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)
JUST A REMINDER: ALL the guys you see listed above should be searched for on the waiver wire before picking up any of the guys below. I’m very sure some of the guys at the top of the list are non on your wire, but the MUST pick-ups who might still be there are Russell Allen (SLB, Jac), Jerrell Freeman (ILB, Ind) and Phillip Wheeler (SLB, Oak).
Bobby Wagner (MLB, Sea) – The rookie looks to be coming into his own with his second straight week of 7 or more tackles. The most beautiful part about his Week Four tackle numbers is that all 7 tackles were solos. I like his matchup against the Panthers in Week Five and now is the time to pick him up as he’s an IDP star in “the making”.
Vontaze Burict (MLB, Cin) – His Week Four included 1 sack, 8 solos and 1 pass deflection. He’s exciting because he’s a pure tackler and play-maker, which is everything you want our of an IDP stud. All he’s been missing is opportunity and now that he’s showed what he can do, perhaps they’ll set him loose again next week at the Dolphins. He had 7 tackles in Week Three so this is not just a one and done type of performance.
Rob Ninkovich (OLB, NE) – This is the same time of year Ninkovich started to flash last year and the year before that. He starts slowly, but warms up and gets hot for the second half of the “fantasy” season. He’s one of those sneaky LB5 types you can slip in and he’ll get you LB3 numbers some weeks due his ability to sniff out “big plays”. He’s not a tackle machine as he’s averaged anywhere from 60-75 tackles a year, but his consistency for big plays is uncanny. In both 2010 and 2011, he had exactly 2 INTs and 1 TD each year. He has also had 6 sacks each year, 4 pass deflections each year and 4 forced fumbles each year. So far this year, he has 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. This means that all those other big plays that he usually gets are still left on the table for you to collect. The legendary Manning/Brady matchup is next and Manning is well known for his “checkdown” passes to his running backs and tight ends. I expect Ninkovich to follow in the footsteps of what OLB Phillip Wheeler did in Week Four. He finished with 6 solos, 3 assists and a pass deflection.
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), Carlos Dunlap (DE, Cin)
Charles Johnson (DE, Car) – Although Johnson was drafted like he was a top 10 defensive end, I’ve seen quite a few owners give up on him after last week so he could be out on your waiver wire. He showed up big team against a Falcon team that does not allow very many sacks. His stat line was a whopping 6 solos, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection and 2 assisted tackles. I like his chances of repeating this sack trend next week when Seattle has to make the very long trip to play Johnson at home in Carolina.
Dwight Freeney (DE/LB, Ind) – Make sure he is definitely designated as a defensive end in your league because he’s not worth picking up if he’s listed as a linebacker. He’s a defensive end in all the leagues that I’m playing in so your chances are good. He’s going to be back in Week Five, as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks at practice. He sprained his ankle on the 5th play of Week 1 and the Colts have really missed him. He’ll face the Packers in his first game back and I have a little trivia question for you. How many times has Aaron Rodgers been sacked so far this year? I’ll make it multiple choice and to give you a frame of reference, he was sacked 36 times in 2011. Is the answer 7, 17, 12 or 9? He’s only played in 4 games so far and has been sacked 17 times. Yup, I like Freeney’s chances to pick up a sack in his first game back.
Everson Griffin (DE, Min) – He’s has 3 sacks over a 3 week period and I like that he’s playing across from the most dangerous pass rusher in the league, Jared Allen. He also has 7 tackle and 2 forced fumbles on the year. That’s a lot better stats than my current DE2 that I’ve been starting each week. He faces the Titans next at home and I would highly suggest getting him into your lineup unless you have a much better option.
Brandon Mebane (DT, Sea) – His 2 sacks in Week Three and 5 solo tackles in Week Four make him starter-worthy as a DE, let alone a DT. If you are in a league that requires a defensive tackle, scoop him up!
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) – That’s the IDP man we knew and loved from last year! His 12 total tackles (8 solos) from Week Four reminds us, and hopefully the Tennessee coaches, why Babineaux needs to stay on the field. The Robert Johnson experiment needs to be over as the “cream has risen to the top”. The good news for fantasy owners is Babineaux is probably available on your waiver wire due to his lack of playing time over the first 3 weeks. He’s a top ten IDP safety if they let him do his thing so he’s a pick up and stash for now and hopefully he’s a full-time start moving forward, but we have to see what happens in Week Five.
Matt Giordano (S, Oak) – Michael Huff has moved over to corner to help this injury-riddled defense and Giordano started at safety in Week Four. As I recommended in my “pre-game” article, he’s a playmaker that you want for your IDP lineup. He finished with 8 solos in Week Four, but he’s also known for his “ball-hawking” capabilities as he picked up 5 INTs last year as a “non-starting” safety. I remember getting excited every time he came into a game last year because I knew he’d make something happen anytime the ball was thrown his way. Something else to keep in mind is that he had 130 return yards with those INTs, one of them for a touchdown so if you need a short-term DB plug-in off the waiver wire, I think you may have found him.
Greg Toler (CB, Ari) – Did you know that Toler was the number one IDP cornerback 2 years ago? When guys with past potential like this pop-up with big games, I take notice. His 7 solos, an INT and 2 pass deflections in Week Four is what he used to do on a weekly basis for us in 2010 when he had 82 solo tackles and whole bunch of “big plays”. I’ll admit that I’ll have to monitor why he got so much playing time. I didn’t see an injury to William Gay, but keep checking back as I update the comments at the bottom this page throughout the week.
Rahim Moore (S, Den) – Between his 9 tackles in Week Three and his 6 tackles this week (5 solos), he’s quietly on pace for 106 total tackles this year. If you combine that with the occasional pass deflection, forced fumble or INT, he’s a guy I want on my team. He gets the Patriots next where George Wilson and Jairus Byrd just combined for a 19 total tackles and a fumble recovery so I could easily see Moore getting at least 7 tackles in his Week Five matchup.
Stephon Gilmore (CB, Buf) – He has 7 pass deflections on the year so far! I’m not sure if it’s the Buffalo stat keepers that are inflating these numbers for him, but he’s on pace to set a fantasy season record. He also has 20 tackles and a forced fumble on the season. What makes those tackle numbers impressive is he had a real “stinker” game with 1 recorded tackle mixed in there vs. Cleveland. He’s worth a long look as your second CB in corner-required leagues.