reflection.

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

Linebacker: DJ Williams made his owners very happy this year as he currently has accumulated 111 total tackles along with recording career highs in sacks (3.5), passes defended (7) and forced fumbles (3).  This week Williams should be a safe solid play against a Chiefs rushing attack that will be led my Jamal Charles.  Andra Davis has made for a nice LB3 for much of the season but if the Chiefs end up in a big hole then Davis won't see many opportunities against multi WR sets.  Elvis Dumervil leads the NFL in sacks with 17.  Dumervil as always is a boom or bust play so weigh the risk you can afford and proceed from there. 

Secondary: Brian Dawkins might be getting long in the tooth but he had the best statistical season of his career this year. Dawkins currently sits at 88 solo tackles (108 total tackles) so he does have an outside shot to break the 100 tackle barrier.  I don't have to tell you how huge that is for a DB.  Start Dawkins with plenty of confidence this week.  Champ Bailey and the rest of the Broncos secondary are mediocre plays at best this week.


Baltimore at Oakland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Terrell Suggs
3 STAR
Ray Lewis
Dawan Landry
Kelly Gregg
Ed Reed
2 STAR

None

1 STAR
Haloti Ngata
Tavares Gooden

Ravens The Ravens are one o two teams that are in a "win and your in" situation this week.  Everyone is probably thinking this is all but a done deal since they only have to beat the Raiders.  However, let's not forget that the Raiders have beaten two playoff teams (Bengals & Eagles) and two teams that still have a shot at the playoffs (Steelers & Broncos) so they won't necessarily be a push over.  To make matters worse for the Ravens the game is in Oakland.  About the only other positive thing is that the Raiders are starting Charlie Frye at QB.  But then again maybe it would be a big benefit if the Raiders were actually starting Jamarcus Russell.  Look for the Ravens defensive leaders to really step up this week both NFL wise and fantasy wise.

Defensive Line: Terrell Suggs falls into the same category as Trent Cole and DeMarcus Ware in that in big games start big time players. Suggs may not have given his owners what they expected this year but this is the type of matchup you hope for if you own him when a championship is on the line.

INJURY UPDATE:  Terrell Suggs (thigh) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis has had a fantastic season and this week he should finish relatively strong for his owners.  The only reason that Lewis is a 3 Star play is because the Raiders very well could struggle to move the ball this week. Since Lewis seems to have big games and make big plays in big games there is plenty of upside to his ranking and in my opinion very little downside.  Tavares Gooden has missed the last two games due to injury.  Starting Gooden after missing two weeks would be a bit risky in my eyes.

INJURY UPDATE: Tavares Gooden (groin) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Secondary:  I am sure that Ed Reed will want to play this week because he is a true gamer and knows just how big this game is.  He wanted to play last week but in the end wound up being inactive.  Reed is only a 3 star play because of his penchant for the big play.  Just make sure he is actually going to start and play before you insert him into your starting lineup. 

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

5 STAR
Tyvon Branch
Kirk Morrison
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

None

2 STAR
Trevor Scott
Thomas Howard
1 STAR
Michael Huff 
Richard Seymour
Greg Ellis

Raiders The Raiders were terrible for much of the season but they did reel off a couple of impressive wins and now they have the chance to play a true spoiler role versus the Ravens.  It won't matter if the Raiders win or lose because IDP owners of Raiders players will surely be the biggest winners this weekend. 

Defensive Line:  Sure Greg Ellis is a player that presents nice fantasy upside at times but this week I think it is best to avoid Ellis and the rest of the Raiders DL.

INJURY UPDATE: Greg Ellis (knee) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker: The Ravens just happen to rank 6th in tackle opportunities given up per game so expect Kirk Morrison to have a monster game this weekend.  Thomas Howard used to have some value as a 3 down WLB but now that role is occupied by Trevor Scott.  Of course we expected big things from Scott when he took over for Howard but because he is lining up at DE on passing downs his effectiveness has been limited. 

Secondary:  Tyvon Branch still sits atop the DB rankings in fantasy points scored. Also, barring a complete and total meltdown Branch should break thru the 100 solo tackle barrier this week.  On the season he has accumulated 97 solo tackles so far. Since 2001 only 4 DBs have racked up 100+ solo tackles; Mike Green and Adam Archuletta in 2002 and Eric Weddle and Yeremiah Bell last year.  If you are lucky enough to own Branch you should feel very good about being able to start him this week. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Branch left practice early due to a hip flexor injury. Check back on Friday evening for a more in-depth update.


Washington at San Diego

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
London Fletcher
3 STAR

None

2 STAR

LaRon Landry
Reed Doughty
Brian Orakpo
Andre Carter
Rocky McIntosh

1 STAR
Albert Haynesworth

RedskinsThe Redskins play of late has been putrid and that is being kind of nice.  So it is going to be really funny to see them go across country to San Diego and end the Chargers 10 game regular season winning streak.  Well that is if the Chargers start their JV players after the 1st series this weekend.

Defensive Line:  Andre Carter has had a really nice season and is currently within striking distance of overtaking Jared Allen for the top DL in fantasy points scored.  Carter is practicing fully but I would still be cautious starting him with his partially torn biceps. Albert Haynesworth on the other hand has missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday.

INJURY UPDATE: Albert Haynesworth (hip) missed practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker:  London Fletcher has had yet another very nice season but unfortunately another season that Fletcher was not named to the Pro Bowl. I would expect Fletcher to take any frustrations he may have over being snubbed on the Chargers this weekend.

INJURY UPDATE: Rocky McIntosh (back) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Secondary:  Starting any player not named Fletcher is pretty risky this week.  I expect that we will see the Redskins give many of their younger players some additional work this week to see what they bring to the table. 

INJURY UPDATE: LaRon Landry (head) has been ruled OUT for this game.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

None

2 STAR
None
1 STAR

Sit all your Chargers

ChargersAbout the only thing on the line this week for the Chargers is their current 10 game regular season winning streak. All that is known at this point is that we don't really know anything.  More than likely starters will not play a full game so that makes for a very risky play this week. 

Defensive Line: The Chargers 3-4 scheme doesn't offer fantasy value for it's DL.

Linebacker: I know this probably seems like a cop-out but I can't recommend starting any Chargers when I believe that their starters won't play a full game.

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

Secondary:  Same goes for the DBs.  It is unfortunate if you have relied on a stud like Eric Weddle this year but starting him this week would be a very risky proposition. 

INJURY UPDATE: Eric Weddle (knee) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 


Tennessee at Seattle

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Stephen Tulloch

3 STAR

Gerald McRath
Cortland Finnegan

2 STAR

Chris Hope
Michael Griffin
Vincent Fuller

1 STAR
Kyle Vanden Bosch
William Hayes
Tony Brown
Nick Harper

TitansThe Titans lost their shot at the playoffs with a loss to the Chargers on Christmas day but they still have something to play for this weekend, PRIDE!  With a win the Titans can push their record to 8-8 and after starting off the season with 6 consecutive losses that would be no small feat.

Defensive Line: As bad as the Seahawks have been playing they have only given up 2 sacks to an opposing DL over the past 6 weeks.  And both of those sacks were to Mario Williams.  If you are looking for a good day from Kyle Vanden Bosch or William Hayes you just might be barking up the wrong tree.

INJURY UPDATE: Tony Brown (knee, quadricp) has been ruled OUT for this game.

Linebacker:  Stephen Tulloch should have little problem reaching 4 Star status this week.  For one he is now playing 3 downs and secondly over the past 5 weeks MLB/ILBs are averaging over 10 total tackles against the Seahawks.  Gerald McRath was also very productive in a starting role that he assumed due to the injury suffered by Keith Bulluck.  McRath played in all but 10 snaps versus the Chargers last week so he should be a safe start against a Seahawks team that is giving up above average tackle opportunities/game. 

Secondary: With Nick Harper out this week due to his forearm injury again I would look for Cortland Finnegan to put up solid numbers.  Over the past few weeks opposing DBs have put up some decent numbers versus the Seahawks and Finnegan is as sure a tackler as you will find at the CB position.

5 STAR
David Hawthorne
Jordan Babineaux
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Leroy Hill

2 STAR

Patrick Kerney
Josh Wilson
Marcus Trufant

1 STAR
Aaron Curry

SeahawksThe Seahawks are playing some of the worst football in the NFL right now.  Normally, the Seahawks play tough at home but this week against a Titans team that is playing for pride and to get Chris Johnson a record I doubt the Hawks will be much of a speed bump this week.

Defensive Line: The Seahawks DL doesn't make for a very good play this week.  I don't expect the Titans to do much more than feed Chris Johnson the ball over and over. Johnson doesn't find himself in the grasp of big slow d-lineman very often and this week shouldn't be an exception.

Linebacker:  Like I said look for the Titans to feed Chris Johnson the ball a ton this week.  That means that David Hawthorne should be in for a huge game.  Even Leroy Hill should be able to reach low level LB3 value this week.  Aaron Curry has yet to practice this week and is in danger of missing his second consecutive game.

INJURY UPDATE: Aaron Curry (shoulder) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 

Secondary:  There aren't many matchups that will make owners smile this week but this surely is one for Jordan Babineaux.  With Josh Wilson missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday it looks like Babineaux will be the one hawking on the ball this weekend.  Double digit tackles are not out of the question.

INJURY UPDATE: Josh Wilson (hip) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 


Green Bay at Arizona

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Nick Barnett
Clay Mathews
Charles Woodson

2 STAR

AJ Hawk

1 STAR
Nick Collins
Atari Bigby

Packers The Packers don't have much to play for this week and they could actually end up playing the Cardinals next week in the first round of the playoffs too.  So don't expect much more than a vanilla game plan from the Packers this week.

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

Linebacker: The Packers will know prior to their game if they will have to face the Cardinals in next weeks 1st round matchup.  Basically the way I understand it if the Vikings win next week the Packers and Cardinals will be a lock to play next week. Nick Barnett should be a good play this week only if the Vikings LOSE.  If the Vikings lose then the Cardinals could actually ascend to the #2 seed if the Cowboys also beat the Eagles.  That means if the Vikings win the Cardinals won't have anything to play for and neither will the Packers.  If that scenario plays out then bump Barnett and Clay Mathews down to 2 Star plays.

INJURY UPDATE: Brandon Chillar (back) is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report. 

Secondary: Apply the same logic to Charles Woodson.  If the Vikings win their 1pm game against the Giants then downgrade Woodson to a 2 Star play.

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

Cardinals The Cardinals will know prior to kickoff if they have a shot at the #2 seed if the Vikings lose to the Giants.  So if the Vikings win they would shut the Cardinals out from moving up to the 2 seed. The following rankings for the Cardinals IDPs is assuming the Vikings lose.  If the Vikings win then downgrade all Cardinals to 2 Star plays.

Defensive Line: Since I really expect to see the Vikings beat the Giants the rankings are pretty much null and void for the Cardinals IDPs.

Linebacker: If the Vikings lose then this is a big game for the Cardinals and that is why I have Dansby as a 4 Star play. But as I said above I expect the Vikings to win so the rankings don't mean much.

Secondary: Adrian Wilson got a ton of hype in the preseason as a top IDP DB and while he hasn't lived up to those fantasy billings he has played a fantastic season NFL wise.  Wilson is one of a select group of NFL players to have recorded at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in their career.

INJURY UPDATE: Antrel Rolle (thigh) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 


Cincinnati at NY Jets

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
None
2 STAR
Nedu Ndukwe
Dhani Jones
Leon Hall
Jonathan Joseph
Keith Rivers
1 STAR
Rey Maualuga

BengalsThe Bengals have had a fine season and last week they locked up the AFCE division title with their win over the Chiefs.  I am sure that the Bengals would love to be able to run their win total to 11 but they have absolutely nothing to gain by winning this game.  Look for their starters to find the bench very early in this game.  It's a shame too because they Jets will be playing for their playoff lives this week.

Defensive Line: Even if the Bengals starters were going to play a full game I wouldn't recommend starting them.

Linebacker: The big news surrounding the Bengals LBs is that rookie Rey Maualuga fractured his ankle last week.  You can bet the Bengals will be looking to keep their starters and key subs healthy for the playoffs.

Secondary:   If this game meant anything to the Bengals this would have been a pretty good matchup for Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph versus the interception machine better known as Mark Sanchez.  But as has been said above the Bengals won't risk the health of their starting corners in a meaningless game.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
David Harris
2 STAR
Bart Scott
Kerry Rhodes
Calvin Pace
Darrelle Revis
1 STAR

Eric Smith
Shaun Ellis

JetsWell the Jets are one of two teams that know that if they win they are in the playoffs.  Luckily for the Jets the Bengals don't have anything to gain in this game so all they will need to do is beat a bunch of 2nd and 3rd stringers that the Bengals throw at them.  Unfortunately on the IDP side of things the Bengals will probably struggle on offense and that will limit the tackle opportunities that their key IDPs will face. 

Defensive Line: This is a pretty thin week if you need DL help but even with that I would look elsewhere for DL help if at all possible.

INJURY UPDATE: Shaun Ellis (knee, illness) is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Linebacker: Even though this game is probably going to be a sleeper I think that David Harris will be able to scrounge up enough to be a safe start.  Outside of Harris I would have a hard time relying on Bart Scott or Calvin Pace. Week 17 is always a bear when it comes to teams sitting players so the best you can do is cross your fingers and hope if you decide to roll the dice on Pace or Scott.

Secondary:  At best I think the Bengals will force feed their running game this week so that makes Kerry Rhodes, Darrelle Revis and the rest of the secondary extremely risky plays.

 
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