Gary Gramling
Thursday October 28th, 2010

A weekly look at the risers and fallers among individual defensive players and team defenses. Analysis is based on the four main statistics for most IDP leagues (solo tackles, sacks, passes defensed and takeaways) in three-position formats (defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs).

1. Pull back on the Patriots D. If Brett Favre sits in Week 8 (and that's looking likely), the Vikings are going to turn to the ground game and limit their usual 2.5 turnovers per game. New England's defensive numbers have been inflated by the absurd (Miami special teams' refusal to block, presumably in protest to the Marc Anthony music they blare at the Dolphins' home, and two bizarre San Diego fumbles last week -- a lateral that wasn't and a rookie receiver playing by college rules after a diving catch). Their front seven isn't good enough to completely shut down Adrian Peterson, and the sacks won't come if Tarvaris Jackson only throws 15-to-20 times.

2) If you're desperate, and I mean desperate, Joe Montana post-playing career desperate, for a bye week fill-in, go with Denver. Yeah, there's a good chance they get gashed by Frank Gore even if they stack the box. But they're facing third-string QB Troy Smith, and the Sunday forecast in London calls for rain (doesn't it always?). It's gonna be messy in Wembley Stadium. Of course, they would have been an even better play if David Carr had gotten the nod.

3) Go against the Bears. They're on bye this week, but for future reference: The Bears have allowed 31 sacks through seven games, putting them on pace to become the seventh team to ever allow 70 plus. Of course, if you haven't noticed that the Bears' offensive line is historically awful, you've spent your autumn in a cave with your eyes closed and your fingers plugging your ears.

Chris Long, DL, Rams (UP)

The Long wait is over. Over the past two weeks, you'd be hard-pressed to find a defensive lineman playing better than Long. He's recorded three sacks in the past two weeks, and this season he's tied for seventh in the league with 17 QB knockdowns and hurries, a big upgrade over last season, when he had just 22.5 in 16 games, to go along with a five sacks as a rotational DE. Part of the reason for Long's recent breakout has been the increase in playing time, and part of it has been his familiarity with the schemes of Steve Spagnuolo, the best defensive mind in football (well, at least when it comes to the pass rush). Long is far from a sure thing, but it's never easy to uncover DL talent. He should be owned in all leagues as a high upside reserve.

Paul Posluszny, LB, Bills (DOWN)

You've gotta be kidding me, Buffalo. The Bills, make that the 0-6 Bills, make that the 0-6 Bills who, in anticipation of a rookie salary cap, should have no qualms about finishing last place and getting the No. 1 pick of the 2011 draft, are scrapping their new 3-4 defense after six games. They're calling it temporary, because they don't have the personnel to run a 3-4. Which begs the question: Did no one in the organization familiarize themselves with the roster during the offseason? Anyway, the switch back to the 4-3 is awful news for Posluszny, who had 16 solo tackles in two games after returning to the lineup after a knee injury. While not dominant, he looked comfortable in a scheme similar to the one he played in at Penn State. Buffalo turned almost exclusively to a 4-3 look in Baltimore, with Posluszny playing the weakside rather than the MIKE. He finished with four solo tackles in a game that went to overtime. Considering he's far from a lock to play on passing downs, Posluszny goes from an elite LB in tackle-heavy scoring formats to a fantasy back-up. Bench him, trade him, do what you have to do; make no mistake, Poz's fantasy value just went down the toilet.

Carlos Rogers, DB, Redskins (UP)

It will be interesting to see what kind of fallout there is from DeAngelo Hall's Week 7 game of pitch and catch with Jay Cutler. Take nothing away from Hall, who played his best game in years last Sunday, but taking advantage of Jay Cutler and a wide receiver who has no interest in fighting for a catch (I'm looking at you, Johnny Knox) does not a shutdown corner make. In fact, statistically, Hall has been the gift that keeps on giving to opposing passing games. He's been targeted 54 times this year and has allowed 42 catches (most in the NFL), an absurd 77.8 percent completion rate. But enough about Hall, we're here to talk about the better half of the Washington secondary: Carlos Rogers. He has been a solid, and at times, great cover man for the 'Skins. His issue has been ball skills. He's tied for the NFC lead with nine passes defensed, but has only one INT due to a case of the drops. He only has seven INTs in 73 career games to this point. He can tackle (29 solos through seven games), and in light of Hall's four-INT game, more throws could be coming his way. If he's sitting on the waiver wire in your league, it's time to take a flier.

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