IDP Upgrades/Waiver - Week 16
By Aaron Rudnicki
December 17th, 2012

Upgrades

DE J.J. Watt, HOU (10 solos, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 4 QBH) - 6 tackles for loss
Even though he's already established himself as an elite player and defensive MVP candidate, Watt warrants another upgrade after his performance this weekend. He completely dominated the Colts up front and made plays in the backfield the entire game, finishing with 10 solos, 3 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 6 tackles for a loss. This may be the best season ever had by a 3-4 defensive end and he's only 23 years old.

DE Brandon Graham, PHI (4 solos, 2 asst, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 3 QBH)
On Thursday night against the Bengals, Graham showcased himself for the nation. He posted 2.5 sacks and 3 QB hits in the game to go along with 6 combined tackles. With Trent Cole struggling through a disappointing year and Jason Babin cut loose, Graham looks like the future of the Eagles defensive line if he can stay healthy.

DE Chris Clemons, SEA (3 solos, 2 asst, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 QBH)
While this year has been underwhelming for the veteran Clemons, he is starting to pick up the pace just in time for the fantasy playoffs. He posted 2.5 sacks against the Bills this week to go along with a couple more sacks in his last 3 games. The 49ers matchup next week should be very compelling and Clemons will play a big role in trying to keep Colin Kaepernick in check.

DE Calais Campbell, ARI (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD, 1 QBH)
Campbell has proven capable of putting up DE1-type numbers when healthy. Unfortunately, he missed a few games recently to injury and that likely caused some fantasy owners to forget about him. He came back last week and even though he was limited in practice with a calf injury, still managed to post one of this week's most impressive stat lines. He's averaging nearly 4 solo tackles per game, which makes up for his somewhat low sack total of 4.5.

DT Fletcher Cox, PHI (3 solos, 1 asst, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH)
If Graham is the future of the DE position in Philadelphia, then Cox is certainly the future of the interior defensive line. The Eagles took him with the 12th pick overall and clearly have high expectations for him. He posted 1.5 sacks this week to give him 4.5 sacks in his last 6 games and he's also proven to be stout against the run with some strong tackle numbers as well.

ILB Josh Bynes, BAL (11 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD)
With Ray Lewis sitting out again this week and Jameel McClain suffering a neck injury last week, Bynes was given the playcalling headset and given a chance to play the entire game. The former undrafted free agent did not do a great job of slowing down the Broncos offense but put up some strong numbers anyway. Keep an eye on this situation as he could post solid numbers next week as well if he gets a similar opportunity.

OLB Chad Greenway, MIN (13 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 QBH)
After a disappointing 3 tackle game against the Bears last week, Greenway responded with another monster performance. It was his second 13-solo game in 3 weeks and gives him a realistic shot to post 100+ solo tackles for the second time in his career. There aren't many linebackers out there having a more productive season than him right now.

OLB Clay Matthews, GB (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 PD, 2 QBH)
After sitting out 5 games with a hamstring injury, Matthews returned to action this week in a key divisional matchup with the Bears. Although there were reports that his snap count might be limited, he wound up playing just under 90% of the plays available. It looks like his hamstring held up fine as he tormented Jay Cutler for 2 sacks and helped the Packers get a big win.

OLB Rob Jackson, WAS (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Very few fantasy owners had probably heard of Rob Jackson before this season, but he has emerged as a valuable contributor to a Redskins defense that suffered a rash of injuries. Jackson has now posted a sack in 3 straight games and in 4 of his last 5. He should build on those numbers in a matchup against the Eagles next week.

S Quintin Mikell, STL (5 solos, 1 sack, 1 FF)
This year didn't start out great for Mikell, but he has been saving his best play for the end of the season. He often plays up in the box like an extra linebacker and that has helped him put up some very impressive and reliable tackle numbers in most weeks. Over his last 6 games, he has posted 5 or more solo tackles in 5 of them while also contributing 2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in the same span. He's looking like a top-10 safety again.

S Eric Berry, KC (11 solos, 1 PD)
While this has clearly been a busted year for many of the Chiefs players, he at least is showing some signs of life. He posted 11 solo tackles in a game a month ago and then repeated the performance again this week in a matchup with the Raiders. Unfortunately, these great games have been few and far between but he should become more consistent as he continues to develop. Next year could be the breakout year we've all been waiting for.

CB Patrick Peterson, ARI (7 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Peterson matched up with Calvin Johnson on Sunday and played very well, finishing with 7 solos and an interception. This was his fourth game in a row with an interception and brought him up to 7 on the season. He is clearly one of the best corners in the league, so the only fear with him is that QBs will stop throwing to his side of the field at some point.

CB Brandon Carr, DAL (4 solos, 1 INT, 3 PD)
Carr picked off a pass this week in a close matchup against the Steelers. He also posted an interception in last week's game and now has 3 in his last 6 overall. The big free agent pickup has worked out well for Dallas, although his tackle numbers are down from where they were during his early years with the Chiefs.

Downgrades

DE Terrell Suggs, BAL (1 solo)
Suggs is trying to play through immense pain with his torn biceps injury, but it is clearly limiting his effectiveness. He was forced to leave the game several times on Sunday and couldn't do much to slow down Peyton Manning and the Broncos. It's impressive to see his determination, but probably not a great help for fantasy owners.

DE Cliff Avril, DET (1 solo)
Avril had started to pick up his level of play over the past month, giving him another a chance to hit a big payday when he hits free agency in the offseason. He came up small against the Cardinals this week, however, in what should have been a very favorable matchup. The Cardinals defensive line tends to give up sacks in bunches but Avril could not capitalize.

DE Darnell Dockett, ARI (1 solo, 1 QBH)
This has looked like a lost season at times for Dockett. Although he has only missed one game with an injury, he looks like he'll wind up with some of the worst numbers of his career. Just 22 solo tackles and 2 sacks are not going to cut it, and he'll be 32 years old when next season begins so there's some concern that his best days are all behind him.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (2 solos)
Pierre-Paul was likely a consensus top-2 DE coming into the year and perhaps the #1 rated overall IDP for dynasty league owners. He played up to that level at times and posted 6 sacks in a 4-game stretch midseason. Since then, however, he's gone cold and hasn't come up with a single sack in his last 5 games. His tackle numbers are generally down as well and there have been reports that he is dealing with a back injury that is limiting his effectiveness. Could be a bad sign when a 23-year old player is already dealing with back problems.

DT Geno Atkins, CIN (0 tackles)
This zero tackle game had to come as a shock for many owners who relied on Atkins throughout the year. He has been a dominant force and is easily one of the very best defensive tackles in the game. It seems that he was neutralized by the Eagles offensive line, and he'll have what looks to be a pretty tough matchup next week against the Steelers as well.

ILB Ernie Sims, DAL (0 tackles)
Sims had looked solid filling in at ILB for the Cowboys in recent weeks, but he was knocked out early this week and finished with no stats to show for his efforts. He suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return. For a player with a long history of concussions, it seems likely that he will have to miss some time before being allowed back on the field.

OLB Tamba Hali, KC (2 solos)
Apart from a 2-sack game against the Browns last week, Hali has not been a very productive player for over a month now. He is clearly suffering from a Chiefs offense that can't get anything going, but it's disappointing that his tackle numbers (15 solos in his last 6 games)
haven't been better to offset that.

OLB Michael Boley, NYG (1 solo, 2 asst)
Boley has been one of the more reliable IDPs on the Giants defense this year, but he is dealing with a back injury that is limiting his effectiveness. For a player who needs to roam the field and make several violent collisions a game, that seems like the type of injury that would need some rest before it gets much better. Either way, he played through it this week and his numbers took a clear hit.

OLB Jason Worilds, PIT (1 asst)
Worilds has shown flashes of his ability when he's been given an opportunity to play, but Lamarr Woodley returned to the lineup this week so his snap count figures to be reduced significantly.

S Antrel Rolle, NYG (1 asst)
With Prince Akumara missing the game against the Falcons this week, Rolle was given more coverage responsibilities. That didn't seem to help his production as he finished with his lowest output of the year. There is also a knee issue that he's apparently been playing through, although his production prior to this week had been pretty good in recent weeks.

S Reggie Nelson, CIN (0 tackles)
Although Nelson has been playing well for the Bengals of late, he came out of the Thursday night game against the Eagles with a goose egg. It appears to be at least partly injury-related so keep an eye on the midweek reports to see if he's likely to miss any time to play with limited effectiveness. He was dealing with a hamstring injury earlier this year.

CB Buster Skrine, CLE (0 tackles)
The Browns nickel back was pushed into the starting lineup earlier this year when Joe Haden sat out, leading to some better than expected numbers. His production has slipped considerably in recent weeks, however, as he posted just 2 combined tackles a week ago and then none this week. If he can take over for Sheldon Brown next year, then he could have some nice value but for now it looks like he should stick on your bench.

CB Chris Houston, DET (1 solo)
Houston has generally been a solid tackle producer during his career, but with just 2 solo tackles combined in his last two games he's slumping at a terrible time of the year. The inconsistent pass rush from the Lions defensive line likely isn't doing him any favors when it comes to his low interception total as well.

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