IDP Sleepers - Week 12
by Anthony Borbely
November 21st, 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)

Chris Long, St. Louis Rams (at Arizona)

  • Season stats: 17/3/7
  • Last week: 3/2/0
  • Cardinals sacks allowed per game/ranking: 4.3/1st
  • Cardinals QB pressure allowed ranking: 5th
  • Long has been hot of late, racking up five sacks in his last six games, including three (along with seven solos) in his last two. Long has a great matchup this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed the most sacks in the league and are in the top five in QB pressure allowed. They are also starting rookie QB Ryan Lindley, who made his NFL debut last week against the Falcons. The Cardinals have one of the worst lines in the league and a rookie QB and that along with Long's recent hot streak makes Long a prime cut this week.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Brian Robison, Minnesota Vikings (at Chicago)

  • Season stats: 19/8/4.5
  • Last week: 1/0/0
  • Bears sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.4/2nd
  • Bears QB pressure allowed ranking: 1st
  • Robison took advantage of a great matchup in week seven, posting a huge three-sack performance against the Cardinals but in his other nine games he only has 1.5 sacks. This week Robison has a matchup every bit as good as the one in week seven as he faces the Bears, who are among the worst pass protecting teams in the league. They are currently leading the league in QB pressure allowed and are second in sacks allowed. At this point it is not known whether Jay Cutler will start at QB or if it will be Jason Campbell, who was brutal against the 49ers on Monday night. Robison should be at the top of any sleeper list this week and would arguably be a must start if Campbell starts at QB for the Bears.

    Justin Tuck, New York Giants (vs. Green Bay)

  • Season stats: 18/15/3
  • Last week: 0/2/0
  • Packers sacks allowed per game/ranking: 3.2/4th
  • Packers QB pressure allowed ranking: 9th
  • Tuck got off to a very slow start this year and did not record a sack in his first six games, but he has picked up his play of late and has posted a 7/6/3 line in his last four games. Tuck has a great matchup this week against the Packers, who have struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers for most of the year, in part due to numerous injuries to their offensive line. the Packers are fourth in sacks allowed and ninth in QB pressure allowed. Tuck has played much better in recent weeks and given his good matchup this week should be a solid upper-end sleeper this week.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Kamerion Wimbley, Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville)

  • Season stats: 11/9/3.5
  • Last week: 0/0/0
  • Jaguars sacks allowed per game/ranking: 2.7/6th
  • Jaguars QB pressure allowed ranking: 7th
  • Wimbley signed a long-term contract with the Titans and they were hoping Wimbley would perk up an anemic pass rush, but Wimbley has been a disappointment for most of the season. Wimbley, who only had one sack in his first six games, has improved his play of late and has registered a 7/3/2.5 line in his last four games. Wimbley has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who are in the top ten in both QB pressure allowed and sacks allowed. The Jaguars have made numerous changes to their offense, the most notable being Chad Henne being named the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Henne is not the most mobile quarterback around and the Jaguars still have the same suspect offensive line, so Wimbley figures to have a few sack opportunities and makes for a solid low-end sleeper with upside this week.

    Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns (vs. Pittsburgh)

  • Season stats: 20/11/2.5
  • Last week: 2/0/1
  • Steelers sacks allowed per game/ranking: 2.2/Tied for 15th
  • Steelers QB pressure allowed ranking: 26th
  • Sheard is yet another pass rushing defensive end that got off to a slow start with only one sack in his first eight games. But he has put up a 5/5/1.5 line in the last two weeks and his owners hope this is a sign of things to come. Sheard faces the Steelers this week and they will be starting third-string quarterback, Charlie Batch. The Steelers have been a decent pass protecting team, but Batch does not move well and that bodes well for Sheard's chance to get into the sack column this week. That along with Sheard's solid tackle numbers makes him a decent low-end sleeper this week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    Jason Babin, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Carolina)

  • Season stats: 17/5/4.5
  • Last week: 2/0/1
  • Panthers sacks allowed per game/ranking: 2.6/Tied for 7th
  • Panthers QB pressure allowed ranking: 20th
  • What a difference a year makes. Last year, Babin racked up a career-high 18 sacks, which followed the 12.5 he had in 2010. This year has been a completely different story as Babin only has 4.5 sacks all year. However, there has been signs of life recently as Babin has a pair of sacks in his last three games. Babin faces the Panthers this week and despite being a respectable pass protecting team, they have allowed the seventh-most sacks in the league. Babin has played better of late and the matchup is decent and that's about all you can ask for when looking for a 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)

    David Harris, New York Jets (vs. New England)

  • Season stats: 48/27/1.5
  • Last week: 4/0/0
  • Patriots rushing attempts per game/ranking: 33.0/3rd
  • Patriots tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 1st
  • Harris has been consistent this year and has at least 6 total tackles in 8 of his 10 games. Harris has a great matchup this week against the Patriots, who lead the league in tackle opportunities allowed and are third in rushing attempts per game. With Rob Gronkowski injured, it is difficult to say how the Patriots will adapt offensively, but I still expect them to run a fast paced offense and thus a lot of plays. Harris posted a 7/1/1 line against the Patriots in week seven and I see no reason to expect this week to be much different. Get Harris in your lineups.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Stephen Tulloch, Detroit Lions (vs. Houston)

  • Season stats: 44/18/0.5
  • Last week: 4/5/0
  • Texans rushing attempts per game/ranking: 35.0/1st
  • Texans tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 2nd
  • Tulloch has posted lackluster numbers this year, but he has a great matchup this week against the Texans, who lead the league in rushing attempts per game and are second in tackle opportunities allowed. The Texans have given up some huge games to inside linebackers, including at least eight tackles to an inside linebacker in five of the last six games. For that reason, Tulloch should be near the top of your list for upper-level sleepers this week. Only Tulloch's below average numbers this year keeps him from being a prime cut sleeper.

    Karlos Dansby, Miami Dolphins (vs. Seattle)

  • Season stats: 56/20/1
  • Last week: 4/3/0
  • Seahawks rushing attempts per game/ranking: 33.4/2nd
  • Seahawks tackle opportunities allowed ranking: Tied for 16th
  • After playing most of his career in the 3-4 defense, Dansby has adjusted well to his move to middle linebacker in Miami's 4-3 defense. He has racked up 76 total tackles, but his sack numbers are down from past years. Dansby has a solid matchup this week against the Seahawks, who are second in the league in rushing attempts per game. There have been nine inside linebackers with at least nine total tackles against the Seahawks this year. Dansby has a great chance to continue the trend this week and that makes him an upper-end sleeper with upside.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears (vs. Minnesota)

  • Season stats: 42/14/0
  • Last week: 3/4/0
  • Vikings rushing attempts per game/ranking: 28.8/9th
  • Vikings tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 13th
  • Urlacher got off to a slow start this year with only 15 solos in his first five games, but he has rebounded since and has 27 solos in his last five games. Urlacher faces Adrian Peterson and the Vikings this week and they are in the top ten in rushing attempts per game. As of this writing, Percy Harvin's status is unknown, but if he is out the Vikings will likely lean on Peterson even more than they usually do. Regardless, Urlacher should see enough of Peterson to make him a viable low-end sleeper with upside this week.

    Bruce Carter, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Washington)

  • Season stats: 46/15/0
  • Last week: 4/1/0
  • Redskins rushing attempts per game/ranking: 31.6/5th
  • Redskins tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 11th
  • Carter was having a respectable year in this, his first year as a starter. But when Sean Lee was lost for the year with an injury, Carter stepped up his game in a big way and despite not being the tackling machine that Lee is, he has still racked up 23 solos in his last three games. Carter has a solid matchup this week against the Redskins, who are fifth in rushing attempts per game and just outside the top ten in tackle opportunities allowed. Carter may not rack up the nine or more solos that he has in two of the last three weeks, but he should do well enough to be a low-end sleeper with upside this week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    D.J. Williams, Denver Broncos (at Kansas City)

  • Season stats: 3/1/0
  • Last week: 3/1/0
  • Chiefs rushing attempts per game/ranking: 31.8/4th
  • Chiefs tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 5th
  • After being suspended for the first nine games, Williams returned last week and had three solos and an assist in part time duty. Williams has a great matchup this week against the Chiefs, who are in the top five in both tackle opportunities allowed and rushing attempts per game. Williams only played about a third of the snaps last week and considering it was his first game all year, he looked pretty impressive. I expect his snap count to increase enough to make Williams a deep sleeper this week, but there is some risk because we really don't know (as of this writing) how the Broncos will use Williams. This is a classic risk/reward play here.

    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)

    Yeremiah Bell, New York Jets (vs. New England)

  • Season stats: 52/12/0/2
  • Last week: 6/0/0/1
  • Patriots passing attempts per game/ranking: 39.6/7th
  • Patriots passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 29th
  • Patriots tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 1st

    Bell is posting strong tackle numbers for the Jets and is on pace for more than 80 solos. That should not come as a surprise because Bell has been one of the premier tackling safeties for years. On the other hand, his non existent big play numbers are also not a surprise as he only has six picks in his career. Bell faces the Patriots this week and they lead the league in tackle opportunities allowed and are in the top ten in both rushing attempts per game and attempted passes per game. With the Patriots running the ball so well and being so effective with their short passing game, Bell should be in the middle of the action for most of the game. Better yet, he will not have to try to cover Rob Gronkowski, who is out with an injury. Bell should have an extremely high number of tackle opportunities and that makes him a prime cut sleeper this week.

    Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

    Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers (at New York Giants)

  • Season stats: 27/10/5/14
  • Last week: 4/1/1/5
  • Giants passing attempts per game/ranking: 36.6/13th
  • Giants passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 3rd
  • Giants tackle opportunities allowed ranking: Tied for 23rd
  • Hayward has played extremely well since becoming a starter at cornerback for the Packers. Hayward, who has five interceptions on the season, has racked up 15 solos, 5 assists, 1 interception, and 7 passes defended in his last 3 games. This week, Hayward faces the Giants, who are third in the league in passes defended allowed. The Giants are coming off a much needed bye week and prior to it their passing game was struggling mightily. There have been reports that Eli Manning was suffering from a "tired" arm and the week off should help. Expect the Giants to come out firing and that plays right into the hands of Hayward. I expect the Giants to test the rookie early and often. Consider Hayward a solid upper-end sleeper this week.

    Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

    Charles Godfrey, Carolina Panthers (vs. Philadelphia)

  • Season stats: 36/22/1/4
  • Last week: 3/4/0/1
  • Eagles passing attempts per game/ranking: 39.4/8th
  • Eagles passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 9th
  • Eagles tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 10th
  • Godfrey has a great matchup against the Eagles, who are in the top ten in attempted passes, tackle opportunities allowed, and passes defended allowed. Strong safeties have had several big games against the Eagles and Godfrey should be able to continue the trend. As of this writing it is unclear who will start at quarterback for the Eagles, so I am listing Godfrey as a low-end sleeper. I would lean towards Godfrey posting better numbers if Vick starts at quarterback.

    Mike Adams, Denver Broncos (at Kansas City)

  • Season stats: 37/16/0/8
  • Last week: 0/0/0/0
  • Chiefs passing attempts per game/ranking: 33.5/Tied for 21st
  • Chiefs passes defended allowed ranking: Tied for 6th
  • Chiefs tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 5th
  • Adams has been a surprisingly good defensive back in the fantasy world last week, but many were surprised when Adams posted a big fat zero last week and that was despite playing more than 90% of the defensive snaps. Adams simply did not have many opportunities last week and I don't think it is anything to worry about. Adams has a solid matchup against the Chiefs, who are fifth in tackle opportunities allowed and sixth in passes defended allowed. The latter is a bit surprising because the Chiefs don't throw the ball much, but it shows just how bad their quarterback play has been. Adams should be in the middle of the action in both run defense and coverage. The Chiefs are expected to start Brady Quinn at quarterback and he likes to check down more than most quarterbacks. Consider Adams a low-end sleeper with upside this week and I would not be concerned about his score last week.

    Deep Sleepers (For desperate owners only)

    Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans (at Detroit)

  • Season stats: 28/2/4/9
  • Last week: 5/0/0/1
  • Lions passing attempts per game/ranking: 44.0/1st
  • Lions passes defended allowed ranking: 8th
  • Lions tackle opportunities allowed ranking: 3rd
  • Jackson is probably the weakest link in the Texans defense and he was torched last week by Chad Henne and the Jaguars passing offense. It doesn't get easier for Jackson as he faces the Lions, who lead the league in attempted passes per game and are in the top ten in passes defended allowed. There is a chance that Johnathan Joseph misses the game and if that happens, Jackson will probably see more of Calvin Johnson than he would care too. A player like Jackson who seems likely to be attacked by the Lions passing attack may not be a bad choice for those of you who are in bad need of help at defensive back this week.

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

    © 2012 Footballguys - All Rights Reserved