IDP Snap Report: Divisional Round

| 4 years ago

IDP Snap Report: Divisional Round

If you are one of the lucky few to be in a playoff challenge that involves individual defensive players, then the IDP Snap Report is here to help you out. Like last week, here you will find out each of the remaining playoff teams will use their linebackers this week, and which players you can trust to give you the fantasy points you need for playoff bragging rights.

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

Ray Lewis played in all 94 snaps in his return to action. Chances are he plays every down again, and will be making a lot of tackles after the Broncos tight ends and Brandon Stokley make catches. Dannell Ellerbe also should play every down if healthy. He left the game with an injury and is questionable. If he doesn’t play, then Brendon Ayanbadejo will get the snaps. Last week I told you that Paul Kruger is the man to have if you want a linebacker to get you sacks, and three sacks later that held up. With the Broncos strong offensive line, you want to avoid Kruger as well as Terrell Suggs who missed playing time late in the last game, and Courtney Upshaw who will see decreased playing time thanks to the Broncos passing attack.

The Broncos are one of the few 4-3 teams remaining. Wesley Woodyard is the only player to play every down, but over the last four games of the season he managed just ten tackles, so he should be avoided. Von Miller plays outside linebacker and will see the vast majority of snaps. It’s unlikely he will see a high number of tackles, but if you need a linebacker to get you sacks, Miller is the man to have. Keith Brooking, D.J. Williams and Danny Trevathan will all see significant playing time, but not enough to worth considering any of them.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

The Packers run a 3-4 defense, with Brad Jones playing every snap at inside linebacker, and A.J. Hawk playing in the base and nickel defense. Typically the Packers play more dime defense than most teams hurting Hawk’s value, but the 49ers are so run heavy that Hawk should see the majority of snaps. Hawk gets a tackle on 15.8% of his run snaps, while Jones does on 12.7% of his, so Hawk is the man to have of the two, and is one of the best linebacker plays of the week. At outside linebacker Clay Matthews will see nearly every down, while Erik Walden and Dezman Moses will split time at the other spot. The 49ers tackles are strong in pass protection as well as run defense, so even though Matthews has the big name he might not be the best choice.

The 49ers run a 3-4 team where Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman should play nearly every snap at inside linebacker, while Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith should see nearly every snap at outside linebacker. The Packers are one of the most pass heavy teams in the game, and if they fall behind they will be even more pass heavy. Bowman makes a tackle on 19.9% of run plays, but just 6.1% of pass plays. Similarly Willis makes one on 13.6% of run plays, but just 7.4% of pass. Willis might be the better of the two plays, but neither player will do as well as usual. This will be especially true of the 49ers use more dime defense than usual, where one of the four linebackers has to get off the field. Over the last three weeks without a healthy Justin Smith, Aldon Smith has been held without a sack. Over the past five games, Ahmad Brooks has just one sack, so both players are risky moves as pass rushers. However with the inconsistency of the Packers tackles, they may be the best pass rushing options at outside linebacker after Von Miller.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

For the Seahawks 4-3 defense, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner will continue to see every down, and continue to be two of the best options at linebacker. The Seahawks went with Leroy Hill more than Malcolm Smith at the third linebacker spot, but it will won’t be enough for you to consider Hill. In the last four games, Bobby Wagner has three games with nine tackles, and one game with seven, so he could be your best bet at linebacker.

The Falcons are a 4-3 team, although they will often use a 3-4 front with one of their defensive ends at outside linebacker. Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon will see every snap, while Akeem Dent will play in the base defense. While Weatherspoon hasn’t performed well in the run game by PFF standards, he still has been getting tackles. His tackle rate is higher than Nicholas, and over the past four games he has 29 tackles. While there are a few better linebackers to have this week, Weatherspoon isn’t a terrible option.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

The Texans run a 3-4 defense. Last week Bradie James played nearly every down at inside linebacker, while Barrett Ruud played in the base defense.  Assuming the game stays closer than it did in Week 14, the Texans will be using a dime defense most of the game.  It wouldn’t be surprising if Ruud took more of James’ snaps in the dime defense to give James a rest. James also doesn’t get a huge tackle total, so this is a situation to be avoided. The Texans outside linebackers had a combined one sack and one hit the first time around against the Patriots, so it’s unlikely they will get much if any pressure.

New England runs anywhere from a two man front to a four man front, with the linebackers to know being Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Don’t’a Hightower. While Mayo has had some big games in the past, he has made just 23 tackles over the last five games. Brandon Spikes has had some great games, but also have mixed them up with poor ones including a one tackle performance against the Texans in Week 14. Dont’a Hightower has had the least great games of the three, but his best game came against the Texans where he had seven tackles. Any one of the three is capable of putting up huge fantasy numbers in this one, but since it could be any one of them it’s hard to start any of them.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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