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IDP Strong/Weak Plays

This will be a weekly feature for IDP owners out there who are having some troubles deciding who to start on Sundays. I'm going to analyze the statistics in a few different ways to find favorable matchups and unfavorable matchups and then point out some players who are most likely to be affected by those matchups. I'll provide the reasoning behind these selections so you can think about it and decide for yourselves. I will also review my picks from the week before so you can see how accurate the picks have been. As most people know, predicting performance on a game by game basis can be difficult for offensive players, but that difficulty is often exaggerated with IDPs. Matchups are important, but there are so many other variables that come into play that sometimes you have to just stick with your best players and hope they come through with just one or two big plays. Good luck.

Review of Last Week's Selections

STRONG STARTS

  • DL Philadelphia Eagles (vs Dallas): DE Jevon Kearse - 2 solos = 2 pts
  • DL Indianapolis Colts (vs Houston): DE Robert Mathis (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF = 4.5 pts), DE Dwight Freeney (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 PD = 6 pts)
  • DL NY Giants (vs Minnesota): DE Michael Strahan (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack = 8.5 pts), DE Osi Umenyiora (4 solos, 5 asst, 2 sacks = 12.5 pts)
  • DL Detroit Lions (vs Arizona): DE James Hall - 2 solos, 2 asst = 3 pts
  • LB Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Baltimore): MLB Mike Peterson (10 solos, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD = 19 pts), WLB Daryl Smith (5 solos = 5 pts)
  • LB Kansas City Chiefs (@ Buffalo): MLB Kavika Mitchell - 3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 4.5 pts
  • LB Cleveland Browns (@ Pittsburgh): ILB Andra Davis - 2 solos, 2 asst = 3 pts
  • LB Houston Texans (@ Indianapolis): ILB Morlon Greenwood - 2 solos, 1 asst = 2.5 pts
  • DB Detroit Lions (vs Arizona): FS Terence Holt (2 solos = 2 pts), CB RW McQuarters (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD = 2.5 pts)
  • DB Atlanta Falcons (vs Green Bay): CB DeAngelo Hall - 4 solos = 4 pts
  • DB Washington Redskins (vs Tampa): SS Ryan Clark - 1 solo, 2 asst = 2 pts
  • DB Seattle Seahawks (vs St Louis): CB Kelly Herndon - 6 solos, 2 asst = 7 pts

Hit Rate for Week 10: 5/16 (31%)
Year to date: 70/141 (50%)

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Dallas Cowboys (@ Philadelphia): DE Greg Ellis - 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 FF = 6 pts
  • DL Atlanta Falcons (vs Green Bay): DE Patrick Kerney - 1 solo, 1 asst, .5 sack = 3 pts
  • DL Minnesota Vikings (@ NY Giants): DE Kevin Williams (1 solo, 3 PD = 4 pts), DT Pat Williams (4 solos, 2 asst, .5 sack = 6.5 pts)
  • DL Houston Texans (@ Indianapolis): DT Seth Payne (1 asst = 0.5 pts), DE Gary Walker (3 solos, 1 asst = 3.5 pts), DE Robaire Smith (3 solos, 2 asst = 4 pts)
  • LB Miami Dolphins (vs New England): WLB Channing Crowder (3 solos, 4 asst, 1 PD = 6 pts)
  • LB San Francisco 49ers (@ Chicago): ILB Derek Smith (5 solos, 2 asst = 6 pts), OLB Julian Peterson (5 solos, 2 PD = 7 pts)
  • LB Denver Broncos (@ Oakland): WLB Ian Gold - 3 solos = 3 pts
  • LB New England Patriots (@ Miami): OLB Willie McGinest (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD = 2.5 pts), OLB Roosevelt Colvin (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 FF = 7.5 pts)
  • DB Oakland Raiders (vs Denver): CB Nnamdi Asomugha - 4 solos = 4 pts
  • DB Cleveland Browns (@ Pittsburgh): SS Chris Crocker (3 solos, 4 asst = 5 pts), FS Brodney Pool (1 solo, 1 PD = 2 pts)
  • DB Chicago Bears (vs San Francisco): SS Mike Brown - 5 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD = 10.5 pts
  • DB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Washington): CB Ronde Barber (8 solos, 1 PD = 9 pts), FS Will Allen (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 4.5 pts)

Hit Rate for Week 10: 11/19 (58%)
Year to date: 75/132 (57%)

A brief note about the hit rates: To provide an objective standard to evaluate these selections, 5 fantasy points will be used as the cutoff for DL and 6 fantasy points will be used as the cutoff for LB and DBs. Thus, when a player is listed as a strong start, that means I think he has a good chance to top 5 or 6 points based on his matchup, and when I say a player is a weak start, that means I think he has a good chance to put up fewer than 5 or 6 points. I'll continue to evaluate my success throughout the season to try and provide you with the information you need to make your starting decisions

Best of luck with your starting lineup decisions this week. Feel free to e-mail me at rudnicki@footballguys.com with any feedback or suggestions regarding this article.

STRONG STARTS

  • DL Green Bay Packers (vs Minnesota): DE Aaron Kampman
    The Vikings rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. The change at QB hasn't really changed much, and the running game is still inconsistent. On the Packers defensive line, RDE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila only has 3.5 sacks in 9 games despite averaging over 12 sacks/year for 4 straight seasons. He's also facing LT Bryant McKinnie, who is probably the Vikings best lineman, this week. LDE Aaron Kampman isn't as flashy as KGB, but he's been the much more productive fantasy option this year. He also has 3.5 sacks on the year but has been averaging over 4 solo tackles/game for five straight games and ranks near the league leaders for solo tackles by a defensive lineman. Furthermore, LDEs are averaging 5.3 points/week vs the Vikings compared to just 4.3 for RDEs. The Vikings are allowing less than 4 points/game to opposing DTs, and since Grady Jackson and Cullen Jenkins haven't shown much all year, don't expect much from them this week either.
  • DL Kansas City Chiefs (@ Houston): DE Jared Allen, DE Eric Hicks
    The Texans rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #11 over their last 3 games. Most people who follow football know that David Carr is the most sacked QB in the league, so opposing DL have generally been able to pad their stats when facing the Texans this year. The Texans prevented Robert Mathis from sacking a QB for the first time all year, but they still allowed 3 sacks to Carr in the game. Chiefs RDE Jared Allen was a one man wrecking crew vs the Bills last week, finishing with 4 solos, 2 sacks and a forced fumble while knocking starting QB Kelly Holcomb out of the game. Allen now has 7 sacks on the year, along with an impressive 32 solo tackles, so he should be a solid start against a Texans team that is allowing 5.5 points to RDEs this year. On the other side, Eric Hicks should be a solid sleeper choice this week as the Texans are allowing 5.8 points/game to opposing LDEs this year. Hicks only has 2 sacks this year, but has already matched his solo tackle total for 2004 in just 9 games, and the Texans are particularly weak on the right side of their offensive line. The Texans running game hasn't been very effective this year and opposing DTs are averaging less than 3 pts/game, so you probably want to avoid starting John Browning or Lionel Dalton this week.
  • DL Oakland Raiders (@ Washington): DE Derrick Burgess
    The Redskins rank #4 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. Brunell has been sacked 7 times and fumbled 3 times over his last 3 games, so teams have been able to put some pressure on him lately. After a monster game by Simeon Rice on Sunday, the Redskins are allowing nearly 8 points/game to opposing RDEs compared to just 4.5 points/game to LDEs. This suggests that Derrick Burgess could be in for a good game as he's the player most comparable to Rice on the Raiders line. He leads the team in sacks with 7 but he's been held sackless for three straight games. Tommy Kelly has also seen time at RDE, including an impressive 3-sack, 2 forced fumble performance against the Chiefs a couple weeks ago. The problem with him is that those were his only 3 sacks of the season and he followed up that huge game with a 1-solo effort against the Broncos. Opposing DTs are averaging about 3 points/game against the Redskins this year so it's not a great matchup for interior DL, but Warren Sapp still might be worth a start. Sapp has been on fire over his last 4 games with 17 solo tackles, 4 sacks, and one forced fumble, although most of those numbers came against the Titans in one huge game.
  • DL Detroit Lions (@ Dallas): RDE James Hall
    The Cowboys rank #9 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #2 over their last 3 games. Bledsoe has been sacked 12 times over his last 4 games, so the Lions should be able to get some pressure on him with their front 4. RDEs have been averaging 6.4 fantasy points/game vs the Cowboys this year while LDEs are at 5.7. The Cowboys lost LT Flozell Adams to a season ending injury and have been starting a rookie at RT, which explains why DEs have been so productive against them this year. On Monday night, little-known Eagles DE Trent Cole filled in for ND Kalu and finished with 2 sacks of Bledsoe. This all points to a good game from James Hall, who has just 2 sacks on the year but has been playing well with 13 solo tackles over his last 3 games. LDE Cory Redding hasn't been nearly as productive a player with just 4 career sacks and only 16 solo tackles this year, so don't look for a big game from him despite the favorable matchup. The Cowboys are allowing almost 4 fantasy points/game to opposing DTs this year, but the Lions starters Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson have been quiet lately, while 3rd DT Shaun Cody has played well but is coming off a disappointing 2-assist performance against the Cardinals.
  • LB Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Baltimore): ILB Larry Foote
    The Ravens rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. After a closer look, however, it's apparent that it is mainly inside linebackers who are putting up big numbers against the Ravens this year. While inside linebackers are averaging almost 10 fantasy points/game when playing the Ravens, outside linebackers are closer to 5. Since the Steelers play a 3-4 defense, both inside linebackers look like strong plays this week. However, stud ILB James Farrior wasn't able to practice on Thursday and may miss his second straight game with a knee injury. Larry Foote has 22 solo tackles in his last 3 games and should be able to put up at least 6 solo tackles this week, even if Farrior winds up playing. If Farrior is out, that would make Clint Kriewaldt a solid sleeper choice at LB. He had 3 solos, 1 asst, and a PD against the Browns last week and should be able to improve on those numbers vs this matchup. Joey Porter is one of the best big-play linebackers in the league but he doesn't collect many tackles, which makes it difficult to predict his performance from week to week. With 5 sacks, an interception, and 2 forced fumbles on the year, he's a player that you almost have to play regardless of matchup. Clark Haggans collected his 5th sack of the year last week, but he's only been a quality start once since week 3 so he looks to more risky than the other Steelers LBs this week.
  • LB Houston Texans (vs Kansas City): ILB Morlon Greenwood, ILB Dashon Polk
    The Chiefs rank #12 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #2 over their last 3 games. Injuries to Willie Roaf and Priest Holmes have put the emphasis almost completely on Larry Johnson and the power running game, which should mean big numbers for the Texans inside linebackers. For the year, opposing ILBs are averaging nearly 9 points/game when facing the Chiefs, while outside linebackers have done considerably worse. Morlon Greenwood hasn't been as productive this year as most expected him to be when he took over for Jamie Sharper, but he did have a 6-game quality start streak earlier in the year and should be able to get back on track after two down weeks. Dashon Polk has produced solid numbers in 4 of 5 weeks since taking over for the injured Kailee Wong and should be a strong play this week as well. The Texans outside linebackers haven't produced much this year with just 3 quality starts combined and thus probably aren't worth starting consideration.
  • LB Baltimore Ravens (vs Pittsburgh): MLB Tommy Polley
    The Steelers rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #15 over their last 3 games. Their offense has struggled since the injury to Ben Roethlisberger, which has made it tougher for opposing LBs to make as many plays as they were earlier in the year, but the running game is still as strong as ever. Inside linebackers are averaging about 10 fantasy points/game vs the Steelers this year, so Tommy Polley could do considerably worse than the average MLB and still be a quality start this week. WLB Bart Scott had one big game and two mediocre ones since entering the starting lineup. This is a solid matchup for him (WLB are averaging about 6 points/game vs Pittsburgh), but he remains unproven and thus somewhat risky. SLB Adalius Thomas has been playing great with 4 quality starts in his last 5 games, but he was pretty ineffective against the Jaguars on Sunday and he's relied heavily on big plays for his recent surge.
  • LB Denver Broncos (vs NY Jets): MLB Al Wilson, WLB Ian Gold
    The Jets rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. After Brooks Bollinger threw 4 interceptions last week, you can expect the team to emphasize the running game this week to try and minimize mistakes, and that should mean plenty of tackle opportunities for the Broncos linebackers. Opposing MLBs are averaging 7.6 fantasy points/game vs the Jets this year, although most of the big games against them came early in the year. Al Wilson is averaging about 5 solo tackles/game, however, so he should be able to crack the quality start threshold this week. Opposing WLBs are averaging about 7 fantasy points/game against the Jets this year, but those numbers appear to be trending upwards as 4 of the past 5 WLB they've faced have put up strong numbers. Based on that information, this looks like a very favorable matchup for Ian Gold, who has played well this year and has 17 solo tackles in his last 3 games. SLB DJ Williams has seen his numbers drop with a move to the strong side of the formation and a lack of playing time in the team's nickel package this year. While SLBs have produced pretty well against the Jets this year (7.7 points/game), Williams hasn't been a quality start since week 1, so don't look for much from him this week.
  • DB St Louis Rams (vs Arizona): FS Mike Furrey, CB Travis Fisher
    The Cardinals rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. For some reason, the Lions DBs didn't do much against them last week even though Kurt Warner had 45 pass attempts with 29 completions. The Cardinals have perhaps the worst running game in the league, so they will have to throw early and often if they hope to keep up with the high flying Rams offense. That should play right into the hands of FS Mike Furrey, who has been a quality start for 3 straight weeks, and whichever Rams CB gets matched up with Larry Fitzgerald. All of the Rams CBs are small so none of them seem like an obvious matchup for Fitzgerald, but Travis Fisher is probably the most reliable and he had 8 solo tackles the last time these two teams faced each other. Fisher is listed as questionable on the injury report with a groin injury so watch that closely before inserting him in your lineup. SS Adam Archuleta is one of the best fantasy DBs out there, but he's much better playing up in the box in run support and blitzing the QB than he is dropping in coverage so this doesn't look like a great matchup for him, although he has a very good chance to get another sack this week.
  • DB Minnesota Vikings (@ Green Bay): CB Antoine Winfield
    The Packers rank #5 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #2 over their last 3 games. A closer look at the data shows that opposing CBs (7.2 points/game) have benefited from the matchup more than opposing safeties (5.8 points/game). Antoine Winfield leads the team in tackles and has 8 solo tackles in each of his past two games, so he looks like a very strong play this week. At the other CB spot, Fred Smoot has been very productive in recent weeks but he's expected to miss the game this week with an injury. Whoever replaces him in the lineup would probably make a very solid sleeper choice at DB this week if you're looking for help on the waiver wire. At the safety position, SS Corey Chavous had his moments earlier in the year but he's now gone three straight games without reaching 6 fantasy points. FS Darren Sharper just had one of the best games of his career against the Giants on Sunday and has 4 interceptions over his last 2 games, but he didn't make much of an impact the last time these two teams faced each other so it's hard to know what to expect from him. His big play potential certainly makes him worth a start, but his tackle production has been unimpressive all year.
  • DB Arizona Cardinals (@ St Louis): SS Adrian Wilson, FS Robert Griffith
    The Rams rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #11 over their last 3 games. The temporary change to Jamie Martin caused them to focus a bit more on their running game, but now that Bulger is back and their WRs are healthy look for them to open up the offense again. Regardless of the game plan, however, SS Adrian Wilson should be involved. He's yet to finish a game with fewer than 5 fantasy points this year and should be actively involved in trying to slow down Steven Jackson. CB David Macklin has been the Cardinals most consistent CB, but since the Rams have so many options in the passing game it is hard to predict which defenders will see the most work. FS Robert Griffith has been a quality start in 2 of the past 4 games and put up good numbers the last time these two teams faced off. Playing deep in the secondary should give him a chance to get involved no matter where the ball is thrown.
  • DB New England Patriots (vs New Orleans): FS Eugene Wilson, CB Ellis Hobbs
    The Saints rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. The injury to Deuce McAllister has hurt the team's plans to rely heavily on the running game, and they've also been playing from behind nearly every week which has forced them to rely on the passing game. Aaron Brooks has not done a good job of protecting the ball this year, having already thrown 12 interceptions, so the Patriots DBs should get plenty of opportunities to make some plays. The Patriots have once again been decimated by injuries in their secondary, so it is hard to know who will play on any given week. FS Eugene Wilson has been the one constant, however, and he should be able to take advantage of a matchup that is allowing 6.6 points/game to opposing free safeties. Rookie Ellis Hobbs got his first start at CB for the Patriots last week and was targeted often. On the season, the #2 CBs have averaged nearly 2 points more per game than the #1 CBs, so the Saints will almost certainly look to test him with either Joe Horn or Donte Stallworth.

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Minnesota Vikings (@ Green Bay): DE Kevin Williams, DT Pat Williams
    The Packers rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #32 over their last 3 games. The running game finally showed signs of life on Sunday, but the Falcons DL only managed 9 total fantasy points combined. This looks like a very tough matchup for the Vikings DL, who haven't been all that productive this year anyway. Kevin Williams has been moved from DT to DE, but it hasn't helped really had a noticeable impact on his fantasy numbers. He comes into this game with just 16 solo tackles and 1 sack on the year, with just 4 solo tackles and no sacks in his last 4 games. The strength of the Packers offensive line is at the tackle positions, so it isn't surprising to see opposing DEs averaging less than 4 fantasy points/game. This suggests that RDE Erasmus James might have to wait another week to collect his second career sack. On the interior, NT Pat Williams has been the Vikings best lineman all year, but he's facing a line that shut out the Falcons DTs a week ago. I've been burned by him before this year, but this looks like another tough matchup for him.
  • DL Cincinnati Bengals (vs Indianapolis): DE Justin Smith
    The Colts rank #31 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #31 over their past 3 games. Even though the Colts have relied a lot more heavily on the running game this year and are sustaining longer drives to give their defense more time to rest, Peyton Manning is still nearly impossible to sack and that limits the scoring opportunities for opposing linemen. Opposing DEs are averaging under 3 points/game vs the Colts this year so this should be a slow day for Justin Smith and Robert Geathers. Smith has put up respectable tackle numbers this year but hasn't had a sack since week 4 vs the Texans. Despite collecting a sack last week vs the Ravens, Geathers has generally been a disappointment this year. Bengals DTs have just 2 quality starts total this year, and both were from John Thornton, but don't expect much from him this week.
  • DL Philadelphia Eagles (vs NY Giants): DE Jevon Kearse
    The Giants rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #20 over their last 3 games. Eli Manning remains a tough quarterback to sack with just 4 sacks allowed in his last 4 games. Opposing DEs are averaging about 3.5 points/game vs the Giants this year so this should be a very tough matchup for Kearse and rookie RDE Trent Cole, who is expected to start this week. Kearse recently had a stretch of 4 sacks in 5 games, but he failed to produce against an easy matchup last week and is averaging fewer than 2 solo tackles/game on the season. Rookie Trent Cole filled in for ND Kalu at RDE for the Eagles the past couple weeks and provided a big spark with 3 sacks, but he'll have a tough time keeping that streak going this week. DTs haven't done much against the Giants this year either and the Eagles tandem of Darwin Walker and Hollis Thomas haven't had a quality start among them since week 5.
  • DL Indianapolis Colts (@ Cincinnati): DE Robert Mathis
    The Bengals rank #27 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #30 over their last 3 games. The Bengals have a very solid offensive line, who are allowing less than 2 sacks/game this year. Opposing DEs are averaging about 4 fantasy points/game vs the Bengals this year, while DTs are averaging about 3.5. The Colts boast perhaps the best defensive line in the league, but they have cooled off since their great start to the year. Dwight Freeney has been playing hurt and although he has 7 sacks on the year, he's averaging only 2 solo tackles/game. Robert Mathis doesn't even start for them, but lines up at DE in passing situations and leads the league in sacks with 9 on the year. He was held sackless for the first time all year against the Texans last week and should have a hard time again this week where he'll be matched up against stud RT Willie Anderson. DT Montae Reagor has been the most consistent fantasy DT for the Colts this year and he's been a pretty solid play in 4 of the past 5 games, so he might be worth a start if you play in a league that separates DTs from DEs.
  • LB Washington Redskins (vs Oakland): OLB LaVar Arrington
    The Raiders rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #32 over their last 3 games. Even though Lamont Jordan has been playing great, it hasn't translated into big number for opposing LBs. A closer look at the matchup shows that MLB are the one LB position that have actually produced good numbers against the Raiders this year, with an average of almost 7 points/game. This makes sense as most Jordan is more of a between the tackles runner, although he does catch a lot of passes out of the backfield as well. Opposing WLB have done particularly bad against the Raiders, with only 2 quality starts all year and an average of just 3.6 points/game. Based on those numbers, it looks like this matchup should be particularly tough for LaVar Arrington, who has played well since returning to the starting lineup but has only averaged 4 solo tackles/game over the past 3 weeks. Opposing SLB have averaged nearly 5 points/game vs the Raiders this year, which doesn't look that bad but except for the fact that there hasn't been a SLB finish with more than 5 points since week 3. Marcus Washington leads the Redskins in tackles and has been a quality start in 4 of the past 5 games, so it looks like one of these trends is about to end this week. Based on matchup alone, Washington looks like a weak play, but he's been too good of late to bench unless you have a pretty good alternative.
  • LB New Orleans Saints (@ New England): MLB Ron McKinnon, WLB Colby Bockwoldt
    The Patriots rank #18 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #31 over their last 3 games. There is a clear trend that has shown LB production dropping as the Patriots have been decimated by injuries at the RB position. After Corey Dillon left the last game early with an injury, they were forced to rely on fullback Heath Evans as their primary ball carrier. Opposing MLB have done pretty well against the Patriots this year, averaging 8 fantasy points/game, but that number has dropped to 6 points/game over their past 5 games. The Saints recently replaced Courtney Watson with Ron McKinnon at MLB, and his numbers have shown some improvement, but at 32 years old his best days are behind him and he would likely be ineffective against the Patriots spread offense. Opposing WLB have averaged just over 5 points/game vs the Patriots this year, but the numbers here also appear to be trending downward. Colby Bockwoldt leads the Saints in tackles, but with just 2 quality starts in 9 games, he also looks like a weak starting candidate this week. At SLB, opponents have also averaged about 5 points/game against the Patriots, but there hasn't been a quality start from that position since week 5, so Sedrick Hodge (only 1 quality start all year) is also a bad play.
  • LB Cleveland Browns (vs Miami): OLB Chaun Thompson
    The Dolphins rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to LBs this year, and #28 over their last 3 games. While the team does have two quality running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, they don't rely on them as much as they probably should. Most MLBs or primary ILBs they've faced have been quality starts (6 out of 9 games), so Andra Davis should still be productive this week. As for ILB Ben Taylor, the Dolphins have only faced one team that primarily uses a 3-4 front, and that was last week against the Patriots. In that game, Bruschi and Vrabel combined for just 2 solo tackles and 9 assists, so if that happens again there likely won't be enough tackle opportunities for both inside linebackers to have good games. Taylor has been playing well lately with 11 solo tackles and 9 assists over his last 2 games while Davis's tackle numbers have struggled a bit, so it's probably safe to play him as well if you don't have any better options. Where the matchup will likely have its greatest impact is on the outside linebackers. Miami has allowed very few sacks this year, and opposing WLBs are averaging only about 5 points/game with just one quality start since week 2. Thompson has been a quality start in 2 of the past 3 weeks, but this looks like a very tough matchup for him. At the other OLB position, the Browns like to switch between Matt Stewart and Kenard Lang, which makes neither of them a great fantasy option, although Stewart has been playing a little better of late.
  • LB Green Bay Packers (vs Minnesota): OLB Robert Thomas, OLB Na'il Diggs
    The Vikings rank #25 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #30 over their last 3 games. The offense has struggled to convert third downs and sustain drives, which leads to fewer snaps and tackle opportunities for the linebackers. Opposing MLBs have averaged almost 8 fantasy points/game against them so Nick Barnett should be fine. WLB, however, have averaged under 6 points/game against the Vikings and only 1 of the last 5 opposing WLB have been quality starts. So, that makes this a tough matchup for Robert Thomas, who only has 1 quality start on the year anyway. At SLB, Na'il Diggs returned to the lineup last week after missing a month or so with an injury. He played well and finished with 4 solo tackles, but SLB are averaging only 4.4 points/game when playing the Vikings and only 1 of the last 5 have been quality starts so this should be a tough matchup for him as well.
  • DB Baltimore Ravens (vs Pittsburgh): SS Chad Williams
    The Steelers rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #28 over their last 3 games. Without Ben Roethlisberger under center, the Steelers are even less willing to put the ball in the air than they are with him so look for a very conservative game plan again this week. For the season, the #1 CB has done pretty well against the Steelers as that player is often matched up against Hines Ward so Chris McAlister might be a solid play this week (he had 8 points the last time these two teams faced off). The safeties have done poorly, however, averaging just about 5 points/game. The Ravens are expected to be without Ed Reed again this week, which means Chad Williams gets another start, but he's only managed to crack 6 fantasy points in once in his 4 starts. Will Demps has been more productive with 7 solo tackles in each of the last 2 games and 5.5 fantasy points the last time these two teams faced each other.
  • DB Seattle Seahawks (vs San Francisco): FS Marquand Manuel, CB Kelly Herndon
    The 49ers rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #32 over their last 3 games. They've had a revolving door at QB and very conservative play calling, which means very few tackle opportunities for defensive backs who aren't actively involved in run support. FS Marquand Manuel has 17 solo tackles in his last 2 games, but those numbers are a little misleading as they have come against pass-happy teams in Arizona and St Louis. He should have a hard time getting half as many tackle opportunities against the 49ers this week. Despite being a former LB, Micheal Boulware isn't known as a great in the box strong safety and he's only gone over 4 solo tackles once this season. He's a good playmaker, however, with 2 interceptions in his last 3 games so he may able to take advantage of the inexperience at QB for San Francisco. Kelly Herndon has been a quality start for 6 straight games as opposing QBs have targeted him as a weakness of the Seahawks defense, but the 49ers don't really throw much to any WRs besides Brandon Lloyd. If Marcus Trufant gets matched up against Lloyd, that could limit the numbers of both CBs this week.
  • DB Denver Broncos (vs NY Jets): CB Darrent Williams
    The Jets rank #28 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #19 over their last 3 games. That last number is inflated by the 4 interceptions thrown by Bollinger last week when they played Carolina. It is likely the Jets will go with a much more conservative game plan this week, taking the ball out of Bollinger's hands and trying to shorten the game with the running of Curtis Martin. Assuming CB Champ Bailey gets matched up with Laveranues Coles, he may still put up solid numbers as Coles is clearly the Jets best option at WR. Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworth have been playing great all year, but it seems likely that they won't see as many balls thrown their way this week as they have in other games this year. As you would expect for a team that likes to run the ball a lot, opposing strong safeties have done well against the Jets this year. The Broncos don't have a clear strong safety, however, so it's not clear whether Nick Ferguson or John Lynch will benefit from the matchup.
  • DB Chicago Bears (vs Carolina): CB Nathan Vasher
    The Panthers rank #27 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #29 over their last 3 games. A closer look at the data indicates that the only position averaging more than 6 fantasy points/game vs the Panthers is the strong safety. Mike Brown hasn't been putting up the same numbers lately that he did earlier in the year, but he put up good numbers against a tough matchup last week and should be alright this week as well. Meanwhile, the opposing #1 CB is averaging a full point more than the #2 CB (5.1 to 4.1), which makes sense when you consider how often the Panthers throw to Steve Smith. Like most teams who play the Panthers this year, the Bears will have to double team Smith to try and slow him down. It is hard to know whether the Bears will match up the taller, stronger Charles Tillman with Smith or prefer instead to go with the smaller, quicker Nathan Vasher with help over the top from FS Chris Harris. Regardless, Tillman is good enough in run support that he can be productive in a game even if he's not thrown at very often. Vasher got on all the highlight shows with his return of a missed FG last week, but was otherwise uninvolved in the game and finished with just 1 assisted tackle.

FBG standard scoring system for IDPs

  • Solo tackle = 1 pt
  • Assist = 0.5 pt
  • Sack = 3 pts
  • INT = 4 pts
  • Pass Defensed = 1 pt
  • Forced Fumble = 2 pts
  • Fumble Recovery = 2 pts
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