Welcome to another year of fantasy football, IDP-style. This new free agent report will help you identify players that you can add to your team that can give you immediate help or increase the strength of your bench.
Here we’ll take a look at players that are heating things up on defense and can bring your fantasy team some immediate help for those playing in “play one” type IDP leagues. These players are typically must-starts in standard IDP leagues.
D.J. Smith (GBP): With Desmond Bishop out, Smith’s been picking up the slack. He has a pair of solid matchups against division rivals (Bears and Lions) to close the season out and could rack up a good number of tackles.
David Hawthorne (SEA): The Seahawks’ defense is a different animal at home, and the tackle opportunities will be plenty against the Niners this week. His knee injury really isn’t cause for concern.
Jason Babin (DE – PHI): Wow, what an acquisition by the Eagles. Everyone was ballyhooing about the Nnamdi Asomugha add, but Babin has been a star on the Eagle defense, especially with Trent Cole hurt and having a mediocre – by his standards – season. Babin has eight sacks in the past three games and may even be able to surpass 20 total sacks on the season in the final couple of weeks.
Haloti Ngata (DT – BAL): Not only is the big guy the #1 DT, but he’s actually the #6 overall DL in 2011. As with most DTs, he has had some real quiet games, but he’s had some big ones as well. With games against each of the Ohio NFL teams to close the season out, Ngata will have plenty of opportunities to make tackles and big plays as well.
Darian Stewart (S – STL): Where the heck did this guy come from? Since Week 8, he’s been one of the hotter DBs in the game, posting excellent across-the-board stats every week. Even with the bigger name Quintin Mikell producing as well, Stewart has found ways to reward his owners. He should be plenty busy the final two weeks.
Patrick Peterson (CB – ARI): Bottom line, the rookie has been pretty terrific in terms of fantasy production this year. Granted, he has drawn a ton of pass interference penalties, but that actually increases his chances at making plays. Opposing QBs will continue to test him. Bonus for those that are in leagues that reward for return yardage.
Digging For Sleepers
These players will be typical free agents in 12 to 16 IDP leagues and should be targeted.
Chris Gocong (CLE): The Browns linebacker has 14 solos over the past two weeks, and will have the opportunity to make plenty more tackles in the final pair of games.
Russell Allen (JAC): The former undrafted free agent from San Diego State has replaced Clint Session as the Jags’ WLB. Since Week 12, he’s been putting up solid tackle numbers. Games against the Titans and Colts should allow him some more opportunities.
Chris Kelsay (BUF) Kelsay’s coming off a big Week 15 game against the Dolphins, and should be plenty busy against the Broncos zone read rush attack this week.
Mark Anderson (DE – NEP): With Andre Carter shelved for the rest of the season, Anderson will have to step up and provide outside pass rush for the Patriots. With 8.5 sacks already this season, it looks like he’ll be up to the task.
Marcus Thomas (DT – DEN): The big man in the middle for the Bronco defense has 11 solos over the past two games and could provide a solid number of tackles for those that start DT this week.
Craig Steltz (S – CHI): With Major Wright out, Steltz has come in and posted pretty solid numbers. The matchup against the high-flying Packer offense should net good results this week.
Jacob Lacey (CB – IND): This dude’s had two monster weeks in a row. He suffered a knee injury last week but should be fine here in Week 16. The matchup against the Texans should be good enough to get him into double digit scoring, and obviously he’s got a ton of upside after two huge weeks.
Digging Even Deeper
Here you will find "one injury away" players, or those worth a look in very deep leagues.
Linebackers: Jason Worilds (PIT), Shaun Phillips (SDC)
Defensive Linemen: Tyson Jackson (DE – KCC), Brandon Mebane (DT – SEA)
Defensive Backs: Jabari Greer (CB – NOS), Ashton Youbuty (CB – JAC)
Looking Ahead – 2012 Defensive Linemen
Jeremy Mincey (DE - JAC): The Jags have been searching for a consistent pass rusher for years now. Mincey may only have 5.5 sacks on the season, but he’s posted solid tackle numbers (36 solos since getting regular playing time starting Week 5) and has a pair of forced fumbles. He’ll make for a nifty DE2 that you can probably steal late.
Trent Cole (DE - PHI): Cole has battled injuries this season and still has come up with nine sacks and 34 solos. With everyone likely enamored with Jason Babin, you may find Cole as a value pick. Remember: Cole had four pretty huge season prior to this one, and will surely bounce back in 2012.
Phil Taylor (CLE): The big rookie out of Baylor has been impressive in the middle for the Browns defense. He has four sacks, and a very respectable 32 solo tackles on the season. Defensive tackles have become more and more startable in leagues that combine with defensive ends and Taylor should finish the season knocking on the door of the top-25 overall in DL. He’ll be a cheap option in combined leagues and a solid #1 in leagues that separate DT out come 2012.