Saturday, September 19, 2009

Defensive Corner: Sleepers, Injury and Impact

Sleeper Picks

Green Bay (v. Cincinnati): Ok, so not a “sleeper” per se as they are hailed as one of the better defenses this year, however, according to, the Packers Defense is available in roughly one-third of fantasy leagues hosted by the site. The Packers looked great last week, picking up four interceptions against Chicago. Look for this new 3-4 defense to run all over the struggling Cincinnati offense in Week 2.

Redskins (v. St. Louis): I don’t mean to pick on the Rams, but it’s hard to when they’re that bad. The Rams were shut out last week as stars Avery and Jackson were limited to 54 yards and 67 yards total respectively, and that was against Seattle. So, just imagine what Haynesworth and the Redskins are going to do to this lackluster offense.

Baltimore Ravens
Tavares Gooden
(LB): Knee injury but list as probable as he has participated in full practice
Ed Reed(S): Participated in limited practice due to a concussion and is questionable this week against SanDiego.
Terrell Suggs(LB): Concussion, Questionable, has not practiced as of Thursday
Tom Zbikowski (S): Like Suggs, also suffering from a concussion which has held him out of practice.

Impact: After a not so impressive showing against Kansas City, the Baltimore Ravens need to come back big this week against San Diego, who itself has a much stronger offense than Kansas City. However, this feat just became significantly more difficult with the injuries to Gooden, Reed, Suggs and Zbikowski. Assuming that Gooden will play, the absence of Suggs (starting Right OLB) is still a detriment to the linebacking core. Additionally, a pair of concussions to both Reed and his backup Zbikowski, could leave a gaping hole in the secondary. My prediction: Although this defense certainly cannot be referred to as “bad”, the poor fantasy performance last week against a weaker team in conjunction with these key injuries makes me believe that Baltimore just won’t have what it takes to score big this week.

Dallas Cowboys
Michael Hamlin(S): Questionable- Injury to wrist has held Hamlin out of practice
Curtis Johnson (LB): Probable- Participated fully in practice despite hamstring injury
Gerald Sensabaugh (S): Probable-Chest injury but not severe enough to impact ability to practice fully
Jason Williams(LB): Questionable- Held out of practice due to ankle injury

Impact: No significant impact. Owners don’t have much to worry about as the only starter reported as injured is safety Gerald Sensabaugh who is listed as Probable and has participated in unlimited practices.

Denver Broncos
Champ Bailey
(DB):Ankle- Questionable (Did not Practice)
Josh Barrett(DB): Shoulder- Questionable (Limited Practice)
Brian Dawkins(DB) : Hand- Questionable(Did not Practice)
Spencer Larsen(LB) : Shoulder- Questionable (Did not Practice)

Impact: Bad news: With both Bailey and Dawkins injured, the Broncos will be playing with a compromised secondary if both players sit-out. Good news: They are playing Cleveland is run-happy and even bad at that. Broncos will do well as they will keep Cleveland to a low score.

Green Bay Packers
Atari Bigby
(S): Knee-Out
Will Blackmon(CB): Quad injury – Probable (Full Practice)
B.J. Raji (DT): Ankle- Probable (Full practice)

Impact: Starting strong safety Atari Bigby is out but Aaron Rouse should be an adequate filler for this game against a weak Bengals offense.

Minnesota Vikings
Heath Farwell (LB): Hamstring – Questionable (Limited Practice)
Erin Henderson (LB): Calf injury – Questionable (Did Not Practice)

Impact: Non-starters, no significant impact

New England Patriots
Jerod Mayo
(LB): Knee- Questionable (Did not practice)
Rob Ninkovich(LB): Calf – Questionable (Limited practice)
Myron Pryor (DT):Calf– Questionable (Limited practice)
Adalius Thomas(LB): Foot– Questionable (Limited practice)
Terrence Wheatley(CB): Knee– Questionable (Limited practice)

Impact: The only noteworthy injury here is that that to the only starter listed: Adalius Thomas. However, even that injury isn’t a monumental detriment to the Pats Defense as the Patriots have previously dealt with the absence of Thomas as he played in only nine games last year (registering 34 tackles and 5 sacks). If Thomas sits out, which is 50/50 at this point, nine year veteran Derrick Burgess, formerly of the Raiders, will be ready to step-in and the surrounding cast of the Patriots D will compensate for any difference in production.

New York Giants
Michael Boley (LB): Hip– Questionable (Limited Practice)
Chris Canty (DT): Calf– Questionable (Limited Practice)
Kevin Dockery (CB): Hamstring – Questionable (Limited Practice)
Michael Johnson (S): Shoulder– Questionable (Did not practice)
Kenny Phillips (S): Knee – Questionable (Did not practice)
Aaron Ross (CB): Hamstring – Questionable (Did not practice)
Clint Sintim (LB): Groin– Questionable (Limited Practice)

Impact: Starters listed: Boley, Johnson and Phillips. While these three are listed as questionable and may very well play, if all three men sit out this could be trouble for the Giants Defense, especially in the secondary as both starting strong safety and free safety would be out. If this occurs, look for Romo to drop back and challenge their replacements, C.C. Brown and Steve Cargile, instead of trying to wade through the Giants’ dominate front seven.

New York Jets
Mike DeVito
(DE): Hamstring- Probable (Full Practice
Kris Jenkins (DT): Back– Questionable (Limited Practice)
Sione Pouha (DT): Ankle – Questionable (Limited Practice)
Bryan Thomas (LB): Ankle– Probable (Full Practice)
Calvin Pace (LB) Suspension, minimum four weeks, eligible to return week 5 against Miami

Impact: Listed as Probable, it’s a pretty safe bet that Bryan Thomas will be on the field this week. However, fantasy owners will want to check out this situation Sunday morning as the absence of Thomas could result in a severely weakened linebacking core up against one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. More specifically, Thomas’s backup, Vernon Gholston is already filling in for the suspended Calvin Pace, which in itself is a big loss, so, if Thomas sits out, either Craig Kobel or Margues Murrell (both 3rd Stringers) will be tapped to play OLB. Thus, the Jets would be starting Bart Scott, a rookie and a third stringer against Tom Brady & Co.. In addition to that mess, both Kris Jenkins (a four-time Pro-Bowler) and his backup Sione Pouha are also listed as questionable. My prediction: The Jets have all the tools to mount a stand against the Patriots, but this should be a close battle and I do not foresee the Jets D turning in a high fantasy score. Despite last week’s performance, or perhaps because of it and the motivation it has provided, the Patriots still have a very dangerous offense. Be sure to check the status of Thomas and Jenkins Sunday morning, because if they’re out, you might not want to start this defense.

Philadelphia Eagles
Quintin Demps (S): Hamstring- Questionable (Did not practice)
Joe Mays (LB): Shoulder- Questionable (Did not practice)

Impact: Non-starters, no significant impact.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Tyrone Carter(S): Did not practice for reasons not related to injury
Troy Polamalu (S): Knee - Questionable (Did not practice)
Aaron Smith(DE): Same situation at Tyrone Carter
Lawrence Timmons (LB): Ankle- Probable

Impact: The loss of Polamalu certainly takes away an important spark from the secondary, especially if the player who is to take over for him, Carter, is also out. However, that situation is unclear and this ambiguity extends also to the case of Smith. On a brighter note, the Steelers should be getting back Timmons, whose speed and explosiveness will only strengthen this already dominate group of linebackers. Over all, although the loss of Polamalu stings, it’s not enough to knock the Steelers out of the top tier of defenses and they should very well against the struggling Chicago offense (Note: Cutler threw four picks last week against Green Bay)

Tennessee Titans
David Thornton(LB): Knee Questionable (Did not practice)

Impact: The possible loss of one starter will not be slowing down this defense.

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