Mario Addison, DE, Panthers
Addison has been on a quiet roll.
The Panther has 7 sacks over his past 6 games and produced his 2nd game of 3 tackles for loss Saturday within that span. He has delivered at least 1 QB hit in 9 of 11 contests. Addison had yet to ramp up his role when Carolina 1st met the Bucs back in Week 5, but he posted a QB hit and forced a fumble while playing just 38.4% of the snaps in that game.
Facing free agency in March on the verge of his age-30 season, Addison should find plenty of motivation in the finale.
Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Bears
Just in case your league left Freeman on the waiver wire heading into last Saturday: Chicago’s top tackler returned to his familiar role in his 1st game back from suspension.
Freeman tallied 9 tackles (8 solo, and 1 for loss) in the loss to Washington. He should stay similarly involved in this Sunday’s trip to Minnesota—which relies heavily on short-range passing.
Nigel Bradham, OLB, Eagles
Bradham’s coming off a season-high 14 tackles to face a Dallas team that afforded him his 2nd-largest tackle total (11) back in Week 8. Locked into the top seed, the Cowboys will enter this rematch with incentive to rest starters at some point—even if everyone starts the game. Even if they don’t sit many guys, we can expect the Cowboys to go conservative with the game plan: plenty of runs and short passes.
Jatavis Brown, ILB, Chargers
We finally got back Sunday to what Brown had been delivering before his knee injury.
The rookie collected a game-high 10 tackles (8 solo) in the loss to the Browns, plus a half-sack. He should be well enough to play his usual role in the season finale against the Chiefs, which will still hold meaning for a K.C. team capable of winning the division.
Look for Brown to maintain a starting, 3-down role heading into next year and likely land in the top 20 in our preseason LB rankings.
Vincent Rey, OLB, Bengals
We’ll see this week how the Bengals plan to treat Vontaze Burfict’s concussion in a meaningless (for them) finale vs. Baltimore. If he sits again, then IDP owners could find further usefulness in his replacement. Rey tallied 7 tackles and defensed 2 passes in Saturday night’s loss to the Texans.
Dee Ford, OLB, Chiefs
Justin Houston’s knee wasn’t ready for Sunday night’s rematch with the Broncos, so it’s tough to imagine him taking the field in Week 17—especially with the Chiefs already in the playoffs (though they’re still playing for the division). Even if Houston’s active, bet against a full snap allotment.
That would mean more time again for Ford, who posted a quiet fantasy line against Denver but hid 3 QB hits and 1 tackle for loss behind the traditional numbers.
The Chargers allowed K.C. just 1 sack in their 1st meeting, but that came way back in Week 1—well before Ford’s midseason breakthrough. San Diego allowed 8 sacks over 2 games before Saturday’s loss to the weak-rushing Browns.
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Panthers
Carolina seems poised to sit MLB Luke Kuechly the rest of the way. That had left fill-in A.J. Klein playing 2nd most among Panthers LBs (behind Thomas Davis), but the team switched things up in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons.
Klein’s playing time has steadily dipped from 100% in Week 12 to roughly 82% the next 2 games, 73.4% in Week 15 and then just 52.4% Sunday. That last mark had been Thompson’s usual rate, but he topped 90% for just the 2nd time all season against the Falcons. And he racked up a team-high 10 solo tackles (plus 1 assist) and a pass breakup while doing so.
It’s tough to bet on that happening again this week, though it’s obviously possible. A Panthers defense with little to play for Sunday beyond trying to keep the Bucs out of the playoffs, though, should be more interested in getting a full look at Thompson in 3-down duty. He was a late 1st-round pick just last year, while Klein’s a veteran backup. And the 33-year-old Davis could be playing his final game this week (though he doesn’t appear to have decided yet).
Thompson’s an OK add for redraft leagues still playing, but he’s a particularly intriguing guy to have on hand in dynasty leagues looking toward 2017 and beyond.
Carl Nassib, DE, Browns
Let’s use Thompson as the transition from redraft into dynasty and look to some options to stash for next year.
After a promising training camp and preseason, Nassib got his season derailed by a Week 2 arm fracture. He has just a half-sack since his Week 5 return, but we’d bet on the early 3rd-round pick retaining a starting role next season (and likely beyond) and tapping further into the talent that saw him finish his Penn Stat career with a national-lead-tying 15.5 sacks.
Nick Vigil, MLB, Bengals
The rookie played a season-high 20 snaps in Saturday night’s loss to the Texans after seeing a role boost the week before against Pittsburgh. Perhaps we’ll see even further elevation to his playing time in the finale, if the Bengals want an opportunity to get a better look heading into the offseason.
IDP owners might want to hope that doesn’t happen. If Vigil starts, more fantasy folks might get a look at the talent that delivered huge numbers in college.
Vigil supplied 138 and 144 tackles over his final 2 seasons at Utah State, including 31.5 tackles for loss. He tallied 17.5 career sacks and even added 5 total passes defensed.
The 3rd-round rookie is well worth stashing in any dynasty leagues that find him available, though, because I’d bet on him getting a shot at winning the MLB job this offseason.
Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison, LB, Colts
Indy might have showed us its starting ILB alignment for 2017 in Saturday’s loss to the Raiders.
Morrison played a season-high 89.5% of the defensive snaps and tallied a game-high 9 tackles, including 2 for loss. Jackson supplied 8 more tackles while playing all but 1 snap.
Jackson has played ahead of Morrison all year, despite joining the team as an undrafted free agent vs. Morrison’s 4th-round draft status.
D’Qwell Jackson has 1 more year on his Indy contract but at a large $5.75 million salary, with a low $250,000 hit if the team dumps him. I’d be surprised if the Colts keep him around.
That positions both Edwin Jackson and Morrison as potential 2017 starters, especially on a team with plenty of other issues to throw money and draft picks at. D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman showed over the past couple of years that both Indy ILBs can produce worthwhile fantasy numbers at the same time. Of course, we’ll also see what the coaching situation is heading into 2017 and how that affects the defensive outlook.
Brandon Williams, CB, Cardinals
Short of kicker, there’s not a fantasy position worth worrying about less season to season than CB. That said, if you’re in a deep enough league that it makes sense, Williams could be worth a stash.
Williams played his highest snap tally Saturday since the opener for a Cardinals team looking toward next season. He entered the year as a raw 3rd-round rookie, but HC Bruce Arians has praised his progress and work ethic.
Willliams’ high snap total in the game (80) helped build up his 11-tackle, 1-breakup line against Seattle. But starting opposite CB Patrick Peterson next season would carry weekly upside, as opponents prefer to throw away from Peterson.
Miles Killebrew, S, Lions
Jumping on safeties early in fantasy is about as important as jumping on corners—which means it isn’t really. But if you’re in a deep league …
Killebrew has barely played as a rookie, averaging fewer than 10 snaps per game through the 1st 14 contests. But he has supplied tackles at an exciting rate. His 23 total stops over just 131 snaps played projects to 157 over Detroit’s 895 snaps so far. (S Glover Quin has played 100%.)
We’ll see what Detroit’s safety situation looks like heading into next year. But if Killebrew’s in line to start, he’d be well worth a season-opening roster spot in any tackle-friendly IDP leagues that require DBs.