Real football isn't all about the offensive players. Why should fantasy football be any different? Every week here in Reading the Defense, we're looking back at the fantasy week that was and offering help for the week that's to come.
Linebacker:D'Qwell Jackson is no longer the tackling machine he once was with the Cleveland Browns, but in Week 11 he put together a game reminiscent of his days as an IDP monster. The Colts linebacker recorded six tackles and a sack. But since that wasn't good enough, Jackson picked off a Matt Ryan pass and trotted six yards into the end zone for a score. At this point in his career, he's not the most consistent fantasy option but it's nice to be able to take advantage of weeks like this.
Defensive back:Deone Bucannon is having a fantastic season both on the field for the Cardinals and in fantasy. While he's listed as a defensive back, Bucannon has played a DB/LB hybrid position that has allowed him to make plays all over the field. In Week 11, he harassed the Bengals to the tune of eight tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery. It's only been in recent weeks that his name has started to get a lot of metion, but he's a weekly IDP starter.
What went wrong
» Ronald Darby has been a stud all season long and is certainly in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. But over the past couple of weeks, Darby's fantasy numbers have left something to be desired. Maybe it's the efficiency of the offenses he's faced. Maybe it's that teams aren't challenging him as much. But with just five points in the past two weeks, Darby's seeing his value slip. Next week's matchup against Kansas City's short passing game doesn't offer much hope.
» The Seahawks dominated the 49ers in just about every phase of the game last week. Too bad Bobby Wagner didn't really get in on the action, recording just three tackles. The linebacker has been dealing with a pectoral issue for the past few weeks, but it didn't prevent him from posting a double-digit fantasy total in Week 10. Hopefully next week brings better tidings.
Week 12 boomer
Lawrence Timmons, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Timmons has put together a solid season as the man in the middle of the field for a surprising Steelers defense. This week he's a volume play with Pittsburgh taking on the run-heavy Seahawks offense. Between Seattle's insistence on running the football, combined with the occasional target to Jimmy Graham over the middle, Timmons should have plenty of chances to make stops this week.
Week 12 buster
Ndamukong Suh, DL, Miami Dolphins: Suh had started to pick things up in recent weeks with two sacks in his last three games. But the Jets aren't a team that allows a lot of sacks, so that should make things tough. Plus with Cameron Wake out of action, look for Gang Green to focus a lot more energy on keeping Miami's big man from making a lot of plays in the middle of the line. In the case that you were starting to bank on Suh doing big things ... don't.
Week 12 sleeper
DeMeco Ryans, LB, Philadelphia Eagles:Matthew Stafford has been better over the past few weeks and should have a good matchup against an Eagles defense that gave up five touchdown passes to Jameis Winston. But Stafford does still have a tendency to lock on to receivers, which could lead to Ryans picking one off in the middle of the field. If nothing else, the veteran linebacker could make a number of tackles against Detroit's woebegone rushing attack
First down: The Packers have been struggling to get to the quarterback in recent weeks so defensive coordinator Dom Capers has made a change. Green Bay's defense has begun using Datone Jones as an edge rusher. Two weeks ago, the former UCLA standout ended up with three quarterback hurries against the Detroit Lions. If Jones can start getting to the quarterback on a semi-regular basis down the stretch, he could have some surprise fantasy value.
Second down: While Jones could be coming after Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers won't have to deal with Antrel Rolle. The Chicago safety is expected to miss Thursday night's game with a knee injury. It's been a frustrating season for Rolle from an injury perspective and this week will be yet another week that health keeps him off the field.
Third down: Things aren't looking good for Mario Williams right now. The Bills haven't made a final determination about their pass rusher with head coach Rex Ryan saying "it's too early to tell" if he'll be available. Williams' sack totals are down this season and facing a quick-passing Chiefs team isn't likely to help but his talent makes him hard to keep off the field.
Fourth down: As if the Panthers defense wasn't tough enough, now it's getting defensive end Charles Johnson back. But before you rush to get him back into your fantasy lineup be aware that Carolina is planning to limit his reps in this week's game against the Cowboys. Once he's back in game shape, all systems should be go with one of the league's better sack artists.