The IDP Breakdown: Week 10 Edition
Every game, every week. Jeff Ratcliffe gives you the IDPs you should start and who you should avoid in all of the Week 9 matchups using analysis based on his weekly IDP projections, the PFF IDP Package Frequencies, and the IDP Points Against table.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
With Andrew Luck at the helm, the Colts offense is firing on all cylinders right now. They’ve proven to be a surprisingly strong matchup for DBs this season, as not team gives up more fantasy points per game to the position. Dawan Landry has quietly put up 50 total tackles (38 solo) through his first eight games this season, and is likely available on your waiver wire. Landry makes for a sneaky DB2 play this week for owners in a pinch. Derek Cox gutted it out last week despite a questionable tag, and while he didn’t look particularly good on the field, he still recorded five solo tackles. He now has 15 solos and two picks in his last three games, and makes for a solid option for owners in CB-required leagues. Daryl Smith is on the designated to return I.R., so it’s Russell Allen’s gig in the nickel package for essentially the rest of the season. This isn’t a particularly strong matchup for him, however, as the Colts give up the fifth-least fantasy points per game to LBs. Jeremy Mincey has two sacks in his last three games. The Colts are a decent matchup for DEs, but Luck is very mobile, so the sacks likely won’t come in bunches if they do come at all.
Angerer is a good description for how fantasy owners feel about how the Colts have been using Pat Angerer since he returned from a broken foot. Last week, Angerer again rotated with Kavell Conner, playing just 14 snaps and recording two total tackles on the day. At this point, you can’t trust Angerer in your lineup, but I don’t think you should let go of him. Angerer is much more talented than Conner, and could easily move into an every-down role as early as this week. For now, you just have to wait and see, and Jerrell Freeman is the only startable Colts LB. The Jaguars give up the third-least fantasy points to safeties on a per-game basis, so you’re downgrading Antoine Bethea in this one. The tackle opportunities that his fantasy value is so contingent on just won’t be there.
San Diego @ Tampa Bay
It’s frustrating being a Mason Foster owner. He’s been extremely productive this season on a per snap basis, but the problem is that he hasn’t been in an every-down role. Last weekend, Foster played just 43-of-86 snaps and managed only five total tackles. Carson Palmer dropped back to pass a whopping 68 times in the game, so this is a good indication of how the Bucs are likely to use Foster against pass-heavy offenses. This is likely to be a similar matchup against the Chargers. It’s a good idea to downgrade Foster in this one. Lavonte David played every snap last week, so he’ll be just fine. The Chargers give up the most tackles per game to LBs, so get David in your lineup as a borderline LB1. Really, all of the Tampa IDPs make for good starts this week because the Chargers have been an extremely fantasy-friendly matchup. You’re starting Mark Barron, Ronde Barber, and Michael Bennett, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Another Buccaneer who should be on your radar is Da’Quan Bowers, who played 42 snaps and recorded a sack in Week 9. Bowers has a big fantasy ceiling and should be rostered in deeper leagues.
It looks like Donald Butler has gotten off his early-season schneid. He’s racked up 20 total tackles (14 solo) since the Chargers’ Week 8 bye, and is back in the high-end LB2 territory. If you’ve weathered the storm with Butler, you now have yourself a productive LB for the fantasy stretch run. Eric Weddle is certainly still in your lineup, but I’m not going as far with Atari Bigby. His first name is still awesome, but his snap count from last week is not. After playing every snap for the season, Bigby was on the field for 47-of-64 snaps in Week 9. If you’ve been relying on Bigby in deep leagues, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on his playing time this weekend.
Tennessee @ Miami
After missing the last four games due to a back injury, Richard Marshall was placed on injured reserve this week, ending his season. It’s likely you moved on from Marshall weeks ago, but this is still important because it now locks Nolan Carroll in the starting lineup. Owners in CB-required leagues will want to take a long look at Carroll, who has 18 total tackles (17 solo) and four passes defensed in his last two games. An eye-popping 28 targets thrown into his coverage during that span have really helped his fantasy production. Carroll makes for a solid upside CB option going forward. By the way, Cameron Wake has at least one sack in each of his last five games. He’s really good.
And now it’s time for our weekly discussion of the Titans linebackers. Just when we thought Colin McCarthy was back and locked in an every-down role, Mike Munchak threw us a curveball and instead used Zach Brown in that role last week. McCarthy actually rotated off the field for 13 snaps, while Brown missed just two. This is certainly something to monitor this weekend, but those in deeper leagues will want to snatch up Brown. For anyone holding onto Akeem Ayers, don’t be fooled by last weekend’s stat line. He only played 41-of-70 snaps, and is no longer a nickel linebacker. He will continue to get looks as a situational pass rusher, but his fantasy value has plummeted. Another Titan dropping in value is Jordan Babineaux, who actually saw less snaps (34) than Al Afalava (36) last weekend. Afalava did injure his ankle in the game, however, so there’s a good chance Babineaux is back in an every-down role again this week. Still, you’re starting him at your own risk going forward.
Buffalo @ New England
The Patriots entered their Week 9 bye banged up on both sides of the ball. The defense was missing both starting safeties in Steve Gregory and Pat Chung. Both players were limited in practice this week, and there’s no guarantee they return. We could see Tavon Wilson and Devin McCourty again manning the safety spots in this good matchup against a Bills team that surprisingly has yielded the fifth-most fantasy points per game to safeties. As I’ve said before, McCourty gets a nice value boost in the safety spot. It looks like he could potentially be there going forward, as the Patriots traded for Aqib Talib, who is eligible to play next week. Brandon Spikes also showed up on the injury report this week, and was limited in practice. Spikes just worked his way into some nickel snaps before the bye, and appeared to finally have some fantasy value. An injury could potentially jeopardize that. I’ll updated the situation on Sunday in our live chat and on Twitter.
Another safety who looks to be heading towards the dreaded committee is George Wilson. Last Sunday, Wilson played 46-of-66 snaps, while Da’Norris Searcy saw 20 snaps. There were grumblings of this happening earlier in the season, but that failed to come to fruition until last week. If the Bills do in fact stay the course with this rotation, it moves Wilson from a low-end DB1 to a matchup DB2 or worse. Still, I’m playing him this weekend against the extremely fantasy-friend Patriots, who give up the most tackles per game to safeties this season. Mario Williams looked like new man on Sunday, or maybe it was just that he was playing his old team. That’s all speculation, but what we do know that he’s been playing with a torn ligament in his left wrist. Hopefully that’s what caused his first-half floundering, but I’m still not trusting him this week. The Patriots give up the fifth-least fantasy points per game to DEs.
Oakland @ Baltimore
We’re now two games into the Ray Lewis injury, and in both of them, Dannell Ellerbe has been more productive than Jameel McClain for fantasy owners. I’m ready to close the book on this one. Ellerbe is an LB2 going forward, and McClain is a matchup LB3. This week isn’t the matchup for McClain. It may be the matchup for the Ravens’ secondary, however. With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson almost certainly on the sidelines, the Raiders will likely air it out a lot in this one. Upgrade Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, and Cary Williams in this one. I’m also moving Terrell Suggs into my top-10 DLs this week. He started in Week 9 and played 56-of-72 snaps. It’s not a fantastic matchup, but Suggs is a fantastic player.
There’s been a Tyvon Branch sighting. Last weekend, Branch put up double-digit tackles for just the second time this season in what looked to be a poor matchup for safeties. He’s been solid so far this season, but the cream is rising here. Branch is a top-five DB going forward. This isn’t a particularly good matchup for the Raiders LBs and DLs. You probably have to start Phillip Wheeler and Matt Shaughnessy, but temper your expectations for them. I wouldn’t roll the dice on Miles Burris and Lamarr Houston, however. You likely have better options elsewhere.
Denver @ Carolina
Sorry Sean Lee, but I’m dumping you. Luke Kuechly is my new man-crush. He’s had double-digit tackles in each of the last four games for a total of 52 total tackles. That’s more than Lawrence Timmons, Stephen Tulloch, or Sean Weatherspoon have on the season. Kuechly is an elite fantasy option. We’ve also seen elite-level production over the last two games out of Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. As Ross Miles would say, don’t be a numbers whore with these two. Their production came in two very good matchups against the Bears and Redskins. The Broncos are a much tougher matchup. I still have Johnson as a low-end DL1, but Hardy is more of a low-end DL2. Don’t start him over obvious better DLs this week. The Broncos have yielded just five sacks to outside pass rushers on the season.
Like Kuechly, Wesley Woodyard has been on fire over the last month and has topped double-digit tackles in each of his last four games. I do like Woodyard going forward, and don’t see him losing his job if the Broncos decide to keep D.J. Williams around. However, I’m not huge on Woodyard this week, and think his streak of double-digit tackles ends against the Panthers. No team gives up less fantasy points to LBs, so Woodyard gets a downgrade. I’m not downgrading Elvis Dumervil. He has six sacks in his last six games, and is a constant threat to go off. He’s locked in as a DL1.
New York Giants @ Cincinnati
The stat crew strikes again. If you started Vontaze Burfict last week, you know exactly what I mean. Burfict recorded six total tackles against the Broncos, which on the surface isn’t spectacular, but you’ll take it. Unfortunately, he was only given credit for one solo tackle and was awarded with five assists. In leagues that value both the same, this isn’t a big deal, but most leagues value solos higher than assists. Burfict’s day went from decent to bad in these leagues. The moral of the story is to pay attention to the stat crews and which award more assists than solos. Cincinnati is certainly on that list. There’s not much else to say here. The Giants are a poor matchup for DBs and DLs, so you’re going to want to temper your expectations for Michael Johnson and keep Carlos Dunlap and Reggie Nelson on your bench.
Mark Herzlich filled in for Chase Blackburn, and played an every-down role along side Michael Boley last week for the Giants. I’m not going to overreact to this one, as Herzlich wasn’t particularly good on the field, but those in deeper leagues may want to stash him. Boley is still the only Giants’ LB I’m trusting, though. I’m starting to trust Justin Tuck after he’s recorded three sacks in the last three games. He’s not his 2010 self, but Tuck’s still worth a roster spot as your DL2. Kenny Phillips is ruled out for this one, so we get at least one more game of Stevie Brown, who has been one of the early-season IDP surprises. Brown has a horrible matchup here, as the Bengals give up the fourth-least fantasy points to opposing safeties, but he’s been so hot that it’s tough to sit him. We’re not sure what the Giants do with Brown when Phillips is back after their Week 11 bye, but I wouldn’t drop him until we find out.
Detroit @ Minnesota
On paper, Jasper Brinkley had a good game in Week 9, topping double-digit tackles for the second time this season with 13 of them. On film, it’s a completely different story, as Brinkley really struggled in coverage. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we see Erin Henderson back in the nickel packages. If you have the room, it might be a good idea to preemptively stash him for the end of the season. Brian Robison has been far from a picture of consistency this season, but he’s shown a high ceiling in the right matchup. This isn’t the best matchup, but you can get away with Robison this week as a borderline DL2. Harrison Smith’s fantasy stock has been on the rise, and he sets up nicely for a solid stretch run. Consider him a DB3 or better going forward.
The Lions are another team that is banged up on the defensive side of the ball. DeAndre Levy has missed the last two games, and is still limited in practice this week. With Levy sidelined, Justin Durant has seen an every-down role along side Stephen Tulloch. I like both players this weekend. The Vikings give up the most fantasy points per game to opposing LBs this season. Detroit has also being playing without the perpetually injured Louis Delmas. They went with Erik Coleman and Ricardo Silva at safety last week, and we’ll likely see the same in this one. Neither is a great fantasy option, but I’m intrigued by Silva. He’s a big boy at 6’3” and 225 lbs. If you’re in a super-deep league, and you need a safety play, I’d consider rolling the dice on Silva in this matchup. He may not get a ton of tackles, but Christian Ponder has thrown eight picks in his last five games.
Atlanta @ New Orleans
Cameron Jordan and Will Smith went off on Monday night for a combined five sacks. Don’t read too much into this performance, however, as it came against an extremely bad Eagles offensive line. They face a much tougher test this week against the Falcons, so you’re playing them as you have all season. Jordan is a low-end DL2, and Smith is a DL3. The same really goes for the rest of the relevant Saints IDPs. If you got cute and tried to roll with Jonathan Vilma in Week 9, you were rewarded with a whopping four total tackles. It’s probably a good idea to keep him on your bench, or better yet, drop him for a better option.
Sean Weatherspoon is still dealing with an ankle injury and did not practice on Wednesday. His status for Sunday is not looking good as of right now, and it’s likely we could again see Akeem Dent in an every-down role along side Stephen Nicholas. Neither Nicholas nor Dent are a particularly attractive play this weekend, as only the Ravens, Broncos, and Panthers give up less tackles per game than the Saints do to opposing LBs. The Saints do, however, give up plenty of tackles and fantasy points to DBs. William Moore and Thomas DeCoud make for high floor plays in this one.
New York Jets @ Seattle
While he hasn’t quite matched fellow rookie, Luke Kuechly’s numbers over the last four games, Bobby Wagner has been pretty darn good over that stretch with 44 total tackles and a sack. He’s a borderline LB1 play against this Jets team that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing LBs this season. Ordinarily, I’d also recommend that you start K.J. Wright here as well, but Wright suffered a concussion in Week 9 and his status is in doubt. That means Leroy Hill should step into an every-down role, and makes for a sneaky LB3 play for owners in a pinch. You’re also going to want to get Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner in your lineups against the turnover-prone Mark Sanchez.
I never really have much to say about the Jets IDPs because they’re fairly cut-and-dry. You’re obviously starting David Harris in this one against the run-heavy and conservative Seahawks offense. That correspondingly means you have to downgrade LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. You probably still have to play Landry, but he’s more of a DB2 this week. Keep Bell on your bench. I suppose the only really interesting thing to keep an eye on here is whether the Jets have Bart Scott back in an every-down role, or if they continue to go with rookie DeMario Davis. I don’t think there’s much value in Davis regardless for this season, but he’s a very interesting player for 2013.
Dallas @ Philadelphia
What’s that, you say? Signs of life out of Jason Babin and Trent Cole in Week 9? Well, sort of, as Babin recorded four total tackles and a sack, while Cole put up six total tackles. Both players are still being used for only about 60-65% of the defensive snaps, however, so it’s tough to trust either as anything more than a DL2. That’s especially true this week against a Cowboys team that has only given up two sacks to outside pass rushers this season. If there’s any Eagle outside of DeMeco Ryans to like in this one, it’s Kurt Coleman. Tony Romo hasn’t been the best decision maker this season, and Coleman is a ball hawk with a decent tackle floor. I like him as a rock solid DB3 this week.
After floundering in his first week in the every-down duties for the injured Sean Lee, Bruce Carter showed up in a big way in Week 9. Carter recorded ten total tackles (nine solo) against the Falcons, and looked pretty good doing so. He’s makes for a good LB2 play against this Eagles team that gives up the second-most fantasy points per game to LBs this season. With news that Todd Herremans is out for the season and Demetress Bell is now a starter, I expect DeMarcus Ware to go nuts in this one. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t record multiple sacks on Michael Vick.
St. Louis @ San Francisco
The Niners are back from bye, and you’re starting your usual suspects here. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are essentially matchup-proof, so they’re in you’re lineup every week, but what about Justin Smith? I warned folks in the preseason that Smith is a dangerous DL to own because his sack ceiling is extremely low. Sure, he’ll get you tackles, but he essentially performs like a DT in terms of fantasy production. If you decided to go with him anyway, you were probably chomping at the bit for his Week 8 matchup against the Cardinals. “Disappointment” is not even the word, as Smith not only failed to sack John Skelton, but he also failed to record a single fantasy-relevant stat. That’s a goose egg, folks. Hopefully Smith didn’t burn you, but if he did, it’s going to be tough to trust him going forward.
St. Louis also returns from bye this week, and they have their own cast of every week starts in James Laurinaitis, Robert Quinn, and Cortland Finnegan. You’ll notice that I excluded Chris Long from this list. It’s nothing against Long. He’s still a tremendous pass rusher. The problem is that he just doesn’t record enough tackles to get you through the down weeks where he doesn’t record a sack. He’s in that DL2 tier that you start at your own risk each week. Quintin Mikell has also proven to be that kind of IDP this season, as he really failed to put up big numbers in great matchups against the Packers and Patriots in the Rams’ last two games. He’s a DB3 at best going forward, and you likely have better options available on the waiver wire.
Houston @ Chicago
The Bears have been the hottest defense on the planet this season, so consider yourself lucky if you own the Chicago D/ST. Interestingly, most of their IDPs haven’t been knocking it out of the park for fantasy owners this season. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings have been the exception so far, as both have show monster big play ability to go along with solid tackle numbers. A word of caution to Tillman owners, as there’s a chance he could miss this game if his wife goes into labor. Have a backup plan in place if that applies to you. It’s tough because this is a Sunday night game, so you can look to his likely replacement, Kelvin Hayden, or try to grab an available DB from one of the other four teams left to play. Brian Urlacher looked surprising spry on his Week 9 pick-six. He’s back in our good graces, and makes for a solid LB2 play this week along with Lance Briggs.
This is going to be fun to watch. The Bears have given up the second-most sacks to opposing DEs this season, and they get to face J.J. Watt on Sunday night. Get your popcorn ready. He’s my number one DL this week. Owners in big play scoring systems may also want to take a long look at Connor Barwin, who has a sack in each of his last two games and should be able to make his way to Jay Cutler for at least one more. The Bears are one of the better fantasy matchups for LBs this season, but the problem is that we’re not exactly sure which Texans’ LB will benefit the most. Tim Dobbins played nearly every snap last week, but I’m hesitant to recommend him, and Bradie James is now coming off the field in the nickel packages. Your best bet for fantasy production in this one just might be Glover Quin, who had a down game last week, but can put the tackles up in a hurry. He makes for a solid DB2 play.
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have been generally unimpressive this season, as both have battled back from injuries. Most weeks, I’m prone to keep them on my bench, but this isn’t one of those weeks. The Chiefs have been a strong matchup for outside pass rushers this season, so owners in big play leagues may want to give Harrison and Woodley a look this week. If you have better options, I’d avoid the Steelers OLBs, though. Troy Polamalu is targeting a Week 11 return, but I’m not holding my breath. He’s been banged up all season, and he’s not worth a roster stash. Ryan Clark is the Steelers DB you want to own. Clark has been very impressive this season and is locked in as a DB2 in a good matchup this week.
I’m happy to report that Eric Berry actually looked to be getting closer to his old self last week, putting up eight total tackles (six solo) and a pick. That’s good news if you’ve been sitting on Berry this whole season. Keep in mind that the performance came against the Chargers, who give up the third-most fantasy points per game to safeties this year. The Steelers are still a pretty good matchup, so roll with Berry as your DB2. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston also set up well in this one. The Steelers have been the fifth-best matchup for outside pass rushers this season. Houston has been on a bit of a sack drought, but Hali is on fire with five sacks in his last five games. I’m not worried about Houston here. Owners in big play scoring leagues are starting both with confidence.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the IDP Editor and a Senior Fantasy Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @JeffRatcliffe