As fantasy trading deadlines approach, owners should think to things like playoff schedules, solidifying depth and moving from deep positions to shore up shallow ones. If you can fill up a position with quality waiver wire picks and trade your drafted IDP starters for more scarce positions, that’s only going to make your team better. Have a look at your waiver wire and don’t be afraid to pull a 2 for 1 trade if you see a player that you like.
Of last week’s recommendations, the best play was Justin Durant with 7 solo tackles. Thomas Davis was able to post 5 solo tackles and an assist. Lavonte David was beyond disappointing on Thursday night but I’m confident he will bounce back against the Raiders in week 9. Week 6 recommendation Wesley Woodyard was the best LB option of the week with 9 solos, 4 assists, 2 PDs, a pick, a sack and a forced fumble. Week 7 recommendation Brad Jones was also a top 5 option posting 7 solos, 3 assist, a sack and a forced fumble. Arizona didn’t fail to provide sacks again as both Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith in addition to ILB Navorro Bowman got home against the Cardinals. Smith was especially solid with 6 solos and 2 sacks and was a great sneaky play if you were able to get him into your lineup.
Luke Kuechly CAR LB – MLB 4-3
This week’s shallow league pick is a rookie. In 2007, the Carolina Panthers drafted a star college linebacker (Jon Beason) despite a fairly solid stable of linebackers but injury-prone linebackers (Dan Morgan et al). Dan Morgan got hurt (yet again) and the Panthers went with Jon Beason at middle linebacker. Beason went on to have a dominant year with 140 tackles. Fast forward 5 years and Jon Beason is the injury-prone veteran and 9th overall pick Luke Kuechly out of Boston College is the fresh faced rookie that is lighting up the league. Deep leaguers and dynasty leagues already have seen him go but short IDP leagues should look to stash this guy if he’s free.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB1 to Mid LB2
James-Michael Johnson CLE LB – WLB 4-3
The 4th round rookie out of Nevada is now starting for the Browns at weak side linebacker over the incumbent starter Scott Fujita. Fujita was placed on injured reserve with a potentially career-ending neck injury. “JMJ” likely won’t give up this job unless he gets hurt. Posting 5 solos and 5 assists in a dogfight against the Chargers last week, he could become a solid option down the stretch. His week 9 matchup is the Ravens fresh off their bye. He could be a decent sneaky play this week even if you don’t believe in him but I think JMJ will be a fantasy factor for the rest of the year. He also has extensive experience in the middle which adds to his value if the oft-injured D’Qwell Jackson were to go down.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
DeMario Davis NYJ LB – ILB 3-4
The word is that Bart Scott has a toe injury and cannot play. While that might be true, the former Arkansas State LB DeMario Davis is easier the faster and more athletic LB. Bart Scott is a liability in the passing game as well. While David Harris is still the best Jet LB to own, the 3rd round pick Davis could establish himself as a decent defensive flex option or bye week/injury coverage play.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Plays
Mark Herzlich NYG LB – Both Keith Rivers (calf) and Chase Blackburn (hamstring) were injured last week. He’s a reach at best but deep leaguers or desperate owners may look to Herzlich if Blackburn/Rivers can’t go against the Steelers.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Rob Ninkovich was able to post a sack and a PD in London last week to be the best recommendation of the week last week. I like him again in week 10 after the New England bye against the Buffalo Bills. He and Chandler Jones have been remarkable over the last 5 weeks.
Defensive line tends to get really skinny at this point in the season as teams tend to start cutting dead weight and adding any top 30 guys to fill their lineup.
Kamerion Wimbley TEN DE – DE 4-3
Chicago is slightly behind Arizona in terms of giving gifts to opposing defensive linemen. The Bears have given up 25 sacks over 7 games this year and 11 over the last two games. Give Wimbley a look this week if he’s free in your league.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Fletcher Cox PHI DT – DT 4-3
Fletcher Cox might be a very important player to watch in DT required leagues as starter Cullen Jenkins is regularly sliding over to defensive end to cover a woefully ineffective Jason Babin. 5 solos and a PD against the Falcons last week, Cox might be an emerging player to log some fantasy starts down the stretch.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL3 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Plays
Kroy Biermann ATL DE – Bank on Dallas continuing to struggle in protecting Tony Romo if they get down early against the Falcons. The Giants were able to pile up 4 last week and Biermann is the kind of guy who can blow up for a big game now and again.
Antonio Smith HOU DE – Another big reach here but I think Buffalo will be exploited by Houston’s defensive line. The backs and tight ends don’t get into the blocking game for the Bills enough to slow the pass rush down. Smith could get some action against a suspect Bills line.
Defensive Back Plays
It was another solid week for the DBBC (defensive back by committee) teams that were able to plug and play a handful of players from some fairly predictable games as far as the passing games goes. The Rams were exploited by the Patriots. DEN and NO featured a lot of passing. Philly safeties got plenty of tackles in clean up duty.
There were solid plays all across the board last week with Harrison Smith leading the way with 7 solos and 6 assists on Thursday night football against the Buccaneers. Malcolm Jenkins was very serviceable as well with 8 solos and an assist. Patrick Robinson, Eric Wright and Janoris Jenkins also managed to crack double digits for those exploiting matchup corners for their fantasy lineups.
Expect similarly exploitable matchups between Dallas and Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants as well as Philadelphia and New Orleans.
Thomas DeCoud ATL S – 4-3 FS
DeCoud has been a solid performer over the course of the year and may be rostered already but he is going to be expected to clean up the shallow to intermediate crossing routes that Dallas will need to utilize against the Falcons. Stevie Brown piled up most of his stats last week handling crossing routes and Jason Witten shallow to intermediate. Expect much of the same from DeCoud.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Nate Allen PHI S – 4-3 SS
The Eagles corners are getting beaten more often than the Philly fans would like to see. In addition, the Eagles also have a very active secondary for run support. An excellent recipe for fantasy success; expect Nate Allen to have a big game defending against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night football this week.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to High-end DB3
Ronde Barber TBB S – 4-3 FS
The old man is getting it done. Barber is the Charles Woodson of the Buccaneers, the old guard elite corner that has moved to safety to continue his ballhawking ways but at a position that will extend his career. Barber’s statline last week (8 solos, 1 assist and a forced fumble) shows that he still has it. Barber is both a better fantasy player and NFL player that many safeties almost half his age.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Plays
Robert McClain ATL CB – McClain seems to have locked down the Falcons nickelback role alongside Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel. With the Falcons likely continuing to use a predominantly nickel base defense and an expectation that Dallas will continue to throw both because I believe that they will be playing from behind and that Felix Jones and/or a hobbled DeMarco Murray will not be able to effectively run, I believe that McClain sees a lot of action next week. It is almost certain that McClain isn’t rostered so deep leaguers may be able to sneak him in with little cost.
Cedric Griffin WAS CB – I wouldn’t be surprised to see DeAngelo Hall get suspended for a game after his jawjacking episode with the referees in the WAS-PIT game last week. If that’s the case, look for Cedric Griffin to draw a start at cornerback. Griffin is toasted regularly but is a quality tackler, great for fantasy purposes.
Corey Webster NYG CB – Pittsburgh still can’t run the ball that effectively and the G-Men won’t be an easy test. As such, look for the ball to get thrown around the field. Regardless of whether Webster draws Wallace or Brown, he should be busy.