IDP Sleepers - Week 16
by Anthony Borbely
December 20th, 2012

This article is a weekly look at players generally ranked around the edge of those considered "startable". For the purposes of this article, I will define startable as all players on the edge of starting on a team that starts 2 DLs, 2 LBs, and 2 DBs. Therefore, about the middle of DL2, LB2 and DB2 range are usually where the choices begin to get tough. Each position is covered in descending order beginning with the players who have the most prime matchups to those with more risk and less upside to those who are complete reaches. Your mileage may vary, but the idea is to discuss these players and provide you with some analysis that might help you make those difficult lineup decisions a bit easier. I hope that your expertise as an owner has filled your team with enough players that you don't need to consider players outside of the prime cuts discussed here. Good luck and always keep in mind that your feedback and comments are welcome. I also want to thank and give credit to Bob Henry for creating the format for this article.

NOTE: This article was written before the official injury reports were released, so please double check that any player listed in this article is playing. Also, you should always check the inactives in Sunday.

Defensive Line

Note: When I mention stats of the defensive lineman, the format will be solos/assists/sacks, unless otherwise mentioned.

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Chicago)

  • Season stats: 42/12/4.5
  • Last week: 7/1/1
  • Bears sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.0/Tied for 5th
  • Bears QB pressure allowed ranking: 2nd
  • Campbell has a great matchup against the Bears, who are fifth in the league in sacks allowed and second in QB pressure allowed. Campbell has always been a high tackle player and that along with a high expected number of sack opportunities makes him a prime cut this week.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Chandler Jones, New England Patriots (at Jacksonville)

  • Season stats: 21/7/5
  • Last week: 2/0/0
  • Jaguars sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.1/Tied for 3rd
  • Jaguars QB pressure allowed ranking: 3rd
  • Jones recorded an 18/15/5 line in his first eight games and was arguably the best defensive player among rookies. He does not have a sack since due to a combination of ineffectiveness and an injury that caused him to miss two games. Jones has a great chance to get back on track as he faces the Jaguars, who are third in both sacks allowed per game and QB pressure allowed. Jones should have several sack opportunities as the Jaguars are likely to be playing catch-up and he makes a solid upper-level sleeper this week.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Kamerion Wimbley, Tennessee Titans (at Green Bay)

  • Season stats: 14/11/4.5
  • Last week: 2/1/0
  • Packers sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.2/2nd
  • Packers QB pressure allowed ranking: 10th
  • Wimbley has a great matchup against the Packers, a team that has numerous injuries to their offensive line and had problems protecting Aaron Rodgers all year. They rank second in the league in sacks allowed per game and are tenth in QB pressure allowed. Wimbley has not had a great year, but he is the best pure pass rusher on the Titans and should have a few sack opportunities. Consider Wimbley a low-end sleeper with upside this week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    Israel Idonije, Chicago Bears (at Arizona)

  • Season stats: 22/18/5
  • Last week: 3/1/0
  • Cardinals sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.6/1st
  • Cardinals QB pressure allowed ranking: 7th
  • Idonije has a great matchup against the Cardinals, who arguably have the worst offensive line in the league and definitely have the worst quarterback situation in the league. The Cardinals have allowed more sacks than any team in the league and rank seventh in QB pressure allowed. Basically, what we have here is an average at best player that has an excellent matchup. For those of you needing a deep sleeper this week, you could do a lot worse than Idonije.

    Trent Cole, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Washington)

  • Season stats: 21/11/3
  • Last week: 5/0/1
  • Redskins sacks allowed per game/ranking: 2.4/Tied for 13th
  • Redskins QB pressure allowed ranking: 1st
  • Cole has arguably been the biggest disappointment on the IDP side of fantasy football, but he has been playing better of late and had his best games of the season last week with five solos and a sack. Cole has a great matchup this week against the Redskins, who are tops in the league in QB pressure allowed. Robert Griffin III is expected to play this week after missing last week with an injury but he may not be 100%. In a week with a limited number of sleepers at defensive end, owners that are desperate for a starter may want to take a look at Cole.

    Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. St. Louis)

  • Season stats: 23/7/5
  • Last week: 0/1/0
  • Rams sacks allowed per game/ranking: 2.5/Tied for 10th
  • Rams QB pressure allowed ranking: 13th
  • McCoy has a solid matchup this week against the Rams, who are in the top ten in sacks allowed and have suffered a number of injuries on their offensive line. The Rams figure to run Steven Jackson early and often and that should give McCoy a chance to post respectable tackle numbers. When you combine that with a team that struggles in pass protection, you have a quality deep sleeper.

    Linebackers

    Note: When I mention stats of linebackers, the format will be solos/assists/sacks, unless otherwise mentioned.

    Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

    DeMeco Ryans, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Washington)

  • Season stats: 81/24/1
  • Last week: 6/3/0
  • Redskins rushing attempts per game/ranking: 32.1/4th
  • Redskins tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 5th
  • Ryans is having his best season since his torn Achilles injury and is currently on pace for more than 90 solos. He has a great matchup this week against the Redskins, who are in the top five in both rushing attempts per game and tackle opportunities allowed. Middle linebackers have posted big numbers against the Redskins in recent weeks and I see no reason for that to change, so get Ryans in your lineups.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Curtis Lofton, New Orleans Saints (at Dallas)

  • Season stats: 74/39/1
  • Last week: 2/1/0
  • Cowboys rushing attempts per game/ranking: 23.0/Tied for 28th
  • Cowboys tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 7th
  • Lofton has a great matchup against the Cowboys, who are seventh in the league in tackle opportunities allowed. The Cowboys are near the bottom in rushing attempts per game, but their running game has been much better since DeMarco Murray returned from an injury. Lofton should see a lot of Murray in both run defense and coverage as well as Jason Witten. Consider Lofton a solid upper-level sleeper this week. I did not make Lofton a prime cut due to his low big play numbers.

    Russell Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. New England)

  • Season stats: 92/23/0
  • Last week: 7/0/0
  • Patriots rushing attempts per game/ranking: 32.7/3rd
  • Patriots tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 1st
  • Allen has posted solid numbers all season and that is largely because Daryl Smith's injury gave Allen a chance to be an every down player. He is on pace for more than 100 solos and he very could hit that this week because of a great matchup with the Patriots, who are tops in the league in tackle opportunities allowed and third in rushing attempts per game. Allen offers very little in the way of big plays, but he should see enough tackle opportunities to warrant consideration as an upper-level sleeper this week.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Perry Riley, Washington Redskins (at Philadelphia)

  • Season stats: 62/48/2
  • Last week: 2/3/0
  • Eagles rushing attempts per game/ranking: 26.0/Tied for 17th
  • Eagles tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 14th
  • Riley has posted solid numbers this year and is currently a low-end LB2. They are even more impressive when you consider that he plays next to tackling machine London Fletcher. Riley faces the Eagles this week, who are expected to have LeSean McCoy back after he missed several weeks due to a concussion. The Eagles are only 14th in tackle opportunities allowed, but they were ranked much higher prior to McCoy's injury. Consider Riley a low-end sleeper with upside this week. I decided not to rank him higher due to the uncertainty regarding McCoy's playing time this week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks (vs. San Francisco 49ers

  • Season stats: 61/22/0
  • Last week: 2/1/0
  • 49ers rushing attempts per game/ranking: 31.1/Tied for 5th
  • 49ers tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 9th
  • Wright has a solid matchup against the 49ers, who are fifth in rushing attempts per game and ninth in tackle opportunities allowed. Wright's numbers have been down a bit since Bobby Wager started playing every down and also due to Wright being hurt, but Wright should have enough tackle opportunities to be a viable deep sleeper this week.

    Jasper Brinkley, Minnesota Vikings (at Houston)

  • Season stats: 58/35/0
  • Last week: 3/0/0
  • Texans rushing attempts per game/ranking: 33.7/1st
  • Texans tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 2nd
  • Brinkley has had six or more solos in four of his last six games but offers little in the way of big plays. He has a great matchup against the Texans, who are tops in the league in rushing attempts per game and second in tackle opportunities allowed. With such a great matchup, Brinkley should be at the top of your deep sleeper lists this week.

    Defensive Backs

    Note: When I mention stats of defensive backs, the format will be solos/assists/interceptions/passes defended, unless otherwise mentioned.

    Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

    Dawan Landry, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. New England)

  • Season stats: 77/15/1/2
  • Last week: 5/0/0/0
  • Patriots passing attempts per game/ranking: 40.3/Tied for 5th
  • Patriots passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 29th
  • Patriots tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 1st
  • Landry has 44 solos in his last seven games and has an outside chance to eclipse the 90-solo mark, which is a very impressive number for a safety. He has a great matchup this week against the Patriots, who are tops in the league in tackle opportunities allowed and first in total plays run from scrimmage by a wide margin. Between the Patriots running game and passes in the short zones to Wes Welker, Landry should have a high number of tackle opportunities this week, so make sure and get him in your lineups.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears (at Arizona)

  • Season stats: 49/5/8/19
  • Last week: 1/0/0/0
  • Cardinals passing attempts per game/ranking: 37.5/9th
  • Cardinals passes defended allowed ranking: 6th
  • Cardinals tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 29th
  • Jennings has had an exceptional season and has beaten his career highs in both interceptions and passes defended by a wide margin. He has a great matchup against the Cardinals, who are sixth in passes defended allowed and ninth in attempted passes per game. The Cardinals are really struggling offensively and their poor pass protection often leads to rushed throws by their quarterbacks and that is a big reason for their high passes defended numbers. Expect Jennings to take advantage of that and consider him an upper-level sleeper this week.

    Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Indianapolis)

  • Season stats: 64/12/1/8
  • Last week: 11/0/0/0
  • Colts passing attempts per game/ranking: 40.3/Tied for 5th
  • Colts passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 1st
  • Colts tackle opportunities allowed ranking: Tied for 10th
  • After getting off to a very slow start, Berry has played much better in recent weeks and has racked up 40 solos and seven passes defended in his last seven games. The slow start is likely because of his recovery from a torn ACL suffered last season. Berry has a great matchup against the Colts, who are tops in the league in passes defended allowed and fifth in passing attempts per game. Berry is equally effective in run defense and coverage and should have enough opportunities in both this week to be a solid upper-end sleeper with upside.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Dunta Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (at Detroit)

  • Season stats: 58/12/1/7
  • Last week: 2/0/0/0
  • Lions passing attempts per game/ranking: 45.9/1st
  • Lions passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 1st
  • Lions tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 4th
  • Robinson has a great matchup against the Lions, who are tops in the league in both attempted passes per game and passes defended allowed and fourth in tackle opportunities allowed. Robinson is a mediocre fantasy option in most weeks, but with a matchup this good he is a quality low-end sleeper with upside this week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    Danny McCray, Dallas Cowboys (vs. New Orleans)

  • Season stats: 50/19/1/2
  • Last week: 5/2/0/0
  • Saints passing attempts per game/ranking: 41.1/3rd
  • Saints passes defended allowed ranking: 3rd
  • Saints tackle opportunities allowed ranking: Tied for 19th
  • McCray has a solid matchup against the Saints, who are third in both attempted passes per game and passes defended allowed. McCray will be part of a group that will have the unenviable task of covering Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. Between that and run defense, McCray should have plenty of tackle opportunities and that qualifies him as a viable deep sleeper for owners that are badly in need of help at defensive back this week.

    Jamarca Sanford, Minnesota Vikings (at Houston)

  • Season stats: 48/14/0/5
  • Last week: 3/0/0/0
  • Texans passing attempts per game/ranking: 34.6/19th
  • Texans passes defended allowed ranking: 23rd
  • Texans tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 2nd
  • Sanford faces the Texans this week, who are tops in the league in rushing attempts per game and second in tackle opportunities allowed. He should see plenty of Arian Foster and that should give him a chance for respectable tackle numbers. If you play in a deeper league and are desperate for a starter at defensive back, Sanford may not be a bad option this week.

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to borbely@footballguys.com.

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