Week 12 is here, and if you are still in the playoff hunt, it is indeed crunch time. If you are not, take the time and show the pride to play spoiler as the fantasy regular season winds down.
First off, I must apologize for breaking one of my personal fantasy rules last week. Just minutes before submitting my article I made a rookie fantasy mistake and decided to change my mind at the last minute.
The rest, as they say, is history. I went against my gut feeling (and plenty of research) and missed out on providing IDP owners what turned out to be one of the week’s top defensive performances. Trust me, it will not happen again.
Let’s get to it!
Koa Misi, SLB, Miami vs. Seattle:
Misi is coming off a nice game against Buffalo in which he posted four total tackles with a sack while playing only 28 defensive snaps. He is purely a matchup type player for fantasy purposes, and this week’s game against Seattle should allow him to shine, as he is solid against the run. His snap count will be higher as Seattle pounds the ball on the ground, and with 2.5 sacks on the season, Misi does bring some big play potential.
Erin Henderson, WLB, Minnesota at Chicago:
Henderson has worked his way into the rotation in the Vikings’ sub-packages again and should see more playing time moving forward. This is a great match up for him, as the Bears will be looking to establish the running game to help keep their quarterback upright. Henderson has put up 11 total tackles in his last two games, and while that is not all that impressive, he’s averaged 46 snaps per game and with an increase in playing time likely, he is an excellent sleeper this week.
Jonathan Vilma, WLB, New Orleans vs. San Francisco:
New Orleans interim head coach Joe Vitt has stated that Vilma will see more playing time moving forward, and this is a great week for that to happen. The 49ers are a Top 3 matchup in allowing points to linebackers, and Vilma is in line for a big day. He posted his first sack of the season last week and will be very active in containing Frank Gore on the ground as well as having to worry about the running ability of newly crowned starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh at Cleveland
: Harrison looked the Harrison of old, rather than an old Harrison in Week 11 and looks to be back in game shape. He racked up six solo tackles and a sack last week and has 20 combined tackles over the last three weeks. The Browns are giving up a sack per game to the linebacker position over the past three games, and Harrison is gaining momentum and playing with the edge that makes him a dominant player. Combine it all and he is in line for a big fantasy Week 12.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar, WLB, St. Louis at Arizona:
Dunbar has put up 19 total tackles over the last three games and has 59 combined stops on the season. While the Cardinals do not look at first glance like a favorable match up for linebackers, the return of Chris “Beanie” Wells will alter that perception moving forward. With no viable quarterback (sorry Ryan Lindley) on their roster, look for the Cardinals to ride Wells and his fresh legs. Dunbar also has racked up two sacks, and anyone who is capable of getting to the quarterback belongs in fantasy lineups against Arizona.
Sam Acho, OLB, Arizona vs. St. Louis:
The Rams have struggled with protecting quarterback Sam Bradford and have allowed eight sacks over the last four games. Acho has amassed three sacks on the season, added 14 quarterback hurries and been credited with eight quarterback hits. He put up four tackles last week along with a forced fumble and very athletic interception. Look for Acho to post at least one sack in Week 12.
Erik Walden, OLB, Green Bay at New York Giants:
Walden registered a pair of sacks last week in Detroit and the Packers will need to scheme ways to get pressure on Giants quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants have given up an average of two sacks per game over the past four weeks and their offense is struggling. As long as Clay Matthews remains out of the lineup, Walden is an excellent sleeper candidate for fantasy purposes.
D.J. Williams, WLB, Denver at Kansas City:
Williams logged only 22 snaps in his season debut last week and managed to post four combined tackles. Look for his snap count to increase as he works himself into game shape. Kansas City is a Top 5 fantasy matchup in allowing points to linebackers. Williams is a proven fantasy commodity who will post excellent tackle numbers in Week 12.