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)
James Laurinaitis, LB, STL vs. GBP- Laurinaitis hasn't made many appearances on this list, but he's been quietly having a very solid season. Green Bay doesn't run the ball much, so I wasn't expecting a stellar performance from him, but he fooled me, racking up 13 solo tackles and an assist. Extremely impressive numbers consider the Packers had just 24 called runs. Needless to say, he's an every week starter. Daryl Washington, LB, ARZ vs. MIN - Hey, big surprise; the #1 overall IDP made the list again. Washington continues to roll, posting 8 solos, an assist and 2 sacks against the Vikings. The dude's a stud and even though Adrian Peterson got his, so did Daryl. He's a plug and play no brainer start week in and week out. Jared Allen, DE, MIN vs. ARI - Allen recorded a sack for the fifth consecutive week and had his first multi-sack (2) game of the season along with 2 solo tackles and an assist. The dude is solid gold in big-play leagues and is worthy of a weekly start in balanced scoring as well. Enjoy the ride.
Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR vs. DAL - That's right, he's a stud. We've seen what he can do when Beason is on the bench and yesterday was no different. Kuechly racked up 8 solos, 7 assists, and recovered a fumble against the Cowboys. The best thing that can happen to him is Beason does indeed wind up on injured reserve. Until that happens, he's week to week, but still worthy of LB3 consideration on the outside.
LaRon Landry, DB, NYJ vs. NE - Landry has been solid, though not spectacular, through six weeks, but he blew up yesterday to the tune of 12 solo tackles. What's more surprising is New England's 31 called run plays, but Landry certainly made the most of it. He won't do this every week, but his numbers certainly make him worthy of DB1 status in your lineup every week. The Jets will see a lot of runs coming their way in the future, so keep starting Landry.
Studs That Were Duds (*Notable players that didn't even come close to expectations)
Chris Long, DE, STL vs. GBP - Long's numbers have been tailing off over the past few weeks and I took some liberty even calling him a stud. But in a game against Aaron Rodgers, who's been sacked more times than all but the Cardinals QBs, Long was only able to muster 1 measly assist. Weak. He's not worthy of anything more than DL5+ consideration moving forward.
Chris Clemons, DE, SEA vs. SF - Talk about crashing back to earth, sheesh. Since his monster game in Week 3, Clemons has been skating by on name only, and this week he really disappointed. He recorded just 2 tackles against the 49ers despite 30+ runs called by San Francisco. He's currently a top-10 DL in balanced scoring leagues, but if you take away his big performance in Week 3, he looks more like a DL3 with upside. Expect some good games and some bad, but play the matchups.
Calais Campbell, DE, ARZ vs. MIN - Much like Clemons, Campbell is still trading stock on a monster game he had earlier in the year. But he's really been average at best over the past month. He's been up and down, though his lows have been more noticeable than his highs. And against the Vikings yesterday, he had just 1 solo tackle and 1 assist. He's a DL3 with upside depending on the matchup, but he'll continue to be hit or miss moving forward.
Joe Haden, DB, CLE vs. IND - Haden is typically locked onto the opposing #1 receiver, making him a decent play with plenty of opportunities. But after a stellar Week 6 shadowing A.J. Green, Haden posted just 2 total tackles against Reggie Wayne and the Colts. I still think he'll have more good games than bad, but the Browns anemic offense certainly isn't helping his cause. Think of him as a DB4-5 in CB required leagues.
J.J. Watt, DE, HOU vs. BAL - In arguably the biggest surprise of the week, J.J. Watt, failed to post a double-digit performance and did not record a single sack. With the Texans enjoying a big lead most of the day it's a shock that Watt didn't pin his ears back and make mincemeat out of Joe Flacco. Just 2 solos and 2 passes defensed was all Watt could muster yesterday. But fear not; it was merely a minor speed-bump on an otherwise stellar season. Keep starting him and don't even think about it.