Matt Schauf of RapidDraft.com stops by once a week to talk individual defensive players, “IDPs” for those in the know.
There are a bunch of rematch games on the Week 13 schedule – eight, to be exact. (That’s the metric-system measure for a “bunch.”) I have no idea how this compares with upcoming weeks because I’m too lazy to go through those lists, but it presents some interesting fodder for fantasy consideration.
Basing expectations on what happened in one previous game can get you into trouble, but we’d also be foolish to ignore those results. Because I prefer to limit my foolishness to getting into an argument with any of the females in my house, let’s take a look at what IDP owners might glean from the prior matches that predate the Week 13 “re-.” Not every game presents worthwhile IDP storylines from the earlier meetings, but here are some points of note …
DENVER at KANSAS CITY
Champ Bailey turned in, by far, his largest tackle numbers of the season in the Week 10 meeting with the Chiefs. His 10 total stops in that game make up more than a quarter of his season tally (36), and only one other game presented even half as many solos as his nine against Kansas City. Teammate Mario Haggan enjoyed his most productive game of the season, combining three sacks with a forced fumble and six solos.
The bad news for those guys is that Denver’s quick, huge lead in that contest pressed Kansas City into an inordinate number of pass plays. Matt Cassel threw 53 times in that game. He has attempted no more than 35 passes in any other game. Unless you’re expecting another Denver blowout – which must mean that you only watched the Broncos in that week and no other – it seems a relative certainty that the Chiefs will run a lot more. Bailey might still get his because someone will have to try to get in Dwayne Bowe’s way, but don’t look for special numbers from Haggan again. Cassel suffered four sacks in that game and three in each of the two that preceded it. He hasn’t been sacked more than once in any other outing this season, though.
On the other side, Derrick Johnson made 12 solo tackles as Knowshon Moreno surpassed 15 carries for just the second time all year. Denver is likely to run the ball less, but Johnson has been too good this year for that to affect our outlook much.
CHICAGO at DETROIT
First of all, there’s Lance Briggs and his affinity for facing the Lions. He made 10 tackles (nine solo) and forced a fumble in the first meeting this year, the fourth straight time he notched at least nine tackles. The one before that merely ended with eight tackles (seven solo) and a half-sack. I’m still in the process of deciding who to sit among him, Derrick Johnson and Karlos Dansby in one league and can guarantee that I won’t feel good about benching any.
For the Lions, sacking came easy back in Week 1. Detroit’s young defensive line took Jay Cutler down four times, with three coming from defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill. Suh and Williams are options this week in deepish IDP leagues.
Kyle Vanden Bosch didn’t get a sack in that game but did produce a whopping 11 tackles, including 10 solos. He’s doubtful this time around, but likely replacement Turk McBride notched a sack in that first meeting. The Eagles also got two sacks from that right end spot against the Bears last week, and the 4-3 opponent before that notched one from Jared Allen. KVB’s tackle numbers only add to McBride’s sleeper value this week.
OAKLAND at SAN DIEGO
No team comes within four sacks of the 18 that Oakland has yielded to linebackers so far, and Kevin Burnett collected two of those when last he faced the Raiders. Shaun Phillips may not have broken in that game, but there’s reason to believe he can produce at least one sack for the third straight game this weekend.
On the Raiders’ side, Michael Huff enjoyed a huge game against the Chargers last time with 11 tackles (nine solo), a sack and a forced fumble. Both his numbers and those that the Chargers have given to opposing defensive backs have been smaller otherwise, but conditions could play to Huff’s favor again – especially if MLB Rolando McClain misses the game or is limited.
BALTIMORE at PITTSBURGH
When last these two teams met, Ravens lineman Haloti Ngata produced the largest tackle total of his career (11 total, eight solo). Pittsburgh played that game with Charlie Batch doing a poor Ben Roethlisberger impression, though, attempting just 21 passes (plus two sacks) to the team’s 27 rushing attempts. Large Ben, by comparison, hasn’t attempted fewer than 27 passes in any game.
That doesn’t mean that Ngata won’t get tackle chances, of course. Rashard Mendenhall ranks second in the league in total carries, and the Steelers sit tied for sixth in the league in rushes per game. Ngata also collected a sack in that first meeting this season, a feat he also achieved in the second game against Pittsburgh last year. He’s a fine option for D-line requirements this week.
For the Steelers, Lamarr Woodley has been somewhat more mortal this season than late in 2009, including an unimpressive stat line against Baltimore. Last season, however, he totaled 17 tackles (14 solo) and three sacks in the two matchups. Despite not recording a sack in the first 2010 game, Woodley did notch a quarterback hit and a tackle for loss.
N.Y. JETS at NEW ENGLAND
Tully Banta-Cain always stands out to me for a name that befits a Star Wars villain, but he stood out in this season’s loss to the Jets with eight solo tackles and a sack. That might not be worth making a big fuss about, but he also recorded two sacks in 2009’s second meeting with New York. I’m not looking to him as a lock for good numbers, by any means, but Banta-Cain carries some sleeper potential.
OTHER WEEK 13 NOTES
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Bengals: Cincinnati’s second-round rookie has three sacks over his past three games, but faces a New Orleans team this week that has only allowed 15 through 11 games. That doesn’t make for a good matchup, but neither did the Colts or Jets, each of whom rank among Football Outsiders´ top 13 in adjusted sack rate. Dunlap is still a part-time player but should be in for more snaps with DE Antwan Odom this week joining DE Frostee Rucker (and other linemen) on injured reserve. Sack-heavy leagues should take note.
Colts O-line: Left tackle Charlie Johnson has been sidelined by a back injury in practice this week. His “questionable” designation doesn’t tell us much because in Colts parlance that means “he’s on our roster,” but Johnson would apparently be replaced by Jeff Linkenbach if he can’t go. Linkenbach was last seen filling in so well at right guard on Sunday night that Al Michaels made a “weakest link” joke. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer would be happy to make some more jokes this weekend.
Matt Roth, OLB, Browns: Roth has said several times this week that he harbors no ill feelings for the Dolphins, who unexpectedly waived him during the 2009 season. All that tells me is that he’s a much smarter diplomat than former teammate Channing Crowder. You can bet that Roth would love to stick it to his former team, and his 1.5 sacks and five total QB hits over the past two weeks suggest he could do it. Miami hasn’t allowed a ton of sacks but did yield three to the Raiders last week. Beyond Week 13, it also shouldn’t hurt that Roth is playing for a contract.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns: Delhomme’s obviously not a player that you can plug into an IDP position, but he sure can help the defensive backs that you do. Delhomme has tossed two interceptions in each of his three outings this season. He also has been responsible for 13 of the 34 passes that Cleveland opponents have defensed all year. In three games. One he didn’t even start.
Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com and the brains behind (or would that be inside?) the “Suit” character in their free fantasy football game. Draft against him and 10 other fantasy Pros in RapidDraft Weekly every week (hence the name).