Kelvin Sheppard (ILB, Buf) – For my regular readers, you know I’ve been pushing this guy all pre-season. It was great to finally watch him in his new role and co-exist with Nick Barnett. He put up great numbers and he has a fantastic matchup vs. the Chiefs in Week Two. If he is still on your waiver wire, he’s a solid LB3 with LB1 upside.
Paris Lenon (ILB, Ari) – Lenon has been a favorite IDP underdog of mine over the years. Drafters seem to always leave him on the wire and each year and I end up picking him up and enjoying the spoils he provides as my LB5, who produces like a LB1 many weeks. He began 2012 as a LB1 putting up 2 sacks and 8 solos. His next matchup is not ideal as the Patriots are such an unpredictable team who changes their gameplan weekly. However, SLB Akeem Ayers had a nice game against the Patriots week one and Lenon plays on the right side, similar to where Ayers racked up 11 total tackles.
Larry Foote (ILB, Pit) – His 8 solos and a sack vs. the Broncos was an impressive performance, especially since the Broncos did not run the ball very often. He made the most of the opportunities he had and his next matchup vs. the Jets is fantastic. Buffalo linebackers Nick Barnett & Kelvin Sheppard combined for 17 tackles against them last week.
Stephen Nicholas (SLB, Atl) – He put up 10 solos and an INT vs. Kansas City Week One. He faces the Broncos next where Larry Foote just had a great game. Note that the matchup is little risky as Lawrence Timmons & LaMarr Woodley did nothing of note vs. the Broncos. Foote had his great game playing left ILB , but the Steelers play a 3-4 and Atlanta plays a 4-3 so it's too early in the season to nail down those trends yet. I would stand by those incredible numbers that Nicholas put up and let that be your guide.
A.J. Hawk (ILB, GB) – His 10 vs the 49ers were huge, but I wouldn’t count on number that hig this week vs. the Bears. The matchup calls for something closer to 6 solos so I would target him as my number four LB this week.
Bruce Carter (ILB, Dal) – Paris Lenon & Daryl Washington combined for 18 solos and 3 sacks vs. Seattle and that’s who Carter faces next. This could be his breakout game in the IDP world. He has some risk as we haven’t seen him take that “elite” jump yet, he missed his entire rookie year with a torn ACL and you could see his speed and potential in his first game against the Giants. I have a feeling that if you wait on this guy, he’ll just end up being the “one that got away” and it’s my job to tell all of you about these guys before they break out so you still have an opportunity to pick him up.
Other notables that I’m watching very closely, but don’t have a great matchup this week are WLB Erin Henderson, SLB Justin Durant (Det), SLB K.J. Wright (Sea), WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (NO), SLB Koa Misi (Mia), SLB Akeem Ayers (Ten).
Cameron Jordan (DE, NO) – In Week One, he put up 11 total tackles. That’s unheard of by a defensive end and he has a fantastic matchup vs. the Panthers in Week Two.
Henry Melton (DT, Chi) – He was very solid last year for defensive tackle required leagues and I even plugged him in a few times in place of my underperforming defensive ends as my DL. He put up 2 sacks and 4 solos Week One and faces the Packers next, who he has a nice history against.
Chandler Jones (DE, NE) – He has a nice matchup vs. Arizona next and you want to get this kid while you still can. This rookie is going to really blow up this year. In his very first game in the NFL, he put up a sack and 5 total tackles.
Derrick Morgan (DE, Ten) – Beginning the year with 7 total tackles is a strong start. He has another good matchup Week Two and Morgan is an amazing athlete so he’s worth a look as your second DL.
One Week Wonders: Three other guys that have great matchups this week are Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Miami’s Randy Starks picked up 2 sacks against the Texans Week One and I can see him getting another vs. Oakland inWeek Two.
Ronde Barber (S/CB, TB) – Five tackles doesn’t sound impressive on it’s own, but add a sack , an INT and 2 pass deflections, you have yourself a top 5 DB on your team this week. Many leagues still have him listed as a CB so you have a huge advantage starting him in CB required leagues as he’s playing something closer to a “roaming strong safety”. He has a very nice matchup this week vs NYG. I like his chances of picking up another sack.
Devin McCourty (CB, NE) – He probably not on your waiver wire in corner required leagues, but if he is, get him and start him with confidence against Arizona Week Two.
Harrison Smith (S, Min) – Did he slip through the cracks in your league? If he did, this is the week to get him before this rookie completely blows up. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his matchup this week against the Colts. He’s going to have a really good week and everything is aligned for him to put up DB1 numbers.
Tracy Porter (CB, Den) – He'll get tons of opportunity facing the Falcons Week Two and his 9 solos, plus an INT for a TD speaks for itself.
Alterraun Verner (CB, Ten) – He has always been an IDP magnet and now that I see how they are using him, which is similar to how the Buccaneers have always used Rhode Barber, I'm very excited about the year he's going to have. His next matchup against the Chargers is very nice.
Injury fill-ins to watch:
Kelvin Hayden (CB, Chi) – Charles Tillman injured his leg and we are not sure what the severity is at this point. We do know that his teammate Tim Jennings stated that spoke with Tillman and he said it’s not serious, but until we see the practice reports, we need to plan for the worst. Hayden filled in for Tillman and put up 7 tackles and a forced fumble so he’s one to watch and possibly plug in if Tillman is out.
Dwight Freeney (DE/LB, Ind) – He is getting an MRI this week and could miss some time. It will be interesting to see who they put in his place if this happens. We’ll keep you updated on this situation.