The IDP Breakdown - Week 4 Edition
Patrick Willis injured his groin midway through Sunday’s debacle of a loss to the Colts. While Willis said he was “hopeful” that he’d play, it’s looking extremely unlikely that he’ll give it a go on Thursday night. Michael Wilhoite will likely get the start if Willis sits, but he’s not worth fantasy consideration. However, NaVorro Bowman gets a bump in value and makes for a high-end LB1 play this week. Of course, the 49ers will also be without Aldon Smith indefinitely, as they placed the outside linebacker on the reserve/NFI list while Smith seeks treatment for substance abuse. Hopefully all works out well for the talented young linebacker. In his absence, the 49ers will turn to Dan Skuta, who like Wilhoite is off the fantasy radar.
Perhaps one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked over the last two weeks is – “What’s up with James Laurinaitis?” Initially, I thought his lack of production was more of an anomaly, however, this week I took a closer look at him in the Rams’ loss to Dallas. As a whole, Laurinaitis was unimpressive, and quite frankly did not look like the same player we’ve seen over the last three seasons. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the presence of Alec Ogletree that limited Laurinaitis’ production. Rather, it was just poor play. This was certainly suspicious, and as I suspected, the Rams announced that Laurinaitis is dealing with a foot injury that limited him in practice this week. For now, we have to bump Laurinaitis down into the LB2 range, though I would advise against dropping him.
Philadelphia @ Denver
In a word, Mychal Kendricks has been just plain bad this season. The second-year man currently grades out as PFF’s worst inside linebacker. However, he’s averaging nine tackles per game. Even though it’s not going to be pretty, Kendricks is still an LB2. He makes for a favorable play against the high octane Broncos offense. I’m not as high on DeMeco Ryans, who has also struggled on the field this season, but I could see starting him as a low-end LB3 in this matchup. Patrick Chung gets a favorable matchup in this one, but he may be sidelined with a shoulder injury. Rookie Earl Wolff will get the start if Chung can’t go. I wouldn’t get cute with starting Wolff over more established options, though Wolff should be on your radar. I have a feeling he’s going to be a starter at some point this season.
The Eagles are currently the best fantasy matchup for linebackers this season, which makes Wesley Woodyard and elite fantasy play this week. It wouldn’t be too bold to call him the No. 1 linebacker for Week 4. This also means a matchup boost for Danny Tevathan. While Trevathan isn’t an every-down player, he does see his share of snaps in the nickel packages and should be on the field plenty on Sunday. He’s a boom/bust play if you’re in a pinch and don’t have any better options. The Philly offense also means good things for Duke Ihenacho if he can suit up. Ihenacho left each of the last two games due to injury, so he’s by no means a lock. However, if he is on the field, Ihenacho is a borderline DB1 play.
Baltimore @ Buffalo
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @JeffRatcliffe.