- In my Week 9 column, I
discussed expecting improvement from the pass rush in Minnesota,
especially DE Jared
Allen, as they would begin facing teams among the worst
in the league at protecting the QB and the sacks have piling
up the last few weeks. Allen has put up 6.5 sacks in the four
games since then and now is at 7.5 sacks on the season after
getting just one in the first seven games. DE Ray Edwards was
getting similar results, tallying 4 sacks in the previous 3
games, but was impeded from adding to that total on Sunday when
he left shortly before halftime with a right ankle sprain. Brian
Robison replaced him and got a sack and a QB hit on the
first series of the second half, and another QB hit later in
the game. Edwards is day-to-day, so he could be a dreaded game-time
decision. Robison will replace him if Edwards canít go.
- After missing the previous game with a groin injury, DE John
Abraham returned to the starting lineup and got his ninth
sack of the season.
- Another strong performance on the field translated to fantasy
production by Chicago DE Julius
Peppers. He recorded his sixth sack of the season when he
closed quickly on Philadelphia QB Michael Vick after being left
unblocked on a play action. He forced a fumble on the sack that
Vick recovered. Peppers almost had a second sack later when
he dove at the feet of Vick in pursuit and just tripped him
up, but Vick fell across the line of scrimmage, so it was only
recorded as a tackle. Reserve DL Henry
Melton is finding a niche as an interior pass rush specialist.
He has 2.5 sacks in the last three games.
- A hip flexor left Philadelphia LDE Juqua
Parker inactive on Sunday and gave first-round pick Brandon
Graham his first start since Week 4. Against the worst pass
protection in the league, Graham got his third sack of the season
and first since Week 5. On the other side, RDE Trent
Cole got a pair of sacks, giving him 9 on the season. DT
Antonio Dixon played through an ab injury and was an explosive
presence on the interior. He had 4 solo tackles, including 2
for a loss.
- As expected, Cincinnati DE Antwan
Odom remained inactive after revealing he had surgery for
a broken wrist while on his four-game suspension. Michael
Johnson started at RDE on Thanksgiving and had 5 tackles
(3 solo) and had nice plays batting down 2 passes, but continues
to fail to get to the QB. Despite starting 5 games this year,
he has just 0.5 of a sack, compared to 3 in no starts last year.
Of course the Bengals frequently playing from behind this year
hasnít given the pass rush as many opportunities to pin their
ears back and rush the QB. He remains an enigma, but the way
heís been developed hasnít helped. He spent a lot of time learning
SLB, but hasnít been used that way in the regular season. Despite
the team having the worst pass rush in the league, he has also
gone through a couple games seeing just a handful of snaps.
He has a great first step, but at a lanky 6í7Ē, exposes up a
lot of area for offensive lineman to get their hands on him,
instead of using his length to keep them off him. He doesnít
have the strength or moves yet to break that initial contact
with blockers frequently enough. That has been the difference
between him getting to the QB or merely harassing him. Robert
Geathers, purely a run-stopper, remains the starter at LDE,
while rookie Carlos
Dunlap is taking advantage of his opportunity for more playing
time. With 2 sacks, it was the first multi-sack game of his
career, and the first of the season for the Bengals. Dunlap
now takes over the team lead in sacks with 3, all in the last
three games, for the team with the fewest sacks in the league.
- The night after their Thanksgiving victory, New Orleans DE
Smith was arrested for domestic abuse battery, a misdemeanor,
after an alleged altercation with his wife outside a nightclub.
A Twitter account supposedly belonging to Smithís wife defended
Smith, saying the incident was misunderstanding and Smith is
innocent. If his wife remains supportive, this likely goes away,
from a legal and league standpoint, but itís far from over.
Watch for his status for this week to be clarified prior to
the game if you are potentially looking to use him in your lineup
this week. Jeff
Charleston is the top back-up at DE for the Saints. After
a career-high 13 sacks last season, Smith has been a fantasy
disappointment most of this season, although he did have 3 solo
tackles, including a strip sack, and a pick on Thursday.
- While second overall pick DT Ndamukong
Suh has gotten most of the press, and deservedly so, third
overall pick DT Gerald
McCoy has elevated his play for Tampa Bay lately. He had
a pair of sacks on Sunday and over the last three games he has
11 tackles (9 solo), 3 sacks, a forced fumble and batted down
3 passes. LDE Kyle
Moore missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury
Crowder picked up another start, getting his third sack
of the season. Moore was placed on the IR this week, so Crowder
should finally get an opportunity to string some starts together.
Iíve long felt heís needed a regular opportunity in this league,
so Iím anxious to see the results.
- Another rookie finally posted some numbers as Giants DE Jason
Pierre-Paul got his first 2 career sacks in the second half
on Sunday, forcing a fumble on both of them. Pierre-Paul has
been working a lot inside, which has impeded his production.
He isnít a safe start, but the performance gives his dynasty
owners hope for the future.
- Arizona was without DE Calais
Campbell on MNF with an ankle injury that knocked him out
of the previous game early. Alan
Branch started in his place. DE Darnell
Dockett suffered a left shoulder stinger in the game, but
- Teams allowing the most sacks this season (start your pass
rushers against them):
1. Chicago (41)
2. Arizona (36)
3. Carolina, Oakland (33)
5. Philadelphia, Washington (32)
7. Denver (29)
8. Jacksonville, Pittsburgh (28)
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: I like the opportunity Tim
Crowder is going to get and Brian Robison is a nice fill-in
player this week if Ray
Edwards is inactive.
- Minnesota WLB Chad
Greenway led the team with 9 tackles (6 solo) and is third
in the league in tackles with 108 on the season. MLB E.J.
Henderson had a sack and a pick on Sunday. It was his third
interception of the season, a new career high. After two injury-plagued
seasons, it looks like Henderson has come all the way back.
He has started every game this season and is on his way to triple-digit
tackles, with some big plays sprinkled in.
- Another game, another double-digit tackle performance for
New England ILB Jerod
Mayo. He led the team with 12 tackles (8 solo), his eight
double-digit tackle performance of the season. Mayo leads the
league by a comfortable margin with 132 tackles on the season.
- Green Bay third ILB Brandon
Chillar aggravated a lingering right shoulder injury on
Sunday and has been placed on the IR. Bump up starting ILBs
Bishop and A.J.
Hawk, as both see expanded roles in Chillarís absence. Bishop
led the team with 10 tackles (6 solo), his fourth double-digit
tackle of the season in his seven games as a starter. OLB Clay
Matthews didnít get a sack on Sunday, but retained his league
lead in sacks with 11.5 on the season.
- With another sack on Sunday, Miami OLB Cameron
Wake has 4 sacks in his last four games and is closing in
on the league lead with 10.5 on the season. The two-time CFL
Defensive Player of the Year has successfully translated his
pass rushing skills from the tundra of British Columbia to South
Beach. On the other side, rookie OLB Koa
Misi isnít helping draw any attention away from Wake as
he hasnít had a sack in five games and is losing snaps to Quentin
Moses. ILB Karlos
Dansby was questionable coming in to Sundayís game as he
battled turf toe, ankle and elbow problems, but he started.
However, he added a wrist injury to his litany of health problems
and was limited to use on passing downs in the second half.
Dobbins stepped up and led the team with 6 tackles (4 solo).
- It was still Stephen
Nicholas starting at SLB for Atlanta, but rookie Sean
Weatherspoon saw his workload increase, still primarily
on passing downs, in his second game back after missing several
with a right knee sprain. Weatherspoon had 3 tackles (2 solo)
and Nicholas had 1 solo tackle. They will continue to cannibalize
each otherís stats as long as this remains a platoon.
- The Nic
Harris Era was short-lived in Carolina. HC John Fox made
Williams the new starting WLB on Sunday. The former third-round
pick of Dallas, who they recently claimed off waiver from the
Cowboys, had 7 tackles (5 solo), forcing a fumble he recovered
on one of them, in his first career start.
- Indianapolis MLB Gary
Brackett (turf toe) and WLB Clint
Session (fractured right forearm and dislocated elbow) missed
their third and fourth games, respectively. Rookie Pat
Angerer continued to fill in in the middle and led the team
in the game with 12 tackles (8 solo, including 1 on special
teams). WLB remained a platoon of rookie Kavell
Conner and Tyjuan
Hagler. Hagler was the nominal starter as the defense began
in the nickel, but Conner was more productive with 10 tackles
(7 solo, including 1 on special teams). Both Brackett and Session
remain questionable, but could return this week. Iíd think Brackett
has a better chance of returning, bumping Angerer back to SLB.
- Denver ILB D.J.
Williams started despite suffering a concussion in the previous
game and had 8 tackles (4 solo) and broke up 2 passes. He is
safe to start this week. OLB Robert
Ayers returned to the starting lineup from a broken foot,
playing for the first time since Week 5. He pushed Jason
Hunter back to the bench, but the two rotated frequently.
Haggan remains the starter at the other OLB spot and Joe
Mays remained the other starter inside.
- The Buffalo career of OLB Shawne
Merriman ended before it started when he was placed on the
IR last week. He aggravated an Achillesí tendon injury within
15 minutes of his first practice with the Bills and never suited
up again. The season also officially ended for ILB Keith
Ellison. Ellison has been battling knee and quad problems
much of the season. The quad problem has been lingering since
it cost him the second half of 2009, when he went on the IR
about the same time last year. The team promoted Thomas
Williams to the practice squad to bolster their depth at
LB. Williams is a former fifth-round pick of Jacksonville out
of USC who spent the preseason with New England before landing
on Buffaloís practice squad for the season. He should be limited
to special teams. Injury problems at LB are becoming an annual
problem for the Bills. They have already lost Andra
Davis for the season.
- Although Zach
Diles was active after missing the previous game after being
hospitalized with heart palpitations, rookie Darryl
Sharpton remained the starter at WLB and Diles rotated in.
The position is a bit of a mess right now, so I wouldnít start
either this week. SLB Brian
Cushing led the team with 7 tackles (6 solo) and broke up
2 passes. While heís still looking for his first sack of the
season, he did have 4 QB hits, so he is returning to form.
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: As the new starting WLB in Carolina, Jason
Williams is a high priority, but HC John Fox shook up the
lineup in a few ways on Sunday, so itís hard to tell what will
stick the last few games, but Williams is worth a flyer.
- Cincinnati was without their top defensive backs at three
of the four spots in the secondary, with only RCB Leon
Hall active among their normal starters, as well as missing
two reserve corners. FS Chris
Crocker went on the IR last week after tearing his right
MCL in the previous game and Reggie
Nelson, the former first-round pick acquired from Jacksonville
earlier this year, looks like heíll remain the starter at FS
the rest of the season. SS Roy
Williams was out with a concussion and replaced by Chinedum
Ndukwe. After being signed off the street on Monday, Jonathan
Wade got the start at LCB on Thursday becauseJohnathan
Joseph is out with a high ankle sprain, while top reserves
Ghee (groin) and Rico Murray (ankle) were also inactive
on Thanksgiving. A former third-round pick of St. Louis, they
gave up on him after two years and he started this season in
Detroit before being released earlier this month. In just his
seventh career start, Wade had a decent showing despite being
with the team just a few days. He was beat for a long first
down by Jets WR Braylon Edwards and a short TD by WR Santonio
Holmes on a brilliant cut after stumbling, but that was really
it as he posted 3 tackles and broke up a pass. Wade looked impressive
enough to continue to start until Joseph returns, and perhaps
hang on as the nickel when he does. Former Houston fourth-round
Bennett, also signed last week, was the third corner, but
didnít have much use as reserve S Tom
Nelson played the nickel. The team called up S Jeromy Miles
from the practice squad for depth will the all the injuries
and he worked on special teams. His stay shouldnít be long.
- A left Achillesí tendon injury left Washington SS LaRon
Landry inactive for the second straight game and HC Mike
Shanahan hasnít offered any confidence in his comments that
Landry will be back soon. As discussed in this column last week,
the injury has gotten progressively worse and will be a concern
for the rest of the season, if he does return. Reed
Doughty continues to be solid in his place at SS. He led
the team with 10 tackles (7 solo, including 2 on special teams)
on Sunday, after sharing the team lead the previous game with
7 (5 solo). CB Carlos
Rogers returned to the starting lineup after missing the
previous game with a hamstring.
- Philadelphia missed LCB Asante
Samuel on Sunday, who was inactive with a sprained MCL.
Nickel CB Joselio
Hanson replaced him and was successfully picked on by Chicago.
Rookie Trevor Lindley replaced Hanson as the nickel. Samuel
retained the league lead in interceptions with 7 despite missing
his second game of the season. He practiced this week and looks
like he should play Thursday night.
- Tampa Bay rookie FS Cody
Grimm is done for the season after breaking his left leg
on Sunday. The seventh-round pick had been a solid replacement
after the team lost Tanard
Jackson to an indefinite suspension for violating the leagueís
substance abuse policy earlier this season. Grimm was replaced
Piscitelli in the game, but he wonít be the new starter.
In a relatively shocking turn of events, Piscitelli, a former
second-round pick, was released on Tuesday. Instead, Corey
Lynch will be the new FS. Lynch, a sixth-round pick of the
Bengals in 2008, was signed off Cincinnatiís practice squad
last year. Vince Anderson was called up from the practice squad
Asante, a fifth-round pick of Cleveland this year, was signed
off the Brown practice squad for depth. CB Aqib
Talib had a brilliant break on the ball and diving pick,
doing a nice job keeping the ball off the ground and bouncing
up to get a 25-yard return, in the second quarter. He is tied
for second in the league with 6 interceptions this season despite
missing the season opener for violating the leagueís conduct
policy related to punching a cab driver last year. Talib and
an official allegedly got in to a verbal confrontation after
the game about a pass interference call on rookie Myron
Lewis that could result in disciplinary action for both
Talib and the official. I wouldnít expect a suspension for Talib,
but he could get fined.
- After missing the previous game with a game with a strained
groin/hamstring, Dolphins FS Chris
Clemons returned to the starting lineup. Both Clemons and
Bell each grabbed their first pick of the season in the
victory. Sophomore starting corners Sean
Smith and Vontae
Davis were benched for the first series for reportedly being
chronically late to meetings, giving Benny
Sapp and rookie Nolan
Carroll the start. Smith and Davis were back in shortly
for the rest of the game.
- Struggles in covering opposing TEs had FS Brodney
Pool demoted in favor of Eric
Smith on Thursday. Smith led the team with 9 solo tackles,
including one on special teams. Pool still rotated in, so itís
hard to recommend Smith despite the production.
- Oakland CB Nnamdi
Asomugha returned from a right ankle sprain and was back
in the starting lineup, but was still significantly hampered
by it. He aggravated the ankle during the game and had a MRI
on Monday. The team is desperate for him to play with a key
division game with the Chargers this week, but if he does, heíll
be limited. Nickel CB Chris
Johnson was inactive with a groin strain and rookie CB Walter
McFadden got his first extensive work in his place. McFadden
turned the momentum of the game when he went for the pick early
in the third quarter and after missing, allowed Miami WR Marlon
Moore spun away for a 57-yard TD to put the Dolphins ahead 20-14,
a lead they wouldnít relinquish the rest of the game. SS Tyvon
Branch and FS Michael Huff each had a sack.
- A hamstring injury was the latest setback for Green Bay SS
Bigby, who was inactive on Sunday. Charlie
Peprah has been very solid in the role and it likely would
be a platoon, at best, for Bigby this season.
- Cleveland S Abram
Elam continued his hot playmaking streak. He had a pair
of sacks among his 7 tackles (6 solo). Over the last two games,
he has 13 tackles (12 solo), 2 sacks, an interception and a
forced fumble. LCB Eric
Wright missed the last game and after injuring his left
knee on the first series of the previous game. He could return
this week, but may have lost his job to rookie Joe
Haden who has had a pick in three straight games.
- Carolina CB Chris
Gamble was demoted to third corner Sunday in favor of Captain
Munnerlyn, who got the start opposite Richard Marshall.
Munnerlyn made the most of the opportunity, picking up 6 solo
tackles and returning his an interception for a TD in the third
quarter. HC John Fox said the demotion was performance-based
and wouldnít commit to a starter this week.
- Denver SS Brian
Dawkins left the game in the third quarter with a left knee
injury. He sounds doubtful this week. CB Nathan Jones replaced
Dawkins and with lots of injuries in the secondary, he could
get the start at SS if Dawkins is out.
- In San Francisco, Reggie
Smith remains the starting SS and rookie Taylor
Mays is working mostly on special teams. FS Dashon Goldson
played through a right ankle sprain after leaving the previous
game earlier due to it.
- Apparently some bad information last week, as rookie Amari
Spievey remained the starter at SS and did not surrender
the role back to C.C.
Brown. Spievey led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo).
- Tennessee CB Cortland
Finnegan was only fined for his altercation with Houston
WR Andre Johnson on Sunday. Finnegan will start as usual this
- Despite playing with a fractured right hand, Houston CB Glover
Quin had 3 picks on Sunday and broke up 2 other passes.
- Top waiver wire recommendations for
week: Whoever is healthy in the Cincinnati secondary,
as they should be busy with the Saints in town this week. In
particular CB Jonathan
Wade if Johnathan
Joseph remains inactive. In tackle-heavy leagues, Reed
Doughty has led, or shared the team lead, in tackles in
both games since replacing LaRon