Free Agent Focus

Week 15 IDP Free Agent Focus

By Matt Schauf 8:06am EST 12/16/13

For most of us, it's now championship week.  No more looking ahead.  No more saving guys.  You're playing for 1 week.  Even if your league extends to Week 17, you're still just playing for 2.

This is not the time to get too cute with your lineup.  Just like on offense, don't go looking for the shiny matchup plays to start over the studs that got you here.

There will, however, always be late-emerging values and worthwhile matchup-based options.  Here are some widely available guys we're looking at for Week 16.  Of course, IDP formats vary quite a bit.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email Schauf@DraftSharks.com.

Michael Bennett, DL, Seahawks

Bennett has had a very good 1st season in Seattle, but he has provided a prime risk/reward profile.  The former Buccaneer entered Week 15 having finished 6 of his past 10 games with 1 tackle or fewer.  He finished 3 others in that span with just 2 tackles.  Bennett's 6.5 sacks through his 1st 10 games made him IDP relevant, but he'd gone 3 games without 1 before Sunday.

But against the Giants, Bennett notched a season-high 4 solos and his 1st sack since Nov. 10.  He also forced his 1st fumble of the season.  That combo of "1sts" could be grounds for ignoring a guy's 1 good week, but Bennett still racked up 3 QB hits and 5 hurries over his 3-game no-sack streak.

We're most interested in picking him up now, though, because Bennett will welcome a strong matchup to town in Week 16.  Arizona has provided the 2nd most fantasy points for D-linemen on the season and still stands 5th friendliest over the past 5 games.  Bennett sacked Carson Palmer once in the 1st meeting and added 2 QB hits and 5 hurries for a season-high 8 total QB disruptions.

Bennett remains a tackle risk, thanks in part to Seattle's D-line rotation.  But he'll carry significant upside against an Arizona team that could play from behind most of the day.  It only helps Bennett's outlook that Palmer's dealing with a high ankle sprain.  Arizona's QB will either sit or play with even less mobility than usual.

Andre Branch, DE, Jaguars

Branch continues the performance boost that has him living up to his 2nd-round draft pedigree from 2012.

The 2nd-year DE now has 5 sacks on the season, including 1 apiece in 4 of his past 5 games.  He took down Bills QB E.J. Manuel once Sunday, adding that to a season-high 5 tackles.  Branch also entered Week 15 with 4 QB hits and 9 hurries over his past 4 outings.

Jacksonville gets a tough-to-sack Tennessee offense in Week 16, which surrendered just 1 sack to the Jags back in Week 10.  The Titans also lost 3 fumbles in that game, though, and 3 more in the 4 games since.  Plus, they allowed 3+ sacks in 4 straight games before that 1st meeting.

Branch might not stand as a strong IDP option for Week 16, but he'll at least be a candidate for a top 30 DL spot.  And he should certainly be owned in any IDP dynasty leagues of reasonable depth.

Jay Ratliff, DT, Bears

Ratliff has made an impact since entering the starting lineup 2 weeks ago.

He notched a sack against the Cowboys on last week's frigid Monday night.  He added 3 QB hits and a tackle for loss in Sunday's win over the Browns and has played solid run D.

Week 16 means a trip to Philly.  The Eagles have allowed 3+ sacks in 3 of their past 4 games.  The only time they didn't was the Week 14 Snow Bowl vs. Detroit.  Philly's run game should present a few more tackle chances for Ratliff as well, making him a low-end DL flier in deeper IDP leagues.

Daryl Washington, ILB, Cardinals

We didn't even think about recommending Washington as a pickup the past few weeks, because we figured he'd already be owned in most places.  But his mere 6.4% owned rate in ESPN.com IDP leagues indicates that lagging midseason production got Washington dropped in many leagues.

He delivered 8 solos and 2 passes defensed in Sunday's OT win at Tennessee, though.  Washington should have picked 1 of those and might have taken it to the house if he had.  The game followed a solid 7 and 9 tackles the previous 2 weeks.

Washington travels to Seattle next Sunday to face a Seahawks team that allowed him a QB hit and a hurry in the 1st meeting.  The Seahawks entered Week 15 the 10th-friendliest matchup for fantasy LBs over the past 5 weeks.  They've provided double-digit tackles for at least 1 LB on 4 of the 6 opponents they've faced at home so far.

Jason Worilds, OLB, Steelers

Worilds understandably came up empty in the sack category vs. the Bengals on Sunday night.  Cincinnati ranks among the toughest teams in the league to sack.  But Worilds did manage 2 QB hits, according to ESPN.com.

Well Green Bay doesn't protect its QBs nearly as well.  The Packers limited Dallas to 2 sacks on Sunday, but they surrendered 5 to the Falcons the week before and 7 to the Lions in the Thanksgiving Day blowout.

Worilds, meanwhile, preceded Week 15 with a pair of 2-sack games and 8+ tackles in 3 of his previous 4 outings.  He registered 5 sacks over the 4 games leading up to Week 15 and has tallied 2 sacks in a game 3 times.  He has played so well on the left side that the team decided to move 6-year starter LaMarr Woodley from his left side to the right.

Worilds figures to make trouble for either Packers QB next Sunday.

Leodis McKelvin, CB, Bills

Want a sleeper DB for Week 16?  McKelvin has defensed passes in 4 straight games, including 3 against Atlanta in Week 13.  He has also registered 8 solo tackles in 2 of the past 3 games.

Next comes Miami, which ranks as the league's 6th-friendliest matchup for fantasy DBs.  The Dolphins have allowed an opposing CB to put up 7+ tackles in 4 straight games.  The bonus with McKelvin: He brings return-man speed and skills every time he gets his hands on the ball.

Will Hill, S, Giants

Hill has played terrific football lately and now ranks as the Giants' 2nd-best defender on the season, according to Pro Football Focus grading.

In fantasy terms, he posted a nice 6 solo tackles vs. Seattle on Sunday.  That came 2 weeks after a string of 3 straight 7-tackle outings.  Hill also forced fumbles in 2 of the past 4 games.

He'll carry more tackle and turnover upside into a Week 16 visit to Detroit.  The Lions entered Week 15 having provided the league's 3rd most total tackles to DBs.  They'd also had the 4th most passes defensed by DBs, including 6 INTs to DBs alone over the past 5 games.

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