What an exciting week of football it was in week 10. You saw a little of everything this week. There was an overtime game. There were a couple last second finishes. There were a few blowouts that were fantasy-fests for those teams’ respective offensive players. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s always nice to see defenses put games away as the Cardinals did against the Rams. Unfortunately, it looks like the Cardinals are going to lose their starting quarterback for the year to a knee injury sustained in that same game. Going into week 11, four of the last six bye weeks take place. Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville and the New York Jets all get the week off so plan accordingly.
Week 10 was a monster week as far as the free agent report goes. Chris Borland started over Patrick Willis and logged 17 total tackles (11 solo) and a game-sealing fumble recovery against the Saints. The rookie out of Wisconsin was the top LB in balanced and tackle heavy scoring leagues. Anthony Hitchens had a monster game in London against the Jaguars with 9 solo tackles starting over Rolando McClain for the Dallas Cowboys. Avery Williamson was also a quality start with 10 total tackles (6 solo) against the Ravens. Casey Matthews had a great game starting in place of DeMeco Ryans in the middle of the Philadelphia defense. The former Oregon duck logged 7 total tackles and a forced fumble. Telvin Smith was the lone disappointment of the week at the LB position with only 3 solos against Dallas.
Clay Matthews GBP LB – ILB 3-4
Yes, you read that right. Clay Matthews is now an inside linebacker for the Packers. Younger brother is replaced by older brother in the free agent report recommendations. Clay Matthews played inside of Green Bay’s 3-4 defense all night on the Sunday nighter and the former USC Trojan responded with a game high 11 tackles and a sack. If he continues to show that kind of ball pursuit from the middle along with showing his trademark pass rush ability, both Green Bay and IDP fantasy teams might have a new stud inside linebacker. I think the ceiling is high here for Matthews; don’t be shy about spending some free agent bidding dollars for him.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB1 to Mid LB2
Nico Johnson CIN LB – WLB 4-3
Nico Johnson finds himself on the Bengals active roster after being signed from the Chiefs practice squad. The Bengals have suffered with injuries to starters Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga. Oddly enough, the Chiefs also have struggled with their own inside linebacker depth but Johnson never made the field with Kansas City. A 4th round pick out of Alabama last year, Johnson has some potential to stick in a defense that can keep their linebackers clean. He posted 10 total tackles in a blowout loss to the Browns on Thursday night. Johnson is starting for the injured Vontaze Burfict. With the Saints and Texans on the Bengals schedule for the next two weeks, Johnson could be in line for some decent production as long as he is starting.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Ramon Humber NOS LB – ILB 3-4
Starting for injured starter David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber was rock solid against the 49ers with 11 total tackles and a sack. Humber made all of his tackles against running backs with the exception of two short passes and a sack so look to deploy him against a Cincinnati team that will try to get their running game going to take the pressure off of their struggling quarterback. Humber is not an every week guy even with Hawthorne out but against run-heavy teams, he can sneak in a decent performance.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Low-end LB3
James-Michael Johnson/Josh Mauga KCC LB – ILB 3-4
Kansas City gets the Seahawks in Seattle in week 11. Seattle has righted the ship as of late by running the ball effectively and playing better defense. The Seahawks ran the ball 45 times compared to 10 completed passes against the Giants in week 10. The opportunity may not be better to log some tackles for the Chiefs’ inside linebackers. Both Mauga and Johnson are free agents in many leagues. Johnson is the safer play with Joe Mays liable to eat into Josh Mauga’s snaps as he slowly returns from a wrist injury.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
James Harrison PIT LB – Harrison is likely a free agent in most leagues given that he was unemployed at the start of the year. Harrison is putting up numbers like he never left the Steelers. With 4 sacks and 15 tackles over the last 3 games, Harrison belongs on a fantasy roster. I like the matchup in week 11 with the Steelers looking to keep pace in the AFC North against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Week 10 saw five different defensive linemen score 2 sacks or more. Two of those players play for Buffalo. However, overall, less sacks occurred in week 10 than the average. Most of the high scores from defensive linemen came through tackling.
Similar to the linebackers, week 10 was a great one for defensive line recommendations. Haloti Ngata scored 3 tackles, 1 PD and a forced fumble against the Titans. Sen’Derrick Marks scored 2 tackles and a sack in London against Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Finally, Cameron Jordan scored 3 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for the Saints in an overtime loss against the 49ers.
Osi Umenyiora ATL DE – DE/OLB 3-4
Umenyiora quietly had the best game of his season in week 10 with 3 total tackles, a PD and 1.5 sacks against the Buccaneers. Next up for the Falcons are the Panthers who were absolutely under siege by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night to the tune of 9 sacks. Granted, the Falcons pass rush is not in the same conversation as the Eagles pass rush but Cam Newton has not been mobile and the Carolina Panthers’ protections have been awful lately. Give Umenyiora a shot to nab a sack against the Panthers.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Desmond Bryant CLE DE – DE 3-4
Normally I try not to chase last week’s stats but Bryant’s addition has everything to do with the team they are playing as opposed to last week’s stats. Cleveland hosts the Houston Texans in week 11. The Texans will feature a new quarterback in Ryan Mallett. Mallett is a question mark and could be in tough against a stingy Cleveland defense. It’s not a stretch to see Mallett get treated very similar to Andy Dalton where Bryant scored 2 sacks.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to High-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Allen Bailey KCC DE – Bailey is a good run defender from the defensive line in the Chiefs base defense. Similar to the recommendations of Mauga and Johnson above, Bailey could be in line for a significant amount of tackles against the Seattle Seahawks.
Defensive Back Plays
As has been the norm for many weeks thus far in this NFL season, defensive back production has been plentiful and your top IDP production has been from defensive backs by and large. 19 players scored 15 points or more in week 10. Teams that are able to slot in quality defensive back play can cover for weaknesses elsewhere in the team.
Overall, it was a solid week for the free agent report although nothing earth-shattering. All of the recommendations were decent but nothing special. Major Wright was arguably the most disappointing of the recommendations as he was only able to score 4 total tackles against the Falcons. Rafael Bush was solid against the 49ers with 7 total tackles and remains a solid play going forward. DJ Hayden was a good sneaky-type play against the Broncos and delivered with 3 solo tackles, 3 PDs and an interception against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. His game would have been even better if he didn’t leave the game with a groin injury in the second half. EJ Gaines was also solid against the Cardinals with 4 total tackles and 3 PDs. Sneaky play Sam Shields came through for owners who took a shot with him by posting 6 solo tackles and a PD.
Jaiquawn Jarrett NYJ S – SS 3-4
The former Philadelphia Eagle draft pick Jaiquawn Jarrett started over Calvin Pryor against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 10 because the rookie was late for too many team meetings. Jarrett responded by posting a monster line of 10 total tackles, a sack, 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery; the top IDP score amongst all players in week 10. It should be safe to assume that Jarrett has a handle on a least a few strong safety starts in the short-term given his performance. The Jets strong safety position is regularly a boon for IDP stats even if Calvin Pryor hasn’t shown that at times this year. Jarrett and the Jets are on bye this week but you might not get him if you wait until after week 11 to get him.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB1 to Mid DB2
Bradley Fletcher PHI CB – CB 3-4
Bradley Fletcher is coming off of a monster game where he logged 5 PDs, 4 solo tackles and a pick six against the Panthers. The Eagles are in tough against the Packers in Green Bay in week 11. Green Bay will throw the ball constantly in the running game isn’t getting going. Fletcher is either going to get matched up on Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson. Neither is an easy assignment. Look for Fletcher to score well on PDs or be forced to make tackles. Either way, I think he sees more than his fair share of action in week 11. To be honest, I don’t think that any member of the Philadelphia secondary (Fletcher, Cary Williams, Nate Allen or Malcolm Jenkins) is bad play in week 11.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Larry Asante OAK SS – SS 4-3
Larry Asante seems to be the next man for the Raiders at strong safety after injuries to Tyvon Branch and Usama Young. The former Cleveland Brown draft pick logged 10 total tackles against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Week 11 sees the San Diego Chargers host the Raiders. The Chargers will be rested from their week 10 bye and will be eager to put a string of bad losses behind them. I expect that Philip Rivers and the Chargers get the better of a struggling Raiders team early and Asante’s tackle total will reflect that.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Kam Chancellor/Jeron Johnson SEA S – SS 4-3
Kam Chancellor should not be a free agent in most leagues but in the event that he was dropped in shallow bench leagues due to limited space, this is the week he is expected to return from his groin injury. Chancellor was replaced by Jeron Johnson in the lineup against the Giants in week 10 and performed admirably with 8 total tackles and a PD. The Seahawks get the Chiefs in Seattle in week 11. While the matchup isn’t the greatest, there will be points to be had. Make sure Chancellor practices before getting him back into your lineup. If he misses practice, check the injury report and snag Johnson for a spot start.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Darrelle Revis NEP CB – The game I am looking forward to the most in week 11 sees Tom Brady and the Patriots head to Indianapolis to face off against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck is on pace to obliterate his personal record of 627 passing attempts in a season. In fact, he is on pace to finish second all-time with 697 to current record owner Matthew Stafford (727). All of those stats add up to one thing. Andrew Luck will throw the ball to win this game and I expect that he won’t be afraid to throw at any defender that New England has. Look for Revis to see some action in terms of a tackle or two, some PDs and maybe a pick if things don’t go the Colts way.