Ah, Week 14!!! Not all of us even see this week. The adulation is short-lived as we immediately turn to agonizing roster decisions that will make or break our Championship run. This is particularly nerve-racking as you don’t want to get knocked out because you lose by four points from starting Mike Evans and Tom Brady over DeAndre Hopkins and Matt Stafford this week, only to watch the later put up a combined 70+ points. None-the-less, you are reading this because you presumably are interested in some IDP advice. All season, “Alluhring Strategy” has prescribed a “secondary opinion” to those needing help with some tough roster choices in their defensive backfields or needed some sleeper/waiver wire picks. This is a unique service here at Major League Fantasy Sports. We don’t just have one guy blanket covering IDP. In addition to “Alluhring Strategy,” we have a weekly piece that is published every Saturday by Ben Wardi, “The Amateur Ward.” He writes on the Front Seven giving you analysis on your IDP Linebackers and Defensive lineman. Now, hopefully, you have a group of healthy players to choose from and are simply looking for someone to break down which players have a more favorable matchup and opportunity. As always, before we look ahead to the upcoming week, we do a quick inventory on the past week…
Bradley Fletcher (7 tackles, 2 PDs)
Louis Delmas (9 tackles, 1 TFL)
Darrelle Revis (1 tackle, 1 PD)
Kemal Ishmael (2 tackles)
Darius Slay (8 tackles, 3 PDs)
TJ Ward (6 tackles, sack)
We had a big miss on recommending Ishmael and benching Slay, but overall it was a successful week. Now that playoffs (at least in most leagues) have begun, there is no room for error. Good luck to those of you still playing. Here’s my contribution to your title…
Ryan Mundy, S (CHI), Thurs. 8:30pm vs DAL
Mundy was the forgotten man in Pittsburgh just a few years ago. He gets a fresh start in 2013 with the New York Football Giants. He does enough to get a contract from the Bears who end up making him their starting Strong Safety. Although he disappeared for a stretch in the middle of the season, in three of the four games in November he totaled 31 tackles. The game I didn’t count, he had zero tackles but did have a pick and pass defensed. Ryan leads the Bears in tackles and although doesn’t necessarily have elite IDP tackling numbers, he has been very productive in his snaps and exceeded last year’s output in interceptions and PDs and only four tackles behind with four more games to play. He is a safe play this week as could rack up the tackles or get an impact play. He has produced for his fantasy owners for the last five weeks and I don’t see that changing this week as he will help defend the run and likely help cover the TE, Jason Witten. He may not be a sexy name, but I’d rather win this week and worry about style when I’m counting my cash.
Brent Grimes, CB (MIA), Sun. 1pm vs. BAL
Five interceptions and twelve passes defensed make Grimes a top 10 cornerback in nearly every scoring format. He even brags that his interception against Detroit, on November 9th (2014) was better than Odell Beckham, Jr. Ego is a good thing to have as a cornerback. It gives you a short memory when you get beat and a long memory when you made an impact play. He’s not going to rack up the tackles, but he’s not a liability there either. If your IDP scoring leans heavy toward impact plays like MLFF, you probably got double digits in seven of Grimes’ nine games. He has been quiet over the last three, but my gut says he will be back on track this week against Baltimore. Flacco and company are in the middle of the pack when it comes to pass offense, but Gary Kubiak has been opening up the offense over the last few weeks. Baltimore is 9th in the league over the last three weeks in passing yards per attempt with 7.6 and has two excellent WRs that will need attention. Grimes should get plenty of targets as I anticipate him covering Flacco’s favorite target in Steve Smith, Sr. and should get back on track with at least a pass defensed if not an interception. Grimes is a playoff week start in all IDP leagues.
DJ Hayden, CB (OAK), Sun. 4pm vs. SF
I’m on the bandwagon. I was one of those people laughing their rear-ends off when Oakland reached on this pick. The man dealt with a barrage of health issues, but has worked his way back and Raiders’ fans can begin to see the talent that this guy has. His production has been solid but not spectacular. In his last five games where he has seen significant snaps, he is averaging five tackles a game which is respectable for a corner. He also has six passes defensed and an interception during that span. He appears to be healthy and if you watch Raider games, you will see that he passes the eye test. The skills are there. He is playing max snaps now since he is healthy. Now he has a struggling Colin Kaepernick and the Niners’ pass offense up next. Surprisingly, they are only averaging 210.5 passing yards per game. They have plenty of weapons with Crabtree, Boldin, Vernon Davis and Stevie Johnson. It seems the problem may lie with Kaepernick himself. I like Hayden to take advantage of the dysfunction and make one or two impact plays this week. I’ve going to ride him in MLFF this week. If you have to start a CB (or two), he is a solid play this week.
Devin McCourty, S (NE), Sun. 8:30pm @ SD
This might be a surprise pick to some. Though not a Pats fan, I do try to keep up with the pro careers of Rutgers players. Although the stats don’t scream out, “Start Me!”, he is always involved in the play and on the field nearly every snap. He has come on of late in the tackle department which is why I think he becomes a good play this week. In my 32 team dynasty league, which is tackle heavy, McCourty has gotten me double digits each of the last three weeks. This seems to coincide with the return of Brandon Browner. Now that New England has two lock down corners, it has freed up McCourty to truly play “Free Safety.” Floyd and Allen should be under control. McCourty can now help on coverage on Gates or whatever TE happens to be playing as well as run support to slow down Mathews. Since Browner’s return, the New England defense has been a top six rush defense giving up only 3.4 yards per attempt. That is a full yard per attempt improvement of the yearly average prior to Browner’s return. I like McCourty quite a bit this week. I expect him to keep up the high tackles and could throw in a PD to ensure you get double digits in all scoring formats.
Morgan Burnett, S (GB), Mon. 8:30pm vs. ATL
This should be a field day for Burnett. Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback and he does have a few weapons, but he has not had a lot of time to go through his reads. The Atlanta defense has been dreadful this season giving up a league worst 6.1 yards per play. Ryan has been forced to play from behind and mistakes have ensued. Burnett is a tackling machine with 92 tackles for the season and will definitely get his share here. He leads all safeties in tackles and could add double digits in this prime time matchup and any mistake that Ryan makes could turn into a bonus. Burnett needs to be in your lineup and could prove the difference when you need a dozen points on Monday night to advance.
Brandon Carr, CB (DAL), Thurs. [8:30] @ CHI
I figured this would be a good time to pour salt into the wound. Carr is the Cowboys “top” cornerback and getting paid as such. In return he has produced 40 tackles, 1 sack, 5 PDs and ZERO picks…oh and one nice poster for the Odell Beckham catch. He is tasked with covering the opponent’s top receiving threat and has not lived up to the task. The Cowboys are having a better season than many predicted, but is not due to the play of their secondary. The defense as a whole gives up 5.9 total yards per game. Do yourself a favor and keep Carr out of your lineup this week.
Joe Haden, CB (CLE), Sun. 1pm vs. IND
Joe Haden is having, in my opinion, a pro bowl caliber season. Only reason I am down on him this week is because of the opponent. Yes there will be lots of opportunity as Indy passes a league leading 41.2 times per game. As a result, they also led the league in passing yards per game (326.2) and second behind Green Bay in passing yards per attempt (7.9). Andrew Luck has developed into an elite quarterback who has plenty of weapons to spread out his pass attempts. The steady Wayne, the explosive Hilton and rising star Moncrief are just a few of his targets. Luck averages less than one pick per game and a gut feeling says he is going to go off this week. This is a ballsy call on my part as Haden has six consecutive double-digit performances in MLFF impact driven IDP scoring. I predict this week it ends. He might sneak in a PD to stay respectable, but I don’t see him reaching the point totals that you have been accustom to this season.
Tony Jefferson, S (ARI), Sun. 4pm vs. KC
Tony was a hot pickup early this year as he played way above expectations when he started the season as the starting free safety. He had fallen out of favor and the Honey Badger had taken over he starting slot and even rookie, Deone Bucannon, had over taken him in snap count. He has zero impact plays over the last five games. Now Mathieu has a broken his thumb and Jefferson should see his playing time increase once again. Don’t be tempted to pick him up. If he is still on your roster, don’t be tempted to play him. The Cardinals are reeling. The loss of Palmer and now Ellington will make points hard to come by on offense. This will put more pressure on the defense to perform and I don’t see Jefferson as up to the task. This week’s opponent is not Julio Jones and Matt Ryan, but it shouldn’t matter. Maybe he picks up a couple more tackles of Jamaal Charles but there won’t be very many opportunities as the Chiefs attempt only 29.2 passes per game and very few to wide receivers. Unless you are in a deep dynasty league were there is literally nothing available, you would be better served to avoid Jefferson this week despite the potential for more snaps.
Brandon Flowers, CB (SD), Sun. 8:30pm vs. NE
Flowers has had an inconsistent season this year and he has missed time here and there due to concussions. He was hot early in the season with 2 picks and 7 PDs in a four game stretch. Then the next four games he had zero impact plays. Tom Brady is going to be coming into this game topologically dis-urinated. (pissed off for those needing a translation) He lost his head-to-head battle against Aaron Rodgers and he will take it out on the Chargers this week. I can see a lot of ‘Gronk’ and the carousel of running backs to set up well-timed shots down the field. Flowers’ presence definitely helps the Chargers defense as a whole. I just don’t see Flowers getting the targets to get the impact plays. He might not lose you a matchup this week, but he likely won’t put you over the top either. Look elsewhere this week if your slots allow you to play safeties or corners. 14 Team leagues or less should avoid all together. There are better CB options out there and may even be on your roster already.
Dwight Lowry, S (ATL), Mon. 8:30pm @ GB
Unfortunately, Lowry just doesn’t get enough tackles for a safety. Two picks and 5 PDs aren’t enough to overcome only 55 tackles. That is only 4 1/2 tackles per game. Atlanta gives up a league worst 403.2 yards per game. It is a little puzzling that there are not more tackling opportunities for a defense that can’t get off the field. As far as safeties go, if they can’t tackle, you should avoid. This the playoffs, there are safer plays than Lowry.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Creator & Executive Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball and Football Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Click the blue link below to listen live or recorded after the show) Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday December 8th from 11am-12pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in live to ask line up questions at 646.915.8596