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Week 3 IDP Upgrades and Downgrades

by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com


Upgrades

DT Fred Robbins, NYG (4 solos, 0 assists, 2 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - The Giants defense made things pretty miserable for Marc Bulger this week as they finished with 6 total sacks. Robbins did his part with 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss, and 2 QB hits in the game. Robbins has started off the season pretty well with 8 solos and 2 sacks in his first 2 games and he has a chance to finish as a top-10 DT this year.

DT Tank Tyler, KC (6 solos, 2 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Tyler is a 2nd year player who the Chiefs drafted in the 3rd round last year. Although Glenn Dorsey received most of the preseason attention from fantasy owners due to his great collegiate career, he may still be a year away from being a reliable fantasy starter. In tackle-heavy scoring systems, Tyler could wind up being the more productive player inside. He led the Chiefs in tackles this week thanks in large part to the 47 rushing attempts from the Raiders, but that is a trend that may continue as long as the Chiefs continue to struggle on both sides of the ball.

DE Gaines Adams, TB (3 solos, 3 assists, 2 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Adams rebounded from a disappointing shutout in the season opener with a very strong game against the Falcons. His 6 total tackles tied him for 2nd on the team, and he also demonstrated his game changing potential with 2 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, and 4 QB hits.

DE Lawrence Jackson, SEA (4 solos, 1 assists, 2 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - The rookie Jackson is deserving of another upgrade after his performance against the 49ers this week. He saw most of his time at RDE and finished with the same number of tackles as MLB Lofa Tatupu, while also adding a couple of sacks. The Seahawks pass rush was relentless as 6 different players combined for 8 total sacks.

ILB Dhani Jones, CIN (5 solos, 5 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Although he had never really played the position in the NFL, Jones was handed the starting MLB job in Cincinnati this year. While he hasn't been playing particularly well and will likely always be in danger of losing his starting job if a better replacement can be found, Jones has been very productive thus far. With 11 solos and 9 assists, he is averaging 10 total tackles a game. The numbers are likely inflated a bit due to the Bengals facing a couple of power running teams in the Ravens and Titans, but Jones figures to put up pretty reliable LB3 numbers as long as he's in the starting lineup.

ILB Jonathan Vilma, NO (10 solos, 6 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 1 PD) - There were some mixed feelings on Vilma heading into this season. Some expected a return to stud status with his move back to MLB in a 4-3 defense. Others, however, remained cautious due to his declining production in New York, the knee injury he was coming back from, and some unimpressive preseason games. With his huge game against the Saints this week, Vilma now has 17 solos and 8 assists in just 2 games played. As long as he can stay healthy, it certainly looks like he'll have a hard time finishing outside the top-10.

OLB Thomas Howard, OAK (5 solos, 2 assists, 1 sacks 1 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 2 PD) - Although the Chiefs offense may not manage to stay on the field long enough for most IDPs to put up good numbers, Howard made the most of his limited opportunities against them this week. He led the Raiders in tackles with 7 and also added a sack, a QB hit, a tackle for loss, 2 PDs, and a FF. Howard has averaged over 80 solo tackles the past two years, but his production took a big jump with the 6 interceptions he hauled in last year. He may not replicate that interception total, but he could make up for it with a bump in sacks given the improvement in coverage expected from the Raiders secondary.

OLB Bryan Thomas, NYJ (3 solos, 5 assists, 1 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Coming off a breakout season in 2006 when the Jets first moved him from DE to OLB, Thomas signed a big contract. Like many players who sign big deals, Thomas's motivation and effort took a big dropoff and he finished with just 2.5 sacks in 2007. This year, the team brought in two high-profile replacements for him in Calvin Pace and Vernon Gholston, and that seems to have lit a fire under Thomas as well. After 2 games, he has 6 solos, 5 assists, and 3 sacks. With Gholston struggling, Thomas is getting plenty of playing time and it looks like he could be headed for a double digit sack season.

CB Chris Gamble, CAR (7 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 1 FR, 0 INT, 2 PD) - Gamble's career got off to a great start when he averaged 60 solo tackles and 5 interceptions per years over his first 3 seasons in the league. His production fell off last year and many thought it was only a matter of time until Richard Marshall took over his spot in the starting lineup. Gamble seemed to have different plans, however. At just 25 years old and in the last season of his contract, Gamble's season is off to a great start. After recording 5 solos and returning a fumble recovery for a TD in week 1, he finished 8 tackles and another fumble recovery this week. Meanwhile, Marshall has done very little up to this point. Gamble could wind up as one of this year's best values at CB.

CB Tracy Porter, NO (8 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - The Saints drafted Porter in the 2nd round of the draft this year and he beat out veteran Randall Gay for a starting CB spot. As most fantasy owners know, rookie CBs tend to see a lot of targets as opposing teams normally have no fear of throwing in their direction. Porter was matched up with Santana Moss for most of the game and had trouble staying with him, but he also came up and made a lot of tackles on short passes and running plays. Vilma stole the show with 16 total tackles in the game but Porter was the next most active player with 9.

S Mike Adams, CLE (9 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Adams is a veteran player who spent some time with the 49ers before signing in Cleveland last year. He started the season opener at FS in place of Brodney Pool and finished with 8 solo tackles. He started week 2 at SS in place of Sean Jones and once again finished with 8 solo tackles. Now that Jones is out for a month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery, Adams will take over his starting spot and it looks like he could be a nice pickup for teams that need short-term help at the position.

S Daniel Bullocks, DET (8 solos, 4 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 1 PD) - Bullocks was inserted into the starting lineup at FS this week, in place of Gerald Alexander, and was a tackling machine. He finished with 12 total tackles, which was 5 more than the MLB Paris Lenon had. Bullocks had a promising year as a rookie starter in 2006 but missed all of 2007 with a knee injury. With the Lions defense struggling, Bullocks could see a lot of action this year and certainly looks like he is worth a pickup in deeper leagues.

S Chris Horton, WAS (2 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 1 FR, 2 INT, 2 PD) - Horton was a 7th round pick of the Redskins this year but he was one of their most impressive players during the preseason. With normal SS Reed Doughty a late scratch this week due to an illness, Horton got a surprise start and had a huge impact with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. He probably won't hold onto the job when Doughty returns, but he could have more long-term upside at the position and is definitely a player for dynasty owners to keep their eyes on.

S Lawyer Milloy, ATL (7 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Milloy has quietly been producing very reliable numbers the past few years. From 2005 to 2007, he has played in all 48 games and has averaged about 74 solo tackles and 24 assists per year. The reason why most fantasy owners may not have noticed is the lack of big plays, with just 3 sacks and 3 interceptions over all 3 seasons combined. Milloy did record an interception in week 1 and followed that up with a team-leading 7 solo tackles in week 2. He's a steady veteran presence in a young and inexperienced secondary, which should keep him on the field in all situations. It won't be a big surprise if he cracks 80 solo tackles and finishes as a top-12 safety this year.


Downgrades

DT Jovan Haye, TB (1 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Jovan Haye had a remarkable season in 2007 when he finished as the #1 DT in most leagues with 48 solo tackles, 20 assists, and 6 sacks. If his first two games of 2008 are any indicator, however, it looks like those numbers will be very tough to replicate. He was credited with just 1 solo tackle in the season opener against the Saints and then followed that up with just a single solo tackle against the Falcons in week 2. He was struggling with a groin injury during the preseason, so perhaps that is limiting his effectiveness. Either way, if you're counting on him to be your everyweek starter, it's probably time to start looking for help.

DE Elvis Dumervil, DEN (0 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Dumervil was credited with just 1 assist in the season opener and then followed that up with just 1 QB hit in week 2. He was expected to get off to a slow start after breaking his finger in the preseason, but he's still been healthy enough to start. The Broncos as a whole are not putting much pressure on opposing QBs, with just 3 sacks and 5 QB hits in 2 games combined.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka, NYG (0 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Kiwanuka injured his ankle at the end of the season opener but was listed as probable on the injury report last week and was healthy enough to start the game against the Rams this week. However, despite 6 sacks from the rest of the Giants defense, Kiwanuka was held without a single stat. While the reports on the injury are that it wasn't that bad, it might not be a bad idea to sit him for a bit to make sure he's back to full health.

DE Jarvis Moss, DEN - The Broncos spent a 1st round pick on Jarvis Moss last year to upgrade their pass rush. Although he failed to make an immediate impact and had his rookie season cut short by a broken leg suffered in practice, Moss was expected to take on a bigger role this year. For the first two weeks, however, he hasn't even had a chance as the team has placed him on their inactive list for both games despite him being fully healthy. With Moss reduced to more of a pass rush specialist role, the team has chosen to go with better run stoppers up front.

OLB Nail Diggs, CAR (1 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Diggs was likely found among the most added LBs after his week 1 performance of 6 solos, 2 assists, and 1 sack. Those may be the best numbers he puts up all season though. As a 2-down SLB playing with guys like Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and Chris Harris, he'll have a hard time averaging more than 3 solo tackles per game and probably won't make enough big plays to offset the lack of tackles. He was listed as questionable with a shoulder injury this week so that may also have limited his effectiveness.

OLB Justin Durant, JAX (2 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - After battling each other throughout the preseason, Clint Ingram started ahead of Durant in week 1. Durant quickly replaced him and wound up with a solid statline at the end of the game, but he left the game with a groin injury this week and finished with just 2 solo tackles. Durant still has the potential to be a productive 3-down WLB, but his year is off to a slow start and the groin injury could make things worse.

OLB Manny Lawson, SF (2 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - After a 5 solo effort in week 1 against the Cardinals, Manny Lawson did not see a single snap of defense this week against the Seahawks. The 49ers decided to use a nickel package as their base defense, and that wound up limiting Lawson to special teams play only. He still made the most of his opportunities with 2 solo tackles on special teams and a blocked punt. But, if Lawson isn't part of the team's nickel package and can go a whole game without seeing a single defensive snap, you probably want to look elsewhere for reliable fantasy production.

OLB Shawne Merriman, SD - Merriman announced last week that he would have surgery on the two torn ligaments on his knee, ending his season but potentially salvaging his career. The recovery time is expected to be 6 or 7 months. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Jyles Tucker, who failed to make an impact this week against the Broncos. The loss of Merriman figures to make things tougher on Shaun Phillips as well as teams will blockers will likely start paying more attention to him.

OLB Joey Porter, MIA (1 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - These are the types of games that often make 3-4 OLBs so frustrating to rely on. Porter had a solid start to the season last week against the Jets, but his 1 solo, 1 assist game this week may wind up being more of the norm. The Dolphins offense is struggling to score and the secondary can't seem to stop anybody, which will limit the pass rush opportunities for Porter this year.

S Gerald Alexander, DET (0 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Alexander struggled in week 1 so the Lions coaching staff decided to go with Josh Bullocks as their starting FS in week 2. Bullocks responded with a great effort and Alexander suffered a concussion and was held to 0 tackles this week. Even when healthy, it looks like Alexander will probably need an injury to one of the starters to get back in the lineup.

S Oshiomogho Atogwe, STL (1 solos, 1 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Atogwe has been one of the best fantasy safeties in the league over the past two seasons thanks primarily to his big play ability. He got off to a great start with 8 solo tackles and a FF in week 1, but fell back to earth this week with a disappointing 1 solo tackle that came on a 17-yard run.

S Atari Bigby, GB (1 solos, 0 assists, 0 sacks 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 PD) - Bigby had a breakout season in 2007 when he finished with 66 solo tackles, 5 INTs, and 3 FF. He's a big hitter who helped bring more of a physical presence to the Packers secondary. He recorded just 1 solo tackle this week and did not return after leaving the game in the first half with a hamstring cramp. Reports of the game indicated that Bigby showed up on the sideline wearing shorts in the second half, which seems unusual for a cramp. Might be a situation to watch if he misses practice time this week.

S Sean Jones, CLE - Jones was a consensus top-5 safety entering the season but he'll be lost for a month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week. He first hurt his knee in the preseason opener but tried to play through it. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Adams, who led the team in tackles with 8 solo stops.