For a good percentage of fantasy players, this past week was your Superbowl. Hopefully, you had some good success and you are reading this for some keeper/dynasty insight. For the rest of you, your Superbowl is this week and you are trying to eke out a small advantage over your competition. The Christmas edition and final weekly installment for the IDP Free Agency Report will feature a majority of dynasty options and a handful of weekly sneaky plays for those whose leagues have yet to be decided.
Word is that Brian Urlacher may return against Detroit in week 17 from his hamstring injury. Those riding a surprisingly effective Nick Roach as the replacement Mike for the Bears (8 solos in week 16) may need to look elsewhere for production. Watch the injury report on this one as Roach has proven to be a solid start in Chicago with Urlacher on the shelf.
Ray Lewis once again failed to suit up against the Giants in a fairly important game. This makes me think that the reports that Lewis is only going to be available for the playoffs are very true. Danelle Ellerbe was able to return to the lineup and post a respectable 5 solo tackles against a Giants squad that failed to generate much offense at all. However, with Jameel McClain on injured reserve with a neck injury, there is still a hole in the Ravens defense that Lewis could fill.
Pat Angerer was the play of last week’s recommendations; posting 5 solos, 1 assist and a forced fumble. With Kavell Conner out continuing to miss time with a hamstring injury, Angerer might not be the best IDP option on the Colts roster (Jerrell Freeman is), he is still a viable starting option against the Texans this week.
Sean Spence PIT LB – ILB 3-4
I was high on Spence coming out of Miami this year and being picked with a 3rd round selection this year, it seems as though the Steelers agreed with me. While the Steelers weren’t the ideal destination for the 5’11” 231 lb rookie given the 3-4 scheme, the early consensus from OTAs were that the Butkus award semi-finalist was going to be a player. Unfortunately, a nasty knee injury in the preseason caused him to suffer a torn ACL and LCL as well as dislocated kneecap. Needless to say, Spence’s young rookie season was over. However, between Lawrence Timmons’ inconsistency and Larry Foote’s age and suspected retirement, Spence could be in line for a potential starting job depending on how well he can return to form. The Steeler’s ILB spots can be ultra-productive if they are manned with the right people. Spence could be a free agent in your league given the early injury. Snap him up if you can.
Roster Recommendation: Dynasty Stash (Potential Future Starter)
Bront Bird/Jonas Mouton/Andrew Gachkar SDC LB – ILB 3-4
None of these guys are going to knock your socks off and admittedly, this is a bit of net-casting here but if you are in deep dynasty, it is worth a stash of these guys given the injury situation with Donald Butler and the age of Takeo Spikes (36). None of these guys are going to be the next Junior Seau but they could be the next Stephen Cooper.
Roster Recommendation: Dynasty Stash (Wait a year or two)
DeMario Davis NYJ LB – ILB 3-4
The 3rd round rookie out of Arkansas State was able to make a decent impact over a handful of weeks with Bart Scott injured and ineffective. While that time was short lived as Scott has reprised his role as the other inside linebacker for the Jets, Davis is still one of the best cover LBs on the team and the likely near-term successor at ILB. If Davis is free and cheap to keep, you could certainly do worse as a dynasty flier.
Roster Recommendation: Dynasty Stash (Potential LB starter)
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Dan Connor DAL LB – Expect the Redskins to continue to do what they do best, and that’s run the ball. Dan Connor is coming off of a 12 total tackle performance against the Saints and I expect that he will be in line to cover a handful of tackles.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Derek Wolfe was the best DL option of the week with a sack and two total tackles. Week 15 option Desmond Bryant notched 1.5 tackles for loss and a half a sack while Week 14 option Brandon Graham posted 6 solos, 1 assist and a PD as one of the better IDP options of the week. While I was right that the Cardinal offensive line would be in the Christmas spirit (but instead of simply giving, they’d be giving up sacks), Julius Peppers got all the gifts as he nabbed 5 solos, 3 sacks, a PD and a forced fumble. Israel Idonije was the only other DL to notch a sack.
Shea McClellin CHI DE – DE 4-3
Whether you want to call this guy a reach or not is immaterial at this stage, he is one of the young prodigies that can learn from a great group of pass rushing veterans. Julius Peppers (32) and Israel Idonije (32) are excellent mentors to learn the craft from and other young guys like Corey Wootton and Henry Melton are helping to rebuild the vaunted Bears defensive line. McClellin is probably a two year hold but he represents a substantial return on investment if he blossoms into a reliable bookend to Peppers.
Roster Recommendation: Dynasty Stash (Wait a year or two)
Quentin Coples NYJ DE – DE 3-4
Coples has recently been on a bit of a run with 3.5 sacks in his last three games. He also represents a solid hold option for dynasty/keeper owners. Although his snap counts are typically less than half of the Jets defensive snaps, I think that only makes his ceilings that much higher.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Ray McDonald SFO DE – To borrow a turn of phrase from a former coach of theirs, the Cardinals offensive line is still who we thought we they were. I look for the 49ers to victimize them.
Defensive Back Plays
There were a couple choice games to exploit for defensive backs that reeked of shootout potential. Atlanta-Detroit, New Orleans-Dallas and Baltimore-New York all saw more than their fair share of passing and as such, more than their fair share of defensive back tackles. Kelvin Hayden came through as the best DB option of the week with 3 solos, 2 PDs and an INT.
Bears-Lions, Falcons-Bucs and Cowboys-Redskins would be my picks to exploit for this week.
Vontae Davis IND CB – 4-3 CB
Vontae Davis is a usual sure tackle, can get involved in run support and will likely get Andre Johnson for the majority of the game. He has 27 total tackles, 4 PDs, an INT and a sack over his last 4 games. I’d snag him for a matchup this week and look to keep him if I need a cornerback.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Chris Clemons MIA S – 4-3 FS
Chris Clemons has been a past recommendation of this column and while he isn’t a big play threat, he does regularly log cleanup tackles on crossing and deep patterns. With the Patriots up next, Clemons could be in line to log another decent set of tackles. He has posted 30 total tackles over his last 4 contests, including one against the Patriots.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Dunta Robinson ATL CB – 4-3 CB
I continue to flog Robinson as a great tackling corner and yet he continues to remain on waiver wires everywhere. Robinson posted 15 points (6 solos and a sack) against the Bucs in week 12. Drawing Vince Jackson this week, Robinson will be busy again with coverage duties as well as his regular run support duties that he excels in. Robinson is a great play this week and a solid corner option in the short to medium term for keeper/dynasty leagues.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Colt Anderson PHI S – Taking over for Nate Allen, Colt Anderson has been solid with 16 total tackles, 3 PDs and an INT. Against the Giants, expect that Anderson will get some decent work in front of the Eagles defense that doesn’t look to be mailing it in against divisional opponents.