Everyone loves a Monday Morning Quarterback, so why not a Monday Morning Linebacker? If you're like me, you tend to express your consternation when a player or players on your roster don't exactly perform as expected. Many expletive laden tirades have been directed at my computer or smart-phone as I scan the scoreboards. Occasionally I'm pleasantly surprised, but more often than not it's "WTF was that?!" In this weekly article we'll take a look at those players that performed as expected and those that didn't. This won't be a complete review of every player from every game; simply the outliers that deserve recognition, one way or the other.
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Studs That Were Studs (*Notable players that lived up to or exceeded expectations)
Bernard Pollard, DB, BAL vs. OAK- The big thumper continues to get it done. 9 solo tackles, 2 assists and a sack in a blowout victory over the Raiders. Not too shabby considering just 22 called runs by the Raiders all day. Pollard is terrific in run support, and is an every week starter, particularly in tackle heavy leagues. Jason McCourty, DB, TEN vs. MIA - McCourty has been solid all year, posting just one single-digit performance this season. But yesterday he blew up to the tune of 9 solos, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery en route to his highest scoring performance this year. He won't duplicate those numbers every week, but he's a Top-15 defensive back in balanced scoring leagues. Lavonte David, LB, TBB vs. SDC - The young buc(k) continues to impress, racking up 13 solo tackles and an assist yesterday against the Chargers. The Bolts dominated time of possession, so it's no surprise that David had plenty of opportunities to make plays. He's a weekly starter regardless of scoring format and is likely headed to defensive rookie of the year honors.
NaVorro Bowman, LB, SF vs. STL - In the NFL's first tie ballgame in four years, Bowman recorded 10 solo tackles and 3 assists against a Rams team that nearly gave the Niners more than they could handle. Bowman was impressive, even outplaying teammate Patrick Willis. Bowman has more value in tackle heavy formats, but he's a weekly starter regardless until proven otherwise.
Antoine Winfield, DB, MIN vs. DET - I've been chastised in recent emails for not including Winfield in the 'stud' column, but no more! Winfield has been a pleasant surprise this season and has certainly been performing like a stud. Yesterday, once again, was no different. He posted 7 solo tackles, 2 assists, and recovered a fumble as the Vikings beat the Lions. He is currently the #1 defensive back in balanced scoring leagues and a must start every week.
Studs That Were Duds (*Notable players that didn't even come close to expectations)
Chandler Jones, DE, NE vs. BUF - Paging Mr. Jones, Mr. Chandler Jones. Your seat is ready. . . at the kids table. After being the NFL's defensive rookie of the month back in September, the dude has literally fallen off the map. One measly assist is all he was able to muster against the Bills, despite 40 dropbacks by Ryan Fitzpatrick and 28 runs overall by the Bills. He has a ton of potential, but until he starts making plays again, it'll be tough to start him moving forward.
LaRon Landry, DB, NYJ vs. SEA - Landry has been terrific this year; which should come as no surprise considering how much time the Jets defense spends on the field. But in a game that saw the Seahawks run the ball a whopping 43 times, 3 solos and 1 assist from Landry is a tough pill to swallow. It's a disappointing outing for sure, but we'll put it behind us and move forward. Continue to start him with confidence.
Chris Clemons, DE, SEA vs. NYJ - Speaking of disappearing acts, David Copperfield himself would be impressed with Clemons and his ability to vanish into thin air. In a game the Seahawks dominated, I would have expected Clemons to have his ears pinned back and Mark Sanchez pinned under him. But that's not even close to what happened. Clemons managed just a single assist, hugely disappointing his fantasy owners. He hasn't posted a double-digit performance since Week 5 and it's tough to continue calling him a stud at this point. Proceed with caution.
Jared Allen, DE, MIN vs. DET - Much like Clemons, Allen and the Vikings had a nice lead and certainly should have posted better stats than he did (1 solo tackle). But he was certainly hindered by Minnesota dominating the time of possession, thus limiting his snap count. Regardless, a disappointing outing for the former mullet man. He should rebound nicely and be fine in future weeks, so continue to start him.