I’m not going to bore you by congratulating myself for recommending that you start Kavell Conner (he of the 18 total tackles) in Week Four, nor will I thrill you by flagellating myself for recommending that you sit Paul Posluszny (kudos if you rolled him out, but if you did so out of anything other than necessity you’re a braver man than I). The past is just that, so let’s get down to business.
Remember, this is the first of the bye weeks, so don’t go starting any players from the Ravens, Browns, Cowboys, Dolphins, Rams, or Redskins. Stop sobbing, D’Qwell Jackson owners, it’s just one game.
With no further adieu, here’s a look at some players you should give serious consideration to getting into your lineups or who could outperform expectations (Studs) and some that, for whatever reason, you may want to consider leaving alone, or at least take into account that they may be a relative disappointment this week. (Duds)
Michael Bennett – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at SF): Fresh off his 5 tackle, 2 sack, forced fumble showing on Monday night Bennett and the Bucs get a matchup with a San Francisco squad that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing defensive linemen this year.
Chris Clemons – DE, Seattle Seahawks (at NYG): Look for Clemons to rebound from his 1 assist vanishing act against Atlanta when the Seahawks travel to meet the Giants, who are in the bottom 10 in the NFL in sacks allowed.
Derrick Morgan – DE, Tennessee Titans (at PIT): The youngster looks to be rounding into big form and could be in for a big day against a tissue paper Pittsburgh O-Line that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing defensive linemen and a one-legged quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.
James Anderson – OLB, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO): The Saints are tops in the NFL in tackle opportunities allowed and ninth in fantasy points allowed to opposing linebackers, so there’s ample reason to think Anderson will be in for a solid statistical outing when New Orleans visits the Panthers Sunday.
Leroy Hill – OLB, Seattle Seahawks (at NYG): If you’re looking for a spot-start at linebacker this week allow me to suggest that you consider Leroy Hill, who’s back to a three down role on the weak side for the Seahawks and who has 20 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble over his past two games.
D.J. Williams – OLB, Denver Broncos (vs. SD): The eighth year veteran appears to be fully recovered from his dislocated elbow, and the San Diego Chargers rank second in the National Football League both in tackle opportunities allowed and in fantasy points allowed to opposing linebackers.
Jairus Byrd – FS, Buffalo Bills (vs PHI): the 24 year old has racked up an impressive 29 total stops over his past three games and faces off against a Philadelphia Eagles team that has surrendered the third most fantasy points to opposing defensive backs to this point in the season.
Charles Godfrey – SS, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO): Godfrey’s been something of a disappointment so far this year, but a matchup with a Saints team that’s the friendliest in the NFL to opposing defensive backs from an IDP perspective should be just what the doctor ordered.
Eric Smith – SS, New York Jets (at NE): Eric Smith has quietly been a top 20 IDP defensive back through four games and should every chance to build on that strong start against a New England offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in tackle opportunities allowed and near the top of the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing defensive backs.
Jason Babin – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (at BUF): Even though I have Babin in the top five at his position among defensive linemen on this week’s IDP Cheatsheet the fact remains that he’s a risky play in Week Five against a Buffalo team that has allowed the fewest fantasy points in the NFL to opposing defensive linemen, especially if Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker are sidelined against the Bills. Caveat emptor.
Darnell Dockett – DE, Arizona Cardinals (at MIN): Dockett’s off to a slow start this season with only 13 tackles and half a sack through four games, and the odds aren’t great of that improving against a Minnesota team that’s a mediocre fantasy matchup at best for opposing defensive linemen.
Antonio Smith – DE, Houston Texans (vs, OAK): The eighth year veteran is off to the best start of his career with a sack in four straight games, but the odds of that streak continuing aren’t great against an Oakland offensive line that has allowed all of two sacks so far this season.
Donald Butler – ILB, San Diego Chargers (at DEN): Butler’s reduced role in the San Diego defense (he’s leaving the field in nickel situations) showed itself in last week’s 5 tackle outing, and the sledding isn’t apt to get any easier against a Denver squad that’s 24th in tackle opps allowed and 26th in fantasy points allowed to opposing linebackers.
Mason Foster – MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at SF): The rookie middle linebacker was pretty quiet in amassing only four total stops in a bad matchup against the Colts Monday night, and I don’t know that you should expect much more against a San Francisco team that’s a bottom-half matchup both in fantasy points allowed to opposing linebackers and tackle opportunities.
Lawrence Timmons – OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. TEN): As if Timmons slow start and move outside as a result of the James Harrison injury weren’t cause enough for concern the Titans come to town as the second worst matchup in the NFL for opposing fantasy linebackers, so if you have other options it’s time to explore them.
Kam Chancellor – SS, Seattle Seahawks (at NYG): Chancellor was a sexy pick as a sleeper DB entering the season and lived up to the billing before injuring his thigh in Week 3, and although he returned to a limited practice Thursday you may want to give him another week off rather that start him versus the Giants, who are near the bottom of the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing defensive backs.
Sean Jones – SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at SF): After getting off to a strong start to the 2011 season Jones was a non-factor against the Colts with only two tackles, and the eighth year pro may be in for another slow IDP day against the Niners, who are the second least friendly matchup in the league for fantasy DBs through four weeks.
Reggie Nelson – FS, Cincinnati Bengals (at JAX): The former Florida standout washed out in Jacksonville and returns “home” as an apparently rejuvenated player with the Bengals, but his rebirth as a relevant IDP may hit a snag this week against the Jags, who rank in the bottom half of the NFL in tackle opportunities against and are an even worse fantasy matchup for opposing defensive backs as a result of their NFL-worst passing offense.