NOTE: This column is a living document and will be updated throughout the morning. Major changes to the content will be in red. Check back often for additions as gameday inactives are announced and lineup / depth chart changes are reported. I'll also be retweeting those reports with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter.
Buffalo at Pittsburgh
Manny Lawson is questionable today. The Bills depth chart is now set in the back seven. Arthur Moats, Nigel Bradham and Da'Norris Searcy rotate though one linebacker spot based on down and distance situations. Aaron Williams and Jairus Byrd are the full time safeties. It's not a great matchup for anyone other than Williams and Alonso today.
The Steelers are pulling back on the snaps of Jarvis Jones. That doesn't mean he's a bust. Nearly every young outside linebacker under Dick Lebeau has needed time to grow into the defense. Had the Steelers gotten better production from Jason Worilds and others, Jones would've gotten the same opportunity. Cameron Heyward has flashed some pass rush ability lately, but don't rush to add him to the Cameron Jordan, Calais Campbell, Sheldon Richardson group of fantasy relevant 3-4 ends, yet. Still waiting to see when the Steelers may begin taking a longer look at Shamarko Thomas at safety.
Cincinnati at Baltimore
Rey Maualuga and Michael Boley are out today. Vincent Rey will continue in an every-down role until Maualuga returns. He's been around the ball enough and the solid stat crew in Baltimore gives him LB3+ upside today. Brandon Thompson will replace Geno Atkins. There's a little boom-bust upside there, but not much more. Atkins' loss won't affect Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson much. Both are inconsistent and neither will be double-teamed exclusively.
The Ravens linebacker situation is a little cloudy. Last week, Daryl Smith played every down and the other inside linebacker spot was a three man rotation. Smith was only a limited Friday participant this week. That could put Josh Bynes back into a rotational base defense role, though Smith freely spoke with the media Friday. That's always a good sing he'll play today. James Ihedigbo is questionable after a Friday toe injury.
Detroit at Chicago
Ezekiel Ansah may miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury. He was hitting the rookie wall and struggling against tougher matchups anyway. This could be a strong buy low opportunity in dynasty leagues.
The Bears used Jon Bostic in the nickel over Khaseem Greene last week. That's important for today's matchup. I'm still looking forward to another evaluation of Greene, but he'll be used sparingly today. Shea McClellin strained a hamstring midweek and is unlikely to play. Corey Wootton will stay inside at tackle and local writers expect a rotation of David Bass and Cheta Ozougwu. That's not good for anyone but the Bears' offensive line.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Moise Fokou is out today, giving Colin McCarthy another chance to build momentum as the every-down middle linebacker. Last week was better than Week 8. Another good week would go a long way to giving him relevant fantasy value through the playoff weeks. Michael Griffin is questionable, but practiced all week and will be back in the lineup over George Wilson. That may affect Zach Brown, who was losing subpackage snaps to Wilson recently. Proceed with caution with Brown today. And if Derrick Morgan is finally going to start converting some of his pressures to sacks, this would be the week for it.
Oakland at New York Giants
The late week news on Terrell Thomas was promising. That's good for Thomas, but not-so-good for Will Hill, whose snaps ebb and flow with the relative health of Thomas. There's a chance Hill could see more time for Ryan Mundy, but Mundy is off the injury report and (theoretically) over the hip pointer that made him a healthy scratch two weeks ago. Jason Pierre-Paul is chirping that he's feeling better than ever. Given his pessimistic tone in recent weeks, that may be a very good sign.
Philadelphia at Green Bay
Patrick Chung played more than I expected last week, with the Eagles rotating lots of defensive backs after jumping to a big lead on the Raiders. That pattern could hold against Green Bay, but I wouldn't bet on it with the Packers running the ball as well as they have recently. Cedric Thornton was fully practicing Friday and should be safe to use.
Clay Matthews will play with a large cast today and may only see snaps in clear passing situations. Consider him only in sack heavy leagues today. Brad Jones rotated with Jamari Lattimore last week, but is off the injury report. He's a risky start today, as are all the Green Bay linebackers, unless we get a pregame indication that Jones is ready to regain his every-down role.
Seattle at Atlanta
The Seahawks continue to mix and match packages with Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Michael Bennett. Bruce Irvin has been playing every down and effectively enough against the run. He's not yet on the level of Von Miller, but he could be growing into a solid fantasy option despite his SLB role. Bobby Wagner should be more productive today. At minimum, he won't have to overcome his assist-happy home stat crew.
The Falcons are healthy -- except for the still-on-IR Sean Weatherspoon -- and the rotation is set. Paul Worrilow finally showed last week that an Atlanta linebacker can take advantage of the opportunity. Expect him to come back to earth this week, but another strong effort could affect how the coaches approach the defensive rotation when Weatherspoon return.
St. Louis at Indianapolis
James Laurinaitis was a late add to this week's injury report with a hip injury. He needs a bye week to heal. His consistency against the run continues to be affected by nagging injury. Otherwise, no major injuries or depth chart changes for St. Louis today.
Pat Angerer looked better last week than he did at any point since Week 1. He's back in the every-down ILB role and not on the injury report. Unfortunately, he may be robbed of a handful of solo tackles by his home stat crew today. He's one of the new breed of LB2++ on the road, LB4+ at home linebackers. Robert Mathis returned to practice after missing Wednesday and should be good to go.
Carolina at San Francisco
Chase Blackburn is out today. That won't affect the fantasy value of anyone in Carolina, including his likely replacement A.J. Klein. Expect more rotation from Quintin Mikell and Robert Lester at safety. Neither has asserted himself as an every-down player.
The Niners defensive line is dinged up, with both Ray McDonald and Justin Smith playing through arm injuries. They will get Aldon Smith back on the active roster today, but likely in a situational pass rushing role only. Consider Smith in big play leagues this week only.
Denver at San Diego
The Broncos are without Champ Bailey again and could be without Duke Ihenacho. Ihenacho was limited Friday and listed questionable, but is a game-time decision. Ihenacho has already left a game after a setback this year. Avoid him today. Von Miller should continue to see his snap count trend toward full time duty. Some of Danny Trevathan's subpackage snaps are at risk.
Donald Butler fully practiced Thursday and Friday and is ready to play today. He and Manti Te'o will start, with Reggie Walker playing in the dime package. There's some potential for that to change -- in either Te'o or Butler's favor -- sometime soon, but it's not likely to be today.
Houston at Arizona
Darryl Sharpton is your lone every-down inside linebacker in Houston. He's a solid start as long as his foot holds up. D.J. Swearinger Sr got half of the opportunity he needed last week. He started and played a fantasy relevant role in subpackages. However, the tackle opportunity was weak and Swearinger didn't take advantage of the opportunities he did see. Today will be an important day for his rest-of-season value.
The Cardinals have a handful of defensive players listed probable with minor issues but are healthy and playing with a straightforward depth chart. I'm lukewarm on Tyrann Mathieu today. He's still a must start as a top fantasy slot corner, but the Texans don't use many spread sets, which could limit Mathieu's snap count.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Dallas at New Orleans
DeMarcus Ware should be back tonight. It's not a great pass rushing matchup, so there's risk in getting him back in lineups right away. Bruce Carter seems to believe he's earned full time snaps again. It was reported that he's taken the bulk of the snaps with the first team this week. But be careful before trusting him against the spread offense of New Orleans. It was nickel snaps and coverage depth that got him in the doghouse originally. Any issues today could land him back on the bench. Jeff Heath will again start for J.J. Wilcox. Orlando Scandrick may see a bump in value with Morris Claiborne still out and a juicy matchup tonight.
The Saints are a very tough read for tonight. David Hawthorne didn't practice all week with a toe injury and Curtis Lofton was a late week add with an ankle injury on top of a nagging hamstring strain. Malcolm Jenkins made it back to a limited Friday practice and is also a game-time decision. Roman Harper practiced fully all week and should go. If you're planning on using Lofton or Jenkins, get a hedge in place. If Hawthorne and Lofton both sit, I'd bet on seeing a lot of Ramon Humber. But I'm not ultra-confident that he's the best hedge.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Miami at Tampa Bay
Koa Misi missed practice with a knee injury Thursday and Friday. That may be the opening Dion Jordan needs to get more base defensive snaps. Dannell Ellerbe is now on the injury report with a calf strain. He's probable, but nagging issues have begun to limit his range.
Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. Reading the Defense returns on Tuesday. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.