Who Would You Rather



Who Would You Rather

There is something overlooked by the fantasy footballers of the world.  Everyone acts quickly on those big time linebackers, failing to realize how important the defensive lineman actually is.  In leagues where you have to start defensive linemen, this position goes the way of the offensive tight end when in fact they should be looked at as running backs (for those of you who think offensive).  The DL position is very thin, and owning one of the top 5 will give you, the owner, a considerable advantage over your fake-football-peers.

With linebackers, you will notice over 40 players averaging 8+ fantasy points per game.  Year after year we see the likes of Patrick Willis going light years before defensive linemen.  This is understandable to the untrained IDP fantasy owner.  We are well past the halfway point of the season, and Willis is in the middle of the pack amongst linebacker fantasy scoring.  Mid to late round drafted players like Wesley Woodyard and Lavonte David are creating havoc for their owners.

Contrary to their line-backing counterparts, there are only 4 defensive linemen scoring over 8 points per game.  Those owners who own these players have a huge advantage over those who drafted Patrick Willis or Jon Beason 3-4 rounds earlier.  The top 3 linemen are the guys you should have taken well earlier.  J.J. Watt, Jason Pierre-Paul and Elvis Dumervil. 

Bottom Line, it is worth waiting for a linebacker.  If you want a clear advantage over your buddies you should have drafted a Lineman.  If you didn’t, please take notes.  I am seeing player after player being added and dropped in my league as guys are looking for that invisible diamond-in-the-rough.  Sadly, they will not find one.  The position is simply much more inconsistent than your linebackers.  The guys who score will continue to score.  But, if you’re still searching, here are a few guys to keep an eye on for the late season push.  They won’t win the league for you, but if you waiting to get your linemen, they may help:

Jonathan Babineaux, Atl

Derrick Morgan, Tenn

Brian Robison, Min

Henry Melton, Chi

Paul Kruger, Bal

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Mid-season Re-order



Sometimes us “experts” even get it wrong.  At the season’s midway point, I would like to take a look at who the top 10 Individual Defensive Players actually are.  Some of these may be found on my pre-season top 10 lists, and some may have simply come out of the blue.  Okay, enough talk; let’s see who our real top 10 players are if he hit the “hypothetical” reset button today.  Do what you will with this list.  Base trades off of it, base your starting lineup off of it, or just look at it.

Daryl Washington, LB- 68 tackles, 9 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles

J.J. Watt, DE- 27 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries

James Laurinaitis, LB- 74 tackles, 1 sack

Jared Mayo, LB- 78 tackles, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception

Chad Greenway, LB- 81 tackles, 2 sacks

Patrick Willis, LB- 65 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1interception

Tim Jennings, CB- 39 tackles, 6 interceptions, 13 pass breakups

D’Qwell Jackson, LB- 61 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions

Jerell Freeman, LB- 69 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception

NaVorro Bowman, LB- 68 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception


Fresh Batch of Ravens



Injuries to key players on the Raven’s roster have caused the masses to drop every Baltimore defender, as well as, the team defense.   Stop right there, I say.  Yes, losing Ray Lewis (torn triceps) and Lardarius Webb (knee injury) may seem like the end of the world for one of the NFL’s top defensive units, but there may actually be a silver lining.  2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs is creeping ever so close to returning to the field and IDP-ers who stashed him on their injured reserve are pre-gaming for a 2nd half party.

Tell me something I don’t know Robert!  Well here it is; The Ravens are one of the deepest teams in the NFL at line backer.  Ray Lewis will obviously be missed but those taking notice have seen Jameel McClain fill in at middle linebacker with 16 tackles over the past 2 weeks.  Jameel has seen his share of action as an NFL linebacker, but has never been relied on to the degree we are about to witness.  With that move, youngster Dannell Ellerbe will get his first taste as an every down playmaker.  Ray Lewis himself has voiced his admiration for the 25 year old from Georgia.  Both players should be added immediately to fantasy rosters, as they will be leaned on by the Ravens to make sure the defense doesn’t skip a beat.

Losing Lardarius Webb is a bit less of an issue for the Ravens.  Jimmy Smith is a 24-year-old athlete who the Ravens drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft.  They had no intentions on wasting a 1st round pick, but the coaching staff didn’t expect to be leaning on him so early in his career either.  In his first real action of his career, Smith did a great job, totaling 7 tackles and a defensed pass.  He has great size for a corner back (6’2” 205lbs), and will start every game for the rest of the season.  If your league starts a cornerback and you are in need, run to your waivers and add Jimmy Smith.  This team will not skip a beat, and the youngsters should be stars by the end of the year.  If you’re an owner of any of these injured players, go out and grab the next man in line.  The time is now for the 2nd wave of Baltimore studs.
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Studs will be Studs? 



Studs Will Be Studs?

As we creep closer to the midway point of the NFL season, I want to take a look at those “big name” defensive players that we all drafted to lead our IDP defensive corps to the epitome of fantasy football.  We all hope that our predictions for the top IDPers come to fruition, but that is not always the case.  There are always those guys who cease to exist in the fantasy world and just below we will see who, if any, are hurting their preseason drafters.

Defensive Line

Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG- The top defensive end drafted has been steady this year, but not the force he has been in the past.  His numbers are down across the board is only on pace for around 7 sacks.  This number would be a full 10 sacks below his 2011 output.  His tackle numbers are also falling below the ridiculous 91 total tackles from last season.  He is still post top 10 type numbers, but not the dominant numbers we saw in 2012.  If you spent a high pick on him, sit on him.  He should come around at some point.


Patrick Willis, SF- Willis seems to have picked up right where he has left off in his previous seasons.  He is on pace for yet another ho-hum 130+ tackle season.  Similar to Jason Pierre-Paul, Willis has put up solid numbers at best.  His number 1 overall IDP-ADP really puts a cloud over his tackle numbers.  He has yet to record a sack or even a tackle for loss, suggesting that they are using him much more in coverage and as a spy.  I envision him finishing in the top 10 linebackers, but his number 1 overall draft position is shot.

Defensive Back

Tyvon Branch, Oak- Entering the season, Tyvon Branch had some lofty expectations.  While they were lofty, they were not unwarranted. He filled up the stat sheet with tackles, sacks, passes defended, and a pick.  He has yet to record an interception or even a defended pass so far in 2012 and his tackle numbers are well below his preseason projections.  Drafted in 99% of IDP leagues, he is currently only owned in 70% and dropping.  Do what you wish here, but at this point there seem to be many better options available.  I recommend you cut your losses and find other options.

Corner Back

Jason McCourty, Tenn- Of all the top preseason Individual Defensive Players, Jason McCourty has lived up to his preseason expectations the most.  He is on pace for almost 100 tackles and at the Cornerback position, this is a great number.  Already racking up 8 passes defensed and 2 interceptions; Jason McCourty has pleased all of his owners to the fullest and should continue to carry your fantasy defensive back corps without a hitch.  Leave him in your starting lineup and reap the rewards, as teams will continue to toss the ball around on the Titans.

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Keep, Cut, Wholesale



Keep, Cut, Wholesale

This week I will quickly go over some players that you, the owner, are undoubtedly looking at and wondering what you should do with them.  Is it time to act, or should you just hold on to the underachievers?  Just leave it to me, and feel comfortable knowing your defense is in good hands.


David Hawthorne

As a Hawthorne owner, I feel the pain you are all feeling.  If I am willing to hold out while this Thorne blossoms into an IDP rose, you should be too.  His hammy hasn’t been right since week 1, and he’s sat already sat out week 5 and is very questionable for week 6.  He should be back to full strength soon, and this perennial 100 tackle, stat sheet stuffer should go back to his old ways.  Don’t be the one who drops him only to watch him explode on another roster.

Pat Angerer

While he has yet to step foot on the field in 2012, Pat Angerer is getting much closer to returning.  After posted 140 plus tackles in 2011, he’s definitely worth holding onto a few more weeks.  Angerer should come back ready to put his foot down on the opposition.  If your smart, you will be willing to start that waiver-added linebacker just another week or 2 until Angerer leads your defense to the promise land!


Yeremiah Bell

After posting a career full of great IDP numbers, at the age of 34 Bell has finally hit a wall.  He seems slower on the field and is getting beat in coverage all over the place.  The Jets are on their heals and have begun to limit his snaps over the past 2 games.  This is a bad sign when it’s just week 5 in this young NFL season.  Cut ties with him, there are other good options sitting on your waiver wire.  Yeremiah’s years of fantasy relevance have passed him.

Wesley Woodyard

While the talent is undeniable, the Broncos are simply focused on limiting his snaps.  When Woodyard is on the field, the numbers are there.  The only problem is that the coaching staff has something against him and while this is not the fantasy owners fault, there just isn’t enough here to warrant keeping him.  DJ Williams will return at some point this season, giving the coaching staff even more reason to keep Woodyard on the sidelines.  I am going to hold onto Woodyard for another week, but will have no problems dumping him at any minute.


Mason Foster

It may be hard to comprehend this, but Foster is essentially a 2-down back playing way over his head early in 2012.  Use his overachievements in your favor and trade him for a more renowned LB (such as teammate Levonte David).  Mason Foster put up huge numbers in week 2 with double-digit tackles and even an interception.  He’s continued to put up good numbers, but I hold my breath knowing this should all begin to regress.  2/3 down linebackers simply don’t rack up tackle numbers like this, and I feel now is the best time to sell him super high.

Cortland Finnegan

Finnegan has always been a solid tackle guy throughout his career, but never to the clip he’s posting this season.   He’s currently on pace for over 100 tackles and 10 plus interceptions.  7 years into the NFL he has averaged closer to 60 tackles and 3 interceptions.  As of week 5, he is ranked top 5 in fantasy IDP scoring and that is just not his styles.  Finnegan is more adept at pissing off opposing players and starting fights than being a hard nosed, all-pro defensive back.  Sell him now before his inevitable fall from grace.

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IDP Waiver Watch



It's Time to tackle the waivers.  It’s week three of this young football season, and we already have a number of nicely-ranked preseason IDPers who already have no business being owned.  Let’s take a look at who may be available on your waiver that should be worth rostering.  I know it can be hard to say goodbye to your beloved draft choices, but the best thing about this position, Depth!

These guys come in no particular order, just be sure to rank by your needs.

Jerrell Freeman, LB Ind

Even when Pat Angerer comes back, the dominance of Freeman (18 tackles, 1 sack, 1 int, and 1 forced fumble) will buy him more time and the field then not.  If he’s available in your league, go ahead and snag him.

William Moore, S Atl

The loss of Brent Grimes creates more responsibility from the team’s leaders in the defensive backfield.  You will see even more coverage tackles and pick opportunities from William Moore.  He will excel with the added pressure because of his genuine hard-nosed play and nose for the football.

Erin Henderson, LB Min

Depending on his concussion possibility, Erin Henderson has started 2012 with a storm.  He had double-digit tackles in each of the first 2 games, and looks to continue his breakout season after getting his first real taste of the NFL in 2011.

Justin Durant, LB Det

A perennial injury plagued underachiever who fell to the wayside after his breakout 2009 campaign.  He has started the 2012 season with 19 tackles and looks to have regained his 2009 form.  He claims to be healthy as ever.  If he can continue to stay on the field, we should see his first 100-tackle season.  His tackle totals week-to-week should be worth your blessings.

Randy Starks, DE Mia

Defensive Linemen are the hardest to find on the waivers.  Each week these guys can be huge or be duds.  Randy Starks has gotten some fantastic endorsements from his coaches and teammates.  He had a dominant pre-season and shouldn’t have much competition at Defensive End this season.  Keep an eye on his groin as it may be lingering.

Linval Joseph, DT NYG

He could be the name on this list that we will all know by seasons end.  Already wreaking havoc in offensive backfields, the Giants will continue to ride him as long as Chris Canty is out.  I see him holding onto his role and being a big name going into 2013.

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Top 10 Defensive Backs



The Top 10 CB/S

Take A Ways: You will be hard-pressed to find a pre-season list with the same top 10 fantasy Defensive Backs.  Some fantasy footballers will be surprised to see Eric Berry and his floppy ACL at the top of this list.  However, us seasoned vets know the best all around DB has had a full year to recover and should have no problem building on his sparkling rookie season in 2010.

            The list is pretty explainable; most of the top players are young and will have the “leash” taken off.  Players like Morgan Burnett Kam Chancellor broke out in large way in their first experiences as starters in each of their 2nd years.  I am very big on tackles when it comes to the defensive back spot, because this shows consistency.  You want to fill your team with consistent scorers from the IDP perspective.  Too often I see people draft high-INT cornerbacks, only to see them have 5 that year.  It’s feast or famine with those types.  Use your defense as the anchor of your fantasy team, and you will always give yourself a chance to take home the belt.

            One last thing, pay close attention to Roman Harpers numbers.  What jumps out is his ability to get to the QB.  The Saints allow him to create havoc from every spot on the field, and this can be very beneficial to your fantasy squad. 

Happy Footballin’

Player                                          TKL             TFL               A              FR               FF               INT               SK         

Eric Berry (S)                                0                  0                  0               0                  0                  0                  0                

Morgan Burnett (S)                      76                 1                30              2                  2                  3                  1                 

Tyvon Branch (S)                        80                 3.5               29              1                 O                 1                  1                 

George Wilson (S)                      78                 1.5                28              1                 2                  4                  0                 

Kam Chancellor (S)                   75                  3                   22              1                 2                  4                  1                 

Jason McCourty (CB)                85                  1                  20               1                1                  2                  1                 

Antoine Bethea (S)                    80                  1.5               59                1                2                  0                  0                 

Charles Tillman (CB)                 81                  3                  17                2                3                  3                  1                 

Roman Harper (S)                      73                  11                23               1                 2                  0                  7.5                 


On the Verge: Charles Woodson, Ladarious Webb, Eric Weddle, Patrick Chung, Bernard Pollard, Mark Barron (R), Yeremiah Bell

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Top 9 Linebackers



“Leading with the Helmet” is anything but “offensive.”  (Get it?)  Week to week I will tackle the IDP issues that you-the-owner care about most.  Come back at the beginning of each week for a comprehensive overview of my IDP views and insights for the upcoming fantasy football season.

Player                                                         T     TFL    A     FR    FF   Int   SK                  Notes

Willis, Patrick SFO LB                             74       5      23      2      4      1     2          (Missed 3 of final 4 games)

Jackson, D'Qwell CLE LB                       115     12     41      3      1      1    3.5

Beason, Jon CAR LB                               4        0       0        0      0      0     0          (Injured game 1)

Ware, Demarcus DAL LB                        48      23     10       1      2     0   19.5       (Sack heavy leagues)

Laurinaitis, James STL LB                     105     12    37       1      0      2     3

Lofton, Curtis ATL LB                              87       8      60      1      1      2     1

Fletcher, London WAS LB                       96       5      71      0      2      2     2

Bowman, Navorro SFO LB                      110    8.5    31      3      0      0      2

Johnson, Derrick KCC LB                       104    10    27       1      1      2      2

On the Verge: Paul Posluszny, Brian Cushing, Chad Greenway, Ray Lewis (the usual), David Hawthorn, Pat Angerer, Rolando McClain (Suspension looms-assault charge)

Take Aways:

                  Now, it may seem like I put last year’s top 20 Linebackers in top-hat and pulled them out one by one.  It may also look like every other top 10 on the market.  There is just one thing you, as a fantasy manager must take away in order to be successful in 2012 and for years to come.   The top LB’s each year, can usually be found in the top ten the year before.  The funny thing about fantasy sports….it rarely matters how your league is scored when it comes to IDP rankings.  The only player to tailor to your scoring system would have to be Demarcus Ware, but I was hard-pressed to find a league (any scoring system) where he wasn’t all over the leader board.  I took a chance on Jon Beason as the majority of his first-step speed comes from that Achilles tendon.  Fantasy Managers; do not be alarmed, Beason his still young at 27 and should be able to regain his elite LB form this year.  For the top man, it was a no-brainer.  Patrick Willis was the football IDP version of a numerous tool player.  He filled the stat sheet with 97 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles (Missing 3 games).  He will have no trouble carrying your line backing corps this season, IF you’re willing to reach a little for him.  Feel free to insert your “on the verge” players into any spot between 5 and 9 and your team will be a titan for any team that comes up against you.

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5 Defensive Players to Know in 2012



“Leading with the Helmet” is anything but “offensive.”  (Get it?)  Week to week I will tackle the IDP issues that you-the-owner care about most.  Come back at the beginning of each week for a comprehensive overview of my IDP views and insights for the upcoming fantasy football season.

1)     ILB Pat Angerer, Indianapolis
Well on his way to becoming a household name in Indianapolis, Pat Angerer has begun to make noise all over NFL nation.  There is really no need to worry about veteran Gary Bracket getting in the way, as he will soon be released.  The vet became expandable as coaches watched ILB Angerer wreck his way to 148 tackles.  Already in a system where plays are funneled toward the only strength of the defense, its linebackers, Angerer should duplicate his 2011 production (at the very least).  Remember his name come draft day, as he will become one of the “unknowns” you passed up on.

2)     DE Brian Robison, Minnesota
You may already know of the DE in chilly Minnesota, but if you don’t, be prepared to let him into your heart.  Fantasy Managers were nervous about adding the 6’3” 270 lb pass-rusher in 2011.  Those who did reaped the reward of 8 sacks and close to 50 tackles.  While he has been in the league for 5 years, Robison sat behind All-Pro Ray Edwards for 4 of them.  In his first year as a full-timer, Robison was given more and more leash by Minnesota.  This upcoming season there will be no collar or leash.  Prepare yourself for double digit sacks and more tackles from Brian Robison.

3)     ILB Akeem Dent, Atlanta
As Atlanta waves goodbye to Curtis Lofton, second-year man, Akeem Dent is chomping at the bit for the upcoming 2012 season.  He will assume the role of the recently departed Lofton at ILB for Atlanta.  Akeem dent steps in with plenty of scheme versatility (3-4 & 4-3 experience at UGA), and many have called him the “Curtis Lofton clone.”  Not a bad thing when you consider Lofton finished 2011 with 147 tackles.  If Akeem Dent comes close to that total, he will be a force for anyone’s fantasy team for 2012.

4)     ILB Perry Riley, Washington
This was an easy one.  I was one of the lucky ones to own him in 2011 after Rocky McIntosh wasted away his opportunity to remain the starter in Washington. Riley started the final eight games of the season and averaged over eight tackles per game.  He is just 24 years old and is entering the prime of his career.  Riley will, without a doubt, total well over 100 tackles as a full time starter.  He is a prime example of a player going from fantasy obscurity to relevance in a short amount of time.  Don’t let him slip away in the late rounds, because Riley should end up being a top-tier IDP for 2012

5)     OLB Wesley Woodyard, Denver
There’s something special about this fourth year youngster out of Kentucky.  The NFL sees it, and most importantly, Denver sees it.  The team made it a priority to sign Woodyard to a 2 year deal.  With 97 tackles last season, Woodyard is poised for his breakout 2012 campaign.  It’s no secret that D.J. Williams is sitting on a six game PDE suspension and that plays right into the hands of the talented Wesley Woodyard.  I will even go as far to say he is a strong bet to lead the team in tackles.


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The Pre-preseason Top 10 Defensive Linemen



On the Verge: Von Miller, Cliff Avril, Charles Johnson, Elvis Dumervil, Jabaal Sheard, Aldon Smith, Andre Carter

Take A Ways: Let me start off by saying; it sure is nice to see someone not-named Jared Allen on the top of a pre-season fantasy Defensive lineman list.  Jason Pierre-Paul exploded in a big way during his sophomore campaign and is the closest thing to a shoo-in as there is in fantasy football.  Pierre-Paul wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines from a week-to-week basis.  His tackle totals make him a perfect fantasy specimen on the defensive line. 

It’s impressive when a player who is “slowing down” is still found at the top of the top 10 defensive linemen list.  Jared Allen filled the stat sheet yet again, and totaled an unheard of 22 sacks in 2011.  His numbers may begin to fall this year, but that doesn’t mean to go run and hide from him on fantasy draft day (unless you’re an NFL quarterback).  Playing in the pass-heavy NFC North will only keep his sack happy owners happy.

The biggest surprise on this list has to be Jason Babin.  For those of you lucky enough to drafted him, I congratulate you.  For those of you who didn’t, don’t let his age scare you.  After completing his first back to back (injury free) NFL seasons, it’s safe to say NFLers are on their heels.  His 18 sacks came on the heels of a 12.5 sack campaign in 2010.  His 2012 owners should expect double digit sacks and strong tackle totals.


    Leading with the Helmet

    Robert Davis
    [email protected]

    Robert comes from an extensive background in fantasy football.  He has competed in competitive leagues for over 10 years, which he has won on numerous occasions.  He should bring a fresh perspective to a side of fantasy football looked over by the bulk of fantasy informers.  Individual defensive players are possibly the most important element to having a well-rounded fantasy football team, as most people look to the big names to carry their team.  Robert comes from a back ground in sports, where he played D3 college basketball at Millsaps College.  As an intense competitor he wants to share his knowledge to help you compete in this years fantasy football season.


    Defensive Linemen