We’re almost there ladies and gentlemen. At this point, you should know where you stand in terms of making the playoffs; completely out of it, in, or hanging on for dear life. As we all know, every point counts, so making critical decisions on banged-up or underperforming squads will be essential in determining wins and losses. Hopefully some of these surging IDP performers will help you end your week victorious.
This Week’s Sleepers
Channing Crowder (MIA) – This guy’s been performing very well for the Fins. As a result, he’s probably not on your waiver wire. But if he is, now’s the time to get him, as stud LB Zach Thomas is out for a couple of games. Crowder will immediately step in and will probably come close to Thomas-like numbers.
Bart Scott and Tommy Polley (BAL) – Polley was on this list last week, and had a solid outing. Scott had a humongous game. With LB Ray Lewis most likely out again, both should have solid efforts this week, as their visiting Week 12 opponent (the Bengals) will certainly have their offense firing on all cylinders.
Shawne Merriman (SD) – Check Merriman’s injury status before picking him up and/or putting him in your lineup. If he’s healthy, he should have a good game against the Redskins in a homecoming game (Merriman attended the University of Maryland). Merriman’s averaged 15 fantasy points his last 2 games.
Others to consider: Donte Curry (DET), Nick Greisen (NYG), Leroy Hill (SEA)
Tony Bryant (NO) – Week 12 opponent the NY Jets are a complete mess on offense, giving up 35 sacks on the season (third worst in the NFL). Darren Howard and Charles Grant will be the focus of the Jets’ offensive line, so Bryant (averaging 9.5 fantasy points over the past 2 games) may see some room to roam and get to QB Brooks Bollinger.
Ryan Pickett (STL) – Here’s the obligatory “DL facing Houston” pick. Pickett’s averaged 9.5 fantasy points over his past 2 games, and Houston is the doormat of the NFL, giving up a total of 47 sacks thus far.
Antwan Odom (TEN) – And the obligatory “DL facing San Francisco” pick. Odom had a solid 12-point outing last week, and faces a terrible Niner team which has given up right around 2 sacks a game thus far.
Others to consider: Trent Cole (PHI), James Reed (NYJ), Rob Meier (JAC)
Travares Tillman (MIA) – Tillman’s put up some good numbers over his past three games, and faces an Oakland team that will certainly air it out on Sunday.
Marlon McCree (CAR) – Continues to be the leader of the Panther secondary, which is fourth in the NFL in interceptions. McCree will be asked to help contain Bill RB Willis McGahee and offer support in the passing game.
Jon McGraw (DET) – Bit of a deeper sleeper here. With the Detroit LB corps all banged up, Atlanta’s Vick, Dunn and Duckett will spend a ton of time getting well past the Lion front seven. McGraw, a backup safety, has been called upon to fill in for the injured Terrence Holt. McGraw put up 20 fantasy points last week (7 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 1 fumble recovery) against the Cowboys.
Others to consider: Ifeanyi Ohalete (CIN), Nick Collins (GB), Terry Cousin (JAC)
Last Week’s Sleepers – Report Card
Tommy Polley (BAL)
The Fat: 5 solo tackles, 1 sack
The Skinny: Nice numbers, but it was fellow LB Bart Scott that came out of nowhere and posted a monster game (8 solos, 2 sacks, 1 pass defensed, 1 fumble recovery). With Ray Lewis again doubtful, Polley – and now Scott – will continue to be sleepers.
Rosevelt Colvin (NE)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles
The Skinny: Decent numbers from Colvin, who’s been playing solid football lately. Once again, it was all about Vrabel and Bruschi.
Bradie James (DAL)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles
The Skinny: Led the team in tackles, starting at MLB. Normal starter Dat Nguyen only had 1 tackle, so expect James to continue to get the starting nod.
Keith Newman (MIN)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle, 1 assisted tackle
The Skinny: Hard to rely on any Viking LBs, and now it’s apparent you can’t rely on Newman at all. LB E.J. Henderson, though, had a decent outing.
Ronald McKinnon (NO)
The Fat: 5 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles
The Skinny: Hey those are great numbers. McKinnon has been posting good numbers recently, and as the Saints continue to struggle, he will have opportunities like this more often than not. Definitely worth a shot if you’re struggling to find consistency at LB.
Hunter Hillenmeyer (CHI)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles
The Skinny: The “other” Bear LB had one of those “other” games. As teams key on Briggs and Urlacher, Hillenmeyer may step up with a big game here and there. Trick is finding the right matchup. Thought we had it with the once run-oriented Panthers. But these Panthers have been putting it in the air a bit more, and as such, it was Tillman and Azumah that posted the big tackle numbers.
Robert Bernard (DET)
The Fat: 4 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 2 sacks, 2 passes defensed
The Skinny: Well, looks like my recipe for success was a hit. Bernard spent as much time in the Niner secondary as RB Kevan Barlow. Or more.
Eric Hicks (KC)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle
The Skinny: Hicks has been playing well as of late, but didn’t show up for this one. The big stats went to the Chief secondary in this one.
Trevor Pryce (DEN)
The Fat: 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Oh, so I guess Pryce’s game HAS declined a bit. Or a lot? Figured he and many others would be causing havoc in the Jet backfield. This one was over before it even started, so the Broncos just hung around and waited for the Jets to implode.
Kevin Carter (MIA)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle, 4 assisted tackles
The Skinny: At least the wily vet is keeping busy helping his teammates. Against teams with suspect offensive lines and statuesque QBs, Carter will continue to be a sleeper.
Derrick Burgess (OAK)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
The Skinny: This guy continues to have solid games, making me look real good! If by chance he’s still on your waiver wire after this solid outing, it’s probably time to make him exempt from this Sleeper Report and put him on your roster for good.
Vince Wilfork (NE)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Pretty vanilla numbers for the big d-lineman. As the temperatures drop and teams start relying on the run game a bit more, Wilfork might be worth a gamble down the stretch as a sleeper.
Eugene Wilson (NE)
The Fat: 4 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 2 passes defensed, 1 INT
The Skinny: So yeah those are pretty nice numbers. The linebackers make a ton of plays for this Patriot defense, but SOMEONE in the secondary has to help out. May just be Wilson.
Mike Furrey (STL)
The Fat: 7 solo tackles
The Skinny: Furrey led his team in tackles on Sunday. He’ll continue to have solid value as opposing QBs will test the converted WR. And the Ram defense gives up yardage, so Furrey and others will be busy. A recurring theme here in this Report Card.
Jarrod Cooper (OAK)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles
The Skinny: Darn, picked the wrong Raider safety. Stuart Schweigert ended up leading the team in tackles with six, and added a couple pass defenses. Keep your eye on Cooper, though, as he’s still the starting strong safety for a defense that will allow offenses to move the ball.
Mark Roman (GB)
The Fat: 5 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles
The Skinny: Those numbers would have certainly helped in a pinch. Roman deserves further looks due to the fact that the Packers’ defense is absolutely terrible and will allow teams to move the ball with regularity. Thus, keeping Roman and others very busy.
Leigh Bodden (CLE)
The Fat: 4 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Decent outing for the Brown DB. The Browns manhandled the lowly Fins.
Chris Harris, (CHI)
The Fat: 3 solo tackes, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Harris had all his tackles in the first half, so at least it was the beginning of a solid outing for the Bear DB. The Bears continue to play incredible defense, so just about any of their IDPs are worth starting week to week.
Got a comment? Suggestion? Deep sleeper I’m missing or should keep an eye on? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Note: Fantasy scoring used for this column includes forced fumbles or fumble recoveries (3 points), defensive TDs (6 points), interceptions (3 points), passes defensed (1.5 points), tackles (2 points), assisted tackles (1 point), sacks (2 points) and safeties (2 points).