Show of hands please. Who had the Steelers, Giants, Redskins and Vikings all 0-3 to open the season? Anyone? What a crazy start to the season. Fantasy-wise, it seems just as crazy. Jordan Cameron is currently your second best TE with a 4 TDs already. That would be good for tops in the NFL through 3 weeks if it weren’t for Eddie Royal. Wait a minute; the same Eddie Royal that hasn’t been fantasy relevant since 2008 where he caught 5 TDs all year? Ridiculous. In many of my leagues going into Monday night, Michael Vick is the top fantasy player overall; the same Mike Vick that was drafted in the teens amongst QBs at best.
On the IDP-side, who had the recently unemployed Karlos Dansby leading the league with 28 solo tackles through 3 games? That pace puts him on pace for a shade under 150 solos for the year. Justin Houston leads the league in sacks with 7.5 but he got fat off of two games against the Jaguars and the Eagles. I don’t expect them to come as easily as they have been all year but I am pulling for the former Bulldog to give Strahan’s record a run. That said, it’s probably too early for that kind of talk.
For last week’s recap, Ahmad Brooks was the best play with 8 total tackles (7 solo). Aldon Smith got 5 solos despite being spot-benched due to him DUI and rampant rumours of rehab looming. Mason Foster got 8 combined tackles also but only 4 were solo. Thomas Davis got 5 total tackles and a sack.
Reggie Walker SDC LB – ILB 3-4
This experiment is one that doesn’t seem to be going away. The Chargers signed street free agent Reggie Walker to play ILB for them after Manti Te’o and Donald Butler went down to injury and in-house replacement Bront Bird failed to impress in spot duty. The former Arizona Cardinal started for the Chargers and racked up 8 combined tackles (6 solo) and a sack. If he’s on your waiver wire and you start 3 LBs or if you are a Butler/Te’o owner that needs a player who is actually playing, he’s worth a pickup. He should see some ample opportunity in the middle of a Chargers defense that is going to see some running attempts against it.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Nate Irving DEN LB – SLB/MLB 4-3
There was a time before Von Miller’s suspension that saw the Denver LB depth chart have Nate Irving in the middle and Wes Woodyard at WLB with Von Miller at SLB. Irving has been forced to man the strong-side while Miller has been serving his suspension. That said, Irving has been quietly piling up a respectable stint at SLB including a quality game against Oakland on Monday night. Stash Irving for spot start duty against teams like the Philadelphia in week 4 but also to hold for an eventual shift over to middle linebacker.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3
Lawrence Timmons PIT LB – ILB 3-4
Shallow league special here. Timmons is the man for a Pittsburgh defense that is not as stout up the middle as in past years. Larry Foote is on injured reserve with a torn biceps so the Steelers need to lean on the 7th year linebacker to carry the bulk of the tackle load. Super deep leaguers can look to Kion Wilson as the man who will man the other ILB spot in Foote’s stead but Timmons is the prize here. If the Steelers keep struggling, there will be no shortage of tackle opportunity for the former Seminole. He is currently being valued in the LB2 range but I think he has LB1 upside.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
DeMario Davis NYJ LB – ILB 3-4
The Jets aren’t as bad as the media makes them out to be. That said, there is still plenty of opportunity to go around in New York with a snap % over 90 through 2 games (64 snap/game avg). He has 20 total tackles through 3 games and is clearly the fastest ILB on the team. I expect the sophomore LB to be given more responsibility as the year progresses.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Kevin Burnett OAK LB – Kevin Burnett isn’t the tackle machine he was last year in Miami; he just isn’t getting the snaps that he needs to be a solid contributor and he comes off of the field more than I’d like to see. That said, he is as reliable as they come in run defense and his snap count is trending up. Oakland gets Washington in week 4 and look for Kevin Burnett to be a decent spot play for 8-14 points under normal tackle scoring. He won’t offer up a bunch of splash play potential but he should be a reliable tackle option for next week and maybe beyond.
Defensive Linemen Plays
We have a Julius Peppers sighting folks! He scooped up a fumble forced by Lance Briggs and ran it back to the house for a touchdown. It’s not a sack and he only managed one assist otherwise despite Ben Roethlisberger being under siege the entire night. Things aren’t going to get easier for the former All-Pro with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton going down with a torn ACL. I’ve benched him in leagues where I have a comfortable option otherwise. Of course, that makes him a lock for 3 sacks against Detroit next week right?
Both Chandler Jones (3 assists) and Adrian Clayborn (5 solos, 1 assist) got a sack last week and sneaky play Michael Bennett logged 1.5 sacks (1 solo, 2 assists) in that trainwreck of a game against the Jaguars so it was a good week for the IDP free agent report on the DL side of things. Hopefully this week’s options can offer similar.
Ezekiel Ansah DET DE – DE 4-3
The first round rookie out of BYU was touted in my draft report as the most likely rookie defensive end to make an impact in redraft leagues. 3 games in, Ansah has piled up 2.5 sacks and gets the Bears in week 4. Jay Cutler is no stranger to getting sacked and the rookie seems to be getting more snaps after some early injury struggles. Start the Ghana native with confidence this week.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to Low-end DL2
Cameron Jordan NOS DE – DE 3-4
Cameron Jordan was written off by many (including me) after it was announced the New Orleans was moving to a 3-4 and Jordan would be playing end. He had broken out with 65 total tackle and 7 sacks as a 4-3 end in 2012 but would surely see a dropoff in the 3-4 right? In actuality, Jordan has 12 tackle through 3 games (pace for 64 total tackles) and already has 3 sacks. If he is available in your league, he is a potential DL1 this year if he can keep it up.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to High-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Robert Ayers/Derek Wolfe/Shaun Phillips DEN DE – This is just playing the percentages. I think that there will be ample opportunity for all Denver IDPs to pile up stats and Mike Vick has been sacked 11 times in this young season. Add in a tweaked ankle and I think that the Broncos DL might be in line for a banner night.
Defensive Back Plays
Quintin Mikell was the only miss of the week and it was due to an injury rather than his play. Sneaky play Tyrann Mathieu was a top 5 option with a 10 total tackles (9 solo) and an interception. I really like this kid and on teams where I own him, I’m playing him until he gives me a reason not to. He even has CB eligibility under many providers making him even more valuable. Nate Allen was solid with 5 solos, a PD and a sack and Rodney McLeod put up a workman-like 7 total tackles (6 solo).
It worth noting that as the season takes shape in the first few weeks, it’s better to try and find guys establishing themselves in new jobs as they can often be year-round contributors. I still advocate streaming DBs where it makes sense but in the case of guys like Rodney McLeod or rookie safeties, grab these guys and hold onto them.
TJ McDonald STL S – 4-3 FS
The other half of the equation at safety for the Rams, TJ McDonald was selected in the 3rd round out of USC this spring. Both Rams safety positions have been lucrative in recent memory and McDonald is only going to get more responsibility as the season progresses. He has 13 solos and 2 assists through 3 games this year.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Major Wright CHI S – 4-3 SS
Wright has historically been a guy that has let me down whenever I have been tempted to start him. His hot-and-cold streaks were maddening. That said, those games were with Brian Urlacher in the fold. This year, it seems as though the middle of the field is being occupied by the 4th year safety. With 18 solos, 7 assists, 2 FF, 1 INT and a touchdown to start the year, you could do much worse as a DB2.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Brandon Meriweather WAS S – 3-4 SS
A few years removed from a devastating knee injury, Brandon Meriweather looks to be finally healthy and ready to make plays again in the Redskins secondary. When healthy, Meriweather is a quality tackle source in the secondary. He posted 7 solos and 2 assists against Detroit. Unfortunately for Bacarri Rambo owners, Meriweather’s re-emergence is at the cost of the rookie’s snaps and production.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to High-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Nolan Carroll MIA CB – This is your stream option for the week. Carroll was a quality option with 6 solos against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Carroll and the Dolphins get the Saints next week and I think that Brees will test the Dolphins secondary.