In my column on fantasy football IDP dark horse sleeper Vincent Rey, I noted that sometimes all it takes for a player to get his chance is an injury to the guy ahead of him. Players like Jarrett Boykin, Nick Foles and Rey all got their chance on the big stage due to the players ahead of them suffering from some sort of injury, and they were the next man up. The Atlanta Falcons have been decimated by injuries this season (Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steven Jackson to name a few) but while the majority of the attention was on the loss of offensive weapons, they also suffered through some on the defensive side of the ball.
Recent injuries to Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas have opened the door for undrafted rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow, and Worrilow has shown some very solid flashes of late. Over the last four games, he is eighth in linebacker fantasy points per game average with 11.6 fantasy points per game, while notching 69 total tackles (43 solo, 26 assists). During that four week span he has outpaced big named linebackers like NaVorro Bowman, Luke Kuechly and Kiko Alonso. Despite playing limited snaps to start the season, he is now second on the Falcons in solo tackles, first in assists and leads the team in combined tackles.
Last night against the New Orleans Saints, Worrilow did not look like a 23 year old rookie; he looked like a seasoned veteran. He was in the Saints’ backfield, and if not for some brilliant running by Pierre Thomas, Worrilow would have had multiple tackles for losses. He is the type of linebacker who has good instincts and can make the tackle in open spaces, as he proved by making a few on Marshawn Lynch in week 10, opposed to the linebackers who just jump on the pile to record their tackles.
Worrilow is owned in 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and based on his play of late that number is sure to increase. Next week Atlanta travels to take on the Buffalo Bills (who are allowing the sixth most fantasy points per game to linebackers) and Worrilow should continue to put up the points. Probably one of the most encouraging things is that when Weatherspoon did return from injury, Worrilow stayed on the field, avoiding the dreaded split of snaps. In dynasty/keeper leagues, Worrilow could be a sneaky pickup. For non keeper standardized IDP leagues, if your linebackers are underperforming or been bit by the injury bug, Worrilow has some appeal going forward. If you don’t act on him, the next man up will.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.
Read more from Dustin here.