IDP focus: Bruschi, Harper headline list of defenders

By Ted Rossman

HIGH FIVES

In this section, we examine five strong but unheralded performances from the previous week and determine whether these players are likely to remain hot.

  1. Tedy Bruschi (LB, NE): Bruschi paced the Patriots with 12 tackles (10 solo) in Sunday's romp over the Dolphins. He has 25 stops (17 solo) in his last three games after a slow start. As long as the veteran stays healthy, he's a good bet in the tackling category.
  1. Nick Harper (CB, TEN): He made eight tackles (all solo) and two interceptions in Tennessee's wild Week 7 victory over the Texans. Harper is filling in admirably for the suspended Pacman Jones. He makes enough mistakes that opposing teams still throw at him with regularity, but Harper also makes enough plays to be a solid IDP.

  1. Dewayne White (DE, DET): Tampa Bay had allowed only seven sacks in its first six games; White racked up three sacks against the Bucs in Week 7. He may have been especially motivated after Tampa Bay failed to pony up enough cash to re-sign him last offseason. Don't get carried away with his solid Week 7 performance.
  1. Calvin Pace (LB, ARZ): Pace led the Cardinals with 10 tackles (nine solo) in Week 7 and also contributed a sack and an interception. He picked up the slack for starting weakside linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee), who missed the game. Pace is impressing the Arizona coaching staff this year, but his starting strongside linebacker position isn't usually very lucrative for fantasy purposes. Dansby could return in time for Arizona's next game.
  1. Abram Elam (CB, NYJ): In his first start of 2007, Elam led the Jets with eight tackles (seven solo) in Week 7 against the Bengals. His starting role still isn't very secure, and the Jets allowed 38 points in Cincinnati, making Elam a risky pick.

TREND WATCH

Here, we look at trends and matchups savvy owners can exploit in the upcoming week.

  1. This week's backup quarterback watch includes San Francisco (vs. the Saints), Miami (in London vs. the N.Y. Giants), Carolina (vs. Indianapolis), Minnesota (vs. Philadelphia), Houston (at San Diego), the N.Y. Jets (vs. Buffalo) and Jacksonville (at Tampa Bay). All of these opposing defenses warrant an upgrade in Week 8.
  1. The league's worst offenses (in terms of points per game) are San Francisco, St. Louis and Buffalo. Those teams, respectively, play at home vs. New Orleans, vs. Cleveland and at the N.Y. Jets this week. The best offenses are New England (vs. Washington), Dallas (bye) and Indianapolis (at Carolina).
  1. Remember that many teams fare well following a bye week. This week, that includes Carolina (vs. Indianapolis), Cleveland (at St. Louis), Green Bay (at Denver) and San Diego (vs. Houston).
  1. Looking for sacks in Week 8? Try the Bears (vs. Detroit, which allows a league-high 5.2 sacks per game), the Vikings (vs. Philadelphia, which allows 4.2 sacks per game) and New Orleans (at the 49ers, who allow 4.0 sacks per game). Teams to avoid are San Francisco (vs. New Orleans, the toughest team to sack), Carolina (home versus Indianapolis, the second-toughest team to sack) and Washington (at New England, the third-toughest team to sack).
  1. Wondering who is the toughest to intercept? Tampa Bay has been picked off a league-low once this season. Philadelphia and Jacksonville have only been intercepted twice. Downgrade the Jacksonville, Minnesota and Tampa Bay secondaries, respectively, in Week 8. The easiest teams to pick off? St. Louis (vs. Cleveland), Chicago (vs. Detroit) and Miami (in London vs. the N.Y. Giants).
  1. Slippery fingers, anyone? The Texans (at San Diego) lead the league with 10 fumbles lost. Tennessee (nine lost, vs. Oakland) and St. Louis (eight lost, vs. Cleveland) are next. The Jets (vs. Buffalo) and Colts (at Carolina) have lost only one fumble each. Buffalo (at N.Y. Jets) has lost two fumbles this season.
  1. The Rams (minus-12, vs. Cleveland) and Saints (minus-9, at San Francisco) have the NFL's worst turnover differentials. Indianapolis (plus-9, at Carolina) and New England (plus-8, vs. Washington) have the best.

WHITHER THE WEATHER

Because bad weather usually means fewer 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 forecasts can change leading up to game day.

The biggest weather issue affecting the NFL's Week 8 schedule is the wildfire situation in the San Diego area. At press time, the league was still considering where to play Sunday's Chargers-Texans game. With San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium being used as a public shelter, the game could be moved to another location such as Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Dolphins-Giants game in London will likely be played with the retractable Wembley Stadium roof overhead, as rain is expected in England's capital. Back in the States, a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms are forecast in Tampa for the Bucs-Jaguars contest. A 30 percent chance of rain is called for in the Boston area for the Patriots-Redskins tilt.

For more information, please visit Rotowire.com.

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