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IDP focus: Injuries mount for top defenders

By Ted Rossman

High Fives

With injuries mounting around the league, here is a look at five situations worth monitoring.

  1. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie (CB, SD): Jammer, who has been sidelined for the last game and a half due to a hamstring injury, is expected to regain his starting role Sunday. Cromartie has six interceptions in his last four games, so Jammer's grip on a starting role is very tenuous.
  1. Dwight Freeney and Simeon Rice (DE, IND): Freeney will miss the remainder of the regular season with a left foot ailment. Rice isn't expected to play every down but he will be used in pass-rushing situations. He got off to a slow start this season because of offseason shoulder surgery; a change of scenery and a return to full strength make Rice a decent buy-low candidate.

  1. Sean Taylor (S, WAS): Taylor could miss up to a month after suffering a knee injury in Week 10. Reed Doughty (S) will likely replace him. Washington's other starting defensive backs, Shawn Springs (CB), Fred Smoot (CB) and LaRon Landry (S) will probably receive more playmaking opportunities with Taylor on the sidelines.
  1. Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson (CB, DET): Bryant was on crutches because of an ankle injury after Sunday's loss at Arizona. No timetable has been announced for his return to the field; it won't be surprising if he misses at least one game. That should mean increased playing time for Wilson, who is averaging about four tackles per game in limited duty.
  1. Bertrand Berry and Darryl Blackstock (DE, ARZ): For the third consecutive season, Berry has landed on IR in November; this time it's because of a torn left triceps. Berry wasn't having a great statistical season, but he was an important space-eater on the Arizona defensive line. Without Berry, the Cardinals' sack leader, Darnell Dockett (DT), could have more trouble rushing the passer. Blackstock is a decent backup that will lead a platoon with Joe Tafoya (DE) in Berry's absence.

Trend Watch

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

  1. This week's most dubious starting quarterbacks are likely to play for, in no particular order, Oakland (at Minnesota), Jacksonville (vs. San Diego), Miami (at Philadelphia), Kansas City (at Indianapolis), Minnesota (vs. Oakland), Atlanta (vs. Tampa Bay), Carolina (at Green Bay) and San Francisco (vs. St. Louis). All of these opposing defenses warrant an upgrade in Week 11.
  1. The league's worst offenses (in terms of points per game) are San Francisco, Kansas City and Atlanta. Those teams, respectively, play host to St. Louis, visit Indianapolis, and play host to Tampa Bay in Week 11.
  1. Remember that many teams fare well following a bye week. This week, that includes Houston (vs. New Orleans), New England (at Buffalo), the N.Y. Jets (vs. Pittsburgh) and Tampa Bay (at Atlanta).
  1. Looking for sacks in Week 11? Try the Giants (at Detroit, which allows a league-high 4.4 sacks per game), the Dolphins (at Philadelphia, 3.6 sacks allowed), Indianapolis (vs. Kansas City, 3.2 sacks allowed) and San Francisco (vs. St. Louis, 3.2 sacks allowed). Teams to avoid are Houston (vs. New Orleans, the toughest team to sack), Buffalo (vs. New England, tied for the second-toughest team to sack), Kansas City (at Indianapolis, tied for the second-toughest team to sack) and Cincinnati (vs. Arizona, tied for the second-toughest squad to sack).
  1. Wondering who is toughest to intercept? Philadelphia and Tampa Bay have only been intercepted four times apiece. Downgrade the Miami and Atlanta secondaries, respectively, as a result. The easiest teams to pick off? Chicago (at Seattle) and St. Louis (at San Francisco).
  1. Slippery fingers, anyone? The Ravens (vs. Cleveland) lead the league with 15 fumbles lost. Tennessee (12, at Denver), Detroit (11, vs. the N.Y. Giants) and Houston (11, vs. New Orleans) are next. The Bills (two, vs. New England) have lost the fewest fumbles in the NFL.
  1. The Rams (minus-11, at San Francisco) and Raiders (minus-11, at Minnesota) have the NFL's worst turnover differentials. San Diego (plus-11, at Jacksonville) and New England (plus-11, at Buffalo) 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.

Nearly a third of this weekend's games will be played at climate-controlled venues. At press time, inclement weather is only forecast to affect two games: Chicago at Seattle and Arizona at Cincinnati. The Bears and Cardinals both have trouble holding onto the football, so if the forecast holds, they could be in for an even tougher time than usual.

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