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Eyes of the Guru

Week 10 already, talk about a season that is flying by. I hope everyone is still in the hunt at the very least. For most leagues the trade deadline is either this week or next. if you are still alive but not exactly in the drivers seat, don't hesitate to step out there and a deal to improve your chances. For owners in redraft leagues it's time to trade away that quality second QB or the #3 RB if you need to improve your starting lineup for a serious shot. For dynasty owners this time of the season is important as the time has come to make some decisions. Do we have a serious shot at the playoffs or are we better off looking to the future? I for one never admit defeat until mathematically eliminated but that doesn't stop me from making those late season trades that can be geared for the future. It's never too early to consider next year so long as it doesn't diminish this year's chances.   

Washington Redskins
LaVar Arrington has yet to turn in huge numbers in a game but he has topped the Redskins box score twice in the last three weeks and made his first start of the season against the Eagles. Chances are he's in the lineup to stay. Arrington has looked very good over the past three weeks and would make a solid addition to most squads down the stretch... It seems the injury procession has run it's course for the Skins strong safeties and Ryan Clark has finally emerged as the starter and full time player. He followed a monster week 8 (11-0-0) with a much less stellar (3-1-0) performance in week 9 but he has interceptions in each of the past two games and has solidified his hold on the job. Clark may not have another double digit tackle game the rest of the way but he very well could provide a solid option for us and is a good pickup for anyone in need. The Skins remaining schedule includes Oakland who has been running the ball more with Jordan, San Diego, St. Louis who has discovered Steven Jackson now that Martz is on IR, Dallas and a rematch with the Giants (who Clark had his big game against) in week 16... Looking to the future, take note that rookie MLB Robert McCune was promoted from the practice squad recently. This is a kid I was very high on heading into this season. It was a shock that he didn't make the squad initially. He's a player with a lot of upside and one who's progress is worth watching. Lemar Marshall has done a decent job at MLB but he's a step down from last year's starter Antonio Pierce and probably isn't the long term answer. The Skins run defense has slipped considerably and some of the blame falls on Marshall. McCune is a big run stuffer in the Jeremiah Trotter mold. If you have a taxi squad it may be a good idea to tuck McCune away on it for safe keeping... Cornelius Griffin is still fighting a hip injury that may keep him out this week. If he's a guy you usually start or if you are micromanaging and need a good sleeper for week 10, take a look at Phillip Daniels. He's coming off a season high 6-0-1 against the Eagles and has a very favorable match up with a Bucks offense that has allowed 10 sacks over the past two games alone.  

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles could be without FS Brian Dawkins this week. He was scheduled to have an MRI on his sore foot. No results were available as of press time and the team hasn't put out any further information as of early Wednesday. If he can't go Sean Considine would get the call.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It may be worth while to keep an eye on Bucks DE Dewayne White down the stretch. He was the teams second round pick in '03 and has served as their #3 DE since his rookie campaign but he is making a strong case for more playing time. White has 11 solo tackles and a pair of sacks over the past three weeks despite starting only 1 game when Simeon Rice was suspended (he was 4-0-0 in that game). White is a player the Bucks believe will be a big part of their future and both current starters (Rice and Spires) are approaching 32 years of age.

Carolina Panthers
It looks like both Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker are off the snide and ready for prime time again. After a slow start, especially for Peppers, the two have combined for 6.5 sacks over the past three games. The remaining schedule isn't particularly favorable but if the Panthers defense and particularly these two ends play up to par, they don't need good match ups. At this point both guys should be every week starters... The Panthers may be without Mike Minter this week. He will likely be listed as questionable with a quad injury. Minter hasn't been much of a fantasy factor himself but if he doesn't play will rookie Thomas Davis get another opportunity? Their options are limited to either sliding Marlon McCree to FS and giving Davis another shot at SS, or starting a very average Idrees Bashir.   

San Diego Chargers
Outside linebackers in 3-4 schemes are generally not great fantasy options but once in a while there is an exception to that general rule. Shawn Merriman is proving to be one of those exceptions. This kid is an impressive athlete who has been nothing short of impressive since stepping into the starting role 3 weeks ago. Over that short stretch all he has done is total 16-3-4 with a forced fumble. He has at least 1 sack in each of the last three games and 5 in the last 5 games. He has solidified himself as the starter so even when everyone is healthy (Steve Foley has missed time with an abdominal injury), Merriman will be the man. Three games isn't enough to put him in the hall of fame but watching this kid reminds me of Greg Lloyd. He's the real deal... Merriman is getting all the attention but he's not the only young OLB making an impact for the Bolts. '04 4th round pick Shaun Phillips is also playing very well. He has stepped in for Foley the past two games and is making a case to become the starter opposite Merriman for years to come. Foley has struggled this year while playing through the injury and very well may be shut down for the season before long. Quality at OLB is a key to the success of any 3-4 scheme and it looks like the Chargers may finally have the studs in place to become a dominating defense. Or at least a very good one. Owners who still play in leagues that use team defenses should take note of this metamorphosis... Terrence Kiel missed week 9 with an ankle injury and will continue to miss practice this week. The Chargers have a bye in week 10 so hopefully he will be able to go in week 11. Kiel was replaced by Clinton Hart who is a solid backup and would get the call again if Kiel can't play... One surprise coming from weeks 8 and 9 was the play of ILB Stephen Cooper who stepped in for Randall Godfrey. Cooper has totaled a respectable 10-6-.5 in his two starts but the surprise is his getting the call over Matt Wilhelm who looked very good in pre-season. Godfrey is 32 years old, has been injury prone in the past and is currently fighting a neck injury. Cooper me be getting an on the job audition for a future role. Godfrey is expected to return for week 11.       

Baltimore Ravens
Bart Scott looked like a pro-bowler when he went large with a 10-2-1 against the Bengals on Sunday, but don't get in too big a hurry to snap him up. Just a week earlier he totaled only 4-1-0 against the Steelers in his first start. Scott could be a decent option for depth and may average 5 or 6 stops a game for the next few weeks but he isn't a stud. The numbers from the Steelers game are likely closer to the norm for him. There is also the possibility that Ray Lewis could return in two or three weeks and send Scott back to the bench. The Ravens next game is against the Jags, and then they have divisional rematches with Pit and Cincy which means they will be facing some serious running games. If you need a short term fill in Scott or Tommy Polley (13-6-0 in 2 starts at MLB) might be options in a pinch but unless Lewis misses a lot more action than originally anticipated they shouldn't be counted on too heavily.  

Pittsburgh Steelers
ILB Larry Foote piled up a career high 10-1-0 against the Packers of all teams. His production got a boost when James Farrior left early with a knee injury. Farrior is expected to miss "at least" 2 games with the sprain and could be gone even longer. This makes Foote the every down ILB and signal caller. He isn't likely to reach double digits very often but could lead the club in tackles for the next month or so. Like Polley and Scott above, Foote could serve as a decent short term fill in. Clint Kriewaldt will fill the void at the other ILB position and will assume what I call the "side kick" role.  

Tennessee Titans
Travis LaBoy has been playing very well and has wrested the starting right DE job away from Antwan Odom. Odom has been hampered by a sore knee which may have contributed to the decision and there is no confirmation that the move is official going foreword but LaBoy has outplayed Odom and has likely earned the job until someone takes it from him... The Titans have a bye for week 10 which will allow some of their walking wounded time to get healthy. Kyle Vanden Bosch has been one of the team's most pleasant surprises this year but he was dinged in week 9 and ineffective when he tried to return. The club has been mum on his injury which likely means he will be fine for week 11... Rookie corner Reynaldo Hill has apparently beaten out veteran Andre Woolfolk for the starting job opposite fellow rookie Packman Jones. Woolfolk missed some time with a hamstring injury and is expected to return for week 11 but will do so as the teams nickel back.  

New York Giants
The Giants have some injury issues that could have significant fantasy impact heading to week 10. WLB Carlos Emmons continues to be sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle that could keep him out another week or two. His replacement was Nick Griesen who left the week 9 contest early after suffering bruised ribs. Griesen returned to and finished the game but as usually happens with injuries of this sort, he was very sore in the following days. Griesen may attempt to play in week 10 but he won't be 100% and one good hit could knock him out of action. He's a marginal play anyway, especially considering the shaky match up against the Jekyll and Hide Vikings. Other than Antonio Pierce who is an every week no brainer, the Giants linebackers should be avoided... Osi Umenyiora left last Sunday's game for a while with what has been speculated as back and hip injuries. I have not been able to confirm this but I believe he was able to return and recorded a sack after the initial injury, which would suggest he will be fine. There has been no further report on what ails him or his status for week 10 so keep your eyes open later in the week.   

San Francisco 49ers
The Niners D may get a little boost this week with the expected return of Ahmed Plummer who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury. He may not start in his first game back but could see time in the nickel package in week 10 with an eye on returning full time in week 11 if all goes well. This would be an big plus for a unit that has been playing some gritty football despite missing some of it's most talented players... Fellow corner Shawntae Spencer was gimpy on Monday with sore ribs but it doesn't seem likely at this point that he will miss any time. 

Atlanta Falcons
Rookie Jordan Babineaux made his first NFL start in week 9 but it didn't come at DT where he was expected to play. Instead he got the call at DE in place of Brady Smith who is recovering from a broken toe. Chauncey Davis started for Smith in week 8 but was unimpressive prompting the coaching staff to give the rookie a shot. with Smith still out and Davis injuring his leg during the game, Babineaux is all but assured a second start. The youngster is a high motor guy with good pass rush skills though he may not have the pure speed to be really successful as an end... FS Bryan Scott topped the Falcons week 9 box score with a 5-2-0 but hurt his neck in the process. X-rays were negative and he is in no long term danger but may be forced to sit out at least one week. Ronnie Heard would likely get the call if Scott sits.   

Oakland Radiers
There were several quality linebackers who turned in sub par performances in week 9 but none were worse or more unexpected than the 1-1-0 put up by both Kirk Morrison and Danny Clark. The box score for this game was very strange in that 9 of the top 11 tacklers in the game (from both sides) were defensive backs. You might expect numbers like this if the Eagles were playing the Vikings but not in a game where each team rushed the ball well over 20 times. At any rate, these numbers were straight from the Bermuda Triangle and there is no way the Oakland linebackers come out so poorly against Denver this week... Jarrod Cooper played nearly full time at SS for the second straight game in place of Derrick Gibson. He seems to have a strong hold on the position though it is noteworthy that veteran Reggie Tongue was signed recently. Once Tongue gets acclimated to the system and into shape he could become a factor. Tongue played solely on special teams in week 9 but could see an expanded role considering that both Cooper (hamstring) and Renaldo Hill (hip) are banged up. Both are expected to play in week 10. 

Kansas City Chiefs
We have all hear analysts refer to the "rookie wall" that young players hit about this time of the season. Looking at box scores from the past three weeks I have to wonder if Derrick Johnson may be at that point. After a very strong start he has averaged fewer than 4 tackles a game over the past three weeks and just doesn't look like he has the same spark he did while averaging better than 7 stops per contest over the first 5. There is still a long way to go so maybe he will catch a second wind... After entering week 9 battered at the CB position the Chiefs expect to have their full compliment of players available at the position for week 10. None of the top three (Eric Warfield, Patrick Surtain and Dexter McCleon) are completely healthy but they should all return to their normal roles against Buffalo. 

Seattle Seahawks
Michael Boulware owners need not panic over his weak totals from week 9. Boulware was actually off to a fairly good start before leaving the game with a hamstring injury on the first series of the second quarter. The good news is that the injury is not serious. Boulware may be rested/limited during practice but is expected to be available for his normal starting assignment come Sunday. Even so fantasy owners should take note of Marquand Manuel's team high 9-3-0 against Arizona. Manuel took over for Ken Hamlin at FS and has been solid 13-7-0 in his two starts. Owners in need may want to consider Manuel especially once you take a look at his favorable schedule that includes the Rams, Eagles, Giants and a week 16 match up with the Colts. All these teams pass often which puts more emphasis on the FS to make plays.

Arizona Cardinals
The Cards took yet another beating in the injury department with the loss of star pass rusher Bert Berry who will likely miss the rest of the season with a pectoral injury. There is some hope he may return somewhere around week 15 but the Cards will be well out of contention by then and chances are he will land on IR. With Calvin Pace already on IR and DT Langston Moore also headed for injured reserve after injuring his shoulder in week 9, the Cards are paper thin along the DL. Former Seahawks backup Antonio Cochran was picked up off the street a few weeks ago and will move into the starting lineup opposite Chike Okeafor leaving Antonio Smith and recently signed (Monday) R-Kal Truluck as the only healthy depth on the roster. Guess we won't be seeing any more of the 5 man fronts Arizona was using early in the season... Rookie MLB Lance Mitchell is day to day with a sore knee. If/when the Cards continue to slide, we may get a look at him in a few weeks. There is however a little concern considering it was a knee injury during his junior year that got the blame for his not being as explosive as a senior.

Minnesota Vikings
A bad season may have taken a turn for the worse for Minnesota in week nine despite getting the win. They lost stud corner Fred Smoot for 4-6 weeks with a broken collar bone against Detroit. The good news for the Vikings is that they have a quality veteran backup in Brian Williams who was their starter prior to the signing of Smoot. Ralph Brown will step up to the nickel back job. 

New England Patriots
The injury shuffle continues for a Patriots defense that has been devastated. The latest shift has corner Randall Gay moving to strong safety where he started against Indy. Recently signed Michael Stone ended up seeing a lot of time at the position after starting corner Duane Starks was benched and Gay moved back to corner during the game. If James Sanders (ankle) isn't able to return for week 10 (he's questionable as of early Wednesday), chances are Stone would get the call. At this point the only Patriots defenders worthy of consideration are the inside linebackers Vrabel and Bruschi. The rest of the unit just isn't on solid enough ground for us to know what we should expect from them. 

Indianapolis Colts
Dwight Freeney owners are sure to be upset by his goose egg on Monday night and there may be reason for continued concern. Offenses are paying so much attention to stopping him that it will be very tough for him to be fantasy productive. Freeney has faced double if not triple teams on every pass play for the last two weeks. what makes it wors is that it's working. Take away the last play sack by Robert Mathis on Monday and the Colts registered their season low 1 sack against New England. It's a copy cat league and you can bet other clubs will be looking at the Patriots blocking scheme over the second half of the season. That said, Indy plays Houston this week who gives up 7 sacks to everyone. I'll be rolling the dice and starting Freeney this week in the leagues I have him. 

That does it for the week 10 edition. Best of luck to everyone this weekend and...

Just Win Baby!

Our main weekly ranking that come out on Thursday are driven strictly by our projections which don't allow for such considerations as confidence in a particular projection or the difficulty in predicting such things as fumble recoveries etc. This cheat sheet is not projections driven and takes into consideration everything I know about a all the players. Players with a * are risky due to injuries and those with a ** may move up due to injuries to other players. Keep in mind that this is usually done prior to the release of the Wednesday injury report.


1 DE Michael Strahan NYG vs Min 1 MLB Jonathan Vilma NYJ at Car 1 SS Adam Archuleta Stl at Sea
2 DE Robert Mathis Ind vs Hou MLB Mike Peterson Jac vs Bal FS Greg Wesley KC at Buf
DE Mike Rucker Car vs NYJ 3 MLB Nick Barnett GB at Atl SS Kerry Rhodes NYJ at Car
DE Julius Peppers Car vs NYJ ILB Andra Davis Cle at Pit 4 SS Troy Polamalu Pit vs Cle
5 DE James Hall Det vs Ari MLB Jeremiah Trotter Phi vs Dal SS Michael Lewis Phi vs Dal
DE Dwight Freeney Ind vs Hou 6 MLB Danny Clark Oak vs Den 6 CB Darrent Williams Den at Oak
7 DE Osi Umenyiora * NYG vs Min 7 MLB London Fletcher Buf vs KC 7 SS Tony Parrish SF at Chi
8 DE John Abraham NYJ at Car 8 MLB Brian Urlacher Chi vs SF 8 SS Gibril Wilson NYG vs Min
9 DE Aaron Schobel Buf vs KC 9 WLB Demorrio Williams Atl vs GB 9 SS Adrian Wilson Ari at Det
10  DT John Henderson Jac vs Bal 10 MLB Zach Thomas Mia vs NE 10  SS Ryan Clark Was at TB
11 DE Derrick Burgess Oak vs Den 11 MLB Kawika Mitchell KC at Buf 11 SS Roy Williams Dal at Phi
12 DE Jared Allen KC at Buf 12 MLB Tommy Polley Bal at Jac 12 FS Bob Sanders Ind vs Hou
13 DE Adewale Ogunleye Chi vs SF 13 MLB Keith Brooking Atl vs GB 13 SS Mike Brown Chi vs SF
14 DE Orpheus Roye Cle at Pit 14 WLB Cato June Ind vs Hou 14 SS Corey Chavous Min at NYG
15 DE Simeon Rice TB vs Was 15 WLB Kirk Morrison Oak vs Den 15 SS Sammy Knight KC at Buf
16 DE Grant Wistrom Sea vs Stl 16 MLB Lofa Tatupu Sea vs Stl 16 FS Erik Coleman NYJ at Car
17 DE Shaun Ellis NYJ at Car 17 MLB Antonio Pierce NYG vs Min 17 SS Michael Boulware Sea vs Stl
18 DE Chike Okeafor Ari at Det 18 ILB Mike Vrabel NE at Mia 18 CB Antoine Winfield Min at NYG
19 DE Tony Hargrove Stl at Sea 19 WLB Ian Gold Den at Oak 19 SS Jason Simmons Hou at Ind
20 DE Terrell Suggs Bal at Jac 20 SLB Derrick Johnson KC at Buf 20 FS Mike Adams SF at Chi
21 DE Patrick Kerney Atl vs GB 21 ILB Morlon Greenwood Hou at Ind 21 FS Darren Sharper Min at NYG
22 DT Rod Coleman Atl vs GB 22 WLB Channing Crowder Mia vs NE  22 FS Brian Dawkins * Phi vs Dal
23 DE Alex Brown Chi vs SF 23 WLB LaVar Arrington Was vs TB 23 SS Nick Ferguson Den at Oak
24 DE Leonard Little Stl at Sea 24 ILB DaShon Polk Hou at Ind 24 CB Nate Clements Buf vs KC
25 DE Kalimba Edwards Det vs Ari 25 WLB Will Witherspoon Car vs NYJ 25 CB Ronde Barber TB vs Was
26 DE Phillip Daniels Was at TB 26 ILB Larry Foote Pit vs Cle 26 FS Sean Taylor Was at TB
27 DE Bryce Fisher Sea vs Stl 27 ILB Derrick Smith SF at Chi 27 FS Stuart Schweigert Oak vs Den
28 DE Jason Taylor Mia vs NE 28 MLB Al Wilson Den at Oak 28 FS Brian Russell Cle at Pit
29 DE Reggie Hayward Jac vs Bal 29 WLB Derrick Brooks TB at Was 29 CB Charles Tillman Chi vs SF
30 DT Marcus Stroud Jac vs Bal 30 OLB Adalius Thomas Bal at Jac 30 FS Mike Furry Stl at Sea
31 DE Aaron Smith Pit vs Cle 31 WLB Angelo Crowell Buf vs KC 31 CB Anthony Henry * Dal at Phi
32 DE Jevon Kearse Phi vs Dal 32 ILB Tedy Bruschi NE at Mia 32 FS Marcus Coleman Hou at Ind
33 DT Marcus Tubbs * Sea vs Stl 33 MLB Shelton Quarles TB vs Was 33 FS Will Demps Bal at Jac
34   DE Raheem Brock Ind at Ind 34   MLB Dan Morgan Car vs NYJ 34 FS Eugene Wilson NE at Mia
35 DE Eric Hicks KC at Buf 35 WLB Bart Scott Bal at Jac 35 SS Mark Roman GB at Atl
36 DT Darwin Walker Phi vs Den 36   MLB Lemar Marshall Was at TB 36 SS Renaldo Hill * Oak vs Den
37 DE KGB GB at Atl 37 WLB Lance Briggs Chi vs SF 37 CB Rashean Mathis Jac vs Bal
38 DE Bryant Young SF at Chi 38 OLB Julian Peterson SF at Chi 38 CB DeAngelo Hall Atl vs GB
39 DT Darnell Dockett Ari at Det 39   SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa Stl at Sea 39 CB Eric Warfield KC at Buf
40 DE Antonio Cochran Ari at Det 40 WLB Leroy Hill Sea vs Stl 40 FS Nick Collins GB at Atl
41 DE Aaron Kampman GB at Atl 41 ILB Ben Taylor Cle at Pit 41 SS Jarrod Cooper * Oak vs Den
42 DE ND Kalu Phi vs Den 42 ILB Brandon Moore SF at Chi 42   CB Chris Gamble Car vs NYJ
43 NT Pat Williams Min at NYG 43 MLB Gary Brackett Ind vs Hou 43 CB Ty Law NYJ at Car
44 DE Paul Spicer Jac vs Bal 44 ILB Sam Cowart Min at NYG 44 FS Terrence Holt Det vs Ari
45 DE Greg Ellis Dal at Phi 45 WLB Daryl Smith Jac vs Bal 45 FS Brent Alexander NYG vs Min
46 DT Gerard Warren Den at Oak 46 WLB Mark Brown NYJ at Car 46 CB Travis Fisher Stl at Sea
47 DE Kevin Williams Min at NYG 47 OLB Clark Haggans Pit vs Cle 47 CB Champ Bailey Was at TB
48 DE Trevor Pryce Den at Oak 48 ILB E.J. Henderson Min at NYG 48 SS Kenoy Kennedy Det vs Ari
49 DT Vonnie Holliday Mia vs NE 49 SLB Akinola Ayodele Jac vs Bal 49 SS Chris Crocker Cle at Pit
50 DE Kevin Carter Mia vs NE 50 SLB Jamie Sharper Sea vs Stl 50 CB DeMarcus Faggins * Hou at Ind
51 DE Chris Kelsay Buf vs KC 51 SLB Marcus Washington Was at TB 51 FS Robert Griffith Ari at Det
52 DT John Browning KC at Buf 52 OLB Rosevelt Colvin NE at Mia 52 CB Terrence Newman Dal at Phi
53 DE Jarrett Johnson Bal at Jac 53   OLB Demarcus Ware Dal at Phi 53 SS Lawyer Milloy Buf vs KC
54 DE Greg Spires TB vs Was 54   SLB Victor Hobson NYJ at Car 54 SS Mike Doss Ind vs Hou
55 DT Tommie Harris Chi vs SF 55 SLB David Thornton Ind vs Hou 55 FS Bryan Scott * Atl vs GB
56 DE Gary Walker Hou vs Ind 56 WLB Nick Griesen NYG vs Min 56 CB Ken Lucas Car vs NYJ
57 DT Warren Sapp Oak vs Den 57   OLB Scott Fujita Dal at Phi 57 FS John Lynch Den at Oak
58 DT Corey Simon Ind vs Hou 58 OLB Joey Porter Pit vs Cle 58 CB Travis Daniels Mia vs NE
59 DE Richard Seymour NE at Mia 59 SLB Boss Bailey Det vs Ari 59 FS Chris Harris Chi vs SF
60   DT Sam Adams Buf vs KC 60 MLB James Darling Ari at Det 60   CB Dunta Robinson Hou at Ind


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