Eyes Of the Guru
By John Norton
December 15th, 2010

Atlanta Falcons
If you pay attention to my projections you may notice that I have Curtis Lofton is down a bit this week. My concern here is two fold. He is battling a sore knee that has kept him from practicing much over that past couple of weeks and may be taking its toll in the box scores. Then there is the matchup with Seattle this week. The Seahawks have been inconsistent at best. A few guys have produced well against them but some very good players have not. D.J. Williams 3-1, James Laurinaitis 4-1, Brian Urlacher 4-2, Jonathan Vilma 4-1 and Patrick Willis 4-3 just to name a few. Consider your options before plugging Lofton in this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucks lost Quincy Black and Gerald McCoy to season ending injuries in week 14 but I really don't see a lot of production coming from anyone they plug in as replacements. What did catch my eye here was the solid play of Corey Lynch at safety. It can be difficult to tell if a coaching staff likes what they see in a safety sometimes. What appears to us as a guy making plays all over the field showing up strong in the box score, doesn't always equate to his impressing the coaching staff. I continue to believe Lynch is being given an opportunity to audition for the job on a regular basis. His two games with the starters have yielded 10-4 with a pick, and he has looked pretty good to me. Only time will tell if the coaching staff is impressed.

Carolina Panthers
After his big game on Sunday (2-1-1.5) Everett Brown headed to IR this week with a wrist injury. Everett has been turned in a few strong games but has not shown much consistency. With him being shut down the Panthers may take a long look at Greg Hardy who was the talk of the pre-season. It could also mean more passing down snaps for Tyler Brayton down the stretch. There is not really a move to be made here unless you are in a very deep league and/or are in dire straights, but we should keep an eye on Hardy to see what he can do with the opportunity.

Indianapolis Colts
Injuries have been an issue with Gary Brackett much of the season and he is probably not 100% even now as he continues to battle a sore toe. He has however, returned to the target rich environment that is the middle of the Colts defense. Brackett is a solid player when healthy and even if he's not completely there, the Jaguars provide a very strong matchup. I don't see Brackett having a ton of upside but he should post very respectable tackle numbers this week.

Denver Broncos
If you have a problem at DB and your options are limited, keep an eye on the situation in Denver. Darcel McBath is expected to go this week and as of Wednesday, seems likely to get the call at SS. Bruton went down on Sunday and Brian Dawkins doesn't look as if he'll be back so McBath may be their only healthy option. The Broncos seem to have thrown in the towel already and there are not many better matchups than the Raiders of late.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The groin injury suffered by Justin Durant seems likely to keep him out this week. That means Kirk Morrison will step into the nickel packages. That's a big deal against an Indy club that uses a ton of three WR sets. Indy was a strong matchup early in the season when Joseph Addai was in the lineup. Addai could return this week. The last consideration in Morrison's favor is that he was 8-2 in the first meeting when he also handled and every down role... Don Carey took over at SS against the Raiders and had a strong day (6-0 and a pick) in the box score. Courtney Greene is still not practicing so Carey could have another busy week.

Kansas City Chiefs
Since week six every opponent to face the Rams has given us a linebacker with at least 6 solo stops. Most of those linebackers posted 7 or more. Opponents safeties have also been strong on most weeks with this matchup. The moral of the story is that if you have Derek Johnson or Eric Berry, play them this week.

San Francisco 49ers
For those of you playing in CBS leagues where Travis LaBoy is listed as a defensive end; over the past two games he is 6-2-2 with a forced and a recovered fumble. He's not officially starting so there is clearly some risk but if you are looking for a sleeper with some upside, LaBoy might be your guy. Especially if your championship game is week 17 when San Francisco faces the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals
From what I can tell Gerald Hayes was a healthy inactive for week fourteen while Daryl Washington returned to the lineup. Just as he did earlier in the season, Washington stepped up in the box scores where he finished at 6-2 with a pick. We may not hear anything official on this all week but I have to believe the Cardinals coaching staff has finally turned their attention to the future. At the least you might want to grab Washington just in case. Even if you don't need to play him it might be good to ensure that you don't play against him. The Panthers have been a pretty strong LB matchup for us all year... It doesn't matter who the opponent is, Adrian Wilson has evolved into an every week must start. His 11 tackle performance in a blowout win over Denver, caps a five week run in which Wilson has posted 6 or more tackles in every game.

Philadelphia Eagles
Stewart Bradley was on the way to his best game of the season when he was lost to a dislocated elbow. Jamar Chaney stepped in at MLB and finished a solid 5-2. What concerns me about Chaney is that we don't know if he will play an every down role. It's hard to fathom that they would turn to a rookie 7th round pick as their every down guy. In fact is some chance that Omar Gaither will get the start. Hopefully we will get some word on this situation by the end of the practice week. Whomever gets the call could have a strong game versus the Giants even in a two down role... The Eagles also lost Brandon Graham to a knee injury. That could mean a bigger role for Darryl Tapp. Tapp was 2-0-1 against the Cowboys. Juqua Parker could also be a bigger factor if he is able to return to injury as expected.

New England Patriots
The good news for Patrick Chung owners is that he seemed to return to more of a full time role against the Bears and was the Patriots leading tackler in week fourteen. The bad news is that the whole situation leaves us (or at least me) lacking the confidence to start him against a Packers club that will likely struggle greatly without Aaron Rogers. Take the risk if you must but I'll likely be sitting Chung this week.

Buffalo Bills
Akin Ayodele continues his string of solid production. He has 6 solo stops in each of the last three games and what should be a quality matchup with the Dolphins this week. He doesn't have a great deal of upside but you could do much worse for a third starter this week.

Cincinnati Bengals
Chinedum Ndukwe was 3-0-1 and on his way to a big game when he tore up his knee on Sunday. This injury and the loss of backup Tom Nelson who is also done for the year, leaves the Bengals in bad shape at safety. Look for Roy Williams and Reggie Nelson to carry the full load at the position this week with Marvin White being signed off the street to provide depth. Dhani Jones is a must start this week against the Browns battering ram Peyton Hillis and I think Williams could have his best game of the season as well. Give him a look if you need to make something happen. The only thing that scares me here is that the game is in Cincinnati where the stats crew counts funny.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Did you start Troy Polamalu last week? He didn't do anything in the tackle columns because the Bengals ball carriers couldn't get past the DL, but 2 picks and a score sure was nice. Don't expect a repeat from him this week though. Between the sore ankle and the matchup things don't look so bright for this one. No safety has put up more than 3 tackles against the Jets since week nine and no safety has posted more than 5 tackles against them since week four.

Green Bay Packers
Desmond Bishop has become a pretty solid every week start in most leagues. Just in case someone is facing a decision on him, take a look at what some opposing linebackers have done against the Patriots lately, Pat Angerer 9-3, Landon Johnson 8-0, David Harris 4-2-1 and Brian Urlacher 9-2-1 with 3 PD in the snow. I'll be starting Bishop. Obviously this all bodes well for A.J. Hawk and Charlie Peprah as well.

Detroit Lions
Injuries at the Lions DE positions may provide us with an opportunity this week. Kyle Vanden Bosch is on IR and a banged up Cliff Avril was unable to finish Sunday's game. The chances of Avril playing this week don't seem very good. That means Lawrence Jackson is all but guaranteed a full time role. He is coming off a 2-3-1 and has been very productive when given an opportunity over the past few weeks. Jackson has reached double digit fantasy points in three of his last four games.

As usual there are some things left unsaid this week due to deadlines. Check out the Audible IDP Podcast and the other great content from our IDP staff. Between us we don't overlook much. Best of luck to you this week and I hope everyone is back for the Championship week edition in Week 16. Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to norton@footballguys.com.

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