It was a big week for some choice IDPs this week. In standard scoring leagues, no less than 21 players scored over 20 points for their fantasy teams. The great news is that the majority of those players are every week starters so those big games likely weren’t wasted on your bench. The downside is that none of those 21 players were on the defensive line and of the top 10 scorers at DL, at least 7 of them are likely not owned in your leagues and don’t make great free agent pickups. That tells me that DL may continue to be a crapshoot all year. I’ll also take this time to quickly remind you that New Orleans and Oakland are on bye this week. Avoid those teams if you need an option this week. On the injury front, Calais Campbell suffered a particularly scary injury against San Francisco. Odds are that you will need another option this week on the defensive live if you were counting on him despite the fact that he says he wants to play. DeMarcus Ware suffered a quad injury and will be out 3-4 weeks. Moise Fokou suffered a knee injury and is week-to-week. Danieal Manning is out 6-8 weeks with a hairline fracture in his fibula.
For last week’s recap, shallow leaguers that were able to pick up Patrick Willis in time for week 6 were treated to a 6 solo, 2 assist and 1 forced fumble performance. Nick Perry came through with 3 solos, 2 assists, a sacks and a forced fumble. He seemed to be getting a lot more pressure than earlier in the year from what I can see; maybe that has to do with him switching sides. Unfortunately, he appears to be sidelined with a foot injury so this week will be his last for a while. Jon Beason had a monster game taking over in the middle for the New York Giants. Beason posted 11 solos and an assist in his first bit of full-time action. I think he is a great start as long as he remains healthy. Brandon Spikes was a minor disappointment with 5 total tackles and Jarret Johnson’s ankle injury forced him from the lineup in Monday Night Football.
Von Miller DEN LB – OLB 4-3
Von Miller will return from his suspension in week 7 and will provide an immediate boost to an already quality Denver defense. Those looking for a short-term fix only will note that Denver gets the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday Night Football in week 7. While the Colts have been better in terms of protecting Andrew Luck lately, they aren’t above the caliber of Von Miller who will be itching to make an impact. Miller is a better play in big play leagues as opposed to tackle-heavy scoring but I wouldn’t pass him up if he is available in almost any league but the ultra-shallow.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3 (Low-end LB1 – Low-end LB2 in big play leagues)
Colin McCarthy TEN LB – MLB 4-3
At one time, many considered Colin McCarthy a top 5 dynasty LB. However, nagging injuries have caused too many missed games and a lost job to former Eagle journeyman Moise Fokou. Fast forward a couple weeks and Fokou is week-to-week with a knee injury. McCarthy figures to get into the game against a run-heavy San Francisco 49er team in week 7. McCarthy has enough upside that he may keep the job if he performed well.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Low-end LB2
JoLonn Dunbar STL LB – OLB 4-3
JoLonn Dunbar was released shortly before the start of the season in the wake of a 4 games suspension for violations of the substance abuse policy. He was replaced by Will Witherspoon and to say that Witherspoon has underperformed since then would be an understatement. Dunbar was resigned after his suspension and likely the coaching staff took the week to get Dunbar back up to speed. Last week, Dunbar was a force posting 9 total tackles. Grab him in tackle-heavy leagues and hope that the Rams continue to get run against.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Mario Harvey IND LB – Harvey stepped in and performed admirably in the absence of Jerrell Freeman who left Monday night football with a concussion. The Colts ILB is a quality spot to own a player. Grab Harvey if you own Freeman (or even if you don’t) and hope for a tackle-heavy game.
Defensive Linemen Plays
It has been a difficult year to manage defensive linemen in general. Supposed “studs” like Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Mario Williams and even JJ Watt at times have left their owners high and dry. Attempting to pick plug-ins week to week has also proved problematic. The best thing to do for this situation is to monitor short-term trends. Which team is giving up sacks? Which player is a solid tackle bet to improve consistency (albeit at the cost of splash plays)?
Sheldon Richardson was the top player from the recommendations of last week. His 5 tackle, 1 assist and 1 forced fumble line was one of the better options amongst defensive lineman in general. Dontari Poe was extremely disappointing with no more than 4 points. Muhammad Wilkerson was serviceable with 2 solos and a sack as was Athyba Rubin with 1 solo and 6 assists.
Mike Neal GBP DE – DE/OLB 3-4
Both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are on the sideline will injuries leaving swing DE/OLB Mike Neal as the top edge rush option for the Packers. Where Neal offers some upside is what position he is designated by your fantasy provider. Consider getting him into your lineup as a DE if he is available as such since he may be playing 100% snaps at OLB.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to High-end DL3
Michael Brockers STL DT – DT 4-3
Brockers was a beast in week 6 with 7 solo tackles and 2 sacks. I like that Brockers tends to get tackles in run game to augment his production but what has me excited is that Brockers has put up 3.5 sacks in his last 3 games. Brockers and the Rams get the Panthers in week 7 and I would consider getting him into your lineup if you have a gap.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Olivier Vernon/Jared Odrick MIA DE/DT – This one is just playing the percentages. A healthy Thad Lewis was beat up against the Bengals in week 6 for 5 sacks (4 from the defensive line). Now a beat-up Thad Lewis with a sprained foot or a freshly signed Matt Flynn get thrown to a solid Dolphin pass rush in week 7. Get your Dolphins pass rush into your lineup.
Defensive Back Plays
It was another big week for defensive backs with former recommendation Da’Norris Searcy leading all IDPs in scoring with 13 solos, 3 assists and a sack. Big production from your defensive back can save an otherwise weak performance from your skill positions. Defensive backs seem to be more stud oriented this year than most but that doesn’t mean that streaming isn’t a viable strategy.
Will Hill nabbed 5 solo tackles to be a serviceable option out of last week’s recommendation. Bradley Fletcher came through with a solo tackle and an interception. Greg Toler got picked on in the Monday Night Football game by Philip Rivers. As such, he posted 4 solo tackles and a PD. Cary Williams and Devin McCourty were disappointing as best.
Michael Mitchell CAR S – 4-3 SS
Mitchell is a liability in coverage but he is one of the few healthy safeties that the Panthers have. He posted a 7 total tackle, 2 interception and 1 sack line against the Vikings in week 6. The Panthers get the pass-happy Rams in week 7 so the matchup is good. Consider getting the former Raider into your lineup.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
George Iloka CIN S – 4-3 SS
Iloka is a good option in tackle heavy leagues. He won’t threaten for too many splash plays even against the Lions, who figure to throw it around the park in week 7. That said, he can be a decent safe play for tackles given the matchup.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Eagles Secondary PHI DB – 3-4 DB
This is a bit of a cop-out play but I would argue that every member of the Eagles secondary presents a good play against the Dallas Cowboys in week 7. The Cowboys will not have DeMarco Murray available and 5th round rookie Joseph Randle figures to start. That said, you can’t expect the Cowboys to be able to generate a good running game against the Eagles. Pair in the speed of the Eagles and you have the makings of a busy secondary. Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher pose to be solid options in all leagues.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Chris Harris DEN CB – Andrew Luck will need to throw against the Denver based on score but realistically, the Colts have been a weak running team lately despite the acquisition of Trent Richardson. Harris will get the action with Bailey back in the fold.