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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 Oakland Raiders (vs Cleveland): DE Derrick Burgess - 4 solos, 1 sack = 7pts
  • DL New England Patriots (vs Tampa): DE Richard Seymour - 3 solos, 1 asst = 3.5pts
  • DL Chicago Bears (vs Atlanta): DE Adewale Ogunleye - 1 solo, 1 sack = 4pts
  • DL Jacksonville Jaguars (vs San Francisco): DE Reggie Hayward - 1 solo = 1pt
  • LB Minnesota Vikings (vs Pittsburgh): MLB Sam Cowart - 7 solos, 2 asst = 8pts
  • LB Philadelphia Eagles (@ St Louis): MLB Jeremiah Trotter - 3 solos, 1 asst = 3.5pts
  • LB Green Bay Packers (@ Baltimore): MLB Nick Barnett - 5 solos, 2 asst = 6pts
  • LB Baltimore Ravens (vs Green Bay): WLB Bart Scott (9 solos, 2 asst, 1 FR = 12pts), MLB Tommy Polley (5 solos, 1 asst = 5.5pts)
  • DB Philadelphia Eagles (@ St Louis): CB Sheldon Brown (4 solos, 1 PD = 5pts), FS Brian Dawkins (4 solos, 1 INT, 3 PD = 11pts), SS Michael Lewis (5 solo = 5pts)
  • DB Houston Texans (vs Arizona): CB Dunta Robinson (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 PD = 8.5pts)
  • DB Kansas City Chiefs (@ NY Giants): SS Sammy Knight (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 7.5pts), CB Eric Warfield (4 solos = 4pts)
  • DB Baltimore Ravens (vs Green Bay): CB Chris McAlister (3 solos, 2 PD = 5pts), SS Ed Reed (3 solos, 2 asst, 4 PD = 8pts)

Hit Rate for Week 15: 8/17 (47%)
Year to date: 118/222 (53%)

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Detroit Lions (vs Cincinnati): DE James Hall (2 solos = 2pts), DE Kalimba Edwards (1 solo, 1 PD = 2pts)
  • DL Philadelphia Eagles (@ St Louis): RDE Trent Cole (3 solos = 3pts), LDE Jevon Kearse (3 solos, 1 PD = 4pts)
  • DL Baltimore Ravens (vs Green Bay): RDE Terrell Suggs - 6 solos, 1 sack = 9pts
  • DL Buffalo Bills (vs Denver): LDE Chris Kelsay - 1 solo, 1 asst = 1.5pts
  • LB Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Minnesota): ILB Larry Foote (7 solos, 1 sack = 10pts), OLB Joey Porter (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 PD = 11pts)
  • LB Atlanta Falcons (@ Chicago): WLB Demorrio Williams (4 solos, 2 asst = 5pts), SLB Michael Boley (5 solos = 5pts)
  • LB Cincinnati Bengals (@ Detroit): WLB Brian Simmons - 2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack = 5.5pts
  • LB Washington Redskins (vs Dallas): WLB LaVar Arrington (INJ, DNP)
  • DB Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Minnesota): FS Chris Hope (1 solo = 1pt), CB Ike Taylor (2 solos, 4 PD = 6pts)
  • DB San Diego Chargers (@ Indianapolis): SS Terrence Kiel - 1 solo, 2 asst, 1 FR = 4pts
  • DB Buffalo Bills (vs Denver): CB Terrence McGee (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD, 1 FF = 7pts), FS Troy Vincent (5 solos, 1 PD = 6pts)
  • DB Minnesota Vikings (vs Pittsburgh): CB Brian Williams (3 solos, 2 PD = 5pts), CB Fred Smoot (1 solo = 1pt)

Hit Rate for Week 15: 12/18 (67%)
Year to date: 121/218 (56%)

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 Carolina Panthers (vs Dallas): DE Mike Rucker, DE Julius Peppers
    The Cowboys rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #1 over the last 3 games. They have been a dream matchup for DEs (1st in points allowed) and a decent matchup for DTs (10th in points allowed). Thanks to poor play from the offensive line, they've been getting torched by everybody lately and even gave up 4 sacks to Philip Daniels last week. Rucker has rebounded pretty well this year after a miserable 2004 season and Peppers is always a threat for a big game even though he's been playing through an ankle injury for the past few weeks.

    DL Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Houston): DE Reggie Hayward, DT John Henderson
    The Texans rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #2 over the last 3 games. They have been a favorable matchup for both DEs (2nd most points allowed) and DTs (6th most points allowed), so Hayward and Henderson should be solid plays this week. Hayward is a bit more risky since he doesn't put up many tackles (just 25 solos in 14 games), but he's the most explosive of the Jaguars pass rushers and should be able to put consistent pressure on David Carr. Henderson is the safer play because he puts up great tackle numbers (50 solos in 14 games), but his upside is limited (only 1 sack so far). Rob Meier looks like a nice sleeper play this week as he was the only Jaguars DL to register a sack of Alex Smith last week.

    DL New York Giants (@ Washington): DE Osi Umenyiora, DE Michael Strahan
    The Redskins rank #9 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #28 over the last 3 games. Their recent numbers appear low because they've faced some of the league's weaker pass rushes in recent weeks. For the year, the Redskins have been a great matchup for DEs (3rd most points allowed) and a very difficult matchup for DTs (27th in points allowed). Thus, this looks like a great matchup for the league's best DE tandem. RDEs have done considerably better so Umenyiora gets the edge this week, but Strahan has 4 sacks in his last 3 games and should be a solid play as well.

    LB Minnesota Vikings (@ Baltimore): MLB Sam Cowart
    The Ravens rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to LBs this year, and #7 over the last 3 games. Furthermore, MLBs are averaging nearly 10 points/game against them, so this looks like a great matchup for Cowart. He's only averaging 4 solos/game and hasn't made many big plays, but having a healthy Kevin Williams and Pat Williams up front should allow him to run free and rack up some good tackle numbers against the Ravens this week like he did last week against the Steelers. The other Vikings linebackers are probably too inconsistent to consider starting despite the great matchup.

    LB Cleveland Browns (vs Pittsburgh): ILB Andra Davis, ILB Ben Taylor
    The Steelers rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #3 over the last 3 games. MLBs are averaging over 9 pts/game against them, and in the 4 games they've played against 3-4 teams, 7 of 8 starting inside linebackers have been quality starts against them. So things look pretty good for Davis and Taylor. The only potential negative for them is that Davis finished with just 2 solos and 2 assists against the Steelers earlier this year, but that was likely a fluke as he's been averaging nearly 6 solos/game all year. The matchup isn't quite as favorable for Chaun Thompson as WLBs are only averaging about 6 pts/game and his numbers have been up and down all year.

    LB Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Houston): MLB Mike Peterson, WLB Daryl Smith
    The Texans rank #4 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #4 in the last 3 games. MLBs and WLBs are both averaging about 8 pts/game against them this year, so this should be a very good matchup for Peterson and Smith. Peterson is a must start every week and has a good chance to crack 100 solo tackles for the 3rd time in his career, but it would be his first as a Jaguar and as a MLB. Daryl Smith hasn't been quite as productive at WLB as fantasy owners had hoped, but he's had his moments and is averaging a respectable 4 solos/game along with 4 sacks and an interception.

    DB San Francisco 49ers (@ St Louis): CB Bruce Thornton, FS Mike Adams
    The Rams rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #1 over the last 3 games. They've been an equally favorable matchup for safeties (3rd in points allowed) and CBs (1st in points allowed). Shawntae Spencer has probably been the 49ers best corner this year, but that isn't saying a whole lot. Bruce Thornton has been putting up the best fantasy stats lately with 19 solo tackles, 1 interception, and 4 passes defensed in the past 3 weeks. Mike Adams hasn't been quite that productive, but he's one assist away from being a quality start for the past 5 weeks in a row and should do well against this Rams offense.

    DB Philadelphia Eagles (@ Arizona): FS Brian Dawkins, SS Michael Lewis, CB Roderick Hood
    The Cardinals rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #2 over the last 3 weeks. They've been a great matchup for safeties (1st in points allowed) and CBs (2nd in points allowed). FS Brian Dawkins is averaging 4 solos/game on the season and has a sack and 2 interceptions in the last 2 games as well. SS Michael Lewis set a career high for tackles last week and has 27 solo tackles and 2 interceptions over his last 4 games. CB Roderick Hood has taken over for Lito Sheppard and now has put up 6 solo tackles in back to back games. Sheldon Brown is listed as questionable on the injury report with a knee injury, which makes him a very risky play this week.

    DB Chicago Bears (@ Green Bay): CB Charles Tillman, CB Nathan Vasher
    The Packers rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #3 over the last 3 games. Like the Rams and Cardinals, they've been a great matchup for safeties (5th in points allowed) and CBs (4th in points allowed). The recent injury to Samkon Gado will force the Packers to rely even more on Brett Favre than they have been so this looks like a great matchup for the Bears secondary. Charles Tillman is the 3rd leading tackler on the team and has finished with 6 or more solo tackles in 9 of 14 games played this year. Nathan Vasher was elected to the Pro Bowl in just his second season thanks to his 8 interceptions. As for the safeties, it is hard to know who will play, but SS Mike Brown practiced this week and hopes to be ready to go on Sunday.

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Buffalo Bills (@ Cincinnati): DE Aaron Schobel, DE Chris Kelsay
    The Bengals rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #32 over the last 3 games. They have been an extremely difficult matchup for DEs (32nd in points allowed) and not much better for DTs (22nd in points allowed). Aaron Schobel has been one of the hottest fantasy DL in the league lately with 8 sacks in his last 8 games, but he'll have his work cut out for him this week. With just 2.5 sacks on the year, Kelsay wouldn't deserve a start in most weeks anyway, but he's a must bench against this matchup.

    DL Seattle Seahawks (vs Indianapolis): DE Bryce Fisher, DE Grant Wistrom
    The Colts rank #31 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #14 over the last 3 games. They have been a very tough matchup for DEs (31st in points allowed) and a very good matchup for DTs (4th in points allowed). Thus, this looks like it should be a good week to consider benching both Seahawks DEs. Fisher got off to a good start this year with 6.5 sacks in the first 8 games but he only has 1.5 in the 6 games since then and he should have a hard time this week unless the Colts decide to rest some of their key starters. Wistrom has been a pretty big disappointment for fantasy owners all year. Despite playing in every game on a defense that leads the league in sacks with 45, he has just 3, which ranks him 6th on his own team.

    DL Green Bay Packers (vs Chicago): DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, DE Aaron Kampman
    The Bears rank #23 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #12 over the last 3 games. They've been a very tough matchup for DEs (28th in points allowed) and a neutral matchup for DTs (17th in points allowed). The move to Rex Grossman at QB might give the Bears offense more balance and help them sustain some longer drives, but this offensive line has generally done a good job of giving the QBs time all year. With just 5 sacks in 14 games, it looks like KGB's streak of 4 straight years with double digit sacks will end this year. Kampman has had a very solid season with 51 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks, but he's also gone four straight games without a sack and the Bears have allowed just 3.5 points/game to opposing LDEs this year.

    LB Tennessee Titans (@ Miami): MLB Brad Kassell, SLB Peter Sirmon
    The Dolphins rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #28 over the last 3 games. Starting WLBs are averaging about 5 pts/game against the Dolphins, but Keith Bulluck is one of the best linebackers in the game so he should still be productive this week. MLBs haven't done terrible against the Dolphins, averaging about 8 pts/game, but Kassell is only averaging about 3 solos/game and has really faded down the stretch. SLBs are also averaging about 5 pts/game and despite playing pretty well the past few weeks, Peter Sirmon has gone three straight weeks without a quality start.

    LB Denver Broncos (vs Oakland): MLB Al Wilson, WLB Ian Gold
    The Raiders rank #19 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #8 over the last 3 games. The injury to Lamont Jordan, however, is going to make those numbers rather useless this week. Jordan injured his toe in last week's game and is listed as doubtful. If he can't play, the Raiders will become rather one dimensional on offense and that should help the Broncos defense shut them down. MLBs are only averaging about 7 pts/game against the Raiders and Al Wilson has only gone over 3 solo tackles once in the last 7 games. WLBs are doing even worse, averaging only about 4 pts/game against them. Ian Gold has been the Broncos best linebacker this year but even he has just 2 quality starts in the last 4 games.

    LB New Orleans Saints (vs Detroit): WLB Colby Bockwoldt
    The Lions rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #30 over the last 3 games. Their offense is in shambles, especially the running game, which makes it difficult for linebackers to put up many points against them. MLBs are averaging 8 pts/game against them and Ron McKinnon has been putting up very good numbers for the Saints lately so he might still be a decent play this week. WLBs are only averaging 5 pts/game against them, however, so things don't look too good for Bockwoldt. He is the team's leading tackler but is only averaging about 3 solos/game.

    DB St Louis Rams (vs San Francisco): CB Dejuan Groce, FS Mike Furrey
    The 49ers rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #24 over the last 3 games. They've been a brutal matchup for CBs (32nd in points allowed) and not much better for safeties (25th in points allowed). Due to all the injuries in the Rams secondary, CB Corey Ivy is one of the last guys standing and he's coming off a solid game against the Eagles on Sunday, but this looks like a very difficult matchup for him. His counterpart DeJuan Groce hasn't done nearly as well and probably isn't even rostered in most leagues. At the safety position, Mike Furrey has proven himself a capable playmaker with 4 interceptions this year but he's gone 2 straight games without a quality start and may be in trouble again this week. SS Adam Archuleta hasn't made much of an impact since returning to the lineup a couple weeks ago, but he seems the most capable of coming through with a big game despite a bad matchup.

    DB Atlanta Falcons (@ Tampa Bay): FS Ronnie Heard, SS Keion Carpenter
    The Buccaneers rank #25 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #32 over the last 3 games. They've been a very tough matchup for safeties (31st in points allowed) and a neutral matchup for CBs (16th in points allowed). Based on that information, you'd expect CBs DeAngelo Hall and Jason Webster to be unaffected by this matchup. New FS Ronnie Heard, meanwhile, has yet to record a quality start this year and looks like a very bad play this week. SS Keion Carpenter hasn't done much either, although he did come up with a nice game against the Bears on Sunday night. Look for both Falcons safeties to struggle this week. Carpenter was listed as questionable on the injury report so that's just another reason not to play him this week.

    DB Cincinnati Bengals (vs Buffalo Bills): SS Ifeanyi Ohalete, FS Kevin Kaesviharn
    The Buffalo Bills rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #27 over the last 3 games. They've been a very tough matchup for safeties (30th in points allowed) and a neutral matchup for CBs (15th in points allowed). Therefore, CBs Deltha O'Neal and Tory James should be unaffected by the matchup this week. SS Ohalete hasn't really made much of an impact for the Bengals and his 5 solo tackles, 6 assists and 1 interception over the past 3 weeks probably aren't enough to convince anyone to start him this week. FS Kaesviharn, however, has been pretty solid this year. He's averaged 4 solos/game while also contributing a sack, 2 interceptions, and 3 fumble recoveries. With Kelly Holcomb at QB though, don't expect many deep passes this week and that will limit his opportunities to make a big impact.


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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