Week 5 was a week of repeated history in the NFL. For the third week in a row, defensive ends feasted on Arizona’s horrendous pass blocking. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman became the first pair of teammates to each post pick-sixes in consecutive weeks. The New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers were each involved in shootouts that saw big returns from the defensive backs involved in the games. The season is taking shape as pretenders separate from contenders in both the NFL and your fantasy league. Here are some guys to grab to either keep or put you back on the winning way.
Of last week’s recommendations, Vontaze Burfict (7 total tackles and fumble recovery) and Chase Blackburn (4 total tackles and an INT) were serviceable. Of note, London Fletcher saw a return to prominence after a weak performance last week. London Fletcher is really emerging as a player you can only start at home (4 total tackles on 2 road games versus 39 total tackles in 3 homes games). That’s some generous homerism by the Skins box scorer. I watched this game and saw him get credit for many tackles that he really wasn’t too involved in. He is up against the Minnesota Vikings at home this week so he’s a solid start.
Lawrence Timmons PIT LB – ILB 3-4
In many shallow leagues, owners have given up on this guy and cut him loose. But last week with James Harrison back in the lineup, I saw the Timmons of old against the Eagles. He was disruptive, pass-rushing from the middle, being instinctive/filling gaps and finally, actually showing enough athleticism to make the play. Timmons had a monster game on Sunday posting 8 solos, 1 assist and a forced fumble. He was also extremely close to landing two sacks during the game. One of which became a no-gain run, and the other was cleaned up by a teammate. Larry Foote (the other ILB in PIT’s 3-4) also had a decent game with 5 solos, 3 assists and 2 fumble recoveries. It remains to be seen whether Foote and Timmons will cannibalize each other’s stats as Farrior and Foote tended to do in years past but if I had to pick which LB looked better against the Eagles, give me Timmons. Watch James Harrison’s health, his presence seems to be the key to Timmons’ success.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB1 to Mid LB2
Wesley Woodyard DEN LB – WLB 4-3
A bit of a do-over from the week 1 edition here but Woodyard became marginalized after Coach John “I love veterans” Fox decided that he needed to get Keith Brooking some snaps at Woodyard’s expense. However, Brooking could not finish the game against the Patriots as he left with an apparent concussion. Woodyard’s week 1 game against the Steelers was enough of a preview of how big of an impact he can have on your squad when he’s given the opportunity. DJ Williams’ suspension is being extended by 3 games (onto the original 6 for PED use) as well so Woodyard may be back to full time snaps for a while. Snap him up if he’s free.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB1 to Low-end LB2
Sneaky Linebacker Plays
Bradie James HOU LB – DC Wade Phillips loves this guy all the way back to his Dallas days. Now Brian Cushing is struggling with knee issues (enough to leave MNF against the Jets). Bradie could be a sneaky play for a couple weeks if Cushing misses time.
LJ Fort CLE LB – Browns MLB D’Qwell Jackson suffered a concussion against the Giants. LJ Fort stepped into the lineup and posted a solid 10 total tackle statline. If Jackson misses any time, Fort may be a solid sneaky play against the Bengals.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Robert Quinn’s performance on Thursday affirmed what we have seen over the course of this early season. The Arizona Cardinals cannot run the ball (Beanie Wells on temporary IR and Ryan Williams out for the year with a shoulder injury) and they can’t pass protect either (20 sacks against over the last 3 games). DEs are having career games against the Cardinals every week. Buffalo comes to town in week 6 so Mario Williams owners need to keep the faith for one more week. JJ Watt looked human against the Jets for a half but alas, we were wrong as he was Tebow’s bane in the run game and managed to sack Mark Sanchez. Both Minnesota ends got home last week but neither are factoring enough into the run support game to post solid stats.
It was a pretty sorry week on the DL front as last week’s best recommendation was Vince Wilfork who was only able to muster 2 assists and a fumble recovery.
Cory Redding IND DE – DE 3-4
Redding is a player who looked very inspired last week against the Packers posting 5 total tackles and 2 sacks. With Dwight Freeney back for the first time since the opener, the Colts pass rush is looking formidable past Robert Mathis. Redding is someone who has the talent to capitalize on Freeney and Mathis getting doubles.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Bruce Irvin SEA DE – DE 4-3
If would love to see him get more tackles before recommending him in starting lineups but the fact is that Pete Carroll might not be as crazy as we all thought he was at the draft. Bruce Irvin was described as a reach at best by many draft pundits. And yet, the kid has 4.5 sacks through five games. Big play leagues and dynasty leagues should already have this guy rostered. Consider picking him up and sitting on him over his bye week if your high-priced DE is under-performing.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Plays
Mark Anderson/Chris Kelsay BUF DE – This is just playing the percentages here. Bobby Massey might be the biggest turnstile at right tackle in the league. Mark Anderson is getting an MRI on his knee and may not be available but if you have an opening that you need to fill on the DL, think about getting some Buffalo pass rush in your lineup.
Corey Wootton CHI DE – Julius Peppers is nicked up but the Chicago pass rush machine still gets pressure. Wootton piled on 2 sacks with Peppers resting in a blowout game. He would be a solid fillin if Peppers misses any time.
Defensive Back Plays
Different week, same story. GB and NOS both produced shootouts yet again and fantasy owners were able to reap the rewards. 6 DBs from the GB-IND game were in double digits while 5 DBs from the NOS-SDC game cracked at least 10 points. As usual, DB by committee proves to be a valid approach to owners that can spot the shootouts.
Quentin Jammer was the best play from last week notching 6 total tackles, 2 PDs and an interception. Stevie Brown wasn’t a bad play either with 3 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Going into week 6, the prime matchups to look for upside in are the Green Bay-Houston game and the Oakland-Atlanta game.
Usama Young CLE S – 4-3 FS
Young took over for an ineffective Eric Hagg. While Young hasn’t been the best NFL safety, he certainly is posing more fantasy upside than Hagg did. Strong safety TJ Ward is battling injury and the Browns’ corners are struggling to make plays. Against a solid passing game like the Giants, Young was cleaning up many intermediate routes on his way to a 10 tackle game. He also added an interception. Playing on a defense that is struggling with both consistency and injuries across the board, Young’s fantasy upside should remain as long as he sees the field.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Jordan Babineaux TEN S – 4-3 SS
I really dislike the safety carousel that Tennessee seems to be playing this year. Robert Johnson is not NFL talent but yet he seems to worm his way back into the lineup for a few meaningful snaps now and again. Jordan Babineaux seems to be the guy that is starting to establish some consistency from that group. Tennessee is getting blown out regularly so the opportunity should continue to be there.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB1 to High-end DB3
Tramon Williams GBP CB – 3-4 CB
I don’t understand how Tramon Williams should be a free agent but fact is that in many leagues, he still is. Williams isn’t an every week start but if you can pick the shootout games, you will get 15+ points. Corner required leagues should already have him rostered but DB-combined leagues should take a look at this guy.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Plays
Johnathan Joseph/Kareem Jackson HOU CB – I don’t believe that Green Bay will have an answer for Houston’s running attack and playaction passing. Green Bay will be throwing to catch up with Cedric Benson injured (Lisfranc). Play your Texan secondary.
Dunta Robinson ATL CB – Carson Palmer is not afraid to sling it around the yard and I think that the ATL/OAK game is the perfect spot to bank on a team like Oakland to throw it 50 times. Robinson can tackle and should have plenty of opportunity in week 6.