- I guess it wasn't just the worst offensive line in the league
the previous game, because Giants DE Osi Umenyiora ran through
Houston as well. His encore to his three-sack performance in
Week Four was getting 2 more sacks, forcing fumbles on both
of them. He is back to being an automatic starter, but I'm still
worried about him down the road. He reportedly had an injection
to his nagging left knee before Week Four that helped his turnaround.
I couldn't confirm, but I assume it was cortisone, and that
may only be of short-term value, depending on exactly what the
lingering problem is with the knee. DE Justin Tuck also had
a sack, giving him all of his four on the season in the last
two weeks. Tweener Mathias Kiwanuka was back at least doing
conditioning this week, although not practicing. He is still
out indefinitely with a bulging cervical disk, so this is news
is only slightly positive in that he doesn't appear to be ruled
out for the season yet. Also noteworthy is rookie Jason Pierre-Paul
saw no greater role for the second straight game without Kiwanuka.
- After compiling just one sack through the first four games,
Philadelphia rookie DE Brandon Graham was moved out of the starting
lineup in favor of veteran Juqua Parker at LDE. Despite a significant
decrease in snaps, Graham responded with 2 tackles, including
forcing a fumble on a strip sack in the fourth quarter that
was returned for a TD. Parker had a solo tackle and batted down
a pass. I've been talking about Parker for sack-heavy leagues
for a few weeks now, so this slightly bumps my outlook for him
in tackle-heavy leagues, but the bottom line is the Eagles rotate
extensively in the front four, so the starting roles are not
as tightly correlated to production as other teams. As for Graham,
he was asked to work both inside and outside early on and the
team may have overloaded the rookie to start his career. Giving
him a few less things to think about and focus more on just
pinning back his ears and getting after the QB could help his
sack total. RDE Trent Cole left Sunday night's game before halftime
with an apparent hamstring injury, but was quickly back in the
game in the third quarter. His back-up, Darryl Tapp, picked
up a few more snaps and posted 2 solo tackles, including 1 for
a loss, and a QB pressure. Tapp's spot in the rotation was secured
when the team released tweener Antwan Barnes late last week.
After being acquired right before the season started for a seventh-round
pick from Baltimore, he saw significant work the first couple
of weeks before being pass by Tapp, who initially disappointed
after being acquired himself in the offseason at a higher price
tag. DT Brodrick Bunkley left the on San Francisco's opening
drive with a torn ligament in his elbow. He may try to play
through it, but eventually needs surgery and when it happens,
he should be done for the year. Former UDFA Antonio Dixon stepped
in the rotation and stepped up with 4 solo tackles, including
a sack. DT Trevor Laws helped seal the victory when he hit SF
QB Alex Smith as he threw the ball and it was picked off on
the last play of the game.
- After not getting a sack through the first four games, San
Francisco DE Justin Smith logged 2 on SNF. Smith is the rare
3-4 DE who is productive at getting the QB, posting 7 and 6,
respectively, in his first two seasons with the 49ers.
- The conventional wisdom is a player turns in a big year the
season before they hit free agency, so the production of Minnesota
Edwards after four games was a mystery after his breakout
season last year. However, came through with his best performance
of the season on MNF. He had 7 tackles (5 solo), including 1.5
sacks - his first of the season. Coming in to the game, he had
been coming close. He had 18 QB pressures, including 8 against
Detroit in Week Four, and caught QB Drew Brees behind the line
in Week One, but surprisingly got a TFL instead of a sack. Perhaps
it took Edwards some time to get his mindset right about free
agency after a disappointing turn in the offseason, as he assumed
he had already been playing for the opportunity last year. Under
the old rules, he would have been an UFA after last season,
but due to the uncapped season without a new CBA, he was still
a RFA and had to settle for a first-round tender. It's not like
he was the only one unproductive in the sack column on the team
Allen only has one so far this season - and the team's total
of six this season is third-worst in the NFL. One contributing
factor may be the early season injury status at corner. The
absences of Cedric
Griffin and promising rookie Chris
Cook to start the season left the support in the secondary
weak. With Griffin now done for the season and Cook still hurting,
it doesn't look like this situation will improve any time soon.
- Chicago DE Julius Peppers celebrated his return to Carolina
with not just a win, but an athletic interception that showed
the team and fans what they were missing. After shedding an
attempted cut block, Peppers leaped up to bat a pass in the
air and after falling to the ground, tracked it and snatched
it out of the air from his knees with his big mitts. Peppers
hasn't had any dominating performances this year, but has spread
out his 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defensed and his
pick out to be decent on a game-to-game basis. It was DE Israel
Idonije who had the shocking Peppers-esque performance with
3 sacks and a forced fumble. I bump Idonije up a bit after the
team cut Mark Anderson, but you'll never see this type of performance
from him again. He had the perfect storm of the additional emphasis
on Peppers due to the situation, combined with a new DE rotation
in progress, added to the absence of Carolina LT Jeff Otah.
While the team added veteran Charles Grant for depth last week,
I'm more interested for dynasty leagues to see the progress
of rookie Corey Wooton and Henry Melton, who also continues
to work inside, now that Anderson is gone.
- It looks like boom-or-bust on a weekly basis for Jacksonville
DE Aaron Kampman. After 1.5 sacks in the season opener against
Denver, Kampman was shut out for three weeks before racking
up another 1.5 at Buffalo. Definitely a match-up guy, bench
him against stronger left tackles. The shared sack on Sunday
with Kampman belonged to Derrick Harvey, the first time he touched
a QB before releasing the ball this year.
- In Week Four, I thought lingering problems with a right MCL
sprain limited the role of Tennessee DE William Hayes. This
week, it was a head injury that knocked Hayes out of the game
early. I didn't see a report that said whether or not it was
a concussion, but his health remains a problem. Jason Babin
is doing more than enough to show he should remain the starting
LDE even once Hayes is healthy. Babin had 2 more sacks on Sunday,
giving him 3.5 in the last two games, and leads the team with
5.5 on the season. Jacob Ford was active through nagging knee
and ankle problems, although Dave Ball remained the starter
at RDE. Babin is clearly the guy to have in this group. DT Sen'Derrick
Marks was inactive with a sprained left MCL and remains questionable
- New Orleans DE Will Smith is expected back after missing
Sunday's game with a groin injury. Jeff Charleston got the start
in his place. DE Alex Brown got his first sack as a Saint despite
Smith out of the lineup to draw the double team. Brown has gotten
off to a disappointing start with his new team. He was never
an elite pass rusher, but his tackle numbers are way down too.
- Cincinnati gave Michael Johnson the start at RDE over Antwan
Odom, but the results were no better. Odom left the game late
with a right knee injury and while I couldn't find specifics,
it sounds like he is expected to miss a week or two.
- Green Bay DE Cullen Jenkins was held without a sack for the
first time this season. He's still easily on track for his first
double-digit sack season and should at least pass his current
season best of 6.5 sacks. On the other side, DE Ryan Pickett
has an ankle sprain and is questionable this week.
- A week after his first impact performance of the season,
Washington DT Albert Haynesworth missed Sunday's game to be
with his family in Tennessee after the death of his half-brother,
Lance McCoy, in a motorcycle accident last week.
- Top five teams allowing most sacks this season (start your
DLine against them): Chicago (21), Arizona (19), Philadelphia
(19), Carolina (17), and Oakland (16).
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: Chris Clemons was hot before his bye this week,
so people might have not added him yet, and Seattle faces the
league's worst offensive line in Chicago. If anyone gave up
on Ray Edwards, scoop him back up, but be prepared for inconsistency
because of their secondary problems. In deep sack-heavy leagues,
especially dynasty, grab Antwan Barnes if your league categorizes
him as a DE. He could factor in San Diego's OLB situation shortly.
- Coming off a four-sack performance in his previous game,
San Diego OLB Shaun
Phillips had a strip sack overturned when replay ruled Oakland
QB Bruce Gradkowski's arm was moving forward and it was an incomplete
pass. Phillips finished with 3 solo tackles. OLB Shawne
Merriman was active after missing 3 of 4 games with tendinitis
in his Achilles and a calf problem. However, the burst isn't
back and Merriman didn't start, finishing with 2 tackles (1
solo). The team is done with him, placing him on the IR and
are expected to release him with an injury settlement. So he
should be back with another team soon, but isn't worth a gamble
in all but the deepest of sack-heavy leagues. With Merriman
English still out a few more weeks after surgery on his
left foot and Jyles
Tucker also on the IR, it is Antwan
Applewhite who continues to benefit. He started his third
straight game opposite Phillips. Applewhite had just 1 solo
tackle, but he has a great opportunity. However, he'll have
to do it quickly because the team signed Antwan Barnes to fill
Merriman's roster spot. Barnes started strong in Philadelphia,
but fell out of the rotation and, as discussed above under the
Eagles DLine, was released last week. Barnes could replace Applewhite
quickly if he can show something in practice. The team also
signed former UDFA Cyril Obiozor off Arizona's practice squad
last week to take Tucker's place and provide depth at OLB. Obiozor
was active, but just played on special teams and that probably
remains his role. On the inside, Kevin
Burnett continues to impress. His role has expanded to more
pass rushing responsibility with their problems on the edges,
and he's responded with back-to-back two-sack games. His 4 sacks
this season are already a new career high and he's on pace to
shatter his career best in tackles, projecting to come in just
- Green Bay ILB Nick Barnett was inactive after injuring his
wrist last week. Latest reports are he will have surgery and
be out up to 8 weeks, but the team may opt to put him on the
IR if they need his roster spot. They expect to decide after
the surgery. Desmond Bishop started in his place and wasted
no time making an impact. He led the team with 13 tackles (6
solo), including his first sack since 2008. His was used extensively
as a pass rusher, getting 2 other QB hits. With Brandon Chillar
also out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, A.J. Hawk also
continued to play extensively and had 9 tackles (5 solo). Reserve
OLB Brady Poppinga gets a boost to his value as he is the third
ILB until Chillar returns. Maurice Simpkins was promoted from
the practice squad for depth. Poppinga had 4 tackles (3 solo),
including his first sack of the season, after seeing his most
significant work of the season. Brad Jones replaced UDFA rookie
Frank Zombo as a starter outside opposite Clay Matthews. Matthews
had 1.5 sacks in the game, extending his league lead to 8.5
on the season. He tweaked his hamstring in the game and there
is concern he could be out this week, but HC Mike McCarthy has
not ruled him out yet. Depending on if they need Poppinga inside,
he or Zombo would replace Matthews if he misses any time.
- Despite being held to a season-low 8 tackles (4 solo), Carolina
SLB James Anderson took over the league lead in tackles. He
also shared a sack and continues to be the IDP breakout fantasy
star of the year who needs to be started every week in every
- After a slow start to the season, Tennessee MLB Stephen Tulloch
had 12 or more tackles for the third-straight game, in addition
to his first pick since his rookie year. Tulloch is red hot
and now a must-start in all formats.
- A back-up DE for most of his career, Washington OLB Lorenzo
Alexander started his second straight game over Andre Carter.
Alexander had 3 assist, including sharing a sack with ILB London
Fletcher. Alexander, who continues to have a heavy workload
as a top special teams player, has earned the nod for, among
other things, being stronger in pass coverage than Carter, according
to DC Jim Haslett.
- After a cameo appearance in Week 3, Detroit MLB DeAndre Levy
remains sidelined with a groin and is expected to miss this
week too. Landon Johnson continues to replace him.
- After a disappointing rookie season, Denver former first-round
pick OLB Robert Ayers got off to a fast start with 1.5 sacks
in his first two games this season and although he hasn't had
any since, his play was much improved, but his season was derailed
after breaking his foot on Sunday. Thin outside after already
having lost Elvis Dumervil for the year, the team may look to
another former first-round pick to finally step up as Jarvis
Moss will take his place opposite Jason Hunter, who had his
most productive performance of the year against the Ravens.
Starting ILB Mario Haggan started outside for the Broncos all
last year, so moving him there is another option, but depth
at ILB is hurting as well, with top reserve Wesley Woodyard
expected to miss this week after aggravating a hamstring injury
that has already cost him two games this season. ILB D.J. Williams
had his third double-digit tackle game of the season with a
game-high 15 tackles (10 solo) with plenty of opportunities
as Baltimore running the ball 47 times.
- Atlanta rookie SLB Sean Weatherspoon returned after missing
the previous game with an ankle sprain, only to leave in the
second half with a left knee injury. It sounds like it isn't
serious, but the play of Stephen Nicolas is. In the previous
game, Nicolas led the team with 13 tackles in place of Weatherspoon.
Stepping in again to finish up on Sunday, Nicolas had 4 tackles
and a pick.
- Dallas ILB Bradie James suffered a right knee sprain in Sunday's
loss and has not practiced this week, although it sounds like
the team is still optimistic he'll play this week. Jason Williams
likely replaces him if he is out.
- Arizona ILB Gerald Hayes is expected to return after the
team's bye this week. He began the season on the PUP due to
a back injury and can begin practicing next week. His return
likely puts him back as the starting SILB and bumps rookie Darryl
Washington out of the starting lineup and cagey journeyman Paris
Lenon to WILB in his place. Washington has struggled to make
the transition this year, but still has plenty of promise in
dynasty leagues. Lenon has been their glue in the interior.
- ILB Channing Crowder is practicing and finally expected to
suit up for the first time this season after battling groin
problems. Bobby Carpenter and Tim Dobbins lose what little value
they have once Crowder is back.
- Oakland MLB Rolando McClain broke his string of just 6 tackles
in each of the first four games this season. He had 7 on Sunday.
[Special Ed] Yay! [\\\\Special Ed]
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: It's all about Desmond Bishop this week. Kevin
Burnett might still be there in deep leagues. Deeper leagues
can get a head start on Gerald Hayes before he returns. See
my note on Antwan Barnes under DLine recommendations, but I
like him less as a deep, deep flyer if he must be classified
as a LB.
- Washington SS LaRon Landry advanced his case of early contention
for the Defensive POY. He started the game forcing a fumble
on the first drive that was recovered by FS Kareem Moore and
finished the game grabbing his first pick of the season in overtime
to set up the game-winning FG. In between he had a team-high
13 tackles (10 solo), his third double-digit tackle game of
the season, and is second in the league with 52 tackles on the
season. CB DeAngelo Hall also continues to be a fantasy star
with his second double-digit tackle game, putting up 12 (6 solo).
- Philadelphia SS Quintin Mikell had a great performance on
SNF, leading the team with 8 solo tackles, breaking up a pass,
and returning a fumble recovery for his first career TD in the
fourth quarter, his second fumble recovery of the game. Mikell
leads the team with 31 tackles on the season. Rookie Trevor
Lindley had his first career interception in the prevent defense
on the final play of the game after SF QB Alex Smith was hit
while throwing the ball. Lindley was inactive the last two games
because of spotty special teams play.
- With Steve Gregory serving the first game of his four-game
suspension for violating the league's policy on PEDs, it was
Paul Oliver who got the start at SS for San Diego, as expected.
However, what was in question is how much rookie Darrell Stuckey
would be involved and the answer was not at all. Still battling
a hamstring injury, the team was comfortable enough to leave
Stuckey inactive, along with veteran Tyrone Carter, who was
signed last week for depth. Oliver secured the job by leading
the team with 8 tackles (6 solo).
- Having just lost Melvin Bullitt for the season and still
without Bob Sanders, it was a surprise to see Indianapolis cut
DaJuan Morgan, who was next on the depth chart at SS, on Saturday
- right before the opportunity for Morgan to face his former
team, Kansas City. Instead they gave journeyman Aaron Francisco,
who they signed off the street last week, the start at SS. Francisco
had 2 solo tackles and broke up a pass.
- A healthy Charlie Peprah is the new SS in Green Bay. As discussed
here last week, DC Dom Capers said Peprah was ahead of Derrick
Martin, who replaced Morgan Burnett when he suffered a season-ending
knee injury in the previous game. Peprah started and his nagging
quad held up for the whole game. He had 5 tackles (4 solo).
Martin is totally out of the picture after hurting his knee
on Sunday and being placed on the IR. As Capers was uncertain
if Peprah could go this week, and they've lost more depth at
safety with Martin done, nickel CB Jarrett Bush had been practicing
at safety, so Patrick Lee worked more as nickel this week. Martin
was back to strictly a special teams role. Rookie UDFA Sam Shields,
who started the season as the nickel corner, missed his second
straight game with a calf injury. Reserve CB Brandon Underwood
is also dinged up, he was active, but limited to just special
teams work as he works through a shoulder injury. Another wrinkle
was CB Charles Woodson moving inside in the nickel to cover
the slot to make him more available for blitzing.
- Denver's defensive injury woes continued in the secondary.
SS Brian Dawkins is out for a few weeks after suffering a strained
right knee in the fourth quarter. The team had already lost
their top back-up safety, Darcel McBath, earlier in the game
with an ankle injury that has him listed as out indefinitely.
That leaves David Bruton, a fourth-round pick last year, as
the SS for now. CB Andre Goodman returned, but didn't last long,
aggravating his hamstring. He is out again this week, so the
Jets will look to pick on rookie Perrish Cox this week.
- Devastating news for Minnesota CB Cedric Griffin, he tore
his right ACL late on MNF and is done for the season. He was
rushed his rehab back after tearing his left ACL in the NFC
Championship in January and now has blown the other knee. The
team is pushing for rookie Chris Cook to be ready this week,
as he is dealing with a tear in his right meniscus and has only
suited up once this season after a promising preseason. The
team added journeyman Frank Walker for depth to fill Griffin's
- I hope someone desperate at safety benefitted from my late
correction last week that rookie seventh-round pick Cody Grimm
was the new starting FS in Tampa Bay after the loss of Tanard
Jackson. Russ Grimm's son had quite the performance coming out
of the bye. With Cincinnati leading 7-0 in the first half, Grimm
returned his first career pick for a TD to contribute to the
eventual victory. He also led the team with 11 tackles (7 solo).
- After his two-interception performance the previous game,
Houston gave Troy Nolan his first career start and he had 7
tackles (5 solo).
- Looks like Denver gave up too early on Detroit CB Alphonso
Smith. After trading a 2010 first-round pick to select Smith
in the second round in 2009, he was traded prior to the season
for TE Dan Gronkowski, a seventh-round pick in 2009. Smith grabbed
his third pick of the season on Sunday and returned it for a
TD. This week he was promoted to a starting role, with Jonathan
Wade getting benched.
- Jacksonville CB Derek Cox has regained his starting job from
David Jones after Jones was benched for being the only person
to allow Buffalo WR Lee Evans to do anything this year. Whichever
one is in there will be the favorite target for opposing QBs
and manage some decent fantasy production because of it.
- The Bengals reserve CB formerly known as Pacman Jones was
cuffed and stuffed after being involved in a car accident after
the team's loss on Sunday. Apparently the name "Adam Jones"
brought up hits for outstanding warrants, but it was for a different
Adam Jones. Police originally didn't buy Pacman's explanation
that he was not the man they wanted, but he was released shortly
after it was sorted out a bit later. So Jones lives to play
another day in the NFL.
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: Charlie Peprah and Paul Oliver have the most
job security of a group of new guys at SS this week, most of
whom are likely temporary. Oliver has more big play potential.