“The Amateur Ward” The Front Seven (Week 14 Linebacker/Defensive Line Plays)
I hope all y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, ate too much turkey, did the turkey trot, stuffed your face more, and watched more football last Thursday, because I know I had a nice Thanksgiving, albeit alone. But hey, I like the solitude, time off, and having time to unwind. The best part of Thanksgiving: Watching the Cowgirls (or is it the Cowboys?) get clobbered by the Eagles. Yep, that made my turkey even more delicious. I don’t dislike the Cowboys, I just like seeing them lose. Any-who, the holiday is over, and now the NFL push for the playoffs heats up, and fantasy playoffs are in full swing. With numerous potential playoff-deciding games this weekend, including the Bengals-Steelers, I’ll be more attuned to my television than usual to keep tabs on my players. That and sports is my life, as I’ve said before, but it keeps me driven, some times driven to insanity, but that’s my lifestyle. #GoHardTillYaDrop. Also, it’s nice to see Atlanta on Monday Night against the Packers as 2 division leaders square off. All I’m gonna say is, Atlanta, PLEASE play defense, you know, preventing the other team from scoring. It helps win games!
Last Week’s Recap
Last week I hit on about 50% of my players as Clay Matthews beat out Rob Ninkovich with a PD and a STF and Jenkins was ridiculous against the Jets, amassing 6 tackles and a stuff. However, I missed badly on Von Miller as Justin Houston filled the stat sheet with a stuff, a sack and 2 PDs, and a forced fumble, although Miller also had a solid day with 2 sacks and a pass defensed. Jordan Cameron won by default as Wilkerson (toe) did not play, and Lofton beat out Lawrence Timmons in a matchup that featured little in the way of extra counting stats. Finally, my advice to sit Gerald McCoy blew up in my face as he went for a sack and a pass defensed.
DeAndre Levy vs. Luke Kuechly- Those of you in the playoffs are starting these 2 studs no matter what, and owners should be drooling at Levy’s matchup against a Bucs line that has allowed 33 sacks this season to their QBs. The Bucs are nearly as bad as the Jets this season and their pass game is horrendous as their receivers rank 26th in the league in total yards. This has pick city written all over for Levy this week. Kuechly, on the other hand faces the Saints as New Orleans fights for the NFC South berth this week. If the Panthers are going to have a shot with Cam Newton reeling this season, it will have to be through defensive plays. Kuechly is a tackling machine who’s beginning to pick up some sacks this season (2 last week), but will have his hands full this week. (Photo courtesy of twincities.com)
Winner: Levy. With the stats of the Bucs offense, and the ultra-stout Lions defense, Levy is going to have a field day this week. Kuechly will also produce a nice stat line, but if he’s going up against a LB who will likely get his first full sack and another pass defensed, he may not stand a chance.
Carlos Dunlap vs. Mario Williams- Super Mario the sack leader thus far this season has a rough matchup against Peyton Manning this week. However, the Bills do have the play makers to make life uncomfortable for Peyton as the Bills rank 5th in total defense; 5th against the pass, 7th against the rush, and 8th in receiving defense. While Williams is a good bet for a sack this week, be aware that if h doesn’t he’ll likely leave you with a lean week as he doesn’t contribute passes defensed or stuffs. When the Bengals and Steelers square off this week, Dunlap will have his eyes on making Big Ben eat the turf. A key matchup to watch here is the Steelers pass game versus the Bengals receiving defense which ranks 10th in the league. Look for Dunlap to get pressure on Ben to force him to force throws. (Photo courtesy of bengals.com)
Winner: Williams. Although I hate starting defensive players versus the Broncos, Williams has been a fantasy staple this season, so continue to look for him to remain a top defensive linemen the rest of this season.
Championship Round- Levy. With a matchup like Levy’s it is impossible to go against him, as he is going to annihilate the Bucs this week. I’d go as far as to spot Dunlap 10 points in this one.
Paul Worrilow vs. Ryan Kerrigan: Coming off a huge win against the Cardinals at home, Atlanta goes on the road to Lambeau Field to square off against Mr. Discount Double Check and the Packers. Worrilow’s task this week: stopping the run and applying pressure on Rodgers. While Worrilow may not be a source of PDs or STFs, he is a virtual lock for double-digit tackles. Hopefully, he can create his 3rd forced fumble of 2014. Kerrigan, a sleeper of mine coming into this season, has had a solid season with 9.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, and he should continue to emerge this week against the Rams. The Rams allowed Austin Davis to be sacked 29 times before Shaun Hill took over. Now, the less mobile Hill will be a sitting duck for Kerrigan and Co to dominate.
Winner: Ryan Kerrigan. I want my Falcon to win, but he has too tough a matchup against Rodgers, and while he’ll produce he won’t win his matchup this week with Kerrigan.
Justin Smith vs. Geno Atkins- The 49ers couldn’t be more rejoiced than to meet the Raiders this week as they need a (hopefully) cupcake matchup to get back on track. Justin Smith, has been a disappointment this season, considering his usual production in the past. If Smith can’t get back on track against Derek Carr, then cut ties with him after this week. Expect a sack and a few tackles from Smith. Atkins, like fellow teammate will look to make life hell for Big Ben in efforts to slow down the white-hot Ben-Brown connection, which leads the league in receiving yards this season for 1,258 yards. Atkins has been hit-miss this season as is the case for most DTs, but given the offensive line of the Steelers, there’s hope for a few counting stats.
Winner: Atkins. I simply cannot trust Smith right now, and envision a bloodbath in Cincy this season as the Bengals and Steelers will be in one another’s faces and necks all game long. Atkins is a sleeper for double-digit fantasy points this week at DT.
Championship: Kerrigan vs. Atkins- Kerrigan. As good as the Rams defense looked last week in a shutout effort against the Raiders, Kerrigan will shutdown Hill this week, keeping him on the run.
Cameron Heyward vs. Charles Johnson- If you are looking for a boom/bust play this week at DE, look at Heyward. Rivalry games have a weird way of awakening “down” players, and Heyward definitely fits that label this season. A popular pick to finish in the top 10 DEs for fantasy this season, Heyward has a mere 4 sacks and 6 stuffs this season. With Andy Dalton’s struggles this season, don’t be surprised to Heyward go off against the Steelers rivals this weekend in Cincy. There’s a theme of multiple players from one team this week, but that’s because there are a ton of key games this week that could determine the playoffs, especially in a weak NFC South. True, the Panthers defense has been bad this season (17th), especially in the but Johnson has been a consistent defender, producing 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Pressure will be key in slowing Brees this week, but regardless, Johnson will produce as he’s been the most consistent defensive lineman on a regressed Panthers defense this season. (Photo courtesy of newsobserver.com)
Winner: Heyward. Blood is already hot in both the Steelers and Bengals veins and Heyward is going to dominate Dalton this week. Give me 2 sacks from him all day long. Johnson might be the safer play, but safe is for those who settle as opposed to going for the gold in crunch time.
As Championship week in college football is gearing up, I want to say what a disappointment Arizona’s showing against Oregon on Friday night was. They looked lost on offense, and Oregon ran whatever they wanted. The highlights of tomorrow are Bama-Mizzou, GT-FSU, and Wisconsin-Ohio State. AFter tomorrow, I have Alabama, Oregon, FSU, and Baylor as the 4 teams in the playoffs. I’d love to see FSU lose though, as I think it’d be interesting if we had both Ohio State and Baylor/TCU in the Playoff. Leave your predictions or comments on my player picks this week as well, as I love a nice discussion/debate.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________(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