If you have any fingernails left, they’ll probably be gone after this week. Some leagues may actually start the playoffs this week, so it’s an ultra-important week for us all. Last week was a general success for this column, especially from the DB side. Injuries in Miami (Thomas) and Baltimore (Lewis) have opened the door for some once deep sleepers (Crowder, Scott, Polley). As the weather changes, teams will start relying on the run more and more. Grab those consistent tacklers now.
This Week’s Sleepers
Jeff Posey (BUF) – This guy’s always been a serviceable NFL LB. Fantasy-wise, pretty bland, but he’s got FIVE straight weeks of double-digit fantasy scoring under his belt. Buffalo travels south to Miami in Week 13 to face a Dolphin team that will again split carries between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, which means the Bill LBs will have to chase down fresh legs all game.
Brandon Moore (SF) – The Niners know that the Cardinals have been all about the pass as of late, so perhaps there will be opportunities for the Cardinals to run. That said, Moore and the rest of the Niner LB corps could be busy tackling RBs. Moore’s been consistent over the past month, posting at least 10 fantasy points per outing, with a solid16-point effort last week.
Ronald McKinnon (NO) – Another appearance for McKinnon on this list. Two weeks ago, he was recommended, and came up with 15 fantasy points. Last week, he posted 14 fantasy points. This week, Tampa Bay comes to Baton Rouge to face the Saints with one thing on their mind: a much-needed win, after losing a heartbreaker to Chicago last week. Figure the Bucs will be running plenty with Caddy Williams. McKinnon is going to be busy.
Others to consider: Paris Lenon and Na’il Diggs (GB)
Anthony Weaver and Jarret Johnson (BAL) – OK, flip a coin. Heads you take Weaver, tails you take Johnson. Either way, these guys are facing the ridiculously bad Texan offensive line, and have about a good as chance at getting a sack as anyone. Weaver had a big game two weeks ago, as did Johnson. Look for one or both to have solid outings come Sunday.
Richard Seymour (NE) – Alright so the “DL versus the Jets” plan didn’t work out too well last week (Tony Bryant – NO), but I’m gonna give it another try with the underappreciated Seymour. He’s averaged just about seven fantasy points per game over his past three games, so if you’re really in a bind, those numbers (and risk/reward upside) could help you out.
Others to consider: Rocky Bernard (SEA), Rob Meier (JAC), Bobby Hamilton (OAK)
Eugene Wilson (NE) – Wilson’s the best the Pats have at this point in their secondary. He has put up anywhere from 12-18 fantasy points over the past month and a half. Figure Jet QB Brooks Bollinger has a few mistakes lined up for Sunday, and Wilson could certainly be a benefactor.
Lamont Thompson (TEN) – Thompson has posted an average of 12 fantasy points in his last two outings. The Titans come to town on Sunday, and you know the Colts will be passing quite a bit. And once they’re up by three TDs (halftime?), Thompson will probably do his share of run supporting.
Nick Ferguson (DEN) – CB Champ Bailey’s still nursing an injury, the other Bronco CBs are young and are risk-takers. Nick Ferguson, averaging a hair over 10 fantasy points per game over his past three games, will be asked to offer support against the passing attack (seeing that Champ Bailey may just cover Chief TE Tony Gonzalez again) and will come up to stymie the run of RB Larry Johnson.
Others to consider: Stuart Schweigert (OAK), Eric Warfield (KC), Shawntae Spencer (SF)
Last Week’s Sleepers – Report Card
Channing Crowder (MIA)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Pretty much a disappointment given the situation: Zach Thomas out, a Raider team that balances the run and pass, and Crowder posting solid numbers over the past month. All signs pointed to Crowder having a big game, but this was pedantic at best.
Bart Scott and Tommy Polley (BAL)
The Fat: 5 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles (Scott) and 8 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle (Polley)
The Skinny: As expected, these Raven LBs, with Ray Lewis again out, had solid efforts. If you need some punch in your lineup and Lewis continues to sit, you should take a look at one of these guys.
Shawne Merriman (SD)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle, 1 pass defended
The Skinny: A huge disappointment, especially since this was a homecoming-of-sorts game for Merriman. Godfrey and Edwards gobbled up all the tackles for the Bolts (not a huge surprise). With Merriman’s nose for sacking the QB, you may wish to take a look at him as a sleeper as the season draws to a close.
Donte Curry (DET)
The Fat: 4 solo tackles
The Skinny: A mild disappointment, as we all knew the Falcons would run, and run some more on Turkey Day. Problem is, the Falcon runners got PAST the front seven and the Lion secondary had to come up to tackle.
Nick Greisen (NYG)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles
The Skinny: A complete disappointment, especially for a game that went deep into OT. The secondary and DE Usi Umenyiora were the stars for the G-men.
Leroy Hill (SEA)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles
The Skinny: This isn’t an excuse, per se’, but Lofa Tatupu is the absolute leader of the Seahawk defense. The guy was everywhere during the Seahawk/Giant OT thriller. Even still, Hill’s worth a look in deeper leagues as the season winds down and the ‘Hawks post their bid for NFC supremacy.
Tony Bryant (NO)
The Fat: Absolutely nothing
The Skinny: Bryant totally fell off the fantasy football map on Sunday night. Guy had two straight solid fantasy outings prior to this game, and then posts a goose egg. Strange.
Ryan Pickett (STL)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 1 sack
The Skinny: The “versus Texans” clause worked pretty well here. Track Pickett carefully, as he may be able to help you out. More specifically, though, is tracking whoever’s playing against the Texans. Man, they’re bad.
Antwan Odom (TEN)
The Fat: 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: The “versus Niners” clause didn’t work out here. DE Kyle VandenBosch again stole the spotlight with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble.
Trent Cole (PHI)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: I thought there’d be absolutely no way DE Jevon Kearse has two huge games in a row, opening the door up for Cole to have a big game. Well, Kearse logged 8 solos in this one. The Eagles’ D is just too inconsistent to rely on fantasy-wise, especially here in the DL.
James Reed (NYJ)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle
The Skinny: Ah, and that’s why I find it hard to recommend a NT. Reed had been hot over his last few games. Surely cooled down this week.
Rob Meier (JAC)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
The Skinny: Hey, maybe the Jags should look into starting this guy. If nothing else, you should consider picking him up, especially since the Jags’ remaining schedule is sugary sweet.
Travares Tillman (MIA)
The Fat: 2 solo tackles,1 INT, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Not great tackle numbers, obviously. But the INT is nice, especially since Raider QB Kerry Collins had been keeping his INTs to a minimum so far this season.
Marlon McCree (CAR)
The Fat: 6 solo tackles, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: This guy continues to have a solid season. If he’s STILL on your league’s waiver wire, you should consider picking him up for the playoffs, as he’s consistently put up decent fantasy points week to week.
Jon McGraw (DET)
The Fat: 3 solo tackles
The Skinny: Terrence Holt was able to suit up, start, and make 5 solo tackles. In backup/spot duty, McGraw still logged 3 solos of his own. If Holt is ever out again, take notice of McGraw.
Ifeanyi Ohalete (CIN)
The Fat: 1 solo tackle, 3 assisted tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Would have liked to see more tackles from the Bengal SS, but these are solid numbers nonetheless. The big names on the Bengal D are Thurman and perhaps Kaesviharn, but Ohalete should not go unnoticed, especially after performances like this.
Nick Collins (GB)
The Fat: 6 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed
The Skinny: Big game for Collins. If you’re thin at DB, you could certainly do worse than picking up Collins, who will be on the field a ton.
Terry Cousin (JAC)
The Fat: 6 solo tackles, 1 sack
The Skinny: Uh, that’ll work. With Byron Leftwich out, the Jag defense is going to have to play even better for them to contend. Grab Cousin if you’re thin at DB or if you must start CB/S, as Cousin’s one of the better scoring CBs.
Got a comment? Suggestion? Deep sleeper I’m missing or should keep an eye on? Email me at email@example.com.
* 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).