One thing we learned for the Bills in week five, they are not afraid to matchup rookie corner TreDavious White on opponent’s number one receivers. White spent most of his Sunday chasing A.J. Green, and he did a good job of it for a rookie. White was beaten a couple of time including Green's long score but he held his own for the most part even when left with no help.
Thomas Davis is still be dealing with sore ribs but the fact he had a reduced role two weeks in a row is fueling the speculation his days as a three-down player might be over. Davis has participated in about half the plays over the last two weeks while Shaq Thompson totaled 12-2-1 as an every-down player. I am not sold that Davis is done but that has not kept me from grabbing Thompson in a few leagues just in case. Dynasty owners, in particular, should look to add Thompson as we know it is a matter of time regardless how it plays out over the rest of this season.
To all of you who use my projections on a weekly basis I want to apologize for not deleting Danny Trevathan last week. I had already finished the initial numbers before word of his suspension was announced and simply missed it on the updates somehow. Trevathan will play this week and should be on the field for every snap. The Bears lost yet another linebacker in week five when John Timu went down with a high ankle sprain. That leaves Trevathan and Christian Jones as the starters going forward. Trevathan should give us strong numbers the rest of the way and is nearly an every week must play.
The other player getting a big boost in value from this situation is strong safety Adrian Amos who now has 15 solo stops in his two starts. The Ravens have been an inconsistent matchup for safeties in general but I think the situation at linebacker and the solid play of Amos supersede the matchup here. I plan to start him in a couple leagues.
Be careful not to let the poor production of Joe Schobert in week five sour you on his value. Instead, file this game under did not go as expected and move on. Over the first four weeks the Jets had been among the best matchups in the fantasy game for tackle producing linebackers. Who could have anticipated that against the Browns their running backs would account for 25 yards on 13 carries? Schobert will have a lot more opportunity in the coming weeks and remains a solid LB3 option with some upside going forward.
I was beginning to worry a little about Jamie Collins but he has finally been cleared from the concussion that cost him three games. He returned to practice early in the week and will play against Houston.
Myles Garrett made an immediate impact with a pair of sacks on only 19 snaps in the first game of his career. It is a safe bet his role will increase in week two as he plays into game condition. The Texans have allowed 20 sacks which is the most in the league so at a glance Garrett and Emanuel Ogbah would seem to be excellent starts. Keep in mind however, 10 of those sacks came in week one. The Texans have allowed 2.5 on average over the last four games. I am still starting Ogbah this week but may hold off on Garrett until he starts getting a full workload.
Quality in season additions are particularly rare at the defensive tackle position, so do not hesitate to jump on David Irving after his 3-2-2 against the Packers. Irving spent most of last season as a backup end before shifting inside down the stretch. Over the final four games he was 6-4-3 with a fumble recovery and a couple batted passes in a rotational role. After serving his suspension Irving stepped right into a starting job alongside Maliek Collins in week five. He is hungry to prove himself and has fresh legs which is a bigger deal than most realize at this point in the season.
Jarred Davis returned to every down action in week five after missing two games. What caught my interest here was the injury listing itself. We were originally told he had suffered a concussion but Davis was listed questionable with a neck problem leading up week five. Now that he is back it does not really matter other than the fact concussions become more common after there has been one. If he was out with a sore neck that has healed we have nothing to be overly concerned about going forward. If Davis suffered a concussion there is a bigger chance it could become a major issue, especially since it took more than two weeks for him to recover.
It is hard to sit a star like Ezekiel Ansah, and Anthony Zettel has produced well for us. Think twice about starting either of them this week against the Saints though. New Orleans has given up just 4 sacks on the year. On the other hand, this is a plus matchup for safeties so Tavon Wilson is a good play coming off his 9-1-0 in week five.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers lost corner Kevin King to a concussion and safety Morgan Burnett to a hamstring injury in week five. If King does not clear protocol the Packers will go with Davon House (who returned from a quad injury last week), Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins as their top three corners. If Burnett is not able to go it should mean a full time role for Josh Jones at strong safety, likely including snaps at inside linebacker in sub packages.
With Joe Thomas sidelined by an ankle injury, Blake Martinez played 70 of 74 snaps in week five. Chances are Martinez will have the same role this week against the Vikings who have been a quality matchup for linebackers.
No defense was hit harder by injury in week five than the Texans who lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on the same drive. The team has been scrambling this week adding veterans Kendall Langford and Lamarr Houston to fill the void on the roster. There is no one that can fill the void on the field. Brennan Scarlett and Dylan Cole will have bigger roles outside linebacker with several players in the mix for time at defensive end. This weekend I will be particularly interested in seeing what they do with Jadeveon Clowney who was successful at Watt's position last season.
Word out of Indianapolis suggests Clayton Geathers may be a week or two away from returning to practice so the watch is on. Mathias Farley has been an up and down story line replacing Geathers at strong safety. In week five he once again split time with Darius Butler. Farley played 49 snaps while Butler got on the field for 30. If you are still rostering Farley it is probably time to find a better use for the spot.
Kansas City Chiefs
Daniel Sorenson did not have a big game against Houston but be careful giving up on him too soon. His 4-2-.5 was worth a respectable 9 fantasy points in week five and Sorenson was the team's second leading tackler. Looking at the rest of Kansas City's schedule we see a lot of strong matchups down the road including the Steelers this week, two matchups with Denver, two with Oakland who is looking to get Marshawn Lynch going, the Cowboys, Jets, Bills and another game against the Chargers.
Reggie Ragland has replaced Ramik Wilson (who was inactive for week five) but played only 10 snaps. The Chiefs were in their big nickel most of the game with Sorensen at linebacker and Eric Murray at safety. Derrick Johnson returned to his normal every down role but his production continues to be lacking.
Los Angeles Chargers
Jatavis Brown played on his sore foot in week five but was not his normal quick and explosive self. He managed 5 tackles on 35 of the team's 70 defensive snaps while giving way to safety Adrian Phillips in most sub package situations. The good news here being that Brown's presence on the field is a good indicator the foot injury is not serious. Even so I would probably look to sit him until he regains a full time role.
Los Angeles Rams
Mo Alexander played every down in weeks two and three, putting up solid numbers from the strong safety position. Surprisingly he was benched in the second half of week four. Often when a player is benched during a game it is a message sent by the coaching staff and they return to the lineup the following week (See Kenny Vaccaro earlier this year). This was not the case with Alexander who was a healthy scratch in week five and was waived on Monday. The Rams will start Cody Davis and John Johnson at safety until Lamarcus Joyner is able to return from his hamstring injury. At that point we will likely see Davis continue at strong safety.
With the Falcons high powered passing attack you might expect opposing corners to put up quality numbers against them. That has not been the case so much however. Only two corners have reached 5 solo tackles with this matchup with Darius Slay is the only one to reach double digit points. That said, Cordrea Tankersley might be worth a look going forward. With Byron Maxwell healthy inactive on Sunday the Dolphins seem to have made the decision to move forward with the rookie as their starter. As is always the case with rookie corners, opposing offenses will target him often.
Rey Maualuga was Miami's starting middle linebacker in week five but as expected he worked on early downs only.
New England Patriots
The Patriots defense rebounded with a strong showing against the Buccaneers on Thursday night but IDP owners are still left trying to figure out if there is any value to be found here beyond Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy. For a couple weeks it looked as if Elandon Roberts might be a dependable option but that rug was pulled from under our feet when he returned to a part time role in week four. His playing time was reduced even further in week five when Roberts was 3-0 on 23 snaps. One New England defender trending up sharply for us is safety Devin McCourty. He has given us spotty value in years past but has never been consistent enough to trust as more than a marginal DB3 or spot starter. With their struggles in the front seven this year McCourty has three games with 9 or more solo tackles and has fallen short of double digit points once. This is a trend we may see continue.
New Orleans Saints
Cameron Jordan is an every week start for most owners as he should be. This week I like Alex Okafor as a solid sleeper play as well. The Lions have given up 11 sacks in the past two weeks and 10 to outside rushers on the season. Okafor has been active against the run with at least 3 solo stops in every game and has been getting good pressure on quarterbacks. He was 3-2-1 with a forced fumble against the Panthers in week three and I think he adds to the sack total this week.
New York Giants
B.J. Goodson played every down and exploded for big numbers in week one. After missing two games with a shin injury Goodson has produced 5 solo stops in each of the last two games. Unfortunately this may be the norm for him going forward as the Giants seem to have returned to last year's approach of having no three down linebackers. When Goodson was on the field for 70% of the plays in week four many of us believed it was simply working his way back from the injury. With him logging 83% of the snaps in week five it is looking more like the same old Giants with the same old results. Even with the reduced role Goodson is going to have some value though it may be as more of a third starter rather than the LB1 we thought he may be after week one.
Most of the attention this week is on the Giants injuries at receiver but they have taken a beating on defense as well. Olivier Vernon missed week five with an ankle sprain and is questionable for week six. Jonathan Casillas left the week five game with a stinger that is not thought to be serious but could be an issue. He was replaced in the game by Keenan Robinson who seems to have settled in as the Giants utility man and top backup at all three positions. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left with a leg injury, tried to return then went to the locker room. As of early Wednesday I have seen no update on his condition. The biggest fantasy impact is the ankle injury suffered by Landon Collins. All we know about Collins early in the week is he's day-to-day. If Collins misses time look for Andrew Adams to start.
New York Jets
In week five, Jamal Adams finally started showing the numbers most of us expected from him. With 6 tackles and three assists against the Browns, he reached double digit fantasy points for the first time. For those who drafted him and still have Adams on their roster it was a welcome site. If you are one of those owners, put him in your lineup this week. Not so much because he finally showed a little production, but because the Patriots have been an excellent matchup for defensive backs in general and safeties in particular. This would be a good week to play Marcus Maye as well. In week one free safety Ron Parker was huge at 10-1 versus New England. New Orleans safeties combined for 12 solo and 4 assists in week two while corners P.J. Williams (8-2 and a PD) and Marshon Lattimore (6-1 with 2 PD) also had strong outings. Week four saw James Bradberry at 6-0 with a pass defended while strong safety Mike Adams was 7-0 with a pair of breakups. Last week it was Vernon Hargreaves with 6 tackles while free safety Justin Evans had the best production on the list at 8-1 with an interception and 2 passes defended.
Either buster Skrine or Morris Claiborne will probably have a good stat line as well. Neither of them garner much consideration on most weeks, so they are not going to be on many rosters. Even if they were, picking which one to play is a crap shoot as the production depends completely on who the Patriots decide to go after more.
After a great statistical game in week four, Cory James recorded 1 tackle and 1 assist in the first half against Baltimore and was apparently benched at halftime in favor of Tyrell Adams. Adams was the Raiders three-down linebacker for the rest of the game finishing at 2-4-0 on the day. When Marquel Lee went down with an ankle injury it was Nicholas Morrow coming off the bench to fill in. Morrow had been seeing some time as a nickel backer replacing Lee earlier in the game. I have seen nothing from the Raiders about the situation so it is anyone's guess if we will see Adams or James in the lineup this week. Keep an eye on the practice reports to see if there may be an injury at the bottom of this. James was not having a good game before being replaced so it may well have been a coaching decision. At the least James needs to be on our bench this week and it may not be a bad idea to pick up Adams just in case. He looked better on the field than the modest numbers would suggest.
UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon we learned that James did indeed suffer a knee injury. He had battled a sore knee earlier that caused him to miss time during the preseason. There has not yet been word on the severity of the injury or the potential for him to miss time. Keep an eye on the late week practice report and watch for updates but prepare as if we will be without him for at least this week.
Last week I suggested starting Brandon Graham despite his recent struggles. Against the Cardinals that was a good call as he totaled 4-0-1. A glance at the stats shows us the Panthers are allowing 3 sacks a game on average but I would advise against playing Graham this week. Carolina allowed 8 total sacks to Buffalo and New Orleans defensive ends in weeks two and three. Over the last two games, they were struggling early on they allowed just one to outside pass rushers. Graham could still end up with good tackle totals but I would not count on much in the big play columns.
Call it a gut feeling but I like Vince Williams this week against the Chiefs. He only played 61% of the snaps in week four but was on for 85% of the plays against Jacksonville, finishing at 6-2-1. Kansas City has been a feast or famine matchup for tackle producing linebackers but their 17 sacks allowed is third most in the league. I see the Steelers using a lot of base 3-4 in this matchup, which means plenty of opportunity for Williams. What I really like is his big-play potential. Williams is excellent on the blitz and has a pair of sacks in the last four games. I think he has a fairly high floor of 4-5 tackles and an assist or two, with upside in the area of the 6-2-1 from last week.
For owners in big play based leagues, T.J. Watt is an outstanding weekly must start. He is quickly becoming a dependable every week play in balanced scoring leagues as well. In all three of his games not affected by the week two injury, Watt has at least 4 tackles. He also has a batted pass in three of four games. He should be able to add to the sack total this week.
The Seahawks are off this week but I suggest you move now on Frank Clark if he is still available. He became a hot pickup last week when Cliff Avril was injured and with Michael Bennett suffering a plantar fascia injury, Clark may play nearly every down over the next few games. He was a solid 3-0-1 against the Rams in his first start of the season after finishing last year with 10 sacks. Branden Jackson served as the third end in week five and would presumably take over as the starter if Bennett misses time. The severity of Bennett's injury has not yet been confirmed.
San Francisco 49ers
Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner are all players that will garner weekly starting consideration in most leagues. This is probably a good week to sit all of them if you have other quality options. The Redskins have allowed 7 sacks in four games but only 1 in each of the past three contests.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Noah Spence is a great matchup-based start this week. He was on the field for 81% of the defensive snaps in week five and faces an Arizona offense that has allowed an average of 4.5 sacks over the last four games. If healthy, Gerald McCoy is a must start as well in tackle required leagues. He is fighting a sore ankle and may have aggravated it late against the Patriots. Keep an eye on the late week practice reports just in case. If McCoy misses any time Clinton McDonald would slide into the starting 3-technique role where he has been rather productive in the past.
Injuries landed Justin Evans in the starting lineup against New England and his play may make it tough for the coaching staff to take him out of it. He made plays all over the field against New England finishing with 8 tackles, an assist, an interception and a couple of passes defended. His on-field impact was nearly as impressive as his box scores. Both T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy were inactive in week five and both are questionable for Sunday's game. Evans was a second-round pick this spring and is expected to eventually become a starter anyway. If he has another strong showing against Arizona it could lock him into the role.
Rookie Kendell Beckwith has been nothing short of impressive since stepping in for the injured Kwon Alexander in week two. Beckwith has 32 solo tackles in four games including 21 against the Giants and Patriots in the past two weeks. The Buccaneers will certainly not need to rush Alexander back from the hamstring injury.
Adarius Glanton played nearly every snap against New England and had a great game well, finishing 6-1-1 with a forced fumble while standing in for Lavonte David. David is probably a week or two away with an ankle injury.
Vernon Hargreaves is going to be a regular starter in most corner required leagues but if you have a decision to make, the Cardinals are an excellent matchup. Seven corners have put up 9 or more points against Arizona in their last four games.
Kevin Byard was 4-1-0 in week five which is nothing impressive, but it is important to note he was tied for the team lead in solo stops just in case you were considering letting him go.
Mason Foster managed 6 solo stops in week four on a mere 32 snaps. He has been dealing with a sore shoulder since dislocating it in week two. The bye week should go a long way toward his finally getting healthy. The 49ers are not a particularly strong matchup for inside linebackers but a healthy Foster is a solid LB3 or better with nearly any matchup.
That is all I have for week six. Best of luck as we quickly approach the midway point of the season and prepare for the stretch run.