Week 11 Upgrades/Downgrades
Posted 11/14 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
DL Rocky Bernard, Seattle Seahawks (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Bernard doesn't even start for the Seahawks but he's a huge component of their nickel package. He has registered at least 1 sack in 5 different games, is averaging over 3 solos/game in the past month, and currently ranks 6th in fantasy scoring among all defensive tackles.
DL Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers (3 solos, 1 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF)
Due to a stat correction this week, Peppers got an extra sack in last week's game against the Buccaneers. Despite starting off the season with 0 sacks in his first 5 games, Peppers now has 5.5 sacks in his last 4 and is beginning of play up to the high expectations many had for him before the season began.
DL Trevor Pryce, Denver Broncos (5 solo, 1 sack, 1 FF)
The Broncos defensive line has been playing well all year but it hasn't translated into much fantasy production. Trevor Pryce is starting to change that a bit as he now has recorded a sack in consecutive games and the 5 solo tackles is the most he's had in 2 years.
DL Simeon Rice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4 solos, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PD, 2 FF)
After a 1-game suspension and a 0-tackle performance last week, Rice needed a big game and he delivered with a dominating performance against the Redskins on Sunday.
DL Osi Umenyiora, NY Giants (4 solos, 5 asst, 2 sacks)
Strahan gets most of the attention on the Giants defensive line - and deservedly so - but Umenyiora is becoming a huge fantasy force. Along with putting up respectable tackle numbers, he has 5 sacks in his last 3 games and his 8 sacks on the year tie him for 2nd in the league behind Robert Mathis.
LB Angelo Crowell, Buffalo Bills (9 solos, 6 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Crowell continues to be a better than expected fill-in for the injured Takeo Spikes in Buffalo. He's been particularly impressive as a playmaker with 3 sacks, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble in the past 4 games.
LB James Darling, Arizona Cardinals (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack)
Darling put up solid numbers in Arizona last year and injuries have helped keep him in the starting lineup again this year. He had his best game of the season on Sunday with 7 solo tackles and he registered the only sack of Joey Harrington in the game. The Cardinals defense is struggling to get off the field so he should continue to be productive.
LB London Fletcher, Buffalo Bills (13 solos, 7 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
Fletcher has been remarkably consistent since joining the Bills in 2002, finishing with between 94 and 98 solo tackles in all 3 seasons. He had fallen well off that pace this year with just 32 solo tackles in the first 8 games but he got back on track with a huge game against Larry Johnson and the Chiefs on Sunday.
LB Keith Newman, Minnesota Vikings (8 solos, 3 asst, .5 sack, 1 PD)
Newman replaced Napoleon Harris in the starting lineup at SLB awhile ago and has probably been the Vikings best linebacker lately. Over the past 2 weeks, he has registered 11 solo tackles, 5 assists, 1.5 sacks, and 2 PD and might be worth a flier if you are looking for help at linebacker and have space on your roster.
LB Demorrio Williams, Atlanta Falcons (13 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF)
The injury to Ed Hartwell forced the Falcons to reshuffle their linebacker group, with Keith Brooking moving to MLB and Demorrio Williams shifting to WLB. He's been productive no matter where he lines up, but playing on the weakside should allow him to take full advantage of his great speed and athleticism.
DB Renaldo Hill, Oakland Raiders (9 solos, 1 asst)
Despite being listed as questionable on the team's injury report this week, Hill played as the team's nickel back and contributed 9 solo tackles mostly while playing up in run support. He's currently the 3rd leading tackler for the Raiders and is averaging over 4 solos/game.
DB Ellis Hobbs, New England Patriots (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 4 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Hobbs is a 5'9" rookie out of Iowa State who got his first career start against the Dolphins on Sunday and made the most of it. He was targeted frequently by Gus Frerotte and kept coming up with big plays. In addition to the interception and fumble recovery, he also batted away a pass intended for Marty Booker in the end zone near the end of regulation.
DB Ken Lucas, Carolina Panthers (3 solos, 2 INTs, 2 PD)
Lucas tied with Chris Gamble for the NFC lead in interceptions last year with 6, which led the Panthers to sign him to a big free agent contract. Well, that signing certainly appears to be paying off as he already has 4 INTs in just 8 games played and came up with a huge game changing play against the Jets yesterday when he picked off a pass in the end zone.
DB Jermaine Phillips, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8 solos, 2 PD)
Phillips has been playing solid all year, but his tackle numbers are finally starting to rise to the level where he could actually be useful to some fantasy teams. Over the past 2 weeks, he's compiled 14 solo tackles, 3 assists, and 3 PD.
DB Darren Sharper, Minnesota Vikings (3 solos, 1 asst, 3 INTs, 5 PD, 1 TD)
Sharper contributed to a record day for the Vikings as they were the first team in history to score on an interception, kickoff, and punt return all in the same game. In addition to his 92-yard interception return for a TD (his second of the year), Sharper also added an interception at the Giants 17 yard line in the first quarter and an interception in the end zone late in the 4th quarter.
DL Rod Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (0 tackles)
The Packers made a change at left guard this week and it appeared to pay off as they ran the ball well and Rod Coleman was rendered ineffective. While the matchups have been tough, he now has just 1 assisted tackle over the past 2 games combined.
DL Lance Johnstone, Minnesota Vikings (1 asst)
With Kenechi Udeze out for the season, Johnstone has been the Vikings best pass rusher during the first half of the season despite playing through a shoulder injury. He's a one dimensional player who doesn't contribute much when he's not sacking the QB, as seen by his 9 solo tackles in 8 games played.
DL Paul Spicer (0 tackles) & Reggie Hayward (1 solo), Jacksonville Jaguars
Spicer and Hayward entered the game with very similar numbers and were tied for the team lead in sacks with 5.5, but neither managed to make an impact on Sunday vs the Ravens. Despite a strong start to the season, Hayward has now gone sackless for three straight games.
DL Greg Spires, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 solo)
Spires suffered a shoulder injury during the game and did not return, although the severity of the injury is unclear at the moment. Regardless, after a breakout season in 2004 with nearly 50 solo tackles and 8 sacks, Spires has just 2 sacks and 14 solo tackles in 9 games played and has been a pretty big disappointment thus far.
DL Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens (1 solo)
Suggs missed practice this week with a thigh injury and was listed as questionable on the injury report. Although he was able to play through it, he didn't have much of an impact on the game. If this is an injury that lingers, it could hurt his effectiveness going forward so watch the situation closely.
LB Akinola Ayodele, Jacksonville Jaguars (0 tackles)
Ayodele finished with 0 tackles in a game for the first time since his rookie season in 2002 and could be in danger of losing his starting job to Jamie Winborn who was acquired in a trade with the 49ers earlier this season.
LB Chad Brown (1 solo) & Monty Beisel (1 solo), New England Patriots
Since Bruschi has returned, the Pats have also moved Mike Vrabel to inside linebacker, which has rendered both of these players relatively useless from a fantasy perspective.
LB Chris Claiborne, St Louis Rams (1 solo)
Claiborne has been a pretty big disappointment as the Rams new MLB this year. The team hoped he would add toughness and provide an upgrade to the run defense, but his 1 solo tackle certainly didn't help them slow down Shaun Alexander on Sunday.
LB Nick Greisen, NY Giants (1 solo, 1 asst)
Greisen has been starting at WLB for the Giants lately, which is normally a position conducive to fantasy production but he has just 6 solo tackles over his last 3 starts. His numbers have been hurt by how well the defense has been playing as they haven't allowed an offensive TD in 3 straight games.
LB Junior Seau, Miami Dolphins (1 asst)
At 36 years old, Seau doesn't appear to have much left. He's been battling through injuries all year and his productivity has fallen off considerably with the switch to strongside linebacker. He has just 4 assisted tackles in the past 2 games and doesn't appear to be a very good fit for Saban's defensive system.
DB Deke Cooper, Jacksonville Jaguars (1 solo)
Cooper stepped in at strong safety after Donovin Darius was lost with an injury, but Cooper is nowhere near the run defender that Darius. He has had a few good games this year but is averaging almost a full solo tackle/game less than Darius did last year.
DB Mike Minter, Carolina Panthers (1 solo, 1 asst)
Minter was moved to FS this year to accommodate the arrival of rookie Thomas Davis, but Davis was quickly benched. Rather than move Minter back to his natural SS position, the team kept him at FS and his numbers have suffered as a result. Apart from a fluke 6 solo tackle game against the Buccaneers a week ago, Minter is averaging less than 2 solo tackles/game this year and he hasn't had an interception for 27 straight games.
DB Tony Parrish, San Francisco 49ers (1 solo)
Parrish has been one of the lone bright spots for the 49ers this year, but he broke his leg early in the game on Sunday and will be lost for the season. He had started every single game during his 8-year career.
DB Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts (1 solo, 2 asst)
Sanders did not play in the second half due to a knee injury, which is something to keep an eye on this week. He was known as a big hitter who is strong in run support and he has lived up to that reputation, but he hasn't been a big enough playmaker from the FS position with just 1 interception and 1 FF on the year.
DB Troy Vincent, Buffalo Bills (1 asst)
Vincent injured his shoulder in the second quarter while trying to tackle Larry Johnson and didn't return. He's tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions and had been having an excellent season at free safety. He was replaced in the lineup by Rashad Baker, who had one of the Bills 3 interceptions on the day.