Just a quick note to lead off: thoughts and prayers going out to Bills special teamer Kevin Everett, who sustained an extremely serious spine injury in Sunday’s game against the Broncos. Now on to this week’s picks. There are some interesting free agents on the waiver wires of my 12 and 16-team IDP leagues. Some had flukey Week 1 games; others may have some value. Let’s take a look at some that will have solid Week 2 efforts and potentially beyond. Good luck this week and feel free to email me at email@example.com if you want to suggest a player or discuss my picks.
Landon Johnson (CIN): Johnson was an on the list last week and came through big time. Was his play a fluke? I’m gonna say no. He had a pretty decent 2006 campaign (113 total tackles, 5 passes defended) and the Bengal linebacking corps will need some veteran consistency. Johnson’s only in his fourth season, but he’s probably the steadiest “veteran” they have. The Bengals face their in-state “rivals”, the Cleveland Browns, in Week 2. Should be a cakewalk for the Bengals in which they dominate defensively.
Paris Lenon (DET): My stomach turned a bit when typing out this guy’s name. I featured him here a bunch last year and his results varied. Lenon was tied for highest free-agent scoring LB last week, and any way you slice it, Lenon’s the MLB for a pretty poor defense. That means he’ll have some value. This week, the Lions face their NFC Norris rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. They’ll be running a bunch.
Matt Wilhem (SD): Last week, it was Stephen Cooper that led the way for the Bolt LBs, and this week it could be just about anyone. The Patriots will mix up the run and the pass and the Charger LBs will be busy. Figure Shawne Merriman will be trying to pressure QB Tom Brady as much as possible, leaving the remaining LBs to make tackles in the flats. I like Wilhem this week, as he had 4 solos and looked real active last week.
Others to Consider: James Harrison (PIT) and Stephen Nicholas (ATL)
Orpheus Roye (DE – CIN): Roye was pretty much an every-week starter in IDP leagues a few years back. Injuries have slowed his play, but he very well could bounce back. A solid effort against the Steelers is a good start. Facing the high-caliber Cincinnati offense next week is a tougher task, but their QB is about the same in terms of mobility so expect Roye to be active again.
Justin Tuck (DE – NYG): This one’s a no-brainer. Osi Umenyiora out + QB/RB out/hurting = defense on field a lot and Tuck starting. Tuck had a solid effort, including a sack, last week. He’ll more than likely get to QB Brett Favre this week, too.
Note: For you folks that are in leagues that require you start a DT and you’re in the market for a sleeper DT this week, I feel your pain. Please email me at the above address and I’d be happy to help on a case-by-case basis.
Other to Consider: Darryl Tapp (DE – SEA)
Adam Archuleta (S – CHI): Archuleta’s inexplicably on my 12-team IDP league’s waiver wire. I’d pick him up myself, but I’m already stacked at DB. Anyways, if he’s somehow on your league’s wire, stop reading this column now and go pick him up. With Mike Brown out for the season, Archuleta will have to really step his game up. I expect pretty big things from Archuleta this season. Danieal Manning will also have value, replacing Brown, but it’s Archuleta that has the track record.
Dexter Jackson (S – CIN): For those of you not as fortunate to find the likes of Archuleta on your waiver wire, perhaps you can snag Jackson. Jackson came to the Bengals chock full of Cover-2 experience and this could be the season he finally puts up big stats. The Bengal D looked pretty solid this past Monday night and they will certainly start where they left off against a putrid Brown team.
Jason David (CB – NO): Poor guy. David was picked on all game by Colt QB Peyton Manning. Expect him to fare better against the Bucs’ offense.
Others to Consider: Corey Chavous (S – STL) and Nick Harper (CB – TEN)
Track Record – Week 1
Tully Banta-Cain (SF): 2 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle (5 fantasy points). Not a huge game for Banta-Cain, but the MNF crew agreed that his name is ultra-cool. In other Niner LB news, Patrick Willis is a mega-stud.
Willie McGinest (CLE): Zip (0 fp). Turns out McGinest’s back is worse off than once thought, and he sat out the opener (and looks like he’ll sit out at least one more).
Landon Johnson (CIN): 5 solo tackles, 6 assisted tackles, 1 pass defended, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD (29.5 fp). The Yahtzee of the week, by far. The Johnsons were rolling for the Bengals on Monday night, and the linebacker version of the Johnsons led his unit in tackles. The Bengal LB corps has had its share of question marks, so Johnson emerging may not surprise many.
Roosevelt Colvin (NE): Zip (0 fp). Huh? This one’s really a head-scratcher. I mean, it has been said that starting a Patriot LB not named Bruschi is not advisable, but this is taking it to a new level.
Channing Crowder (MIA): 4 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles (12 fp). Crowder was second only to the mega-stud Zach Thomas in total tackles for the Fins on Sunday. Crowder will continue to have backup-quality value in most leagues.
Chris Kelsay / Ryan Denney (DEs – BUF): 3 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles (8 fp) / Zip (0 fp). Kelsay had a decent outing, logging a QB hit on top of his tackle totals. Denney ended up sitting this one out with a nagging foot injury. Whichever second Bill DE (behind Aaron Schobel) ends up with the most playing time just might be a viable backup fantasy player.
Grady Jackson (DT – ATL): 2 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle (5 fp). It’s hard enough finding sleepers for opening week, let alone defensive linemen. But hey, at least Jackson logged three total tackles (and the team high was only eight).
Dusty Dvoracek (DT – CHI): 1 solo tackle, 1 assisted tackle (3 fp). I sure don’t hope that The Huddle’s IDP Sleeper article doesn’t become the new “Madden curse”. Dvoracek (and teammate Mike Brown) will be put on IR, ending his season after tearing his ACL. .
Brett Keisel (DE – PIT): Zip (0 fp). Well, chalk this one up to the Browns simply being totally inept on offense and therefore the Steeler D spending most of the time on the sidelines.
James Butler (S – NYG): 5 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles (12 fp). Hmph, so much for Butler outscoring Gibril Wilson. Despite Wilson moving to FS, he still put up solid fantasy stats. Butler’s stats weren’t horrible, though. He’ll continue to have some good fantasy value.
James Sanders (S – NE): 4 solo tackles (8 fp). Sanders is no Harrison, and that was pretty evident on Sunday. The Patriots may miss Harrison a bit more than they’ll let on. Sanders isn’t terrible, but there were opportunities for Sanders to make some big plays, and it just didn’t happen. Tread carefully with Sanders if you decide to add him.
Dre Bly (CB – DEN): 2 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 2 passes defended (9 fp). Not a horrible game for Bly, actually outscoring stud CB Champ Bailey.
Mark Roman (S – SF): 2 assisted tackles, 2 passes defended (5 fp). The Niner secondary actually looked pretty good on Monday night. Stay tuned to this column on a weekly basis to see which Niner defensive back ends up being the best fantasy play.
Cedric Griffin (CB – MIN): 7 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle (15 fp). Very solid game for Griffin, especially as a cornerback facing a poor offense. Keep an eye on Griffin, who certainly has talent, as his position oftentimes scores well in the Cover-2.