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)
Chandler Jones, DE, NE vs. SEA- Living in the large fantasy shadow of J.J. Watt, Chandler Jones has been quietly having a fine rookie season in his own right. Though it's been up and down, yesterday was WAY up. Jones racked up 4 solos, 5 assists, a forced fumble and 2 sacks. It was his most productive game of his young career and he'll continue to see opportunities to get after the QB with the Patriots offense behind him. Until he shows more consistency, he's not a simple plug-and-play DL; but pay attention to the matchup and consider him a solid DL2 with upside. Daryl Washington, LB, ARZ vs. BUF - In a game that was loaded with IDP playmakers, Washington was everywhere. He took advantage of Buffalo's 30 called run plays by posting 12 solos, 2 assists, and a forced fumble. In balanced and tackle heavy scoring leagues, he's currently THE top IDP in 2012 and is an absolute must-start regardless of the matchup. 'Nuff said.
Ray Lewis, LB, BAL vs. DAL - The old man continues to impress. Despite being avoided in the early part of many IDP drafts, Ray-Ray is the #2 overall IDP in balanced and tackle-heavy scoring leagues. He's had just one poor outing through six games, and yesterday was not it. He tallied 8 solo tackles and 6 assists against the Cowboys and plays every single defensive snap for the Ravens. Play him every week and don't think twice about it, assuming he's not done for the year with the triceps tear he suffered yesterday Derrick Johnson, LB, KCC vs. TBB - Ok, so I might be one of the few to consider DJ a 'stud', but he is, so can it. He's yet to have a single-digit performance through six games and had his best game of the year yesterday against the Bucs. Despite building a big lead and maintaining it throughout, Tampa Bay had just 21 called runs, yet DJ managed to record 10 solo tackles and 2 assists. Start him every week as a solid LB2 with LB1 upside.
DeMeco Ryans, LB, PHI vs. DET - Again, I may be sitting alone at the "DeMeco Ryans is a Stud" table, but I don't mind; more food for me. Ryans has had just one stinker on the year and that came in Week 5 against the Giants. But yesterday against the Lions, he was very busy. Too busy, in fact, as any Eagles' fan will tell you. Ryans racked up 10 solos and 3 assists in the losing effort, but made his IDP owners smile. Keep starting him as a LB2 regardless of matchup, as it's clear the Eagles can make any opponent look good.
Studs That Were Duds (*Notable players that didn't even come close to expectations)
Erin Henderson, LB, MIN vs. WAS - He started the season in a studly fashion, then fell off due to an injury. But his return to the field has been lackluster to say the least, and yesterday sucked (for lack of a better word). In a game in which RGIII and co. ran wild, 2 solos and 1 assist is just dreadful. He's not playing a full complement of snaps, so that's clearly not helping his cause. Proceed with caution moving forward, and watch the injury/health report.
Trent Cole, DE, PHI vs. DET - I have had just about enough of this. If you thought last week's lone tackle was bad, you're really not gonna like the goose-egg he posted yesterday. The Eagles D-Line hasn't recorded a sack in a month now and there's no real explanation for it. They're driving hard to the QB, they're simply not getting home. Cole and Jason Babin both got close yesterday, but they're simply not putting up numbers. If you have another option that's more reliable, though perhaps less sexy, roll with him.
Justin Tuck, NYG vs. SFO - Much like Cole, Tuck's year has been dreadful. It's perplexing in that he's playing as many defensive snaps as all other defensive linemen aside from Jason Pierre-Paul. And with the Giants offense giving the defense sizeable leads, the D-line has been given carte blanche to pin their ears back and get after the QB. But much like in Philly, they're simply not getting there. Tuck is another guy that can't be started regularly, anymore. Again, if you've got a decent alternative, go with it until Tuck starts producing.
Kamerion Wimbley, DE, TEN vs. PIT - Disappointing is the only way to describe Wimbley's 2012 season to date. I would even understand your umbrage at him being thought of as a 'stud.' But considering his stats from 2010 and then besting them in 2011, this season was expected to be a big one for Wimbley. He's failed to live up to expectations and Thursday's woeful performance certainly didn't help. One lone assist was all he could muster against the Steelers. I wouldn't consider starting him at all in future weeks until proven otherwise.
T.J. Ward, DB, CLE vs. CIN - Sensing a trend? So am I. D'Qwell Jackson also disappointed in his return from a Week 5 concussion, but it's Ward that's been disappointing of late. He was solid in the early part of the season, but his last three games have been nothing short of forgettable, and yesterday was no different. In a surprising upset over the Bengals, the Browns nursed a lead throughout and Ward posted just 3 solo tackles on the day. He's supremely talented, but he's not playing consistently. Well that's not true; he's been consistently bad for the past 3 weeks. He does have some savory matchups ahead, so consider him a DB4+ until he returns to an elite level.