With week seven in the books we are more than halfway through the fantasy football regular season and the Individual Defensive Player world continues to be a difficult one to define.
Injuries continue to batter IDP rosters and the latest one is a doozy, with Dallas middle linebacker Sean Lee going down for the season. IDP owners are scrambling to figure out just who benefits from the loss of their stud players and often are left empty handed.
There are rarely top-notch ‘handcuff’ options on defenses that can step in and fill the shoes of the injured star. It is often necessary to try and snag a couple of players off the waiver wire to cover one major blow to an IDP roster.
That’s why it is vital to identify the sleeper candidates to step in and fill the shoes of not only bye week players but also the injured and benched. So let’s get to it and go ’53 Deep’.
Ray McDonald, DE, SAN FRANCISCO, at ARIZONA: McDonald does not have the gaudiest stats to date in 2012 with only 12 combined tackles and half a sack to his credit. What he does have is a week eight match-up with the Arizona Cardinals and that is a very good thing for defensive ends. The Cardinals give up sacks in bunches and McDonald did put up five and a half sacks in 2011 and should be good for at least one during this Monday Night Football showdown.
Junior Galette, DE, NEW ORLEANS, at DENVER: Galette leads the Saints with four sacks this season and is riding a streak of registering a sack in each of the last two games. He has also forced a fumble and added ten solo tackles in six games this season. He has really blossomed in his second NFL season and benefits from the attention paid to fellow lineman Cameron Jordan and Will Smith. Look for Galette to get to Peyton Manning at least once in week eight.
Kamerion Wimbley, DE, TENNESSEE, vs. INDIANAPOLIS: This is another ‘strike while the iron is hot’ selection as Wimbley is coming off a big week seven performance. He put up six total tackles, one sack and forced a fumble against Buffalo. The Colts have given up 11 sacks over the last three games and Wimbley looks ready to rip off a string of good games as he finally turns his quarterback hurries into actual sacks.
Jerel Worthy, DT, GREEN BAY, vs. JACKSONVILLE: The rookie from Michigan State is having a very nice rookie season for the Packers and should have a big game against the struggling (I am being nice here) Jaguars offense. Worthy has been stout at the point of attack and more impressively has brought solid pressure up the middle for Green Bay. His performance has allowed the Packers to let B.J. Raji take his time returning from injury and look for Worthy to add to his two sack total this week.
Jonathan Babineaux, DT, ATLANTA, at PHILADELPHIA: There are plenty of Falcons listed in this week’s sleepers and for good reason. The Eagles allow consistent pressure on quarterback Michael Vick, who in turn has turned the ball over a lot. Philly offers up nice tackle opportunities with running back LeSean McCoy and big play potential is there for every defensive position. Babineaux put up half a sack and 5 solo tackles last week and has been a disruptive force all year. He will have a productive fantasy week against the turn over prone Eagles.
Terrance Knighton, DT, JACKSONVILLE, at GREEN BAY: Despite losing his starting position, Knighton had a solid week seven performance with four total stops and his second sack of the season. He ended up playing 38 snaps, which was approximately half of Jacksonville’s total defensive plays. The Jaguars are desperate for a pass rush and Knighton will see plenty of action this week as one of their only decent options. The Packers still struggle to protect Aaron Rodgers at times and Knighton is a sneaky good fantasy play this week.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, NEW YORK GIANTS, at DALLAS: Umenyiora registered his third sack of the season last week and added a couple of combined stops. His tackle numbers will never dazzle but it is encouraging to see him get to the quarterback. It is a bit of a pick your poison when deciding which Giants defensive lineman will go off from week-to-week but look for Umenyiora to get to Tony Romo at least once.
Lamarr Houston, DE, OAKLAND, at KANSAS CITY: The Chiefs have named Brady Quinn as their week eight starter at quarterback and that means get Raiders defensive players into fantasy line-ups. Kansas City is among the top five teams in allowing fantasy points to the defensive line position and Lamarr Houston is in prime position to take advantage this week. Houston registered his first sack of 2012 last week against the Jaguars and added eight total tackles and a forced fumble. Look for similar numbers this week as Kansas City tries to move the ball on the ground and with Quinn dinking and dunking the ball down the field.
Bruce Irvin, DE, SEATTLE, at DETROIT: Irvin is the ultimate boom-or-bust sleeper candidate and this week eight match-up with Detroit has boom written all over it. Irvin’s fantasy potential is all based on sack and big play production and Detroit offers up the chance to produce both this week. He has four and a half sacks and the Lions offense is struggling to find any rhythm and quarterback Matthew Stafford spent Monday night running for his life against the Bears. Irvin is due for a multiple sack week and look for that to happen in Detroit this week.
Frostee Rucker, DE, CLEVELAND, vs. SAN DIEGO: Rucker notched his second sack of the season last week while adding three total stops against the Colts. He has 20 combined tackles on the season and his two sacks ties him with Juqua Parker for 2nd most on Cleveland. With Jared Gaither in and out of the line-up the Chargers are struggling to protect Philip Rivers and have given up 18 sacks on the season. San Diego is vulnerable to the sack and offers up tackle opportunities so expect very nice fantasy numbers for Rucker.