When most fantasy football IDP owners think of defensive line options on the Miami Dolphins, the list usually starts and ends with Cameron Wake. Yet there is another IDP option that is available in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues that has been making some noise lately is defensive end Olivier Vernon. Vernon has played well over the last month or so and owners in deep, dynasty and keeper leagues need to be aware that a new star is emerging for the Dolphins, and could be an IDP sleeper this week.
Vernon has scored over 10 fantasy points in three consecutive games, including a 10 tackle game in week 13 that saw him also register two and a half sacks en route to over 20 fantasy points. He also has five and a half sacks in those three games. Over the last month, he is averaging 11.25 fantasy points per game. He now has 10 sacks on the season (good enough for sixth place) as well as factoring in on 46 total tackles.
Due to the way that Wake can get around the offensive line he often draws double teams. Vernon is likely to have one on one matchups and judging by his play of late, he is able to win some of those matchups. This week the Dolphins travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers and their very questionable offensive line. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 36 times (fourth most in the league) and that number would be much higher than it is if not for Roethlisberger’s strength and ability to shake the pressure. The Steelers offensive line is going to have their hands full, likely opting to give Wake the double team opposed to Vernon. Vernon could be in for a big day as he has the speed to get through the Steelers line and the strength to hang with Big Ben.
It is no secret that Pittsburgh still wants to be a run first team. Over the last four games, the Steelers have rushed about 64 percent of their rushes to the right side (Wake’s side), although I would guess that would have more to do with matchups against Chris Canty, Haloti Ngata, Phil Taylor and Ndamukong Suh than a flat out desire to run right. If I was Todd Haley, I would take my chances running at Vernon over Wake, regardless of Vernon’s recent success. While Antonio Brown has proven to be matchup proof, the Dolphins passing defense has been very good this season, holding multiple top receivers in check. I would suspect Haley’s game plan to dial up a run heavy approach with the passing game focusing on quick outs underneath, as the Dolphins have been beatable in the short range passes and especially vulnerable against the run. Currently, Miami is allowing the third most fantasy points per game to running backs.
Obviously there are other defensive linemen that owners must start ahead of Vernon, guys like Robert Quinn or DeMarcus Ware for example. However, if you are having troubles on your defensive line, or are in a deep/dynasty/keeper league, Vernon is certainly worth a roll of the dice this week, if not longer.
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.
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