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Sunday AM IDP Notes -- W1 (1 Viewer)

Jene Bramel

Footballguy
***NOTE: I've written this feature for the forum for years, primarily because there was no way to get it published and edited for our subscribers in the hubbub of Sunday mornings. That's no longer the case, so it's growing into an even more detailed feature for our Sunday AM subscriber page, many of whom probably never knew it existed. And I'm hoping to have it ready by Saturday evening as often as I can.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to post it in it's entirety here. Starting in Week 3, however, I'll likely cut back to posting about major news here in the Forum and on Twitter. I know most of you subscribe already, but please consider our Insider subscription if you haven't in years past. Thanks.

Here's the link to this week's feature.

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I'm excited to finally be bringing this long-time IDP forum feature to the Sunday subscriber content this year. I'll be focusing on injury updates, changing depth chart situations and matchup plays for every game around the league.

I'm still waiting for clarity on lots of situations around the league. That'll have to wait until Monday unfortunately, but I'm looking forward to getting my money's worth out of the Game Rewind subscription then. For now, there's enough to go on to make some strong educated guess on what we'll see in base and subpackages and the major injury situations around the league.

NOTE: This column is a living document and will be updated throughout the morning. Major changes to the content will be in red. Check back often for additions as gameday inactives are announced and lineup / depth chart changes are reported. I'll also be retweeting those reports with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter.

EARLY GAMES
Atlanta at New Orleans

Stephen Nicholas is questionable with a thigh injury. Already pushed out of subpackages and seeing strong competition from Kroy Biermann as the team's base strong side backer, Nicholas has little value. The Falcons took a long look at Joplo Bartu alongside Sean Weatherspoon in subpackages in the last two preseason games. There's been no report on whether that will continue today, but it's enough to scare me off Akeem Dent against an unknown number of spread snaps vs the Saints. If you're looking for an upside DL2 play, roll with Biermann today, especially if Nicholas is inactive. He'll see base SLB and nickel DE duties and could put up DL1 numbers in all setups.

The Saints will be one of the first teams I watch on Monday. I think we'll see David Hawthorne play in subpackages today, but Ramon Humber and Will Herring could be rotated in on longer passing downs. I think Junior Galette and Martez Wilson will get the bulk of the snaps outside, but I'm not ready to anoint either a big play option yet. I think Kenny Vaccaro has replaced Roman Harper in the base package and has a good matchup against the Falcons today, but this is a huge early season divisional matchup and it's possible Rob Ryan doesn't trust him yet. I'd bet on Vaccaro having a better day than Hawthorne, but don't bet the farm on it.

Cincinnati at Chicago

Carlos Dunlap has been practicing and has recovered from his concussion. He'll see two of three base series and all the nickel snaps and should be started in a good -- but maybe not as great as last year -- matchup against the Chicago offensive line. The Bengals have been coaching Taylor Mays up in the hopes he can take over nickel duties for the injured Emmanuel Lamur. It's a stretch of epic proportions to think he's another Thomas Davis in the making, however. George Iloka is off the injury report and probably starts over Shawn Williams. That's a situation to watch during the first month of the season.

Chicago will reportedly rotate D.J. Williams and Jon Bostic at middle linebacker. That's not great news for the 2013 prospects of Bostic, who had a chance to run away with the job in a TKO. Neither will see snaps over James Anderson in the nickel package, so avoid both today.

Kansas City at Jacksonville

It should be a three man IDP show in Kansas City, with Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry and Justin Houston filling up the boxscores. Akeem Jordan is healthy -- for now -- and the likely starter alongside Derrick Johnson, but James-Michael Johnson could make some noise there in time. Berry is the defacto nickel linebacker with Derrick Johnson, however.

Russell Allen is not on the injury report this week and will resume his every-down outside linebacker duty. Geno Hayes returns to his base SLB only role. Jonathan Cyprien is still struggling with hamstring issues, but is expected to play. Look for Jason Babin to get the bulk of the meaningful pass rush snaps, with Jeremy Mincey a high-variance option as a nickel three-technique.

Miami at Cleveland

Dion Jordan has improved after a mid-camp setback with his shoulder. He'll be a subpackage pass rusher only. Olivier Vernon has a tough matchup but is slated for 40+ snaps at defensive end opposite Cameron Wake. He's an option in very deep leagues.

Craig Robertson won an every-down job with relative ease this summer and has been productive in the box scores even when not playing well. He could be a surprisingly consistent LB3/4 option. With Barkevious Mingo out this week, Jabaal Sheard could cement himself as an every-down player. Buster Skrine is the CB2 next to Joe Haden if he can play through a shoulder injury as expected. Ahtyba Rubin is out this week with a calf injury and will likely be replaced at end by Billy Winn.

Minnesota at Detroit

Leslie Frazier has apparently told Desmond Bishop that he will not play this week, even in a rotational role. Marvin Mitchell will get the start at outside linebacker, with Erin Henderson a near lock to play every down alongside Chad Greenway. Consider Henderson a solid LB3 as long as this alignment continues. Kevin Williams is out this week with a knee injury, which could give Sharrif Floyd a chance at extended playing time.

The Lions are healthy for now. Ezekiel Ansah is cleared after a late preseason concussion and will play the majority of downs opposite a rotation of Jason Jones and Willie Young. All three could be productive outside a very strong tackle duo, but let them establish a trend before starting them in fantasy lineups. Louis Delmas will play but his knees will limit him all season.

New England at Buffalo

Brandon Spikes looked very strong as an every-down inside linebacker this preseason. If he can remain healthy, he's primed for a huge contract season. Steve Gregory will be the strong safety.

Mike Pettine wouldn't fully commit to Nigel Bradham as a subpackage player, but with Jairus Byrd out and Bryan Scott cut, Bradham should see enough snaps -- like Mason Foster -- to be a consistent LB3/4. Unless we get pregame confirmation that Bradham will be trusted in an every-down role, however, it's tough to trust him against the New England spread. Wait a week unless you've no other options. Mario Williams played in a two point stance much of the preseason, but he's still listed as a DE on most management systems. He may not get a significant bump but it's good news for owners who were sweating a reclassification. Bet on DaNorris Searcy starting alongside Aaron Williams at safety, but that may last only until Byrd's plantar fasciitis cools. If you're looking for a one week high upside CB play, use your flyer on Leodis McKelvin.

Oakland at Indianapolis

The Oakland depth chart is ugly. Nick Roach and Tyvon Branch should be very busy players and are strong starts. Sio Moore has a foot injury that will limit him. He had already been rotated out of some subpackage situations. Wait for his snap count to settle before using him. Watch D.J. Hayden. It's an average defense on the edges and Hayden is a rookie corner who was noted for his physical play before his near-death experience in college.

Kavell Conner is out with an ankle injury and Pat Angerer won't play after experiencing a week of symptoms before being diagnosed with a concussion. That puts Kelvin Sheppard in the lineup and probably into an every-down role.

***All players -- on both teams -- are at the mercy of what's been an extremely assist happy stat crew in Indianapolis. Roach and Branch and Freeman are probably too strong to bench, but if you've got a similar option, use them today.

Seattle at Carolina

Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons are likely out. Bruce Irvin is suspended. That'll stress the edges of the Seattle defense. Michael Bennett will play defensive end and is a solid start in tackle-heavy leagues and a must start if you can use him at DT in DT-required setups. The Seahawks showed a lot of stacked, 1-gap 3-4 with K.J. Wright in a very favorable weak side linebacker alignment. He's an interesting upside LB3 today.

The Carolina front seven might be better than ever if Star Lotulelei continues to play as he did in the preseason. Thomas Davis has been an every-down outside linebacker, but look for the Panthers to find ways to use a 3-3-5 package to get Jon Beason involved in subpackages, too. With Mike Mitchell hurt already, Quintin Mikell will get a chance to establish himself at safety. It's too soon to make a bet on which secondary option may be consistent behind the front seven. Roster Mikell and be patient if you can and watch the corner rotation closely for usable trends. Mikell's matchup is good enough to trust him as a DB3 if you've no better options.

Tampa Bay at New York Jets

DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn are not on the injury report and have had enough time to recondition this preseason. The matchup is average to above-average and today will give us a good indication of whether they'll be potential DE2. The Bucs continued to use a dime package in long passing situations this preseason, so there will continue to be some variance in Mason Foster's numbers. Consider him a LB3 with a 40-50 snap per week expectation. Darrelle Revis is starting, which could put Johnthan Banks in a strong spot for production. The Jets' offense may not be strong enough to trust Banks today, though, and Leonard Johnson could cut into his snap count.

Dee Milliner looks likely to play today. He's probably a better flyer than Banks if you're looking for a rookie corner to stream in Week 1. I'm eagerly awaiting the every-down debut of Demario Davis. Today's matchup will tell us just how excited to be.

Tennessee at Pittsburgh

Moise Fokou won the middle linebacker job over Colin McCarthy. It's now clearly time to wonder whether or not McCarthy can run well enough to play in the league anymore. Zach Brown is healthy, as is Akeem Ayers. Both practiced fully on Friday. I think Fokou plays every down, with Ayers in a rotational role, but I'm only trusting Brown and Bernard Pollard today.

The Steelers are likely to be Niners-like today in that their starting base defense isn't likely to change much in subpackage situations. I'm interested in seeing Steve McLendon at NT and whether he'll be a viable roster in DT-required leagues. I'm also betting that Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Clark have elite-level seasons.


LATE GAMES
Arizona at St. Louis

Calais Campbell is questionable after not practicing Friday with a quad injury. The good news is that it's a contusion and not a sprain. That gives him a much better chance to play, but his availability will depend on how much blood is in the muscle tissue when he wakes up today. Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley were both every-down linebackers in the final two preseason games and that's the safest bet to make with Daryl Washington suspended. Still, I'd only use Brinkley in tackle-heavy leagues as a matchup LB4. Temper expectations on Tyrann Mathieu, too. He'll play in subpackages only for now and it's too soon to consider the Rams a good matchup for subpackage players.

Darian Stewart continues to struggle with durability, forcing the Rams to go with Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald. Neither young safety is a consistent, fundamental player yet and there will be some variance with James Laurinaitis inside and Cortland Finnegan outside competing for tackles. The matchup against Arizona isn't strong enough to make an educated guess on which player will establish an early season trend, if at all. Alec Ogletree is a clear every-down player. Will Witherspoon replaces Jo-Lonn Dunbar permanently.

Green Bay at San Francisco

Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett suffered hamstring injuries late in practice this week. Neither finished practice on Friday and both are questionable. Both are tentatively expected to play, but Mike McCarthy wouldn't only say they've got until Sunday morning to get ready. If Jones can't go, Robert Francois will start and probably see every-down duty. Early reports have Burnett likely to play, but M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian will both start if there's a setback in pregame warmups. With Casey Hayward out, that could also mean less dime snaps. With the Niners rarely spreading the field, the injuries and offensive matchup make A.J. Hawk a viable spot start today.

The Niners are healthy. Eric Reid won a starting job at safety. Both Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman have improved after early preseason dings.


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New York Giants at Dallas

Jason Pierre-Paul made the trip to Dallas but is likely to play a rotational role only. Wait until he's ready to play full time except in deep, sack-heavy scoring setups. The Giants will use five linebackers in varying packages, with Spencer Paysinger likely to get the most snaps for now. None of the linebackers look like great fantasy options, which could thrust Antrel Rolle into a DB1 tier. Ryan Mundy will get the first shot at replacing Stevie Brown. If you've got room to stash and hope, consider doing so to beat the crowd should he have a strong week.

Anthony Spencer is unlikely to play this week and the Cowboys are very thin behind him. George Selvie was on my watch list in St. Louis for years and had a good camp but I wouldn't trust him in any lineup yet. The safety situation continues to be ugly but it's the corners that deserve your attention in Monte Kiffin's defense. I have high hopes for Morris Claiborne and this is a matchup that should work well. Don't be surprised if tonight starts a strong trend for him.


MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Philadelphia at Washington

Life is pain for Brandon Graham again. After finally getting healthy enough to show his ability last year, the defensive scheme change has again relegated him to a minor role. Trent Cole and Connor Barwin are expected to see nearly all the outside linebacker snaps. Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will rotate against a healthy Patrick Chung at safety.

Your guess is as good as mine at strong safety for Washington. It's probably Brandon Meriweather's job if healthy -- which he isn't -- and a rotational situaton if not. Bacarri Rambo will be more of a centerfielder, with a Jairus Byrd / Earl Thomas like stat line.

Houston at San Diego

Darryl Sharpton is out with a concussion, with puts Joe Mays in the lineup and possibly into an every-down role. I'm not convinced Mays plays on all passing downs, however, and he's a risky play in this matchup. Shiloh Keo and Danieal Manning will be the starting safeties this week, but D.J. Swearinger could see 20-30 snaps.

I think Manti Te'o could be at least 3-4 weeks from returning and the Chargers used Bront Bird in an every-down role in the final preseason games. Bird is a potential LB3 in this matchup. I like Marcus Gilchrist as a one week safety play, too, but Brandon Taylor is healthy and could be pushing him soon.

Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. Reading the Defense returns on Tuesday with film study on Duke Ihenacho and the surprises and disappointments of all the Week 1 games. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.
 

Dismattle

Footballguy
All good things must come to an End..

Is it to late to get a deal on subscription?

Does anyone know anymore on Harrison Smith MN FS (listed as probable) I believe full practice on Friday (back)

 

Jene Bramel

Footballguy
I'm not too worried about Williams, but if you've got another top 15-20 option I'd consider him this week. Haven't seen enough of Williams to know whether he can play effectively through the injury for 45+ snaps.

I don't have any concern on Smith, but I'll have all the pertinent inactives here shortly if you're not getting them on Twitter already.

 

We Tigers

Footballguy
Observation: Yahoo has Michael Bennett listed as Out, but he's not per the inactives list. Don't get tricked by their misstep.

 

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