Week 5 was an odd week in fantasy football. It seemed like the big performances all came from less-than-household names. Going into Monday night, your all-Week 5 team as is follows: Tony Romo at QB, Pierre Thomas at RB and Alshon Jeffery at WR. Anybody else have those guys going in an MVP style event? Whether you did or you didn’t, it serves as a reminder that the talent to be elite is possessed by many. It is the situation and the consistency that situation presents itself that makes fantasy allstars. I’ll also take this time to quickly remind you that Atlanta and Miami are on bye this week. Avoid those teams if you need an option this week from the waiver wire. On the injury front, you should look to add some depth if you own Clay Matthews (broken thumb; out for a month at least) and Bobby Wagner (sprained ankle). Both suffered injuries in their respective week 5 games.
For last week’s recap, Daryl Washington returned to all-world status as predicted. His 8 solo, 1 assist, 2 sack and 1 interception game made him the top LB in big play leagues as well as a top 6 option in tackle heavy leagues. Interestingly enough, Karlos Dansby posted 8 solos and 2 sacks himself. I doubt that both LBs can be LB1 options for the remainder of the year but it’s encouraging that it is possible when the right matchup comes along. Tamba Hali got a sack but that’s about it despite the cake matchup. Darryl Sharpton’s output suffered as Brian Cushing returned from his concussion, limiting Sharpton to 4 total tackles. Bartu (2 tackles, 1 sack) and Worrilow (5 total tackles) were decent on Monday night.
Michael Wilhoite/Patrick Willis SFO LB – ILB 3-4
The 49ers are content to rotate in the next man up at LB. They did it last year with Larry Grant and they are doing it again this year with Michael Wilhoite. The undrafted sophomore has performed admirably in the absence of Patrick Willis, most notably a 13 solo tackle, 1 PD effort in week 5 against the Texans. Exploit this position if you can. Grab Wilhoite and play him in his matchup against the Cardinals if Willis continues to miss time with a groin injury. However, if Willis was dropped in shallow leagues due to weak numbers or injury, snap him up if he starts practicing in full. The 49ers ILB spots are gold; do your best to get one of them in your lineup if you can.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Low-end LB2
Nick Perry GBP LB – OLB 3-4
Clay Matthews looks to be out for a month at least with a broken thumb which will trim down the OLB rotation in GBP. Expect Nick Perry to be asked to pick up much of the pass rush load for the Packers in that time. The first round pick out of USC, Perry performed admirably against the Lions in week 5 with 5 solo tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. The Packers get the World Champion Ravens who are reeling a bit. The Ravens have struggled with protection this year so the opportunity is there for Perry to add another big game to his resume.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3 (Low-end LB1 – Low-end LB2 in big play leagues)
Jon Beason NYG LB – MLB/WLB 4-3
Jon Beason is a former Pro Bowler middle linebacker who usurped the job from an aging, injury-prone linebacker who was hanging onto former glory in Dan Morgan. Fast forward a couple years and an Achilles injury and multiple knee issues leading to microfracture surgery have sapped Beason’s explosiveness. History repeats itself where a rookie LB (Luke Kuechly) takes Beason’s MLB job in Carolina relegating him to the weakside. Former MLB for the Giants, Chase Blackburn, was signed by the Panthers in the offseason this year and he has taken over the weakside duties from an underperforming Beason. It doesn’t seem like I’m doing a great sell job on Beason but given all that, the Giants felt the need to trade for the veteran mid-season when the Panthers made him available. The Giants are in dire need of some NFL experience at linebacker and Beason could be just the guy to provide. Beason’s value is was at an all-time low before this trade and he may have been dropped. Pick him up as a good stash option at the back of your bench. I have a feeling that Beason will make an impact once he gets the defensive schemes down.
Roster Recommendation: Roster Stash (future LB2 upside)
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Jarret Johnson SDC LB – Johnson and the Chargers get the pass-blocking weak Colts on Monday night football in week 6. Johnson is the best utility player on his team and presents a decent play even without pass rush upside. Watch the injury report on this one though; Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in week 5 against the Raiders.
Brandon Spikes NEP LB – Give Spikes a look in a game that expects to feature a bunch of offense against the Saints in week 6. He posted a rock-solid statline of 12 total tackles and an interception. I don’t normally offer two sneaky plays but Johnson is going to be a firm questionable if he can go, might not be the safest play in the world even though he has upside.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Another week, another disappointing week for “stud” defensive linemen. The Giants DL as a whole mustered 1 split sack and a handful of solo tackles, making my recommendation to roll out any Giant you could find against the Eagles look terrible. Believe me folks, the Eagles’ ability to pass-protect isn’t that good. It’s that the Giants’ pass rush wasn’t there. Julius Peppers rewarded owners who missed on his week 4 breakout with another donut if they managed to get him in the lineup. That guy is firmly on the trade block in every league I have him in.
Tommy Kelly was able to pick up 3 total tackles and a sack, making him a decent play for the week but Osi Umenyiora nabbed 6 total tackles and two sacks against Geno Smith and the Jets making him a great play from a player that had yet to break through before this point in the season.
Dontari Poe KCC DT – DT/DE 3-4
I will admit when I am wrong. When KC drafted combine star Dontari Poe last year at 11th overall out of Memphis, I was sure that the pick would flop. There have been plenty of athletes that have rolled through the NFL but the main mantra I have on these guys is this: if he can’t produce on Saturdays, what makes you think that he can produce on Sundays? Poe’s college career was less than stellar on tape. Fast forward one year and a new coaching staff and Poe is a legitimate NFL force as well as a fantasy force with 4.5 sacks through 5 games to go with 19 tackles. If Poe follows more of a Vince Wilfork/Haloti Ngata impact, he will be a fantasy contributor for years to come.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to High-end DL3
Athyba Rubin CLE DE – DE 3-4
Don’t look now but Cleveland’s defense is getting really good. Barkevious Mingo looks the part of an impact edge rusher and Jabaal Sheard actually looked to be making headway in his transition to 3-4 OLB for 4-3 end before injury. Athyba Rubin has struggled with injury most of last year and this year but managed to knock the rust off with a 5 solo, 3 assist and 1 sack night against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. I also think that Phil Taylor is finally starting to hit his stride which is also helping. The Browns get Detroit in Cleveland in week 6 which should be a great matchup for the veteran as well.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL1 to Low-end DL2
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Sheldon Richardson/Muhammad Wilkerson NYJ DE – The Jets get the Steelers in New York in week 6. Both Wilkerson and Richardson have been impactful in the run game as well as the pass rush. Expect him to get after Ben Roethlisberger.
Defensive Back Plays
It was a boom week for defensive backs in general. Over 50 players scored double digit fantasy points this week including the top solo tackler for the week at any position, Jonathan Cyprien of the Jaguars, who piled up 13 solo tackles. Defensive backs also were responsible for all 6 defensive scores in week 5.
Speaking of defensive scores, last week’s recommendation Charles Woodson scored on a fumble recovery against the Chargers to go with 4 solo tackles and an interception to be a solid DB1 last week. Earl Wolff was passable with 4 total tackles and a PD and Morris Claiborne was solid in big play leagues with a solo tackle, a fumble recovery and the first interception of Peyton Manning this year.
Will Hill NYG S – 4-3 SS
Will Hill has talent. He was my second ranked safety based on talent only coming out in the draft in 2011 but his inability to get out of his own way in terms of off-the-field issues caused him to go undrafted. Now with the Giants, Hill is a starter in the Giants depleted defensive unit. The Giants strong safety is a fantasy boon so owners would be wise to ride this train until given a reason not to. Hill’s first game after coming back from suspension saw him post 11 solos and 1 assist.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB1 to Low-end DB2
Devin McCourty NEP S – 4-3 FS
McCourty has been a quality play for a couple weeks but I especially like his matchup against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in week 6. Look for a ton of quality tackle opportunity for the 4th year man out of Rutgers.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB1 to Low-end DB2
Bradley Fletcher/Cary Williams PHI CB – 3-4 CB
Both Philly corners are fantasy relevant this year as their pass defense seems to be the only thing worse than their rush defense. Williams is more of a splash play guy than Fletcher, who is more of a tackle guy. The Eagles get Tampa Bay in week 6. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are big targets that will command the ball. Expect both Philly corners to get some decent games against big time throwing teams (Dallas, NYG etc.).
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Greg Toler IND CB – Toler is a corner back who can tackle well as evidenced by his 7 total tackle, 2 PD performance against the Seahawks. The Colts have the Chargers on Monday Night football and Philip Rivers will throw a lot. Tackle opportunity and many a splash play await him this week.