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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Patriots Edge rusher Chase Winovich is just not getting enough snaps to matter for IDP right now. His 13 total snaps this week marks a season-low usage. He may be a player for the future, but for now, he needs to be let go in redraft big play leagues and benched in dynasty formats.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter is likely to have neck surgery to fix a herniated disc. Yannick Ngakoue was also traded last week to the Ravens for draft picks. That likely means more meaningful snaps for Ifeadi Odenigbo. In a part of the year when it is difficult to obtain productive defensive ends off the wire, you may need to make him a priority waiver pickup.
Buccaneers linebacker Devin White had a monster day in Week 7. Unleashed as a blitzer, he logged nine solo tackles, two assists, and three sacks. If Tampa Bay continues to deploy him this way, this will be excellent for his managers in big play leagues.
Eagles linebackers outside of Nate Gerry cannot be trusted currently. Gerry played 92% of the snaps, while Alex Singleton, the next closest in terms of playing time, logged only 67% of the snaps.
With Packers linebacker Krys Barnes playing 40% of the snaps and Ty Summers playing only 26% of them, it is safe to say at this point that we cannot trust any Packers linebacker until Christian Kirksey returns. It sounds like that could be several weeks away.
In addition to being banged up, Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane was an IDP disappointment in that he did not stay on the field every down as general managers thought he might. Ulysses Gilbert came in for Spillane in obvious passing situations. If you were counting on Spillane to take Bush’s every-down role, you will have to look elsewhere for linebacker help.
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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...
Tennessee pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney injured his knee, but he was able to finish the contest. It is unclear if he will be able to play against the Bengals.
Washington pass rusher Montez Sweat sustained a concussion.
Texans corner Bradley Roby exited his contest with a knee injury and did not return.
Washington safety Landon Collins tore his Achilles and is out for the year.
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Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers vs. New York Jets Offensive Line
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers vs. New York Giants Offensive Line
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Backs vs. Daniel Jones
The Buccaneers are lighting up the opposition and they will draw a really great matchup to continue their dominance both in terms of pass rush and interceptions. Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, and Devin White are all preferred startabe options at their respective positions. Antoine Winfield Jr, Jordan Whitehead, Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean are all advisable options this week.
Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers vs. Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
It will be interesting to see if the debut of Tua Tagovailoa and his increased mobility will make a material difference in how many sacks the Dolphins give up behind their offensive line. Still, the Rams have been on fire in that department lately and it is reasonable to assume they will add a few more to the totals here. Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Michael Brockers should be the best plays out of the bunch.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers vs. Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
Green Bay Packers Defensive Backs vs. Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is getting sacked on average over two times a game. Green Bay has cooled off considerably this year in terms of sacks generated, but they still have the capacity to get after the quarterback in a good matchup such as this one. Preston Smith and Zadarius Smith are good plays this week. Kenny Clark also is not a bad play on the interior line. The defensive backs are good plays as well this week against Kirk Cousins, who has once again turned into an interception machine. Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos, and Josh Jackson are the most likely to come up with one in this game.
Los Angeles Chargers Pass Rushers vs. Denver Broncos Offensive Line
The Broncos continue to get victimized by strong pass rush units and this one should be no different. Linval Joseph, Melvin Ingram III, and Joey Bosa are good starts at their respective positions this week.
Philadelphia Eagles Pass Rushers vs. Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers vs. Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line
Both offensive lines are decimated by injuries and should give up sacks to the opposing defenders this week. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Derrick Barnett are the best plays for Philadelphia. Dallas has a bit of a rotation going that makes it hard to guess which players will roll Yahtzee and which players will zonk, but Demarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith, and Everson Griffen are the best options of the group if you are needing to roll the dice this week.
Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers vs. Detroit Lions Offensive Line
The Lions’ front five have not been as bad as some offensive lines, but they are among the bottom third and facing a unit that has been averaging over two sacks a game. Expect one of Justin Houston, Deforest Buckner, or Denico Autry to come up with one or two sacks here.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers vs. Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Surprisingly, Lamar Jackson is taking more heat this season, probably on account of no longer having the services of Marshall Yanda. The Steelers remain the most prolific sack-producing units, averaging over four per game. Expect one of Cam Hayward, Stephon Tuitt, Bud Dupree, and TJ Watt to get a big play or two in this one.
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers vs. New England Patriots Offensive Line
The Patriots line has begun to struggle this year more than in previous years, and part of that may have to do with the lack of capable receivers for the Patriots and Cam Newton having to hold on to the ball longer as a result. Whatever the reason, Buffalo is starting to generate some sacks. Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are the best bets to get on the stat sheet in this contest.
Tennessee Titans Pass Rushers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
The Titans pass rush has been awful, but will have a chance to get off the list for a week because of injuries to Bengals tackles Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart, as well as to center Trey Hopkins. If any combination of the three cannot go, it will leave an already sack-beleaguered Joe Burrow vulnerable to the likes of Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry, and - if he is healthy enough to play - Jadaveon Clowney.
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Baltimore Ravens Pass Rushers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line
What happens when the second-best pass-rush unit in the NFL goes up against the eighth-ranked protection unit? We will find out for sure on Sunday, but the best guess is that any Baltimore pass rusher started by fantasy general managers is more likely to come up empty than not. Patrick Queen is the only option that general managers should consider starting this week and that decision will be more about getting consistent tackle opportunity than expecting a sack or other big play.
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Backs vs. Carson Wentz
This matchup would appear to be favorable with Wentz tossing so many interceptions, but Dallas does not seem to have defensive backs that are capable of catching them. Through seven games, they gave generated a measly one interception. Do not risk playing Xavier Woods, Trevon Diggs, or Anthony Brown fishing for one because you are likely to come up empty.