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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 Washington Redskins (vs San Francisco): DT Cornelius Griffin - 1 solo, 1 sack = 4 pts
  • DL Cleveland Browns (vs Detroit): DE Orpheus Roye (8 solos, 1 FR = 10 pts), DE Alvin McKinley (2 solos, 1 asst = 2.5 pts)
  • DL Green Bay Packers (@ Minnesota): DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila - 1 solo, 1 asst, 1 FR = 3.5 pts
  • DL Indianapolis Colts (@ Houston): DE Robert Mathis - 2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF = 7.5 pts
  • LB Cincinnati Bengals (vs Pittsburgh): MLB Odell Thurman (7 solos, 4 asst, 1 FF = 11 pts), WLB Brian Simmons (5 solos, 3 asst = 6.5 pts)
  • LB Chicago Bears (vs Baltimore): WLB Lance Briggs - 3 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD = 5 pts
  • LB New Orleans Saints (@ St Louis): MLB Courtney Watson - 4 solos = 4 pts
  • LB Indianapolis Colts (@ Houston): SLB David Thornton - 5 solos, 1 sack = 8 pts
  • DB Baltimore Ravens (@ Chicago): SS Will Demps - 3 solos = 3 pts
  • DB Tennessee Titans (@ Arizona): CB Andre Woolfolk (2 solos, 3 PD = 5 pts), CB Pacman Jones (1 solo, 1 asst, 3 PD = 4.5 pts), SS Tank Williams (4 solos, 1 asst = 4.5 pts)
  • DB Seattle Seahawks (vs Dallas): CB Kelly Herndon - 5 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF, 2 PD = 9.5 pts
  • DB New Orleans Saints (@ St Louis): SS Dwight Smith - INJ

Hit Rate for Week 7: 6/15 (40%)
Year to date: 51/95 (54%)

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Denver Broncos (@ NY Giants): DE Courtney Brown - 1 asst = 0.5 pt
  • DL San Diego Chargers (@ Philadelphia): DE Igor Olshansky - 1 solo = 1 pt
  • DL Minnesota Vikings (vs Green Bay): DT Pat Williams - 2 solos, 2 asst = 3 pts
  • DL Arizona Cardinals (vs Tennessee): DE Chike Okeafor - 3 solos, 2 sacks = 9 pts
  • LB San Diego Chargers (@ Philadelphia): LB Randall Godfrey - 3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack = 6.5 pts
  • LB Miami Dolphins (vs Kansas City): LB Channing Crowder - 6 solos, 4 asst = 8 pts
  • LB Cleveland Browns (vs Detroit): ILB Ben Taylor (3 solos = 3 pts), OLB Chaun Thompson (3 solos, 2 asst = 4 pts)
  • LB Oakland Raiders (vs Buffalo): ILB Kirk Morrison - 3 solos, 4 asst, 1 FR = 7 pts
  • DB NY Giants (vs Denver): CB Curtis DeLoatch (3 solos = 3 pts), CB Will Allen (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 PD = 6.5 pts)
  • DB Cincinnati Bengals (vs Pittsburgh): FS Kevin Kaesviharn (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 5.5 pts), CB Tory James (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD = 10.5 pts)
  • DB NY Jets (@ Atlanta): CB David Barrett - 2 solos, 1 INT, 3 PD = 9 pts
  • DB Cleveland Browns (vs Detroit): SS Chris Crocker - 3 solos, 3 asst, 1 PD = 5.5 pts

Hit Rate for Week 7: 8/15 (53%)
Year to date: 50/88 (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 Cleveland Browns (vs Houston): DE Orpheus Roye
    Houston ranks #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. David Carr has been sacked a ridiculous 35 times in 6 games. The Browns don't get a ton of pressure on opposing QBs (8 sacks on the year), but their defensive linemen have been doing a solid job of controlling the line and making tackles. Roye leads all DL in solo tackles this year with 32 and he's been a quality start in 4 of 6 games. DE Alvin McKinley has been a pleasant surprise this year and would probably be a solid play this week, but his disappointing game against the Lions last week makes him a little risky.
  • DL Arizona Cardinals (@ Dallas): DE Bert Berry
    The Cowboys rank #9 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, but are #2 over their last 3 games. Bledsoe has been sacked 18 times through 7 games, which ranks among the top-10 in the league. Bert Berry has 5 of the Cardinals 15 sacks and despite not being a quality start in each of the past 2 weeks, should be able to take advantage of the season ending injury to LT Flozell Adams. DE Chike Okeafor hadn't made much of an impact before his 2-sack game against the Titans on Sunday, but he looks like a solid play this week as well.
  • DL Carolina Panthers (vs Minnesota): DE Mike Rucker
    The Vikings rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #5 over their last 3 games. Culpepper has been sacked 29 times in 6 games and the Panthers front 4 should be able to get to him a few times on Sunday. DE Julius Peppers broke a bone in his hand last game and expects to play with through it this week, but keep an eye for more information later in the week. Although he collected a sack and FF against the Lions on Sunday, he has been a big disappointment this year with just 14 solo tackles and 1 sack after 6 games. The injury combined with his being a quality start in just 2 of 6 games makes him a somewhat risky play. Surprisingly, DE Mike Rucker looks like the safer play this week, considering he has already tied his 2004 sack total with 3.5. His tackle numbers are still lower than they should be, but he's made up for it with a couple forced fumbles.
  • DL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ San Francisco): DE Simeon Rice
    The 49ers rank #5 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. 49ers QBs have been sacked 22 times in 6 games, which ranks them #4 in the league. DE Simeon Rice has a sack in 5 of his first 6 games and should be able to keep that hot streak going this week against the 49ers. After a very slow start to the year, DE Greg Spires also seems to be heating up a bit with 2 sacks in his last 3 games and he could be a decent play this week as well.
  • LB Baltimore Ravens (@ Pittsburgh): MLB Tommy Polley, SLB Adalius Thomas
    The Steelers rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. They clearly love to run the ball and are very effective at it, which leads to lots of tackle opportunities for the linebackers each week. MLB Ray Lewis is injured and has been ruled out for the Monday night game. Taking his place at MLB will be veteran Tommy Polley, who is undersized for the position and will probably be run at early and often. SLB Adalius Thomas has been a quality start in 4 of 6 games and just missed in the other 2, so he should be a solid play this week as well.
  • LB San Francisco 49ers (vs Tampa Bay): ILB Derek Smith
    The Buccaneers rank #7 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #2 over their last 3 games. The injury to Cadillac Williams doesn't seem to have had a negative impact on LB scoring, and with Chris Simms taking over at QB we can probably expect to see a continued emphasis on the running game this week. The 49ers have been decimated with injuries on defense, but Derek Smith is still around. While he's not putting up as many tackles this year as he has in the past, he's still averaging a respectable 5 solos/game and should see time in all situations. If you're looking for a sleeper, ILB Brandon Moore looks like a good guy to target this week as he's expected to fill in at ILB again after a nice 9.5pt performance on Sunday against the Redskins.
  • LB Kansas City Chiefs (@ San Diego): MLB Kavika Mitchell, SLB Derrick Johnson
    The Chargers rank #8 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #10 over their last 3 games. They clearly look like an offense that should be conducive to LB scoring as they rely heavily on the running of Tomlinson and receiving of Gates over the middle. MLB Kavika Mitchell hasn't been perfect for the Chiefs, but he's been much better than what they've had over the past few years and he's having a solid fantasy season as well. He should put up good numbers this week like Jeremiah Trotter did for the Eagles last week. Rookie SLB Derrick Johnson leads the Chiefs in tackles and has been a quality start in 5 of 6 games, but his 1 poor game came last week against the Dolphins. WLB Kendrell Bell hasn't made much of an impact yet with just 1 quality start in 6 games so he's a risky play this week.
  • LB Buffalo Bills (@ New England): MLB London Fletcher, WLB Angelo Crowell
    The Patriots rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #8 over their last 3 games. Even though they pass the ball a lot, they rely on a lot of intermediate routes and love to use the TEs, so the linebackers stay involved. MLB London Fletcher's tackle numbers are down this year as he was injured early in the year and now has to play more disciplined with the injury to Takeo Spikes. Despite the problems, he's still been a quality start in 4 of 7 games and just missed the past two. Look for him to get back on track this week. WLB Angelo Crowell has done a good job of filling in for Takeo Spikes so far (9 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF over the past 2 weeks) and looks like he could be a very solid play this week as well. SLB Jeff Posey is a solid NFL player but doesn't have much fantasy value.
  • DB Dallas Cowboys (vs Arizona): CB Terence Newman, CB Anthony Henry
    The Cardinals rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #3 over their last 3 games. They obviously rely very heavily on passing to their 2 young stud WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. This week, those two should primarily match up against Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Anthony Henry. Newman has 4 quality starts out of 7 games played and Henry has 3. This matchup didn't work out so well for the Titans CBs last week, but that should be the exception as Boldin finished the last game with 0 catches. SS Roy Williams leads the team in tackles and has been a quality start in all but 1 game so far this year, but since the Cardinals don't have much of a running game this could be a difficult matchup for him. As one of the best and most reliable fantasy DBs in the game, he's still worth starting but don't expect big tackle numbers from him.
  • DB Miami Dolphins (@ New Orleans): SS Lance Schulters
    The Saints rank #3 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs, and #1 over their last 3 games. Despite the injuries to Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth, the Saints still aren't afraid to throw the ball down the field, and Antowain Smith has filled in capably for the injured Deuce McAllister. SS Lance Schulters was a very good free agent pickup for the Dolphins this year and has been a fantasy force as well with 4 quality starts in 6 games played. In addition to averaging over 4 solos/game, he's a big time playmaker with 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and a FF on the year. FS Tebucky Jones has 3 quality starts and has a couple sacks himself, but he carries a bit more risk than Schulters. Neither CB seems reliable to consider starting.
  • DB Denver Broncos (vs Philadelphia): CB Darrent Williams
    The Eagles rank #7 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #10 over their last 3 games. The Eagles rely more on their passing game than any other team in the league, which puts the DBs in position to make lots of plays. That should be no different this week. The Broncos will likely match up CB Champ Bailey on Terrell Owens, so Bailey should still see plenty of throws his way. Additionally, look for the Eagles to test rookie Darrent Williams on the other side. Williams is an impressive tackler as seen by his 27 solo tackles over the past 4 games, so look for him to help out in trying to slow down Brian Westbrook as well. SS Nick Ferguson is 2nd on the team in tackles but has only been a quality start in 3 of 7 games, so he carries some risk. FS John Lynch only has 2 quality starts on the year and is a better NFL player than fantasy player.
  • DB Arizona Cardinals (@ Dallas): SS Adrian Wilson, FS Robert Griffith
    The Cowboys rank #6 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. Drew Bledsoe has a nice set of weapons at WR and TE and isn't afraid to throw the ball deep, especially now that Julius Jones is banged up. The Cardinals are vulnerable in the secondary so the Cowboys will likely try to attack them down the field often this week provided they can give Bledsoe time. That should create plenty of tackle opportunities for FS Robert Griffith who has 3 quality starts in 6 games. SS Adrian Wilson is pretty much a must-start after having established himself as one of the best fantasy DBs in the league, and he is doing well this year averaging over 7 fantasy points/game. The Cardinals CB position is a mess but David Macklin did come up with a big 7 solo, 1 INT, 1 TD game last week against the Titans, so he looks like the safest bet of the group.

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Buffalo Bills (@ New England): DE Chris Kelsay
    The Patriots rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #31 over their last 3 games. The Pats haven't been as effective running the ball this year as they were last year, but Brady has only been sacked 7 times in 6 games (#31 in the league) so defensive linemen have trouble putting up solid stats against him. DE Aaron Schobel has been somewhat of a disappointment this year, but he is averaging over 3 solos/game, has 3 sacks, and is coming off one of his better games against the Raiders on Sunday. The Patriots are starting a rookie at LT so he may be able to produce despite the difficult matchup. LDE Chris Kelsay has shown flashes this year, but hasn't shown much consistency from week to week and should have trouble doing much against this Pats team.
  • DL Denver Broncos (vs Philadelphia): DE Trevor Pryce
    The Eagles rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #32 over their last 3 games. McNabb probably takes more sacks than he should, but he's still only been brought down 13 times in 5 games which ranks him 20th in the league. The Broncos don't have many fantasy options on the defensive line, but they've also suffered from some very tough matchups in recent weeks. Trevor Pryce is 30 years old and playing great, but it's not translating into good fantasy numbers and he's yet to record a sack. DE Courtney Brown isn't doing much better, with just 1 sack that came in week 1.
  • DL Washington Redskins (@ NY Giants): DT Cornelius Griffin
    The Giants rank #31 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #27 over their last 3 games. Eli Manning has followed in his brother's footsteps as one of the most difficult QBs to sack - just 10 times in 6 games, which ranks in the bottom-5. DT Cornelius Griffin is about the only real fantasy option on the Redskins defensive line so he stands to lose the most this week. Griffin has been one of the most productive fantasy DTs this year with 3 sacks and 4 solos/game so he may still put up decent numbers, but don't be surprised if he's held sackless. Starting DEs Renaldo Wynn and Philip Daniels have 0 sacks combined so don't look for much help from them this week either.
  • DL Cincinnati Bengals (vs Green Bay): DE Justin Smith
    The Packers rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #29 over their last 3 games as well. Despite the free agent defections on the defensive line, Favre has only been sacked 8 times in 6 games, which puts him at #30 in the league. The Packers running game has struggled this year and will now be without Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, so you can expect to see a heavy reliance on the passing game this week. DE Justin Smith has been solid but not spectacular this year with just 2 sacks through 7 games, and he's a better run defender than pass rusher. The other DE spot may be up for grabs now that Duane Clemons is off suspension, so neither he nor Robert Geathers is probably a good start until that situation sorts itself out.
  • LB New England Patriots (vs Buffalo): ILB Monty Beisel
    The Bills rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #27 over their last 3 games. Although McGahee has been running well, it hasn't translated to much production for the linebackers he faces. The Bills offense has struggled on the road and should have trouble against a Patriots defense that has had a bye week to prepare for them. ILB Monty Beisel came into the year as a nice sleeper but he's only been a quality start in 2 of 6 games so far and now could lose playing time to Tedy Bruschi. OLB Mike Vrabel leads the team in tackles and has cracked double digit fantasy points in 2 of the past 3 games so he might still be worth starting. Willie McGinest started out slow but has been pretty solid the past 4 games (averaging 6.5pts/game) and might be worth starting this week as well, although the matchup makes him a little risky.
  • LB Washington Redskins (@ NY Giants): MLB Lemar Marshall
    The Giants rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs on the year, and #32 over their last 3 games. This low ranking is a little surprising considering (a) the effectiveness of Tiki Barber and the running game, and (b) how well the Giants offense has played in general this year. MLB Lemar Marshall had a strong start to the year with double digit fantasy points in 2 of his first 3 games and he's been a quality start in 2 of the past 3 games as well, but the emergence of WLB LaVar Arrington could wind up hurting his numbers a bit. SLB Marcus Washington has been playing great and leads the team in tackles so he might be a slightly safer play than Marshall this week.
  • LB Minnesota Vikings (vs Carolina): LB Sam Cowart
    The Panthers rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #31 over their last 3 games. The running game hasn't been nearly as effective in recent weeks as it was early in the year. Just like the Vikings defense as a whole, Sam Cowart entered the year with high expectations and has failed to meet them with just 1 quality start out of 5 games played. Unfortunately, the other Vikings LBs have done even worse and WLB Dontarrious Thomas and SLB Napoleon Harris probably shouldn't be started unless you are really desperate.
  • LB Green Bay Packers (@ Cincinnati): LB Robert Thomas
    The Bengals rank #27 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #30 over their last 3 games. Thanks to his strong start, they have relied a lot more on the passing of Carson Palmer than the running of Rudi Johnson so far this year. MLB Nick Barnett has been a quality start in 4 of 6 games and has reached double digit fantasy points 3 times, so he's probably still a safe play this week. WLB Robert Thomas, however, has been consistently average finishing with 4 to 5 points every single week. With 0 quality starts on the year, it's not much of a reach to predict more of the same from him this week.
  • DB Philadelphia Eagles (@ Denver): CB Lito Sheppard
    The Broncos rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #32 over their last 3 games as well. They just have not asked Plummer to throw deep very often this year, and as a result he's done a good job of avoiding turnovers this year. The Eagles have one of the best secondaries in the league and all 4 players are solid tacklers who can contribute in run support. SS Michael Lewis has been very consistent with 5 quality starts in 6 games and should be used as an 8th man in the box to slow down the Broncos running game. FS Brian Dawkins has just 3 quality starts in 6 games, but his big play potential generally makes him worth a start even in bad matchups. CB Sheldon Brown has been a force the past month or so with 4 straight quality starts, so benching him could be a mistake. Lito Sheppard has 4 quality starts himself on the year, but he's finished with 3 or fewer solo tackles in 5 games and seems most likely to take a hit this week.
  • DB Baltimore Ravens (@ Pittsburgh): SS Will Demps
    The Steelers rank #31 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #22 over their last 3 games. A big reason for the recent surge was the disaster game with Tommy Maddox at QB, but otherwise they haven't asked Roethlisberger to do much in the passing game. With Ed Reed and Ray Lewis out for this game, Will Demps should have more responsibility in stopping the run but that's not really his strong suit and he only finished with 3 solo tackles against the Bears last week. He also only has 1 quality start on the year and seems like a risky play, although he might work out if you're desperate. Chris McAlister had an abnormal 6 solo tackle game against the Bears on Sunday, but don't expect that to happen again unless he's matched up in man coverage on Hines Ward all day. Chad Williams will replace Ed Reed in the lineup but he only had 3 solo tackles against the Bears last week as well and seems like a risky play vs this tough matchup.
  • DB Minnesota Vikings (@ Carolina): FS Darren Sharper, CB Antoine Winfield
    The Panthers rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #30 over their last 3 games as well. The running game hasn't been all that great, but neither has the passing game when they aren't throwing to Steve Smith. Apart from his huge game in the opener that included a TD on an interception return, Darren Sharper has been a fantasy disappointment this year. SS Corey Chavous leads the team in tackles and has been a quality start in 4 of 6 games, so he may get enough tackle opportunities despite the bad matchup. Antoine Winfield has been one of the more consistent fantasy CBs in the league over the past few years, but he's struggling with just 2 quality starts so far this year. CB Fred Smoot had a nice 8-solo tackle performance on Sunday, but that's likely a fluke as he's generally a guy who shies from contact and not a great tackler.
  • DB Chicago Bears (@ Detroit): CB Charles Tillman, SS Mike Brown
    The Lions rank #26 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #28 over their last 3 games. Whether it is Joey Harrington or Jeff Garcia playing QB doesn't seem to matter as the Lions don't have any healthy WRs who can stretch the field and are relying heavily on their running game and an underrated defense this year to keep things close. Although he's been burned at times this year, CB Charles Tillman is putting up solid tackle numbers from the CB spot and has been a quality start in 4 of 6 games. He's coming off a disappointing game against the Ravens last week and the Bears will likely use his size to match up against Mike Williams this week. Mike Brown has been a fantasy stud this year with the move to SS but after 2 straight games with less than 6pts, he may be starting to wear down a bit. Rookie FS Chris Harris has shown some flashes but isn't reliable enough yet to count on from week to week, and especially not this week. CB Nathan Vasher is a playmaker and had 8 solo tackles against the Ravens last week, but he's been inconsistent and is a risky play as well.

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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