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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 Cleveland Browns (vs Houston): DE Orpheus Roye - 3 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD = 5 pts
  • DL Arizona Cardinals (@ Dallas): DE Bert Berry - 5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR = 15.5 pts
  • DL Carolina Panthers (vs Minnesota): DE Mike Rucker - 2 solos, 1 PD = 3 pts
  • DL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ San Francisco): DE Simeon Rice (DNP-suspended)
  • LB Baltimore Ravens (@ Pittsburgh): MLB Tommy Polley (7 solos, 2 asst = 8 pts), SLB Adalius Thomas (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD = 7.5 pts)
  • LB San Francisco 49ers (vs Tampa Bay): ILB Derek Smith - 5 solos, 1 asst = 5.5 pts
  • LB Kansas City Chiefs (@ San Diego): MLB Kavika Mitchell (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD = 10 pts), SLB Derrick Johnson (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD = 8 pts)
  • LB Buffalo Bills (@ New England): MLB London Fletcher (1 solo, 1 asst = 1.5 pts), WLB Angelo Crowell (4 solos, 3 asst = 5.5 pts)
  • DB Dallas Cowboys (vs Arizona): CB Terence Newman (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD = 2.5 pts), CB Anthony Henry (6 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD = 11 pts)
  • DB Miami Dolphins (@ New Orleans): SS Lance Schulters - 1 solo, 1 asst = 1.5 pts
  • DB Denver Broncos (vs Philadelphia): CB Darrent Williams - 2 solos, 1 sack = 5 pts
  • DB Arizona Cardinals (@ Dallas): SS Adrian Wilson (8 solos, 1 sack = 11 pts), FS Robert Griffith (2 solos = 2 pts)

Hit Rate for Week 8: 8/15 (53%)
Year to date: 59/110 (54%)

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Buffalo Bills (@ New England): DE Chris Kelsay - 1 solo, 2 asst, 0.5 sacks = 3.5 pts
  • DL Denver Broncos (vs Philadelphia): DE Trevor Pryce - 2 solos, 1 sack, 2 PD = 7 pts
  • DL Washington Redskins (@ NY Giants): DT Cornelius Griffin - 0 tackles = 0 pts
  • DL Cincinnati Bengals (vs Green Bay): DE Justin Smith - 1 solo, 1 asst = 1.5 pts
  • LB New England Patriots (vs Buffalo): ILB Monty Beisel - 2 solos, 1 asst = 2.5 pts
  • LB Washington Redskins (@ NY Giants): MLB Lemar Marshall - 10 solos, 3 asst = 11.5 pts
  • LB Minnesota Vikings (vs Carolina): LB Sam Cowart - 6 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 7.5 pts
  • LB Green Bay Packers (@ Cincinnati): LB Robert Thomas - 1 solo = 1 pt
  • DB Philadelphia Eagles (@ Denver): CB Lito Sheppard - 4 solos = 4 pts
  • DB Baltimore Ravens (@ Pittsburgh): SS Will Demps - 5 solos, 1 asst = 5.5 pts
  • DB Minnesota Vikings (@ Carolina): FS Darren Sharper (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD = 4.5 pts), CB Antoine Winfield (3 solos, 1 asst = 3.5 pts)
  • DB Chicago Bears (@ Detroit): CB Charles Tillman (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD = 18.5 pts), SS Mike Brown (6 solos = 6 pts)

Hit Rate for Week 8: 9/14 (64%)
Year to date: 59/102 (58%)

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 Chicago Bears (@ New Orleans): DE Adewale Ogunleye
    The Saints rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #6 over their last 3 games. DE Adewale Ogunleye is healthy again and playing well with 9 solos and a sack over his last two games. DE Alex Brown got his first sack of the year on Sunday vs the Lions, but he's been a disappointment this year and is a risky play until he shows more consistency. DT Tank Johnson has 7 solos and 3 sacks over the last 2 games so he might be a solid sleeper choice this week but he's not even a starter. Meanwhile, the starting DTs Tommie Harris and Ian Scott haven't done much of late and probably aren't worth consideration.
  • DL Detroit Lions (@ Minnesota): DE James Hall
    The Vikings rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #11 over their last 3 games. The change at QB from Culpepper to Johnson shouldn't have too much of an impact on the rankings as Culpepper was getting sacked frequently despite his mobility. DE James Hall came into the season with high hopes after his 11.5 sack season in 2004, but he struggled with injuries early on and is just now getting healthy. He had a great game on Sunday against Chicago with 6 solos and 1 sack and should put up good numbers again this week. DE Cory Redding had his best game of the season against Chicago as well (4 solos, 1 sack), but that was only his second quality start of the season. At DT, Shaun Rogers is one of the best in the game but his fantasy numbers aren't that reliable. Shaun Cody filled in for an injured Dan Wilkinson last week and had a solid outing with 4 solos and a forced fumble.
  • DL NY Giants (@ San Francisco): DE Osi Umenyiora
    The 49ers rank #9 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #10 over their last 3 games. DE Michael Strahan is still one of the best DEs in the league and is considered a must-start in pretty much any week he's healthy. DE Osi Umenyiora has had an up and down season, but he's been on fire lately with 10 solos, 4 assists, 3 sacks, 2 PD, and a FF over his last 3 games. DT William Joseph recorded a sack last week against the Redskins, but he's probably not worth starting unless you are in a deep league that requires a starting DT.
  • DL Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Houston): DE Reggie Hayward
    The Texans rank #5 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #5 over their last 3 games as well. David Carr has been sacked 37 times in 7 games and the Texans offensive line has been struggling, so the Jaguars linemen should get a chance to pad their sack totals this week. DE Reggie Hayward was brought in to help upgrade the pass rush and he's done a good job so far with 5.5 sacks in 7 games. DE Paul Spicer had a huge 3-sack game against the Jets earlier but hasn't done much since so he's probably the riskiest play of the group. DT John Henderson is having another great season and is the second leading tackler on the Jaguars defense, although he has yet to record a sack so this matchup may not favor him too much. DT Marcus Stroud's numbers are down a bit from where they have been in the past and he's yet to record a quality start this season.
  • LB Cincinnati Bengals (@ Baltimore): MLB Odell Thurman
    The Ravens rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #11 over their last 3 games. They still rely heavily on the running of Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor, which creates plenty of tackle opportunities for the linebackers. MLB Odell Thurman has been one of the best defensive rookies this year and has been a quality start in 7 of 8 games played so he should be a pretty safe start this week. WLB Brian Simmons has been a quality start in 4 of the last 6 games and should be a pretty solid play this week as well. At SLB, Landon Johnson just had his first quality start of the year on Sunday so he's probably a risky play and could lose time to David Pollack.
  • LB Green Bay Packers (vs Pittsburgh): MLB Nick Barnett
    The Steelers rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #12 over their last 3 games. Ben Roethlisberger will be out this game and Charlie Batch is expected to start in his place, so the team will likely rely even more heavily on Willie Parker and their running game. MLB Nick Barnett has been a quality start in 5 of 7 games thus far and should be in for a huge game this week. WLB Robert Thomas has been decent but has yet to reach 6 fantasy points in any single game this year, so he's a risky play. SLB Paris Lenon hasn't done enough to warrant starting consideration.
  • LB Carolina Panthers (@ Tampa Bay): MLB Dan Morgan
    The Buccaneers rank #7 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. The injury to Brian Griese should increase their reliance on the running game, but Chris Simms also seems very mistake prone which could lead to some big play opportunities. MLB Dan Morgan got off to a slow start this year, but has been a quality start for 5 straight games despite battling through some nagging injuries during that time span. Will Witherspoon's production seems to drop off when Morgan's goes up, so he hasn't been as great in recent weeks as he has been when Morgan has struggled. With 3 quality starts in 7 games, he's still a solid play but carries more risk than Morgan. SLB Brandon Short hasn't been a quality start yet this year so he's probably not deserving of any serious starting consideration.
  • LB NY Jets (vs San Diego): WLB Mark Brown, SLB Victor Hobson
    The Chargers rank #5 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #6 over their last 3 games. The presence of LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates gives linebackers plenty of tackle opportunities each week and that should continue this week. MLB Jonathan Vilma has been a quality start in all 7 games this year and is a must-start regardless of matchup. WLB Mark Brown has taken over for the injured Eric Barton and has been a quality start in 3 of the last 4 games, so look for his solid production to continue this week. SLB Victor Hobson also has 3 quality starts in the last 4 games and should be able to hit that mark again against the Chargers.
  • DB Seattle Seahawks (@ Arizona): CB Kelly Herndon
    The Cardinals rank #1 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #1 over their last 3 games. The injury to Boldin shouldn't have too much of an impact on these numbers as they will still continue to throw downfield to Larry Fitzgerald and the other WRs. CB Kelly Herndon has been picked on a lot by opposing QBs this year and that has helped him to a quality start in 5 of 7 games thus far, including 4 straight coming into this game. CB Marcus Trufant is the team's #1 CB and should be matched up with Larry Fitzgerald most of the day so that could help him add to his 3 quality starts. At SS, Michael Boulware has been a strong start in 4 of 7 games and his playmaking ability makes him worth a start most weeks even if he's not likely to get many tackle opportunities. FS Marquand Manuel has replaced Ken Hamlin in the starting lineup and was a quality start in the last game before the bye week, but it's still too early to know if that was a fluke or not.
  • DB Cleveland Browns (vs Tennessee): CB Leigh Bodden
    The Titans rank #2 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #2 over their last 3 games. Browns CB Leigh Bodden replaced the injured Gary Baxter in the starting lineup last week and was picked on often by David Carr, leading to a huge 16pt fantasy game. Bodden has put up big fantasy numbers in both of his starts this year so he looks like the strongest play from the Browns secondary. His counterpart CB Daylon McCutcheon has been solid this year with quality starts in 5 of 7 games and also looks like a solid play this week. SS Chris Crocker has had some big games this year, but hasn't done much in the other games and seems like a risky play. FS Brian Russell appears to be losing playing time to rookie Brodney Pool, hurting his value and making neither a very good play.
  • DB Chicago Bears (@ New Orleans): SS Mike Brown, CB Charles Tillman
    The Saints rank #4 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #4 over their last 3 games. The injury to Deuce McAllister has put more emphasis on the Saints passing game and that should create more playmaking opportunities for the Bears secondary. SS Mike Brown has cooled off a bit after his red hot start, but he should see enough action to be a strong play this week. CB Charles Tillman has been one of the best fantasy DBs in the league and came through with a huge game winning INT return in overtime last week against Detroit. If he's matched up against Joe Horn for most of the day, he should be a very strong play this week. FS Chris Harris and CB Jerry Azumah haven't really done enough yet this year to warrant starting consideration with just 1 quality start between them.
  • DB Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Green Bay): FS Chris Hope, CB Ike Taylor
    The Packers rank #7 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #16 over their last 3 games. The season-ending injuries to Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport are going to put all the emphasis on Brett Favre and the passing game, so the Steelers secondary should get plenty of work this week. SS Troy Polamalu is one of the best safeties in the league and has likely earned must-start status. FS Chris Hope is having a great season with 5 quality starts in 7 games, and he should be a strong play this week. At CB, Ike Taylor has played great for the Steelers and has also been a quality start in 5 of 7 games. If he gets matched up primarily with Donald Driver, look for another big game from Taylor. CB DeShea Townsend only has 1 quality start on the year and looks like a risky start this week.

WEAK STARTS

  • DL Washington Redskins (vs Philadelphia): DT Cornelius Griffin
    The Eagles rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #32 over their last 3 games. McNabb isn't that difficult to sack, but the Eagles just don't run the ball very much and that makes it tougher for DL to get many tackle opportunities. DT Cornelius Griffin is far and away the best fantasy DL and pass rushing threat on the Redskins defensive line, but he left the last game early with an injury and is listed as questionable. Even if he's able to play, this looks like a terrible matchup for him. The Redskins starting DEs Renaldo Wynn and Philip Daniels aren't much in fantasy terms, as they have combined for just 1 quality start all season. Pass rushing specialist Demetric Evans had a great fantasy game in the blowout loss to the Redskins and could see more playing time as a result, but this doesn't seem to be the week to take a chance on him either.
  • DL San Francisco 49ers (vs NY Giants): DE Bryant Young
    The Giants rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #25 over their last 3 games. Like his brother, Eli Manning has a quick release and makes good decisions with the ball so he doesn't take many unnecessary sacks. 49ers DE Bryant Young is having one of the best years of his career with 8 sacks in the first 7 games, but he should have some difficulty adding to that total this week. He still might be worth starting as he's had some huge games this year, but don't be surprised if he struggles. DE Marques Douglas has played well at times, but only has 1 quality start on the year to show for it. NT Anthony Adams is a solid player who has 2 quality starts on the year but he looks like a risky play against this matchup.
  • DL New England Patriots (vs Indianapolis): DE Ty Warren
    The Colts rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #29 over their last 3 games. Peyton Manning has been sacked an NFL-low 5 times in 7 games and the Patriots have been without their best pass rusher Richard Seymour lately so that number probably won't go up too much this week. With Seymour out, DE Ty Warren has taken over as the Pats best lineman and he has been a quality start in 2 of the past 3 games, but he's probably not good enough to overcome this tough matchup. NT Vince Wilfork had his best game of the year vs the Bills on Sunday night, but it was his only quality start of the year so a repeat performance against the Colts seems unlikely. DE Jarvis Green has filled in for Seymour but hasn't shown enough yet to warrant starting consideration.
  • DL Indianapolis Colts (@ New England): DE Robert Mathis
    The Patriots rank #31 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DL this year, and #24 over their last 3 games. Tom Brady has only been sacked 10 times in 7 games, but the left side of the line has been struggling, which should favor Colts RDE Dwight Freeney. Freeney has only been a quality start in 4 of 7 games, but he's probably too explosive to consider benching. LDE Robert Mathis has been a quality start in all 7 games and has a 7-game sack streak going this year so he's likely earned must start status, but this looks like it could be a tough matchup for him. The Colts rotate the rest of their linemen often and it is hard to know which ones will come through from week to week, but Raheem Brock and Montae Reagor were both quality starts in their last game against the Texans.
  • LB NY Giants (@ San Francisco): WLB Nick Greisen
    The 49ers rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, but #14 over their last 3 games. The numbers appear to be going up since they benched Tim Rattay at QB, but the offense should have trouble sustaining drives against a strong Giants defense and that will lead to fewer tackle opportunities for all of the Giants defenders. MLB Antonio Pierce has been a quality start in 6 of 7 games and has reached double digit fantasy points in 5 of those games so he's a must start and will be the person most responsible for slowing down Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore. WLB Nick Greisen has played well since entering the starting lineup with 2 big games and 2 games that saw him just miss the quality start cutoff, but he's likely to have a hard time getting many tackles this week so he'll need a big play to be worth starting. SLB Reggie Torbor only has 2 quality starts on the season and may not see much time if the Giants get a lead and move primarily to their nickel package late in the game.
  • LB Baltimore Ravens (vs Cincinnati): MLB Tommy Polley, OLB Adalius Thomas
    The Bengals rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #28 over their last 3 games. The Bengals offense is playing great, but is relying more on the downfield passing game than the running of Rudi Johnson. Tommy Polley is expected to get his second straight start at MLB in place of an injured Ray Lewis. Polley put up solid numbers on Monday night against the Steelers, but the Bengals are a much tougher matchup so look for a drop-off this week. SLB Adalius Thomas has been having a great season with 5 quality starts in 7 games, but those numbers have been boosted by 3 sacks and an interception. Bart Scott will start his second game at WLB but he hasn't shown enough yet to warrant starting consideration.
  • LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Carolina): MLB Shelton Quarles
    The Panthers rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #29 over their last 3 games. After starting off the year with 4 straight quality starts, MLB Shelton Quarles has failed to break 6 fantasy points in 2 of the past 3 games. Unless the Panthers can get their running game going, Quarles might be in for another tough week. WLB Derrick Brooks' production has picked up as Quarles has dropped off, and with 3 straight quality starts he's probably worth starting despite the matchup. SLB Ryan Nece only has 1 quality start this year and doesn't warrant starting consideration.
  • LB New Orleans Saints (vs Chicago): MLB Ron McKinnon
    The Bears rank #25 in fantasy points allowed to opposing LBs this year, and #31 over their last 3 games. Thomas Jones had to leave the game with a rib injury last week but is listed as probable on this week's injury report. The Saints linebackers have been terrible fantasy performers this year but Ron McKinnon got the start at MLB last week and put up better numbers than Courtney Watson had all year, but this looks like a tough matchup that could limit his production. SLB Sedrick Hodge had a big game against the Dolphins on Sunday, but it was just his first quality start of the year and probably won't be repeated this week. WLB Colby Bockwoldt entered the year as a sleeper candidate, but with just 1 quality start all year he looks like a very risky play this week.
  • DB Green Bay Packers (vs Pittsburgh): FS Nick Collins
    The Steelers rank #32 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #18 over their last 3 games. Charlie Batch will start the game for the Steelers this week so it's hard to know what to expect from him, but chances are the Steelers will continue to rely heavily on the running game and just ask Batch not to make mistakes. SS Mark Roman has been a quality start in 3 of 7 games this year and may be used enough in run support to reach that mark again this week. FS Nick Collins, however, only has 1 quality start so far this year and probably won't see too many downfield throws. CB Al Harris will likely be matched up against Hines Ward so he could get enough balls thrown his way to make an impact, but it's still risky against a Steelers team that doesn't pass much. The other CBs probably won't see much action and thus aren't worth starting consideration.
  • DB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Carolina): SS Jermaine Phillips
    The Panthers rank #30 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #25 over their last 3 games. Their passing game relies almost exclusively on Steve Smith, so whichever CB and/or safety gets matched up with him should do well. SS Jermaine Phillips doesn't have a quality start yet this season and this doesn't look like a great week for that to change. Will Allen has filled in for Dexter Jackson at FS and has played well, but could be a risky play against this matchup. At CB, Ronde Barber has been a quality start in 5 of 7 games and as one of the best fantasy CBs in the game is probably worth a start no matter what the matchup is, but he could have a big game if he gets matched up with Steve Smith. CB Brian Kelly was a quality start in 2 of the first 3 games but hasn't done much since.
  • DB NY Giants (@ San Francisco): CB Will Allen
    The 49ers rank #29 in fantasy points allowed to opposing DBs this year, and #28 over their last 3 games. Despite having some young QBs under center the past few weeks, the 49ers have employed a very conservative gameplan that hasn't called for many downfield passes. Although he didn't do much in a blowout win over the Redskins on Sunday, SS Gibril Wilson has been a quality start in 6 of 7 games this year and is a player you almost have to start every week. CB Will Allen has been a quality start in just 3 of 7 games so far and looks like a risky play against this no-risk 49ers offense. FS Brent Alexander has been a quality start in just 2 games so far and probably doesn't warrant much consideration this week either. CB Curtis Deloatch has 3 quality starts but failed to break 6 points against the Broncos and Redskins so he should struggle this week 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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