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Reading the Defense: Week 9

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

NEWS AND NOTES

***There will be no Week 10 RTD. I'll be back with notes, defensive line tiers, and the every-down linebacker update in Week 11.

***If last week's trade of Kyle Van Noy was oddly surprising, this week's trade of Jamie Collins was frankly shocking. Since Bill Belichick moved Collins to New England, the spin has been that Collins wasn't trustworthy in run defense (somewhat true), would be difficult to re-sign (probably true), and already on his way to a reserve role anyway (likely true). 

Whatever the reasons behind the deal, there's lots of fallout to consider.

Patriots: Collins was indeed seeing fewer and fewer snaps in the base defense, with Elandon Roberts drawing more and more praise. And the team just added Van Noy, who's no Collins but the same type of hybrid inside linebacker fit. Belichick does nothing without a larger plan. I think you'll see Roberts play every down -- though there is a chance guys like Trey Flowers and Van Noy and Ninkovich get used in different ways. Dont'a Hightower gets an upgrade, as do safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty.

Browns: I'm not certain the Browns will have an every-down inside linebacker this week. I doubt Collins will be ready to assume a full-time role. Demario Davis has been slowly losing snaps as the Browns play more dime looks with three safeties. Chris Kirksey is the safety option for now, but there will be more competition for tackles in the back seven with Collins added and Ibraheim Campbell getting healthier.

***The safety depth charts around the league are getting decimated by injury. Already without Reshad Jones and Kam Chancellor, this week brings the loss of Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder subluxation, 3+ weeks), Barry Church (broken arm, 6+ weeks), Aaron Williams (neck injury, now to IR), and Mike Adams (groin, multiple weeks). The population has gotten stronger with the additions of Keanu Neal and Karl Joseph and Clayton Geathers and Morgan Burnett returning from injury.

Unlike the linebacker replacements, the safety reinforcements will have value. Robert Blanton looks like he'll play Corey Graham's productive former role. T.J. Green has been productive for Indianapolis. Tyvon Branch was very impressive earlier in the year and could come off injured reserve soon. And Daniel Sorenson has been an underrated part-time hybrid subpackage player in Kansas City. For now, I'd avoid J.J. Wilcox in Dallas, who's been too inconsistent in the past.

***The mess at linebacker in San Diego continues with Denzel Perryman likely to be out multiple weeks with a hamstring injury and Jatavis Brown likely to miss at least one week with a knee sprain. Korey Toomer and Josh Perry will play in the base defense, with Toomer seeing subpackage snaps last week after Brown left late in the fourth quarter. Perry has my interest, but Toomer is the better add. You can find the other linebacker depth chart movements in the every-down table below.

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

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. As the season progresses, the watch list shortens as we learn whether teams are willing to move off their early season starters for unproven talent or not. 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 Back

DEFENSIVE BACK TIERS

Matchup Independent Every-Week Safeties
Landon Collins, Keanu Neal, T.J. Ward, Morgan Burnett, Antoine Bethea, Barry Church (injured), Johnathan Cyprien, Tony Jefferson, Rodney McLeod, D.J. Swearinger, Harrison Smith, Clayton Geathers, Karl Joseph, Bradley McDougald, Shawn Williams, Daniel Sorenson, Mike Adams (injured), Kam Chancellor (injured), Robert Blanton, Adrian Amos

Primary Streaming Options / Watch List
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Eric Weddle, Kurt Coleman, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Devin McCourty, Earl Thomas, Reggie Nelson, Malcolm Jenkins, Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, Patrick Chung, Donte Whitner, Eric Berry, Corey Graham, T.J. Green, T.J. McDonald, Jahleel Addae (injured), Andrew Sendejo (injured)

Every-Week Cornerbacks
Casey Hayward, Robert Alford, Jason McCourty, Deshawn Shead, Leonard Johnson, Trumaine Johnson (injured), David Amerson, Xavier Rhodes, Lamarcus Joyner, Ronald Darby, Orlando Scandrick

Dynasty Hold
Reshad Jones (injured), Tyrann Mathieu (injured), Vonn Bell, Ibraheim Campbell, Jaquiski Tartt, Justin Simmons


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
Markus Golden : Kevin Minter    
ATLANTA
Deion Jones : DeVondre Campbell
 
Sean Weatherspoon (IR) Frequent dime last week w/ Campbell sitting
BALTIMORE
Zachary Orr : Za'Darius Smith
 
 
BUFFALO
   
CAROLINA
     
CHICAGO
 
   
CINCINNATI
 
 
 
CLEVELAND
none
  Tentatively expect 3-man rotation for now
DALLAS
   
 
DENVER
Corey Nelson
Brandon Marshall  
DETROIT
  DeAndre Levy  
GREEN BAY
none
 
 
 
HOUSTON
Brian Cushing : John Simon
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS
D'Qwell Jackson Trent Cole (IR)  
JACKSONVILLE
     
KANSAS CITY
 
LOS ANGELES
     
MIAMI
 
 
MINNESOTA
     
NEW ENGLAND
Dont'a Hightower
Elandon Roberts    Roberts could play every down
NEW ORLEANS
 
 
Ellerbe and Stupar sharing sub duties
NEW YORK GIANTS
none    
NEW YORK JETS
Julian Stanford Darron LeeErin Henderson (NFI)
Stanford playing every down in Lee's place
OAKLAND
Ben Heeney (IR)  
PHILADELPHIA
   
 
PITTSBURGH
     
SAN DIEGO
Korey Toomer : Melvin Ingram
 
Jatavis Brown, Denzel Perryman, Manti Te'o (IR) Toomer and Perry in base, Toomer in dime
SAN FRANCISCO
Ahmad Brooks : Gerald Hodges NaVorro Bowman (IR)   
SEATTLE
     
TAMPA BAY
     
TENNESSEE
none
  Williamson sitting in some subpackages
WASHINGTON
   

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.