Matt Schauf of stops by once a week to talk individual defensive players, “IDPs” for those in the know.

Fantasy championship week over at means someone is about to win $100,000 just for drafting some free fantasy football teams. Imagine the kind of overthinking that payoff must breed.

All you’re playing for is your buddy’s repurposed beer helmet that still smells bad but now has a third-place bowling trophy attached with duct tape and some really clever name like “Jabba the Hat.” Quit worrying so much. In many cases, it’s a time to use what’s been working, and we also might find some worthwhile nuggets amid this weekend’s four rematches.

One game in particular, San Francisco at St. Louis, carries some interesting points from last time. Troy Smith, who will apparently make his return to the lineup this week, started for the Niners in the first meeting and got sacked five times. In fact, three of the five teams Smith No. 2 (huh huh) faced got at least three sacks from their defensive linemen. The two that didn’t, Denver and Arizona, both run 3-4 bases. San Diego also got three sacks from linemen last week against Alex Smith, and San Francisco has allowed the sixth most sacks to linemen in the league this season. All of this is good news if you own James Hall or Chris Long.

Rams safety Craig Dahl enjoyed the defense’s biggest output in that meeting, producing 13 tackles (10 solo) and breaking up two passes. He’s been good for tackle numbers lately, and the best way for me to state my feeling might be to say that I claimed Dahl this week to start ahead of Cortland Finnegan.

The other side of the first meeting didn’t provide much fodder, but DE Justin Smith did go for six tackles (five solo) and a sack. St. Louis hasn’t yielded a bunch of sacks this year but has tied for second most solo tackles allowed to linemen and has provided the sixth most over the past five weeks. That makes Smith a decently safe option for the week.

Michael “The Tackle-Provider” Turner

The other three Week 16 rematches didn’t present many numbers of note. The one point I will bring up is that all three Saints linebackers reached double digits in tackles, with Jonathan Vilma and Jo-Lonn Dunbar each notching eight solos, in the Week 3 loss to Atlanta. That’s especially noteworthy for Dunbar, as he hasn’t made more than four solo stops in any other game and only reached that number twice. Similarly, Scott Shanle has only gotten to double digits one other time. No other outing has come within three total tackles of the 11 he had against Atlanta.

All of this means that Vilma is a good play this week and that the other guys carry a bit of sleeper value. Shanle would be the next one I’d use (well behind Vilma), with Danny Clark the other starter at this stage, having replaced Dunbar a while ago.

Jamar Chaney’s NFL Track Record Speaks for Itself

Sometimes you follow a gut feeling and make a worthless recommendation on a player for no reason and feel stupid afterward. (I, of course, would never do that.) Other times you might stifle such a feeling because you realize you really don’t have much to go on … like how I held back from saying anything about new Eagles middle linebacker Jamar Chaney heading into his first pro start last week against the Giants.

I’ve heard good things about Chaney since last draft season, but it’s not like I’m a tape-watching scout, especially with college players. Brian Baldinger, however, watches coaches’ tape (and freaks people out with that pinkie) and has deemed Chaney one of the league’s best middle men already. Now, I think it’s somewhat silly to present such a proclamation after the guy’s first start, but the important takeaway here is that Chaney was awesome his first time out.

This week he faces the Vikings, and although they haven’t provided a ton of tackles to linebackers, they did offer up enough Monday night on the ice to support the values of both Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

(Thanks to RotoWorld’s Chris Wesseling for bringing the Baldinger article to my attention.)

Boy did we miss you, Brian

Check this out: Brian Dawkins has missed five games this season, and the Broncos have allowed 100 more rushing yards on average in those contests than in the nine he has played. Denver has allowed 3.9 yards per carry when Dawkins is around, compared with 5.7 when he’s gone. Now, two of those five games brought Darren McFadden, and another brought the Chiefs’ high-powered rushing attack, but there’s absolutely no excusing that difference.

What does that mean for IDP owners? Probably not a whole lot. I was just shocked by those numbers and felt like sharing them. What might matter more, though, is the fact that he returns to face a Houston team (anyone who saw the original Rollerball should be chanting right now) that has yielded the most fantasy points in the league this year to opposing defensive backs, as well as the league’s largest total over the past five weeks.

Whether Dawkins is being called on to help stop Arian Foster or busy chasing after another 50 Matt Schaub attempts, he should get chances to put up numbers. Of course, he’s practicing on a limited basis this week, so be careful and decide whether you’re willing to take the risk.

Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for 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).

  1. barker says:

    who would u go with between these guys need 3
    .25 asst .5 tackle 2 sack 3 int 2 ff 3 frec 6 td 3 saf 1 passdef 3 blk kick

    lofton ruud griffin mccourty

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