Big Play Payday: Week 15

Helping IDP fantasy general managers prepare for the upcoming week in big play formats.

Years ago, when Deone Bucannon introduced himself as a “money linebacker” on Sunday Night Football, the audience had a good laugh. The term was a reference to his defensive responsibilities but conjured images in the minds of viewers of the huge game checks that Bucannon was earning at that time. Memes popped up in the following days of Bucannon on top of piles of money and gold coins. Hopefully, following the guidance given in this column will have your rosters overflowing with a wealth of IDP riches. We will primarily focus on edge rushers but will also hit on some of the other players and situations that are likely to impact teams in big play leagues. We will cover risers and fallers in the format, injury situations about which fantasy general managers need to know, and upcoming matchups to target.

Note: The defensive player injuries covered in this column are not an exhaustive list, but an attempt to cover the situations most likely to impact big play IDP squads. For more extensive coverage of injury situations, see Jene Bramel’s latest Injury Rounds column.

$ STOCK UP AND BANKRUPT $

There are very few news items this week that have not been touched on in previous weeks of this column...

Chargers’ linebacker Kenneth Murray’s playing time continues to trend toward full-time. In the past three games, he has logged 95%, 100%, and 98% playing time. The Chargers’ coaching staff have fooled us in the past with their usage of linebackers, but perhaps Murray’s full-time status will remain fixed going forward.

Fantasy general managers who have started a Jaguars safety the past few contests are pulling their hair out because they always seem to leave the game early due to injury. This time, it was Josh Jones leaving with a shoulder injury. It once again opens the door for Andrew Wingard to be productive for general managers, assuming he can stay in the lineup.

Texans’ safety Justin Reid’s injury is season-ending, meaning more playing time for Eric Murray. Murray is worth a pick-up if one needs help at the position.

$ INJURY SETTLEMENTS $

  • Texans interior lineman Brandon Dunn exited the game with a hip injury.
  • Cardinals pass-rusher Jordan Philips left Sunday's contest with a hamstring injury.
  • Raiders pass rusher Clelin Ferrell hurt his shoulder.
  • 49ers linebacker Fred Warner suffered a stinger and did not return.
  • Eagles safety Rodney McLeod hurt his knee.
  • Jaguars safety Josh Jones injured his shoulder.
  • Raiders safety Jonathan Abram suffered a concussion and is questionable for the upcoming week.
  • Texans safety Justin Reid hurt his hand.
  • Bills defensive back Taron Johnson left Sunday night's game early with a concussion.
  • Eagles cornerbacks Avonte Maddox (head) and Darius Slay (knee) both did not finish their contest.

$ MONEY IN THE BANK $

Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line

This matchup was productive for the Colts two weeks ago and the Texans have only continued to worsen as a team. DeForest Buckner, Denico Autry, and Justin Houston represent the best plays in terms of expectation of a big play.

Washington Football Team Pass Rushers versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line

Washington may have problems on offense and in pass coverage, but their pass rush has been stellar this season. The matchup is also fantastic this week. They face a Seahawks team hemorrhaging over three sacks a game. Play Jonathan Allen, Chase Young, and Montez Sweat this week without hesitation.

Miami Dolphins Pass Rushers versus New England Patriots Offensive Line

Miami took Kansas City to the brink last week and forced Pat Mahomes into some turnovers and other negative plays. We should see them flourish in a much easier matchup against a team giving up over three sacks a game. Christian Wilkins, Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy are the best choices at their respective positions.

Baltimore Ravens Pass Rushers versus Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line

Brandon Linder could be out again which may make this juicy matchup even better. Of the options in this contest, general managers can feel safe playing Yannick Ngakou, Matt Judon (if he is able to play), and Tyus Bowser.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line

The red-hot Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Shaquil Barrett will be matched up against one of the worst protection units in the league currently. General managers would be crazy not to play these options if they have them on their teams.

Arizona Cardinals Pass Rushers versus Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line

New quarterback, same protection problems. Even though Jalen Hurts is now the starter, it has not improved the ability of the Eagles’ line to provide protection. Hassan Reddick is coming off a great game against the Giants and should be played here. Markus Golden and Budda Baker are also quality options for those hoping for a sack or two.

Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line

This is a matchup that fantasy general managers aiming for the playoffs have been anticipating. If you have Aaron Donald or Leonard Floyd, make sure they are in. Micheal Brockers may even be worthy of a start if you need to shoot for big upside.

Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line

Like the Rams matchup listed above, this is another one fantasy general managers have been awaiting. Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and Myles Garrett should all be played with confidence against a Giants team giving up a rancid 2.8 sacks per game.

Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line

The best pass rush unit in the NFL against the second-worst protection unit should have fantasy general managers salivating to play Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and T.J. Watt this week.

$ INSUFFICIENT FUNDS $

Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line

Though Green Bay’s pass rush has been a hot unit lately, do not expect that to carry over against a Panthers offensive line allowing just 1.8 sacks a game, tied for tenth-best in the NFL. Play your Packers pass rushers only if you do not have better options.

Tennessee Titans Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
Detroit Lions Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line

Do not think about playing either of these teams’ pass rushers in this one. The Titans have been an ineffective pass rush unit all year and the Lions are also among the league’s worst. Additionally, the Titans have the added bonus of protecting their quarterback well this year, despite the patchwork nature of their offensive line currently.

New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers versus Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line
Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers versus New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers

Both teams rank among the top units in the league in terms of protection, so do not expect much big-play production in this contest. Look at other options on your fantasy team.

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