Sometimes the old adage “you gotta be good to be lucky” rings true. And when it does, I have a tendency to strut on my way to the beer fridge on football Sundays like I’m John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. But don’t worry, I’m not gonna post a youtube link to any disco music or Travolta’s bulging blue jean bump in this article. You don’t need that visual. And for some of us, we don’t need to be reminded of the disco era.
So what do you do when you’re neither good nor lucky? Or when conventional wisdom steers you right out of victory lane and straight into a thirteen car pileup? We’ve all been there. You started your IDP studs and most of them laid an egg. Or worse, your stud had a “pedestrian” day. The kind of pedestrian that’s too busy checking their Twitter account while crossing the street and nearly walks into oncoming traffic. You’ve seen it. You might even have whiplash from all the double takes you did while reviewing the boxscores. Those 3 point performances by JPP or “Super” Mario Williams are called neck breakers by yours truly. Mike Mayock is all about the ankle breakers, but I go for the jugular. Hardcore for lyphe baby! And that’s why I’ve summoned Sneaky D and his “Prevent Defense” to try and prevent a neck breaker of a week with your IDP lineups.
Before I get to the meat of this article, I should probably explain the evolution of Sneaky D. Some of you know me around the DFW forums as Thurman’s Hermit. Or maybe we go way back and you know me as Phish (Great band shout out right there). Or maybe you knew me in my glory days when I would walk into any bar and hear the regulars yell out “D-Rock!” Which was way cooler than the old farts at Cheers belching out “Norm”. Trust me… I was there. But today, you can call me Sneaky D. My newest alter-ego will try to give you a couple of sneaky IDP starts for week 6 that just might help put you over the top and get that win this week.
Let’s face it, I could sit here and tell you to start J.J. Watt or Navorro Bowman… but if you own them, you’re starting them anyway. On the flip side, I could tell you to bench Jared Allen or Sean Weatherspoon… but you wouldn’t listen to me. And rightly so. I do believe in the “Start your studs” method, but sometimes you need another option when your stud isn’t playing. Or maybe you need to take a chance with your lineup because you need to max out on points. That’s why I’m going to try and go a bit deeper and give some options for those that might have lost a couple of starting options to injuries or the bye week. I’ll do my best to make it worth your while by offering some insight on why I would do it so that you can look for similar matchups/strategies with other players down the road.
Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay – The Bucs take on the Chiefs this week and as you probably know, Matt Cassel was knocked out of the game last week after a devastating hit by Haloti Ngata. Cassel has been sacked 13 times in 5 games, and while that doesn’t lead the league… only 8 QBs have been sacked more this year. Rodgers and Kolb lead the way in the sack column, but it’s a log jam for 3rd place. I like this play mainly because the Bucs are playing at home plus the fact that Brady Quinn is starting. I firmly believe that playing at home gives the defense an edge… especially the pass rushers because the defense gets to feed off the energy from the crowd. That’s why betting on the home underdogs pays off more often than you’d think. Bennett has at least 1 sack in 3 of his 4 games this year with 4 sacks so far this year and I like his chances to get to Brady Quinn this week. I’m sure the Chiefs will try to run the ball, but the Bucs run defense has improved. (73.8 yds/game — 4th best in the NFL) And they haven’t had a pancake schedule with Carolina, Giants, Dallas and Washington either. I just think they take this game which should lead to some opportunities to get in Quinn’s grill.
Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo – I’ll do my best not to clutter my write-ups with Bills players but this matchup between Buffalo and Arizona has the potential to be huge for big plays and sacks. If your league is a big play scoring league, don’t snooze on this game. Buffalo’s Oline is a mess, but Arizona just gave up 9 sacks to St. Louis a week ago. If there’s a week that Mario Williams finally notches something in the sack column again (only 1.5 sacks so far this year, all of them in week 3) this might be it. But this is about being sneaky and Mario is kinda obvious for a breakout/sneaky candidate. So obvious that I’m sure Arizona is smart enough to focus their attention on him. We’ll see what William Powell and the Hyphenator LSH can do in pass protection. Mario will be game planned against so Dareus could get on the sack board too, but I’m sticking with Kyle as the official pick from this crew.
Darnell Dockett, DE, Arizona – I’ll keep this one short because he’s been injured and barely played last week. But if the morning reports sound positive, he could be worth a spot start if you’re hurting for options. Like I mentioned above, Buffalo’s Oline has been ravaged yet again this year with injuries. Calais Campbell could also qualify as a sneaky start in some circles but most of his owners are probably looking to start him anyway. Dockett is definitely worth a look against the Bills if the news is positive on him on Sunday morning. He can still get the job done and was playing well before injuring his hammy. The Cards defense has been pretty impressive this year. There’s no question about that. Imagine if Dockett was 100% healthy… kinda scary actually.
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland – The main reason for mentioning his name is because he’s one of the many pass rushers in the NFL who are off to a slow start. He’s only got 1 sack so far this year and many owners have probably kept him on the bench in recent weeks. Well, the Browns are getting Joe Haden back from suspension. And Cincy is tied for 3rd for the most sacks allowed. And nothing helps a pass rush more than when the secondary can give them time. If Haden can keep AJ Green locked down, Dalton will have to find someone else to throw to. Remember, Haden was suspended… not injured. He’ll be ready for the 2012 rubber match. Cleveland is playing at home, they are 0-5 and they’re up against a division rival. Watch out for the Brownies this week. They played well against the Bengals at Cincy in week 2 and we just saw Tennessee take down Pittsburgh on Thursday. I think the Browns are just as desperate for a win if not more. They’ll be “up” for this game, and that’s the kind of motivation that I like when looking at matchups. If you play in Survivor Pools, get Cincy out if you have them in. ;)
Mason Foster, LB, Tampa Bay – I doubt many owners consider him to be an every week starter, so that’s why he’s getting mentioned. The Chiefs have been pounding the rock with Jamaal Charles this year (3rd in carries/1st in rushing yards), and I don’t think that will change. Even if it isn’t working, I doubt they will abandon the run completely and hope that Quinn can carry them on his back. Mason Foster is tied for 9th in solo tackles with 32 after only 4 games. That’s just 2 behind Daryl Washington in one less game as a comparison. And he’s outperformed Lavonte David, the guy who does stay in on all 3 downs. What I’m trying to say here is, the main reason why this could be considered sneaky is because Foster doesn’t stay on the field for every snap. However, he has been on the field over half of the time including 85% of the snaps in week 3. If I’m right and KC doesn’t abandon the run, he should have another solid day.
A.J. Hawk, LB, Green Bay – If Mason Foster seemed pretty obvious, maybe this one won’t. A.J. Hawk has been written off by most hardcore IDP owners, but I think I can justify a spot start for him this week. Hawk kinda disappears in games that set up to be shootouts, like the one against the Saints. (He finished with 1 solo tackle and 2 assists in that game) That would be enough to krazy glue his ass to your bench. But if you look back to the game against the 49ers, he had 10 solo tackles and 4 assists. Obviously the 9ers are a running team. And guess what, so are the Texans. The 49ers ran the ball 32 times in that game and I expect the Texans to approach or even exceed that number. Nobody has carried the ball more than Arian Foster this year and the Texans are 2nd in the NFL in attempts. (behind the Patriots for some strange reason) This is a bit of a boom or bust play because A.J. Hawk is certainly capable of putting up a dud this week. But I think the Texans will be motivated to show the almighty Packers that they are for real. There should be plenty of tackle opportunities for Green Bay and this matchup sets up well for Hawk and D.J. Smith when Green Bay is fairly middle of the road against the run.
Erin Henderson, LB, Minnesota – Did this guy sneak up on anybody else or is it just me? He had double digit total tackles in weeks 1 and 2 and then missed a couple of games. This week, the Vikes square off against the Redskins. By now you’ve probably heard about Alfred Morris. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes they added Morris in more leagues this year. But this is about sneaky IDP starters and I think Henderson fits the bill. Especially considering he isn’t a middle linebacker. He’s a couple of weeks removed from his concussion now and should be ready to pick up where he left off. As the weakside LB he had a sack in each of his first two games this year, along with double digit total tackles. Anytime you get double digit points from a player in IDP leagues, it’s never a bad thing if you ask me. I’m not predicting a sack from him but I do think Washington will stay with the running game as long as they can, especially if RGIII is playing. This isn’t the week where they can afford to have RGIII drop back 40-50 times. Not when Jared Allen is coming to town.
Matt Giordano, FS, Oakland – Alright, I know what you’re saying. It sounds like this: “Whatchu talkin bout Willis? I don’t even own that guy and screw you for even suggesting that I pick him up.” Well, I don’t blame ya but the Falcons have a chance to get to their bye week with a 6-0 record after beating up on the Raydaz in the comfort of the Georgia Dome where they play so incredibly well. The Oakland secondary is in absolute shambles. Michael Huff is playing cornerback for crying out loud. So if you’re more comfortable going with a name you know, Huff might even be worth a spot start. Matt Ryan is gonna pick on these guys and hopefully show no mercy while doing it. The Falcons have two elite WRs and Oakland has nobody to cover them. Somebody is getting the ball and Ryan could have 30 completions by halftime. Tyvon Branch will have another solid day, but he’s an every week starter anyway. If you are in awful shape at DB, pick up Pat Lee (5 tackles last week filling in for Ronald Bartell), throw caution to the wind and start your Raider DBs if yer hurting for options.
Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona – This is my lame attempt to make up for the last 500 characters. For some, Patrick Peterson is a must start. Especially in return yardage leagues. But if you’re in a deep league and typically rely on safeties as your starter, don’t be afraid to plug him in this week. He’s elite. He’s a game changer. He’s playing at home. He’s amped to cover my boy Stevie Johnson and unfortunately there aren’t many other options in the Bills passing game. If that’s not enough, Fitzpatrick is just one pick away from leading the league in interceptions with eight. If you think that’s funny (screw you Gino!), Cassel isn’t playing this week so Fitzpatrick could very well be the leader when the clock strikes midnight on Sunday. Quite frankly, this is the equivalent of a “make-up call” after my Giordano pick above. I gave you a deep sleeper and now I offset it with a studly cornerback that might not be an every week starter on your team.
Rahim Moore, FS, Denver – If you’re looking for a safe bet for a solid day of production from a depth player on your roster, I think Rahim could be a smart play this week. He’s a solid tackler and he’s playing against the Charger offense who will be looking to keep Ryan Mathews going this week. This game also has some potential for a shootout if both teams move the ball well, and I expect them to. He has 28 solo tackles on the year, with 20 of them coming in the last 3 weeks. He does a good job of being in position to make plays so if Mathews’ fumble problems resurface, Moore won’t be too far away. I’ll never guarantee a pick, sack or fumble because that’s just too hard to predict, but this game should be a close one and I expect the Denver defense to play well after a rough week against the Patriots.
Sneaky D will be lurking to answer any questions or comments you might have. Good luck this week!