RotoWire NFL IDP Report

The Ravens, unfortunately, won’t have the face of their

franchise in the regular-season finale, as linebacker Ray Lewis

will make his return from a torn triceps injury during the

playoffs, instead. The Packers will be without a similarly iconic

defender for Week 17, as Charles Woodson is still sidelined by the

broken collarbone he suffered in Week 7.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks got some good news Thursday, as star

cornerback Richard Sherman’s four-game suspension for

performance-enhancing substances was dropped upon appeal. Sherman

won’t miss any time, and he heads into the final game of the

regular season with excellent numbers – 61 tackles (53 solo), one

sack, seven interceptions, 23 passes defended and three forced

fumbles. He’s a strong DB option in leagues that reward points for

passes defended.

Another star NFC West defender doesn’t appear so lucky, as San

Francisco lineman Justin Smith missed last week’s game against

Seattle with what was referred to as an elbow injury, but might

actually be a triceps tear. If it’s the latter, it’s difficult to

see Smith playing against Arizona this week, and he’s not

guaranteed to appear in the playoffs, either.

Muhammad Wilkerson doesn’t have the Smith’s name recognition,

but he has established himself as one of the league’s top 3-4 ends

this year in his own right. The Jets defense figures, therefore, to

be hurting a bit this week if a concussion Wilkerson suffered keeps

him out of Sunday’s game against the Bills. If Wilkerson’s season

is over, he finishes with 66 tackles and five sacks in 15 games.

RISING

Richard Sherman, CB, SEA

Sherman was issued a four-game suspension in November for

violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances,

but upon appeal, Sherman demonstrated some flaw in the sample

collection process, and he gets off the hook on that technicality.

Sherman has been one of the league’s top corners this year, and

despite most quarterbacks’ intentions to avoid throwing the ball,

Sherman has made plays anyway. He has seven interceptions, one of

which was returned for a touchdown, and he’s been a hit in leagues

that award points for passes defended, as he has 23 in 15 games.

Chris Hope, S, ATL

William Moore was having a strong season for Atlanta as he

headed into Week 13, but a hamstring injury that developed shortly

thereafter has apparently ended his regular season. After totaling

75 tackles, one sack and four interceptions in 12 games, Moore

missed the last three due to the injury, and he’ll sit out the

regular-season finale against Tampa Bay on Sunday, too. That leaves

Hope as the Falcons’ starter at safety opposite Thomas DeCoud, a

role which could yield some IDP utility this week. Hope has two

100-tackle seasons in his career from his days at Tennessee, so he

has shown the ability to put up numbers.

Casey Hayward, CB, GB

It’s still early in his career and it’s difficult to tell just

how much he might be the real deal, but Hayward is one defender who

deserves some attention for his impressive rookie season. The

second-round pick out of Vanderbilt has been very active against

the pass this year despite initially coming off the bench, and

injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson have allowed Hayward to

establish himself as a likely starter in the future. He has 52

tackles and six interceptions despite starting only seven of 15

games. Hayward has been especially viable in leagues that reward

points for passes defended, as he has a very impressive total of

20.

Daryl Smith, OLB, JAC

Smith finally made his season debut against the Patriots last

week, as a problematic groin injury suffered way back in August

somehow kept him sidelined up to that point. He played 86 percent

of Jacksonville’s defensive snaps Sunday – the most of any Jaguars

linebacker – and he’s on the Week 17 IDP radar as a result. He only

made four tackles in his return, but Smith impressed with

well-rounded box scores in the three years prior, averaging 104

tackles (78 solo), 2.8 sacks and one interception per year. He

should be better in Week 17 as he shakes off some of the rust that

built up over the first 15 weeks.

Brian Urlacher, MLB, CHI

It’s still a bit speculative at this point, but it appears that

Urlacher might play against Detroit in Week 17 after missing the

last three weeks with a hamstring strain. Coach Lovie Smith said

he’s hopeful Urlacher will make his return against the Lions, and

Urlacher was seen running through drills at what appeared to be at

or close to full speed prior to Sunday’s game against Arizona. If

he does get on the field Sunday, Urlacher could provide a boost for

Week 17-league owners who need help at linebacker. After a slow

start to the year, Urlacher totaled 48 tackles over his last seven

games.

FALLING

Russell Allen, OLB, JAC

Allen has been one of the best IDP steals at linebacker,

capitalizing on an injuries to Clint Session and Daryl Smith to

emerge as a top-two linebacker for Jacksonville, earning a big snap

count in the process. He’s been very productive all year, and he

heads into the final week of the season with 123 tackles (99 solo)

in 15 games. The problem for Allen is that Smith returned to the

Jacksonville lineup last week, and Allen’s snap count took a hit as

a result. Allen finished with just 67 percent of Jacksonville’s

defensive snaps against the Patriots, and it will be tough for him

to sustain his past rate of production on that snap count. Dynasty

league owners might not necessarily want to sell, however, because

Smith is a free agent after this year.

Justin Tuck, DE, NYG

Few players have been as massive of a letdown, either in real

football or IDP terms, as Tuck has been the last two years. After

averaging 67 tackles and 9.9 sacks per season from 2007 to 2010,

Tuck has been a complete dud since. He has only 43 tackles and

three sacks in 2012, which makes him not even worth owning in most

formats. Last year wasn’t much better, though he did have better

numbers (37 tackles, five sacks) in only 12 games. Tuck will be 30

in March, and it appears that decline might be in play. With just

2013 remaining on his five-year, $30 million contract, the Giants

wouldn’t face a substantial penalty for cutting Tuck after two

years of disappointment.

Larry Foote, (3-4) ILB, PIT

Foote has been a very good bargain in IDP leagues this year,

emerging with a big snap count and career high numbers after

spending most of his career off the IDP radar. He heads into the

final week of this year with 104 tackles (70 solo) and four sacks

in 15 games, which had him in LB3 territory in most formats. Owners

in dynasty formats should do their best to sell him, though. The

reason Foote is just now putting up these numbers, in his 11th year

in the league, is he’s receiving a higher snap count than usual.

He’s a free agent after this year and will be 33 in June, and the

odds of Foote holding down a starting spot in Pittsburgh or

anywhere else are not good.

Eric Wright, CB, TB

Wright is an opportunistic gambler at cornerback rather than a

shutdown corner, so he invites a good amount of targets for IDP

potential, particularly in leagues that reward points for passes

defended. Unfortunately, he may have lost his starting role in

Tampa Bay as a result of his four-game suspension this year for

what as claimed to be Adderall. He might not play in the season

finale against Atlanta due to a lack of conditioning, and his

suspension has prompted his coach to use some unsettling language

regarding his future with the team. Coach Greg Schiano was quoted

as saying, “I didn’t know it was coming. So how am I going to know

it will happen again or won’t happen again? I don’t,” which is a

cause for concern if you’re Wright, whose suspension allows the

Buccaneers to void the $7.5 million in guarantees for 2013.

DeMarcus Ware, (3-4) OLB, DAL

He should be back at full strength by the time 2013 arrives, but

in the meantime, star Dallas outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware seems

to be significantly limited by elbow and shoulder issues. While

speaking to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ware refused to confirm

or deny whether his shoulder injury will need offseason surgery,

and his lack of production further reinforces the idea that he’s

playing limited. He only played 59 of Dallas’ 95 defensive snaps

against New Orleans on Sunday, and it looks like a similar

arrangement might be in place against Washington this week. Ware

has just 2.5 sacks in his last seven games, and it’s difficult to

count on him as an IDP, even in leagues that reward

disproportionately high points for sack production.

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