Week 12 was pretty vanilla from my standpoint. The top 10 of each position was filled by the usual suspects and for the majority of players, injury was avoided (the Chiefs pass rush being the notable exception). On the downside, that means that there isn’t a ton of opportunity on the waiver wire for major contributions. If you are banking on the waiver wire provided instant and meaningful production for your squad this week, I would temper my expectations. You might be in for a rude awakening.
Shifting focus to next week, week 13 is the last regular season game of the year for many leagues. It is the last shot at moving your team up one more rung in the standings before the second season begins. Here’s to hoping that you are in a position to make some headway this week. Bye weeks are finished so if you can avoid the injury bug, your squad should be at full strength from here on out.
The IDP Free Agent Report had a pretty solid week last week. Readers of the week 11 column that were able to add Ernie Sims were rewarded with a rock solid 10 total tackle (8 solo) performance coming off of Dallas’ bye week. Brad Jones earned his #1 recommendation status last week with 10 total tackles (6 solo) of his own to go with a sack of Christian Ponder. Thomas Davis also registered a sack to go with 6 solo tackles and a PD. All three remain quality plays if for some reason they are still available. Darryl Sharpton is solid with a 7 total tackle (5 solo) performance but Jeff Tarpinian was relegated to the bench with Joe Mays back in the lineup. I like Sharpton better than Mays down the stretch but upside is low on both of these guys given the lack of splash play potential. The sneaky play of the week, Jason Worilds, was startable yet not spectacular with 5 total tackles. All in all, I will take that kind of week any time.
Sio Moore OAK LB – OLB 3-4
Sio Moore has quietly put together a solid season amongst the chaos that is normally the Raiders this time of year. Since the bye week in week 6, he has really taken a stranglehold on the starting job at strongside linebacker alongside veterans Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett. Unfortunately for IDP owners, his point production is a bit hot-and-cold with 3 out of 5 games scoring 12 points but the other 2 of 5 scoring 6 or fewer. I am going to bank on Dallas giving him enough opportunity to make a Moore a decent start in week 13. The former UConn Husky gets the Jets, Chiefs and Chargers over the fantasy playoffs. He is also a great hold option for dynasty leaguers.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3
Rey Maualuga/Vincent Rey CIN LB – MLB 4-3
The former Trojan is returning from a sprained knee just as the Bengals are exiting their week 12 bye. Prior to his knee injury is week 8, Maualuga had been averaging 12 points per game. However, reserve linebacker Vincent Rey has played exceptionally well in Rey’s absence and I’m not so sure that the coaching staff will be quick to pull the former Blue Devil off of the field as much as Maualuga might want. The Bengals have a pretty good schedule for IDP production in the next 3 weeks with San Diego, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh on the slate. Whichever of the LBs gets the majority of the nickel snaps will be the big winners. If you have the room on your roster and the ability to wait, grab both of them and see how the game against the Chargers goes. The snap counts should give you the story.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to High-end LB3
Stephen Tulloch DET LB – ILB 4-3
In the same vein as Thomas Davis last week, another player that is criminally under-owned in shallow leagues in Stephen Tulloch. What the 8 year veteran from NC State does isn’t flashy, but it is effective. Through 11 games this year, Tulloch has over 90 combined tackles, putting him on pace for the 2nd best yearly total of his career. He also possesses a decent schedule down the stretch for playoff production in the Packers, Eagles, Ravens and Giants in that order. He won’t blow you away with splash play production but there are few LBs with a higher tackle floor than Tulloch. Shallow leaguers could do much worse.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Low-end LB2
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Jarvis Jones PIT LB – I am sticking with PIT OLBs this week despite Worilds leaving me somewhat hanging last week. Jones is scheduled to get the start with Woodley likely to miss week 13 against the Ravens. Joe Flacco has been dumped behind the line of scrimmage 37 times this year (3.3 times per game). I think the former Bulldog is prime for a breakout game.
Defensive Linemen Plays
There were a lot of usual suspects at or near the top of the leaderboard in DL scoring in week 12. JJ Watt, Robert Quinn, Cam Jordan and Mo Wilkerson all were in the top 6. What wasn’t the usual was how many of them got them. Watt put up a linebacker-like 9 total tackles (8 solo) to go with his one sack to lead the week and Rob Ninkovich scored 13 assists and nothing else.
Another week, another miss in free agents on the DL. Pitoitua was the best of the worst with 2 assists and 2 PDs. Antonio Smith got half a sack but that was all he got and completing the triad of mediocrity was Shea McClellin with 1 solo.
Ricky Jean-Francois IND DE – DE 3-4
Jean-Francois had a career game against Arizona with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. Indianapolis 3-4 ends can produce when teams sell out to stop the OLBs as evidenced by Cory Redding’s splash plays last year. Give RJF a shot against the Tennessee Titans in week 13.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Kyle Williams/Marcell Dareus BUF DT/DE – 4-3 DT/DE
Matt Ryan has been sacked by interior pass rushers 7 times in his last 2 games. The Falcons are clearly overmatched inside but will be pressed into throwing the ball if they continue to play as they have been. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are a formidable duo for the Buffalo Bills who get the Falcons in Toronto in week 13. Give either of them a shot if you have room for a DL.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Andre Branch JAC DE – Jason Campbell might be out with a concussion and Brandon Weeden may be in line for the start. Cleveland’s offensive line is far from bullet-proof with Weeden having a tendency to hold the ball longer than he should. Branch has the best chance to do some damage.
Defensive Back Plays
Another big week for defensive backs this week saw 20 players score 15 points or more. By and large, the players that populated that top 20 were not expected to. It wasn’t really splash for the most part either as tackles seemed to dominate the box score.
It was a decent week for the column for defensive backs in week 12. Xavier Rhodes was the top selection with 4 solo tackles and 4 PDs. He didn’t escape the game versus the Packers unscathed (concussion) so make sure to check the injury report this week before rolling him out again. He has a juicy playoff schedule with the Bears, Ravens, Eagles and Bengals down the stretch. Jerraud Powers was a quality start as well with 4 solo tackles and 3 PDs. I don’t like Powers as much Rhodes into the fantasy playoffs. Mike Adams was a solid sneaky play with 8 total tackles (5 solo) in that heartbreaker loss to the Patriots. Zack Bowman was the only disappointment out of the recommendations last week as he only managed 2 solos and a PD.
Antoine Winfield FA CB – 4-3 CB
Why are you recommending a free agent cornerback you might ask? Antoine Winfield is heavily rumoured to go to Seattle in the wake of suspensions to be levied to Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond. Winfield knows the Seattle defensive schemes better than any street free agent out there and can slot in right away. When Winfield gets going, there are few cornerbacks that have the same impact in terms of both tackling and splash plays. Hopefully he is truly healthy at this point however. The cornerback market is skinny this time of year, Winfield can be a boon to many fantasy teams if the need is there. It helps that teams don’t particularly like throwing to the other side (Richard Sherman).
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Quintin Demps KCC S –3-4 FS
Bonus for leagues that have kick return yardage, Quintin Demps returns over 75% of kick received by his team. Demps has been given serious consideration at free safety instead of Kendrick Lewis as well as snaps in big nickel looks. Demps piled up 7 total tackles (6 solo) against the Chargers to go with 199 yards of kick return. If Demps can score decent as an IDP and supplement with return yardage, he represents solid upside depending on how your league scores it.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Low-end DB3 (return scoring dependent)
Duron Harmon NEP S – 4-3 SS
I like this pickup as a keeper style pickup also as Harmon is still a rookie in a great spot to succeed. Harmon has come along slower than rookie drafters would have liked but the Rutgers product has 35 fantasy points over his last 3 games. Give the rookie a shot on your squad down the stretch especially if you can keep players from year to year. While the schedule could be better (Texans, Browns, Dolphins and Ravens), Bill Belicheck will play the best players on his defense as games become more and more important. Harmon has already taken a big leap in snap counts and productivity. Bank on it continuing.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB2 to Low-end DB3; dynasty stash.
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
TJ McDonald STL S – McDonald just returned last week from injury (leg fracture) and was surprisingly effective (5 solos). St Louis gets San Francisco next week and I think McDonald can make an impact in that game.