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Reading the Defense: Week 7

A weekly look at IDP trends with a mix of metrics, film study, and matchup strategy

NEWS AND NOTES

***Injuries continue to mount on the defensive side of the ball. Joining Ryan Shazier (knee), C.J. Mosley (knee), DeAndre Levy (knee/quad), James Laurinatis (quad), and Robert Quinn (shoulder) as headline starters battling injury this week are Jamie Collins (hip), Reshad Jones (shoulder), and Terrell Suggs (biceps). Sam Shields (concussion), Derrick Shelby (Achilles), Kevin Johnson (foot), and Justin March-Lillard were all moved to injured reserve this week. The extent of Collins' hip injury is not known. Jones and Suggs are trying to avoid surgery for conditions that often require surgery -- a decision could be made on both soon

***Jatavis Brown and Melvin Ingram are by far the best players in the San Diego back seven. Brown should continue to put up huge numbers. They're the numbers we should be seeing from Denzel Perryman. His season has been derailed by inconsistent play, multiple nagging injuries, and an obvious lack of trust from the coaching staff. Keep Perryman on your watch list but 2016 is a major disappointment.

***The Panthers defense was an interesting watch this week. All three linebackers -- including Shaq Thompson -- played every down despite facing a spread New Orleans offense. Though they showed a different variation on most snaps, the Panthers ran a ton of two deep, five under coverages. Drew Brees made them look confused and silly, but it's a development worth watching for Thompson if it continues.

***Elandon Roberts had a solid week in relief of Collins. But it was Dont'a Hightower back in an every-down role and healthy enough to contribute to double-digit tackles. Rob Ninkovich is seeing playing time but isn't likely to put up the numbers we saw from him prior to last season.

***Don't overreact to the 6-2 line from Tyler Matakevich. If Vince Williams did leave with only cramps last week, Matakevich won't be on the field much this week. Dynasty leaguers should see categorize him as they did Audie Cole. While valuable if he plays (those eight tackles came in just 18 snaps) due to surrounding cast, he's not likely to ever move up on the depth chart when everyone is healthy. 

***Watch for the Niners to start a four man rotation at inside linebacker. The team hasn't been happy with Gerald Hodges, but Michael Wilhoite continues to struggle and Chip Kelly told the media that he believes Nick Bellore has been playing too much. Shayne Skov may get a look here, too.

Make sure you're reading Aaron Rudnicki's upgrades and downgrades and John Norton's Eyes of the Guru for more details on last week's play. And we'll have more in our Thursday podcast, including lots of matchup and injury discussion after Wednesday's first practice participation report.

POSITIONAL TIERS

The tier section got some good feedback over the past three weeks, so I'm going to keep the rotation going.

These tiers will not be as extensive as my offseason tiers. During the season, I put players into three categories: Matchup Independent Starters, Matchup Dependent Plays, and Priority Watch List. Dynasty league owners should have an additional category: Stashes you must keep on your roster. In deeper leagues, the matchup dependent list will obviously need to be longer.

This week: Defensive Line

DEFENSIVE LINE TIERS

Matchup Independent Every-Week Starters
Khalil Mack, Carlos Dunlap, Everson Griffen, Jabaal Sheard, Leonard Williams, Danielle Hunter, Jason Pierre-Paul, Calais Campbell, Brandon Graham, Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson, Olivier Vernon, Derek Wolfe, Ezekiel Ansah (inj)

Rosterable Matchup Dependent Plays
Demarcus Lawrence (inj), Sheldon Richardson, Devin Taylor, Kyle Williams, Cameron Heyward, Jurrell Casey, Timmy Jernigan, Dante Fowler, DeForest Buckner

Big Play Matchup Plays
Robert Quinn (inj), Cliff Avril, Yannick Ngakoue, Joey Bosa, Brian Robison, Frank Clark

Dynasty Must Roster Stashes
J.J. Watt (IR), Joey Bosa, Dante Fowler, Jadeveon Clowney (still listed LB), Vinny Curry, DeForest Buckner, Henry Anderson, Noah Spence

Dynasty Watch List
Carl Nassib (inj), Trey Flowers, Mario Edwards, Robert Nkemdiche, Owa Odighizuwa, Lorenzo Mauldin, Randy Gregory (susp)

Defensive Tackles to Roster
Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, Geno Atkins, Damon Harrison, Linval Joseph, Clinton McDonald, Nick Fairley, Kerry Hyder, Ndamukong Suh, Danny Shelton


EVERY-DOWN LINEBACKER PROJECTIONS

 

Additions to the every-down column in BOLD. Injury situations to monitor this week in italics.

TEAM
EVERY-DOWN LB
75-100% SNAPS
INJ | SUSP
NOTES
ARIZONA
Deone Bucannon : Chandler Jones
Markus Golden : Kevin Minter    
ATLANTA
Deion Jones : DeVondre Campbell
 
Paul Worrilow, Sean Weatherspoon (IR) Jones/Campbell not yet healthy enough 
BALTIMORE
C.J. Mosley : Zachary Orr
Terrell Suggs
 
McClellan 80% w/ Mosley out
BUFFALO
Preston Brown : Jerry Hughes : Zach Brown
 
   
CAROLINA
Luke Kuechly : Thomas Davis
     
CHICAGO
Jerrell Freeman
Danny Trevathan : Sam Acho
Michael Floyd  
CINCINNATI
Vontaze Burfict
 
 
 
CLEVELAND
Demario Davis : Chris Kirksey
 
   
DALLAS
Sean Lee
   
 
DENVER
Brandon Marshall
Von Miller : Todd Davis
   
DETROIT
Tahir Whitehead
Kyle Van Noy DeAndre Levy  
GREEN BAY
none
 
 
 
HOUSTON
Benardrick McKinney : Whitney Mercilus
Brian Cushing
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS
D'Qwell Jackson
 
Trent Cole (IR)  
JACKSONVILLE
Paul Posluszny : Telvin Smith
     
KANSAS CITY
Derrick Johnson
Dee Ford
Justin Houston (PUP)
 
LOS ANGELES
Alec Ogletree : Mark Barron
     
MIAMI
Kiko Alonso
 
Koa Misi (IR)
Jenkins rotating w/ Butler
MINNESOTA
Eric Kendricks : Anthony Barr
     
NEW ENGLAND
Dont'a Hightower
  Jamie Collins  
NEW ORLEANS
Craig Robertson
Nate Stupar
James Laurinaitis, Dannell Ellerbe
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
none
 
   
NEW YORK JETS
David Harris
  Darron Lee 
 
OAKLAND
Cory James
Bruce Irvin
Ben Heeney (IR) Riley taking some snaps from James
PHILADELPHIA
Jordan Hicks : Nigel Bradham
   
 
PITTSBURGH
Lawrence Timmons, Vince Williams
  Ryan Shazier  Watch Williams and Shazier status 
SAN DIEGO
Jatavis Brown : Melvin Ingram
 
Manti Te'o (IR)  
SAN FRANCISCO
Nick Bellore
Michael Wilhoite  NaVorro Bowman (IR)   
SEATTLE
Bobby Wagner : K.J. Wright
     
TAMPA BAY
Lavonte David : Kwon Alexander
     
TENNESSEE
Avery Williamson 
Brian Orakpo
   
WASHINGTON
Will Compton
Mason Foster : Ryan Kerrigan
   

Subscribe to The Audible on iTunes or download our weekly IDP podcast here every Thursday for injury updates, player analysis, and matchup discussion. Follow and ask questions on Twitter @JeneBramel.