With week 13 in the books, most fantasy football leagues are into the first round of the playoffs. If your team isn’t playing this week, hopefully that means you have a first round bye in the playoffs. If you are still in the playoffs, make sure that you understand that waiver rules of your league going into the playoffs. If you need to load up this week because waivers lock in the playoffs, then make sure to do so. For those who are out of it but are in keeper/dynasty leagues, I will do my best to offer a stash play for you where I can.
Week 13 was a bit pedestrian for the free agent report. Mason Foster was decent for the Buccaneers with 6 total tackles but took a back seat to 7th year journeyman Danny Lansanah against the Bengals. Rolando McClain was solid with 7 total tackles but took a backseat to teammate Anthony Hitchens against the Eagles. Christian Jones wasn’t the best in his start over injured Lance Briggs with 6 total tackles (only 2 solo) and Alex Okafor disappointed in a Cardinals loss to the Falcons with only a single solo tackle.
Jon Bostic CHI LB – MLB/WLB 4-3
The Bears are running out of healthy players on defense in general. With Lance Briggs the most recent player to be lost for the season, the Bears turn to Jon Bostic to lead the Bear defense. Bostic moves around in the Bear defense and is likely to be the only three down LB on the team at this point. Bostic logged 11 total tackles against the Lions in week 13 and gets a dream IDP schedule for the playoffs with the Cowboys, Saints and Lions in weeks 14, 15 and 16 respectively. The former Gator isn’t owned in many shallow or medium depth leagues and carries some solid value in tackle heavy leagues.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to High-end LB3
Telvin Smith/James Thomas JAC LB – MLB/WLB 4-3
Both linebackers have appeared in previous renditions of the free agent report and both have steadily improved their IDP production over the last few weeks after seeing the field due to injuries to other LBs. After a slow start, Smith has piled up 23 total tackles and two fumble recoveries. Similarly, Thomas has averaged 8 total tackles and a PD over his last 5 games to go along with 2 picks, a fumble forced, fumble recovery and a score. The Jaguars, fresh off of their first win, get the Texans and Ravens in week 14 and 15. Both teams are top 10 in terms of running the ball and make great IDP matchups. Both Jaguars LBs make great IDP plays down the playoff stretch as well as carrying keeper/dynasty value given Paul Poslusnzy’s contract.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Mid LB3 (Both)
Bobby Wagner SEA LB – MLB 4-3
Bobby Wagner returned to prominence in week 13, posting 10 tackles against the 49ers after a 2 solo – 6 assist effort against the Cardinals. The Utah State product missed the previous 5 games due to a knee injury. Shallow leaguers need to take notice and add the former 2nd round pick for their playoff run if they have anything less than a surefire LB1. The Seahawks get the Eagles and 49ers in weeks 14 and 15 respectively and represent great matchups for all Seahawks LBs.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB1 to Mid LB2
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Danny Lansanah TBB LB – I’m not a giant fan of Lansanah as a long-term prospect. He is replacement level talent at best. However, IDP value is just as much opportunity as it is talent and with Lavonte David out, Lansanah’s opportunity is as good as any. Watch the injury report closely leading up to the Bucs game against the Lions. If Lavonte David returns from his hamstring injury, Lansanah’s value goes way down. If not, you should be able to start him as a LB2.
Defensive Linemen Plays
Quick question, what does Julio Jones, TY Hilton, Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, AJ Green and JJ Watt have in common? All of them have the same amount of touchdowns on the year (5). I’m going to use this platform to get my opinion (however irrelevant and biased it may be in the grand scheme of things) that JJ Watt needs to be the MVP of the NFL. The man seems like he can do anything on the football field. Hopefully your league credits for total touchdowns as Watt nabbed his 3rd catch and 5th TD total of the year to go along with 2 sacks. Unbelievable talent.
It was a better week for the free agent report in week 13. Fletcher Cox led the charge with 4 solo tackles and a sack against the Cowboys. Cedric Thornton got out of the gate well with 2 solo tackles on the Cowboys first drive but didn’t do much else past that. Geno Atkins logged 2 total tackles and a half sack against the Buccaneers in a game that was closer than it should have been. Jason Hatcher logged a fumble recovery but otherwise missed the scoresheet.
Desmond Bryant CLE DE – DE 3-4
I recommended Bryant a few weeks back but his own percentage remains low despite strong numbers over the last four weeks. Since week 10, he’s has 25 total tackles and 3 sacks. The Browns host the Indianapolis Colts in week 14. I like Bryant this week because the Colts have had trouble with ball security in their backfield lately. Over their last two games, the Colts have fumbled the ball a staggering eight times. I think that the splash play potential is high with Bryant and Browns defense.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Justin Smith/Cornelius “Tank” Carradine SFO DE – DE 3-4
San Francisco hosts Oakland in week 14 in a must win game for the 49ers. This one is going to be a bloodbath. Oakland got flat out embarrassed against the Rams last week. I don’t see the Raiders being able to block a ferocious 49er pass rush on the road. Smith is the safer play, Carradine is a deeper dig.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Mid DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Jason Jones/Andre Fluellen DET DE – I really like all of the Detriot defensive linemen but I’m also assuming that Ezekiel Ansah and Ndamukong Suh are already owned. Look for the Buccaneers to be completely outmatched in Detroit in week 14. Desperate owners could sack-hunt with the Lions supporting cast at defensive end.
Defensive Back Plays
There were lots of touchdowns for the defensive backs as well as a handful of multiple splash plays from defensive backs this week. Interestingly enough, this week had one of the lowest tackle outputs for DB1s of the year. Going into the playoffs, I typically try to add consistency over streams if possible because your opponent can try to counter your waiver moves if they are on the ball. It is tough to do late in the game but it can be done.
Save for one miss, I really like what last week’s recommendations did for their owners. Pierre Warren logged 7 total tackles in a Saints win over the Steelers. My prediction for Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung was bang on as the Patriot safeties scored 9 and 11 total tackles respectively. Either (or both for the bold) made a fine play on Sunday against the Packers. Glover Quin was the IDP recommendation star of Thanksgiving with 7 total tackles and an interception. Kurt Coleman was solid but unspectacular with 5 solo tackles and a fumble recovery against the Broncos. The lone miss was Danny Gorrer who logged only 2 solo tackles. It was hybrid safety/cornerback Anthony Levin who was the start of the Chargers/Ravens game logging 10 total tackles.
Jim Leonhard CLE S – FS 3-4
We lead the defensive back recommendations with former Jet, Jim Leonhard. Pressed into action after the Browns lost the NFL’s current interception leader (with 6), Tashaun Gipson, Leonhard performed admirably with 5 solo tackles, 2 PDs and an interception. He also represents some minor return value if your league happens to award points for that as he returns punts. With the Browns hosting the Colts in week 14, I expect that Andrew Luck will need to throw the ball to win. Expect Leonhard to continue to start as Gipson will not return in the regular season.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Dwight Lowery/William Moore ATL S – FS/SS 3-4
Returning from the injured reserve designated to return list in week 13 against the Cardinals, William Moore took his place as the strong safety for the Falcons. His production going forward will be at the cost of Kemal Ishmael, whose production IDP owners have been able to exploit for the past 4 weeks. Lowery and Moore represent great tackle upside over the next three games as the Falcons schedule reads Packers, Steelers and Saints from week 14 through to week 16. The Falcons are not great defending the pass and all three of those teams are top quartile for the NFL. Moore is likely a free agent after missing 8 games in a row prior to Sunday. He is a safer play than Lowery in my eyes given his run support but both are solid plays.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to High-end DB3
JJ Wilcox DAL FS – FS 4-3
The Cowboys travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on the Thursday nighter in week 14. Wilcox has been solid against teams with above average passing attacks in terms of tackle production. With the Bears in town I expect that the Bears will continue to throw the ball to move it down the field as their run game has been awful this year. Wilcox and Church will move forward to cover crossing routes and tight ends. I think Wilcox has a great chance for 6-10 tackles on Thursday.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Stevie Brown NYG S – FS 4-3
It appears as though the Quintin Demps experiment at free safety for the Giants is over. Demps started week 12 against the Cowboys but was outsnapped 3:2 by the former starting free safety Stevie Brown. Brown appears to have his old job back as he logged 6 total tackles and a sack against the Jaguars in week 13. When given a proper snap count, we know that Brown can be a DB1. However, therein lies the rub. Antrel Rolle is the only safety that is going to stay on the field 100% of the time for the Giants. If you can afford to stash Brown, do so even if it is a play for next year. The Titans aren’t exactly the best matchup for safeties this week but owners will good memories won’t let Brown hang out on the waiver wire for long.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to High-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Terrance Newman/Adam “Pacman” Jones CIN CB – With a critical game between the Bengals and Steelers being played in Cincinnati, look for the Steelers to pull out all the stops to get a win. The Bengals are a sieve against the run (25th in the league) but have done a decent job over the past three weeks. Then again, stopping Le’veon Bell is a different story altogether. I do expect the Steelers to need to throw to win this game and when they do, it won’t be at Leon Hall. Look for Newman to get the majority of the work in coverage/tackling with some Pacman Jones sprinkled in for a deep league option.