I'm not the first IDP specialist to impress upon readers that it's important to know the schemes and the corresponding roles involved in NFL defenses, but if it's worth saying once, it's worth repeating. The intricacies of the systems can be intimidating, especially when teams change in and out of their base packages frequently. You should, however, brush up on the basic depth charts and team reports once every couple of weeks just to make sure the defensive coordinator is still running the same system. Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, for instance, is well-known for his 3-4, but has been known to switch it up in big games when he smells an advantage. Redskins DC Jim Haslett installed a hybrid 3-4 in Washington this season, which has benefited Rocky McIntosh and LaRon Landry, as expected.
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1. Patrick Willis, SF (at KC)
2. David Harris, NYJ (at MIA)
3. Barrett Ruud TB (vs. PIT)
4. James Laurinaitis, STL (vs. WAS)
5. Curtis Lofton, ATL (at NO)
6. Karlos Dansby, MIA (vs. NYJ)
7. Jonathan Vilma, NO (vs. ATL)
8. Jon Beason, CAR (vs. CIN)
9. D.J. Williams, DEN (vs. IND)
10. Lance Briggs, CHI (vs. GB)
11. London Fletcher, WAS (at STL)
12. Lawrence Timmons, PIT (at TB)
13. Clay Matthews, GB (at CHI)
14. E.J. Henderson, MIN (vs. DET)
15. DeMarcus Ware, DAL (at HOU)
16. James Harrison, PIT (at TB)
17. Lofa Tatupu, SEA (vs. SD)
18. Chad Greenway, MIN (vs. DET)
19. Ray Lewis, BAL (vs. CLE)
20. Rolando McClain, OAK (at ARI)
21. Stephen Tulloch, TEN (at NYG)
22. Stewart Bradley, PHI (at JAC)
23. Kirk Morrison, JAC (vs. PHI)
24. Derrick Johnson, KC (vs. SF)
25. DeMeco Ryans, HOU (vs. DAL)
26. Jonathan Goff, NYG (vs. TEN)
27. DeAndre Levy, DET (at MIN)
28. Paris Lenon, ARI (vs. OAK)
29. Michael Boley, NYG (vs. TEN)
30. Rocky McIntosh, WAS (at STL)
31. Tully Banta-Cain, NE (vs. BUF)
32. Nick Barnett, GB (at CHI)
33. Sean Weatherspoon, ATL (at NO)
34. Daryl Smith, JAC (vs. PHI)
35. Daryl Washington, ARI (vs. OAK)
36. Brian Urlacher, CHI (vs. GB)
37. Dan Connor, CAR (vs. CIN)
38. Dhani Jones, CIN (at CAR)
39. Jerod Mayo, NE (vs. BUF)
40. Geno Hayes, TB (vs. PIT)
• Both Daryl Washington and Paris Lenon should see plenty of action this week facing the Raiders, who've run the ball successfully and don't chuck the ball deep with too much frequency. Last week they combined for 21 tackles against the Falcons, who featured (quite obsessively, I'd say) the universally available Jason Snelling after Michael Turner went down. While Snelling is disappearing off waiver wires as I type this, Washington and Lenon should be doing the same in IDP formats.
• It's going to be tough to predict the outcomes of New York Giants games this season, and even a tougher proposition to prognosticate the IDP outlook. I'll give it a shot anyway. Jonathan Goff was receiving high praise as the Giants broke camp, but veteran WLB Michael Boley has been gathering most of the tackles (16 on Sunday night against the Colts, though Goff finished with 9). At times, the better front-seven tacklers (and guys more adept at shedding blocks) are getting to the ball-carrier before Goff. But Boley made a lot of his stops on the wideouts, leading me to believe that against a running team like Tennessee, Goff will produce the better numbers.
• Is there a better matchup this week for a 3-4 RILB than David Harris against the Dolphins? The fish run a ton up the middle and to the left, and the loss of Kris Jenkins means that Harris will see plenty of opportunities to make plays at the second level. I'm banking on a huge day. Miami can also keep the ball moving with the help of their wildcat offense, providing a ton of field time for the Jets defenders.
• One risk/reward play of note this week is Patriots OLB Tully Banta-Cain, who's on the field a lot more these days. He'll be the main aggressor in New England's 3-4, and while the Bills offense isn't clicking, Banta-Cain could have some big plays, with Jerod Mayo's value diminishing slightly because the Bills won't sustain too many long drives.
• I certainly like DeMarcus Ware this week with the Texans losing LT Duane Brown to a four-game suspension. It's high time the Dallas defense stepped up, and that's a task tailor-made for Ware.
• Stewart Bradley probably returns to action this week, making him a surefire option as long as he doesn't have any further complications from his Week 1 concussion. Omar Gaither filed in admirably last week in his stead, but Bradley is a better tackler who is comfortable moving laterally and shedding blocks.
• James Laurinaitis, Barrett Ruud and Curtis Lofton round out my top selections, as they'll be facing teams who will likely try to control the action with long drives aimed at securing the ball. While the Saints are clearly a passing team, they won't be working the flats too often, which means a lot of straight-ahead running for Pierre Thomas and the occasional deep ball on 2nd-and-short once they reach midfield. That's a scenario that benefits Lofton and rookie Sean Weatherspoon.