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We got the clarity we were seeking from last week's games. There are also very few game-time injury decisions to track. That doesn't mean there won't be any unexpected news or depth chart changes this morning. And there are lots of notes from last week to impact this week's lineup decisions.
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 Buffalo
Jon Beason played only in base defensive packages last week and Ron Rivera said late this week that he may need to be rotated out of those at times today. Chase Blackburn would see the rotational time with Thomas Davis continuing to play every down at the other outside linebacker spot. Mike Mitchell is back from injury this week. He may start, but Quintin Mikell will continue to rotate in.
Jairus Byrd is listed doubtful after a week of very limited practice. The Bills will likely rotate a number of secondary players again this week, with Da'Norris Searcy a rotational base package player and part-time hybrid linebacker in subpackages. He played about 2/3 of the defensive snaps against New England. Though he could see a higher percentage against the Panthers, who use a below average number of multiple receiver sets, his raw snap count (about 60 last week) may be unchanged. Aaron Williams is the lone every-down safety, but there are no sure things here. That includes Nigel Bradham, who will see more playing time this week than against New England's spread, but does not look like he's in Buffalo's every-down plans. Mario Williams isn't on the injury report, but has been limited by plantar fasciitis. He didn't play the run well and didn't finish his successful pass rushes last week. If you've got other options, it might be worth a watchful waiting approach with Williams.
Cleveland at Baltimore
T.J. Ward is questionable with a shoulder injury. He spoke with the media, but is still considered a game-time decision. Josh Aubrey would start if he cannot go. Ahtyba Rubin is still not practicing and won't play with a calf injury. Barkevious Mingo was cleared for contact and fully practiced this week. He's probable and should fill a situational pass rushing role. D'Qwell Jackson played a role similar to Daryl Washington, seeing a number of pass rush opportunities against Miami last week. He was productive enough that he should continue to get chances regardless of how Ray Horton deploys Mingo. Buster Skrine didn't start last week but practiced fully this week. He'll probably be back in his starting role opposite Joe Haden. Leon McFadden is the team's fourth corner and isn't likely to see base defensive snaps without injury.
The Ravens are mostly healthy and could soon get Arthur Jones back from his illness soon. Chris Canty is playing very well in his absence, but will probably be a nickel pass rusher when Jones returns. Daryl Smith struggled a bit against the Broncos last week, but should bounce back against Cleveland. Josh Bynes was beat badly in coverage and both James Ihedigbo and Michael Huff were little help in bracket coverage. We could see a lot more of Arthur Brown and Matt Elam soon.
1130 ET: T.J. Ward is active and starting.
Dallas at Kansas City
Anthony Spencer is expected to return in a rotational role this week, with George Selvie continuing to see snaps. Both Selvie and Jason Hatcher look like good fits for Monte Kiffin's front four scheme. Barry Church looked better than he did last year in run support, but let that trend establish itself over multiple games before chasing it. Surprisingly, Morris Claiborne is probable to play with a harness after dislocating his shoulder last week. The scheme is a good setup for him, but the injury may limit his consistency as a tackler.
Dontari Poe continued his strong preseason play in Week 1. He's looking like a viable starter in DT-required leagues. Justin Houston, Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson were solid as expected. Sean Smith is likely to continue to see extended time across from Brandon Flowers with Dunta Robinson not likely to play this week due to a personal issue.
Miami at Indianapolis
Cameron Wake is a stud. Olivier Vernon was not, but he'll continue to get lots of snaps. Dion Jordan played a situational role only and was disruptive only on the snap he sacked Brandon Weeden. Wake is the only viable start until the young lineman become more consistent. Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler weren't great either and they'll have to deal with the assist-happy Indy stat crew this week.
Pat Angerer practiced all week and will very likely be back in the every-down role he played in the final preseason games. Jerrell Freeman has been limited by a quad injury but should play. Kelvin Sheppard was a mess last week and isn't likely to see any snaps this week and Kavell Conner may miss another week with an ankle injury. Bjoern Werner did see situational reps but barely threatened the pocket. There's lots of work to do with him yet.
Minnesota at Chicago
There's been no new news on Desmond Bishop this week and it's unlikely that he's on the verge of taking over at strong side linebacker. Erin Henderson struggled inside but filled up the box score anyway, as he often does as an every-down player. Jared Allen was credited with two quarterback hits and played well overall. The Bengals couldn't close the deal in the pocket in Chicago last week, but Allen is worth the risk this week.
Julius Peppers has been sick this week but should play. The Bears rotated Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton last week. Wootton got a few more snaps and was okay, but not great. McClellin looked quick and used his hands well and could carve out a larger role. Jon Bostic didn't get a base defensive snap against the Bengals and likely remains a special teams player this week as well. The Vikings may not force the Bears into many subpackage snaps, but D.J. Williams isn't a great flyer. James Anderson will continue to see nickel snaps.
San Diego at Philadelphia
They slowed down in the second half, but the Eagles ran over 50 snaps in the first half last week. If they can stay healthy and keep that pace up, they'll be the best tackle opportunity matchup in the league. Donald Butler and Bront Bird, who didn't play great but was statistically productive, are solid plays this week. Dwight Freeney looked very good last week and could get multiple shots at Michael Vick this week. He's an upside flyer in sack-heavy scoring systems. The strong matchup also applies to the corners, where Shareece Wright and Derek Cox are strong flyers. If you miss out on Leonard Johnson, one of the San Diego corners are your next streaming corner adds. Richard Marshall only had three solos last week, but they came in just 25 snaps. He's a solid desperation corner play.
Mychal Kendricks was so-so, especially in coverage against Houston's tight ends last week, but played better than anyone else in the back seven against the run. He's still a decent LB3 play. With Bradley Fletcher out, Brandon Boykin moves outside. I like him better as a slot corner, but he's physical enough to put up tackles outside, too.
St. Louis at Atlanta
Robert Quinn destroyed Levi Brown last week. The Falcons are a tougher matchup, but Cameron Jordan was around the pocket frequently. Quinn could have another strong week. Alec Ogletree benefited from a weak safety duo and rode his athleticism and range to a nice week. The Atlanta matchup looks good for him. Darian Stewart won't play again this week, but T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod weren't productive enough to trust despite the good matchup.
The Falcons used both Kroy Biermann (base SLB, nickel DE) and Akeem Dent (every-down) as hoped. Neither ran up a big stat line but it bodes well for their future value. Osi Umenyiora was all-or-nothing but could have one of his better games at home against the Rams' offensive line.
Tennessee at Houston
Moise Fokou and Zach Brown were every-down players but didn't see much opportunity against Pittsburgh. They'll have better stat lines this week. Akeem Ayers didn't play much, but should see more snaps against the Texans. He's not a good fantasy option.
J.J. Watt didn't live up to his super-elite tier draft slot but was dominant in the second half after a slow (for him) start. The Tennessee matchup should be very good for him. Unlike the preseason, the Texans used dime packages almost exclusively as their passing down alignment. Joe Mays played less than 25 snaps. Danieal Manning and Shiloh Keo started, with D.J. Swearinger Sr playing a dime role. Ed Reed will be a game-time decision, rotating in at best.
Washington at Green Bay
Though their fantasy lines didn't suffer, Washington was lost against the Eagles at times. That may be because of the number of tackle opportunities they had. Brian Orakpo looked very good and should get multiple chances at Aaron Rodgers. He's a strong start in sack-heavy systems. Brandon Meriweather fully practiced all week and is expected to start. There are no sure things with the Washington secondary, however, so he'll be a risky start. Bacarri Rambo played strong safety last week, with Reed Doughty seeing only a handful of snaps. If Meriweather goes, Rambo will move back to free safety. That may be the best scenario for his fantasy value against Green Bay.
Morgan Burnett is questionable again. Mike McCarthy said the same thing Friday he said last week -- Burnett had 48 hours to prove he could play. I'll update when the inactives are released. M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian weren't good last week and shouldn't be trusted in lineups. A.J. Hawk will again play more snaps than usual if Burnett sits, with Brad Jones the lone every-down linebacker.
1130 ET: Morgan Burnett is inactive again this week.
Denver at New York Giants
Wesley Woodyard tweaked an ankle and missed a series last week, but he practiced fully Friday and will play. Duke Ihenacho has a minor thigh issue and will look to build on a very impressive first week. Ihenacho's stat line was built on aggressive play against the run and solid zone coverage instincts. He's a good bet to continue to produce. Danny Trevathan didn't play in some packages last week, but has some value as a LB4 this week. Champ Bailey is likely to miss multiple additional weeks with his foot sprain.
Dan Connor was put on injured reserve this week with a neck injury. Mark Herzlich takes over in the base defense only and may not see many snaps against Denver. Spencer Paysinger will continue to be the lone every-down linebacker. He and Jacquian Williams are marginal flyers in tackle-heavy leagues this week. Ryan Mundy looked very good and should be rostered in most leagues. If he duplicates his Week 1 numbers, he may be ticketed for the season expected of Stevie Brown. Jason Pierre-Paul wasn't himself last week but played 50 snaps. He could see a similar snap count this week, but Peyton Manning is among the toughest sacks in the league. He's a marginal starter in big play leagues only. Prince Amukamara practiced fully Friday after getting cleared by the neurologist and is expected to start. And it's time to put Terrell Thomas back on your radar. If Antrel Rolle can't play this week, Thomas could assert himself as a strong slot corner / swing safety option. He was a strong CB1 when healthy in past seasons.
Detroit at Arizona
Ndamukong Suh was dominant in pass rush last week, but Nick Fairley got the glory with 1.5 sacks. Both have a strong matchup against the Cardinals. Suh is arguably at DL2 this week, but Fairley's status is up in the air after he made it through only a limited Friday practice this week. The Lions rotated all four defensive ends last week. Ezekiel Ansah flashed in pass rush against the Vikings. If he continues to take to Jim Washburn's coaching, he could put up some nice games when he's given more opportunity. Don't give up on Glover Quin yet. Despite what looked to be a great matchup against Adrian Peterson, Quin only got 18 chances to defend the run (two of which ended in touchdowns) and 43 tackle opportunities overall. That number may not increase much this week, even on the road. The schedule opens up for him after this week.
Calais Campbell made it through last week's game and isn't on the injury report this week. He's safe to start if you'd been waiting for full health. We got some clarity on the inside linebacker situation against the Rams. Karlos Dansby played every down and Jasper Brinkley sat for a handful of dime snaps only. Neither were great in coverage, but the Cardinals don't have a better option down the depth chart. I've been down on Tyrann Mathieu but he's being used in a slot corner role and his range will serve him well against the spread sets this week. Hold him through next week's New Orleans' game and then assess his role. The schedule won't be as attractive for him if he hasn't won a safety job by Week 4.
Jacksonville at Oakland
Jason Babin played the majority of snaps at right defensive end last week. That's likely to continue, as Andre Branch and Jeremy Mincey continue to underwhelm. Russell Allen sat in subpackages last week despite not being on the injury report. I think that's likely to change, but I haven't seen confirmation from the team. Keep Allen on your bench until we see the change. This week's matchup isn't good enough to risk betting on the change early. Jonathan Cyprien isn't comfortable yet, but he's off the injury report and behind a weak front seven for tackles. Give him the benefit of the doubt for at least another week. Dwayne Gratz could miss a month with a high ankle sprain. With Alan Ball also questionable after a late week groin injury, we could see Will Blackmon and Demetrius McCray starting with Mike Harris in the slot. I'm not sure there's much value, but if you're already desperate in deep, CB-required leagues, take a look at Blackmon.
LaMarr Houston was dominant and has a good matchup this week. Consider him in your DL2 spot. Nick Roach wasn't great in his first start, but there's so little competition for tackles that he managed five solos (nine total tackles) in a week of so-so opportunity with a crappy road stat crew. He's just a LB3 this week, but the schedule gets better soon. Tyvon Branch is healthier -- at least on the practice report -- than last week, but he may take a week to rebound in the box score, too. Sio Moore and D.J. Hayden both struggled and played few snaps last week, but should being seeing more time soon.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
We finally got clarity on the Saints last week. As Rob Ryan often does, we'll see frequent multiple defensive back packages, even on "base" downs. That means more Kenny Vaccaro and Roman Harper on the field together than David Hawthorne. Vaccaro's stat line wasn't impressive, but he was used in the most attractive role. On the field in all packages and frequently the hybrid linebacker next to the less-than-rangy Curtis Lofton in nickel situations. Harper added a couple of big plays, but his tackle numbers are going to experience some swings. He was also added to the injury report on Friday with a knee injury. Cameron Jordan was all over Matt Ryan last week. Though he didn't finish a sack, he's going to be one of the stronger 3-4 ends in fantasy circles.
Mason Foster carries a bit more risk this week. He doesn't see time in clear passing situations when the Bucs use a dime package. In the two games against the Saints last season, he sat 50 snaps and had eight solos total . Be careful with him this week. Da'Quan Bowers was a minor rotational player last week with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim starting and playing most of the left defensive end snaps. None of the Tampa ends were that good and should be benched until they show signs of life. The New Orleans matchup (mostly due to Drew Brees) is a weak pass rushing matchup anyway. Mark Barron had a terrible week against the Jets, but had 14 solos and two passes defensed in two games against the Saints last year. Get him back in your lineup. If you're looking for a deep corner flyer, Johnthan Banks (assuming starter Leonard Johnson is unavailable in your league) could get 50+ snaps at slot corner this week.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
San Francisco at Seattle
Eric Reid looked more physical and decisive than I expected, otherwise the Niners are what we expected them to be. They're also healthy, so there's nothing of note to report this week.
Cliff Avril will return to the lineup this week, likely in a situational role. It's not a good matchup to use him immediately. Expect him to rotate with O'Brien Schofield and possibly Michael Bennett. Bennett didn't see nearly as much playing time as expected last week. Don't panic on the Seattle linebackers. This week's matchup will provide more tackle opportunity than the 43 they saw against Carolina. They'll also get a small bump from the solo tackle neutral - assist heavy home stat crew if the previous seasons trend holds. Chris Clemons fully practiced on Thursday and Friday but isn't guaranteed to play. Brandon Browner will likely miss another week with a hamstring injury.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Jarvis Jones will start and see the bulk of rotational time this week. It's not a great first matchup but a good test for his progress. Cortez Allen is out with an ankle injury. William Gay will start in his place and is an interesting flyer. Shamarko Thomas will reportedly be the nickel corner. Kion Wilson gets the start for the injured Larry Foote, but he'll rotate with Vince Williams. Watch Williams closely. If he gets going quickly, he could be an intriguing fantasy option by midseason.
Be very careful with Vontaze Burfict this week. He's battling a thigh contusion, his home stat crew is extremely assist heavy at the expense of solo tackles and the Steelers are a mess. Taylor Mays wasn't ready for a nickel role against Chicago, but we could see some more of Vincent Rey in nickel packages over Rey Maualuga. George Iloka played every down at strong safety, with Shawn Williams seeing special teams duty only. Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins didn't finish in the pocket against the Bears, but could rebound big at home against a questionable Pittsburgh offensive line.
Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. Reading the Defense returns on Tuesday with a long look at the surprising and vexing trends over the first two weeks. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.