Week 9 Upgrades/Downgrades
Posted 10/31 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
DL Warren Sapp, Raiders (5 solos, 1 asst, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF)
Sapp is starting to play like his old self with 2.5 sacks this week and 4.5 sacks over his last 4 games. He's also had solid tackle numbers in 3 of the 4 games and looks like he could be helpful to most fantasy teams this year.
DL Gary Walker, Texans (3 solos, 4 asst, 2 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF)
Walker has been injured for most of the year but he was cleared to play for the first time since week 2 and made the most of the opportunity with 2 sacks and a forced fumble against the Browns this week. Despite only practicing twice in the previous 6 weeks, Walker was a force on Sunday and helped the Texans to their first win of the season.
DL Bryant Young, 49ers (3 solos, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
The up and down year of Bryant Young took another big turn upwards with a huge game against the Bucs on Sunday. After a couple disappointing performances in which he was held sackless, he was able to get consistent pressure on Chris Simms and wound up with 2 sacks and a critical forced fumble late in the game to seal the victory. His 8 sacks on the year are already the 5th highest total of his career and the most he's had in a year since 2000.
DL James Hall, Lions (6 solos, 1 sack)
Hall had a slow start to the year as he battled through a hamstring injury that rendered him ineffective, but he looked to be healthy again on Sunday with a strong 6 solo, 1 sack performance against the Bears. His return to the lineup will likely mean less playing time for Kalimba Edwards, who had played well in his absence but is not as well rounded a player as Hall is.
DL Demetric Evans, Redskins (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Evans managed to put up great numbers in a blowout loss the Giants yesterday. He's normally brought in a pass rush specialist in passing situations, but perhaps his performance yesterday will convince the coaches to give him more playing time as he's the only Redskins DL not named Cornelius Griffin with a sack this year and the starting DEs don't put much pressure on opposing QBs.
LB Mike Vrabel, Patriots (9 solos, 5 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Apart from a strange 0 solo game against the Falcons, Vrabel has been huge over the past 4 games with 27 solo tackles, 11 assists, and 1.5 sacks. The return of Bruschi to the lineup didn't seem to hurt his numbers much this week either.
LB Shawne Merriman, Chargers (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
Merriman is emerging as the impact player the Chargers thought he would be when they drafted him in the first round this year. He's making a solid fantasy impact as well with 9 solos, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble over the past 2 weeks.
LB Chaun Thompson, Browns (8 solos, 1 FF)
Thompson had one of the best games of his young career on Sunday. In addition to the 8 tackles and forced fumble he was credited with, his strong play also contributed to an interception, several tackles for a loss, and a sack of Carr.
LB Ron McKinnon, Saints (7 solos, 1 asst)
Courtney Watson was arrested last week for DWI in San Antonio and was replaced in the starting lineup this week by Ron McKinnon, who has been a solid productive player throughout most of his career. Watson played late in the game, but the starter for the next game hasn't been announced yet so McKinnon could be a nice sleeper pickup if Watson stays in Haslett's doghouse.
LB Earl Holmes, Lions (8 solos, 1 PD)
Holmes was a fantasy stud during his time in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, but his numbers have dropped off a bit the past couple years in Detroit. They are up this year, however, as he leads the team with 39 solos and is on pace for an 89-solo tackle season. He's playing great and making it tough for Teddy Lehman to get on the field.
DB Ryan Clark, Redskins (11 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
The Redskins have had a revolving door at the strong safety position this year, but Clark has been solid when playing. He was one of the only bright spots for the Redskins on Sunday finishing with 11 solo tackles and an interception of Eli Manning in the end zone.
DB Leigh Bodden, Browns (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 INT, 4 PD)
Bodden took over for Gary Baxter and picked up right where he left off with a monster fantasy game. Bodden has good size to contribute against the run, and he's already shown some playmaking ability with 2 interceptions in just 4 games played.
DB Mike Furrey, Rams (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FR)
Furrey is a former WR who is thriving after the move to safety this year. Last week, he collected his first interception and later ran back a fumble recovery for a TD that sealed the victory for the Rams. This week, he kept it going with another fumble recovery and a late interception return that set up the winning score.
DB Fred Smoot, Vikings (9 solos, 1 asst)
Smoot was matched up with Steve Smith all day, and even though he was burned repeatedly he still wound up with a very solid day for fantasy owners. The same thing happened a week ago when he was matched up with Donald Driver. If the Vikings continue to match up Smoot with the other team's primary WR, his fantasy numbers should be better than expected.
DB Josh Bullocks, Saints (7 solos, 1 asst, 3 PD)
Bullocks once led the NCAA in interceptions while at Nebraska, so he came into the league with a reputation as a playmaker. He only has 1 interception so far, but his tackle numbers have been solid and the Saints front 4 should give him more interception opportunities in the future.
DL Cornelius Griffin, Redskins (0 tackles)
Griffin was limited to just 2 plays on Sunday after aggravating a hip injury early in the first quarter. His absence opened things up for the Giants to run wild on the Redskins. He's still a dominant player and a very valuable fantasy DL/DT to have, but keep an eye on his injury status going forward.
DL Erasmus James, Vikings (0 tackles)
James has been active for 6 games now and has just 2 solo tackles to show for it, one of which came on special teams. He did force a fumble and recover it himself in a play on Sunday, but the play was negated by a penalty.
DL Derrick Burgess, Raiders (1 asst)
After 3 straight games with 4 solos and 2 sacks in each, Burgess cooled off against the Titans this week. His 20 solo tackles and 7 sacks through 7 games still put him on pace for a huge year so hopefully this was just an aberration.
DL Kalimba Edwards, Lions (1 FR)
Edwards took advantage of the injury to James Hall earlier this year, but now that Hall looks to be healthy, Edwards' numbers have disappeared over the past couple games. In 2 games since Hall returned, he has no solo tackles and just 2 assists. He should still see time as a pass rush specialist, but his value will be limited without solid tackle numbers each week.
DL Simeon Rice, Buccaneers (0 tackles)
After starting the season with 5 sacks in his first 6 games, Rice was benched for disciplinary reasons after missing a team meeting this week. Gruden said he will be back in the starting lineup next week, however, so there's probably no reason not to play him going forward.
DL Jevon Kearse, Eagles (1 solo, 1 sack)
Kearse has been on a mini hot streak of late with 3 sacks in his last 4 games, but his 5 solo tackles during that same stretch aren't anything to get excited about. Additionally, he left the game yesterday in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and didn't return, so look for further information on his injury later in the week.
LB Kenard Lang/Matt Stewart, Browns (1 solo, 2 asst combined)
These two are splitting time at one of the OLB spots in Cleveland and the platoon situation is causing both to put up less than impressive numbers. If either won the job by themselves though, there still might not be enough tackles to go around.
LB Ben Taylor, Browns (1 solo, 1 asst)
Taylor was putting up good numbers earlier this year (21 solos, 9 assists over a 3-week period), but he's cooled off lately and has just 4 solos and 1 assist over the last 2 games.
LB Courtney Watson, Saints (1 solo, 1 asst)
As mentioned earlier, Watson was arrested on DWI charges this week and lost his starting job to veteran Ron McKinnon. Watson hasn't been that great this year anyway, so he could have some trouble getting the starting job back if McKinnon plays well.
LB London Fletcher, Bills (1 solo, 1 asst)
Fletcher has been one of the most consistently productive fantasy LBs in the league throughout almost his entire career. His numbers have seen a noticeable decline with the loss of Pat Williams up front, and they appear to be getting worse instead of better with the injury to Takeo Spikes.
DB Thomas Davis, Panthers (0 tackles)
Davis was hoping to take on a bigger role with the Panthers, but his 0 tackle performance this week against the Vikings suggests he might have to wait awhile longer for that to happen. Davis makes plays when in the game and has been contributing on special teams, but he is a liability in coverage and likely won't see extensive playing time until he can become more reliable.
DB Terrence Kiel, Chargers (1 solo)
Kiel left the game in the 3rd quarter with an ankle injury and only finished the game with 1 solo tackle. After a quick start to the year, his tackle numbers have dropped off considerably (10 solo tackles over the past 4 games after getting 31 in the first 4 games).
DB Nick Ferguson, Broncos (1 solo)
Ferguson took over Kenoy Kennedy's spot in the starting lineup for the Broncos this year and showed flashes early on in the year that he'd put up similar numbers, but he finished 2 of the past 3 games with just 1 solo tackle.
DB Gibril Wilson, Giants (1 solo, 1 asst)
Wilson has been one of the most productive fantasy DBs in the league this year so this was a very surprising/disappointing total from him. However, the numbers are likely a fluke as the Giants offense didn't play too many snaps in a blowout win over the Redskins this week.
DB Champ Bailey, Broncos (2 solos, 1 PD)
Bailey was expected to face Terrell Owens for most of the game on Sunday, but wound up leaving early after aggravating a hamstring injury. He's productive when he plays because he's often matched up against the opposing #1 WR, but his injury is cause for some concern as it has already caused him to miss several games this year.