IDP Snap Report: Wild Card
The most diehard fantasy football players play with IDP. If you’re lucky enough to find a fantasy playoff challenge with individual defensive players, the IDP snap report is here to help! Now that we are in the playoffs, the IDP snap report will shift its focus. This week we’ll look at how each of the eight teams playing in the Wild Card round have used their linebackers this season, and more importantly how each team will likely use their linebackers against their upcoming opponent.
Bengals at Texans
The Bengals are a 4-3 team, where Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict play in both the base and nickel defense. Both players have played in at least 85% of snaps each since week 4. In the base defense Manny Lawson and Dan Skuta typically take snaps in the base defense, while Emmanuel Lamur has been taking snaps from Maualuga and Burfict. With how much the Texans run with the ball, expect Maualuga and Burfict to have multiple tackles each and be safe plays.
The Texans run a 3-4 defense. At inside linebacker, the Texans have been using the Bradie James and Darryl Sharpton in the base defense, and Tim Dobbins in the nickel defense. A week 17 injury landed Sharpton on injured reserve. While Barrett Ruud replaced Sharpton in the base defense for the remainder of Week 17, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dobbins gets some of those snaps. At outside linebacker Connor Barwin will play every down. Brooks Reed typically took every snap, but recently an injury has kept him out and Whitney Mercilus in. If Brooks is able to play, they will likely split time. With so many players coming in and out, and the strength of the Bengals offensive tackles to prevent sacks, it is best to pick your linebackers from other match-ups.
Update: Tim Dobbins has now also landed on I.R. Chances are Bradie James will now play every down, while Barrett Ruud plays in the base defense. This turns James into a better fantasy play.
Vikings at Packers
Minnesota has a 4-3 defense, where Chad Greenway plays outside linebacker on every snap. Over the last month and a half, Erin Henderson and Jasper Brinkley both played in the base defense and split time in the nickel. Over the last two weeks, it has been Henderson who played in the nickel. Because the Packers run three wide receiver sets for the majority of the game, the Vikings will be in the nickel defense almost the entire game. Greenway is the most targeted outside linebacker in the game, and has made 11 tackles in two games against the Packers this year. Henderson made seven tackles last week, so both make good fantasy plays.
The Packers run a 3-4 defense. At inside linebacker, Brad Jones plays every down, while A.J. Hawk comes out for the dime defense. Last week against the Vikings, Hawk played in 80% of snaps. Jones has made at least five tackles in each of the last six games. At outside linebacker Clay Matthews plays the majority of snaps, while Erik Walden and Dezman Moses split time at the other outside linebacker spot. The offensive tackles of the Vikings are strong, so the outside linebackers should be avoided.
Colts at Ravens
The Colts clear linebacker to care about is Jerrell Freeman. He plays every snap in the Colts 3-4 defense, and has five or more sacks in each of the last seven games. Pat Angerer has played well recently, but in this game it’s less likely. He plays in the base defense only, while Moise Fokou plays in the nickel. Kavell Conner hasn’t shown up on the injury report, so Conner will likely split time with Angerer in the base defense, and Angerer is questionable with an illness. At outside linebacker, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney see the majority of snaps, while Jerry Hughes plays a significant number as well. All are pass rushers who won’t make many tackles and will only be relevant as pass rushers.
The Ravens also run a 3-4 defense. The only known thing about their inside linebackers is we can expect Dannell Ellerbe to play every down and be a decent play. Ray Lewis is the big intangible since he hasn’t played since Week 6. He could be anywhere from the best fantasy option at linebacker to a player who plays limited snaps and can only record a few tackles. If he does miss snaps, Josh Bynes will take the snaps in the base defense and Brendon Ayanbadejo in the nickel. At outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger will have the majority of snaps, while Courtney Upshaw will also see between 50 and 70 percent of snaps. The Ravens outside linebackers have the best chance to get sacks out of the linebackers this week, so in a sack heavy scoring system, Kruger is the man to have. The Colts will likely be playing from behind late, which is all the more reason to have Kruger.
Seahawks at Redskins
The Seahawks run a 4-3 defense where K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner play every down, while Malcolm Smith plays in the base defense while at times Leroy Hill also takes snaps. Wagner has been one of the best fantasy linebackers all season, and it will be no different in this match-up. Wright should also be a top ten linebacker option this week.
The Redskins run a 3-4 defense, where Perry Riley and London Fletcher play every down at inside linebacker, while Ryan Kerrigan plays every down at outside linebacker. Rob Jackson and Lorenzo Alexander split time at the other outside linebacker spot. How the Redskins and Seahawks use their linebackers will remain the same regardless of the offense, so Wright, Wagner, Riley and Fletcher are four of the safest plays this week. Fletcher has 17 tackles in the last two games, so he will likely be a top linebacker this week.