How did Week 16 treat you? Are you the league champ, or do you need to grit your teeth and do it again in Week 17? As I mini-ranted last week, if you are playing for your championship in Week 17, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, as your starters are rested or used sparingly. Seriously, you should consider making your final week of play Week 16.

There are plenty of injuries to consider this week, as set forth below. Fortunately, there are also defensive players you may want to target to replace the wounded IDP warriors on your roster. Of course, there are also some players to target if you play in a dynasty league or a deep keeper league, so let us see what is sitting on the wire for you to claim.

Elevator Going Up


Malcolm Smith OAK

Gerald Hodges SF

Dwight Freeney ARI

Smith had a great week facing off against the Chargers, continuing his superb fifth season in the league. He collected a total of 11 solo tackles as part of a combined 14-tackle effort, flying around the field with abandon. He is available in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues still, and 47 percent of ESPN leagues. He has a whopping 117 total tackles over 15 games (96 solos), with four sacks, six pass deflections, an interception and two forced fumbles, so he has value in both big play and tackle-oriented leagues. Unless you have stud linebackers on your roster, go grab him if he is available in your dynasty league.

Hodges has developed into a sneaky value linebacker, playing opposite NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco. Over the past four games, he has amassed 32 combined tackles (23 solos), and has the run-oriented Rams coming up in Week 17. Not a big-play option, but certainly valuable in tackle-oriented leagues.

Freeney is coming off a three sack effort in Week 16, and is settling in nicely as a pass-rush option in the Cardinal defensive scheme. He is not much for tackles, but does get to face the Seahawks in Week 17, who have yielded the fourth most sacks this season.

Defensive Linemen

Demarcus Lawrence DE DAL

Fletcher Cox DE PHI

Aaron Donald DT StL

Kawann Short DT CAR

If I were stocking my team for next season, and had an opportunity to pick up some young defensive linesmen, I would be looking to grab Lawrence, Donald and Short if at all possible. Lawrence is settling in as a top-three DL, and his ownership numbers are amazing: he is available in 96 percent of Yahoo and 89 percent of ESPN leagues. I realize that Greg Hardy has the name recognition, but getting a upcoming potential star to plug in and forget about is too tempting. In your keeper leagues, he has too much value to let sit on the wire. Grab him now. This article will still be here after you solidify your IDP lineup for 2016.

Cox is an oldie but goodie, compared against the three youngsters in this section, and he is just 25 (but has played for four seasons). He is coming off a two-sack effort against Washington last week, giving him seven on the season. He also has 44 solo tackles to date, as part of his 63 combined tackles, and has forced three fumbles and recovered two through 15 games.

Donald was a player I was targeting in DT-mandatory leagues, but I am now thinking I was being short sighted in my assessment. He has 11 sacks so far this season, and get to face the 49ers in Week 17, the most sacked offense in the NFL in 2015. He did go through a mid-season lull, and the tackles are not always stellar, but you want him for his potential and the big play ability. Going forward, he is going to be tough to draft, so if you can secure his services now, do so. That will be a lot easier on Yahoo where his ownership is a pitiful 32 percent (ESPN leagues have him available in just under 19 percent of leagues...go figure).

Short is actually a year older than Cox, but has one less year of service. He has been highlighted to an extent with the success the Panthers have enjoyed in 2015, but then again, not all fantasy players pay attention to DTs. Seven solo tackles and two sacks in Week 16 should elevate his status, despite the loss to Atlanta and the end to quest for a perfect season. Short is owned in just over 62 percent of ESPN leagues but is widely available on Yahoo (16 percent ownership). Do Yahoo leagues not feature as many IDP leagues, or does it have to do with how they evaluate IDP? A question for another day.

Defensive Backs

Bradley McDougald S TB

Michael Griffin S TEN

Dashon Goldson S WAS

Kenny Vaccaro S NO

Delvin Breaux CB NO

Marcus Peters CB KC

I go back and forth with my Lovie Smith debate. Is he a good coach or does he just look intelligent at times? He has revitalized the Buccaneers’ defense, it seems to me, and watching McDougald collect 12 tackles in Week 16 (10 solo) and it seems that he has shown something to his coaches, as he is flirting with a 90-tackle season. I do not know I would consider him for long-term ownership, but he will be doing his best to set a career mark in tackles when the team faces Carolina in Week 17. Expect him to be around the ball all game long Sunday.

Griffin is an excellent run stuffer, and should be a superior source for tackles if the Colts do what is expected and run the ball continually in Week 17. He is only valuable in tackle-oriented leagues, as his big-play potential is virtually non-existent (one sack, three pass deflections, one interception in 14 games).

Goldson is another safety you want to target in tackle-heavy leagues, although he does offer the occasional big play: three pass deflections, one interception, one forced fumble, two fumbles recovered and a TD. He has collected 110 combined tackles this season to date, with 72 of those being of the solo variety. He faces the Cowboys, a hated division rival in Week 17, so look for him to continue to provide IDP numbers as the season closes out.

Vaccaro and Breaux are bright spots on a hideous defensive effort provided in 2015 by the Saints. Granted, Vaccaro has inconsistent tackle numbers, but is generally a decent option, and then he goes and collects two sacks in Week 16. He should easily surpass 100 tackles in 2015 (he has 98 currently), and he also rewards with the occasional big play, too, having given his owners three sacks, five pass deflections and a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season. Breaux has settled in as the starting left cornerback for the Saints, and he was on fire in Week 16, deflecting four passes, picking off one and collecting four solo tackles. Not bad for a cornerback in any league format. He is literally unowned in both Yahoo and ESPN, and should be in for some action when the Saints take on Atlanta, although with the way his counterpart on the right side, Brandon Browner likes to collect penalties, the offense may trend away from his side of the field.

Peters is fighting for the defensive rookie of the year honors, and would be deserving is selected. He now is tied for the league lead in interceptions with eight, and faces off against the Raiders, who are in the top half of the league in throwing to the defense. He also has 25 (25!) pass deflections on the season and a decent 59 combined tackles (52 solo). He is available in 54 percent of ESPN leagues and 70 percent of Yahoo leagues (what is up with the low ownership in Yahoo for these top players?). Go snap him up in your keeper or dynasty leagues, he looks like the real deal, although I worry that he will become a shutdown corner and thus less valuable as offensive coordinators scheme away from him. Ah, go ahead, take the plunge.

Escalator Going Down

Linebackers/Defensive Linemen/Defensive Backs

It is Week 17. I am not going to suggest anyone be cut, except for those who are injured. If you are still vying for the championship in your league, pick up one of the players I suggested in the section above or dance with who brung ya. And SERIOUSLY, end your season in Week 16.

Ouch (My Aching Roster)

All the injury reports below need evaluation prior to kickoff.  Teams are notoriously sketchy about injury reports, and we often do not know a player's status until just before game time. Consider the list below as a "heads up" as to what is going on early in the week, and should not be considered definitive.


Jadeveon Clowney LB/DE HOU (foot)

Jelani Jenkins MIA (ankle)

J.T. Thomas NYG (ankle)

Defensive Linemen

Ethan Westbrooks DE StL (concussion)

Quinton Dial DT SF (back spasms)

Marcell Dareus DT BUF (neck)

Paul Soliai DT ATL (calf)

Nick Fairley DT StL (concussion)

Eddie Goldman DT CHI (ankle)

Jarvis Jenkins DT CHI (ankle)

Linval Joseph DT MIN (toe)

Jared Odrick DT JAX (bruised knee)

B.J. Raji DT GB (concussion)

Akeem Spence DT TB (ankle-sent to IR, out for season)

Defensive Backs

Barry Church S DAL (broken right arm-out for the season)

Mark Barron S StL (concussion)

Craig Dahl S NYG (concussion)

Eric Weddle S SD (groin-sent to IR, out for season)

Antwon Blake CB PIT (back)

Jason Verrett CB SD (hamstring)

As ever, good luck and Godspeed in your fantasy efforts. Make sure to read all of our great articles to help you win your fantasy match ups every week and ultimately bask in championship glory. If you have any fantasy football questions, especially about IDP leagues, I can be reached at