As we move into week 7, both NFL teams and fantasy teams are starting to flesh out their place in the standings. In fact for most of you, the fantasy regular season is almost halfway done. Those of you struggling with 1-5 or 0-6 records should consider adding some young prospective talent if you are in keeper leagues. Over the course of the year, I will add a handful of these prospects for those who find themselves out of it early in this season. Injuries hurt many team this week on both sides of the ball. Victor Cruz, Stevan Ridley, Jerod Mayo and Dee Milliner are all out for the year for their respective teams. Add in a bye week for Philadelphia and Tampa Bay and you have a big need for waiver wire talent this week.
As expected, DeMario Davis was solid despite David Harris remaining in the lineup with a shoulder issue. Davis piled up 11 total tackles alongside Harris who also logged 11 total tackles. Jacquian Williams scored 5 total tackles and a PD in the Giants blowout loss at the hands of the Eagles. Danny Trevathan’s day was cut short due to a knee injury against the Jets. Brandon Marshall regains every week starter value in the event that Trevathan misses significant time. Gerald Hodges was solid if unspectacular with 6 total tackles and 2 PDs against the Lions. Casey Matthews was pretty good out of the sneaky play spot with 5 total tackles and a fumble recovery against the Giants. Outside of a Danny Trevathan injury, it was a pretty good week for finding solid performers.
Deontae Skinner NEP LB – MLB/SLB 4-3
This is a deep league play or a shallow league gamble. Deontae Skinner replaced Dont’a Hightower on Sunday against the Bills but with Jerod Mayo suspected to be out for the year with a knee injury, Skinner and Jamie Collins are the only healthy LBs on the team. Bill Belichick and his coaching staff played more nickel and dime defenses to avoid using LBs they didn’t have but that isn’t going to be an option all year. Skinner is going to get put through the ringer in practice on a short week and be expected to play heavily against an aggressive running attack of the New York Jets on Thursday night. Skinner logged 6 tackles and a sack on Sunday. Skinner carries some risk though as he is an undrafted rookie and Belichick might not trust him fully yet.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Nigel Bradham BUF LB – WLB 4-3
Nigel Bradham has been erratic in his availability to start this season. A week one suspension left him off of many fantasy rosters despite him being slated to take over for injured WLB Kiko Alonso. A knee injury in week 4 cut him down while in the midst of a great game against the Texans and that same injury left him inactive in week 5. In week 6 against the Patriots, Bradham seemed to be back in fine form with 11 total tackles. The Buffalo tackle scorer seems to be very liberal with assisted tackles especially for the home team so a start at home against the Vikings seems like a great option. Getting the Jets in week 8 also seems like a great matchup. Roll with Bradham over the next couple weeks until he gives you a reason not to.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3
Justin Tuggle HOU LB – ILB 3-4
The son of one of my all-time favourite LBs Jessie Tuggle, Justin Tuggle is slowly emerging as an option in tackle heavy deeper leagues. His snap counts are slowly moving north every week and seems to be the plan for the Texans alongside Brian Cushing. I’ve been hesitant to add Tuggle as historically speaking, the majority of LBs not named Cushing perform poorly or inconsistently going back to the days right after DeMeco Ryans was traded. Tuggle logged 9 tackles (4 in coverage) and an INT against the Colts on Thursday night. The Steelers are up next for the Texans and should be a decent matchup for IDP production.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3
Sio Moore/Miles Burris OAK LB – WLB/MLB 4-3
With Nick Roach heading to season-ending injured reserve with lingering concussion issues, the door is open for the rest of the year to see one or both of these young LBs elevate to LB1 status. Sio Moore was the top LB in IDP fantasy in week 1 but an ankle injury limited him in weeks 3 and 4. Moore appears to be healthy as he scored 10 total tackles against the Chargers in week 6. Someone needs to log the tackles for this defense who lost their best tackling threat from the secondary in Tyvon Branch as well. Moore is best shot for prolonged tackles as well as big plays in this defense if he can stay healthy. Burris is more of a matchup LB in tackle heavy leagues.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to High-end LB3 (Moore); Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3 (Burris)
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Vincent Rey CIN LB – A bit of a long shot here but Vincent Rey might get a shot to play in week 7 after starters Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder) both left Cincinnati’s week 6 contest with the Carolina Panthers. Add in the fact that Vontaze Burfict’s conduct in a couple ankle-twisting tackles is up for league review and there is plenty of opportunity for Rey to be a significant part of the gameplan against the Colts on Sunday. Watch the injury report to make sure he gets a shot to play.
Defensive Linemen Plays
It was another great week for elite DL players in week 6. Ten defensive linemen logged more than one sack in week 6 which was the most of the season thus far. Performances like the ones that Rob Ninkovich, Ezekial Ansah, Jurrell Casey and most notably, JJ Watt turned in really cements the point that spending earlier picks on a scarce position like DL as opposed to a deep position like DB can be the difference between elite production and scraps.
Week 6 was a big whiff at defensive line. Ropati Pitoitua scored only 2 solos whereas teammate Jurrell Casey was the star as a top 3 DL for the week. Similarly, Kareem Martin and Frostee Rucker were afterthoughts compared to OLB Alex Okafor who logged 2 sacks against the Redskins. Sneaky play Damon Harrison was acceptable with a 4 solo tackle performance against the Denver Broncos.
Olivier Vernon MIA DE – DE 4-3
This one is a bit of shallow league special here but after a week 5 donut, his own percentage is barely over 50% in a handful of fantasy providers compared teammate Cameron Wake who is typically above 85%. In addition, the matchup is juicy against the Bears in week 7 and the Jaguars in week 8. The Miami Dolphin pass rush is coming on as of late including Vernon’s monster 7 tackle, 1.5 sack, forced fumble effort against the Packers in week 6. If Vernon is free in your league, get him owned and get him in your lineup.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL1 to Mid DL2
Jerry Hughes BUF DE – DE 4-3
Similar vein here, Jerry Hughes has been on fire for the past two weeks with 12 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Hughes is vastly over performing his own percentage which is less than 40% in various fantasy providers. The matchup is golden with rattled rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater visiting Buffalo in week 7. Bridgewater got wrecked by the Lions defense to the tune of 8 sacks in week 6. Hughes has major spot start potential if you can pick the matchup. I really like this one.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL1 to Low-end DL2
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
George Selvie DAL DE – A reeling Giants squad has to go on the road to visit a surging Cowboys squad in week 7. Fresh off an absolute beating at the hands of Philadelphia, Eli Manning and his offensive line won’t be able to solve all of the their problems in time to prevent a few sacks. Give Selvie a shot to see if he can nab a sack.
Defensive Back Plays
Given how prevalent nickel and dime package play has become, playing defensive backs in IDP fantasy has really become a different art to master. Interestingly enough, none of the DB1 (top 12) in 2013 are in the top 12 of 2014 thus far. That goes to show you that your DBs need to be fluid and adjusted quickly to account of matchup problems, injuries and changes in playing time or scheme.
Week 6 hit on most of last week’s recommendations but whiffed on a couple as well. TJ McDonald was as advertised with a rock solid tackling performance in Monday Night football with 10 total tackles. Kemal Ishmael was also decent with 6 solo tackles in a losing effort against the Bears. Antonio Allen gave way to Philip Adams and Darrin Walls against the Broncos as Allen logged less than 30% of the total snaps. That was a big departure from his usage in previous weeks. No Titans safety was effective as both cornerbacks stole the show against the Jaguars; each logging 11 total tackles. Sneaky plays Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson were both decent against the aerial assault of the Indianapolis Colts scoring 6 and 5 total tackles respectively. That game saw five members of Houston’s secondary score at least 9 fantasy points.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson TEN CB – CB 3-4
About as close to a rookie corner rule play as you are going to get this year, second year man Blidi Wreh-Wilson is going to be counted on to carry the bulk of CB2 snaps for Tennessee with Coty Sensabaugh out with injury. Wreh-Wilson logged 11 total tackles and an interception in week 6 against the Jaguars and gets the Redskins in week 7 who are averaging 23 completions a game and over 300 passing yards through 5 games with Kirk Cousins at the helm. Cornerback required leagues will obviously carry more weight than DB-merged leagues.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Reshad Jones MIA SS – SS 4-3
Reshad Jones has been a top 10 DB in each of the last two years with his gaudy tackle totals manning the strong safety position for the Dolphins. However, with his four game suspension to start the season, many owners passed on him or dropped him. If he is free, he still has top 10 DB potential as evidenced by a big game against Green Bay in week 6 with 9 solo tackles and a PD. The Dolphins get the Bears in week 7 which is another great matchup. Start Jones with confidence.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB1 to Mid DB2
Brent Grimes MIA CB – CB 4-3
If you have members of the Dolphins secondary or pass rush, you need to start them this week. Jay Cutler is consistently getting his big wide receivers 100 yards a game and multiple targets. Brent Grimes will have his hands full dealing with Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffrey. Look for tackle totals to mirror the 7 that he got this week covering Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Chicago is proving to be a great matchup for streaming DBs down the stretch.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Glover Quin/James Ihedigbo DET S – FS/SS 4-3
Both Detroit safeties haven’t been the greatest fantasy options so far this. Ihedigbo has been decent if unspectacular in his three games after returning from injury. However, they face top 5 passing attacks in back to back weeks starting in week 7 with the Saints and week 8 with the Falcons. More desperate owners might even stretch Rashean Mathis into this matchup recommendation as well. Both NFC South teams will throw the ball especially if the Detroit defensive line can prevent the running game from getting going.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Perrish Cox SFO CB – Cox had a great game on Monday Night football and will need to perform equally as well in a Sunday night battle against the Broncos. The 49ers cornerback depth is getting tested in the wake of injuries and Peyton Manning will not hesitate to exploit them if he feels that is the weak link. Cox may be in line for a big game.