Two weeks to go in the fantasy regular season either means you’ve given up the ghost trying to make the playoffs, you’re locked into a playoff spot or you are fighting for one of the few spots remaining. If you are out of it in a dynasty or keeper league, look to trade for potential and backfill your roster with potential as well. High picks that haven’t cracked NFL starting lineups are a great place to start. You may see a few of those players pop up in the report here and there. If you are firmly locked into a playoff spot, now is the time to look at playoff schedules to ensure that you get maximum point potential in weeks 14, 15 and 16. Grabbing a few now while other owners are focused on this week’s matchup only could give you an edge in the playoffs. Finally, remember that if you are still in the race but are not locked into a playoff spot, the playoffs start for you now. You need to win now and can’t afford to give away any points. Maximize this week’s points and live to fight another week once you win. There isn’t any sense in worrying about holding potential unless you can win this week and next.
It is the last week of bye weeks in the NFL with the Chiefs, Chargers, Cardinals and Vikings all getting the week off and then it’s back to 16 NFL games per week again until the end of the regular season.
Much like this week, it was a skinny week for options last week at linebacker. Nick Kwiatkoski scored 4 total tackles on 65% usage in the Sunday nighter against the Rams. In the game, the Bears rolled more down linemen with three linebackers instead of four linebackers for the first time this year. It’s a frustrating development for fantasy owners as this wasn’t in the cards after last week. Danny Trevathan was out and figures to be out for a while so however Chicago opts to use their second ILB going forward, the work will go to Kwiatkoski. Josh Bynes scored 2 total tackles and an interception but received only 39% of the snaps compared to LJ Fort’s 49% and Patrick Onwuasor’s 15%. The blowout that the Texans suffered at the hands of the Ravens makes this one hard to read but a full split makes this one a hands-off situation for me. Unfortunately, the return of Denzel Perryman to a prominent role reduced Drue Tranquill back to droppable status.
Najeh Goode JAC LB – 4-3 WLB Value: LB3
If you are a glutton for punishment like I am, you might take one more crack at the Jaguars WLB before you snap. Najeh Goode appears to be recovered from his foot problem and received 96% usage in week 11 against the Colts. He converted that into 5 solo tackles. Not bad but if I’m being honest, I’d hope for better in a game that featured 36 rushes plus receptions to running backs. That said, the usage is there and his week 12 opponent is the Titans who are allowing an average of over 15 fantasy points per game to 4-3 WLBs including 12 from Quincy Williams, the WLB that faced them in week 3. Give Najeh a look on the back end of your starting lineup.
Neville Hewitt NYJ LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
Neville Hewitt returned to the Jets lineup in week 11 against the Redskins after missing the previous four weeks due to a neck issue. Hewitt played every snap and recorded 5 total tackles and an interception. For those who picked up previous recommendations Brandon Copeland and James Burgess, it was Copeland’s usage that suffered as Burgess played every snap while Copeland returned to OLB rotational usage. The Raiders in week 12 are a good matchup for Hewitt but it gets messy after that. Give him a look this week and then evaluate your options going forward.
Nate Gerry PHI LB – 4-3 MLB Value: LB2
Nigel Bradham’s ankle does not appear to be progressing, even out of the Eagles’ bye week. Nate Gerry continues to see high usage and his output is too high given his low ownership percentage. Against the Patriots, Gerry played every snap but one and turned in a game-high 10 total tackles to go with a sack. With the Seahawks in town, I like Gerry to turn in another solid performance as long as Nigel Bradham continues to remain out of the lineup.
Kiko Alonso NOS LB – 4-3 MLB Value: LB3
Alonso is a speculator’s pickup. The Saints deployment of linebackers has been fairly consistent this year. As long as he’s healthy, DeMario Davis approaches 100% usage. AJ Klein receives between 75 – 100% of the snaps depending on the game situation. After that Alex Anzalone picked up the scraps until his season-ending injury, after which Kiko Alonso drew some work between 10 – 40% of the snaps. In week 11 against the Buccaneers, Klein (43%) was out-snapped by Alonso (66%). Alonso was able to turn in 6 solo tackles and a PD in that game. One game isn’t a trend but Alonso has enough history to show that he can be a viable fantasy commodity when given the snaps to do so. Speculate at your own risk.
Defensive Lineman Plays
It’s rare that I recommend the DL1, LB1 or DB1 of the week in a given week so when it happens, I’m going to give myself a little credit. Maxx Crosby put together a matchup-winner effort against the Bengals with 5 total tackles, 4 sacks and a forced fumble on 78% usage. In the same game, Clelin Ferrell was a little disappointing with a single solo tackle and a PD on 65% usage. In a similar hot and cold pick with the Chiefs, Frank Clark was everywhere with 5 total tackles, a PD, a sack and a forced fumble whereas Chris Jones was invisible from a stat perspective.
Jaguars pass rush JAC DL – 4-3 DL Value: DL1 – DL3
Ranging from Calais Campbell to Yannick Ngakoue to Josh Allen, find a way to start your Jaguars pass rushers. Statistically speaking, with the Titans hosting the Jaguars this week, there is no better chance for your Jacksonville players to log a sack than this week as Tennessee is leading the league in sacks allowed with 4.2 per game. While some of those sacks were taken by Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill has been sacked four times in each of his last two games. The Titans are struggling to protect their quarterbacks and I would do what I could to try to capitalize on that.
Chad Thomas / Olivier Vernon CLE DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL2
Digging a little deeper here, the Browns may offer a bit of opportunity as far as a potential pickup goes. Myles Garrett is suspended for that ridiculous helmet-swinging incident. Olivier Vernon is currently out with a knee injury but head coach Freddie Kitchens has been quoted as saying that Vernon could be “very close” to returning in week 12. 2018 third-round pick Chad Thomas has filled in for Vernon over the past couple of games and actually has a sack in each game on a little better than 75% usage. The matchup for the Browns in week 12 is a juicy one, the Miami Dolphins in Cleveland. If you are sack hunting, both of these guys have a great shot at logging a sack in week 12 and they have low ownership percentages.
Defensive Back Plays
It was a remarkably consistent week for defensive back recommendations as no matter which option you took, you were rewarded with at least 12 fantasy points. DJ Swearinger at 60% usage split snaps with Curtis Riley at 40% usage. Swearinger still rewarded owners brave enough to use him with 7 total tackles against the Bengals. Jalen Thompson took every snap but one at strong safety and turned in 5 solo tackles and an interception against the 49ers. Finally, Nik Needham continued his strong IDP output with 6 solo tackles, 2 PDs and a forced fumble on 99% usage against the Bills.
Darian Thompson DAL S – 4-3 S Value: DB2 – DB3
With regular starter Jeff Heath out with a shoulder injury, former Giant Darian Thompson has stepped up to fill the starting strong safety role for the Cowboys. IN two games since assuming the role, Thompson has turned in 12 total tackles and a PD. Adding to the intrigue is the matchup in week 12, the Patriots in New England. The Patriots are affording opposing strong safeties 12.7 fantasy points per game this year. Given the low cost of ownership here, Thompson seems like an easy plug-and-play option for DB streamers.
Sheldrick Redwine CLE S – 4-3 SS Value: DB3 (Dynasty stash)
First off, first-team All-Name squad right here. Secondly, 2019 fourth-round pick Redwine is likely to be pressed into starting duty with the Browns seeing massive losses in their secondary. Jermaine Whitehead social media’d himself off of the team, Eric Murray remains out still recovering from knee surgery on Nov 1 and Morgan Burnett is out for the year with an Achilles injury. That leaves Redwine and Damarious Randall as the only true able-bodied safeties on the team. Juston Burris moved inside as well to help with safety duties as Randall was ejected from the Browns’ week 11 games against the Steelers for a helmet-to-helmet hit but he is a converted corner and was likely there for emergency purposes. Free agency might play into this a little bit but I’d expect the Browns to give their rookie a shot to prove himself. The Dolphins in week 12 aren’t a great IDP matchup but Redwine’s appeal is more in the fantasy playoffs or for dynasty purposes.
Ricardo Allen ATL S – 4-3 SS Value: DB3
Ricardo Allen hasn’t made much noise this year among IDP circles but he is the top IDP option amongst the Falcons’ secondary with Keanu Neal done for the year with an Achilles injury. While his numbers haven’t been eye-popping, he has a solid 7-9 point tackle floor and is coming off of his best game of the season against the Panthers with 6 total tackles, 3 PDs and an interception. He plays virtually every snap and if the Falcons’ defense continues to make strides, he may be in line for a big value increase. On top of that, the Falcons visit Tampa Bay in week 12. The Buccaneers are offering over 13 fantasy points per game to opposing strong safeties this year. I’d give Allen a look as a high-floor option at DB.