Tahir Whitehead has become a name IDP owners must know. Whitehead will be filling for the remainder of the season for Stephen Tulloch, who tore his knee in Week 3. The big question on the minds of IDP owners this week: how many more injuries can we suffer through? Not only that, the bye weeks have begun, as six teams will be at home watching the action in Week 4. Tahir Whitehead’s new role in the middle highlights this week IDP Week Analysis. Let’s get at it!
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets
–DeAndre Levy’s points per snap is over 0.30, is 3rd among LBs in fantasy scoring in tackle heavy formats, and should be near the top in big play formats as well. I was completely wrong on him and over-rated him because of his unsustainable big plays last year. He’s picked up his tackles where he left off in 2013, producing a 14.8 percent tackle rate.
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–Darius Slay has played well enough this season to be a strong consideration in CB leagues this week, especially against the turnover-prone Geno Smith. Slay’s been thrown at least six times, defending four passes and recording 13 tackles. Plus, he’s been on the field for all but 10 snaps and is grading among the top corners. I like him as a high upside CB2 this week.
–Tahir Whitehead will get the start at MIKE and is an immediate pick-up in all IDP league formats. Why not DeAndre Levy? Jim Caldwell said Levy is playing way too well to move him from weak-side. White and Levy should be in lineups this week, as the Jets have allowed the most points to opposing LBs.
-Just as IDP owners were celebrating a break-out game for Muhammad Wilkerson, they had to hold their collective breaths when he went down with a knee injury. As of now, it’s just a bone bruise and he should be active against Detroit. Wilkerson recorded his first sack of the season. He’s gotten off to a slow start, generating pressure in few than seven percent of his rush snaps. Unless he’s inactive, he should be in your lineup.
–Sheldon Richardson is getting to the opposing QB on nearly 13 percent of his rush snaps. Doesn’t matter the line he faces, Richardson is a buzzsaw and finds a way.
–Damon Harrison has been stout up front against the run. Among defensive/nose tackles, he’s tops in run stop percentage, as he’s disrupting and creating a negative for the offense in nearly 17 percent of his run snaps.
-If you’re in CB league and Antonio Allen is available, might be time the grab him. The Lions are 15th in points allowed to DBs, but have given up double-digit points to seven corners. On Monday night, Allen was thrown at 16 times, allowing him to record 10 tackles.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
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–Jamari Lattimore will be one of the hot waiver pick-ups this week, but A.J. Hawk has been productive in IDP leagues this year. After appearing in just 48 of the 70 snaps in Week 1, he’s missed one snap since. He’s recorded 25 total tackles with just one missed tackle through three weeks so far. The Bears, overall, are near the bottom of the league in points allowed to LBs, but have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing 3-4 ILBs. Good news for both Hawk and Lattimore.
-Those in big play leagues, this might be a good week to use Julius Peppers. The Bears don’t allow the big plays to opposing LBs, but Peppers is playing with some motivation this week. He’s also been a surprise for the Packer defense. He’s generating pressure on 13 percent of his rush snaps and appears to be healthy.
-After not seeing a snap in Week 1, Davon House has recorded seven tackles and has made a play on the ball 33 percent of the time he’s been thrown on. He’s seeing limited snaps, playing behind Tramon Williams, however, does make a sneaky start in deeper leagues that require a CB against the pass-happy Bears.
–Datone Jones hasn’t produced the pressure up front that the Pack had hoped. He’s recorded 11 total tackles and has generated pressure on 10 percent of his rush snaps. Jones could line up near Jordan Mills, who’s responsible for giving up three sacks.
-Are opposing QBs going to go away from Kyle Fuller? Probably not, since Tim Jennings is on the other side. After seeing six targets in the first two games, Fuller was thrown at 9 times Monday night. He’s among the top corners in run stop percentage and has back-to-back weeks of 20-plus fantasy points. His fantasy value has been helped out by hawking INTs in consecutive weeks and is making a play on the ball on 47 percent of his targets. I look at him as a CB2 this week.
–Tim Jennings was thrown at just once in Week 3, after seeing 11 total targets in his first two games. His production has taken a dive, producing just eight total tackles. He’s recorded two INTs and 38 tackles in eight career games against the Packers.
-Can we trust Jon Bostic this week? After appearing in a combined 72 snaps in Weeks 1 and 2, he was in on all 75 snaps on Monday night. Was it due to injuries? He turned in an average game, but was productive from an IDP standpoint recording 13 total tackles to go along with two defended passes. Shea McClellin is out in Week 4, so Bostic looks to be an LB3 this week, especially with injuries and bye weeks.
Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts
–D’Qwell Jackson has taken advantage of the opportunities with Jerrell Freeman on the sidelines. Jackson recorded 10 solo tackles in Week 3 and has 17 tackles in his last two. Jackson is producing an 11 percent tackle rate and a near 3:1 solo-to-assist ratio. If Freeman is out again, Jackson would be dialed up as an LB1 once again.
–Greg Toler has produced double-digit fantasy points in two of three games, including consecutive weeks with an INT. Teams are also throwing at him, as he’s seen more than five targets in all three games, making a play on the ball 36 percent of the time. I really like Toler’s match-up against the Titans, who are giving up the 11th most points to opposing DBs.
–Mike Adams could be a sneaky bye-week flier this week, as there are six teams on bye. Eight of his 15 tackles came in Week 2, but has a nice match-up against the Titans. He’s playing nearly 40 percent of his snaps to help out the run, plus the Titans have allowed five of the opposing safeties they’ve faced to notch double-digit fantasy points.
-After appearing in 16 snaps in Week 1, Josh McNary stepped into a starting role for the injured Freeman. He hasn’t graded horribly, for being a special-teamer/backup. With Jackson producing and swallowing the tackle opportunities, McNary is a low-upside LB option even in deeper leagues.
–Zaviar Gooden only saw 22 snaps in Week 3 and Avery Williamson saw 13 at LB. Williamson was efficient with his snaps, producing four total tackles (one for a loss), which was good for a 30.8 percent tackle rate. Put Williamson on your watch list. Even in deeper leagues, it’ll be hard to trust Gooden as a starter this week. Play at your own risk and hope for good things from Williamson.
–Wesley Woodyard is settling in at ILB and has produced double-digit fantasy points in two of three games this season and looks to be a high-upside LB1 the remainder of the way, especially with all the flux opposite him. Woody needs to increase the tackle rate, as it’s settling in at just under 10 percent, but, he has seen 200 snaps.
–Derrick Morgan has been efficient as a pass rusher, but has yet to record a sack. He’s generating pressure on over 22 percent of rush snaps and could take advantage of the Colts’ right side. Gosder Cherilus is responsible for giving up 36 percent of the total QB pressures allowed on Andrew Luck. Morgan will be a boom or bust LB play in big play scoring formats.
Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders
-The Raider LBs are a hurting group. Nick Roach is still dealing with concussion symptoms, Sio Moore is still dealing with an ankle injury and Miles Burris is in a boot. It looks like Khalil Mack, Kaluka Maiava and Bojay Filimoeatu will be your starting ‘backers in Week 4. The Raiders might be forced to go with more 4-3 looks this week, which would kick Lamar Woodley out to end. The Dolphins figure to run the ball and they’ve allowed seven LBs to score double-digit fantasy points. Mack is a high-upside LB3 and I only recommend Maiava in deeper, all-IDP leagues where you’re starting three or more LBs.
-Can you trust Usama Young as Tyvon Branch’s replacement? Past snap counts indicate no. Young appeared in 11 games (started one) in 2013 while Branch was shelved. He produced a high tackle rate (12.5 percent); however, his snap count was inconsistent and hard to trust. Look to other options in the wire if you’re able to do so. Branch’s production will be difficult to replace.
–Carlos Rogers has been thrown at 20 times this season and comes into Week 4 with a nice match-up with the Dolphins. Miami has has had themselves a bit of a QB controversy, but Ryan Tannehill is still getting the nod. Miami is allowing the 6th most points to opposing DBs. Rogers has produced 17 tackles and has a shot at making a big play this week.
-Since Week 1, Cameron Wake has produced 0 sacks for his owners and just five total fantasy points in most balanced/tackle heavy formats. If there’s any consolation, Wake is still generating pressure, near 20 percent, in the last two weeks. However, IDP leagues don’t score pressures. Wake has another difficult match-up this week, as the Raiders have had success against elite DLs this year, allowing just one sack. He’s still a must start, as his potential for the big game is still there.
-Raise your hand if you had Jelani Jenkins as the top scoring LB through three games. Jenkins is producing 0.37 points per snap and an 18.6 percent tackle rate. He’s a locked-in, must-start LB1.
–Jimmy Wilson has recorded six more tackles in all three tilts this year and a 3:1 solo-to-assist ratio. At this point, he’s more of an asset in tackle heavy formats, as he has yet to make any big plays. He’s appeared in all but four snaps.
-Not happy with your current defensive tackle? Jared Odrick ranks among the top 15 tackles. DT scoring is inconsistent, but he’s scored six more points twice in three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
-After missing 11 tackles all of 2013, Lavonte David has already missed nine in three games, including two games of at least four misses. Obviously, you’re not going to bench him, but he’s left many points on the field.
–Danny Lansanah produced an extremely efficient, 0.86 points per snap in Week 3. In 22 snaps, he recorded four solo tackles and a pick six.
–Michael Johnson is not practicing after appearing in just seven snaps in Week 3. Johnson hasn’t started his career with the Bucs on a positive note, appearing in just 62 snaps and missing Week 2. The Buccaneer pass rush has been non-existent thanks to injuries along the line.
–Dane Fletcher could get another start in the middle with Mason Foster still not practicing. My take on Fletcher is he won’t be worth adding unless you’re in a deeper league where you’re starting three or more LBs.
–Sean Spence was told that he’d start next to Lawrence Timmons at ILB in Week 4. Spence suffered a gruesome knee injury as a rookie in 2012 and it’s been a long road to recovery. Spence came in for Ryan Shazier and played in 35 snaps, recording four solo tackles, which included three defensive stops (a loss for the offense).
–Brett Keisel is 2nd on the team in total QB pressures, but has yet to record a sack.
–Cortez Allen, since signing his new contract, has graded out as the 96th CB (out of 96 qualifiers). Allen could be a bye-week match-up play, as he’s been targeted 18 times (12 times in Week 3), recording 16 tackles (14 solos). With Ike Taylor shelved, he should be covering Vincent Jackson in Week 4. In three games, Allen has double-digit fantasy points in two tilts.
–Lawrence Timmons is tops among ILBs in missed tackles with 9. Five of them have come in the run game. If you’re in a tackle heavy format, that’s at least 18 points left on the field.
Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens
–Thomas Davis owners should have back-up plans as it appears he won’t be available in Week 4. His injury is being classified as a hip injury.
–Mario Addison and Wes Horton rotated at the right side, while Horton received more snaps. I still like Addison overall as an IDP prospect. He’s producing many more points per snap (0.32) and generating more consistent pressure. The match-up looks good since it appears that Eugene Monroe is going to be out. James Hurst looks to slide in to protect Flacco’s blind-side.
–Antoine Cason has three straight games of double-digit fantasy points, producing game of seven or more tackles in all three. Five of his tackles have come in the run and is grading among the top CBs in run defense. He’s producing an LB-type tackle rate at 13.8 percent and should be started as a strong CB1/DB2.
–Charles Johnson has never finished a season with a negative grade, but has started off the season with two straight. Johnson should line up over Ricky Wagner, who’s only given up 6 total QB pressures in 228 snaps.
-Dating back to Week 9 of the 2013 season, Terrell Suggs has two sacks. Suggs hasn’t been practicing and his status is up in the air. If active, Suggs will be a boom or bust play this week as the Panthers have allowed eight sacks on the year.
-What can the Ravens and IDP owners of Lardarius Webb expect this week? Webb played in just four snaps against Cleveland and got beat badly by Andrew Hawkins. Until his snaps increase, he should be on your bench in CB-required leagues this week.
–Matt Elam is looking shaky as an IDP play this week. 10 of his 16 total tackles came in Week 2 and has missed four tackles in three contests.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans
–Brian Cushing has consecutive weeks of double-digit fantasy points, posting 6 more tackles. He appears to be getting his footing back and the snaps. He’s safely back in the LB1 conversation.
–Kendrick Lewis has now recorded double-digit fantasy points in three straight games to start the season. In addition to the tackle numbers, he’s also around the ball as he’s forced a fumble in two straight games. The Bills are just outside the top 20 in points allowed to DBs, but they’ve allowed four safeties to score double-digit fantasy points in three games.
– Jonathan Joseph has a less than ideal match-up this week against Buffalo. Only one opposing corner has scored double-digit points against the Bills’ offense. Manuel is coming off a 39 attempt Week 3, so Joseph could see targets. I consider him a CB2 this week.
–Whitney Mercilus could take advantage of Buffalo’s right side. Mercilus has generated pressure on over 10 percent rush snaps, but couldn’t do anything in Week 3. Seantrel Henderson is grading as one of the worst tackles through three games, so Mercilus could be a big play LB this week.
-In most tackle formats, Preston Brown is leading rookie LBs in scoring and is a top 10 scorer. He’s produced double-digit points in his first three games and a 13.9 percent tackle rate. Brown has a chance to hit double-digits again, even though the Ravens didn’t allow a Browns IDP to hit 10 or more points in Week 3.
-After recording three tackles in Week 1, Aaron Williams has notched seven or more in consecutive weeks. Williams should be in line for more attempts with Da’Norris Searcy nursing an ankle injury. He’s posting a 3:1 solo-to-assist ratio and 11.2 percent tackle rate.
–Kyle Williams has been stout, once again, up front for the Buffalo defense. He’s a top 6 scoring DT in most tackle heavy formats, and though he’s only posted one sack, his pressure indicate more could be on the way. He’s generating pressure on nearly 14 percent of his rush snaps. Through three games, Texans are 11th in points allowed to opposing DLs.
–Nigel Bradham won’t be helped out by the Buffalo stat crew this week. Of his 20 tackles, six of them have been solos. He’ll be a shaky LB3 this week, even in a favorable match-up.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers
-Of course you’re going to start Paul Posluszny, but Geno Hayes could be a sneaky LB play with injuries and bye weeks. Keep in mind, he’s playing just under 70 percent of the snaps, however, San Diego has allowed five LBs to score double-digit points against them.
-After missing Week 2, Jonathan Cyprien returned in Week 3 and was on the field for every snap. He’s dialed in as a borderline DB1 this week as the Chargers have allowed the 9th most points to opposing DBs in three games.
–Winston Guy should not be on your IDP radar even with this match-up. Guy is among the leaders in missed tackles, as he’s missing a tackle every two attempts and has at least two more misses in every game this season.
-Even though San Diego’s line has given up just a sack, they’ve allowed 44 total QB pressures, so still a shaky line. Andre Branch and Sen’Derrick Marks have produced sacks in two of the first three games. Chris Clemons has also gotten to the QB once this season.
–Manti Te’o can’t catch a break and neither can his foot. Te’o fractured his foot and it’s expected that he misses multiple games. He’s droppable in re-draft formats, and quite possibly, dynasty formats depending on your LB depth. If you’re in a deeper league, Kavell Conner will be his replacement on the inside.
–Eric Weddle has recorded 18 tackles without a miss so far this season. He’s producing a near 10 percent tackle rate and 6:1 solo-to-assist ratio. Dating back to last season, he’s produced eight games of 16 fantasy points or more.
-Surprisingly, the Jaguars are the near the bottom when it comes to points allowed to opposing DBs. It does look like the Jags are starting Blake Bortles this week and I like Shareece Wright as a CB play. He’s coming off a tougher match-up where he saw just two targets. He has notched 17 tackles and two defended pass thus far. I like his potential for a solid game matching up with Allen Robinson or Cecil Shorts.
-After producing 13 points in his first two games, Donald Butler recorded nine tackles, and in most tackle formats, had 13 points in Week 3 alone. Butler has a favorable match-up against the Jags, as they’ve allowed the 3rd most points to opposing LBs, and in three games, have allowed four 3-4 ILBs to reach double-digit points.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings
-This might be the last week you’re able to get Prince Shembo off the wire. Shembo has slowly overtaken Joplo Bartu at ILB next to Paul Worrilow. After seeing 54 snaps in Week 1, Bartu saw 19 compared to Shembo’s 28. There could still be a split between the two, but Shembo has played better.
–Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant could be solid CB plays against the rookie, Teddy Bridgwater. Trufant is grading positively among corners, but his IDP production is slightly down, as he’s recorded seven solo tackles and three defended passes on 13 targets. Alford has recorded 11 tackles and four defended passes on 10 targets. Both corners have been on every defensive snap, so there’s upside here in corner-required leagues.
-Since posting 11 tackles in Week 1, Dwight Lowery has notched just seven in the last two weeks.
–Chad Greenway is doubtful this week as he’s dealing with a rib injury. I went in depth on his slow start here. Gerald Hodges will be the go to LB for a hand-cuff or match-up play if you’re dealing with your own injuries. Produced a 37.7 percent tackle rate in 19 snaps in Week 3. He’ll get the 3-down work.
–Robert Blanton is another reason why you don’t need to reach for a top DB in the early goings of your draft. In most instances, he went undrafted or was taken at the tail ends of deeper drafts. Blanton has an 11 percent tackle rate and has appeared in all 209 snaps this season. Blanton has DB2 upside as six safeties have scored double-digit fantasy points against them.
–Jasper Brinkley has two games of double-digit fantasy points and has a tackle rate over 20 percent. It’s hard to trust an LB that’s been involved in fewer than 50 percent of the snaps, even though he’s efficient with those snaps.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49’ers
-The Eagles look to be without Mychal Kendricks this week. Deeper or dynasty leagues might want to dial up Marcus Smith. Smith appeared in 18 snaps in Week 3 and could be in line for more work. He graded out neutral and, while he didn’t make any big plays, he didn’t look lost or make any glaring mistakes. He was brought in originally as a rush OLB but injuries have thrust him inside.
–Bradley Fletcher has seen 26 targets his way in the last two weeks. However, corners don’t score very well against the 49ers and only two corners have scored double-digit fantasy points against them. Fletcher has recorded five defended passes on his 30 total targets.
–Connor Barwin leads the team in total QB pressures, generating pressure on nearly 14 percent of his rush snaps. He makes a risky play, even in big play leagues.
-A drop-off was expected, but Ahmad Brooks‘ production has really fallen off. Through three games, Brooks has a sack and 1 QB hurry in 44 rush snaps. The pass rush has really dropped off with Aldon Smith suspended and NaVorro Bowman still on IR. Brooks can’t be counted on this week even in deeper leagues.
-Even though Justin Smith was held in check, he still managed to record four tackles in Week 3. I think Smith has DE2 upside against an Eagle offensive line that has given up 42 combined QB hits/hurries.
-In Bowman’s absence, Michael Wilhoite has been average, if not underwhelming. He certainly isn’t generating the same type of pass rush, in fact, he hasn’t generated any. He’s recorded 14 tackles, with a few defended passes and a forced fumble. Bowman’s job is no danger upon his return. Wilhoite has tough sledding, as the Eagles have surrendered double-digit fantasy points to just one 3-4 ILB.
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
-IDP owners could get some relief this week in the form of Justin Durant. Durant is feeling healthy and has been a full participant in practice. Before the groin injury in Week 1, Durant recorded eight tackles in 47 snaps. He appears safe to get back into your lineups.
-In his first action since coming off suspension, Orlando Scandrick appeared in 52 snaps and saw three balls thrown his way and finished with five total tackles. He’s on the CB radar this week as the Saints are allowing the 4th most points to opposing DBs. Scandrick should see plenty of targets.
–Rolando McClain is still not practicing, but with the return of Durant, Bruce Carter should kick back to weak-side relegating Anthony Hitchens to the bench. Kyle Wilber will stick to manning the strong-side. Carter is still worth playing this week as an LB3/4.
-Looking for an upside DE play? Jeremy Mincey will face a bend-but-don’t break offensive line. The Rams are giving up a combined 39 QB hits/hurries and have allowed five sacks in the first three games. Mincey is generating pressure on nearly 12 percent of his rush snaps.
–Cameron Jordan notched his first sack and the way he’s generating pressure, big things are on the horizon, but maybe no this week. Jordan has tough sledding, depending on where he lines up, could line up over Tyron Smith, who’s given up a sack and two total QB hurries. Jordan is still a weekly starter and this will be a match-up to watch.
-I think Keenan Lewis has a good game in what could be a shoot-out. Lewis could see plenty of Dez Bryant, meaning lots of balls thrown his way. Is Lewis good enough to make plays? At the very least, he could notch some decent tackle numbers this week. I think Lewis is an upside CB play in corner-required leagues this week.
–Kenny Vaccaro has been a disappointment through the first three weeks. His 15 tackles have resulted in a low 7 percent tackle rate. If you have other options to play, might want to sit Vaccaro until he can get to the ball more.
New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs
–Jerod Mayo has gone 205 defensive snaps without missing a tackle attempt. Mayo has produced seven straight games of double-digit fantasy points dating back to last season. He’s off to a great start, producing an elite level 14.6 percent tackle rate.
-After producing just an assisted tackle in Week 1, Dont’a Hightower has 15 in his last two tilts. Jamie Collins is still nursing an injury, so he’s in line once again to have a solid game. Not only is he making tackles, but he’s also accounted for 24 percent of the Patriots’ total QB pressures, so there’s upside for the big plays. The Chiefs are allowing the 2nd most points to opposing LBs, and Hightower has produced 10 or more fantasy points in consecutive weeks.
-In the early going, QBs are throwing at Darrelle Revis. He’s been thrown at 16 times so far and he’s made a play on the ball 25 percent of the time, including an INT. Revis should be matched up against Dwayne Bowe, and with Alex Smith at QB, he’ll be a boom or bust CB play this week.
-Patriots have allowed seven sacks on the season and Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have continued to menace opposing QBs. Houston is getting to the QB nearly 24 percent of his rush snaps and has three sacks in the first three weeks. Hali himself has two sacks. Both will be solid LB plays in big play scoring formats.
-Chiefs fans and Eric Berry owners are hoping for a quick return. Ron Parker was in on 68 snaps in Week 3 and he missed on as many tackles as he made (two). He’s leaving points on the field, as he’s missing a tackle in every three attempts.
-I think Marcus Cooper is a sneaky CB play this week. Cooper has seen 19 targets in just two weeks, so opposing QBs are continuing to throw his way. While he only has two defended passes, he’s recorded 11 solo tackles in two games. This will be his first time facing the Patriots, however. I like him as a high upside CB2 this week.
–Dontari Poe will be a solid DT play this week, as the Pats are giving up the 7th most points to opposing defensive linemen. Poe has double-digit points in two of three games this season with a tackle rate of just over 6 percent, which is not a bad number for an interior linemen. He’s appeared in just under 90 percent of the defensive snaps.
Mike Woellert is an IDP Contributor for FakePigskin.