Everyone loves a Monday Morning Quarterback, so why not a Monday Morning Linebacker? If you're like me, you tend to express your consternation when a player or players on your roster don't exactly perform as expected. Many expletive laden tirades have been directed at my computer or smart-phone as I scan the scoreboards. Occasionally I'm pleasantly surprised, but more often than not it's "What the heck was that?!" In this weekly article we'll take a look at those players that performed as expected and those that didn't. This won't be a complete review of every player from every game; simply the outliers that deserve recognition, one way or the other.
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Studs That Were Studs
(* Notable players that lived up to or exceeded expectations )
Roman Harper, DB, NO vs. OAK - The mighty Caesar had another solid outing yesterday. He's only had a couple of down games this year, and yesterday he continued to prove he's one of the top fantasy DBs. He posted 9 solo tackles, 2 assists, a pass defensed, and an interception as the Saints thumped the Raiders. Continue to plug him into your lineup.
Daryl Washington, LB, ARZ vs. ATL - How great is it that the Cardinals suck?! The #1 overall IDP continues to rack up the stats. DW was stellar yesterday against the Falcons, as he tallied 9 solos, 2 assists, a pass defensed and an interception. Start him as if you're life depended on it.
Paul Posluszny, LB, JAC vs. HOU - I'm betting Poz slept well last night. He was all over the field yesterday, making plays for the Jags. In a high scoring affair against the Texans, he recorded 9 solo tackles, 6 assists, a forced fumble, a pass defensed and an interception. Not much more you can ask of him. Poz has had just one poor game on the year, and yesterday wasn't it, as he posted his best numbers this season. Start him with confidence; the Jags are bad.
Derrick Johnson, LB, KCC vs. CIN - DJ Studerson continues to make the Chiefs' coaching staff look like morons. Explain to me why he was in the doghouse and off the field for as long as he was? It's moronic. 10 solos and a forced fumble against the Bengals proves he's a LB1 that should be on the field and in your lineup every week.
Von Miller, LB, DEN vs. SDC - Look at Miller's numbers over his last three games. It's sick. And yesterday was another outstanding game as he posted 7 solo tackles, forced 2 fumbles and sacked Philip Rivers THREE times. Miller's only had a few stinkers this season, so while he may not match these numbers every week, the potential is too great to do anything but start him regardless of the matchup.
Studs That Were Duds
(* Notable players that didn't even come close to expectations )
Curtis Lofton, LB, NO vs. OAK - Lofton's last two games have been bad. If he keeps this up for much longer, he may soon shed the 'stud' moniker. Despite putting up just 1 solo tackle and 2 assists yesterday against the Raiders, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. For one more week. If this continues, we'll have to talk.
Mark Barron, DB, TBB vs. CAR - Barron started off the year on fire, but three of his last four games have been anything but. I can't continue to call him a stud if this keeps up. Three solo tackles just isn't gonna cut it. Especially in a game in which the Panthers ran the ball 34 times. 'Fraid not. Watch the matchups, but if you have a better option, go with it.
Mason Foster, LB, TBB vs. CAR - What was up with the Bucs tacklers yesterday? Like Barron, Foster really disappointed despite having plenty of opportunities. He posted just 3 solos and 2 assists and has been up and down over the past month. If history is any indication, his next game should be a good one. But if it's not, we'll need to reconsider his status.
Nick Barnett, LB, BUF vs. MIA - This game feels like it was ages ago, but for Barnett and his fantasy owners, it's probably fresh in their memory. Miami had 22 called runs and yet Barnett mustered just 2 solos and 3 assists. Not his best game by any stretch and his last three haven't been much to write home about. If he doesn't get it done at Indy next week, we'll have a problem. Fingers crossed.
Duds That Were Studs
(* Surprising players that far exceeded expectations. Don't take 'dud' literally )
Aqib Talib, CB, NE vs. IND - Welcome back Mr. Talib! His last game action was in Week 4, but it didn't look like he missed a beat as he jumped right back into the fray (likely on most people's bench) with 5 solo tackles, a pass defensed, an interception and a defensive touchdown against the Colts yesterday. The Patriots must be excited to have at least one fully functioning DB! Keep an eye on him, but if he continues to perform you'll have no choice but to start him.
Thomas Davis, LB, CAR vs. TBB - Davis has been hit or miss this year, but he's really come on of late. Yesterday against the Bucs he racked up 10 solo tackles, 6 assists and forced a fumble. If this keeps up I'll have to reevaluate his 'dud' status. He has some savory matchups upcoming, so keep him in your lineup.
Anthony Spencer, LB, DAL vs. CLE - Spencer has quietly been having a very solid year. Not enough to call him a 'stud' and, as I said, don't take the 'dud' thing too literally. Yesterday, in an overtime win against the Browns, Spencer recorded 5 solo tackles, an assist, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass defensed, and a sack. He covered virtually every IDP stat line. Consider him a LB2-3 moving forward.
Nick Fairley, DL, DET vs. GBP - Aside from maybe a rookie report, I don't think I've ever mentioned Fairley's name in any kind of IDP article until now. His season and his career have been largely disappointing to date, but over the past two weeks he's begun to come alive. And yesterday against the Packers, he had 4 solos, 3 assists, a forced fumble and two sacks of Aaron Rodgers. It's too soon to consider him as a regular starter (especially if your league doesn't require DTs), but if he keeps playing like this, he'll be someone to think about moving forward.
Reshad Jones, DB, MIA vs. BUF - Jones is another guy that's been quietly having a solid year. Not great, but not terrible by any means. And yesterday he posted his best game of the year, with 11 solo tackles, 3 assists, a forced fumble and a pass defensed.
The Bold Prediction Scorecard
Mario Williams vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
If you've read any of my stuff during the pre-season, you know I think highly of Mario Williams this year. So much so that I've gone out on a limb to predict that Super Mario will be the top DL in IDP fantasy leagues in 2012. Since most other "experts" consider Jason Pierre-Paul the top-dog, it seems only fitting to pit them head-to-head on this scorecard. I will keep a running weekly tab to see how they match up.
Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants were on a bye this week. No one wins, but Mario showed signs of life. How exciting. Yawn.
This Week: JPP
Not-so-Super Mario: 3 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack
Steve Sheiner spent more than a decade as a writer and Senior Editor at FantasyFootball.com and Fanball.com. He's also hosted a number of radio shows, including the Fantasy Football Extravaganza on 790 the Ticket in Miami. Send Steve your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve_Sheiner