Week 6 Upgrades/Downgrades
Posted 10/10 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
DL Robert Mathis, Indianapolis (7 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF)
Despite not starting for the Colts, Mathis now has a sack in all 5 games this year. He also leads all Colts DL in tackles, which is pretty impressive for a part-time player listed at just 235 pounds. Playing opposite Dwight Freeney and often against teams who are trying to come back certainly helps his numbers, but neither of those situations are likely to change.
DL Dewayne Robertson, NY Jets (4 solos, 4 asst, 2 sacks)
Robertson entered the year with high expectations, but got off to a slow start. His numbers appear to be trending upwards lately, and this was the best statistical game of his brief career so far. Don't expect many tackles from him, but he should be worth a roster spot if he can become a more consistent pass rush threat.
DL Anwan Odom, Tennessee (3 solos, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
Despite starting for the Titans at DE, Odom has had to share time with other DEs and hadn't made much of an impact over the first month of the season as a result. He's a solid run defender, but this 2 sack performance might be enough to earn him some additional playing time in passing situations.
DL Rocky Bernard, Seattle (2 solos, 1.5 sacks)
Bernard is a player that probably flies well under the radar for most football fans and IDP owners, but he's been very consistent this year. He has recorded a sack in 3 of the first 5 games, and was credited with 5 solo tackles in one of the other games. After 5 weeks, he currently ranks #35 among fantasy DBs in fantasy points/game.
LB Lofa Tatupu, Seattle (9 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
After years of looking and many failures, the Seahawks appear to have finally found their MLB. Tatupu leads the team in tackles and has finished with 9 solo tackles in consecutive games. He's also shown some playmaking ability with 2 sacks and an INT on the year.
LB Karlos Dansby, Arizona (7 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD, 1 FF)
Dansby is probably undervalued by most IDP owners because he plays on the strongside, but he's a playmaker and is off to a great start this year. He finished with 5 or more solo tackles in 3 games, while also adding 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and a FF, and currently ranks #25 among linebackers in fantasy points per game.
LB Ben Taylor, Cleveland (9 solos, 3 asst)
Taylor was mentioned in this space two weeks ago, but deserves another upgrade after a 9 solo tackle performance against the Bears. He outproduced his ILB partner Andra Davis this week, and there's probably a decent chance that he's available on some waiver wires out there.
LB Victor Hobson, NY Jets (9 solos, 4 asst)
Like most strongside linebackers, Hobson's fantasy value has been minimal, but he's seen a major spike in production over the past two weeks while WLB Eric Barton has been out with an injury. Hobson has taken over Barton's place in the team's nickel package, and should continue to be productive if Barton misses any more time.
DB Marlon McCree, Carolina (10 solos, 2 INTs, 2 PD)
1st round pick Thomas Davis was given the starting SS job in Carolina, but he looked lost in coverage. Rather than move Mike Minter back to SS, the team inserted journeyman McCree into the starting lineup and he has performed great the past 2 games. The team has been happy with his performance and he should be able to hold onto the job as long as the Panthers remain in contention.
DB Chris Crocker, Cleveland (9 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 FF)
Crocker played a huge role in the Browns comeback win over the Bears on Sunday. He blitzed frequently and on one decisive play late in the game he was credited with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He also knocked Bears RB Thomas Jones out of the game early in the 4th quarter with a big hit. Crocker is playing much bigger than his size (5'11", 192lbs) and should have a solid grasp on the starting job.
DB Demarcus Faggins, Houston (10 solos, 1 asst)
Thanks to the struggles of Philip Buchanon, Faggins was inserted into the starting lineup for the Texans in week 4 and he has responded with 16 solo tackles in 2 games. He brings a lot more toughness and intensity to the Texans defense and should continue to be targeted often as QBs avoid Dunta Robinson.
DB DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta (10 solos)
Hall is living up to, and probably even exceeding the high expectations many people had for him. In addition to solidifying his reputation as a playmaker with 3 interceptions so far, he has also been surprisingly physical in run support and his 10 solo tackles this week are a clear sign of that.
DL Adewale Ogunleye, Chicago (0 tackles)
Ogunleye entered the year with high expectations and has played pretty well when healthy, but he had a bad game on Sunday. In addition to a neutral zone infraction that negated a Bears fumble recovery, he aggravated his ankle injury and finished with the game with no tackles or assists.
DL Bryant Young, San Francisco (0 tackles)
Despite entering the game with 3 sacks and 10 solo tackles in the past 2 games, Young was shut out against the Colts on Sunday. Clearly, the Colts are a tough matchup for linemen as Manning rarely gets sacked, but the 49ers received a healthy does of Edgerrin James and Young should have at least been able to manage a tackle or two.
DL Grant Wistrom, Seattle (1 asst)
Wistrom's dismal trend of decreasing solo tackles actually continued this week, as he has gone from 4 in week 1 all the way down to 0 this week. Being matched up against Orlando Pace was a big factor this week, but Wistrom has been a huge disappointment this year and has just 9 solo tackles and 0 sacks after 5 games.
DL Leonard Little, St Louis (1 solo, 1 asst, .5 sack, 1 PD)
Little left the game in the first half with a lower back injury and did not return. The Rams have a bye in week 6, so hopefully the week of rest will allow him to get healthy but back problems can be tricky and flare up at any moment. Little was replaced in the game by Tyoka Jackson, who collected 2 sacks himself.
LB Ed Hartwell, Atlanta (3 solos)
Hartwell suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the game and will miss the rest of the season. He had been a fantasy disappointment up until this point because the Falcons were using a lot of nickel packages, so his replacement probably won't be all that valuable either. Ike Reese replaced him in the game and finished with 4 solos and 1 PD.
LB Jeff Ulbrich, San Francisco (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 FF)
Ulbrich is leading the 49ers in tackles and had a very big game against the Colts on Sunday, but he suffered a torn biceps muscle and now must decide whether to undergo surgery or keep playing and risk further injury. The injury happened in the second quarter and he kept playing with it, but with the 49ers being in a rebuilding year, he may decide to have the surgery and miss the rest of the season.
LB Orlando Huff, Arizona (0 tackles)
After an 8-solo performance against the Seahawks in week 3, Huff has been nearly invisible the past two weeks. He finished with just 1 assist against the 49ers last week, and was completely shutout this week against the Panthers.
LB Jamie Sharper, Seattle (2 solos)
Sharper was a big free agent signing for the Seahawks, and he had a strong start to the season. With the emergence of Tatupu on the inside, however, his numbers have seen a significant drop and he has just 5 solo tackles over the past 2 games.
LB Chris Claiborne, St Louis (2 solos)
Claiborne was expected to upgrade the toughness and run defense of the Rams this year, but he's been a disappointment so far. In 5 games played, he's only finished with more than 2 solo tackles once, and he has made no big plays.
LB LaVar Arrington, Washington (0 tackles)
Despite huge popularity among Redskins players and fans, Arrington doesn't appear to have endeared himself to the coaching staff. After playing just 2 plays against the Seahawks last week, he didn't even see the field this week in a loss to the Broncos. When you consider how well the Redskins defense has been playing without him, it's hard to imagine him getting enough playing time to make a big impact this year.
DB Bryan Scott, Atlanta (1 solo)
Scott's fantasy value took a hit when the team moved him from SS to FS this year, but he had still been putting up decent numbers. He was a liability this week against the Patriots, however, as he finished with just 1 solo tackle (on special teams) and was repeatedly victimized by the Pats offense.
DB Sean Taylor, Washington (2 solos)
Once his legal issues were put somewhat behind him, Taylor was considered pretty much a consensus top-10 fantasy DB. What makes him such a valuable player was his big-play potential, but through 4 games he has yet to record an INT, sack, or FF. He also wasn't much help on the 2 big TD runs by Tatum Bell.
DB Ed Reed, Baltimore (2 solos)
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is off to a slow start. He's never been the type of DB to put up huge tackle numbers since he plays behind Ray Lewis, but after 4 games he has yet to record a sack, INT, or FF, and only has 1 PD.
DB Michael Boulware (2 solos)
After collecting 5 INTs as a rookie last year, Boulware has 0 through 5 games played. He was carted off the field on a stretcher during the first half on Sunday with a back injury after his legs went numb. He regained feeling in his legs soon afterwards, and fortunately the injury is not expected to be serious.