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Eyes of the Guru

Three weeks to go for most of us. It's crunch time!     

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Looking for some help on the DL? Keep a close eye on the injury to Bucks starting DE Greg Spires. He left the Washington game with a shoulder injury that has initially been diagnosed with a sprained AC joint. It's unclear as of Tuesday evening if Spires will miss much time but he is expected to be questionable for week 11. If Spires sits it will provide an opportunity for former 2nd round pick Dewayne White to continue making his case for the starting job. White has seen increased playing time over the past 4 games and has taken advantage of his opportunity to the tune of 12-1-2 with a fumble recovery. He is a better pass pass rusher than Spires and has been working to improve versus the run. If he gets the shot and plays well the coaching staff would likely be open to the possibility of his claiming the job... I'm not sure if something has changed with the scheme that may have triggered the production or if it was just a coincidence but it's worth mention that that SS Jermaine Phillips has put together his two best box scores of the season over the past two games totaling 14-3-0. History points out that Phillips is inconsistent at best so don't get too excited, at least not yet... FS Dexter Jackson has been on the shelf for a while but may be ready to return for week 11. That would be good news for the Bucks who may have lost his backup Will Allen with a knee injury. Allen is expected to be questionable on Wednesday's injury report.

Washington Redskins
If you picked up Ryan Clark after his monster week 8 game you are undoubtedly disappointed with the 5 total solo stops he's contributed over the past two weeks. If you still have him on the roster you just might want to give him one more week before throwing him back. Consider the last two games were a match up with an Eagles offense that has consistently been a box score vacuumed for IDPs, and the Bucks who have no running game (24 carries, 56 yards) and completed just 15 passes. Ryan has a solid hold on the SS position and it's a safe bet that Lamont Jordan and LT will provide a lot more opportunity over the next two games. Don't overlook the fact that Sean Taylor is now battling injuries as well. Taylor was inactive in week 10 and is expected to be questionable for week 11.

New England Patriots
The hits just keep on coming for the Patriots secondary. It's as if the club saved up all its injuries while they were winning Super Bowls and now it's time to pay the piper. Randall Gay is the latest addition to the injured reserve list. FS Eugene Wilson was also dinged on Sunday but he was able to return. The Pats are once again planning to use Troy Brown in the secondary in week 11 but the important name here is Michael Stone. Stone was out of football until a couple of weeks ago but this Sunday he will make his second straight start at SS for the Pats. In week 10 he managed to lead the club in tackles with a very solid 6-2-0. He's the man at the position until he gets hurt or the season comes to an end, which ever comes first... There are a lot of owners out there who have been patiently awaiting the return of Richard Seymour from injury. Seymour saw his first action in 5 weeks and made it through unscathed. However, don't expect him to return to pre-injury form even if he is healthy. When Seymour was producing early in the season the Pats were playing a lot of 4-3 and he was lining up at tackle. Since then the club has turned back to a 3-4 which will adversely effect Seymour's numbers even if he is 100%. 

New York Giants
The Giants have an important match up with a struggling Eagles club in week 11. Previously this would have spelled trouble for fantasy owners who have guys like Antonio Pierce and Gibril Wilson but Philly may have turned a new leaf in week 10 when they finally decided to run the ball. Now that McNabb is likely out of action they will have little choice but to continue the trend. Not only did Bradie James put up career high numbers versus Philly but his 12-0-1 is the best production of any opposing IDP to date. Pierce and Wilson are every week starters so don't hesitate to play them... Carlos Emmons has been slow to recover from his chest injury and likely will not play again in week 11. Nick Greisen is trying to make a bid for keeping the starting job but he hasn't done much lately to help his cause.    

San Francisco 49ers
The Niners took another big loss on Sunday when SS Tony Parrish was lost for the rest of the season to a broken leg. Not only is Parrish a very solid player but he was also the veteran presence and leadership for the very young defense. Keith Lewis will assume the starting duties and very well may be an excellent pickup. FS Mike Adams is also very worthy of consideration. He has quietly averaged nearly 6-2-0 over the 5 games since be became a starter and is the teams second leading tackler... The word is corner Ahmad Plummer is very close to getting back on the field after missing 6 games with an ankle injury, but there is also a report that he may not come back to a starting job. It's hard to fathom that a talent like Plummer would be benched in favor of Bruce Thornton, but those are the reports... ILB Derek Smith hasn't been a stud by far but both he and Brandon Moore might be worthy of a start this week considering the stellar match up against one of the leagues best rushing attacks (Seattle).       

Oakland Raiders
It was mentioned in a previous report that the Raiders were playing Jarrod Cooper in the role that Derrick Gibson had held prior to his injury but it has been Renaldo Hill who has taken over Gibson's production. Hill has been listed as a 3rd corner in the official game books but he is actually lining up more like a normal SS with Cooper almost in a linebackers position. Regardless of title, the fact is that Hill has averaged better than 6-1-0 with at least 5 solo stop in every game since the injury to Gibson. He become a decent and very consistent fantasy contributor. With the Redskins, Dolphins and Chargers on the menu over the next three weeks, Hill should have plenty of opportunity... Danny Clark had an MRI on his banged up knee this week. As of early Wednesday there were no reports on the results but the injury isn't believed to be serious. Clark is expected to play in week 11 but will undoubtedly be sore. This is great news for Kirk Morrison owners and comes on the heels of the first double digit solo tackle day of his young career. Morrison is a future star so if you can land him for your dynasty squad, do it now before the price goes way up.  

Kansas City Chiefs
Every week there are one or two box scores that just make you scratch your head. In week 11 it was the Chiefs. Despite taking a beating on the score board their top solo tackler was DE Jared Allen with only 4 stops. Meanwhile Sammy Knight gets the award for most peculiar numbers of the week with a 3-7-0 mark. Where did that come from? At any rate, don't allow last weeks poor production to scare you away from you KC defenders in week 11. The Texans have a struggling offense and aren't the greatest match up in the game but they are committed to the run and are showing improvement. Consider that Cato June and Gary Brackett combined to go 15-6-0 against them last week despite a lopsided score... Jared Allen is an every week starter in most leagues already but even if he's not get him in your lineup this week if you can. The Texans give up sacks by the bushel. On that same note, if you find yourself in a pinch for DL you might want to give Eric Hicks a shot as a one week wonder based on the match up. Carlos Hall was banged up against the Buffalo and may not play in week 11 which should give Hicks a few more snaps than normal as well.       

Buffalo Bills
Rookie Justin Bannan made the first start of his career in week 10 replacing an injured Sam Adams. Bannan turned in a very strong performance with a 3-2-1 box score but also had an excellent game in terms of getting it done for the Bills. Adams availability for week 11 is in doubt so Bannan may get a chance to prove week 10 was not a mirage. He's smaller than Adams but has more range and is quicker in pursuit. Owners in leagues that start tackles as a separate position should be paying particularly close attention here... Troy Vincent left Sunday's game early with a shoulder injury and was unable to return. As of Wednesday morning there was no news on the MRI results leaving his week 11 in jeopardy. Rashard Baker replaced Vincent in week 10 but I would have to think that Coy Wire might finally get on the field if Vincent doesn't play this week.   

Carolina Panthers
MLB Dan Morgan has been playing the past few weeks with a shoulder harness to protect the dislocation he suffered back in mid October. He was forced out of the game on Sunday and was unable to return after taking a hard hit on the shoulder. There has been no further word on his availability for week 11 but even if he is able to play it would be a huge risk to put him in your lineup. Will Witherspoon owners on the other hand have to be all smiles over this news. History proves that anytime Morgan sits Witherspoon becomes a top 12 LB. Spooney is 16-2-1 with an interception over the past three games with Morgan on the field but at less than 100%. Keep your eyes open for further news on the injury and react accordingly.   

New York Jets
Those of you who are required to start corners might want to take a hard look at Jets rookie Justin Miller. He made his first start in week 10 for an injured David Barrett and will likely remain in the lineup the rest of the season. Barrett is questionable for week 11 with an eye injury but even if he were cleared to play it might remain Miller's job. He was the clubs second round pick in April and they believe he is the future of the corner position. Since the Jets have no shot at the post season they will likely look to get their young gun some much needed experience to prepare him for next season. Miller was a decent 4-3-0 against Carolina and you can bet the Broncos will find him often this week.

Detroit Lions
To say the Lions LB corps is devastated would be somewhat of an understatement. MLB Earl Holmes has already been ruled out of week 11 with a knee sprain, SLB Boss Bailey is gimpy with an ankle injury, WLB James Davis is probable for week 11 but will play with a cast on his hand. Their top backup at all three positions is Teddy Lehman who will not be able to take advantage of the opportunity as he is out with a foot injury. 5th LB Alex Lewis was placed on IR a few weeks back. The Lions have 3 healthy linebackers on the roster if you include journeyman Nate Wayne who they signed off the street a couple of weeks back. Wali Rainer will likely get the start in the middle against Dallas while Donte' Curry would get the nod at SLB if Bailey can't go. Rainer managed some decent fantasy production early in his career. Though he is by no means a stud, he could post useful numbers over the next couple of week with strong match ups against Dallas and Atlanta... SS Kenoy Kennedy has quietly been having a solid fantasy campaign and currently ranks tied for 11th in solo tackles among defensive backs. The injuries at LB would normally benefit his box score production if not for the fact that Kennedy is also hurting. He suffered a rotator cuff injury late in the game against Arizona and is questionable. Jon McGraw replaced Kennedy and would likely get the call. McGraw couldn't stay healthy while with the Jets but showed flashes of great fantasy potential during his time there. The early reports on Kennedy's injury are that it's only a strain but these things have a way of being worse than anticipated sometimes.  

Arizona Cardinals
An already crippled LB corps took another hit in week 10 when their best player Karlos Dansby was lost with a groin injury. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with the injury which creates yet another hole to fill for the coaching staff. Both of the clubs rookie linebackers Darryl Blackstock and Lance Mitchell saw their first action of the season on defense against the Lions. Arizona is now 2-7 and all but eliminated from contention so the time has come to look toward the future. James Darling and Orlando Huff are the only experienced players left at the position but neither of them have much future. Look for the youngsters to see increased playing time down the stretch and keep an eye on their production, it could be a glimpse into the future for us... One more quick note, the experiment of Robert Griffith at FS hasn't panned out all that well but he might be worth a shot in a pinch this week. Opposing free safeties have been very productive in general against the Rams and the injury depleted front 7 won't provide much of a barrier between Steven Jackson and the secondary.   

Houston Texans
Early in the season C.C. Brown captured the starting strong safety job and put together a string of quality box scores that had him a hot option on the waiver wire. It all turned to fools gold starting in week 7 when the club began replacing Brown with Jason Simmons in the nickel package. A Hamstring injury to Simmons early in week 10 may have elevated Brown back to prominence. Simmons is expected to miss up to 4 weeks with the injury which puts Brown back on the field full time. Over the last 4 games that he has played full time Brown has totaled 26-7-0. Grab him if you can.  

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have several players fighting nagging injuries as they head into the week 11 show down with the 7-2 Bengals. Both of their stellar pass rushing ends Mathis and Freeney are gimpy and have been limited at practices for the past few weeks. Neither of them were in the starting lineup in week 10 and Mathis saw his streak of consecutive games with a sack come to an end. Both guys are expected to play... The news may not be so good for FS Bob Sanders. An MRI revealed no structural damage to his sore knee but there is a good chance he will be replaced by Gerome Sapp this week. At the very least Sanders is an extremely risky play that should be avoided.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Keep an eye on second year pro Bobby McCray in the coming weeks. The youngster has quietly put together a solid season despite the limited playing time. McCray has 4.5 sacks on the season including 2.5 in the last two games. He's a little undersized at only 261 and needs to improve in his point of attack run defense but he has the attention of the coaching staff and could very well push the inconsistent Paul Spicer for the starting job in '06 if not before the end of this season. McCray is already replacing Spicer regularly in the nickel package.

Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks thought the offseason addition of veteran Jamie Sharper would solidify their LB corps but as it turns out it's the addition of two rookies that had done more. Lofa Tatupu is a candidate for defensive rookie of the year while fellow rookie Leroy Hill is quietly making a very significant contribution as well. Rarely do teams pair two rookie linebackers as starters and even more rarely do you see two rooks working together in a nickel package. With Sharper shelved due to a potentially serious infection in his knee, Hill is no longer confined to only the nickel duties and is now playing full time. Tatupu is already showing that he will be a top 10 fantasy option for years to come but if you missed out on him in your dynasty draft, take a shot on Hill. He may not be the same caliber as Tatupu but he's an excellent pass rusher (4 sacks in limited action already) and a productive tackler. Three time this season Hills has put up 5 solo tackles AND a sack in the same game while playing only in nickel situations... FS Marquand Manuel was not exactly impressive during his stint with Cincinnati so his 17 solo tackles over the past two weeks comes as a huge surprise. If you are needy at the position he's worthy of consideration but don't be disappointed if/when his number drop back to reality. Manuel has been aided over the past two contests by match ups with pass happy Arizona and St. Louis, as well as a gimpy fellow safety Michael Boulware who is playing through an injury. The Seahawks face an offensively challenged Niners club twice in the next 4 weeks but their other match ups down the stretch are solid.  

Philadelphia Eagles
Injuries along the DL had the Eagles in a tight spot on Monday night. ND Kalu missed the game so Darwin Walker got the start at DE. This wasn't completely unexpected but it was somewhat of a surprise that Mike Patterson didn't get the call to start at Walker's DT position. That duty fell instead to Sam Rayburn. Walker didn't exactly set the world on fire and the expected return of Kalu should send him back inside for week 11. The silver lining to the whole cloud may be the discovery of 5th round pick Trent Cole. At a very quick 260 pounds Cole is the proto type for the Eagles speed and pressure scheme. Some consider him the best pure pass rusher on the roster already though he needs a lot of work against the run to become an every down option. Cole recorded both of the Eagles sacks in the game and may have earned himself more playing time down the stretch, especially if the Eagles continue to struggle and fall completely out of the playoff chase... SS Michael Lewis left the Monday night game with a rib injury and a mild concussion. He will be sore but is not expected to miss any time due to the injuries.   

Dallas Cowboys
Was week 10 a coming out party of Bradie James or was it simply a fluke? Only time will tell for sure but keep in mind that James was a Parcells draft pick and is a Parcells favorite. He is bigger and more physical than Dat Nguyen and many expected him to oust Nguyen from the starting job last season. Nguyen is coming off a neck injury that kept him out for a while and though he did play a significant role, he didn't start the game against Philly. When Nguyen did play he was sharing time with Scott Shanle at the weak ILB position instead of his usual middle ILB which is the position that by design should make the majority of the plays. James played the MILB spot and was all over the field making plays on Monday night. It's a gamble but I plan to pick him up in several leagues this week (including my dynasty leagues) and keep my fingers crossed. Nothing ventured nothing gained you know. 

That does it for the week 11 edition. Best of luck to everyone this weekend and as always...

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.

 

RNK POS DEFENSIVE LINE TM OPP RNK POS LINEBACKERS TM Opp RNK POS DEFENSIVE BACKS TM Opp
1 DE Jared Allen KC at Hou 1 MLB Jonathan Vilma NYJ at Den 1 SS Adrian Wilson Ari at Stl
2 DE Michael Strahan NYG vs Phi MLB London Fletcher Buf at SD SS Kerry Rhodes NYJ at Den
DE Osi Umenyiora NYG vs Phi 3 WLB Cato June Ind at Cin SS Gibril Wilson NYG vs Phi
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch  Ten vs Jac MLB Brian Urlacher Chi vs Car 4 SS Troy Polamalu Pit at Bal
5 DE KGB GB vs Min MLB Zach Thomas Mia at Cle SS Mike Brown Chi vs Car
DE Aaron Schobel Buf at SD 6 WLB Keith Bulluck  Ten vs Jac 6 SS Dwight Smith NO at NE
7 DE Simeon Rice TB at Atl 7 ILB Donnie Edwards SD vs Buf 7 FS Kevin Kaesviharn Cin vs Ind
8 DE Jason Taylor Mia at Cle 8 MLB Mike Peterson Jac at Ten 8 FS Greg Wesley KC at Hou
9 DE Dwight Freeney Ind at Cin 9 WLB Demorrio Williams Atl vs TB 9 CB Antoine Winfield Min at GB
10  DE Adewale Ogunleye Chi vs Car 10 MLB Jeremiah Trotter Phi at NYG 10  SS Adam Archuleta Stl vs Ari
11 DE Julius Peppers Car at Chi 11 ILB Andra Davis Cle vs Mia 11 FS Darren Sharper Min at GB
12 DT Rod Coleman Atl vs TB 12 MLB Kawika Mitchell KC at Hou 12 SS C.C. Brown ** Hou vs KC
13 DE Orpheus Roye Cle vs Mia 13 WLB Brian Simmons Cin vs Ind 13 FS Erik Coleman NYJ at Den
14 DE James Hall Det at Dal 14 WLB Kirk Morrison Oak at Was 14 FS Josh Bullocks NO at NE
15 DT John Henderson Jac at Ten 15 WLB Angelo Crowell Buf at SD 15 SS Sammy Knight KC at Hou
16 DE John Abraham NYJ at Den 16 MLB Tommy Polley Bal vs Pit 16 DB Renaldo Hill Oak at Was
17 DE Derrick Burgess Oak at Was 17 MLB Odell Thurman Cin vs Ind 17 SS Roy Williams Dal vs Det
18 DE Eric Hicks KC at Hou 18 MLB Antonio Pierce NYG vs Phi 18 SS Michael Lewis Phi at NYG
19 DE Aaron Kampman GB vs Min 19 MLB Gary Brackett Ind at Cin 19 SS Keith Lewis SF vs Sea
20 DE Patrick Kearney Atl vs TB 20 MLB Nick Barnett GB vs Min 20 CB Darrent Williams Den vs NYG
21 DE Robert Mathis Ind at Cin 21 WLB Will Witherspoon Car at Chi 21 FS Mike Adams SF vs Sea
22 DE Mike Rucker Car  at Chi 22 ILB Danny Clark * Oak at Was 22 CB DeAngelo Hall Atl vs TB
23 DE Chike Okeafor Ari at Stl 23 MLB Lofa Tatupu Sea at SF 23 FS Bryan Scott  Atl vs TB
24 DE Shaun Ellis NYJ at Den 24 ILB Derek Smith SF vs Sea 24 SS Ifeanyi Ohalete Cin vs Ind
25 DE Terrell Suggs Bal vs Pit 25 WLB Derrick Brooks TB at Atl 25 SS Terrence Kiel * SD vs Buf
26 DE Darren Howard NO at NE 26 WLB Channing Crowder Mia at Cle 26 SS Lawyer Milloy Buf at SD
27 DE Dewayne White TB at Atl 27 OLB Derrick Johnson KC at Hou 27 CB Nate Clements Buf at SD
28 DE Tony Hargrove Stl vs Ari 28 ILB Larry Foote Pit at Bal 28 FS Will Demps Bal vs Pit
29 DE Will Smith NO at NE 29 MLB Keith Brooking Atl vs TB 29 CB Charles Tillman Chi at Car
30 DT Darnell Dockett Ari at Stl 30 ILB Morlon Greenwood Hou vs KC 30 FS Marcus Coleman Hou vs KC
31 DE Travis LaBoy Ten vs Jac 31 ILB Mike Vrabel NE vs NO 31 CB Chris Gamble Car at Chi
32 DE Phillip Daniels Was vs Oak 32 OLB Shawn Merriman SD vs Buf 32 CB Ronde Barber TB at Atl
33 DT John Browning KC at Hou 33 SLB Adalius Thomas Bal vs Pit 33 FS Brian Dawkins Phi at NYG
34   DE Reggie Hayward Jac at Ten 34   ILB DaShon Polk Hou vs KC 34 SS Corey Chavous Min at GB
35 DE Alex Brown Chi vs Car 35 WLB Lance Briggs Chi vs Car 35 FS Robert Griffith Ari at Stl
36 DE Charles Grant NO at NE 36   ILB Sam Cowart Min at GB 36 SS Kenoy Kennedy * Det at Dal
37 DE Justin Smith Cin vs Ind 37 OLB Julian Peterson SF vs Sea 37 CB Terence Newman Dal vs Det
38 DE Leonard Little Stl vs Ari 38 ILB Tedy Bruschi NE vs NO 38 CB Justin Miller NYJ at Den
39 DE Chris Kelsay Buf at SD 39   MLB Lemar Marshall Was vs Oak 39 SS Tank Williams Ten vs Jac
40 DE Grant Wistrom Sea at SF 40 ILB Brandon Moore SF vs Sea 40 CB Tory James Cin vs Ind
41 DT Marcus Stroud * Jac at Ten 41 WLB Ian Gold Den vs NYJ 41 FS Mike Furrey Stl vs Ari
42 DE Greg Ellis Dal vs Det 42 WLB LaVar Arrington Was vs Oak 42   SS Chris Crocker Cle vs Mia
43 DE Kalimba Edwards Det at Dal 43 WLB Pisa Tinoisamoa Stl vs Ari 43 FS Stuart Schewigert Oak at Was
44 NT Pat Williams Min at GB 44 MLB Dan Morgan * Car at Chi 44 FS Nick Collins GB vs Min
45 DE Bryant Young SF vs Sea 45 MLB Shelton Quarles TB at Atl 45 CB Deltha O'Neal Cin vs Ind
46 DE Bryce Fisher Sea at SF 46 WLB Mark Brown NYJ at Den 46 SS Ryan Clark Was vs Oak
47 DT Warren Sapp Oak at Was 47 SLB Victor Hobson NYJ at Den 47 CB Packman Jones Ten vs Jac
48 DE Aaron Smith Pit at Bal 48 MLB Al Wilson Den vs NYJ 48 FS Bob Sanders * Ind at Cin
49 DE Trevor Pryce Den vs NYJ 49 WLB Leroy Hill Sea at SF 49 CB Jason David Ind at Cin
50 DE Kevin Carter Mia at Cle 50 MLB James Darling Ari at Stl 50 SS Nick Ferguson Den vs NYJ
51 DT Shaun Rogers * Det at Dal 51 OLB Demarcus Ware Dal vs Det 51 CB Reynaldo Hill Ten vs Jac
52 DE Bobby McCray Jac at Ten 52 ILB Bart Scott Bal vs Pit 52 FS Sean Taylor * Was vs Oak
53 DE Gary Walker Hou vs KC 53   MLB Ronald McKinnon NO at NE 53 SS Jermaine Phillips TB at Atl
54 DE Ebenezer Ekuban Den vs NYJ 54   SLB Marcus Washington Was vs Oak 54 SS Mark Roman GB vs Min
55 DT Kendrick Clancy NYG vs Phi 55 OLB Joey Porter Pit at Bal 55 CB Ken Lucas Car at Chi
56 DT Cornelius Griffin * Was vs Oak 56 ILB E.J. Henderson Min at GB 56 FS Lamont Thompson Ten vs Jac
57 DT Rocky Bernard Sea at SF 57   OLB Clark Haggans Pit at Bal 57 CB Fred Thomas NO at NE
58 DE Richard Seymour * NE vs NO 58 MLB Brad Kassell Ten vs Jac 58 FS Brian Russell Cle vs Mia
59 DT Darwin Walker Phi at NYG 59 WLB Daryl Smith Jac at Ten 59 CB Nick Harper Ind at Cin
60   DT Tommie Harris Chi vs Car 60 WLB Nick Griesen NYG vs Phi 60   FS John Lynch Den vs NYJ
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