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.
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Bills interior lineman Harrison Phillips and edge defender Trent Murphy were surprise scratches for Monday night’s contest. Are the Bills sending a temporary message or is there some sort of changing of the guard? Fantasy general managers who are dependent on any of these two players need to bench them until further notice and see how it shakes out.
Colts edge defender Justin Houston’s 59% share of snaps was concerning, and Houston was not able to take advantage of one of the better sack matchups he has seen all year. This is something to monitor going forward.
Panthers edge defender Brian Burns is finally getting consistent usage. He had 80% playing time in the past three games, and while he has only one sack, he is getting plenty of pressure on the quarterback. His managers hope that sacks will eventually follow the pressure.
Vikings edge defender Ifeadi Odenigbo is heating up. He has had a multitude of pressures and 2.5 sacks over the last four games. It is not looking like Danielle Hunter will return this season, so Odenigbo is a decent pickup for those struggling at the position.
As long as 49ers’ linebacker Kwon Alexander remains sidelined with an ankle injury, Dre Greenlaw is a player to use. He recorded seven solo tackles against the Rams. The matchup with the Bears is not as good in Week 7, however.
Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson logged his highest playing time of the year at 52%. The usage has been too variable this year to trust any options there, but hopefully, the Bengals are figuring out who they want consistently on the field for next year and beyond.
Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton wore the dot and recorded four solo tackles and five assists. If Duke Riley continues to miss time, Singleton will be a nice fill-in for managers struggling to find help at the position.
Mr. Irrelevant in the 2020 NFL Draft, Giants linebacker Tae Crowder, has seen his snaps increase every week and is currently sitting at 85%. His six solos, four assists, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown all indicate it may be time to roster the young defender, especially if you need help at the position.
Rams linebacker Micah Kiser was back with a vengeance on Sunday, recording 13 total tackles in his return from injury. There is not another linebacker on the roster that will be useful as long as Kiser remains healthy.
Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane took Devin Bush’s place and wore the dot when Bush left with a knee injury. If you need help at the position, Spillane is a viable option. His matchup against Tennessee this week is about as good as you can ask.
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Thankfully, it was a lighter injury week for the defensive side of the ball, but there are still some injuries to consider...
- Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack re-injured his ankle against the Lions.
- Steelers linebacker Devin Bush tore his ACL and is out for the remainder of 2020.
- 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt reaggravated an existing groin strain.
- Packers safety Darnell Savage exited early with a quad injury.
- Panthers safety Juston Burris was ruled out against the Bears after suffering a rib injury.
- Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett sustained a shoulder injury.
- Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton left Sunday’s contest with a shoulder injury. His status going into the Titans game is uncertain.
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New York Giants Pass Rushers versus Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line
New York Giants Defensive Backs vs. Carson Wentz
Philadelphia Eagles Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Backs versus Daniel Jones
This one should be a feast for the defenders and sloppy on the offensive side of the ball for both sides. For Philadelphia, it is due to a lack of healthy offensive linemen. Wentz has played better in recent weeks, but behind a patchwork offensive line, he is still being pressured and hurried into bad throws occasionally. For New York, it relates to Daniel Jones’ continued struggles to process the field and throw accurate passes. Kyler Fackrell is worth playing if you need a high-risk, high-reward player at edge rusher this week. Marcus Golden is not getting enough playing time to expect much, but it is possible he also will put Wentz in the dirt this week. Jabrill Peppers, James Bradbury, and Logan Ryan have the best chance of picking off Wentz. On the other side, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are must-play at their respective positions. Josh Sweat, Dereck Barnett, and Vinny Curry are not getting the playing time to expect production, but are worth taking a flier on if you are in desperate straits. Avonte Maddox, Darius Slay, Rodney McCloud, and Jalen Mills all have an elevated chance of picking off Daniel Jones this week.
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
The Browns got thumped by the Steelers and will look to do the same thing to the Bengals in this divisional matchup. Expect Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, and Sheldon Richardson to have an elevated chance to log sacks against a team giving up an average of four per game.
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers versus Washington Football Team Offensive Line
Washington Football Team Pass Rushers versus Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
Dallas’ pass rush has not exactly been on fire, but they should have an easier time getting to the quarterback this week against an offensive line allowing four sacks per game. Aldon Smith, Demarcus Lawrence, and perhaps even Everson Griffen all have a better-than-normal chance to log a sack or fumble in this contest. It is also likely given the myriad of injuries that have left Dallas’ line depleted that Washington will be logging a few sacks this week as well. Chase Young is a must-start
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
The Texans are surrendering an average of 3.2 sacks per game and Green Bay, when firing on all cylinders defensively, can get after the quarterback. Kenny Clark, Zadarius Smith, and Preston Smith all are upgraded this week in terms of big-play opportunities.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
The loss of left tackle Taylor Lewan looms large for Tennessee. It was poor timing for the Titans, who will have to face the most prolific and aggressive pass rush in the NFL without him. Cameron Hayward, Stephon Tuitt, Bud Dupree, and TJ Watt all make excellent starts this week as the Titans struggle to adjust to life without arguably their best offensive lineman.
Arizona Cardinals Pass Rushers versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
As good as Russel Wilson has been this year, the age-old problem of giving up a lot of sacks is still present in Seattle. The Seahawks give up about three a game, and when facing a red hot Cardinals team, general managers are bound to see more this week. Devon Kennard, Hasson Reddick, and Corey Peters are worth consideration this week.
Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers versus Denver Broncos Offensive Line
Drew Lock is back, but that has not stopped the bleeding that is the offensive line giving up sacks. They will go against a Chiefs pass rush that can take advantage of inferior opponents. Frank Clark and Chris Jones are usually every-week starters for teams, but they especially should be deployed in light of this fantastic matchup.
Los Angeles Chargers Pass Rushers versus Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line
The rested Chargers will take on a deflated and floundering Jacksonville team that is giving up an average of three sacks per game. Expect Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, and Linval Joseph to be the beneficiaries of such a great opportunity.
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New York Jets Jets Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
We should not be looking to Jets players outside of Marcus Maye for pass-rush help anyway, but even he should have trouble taking down Josh Allen behind one of the most protective lines in football. Start Maye for tackle production, but do not expect anything in terms of big plays.
Detroit Lions Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Atlanta’s line has become leakier recently and is now allowing two sacks a game on average. However, the Lions are tied for dead last in sacks and are not generating pressures that make managers believe that trend could turn around. Also, with pass rushers playing variable roles from game to game, this is not a situation fantasy players should be looking to for pass-rush production.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers versus Los Vegas Raiders Offensive Line
Las Vegas Raiders Offensive Line versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
Both lines are great at protecting their quarterback, so do not expect sack or big-play production to flow freely in this contest.