Kevin Minter has been inconsistent but has totaled 7 solo stops and reached double digit fantasy points in two of the last four games. He is still looking for that elusive first big play which is somewhat puzzling in that defense, but Minter is worth consideration this week as a third starter. Baltimore has been a quality match up for linebackers this season with seven of them posting at least 6 solo stops against them. Lawrence Timmons, Michael Wilhoite and Navorro Bowman all reached double digits solos in the past three weeks against the Ravens with Karlos Dansby going 3-7 in between.
On last week's IDP podcast I talked about the Dan Quinn effect on defensive line production. When he was running the Seattle defense Quinn used a lot of bodies to keep players fresh. The result was none of them seeing enough playing time to put up quality numbers. The same thing is happening in Atlanta. In week six no Falcon lineman played more than 39 of the team's 72 defensive snaps. Vic Beasley Jr, who is widely recognized as the team's best pass rusher, was on the field a mere 43% of the time. With Quinn gone from Seattle both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are playing 80+ percent of the snaps. Both players are putting up useful numbers for us. Unless he starts getting more opportunity we should not expect much from Beasley going forward. At best he will be highly inconsistent.
Justin Durant is back on the practice field this week and is expected to play in week seven. The Titans have been an inconsistent match up at best for linebackers but Durant is still a decent option with four teams on bye. Remember he had 17 solo tackles in the two games before the elbow injury. His return is not good news for Worrilow owners. Worrilow combined for 7 solo stops in the last two games Durant played.
Ricardo Allen continues to lose a little playing time to Kemal Ishmail. In week six Allen played 43 snaps with Ishmael on the field for 17. Either player has the potential to be productive for us if given enough opportunity. Unless this situation changes it will be risky to trust Allen.
The Ravens defense is a shambles right now. With Terrell Suggs out the pass rush has suffered and the secondary is down to playing guys who were street free agents just a couple of weeks ago. With Lardarius Webb on the shelf it was Kyle Arrington opposite Jimmy Smith to start the week six contest with recent free agent addition Shareece Wright as the third corner. Arrington played 26 snaps in the game while Wright logged 46. I have not yet had time to watch this whole game so I am assuming Arrington was injured even though I have not seen any reports or updates as of Wednesday morning. This situation is of particular interest to those in corner required leagues as the Cardinals have been among the best match ups for corners. In three of the last four weeks the corner positions have accounted for 12 or more solo tackles against Arizona with Antwon Blake going 10-2 with a pass defended against the Cardinals in week six. If Arrington is healthy he should start and be the guy to have here. If he is out it looks like Wright will be the next man up.
The safety position is in just a bad shape. With Terrence Brooks already down and inactive, Baltimore lost Kendrick Lewis to what may be a serious knee injury. His replacement was second year man Bryden Trawick who usually earns his keep on special teams. There is not much to be gained here in terms of IDP value but Carson Palmer and Arizona receivers owners have to be licking their lips.
The other coaching effect I talked about on last week's podcast was that of Rex Ryan. He is supposed to be a great defensive guru with an aggressive attacking style. When he went to Buffalo I wrote about how we would finally find out if the lack of production from his Jets defenders was due to scheme or stats crew/talent. The longer he is in Buffalo the more it looks like Ryan's scheme is limiting to the players. We know what Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes are capable of yet neither has been able to make much of a splash in this new scheme. After Sunday's loss Williams expressed some of his frustration with the scheme and defensive calls saying "We don't make the calls as players. We've got to go out and execute whatever's called by any means. I think I probably set a record on dropping (into coverage) today, but that's part of the scheme for us to go out and be put into position to win". Despite all their talent Buffalo has 9 sacks through six games with Williams owning 2. I am less than optimistic we will see a great deal of change unless Williams words get the attention of the coaching staff.
Many owners went out and grabbed Ryan Delaire after his big debut in week five. We cautioned he might be a one week wonder and it turned out to be so. Wes Horton made the start opposite Kony Ealy in week six with Delair and Mario Addison in rotational roles. None of the defensive ends played more than 44 of the team's 61 defensive snaps with Delair seeing action on 28. It might be worth hanging onto him for one more week if you have the roster space but he will likely become an afterthought once Jared Allen returns.
The Bears started Jonathan Anderson at inside linebacker for the injured Shea McClellin. Anderson gave was to Laroy Reynolds in the second half with Reynolds going on to finish with 5 solo tackles on 35 snaps. What is particularly interesting here is McClellin was not able to post more than 4 solo tackles in any of the five games he started and played full time. Chicago is on bye this week so McClellin will have an off week to heal. If he is not able to return for week eight we will probably see Reynolds in the starting role.
Vincent Rey was carted off with an ankle injury on Sunday. Paul Dawson replaced him for a few snaps but it was Emmanuel Lamur in the three down role for the most part. There is hope Vontaze Burfict will be able to play soon but with Cincinnati off this week we are not likely to hear much about the situation before the week eight practice reports come out. For those looking to beat the competition to the punch this might be a good time to start looking at Burfict just in case.
Michael Johnson was also injured late in the game when E.J. Manuel fell on his legs. It was hard to tell from the video what the injury might be but Johnson was helped to the locker room and did not return. No news is usually good news in situations like this and we have heard nothing more on the injury as of early afternoon on Wednesday.
Pierre Desir replaced the injured Joe Haden against Denver. His monster 10 solo 2 assist day was simply a result of Peyton Manning going after the backup. Desir represented himself well in general but we should not read much into the numbers. Nick Foles is not Manning and there is a chance Haden will return this week against the Rams.
Desmond Bryant returned to action in week five and is still looking for his first sack of the season. I mention him here not because I have grand expectations for the next few games, but because I believe he will be productive for us during our playoffs. Cleveland faces St. Louis, Arizona and Cincinnati over the next three weeks. All of those teams have done a good job protecting their quarterbacks. For those who look ahead however, note the Browns get San Francisco, Seattle and Kansas City during our playoffs. All three of those teams are currently among the top five in sacks allowed.
We were unsure what to expect from Greg Hardy in his first game back. We know what to expect from him going forward though. Having given up only 7 sacks on the season the Giants are not a positive match up for pass rushers. That should not keep Hardy out of our lineups this week. Hardy is one of the games premier three down ends, not to mention he has fresh legs and a huge chip on his shoulder. I would not count on multiple sacks in this one but a few tackles, a sack and low double digit points are reasonable expectations.
If you are a Sean Lee owner no one needs to tell you to start him every week. Those looking for a little less obvious option this week should consider Rolando McClain. He was on the field for 52 of a possible 59 snaps in his season debut before the bye so we know he will be on the field in most sub packages. McClain had a nice stat line in week five (4-4-1) and has the potential for a big game against the Giants. Over the past five games nine linebackers have reached double digit fantasy points against New York with six of them putting up 8 or more solo tackles and 15 or more points.
Rookie Randy Gregory returned to practice on Wednesday and is expected to play this week. How much action he will get in week seven is anyone's guess but it is a safe bet he will have a significant role in short order.
The bad news for Denver’s fans is Shane Ray was carted off on Sunday with a knee injury. There is plenty of good news he though, starting with the injury not being season ending. Ray will likely miss at least a couple of games but he will be back in time for the team's playoff run. The other good news is Demarcus Ware will likely be back after the bye week and even if he is not, Shaquille Barrett seems to be more than capable of holding down the fort. Barrett finished Sunday's game with an impressive 6-3-1.5 and a forced fumble.
Danny Trevathan continues to see his playing time increase steadily. He had another solid stat line in week six going 7-3-0 on a season high 62 snaps. It was also his season high snap percentage at nearly 80%. He may not reach 100% playing time this season but it will not be a surprise if Trevathan is part of all the nickel sub packages when the Broncos return to action in week eight.
Stephen Tulloch is coming off a big game with 9 solo and 4 assisted tackles. Nothing has changed here so do not make the mistake of thinking he is going to put up such numbers with regularity. He was on the field for 49 of the team's 80 defensive snaps against Chicago. The numbers were simply a result of an excellent match up. Three times on the season Tulloch has managed 6 or more solo stops. In the other three games he has 6 combined. This is who he is at this point; no more than a match up based starter in a two down role. At a glance we might thing Minnesota with Adrian Peterson would be one of those match ups to exploit. That is not necessarily the case though. So far there have been four linebackers with 6 or more solo tackles against the Vikings but none have produced more than 7. On the other hand Minnesota is not a team that will spread the field with three and four receiver sets often. Consider Tulloch a decent third starter this week but temper your expectations.
Josh Bynes is hardly an every week must play but at least he has the advantage of being the Lions sub package linebacker. He is not a great player but is a serviceable veteran in a productive situation and it looks like he may well be there the rest of the season. Bynes was 8-2-0 against the Bears and is a safe bet to put up LB3 numbers as a bye week fill in for week seven.
Jason Jones left Sunday's game with a neck injury. He will be replaced by a combination of Darryl Tapp and Devin Taylor who split snaps virtually 50/50 against the Bears. There are no grand expectations for either of the replacements. If you are in a pinch I would roll the dice with Taylor.
Both corner Kareem Jackson and linebacker Bernardrick McKinney left their week six game with injuries. Jackson is expected to miss week seven with an ankle injury while McKinney is unlikely to play due to a concussion. With first round pick Kevin Johnson waiting in the wings the Texans should not miss a beat at corner. The Dolphins are no more than average as a match up for corners but the rookie corner rule is in play here. Johnson could be targeted often and is a decent option as a second starter in corner required leagues this week.
The Texans were already thin at inside linebacker so McKinney will not be so easy to replace. Special teams contributor Justin Tuggle took over when McKinney went down but he did not play full time. With Quentin Demps already down and Lonnie Ballentine landing on IR this week, Houston is hurting at safety as well. Look for Andre Hal to start at strong safety with Eddie Pleasant seeing action as a linebacker in some nickel situations.
The Colts lost safety Mike Adams to a hamstring injury in week six. He is currently considered questionable for the week seven contest against New Orleans. The Saints have been a solid if unspectacular match up for safeties. Even if Adams is able to suit up it may be a good idea to consider other options. One slight surprise with this situation, Adams was replaced by veteran backup Colt Anderson in week six instead of rookie Clayton Geathers who saw his playing time plummet from 20+ snaps in weeks four and five to 3 plays in week six. This may have been a match up situation in which the Colts simply did not use the sub packages Geathers has been playing in.
Kansas City Chiefs
Ramik Wilson not yet moved into a three down role but his role expanded from roughly 50% of the defensive plays in week five to nearly 75% against the Vikings. This may well have been a simple case of the Chiefs staying in their base package more often against the Vikings who are not a spread the field offense. Regardless of why, the results were positive. Wilson posted a team best 7 solo stops with a pair of assists. The more we see of the rookie the better he looks. Dynasty owners should be moving on him before he has a huge game and grabs everyone's attention.
So much for the worries about Marcus Peters two poor weeks in a row. With a solid 6 solo stops and his third interception as a rookie there seems little doubt he is the real deal.
Allen Bailey had another strong outing going 5-3-1 with a forced fumble in week six. In his three big games Bailey has combined to go 13-6-4.5 with a pair of forced fumbles and a recovery. His totals for the other three games amount to 4-2-0. The bottom line here being that as a 3-4 end he is likely to continue being consistently inconsistent, much the way Philadelphia's defensive ends were under Andy Reid. It is simply the nature of the scheme. The Steelers have allowed 4 sacks to 3-4 ends in the past three weeks. With this in mind it is probably a good idea to keep rolling the dice on Bailey this week.
The Dolphins defense sure looked different under Dan Campbell. This unit had 1 sack on the season before getting to the quarterback 6 times on Sunday. Cameron Wake led the way with a huge day going 4-0-4 with a pair of forced fumbles. These numbers are more impressive when we consider he did all the damage on 30 snaps. Olivier Vernon got on the board with his first sack as well. Both of these players have been dropped in many leagues and should be high on our free agent list if available. Campbell's immediate impact was impressive. If he can get Ndamukong Suh motivated to join the party this defense could be special. Success can be contagious so we should not be surprised if Suh steps up for his turn in week seven.
With the trade of Gerald Hodges it was expected Eric Kendricks would assume an every down role. In week six he did so with a bang going 9-1-1 and making it three straight games with double digit points. The Lions are a middle of the road match up for linebackers but Kendricks has quickly become a player we want to start every week regardless of the opponent.
Everson Griffen was a surprise scratch on Sunday when he sat out due to illness. As of Wednesday afternoon there was no update to his situation or his status for week seven. With Griffen out the Vikings started rookie Danielle Hunter at end against Kansas City. His 3-1-1.5 stat line has a lot of people looking at him this week. Hunter is a talented but raw young player and we should not overlook the fact he was playing the Chiefs who have allowed the second most sacks in the league. He belongs on a roster or taxi squad in dynasty leagues but unless Griffen's illness is serious enough to sideline him for a while, there is no reason for redraft owners to add Hunter.
New England Patriots
With Dont'a Hightower out for week six there was some anticipation Jerod Mayo could see a bigger role. This was not the case as Mayo was once again limited to fewer than 25 snaps. Instead the Patriots turned to Jonathan Freeney at the position. Freeney worked in a two down role with safety Jordan Richards working at linebacker in sub packages.
New Orleans Saints
Dannell Ellerbe lit up the scoreboard with 13 solo tackles a forced fumble and a recovery in about three quarters of action on Sunday. Being on the heels of a solid 7 tackle performance in week five, the big game has many owners looking to add him this week. No one can argue with the numbers over the past two weeks but there are a couple of things to be aware of. First and foremost; Ellerbe has not been able to stay healthy. He missed the final quarter against Atlanta with a groin injury that has him questionable for week seven. Then there is the fact Ellerbe has never been able to sustain decent production during his time in the league. Pick him up if you are in need but I would not stop looking for help.
New York Giants
Uani Unga and Jon Beason split time almost evenly against the Eagles on Monday. Unga once again out produced the veteran significantly going 6-1-0 with a forced fumble to Beason's 1-1-0. Unga is still short on experience but he clearly out played Beason in this game. The more I see of Unga the more I believe he is the future at the middle linebacker position in New York. It would sure be nice if they would go ahead and make the commitment but I have a feeling Beason will continue to have a big role so long as he is healthy.
When last we saw the Raiders they were limping into their bye week with a secondary hammered by injuries. They will need all hands on deck this week against the pass happy Chargers. If the Raiders line up coming out of the bye like they did going into it, we will see Charles Woodson and Travis Carrie at safety with D.J. Hayden and David Amerson as the starting corners and Neiko Thorpe as the nickel back. Woodson is a must start in nearly any format. For owners in corner required league both Hayden and Amerson are worthy of consideration. Amerson is 9-3-0 with a couple of passes defended in his two starts on the year. Call it a gut feeling but I expect he will be a target for Phillip Rivers.
The Eagles hope to have Mychal Kendricks back for this weekend’s game against Carolina. He returned to practice on Wednesday but there have been no reports as I write this as to his level of participation. Even if he works the rest of this week with no setbacks, I have a hard time believing the coaching staff will play him knowing they have a bye in week eight. Keep an eye on this one as the week progresses, especially if you are considering Jordan Hicks a possible starter. When Kendricks is healthy he will play every down. Hicks would then share time with Demeco Ryans until/unless Kiko Alonso makes it back.
Before this season started it had been a few years since the Steelers safety positions provided any value for IDP owners. Six games into the season it is obvious that has changed. In the four full games he played Will Allen totaled 24 solo stops and exceeded 13 fantasy points three times. When he was out in week six Robert Golden stepped up with 7 solo and 1 assisted tackle, adding a pass defended to fall just short of 13 points. Allen has not yet returned to practice as he recovers from the ankle injury so it look like Golden is in line for another start.
Stephon Tuitt left Sunday's game with a knee injury and has not practiced this week. It would be a shame for him to miss a match up with the Chiefs but the feeling coming out of Pittsburgh does not seem positive for Tuitt's chances. If he does not play Cam Thomas would get the start. Cameron Heyward is a player who should get strong consideration based on the number of sack the Chiefs are giving up.
The Steelers get some good news with the expected return of Ryan Shazier who has missed the last four game with a shoulder injury. Kansas City has been a quality opponent for linebackers on most weeks but I would advise waiting to see how Shazier looks before plugging him into your lineup. Shoulder injuries tend to linger and are often aggravated easily. Just because he plays does not mean he is completely healthy.
San Diego Chargers
Eric Weddle left the week six game early with a groin injury. He has been unable to practice this week and is likely to sit week seven. After returning from his ankle injury in week five Jahleel Addae was also forced out of Sunday's game. This time it was a back injury putting him on the sideline. Jimmy Wilson will likely be the most productive safety option for San Diego this week with Darrell Stuckey getting the start if both Weddle and Addae are out. Oakland has not been a quality opponent for safeties so we should look elsewhere unless desperate.
San Francisco 49ers
Looking to roll the dice on a big play linebacker this week? Look no further than Ahmad Brooks. He has exceeded 6 fantasy points once this season but should make it two against the Seahawks who have allowed more sacks than any other team.
St. Louis Rams
Chris Long is unlikely to play against the Browns who have allowed nearly 4 sacks per game on average. William Hayes will move into the starting role with Eugene Sims serving as the third end. Hayes may be worth a pickup and play with this match up and a lot of our starters on bye.
Well hello Da'Norris Searcy and where have you been? Searcy had a breakout game with 8 solo tackles against Miami. This is the kind of production I expected from both he and Michael Griffin often this year. One good game does not make a trend. After recording 3 or fewer tackles in each of the first four games it will take more than one to make me reconsider Searcy who I dropped in several leagues over the past two weeks. That said, he deserves to be back on our radar.
That is a wrap for the week seven offering. Best of luck this week and be sure to check out the Audible IDP Roundtable this week as well as our other IDP dedicated offerings.