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If there is one thing I learned in week 15, don’t over-think the match-ups and just play your best guys. Because I over-thought Ray Lewis and how effective he’d be, I benched him one of my leagues for Daryl Washington. Not a bad move, but it didn’t go in my favor because Washington didn’t get many tackles and Ray-Ray had 10 tackles (9 solo), outplaying Washington. I had been starting Lewis all-season and this one cost me, because my opponent and I finished in a tie, and I believe I’ll get bounced because of the tie-breaker settings. Had I started Lewis, like I had done all year, I’d have advanced to the finals. So, don’t over-think your match-ups heading into week 16 and play your studs. Before we head into week 16, Championship Week, here’s a recap of week 15 and some more names to look for on your IDP waiver wire…
-Kerry Rhodes returned to action in week 15, but played in a limited role and shared snaps with Rashad Johnson. Rhodes logged 29 snaps and notched 5 tackles in his return. He’ll be a dicey play in week 16 if the rotation continues.
-Paris Lenon had another productive week against Cleveland, notching 7 tackles and bringing his total up to 84. He’ll need just 16 tackles over the next two weeks for his second consecutive 100+ tackle season.
-Richard Marshall logged 48 snaps on the right-side and was targeted 4 times and only allowed 2 receptions for a total of 8yds. He also notched 7 solo tackles and has had a nice season averaging 50 snaps per game.
-John Abraham dominated the Jaguars and Guy Whimper on Thursday night, racking up 3.5 sacks and 5 tackles on the night. Abraham has had a nice stretch of game since week 11, nothing 5.5 sacks in the last 5 games.
-Sean Weatherspoon picked a bad night to have one of his worst games of the season. ‘Spoon notched just 2 solos and a fumble recovery, so hopefully he didn’t sabotage any of your playoff hopes.
-Ray Lewis returned to action in week 15, after missing 4 games and showed the reason (especially me) why you should always play your top guys. Lewis finished the night with 10 tackles in a losing effort, but more importantly, was on the field for every defensive snap.
-Haloti Ngata continues to show why he’s one of the best interior linemen in the league. Ngata finished the night with 8 tackles and now has 57 on the season.
-Marcel Dareus was in and out of the game on Sunday, after sustaining wrist injury against Miami. Dareus had 3 solo tackles and a sack in the game, but left for good in the second half. The Bills rush defense is already sieve, but it can ill-afford to be without one of their best run defenders and a line that has already lost Kyle Williams and Torell Troup.
-Chris Kelsay had one of his best games of the season, notching 7 tackles and his first sack since week 8. Kelsay hasn’t been the pass-rushing OLB that Buffalo hoped when they transitioned to the 3-4.
-Chris Conte suffered a sprained foot, but it’s bad enough that it has landed him on IR and he’ll miss the rest of the season. Conte was an improvement in the defensive backfield, so his presence will be missed.
-Julius Peppers notched a sack giving him 10 on the year, giving him his 3rd double digit sack campaign in the last 4. He’s been the defensive force that the Bears’ were needing when they signed him to a big free agent contract in 2010.
-Carlos Dunlap returned to the field and logged 40 snaps on the left-side, notching just a tackle and a QB pressure. It doesn’t look like he came out of the game any worse for wear.
-Thomas Howard continues to be the Bengals best tackler, as he finished week 15 with 10 tackles (8 solo) and now has 88 on the season.
-D’Qwell Jackson’s monster season continued in week 15. DQ seemed to be around the ball on every play and he finished the game with 13 tackles (12 solo) and is still second in total tackles to London Fletcher, but does lead the NFL in solo tackles with 103. He’s definitely been the Browns’ defensive MVP and IDP MVP for those owners that took the chance on him this season.
-Chris Gocong has put together a trio of solid games, notching 22 tackles and 2 sacks in the last three weeks. 9 of those tackles came in week 15, as did 2 of the sacks as he’s playing some decent football right now.
-Jabaal Sheard has entered every week start territory in his rookie season. Pro Football Focus graded his week at a +2.1 for his pass rushing efficiency and finished the game with 2 sacks and 3 solo tackles.
-Sean Lee still looks uncomfortable with the cast on his wrist as he missed a few tackles that he normally would make, just because he couldn’t wrap up the defender. Unfortunately for him, there weren’t many tackle opportunities against the Bucs on Saturday night.
-DeMarcus Ware notched his 16th sack of the season and also had 3 solo tackles in just 7 defensive snaps (talk about effiency). Ware aggravated his neck stinger and barely played in the second half, thanks to the score. He’ll be limited in practice this week, but should see his normal workload in week 16.
-Von Miller was held in check and was taken out of the game by the Patriots. Miller finished the day with just one tackle and failed to register any type of pressure on Tom Brady.
-Elvis Dumervil just trucked Tom Brady, and in the words of Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh, announced his presence with authority. He wasn’t even picked up by the tackle and a free shot at Brady. Brady, himself, said he’d feel that one, so check out the sack here.
-Stephen Tulloch racked up his second 10+ tackle game in the last three weeks, notching 10 against the Raiders (8 solo) as he was all over the field. With 97 tackles, Tulloch should have no issues with hitting 100 for the year, though, far below expectations for him at the beginning of the year.
-DeAndre Levy broke out of a bit of a mini-slump in week 15. After notching just 11 tackles in the last three weeks, Levy racked up 9 tackles in week 15 (7 solo). Levy trails Tulloch by one tackle for the team lead, and he too, should have no problem reaching triple digits.
-Cliff Avril has been a dominant force for Detroit as he notched 2 QB sacks on the day. He has back to back week of multiple-sack games and has 6 sacks in the last 6 games. PFF has him graded among the top 15 4-3 DE for his pass rushing efficiency.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
-Charles Woodson had a season-high 11 tackles (10 solo), but failed to register any big plays against the Chiefs.
-DJ Smith continues to be productive at ILB, as he continues to fill-in for Desmond Bishop. Smith’s play has allowed the Packers to bring Bishop along and get him healthy for their playoff run. Smith finished the day with 9 tackles (6 solo) in a losing effort.
-Connor Barwin notched yet another sack for Houston’s defense and now has 11 on the season. Since the bye week, Barwin has 6 sacks in the last 4 games.
-Brian Cushing finished week 15 with 12 tackles and PFF graded his week at a +2.9. Overall, he’s been of the better 3-4 ILBs this season and has 98 tackles on the year.
-Ernie Sims logged the most defensive snaps of his season in week 15, as he manned the weak-side, and played in all 80 defensive snaps. Sims finished the day with 15 tackles and had his finest game of the season, filling in for Kavell Conner.
-Pat Angerer finished week 15 with 12 tackles, bringing his total up to 132 and is now third in the league.
-Ashton Youboty continues to play well for Jacksonville, as he finished week 15 with 8 tackles and a defended pass. Youboty has graded out much better PFF for his run defense than his pass coverage.
-Jeremy Mincey hadn’t logged a sack since week 10, broke his sack-less streak against Atlanta. He, not only, got the sack and also compiled 7 tackles (all solo).
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
-The Chiefs looked to have given a blueprint on how to beat the Packers. Keep Aaron Rodgers on the field and keep applying the pressure. Tamba Hali racked up 3 sacks, forced a fumble and notched 4 tackles and dominated both Derek Sherrod and Marshall Newhouse. His 12 sacks on the year puts him at 7th in the NFL.
-Cameron Wake bested his season-high in tackles from last week, as he finished with 7 on the day (6 solo) and also notched his 8th sack of the year on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
-Vontae Davis had a big game for Miami, as he picked off two Fitzpatrick passes and added 5 tackles and 2 defended passes.
-Unfortunately for Jared Allen owners, he followed up his huge week 14, with a snoozer in week 16. Allen finished with just 2 tackles and no sacks or any other big plays as the Saints’ offensive line held him in check all game.
-EJ Henderson’s strong play continues. EJ logged 80 defensive snaps and PFF grade his run defense on the day at a +1.6, but was a liability in pass coverage. For his IDP owners, however, the number that matters are the tackles and he finished with 11 tackles (9 solo) on the day.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
-Jerod Mayo had a nice all-around game in week 15, finishing with 8 tackles (7 solo) on the afternoon. Mayo was instrumental in the Pats run defense and PFF graded his performance in run stopping at a +2.1.
-Mark Anderson is going to be the guy that the Pats count on for a consistent pass-rush with Andre Carter going down for the year. Anderson finished the day with 3 tackles and 2 sacks in week 15.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
-It was a quiet day for the Saints’ IDPs overall as Roman Harper had the best day for the defense, notching 4 tackles and his 8th sack of the season. The Saints’ defense wasn’t on the field for very long, so the opportunities were very limited overall.
NEW YORK GIANTS
-What can we say about Jason Pierre-Paul, that hasn’t been said already? JPP added another sack to his total, as he now has 14, but also added an astounding 15 tackles on the day, as he’s a beast at the ripe old age of 22. He’s going to be a scary, scary pass-rusher when he hits his prime.
-Kenny Phillips returned in week 15 for the Giants’ defense and notched 6 tackles. Phillips factored in the run defense, as PFF grade his run stopping at a +1.4.
-Mathias Kiwanuka hasn’t notched a sack since week 8, but he is getting tackles and generating pressure on the QB. Kiwi was able to get 2 hits on the QB and a pressure, but he was just unlucky in getting to the QB for the sack.
-Prince Amukamara was benched Sunday for his play. Amukamara was picked on early by Rex Grossman, as he target him 6 times and he allowed 4 catches for 62 yards and a score. He got beat by last week by Laurent Robinson, so the poor play finally caught up to him.
NEW YORK JETS
-David Harris notched 7 tackles and picked off a pass in week 15. He’s been more of an LB3 this than an LB2, where was drafted by most IDP’ers this season.
-Rolando McClain looks like he may not face any ramifications from his run in with the law for a gun incident a few weeks ago, as he continues to play. He’s also not suffering from the ankle injury that seemed to plague him a few weeks ago, as well. McClain finished with 9 tackles (7 solo) and a sack on the day, and he’s 4 tackles away from matching his rookie total.
-Jason Babin has thrived in Jim Washburn’s wide nine formation for the Eagles. Babin racked up another 3 sacks in week 15 and is now tied with Jared Allen for the league in sacks, at 18. He’s notched 9 sacks in the last 5 games and is proving that last season was no fluke.
-It was reported that LaMarr Woodley aggravated his hamstring injury on Monday. Woodley didn’t play the 4th quarter and he said he was just gassed. Woodley finished the game with just 2 tackles, and surprisingly, the Steelers finished with 0 sacks.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
-Antwan Barned racked up a career-high, 4 sacks, against the Ravens Sunday night in their big win. Barnes also compiled 6 tackles on the night, as well. Barnes logged 48 defensive snaps, with 34 of them coming in pass rush situations. He’s been in a rotation with Travis LaBoy this season, but has a total of 11 sacks and has been graded at a +14.2, good for 8th among 3-4 OLBs and has a +15.2 grade for his pass rushing efficiency, good for 7th among 3-4 OLBs.
SAN FRANCISCO 49′ERS
-Aldon Smith has overtaken Von Miller for the rookie lead in sacks(13), as he notched 2.5 and more on Monday night, and not even a blackout could stop him. He embarrassed Max Starks and is now just 1.5 sacks from breaking the rookie record, set by Jevon Kearse. Aldon also notched 4 tackles on the night, though his tackle numbers aren’t as high as Von’s.
-Navorro Bowman followed up his 3 tackle game in week 14, with a big 8 tackle game (7 solos) against the Steelers. The 49′er defense, through week 15, has yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season.
-KJ Wright continues to put up tackle numbers as a rookie and week 15 was no different. Wright notched another 8 tackles in week 15 (all solo) and received a +1.5 grade for his run defense.
-Chris Clemons racked up 2 sacks in week 15 and has hit double digit tackles for his second straight season.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
-Quintin Mikell had one of his best games as a Ram on Sunday. Mikell finished the game with 10 tackles and forced 2 fumbles. Mikell will probably fall just short of 100 tackles this season.
-London Fletcher continues to lead the league in tackles, and he helped pad his lead in week 15 after notching 12 tackles (10 solo) this past week. He continue to defy his age and now has 146 tackles on the year.
-Ryan Kerrigan is going to be part of a 2011 draft class that has featured some of the best young pass rushers. Kerrigan notched his 8th sack and also has 60 tackles and 4 forced fumbles in his rookie season.
Here are a few more names to look for on your IDP waiver wire…
Michael Johnson, DE, CIN: Johnson saw 44 defensive snaps in week 15 and was able to get to the QB for a few hits, but missed on the sacks. He did compile 5 tackles and now has 13 tackles and 2 sacks in the last three weeks and I really like the match-up with Arizona, especially if he can lineup over Levi Brown. As long as Johnson gets at least 40 snaps, he should be effective and worth using as DL in week 16.
Dave Ball, DE, TEN: Ball notched 6 tackles in week 15, and even though he has just 3 sacks, he could be a sneaky play this week against a Jacksonville team that’s 3rd in points allowed to opposing DLs. Jacksonville is allowing 15 tackles and 2 sacks per game to defensive line, and as long he can log 30+ snaps, he could be an effective play against the run first Jags.
Chris Gocong, LB, CLE: He’s a risky option, but the Ravens are allowing the 9th most points to opposing LBs and are allowing, on average, 20+ tackles per game and a sack per game to LBs. Gocong has added the pass rush to his skillset, notching 2 against Arizona. I will give him his credit, he’s also getting to the ball, as he has 22 tackles in the last three weeks, as well. With DQ getting the majority of the tackles, Gocong will be a risk, but is worth adding in deeper leagues.
Antawn Barnes, OLB, SDC: He’s notched 5 sacks in the last two weeks and has 11 on the year. He’s more of an addition for those in big play leagues, as the tackles numbers are a bit inconsistent. The Lions could prove to be a more difficult match-up, but I like Barnes and his abilities, even with him being in a rotation, he still logged 48 snaps last week, so he could be taking more of the reigns.
Brandon Browner, CB, SEA: I’ve mentioned Browner a few times, and he’s still worth mentioning. He’s making big plays for the Seattle secondary and has 4 straight weeks of double digit fantasy points, where he’s logged 13 tackles, 5 INTs and 10 defended passes in the last 4 games. Browner is a solid addition in those leagues requiring a CB.
Brandon Meriweather, S, CHI: He’s been a liability in coverage and is mistake prone, but he’ll be starting over the next two weeks with Chris Conte being placed on IR. Meriweather notched 6 tackles (4 solo) in his playing time and could be busy in week 16 against the Packers.
EJ Biggers, CB, TBB: He’ll take over for Aqib Talib the remainder of the season and faces a Panther team that has been prone to turning the ball over. Biggers does make tackles, as he’s notched 16 in the last 3 games. The Panthers are allowing the 8th most points to opposing DBs, as they are allowing an average of 23 tackles and an INT per game to defensive backs. Biggers is a sneaky play.