With week 11 in the books and week 12 upcoming, most fantasy season regular seasons are coming to an end. Hopefully your free agent dollars haven’t completely dried up yet and you don’t have major holes to fill in your lineup heading into the playoffs. You also need to decide how aggressive you need to be in the next couple weeks. If you are a bubble team, now isn’t the time to hold back on making adds if you have holes to fill. You need to add points to your lineup now but mind the week 12 bye weeks. On the flip side, those with first round byes already sewn up might be able to sit back and survey the landscape before jumping into changes. Those teams are also afforded the luxury of waiting on any adds they do make to capitalize on week 14-16 matchups. Those regularly starting players from Carolina or Pittsburgh need to make arrangements to start others this week but the good news is that week 12 is the last of the bye weeks this year.
Week 11 was a tough week for the free agent report. While past recommendations like Chris Borland and Avery Williamson have quality weeks for their owners, week 11’s recommendations struggled. Nico Johnson and Ramon Humber both fell to respective returning starters Rey Maualuga and David Hawthorne. James Harrison and Josh Mauga were disappointing in quality matchups with only 4 total tackles for each of them. James-Michael Johnson only managed 3 solo tackles in his own great matchup. Steven Johnson was a recommendation that went out the twitter followers; his 6 total tackles were acceptable but not spectacular. Clay Matthews was the lone bright spot with 5 total tackles, 1 PD and a sack.
Craig Robertson/Christian Kirksey CLE LB – ILB 3-4
With every-snap ILB starter Karlos Dansby likely lost for the rest of the fantasy season, Craig Robertson and rookie Christian Kirksey figure to gain snaps over their current roles. Look for Robertson to be the immediate breadwinner for tackles with Kirksey possibly gaining sub-package snaps that might normally be reserved for Dansby. Dansby hasn’t been the best ILB over the last 4 weeks with no splash plays or tackles for loss but ILB snaps are to be monitored and Robertson is worth an add. Cleveland gets Atlanta, Buffalo and Indianapolis over the next three weeks. The matchups aren’t elite but tackles will be there.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3
Devon Kennard/Jameel McClain NYG LB – SLB/MLB 4-3
The Giants’ 5th round rookie pick this year out of USC, Devon Kennard got his first start at outside linebacker as the Giants scramble to backfill starters in their injury-depleted defense. Regular middle linebacker starter Jon Beason is on season ending injured reserve so strong-side linebacker Jameel McClain has moved over to man the middle. McClain is the best linebacker to own in the short-term on the Giants as a borderline LB1. The former Trojan, Kennard, is an interesting prospect to own for dynasty teams. Kennard has experience at defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. With that versatility at the Giants’ disposal, there is potential for his role to grow beyond this year. Kennard is a flex start with a lot of risk on him currently given the flux of the Giants’ defense. Both Giants defenders are better short-term plays than long-term plays as Dallas plays New York in week 12 but Jacksonville and Tennessee are their week 13 and 14 opponents respectively.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB1 to Mid LB2 (McClain); High-end LB3 to Low-end LB3 (Kennard)
David Hawthorne NOS LB – ILB 3-4
Returning back from injury last week, David Hawthorne was able to contribute 7 total tackles in a losing effort against the Bengals. The former Seahawk is a run stopper for the Saints and with two more AFC North opponents (Baltimore and Pittsburgh) on tap for New Orleans, expect the opportunity to log tackles to be at an excess. Hawthorne is only owned in the deepest of leagues currently so you stand to have a very good chance to land him if you so choose. The downside is that Hawthorne is rarely going to out-produce Curtis Lofton given the sheer snap count so you need to predict games that the Saints are going to see some rushing attempts against them.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Kroy Biermann ATL LB – With the Falcons in tough against the Browns in week 12, I like a guy like Kroy Biermann who isn’t flashy in terms of ability or opportunity but manages to deliver consistently. Biermann has scored at least 5 total tackles in 7 of the 10 Falcons games this year. He gives you some pass rush ability and potential to score some splash plays.
Defensive Linemen Plays
If you thought that week 10 was skinny on sacks, week 11 was worse. Only Mario Williams and Gerald McCoy logged more than one sack and only 26 defensive linemen logged even half a sack at all. Tackles are becoming critically important for consistency at the defensive line position.
It was a hit and miss week for the free agent report in week 10, Desmond Bryant was a great option for owners as he scored 8 total tackles against the Houston Texans. Osi Umenyiora and Allen Bailey were both disappointing in their performances given the opportunity available. You simply need more than 2 tackles to be effective.
Ray McDonald SFO DE – DE 3-4
You can say what you want about his off-the-field activities but the long and short of it is that he has not been charged with a crime and he is eligible to play. The 49ers are a bit of a mess for pass rush given Ahmad Brooks’s act on Sunday as well as the ongoing Aldon Smith escapades so I’m sure that they welcomed his 7 total tackle, 1 sack performance against the Giants and whatever he can contribute against the Redskins in week 12. He is fresh in terms of wear and tear but has the experience needed to excel in Vic Fangio’s defense. On top of that, his matchup in week 14 for the first round of the fantasy playoffs is a dream matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Mid DL3
Sharrif Floyd MIN DT – DT 4-3
Sharrif Floyd is a young player that I think is starting to “get it”. After some lackluster performances early in the year, the second year pro out of Florida has averaged 5.5 tackles per game in his last 4 games and 3.5 sacks in his last 6 games including one against the Packers in week 5. With the Packers visiting Minnesota this time around, Floyd might have a repeat performance. I like Floyd as a decent pass rush threat but also as a running stuffer.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Robert Ayers NYG DE – I think that one of two things happens to the Giants on Sunday Night. Either Dallas runs effectively on the Giants or the Giants pass rush get to Tony Romo. I think that Robert Ayers gets a shot to contribute in either situation.
Defensive Back Plays
While week over week defensive back production was done in terms of high water mark and average points, defensive backs still remain the largest in terms of total points compared to other IDP positions as well as potential to stream. Don’t be afraid to look forward to week 14 matchups for players that you are scouting now. Getting these players now not only helps you team for the playoffs but prevents your opponents from getting those same players.
It was a tough week for the free agent report in week 11. Jaiquawn Jarrett was a recommendation despite being on bye and remains a player that should be added in almost all formats. Bradley Fletcher was decent if unspectacular with 5 total tackles and 2 PDs against the Packers. Larry Asante was not a factor in the Oakland game. Darelle Revis scored 3 total tackles and 2 PDs but Andrew Luck tended to shy away from him at times. Kam Chancellor returned to action and logged 6 solo tackles.
Brandion Ross OAK S – SS 4-3
Ross is the player that got the call to replace Usama Young as strong safety for the Raiders, not Larry Asante despite the week 10 production. Ross piled up 8 total tackles against the Chargers in week 11. For the same reasons that Asante was a solid pick in week 11, Ross is a great pick in week 12. The Raiders are an awful team and will continue to be afforded opportunity to log tackles like few other teams in the league. Kansas City is up next for the Raiders in week 12.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Josh Robinson MIN CB – CB 4-3
Robinson is a solid tackle from the cornerback position as it stands but when you offer quality opportunity in the high powered passing attack of the Green Bay Packers; you have a potential DB1 week. Coming off of an 8 tackle, 1 PD effort against the Bears, I think that Robinson will be tested early and often by Aaron Rodgers. Look to stream Robinson into your lineup if he is free.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end DB1 to High-end DB3
Joe Haden/Buster Skrine CLE CB – CB 3-4
Atlanta hosts Cleveland in week 12 and with Antone Smith lost for the season, the Falcons are left with only plodder Steven Jackson in an ineffective backfield. That should leave the Falcons forced to win the game on Matt Ryan’s arm. Both Joe Haden and Buster Skrine have been very effective lately in terms of fantasy options with tackles, PDs and interceptions. I think that Cleveland corners are tested by the Falcons and either respond with tackles or PDs/INTs.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
AJ Bouye HOU CB – CB 3-4
The backup cornerback for the Texans, Bouye has been in the game often lately due to injuries to starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. He has been tested often as evidenced by his 17 total tackles over two games. He also has a pick six in those same two games. With Cincinnati in town in week 12, expect that Bouye will be in similar form as previous weeks for tackles as well as posing some potential splash play upside.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Louis Delmas MIA S – I am looking to play the percentages here. The Broncos are running out of healthy running backs and likely will need to throw the ball to win against Miami in Denver. I think that Delmas and Reshad Jones are the tackle beneficiaries on completions in front of them.