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)
Michael Johnson, DL, CIN vs. WAS - BOOM goes the dynamite. MJ was ridiculous in Week 3, and it's safe to say RGIII was seeing him in his dreams (or nightmares) last night. Johnson racked up 5 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 pass defensed, and sacked RGIII 3 times. For the third week in row MJ ramped up his efforts and while he won't duplicate these efforts weekly, he's a solid starter every week. Curtis Lofton, LB, NO vs. KCC - The Saints got run over yesterday. There's no other way to put it. I don't mention offense in this article, but I think Jamaal Charles is still running somewhere. Lofton, however, did his best to slow him down, tallying 9 solo tackles, 4 assists and 2 passes defensed. He's a 3-down player and was on the field a LOT yesterday. His stats have also increased for three consecutive weeks and should be an every week starter for your lineup. Chad Greenway, LB, MIN vs. SF - I took some liberty including Greenway as a stud here since last week was a bit of a letdown, but he certainly rebounded yesterday. Greenway was everywhere against the 49ers in Week 3. It was reminiscent of the cartoon where Bugs Bunny was playing every position on the baseball diamond. Greenway had 10 solo tackles, 2 assists and 2 sacks; he was an IDP monster yesterday. With the way Minnesota's defense is playing (and Greenway), he needs to be in your starting lineup every week.
J.J. Watt, DL, HOU vs. DEN - Welcome to the big-time Mr. Watt. We knew he was good, but this was the performance we've been waiting for. Six solo tackles and an assist for starters makes for solid numbers for a DL, but throw in 2.5 sacks and you've got a stud. Watt was constantly harassing Peyton Manning yesterday and with 8.5 sacks through three games, he needs to be in your lineup every single week.
NaVorro Bowman, LB, SF vs. MIN - Both Bowman and teammate Patrick Willis are worthy of this list. With a regular dose of Adrian Peterson, the San Fran linebackers were busy yesterday. Bowman racked up 7 solo tackles and a whopping 11 assists (Willis was 5 and 5 with a fumble recovery). Bowman is averaging 12 total tackles through three games and should continue to merit LB2+ value moving forward.
Studs That Were Duds (*Notable players that didn't even come close to expectations)
Lawrence Timmons, LB, PIT vs. OAK - As a result of his slow start, it's becoming difficult to consider Timmons a 'stud.' For three weeks now, he's been a disappointment and yesterday was no different. Three solo tackles was all he could muster in a game which saw the Raiders run the ball 21 times. He's now averaging a paltry 4 total tackles per game through three weeks. It's hard not to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if this keeps up, I'll be hard pressed to recommend him as a starter, let alone a LB1-2.
Calais Campbell, DL, ARZ vs. PHI - After a Week 2 performance that saw Campbell explode for 10 total tackles (7 solos) and 2 sacks, he concludes Week 2 with one pass defensed and ZERO tackles. In a game that saw the Eagles run the ball 21 times and Michael Vick sacked 5 times, Campbell's numbers are both surprising and disappointing. He continues to have DL2 value, but if he puts up another stinker or two, it'll be time to worry.
Kamerion Wimbley, DL, TEN vs. DET - Wimbley had a terrific preseason and got the regular season off to a bang, but since Week 1 he's been nearly invisible. Just 1 solo and 1 assist yesterday in a game where the Lions ran the ball 35 times and had 42 QB drop-backs is massively disappointing. I failed to find any injury information, though it wasn't for a lack of trying, and have no explanation for his "performance", if that's what you wanna call it. I still think he has DL2-3 value, but I will reassess that if this nonsense continues.
Von Miller, DEN vs. HOU - If this was musical chairs, Miller would have been out in the first round. The Broncos IDPs were making plays all over the field yesterday, but Miller waited way too long for the music to stop. Too little to late as he managed just 3 measly assists despite the Texans running the ball 34 times and 30 QB dropbacks. This is his first game without a sack or at least 3 tackles, so we'll consider this merely a blip on the radar. Continue starting him with confidence.
Ndamukong Suh, DL, DET vs. TEN - This one is tough because I have a hard time with defensive tackles and their consistency. But Suh, who is a stud even by name, had just 2 solo tackles in Week 3. He failed to record at least one sack for the first time this year. In his defense, the Titans ran the ball just 15 times, but they did have 42 QB dropbacks. Incredibly, the Lions didn't record a single sack in this one, but no matter how you slice it, Suh's numbers are disappointing. If you're in a league that requires DT, watch the matchups; if not, forget about him.