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Reading the Defense: Casey turns success into fantasy

Anyone who has played fantasy football long enough can tell you about players who are quality producers on the field, but not necessarily the best fantasy options.

Case in point, a guy like Troy Aikman was a Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Dallas Cowboys to multiple Super Bowl victories. But chances are, he didn't provide you with the same level of success from a fantasy perspective.

Similarly, Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey was quietly putting together a Pro Bowl-type season, but it hadn't really translated into numbers that IDP fantasy owners could use. Until recently, that is.

In the second half of the season, the third-year player from USC has picked up his fantasy game. He's scored eight or more fantasy points in four of his last seven contests, notching 6.5 sacks during that stretch. Through 15 weeks, Casey is 10th in the NFL with 10.5 sacks, which is far and away tops on the Titans roster.

This week Casey and the Titans face the Jaguars, who have allowed 45 sacks this season -- third-most in the league. When the two squads met back in Week 10, the young defensive lineman registered six tackles and a QB takedown. There's little reason to believe he can't do something similar again this week.

Grow on Ogletree

St. Louis Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree has been easy to overlook this season. Guys like James Laurinaitis, Chris Long and Robert Quinn have grabbed most of the headlines. But the rookie from Georgia has more than held his own on one of the league's emerging defensive units.

Heading into Week 16, Ogletree leads the Rams in tackles (87) and has one of the team's two defensive touchdowns this season. In addition, the young linebacker is tied for third in passes defended (8), showing his strength as a man who can play in coverage.

Over the past month, Ogletree has turned things up. He has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four contests and is averaging better than 10 points during that stretch.

To top it off, he's become a big part of a Rams defense that has excelled at home this season. That's particularly good news for IDP owners looking to plug in a linebacker when you see on the schedule that St. Louis welcomes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the dome this week. It should be another Sunday of success for Ogletree.

Four downs

» After weeks of waiting, Lance Briggs could be back in action for the Chicago Bears this week. Briggs has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since Week 7's loss to Washington and has been fighting unsuccessfully to get back early. His return is a big boost to a Bears defense that has been gashed by opposing run defenses. It comes just in time with Chicago facing a critical matchup against the run-heavy Eagles offense. Look for Briggs to have plenty of opportunity to make plays this week.

» The Pittsburgh Steelers put linebacker LaMarr Woodley on injured reserve with a right calf injury. That ends another injury-riddled campaign for Woodley, who has missed a combined 14 games over the past three seasons. In his place, Jason Worilds has played very well and could have his hands full with Eddie Lacy and the Packers running game this weekend.

» Morris Claiborne says he won't play for the Cowboys in this week's game against Washington as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. That's bad news for an already-beleaguered secondary. That puts Orlando Scandrick in the position of likely lining up against Aldrick Robinson this week. Expect him to be in Kirk Cousins' crosshairs on Sunday.

» Chris Houstonreturned to practice for the Lions this week. The corner missed last week's game against the Ravens with a toe injury but returns in time to deal with Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle. The Giants passing game has been abysmal this year, which means Houston could be one of the latest defensive backs to get his hands on a pass from Eli Manning.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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