As the season wears on and there is more data to go through it can be hard to find those diamonds in the rough or guys that not everyone else is on yet. Each week we will take a look at guys who are still widely available across leagues, have potential matchup value this week, or are long-term values to stash on your bench to see how the season shakes out. With the myriad of injuries across the NFL, there are young guys getting their chance to make an impact. Each week we will also take a look back at some of the top performers from last week’s list and see if they are worth keeping. We will highlight defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs each week.
Mario Addison DE (CAR): With two games to go, the Panthers have a lot to play for. This week they take on a struggling Tampa Bay team that has been eliminated from playoff contention. Addison has 3.5 sacks in his last four games and has a perfect opportunity to get after Jameis Winston this week. Addison has already recorded double-digit sacks this season and should look to add to that total this week.
Ezekiel Ansah DE (DET): The Lions are a long shot to make the playoffs but there is still a lot to play for in the final 2 weeks. Ansah had a 3-sack outburst in week 2 and racked up 6 solos an assist and a sack 2 weeks ago. There is a lot of potential but also several games where he underperformed. If you need a big performance at are hurting at DE, betting on Ansah may pay off in the final weeks.
Junior Galette LB (WAS): The Redskins defense is playing for pride at this point. Galette has suffered through injuries and worked his way back to the field. Galette has not recorded more than 5 total tackles in a game this season but gets to take on a Denver offense that has struggled the majority of the season. There is a good chance Galette can add to his 3 sacks on the season and may have the chance to step in front of an errant Brock Osweiler pass. If there was a chance for Galette to step up this season it would be this week.
Tahir Whitehead LB (DET): Similar to Ansah, Whitehead had the potential for a big game. He hit a bit of a rough patch in recent weeks but bounced back with 9 total tackles last week. The Lions will take on a Bengals team that was thoroughly embarrassed by the Vikings last week and lacks any sort of identity. Andy Dalton is going to be running for his life all game and Whitehead should be right in the middle of things.
Bud Dupree LB (PIT): Pittsburgh is facing the tough reality that they will be without their star on defense in Ryan Shazier as well as a star on offense in Antonio Brown. The rest of the defense is going to need to step up and pick up the slack. Bud Dupree is slated to get a lot of work in the final weeks of the season, especially with the Steelers still having something to play for. Look for Dupree to post good tackle numbers for the rest of the season.
Brian Cushing LB (HOU): The Texans season took a very quick turn due to injuries and their defense fell off the map. However, they got Brian Cushing back from his suspension, and he has had a few weeks to shake the rust off. At this point, Houston is only playing for pride, but that is something Cushing has a lot of. They also take on a Pittsburgh team that is going to rely heavily on the run after losing Antonio Brown, and that should give Cushing a chance to rack up the tackles this week.
Kurt Coleman S (CAR): The Panthers are still right in the thick of things for the NFC South division crown and they are going to need their defense to step up if they want to end the season on a high note. The offense got Greg Olsen back and the defense is just hitting their stride. Coleman had 10 total tackles last week and gets the chance to take on an Atlanta team that loves to air the ball out. Look for Coleman to get plenty of work in the middle of the field as he tried to prevent Julio Jones from getting in the end zone.
Ronald Darby CB (PHI): With all the talk about how the Eagle’s defense needed to step up to support the offense, they really laid an egg last week against Eli Manning. However, Darby has still played a respectable corner on the outside and it was not his fault they kept playing zone defense against a team running nothing but quick slants. Darby had 5 solos and an interception last week and will look to follow that up against the Raiders.
Casey Hayward CB (LAC): Hayward has not had the best season in regards to tackles, but he has been able to find the ball. He has four interceptions and a fumble recovery this season and has a great matchup against the Jets. Bryce Petty will be starting at quarterback and the rest of the Jets team seems to have phoned it in for the season. Look for the Chargers defensive line to wreak a lot of havoc and cause poor throws from Petty. This is a speculative play that Hayward could grab a pick, but that is what his score is entirely dependent on.
Michael Brockers DT (LAR): Despite the blowout win in Seattle, Brockers only managed an assist and half a sack. The defense was dominant overall, but it was Aaron Donald that really took over the line.
Tyrone Crawford DT (DAL): Another disappointing week in a disappointing season for Crawford. The Cowboys may have squeaked out a win, but Crawford only managed a solo and two assists.
Manti Te'o LB (NO): Te’o was unable to follow up the 10 total tackles he had last week, but he did manage 5 solos and 2 assists this week. Predicting the New Orleans linebackers continues to be a difficult task.
Shane Ray LB (DEN): Ray managed two solos before reinjuring his wrist. He has undergone surgery and has been placed on IR for the rest of the season. A disappointing end to a disappointing season for Ray.
Jaylon Smith LB (DAL): Smith managed a single solo tackle this week. The Dallas defense played a bend but don’t break style this week and no single player stepped up and made plays.
Corey Graham S (PHI): Graham seemed to be the last line of defense for the Eagles this week as Eli Manning picked them apart. He registered 7 solos and an assist after the corners got beat on slant routes time and time again.
Marshon Lattimore CB (NO): With 3 solos and 2 assists, Lattimore’s only saving grace was his interception. Of all the picks from last week, Lattimore had the best day.
Tony Jefferson S (BAL): Picking a Baltimore safety a week too late yet again. Jefferson followed up his 11-total tackle week with a solo and an assist.
This was not a great week overall for IDP sleepers. Several players were unable to follow up the big weeks they had prior and others just continued their disappointing seasons. Manti Te’o and Marshon Lattimore had some of the best results, but they were more highly owned across leagues and may not have been able to help. The season is coming to a close and there are not many unknowns left. This week we focused on going after tackles from the linebackers and secondary and then went sack heavy with the defensive line. Hopefully, there are a few gems that can help you for your playoff championships.