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IDP Notes
Week 1

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • No byes Week One
  • Depth charts updated with final cuts and latest roster moves
  • SD OLB Foley shot, out for season; ILB Edwards remains on block
  • HOU rookie wins MLB; Cowart cut
  • CIN MLB Thurman suspended four games
  • NO LB situation a mess
  • AZ LB Dansby toe a serious problem
  • DET LB Bailey new man in the middle
Week 1 Injury Report (available Wednesday PM)

IDP Depth Charts

Karlos Dansby’s toe injury, which has been causing muscle problems in the legs, is beginning to get a bit worrisome. After a breakout 2005, he hasn’t practiced or played yet because of the toe. A couple weeks ago he even stated (per the Arizona Republic) that Cardinals’ officials told him it could be “career-ending”. Dansby had been slated to move from the strongside to the weakside. He is being moved because converted DE, and former first round pick, Calvin Pace has won a starting job. Orlando Huff or James Darling should start in place of Dansby, who could miss more than just the season opener. Huff and Darling were supplanted by Gerald Hayes in the middle. The oft-injured Hayes has been dinged up the preseason, but still secured the role. Hayes is probably just a two-down LB, but Pace could thrive as a pass rusher, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the other responsibilities to be a productive all-around player with his hand up.

CB Antrel Rolle had most of his rookie season wiped out by a knee injury, but the former first round pick looks ready to live up to his potential. He has had a strong preseason and is a physical presence at corner who could post solid tackle numbers.

On the outside, despite his tremendous fantasy production last year, undersized Demorrio Williams was replaced at SLB by Michael Boley. However, Demorrio’s absence from the starting lineup could short-lived. MLB Edgerton Hartwell had to have both knees cleaned with arthroscopic surgery a week before the season opener. Hartwell is coming off a torn Achilles last year, which is also bothering him. He is Doubtful for the season opener. Jordan Beck is his back-up, Keith Brooking would likely move over from the weakside and play MLB, while Williams gets the start at WLB.

The additions of John Abraham and Grady Jackson tremendously improve the Falcons front four. The LB group should be free to make more plays and John Abraham could set a career-high in sacks playing his home games on turf where he can capitalize on his speed and without offenses being able to constantly double-team him.

Rookie CB Jimmy Williams will be one of the steals of this year’s draft. He might not be ready for prime time as a fantasy player, but his upside is huge.

Rookie fifth round pick Dawan Landry has opened eyes all preseason and won the starting SS job. An imposing physical presence who can deliver big hits, his timed speed was a knock that dropped him. However, he has shown to be solid in pass coverage regardless.

SLB Adalius Thomas remains under the radar despite finishing the fourth-rated LB in Ironman scoring. While his overall rank was bolstered by 4 forced fumble and 3 fumble recoveries, unpredictable stats you can’t expect him to repeat, his other production is no fluke. 2004 was the first time he started 16 games and he had 8 sacks. Last year he started 16 again and had 9 sacks. He is athletic enough to play all over the field, as well, much like a Julian Peterson, so a pick or two and several pass defended are likely for Thomas, as well.

Angelo Crowell, who broke out when Takeo Spikes went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon early last season, retained a starting role with the release of Jeff Posey. Crowell will remain at the fantasy-friendly WLB role with Spikes moving to SLB. Spikes was limited in the preseason, but will be ready for Week One.

Rookie DT John McCargo was a first round pick, but fifth rounder Kyle Williams has had the more impressive camp and preseason. Overshadowed by Claude Wrotten at LSU, Williams could push Tim Anderson for a starting job next to Larry Tripplett before McCargo does.

Rookie OLB James Anderson made an immediate impact in the preseason posting 3 sacks. However, FA Na’il Diggs appear to have the first shot at the vacant WLB job, if his knee holds up. Diggs is Questionable for the opener, so Anderson and Chris Draft would see work in his absence. Last year’s first round pick, Thomas Davis, has finally found a home at SLB and has shown flashes of his potential in the preseason.

Believe it or not, MLB Dan Morgan is hurt. He had a concussion this preseason, but says he is fine and is expected to be ready for Week One. An excellent fantasy producer when healthy, he has yet to play more than 13 games in a season.

CB Chris Gamble has been remarkably consistent his first two seasons, posting nearly identical stats. His size and athleticism make him an enticing fantasy pick, but Ken Lucas needs to step up across from him to ensure QBs don’t avoid Gamble too much, impacting his stats.

Keep an eye on DE Stanley McClover in dynasty leagues. Predicted by many to be a Day One pick, he slid to the second round among concerns such as his size. The Panthers do a good job developing linemen and Mike Rucker, the man he is behind, has yet to return to his elite form of a few years ago.

The release DE Jamaal Green and former first round pick DE Michael Haynes were surprising, especially considering Alex Brown was has an injured shoulder heading in to the season. However, it speaks to how confident they must be in Israel Idonije and rookie Mark Anderson. Anderson has shown some impressive athleticism in the preseason. He was widely regarded as a great value in the fifth round and has potential to be an every-down end if he can add some bulk.

Whether it is Mike Brown’s health or Chris Harris’s struggles in coverage, expect rookie Danieal Manning starting at one of the safety spots sooner rather than later.

The sophomore slump hit MLB Odell Thurman in the form of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Until he returns, Brian Simmons gets a bump in value as he takes over in the middle. Landon Johnson returns to the starting lineup at WLB until he’s bumped by Simmons when Thurman returns. David Pollack should be ready to put an injury-prone rookie season behind him and be productive in the pass rush at SLB. The surprise addition to the group who has impressed in the preseason is supplemental draft selection Ahmad Brooks. After being an elite prospect early in his collegiate career, problems on and off the field culminated with Brooks being kicked off the team this spring. He cost the Bengals a third round pick in the supplemental draft and is an intriguing dynasty prospect.

After an injury-plagued 2005, FS Madieu Williams should return to elite production. Journeyman Dexter Jackson locked down the other safety job and has good upside as a fantasy performer in their aggressive secondary. He had a few big years as a starter in TB and AZ.

The starter at ILB next to Andra Davis and the safety situation where left undecided at the end of the preseason. HC Romeo Crennel has said both Chaun Thompson and rookie D'Qwell Jackson will play inside next to Andra Davis. Thompson could also see time outside if Jackson impresses enough to hold down a full-time role. Willie McGinest will be the LOLB and Matt Stewart the ROLB, but rookie first round pick Kamerion Wimbley will see plenty of work as a pass rush specialist. He’ll eventually either beat out Stewart or replace an old and dinged up McGinest.

Sean Jones and Brodney Pool, both high S picks the prior two years, alternated in the lead for SS. Jones appears to have won the job and an injury to FS Brian Russell (minor elbow surgery last week) may still give a starting opportunity for Pool, who has a lot more upside than Russell. Russell is doubtful for the season opener, so Jones is expected to move to FS, giving Pool the start at SS.

The production of both DE Orpheus Roye and Alvin McKinley will take a hit this season now that Crennel has the personnel to play a 3-4 regularly.

The conversion to OLB of former DE Greg Ellis has been enough of a success that rookie Bobby Carpenter has been working inside. Bradie James and Akin Ayodele will start inside. Look for James to take the next step and become the leading tackler with Dat Nguyen gone (retired). Opposite Ellis, phenom Demarcus Ware will try to be produce more consistently after a streaky rookie season.

Marcus Coleman was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but rookie Pat Watkins has been the story at FS. The 6’5” fifth round pick has been impressive and will split time with Keith Davis at FS. He offers better range and is the tallest safety in the league.

DE Kenard Lang became the latest Brown-co on the DLine and with Courtney Brown continuing to have knee problems, Lang could start Week One.

After a second injury-plagued season, Boss Bailey looks to breakout as the new MLB in Motown. First round pick Ernie Simms is a DROY candidate at WLB. A slow return from foot surgery will sideline Teddy Lehman for several weeks as he was placed on the PUP and will miss at least 6 weeks. Paris Lenon will get the first chance to replace him on the strongside.

After being pushed hard by rookie Daniel Bullocks, it appears Terrence Holt will, at least temporarily, hold his starting FS role.

Kalimba Edwards is still not a starter, but should continue to see significant action and is one of the best pass rush specialists in the league.

Green Bay
After adding two quality LBs in the draft, there was once again debate about moving Nick Barnett to the outside. For now, Barnett is still in the middle in Green Bay and will continue to be an elite fantasy performer. Although rookie Abdul Hodge impressed at times, he’ll be behind Barnett and isn’t immediately being considered for SLB. Ben Taylor was brought as a FA specifically for that role, but Brady Poppinga has been one of the surprises of camp and could replace Taylor. A converted college DE, Poppinga has made a miraculous comeback from a torn ACL on December 11th last year as a rookie. First round pick A.J. Hawk brings his freakish athleticism to the weakside. However, he hasn’t flashed in yet. Some are disappointed he hasn’t turned in a big play, but the reality is he’s made steady progress and the big plays will come.

CB Charles Woodson and SS Marquand Manuel were the free agent additions to the secondary. Woodson has not been impressive in the preseason and Manuel was pushed by sixth round pick Tyrone Culver. DT Ryan Pickett has looked impressive in the preseason. The former first round pick could be their most important off-season defensive acquisition and should be productive fantasy-wise for a DT.

DeMeco Ryans is the big news, as the rookie won the MLB job, which resulted in Sam Cowart being cut. Morlon Greenwood should be a solid producer at WLB.

2006 first overall pick Mario Williams has been up and down this preseason, but has a ton of potential. Speaking of potential, look for former first round pick Jason Babin to emerge as a situation pass rusher now that he has moved back to DE with team going to a base 4-3. Babin couldn’t make the switch to LB, but could bounce back with his hand back on the ground. Last year’s first round pick, DT Travis Johnson, should similarly benefit moving back to DT after struggling as a 3-4 DE last year. Anthony Weaver should be a solid performer opposite Williams after coming over from Baltimore.

Gilbert Gardner replaced David Thornton, who left for Tennessee, at SLB.

Marlin Jackson and Jason David will continue to battle to lock up a starting role at CB opposite Nick Harper. Jackson will be one of the more valuable third corners in the league if he doesn’t win the job.

MLB Mike Peterson suffered a mild right knee sprain in the preseason and is Questionable for season opener. LB Daryl Smith’s value gets a boast with a move to the weakside. Smith would likely move to the middle if Peterson can’t go.

Kansas City
First round pick Tamba Hali has looked good in place of Eric Hicks, who has been out with a deep bruise in his shoulder. Even if Hicks is read for Week One, Hali could retain the job.

After an incredibly disappointing start to his career as a Chief, LB Kendrell Bell appears to being holding on to a starting role on the outside. He pushed hard in camp and the preseason by Keyaron Fox, who could assume the job if Bell starts out slow this season. After a fast start last year, former first round pick OLB Derrick Johnson hit a rookie wall in mid-season. He should take a step to the next level this season. Kawika Mitchell made significant progress in the middle last season.

SS Sammy Knight has long been a top fantasy producer, however it may not be as a Chief much longer. While Knight looks to retain the job, hard-hitting rookie Bernard Pollard was turning head in camp and the preseason. He looks like a young Rodney Harrison.

After a brief holdout, first round pick Jason Allen didn’t come in and claim a starting role as expected. He remains the superior talent, and is likely to start before the end of the season, but for now two journeymen will start up the middle in the defensive backfield. Renaldo Hill converts from CB to FS and Travares Tillman gets likely his last shot as a starter at SS. Either could be a surprise fantasy performer if they retain the job.

A crowded LB situation sorted itself out when first round pick Chad Greenway tore his ACL and landed on the IR. E.J. Henderson, who had been outperforming Greenway at WLB, gets a fresh start with a new coaching regime. He should have a breakout season if his fundamentals remain solid. Up the middle, Napoleon Harris appears to have beaten out Dontarrious Thomas, with Ben Leber locked in at SLB.

The success of the defense rests on two first round picks that need to live up to expectations. Kenechi Udeze needs to stay healthy as the anchor and Erasmus James needs to build on a solid, but unspectacular, showing as a rookie. With the departure of sack-specialist Lance Johnstone, keep an eye on rookie Ray Edwards. The fourth round pick had Day One talent, but fell due to character concerns. He has been extremely impressive in the preseason and should see work on passing downs.

New England
ILB Tedy Bruschi continues to recover from a broken wrist and appears likely to miss the opener. Expect Mike Vrabel to move back inside next to newly-acquired un-retiree Junior Seau. This opens a spot on the outside for Tully Banta-Cain opposite Rosey Colvin. Banta-Cain, a converted college DE, appears to be the next successful developmental prospect for the Pats. The 2003 seventh round pick flashed his pass rush ability and should see significant work this year in a thin and aging LB corps.

New Orleans
The complete make over of the Saints LB rotation was still unsettled after the preseason finally, but the picture cleared up after the final cuts on Saturday. Last week Mark Simoneau was acquired from the Eagles in the package for WR Donte Stallworth. With the release of journeyman Jay Foreman, Simoneau appears locked in at MLB and is a big sleeper. He was named the starter over second-year player Alfred Fincher, whose run at the starting role convinced the team to seek help, but after the last round of cuts, the future situation became muddled when the Saints picked up Oakland cast-off Danny Clark. Clark can play all three spots and despite one huge season of production as a starter, has been a back-up most of his career. Scott Shanle, acquired in a trade with the Cowboys, is now the starter at WLB with the release of Colby Bockwoldt and with Tommy Polley placed on the IR. Long since decided was SAM, where Scott Fujita will again be a starter. Former Seahawk standout Anthony Simmons retired after attempting a comeback with the team this preseason.

With the release of veterans Dwight Smith and Jay Bellamy, the Saints cleared the way for a youth movement at safety. Josh Bullocks appears locked in at FS and rookie Roman Harper should overtake journeyman Omar Stoutmire soon at SS.

New York Giants
Injuries plagued veteran Carlos Emmons last season and he missed most of camp with a neck burner, giving way to Brandon Short, who battled some knee problems. It could be rookie Gerris Wilkinson who gets the Week One start at WLB.

Mathias Kiwanuka was a surprise first round pick, but he wasted little time proving his value. After a disappointing Senior Bowl and Combine, Mathias Kiwanuka’s stock was down heading in to the draft, despite being recognized as the top DE prospect heading in to the 2005 college season. He still was a late first round pick, but it was more of a surprise it was to the Giants. In addition to Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiroa, Justin Tuck impressed in his rookie season. Still, Kiwanuka wasted no time proving his value. He racked up 3.5 sacks playing DE and some work with his hand off the ground as a rush LB. The team has assured Tuck there is still a place for him and it should be an intriguing battle to replace Strahan when he finally retires.

New York Jets
The team was expected to switch to a 3-4, but they have lined up in a base 4-3 in the preseason. The key change is the departure of DE John Abraham finally opening a place for former first round pick Bryan Thomas. Whether it is at OLB or DE, Thomas could have a breakout season. However, he’s significantly more valuable from a fantasy perspective as a DE.

Danny Clark’s 2004 season officially became a one-year wonder when he was released by the Raiders. After an impressive rookie season, during which the Raiders evolved back in to a 4-3, Kirk Morrison is now fully installed as the MLB. A tackle-machine, Morrison’s lack of big plays limited his overall fantasy production, but in his second year, those plays should come, and Morrison has potential to become an elite fantasy player. The release of Clark was facilitated by the outstanding camp and preseason of rookie Thomas Howard. An impressive physical specimen, Howard showed he can also play football too. As the weakside starter, he can be one of the top producing IDP rookies. LB Sam Williams was a developmental prospect when the athletic tweener was drafted in 2003, but injuries have prevented his development. If he can stay healthy, he is intriguing as a pass rusher. If he is hurt again or struggles, Grant Irons has had a good preseason. Irons is another tweener who will see work as a third down specialist.

CB Fabian Washington appeared to the latest first round athlete-over-football player pick by the Raiders, but the sophomore appears to have improved his awareness and fundamentals in his second year. He could be in for a big fantasy year as QB’s around the league still test him.

DE Darren Howard was the big off-season signing, but it was another free agent acquisition on the DLine, Juqua Thomas, who has been a presence. Thomas, with 5 career sacks while buried in Tennessee, had 4.5 in the preseason. Along with Trent Cole, who emerged as a third down specialist last season, and former first round pick Jerome McDougle, who is trying to remain healthy for the first full season, the Eagles have an outstanding DE rotation. Kearse and Howard are each capable of double-digit sacks, while Cole should still be the top pass rush specialist. The interior line is one of the top rotations in the league, as well. Last year’s first round pick, Mike Patterson, moves in to a starting role next to Darwin Walker. This year’s first round pick, Brodrick Bunkley, has been slow to develop, but has great potential. Each of these three can get to the QB and be the rare DT who posts solid fantasy numbers.

Ryan Clark held off journeyman Tyrone Carter and rookie Anthony Smith to win the starting FS job.

Joey Porter is getting all the press and James Farrior remains a reliable warrior, but Clark Haggans is the only LB in the group whose fantasy value has not yet peaked. Haggans had 9 sacks and 4 forced fumbles despite missing 3 games last year, just his second as a full-time player.

St. Louis
Will Witherspoon should have a huge year as the new MLB for the Rams and become a household name in more than just the IDP community.

San Diego
You would think a starting LB getting shot and missing the year would be the top IDP story for the team, but of far more IDP consequence is the status of Donnie Edwards. The veteran has been absent battling back problems this off-season, but it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to wonder how much more it had to do with his battle with GM A.J. Smith. Edwards has long been an elite real and fantasy performer, but contract squabbles led to trade rumors, the latest being New Orleans, and the situation appear irreconcilable. Edwards will play if he’s healthy, but could be on the move by October 18th (trade deadline). Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper will compete to replace him if his health or a trade move Edwards out of the picture. As for Steve Foley, his season is over after a bizarre shooting by an off-duty police officer. Foley was placed on the Non-Football Injured (NFI) list, so his season is over. Fortunately, it sounds like he’ll be OK. Shaun Phillips, who has thrived in a limited pass rush specialist role, will replace him.

First round pick Antonio Cromartie won’t start right away, but he is an outstanding physical specimen who flashed his potential this preseason. He could be a big time player when his football intelligence and fundamentals catch up with his athletic capabilities.

San Francisco
After battling hamstring problems that kept him out most of the preseason, 2005 breakout CB Shawntae Spencer appears ready for Week One.

Rookie Manny Lawson is an outstanding athlete, but could struggle to learn to play with his hand off the ground. He is still probably their top sack threat.

WLB Julian Peterson has often been style over substance, but finally on a strong team, he could have a breakout season.

Tampa Bay
With the aging Greg Spires still ahead of him, Dewayne White remains limited to a back-up role, but the versatile DLineman can get the QB from the inside or outside. He should continue to see work on passing downs, both as a DE and DT, and should be snapped off the waiver wire if an injury presents a full-time role at DE.

It seemed rookie LenDale White was ready to usurp some of the negative headlines, particularly after a fight during practice allegedly White spit on a teammate. However, CB Pacman Jones is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. He was arrested after a fight in a bar in late August. While there should be no repercussions for him from the team or league, it continues an alarming trend.

David Thornton comes over from the Colts where he was a brief IDP star, until moving from WLB to SLB. It isn’t likely he’ll bounce back from a fantasy perspective in a Titan scheme that plays a lot of nickel and dime packages where Keith Bulluck is the only LB that doesn’t leave the field.

The team traded up to draft Rocky McIntosh to replace LaVar Arrington, but discarded veteran Warrick Holdman appears to temporarily have won the WLB job. McIntosh has impressed this preseason and Holdman has seen time at MLB, indicative the team could be preparing the versatile Holdman for a back-up role as soon as McIntosh is ready.

Free of a poor supporting cast in SF, DE Andre Carter could finally live up to his potential as a pass rusher.

CB Shawn Springs is recovering from abdominal surgery and expected to miss at least Week One, possibly as long as six weeks. Kenny Wright should replace him.

With SS Adam Archuleta looking to bounce back and FS Sean Taylor ready to breakout with legal problems behind him, the Redskins could have the top fantasy safety tandem.