The most highlight-grabbing IDP news heading into Week 15 is probably the one-game suspension Pittsburgh linebacker/terror James Harrison received after a high hit left Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy with a concussion, but the most substantive news for the IDP world is probably the expectation that Patrick Willis (hamstring) is expected to miss San Francisco’s game against Pittsburgh on Monday.
Willis wasn’t even running as of Thursday, let alone practicing, so it looks like Larry Grant is in line to start again this week. Grant made 11 tackles (10 solo) against Arizona last week and is a fine IDP option as long as Willis is out.
Meanwhile, safeties LaRon Landry (groin/Achilles) and Oshiomogho Atogwe seem to be down for the count in Washington. Landry is headed to IR, and Atogwe will play off the bench while he gets over his knee issues. The two guys replacing Landry and Atogwe – Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes – both landed on this week’s riser list.
Some good news on the injury front comes in the form of Ray Lewis’ expected return to the field against San Diego on Sunday. The future Hall of Famer had two days of limited practice heading into Friday and looks ready to get back to work after missing four games with his turf toe issue. It also appears that cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hamstring) and Chris Houston (knee) will make their returns from injury this week.
Reed Doughty, S, WAS
Doughty surpassed 90 tackles in each of his last two seasons despite missing a game in each, and he’s averaging 7.4 tackles per start in 2011. With LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe giving way to Doughty and DeJon Gomes, Doughty seems like a reliable bet to provide solid IDP production in most leagues the rest of the way. He lacks playmaking ability, but Doughty has an extensive history of giving his owners useful tackle numbers.
Colin McCarthy, LB, TEN
It probably seems like a bit of a copout to list McCarthy on the riser list yet again, but his value just keeps going up. The latest bit of good news for McCarthy’s IDP owners is that Barrett Ruud landed on injured reserve with his groin injury, which officially clears the path for McCarthy to start the rest of Tennessee’s games. McCarthy has 43 tackles (36 solo), an interception and two forced fumbles over the last five weeks. There really isn't much reason to expect him to slow down now that Ruud is out of the picture.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NYG
Pierre-Paul’s value was already sky-high before Sunday’s game against Dallas, but he managed to push it up a bit more. With an eight-tackle, two-sack showing against Dallas – one that also included a safety, a blocked field goal and a forced fumble – Pierre-Paul heads into Week 15 with 60 tackles (46 solo) and 12.5 sacks in 13 games. With Justin Tuck (toe) and Osi Umenyiora (ankle) hobbled, Pierre-Paul should continue to see a high snap count and remain hot as a result.
Jason Worilds, LB, PIT
Like most 3-4 outside linebackers, Worilds is only worth a look in leagues that reward disproportionately for sack production, but he’s looking like a good target in such scenarios at the moment. The explosive Virginia Tech product has 17 tackles (13 solo) and three sacks over the last three weeks, giving the Steelers some promising returns on their 2010 third-round pick. With LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) reduced to a part-time role, Worilds should remain active as a pass rusher.
DeJon Gomes, S, WAS
Gomes will replace LaRon Landry in the starting lineup and is worth a look if you need help in deeper leagues. The rookie fifth-round pick recorded 19 tackles (10 solo) in his two starts this year, though 15 of those came from one game. That stat fluctuation indicates that he’s a risk, but he was productive as a senior at Nebraska, totaling 99 tackles and three interceptions in 14 games.
Justin Tuck, DE, NYG
Just when it looked like Tuck might be over his neck and groin issues, he managed to pick up a toe injury against Dallas on Sunday, and now his chances of producing this year look very slim. He wasn’t practicing as of Thursday and is looking no better than a game-time decision for Sunday’s game against the Redskins. He and the Giants will do everything possible to get on the field, but it doesn’t look like Tuck will be healthy enough from here to build significantly on his weak totals of 24 tackles and three sacks.
Patrick Chung, S, NE
Chung continues to miss games on an indefinite timetable due to an unspecified foot issue, which makes it difficult to justify owning him in most redraft leagues at this point. He has seen limited practice participation at least once per week since initially suffering the injury sometime prior to New England's Nov. 13 game against the Jets, yet he doesn't seem especially close to returning. He was spotted in a boot as recently as Monday.
Justin Smith, DE, SF
Smith gets a fine grade for his performance on the playing field, but he has been a bit of a disappointment in IDP terms so far. He's a big part of a San Francisco defense that somehow has yet to allow a rushing touchdown through 13 games and remains the only team in the league that hasn't allowed 1,000 yards on the ground yet, but Smith is on pace for roughly 58 tackles after averaging 71.4 tackles per year over the last five seasons. He has been especially rough on his owners over the last four weeks, totaling 12 tackles (nine solo), one sack and one forced fumble over that span, including a blank box score against Arizona on Nov. 20.
DeMarcus Ware, LB, DAL
Ware isn’t expected to miss time with his neck stinger as of now, but it looks like he’s a risky IDP start as long as he’s playing through it. He didn’t look like himself against the Giants on Sunday. He didn’t show an aversion to contact, but he also didn’t show much ability to play effectively in the face of it. He was back in practice Thursday, but he practiced before the game against the Giants, too.
Mason Foster, LB, TB
Foster should still be a decent asset in dynasty leagues, but it would take an extremely deep format for him to be worth owning in redraft leagues at the moment. After a 22-tackle, two-sack showing in his first three games, Foster has just 41 (no sacks) in the nine full games he has played since. That sort of production obviously won’t cut it for IDP owners, so anyone who still has him in redraft scenarios has no reason not to move on.