Matt Schauf of stops by once a week to talk individual defensive players, “IDPs” for those in the know.

Well, to those of you who drafted DeMeco Ryans, I’m sorry. I didn’t tear his Achilles tendon or anything, but any fantasy player can sympathize with losing a top 15 player at his position to injury.

Rather than wallow in the loss, however – especially because I’m not really sure how to get inside something and wallow – we have to move forward and project the impact.

Zach Diles appears to be the guy targeted to replace Ryans in the middle when the Texans return from a Week 8 bye, and he’s given fantasy owners plenty of reason to take notice. Two years ago, Diles grabbed the starting strongside job and was leading his team in tackles when a broken leg (in practice) ended his season before the ninth game. His tackle totals through eight games projected to 132 total and 94 solo over a full season, which would have placed him tied for eighth and 13th in the league, respectively.

Thereafter, Diles jumped to the weak side – a playmaking spot on most defenses but the less numbers-relevant outside job in Houston – and produced weak numbers in 2009, then pedestrian totals so far this year.

The move inside should put him in line for more chances, though, especially considering the success Kansas City had running the ball on Sunday. Through six games, Houston has faced the 10th fewest carries per week in the league, which made sense after five weeks. To that point, the Texans had allowed just less than 3.6 yards per rush. The Chiefs, however, beat up Houston for 228 yards on the ground and 6 per attempt. That average was pumped up by even stronger rushing success after Ryans had left the game.

At the least, opponents should be expected to test the run defense a bit more going forward, and Ryans’ absence should make Diles more of a three-down player. He’s not verging on fantasy stardom, but those in decently deep IDP leagues should pay attention – even if Houston’s first two games back bring pass-happy Indianapolis and San Diego.


Gerald Hayes, ILB, Arizona

Hayes has been cleared by doctors to return to action after opening the season on the PUPpy and is expected to return to the lineup. He’ll almost certainly push rookie Daryl Washington back to the sideline, with Paris Lenon shifting over to Washington’s weak inside spot.

Any position move tends to worry fantasy folks a bit, but I wouldn’t be too concerned here. In four seasons as a starter, Hayes has never produced big tackle numbers. His highest totals look almost exactly like Washington’s pace to date, and Hayes is much more a strong, tough inside player than a playmaker. I expect Lenon to remain the primary numbers guy inside for Arizona.

Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Atlanta

The rookie strongside ’backer opened 2010 with a solid seven solo tackles or more in each of the first three games. Since then, however, he has been dealing with a knee injury that already forced him out of two games and will do so for a third this week.

Stephen Nicholas has started in Weatherspoon’s place each time so far and actually posted even better tackle numbers: 13 (12 solo) against the Niners and six solos at Philadelphia last weekend. It’s worth noting, too, that the Falcons have faced the second fewest rushing attempts per game, so the totals aren’t inflated by extra chances. This week’s opponent, Cincinnati, hasn’t afforded good tackle numbers to opposing linebackers, but the weekly production from this position for the Falcons and Nicholas’ three sacks as a starter last year make him a solid (if unspectacular) option.

Antwan Odom, DL, Cincinnati

The situation involves no injury, unless you consider Odom’s wife, following last week’s revelation that Odom blames a positive PED test on accidentally taking one of her prescription weight-loss pills. It does, however, take off the field a guy who led the Bengals in sacks last season despite missing 10 games.

When Odom went down in 2009, Jonathan Fanene handled most of the filling in, and that seems to be the favored path this time if Fanene is healthy enough in Week 7. A versatile, quick player, Fanene tallied six sacks last year to rank second on the team. Should he start in Odom’s right end spot this week, he’ll face an Atlanta team that has yielded three sacks to right ends in its only two meetings with 4-3 base defenses this season. The versatility of Fanene should also allow him to stay on the field more, sliding to tackle just as Odom can when the team wants to get another speed rusher onto the field at end.

Of course, the fact that Fanene hasn’t been 100 percent so far increases the chance that his snaps will be limited, so he’s not a player to chase on the waiver wire this week. He is a decent option, however, for those in need of a fill-in.

Zack Bowman, CB, Chicago

Bowman lost his starting job three games back, leaving Tim Jennings in his place, and a foot injury is expected to keep him off the field completely in Week 7. Jennings has proved in the past to be a liability in coverage as a full-time starter, but he is also a willing tackler. His three starts with the Bears this season have come against a pair of teams that threw 22 times or fewer and a Seattle offense that threw much more often but focused on Mike Williams, who primarily faced CB Charles Tillman.

This week brings a visit from Washington, whose quarterback has attempted at least 32 passes in every game but one – including 45 or more each of the past two weeks. This week should present more chances for Jennings and make him a decent option for deeper IDP leagues.

Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for and the brains behind (or would that be inside?) the “Suit” character in their free fantasy football game. Draft against him and 10 other fantasy Pros in RapidDraft Weekly every week (hence the name).

  1. Rookie Season says:

    Which one guy do you like out of this lot going forward?
    Paris Lenon, Bernard Pollard, DeAngelo Hall, Charles Tillman, Michael Huff, Louis Delmas, Rocky McIntosh, Charles Godfrey, Donte Whitner, Jim Leonard, Brandon Spikes, Eric Weddle, Micahel Boley. Thanks!

  2. @Rookie Season: First, I’d narrow it down to Lenon, Pollard and Delmas. Lenon and Pollard are the better bets for tackles, and Lenon’s ahead of Pollard there. The fact that all of these guys are available also makes it easier to ride the hot hand and know that if he cools off, you’ll have an easy time replacing him.

  3. As for that Jennings note up top, I just watched the Seattle-Chicago shortcut and saw Mike Williams get a few passes on Jennings’ side. It seemed to be short of half his work, but I didn’t count. Either way, he’s a less-than-safe play with some upside.

  4. djbooyah20 says:

    Need some trade advice as well as some week 7 roster help.

    MJD for Peyton Hillis, Knowshon Moreno, and Pierre Garcon..I would be receiving the 3 for MJD. I have McFadden, Felix Jones, Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch for my other RBs if I trade away I’d have to make room, as I don’t have 2 open roster spots.

    Week 7 Line-up help.
    Pick two WRs, two RBs, and a Flex RB/WR

    Brandon Marshall, DeSean Jackson, Derrick Mason, Eddie Royal
    Felix Jones, MJD, Marshawn Lynch, McFadden, Fred Jackson

    Also, I have Romo..Start NYG Def against him or pick up STL, NE, ATL, or WAS??


  5. @djbooyah20: I’d make that move, as it’d really stabilize an otherwise shaky backfield and bring a receiver that looks better with each passing minute and injury revelation. Fred-Jax and Lynch are cuttable, though another week similar to last would make for a tough choice between Lynch and Felix. Lynch looked good against Chicago.

    Starters: Marshall, Mason, Royal, MJD and McFadden (if it’s PPR and Oakland indicates McFadden won’t be limited).

    Never factor the rest of your roster into a particular lineup decision like the Romo-Giants one. It’s possible for both to have a good day, both crappy or anything in between. I’d roll with both.

  6. Dominic says:

    What do you think, should I drop Shonn Greene for Marshawn Lynch?

  7. Wilsonian says:

    Need to play one:

    James Anderson, Charles Woodson, James Harrison, Wang Chung, Yeremiah Bell – which one do you go with?

  8. @Dominic: Tough call there, as Lynch is the better value right now but Greene would skyrocket with a Tomlinson injury. Guess it depends on whether you need an option now or an upside guy who’s still getting carries. I’d say Lynch in PPR, Greene in non-PPR.

    @Wilsonian: I’m really not a fan of playing the weekly “who do I start?” game with IDPs, because so many variables that are out of the players’ control go into their game-by-game scoring. That said, Chung looks inviting against the Chargers, with Harrison just behind him (and always carrying upside).

  9. Wilsonian says:

    @Matt Schauf: yeah, I generally don’t make weekly moves, either (Timmons has solidified his spot). I’m just kicking myself because I might have won the week last week had I picked up Harrison over Woodson and I was looking pretty hard at Chung and Harrison again this week.

  10. @Wilsonian: You could just as easily be kicking yourself for the opposite the following week. I’d say plug in Harrison or Chung and just let it ride unless the guy gets hurt or hits a cold streak. Each is a good player who can perform regardless of apparent matchup. The farther a player gets from the ball — i.e. Woodson — the less predictable his scoring will be.

  11. Wilsonian says:

    @Matt Schauf: nice little Catch 22…

    Thanks man, I definitely appreciate the advice. Might have to go with Harrison, simply to keep the Steel Curtain Defense trifecta (have their team D, as well)

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