With week 11 in the books, every fantasy team should fall into one of three categories; playoff-bound for sure, fighting to get in and all hope for playoffs is lost. Hopefully, your team falls into the first two categories but if it doesn’t, the beauty of fantasy football is that there is always next year. The reason I bring this up is that these three categories will drive your waiver wire tactics in three completely different directions. Category one has clinched a playoff berth, maybe even a first round bye. The team is looking for depth and difference makers. A guy like Sean Lee or Lance Briggs, who is hurt right now but expected to be back in time for the fantasy playoffs, is an ideal fit for them if the injured IDP stars were dropped due to short benches. Category two is fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot so every week is a game they can’t miss. These guys are picking up the hot waiver wire pickup with very short-term value. These guys are dropping guys like Lee and Briggs in order to pick up guys like Vincent Rey because Rey is producing right now and those other players aren’t. Category three is looking ahead to next year. They are looking for players currently hurt, or in line for a big production boost due to promotion or a team/scheme change. Three different types of owners right now and three different ways to approach the waiver wire. In the next couple weeks, into the fantasy playoffs, I’ll do my best to offer some potential pickups for all three groups of owners. Heads up to owners of starters that play for Seattle, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Buffalo, those teams are on bye and you will need to find a replacement for any of those players that you normally count on.
For last week’s recap, the top half of the LB recommendations was solid. Vincent Rey scored a solid 7 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles and a PD. Sean Weatherspoon posted 7 solos and 2 assists in his return game from injury. Geno Hayes put up a forgettable 3 total tackles despite starting MLB Paul Poslusnzy missing the game due to a concussion. Russell Allen posted respectable numbers in the Jaguars loss to the Cardinals but the big tackle winner in Poslusnzy’s absence was safety Jonathan Cyprien. Aldon Smith also was a colossal miss; posting a single solo tackle against the Saints. Smith was a case of right position, wrong player. Ahmad Brooks posted a sack and interception in that game.
Brad Jones GBP ILB – ILB 3-4
Brad Jones has struggled with injuries over the last few weeks. He returned to the lineup in week 9 against the Bears but clearly wasn’t 100% and his stats showed it. He broke out of his slump in week 11 against the Giants with a huge game, 13 total tackles and a sack. The Packers get the Vikings in week 12 so Jones has some solid potential to post some quality numbers. Packers ILBs also carry some of the better splash play potential of any inside linebacker so consider adding Jones if his injury and lackluster play after rejoining the lineup has seen him get dropped in your league.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to High-end LB3
Thomas Davis CAR LB – OLB 4-3
Do not underestimate the ability of Thomas Davis to contribute to your fantasy team. Davis is only a handful of points behind his teammate who is considered a top 5 linebacker by many, in Luke Kuechly. Davis is a tackling machine who doesn’t leave the field in passing situation. Ron Rivera isn’t afraid to send the veteran on a blitz either, making him a decent big play field situation. The number of leagues that Davis is a free agent in is too high for the high-floor production that he represents. The Panthers get the Dolphins in week 12. Snap him up if he is available. He gets the Saints twice over the fantasy playoffs.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Low-end LB2
Jeff Tarpinian/Darryl Sharpton HOU LB – ILB 3-4
While past recommendation Darryl Sharpton had a solid game against the Raiders with 10 total tackles, his contribution was somewhat expected (at least by me). What wasn’t expected was former Patriot reserve inside linebacker Jeff Tarpinian filling in for injured Joe Mays (knee, oblique) and excelling with 7 solos, 3 assists and a PD. Watch the injury report to make sure that Tarpinian continues to draw the starts. The Texans season is imploding and the LBs stand to see a lot of tackle opportunity down the stretch. The Texans get the Jags, Colts and Broncos through the fantasy playoff weeks.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Jason Worilds PIT LB – Worilds is a boom-bust pick as a 3-4 OLB for Pittsburgh. He can post tackles now and again but can vanish depending on the matchup. Cleveland gave up 4 sacks to Cincinnati in week 11 and Pittsburgh draws the Browns in week 12. Give the former Hokie a shot in week 12, especially if your scoring system is big-play heavy.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Queue the monster game posted by Julius Peppers after leaving his owners in the lurch after a terrible performance against the Lions in week 10. Never have I seen a more inconsistent year from a supposed stud. Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle for Tampa Bay, was the week’s sack artist with 3 sacks on Matt Ryan in Tampa’s win over the Falcons.
Robert Ayers was the best plays out of the recommendations from last week. His 2 solo tackles and 1 sack performance wasn’t a heartstopper but put some points on the board. Darnell Dockett only managed two solos and Kiwanuka was really disappointing with 1 lonely assist.
Ropati Pitoitua DE – DE 4-3
Pitoitua isn’t typically known as a high-end pass rusher; he typically makes his hay in run support. He is averaging 3.4 tackles per game through 10 games with his bigger games against teams that are run heavy. I like his shot to have a decent game against the Raiders in week 12. McGloin is sackable as proved by JJ Watt and the Raiders will likely try to run 30 times. Give Pitoitua a whirl as a high floor option as DL.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Shea McClellin CHI DE – 4-3 DE
McClellin has shown flashes of greatness at times this year. He broke out big against the Packers in week 10 but missed week 11 due to a hamstring pull. He is expected to practice early in the week which bodes well for a start in week 12 against the Rams who are starting a backup quarterback. McClellin could be a monster player down the stretch with a playoff schedule that features the Vikings, Cowboys and Browns.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Antonio Smith HOU DE – I’m playing the percentages against the Jaguars. JJ Watt should get the majority of the attention from the chips and the backs throughout the game leaving Smith one-on-one. The Texans aren’t good but they are definitely better than the Jaguars. This one might be a really ugly game.
Defensive Back Plays
A couple of fringe IDP players led the way at defensive back. Mike Jenkins, Zack Bowman, Corey Graham and Tramon Williams were your leaders at DB for the week. None of them were started in the majority of my leagues and I expect yours were similar. It was pretty difficult to muster up the courage to start anyone from that crew this time last week.
Andrew Sendejo posted 11 total tackles (6 solo) in a quality performance for the reserve safety. He remains a quality start as long as he continues to draw starts. Chris Houston was startable with 4 total tackles and a PD but left owners looking for more. William Gay put forth a weaker game than expected 3 total tackles and a PD. The PIT-DET game was chock full of safety production but little cornerback production. Carlos Rogers was startable as well with 4 solos.
Xavier Rhodes MIN CB – 4-3 CB
Josh Robinson was been one of the best IDP cornerback in the league posting nearly 6 total tackles per game in the last 10 games. Those numbers give Robinson a double digit fantasy point average for the year. However, with him out for 4-6 weeks with a fractured sternum, he’s effectively done for your fantasy team this year. Xavier Rhodes figures to step up and swing in his absence. Rhodes is a cornerback that I like for IDP production since he is a proven capable tackle. He has also been picked on at times. With a pass-heavy schedule down the stretch (Packers, Bears, Ravens, Eagles and Bengals), Rhodes could be a rock solid play for needy fantasy owners.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Zack Bowman CHI CB – 4-3 CB
Zack Bowman has stepped into a starting role with Charles Tillman out with a triceps injury. Bowman doesn’t possess elite coverage abilities and was exposed as the weak link in coverage against the Ravens in week 11. The former Cornhusker piled up 9 solo tackles as the Ravens consistently shied away from Tim Jennings.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Jerraud Powers ARI CB – 4-3 CB
Indianapolis will throw the ball often in their week 12 matchup and I see sure-tackle corner Jerraud Powers (former Colt no less) getting more than his fair share of throws on him opposite Patrick Peterson. Powers has been a decent stream option if you can pick out the games where he gets thrown at. He’s scored at least 8 points a game in every game but one so he’s also a high floor option for a team that can’t risk a donut.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Mike Adams DEN S – Rahim Moore likely won’t play again this year with lateral compartmental syndrome. Veteran Mike Adams is slated to draw the start at free safety going into maybe one of the most hyped games of the year in DEN-NE. You know this game will feature passing and I see the safeties of Denver being the weak link. I don’t recommend Adams down the stretch but he could be a good spot start in week 12.