I just want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry Christmas. I hope that the majority of you that are reading this, are still playing for cash, titles and glory. For that aren’t, I’m in the same boat, as this is my first year in quite a while that I’m not playing for a championship this week. I hope you’ve found this article helpful and this is probably the last one of the 2011 season (quite possibly for good here at FantasyFootball.com). But, keep following me on Twitter and Facebook and ask me your IDP questions, and we’ll definitely post where we’ll be next season. So, without further or due, the week 16 edition of Tales from the Strong-Side…
-Adrian Wilson has been one of the most effective safeties in stopping the run. Pro Football Focus has him graded at a +7.4, which puts him first among safeties. I look for another solid game in run support, as the Bengals will look to establish Cedric Benson early. Wilson may only have 55 tackles, but he could have a 6-7 tackle game this week.
-Sam Acho has been the starter since week 8 and has averaged 51 snaps per game. Acho has 5 sacks on the season, to go along with 37 tackles and 3 forced fumbles this season. He hasn’t had a sack since week 12, but something tells me he’s due. He’s also been effective in pass coverage, so I can see him dropping back more this week, as well.
-I’m not expecting another 3.5 sack game out of John Abraham this week. Abraham took advantage of a weak offensive line, but I don’t see him having the same success against the Saints this week. However, he does rank among the top 10 in QB pressures among 4-3 DE.
-Curtis Lofton is just 9 tackles away from establishing a career high in tackles, that he set in the 2009 season. Since the 2008 season, he hasn’t had less than 94 tackles and is among the elite in IDP. It’s entirely possible that he gets the 9 tackles this week.
-Sean Weatherspoon has 6 games of 10+ tackles this season, and has only had 2 games where he’s posted less than 5 tackles this season. Weatherspoon, in just his second season, has already established himself as one of the best linebackers in IDP. PFF has him graded at a +19.6 and a +15.4 for his run support, already ranking him among the top 5 4-3 OLBs.
-Well, I learned the hard way last week, that you can’t bench Ray Lewis when he’s active. Lewis returned to the field last week and notched 10 tackles. In their first go around, Lewis only had 4 tackles, but for his career, he’s averaging 7 tackles per game and has 7 sacks in 22 career games. Continue to play Lewis as a strong LB1.
-I’ve submitted my application to Ball So Hard University, so hopefully, Terrell Suggs deems me worthy. Suggs, in his first go around with Cleveland, notched 4 tackles and a sack and in 17 career games against the Browns, has 13 sacks and 80 tackles. Suggs is one of the best at his position and T-Sizzle looks to put the heat on Cleveland once again.
-Marcel Dareus isn’t on the Bills’ injury report this week after suffering a hand injury in week 15. It’s definitely good news for his dynasty owners, as well as the Bills who are facing the league’s top rushing attack, so they’ll need all the help they can get this week.
-Nick Barnett has been graded by PFF at a +4.9 for his run stopping, while his running mate Kelvin Sheppard, has been graded at a +7.8. They’ll be active this week in stopping Tim Tebow, Willis McGahee and even Lance Ball. Barnett’s 113 tackles and 3 sacks, make him a must start this week against the Broncos.
-Since returning from injury, George Wilson has notched 13 tackles in the last few weeks and looks to keep on rolling this week. Wilson’s run stopping efficiency has been graded at a +3.4, so he should be playing near the line of scrimmage a bit more than usual this week.
-Someone to keep an eye on for next season is Jordan Senn. Senn has been drawing praise for coach Ron Rivera and is already in consideration for the starting job next season. With Thomas Davis not able to stay healthy, Senn will get some early season sleeper consideration. Senn logged 14 tackles in week 15 and he takes good routes to the ball. Since the week 9 bye, he’s notched 47 tackles. Definitely someone to keep in the back of your mind for 2012.
-James Anderson has really stepped up his game up, as it has seemed that every other Panther LB has gone down to injury. Along with his 6 tackles in week 15, he also had a pick and recovered a fumble. He’s 8 tackles away from establishing another career high in tackles and will get LB1 consideration heading into the 2012 season.
-Charles Johnson has been a limited participant in practice, after suffering an injury last week. He was the victim of a chop block and was holding his side when he left the field. He’s listed as questionable this week against the Bucs, but should get starting consideration this week as long as he’s active.
-Major Wright isn’t on the week 16 injury report for the Bears this week, so it looks like he’s returning at the right time. He could be a sneaky DB play this week.
-Brandon Meriweather will man the free safety slot with Chris Conte going down for the year. Meriweather loggeed 41 snaps last week and should be in the 50s this week.
-Geno Atkins has been a big reason for Cincinnati’s improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Atkins is the leader among DTs in sacks and has been graded at a +27.3 by PFF, which puts him among the tops at his position.
-Carlos Dunlap returned to the field in week 15 and logged 40 of the 65 defensive snaps, so hopefully, those snaps will increase this week.
-The Browns placed TJ Ward on IR, ending his season with a foot injury that he just wasn’t able to overcome and hasn’t really progressed as hoped. Usama Young will get the starts at safety the next two weeks, but his dynasty value won’t be effected, as he’ll definitely return to the starting role next week.
-Sean Lee is a risky play this week, as it still looks like he’s favoring that wrist and doesn’t seem to be able wrap and make tackles, as he missed a few tackles that he would’ve made if healthy. There’s no doubt, however, that he’ll be a top 20 LB next season in IDP leagues.
-DeMarcus Ware owns the Eagles. In 13 career games, he has 62 tackles and 13.5 sacks, including a monster 4 sack, 11 tackle game in week 8. I guess if there was ever a game to start him, without any hesitation, it’s this week.
-Kyle Vanden Bosch has been limited in practices this week, as he’s dealing with a neck injury. He’s listed as questionable, but something tells me he’s going to gut it out this week. His 8 sacks is the most since the 2007 season, and has been one of the captains of this defense.
-Louis Delmas is still not practicing, as he’s still hampered by his MCL tear. He’s listed as questionable, but I’m not counting on him playing this week, as liability Chris Harris will get the start once again.
-What kind of havoc will Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller wreak on Ryan Fitzpatrick this week? Both of these guys are must-starts this week, as their sack potential is big in this game. Dumervil is a solid DL1 this week, while Miller is a strong LB2 in big play leagues, LB3 in tackle heavy leagues.
-After missing three games at the beginning of the season, DJ Williams has 81 tackles and 5 sacks, while also forcing 3 fumbles. He’s an elite LB when he plays a full 16, and if you extrapolate his numbers over a full season, he would’ve definitely had another 100+ tackle season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
-Desmond Bishop has been participating in limited practice this week, as he’s listed as questionable against the Bears. It would surprise me to see him suit up this week, as DJ Smith has been admirable in filling in for Bishop on the inside.
-Cameron Wake, usually known for his sacks, was the team leader in tackles this past week, notching 7. His tackle numbers continue to make him a low-end option in any other league format besides big play leagues that de-value tackles.
-EJ Henderson has been one of the reasons why Minnesota has returned to the top 10 in rush defense this season. Henderson, in his last four games, has notched 32 tackles and PFF has graded his run stopping efficiency at a +14.1, ranking him 5th among ILBs this season. He’s been a gamer and has gutted out injuries all season. He makes a solid LB2 this week in Washington this week.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
-Patrick Chung returned to practice this week and the Patriots desperately need him to return. It was only a walkthrough, but definitely a good step. He’d be a huge upgrade for the defense if he can get back in the lineup.
-James Harrison will return from his one-game suspension this week, and I really feel bad for Kellen Clemens, as he’s going to have a big ole’ bulls-eye on his chest.
-Lamarr Woodley looks like he’ll miss this week, as he re-injured his hamstring in week 15. The injury has been hindering him the last several weeks, but he’s been limited in practice. If he’s inactive, Jason Worilds will get another start at OLB against the Rams.
SAN FRANCISCO 49′ERS
-Patrick Willis has returned to a limited practice for the 9′ers and did some stretching work. At this point, he’s looking like he’s going to be a game-time decision. If he’s active, you’ll have to start him this week against the Seahawks. However, the defensive hasn’t skipped a beat with Larry Grant in the lineup.
-In his rookie year, Aldon Smith has been graded among the tops among 3-4 OLBs with a +31.2. He has overtaken Von Miller for Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration at this point, or at the very least, closed the gap between them.
-Colin McCarthy has been a savior to many of his IDP owners with some of the injuries that have been endured this season. McCarthy should bounce back from his 2 solo effort in week 15 with a stronger game against the run-heavy Jags.
Here’s a look at some numbers to help you prepare your lineups for week 16 (Houston and Indy excluded)
Fantasy Points Allowed to IDP Positions
1. Denver Broncos (203 tackles/25 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Dwan Edwards has a favorable match-up in tackle heavy formats
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (207 tackles/27.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Derrick Morgan, Jason Jones
3. Arizona Cardinals (178 tackles/28 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Frostee Rucker have favorable match-ups, as the Cards are giving up 2 sacks per game to DLs
4. San Francisco 49′ers (173 tackles/27.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Chris Clemons has a great match-up against a team that has given up at least one sack per game in all but 4 games
5. Seattle Seahawks (201 tackles/25 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald
6. Chicago Bears (174 tackles/24 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Jairus Wynn
7. Green Bay Packers (201 tackles/21.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije
8. Baltimore Ravens (212 tackles/14 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard
9. St. Louis Rams (169 tackles/26.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Brett Keisel, Evander Hood
10. Miami Dolphins (181 tackles/20.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Mark Anderson
1. San Diego Chargers (315 tackles/19 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy
2. New York Jets (308 tackles/17 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka
3. Washington Redskins (308 tackles/15 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
4. Baltimore Ravens (296 tackles/15 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: D’Qwell Jackson, Chris Gocong
5. St. Louis Rams (257 tackles/17 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (305 tackles/12.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: James Laurinaitis
7. Dallas Cowboys (297 tackles/9 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Jamar Chaney
8. Philadelphia Eagles (266 tackles/14.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: DeMarucs Ware, Sean Lee
9. Kansas City Chiefs (295 tackles/13.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Rolando McClain
10. Oakland Raiders (298 tackles/8.5 sacks allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston
1. New Orleans Saints (417 tackles/9 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Thomas DeCoud, William Moore, Brent Grimes (if he plays)
2. Buffalo Bills (377 tackles/17 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Chris Harris, otherwise, not a fan of any of the Bronco DBs from an IDP standpoint
3. New England Patriots (395 tackles/8 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Yeremiah Bell
4. Philadelphia Eagles (332 tackles/19 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Gerald Sensabaugh, Mike Jenkins
5. Oakland Raiders (356 tackles/11 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (358 tackles/11 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Quitin Mikell, Darian Stewart
7. New York Giants (336 tackles/10 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Eric Smith
8. San Diego Chargers (339 tackles/14 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Amari Spievey, Chris Houston
9. Cincinnati Bengals (346 tackles/13 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Richard Marshall, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes
10. Kansas City Chiefs (332 tackles/15 INTs allowed)
Favorable Match-up: Tyvon Branch
IDP Match-ups I’ll Be Watching This Week
Julius Peppers vs. Marshall Newhouse (LT, GBP): It looks like Peppers will lineup against Newhouse this week, who got abused by Tamba Hali last week. Newhouse has allowed a total of 8 sacks and 32 QB pressures this season and will have his hands full with Peppers, as he has 10 sacks on the season and has 46 QB pressures, ranking him second among 4-3 DEs.
Chris Long vs. Marcus Gilbert (RT, PIT): Chris Long has generated the most QB pressures among 4-3 ends this season, with 49 and has 13 sacks. Gilbert has been solid in pass blocking, as PFF has graded him at a +7.4, and has allowed just 8 QB pressures on the season. This should be an interesting match-up between two solid linemen.
Jeremy Mincey vs. Michael Roos (LT, TEN): Mincey will be lineup over one of the better LTs in the game in Roos. He’s allowed just one sack on the season, but 21 pressures on the QB this season. Mincey is coming off one his better games of the season, so his owners will have to hope he’s up to the task this week in facing Roos.
Derrick Morgan vs. Guy Whimper (RT, JAC): If there’s ever a week to even consider starting Morgan, it’s this week, as he’ll line up over one of the worst tackles in the game. Whimper has allowed 13 sacks on the season, to go along with 26 total QB pressures. Morgan has been getting on the field lately, as he’s averaged 45 snaps in the last three weeks.
Tamba Hali vs. Oakland Raiders: Hali will be lining up on the right side and should see Jared Veldheer. Veldheer has allowed just 4 sacks on the year and 26 QB pressures this season. Hali now has back to back seasons of double digit sacks, but could have a challenge this week, as the Raiders have allowed just 3 sacks to opposing 3-4 OLBs.
Stephen Tulloch vs. San Diego Chargers: Tulloch’s tackles have really come on lately. Over the last three weeks, he’s taken over the team lead in tackle, by notching 29 tackles in that span. The Chargers are allowing the most points to opposing LBs. Tulloch will be keying on Ryan Mathews and he’ll be spying Antonio Gates, so Tulloch definitely has upside for 8-10 tackles in week 16.
Navorro Bowman vs. San Francisco 49′ers: It’s hard to say who’ll be Bowman’s running-mate this week, as Willis is a game-time decision. Either way, the 49′ers running game is going to be tested against the hottest running back in the NFL. Lynch has scored at least one TD since week 4, but the 49′ers have yet to allow a rushing TD this whole season, thanks in large part to Bowman and Willis (and until recently, Larry Grant). It’s hard to believe that this Bowman’s second season, but your learning curve increases, playing alongside a stud like Patrick Willis. Bowman has 121 tackles on the year, averaging 8.5 tackles per game.
Eric Weddle vs. Detroit Lions: Weddle’s responsibilities have changed this season, as he’s gone from more in the box safety, to a threat in pass coverage. Weddle has 7 INTs on the season, to go along with 77 tackles, which isn’t bad, but he’ll definitely be used more in coverage against the high octane Lions this week.
Kam Chancellor vs. San Francisco 49′ers: The 9′ers don’t take many chances, but Chancellor lit up the 49′ers for 10 solo tackles in week one, of course, that was without David Hawthorne. Chancellor will be used all over the field, though, and will provide support against the run. He’ll be a decent play this week.