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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.
Carolina at Miami
Charles Johnson is out today. Hopefully, he'll recover more quickly than Cameron Wake did from a similar injury. Mario Addison replaces him in the starting lineup. The matchup is very favorable, enough to consider Addison a boom-bust DL2 play in all leagues. The safety split between Quintin Mikell and Robert Lester skewed heavily to Lester against New England, but should be closer to 50-50 in this matchup. Neither are great options, but Mikell has the higher upside this week in tackle-heavy leagues. A.J. Klein again starts for Chase Blackburn but isn't a fantasy option.
Miami will likely be without Dmitri Patterson, who continues to struggle through a groin injury. Nolan Carroll will replace him as a starter. Cameron Wake continues to round into form. I'm continuing to recommend starting him, but understand that he'll have more variance for now. Philip Wheeler had been losing a handful of snaps to Jelani Jenkins, but that seems to have ended last week. Wheeler should be a low ceiling, high floor LB4 this week. Early word is that Dion Jordan could see an increase in situational snaps to spy Cam Newton today, but file that in the believe it when I see it category.
Chicago at St. Louis
It's not clear what the Bears will do at defensive tackle today. Last week, Corey Wootton was moved back outside. Landon Cohen started and struggled next to Stephen Paea, who won't play today with a toe injury. Jay Ratliff still isn't ready to play. And Shea McClellin is back from his hamstring injury. So, there's likely to be lots of rotation among so-so talents. McClellin (and Julius Peppers) are the only players to consider today. Zack Bowman produced as expected last week. The matchup is tougher today, but I still consider Bowman a CB1.
The Rams put Cortland Finnegan on IR this week with an eye injury. That ends one of the most disappointing seasons for a long time CB1 in recent memory. Trumaine Johnson will continue to start opposite Janoris Jenkins.
Jacksonville at Houston
Paul Posluszny is back this week and has a strong matchup. Geno Hayes and Russell Allen will flank him outside. Hayes did not practice much this week and is a game time decision. Even if he's active, we may see Allen take over in the nickel this week to keep Hayes fresh. Jeremy Mincey has been an option in deep, big play heavy leagues, but will not play due to a violation of team rules.
Daryl Sharpton is starting to break down. He practiced less than usual this week. If he's active, he remains a good play. Jeff Tarpinian is questionable with a groin injury and Joe Mays fully practiced on Friday. Tarpinian's strong production last week may be short-lived. There's been no comment from the coaches late this week, but I expect Mays to see more snaps today.
Minnesota at Green Bay
Erin Henderson is out (personal, non-injury) this week. This would've been a big break for Michael Mauti, but he tweaked his oft-repaired knee last week and couldn't get the reps needed to establish himself. So Audie Cole gets the start and an every-down role this week. Cole's workout numbers don't translate to the field, but there's some upside for him in today's matchup. Consider him a LB4+ option. Brian Robison did not practice Friday with a neck injury and is a game-time decision with what's being called muscle spasms in his neck. Everson Griffen will be a surprisingly strong option if Robison is inactive.
Though his numbers suggested otherwise, Brad Jones still was not back in all subpackages last week. But he looked fully healthy and his return to the dime could happen this week. Regardless, this matchup is strong enough to risk him as an upside LB3. Nick Perry again sits with multiple leg injuries and Casey Hayward was put on IR this week. Otherwise, the Green Bay defense is nearer full strength than it's been in weeks with Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett and Brad Jones all ready to play their usual role.
New York Jets at Baltimore
The Jets are healthy on defense. Quinton Coples continues to see more time, but remains too inconsistent to trust. This is a better matchup for Demario Davis, but he's been too inconsistent to see as a clear LB3. Ed Reed started last week, pushing both Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrrett into reserve role. Against the Ravens, it's doubtful we see much of Allen.
Haloti Ngata's limited Friday practice was his first in two weeks. That's a sign he may be active today, but expect him to play in limited situations only. Daryl Smith is also questionable, but has been active and playing every-down with a similar practice line in each of the past two weeks.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Shamarko Thomas is out with an ankle injury. Ryan Clark is a more stable and trustworthy play now, but today's matchup is not favorable. Both Brett Keisel and LaMarr Woodley took limited snaps Friday and could return. Lawrence Timmons is the only viable fantasy option today.
Tank Carder starts for Craig Robertson, who's out with a knee injury today. Carder was productive in limited snaps last week and can be expected to play every down. He'll have LB3+ value today and makes for a fine add in deeper leagues.
San Diego at Kansas City
Reggie Walker saw more snaps last week, but they came as a rush outside linebacker in nickel packages. Donald Butler remained an every-down player. Manti Te'o snaps crept up as well. I expect a similar rotation today with Jarret Johnson unlikely to play again.
Mike Devito is out today. The Chiefs are otherwise full strength. It's a better than average matchup for Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers should also have a good day. Derrick Johnson is on the injury report with a wrist injury, but he's practiced fully and will play.
Tampa Bay at Detroit
Mason Foster is out with a concussion today. Dashon Goldson is serving a one game suspension. That puts Adam Hayward in the lineup at middle linebacker and Keith Tandy in at safety. Neither are good fantasy plays. Greg Schiano told reporters that they'll use combinations at linebacker to replace Foster. Expect Jonathan Casillas to rotate in heavily and, given that Detroit will spread the field often, Casillas may be the better play. If you're looking for a desperation body and can't get Tank Carder, Casillas is a consideration. Mark Barron should see the biggest bump in expectation with these lineup changes.
News broke this week that Glover Quin has been fighting an ankle injury since Week 4. That's around the same time that his production fell off a cliff. Whether it's connected or coincidental is hard to say, but it's continued evidence that DeAndre Levy is a quietly strong LB3 down the stretch. The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah listed probable, but I think we'll see a heavier rotation today than before his ankle and abdomen injuries.
Dallas at New York Giants
Sean Lee could be back sooner than expected according to Jerry Jones. But don't take that as gospel. Lee will be joined on the sideline by Justin Durant and DeVonte Holloman, who was shut down after a limited Wednesday practice. That puts Ernie Sims in the middle and Bruce Carter on the weak side as every-down backers. Carter should continue his recent run of strong numbers. Sims is a desperation, high upside LB3 given the strong matchup today. Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware are both expected to play. Hatcher is a better bet to play to his pre-injury expectation than Ware, but both are risky.
Corey Webster is out today. Prince Amukamara has a nice matchup, but the loss of a corner puts Antrel Rolle into the best fantasy spot as Terrell Thomas may see more snaps outside than in the slot with Webster down. Jason Pierre-Paul was limited in practice this week. It's been impossible to handicap his expectation this year. He plays poorly when things look most optimistic and puts up big numbers when his week of practice is worrisome. He's in the painful, extreme boom-bust DL2 in big play leagues category right now. It's all or nothing against a decent matchup today.
Indianapolis at Arizona
LaRon Landry managed only a limited Friday practice this week with an ongoing toe injury. Consider him a game-time decision, but l think he'll play. The rest of the starting lineup should be intact. It's a good week to consider both Jerrell Freeman and Pat Angerer LB2+.
The Cardinals are healthy. John Abraham is a must start in big play leagues today. He's playing well and the Colts present a strong pass rushing matchup. The tackle expectation for Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington isn't as high, but they're still top 20 plays given their big play potential.
Tennessee at Oakland
Moise Fokou is questionable, but practiced fully Thursday and Friday and should play. It's not good news for the fantasy value of Colin McCarthy. Mike Munchak strongly hinted that the starting job was still Fokou's and that the two linebackers would rotate until Fokou was back in football shape. That's also not good news for Zach Brown, who continues to leave the field in passing situations. Akeem Ayers is the best fantasy option among the linebacker group today. Derrick Morgan is back on the injury report after tweaking his groin on this week during practice. His durability issues are killing any fantasy upside he may have had.
Jason Hunter joins Tyvon Branch on the sideline this week. That could bump Sio Moore's subpackage snaps again and give him some strong upside against the Titans. Use Moore in deep, sack-heavy leagues only however.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Denver at New England
This week, I wrote "Takeo Spikes is retired and not a New England Patriot" 100 times on the chalkboard. Mea culpa. Lots of secondary concerns for the Patriots tonight, with the top three corners listed questionable. Local writers give Aqib Talib only a small chance of playing.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
San Francisco at Washington
Washington is also at full strength. There continues to be enough uncertainty and inconsistent play in the safety rotation to avoid this group despite what should be a very favorable RB/TE matchup. Brandon Meriweather is your best option here, but I'd avoid the recently productive Reed Doughty in case Washington elects to use Bacarri Rambo or E.J. Biggers is a coverage role against Vernon Davis tomorrow night.
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.