Players who began the year on the PUP were eligible to begin practicing
upon the conclusion of Week 6 (so conceptually they could have participated
in a late night practice after MNF, but in reality most will return
when teams begin their practice week on Wednesday, October 20th
(as Tuesday is an off day for most teams). Teams now have three
weeks (prior to Week Nine) to activate players on the PUP to their
53-man roster, so not all players will return this week.
- One of the hottest IDPs out there is Giants DE Osi Umenyiora.
He had his third straight multi-sack game on Sunday as he racked
up 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles for the second straight game.
His 8 sacks move him up to second in the league, half a sack behind
Green Bay OLB Clay Matthews. The team needs his production as
they remain without tweener Mathias Kiwanuka for the third straight
game. He is having another specialist look at his bulging cervical
disk this week and expects to make a decision after that. First-round
pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul finally got more involved this week,
getting 2 solo tackles, including 1 for a loss. His time came
at the expense of DE Dave Tollefson, who just worked on special
- Already having lost his starting job in Week 6, Cincinnati
DE Antwan Odom was suspended four games last week for violating
the league’s substance abuse policy. We first talked about
this possibility back in Week Two when he initially tested positive.
It shouldn’t impact too many fantasy teams, as Odom’s
poor play as he struggles to regain form from the torn Achilles’
tendon that ended his breakout season last year shouldn’t
have had him being played in any format most of the year. The
Bengals will come out of the bye with Jonathan Fanene, if his
hamstring is healthy, and Michael Johnson working RDE out of the
- Rookie first-round pick DE Brandon Graham was lost for Philadelphia
after a brutal cut block in the fourth quarter. He appeared to
suffer a serious ankle injury. Graham, who was demoted out of
starting role in Week Five, was coming off the bench again, working
both inside and outside. Darryl Tapp is doing the same and posted
3 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. Tapp gets a bump if Graham
misses any time. After being kept off the QB the last two games,
Trent Cole had 2 sacks, giving him a team high 5 sacks on the
season, and a key third-down stop. DE Victor Abiamiri doesn’t
sound like he’s coming off the PUP this week. He’s
buried in the rotation regardless once he’s healthy and
will likely be injured again soon. DT Brodrick Bunkley was inactive,
as expected, with a torn ligament in his elbow. It looks like
Bunkley will try to play through the injury as opposed to going
on the IR, but will miss at least this week. Former UDFA Antonio
Dixon got his first career start in place of Bunkley and had a
strong performance with 3 tackles (2 solo). Bunkley’s status
is uncertain, but Dixon should continue to start while he’s
out and remain an important part of the rotation when he’s
healthy. It’s hard not to root for Dixon, who is a great
story of perseverance. With his father in prison, Dixon spent
most of his childhood in temporary living situations in Miami,
including homeless shelters, as his mother tried to provide for
five kids. Challenged through school with learning disability
and severe stuttering problem, that made him a subject of youthful
ridicule despite his size, a year of prep school qualified him
for the University of Miami, where he steadily progress as a defensive
tackle. Washington originally signed him as an UDFA in 2009, but
he was released before the season starter. The Eagles scooped
him up and he was active all 16 games last season. With a tireless
work ethic, he consistently progressed since then, culminating
with hopefully the first of many starts for him as a professional
- In an excellent defensive display on MNF, Tennessee ends Jacob
Ford and William Hayes looked fully healthy again and began to
assert themselves. Ford had his first sack since Week One and
Hayes had 3 solo tackles. Their increased workload came at the
expense of starters Dave Ball and Jason Babin. The duo shared
a sack, giving Babin a team-leading, and career best, 6 on the
season and Ball also set a new career high with 5 sacks on the
season. The upside of all four is now limited by all four being
healthy. I like Babin the best by a slim margin. I think he is
the best pure pass rusher, so he retains a bit more value in sack-heavy
leagues. Ford will challenge him as the pass rush specialist on
the right side. Hayes probably has the most all-around talent,
but is not a great pass rusher and his tackle totals from stout
run defense will be limited by the rotation. While it appears
he’ll remain the starter, I like Ball the least. He is the
least athletic of the group and a miscast 3-4 end benefitting
from the talent up and down this front four.
- Miami first-round pick DE Jared Odrick remained inactive. He
hasn’t played since Week One when he suffered a hairline
fracture in his right fibula and has been complicated by ankle
problems since trying to return.
- Pittsburgh DE Brett Keisel left the game early with a left
hamstring injury and is expected to miss this week. Nick Eason
and Evander Hood replaced him and should continue to rotate in
his place this week.
- St. Louis ends James Hall and Chris Long both had a pair of
sacks as the Rams got to San Diego QB Phillip Rivers seven times
on Sunday. It was the second two-sack game of the season for Hall
and he leads the team with 6 on the season. He’s on pace
for his first double-digit sack season since 2004, the only time
in 11 seasons the 33-year old achieved the feat. While he hasn’t
been an elite pass rusher historically, the defense finally seems
to be coming together under HC Steve Spagnuolo and Hall is in
the right place at the right time.
- Cleveland HC Eric Mangini revealed DE Robaire Smith may be
done for the season with a back injury. AP was reporting it was
a done deal per an unnamed team source on Tuesday night. He was
inactive on Sunday due to the back, but there was no previous
indication it was season-threatening. Former UDFA Brian Schaefering
- Chicago is already done with DE Charles Grant after he showed
up out of shape (being waived by the UFL Omaha Nighthawks after
two games apparently was not enough of a preemptive warning sign
for the Bears). The team activated DE Barry Turner off the practice
squad. Turner had a nice preseason, but as a UDFA, was the easier
choice for the practice squad. Corey Wooton and Henry Melton will
now compete to be the third DE.
- It was understandable that Washington DT Albert Haynesworth
was inactive Week Five to be with his family after the accidental
death of his half-brother, but he was a surprise healthy scratch
again for SNF, as NBC’s Andrea Kremer reported before the
game that Haynesworth told her he was ready and willing to play.
HC Mike Shanahan seemed to contradict that when he said after
the game Haynesworth missed too much practice time when out the
previous week. Kremer also reported she talked to Washington GM
Bruce Allen and he said Haynesworth “will still be a member”
of the Redskins after Tuesday’s trade deadline. Regardless,
this latest incident could restart tension between Haynesworth
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: James Hall continues flying under the radar
and while I wouldn’t want him as my starter every game,
he’s a great bye week substitute. I’d try to sell
high on Osi Umenyiora in all formats and in dynasty leagues,
would be even happier if Jason Pierre-Paul was out there on
the waiver wire and I had room to roster him.
- A devastating loss for Houston and his fantasy owners as
MLB DeMeco Ryans is lost for the year with a torn Achilles’
tendon. Run, don’t walk, to your waiver wire to add Zach
Diles, who slides in to take over the middle. Rookie Darryl
Sharpton also gains value as he take over the WLB position that
- After his surgery last week and the projected 8 week recovery,
Green Bay decided to put ILB Nick Barnett on the IR. Desmond
Bishop is locked in the starting lineup at ILB now and put up
his second straight double-digit tackle game, posing 10 tackles
(7 solo) and breaking up a pass. ILB A.J. Hawk led the team
with 13 tackles (5 solo) as Miami dominated time of possession
and pounded the ball. The team was without OLB Clay Matthews,
who was inactive with a left hamstring. Matthews was able to
hold on to his league lead in sacks with 8.5 despite missing
the game. He is expected to be back this week for a key divisional
match-up with Minnesota and the team needs him, they got no
sacks in a game for the first time this season with Matthews
out of the lineup. Brady Poppinga replaced Matthews opposite
Brad Jones, but Poppinga left in the second quarter with a problem
in his left knee. Poppinga tore the ACL in that knee in 2005
and it looks like he’ll miss some time as he had the knee
cleaned up on Tuesday. UDFA rookie Frank Zombo returned to the
first team to fill in for Poppinga on Sunday, but should return
to a back-up role with Matthews expected back this week.
- Atlanta MLB Curtis Lofton limped off the field late in the
fourth quarter, but returned the next series, the final one
of the game, to get his 14th and final tackle of the game (11
solo). He should be fine this week and the team needs him, as
rookie SLB Sean Weatherspoon was inactive after injuring his
left knee in the previous game. Stephen Nicholas had 6 solo
tackles, including 1 TFL, in his place, and will get another
start this week as Weatherspoon has already been ruled out.
It will be the third game Weatherspoon missed, also sitting
out Week Four with an ankle sprain and may have a fight on his
hands to get his starting job back when he’s healthy.
- A good sign Philadelphia MLB Stewart Bradley is fully recovered
from his torn ACL was his sack on the first third down of Sunday’s
win over Atlanta. For Bradley, who is not much of a pass rusher
or often used as such, it was his first sack since opening day
2008. Don’t expect him to turn in many other big plays,
but it’s good to see from the big fella. He led the team
with 7 tackles (4 solo) and broke up a pass.
- Not known for his pass coverage ability, Minnesota MLB E.J.
Henderson picked off Dallas QB Tony Romo twice. The first was
a lucky bounce deflected off a helmet, but the second was a
misread by Romo trying to force the ball in to TE Jason Witten.
Henderson also had 9 tackles (4 solo). It was the second straight
solid performance by Henderson, who is less than a year removed
from a gruesome broken leg. After a slow start to the season,
he seems to have been rejuvenated by the rest over their Week
Four bye and looks like he can be started regularly again. WLB
Chad Greenway led the team with 12 tackles (8 solo), including
1 TFL, and broke up a pass. He leads the team by a significant
margin with 51 tackles on the season.
- With DeAndre Levy (groin) and Landon Johnson (concussion)
both out in Detroit, it was Ashlee Palmer who got the start
and he responded with 13 tackles (9 solo) as an every-down player
with depth lacking on Sunday. Palmer was signed as an UDFA out
of Mississippi by Buffalo in 2009. He was released after the
season despite getting the opportunity to start there because
of a rash of injuries at LB. A JUCO safety, he was converted
to LB at Mississippi and had a solid, but unspectacular, career.
He played in the Senior Bowl, but wasn’t invited to the
Combine. An athletic, but undersized, player, Palmer’s
ceiling should be special teams, but he’s been in the
right place at the right time for the second straight year.
The Lions have a bye this week, so we’ll check back next
week if Levy is finally ready to go. If not, Johnson should
be ready and I would expect him to get the nod over Palmer.
The Lions also had a scare with WLB Zack Follett having to leave
on stretcher with his heads in a brace after a violent collision
during the kick-off of the second half. Vinny Ciurciu got some
rare PT in place of Follett. Thankfully the reports are all
positive about Follett’s head and spine and he has feeling
and movement. Palmer could get the opportunity at WLB if Follett
isn’t ready after the bye and Johnson is in the middle.
- With MLB Gary Brackett out with a groin injury, rookie Pat
Angerer got his first career start for Indianapolis in the middle.
He responded with 11 tackles (4 solo), including his first career
sack, and broke up 2 passes. With the Colts heading to a bye,
his value for the year may be done for redraft leagues, but
he definitely looks appealing for dynasty leagues. However,
it might not be at MLB soon, as the 30-year old Brackett just
signed a five-year extension before the season.
- Ageless Washington ILB London Fletcher continues to be the
most consistent IDP fantasy producer in NFL history, as he posted
his third double-digit tackle game of the season. He led the
team with 14 tackles (7 solo) and jumped to third in the league
with 60 tackles on the season.
- New England ILB Jerod Mayo led the team with 18 tackles (11)
solo and has 34 (25 solo) in his last two games alone. He has
jumped up to second in the league in tackles off that strong
run, with 60 on the season. To focus on stopping the Baltimore
run game, rookie ILB Brandon Spikes got a heavy workload and
responded with his first career double-digit tackle game, totaling
16 (8 solo) in the victory. A liability in pass coverage, Spikes
is unable to push Gary Guyton completely out of the picture,
so don’t expect stat lines like this every week, but clearly
Spikes is showing himself to be a productive two-down run stopper
and a great play any time New England faces a run-heavy opponent.
- Arizona ILB Gerald Hayes (back) and fourth-round pick OLB
O’Brien Schofield (knee) are expected to begin practicing
Wednesday, as they are now eligible to come off the PUP. Hayes
is expected to be ready, but Schofield might not be activated
yet as he continues to recover from tearing his left ACL during
practice for the Senior Bowl. The return of Hayes is expected
to eventually move underperforming rookie ILB Darryl Washington
to the bench. Hayes should resume his SILB job and overachieving
journeyman Paris Lenon should remain a starter, moving over
- Brian Iwuh got the start at WLB in Chicago with Lance Briggs
out with an ankle injury. Iwuh led the team with 9 tackles (8
solo). It was a nice opportunity for Iwuh, but Briggs is expected
back this week.
- In a week that saw several concussion on violent hits, leading
to the announcement of a league policy of potential suspensions
in the future for such hits, Pittsburgh OLB James Harrison led
the way with two KO’s. He knocked both Cleveland WR Mohammad
Massaquoi and WR Josh Cribbs out of the game on separate occasions
Sunday. Ed Bouchette, beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
said the league told him the Cribbs hit was legal, and the helmet
contact appeared inadvertent, so his $75,000 fine must have
been for the Massaquoi hit, where he seemed to be going for
a head shot. Harrison was flagged for neither, but didn’t
help himself when he challenged the league’s authority
in post-game comments saying, there is “no way”
he’ll be fined and if he is, it’s a “travesty”,
adding he doesn’t want to “injure” people,
but he is “not opposed to hurting anybody”. In Roger
Goodell’s kinder, gentler NFL, there’s unfortunately
no place for truths like that. As for Harrison’s fantasy
production, he had his second double-digit tackle game of the
season and 1.5 sacks, as well as forcing a fumble and breaking
up a pass. After a relative down year in 2009 compared to the
huge numbers he put up as the AP Defensive POY in 2008, he’s
back to projecting to put up those same kind of big numbers
- Miami OLB Cameron Wake abused Green Bay rookie RT Bryan Bulaga,
racking up 3 sacks and 6 other QB hits. Wake now has 6 sacks
in 5 games, as Miami had their bye last week. The Jets were
the only team to keep him off their QB so far this year. Rookie
Koa Misi got his third sack of the season on the other side.
ILB Channing Crowder was active for the first time this season
and posted 3 solo tackles. As expected, Tim Dobbins and Bobby
Carpenter were back mostly on special teams work. Carpenter
saw some work on defense briefly in OT when ILB Karlos Dansby
had to leave with an apparent left leg injury. Danby said he’s
fine after the game and Miami went on to release Carpenter on
Monday. Not much of a surprise, he was disappointing on defense
and a liability on special teams.
- Instead of relying on former first-round bust Jarvis Moss
to takeover at OLB in their 3-4 after Elvis Dumervil and then
Robert Ayers for the season, Denver opted to switch to a 4-3
to compensate for their depleted rush LB corps. The move was
also to provide a “big base” against the league’s
top rushing offense in the Jets. After some initial success,
the Jets stuck to the run and eventually wore them down. With
the Raiders up next on the schedule, another team you’d
prefer to try to beat you in the air, expect the 4-3 experiment
to last at least another week. In this set, D.J. Williams manned
the middle with Mario Hagan and converted DE Jason Hunter outside.
Williams led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo), including a
sack. He also broke up 2 passes. It was the fourth double-digit
tackle game of the season for Williams, who leads the team and
is fourth in the league with 56 tackles on the season.
- Tennessee OLB David Thornton (hip) is not ready to come off
the PUP yet, but he’s only a reserve at this point. He’s
fallen far since his top 25 season in 2007 and at 31, the undersized
LB won’t be having another year like that again.
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: It’s all about Zach Diles this week and
his opportunity as an every-down MLB. After him, if any deep
leagues left Desmond Bishop behind last week before Nick Barnett’s
season was officially ruled over, you can try for him. Watch
practice reports to see if Gerald Hayes is ready and grab him
if he is expected to play this week. In dynasty leagues, grab
Pat Angerer if you have room to stash him away. I’m not
very excited about Channing Crowder, let someone else pick him
up. Keep an eye on the Detroit LB situation over the bye, it
looks like there might be enough injury problems there that
Ashlee Palmer could still see some work in the short term and
if there’s finally anything positive about DeAndre Levy,
snatch him up.
- It remains Charlie Peprah at SS in Green Bay, at least for
now. He posted 10 tackles (7 solo) as Miami dominated time of
possession in the win. The team traded an undisclosed pick to
Jacksonville for S Anthony Smith, who the team released prior
to last season. That move should be for depth and doesn’t
challenge Peprah as much as the news that Atari Bigby (ankle)
is reportedly ready to resume practicing with the team on Wednesday.
He’ll need to get back in to playing shape, but should
eventually reclaim the starting job. The moves also allow Jarrett
Bush to move back to CB now. It is also reported CB Al Harris
will be ready to return from the PUP this week. The 35-year
old is coming off a torn ACL last season and ruptured spleen
the season before, so expectations are low for what he has left.
He should be eased in as the nickel corner in certain packages,
as I don’t expect he’ll supplant CB Tramon Williams
as a starter. Williams had a pick for the second straight game
on Sunday and is turning in to a shutdown corner. Rookie CB
Sam Shields returned to the nickel role last week after missing
2 games with a calf injury.
- Baltimore FS Ed Reed has been cleared to return to the team
and is eligible to come off the PUP this week. He is expected
to return to practice Wednesday and play this week, but HC John
Harbaugh has said it will be up to Reed when he is ready. Reed
remains a huge injury risk once he returns and doesn’t
tackle much anymore, but he has a knack for the big play and
will be worth returning to fantasy lineups in leagues that reward
heavily for such when he is back. Tom Zbikowski, who has been
underwhelming as Reed’s replacement, suffered a foot injury
and had to leave the game early.
- New Orleans HC Sean Payton was ambiguous about the status
of FS Darren Sharper and whether he’d be ready to come
off the PUP this week. Malcolm Jenkins has been solid in his
place, and is the future, but the team might Jenkins back at
corner. CB Jabari Greer left early with a shoulder injury, but
it sounds like he’ll be OK this week, but Tracy Porter
(knee) and Randall Gay (concussion) were inactive last week.
- Washington SS LaRon Landry had his fourth double-digit tackle
game of the season on SNF and has reclaimed the league lead
with 63 on the season.
- With SS Brian Dawkins out for a few weeks with a right knee
strain and top back-up Darcel McBath out indefinitely with an
ankle injury, the team turned to nickel corner Nathan Jones,
instead of David Bruton, at SS. Jones responded with 7 tackles
(6 solo) and a pass defensed. Seventh-round pick Syd'Quan Thompson
worked as the nickel and got his first career pick. The team
was also without Andre Goodman (hamstring) again, as expected,
giving rookie Perrish Cox another start. Cox has been beaten
often when inserted this year, but it was an aging Champ Bailey
who was beaten by the Jets one passing TD. Bailey appeared to
get kicked in the mid-section on the play and left the game
briefly, but returned.
- A concussion knocked Minnesota SS Husain Abdullah out Sunday
afternoon. Jamarca Sanford replaced him and should get the start
if Abdullah can’t go this Sunday night.
- For Indianapolis, Aaron Francisco remained the starter at
SS and sealed the victory on SNF with an incredible one-handed
diving interception with seconds left in the game. He also posted
6 tackles (4 solo) and seems to have locked down the SS job
after being without a team just two weeks ago.
- To paraphrase NBC’s Tony Dungy on the play of Jets
star CB Darrelle Revis the last couple of games, a lot of people
have been visiting Revis Island. The shutdown corner has struggled
to return to form from his hamstring injury and their bye week
comes just in time.
- Atlanta CB Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000, but won’t
be suspended, after a violent head-on collision that knocked
both players out of the game on Sunday. Robinson suffered a
concussion on the hit and was replaced by Chris Owens. Robinson
is not expected to play this week, so Owens gets the start.
- Same as Robinson in Atlanta, New England S Brandon Meriweather
was fined $50,000, but won’t be suspended, after helmet-to-helmet
hit on Baltimore TE Todd Heap on Sunday.
- Tennessee CB Jason McCourty has returned to practice after
suffering a broken arm earlier in the season and it on track
to return this week. Rookie Alterraun Verner has played well
in his absence, so they can afford to ease McCourty back in.
- With neither Derek Cox nor David Jones able to lock down
the corner job opposite Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville brought
in street FA Chevis Jackson, a former third-round pick of Atlanta,
to add to the competition. They also released SS Gerald Alexander
as Sean Considine is ready to return from his hamstring injury.
Considine was producing well the first few games before going
- Top waiver wire recommendations of
the week: In deep redraft leagues in the unlikely event
you can afford to stash him, I’d grab Ed Reed now if he’s
still on the waiver wire and hope for the best. For a much safer
bet, it looks like Aaron Francisco has some job security after
a couple good starts.