Last time, I took a look at 4-3 DE performance, using Khaled Elsayed’s work from the main side of PFF as a foundation. Inside linebackers are up next, as I continue to examine the top 10 fantasy performances for defensive players. Throughout this series, I will continue to use Pro Football Focus’ IDP scoring settings to determine the lists. Let’s review and then take a look at who lit-up the scoreboards.
|Tackles for Loss||2|
10t. Sean Lee: Week 1 @ New York Jets ( 25.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
You could make the argument that Sean Lee peaked early, given that his four highest fantasy outputs came within his first five games of the season. With that said, he was an absolute nightmare for the Jets in the opening week, wreaking havoc to the tune of 12 total tackles, a pass defensed and an interception.
10t. D’Qwell Jackson: Week 1 versus Cincinnati Bengals (25.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
Jackson was our top-scoring IDP for all of 2011, but no game of his was better than his first. Though his defensive unit allowed 27 points, Jackson made life hard for Andy Dalton who was sacked twice by him. Jackson also logged 11 total tackles and forced a fumble to put together an impressive fantasy output.
9. London Fletcher: Week 11 versus Dallas Cowboys (26 PFF Fantasy Points)
Perhaps no player has been as consistent week-to-week in earning fantasy points in IDP leagues over the last decade than London Fletcher has. Week 11 was yet another example of what he can offer his owners week-to-week, as Fletcher netted his usual high-volume of total tackles with 16 and then added a sack, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss to his credit.
8. Karlos Dansby: Week 9 @ Kansas City Chiefs(26.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
In the Dolphins’ first win of the season, Karlos Dansby led a dominant effort by the Miami defense. With that, he proved that sometimes tackles are all fantasy owners need their IDP’s to do in order to rack-up points. Dansby’s 11 solo tackles, matched with 3 of them that were for a loss, made-up 22.5 of his 26.5 points. The other four resulted from a forced fumble.
7. Colin McCarthy: Week 11 @ Atlanta Falcons (27 PFF Fantasy points)
There are several reasons we think Colin McCarthy could be a fantasy stud for years to come, and his performance versus the Falcons was a culmination of many of those. McCarthy was simply dominant in the run-game that week, racking-up a forced fumble and 10 tackles, four of which came behind the line of scrimmage. More impressively, six of those tackles constituted as a defensive stop, which made life all the more sweet for fantasy owners savvy enough to give him the nod in his second career start.
6. Karlos Dansby: Week 10 versus Washington Redskins (28 PFF Fantasy Points)
Dansby picked up right where he left off versus the Chiefs in the following week, when the Dolphins hosted the Redskins. This time, Dansby had a much more diverse stat sheet racking up much more than his 10 total tackles. The once self-proclaimed “best in the game by far”, at the very least, was the best fantasy play for teams in need of a middle linebacker that week. After adding an interception, two defensed passes, a tackle for loss and a sack versus the Redskins, Dansby could boast a ridiculous total of 54.5 fantasy points in a two-week span.
4t. Rolando McClain: Week 14 @ Green Bay Packers (28.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
It’s not every day that a defensive player has a huge fantasy game against an offense as potent as Green Bay’s, but that’s exactly what Rolando McClain did in addition to earning an overall grade of +2.0. The same can’t exactly be said for the defense as a whole, as the Packers lit them up for 46 points. McClain provided solace for any Raiders fans fortunate enough to have started him that week, as he logged a safety, two sacks and a tackle for loss during a game otherwise dominated by Aaron Rodgers and company.
4t. Brian Urlacher: Week 1 versus Atlanta Falcons (28.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
Urlacher is the third player on this list who saved his best for first, or in other words, had his best fantasy performance in the opening week of the season. The quarterback of the Bears defense helped himself to a huge game against the Falcons, highlighted by an interception and a touchdown that resulted from a fumble recovery. Ten total tackles, including one of r a loss, put the cherry on top of a great day for his fantasy owners.
3. London Fletcher: Week 8 @ Buffalo Bills (29 PFF Fantasy Points)
It was– without a doubt– the ugliest game the Redskins played all season long. But if there is ever a bright spot in the Redskins recent ugliness, it’s typically London Fletcher. Week 8 versus the Bills was no exception, as Fletcher displayed his usual veteran excellence netting a whopping 19 total tackles (12 solo), a pass defensed and an interception during the losing effort.
2. Pat Angerer: Week 15 vs. Tennessee Titans (30 PFF Fantasy Points)
The Colts did not have many victories to celebrate in 2011, but Pat Angerer was a huge reason for one of them versus the Titans. It was easily his best game of the season not just from a fantasy standpoint, but also from our grading standpoint. Angerer earned a grade of +6.6 overall, and his grade was mostly attributed to how well he did in pass coverage. His two defensed passes and interception reflect that, but only comprise eight of his 30 points. The remaining 22 came from 12 total tackles, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
1. Curtis Lofton: Week 17 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
Finally, a player who saved his best for last. Unfortunately for Lofton owners, this game likely came after the fantasy season was over. But for the few who play through the regular season’s end, Lofton likely led them to a league trophy with his final performance. With 14 total tackles, a tackle for loss and a defensed pass, Lofton already had a satisfying 18.5 fantasy points. In the end, it was his pick-six in the second quarter off Josh Freeman that earned him the remaining 12 points and gave him the highest single-game scoring output among all inside linebackers.