Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Tampa Bay’s run defense faced a stiff test on Sunday as they had Michael “The Human Bowling Ball” Turner running at them time after time. As a result, the Bucs were often in their base 4-3, which allowed players like SLB Quincy Black (7-1) to have above average tackle opportunity. Black has been relatively consistent, and if the Bucs continue to struggle to stop the run, teams will keep a run-heavy offensive set as part of their game plan. Aqib Talib (3-0) had a near interception in this game on a brilliant play when he broke on a Matt Ryan pass in the middle of the field. Talib shot in front of the intended receiver but just couldn’t position his hands properly to make the pick. Russ Grimm’s baby boy Cody Grimm (5-0) came up well in run support. The kid can play. Kudos has to go to Barrett Ruud (7-1) as well, who took a lot of the brunt of the Turner punishment. In fairness, Ruud tackled and wrapped up well on most of his opportunities.
Atlanta’s defense played a pretty solid game. There are always chances to make big plays against this defense, however, and Tampa Bay did take advantage of that. William Moore (1-2) had a subpar game from his SS position as the Falcons played a lot of coverage and two deep man under looks to stop Tampa’s passing game. As a result, Stephen Nicholas (7-1) and Curtis Lofton (5-0) got into the fray as run-stopping forces from the get-go. Both linebackers played very well. Kroy Biermann (2-0), a player I really liked to vault forward after last year, hasn’t been the impact player I expected. Rookie DT Corey Peters (3-0) jumped out on film as a player who crashes down the line really well and gets good penetration.
Miami @ Baltimore
A sleeper pick for Defensive Player of the Year could be Cameron Wake (8-0-2.0) who had another dominant day at the office on Sunday. On one of his sacks, he beat the offensive tackle with a power move not dissimilar to one you would see from a Dwight Freeney, getting under the pads and bull rushing to Flacco. DE Tony McDaniel (4-0) is a player who I have not noticed before, but he played really hard and ran down a lot of plays that had gone well past him. Chris Clemons (8-0) came up well in run support as the Ravens kept gashing the Dolphins up front. Karlos Dansby (10-0) has been nothing less than a steal for the Dolphins so far. His ten solo tackles don’t tell the whole story. Dansby’s effort on the football field is 100%, no questions asked. IDP owners of Dansby are also pleased.
Lardarius Webb (5-0-INT) had a beautiful pick in this game as he broke on a route in zone coverage really well and almost returned it for a touchdown. The young cornerback also added five solo tackles to his name as he played in a very hard-nosed style in the tackle. Ed Reed (4-0-INT) had his second consecutive game with a pick, and he remains valuable in big-play IDP leagues, even if his tackle numbers are spotty. Haloti Ngata (4-0-1.0) is such a dominant player. I’m convinced that if you put him at linebacker, he could chase sideline to sideline and be effective. He throws blockers aside as if they are rag dolls. Perhaps the greatest to ever play the linebacker position, Ray Lewis (7-1), has been remarkably consistent over the past few games. He hasn’t registered less than 7 solo tackles since Week 5.
Chicago @ Buffalo
After some recent questions about Brian Urlacher, I watched him carefully in this game and came away nonplussed. Urlacher has a great deal of veteran savvy about his play which makes him an asset for the Bears defense, but he just won’t be consistent enough on a week to week basis to trust. Julius Peppers (3-1) hasn’t been lighting up the sack column this season, but his play against the run in this game was textbook. He got great penetration into the Bills backfield all game long. CB Tim Jennings (7-2) deserves a mention too; he has been playing inspired football since taking over the starting CB job opposite Tillman.
All-effort play from NT Kyle Williams (4-2) stood out more on film than any other player on the field for the Bills defense. Williams plays with great heart and his motor is well above average. The Bills continue to get good production from Paul Posluszny (6-4) who chased down Forte and Taylor and made great tackles, often when his teammates had previously missed a tackle or an assignment. Poz is the leader of this defense and was very vocal in getting everyone lined up correctly. Reggie Torbor (3-3) played some very good coverage and was in Matt Forte’s back pocket on a pass intended for him.
New Orleans @ Carolina
On an ugly day for my Panthers, the Saints came in and got the job done with aplomb. Jonathan Vilma (5-2-FF) looked good against the run in the early going while the game was still competitive, knocking the ball out from Jonathan Stewart’s hands on the hit that saw him sustain a concussion. Scott Shanle (4-1) continues to play all three downs and had a decent game. New Orleans’ cornerbacks are getting healthy again, slowly but surely. Jabari Greer (3-1-INT) picked off a Jimmy Clausen pass and returned it for a touchdown. This is not a good game to garner any information about the Saints defense as they played on auto-pilot for most of the game, but while the game was competitive they played good football.
The defense continues to be the lone bright spot for the Panthers this season, and despite giving up 34 points to the reigning champions, James Anderson (9-0) made a lot of nice plays. Anderson has been simply incredible all season long and should be taken notice of more now that Dan Connor is injured. Anderson is a three down linebacker as it is, but he could take advantage of those tackle opportunities without Connor in the lineup. It should be noted that when Connor went out, Jon Beason (7-2) stepped back into his rightful place at MLB and immediately appeared to be more at ease. Beason had some nice tackles where he had to chase down the ball-carrier. In CB-required leagues, Richard Marshall (7-1) continued his blistering pace after his slow start, getting an interception off a tipped pass. Marshall’s success comes from the Panthers Cover 2 scheme which keeps everything in front of them and doesn’t give up the big play. Marshall is a solid tackler to boot.
New England @ Cleveland
The Patriots had to be very active against the run all game as Peyton Hillis and the Browns offensive line had their way with them. James Sanders (3-1) came up well in run support with Pat Chung still unavailable. It’s interesting to me that Vince Wilfork is playing more DE now as opposed to NT, with Ron Brace taking over at nose. Wilfork’s value could peak a little as a result. In CB-required leagues, Devin McCourty (6-0) and his six solo tackles are valuable and the pattern so far has been good for McCourty.
This underrated Browns defense played really hard against the Patriots. Rob Ryan showed his usual exotic blitz/coverage packages, confusing Brady and forcing him into a lot of checkdowns. Ahtyba Rubin (3-1-1.0) had a great sack on Brady when he basically mauled the center, threw him aside and crashed into Brady. Both safeties, Abram Elam (7-1) and T.J. Ward (6-0) had a lot of tackles mainly because of the frequency of the Patriots intermediate passing game. To their credit, Ward and Elam were well positioned all day.
New York Jets @ Detroit
Darrelle Revis is returning to his status as the best cornerback in the league after injuries slowed him down for a while. On the very first play, Stafford looked for Johnson deep but Revis made an amazingly athletic play to break it up. Bart Scott (5-1-1.0) had a terrific game also, registering a sack on a missed assignment by the Lions offensive line. It’s encouraging also to see Calvin Pace (3-3) playing well after his return from suspension.
Alphonso Smith (5-1-INT) is turning into one of the more savvy acquisitions for this Lions front office. He had a great pass breakup early in the game, but was torched by Edwards for his deep TD catch after he was slow out of his backpedal. Julian Peterson (5-2) played a really good game as well; the Lions used him a lot for blitzing. And hallelujah, because DeAndre Levy (9-1) is finally back! His nine solo tackles bode really well. He hasn’t had a true breakout game this season until this week, but he looked really sharp out there on Sunday.
San Diego @ Houston
Antonio Garay (5-0-1.0) has quietly become one of the better nose tackles in the NFL. His tackle numbers are always solid for IDP purposes and he is becoming a must start in DT-required leagues. Paul Oliver (5-2-INT) played some snaps despite Steve Gregory returning from suspension and getting the start at SS. Don’t touch this situation until we have more clarity. Eric Weddle (7-1) got heavily involved against the run because of Houston’s Arian Foster, who kept busting runs to the second level. San Diego looked vulnerable against the run, and we could see a trend of high tackle numbers for Weddle in the next few weeks.
The Zach Diles and Brian Cushing storyline continues this week after Diles completely outproduced Cushing last week. Diles (3-5) came up with a below average box score but actually played quite well and showed good coverage skills at times. Cushing (2-3) was also decent and used to blitz quite often, but he didn’t have any plays that make you go “wow”, by any means. Meanwhile, Bernard Pollard (8-1-FF) reminded us all why he is S1 in IDP leagues. He tracks down the ball really well and is a very willing tackler.
Arizona @ Minnesota
Gerald Hayes (2-2) didn’t have the biggest impact in the box score for Arizona, but did look good out there, especially in coverage. Joey Porter (4-2-2.0) was on form, getting great pressure regularly and sacking his old friend Brett Favre twice. Favre is by no means mobile, granted, but Porter was particularly good on Sunday. CB Greg Toler (8-1) thankfully recovered from his zero in the box score last week. All is right in CB-required leagues again.
Jared Allen is alive! Allen finally registered a significant number in the sack column, notching up 2.5 sacks to his name. Allen hasn’t played poorly this season at all. It has been a combination of game situation and being unlucky that have contributed to his lack of an explosive box score. Chad Greenway (5-4-1.0) has been one of the most consistent linebackers in fantasy football and in the NFL. My advice is to keep riding the hot hand.
New York Giants @ Seattle
It was a rather non-descript day for the Giants defense, and not much should be taken from it. Having to face Charlie Whitehurst, making his first NFL start, was by no means daunting. The Seahawks game plan was conservative and restricted to the ground. Michael Boley (3-0) and Jonathan Goff (3-0) took advantage, but no-one else really jumped out on the film. I wouldn’t look too much into this game at all.
If the Giants spent little time on the field, it was the exact opposite for the Seahawks, who were on the field almost all the time. Lofa Tatupu (5-4) had a good game as a result, one of his best of the season in fact. I wouldn’t expect this every week. Tatupu is still a LB3 to me. The former first round pick of the 49ers Kentwan Balmer (6-2) was very active on the defensive line and played well. He has taken over from the injured Red Bryant, and Balmer is a sneaky add in IDP leagues. David Hawthorne and his nine solo tackles are his highest total of the year, and should be disregarded because of the sheer number of snaps he played.
Kansas City @ Oakland
I’m really high on Brandon Flowers (6-1) as a football player, and I genuinely believe he could be a shutdown corner in this league in time. He stood out in this game because of his physicality while tackling. People don’t give enough credit to OLB Tamba Hali (2-2-1.0) who was a thorn in Jason Campbell’s side all game long. Hali gets such good push and has a great pass rushing repertoire. ILB Derrick Johnson (5-3-FF) is rumored to be on the verge of a new contract, and the way he played on Sunday re-affirmed why he deserves it. He played smart football, reading and reacting to the Raiders run plays, often bottling up the very elusive Darren McFadden.
Tom Cable has this team playing really hard. I keep harping on this every week that Rolando McClain is due his breakout game, but this week he was again disappointing due to an injury that knocked him out. Ricky Brown (2-1) picked up the slack and if McClain misses time Brown could have marginal value. The standout player beyond any doubt for me was Richard Seymour (7-1) who plays so tough against the run. Kansas City kept with the running game, but Seymour seemed to be in the backfield or allowing his teammates to make plays on every single play. The Raiders aren’t looking so bad for giving up that 1st round pick for him now.
Indianapolis @ Philadelphia
Popular waiver wire darling Aaron Francisco (7-1) did a solid job in relief work for the Colts at SS. Francisco figures to be the solution at the position for the remainder of the season. He made some good reads on reverses and running plays. Robert Mathis (3-0-1.0) and Dwight Freeney (1-0) were held in check for the most part, and generally these two don’t play as well on grass. Still, they applied good pressure. Vick was simply too good at avoiding said pressure. New starting SLB Pat Angerer (6-0) keeps playing very well for this defense and should be the long term replacement for Gary Brackett at MLB. Incidentally, Brackett (1-0) got injured during this game, explaining his below average box score.
This Eagles defense did a really good job against the Colts on Sunday. Standout players included Dimitri Patterson (6-0) who was making his first NFL start against Reggie Wayne. Patterson only gave up 83 yards and played the deep ball really well on a couple of occasions. Stewart Bradley (7-1) returned to the form we are used to seeing, playing really well in trail coverage down the seam in man to man and being a really sound tackler. Ernie Sims (6-0-1.0) played a big part in the Eagles defensive stands as well, racking up a nice sack on Manning as well as getting heavily involved against the run. Despite having no tackles on the day, CB Asante Samuel picked off two passes, one to seal the deal. Samuel had good position on both.
Dallas @ Green Bay
The Dallas Cowboys defense has a lot more questions than answers right now. One bright spot that I could pick out of the gloom of this game was the play of OLB Anthony Spencer (7-1) who got into the backfield for good tackles on a few occasions. Apart from that, I can see a few positions the Cowboys need to upgrade. The defensive backfield is one of those areas that need to improve, and many critics questioned the effort of CB Mike Jenkins (8-0) on the James Jones touchdown. Nevertheless, we are more concerned with IDP production. If the Cowboys continue to be manhandled as they have been, their players will continue to have a greater than average number of snaps. Players like Bradie James, Keith Brooking and even SS Gerald Sensabaugh should be strong considerations as starters if you have them.
Desmond Bishop (3-1-1.0-FF) keeps making splash plays and despite not having a great deal of tackle opportunity against a hopeless Dallas offense, Bishop took advantage of his two down role to get a sack and a forced fumble as well. He is a very promising LB for the future, and in my opinion should get work in the nickel soon over Brandon Chillar. Clay Matthews continued his campaign with style, as he got another sack and an interception which he took back for a touchdown. Matthews is a legitimate DPOY, and his hair is pretty cool too.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Lamarr Woodley (2-1-2.0-FF) keeps dominating whoever is put in front of him. He beat Andre Smith so badly that he was replaced in the third quarter. Woodley is simply a tremendous force of nature off the edge. Troy Polamalu was flying around like nobody’s business once again, although he got trucked by DT Domata Peko on the goal line. I bet he didn’t enjoy that. Does Peko get points for pancake blocks? James Farrior (9-1-1.0) came to play and keeps doing a solid job for this Steelers defense despite his advancing years. The Pittsburgh defense played a good game.
Dhani Jones (6-3) likes to travel the world, but he also likes to play football and make us IDP owners happy. Jones pursued to the ball, rallied his teammates and made really good tackles throughout the game. Former Jaguar Reggie Nelson (3-0) was steady enough, but the safety situation in Cincinnati is hard to figure out. Ndukwe and Roy Williams also got in on the act. Chris Crocker got injured, so keep an eye on that situation. Cincinnati are a better team than they seem on paper, and their defense didn’t do too badly against Roethlisberger and his elusiveness.
Written by David Larkin
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Last Updated: November 10, 2010