For most leagues, this is the last week of the regular season. If your rosters freeze over playoffs, then this is the most important waiver week of the year; on the bubble or otherwise. With pickings as slim as they’ve ever been on your waiver wire, if you see a juicy pickup, you need to pull the trigger. Watch for the playoff matchups of your current roster and adjust accordingly. Getting stuck with a bad matchup when a potential fantasy league title is on the line should never happen to a prepared fantasy owner.
James Harrison as the sneaky linebacker play ended up being the best play of the week amongst linebackers. His 8 solo tackle (4 of them for loss), 1 assist and 1 sack performance against the Browns was one of his best performances all year. Owners that were able to get him in their lineup were rewarded greatly. Justin Durant also came up big against the Texans with 7 solo tackles, 1 assist and a PD. He has established himself as a viable starting LB alongside Stephen Tulloch from the strong side. He is also as safe of a play as you’ll find from the linebacker position. Durant has never scored less than 8 points this year with 10 of his 12 games scoring double digit fantasy points.
Erin Henderson MIN LB – WLB 4-3
Erin Henderson started out the year averaging 11 tackles and one sack a game. He was showing great promise as another fantasy viable linebacker alongside Chad Greenway. But after two weeks, he suffered a concussion and missed the next two games. First year starter at middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley never gave up his three down status after Henderson’s return from injury, relegating him to fantasy benches. Last week however, Henderson was returned to nickel duties and his stats reflected that to the tune of 8 solo tackles, 1 assist and a PD. With the Packers, Bears and Texans due up in three of the next four games for Minnesota, Henderson should be a quality play down the stretch provided he can continue to see the field for three downs.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to High-end LB3
Darryl Sharpton HOU LB – ILB 3-4
We’ve seen that nobody can step in and replace the production that Brian Cushing puts up. Bradie James has become a startable LB again but there have been tackles to go around in the Texans defense. Stopgap Tim Dobbins was injured and Barrett Ruud is depth at best. Sharpton, the third year LB out of Miami has finally shaken the quadriceps injury that caused him to miss the first 10 games of the year. Sharpton was actually the leading candidate to start alongside Brian Cushing over Bradie James to start the season but his injury opened the door for James who has become the team’s defensive leader in Cushing’s absence. In the two games that Sharpton has played, he has amassed 13 total tackles and a forced fumble. Those stats have come in part time duty while easing him back into the lineup. With Tim Dobbins’ shoulder injury, Sharpton has been thrust into starter’s duties and may be poised to increase his already decent stats.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Brandon Spikes NEP LB – MLB 4-3
Brandon Spikes wasn’t a great play early in the season but over his last 5 games, he has put up an average of 6 solos, 4 assists and a PD. Rock solid stats for the Mike. With the Dolphins, Texans, 49ers and Jaguars due up in the next four games, Spikes could be a big player down the stretch.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Ahmad Brooks/Aldon Smith SFO LB – I don’t think the Rams are going to be able to hang around against the Colin Kaepernick-led 49ers this time around. My call? Bradford hits the deck at least three times to these guys.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Greg Hardy was the play of the week last week from the defensive line. His stat line of 4 solos, 1 assist and a sack was more than adequate for a weekly plug-in. I will give the Cardinals credit. They finally prevented me from looking good in recommending pass rushers against them. Robert Quinn posted a doughnut. Four Bengals players notched sacks against the Raiders but unfortunately, Carlos Dunlap was not among them.
Chris Clemons SEA DE – DE 4-3
The risk with Clemons is that he’s not going to put up the tackles that you need him to prevent a low score. That said, give me solid pass rushers against the Bears offensive line. Clemons has blow-up potential and this game could be it.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL1 to Low-end DL3
Jabaal Sheard CLE DE – DE 4-3
Sheard has largely been a disappointment this season but a date with the Oakland Raiders in week 13 may be just what the doctor ordered to nab him some stats going into the fantasy playoffs. The Chiefs next week are a quality start as well.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Lineman Play
Cliff Avril DET DE – The Colts are on pace for a record amount of attempts despite a patchwork line that really isn’t blocking that well. Expect Luck to hit the dirt once or twice.
Defensive Back Plays
Those teams that are continually playing defensive back by committee are still offered many options week to week. New England, Buffalo, Houston, Detroit, Green Bay and New Orleans are teams that offer matchup players that are plug-and-play options that can ensure solid defensive back production throughout the year. Stephon Gilmore put up 6 total tackles, 2 PDs and a forced fumble as the best option of the week last week.
You have to like the Falcons-Saints game and the Colts-Lions as potentially exploitable games from the defensive back perspective. The Eagles-Cowboys game may also be a good game to look at safeties.
Chris Houston DET CB – 4-3 CB
Teams that like throwing at their clear-cut WR1 will give Houston opportunities to make tackles. Reggie Wayne has 144 targets this season through 12 weeks. Expect Chris Houston to get some footballs thrown at him. He’s a sure enough tackle to pile up some safe stats and talented enough to potentially get some big play stats as well.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Dunta Robinson ATL CB – 4-3 CB
Robinson put up 7 total tackles and a PD against the Saints three weeks ago. You know that the Saints will throw the ball and Robinson tends to get looked at more so than Asante Samuel. Robinson is also better on run support so his floor is certainly higher than it would be otherwise. With the Giants and Lions in the fantasy playoffs, Robinson might be a good buy and hold.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Danieal Manning HOU S – 3-4 SS
After a shaky start to his fantasy season, Danieal Manning has turned it on as of late. He is averaging 7 tackles and almost two big plays a game. The Texans have a great IDP matchup against the Patriots upcoming so if Manning is available, he would be a great option down the stretch.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB1 to High-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Chris Clemons MIA S – I’m expecting the Dolphins corners to get beat over the middle as well as some runs to get to the secondary. Clemons could be a great sneaky play with a great secondary matchup this week.