- New Giants DC Perry Fewell solved his problem of how to optimize
usage of his talented defensive ends by using an old solution
of former DC Steve Spagnuolo Ė he gave Mathias
Kiwanuka plenty of work at OLB. In fact, Fewell showed several
different permutations and combinations to best utilize his
excellent depth throughout the whole DLine. The base package
Tuck at LDE, which was expected, and Osi
Umenyiora at RDE with Kiwanuka at WLB opposite Keith
Bulluck, who started at SLB. The big winner is Umenyiora,
whose value gets a huge boost after it appeared in the preseason
he may have been third in the rotation. He posted 5 tackles
(4 solo), including a sack, and forced a fumble. Umenyiora looks
like he has returned to form and again a threat for double-digit
sacks. Grab him off the wire if he was left their in shallow
leagues because of the uncertainty of his situation. Kiwanuka
had no problem playing back with his hand off the ground, getting
a pair of sacks and forcing a fumble on one. His projections
remain strong as they were in the preseason and gets an additional
boost in leagues where he remains eligible as a DL, since playing
LB should help his tackle numbers.
The big loser was OLB Michael
Boley. Boley, and not Bulluck, was bounced from the base
package. However, this ďbigĒ base package was specifically designed
to stop Carolinaís run game, so expect Boley, the only decent
LB in coverage they have, to play a much more significant role
this week against the Colts. Boley looks like a spot play with
his tackle numbers bound to suffer, but I expect this situation
to be fluid, as I still think heís their best LB. DT Chris Canty
also had a nice start, getting 6 tackles (1 solo) and sharing
a sack with fellow starting DT Barry
Cofield. Canty struggled through injury in his first season
as a Giant last year, but now healthy, should be an impact player
up front a nice play in leagues that require DTs.
- We finally got some answers on the front seven situation
in Oakland. Rookie Lamarr
Houston started at LDE, as expected, while Trevor
Scott moved back down to play with his hand on the ground,
as rumored, and started at RDE over Matt
Shaughnessy. However, Shaughnessy rotated in frequently
and finished the most productive end, totaling 3 solo tackles,
including a sack, and another QB hit. None look worthy of being
fantasy starters in all but the deepest leagues at this point
and Scott will have significantly lower value in your league
if heís only eligible at LB. Former Jaguar John
Henderson saw more work at DT than expected next to Richard
Seymour at the expense of Tommy
Kelly, who gets downgraded.
- Coming back from a torn Achillesí tendon that derailed his
breakout season last year, Cincinnati DE Antwan
Odom has tested positive for a banned substance. He has
fervently denied it was a performance-enhancing drug and said
he is appealing it, with a four-game suspension likely looming
if he fails. He started in New England for the season opener,
but was a fantasy non-factor.
- No surprised in Carolina where Charles
Johnson and Tyler
Brayton started with Everette
Brown and rookie Greg
Hardy rotating in regularly. Hardy was the most productive,
getting 4 tackles (3 solo), forcing a fumble and blocking a
punt out of bound in the end zone for a safety late in the game.
The rotation hurts the redraft value of all, but Hardy gets
a slight upgrade for the big play potential heís already demonstrating.
In Chicago, the man they are trying to replace, DE Julius
Peppers paid immediate dividends for his new team with a
classic strip sack from behind late in the second quarter that
was converted to a FG and part of the Bears scoring 10 points
in less than a minute after looking like they were headed in
to halftime down 14-3. Itís a bit disappointing Peppers didnít
do more against a shaky Detroit OLine, but he did have 2 other
- Rookie DE Brandon
Graham started and got some penetration for Philadelphia,
but fantasy owners were disappointed to see him fail to show
up in the box score. Iím not too discouraged yet. His back-up,
the steady Juqua
Parker racked up his first two sacks of the season and on
the other side Trent
Cole was excellent as usual, getting his first sack and
leading the team with 6 solo tackles. As discussed here last
Tapp was out of the picture, a healthy scratch. However,
recently acquired tweener Antwan
Barnes had a significant role in the DE rotation. He had
2 solo tackles and applied some pressure, showing he can still
play with his hand on the ground after failing to take as an
OLB in Baltimore. I wouldnít both with him in all but the deepest
redraft leagues, but he is intriguing again in dynasty leagues.
Of course, he has significantly less value if heís still classified
only at LB in your league.
- Two giant former IDP studs saw limited action on Sunday.
Rogers in Cleveland (due to injury) and Albert
Haynesworth in Washington (multiple issues) saw limited
snaps. Rogersí value should increase as he gets healthy and
worked in more, but Haynesworth is still a wild card. His troubles
in D.C. were discussed in this column at length last week and
he is still a trade candidate.
- Houston DE Connor
Barwin was lost for the season after suffering a fractured
right ankle on Sunday. The team is reportedly looking at all
the top street free agents (Adewale
Ogunleye, Leonard Little, Ryan
Denney, and Bobby
McCray) as their depth is thin at DE.
- The Detroit defensive line played great collectively, the
entire rotation, with RDE Kyle
Vanden Bosch leading the way with 11 tackles (10 solo).
However, they played one of the worst offensive lines in the
league, with KVB facing perhaps the worst starting LT in the
league, so donít expect this every week.
- Tennessee DE William
Hayes needs to recover quickly from his sprained right MCL,
or a starting job might not still be there when he gets back.
The Tennessee front four looked extremely deep and promising
after the first game. Jason
Babin and Dave
Ball were the starters, with Babin getting a sack and forcing
a fumble, while Ball got 3 tackles (1 solo) and batted down
2 passes. Rookie first-round pick Derrick
Morgan got his first career sack and pass rush specialist
Ford also had one. On the inside, Jason
Jones and Tony
Brown started, but Jovan Haye was the most productive with
5 tackles (3 solo) and SeníDerrick Marks had some good snaps,
as well. I expect Hayes to be back next week, and he should
ultimately be the teamís most productive DE, but Babin is a
nice sleeper and Morgan has great dynasty upside.
- Jets NT Kris
Jenkins suffered a left knee injury on MNF when it was bent
awkwardly as he was tripped up and fell backwards. He is out
for the season. It is the same knee that cut his season short
last year. HC Rex Ryan was pleased with the play of Sione
Pouha and Mike DeVito in Jenkinsí absence, as they helped
hold the Ravensí ground game to 49 yards on 35 carries.
- Injury-prone DE Justin
Harrell tore his ACL and is done for the season for Green
- After cleaning house at DE this offseason, the Seahawks got
a great performance from their new group. Converted DT Red
Bryant started at LDE for Seattle and had 3 solo tackles,
including a sack, and forced a fumble. He wonít get many sacks,
but has additional value in leagues that segregate between line
positions and he is still eligible as a DT. Chris
Clemons started at RDE and although he didnít get a sack,
he had 4 QB hits. The sacks will come. Clemons is a nice sleeper
in deep leagues that score sacks highly. Most notable was undersized
Davis who got his first career sack and another solo tackle.
A dominant pass rusher at Arizona State, he fell to the seventh
round on concerns he was destined to convert to LB and his upside
was as a special teamer. However, it looks like he has a future
as a pass rusher. He wonít have much value this year, but is
someone to monitor for dynasty leagues.
- Unheralded reserve DE Jayme
Mitchell had the only sack for Minnesota on Thursday night.
A blitz by Chad
Greenway opened the opportunity that Mitchell took advantage
of. In the preseason, Mitchell beat 2009 second-overall pick
Jason Smith for sacks on back-to-back plays of St. Louis rookie
QB Sam Bradford. Mitchell is backing up Ray
Edwards at LDE and wonít do much this season if the starters
stay healthy, but heís now a name Iím filing away.
- Top waiver recommendations of the
week: in shallow redraft leagues, Osi Umenyiora may be
sitting out there, in which case he might be the most valuable
IDP overall to chase this week. In deeper redraft leagues where
Umenyiora was gambled on, maybe KVB is available. Iím not that
high on him, but he had a nice debut for his new team and is
still a double-digit sack threat on a team that will spend a
lot of time on defense. In dynasty leagues, snatch up Greg Hardy.
- After leaving last yearís opener with a broken wrist and
missing the rest of the season, Chicago MLB Brian
Urlacher returned with a bang on Sunday. The speed in pursuit
and closing that once made him a special player was back, as
he helped contain the speedy Jahvid Best with 8 solo tackles
and added a sack, while also effective in coverage. Urlacherís
performance had been trending down, related to back issues,
before the wrist injury last season, so a year off of football
appears to have been good for his body. He carries risk the
back problems could resurface and at 32, his career is still
winding down, but Sunday showed he can still be a dominant force
and productive fantasy player again. OLB Lance
Briggs showed no ill effects from an ankle sprain late in
the preseason. He led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo) and
had one of the best-timed blitzes youíll see when he crashed
up the middle untouched on a first-and-ten from the Detroit
nine-yard line to knock the ball down from Detroit QB Shaun
Hill as he was trying to hand it off and Briggs recovered it
himself at the one-inch line.
- More bad luck for Philadelphia MLB Stewart
Bradley, who returned from a knee injury last season. He
was jarred by teammate Ernie Sims when the two collided on a
tackle. Stewart initially got up from the collision, but then
stumbled around like a drunken member of the Jersey Shore cast
before falling down. He briefly returned to the game, a move
receiving much scrutiny and negative feedback for HC Andy Reid,
before leaving for good. He failed a screening on Monday that
is necessary before returning to practice and is doubtful for
this week. Omar
Gaither should get the start in his place.
- Looks like Carolina HC John Fox made the right decision (for
the team) in moving Jon
Beason to WLB and Dan
Connor in starting as a starter in the middle after losing
Davis. Connor had an impressive debut, leading the team
with 13 tackles (10 solo), including a sack and 3 others for
losses. Beason also had double-digit tackles (10, 6 solo). Connor
looks like he can be upgraded to a LB1 and while Beason remains
one as well; he initially is looking challenged to remain a
top-five fantasy producer at the position. SLB James
Anderson also had a productive game with 9 tackles (7 solo)
and his first career pick. Anderson has some ability, but the
Giants dominated time of possession and Iím not ready to rush
out for Anderson now over some other likely waiver wire choices
- Detroit MLB DeAndre
Levy suited up and went through a pregame warm-up, he was
inactive, as expected, with a groin pull. Landon
Johnson started in his place in the middle and posted 3
solo tackles. When Johnson got temporarily dinged up during
the game, Ashlee
Palmer stepped in. Watch for updates on Levy, but barring
a setback, he should be back this week.
- Buffalo ILB Paul
Posluszny suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday and is expected
to miss two weeks. Undersized Keith
Ellison, who has surprised before when given the change,
likely starts while Poz is out. The team was already thin inside
having lost their top back-up, Kawika
Mitchell, last week to the IR with a foot injury. The signed
Ayodele, who was released by Denver in the preseason, for
depth. He could factor in if Ellison struggles.
- Two former first-round LBs headed in different directions
in Green Bay. Clay
Matthews had a dominant performance on Sunday, leading the
team with 7 solo tackles, with 2 sacks and a forced fumble among
them. He is moving from primarily a pass rush threat to the
disruptive player on defense the opposition needs to scheme
for in any situation. Meanwhile, A.J.
Hawk continues to free fall. He was bounced from the base
package in favor of Brandon
Chillar. Not much of a pass rusher or good in coverage,
Hawk is strictly a back-up now and fairly worthless.
- The linebacker situation in KC was sorted out, at least for
now. The interior completely turned over, with Derrick
Johnson and Jovan
Belcher starting. Johnson was all over the field, leading
the team 12 tackles (11 solo) and forcing a fumble. He had a
brilliant open field tackle for a loss on elusive SD RB Darren
Sproles late in the game. He still gets overwhelmed by blockers
at point of impact, but he can pile up tackles in pursuit with
his superior athleticism. Iíve been pimping DJ to return to
prominence in the offseason, so I feel confident recommending
grabbing him off the waiver wire if you need help at LB. On
the outside, veteran Mike
Vrabel has held off Andy
Studebaker and even saw work as a TE again now that he is
reunited with new OC Charlie Weis, who seemed to annual find
a TD for Vrabel when the two were together in New England. On
the other side, Tamba
Hali is locked in, as expected, and shared a sack with DE
Dorsey, who looked impressive, as well.
- Dallas OLB Demarcus Ware left Sunday nightís game early with
a neck strain. He should be fine to face Chicago this week.
Ware had a fine start, with 6 solo tackles, including a sack,
and is a great play against a poor Chicago OLine this week.
- The starters outside in Oakland were as discussed here last
Wimbley and the surprising Quentin
Groves. Both saw significant snaps and were productive,
with Wimbley notching his first sack of the season, forcing
a fumble, among his 5 tackles (4 solo). Groves had 6 tackles
(5 solo). Rookie first-round pick MLB Rolando
McClain had a quiet start with 6 tackles (4 solo), but was
all over the field and better numbers should be coming. Former
Howard saw more snaps than expected, but had only 1 tackle,
although he forced a fumble too.
- Despite the unexpected death of his mother last week, Tennessee
Witherspoon played last week. He posted 6 solo tackles,
including a sack. He is a versatile LB who HC Jeff Fisher should
use in a variety of ways and is being largely overlooked in
fantasy leagues. He isnít going to rack up tackles, but has
more value in leagues that reward big plays.
- Due to an Achillesí tendon injury, San Diego OLB Shawne Merriman
was inactive, as expected, and Larry
English started in his place opposite Shaun
- In Houstonís nickel package, which they played extensively
against Indianapolis, WLB Zac Diles and MLB DeMeco
Ryans stayed on the field. Both rolled up double-digit tackles
and it helped the value of Diles tremendously. This will change
when Cushing returns from suspension, but for now Diles has
- Former Detroit second-round pick Ikaika
Alama-Francis looked like he finally found a home in Miami
when he beat out rookie Koa
Misi to start outside opposite Cameron
Wake. However, Alama-Francis woke up sick on game day and
was a scratch. The rookie Misi got the start and responded with
4 tackles (2 solo), including his first career sack. On the
other side, Wake, a former UDFA and CFL star, got off to a good
start proving last year was no fluke with a sack, as well. On
the inside, Karlos
Dansby also got his first sack as a Dolphin. With Channing
Crowder inactive, as expected, with leg problems, it was
Carpenter, and not Tim
Dobbins, who got the start and most of the work in their
base defense. With Crowder the starter when he returns and Carpenter
apparently the top back-up, Dobbins can be dropped if you grabbed
him as a sleeper.
- OLB Leroy
Hill returns from a one-game suspension for Seattle, but
Hawthorne remains the starter at WLB.
- Top waiver recommendations of the
week: in shallow redraft leagues, and maybe some deeper
ones, grab Dan Connor. After him, Derrick Johnson and in deeper
leagues, maybe Will Witherspoon or Ernie
Sims is out there of you are thin at LB. Iím not high on
Omar Gaither because heís wildly inconsistent and Bradleyís
injury should only keep him out a week or two. Iím still high
on Ernie Sims in Philly for the year, even though he had a quiet
start, and would take him over Gaither if both are available.
Dump Michael Boley and Keith Bulluck in shallow redrafts, dump
Thomas Howard and A.J. Hawk in all but dynasty leagues.
- Not much to say about New England SS Patrick
Chung and his 16 tackles (12 solo). Pretty much every IDP
expert, including this one, was pimping him in the offseason
and he delivered. Donít expect huge tackle numbers every week,
but he will be adding big plays to his numbers soon.
- Indianapolis SS Bob
Sanders didnít even last a whole quarter. He left shortly
before the first quarter with a right elbow injury. As we go
to press, there are conflicting reports on the situation. As
discussed here last week, Melvin
Bullitt becomes a nice waiver wire addition if Sanders is
- Once two of the elite fantasy producers at safety, Adrian Wilson and Kerry
Rhodes have had a couple inconsistent years. No longer wanted
by the Jets, Rhodes (FS) joined Wilson (SS) in Arizona and both
racked up big plays in a turnover-laden victory over St. Louis.
Rhodes got his first pick as a Cardinal and returned it 65 yards.
Wilson grabbed two picks and also had a sack. Now it was the
Rams behind rookie QB Sam Bradford, so Iíll temper my excitement,
but this potential dynamic duo in the Cardinalsí secondary are
off to a great start. Neither had many tackles because those
were mostly done by Greg Toler, the second-year CB who got his
first career start. Toler had 13 solo tackles and forced fumble.
Toler should see plenty of work this year with a patchwork LB
corps and teams looking to avoid Dominique
Rodgers-Cromartie on the other side. Toler could be surprisingly
- Reigning Defensive POY Charles
Woodson picked up where he left off last year. The Green
Bay CB had forced a brilliant fumble while bringing down inexperienced
Philadelphia RB Eldra Buckley after a reception. Woodson also
5 tackles (4 solo) and broke up a pass.
- Despite fasting the last 30 days while observing Ramadan,
Husain Abdullah had enough strength and energy to beat out Jamarca
Stanford and incumbent Tyrell
Johnson for the starting SS role. The season opener was
the first career start for the former UDFA, who suited up for
all 16 games last season and led the Viking in special teamsí
tackles. There was some speculation that his better pass coverage
skills got him the isolated start last Thursday, but HC Brad
Childress confirmed heís the starting strong safety, period.
At corner, Asher
Allen got the start replacing Cedric
Griffin over veteran Lito
Sheppard, who was added in the offseason. Rookie Chris
Cook, who impressed in camp, was expected to get the start
before he tore his right meniscus. He is doubtful to play this
week. Allen was picked frequently and burned for the first New
Orleansí TD. Griffin was inactive as he recovers from tearing
his left ACL in the NFC Championship Game. He wasnít put on
the PUP, so he is expected back sometime this month, but should
be questionable up to the game he returns, so remains a risky
play until he actually returns to the field. At the other corner,
Antoine Winfield looked good and was back to being a tackle
machine after battling foot problems much of last season.
- It was a triumphant return for Giants SS Kenny
Phillips, whose career was in doubt after a devastating
knee injury last year. He had a pick and 4 solo tackles, including
one that saved a TD. Big money FA acquisition Antrel
Rolle also had a strong start in his first game as a Giant,
providing great run support at FS and leading the team in tackles
with 8 (7 solo). His big plays will come. Also impressive was
third safety Deon
Grant. The veteran wasnít brought back to the youth rebuilding
effort in Seattle and was not considered an impact signing.
It was the first game in the 11-year veterans career he did
not start a NFL game he played in, but he was eased in to the
adjustment because of the ďbigĒ base package the team employed
to combat Carolinaís run game (and lack of receiving threats).
He played more than half the game as DC Perry Fewell employed
three safeties in the package. Grant made an acrobatic pick
in the end zone and broke up another pass, along with 2 tackles
(1 solo). He normally wonít be as much of a fantasy factor,
but should be an impact player on a potent defense if either
starter goes down. CB Aaron
Ross was inactive with plantar fasciitis, a pain heíll have
to play through this year. Terrell
Thomas will start opposite Corey
Webster at corner any time Ross is out and the team may
be better off limiting Ross to nickel duty as long as Thomas
is doing well.
- Special teamer Steve
Gregory has seen his role increase each of his four seasons
in San Diego. Monday night he got the start in their season
opener and led the team in tackles. Rookie Darrell Stuckey had
been listed atop the depth chart, but was inactive despite not
being on the injury report. San Diego Union-Tribune beat reporter
Kevin Acee opined Stuckey isnít up to speed yet and the Chargers
wanted more depth for the front seven against KCís running game.
So donít rush out for Gregory just yet.
- After one game, Iím almost ready to give up hope on Chris
Harris returning to form as a playmaking force at safety
in Chicago. He rotated FS with rookie Major
Wright, who the coaching staff loves, and Danieal
Manning was locked in at SS. I donít get it, Harris should
be at SS, he isnít a great fit at FS anyway, but Manning is
doing enough to remain there, so Harris could be the odd-man
out. CB Charles
Tillman continues to be one of the best DBs in the NFL at
creating turnovers with his first pick of the season already
in Week One.
- Jets SS Brodney
Pool was inactive with an ankle sprain, so Eric
Smith got the start this week. It sounds like Pool remains
questionable this week.
- Jacksonville CB Derek
Cox was benched during the game on Sunday, but HC Jack Del
Rio has said he remains the starter.
- After a promising rookie season, CB Seth Smith is plummeting
down the depth chart. He not only surrendered his starting job
to former first-round pick Jason
Allen in the preseason, but didnít get off the bench on
Sapp was the nickel and third safety Tyrone
Culver also saw significant work.
- Bump up Indianapolis CB Jerraud
Powers in leagues that count return yardage, as he was unexpectedly
the primary punt returner.
- UDFA Aaron Berry earned the nickel corner job in Detroit
and got his first pick in his first career game, but suffered
a shoulder injury and is out indefinitely. The team signed veteran
Vasher, who failed to make San Diegoís roster in the preseason,
- Athletic SF rookie Taylor
Mays was unable to exact revenge on his former college coach,
Seattle HC Pete Carroll, for passing on selecting him in the
first two rounds of the draft. Not only was his team embarrassed
by the Seahawks, but he contributed little as his role is currently
limited to special teams. FS Dashon
Goldson was the most productive safety, while SS Michael
Lewis had only a pair of tackles, one solo. Another promising
Smith, is the top back-up at safety over Mays.
- It was a surprise to see the versatile and productive Jordan Babineaux released by Seattle a week ago. It was more surprising
to see him re-signed two days later after the team admitted
it was a mistake. It was most surprising to see Babineaux, who
seven days earlier appeared out of their plans, as the most
productive DB on Sunday. He had 7 tackles (5 solo) and a pick
to set up a TD as their nickel corner.
- Top waiver recommendations of the
week: if some how Patrick Chung was overlooked in your
shallow league, grab him. In deeper leagues, Iím taking a look
Toler. Also like Melvin Bullitt if we have a definitive
negative prognosis on Bob Sanders. In dynasty, Major Wright,
Husain Abdullah and Chris Cook. In shallow to medium redraft
leagues, Iíd drop Chris Harris to gamble on someone else.