Week 8 Upgrades/Downgrades
Posted 10/24 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
DL Bryce Fisher, Seattle (7 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks)
The Seahawks defense played great against the Cowboys on Sunday, limiting them to 4 first downs and 3 points in the second half. After a quick start to the year with 3 sacks in his first 3 games, Fisher had gone sackless for 3 straight games before his monster game this week. This game was enough to push Fisher into the top-10 of fantasy DL scoring for the season, making him easily one of the best values so far this year.
DL Grant Wistrom, Seattle (7 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
Wistrom got off to a terrible start this season with just 10 solos and no sacks in his first 5 games. But, it looks like he may be starting to turn things around as he got his first sack a week ago against Houston and followed it up with an even better performance this week.
DL Raheem Brock, Indianapolis (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Brock is the starter at DE in Indy, but the speedy Robert Mathis replaces him in passing situations. This week, Mathis was listed as questionable on the injury report (although he still managed to keep his sack streak alive), so Brock likely got some additional playing time and took advantage with a big game against the winless Texans. If Freeney or Mathis were ever seriously injured, Brock would see a nice bump in his fantasy value.
DL Tank Johnson, Chicago (5 solos, 2 sacks)
Other than Urlacher's 6 sacks this year, the Bears have had trouble generating a pass rush, especially from their front 4. Johnson was playing a supporting role on the team earlier in the year, but his performance on Sunday should lead to more playing time. Both of his sacks came on 3rd down plays in the 4th quarter as the Ravens were trying to come from behind.
DL Duane Clemons, Cincinnati (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 FR)
This was Clemons first game back since being suspended by the league for violating the substance abuse policy. He collected the Bengals only sack of Roethlisberger and forced a fumble, while the player who had replaced him in the starting lineup, Robert Geathers, finished with 0 tackles on the day. Geathers hasn't made the impact as a pass rusher that the team was hoping for, so Clemons could see more playing time going forward.
LB Jeremiah Trotter, Philadelphia (5 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 PD, 1 FF)
The Eagles run defense held LaDainian Tomlinson to the worst rushing performance of his career on Sunday and Trotter was a huge part of that. After a slow start to the year, which included a suspension in the season opener for a pre-game fight, Trotter has 33 solo tackles over his last 4 games. Always known as a strong run defender and tackle machine, he showed some surprising big play ability Sunday as well with a sack, interception, forced fumble, and 3 passes defensed.
LB Karlos Dansby, Arizona (9 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Dansby has been one of the biggest surprises at LB so far this year. He came into the league with a reputation as a great pass rusher, but he's been filling the stat sheet in other ways as well. In addition to his 3 sacks on the year, he's also averaging nearly 5 solo tackles/game and has added a couple interceptions and forced fumbles too. He's producing like a top-10 fantasy LB this year and has had just 1 bad game out of 6.
LB Brandon Moore, San Francisco (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
ILB Jeff Ulbrich was placed on IR with a biceps injury and was temporarily replaced in the starting lineup by Saleem Rasheed. Rasheed injured his knee in practice, however, and that forced the 49ers to start special-teamer Brandon Moore on Sunday. Rasheed has had trouble staying healthy in the past, so Moore could wind up being a starter at ILB the rest of the year. Most 49ers IDPs in the back 7 will put up solid numbers this year because the offense is struggling and the defense can't get off the field.
LB Bradie James, Dallas (5 solos, 1 sack)
James has taken over at MLB for Dat Nguyen - who has missed 3 games with a neck injury - and has performed well. James has taken over the defensive play calling in the Cowboys defense, has 20 solo tackles over the last 4 games, and was the only Cowboy to sack Hasselbeck on Sunday.
LB LaVar Arrington, Washington (7 solos, 2 asst)
Arrington went from being inactive a week ago to seeing extensive playing time against the 49ers in a blowout win this week. He looked like the Arrington of old, making plays all over the field, and actually led the team in tackles. This performance should be enough for the coaches to start giving him more playing time, but he'll still need to prove that he can play disciplined within the Redskins defensive system if he wants to get his starting job back.
DB Adam Archuleta, St Louis (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FR)
With a huge performance against the Saints on Sunday, Archuleta has become the top scoring fantasy DB this year. He battled through back problems last year, which really limited his production, but he's healthy this year and leading the Rams in solo tackles. Archuleta only has 3 career interceptions, but he's one of the best blitzing safeties in the league, as evidenced by his 15 career sacks.
DB Dunta Robinson, Houston (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Robinson came into the year with high expectations after his monster rookie season, but he's struggled to make a fantasy impact thus far. The Texans have been playing from behind pretty much every week so teams don't have much need to throw against them, and when they do they usually throw to the other side of the field. Robinson was very active against the Colts on Sunday, however, and even picked off Peyton Manning so hopefully that is a sign of better things to come.
DB Chris Hope, Pittsburgh (6 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Hope is playing well for the Steelers this year, averaging 5 solos/game and he came through with a big interception against the Bengals yesterday. The Steelers CBs were pretty banged up, but Hope and the rest of the Steelers secondary held Carson Palmer to his first sub-100 passer rating game in 10 games. Hope is a free agent after the year so he has added incentive to have a big statistical year.
DB Troy Vincent, Buffalo (5 solos, 1 PD, 1 FR)
Vincent has made a seamless transition to free safety for the Bills and has been very consistent from week to week. He's had at least 4 solo tackles for 5 straight weeks, in addition to being a playmaker with 3 INTs, 1 FF, and 2 FR on the year. He may not give you the huge weeks that some DBs will, but he's been very reliable so far.
DB Marquand Manuel, Seattle (4 solos, 4 asst)
Seahawks FS Ken Hamlin was released from the hospital but likely won't be returning to the field anytime soon. Manuel took his place in the starting lineup at FS this week and had a solid day against the downfield passing attack of the Cowboys. Manuel has been a career backup for most of his career, but he could be a decent fill-in if you need some help.
DB Daylon McCutcheon (8 solos)
McCutcheon has been very productive this year and after his 8 solo tackle performance on Sunday, he currently ranks 3rd among all DBs in solo tackles on the year. Starting CB Gary Baxter will be placed on IR after tearing his pectoral muscle this week, so look for McCutcheon to face more #1 WRs going forward, which should lead to continued production from him.
DL Robert Geathers, Cincinnati (0 tackles)
Geathers wasn't listed on the team's injury report and started the game at RDE, but he recorded no tackles in the game while backup Duane Clemons put up solid numbers. Geathers is a young player who the team hoped would be a pass rushing force from the RDE spot this year, but with just 1 sack through 7 games, he may be in danger of losing his starting spot back to Clemons.
DL Mike Patterson, Philadelphia (0 tackles)
Patterson recently had a nice 2-game stretch with 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks, and a FF, but finished Sunday's game with no tackles. Combined with his 1 solo performance against the Cowboys in the last game, it looks like Patterson has seen his playing time reduced in favor of starters Hollis Thomas and Darwin Walker.
DL Alex Brown, Chicago (1 asst)
The Bears gave Brown a big contract extension recently, but he's yet to live up to it. The defense is playing well, but through 6 weeks, Brown has 0 sacks, no forced fumbles, and is only averaging 2 solos/game. He's an adequate DE but nothing special, and probably shouldn't be counted on for too much from IDP owners going forward.
DL Darren Howard, New Orleans (1 solo)
Howard dislocated his finger during practice last week but played with it anyway. Howard averaged nearly 1 sack/game last year, but his numbers are down this year after 3 straight disappointing games. Will Grant is emerging as a solid force at the position and Charles Grant is already one of the league's best, so Howard could finally be headed elsewhere this offseason if things don't turn around at some point.
DL Kevin Williams, Minnesota (3 asst)
Williams sprained his ankle and left the game temporarily, but he's easily been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments on the IDP side this year. After recording 22 sacks in his first 2 years in the league, the Vikings brought in help this year yet he has just .5 sack through 6 games. Williams came into the season overweight and is facing plenty of double teams. Hopefully, whoever the Vikings bring in as coach next year can get more out of him than this.
DL Bryant Young, San Francisco (1 solo, 1 asst)
After a great start to the year with 6 sacks in his first 4 games, Young has been a non-factor the past 2 games. He was held scoreless against the Colts in week 5, and didn't do much to slow down Clinton Portis or the Redskins on Sunday either.
LB Joey Porter, Pittsburgh (0 tackles)
Porter came into the game with 4 sacks in 5 games played, but he was held sackless and wasn't credited with any tackles against the Bengals on Sunday. The Steelers won the game pretty easily, but a goose egg from one of the league's better playmaking LBs is certainly cause for some concern.
LB Warrick Holdman, Washington (1 solo, 1 asst)
Holdman has been starting for the Redskins at WLB this year in place of LaVar Arrington, but his numbers haven't been anything special up to this point. He is a steady and disciplined player, but is limited athletically and won't make too many plays. After the big game from Arrington on Sunday, it would not be a surprise to see Holdman lose playing time and possibly his starting job in the weeks ahead.
LB Andre Carter, San Francisco (1 solo)
The 49ers benched and then traded Jamie Winborn because of how well Carter was adjusting to the OLB position after having played DE his entire career. Well, even though the coaches might be happy with him, he's not doing much from a fantasy perspective. He does have 1.5 sacks on the year, but is only averaging 2 solo tackles/game.
LB Steve Foley, San Diego (1 solo, 1 PD)
Foley was a great free agent signing for the Chargers last year and he looked like he'd pick up right where he left off with 2 sacks in his first 2 games this year, but he's now had 2 straight games with just 1 solo tackle and rookie Shawne Merriman is beginning to emerge as the team's best pass rusher.
DB C.C. Brown, Houston (0 tackles)
Brown took over the starting SS job in Houston this year and had been averaging over 5 solo tackles/game, but he was listed as questionable with a knee injury this week. He was on the active roster but didn't start and wound up with 0 tackles. Don't downgrade him too far, but the injury is something to keep an eye on and it might be safe to bench him until he goes out and plays a full game.
DB Bob Sanders (2 asst), Indianapolis
The Texans weren't a very good matchup for the Colts DBs, and it probably wound up hurting Sanders more than anybody. He had been averaging 6 solos/game so him getting shut out there is pretty surprising. He'll likely bounce back, but the strong play of the Colts front 7 isn't letting as many plays get to him as an IDP owner would like.
DB Tony Parrish, San Francisco (1 solo)
Parrish should have put up better numbers than 1 solo tackle against the Redskins this week. Combined with his 3 solo game against the Colts before the bye week, it looks like the drop in his production has coincided perfectly with the insertion of rookie QB Alex Smith into the starting lineup. With the 49ers playing from behind every week, teams will have little incentive to attack them through the air and that will lead to much fewer interception opportunities for Parrish.
DB Terrence Holt, Detroit (1 solo)
Holt has been a solid fantasy producer so far this year and the addition of him and Kenoy Kennedy to the starting lineup has helped solidify the Lions defense. In a game that saw Trent Dilfer attempt only 19 passes, however, Holt was a non-factor against the Browns this week. It was actually just Holt's first disappointing game of the year so probably isn't too much to worry about.
DB Gary Baxter, Cleveland (1 solo)
Baxter had been playing well for the Browns, but he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the game this week. He had surgery today and will unfortunately be lost for the season. This should open up more opportunities for Leigh Bodden, who played well in week 1 while filling in for Baxter and replaced him on Sunday as well.