IDP Free Agent Report: Week 14
Tryston Ford
December 4, 2012

It’s playoff time. Time to put up or shut up. Most of time, the teams that are coming onto the playoffs with the hottest lineup or the healthiest lineup are the ones that succeed. Hopefully one or both of those descriptions accurately describe your team. For those that are still dealing with consistency and health issues or for those teams simply looking for more depth down the stretch, here are some options for your IDP squad for Week 14.

Linebacker Plays

None of the four recommendations were overwhelming successes but all provided decent options if you did end up turning to them. Erin Henderson posted 4 solos and 4 assists as the best option of the week. Brandon Spikes put up 4 solos and 2 PDs. Darryl Sharpton’s 2 solo, 2 assist, 1 PD and 1 interception effort proved to be a quality outing, especially in big play leagues and Aldon Smith was able to chip in with his latest sack to continue his league lead 17.5.

Dan Connor/Anthony Spencer DAL LB – ILB/OLB 3-4
Dallas’ LB corps has suffered many injuries this year. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are both out for the year. It’s hard to recommend either given their history but someone needs to make tackles for the Cowboys. Philadelphia (more specifically Bryce Brown) ran right through Dallas on Sunday night. Both LBs had decent statlines in that game. In addition, the Cowboys have a decent schedule for LBs down the stretch with the Bengals, Steelers and Saints throughout the playoff weeks.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3

Demorrio Williams/Takeo Spikes SDC LB – ILB 3-4
LB1 Donald Butler was inactive due to a groin injury last week against the Bengals. Former Falcon and Chief Demorrio Williams filled in last week. Williams posted 6 total tackles and a pick six in that game. Takeo Spikes was also able to post a decent game as well with 4 solos, 3 assists and a forced fumble. Watch the Chargers’ injury report and if Butler continues to miss time, one or both of these guys could be worth a stash. The Steelers, Panthers and Jets certainly help on the LB tackle opportunity end.
Roster Recommendation:  Mid LB2 to Low-end LB3

Kevin Burnett MIA LB – WLB 4-3
Kevin Burnett has been solid but unspectacular over the last 6 weeks averaging 13.5 points over that timeframe. Burnett is a 3 down player and regularly factors into run support as well as the short/intermediate pass game. The Dolphins got run and thrown on by the Patriots last week and I expect the 49ers to do the same to them. WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar put up 11 tackles against the 49ers last week and Burnett is liable to post comparable stats. Leagues with shorter benches might have Burnett available but with a juicy week 14 matchup, I’d venture a pickup on him if your last LB option is dicey.
Roster Recommendation:  High-end LB2 to Mid LB3

Sneaky Linebacker Play

Barrett Ruud HOU LB – Digging deep here but pickings are slim and health is at a premium for the Houston Texans. Ruud got enough action to log 5 solo tackles and a sack last week against the Titans. What’s sure to be a long game for both the Texans and Patriots; Ruud could be a very sneaky play in week 14.

Defensive Linemen Plays

Cliff Avril was the play of the week with 2 solos and a strip sack. Jabaal Sheard and Chris Clemons were pedestrian at best. However, those that grabbed week 12 play Carlos Dunlap were rewarded greatly with 5 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumble, 1 forced recovery and a PD.  Dunlap’s game versus the Chargers was the best game of the week, slightly edging out JJ Watt’s 5 solos, 2 PDs and a strip sack against Tennessee.

Justin Smith SFO DE – DE 3-4
Smith is boom and bust but he rewards his owners when the 49ers play run-heavy teams. He has posted between 6 to 8 tackles against teams like the Giants, Rams and Seahawks. Give the big guy a chance against the Dolphins who are a great bet to run the ball at least 20 times.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL1 to Low-end DL3

Brandon Graham PHI DE – DE 4-3
With Jason Babin cut from the Eagles and promptly claimed by Jacksonville, there was a glut of snaps from the DE position to be filled. Graham seems to be the guy to fill that role. He posted 6 tackles and 1.5 sacks against Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Sunday night. It should be noted that the Eagles fired defensive line coordinator Jim Washburn and his replacement, Tommy Brasher, has indicated that the wide nine formation that was used for the majority of this season and last would not be continued with. The situatin bears monitoring but not many ends present the opportunity that Graham could this late in the year.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to High-end DL3

Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play

Trevor Scott NEP DE – Scott looks to be establishing himself as a legitimate pass rushing option in the absence of Chandler Jones. Scott rung up 2 sacks and a forced fumble against the Dolphins last week. Watch the injury report and if Jones misses time again, Scott could be a sneaky play this week.

Defensive Back Plays

Once again, the teams that are continually playing defensive back by committee are still offered many options week to week. The NOS-ATL game and the IND-DET game were both gold for multiple double digit DB performances. Chris Houston and Chris Clemons both logged 6 total tackles and Dunta Robinson picked up 7. Owners that hung onto week 12 recommendation Reshad Jones and got him into their lineups against the Patriots were treated to a top 3 DB performance. Jones posted 10 solos, 1 PD, an INT and a sack.
For this week, I like these matchups to exploit: DEN at OAK, NOS at NYG, DET at GBP and HOU at NEP. A handful of corners and safeties from those teams can still be had for plug and play options.

Stevie Brown NYG S – 4-3 SS
Brown has been a quality start at time this year but a couple weak games has seen his fantasy stock drop a bit. Even what looked to be a great matchup against the Packers was a dud. A decent play against the Redskins last week and another seemingly great matchup with the Saints this week was Brown primed for another run of fantasy relevance. With the Falcons and Ravens in the subsequent weeks, Brown is a great add whether you start or stash him.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB1 to High-end DB3

Don Carey DET S – 4-3 SS
Amari Speivey is on injured reserve and Erik Coleman has been inconsistent and nicked up at strong safety. Louis Delmas can’t stay healthy at free safety. Detroit usually finds itself in shootouts as well. All of this adds up to plenty of opportunity for a safety to step up. Carey picked Andrew Luck twice last week to go with 7 total tackles and 3 PDs. Carey could be a great play down the stretch for a DB-needy team if he continues to produce with the opportunity he has.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3

Casey Hayward GBP CB – 3-4 CB
Detroit goes as Calvin Johnson goes. If they get the ball to him, their offense is successful. Hayward had his best game of the year covering Johnson and Titus Young 3 weeks ago when he posted 4 solos, 1 assist, 1 interception and an eye-popping 5 PDs. This week and next week against the Bears are great matchups for the fantasy playoffs.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3

Sneaky Defensive Back Play

Brandon Harris/Kareem Jackson HOU CB – Houston is struggling to field healthy cornerbacks lately. Brice McCain is the latest to go down with a broken foot. Kareem Jackson and Brandon Harris are the healthy CBs likely to see plenty of throws against them by Tom Brady and the Patriots.

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