As we finally head in to the last rotation of bye weeks, hopefully your roster is staying productive and healthy so you can make a strong push at a title. Week 10 seemed to have a lot of underperforming studs and a lot of surprise stars. It’s a great time to start looking at some last minute trades to balance out your roster, as the trade deadline is looming in most leagues. If you’re in a dynasty or keeper league and you’re out of the playoff hunt, start looking at some of the younger up-and-coming studs on other rosters and consider making a move so you can give yourself a nice foundation heading into next season. Whether you’re still in it, or just looking for some potential players to roll over into next year, here are some names that could help.
It’s official – the Patriots are Kelvin Sheppard’s kryptonite. In Week 4, he put up a measly assist and in Week 10 he was shut out completely. It’s tough to play MLB in a 4-3 and get shut out, but Sheppard somehow managed on Sunday. Don’t give up on him just yet, as he’s in a great position to be successful – but definitely proceed with caution. Anthony Spencer led the pack from last week’s suggestions, posting 3 tackles, an assist, a TFL, FF and a sack. Miles Burris wasn’t too far behind, posting 3 tackles and an assist. Both should be decent depth for the remainder of the season.
Aldon Smith SFO LB – OLB 3-4
Smith has put together two solid back-to-back games, and is poised for a third heading into his Week 11 matchup against the Bears on Monday Night Football. The second year pass rusher out of Missouri was already slated as my top waiver wire grab before Cutler’s concussion, but having Jason Campbell under center will only help Smith’s production. The Bears struggled against Houston’s pressure, and I wouldn’t count on their protection getting much better as they focus on their quarterback woes. San Francisco’s defense had a bizarre outing against the Rams in Week 10, giving up some easy plays and not getting much pressure. Harbaugh won’t let the defense slouch twice - expect a very solid outing from Smith.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Mid LB2
Von Miller DEN LB – SLB 4-3
When Von Miller matched up against the Chargers in Week 6, he was able to record 2 tackles, an assist, a TFL and a sack. Since then, he has wreaked havoc on the Bengals and Panthers, logging 10 tackles, 7 TFLs, and 4 sacks between the two matchups. Despite being a SLB in a 4-3 defense, a typically unproductive LB position, the Broncos use Miller like he is a pass rushing OLB in a 3-4 (how Dennis Allen used him in 2011). The Chargers’ pass protection is notoriously poor, and San Diego will quickly abandon the run as Philip Rivers tries his best to keep up with Peyton’s air assault. Miller should be able to pin his ears back and have a great day going after the quarterback.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3
Akeem Dent ATL LB – MLB 4-3
While the Falcons have struggled without WLB Sean Weatherspoon, MLB Akeem Dent’s fantasy production has flourished. One of The Huddle’s preseason sleepers, Dent had a very quiet first seven games, as he was only being used as a two-down linebacker. Against the Cowboys and the Saints in the last two weeks, both top-10 passing offenses, Dent was able to record 10 tackles, 6 assists and a deflection. With Weatherspoon’s status for the Falcon’s Week 11 matchup against the Cardinals still uncertain, Dent could have another great game on the horizon. Keep an eye on the injury report heading into Sunday, but if Weatherspoon sits, find a way to work Dent into your lineup.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Ernie Sims DAL LB – Filling in for studly Sean Lee who is on the Cowboys IR, veteran LB Ernie Sims has very quietly put together two solid games against the Falcons and Eagles with 5 tackles in each. He’s not a player you should count on heading into next season, but if you’re looking for a risk/reward player heading into the playoffs, Sims could very well be that guy for you. The Browns should give him lots of tackle opportunities in Week 11.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Looking back at last week’s recommendations, Muhamed Wilkerson went above and beyond and had a monster game for the Jets. Wilkerson finished with 4 tackles, 3 assists, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Unfortunately Bowers was shut out, but Idonije was able to get a tackle, 1.5 TFLs and jump in to help on 4 assists. Keep both Bowers and Idonije on your radar moving forward, even in spite of their poor play in Week 10.
Kyle Vanden Bosch DET DL – DE 4-3
While defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s lack of production has been in the media spotlight lately, in reality all of the Lions’ defensive line has struggled. If there were ever a situation for their pass rush to turn it around, it would be at home against the Packers who are currently tied in second place for giving up the most sacks in the NFL with 29. With the Lions’ season only one or two losses away from being officially over, their Week 11 matchup is a “must win.” Vanden Bosch is no stranger to big games, and he should put together a performance similar to his Week 7 matchup against the Bears, where he recorded 3 tackles, 2 TFLs and 2 sacks.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to High-end DL3
Fletcher Cox PHI DL – DT 4-3
IDP owners tend to shy away from DTs when starting defensive linemen, but Fletcher Cox might be the exception this week if you’re looking to fill a void. The Eagles are matched up against RGIII and the Washington Redskins, who provide a surprising amount of production to their 4-3 defense opponents’ starting defensive tackles. In Week 9, the Panthers Dwan Edwards recorded half a tackle, 5 assists and half a sack against the ‘Skins, and in Week 7 the Giants’ Linval Joseph was able to get a tackle, 2 assists, a FF and a FR. Cox is gaining some confidence and momentum as the season progresses – expect him to anchor down the middle and get a lot of tackle opportunities against Morris and RGIII.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Sneaky Defensive Line Play
Cory Liuget SD DL – Despite struggling with a hamstring injury, Liuget has had a great three weeks coming out of the bye. Early season play has kept him in most leagues’ free agent pool, so snatch him up for his rematch against Denver, which should net him 3-4 tackles and 2 assists with the potential to get his third sack of the season.
Defensive Back Plays
Week 9 recommendation Dunta Robinson led the pack with 6 tackles, an assist, half a TFL and a pass deflected. Sneaky plays Ed Reed and Captain Munnerlyn each made small contributions to fantasy owners, with Reed logging 3 tackles and Munnerlyn getting 3 tackles and an assist. Eric Wright was able to get a tackle against the Chargers before suffering an ankle injury early in the game and Nolan Carroll was shut out. All of these players should continue to make small impacts and provide great plug-n-play options moving forward.
Devin McCourty NEP CB
McCourty has always been a decent producer from the cornerback position, but chances are he’s a free agent in your league (DBs are a dime a dozen, after all). Lucky for you, you can snag him at just the right time: with Patrick Chung nursing his shoulder and hamstring, McCourty spent a good deal of Week 10 filling his spot at safety. The shift netted him 4 tackles, 4 assists, a fumble recovery, a pick and a pass deflection against the Bills in Week 10. If Chung is still unable to go, McCourty could be a fantastic play against the Colts’ sixth ranked passing attack this week, and even if you roll the dice and he stays at corner – he’ll still put up decent enough numbers for your squad.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB1 to Mid DB2
Ronald Bartell OAK CB
Making his return from the temporary IR last week, Bartell posted 3 tackles and an assist against Baltimore’s offense. With Michael Huff hurting his calf, Bartell will be the Raiders’ #1 corner moving forward. Huff was able to get 2 tackles, an assist, an interception and 4 pass deflections before leaving the game on Sunday, and Bartell can expect similar if not more action against the Saints. The Raiders’ secondary is anything but intimidating, and the ball will be coming Bartell’s way all afternoon. Just because you’re a poor coverage corner doesn’t mean your tackles go unappreciated by fantasy owners!
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to High-end DB3
Erik Coleman DET SS
After some ups and downs to start the season, it looks like Coleman is finally starting to get things figured out. He racked up 7 tackles last week against the Vikings, and is faced with Aaron Rodgers’ passing attack in Week 11. Safeties always have lots of great tackle opportunities against pass heavy teams – Coleman should be in for another solid week.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Darius Butler IND CB – One monster game usually isn’t enough for fantasy owners to go running after a DB, but Butler could be in for a repeat in Week 11. Interim head coach Bruce Arians has stated that even if Vontae Davis and Jerraud Powers are healthy enough to play against the Patriots, Butler could start thanks to his Week 10 performance against Jacksonville. Matched up against the Patriots 5th ranked passing offense, Butler could be the sneaky play of the season at DB.