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Reading the Defense: Worrilow still scoring for Atlanta

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote that Paul Worrilow was a player worth keeping an eye on in IDP leagues?

You don't? Well, take a quick minute to read what I wrote. While I enjoy patting myself on the back as much as the next person, that trip back into recent history was more about seeing how far we've come in a relatively short time.

Looking back on that measuring-stick Week 12 contest, the Falcons linebacker tallied seven fantasy points. Not great, but not terrible. But guess what? It's his low mark over the past six games. In that span, Worrilow has averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game while posting 13.5 or more points in four of those six games.

Now he gets to go up against a Washington team that has more turmoil than level 26 of an obscure Atari game. This is just screaming for Worrilow to have another double-digit scoring game.

That's not say Worrilow's fantasy value goes away after this week has passed us by. With the Falcons not going anywhere this season, there are plenty of reasons for Mike Smith and his staff to see what they have on their roster. Certainly with the way this undrafted rookie has played this season, he's in line to see plenty of snaps the rest of the way.

Roach pestering offenses

The Oakland Raiders haven't been anyone's idea of a consistent defense (being consistently inconsistent doesn't count). But one member of the Silver and Black is working his way toward must-start status as we reach the climax of the fantasy season.

Over the past month, only two players -- Karlos Dansby and Lavonte David -- have scored more points than Nick Roach. The veteran is new to the Raiders after six seasons with the Chicago Bears. It seems the change has done him good: Roach has set career highs in tackles (72) and sacks (5.5) while snagging his first career interception.

However, he's really turned things up over the past few weeks. In his past three games, the man from Northwestern has scored 11.50 or more points per game -- including a 16.50-point performance against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

Roach has earned a spot on plenty of fantasy rosters for the final couple of weeks of the season. More importantly, he's a player worth keeping an eye on as fantasy owners begin preparing for next year. You can expect changes throughout the Raiders defense next season, but Roach should continue to be the team's anchor in the middle.

Four downs

» It's a frustrating end to the season for Cardinals rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu. The man formerly known as the Honey Badger tore his ACL in last week's win over the St. Louis Rams and will be lost for the remainder of the season. Mathieu had been a top 20 defensive back this season, but will now have to focus on getting healthy for 2014. His immediate return as a star is no sure thing. As we've learned this season, for every Adrian Peterson, there are multiple Robert Griffin IIIs.

» It feels like a Sean Lee update is becoming a weekly feature of this column. However it's fitting when you're talking about one of the NFL's (and fantasy football's) best playmakers on the defensive side. The good news is that the Cowboys are optimistic their star linebacker will be ready to play this week against the Green Bay Packers. If he's in the lineup for Dallas, he's good to go for you.

» Conversely, it doesn't look like Lance Briggs is ready to get back for the Chicago Bears. Briggs says he's not ruling himself out of Sunday's game against the Browns, but the glass isn't quite half-full from the team's perspective. Having Briggs back would certainly be a boost to a struggling Chicago defense, but could also be a sneaky playoff play for IDP owners. Alas, it will have to wait.

» Jason Pierre-Paul ranks high among the list of IDP disappointments -- not just of this year, but of the past couple of seasons. Now the Giants are weighing whether or not it's time to shut down the struggling defensive end for the remainder of the season. JPP has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury but has posted just two sacks this season. If he is indeed out of the picture for the rest of the season, it places a bigger emphasis on the recently torrid Justin Tuck to be a bigger sack producer.

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

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