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 maybe a long-term, guys to stash on your bench and 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 a list of defensive lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs each week.
Grady Jarrett DT (ATL): Jarrett has been very productive for a 5th round pick. Despite the slow start to the season, he has racked up 31 solos, 21 assists, and 3 sacks. In a must-win game for Atlanta, look for the Falcons line to try and get pressure on Cam Newton and stop their running game.
Kawann Short DT (CAR): On the flip side of Jarrett, Short is leading a defensive line that still has a lot to play for. The Panthers hold the tiebreaker for the Vikings and a first-round bye, and can also still win their division depending on what happens with New Orleans. Look for Short to try and add to his 7.5 sacks this week.
DeForest Buckner DT (SF): Buckner has run very hot and cold all season long. There have been games when he records a single tackle and others where he has 7 solos, 2 assists, and half a sack. The 49ers are suddenly playing well and look for Buckner to try and close the season on a high note.
Hayes Pullard III LB (LAC): Pullard had a very good stretch in the middle of the season where he amassed 35 of his 45 solo tackles in 5 games. He has since hit a little of a rough patch as the season winds down, but the Chargers are in a must-win against Oakland this week. Pullard will need to play a big role in stopping Lynch this week if the Chargers want a shot at the playoffs.
Craig Robertson LB (NO): With 10 total tackles last week, Robertson played a big role in the Saints victory over the Falcons. It seems to be a different Saint stepping up every week for this revitalized defense, and Robertson has been right in the middle of that discussion.
Kyler Fackrell LB (GB): With the Packers eliminated, Fackrell is projected to get more playing time in the season’s final weeks. With an aging defense, the front office is going to have several decisions to make. This is Fackrell’s opportunity to make a statement and show why he should be in the long-term plans.
Darius Butler S, CB (IND): In a lost season for the Colts, Butler has not exactly been spectacular. However, there will be several players getting more opportunity this week. With decisions being made about who is in the franchise’s long-term plans, Butler is expected to see more playing time this week.
Xavien Howard CB (MIA): Howard has quietly put together a very good season with 12 passes defended, 4 interceptions, and a touchdown he rates out as one of the better corners in the league. The Dolphins do not have anything to play for except pride this week, but Howard has shown he will leave it all on the field every week.
Duron Harmon S (NE): Harmon has been used very sparingly this season, but should get a chance to show off his skills in this season’s final week. The Patriots have almost assured the #1 overall seed and will be resting some starters if possible. Look for Harmon to have an expanded role this week in the season finale.
Mario Addison DE (CAR): Addison did not have as strong a game as predicted but he did manage 1 solo, 2 assists, and half a sack. If he could have brought Jameis Winston to the ground sooner, he would have been credited with a full sack.
Ezekiel Ansah DE (DET): This may have been the best performance for any defensive lineman this entire season for IDP Sleepers. With 5 solos, 2 assists, and 3 sacks, Ansah was an absolute beast against the Bengals this week.
Junior Galette LB (WAS): Galette continued his disappointing season with 2 solos and an assist. The Redskins defense had its way with Denver, but Galette faded into the background this week.
Tahir Whitehead LB (DET): With 3 solos and 5 assists, Whitehead was very active in the tackle department but did not add much else in a disappointing loss for the Lions.
Bud Dupree LB (PIT): With 5 solos, an assist, and a fumble recovery, Dupree stepped up in wake of the Ryan Shazier injury. Houston’s offense put up an abysmal performance and Dupree was right in the middle of providing it.
Brian Cushing LB (HOU): Cushing completely disappeared this week in a blowout loss to the Steelers. Tagged as the leader of that defense with JJ Watt injured, Cushing could not provide any spark and only tallied a single assist this week.
Kurt Coleman S (CAR): With 8 solos and 2 assists, Coleman was the only player to register 10 total tackles this week. In a game that Carolina had to win, Coleman played a big role in keeping Tampa out of the end zone.
Ronald Darby CB (PHI): With 3 solos, 3 assists, and an interception, Darby came up big when the Eagles needed him. He is still getting torched on double moves, but that is going to cause more teams to throw his way and give him more opportunities to make plays.
Casey Hayward CB (LAC): With 2 solos and a fumble recovery, Hayward managed to salvage his day. It is surprising to see a Pro Bowl corner owned in only 6% of Yahoo leagues, but he could have been big for your team down the stretch.
There were a few misses last week, but overall it was a very productive list of sleepers. Ansah recording 3 sacks was the best move of the week. While Kurt Coleman provided the most tackles. There were a few fluke fumble recoveries thrown in for good measure, but all in all, it was a great week. Hopefully, this list helped you in your fantasy playoffs and this week’s list will provide insight for anyone who still has games left. Best of luck in the playoffs.