By Ted Rossman
In this section, we congratulate five exemplary performances from the previous week.
Because it’s Week 1, we’re going to hold our kudos until next week. Instead, here are five IDPs who should be monsters in 2007:
1. DeMeco Ryans (LB, HOU): He led the NFL with 125 solo tackles last year en route to the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Expect Ryans to blitz more this season. He made 3.5 sacks last year, and an increase to five to seven is reasonable.
2. Keith Bulluck (LB, TEN): Consistency is the name of his game. Bulluck has made at least 125 tackles in each of his five seasons as a starter.
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|Arizona's Adrian Wilson is a surefire superstar in IDP leagues.|
3. Brian Urlacher (LB, CHI): He has averaged 124 tackles his last four full seasons, and he picked off three passes in 2006, one more than he did in his previous four seasons combined. Urlacher is the leader of the Bears’ swarming defense and should be an explosive playmaker again in 2007.
4. Adrian Wilson (S, ARZ): One of the league’s most versatile IDPs, Wilson has averaged 98 tackles the last three seasons. He has 13 sacks the last two years combined with four picks and two touchdowns in 2006. His supporting cast is better this year, and Wilson is expected to take advantage by blitzing more.
5. Jason Taylor (DE, MIA): Last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor isn’t slowing down at age 33. He has made 12 or more sacks in four of his last five seasons and is usually good for 65-70 tackles. He’s the cream of the crop among defensive linemen.
Here, we look at trends and matchups that savvy owners can exploit in the upcoming week.
-- Joey Harrington (QB, ATL) averaged 1.3 interceptions per game the last five seasons. He faces the Vikings in Week 1, so it’s a good week to start Antoine Winfield (CB, MIN) and Darren Sharper (S, MIN).
-- For owners chomping at the bit to oppose Damon Huard (QB, KC) this week, don’t be. Huard might be among the league’s least-proven starting quarterbacks, but he is efficient. Last year, he was intercepted just once in 10 games, so don’t rush to get Dunta Robinson (CB, HOU) and C.C. Brown (S, HOU) in your Week 1 lineup.
-- Another enticing matchup that could be a mirage is the Seattle defense against the Tampa Bay offense. Yes, the Bucs ranked 31st in the NFL last year in scoring, but they added a veteran quarterback in Jeff Garcia, so it’s not necessarily a great week to go turnover-hunting with the likes of Lofa Tatupu (LB, SEA) and Julian Peterson (LB, SEA).
-- Oakland allowed an NFL-high 72 sacks last year. Its offensive line doesn’t figure to be much better this season, and whether Daunte Culpepper or Josh McCown starts under center for the Raiders, Oakland’s quarterback will be a stationary target. Cory Redding (DT, DET) and Dewayne White (DE, DET) are salivating already.
-- On a similar note, Detroit was sacked the second-most in the NFL last season (63). This is a good week to see if Warren Sapp (DT, OAK) is, indeed, rejuvenated and primed for a return to dominance.
-- It’s a great time to get Steelers like Troy Polamalu (S, PIT), James Farrior (LB, PIT) and Brett Keisel (DE, PIT) into your lineup. They face the Browns and Charlie Frye, who threw 1.2 interceptions per game last season. Cleveland’s offensive line gave up 3.4 sacks per game in 2006, third-most in the NFL.
-- Opening the regular season at San Diego is a tough assignment for the Bears, but it could be a lucrative one for Brian Urlacher (LB, CHI) owners. He should be in on a lot of stops as the Chargers look to establish their superb ground game.
-- Don’t be afraid to get long-term holdouts Asante Samuel (CB, NE) and Michael Strahan (DE, NYG) in your Week 1 lineup. Samuel likely will occupy a full-time role, especially with Rodney Harrison (S, NE) suspended and Eugene Wilson (S, NE) banged up. Strahan should also see plenty of snaps and his opponent, Dallas, allowed 2.3 sacks per game last season.
-- The biggest potential shootouts in Week 1 seem to be New Orleans vs. Indianapolis and Arizona vs. San Francisco. While points allowed aren’t a direct problem for IDPs, it’ll be hard for members of these defenses to put up positive numbers in Week 1. Don’t bench your studs, but be judicious when employing second- and third-tier defenders in these games.
WITHER THE WEATHER
Because bad weather usually means less points and more turnovers, you need to know where IDPs should benefit from the elements. Here are some sites where the weather could be a significant factor. Keep in mind that the forecast can change leading up to game day.
The weather doesn’t look very threatening across the nation this weekend, though the late-summer sunshine will soon fade into autumn wind and rain, then winter sleet and snow in many NFL cities. None of the NFL’s outdoor home sites have a 50 percent or greater chance of precipitation in Week 1.
The best chances for rain are in Dallas (where the Cowboys play host to the Giants on Sunday night), Buffalo (where the Bills face the Broncos on Sunday afternoon) and Cleveland (where the Browns play host to the Steelers on Sunday afternoon). Those cities have a 40 percent chance of rain on game day. This shouldn’t affect any IDP start/sit decisions.
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