We all remember the truly transcendent performances that single-handedly win playoff weeks for us. Names like Drew Bennett and Jerome Harrison come to mind on the offensive side of the ball, but the IDP world doesn’t really have an epic game to point to in the playoffs. That all changed on Sunday, as Khalil Mack wrecked Brock Osweiler’s world en route to 7 tackles, 5 sacks and a forced fumble. He led the way for all IDPs in standard scoring leagues, but in big play leagues, he potentially put up the biggest individual game of the season. If you started Mack last week, congratulations on what was likely a huge victory. Moving forward, things get complicated. In general, Mack’s positional eligibility has been a hot topic all season, with some sites listing him as a DE, some as an LB, and some with dual eligibility. As a DE, he’s been a no-doubt starter in big play leagues, and a fringe starter in standard scoring, due to his heavy reliance on sacks. As an LB, he’s not really startable unless you’re in a deep big-play league. To complicate things further, Green Bay is likely to game plan for Mack more so than usual this week after his coming out party, and they’re in the middle of the pack in terms of sacks allowed this year. So if you started him last week, I’d keep rolling him out because your league’s setting likely make him a viable starter. But if you’re in a more standard league, and he’s listed as an LB only, then I’d keep him on the bench.
Armonty/Desmond Bryant – The Bryants in Cleveland are sometimes difficult to tell apart while on the field. Off the field is a different story. Their position and style of play is very similar, and this season their stat lines have been as well. They both had big games against San Francisco last week, and I’ve moved them up in the ranks together this week in advance of their nice matchup against Seattle. Their ceilings are about what we saw last week, but you could definitely do worse in Week 15. For the record, I like Armonty more for big plays, and Desmond more for straight tackles.
Danny Lansanah – Last week I was singing the praises of Bruce Carter as Kwon Alexander’s replacement, and he didn’t disappoint with 8 tackles and a sack. I also cautioned that the primary concern with Carter is injury, and unfortunately he lived up to his reputation there as well, and is now likely to miss Thursday’s game. The beneficiary here should likely be Lansanah, who was already starting but should now see three-down work. The matchup against the Rams isn’t ideal, and Lansanah’s ceiling is lower than that of Carter, so I would temper expectations, but if you’re desperate at LB, he’s likely available.
Miami LB Du Jour – The Fins have had a revolving door at LB between Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi and Kelvin Sheppard, and while none of them have been reliable individually, collectively they have put up numbers. They take on the top LB matchup in San Diego this week, and they provide an interesting opportunity for risky IDP owners. If you guess right here, you’re likely looking at a top 20 LB performance. If you guess wrong, you could be looking at a goose egg. Barring any injury information coming out, I’d rank Misi as the safest option, with Jenkins and Sheppard as more boom/bust choices.
Jairus Byrd – The Lions have let up by far the most points to safeties this year, and with nothing really to play for, I expect Stafford and Co. to continue airing it out this week. That benefits Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro, who have yet to really gel as a dynamic duo, but who are still immensely talented on an individual level. Odds are that Vaccaro is owned in most leagues. But Byrd is likely available, and if you stream your DB position (or just lost William Moore to injury), I like Byrd as a high-ceiling flier (pun intended) for Week 15.
Ronald Darby – It’s rare to see a Cornerback in the mix for Defensive Rookie of the Year, an award that usually goes to a Middle Linebacker or edge rusher who puts up a lot of sacks. But Darby has justifiably inserted himself into the conversation, and he might just win the award this year. That isn’t to say that he’s a shutdown corner who opposing QBs fear. He’s racked up 64 tackles in 13 games, so he’s getting his opportunities. But the degree of difficulty in these matchups has been considerable, and Rex Ryan loves to leave his corners on an island, so Darby has been a revelation in Buffalo. This week he gets a great matchup against the pass-happy Redskins, and he should be considered a low end DB2, and one of the top CB options for the week.