David Amerson stepped into the Cardinals lineup three weeks ago. His first two games produced solid numbers and he had a tackle on the first series in Week 15 before entering concussion protocol. If he is able to play this week Amerson could be a strong stream against the Rams. At least one corner has produced six or more tackles versus Los Angeles in each of their last three games including a monster outing (11-3-0) from Rasul Douglas last week. Brandon Williams replaced Amerson last week and would likely get the start if Amerson is not cleared in time.
Gerald Hodges faded fast after a couple good games. Week 15 saw post four tackles as he landed in a timeshare with Deone Bucannon. Hodges was in on 40 plays while Bucannon had 29. Chances are Bucannon will be playing elsewhere in 2019 so if you are looking for a sleeper to tuck away in a dynasty league, he could be worth some thought. Haason Reddick continued as the only every down option going 4-0-1 against Atlanta.
There were a few new names showing up in the Falcons box score this week, but there is nothing of significance to be seen here. With a 33 point lead, the Falcons simply played the JV team for the final quarter-plus of the game.
Both Rafael Bush and Lorenzo Alexander had an increased role in the absence of Matt Milano. Bush started and played 74% of the snaps in a hybrid role at weakside linebacker/safety. Alexander logged 93% of the snaps as a three-down strong side backer. Neither player was particularly impressive in the box scores but it is worth mention that Alexander was 5-1-2 with a forced fumble against the Patriots earlier in the season.
Eddie Jackson injured his ankle at the end of Sunday’s game while sliding after making the game-sealing interception. He is not expected to miss the rest of the season but his status for Week 16teen is in question. Deon Bush finished out the game against Green Bay and will likely get the start this week against a San Francisco offense that has been a strong matchup for linebackers and safeties.
Sam Hubbard had another great game going 2-0-2 and forcing a fumble in the win over Oakland. There have not been many bright spots for the battered Cincinnati defense but Hubbard has certainly been one.
Vontaze Burfict has still not been cleared from concussion protocol while Jordan Evans and Vincent Rey both suffered ankle injuries against the Raiders. That left Nick Vigil and Hardy Nickerson Jr. as the Bengals top options at linebacker. They both played in most sub packages last week and are likely to continue in that capacity in Cleveland this week.
There are many things that go into being a great leader. Sean Lee was available last week but instead of jumping back into a major role he told the coaching staff not to change what they were doing with Leighton Vander Esch, who has played outstanding football. Lee said he does not want to disrupt the development of the young player that is obviously the future for the Cowboys. As a result, Lee was on the field for only a few snaps while Vander Esch had another solid outing. Lee may have a bigger role this week but likely not at the expense of Vander Esch or Jaylon Smith who has also been impressive over much of the season. The writing may be on the wall for Lee when it comes to his future with Dallas.
The organization is strongly considering bringing back safety Barry Church. He was released by Jacksonville last week and has cleared waivers. Church was not very good in Jacksonville so it is hard to tell how much he has left in the tank.
Todd Davis saw a reduction in playing time with the return of Brandon Marshall. Davis played 72% of the snaps which was his lowest percentage since Week 5 and the first time he was below 82% in eight games. As a result, his point total was the lowest of the season. With a marginal matchup against Oakland this week, Davis belongs on the bench.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers opened in a somewhat strange base scheme against Chicago. Against a three-receiver set Green Bay deployed two linemen, two edge-rushing outside linebackers. Blake Martinez in the middle linebacker spot and six defensive backs. Chances are this had more to do with their injury situation than anything. The most interesting lesson to be learned here is Josh Jones still played just 48 of 60 snaps. Maybe the next coaching staff will think more highly of him.
Clayton Geathers was on the way to a huge game after recording six tackles and a pair of assists on 37 of a possible 69 plays. All his production came early in the game, however, leaving us to wonder what happened in the second half. He has been battling a sore knee for a while so that may have been the issue. The Colts have provided no further information as of Wednesday morning, leaving us in limbo. Keep an eye on the late week news out of Indianapolis. Hopefully, we will get some clarity. Meanwhile, prepare a Plan B in case the word is not good. Pierre Desir would likely start at safety should Geathers be out.
Rookie Tyquan Lewis may have given the Colts a glimpse of the future by recording the first two sacks of his career in week 15. With the presence of Jabaal Sheard and the emergence of Denico Autry, Indianapolis appears to have an excellent foundation to build on. Lewis certainly makes the list of upside prospects for 2019.
Ronnie Harrison claimed the starting job at strong safety in week 13. He lasted two games and two snaps before suffering a knee injury that landed him on IR this week. Jarrod Wilson filled in the rest of the game and should get the call this week.
Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Berry started against the Chargers and looked good for a guy that has missed most of two seasons. He played through the first half going 4-2-0 on 30 plays before sitting the rest of the way. Berry should see time into the second half this week though it is hard to say if he will be on the field full time. On the other hand, Berry has a strong matchup with Seattle who runs the ball more than anyone. At worst he is another consideration for dynasty managers looking to stash talent for next year.
Kendall Fuller may try to play a week after having surgery on his wrist. Even if he is able to go, starting him would be a serious risk as he is sure to be playing one-handed.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers used a nickel base scheme in week 15 with Adrian Phillips and Jatavis Brown playing every snap at linebacker. As a result, Phillips led the team in tackles at 5-5 with Brown second at 4-4. Both these players project to be strong starts this week against the Ravens who have been an excellent matchup since Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback.
Robert Quinn added another sack in week 15, giving him four and a half in the last five games including one in each of the last three.
New Orleans Saints
It took until week 15 but Vonn Bell finally played full time in a game, or at least very near it. He was on the field for 55 of 57 plays against Carolina, making a huge impact on the game. The Steelers have not been a particularly strong matchup but Bell could still prove a quality start in this one.
New York Giants
Michael Thomas had a strong outing (5-2-1) in place of Landon Collins last week. Get him into your lineup this week against a Colts offense that has been a red-hot matchup for safeties. Since week 12 four safeties have produced at least 7 solo tackles against them
Safety snaps Karl Joseph finished a team-best 6-2-1 against the Bengals and played every snap for the second game in a row. Joseph has one year left on his contract and may have played his way back into the team’s long-term plans. It is hard to say what the future holds for him beyond this season but a solid matchup with Denver could make Joseph a quality play this week.
Fletcher Cox battled through a hip injury to finish Sunday’s game but he may be limited this week if he is able to go at all.
The Seahawks may look to re-sign Mychal Kendricks for 2019 providing there is some resolution to his legal issues. It sounds as if the expectations are he will not do jail time and Kendricks has already served his suspension. The question would be where does he fit when K.J. Wright is healthy? Wright practiced on a limited basis last week and has a chance to suit up against the Chiefs. There is no doubt he will be healthy for next season.
Bradley McDougald was questionable last week with a sore knee. He lasted a dozen snaps against San Francisco before aggravating the injury. McDougald is not expected to play this week leaving Delano Hill as the replacement.
San Francisco 49ers
Elijah Lee played every down at weakside linebacker for the second straight week. This time around he tied DeForest Buckner for the team lead in solo tackles at seven. Lee has made the most of his opportunities this year and may well have earned a starting job for 2019. He is a viable starter versus Chicago for those trying to win a title while dynasty managers may want to make him a stash target this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vita Vea did little over the first half of the season as he battled injuries, but he is finishing strong. Vea was 6-3-0 in Week 15 and has totaled 13-5-1 over the last four contests. Managers in dynasty leagues that break out the defensive line positions should try to get him on the roster for safe keeping.
With Justin Evans landing on IR, and Jordan Whitehead possibly falling out of grace with the coaching staff, Andrew Adams appears to be the starter at safety for the Buccaneers the rest of the way. He was 6-1-0 with a pass breakup against Baltimore and has a great matchup with the Cowboys in week 16. Whitehead has seen his playing time diminish in each of the last three games.
Riley Bullough replaced Adarius Taylor at MLB and had a solid game versus Baltimore. Bullough saw action on about 82% of the plays finishing 4-4-0. Normally this would not be noteworthy but the Cowboys are a great matchup for whoever gets the start next to Lavonte David. Anyone looking to stream an LB3 might find a solid contributor here.
Kenny Vaccaro suffered a concussion early in Sunday’s game. He has been limited at practice early in the week which is a positive sign, but it is too early to speculate on his availability. Kendrick Lewis went 7-2 in relief. Regardless who gets on the field, the matchup with Washington is unfavorable.
Kevin Byard is a feast or famine starter with more big play upside than tackle potential. This could make him a worthy gamble on championship week against a third-string quarterback.
Sean Dion Hamilton started over Zach Brown at inside linebacker last week. Hamilton finished 2-2-.5 on 28 snaps while Brown went 2-2-1 on 17. Hamilton may have played more if not for a shoulder injury that has him limited early this week. It looks like Washington is auditioning the rookie for a possible starting job next season. Add him to the stash list; especially if you are sitting on Brown who may be suiting up elsewhere in 2019.