On Bye: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego
Linebackers I have previously recommended: Paris Lenon (ILB, Ari), Stephen Nicholas (SLB, Atl), Larry Foote (ILB, Pit), Erin Henderson (WLB, Min), A.J. Hawk (ILB, GB), Bruce Carter (ILB, Dal), Phillip Wheeler (SLB, Oak), Mychal Kendricks (SLB, Phi), Justin Durant (WLB, Det), K.J. Wright (SLB, Sea), Jo-Lonn Dunbar (WLB, NO), Akeem Ayers (SLB, Ten), Ray Maualuga (MLB, Cin), Dannell Ellerbe (ILB, Bal), Russell Allen (SLB, Jac), Jerrell Freeman (ILB, Ind), Michael Boley (OLB, NYG), Craig Robertson (WLB, Cle), Bobby Wagner (MLB, Sea), Vontaze Burfict (MLB, Cin), Rob Ninkovich (OLB, NE), Lavonte David (ILB, TB), Bradie James (ILB, Hou), Chase Blackburn (MLB, NYG)
Ray Lewis (ILB, Bal), D.J. Smith (ILB, GB) and Ladarius Webb (CB, Bal) (see DB section for update) Out for the Year!
Dannell Ellerbe (ILB, Bal) – Ellerbe is my first suggestion as a replacement for Ray Lewis as he was already holding his own starting next to Lewis with 26 solos on the year and 2 sacks. Updated 10/16
Jameel McClain (ILB, Bal) – When Lewis went down with a toe injury last year, it was McClain who stepped up and being an IDP starter. He is also performing well this season with 24 solos and 5 assists. Both Ellerbe and McClain will see a big bump in production, but it’s very difficult to predict which will have the most value as McClain has past success record as proof, but Ellerbe is a special player who can make more happen than McClain. Either way, they are both worth a roster spot. Updated 10/16
Brad Jones (ILB, GB) – A.J. Hawk is the first one you’ll want to look for on the waiver wire, but the chances that he is there are very slim. Brad Jones is the next man up, but probably won’t stay on the field for nickel packages so he’s a risky add at this point. The truth is that know one really knows what this guy can do as he’s their 3rd string linebacker and he really only plays special teams up to this point. He has played in the league for 4 years and has a grand total of 44 solos. That means he’s averaging 11 tackles a year. Don’t get your hopes up for this guy, but keep him on your radar to scoop up at the first sign of IDP life. Updated 10/16
Perry Riley (ILB, Was) – Riley may or may not be on your Waiver Wire as he’s produced solid IDP numbers all year, but if he is, I highly recommend him as a solid fill-in if you’re a Sean Weatherspoon, Derrick Johnson or Donald Butler owner. He’s fresh off a game in which he produced LB1 numbers with 13 tackles and a pass deflection and he’s facing a nice matchup against the Redskins division rival, New York Giants.
O'Brien Schofield (OLB, Ari) – Did you go get Schofield when I recommended him last week? If not, you missed on his 2 sacks and 6 solos this week. He’s taking on the Vikings next, against whom Redskin linebackers put up monster numbers in Week Six. He should pick up another sack in this matchup.
Bobby Wagner (MLB, Sea) – If there is any way you can still get ahold of him, get him now before your other league members see that he made 14 tackles in Week Six. He’s learning the ropes fast as a rookie and has been increasingly deployed on blitzes. He’s a now or never type of player because I think you’re going to see him ranking higher and higher each week until he’s among the elites, like Colin McCarthy did last year.
Luke Kuechly (MLB/OLB, Car) – As I wrote last week, we got a taste of the future in Week Five while Jon Beason was out – 11 tackles, one interception and a pass deflection! And I ended my commentary by saying that he’ll only have value if Beason is out. As I read Carolina beat writers’ articles during their bye week about this situation, it sounds like coaches are trying to decide if Kuechly should man in the middle and Beason slide over to WLB. That is a VERY interesting situation to monitor as I feel Kuechly is the next Patrick Willis or Brian Urlacher (in his prime) for IDP. If there is any chance you can make room to store this guy on your team, I feel it’s worth it. I know that’s a lot to ask during the peak of these bye weeks where we’re all scooping up replacements to start, but he deserves consideration.
Defensive Linemen I have previously recommended: Henry Melton (DT, Chi), Chandler Jones (DE, NE), Derrick Morgan (DE, Ten), Randy Starks (DE, Mia), Cameron Jordan (DE, NO), Tyson Alualu (DT, Jac), Jeremy Mincey (DE, Jac), Israel Idonije (DE, Chi), Robert Quinn (DE, Stl), Michael Johnson (DE, Cin), Carlos Dunlap (DE, Cin), Charles Johnson (DE, Car), Dwight Freeney (DE/LB, Ind), Everson Griffen (DE, Min), Brandon Mebane (DT, Sea), Cameron Wake (DE, Mia), Greg Hardy (DE, Car)
Chris Kelsay (DE, Buf) – Mark Anderson went down in Week Five and I recommended Kelsay in my Week Six IDP Preview article based on his IDP status in the past. Kelsay picked up the predicted sack, plus added 6 solo tackles. He faces the Titans next and that’s a tasty matchup for the crafty veteran.
Muhammad Wilkerson (DE, NYJ) – He’s a high-end talent who finally produced in Week Six. He had been getting decent tackle numbers all year, but this week his tackle numbers combined with a sack and a pass deflection ranking him among the top 5 DL performers. His 5 solos and 2 assists are something you normally see out of a linebacker rather than a defensive end. Although I don’t love his matchup against the Patriots in Week Seven, something wild always seems to happen in the Jet/Patriots rivalry and I have a feeling Muhammad is just getting warmed up.
Andre Carter (DE, Oak) – It’s weird recommending a guy who did next to nothing in Week Six, but Oakland was just easing him in as he was newly acquired. New England did the same thing in his first game for them and he finished with 10 sacks last year. His next matchup is against the Jaguars so if there is any game in which he will break out again, it’s this one.
Jerry Hughes (DE, Ind) – If Robert Mathis misses another week with his knee injury, Hughes is a solid DE2 to plug into your lineup. He flashed potential filling in for Dwight Freeney when he was injured and put it together in this opportunity vs. the Jets with 8 tackles and a sack.
Defensive Backs I have previously recommended: Devin McCourty (CB, NE), Harrison Smith (S, Min), Tracy Porter (CB, Den), Alterraun Verner (CB, Ten), Atari Bigby (SS, SD), Michael Griffin (FS, Ten), Craig Dahl (SS, Stl), Madieu Williams (SS, Was), Buster Skrine (CB, CLE), Tim Jennings (CB, Chi), John Wendling (FS, Det), Reggie Nelson (SS, Cin), Josh Norman (CB, Car), Jordan Babineaux (SS, Ten), Greg Toler (CB, Ari), Rahim Moore (S, Den), Stephon Gilmore (CB, Buf), Matt Giordano (FS, Oak), Sean Smith (CB, Mia), Mike Adams (SS, Den), Dunta Robinson (CB, Atl)
Cary Williams (CB, Bal) - Ladarius Webb is out for the year and you will LOVE owning Cary Williams while Webb is out. He is an IDP magnet in his own right. If you cannot get a hold of Williams, Jimmy Smith is the next to target. Updated 10/16
Jimmy Smith (CB, Bal) – If you can’t get a hold of Williams, it’s time to see what this hyped up young guy can do. We’d love to see Smith live up to his rookie hype and this could be the exact time for it. He has a year of NFL play on his resume and hopefully the game has slowed down for him now. He’s a CB2 with upside at this point. Updated 10/16
Louis Delmas (SS, Det) – In his first game of the year in Week Six, he got an INT, 7 solos and a pass deflection. Those are DB1 numbers and considering he was an IDP stud in the past, he’s my highest recommendation this week as he faces the gunslinging Jay Cutler on Monday Night Football in Week Seven.
Madieu Williams (SS, Was) – I know I’ve recommended him in the past, but he’s one of those guys that is easily forgotten and I noticed he’s one of the highest add/drops in IDP leagues. He needs to be an “add” for you with an INT for a TD, 8 solos, 4 assists and a pass deflection in Week Six. Even before this matchup, he’s been a consistent tackler as he already had 30 tackles going into Week Six. His Week Seven matchup vs. the Giants will provide many tackle and pass deflection opportunities.
Antonio Cromartie (CB, NYJ) – Even though he’s a big name, he’s always been just a borderline IDP guy in the past, but with his second INT of the season and the way it appears he could make a huge play every time he is on the field, I’m adding him to our list as a terrific DB fill-in with tons of “big-play” upside. He’s facing the Patriots in Week Seven and Tom Brady just threw 2 INTs in Week Six. I like Cromartie’s chances of making Tom throw another INT in Week Seven.
Prince Amukamara (CB, NYG) – It was a long-time coming for the hype to catch up to the production, but we finally got to see what everyone was waiting for in the form of an INT, 3 pass deflections and 6 solos. He faces the Redskins next, and as the Giants’ secondary has always been a place to find IDP gold in the past, this is a situation that I’ll be watching very closely. I would feel good about picking him up as my CB2 in corner-required leagues.