Week 4 IDP stats were largely inflated by a few choice blowouts. If you were able to correctly predict a couple of them, you were able to cash in. There were a lot of big plays as well with 7 house calls made by IDPs and Tony Romo was only responsible for 2 of them! Hopefully you weren’t victimized by an opponent’s pick six. The bye weeks are coming shortly so it’s time to make sure that your depth is set before your starters take their weeks off.
Of last week’s recommendations, Aldon Smith was the best; posting 4 tackles, 2 sacks and forced fumble. Danelle Ellerbe was also solid with 4 solos, 1 PD and a forced fumble. Many previous recommendations from this column are also still rock solid starters and if they remain on your waiver wire, you would do well to grab them. The list includes: DJ Smith, Stephen Nicholas, Russell Allen, KJ Wright, Akeem Ayers, Larry Foote, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Philip Wheeler. Note that you won’t see Bryan Scott on this recommendation list this week. He plays nickel LB/S and saw the field for a lot more snaps than normal as the Bills played nickel against the Patriots. He is unlikely to turn in a similar performance against San Francisco at home this week. If you have room, he can be a hold if you can predict the pass-happy games for the Bills but I think there are more consistent options.
Pat Angerer IND LB – ILB 3-4
It doesn’t feel right putting a top 10 dynasty LB in this column. He should be rostered in every league; foot or otherwise. However, the fact is that in many shallow IDP leagues, this guy wasn’t drafted because he wasn’t healthy (broken foot). Indianapolis is coming off of the bye and Angerer has a shot to play against the Packers in week 5. Grab him before his first game and enjoy the free LB1. Those banking on Jerrell Freeman production are going to need a new LB to lean on.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB1 to Mid LB2
Chase Blackburn NYG LB – MLB 4-3
He’s not going to put up Antonio Pierce-in-his-prime kind of fantasy numbers but Chase Blackburn has been on a decent roll to start the season. I will admit that I thought a Michael Boley slide into the middle or a Mark Herzlich or Greg Jones rise to prominence was more likely than the former school teacher becoming a full time MLB but that’s exactly what has happened. He can disappear in pass-heavy games as evidenced by the Carolina game but the Giants coaching staff is willing to let his blitz from time to time as well. When the Giants get run on, Blackburn will be the one to rack up the stats. Despite being a 4-3 Mike, Blackburn probably isn’t rostered in your league.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Vontaze Burfict CIN LB - WLB 4-3
A former sneaky play recommendation, Burfict looks like the best CIN LB on the field at times. Best part is that even in many dynasty leagues, this guy is free for the taking after a horrendous draft process that saw him go undrafted. Rey Maualuga just isn’t the Mike that Cincinnati needs and Burfict looks to be picking up the slack. He’s a low-risk pickup right now that might be starter material towards year end.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Plays
Jovan Belcher KCC LB – The guy can put up stats when teams are trying to salt away a game by running on the Chiefs. Case in point, he had 7 solos against San Diego after they got up early. I expect Baltimore to do the same.
Scott Fujita CLE LB – I think the defending champs get a leg up on the Browns early which could mean an above average day for the Browns LBs.
Defensive Linemen Plays
My favourite quote from last Sunday was from Leroy Harris, guard from the Tennessee Titans who was quoted as saying (referring to JJ Watt), “He's not anything special...I locked him down most of the game except those two plays.” Too bad those two plays went for sacks. Watt posted another monster game and is giving his owners a clear advantage over every other owner in the league. Hopefully Chris Clemons showed us all that patience is a virtue as patient owners that kept Charles Johnson, Cameron Wake, Jabaal Sheard and Jared Allen in their lineups despite not really deserving the spot were rewarded with quality games. Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mario Williams need to keep the faith.
Michael Bennett was the top DL recommendation last week nabbing a sack to go with 2 solos. Michael Johnson proved that he is a clear situational play as he threw up a donut against the Jaguars.
Vince Wilfork NEP DT – NT 4-3
Big Vince is a playmaker even from the interior line. He just finds a way to make things happen. He can tackle, he’s got hands and he’s got a knack for being around the ball. The Patriots are playing Peyton Manning’s Broncos in week 5 and Bronco center JD Walton will miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle. Wilfork is a double digit game waiting to happen.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to Mid DL3
Emerson Griffen MIN DE – DE/DT 4-3
Normally, it’s hard to get behind a guy that gets moved around a lot because the team is trying to “find a spot for him”. Usually the translation to that coach-speak is “he’s not good at many positions”. That said, Griffen is trying to become the exception to the rule. He is being moved around from LB to DE to DT and he is producing (3 sacks this year). He doesn’t tackle enough to start every week but he is a good hold to see if he can make a run at Brian Robison’s starting spot.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Plays
Ropati Pitoitua KCC DE – Who? The former WSU Cougar is in his 5th year in the NFL after being undrafted. He took over for Glenn Dorsey who was out on Sunday and promptly put up 6 solos and 2 sacks. That will probably be the game of his career but even in deep leagues or 32 team leagues, Pitoitua is almost certainly not rostered and might be a decent fill-in for a couple weeks if he can muster sometime similar in coming weeks.
Jurrell Casey TEN DT – This is a bet that the Titans will see as many running plays and short passing as they did against Houston. Casey can tackle and could be good for 4-5 solos.
Defensive Back Plays
It was hard to miss on DBs this week. There were no less than 68 DBs that managed to score double digit fantasy points (standard) this week and 11 of those players went for 20 points. The shootouts were the main culprits of this as a couple games saw multiple DBs with big games. The NEP-BUF game has 6 double digit DBs and the GB-NOS game had 8. It just goes to show that if you can pick the shootout, you can pick the high-scoring DBs.
All five DB options recommended last week (Patrick Robinson, Josh Norman, Thomas DeCoud, Jamarca Sanford and Matt Giordano) had solid weeks with both sneaky options being the best. Sanford racked up 6 solos, 3 PDs, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while Giordano had workman-like 8 solos cleaning up the mess that Peyton Manning made of the Oakland corners. Sanford remains a solid option for this week if Mistral Raymond stays out with injury.
Chris Conte CHI S – 4-3 FS
Chris Conte is not a great safety by any stretch but he plays the back end behind two all-pro LBs and between quality cornerback play in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. When teams can’t run on the Bears (they usually have a tough time), they will throw at somebody. Conte will get the TE many times as evidenced by Witten’s abuse of him on Monday night football in addition to the standard clean-up of crossing routes and broken tackles. If you grab him, he’s not a good start for week 5. Hold him until week 7 against the Lions.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Madieu Williams WAS S – 3-4 FS
Atlanta will pick on all Washington DBs in week 5. Madieu Williams was on mop-up duty for the majority of the times that DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were beaten by a wildly inaccurate Josh Freeman. Outside of the Rams, no one was really been able to run on the Skins so I expect ATL to be throwing early and often in this one.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB1 to Mid DB3
Quentin Jammer SDC CB – 3-4 CB
Jammer had a big day trying to contain Dwayne Bowe and will likely draw similar attention trying to cover Marques Colston and Lance Moore. New Orleans cannot run the ball at all and San Diego has been fairly decent in run defense. 0-5 will look ugly on the Saints. Expect Drew Brees to pull out all the stops to prevent it. Jammer’s tackle stats will reflect it.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Plays
Sherrod Martin CAR S – Deep leaguers pay attention to this one. Former Raven Haruki Nakamura is reportedly in the coach’s doghouse for being beaten in coverage too often. Sherrod Martin won’t fix that but he’s likely not to be rostered and could be a cheap bandaid at safety.
Stevie Brown NYG S – Antrel Rolle is dinged up with knee issues and now Kenny Phillips has a sprained MCL. Stevie Brown was seeing meaningful snaps against the Eagles and could be startable over the next few weeks.