There was some concern with Kemal Ishmael after he missed about twenty snaps in the Falcons week ten game. I was not able to confirm exactly why he was off the field for those snaps, but the important fact is that Ishmael was back to every down status in week eleven. The result was a solid performance that included 5 solo stops, an assist and an interception. He is a safe play this week against a Cleveland team that has been a slightly above average matchup for safeties in general.
Paul Worrilow had a good week eleven finishing at 6-3-1. He is an every week start for most owners in twelve team leagues that start three linebackers. If you have the luxury of having to make a decision with Worrilow, consider that the Browns have been a solid matchup for linebackers on most weeks and there is a lot of speculation that bruiser Isaiah Crowell will get the ball often this week against the Falcons struggling run defense. Call it a hunch but I expect a strong game from Worrilow.
With the injury to Robert Alford, Robert McClain should move into the base defense at corner this week with Josh Wilson seeing more action in the nickel. McClain has posted good numbers for us at times and could be a decent late season add for the stretch run.
With Leodis McKelvin done for the year, Corey Graham will step into the Bills starting lineup at corner. McKelvin has been a quality every week start for owners in corner required leagues and a solid spot start at the least for many in leagues that lump the defensive back positions together. Graham has been productive for us in the past when given an opportunity to play full time. He had a solid 7 solo stops against Miami and has the ability to pick up right where McKelvin left off. Keep him on the bench this week though as no DB has recorded more than 4 solo stops against the Jets since week two.
The Bears defense was on the field for only 47 snaps against Minnesota so there was not a lot of opportunity for Chicago defenders in week eleven. This has certainly not been the case on most weeks. The important note here is that Lance Briggs was the only linebacker to play on every snap against the Vikings. Jon Bostic saw the most action of the other linebackers as he was on the field for roughly 62% of the defensive plays. Even when healthy Briggs has done little in the box scores this year. This is a sad state of affairs for fantasy owners as the Bears simply seem to have no one capable of taking advantage of the situation. Even the safeties have struggled on the field and been inconsistent at best in the box scores. Unless you have Jared Allen or maybe Willie Young, it might be best to avoid Bears defenders all together this week against a Buccaneers club that has been a marginal matchup on most weeks.
The return of Rey Maualuga seemed to provide a spark for the Bengals defense in their surprising week eleven win over the Saints. Vincent Rey led the box score charge with a 10-2-0 mark while working as a three down weak side backer. Emmanuel Lamur continued to pair with Rey in the sub packages and chipped in a strong 8-2-0 as well. When Cincinnati is on the road and can escape their ultra stingy home stats crew, both of these guys are worthy of starting consideration. This is particularly true in week twelve when the Bengals go to Houston where the Texans have been a strong matchup for linebackers. A look at recent history shows us that since week six D'Qwell Jackson, Lawrence Timmons, Avery Williamson, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have all recorded quality tackle numbers and a sack against the Texans. In week eleven Karlos Dansby, Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson combined to go 8-16-0. The moral of this story is get Rey and Lamur in your lineup.
Margus Hunt left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. While he was out rookie Will Clarke finally got on the field. Hunt's status for week twelve is in question so we could see the rookie get a few more looks.
Karlos Dansby suffered a sprained knee early in the week eleven contest and is unlikely to go in week twelve. It is hard to say if he will miss time beyond that. With Dansby out Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson were both three down inside linebackers. The value of these guys down the stretch relies completely on the health of Dansby but if you are in need of a spot start this week, consider that Atlanta has been a strong matchup for tackle producing linebackers. In fact, seven inside or weak side backers have reached or exceeded 7 solo stops against the Falcons in their past six games.
Jamaal Sheard's foot injury i9s not as bad as originally thought. He is however, expected to miss week twelve. For those in big play based leagues this could be an opportunity to slip Barkevious Mingo or Paul Kruger into your lineup. They should both see an increased workload and the Falcons have allowed 12 sacks to outside pass rushers over their past five games.
Rolando McClain was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and is expected to go against the Giants. New York was not a particularly good matchup while Rashad Jennings was out but they are a different team with Jennings on the field. In the games that he has played we have seen DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch combine for 15-3-0, Brian Cushing 8-9-0, Keenan Robinson 7-6-0, Paul Worrilow and Prince Shembo combine for 16-12-0 and in week eleven, Chris Boreland 8-4-0. If the Cowboys stick with the same plan they had before their bye, McClain will be full time in the middle with Anthony Hitchens working as a three down weak side backer. Both of these guys have the potential to post quality numbers for us this week.
Brandon Marshall has been huge in each of Denver's last two games but beware the trap this week. Benching him would be a tough call to make but consider that only one linebacker has reached double digit fantasy points against the Dolphins since week five. Miami has however, allowed 13.5 sacks to defensive linemen over those five games. With that in mind, DeMarcus Ware is a must start while Derek Wolfe is a high upside sleeper and Terrence Knighton is a worthy start in tackle required leagues.
Ezekial Ansah has gotten on a roll over the past several weeks but we might want to consider other options for week twelve. The New England offense has been unstoppable of late and they have only allowed 2 sacks to outside pass rushers over their past four games.
Green Bay Packers
Clay Matthews is being moved around a lot but he continues to line up on the inside often. He rushed the passer 13 times on Sunday and dropped in coverage 23 times. While the tackle numbers were a bit down from week eleven, Matthews was still box score friendly at 4-1-1 with a pass defended. The fact that the Packers defense performed so well is a good sign that Matthews new role may stick.
In the two games since Keenan Lewis went down, rookie corner A.J. Bouye has gone 15-2-0 with an interception for a score. The rookie corner rule is in full force here, but beware the matchup this week. Since week one only one defensive back has posted more than 4 solo stops against the Bengals and that was Antoine Cason in the week six overtime game.
Danieal Manning was a surprise starter at strong safety and played about 66% of the snaps in week eleven. D.J. Swearinger Sr still saw more playing time at just over 85%, but this could be reason for concern if you are a Swearinger owner. He has underwhelmed to say the least and Manning is a more than serviceable option with plenty of starting experience. This is one to keep an eye on in week twelve.
To follow up on a topic from last week, safety LaRon Landry was on the field for all of 8 snaps in week eleven. This situation has forced me to take a much closer look at Mike Adams as a player and I am rather surprised at what I see. He is not a great player from a talent perspective which is why he has been a career backup, but Adams seems to be a great fit in the scheme. He is a smart veteran presence that plays fundamentally sound football. In many ways he looks a lot like Antoine Bethea in that aspect. Most importantly for us, Adams is on a streak of three consecutive games with 8 solo stops. That streak likely ends this week against a Jacksonville squad that has been an average matchup at best, but the Colts have Washington in week thirteen, Houston in week fifteen and Dallas in week sixteen. Who knows what is going on with Landry behind the scenes. What we do know is that he's not getting on the field and we are out of time to be patient.
Kansas City Chiefs
Ron Parker has put up good numbers for us on most weeks and is coming off his best tackle totals of the year with 11 solo stops. We need to temper our expectations this week however. The Raiders offense has struggled greatly and they have been a poor matchup across the board for our IDPs. Unless you believe that Latavius Murray will somehow magically jumpstart the Oakland running game, this is the week to sit everyone on the Kansas city defense. Strangely this is not even a good matchup for the Chiefs pass rushers. The one thing Derek Carr and the offense can hang their hats on is that they are not allowing the young quarterback to take a beating. In fact they have allowed only 8 sacks to outside pass rushers on the season.
It is always tough to sit our stars in crunch time but consider that over their past three games Denver has allowed just 1 sack to a defensive lineman and no lineman has recorded more than 2 solo stops against them over that span. This is particularly disparaging when you remember that the Broncos have not played well in two of those three games. With this in mind we have to consider sitting Cameron Wake and/or Olivier Vernon in this one.
On the other side of that coin, both Jelani Jenkins and Reshad Jones have to be in our lineups this week. Over Denver's last six games there have been seven linebackers with at least 7 solo tackles and seven safeties with at least 6 solo stops against them. Koa Misi and Louis Delmas are also worthy of consideration in deeper leagues.
Everson Griffen came up a little short for us in week eleven but that should not keep him out of our lineups this week. He was credited with a couple of tackles and a batted pass against Chicago but also had 5 hurries in the game. Aaron Rodgers has been dropped 14 times by outside pass rushers on the season and one of those sacks came at the hands of Griffen in their first meeting.
New Orleans Saints
Rafael Bush was giving us solid production before being lost for the season in week eleven. He was replaced in the game by Marcus Ball but with a week to prepare, it would be no surprise to see recent veteran free agent addition Jamaica Sanford move into the lineup. Sanford has given us marginal DB3 value in the past and may well produce similar numbers to those of Bush if he is given the opportunity. I honestly have no idea what we can expect from Ball here if he is the guy, but the position has been productive in general.
David Hawthorne returned to action in week eleven and went right back into his previous three down role. Those in deep leagues may want to consider adding Hawthorne but I would hold off on starting him this week against a Baltimore squad that has been hit or miss at best and mostly miss when it comes to linebacker production.
New York Giants
Jam eel McClain had a big week with 11 solo stops and 3 assists against San Francisco. Despite the fact that the Cowboys are running Demarco Murray into the ground, they have been an average matchup at best. Temper expectations for McClain this week.
There is good news for all those dynasty owners who have been sitting on Devon Kennard. He got the call to replace Jacqui an Williams against the 49ers and posted a respectable 7-2 on 55 of 68 snaps. As of Wednesday Williams is still not practicing as he recovers from a concussion so Kennard could be in line for another start. He could be a sleeper option for those in deeper leagues but at the least this is an opportunity for us to see him in action. So far so good I say. with Stevie Brown playing 17 snaps in a big nickel. Robert Ayers another sack 2-0-1
Mychal Kendricks is another of those guys that most of us have a hard time sitting but take a hard look at your other options this week. In fact, take a hard look at sitting all of your Eagles defenders against the Titans. All the defensive linemen Tennessee has faced over their last four games have combined to total 16 solo stops. Over the last five games opposing secondary’s as a whole have averaged 11.8 tackles. The numbers for linebackers are not a lot better.
San Diego Chargers
I am still trying to figure out why Donald Butler saw action on only 30 snaps in week eleven. There have been no reports of injury so I have to believe this was not a big deal. It would be nice to get some confirmation one way to the other though as San Diego has a strong linebacker matchup in St. Louis this week. Over their past three games Chris Boreland and Brandon Marshall have each reached double digit tackles and even the pedestrian Larry Foote managed a mark of 6-1-0 against the Rams. If you are short on options plug Butler in there and keep your fingers crossed. If he gets back to the every down role this could be the most productive game of his season.
Kavell Conner (29 snaps and Manti T'eo (31 snaps) saw pretty much equal playing tome to Butler last week but there is no reason to expect either of those guys to emerge.
Earl Thomas had his best game of the year at 10-1-0 with 2 forced fumbles against the Chiefs. It is hard to say for sure but it looked like he was spying on Jamaal Charles much of the time. Thomas is capable of these big games here and there but do not be an ambulance chaser.
Byron Maxwell was a complete bust despite starting and playing all but 2 snaps. This was purely a result of the offensive game plan but I am still not expecting big things from Maxwell this week against Arizona. The Cardinals have been an average and somewhat inconsistent matchup for corners on the season and offenses are not showing the same fear of Richard Sherman that we saw early in the season.
St. Louis Rams
T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod both started and played full time in week eleven with Mark Barron getting on the field for 12 snaps. It looks like we may have to wait a while before Barron earns a significant role.
One other interesting note; Eugene Sims started ahead of William Hayes at end. Sims is a poor man's Chris Long in both stature and skill set. Long has been working in practice and could see some action this week, so Sims opportunity may be short.
That is going to do it for week twelve. Crunch time is upon us so best of luck to you this week in all those must win situations.