Week 1 is in the books and there was no shortage of fantasy feasts and famines to go around. Jerod Mayo, Luke Kuechly and Paul Poslusnzy all rewarded their owners with LB1 production as they were drafted while Chad Greenway, Von Miller and Zach Brown left owners wondering what happened. Week 1 is just that, one week. Don’t panic and talk yourself out of a good player who had a bad game. Similarly, don’t overpay for a one week wonder.
Last week was hit and miss for the report. Justin Durant delivered on my number one billing for FA pickups by posting 7 solos, 1 assist and a PD. Keenan Robinson put up an average performance with 5 solo tackles against the Texans. Larry Foote piled up 8 solos and a game winning PD against the Chargers whereas Kevin Minter was an afterthought. Foote looks to be the scoring LB going forward. Both Koa Misi and Danelle Ellerbe posted a very pedestrian 2 solo tackles whereas backup WLB Jelani Jenkins posted 6 total tackles for Miami. Christian Kirksey did not see that field as much as anticipated and his totals suffered as a result, landing only a sack. Brandon Spikes scored well with 6 total tackles and a sack against the Bears. Nate Irving was the best of the sneaky plays on Sunday. He scored 5 total tackles and a sack in not much more than a half of football before a leg injury slowed him up.
Joplo Bartu ATL LB – ILB 3-4
Paul Worrilow is a player that many IDP fantasy teams rode to glory late last year as the undrafted rookie piled on the tackle totals with over 120 total tackles in 10 games starting down the stretch. His 15 total tackle performance was not one that shocked too many people, especially in a game we knew would be a shootout. What did shock a few people was Joplo Bartu, an undrafted rookie free agent last year from Texas State, securing the inside linebacker position and flourishing. His 4 solo, 6 assist and a fumble recovery statline was good enough to push Bartu into LB2 territory. Granted, Bartu and the Falcons won’t play in shootouts against the Saints every week but it is promising that Bartu saw 53 of a possible 75 snaps at middle linebacker. Rookie Prince Shembo saw action in sparing moments to spell Bartu. Worrilow is the LB to own on the Falcons if he is free but assuming he’s not, Bartu could be a decent consolation prize
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Brandon Marshall DEN LB – WLB 4-3
Nope, not that Brandon Marshall. The former Wolfpack linebacker has taken over for injured Danny Trevathan at weakside linebacker in the Broncos 4-3 defense. Marshall piled up 10 total tackles and a PD against the Colts on Sunday night football. The weakside linebacker position has been typically productive under Jack Del Rio no matter who is taking the snaps; be it Wes Woodyard or Danny Trevathan. If Marshall is getting the majority of the snaps, you can expect him to continue to score well with tackles. Nate Irving also was well on his way to a quality outing last week but was cut down due to injury. However, he returned late in the game so I expect him to also be a decent play going forward.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sio Moore/Miles Burris OAK LB – WLB/MLB 4-3
Sio Moore was the best fantasy LB in football no matter what scoring system you used. The 2nd year player out of Connecticut laid down 11 solos, 2 assists, a sack and 2 forced fumbles. It is encouraging to see how often Moore was sent on the blitz and he got home more than once. That said, Moore wasn’t able to slash through clean to tackle the ball-carrier as well which is something you don’t always count on Oakland being able to provide. The majority of his tackles were 4 to 9 yards downfield. Not great for a linebacker but for fantasy purposes, it works well. Moore’s start is promising but don’t expect it every week as the Raiders saw 34 rushing attempts in week 1. Miles Burris took over for concussed MLB Nick Roach. His game on Sunday was workman-like, piling up 12 total tackles. Burris is not a huge threat from splash plays as long as he plays at MLB but he will pile up the tackles. Oakland gets the Texans in week 2 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or both of these guys back in the LB2 scoring area.
Roster Recommendation: High-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Emmanuel Lamur CIN LB – OLB 4-3
Emmanuel Lamur is a guy that took over at strongside linebacker for the Bengals this year. The third year player out of Kansas State was expected to take a backseat to Vontaze Burfict in terms of fantasy revelance as well. However, after Burfict was injured with a concussion in the 2nd quarter, Lamur turned it on. Lamur scored 11 total tackles and an interception with all but 2 assists coming after Burfict left the game. There is some position risk here whether Burfict returns from injury, his backup Vincent Rey is the play or whether Lamur himself will carry the value. Watch the injury report on this one.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Josh Mauga/Joe Mays KCC LB – Kansas City is a team that was already skinny in inside linebacker before Derrick Johnson ruptured his Achilles’ tendon. Now Josh Mauga is the best healthy option at ILB for the Chiefs. The former Jet will be counted on to make tackles in the inside until Joe Mays returns from injury. The Chiefs are skinny enough at ILB to warrant watching the free agent market as well.
Defensive Linemen Plays
It was a slim week for stars on the defensive line. Aside from a couple big games from Cam Wake and Justin Smith, you didn’t see a lot of big scores from the DL. High tackle totals are becoming increasingly more difficult to chase on the defensive line so those without star DL players may need to resort to sack-chasing to have their FA defensive lineman score.
Everson Griffen made it two for two on my number one FA recommendations with 3 solo tackles and 2 sacks against the Rams. The Rams are looking like the early season wounded duck that you might be able to exploit simply on lack of mobility or inexperience of their quarterbacks. Robert Ayers scored a sack but not much else on Monday night football and my sneaky plays were so sneaky that they only made a tackle or two.
Sen’Derrick Marks JAC DT – DT/DE 4-3
One guy I like who is also DT eligible in most leagues is former Titan Sen’Derrick Marks. The 6’2” 300 lb lineman is solid against the run but makes an impact on the pass rush. On Sunday against the Eagles, he scored 5 total tackles (2 for loss) and a sack. The Redskins are up next for the Jaguars whose defense appears to be much improved under Gus Bradley and Bob Babich. The Jaguars posted 5 sacks on Nick Foles on Sunday.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Mid DL3
Wallace Gilberry CIN DE – DE 4-3
Gilberry is not a household name but he is thrust into a role where he might put up stats like he is. Playing on a defensive line that features Geon Atkins at DT and Carlos Dunlap opposite him at RDE, Gilberry by virtue of single blocking all year might post 6-8 sacks. Against the Ravens, he posted 4 total tackles and 1.5 sacks to go with a PD. The Bengals get the Falcons in Cincinnati in week 2 who are on their backup right tackle already in Gabe Carimi. While Carimi played well against the Saints, the Bengals are a much better defensive than the Saints.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Low-end DL3
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Adrian Clayborn TBB DE – Now third banana to Gerald McCoy and free agent acquisition Michael Johnson, Clayborn still brings some pass rush chops to a very good defensive line in Tampa Bay. Rams third string QB Austin Davis might be thrown to the wolves as Shaun Hill is battling a quad injury. Even if Hill plays, Tampa should get their opportunities for sacks.
Defensive Back Plays
In week 1, there were more DBs (4) with 10 solos or more than there were LBs (3). Those lucky enough to play Jonathan Joseph, Leodis McKelvin, Donte Whitner or Eric Berry were laughing all the way to the bank in week 1. As I normally do, I will be recommending some streaming options as well as a long-term pickup or two.
Da’Norris Searcy broke up my bid to go three for three on number one FA recommendations by posting 4 total tackles. Leodis McKelvin sucked up almost all of the tackles in the secondary by piling up 13 solo tackles. Michael Mitchell amassed 7 total tackles in a shootout against the Browns. Stevie Brown was the best recommendation with 9 total tackles (6 solo) on Monday night football. He remains a quality player to own for the remainder of the year. Both Carolina safeties were underwhelming but Roman Harper put up 2 total tackles and an interception.
Ryan Mundy CHI S – 4-3 SS
Ryan Mundy is slotted in at strong safety for the Bears, taking over for Major Wright who signed with Tampa Bay after being waived. He is paired with Chris Conte at free safety. Conte is a bit of a soft tackle whereas Mundy is usually fairly sure of tackle which bodes well for the season. The Bears strong safety is usually a fantasy boon so stash Mundy if you have the room as I see him as a high-floor option for your second or third DB.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Antoine Cason CAR CB – 4-3 CB
Cason posted 9 solo tackles and an interception against Tampa Bay in week 1 in coverage against Vincent Jackson largely. Cason and the Panthers draw Calvin Johnson and the Lions in week 2. I don’t recommend Cason all year but if Cason get stuck onto Megatron, you can count on some tackles and PDs as Matt Stafford will force balls into his favorite target. Johnson got 11 looks on Monday night compared to Jackson’s 9.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
DJ Swearinger HOU S – 3-4 SS
A throwback to the old strong safety, DJ Swearinger is one of the few strong safeties whose hitting reputation precedes him into games. Swearinger’s ball skills aren’t elite so don’t expect a ton of PDs or INTs but he will score with tackles and is a decent blitzer from the secondary. Swearinger and the Texans get the Raiders in week 2 but I like Swearinger for the majority of the year.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Low-end DB3
Tony Jefferson ARI S – 3-4 SS
After the Cardinals drafted Deone Bucannon 27th overall in this year’s draft and let Yeremiah Bell walk, many (myself included) were quick to write off Tony Jefferson as an afterthought. However, after a great fantasy performance on Monday night football against the Chargers, Jefferson might be someone you want to pick up for some tackle stats in the DB slot. He carries risk as Tyrann Mathieu is expected to return soon and the first round rookie is only going to get more looks but for now, Jefferson has some tackle upside.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Reggie Nelson CIN S – Nelson is off to a great start after piling up 10 total tackles and half a sack against the Ravens where Joe Flacco was forced to throw the ball a staggering 62 times because the Ravens running game was non-existent. With the Falcons in town for week 2, I see a similar story unfolding. The Falcons will not be able to run the ball very well against the Bengals and will be forced to throw the ball more often than not. Nelson will clean up the tackles on the underneath and crossing routes.