First week of sweat completed. In the playoffs, many owners subscribe to the theory that you should “dance with the girl that brought you to the dance”. That meaning that you should stick with the players that got you to the playoffs originally. I personally like to go with the “start the players that will score the most points” theory, to borrow a saying from a huddler. Ultimately, you are going to decide whether to go with one or the other but it never hurts to have depth.
Anthony Spencer was the stud of the weekly recommendations last week. His 5 solo, 6 assist and 2 sack performance had him amongst the top 5 LBs for the week. His schedule of the Steelers, Saints and Redskins isn’t the best as far as the ability to log sacks but he seems to be posting very respectable tackle numbers lately so I’m going to recommend him going forward. The remainder of the recommendations were fairly pedestrian. Takeo Spikes and Demorrio Williams had the show stolen at Pittsburgh by reserve LB Bront Bird.
Nick Roach CHI LB – ILB/SLB 4-3
Brian Urlacher is injured with a Grade 2 hamstring tear and is liable to miss the rest of the fantasy season. Nick Roach was named as his replacement with Geno Hayes getting promoted to the starting lineup at SLB. Roach was solid last week with 5 solos and 4 assists in his first game at relief duty. With a schedule of the Packers, Cardinals and Lions down the stretch, Roach could be a solid play down the stretch, especially if you were banking on Urlacher starting for you.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Ray Lewis BAL LB – ILB 3-4
Huge gamble here but if Ray Lewis was dropped because of his Injured Reserve tag, he might be a super sneaky play with huge upside. Lewis is allowed to return to the active lineup this week after spending 8 weeks on IR. Both Danelle Ellerbe and Jameel McClain are nicked up at ILB and Terrell Suggs is fighting through a torn biceps muscle. The Ravens defense needs Lewis more than ever after dropping two straight and if the old guy figures he’s good, who am I to question him?
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB1 to Low-end LB2
Quentin Groves ARI LB – OLB 3-4
I was very hesitant to recommend Quentin Groves because although he has piled up 26 total tackles and 2 sacks over the Cardinals last 4 weeks, the first 3 weeks of that production came with Calais Campbell out of the lineup. Last week was Campbell’s first week back and Groves’ production has stayed solid. He’s risky but his schedule is as juicy as it gets for pass rushers with Lions and Bears in weeks 15 and 16 respectively.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Jacquian Williams NYG LB – Tough to recommend nickel LBs but Williams is the guy that sees nickel snaps and is regularly put up against opposing teams’ tight ends. With Atlanta and Baltimore filling the Giants schedule in weeks 15 and 16, Williams could be in line for some big games.
Defensive Lineman Plays
Justin Smith was the play of the week with 3 solos, 2 assists and a PD. Trevor Scott was decent with 2 assists and a half sack. Cameron Wake had a monster game against 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick with 6 solos, 3 sacks and a forced fumble but otherwise, the DL position yielded on solid to decent plays this week.
Desmond Bryant OAK DE – DE 4-3
Bryant has been coming on as of late with three double digit fantasy performances out of his last five games. The Raiders have the Chiefs in week 15 and you have to love the matchup there. I don’t trust Brady Quinn to be able to escape well.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Low-end DL3
Art Jones BAL DE – DE 3-4
4 solos, 1 assist, 2 sacks… 3 solos, 1 assists, 1 sacks… 2 solos, 2 assists and 1.5 sacks. Those are the statlines of Art Jones in his last three games. He and former weekly recommendation Paul Kruger are emerging as great pass rushing option late in the season.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to High-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Lineman Play
Nick Fairley DET DT – Playing the percentages here, Fairley is coming off of a solid game against the Packers where he posted 4 solos and a sack. He gets the porous offensive line of the Arizona Cardinals next week. Frankly, any fringe fantasy starter from the Lions is a good one week play this week.
Defensive Back Plays
Another week and another handful of games that were easy to exploit matchups for. The NOS/NYG game was a shootout and NEP/HOU featured plenty of passing in a blowout. Steve Brown was far and away the best play of the week for any position, much less at DB. His 7 solos, 1 assist, 2 INT, 2 PD and forced fumble made him a top 2 play at DB. I like him again this week against Atlanta. Don Carey and Casey Hayward were solid in the DET/GB game despite the snowy conditions; each scoring in the low double digits.
For this week, I like these matchups to exploit: DEN at BAL, GB at CHI, NYG at ATL and PIT at DAL. A handful of corners and safeties from those teams can still be had for plug and play options.
Major Wright CHI S – 4-3 SS
I think that the GB/CHI becomes very pass happy. Bank on Major Wright to pile up some stats with Chris Conte nicked up. Wright is averaging over 5 total tackles per game and a PD over his last 5 games. With the shootout potential that this week’s game possesses, Wright might be as quality of a play as you can have.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Michael Mitchell OAK S – 4-3 SS
Mitchell was drafted in the Al Davis era as a combine freak meant to ascend to the next heavy hitting safety. He was on the field the same time as full-time safety Tyvon Branch many times as a third safety or a hybrid linebacker/safety similar to Buffalo safety Bryan Scott. If Mitchell’s 6 solos and a sack performance is any indication of potential future production, I like Mitchell going forward.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Robert McClain ATL CB – 4-3 CB
With Asante Samuel nicked up, Robert McClain has been thus into a full-time role. Akeem Dent has been playing more often with the nickel package of the Falcons going more and more by the wayside but despite that, McClain hasn’t left the field much. McClain is a solid tackle as well not unlike his CB partner Dunta Robinson. He has logged 7 tackles or more in 3 of his last 4 games. Give McClain a look as he tries to cover Victor Cruz.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Cortez Allen PIT CB – Pittsburgh is skinny at corner with Ike Taylor out due to a lower leg fracture. I expect Dallas to throw a fair amount when faced with Pittsburgh’s stingy run defense. Allen has been picked on lately so a big game might be in the cards.