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IDP Notes
Week 1
9/9/04

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
- No byes Week One
- Team-by-team coverage of key IDP storylines

Week One Injury Report

Arizona

Former Super Bowl MVP S Dexter Jackson continues to not pan out as a big free agent signing. Plagued by back problems this preseason, his season is over as he was placed on the IR. Quentin Harris was the in-house option that moved into the starting free safety spot, but the team also acquired Ifeanyi Ohalete after Washington cut him, and he could be another option.

The career of disappointing former 1st round pick Wendall Bryant took another negative turn, he's been suspended the first four games of the year for violating the league's substance abuse policy. However, DT Darnell Dockett will be an impact rookie.

LeVar Woods appears to have beaten out rookie Karlos Dansby to start opposite Ray Thompson at OLB in Week One. However, Thompson is Doubtful and Dansy could still see significant time.

Atlanta

The Falcons are back to a base 4-3, with Chris Draft now in the middle and Keith Brooking on the weakside. Brooking is a tackle-machine, so the move doesn't hurt his value, and actually may help it. He should be turned loose on the blitz more and register some more sacks this season. Draft is coming off a career year, so it's hard to say a move to MLB will help his value. Also, he has been battling asthma problems this preseason, and if he can't go or needs a rest frequently, Brooking may end up back in the middle. Promising rookie Demorrio Williams would be the biggest beneficiary of any limitations for Draft. The move to a 4-3 could also help sack totals for DE's Patrick Kerney and Brady Smith.

1st round pick DeAngelo Hall is out for a couple months due to a hip injury. While he has made some outrageous claims about his 40 speed, Randy Moss gave him a lesson in football speed this preseason, toasting the rookie and then running away from him on a 67-yard TD.

Baltimore

With LB Peter Boulware on the PUP, the continued development of Terrell Suggs and a breakthrough for Adalius Thomas will be critical. Thomas has been a special teams standout and his athleticism and potential have been praised for years, but he's failed to turn it into success in as a starter. He could be a big sleeper this year, especially in leagues he qualifies as a DL. A sophomore slump by Suggs while Boulware is out will decrease the pressure from the edges that has helped make the Ravens D so successful.

S Ed Reed is a ball-hawk with tremendous instincts. He is one of the top playmakers in the league on defense and special teams.

Buffalo

SS Lawyer Milloy hoped to return in time for Week One from a broken arm, but he's Out this week and Coy Wire will start in his place. Wire was a top sleeper last year when he appeared to be tabbed for a starting job, until Milloy was released by NE and signed by Buffalo just before the season started. He is a good play while Milloy is out.

Carolina

SS Donavan Darius has been working on his hands this off-season and is dedicated to improving his INT totals. Deke Cooper has impressed at both safety spots. He is a name to remember if Darius or Grant go down.

Chicago

With a variety of injuries and incompetence at the corners for the Bears, rookie Nathan Vasher is a potential starter Week One. If he does, it will likely be lined up opposite his college teammate, fellow rookie Roy Williams.

The loss of Jerry Azumah not only hurts the CB situation, but he was a Pro Bowl kick-off returner.

FS Mike Brown appeared to have returned to being a big playmaker this preseason. Lovie Smith's defensive philosophy is predicated on turnovers, and Brown has shown a nose for the ball in the past. He could have a nice rebound fantasy year.

Cincinnati

The LB group has a lot of upside. Nate Webster is a first-year starter at MLB. Webster's presence allows Hardy to move back to his natural strongside position, where he was once a top pass rush threat. It also allows Brian Simmons to stay on the weakside, his best position. Webster and Hardy should be good value picks.

Cleveland

Former 1st round pick Gerard Warren showed up to camp in the best shape of his career and may finally be ready to live up to his potential.

Dallas

Greg Ellis switches to RDE after leading the team in sacks 4 of 5 years at LDE. Ellis will have to face the typically stronger Left Tackles now. However, if FA Marcellus Wiley can return to form and provide pressure from LDE, Ellis will be unlikely to face as many double teams.

S Roy Williams appeared to be limited in Bill Parcells defensive scheme last year, and didn't come close to matching his fantastic rookie stats. However, he is too talented to not adapt, and should find ways to turn in more big plays, increasing his fantasy output, this year.

Despite a lot of talk about Bradie James working with the first team at weakside LB, Dexter Coakley remains the starter. However, James seems to be a guy Parcells likes and should be rotated in regularly, perhaps at Al Singleton's expense, as well.

Denver

LB Donnie Spragan and Jashon Sykes are healthy and the new starters at OLB, but 1st round pick D.J. Williams will be involved and should claim a starting role soon.

CB Lenny Walls has the measurables and displayed the potential to be a standout corner. His numbers will be helped playing opposite Champ Bailey.

DE Reggie Hayward had 8.5 sacks in a part-time role last year, but failed to impress in the preseason and take Bert Berry's vacated slot. Raylee Johnson will start, instead.

Detroit

Bracy Walker gets first shot at starting SS with Brian Walker on the IR. Terrence Holt could pass him shortly.

Rookie Teddy Lehman may be move around a bit, but has the most talent with Boss Bailey out and should be on the field as much as any LB.

Green Bay

New SS Mark Roman should have a breakout year. The trade of Marques Anderson shows the confidence the team has in him and eliminates a potential safety-by-committee.

Houston

1st round pick Dunta Robinson will be challenged frequently at corner, which could translate to good fantasy output, regardless of how good he is in real terms. Marcus Coleman, who moved to FS due to Dunta, should see a boost to his fantasy numbers.

Indianapolis

Despite other vet options and adding a few LBs in the draft, converted S Cato June hung on to the weakside LB job, usually a high-production fantasy spot in a Tony Dungy defense. The role made a real and fantasy star out of David Thornton last year, who faces a decrease in his stats moving to the strongside.

Jacksonville

With Hugh Douglas and Tony Brackens gone, Paul Spicer and Rob Meier will start at the ends. Bleh.

Rookie Daryl Smith has won the starting strongside job.

Kansas City

With Mike Maslowski on the IR, the middle is open. Kawika Mitchell was drafted as his eventual replacement, but Mitchell was unimpressive filling in last year and failed to secure the job while Maslowski was hurt in preseason. Now Mitchell is Doubtful with a knee injury, and converted DE Monty Beisel, who impressed in camp, will start at MLB Week One. He could hold onto the job and be the biggest breakout player this year.

Miami

Everyone talks about how Adewale Ogunleye will miss Jason Taylor, but Taylor had back-to-back double-digit sacks playing opposite O-Gun, but only one in the five years he played without him.

Antuan Edwards beat out Arturo Freeman to for FS, but he has surrendered his starting role before.

Minnesota

No sign of 1st round pick Kenechi Udeze's back problems in the preseason. He held the starting job and should be an impact rookie. Fellow rookie Dontarrious Thomas will start on the weakside. Both should be among the top producing rookies. Starting in the middle with an excellent line in front of him, E.J. Henderson should have a breakout year, if he can keep healthy and out of trouble off the field.

SS Corey Chavous should be post good numbers again, but FS Brian Russell's year was a fluke.

New England

Rosevelt Colvin will be in the IDP spotlight as he returns from a career-threatening hip injury. If he can regain his double-digit sack form, an excellent defense should be even more potent.

New Orleans

After Cie Grant was placed on the IR, rookie Courtney Watson beat out Orlando Huff for the first shot at MLB. His preseason reviews were mixed, but a rookie winning a MLB job is a good bet in a dynasty league.

1st round pick DE Will Smith has been phenomenal in the preseason and will see significant work between giving standouts Darren Howard and Charles Grant a blow and lining up at OLB.

New York Giants

Osi Umenyiora is the next player to try to benefit from playing opposite Michael Strahan. The expectations are high for the RDE to capitalize on teams focusing on Strahan, but the last few players have failed to deliver.

MLB Nick Greisen has about a tenuous a hold on a starting spot as any player. Despite the Giants not tapping the waiver wire for a replacement, Greisen hasn't gotten any strong endorsements and has had some injury problems that cost him time. Equally unproven Kevin Lewis would be next in line, and that may be the biggest reason Greisen will hold the job.

New York Jets

DE John Abraham should rebound big from a 2003 season lost to injury. His value should be helped by also spending some time at OLB when they show a 3-4 scheme. On the other hand, DE Shaun Ellis is coming off a career year, and seems unlikely to repeat his performance, especially if they will be running more 3-4.

1st round pick Jonathan Vilma has impressed in camp and the preseason. While he won't supplant Sam Cowart in the middle, he'll play alongside him when they have a 3-4 look and could take time outside away from Eric Barton and Victor Hobson.

Rookie Erik Coleman has been a pleasant surprise this preseason and looks to have beaten Reggie Tongue out for the starting SS job.

Oakland

Between players moving around due to the addition of more 3-4 looks in Rob Ryan's scheme and injuries, the Raiders LB group is a mess. Sam Williams (Doubtful), Napolean Harris (Questionable) and converted DE DeLawrence Grant (Questionable) have injuries that might prevent them from being ready to start the season. Dwayne Rudd, who seemed like a solid veteran addition to a young group, was cut. Tyler Brayton will bounce between playing with his hand on the ground and upright. Travian Smith, returning from a knee injury last year, has looked great in the preseason. Smith is definitely a guy to keep an eye on to build on his promising 2002 season. Danny Clark is the only other player who has been healthy and looks to be lining up at LB on most downs.

Former 1st round pick Derrick Gibson will have to wait another year to try to live up to his potential, as he was placed on the IR. David Terrell was the next in-house SS option, after Ike Charlton was cut, but Oakland then traded two low picks for Marques Anderson. Anderson has flashed some potential in Green Bay, but while he can turn in the big play occasionally, his inconsistency in making the little ones in between landed him in the doghouse there.

Philadelphia

When N.D. Kalu was lost for the year, the Eagles signed their former stud DE, Hugh Douglas, hours after he was cut by the Jaguars. However, Douglas will have to be satisfied to be a role player, as Jevon Kearse is the new sheriff in town and promising Derrick Burgess holds the other starting DE job, until he's injured again or Douglas shows he regained the ability he lost in Jacksonville.

To add depth at LB, another familiar face from the past was brought in. Jeremiah Trotter was signed and also is currently tagged for a reserve role. His presence should still have a negative impact on Mark Simoneau's fantasy production.

Despite big FA signings and the return of some former stars, the most pivotal defensive players to the team are new starting corners Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard. Losing the tandem of Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor turn arguably the best secondary in the NFL into an unknown quantity. With Brian Dawkins battling knee problems in preseason and missing most of last year with foot problems, it is no sure thing he will return to the same level and help cover their mistakes. However, SS Michael Lewis is developing into one of the better SS in the league, and is definitely the fantasy pick at DB to have out of this group.

Pittsburgh

Once consistently the strength of a proud defense, the Steeler LB unit is a question mark due to injuries. Joey Porter tries to regain his form as a premier pass rusher after sporadic play upon returning from a gunshot shot wound last year. Kendrell Bell is plagued by shoulder problems and despite his talent, can be a liability as an injury-prone player. After flashing great potential last year, Clark Haggans was delaying in replacing Jason Gildon by a broken hand in the preseason. At this point, the underrated and less flashy James Farrior looks like the safest and best bet in this group. Larry Foote is a player to watch if Bell once again misses significant time.

St. Louis

Bryce Fisher and Tyoka Jackson will split time trying to replace Grant Wistrom. Jackson is the player to take a chance on in deep leagues. He should be in for passing situations and totaled six sacks in limited duty last year.

Zack Bronson went from UDFA to star of 49ers defensive backfield before neck and back
injuries derailed his career the last two years. Injuries have lead the Rams to give him another shot, but the fact no one touched him until the season is about to start discourages belief he can return to form. He already sprained an ankle and is out Week One. This prompted the Rams to give Jason Sehorn another chance, but he failed a physical.

San Diego

The Chargers will move to a 3-4 with Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey inside, Ben Leber and Steve Foley outside. This may be reason for slight concern for the numbers for Donnie Edwards (along with his advancing age), however this is not a talented or fast group. Edwards should continue to be a top producer.

San Francisco

SS Tony Parrish is Probable after missing the end of the preseason with a torn calf.

LB Jaime Winborn is finally healthy and is high on many sleeper lists. His durability remains a reason to be conservative on his potential, though.

Seattle

The placement of Damien Robinson on IR opens up the SS job. Terreal Bierria held the job through the preseason, but rookie Michael Boulware should claim the job soon. Regardless, FS Ken Hamlin should have a breakout year and is the guy to have in this defensive backfield.

Bobby Taylor seemed a critical FA acquisition at corner after the loss of Shawn Springs, but Ken Lucas has beat him out for a starting job. Still, Tayor's veteran presences strengthens this unit.

Orlando Ruff won the starting MLB job for Week One, but rookie Niko Koutouvides and Solomon Bates were not far behind and could see time if Ruff isn't impressing. Isiah Kacyvenski will be filling for Chad Brown while he's out for a while with a broken leg.

Tampa Bay

DT Anthony McFarland is expected to step up and be the disruptive force in the interior line to replace Warren Sapp. LB Ian Gold returns from a torn ACL and looks to regain the playmaking form he displayed in Denver.

Tennessee

LB Rocky Boiman filled in admirably for Peter Sirmon when injuries struck him last year, Boiman now benefits in Sirmon's misfortune again, as he has a starting job with Sirmon done for the year with a torn ACL. With Jevon Kearse gone and Kevin Carter moving inside, Tennessee may need some help generating a pass rush from the edge, and call on Boiman to help do it.

With Kevin Carter moving inside, Carlos Hall and Juqua Thomas are the starting ends. If Hall can't live up to the potential he flashed his rookie year and/or Thomas shows he's nothing more than a back-up, look for promising rookie Antwaan Odom to get a chance.

Washington

After an off-season of controversy regarding skipping the NFL Rookie symposium, agent musical chairs, missing OTAs, and a brief holdout, FS Sean Taylor got it done, as expected, when the pads were on. He was absolutely dominating, at times, in preseason games, creating several turnovers and even scoring a TD. Some tremendous talent has been revolutionizing the S position the last few years in Roy Williams and Ed Reed, but Sean Taylor has the physical tools to be the best.



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