The Cardinals pulled off a classic win in week 11 but they came out of the game with some potentially troublesome injuries on defense. Nose tackle Corey Peters walked off the field gingerly with a non-contact knee injury. There has not yet been an update on his status but Peters was not able to practice early in the week. If he is unable to play in week 11, look for Trevor Coley and Angelo Blackson to see snaps at the position.
Haason Reddick hurt his neck in a friendly fire incident. He was also not on the practice field early in the week. While there has not been an update on him either, the feeling is that there is no serious damage. If Reddick is not able to play, look for Devon Kennard to see a lot of action opposite Markus Golden at outside linebacker. Golden collected 78% of the snaps in week 10 but the Bills kept him from having much of an impact.
The biggest fantasy impact among Arizona’s wounded is De’Vondre Campbell who left the game with a calf injury. All we know of the severity at this point is that Campbell was not able to return. This would seem to be an opportunity for rookie Isaiah Simmons, but he did not see significant additional playing time after Campbell left. Instead, the Cardinals played more nickel the rest of the way. With a week to prepare their approach could be different. Keep an eye on this story as the week progresses.
Last week I mention that Jalen Thompson replaced Deionte Thompson at safety versus Miami. Coming out of the bye gave this the illusion of a coaching decision but later in the week, it came out that Deionte is dealing with a knee issue. Jalen got the start against Buffalo and put up a solid 6-1-0 while playing every snap. played every snap. He stands to make another start this week against a Seattle offense that has been a strong matchup for safeties. Opposing safeties have totaled 14 or more solo tackles against the Seahawks in three of their last four games.
Malik Harrison was a near goose egg in week 10, with just a pair of assists to show for his efforts, but it is worth mention that he was on the field for 84% of the snaps. Game flow and the monsoon-like weather conditions had an effect here, as did the fact that L.J. Fort was inactive, but Harrison shared time with Chris Board in week nine. There may be nothing to see here but it is worth keeping Harrison on the radar.
The Bills are off this week but we still need to take a look at A.J. Klein. This is a player that has been good enough to land starting jobs in the NFL, but not good enough to keep them for long. He can be a liability in coverage but is a strong run defender. Most of Klein’s on-field success has come as a two-down strong side linebacker. As an IDP contributor, he has been largely inconsistent throughout his career. All that considered, since taking over for an injured Matt Milano in week six, Klein has averaged six tackles and an assist, with three and a half sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, and a recovery. Not to mention he is coming off a career-best 10-1-1 in week 10, where he played over 90% of the snaps for the second consecutive game. These numbers are reminiscent of what Lorenzo Alexander provided in the past. Indeed, the situation is rather similar in that the coaching staff is hiding Klein’s weakness versus the pass by having him blitz in those situations. It is working well thus far and with no timetable for Milano’s return, it looks like Klein might make a solid addition for us down the stretch.
Donte Jackson continues to battle through a toe injury that has severely limited both his effectiveness and ability to finish games. He left Sunday’s contest early after aggravating the injury, and this time it might be bad enough to shut him down for a while. That means more playing time and probably a starting job for rookie Tony Pride Jr. Pride had a solid outing in relief, going 5-2-0 on 72% of the snaps.
Akiem Hicks left Monday’s game with a hamstring injury and was not able to return. He walked off without much of a hitch in his stride, so hopefully, Hicks will be ready when the team returns from the bye in week 12.
Cincinnati entered week 10 with a secondary decimated by injuries on the outside. As a result, undrafted rookie Tony Brown started opposite William Jackson III. It got even worse early in the contest when slot corner Mackenzie Alexander left with a concussion and was replaced by another undrafted rookie, Jalen Davis. Brown played fairly well under the circumstances, finishing 6-3-0 with a pass breakup. The Bengals hope to have Alexander and/or LeShaun Sims (concussion), back this week against Washington. If one or both of those guys remain out, Brown could have another productive day.
The front four got some reinforcements in week 10 with the return of Sam Hubbard from his elbow injury. Hubbard saw close to his normal workload of playing time with 62% of the snaps but was rather quiet on the stats sheet at 1-2-0 and a batted pass. With Washington this week and the Giants, Cowboys, and Texans all on the schedule over the next six games, Hubbard could be a solid addition for our playoff run. As for this week, the Washington Football Team has allowed almost 3.5 sacks per game since week five, and Hubbard is well-rested. There is something to be said for fresh legs in November and December
Many of us had our fingers crossed that the Bengals would make changes at linebacker during their bye week. Unfortunately, it was the same sad story and the same crappy result in week 10 with no linebacker seeing more than 51 of the 75 defensive snaps versus Pittsburgh.
Olivier Vernon followed a strong week nine with a dismal statistical performance against the Texans on Sunday, but keep in mind that the game was played under terrible weather conditions so there was not much passing outside of short/quick throws. Vernon should fare much better this week against a struggling Philadelphia squad that has allowed almost four sacks per game since week five, including two and a half per game to edge defenders.
In recent years, and even early this season, the Dolphins were a juicy matchup for pass rushers. There is a new Sherrif in town now. Tua Tagovailoa has done a good job avoiding the rush and taking care of the ball. As a result, he has been sacked four times in three games and the Chargers did not get to him at all last week.
After missing week nine with a foot injury, Tracy Walker returned to action on Sunday but in a limited fashion. He played just 41% of the snaps against Washington, leaving us uncertain that he will return to his previous role this week against Carolina. Uncertainty surrounding the availability of Teddy Bridgewater for this game adds to the intrigue and the risk of starting Walker this week. Considering the playing time risk and that Panthers are a hit or miss matchup for safeties even with Bridgewater, it might be a good idea to give Walker the week off.
I’m not sure we should get excited about it, but it is worth mention that Reggie Ragland logged 88% of the snaps at middle linebacker for the Lions in week 10.
One more note, in true Belichick-like fashion, the Lions had four defensive ends rotating virtually equally against Washington. All were on the field for between 44 and 56 plays.
Green Bay Packers
Christian Kirksey returned to action in week 10 stepping right back into his every-down role. The numbers were not great at a modest 4-3-0, but now that he has knocked the rust off, that should change with a solid matchup against the Colts.
The ripple of Kirksey’s return is that all other Packers’ inside linebackers combined for 18 snaps, and safety Adrian Amos returned to the centerfield role that made him an IDP non-factor over the first several games. back to centerfield 2-0.
Khari Willis has quietly become a rock-solid option for IDP managers. In his last four games, Willis is a combined 28-6 in the tackle columns. It would be nice to see more big plays like the sack and interception he had over the first two games, but it is hard to argue with consistent tackle production. in the first two games. The 5-3-0 turned in by Willis in week 10 is not particularly impressive at a glance, but it was enough to lead the team in solo tackles and finish second behind Darius Leonard in total stops. These are all good reasons to have Willis on our rosters, but it might be a good idea to look elsewhere for a starter this week. No safety has reached double-digit fantasy points against the Packers since week two.
There was a shakeup at the safety position in Jacksonville last week and it may not be over yet. In a move that most of us did not see coming, Jacksonville put starter Josh Jones on IR ahead of the week 10 game with a chest injury. He was replaced by Daniel Thomas who went on to play every snap and record a respectable 5-3-0. Thomas gave us seven solo stops on just 28 snaps in week five, so the numbers are not a mirage. If he continues to start, Thomas will be a solid pickup until/unless Jones returns. The reason for the if, is the return of Andrew Wingard who was activated from IR recently. Wingard stepped in for Jarrod Wilson at the other safety spot earlier in the season and played fairly well. He has the versatility to play either safety spot. Chances are it will be Thomas and Wilson as the starters against Pittsburgh, but there is some risk.
Las Vegas Raiders
Nick Kwiatkoski continued to show up in week 10, reaching double-digit points for the third consecutive game and breaking 20 for the first time as a Raider. His six tackles and two assists were well complimented by an impressive one-handed interception. Kwiatkoski was not 100% the last time his Raider faced the Chiefs, so looking at that game will not help us gauge what to expect, but Kansas City has been a plus matchup for linebackers in general.
With Cory Littleton on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week, Nick Morrow was back in a full-time role. As he had earlier when Kwiatkoski missed time, Morrow produced well, to the tune of 4-1-1 with a forced fumble and a pass breakup. If Littleton is not cleared, Morrow should have another productive outing.
David Irving made his Las Vegas debut in week 10, recording a tackle and an assist on 22 snaps. Now we watch to see if his playing time grows going forward.
Los Angeles Chargers
After being benched in week nine, Kenneth Murray returned to 90% participation against the Dolphins. We still have no details on why he was pulled from the game against Las Vegas, but whatever the reason, it did nothing to improve his lacking production. Murray has now recorded three or fewer solo stops in six of the last seven games and has not yet created a splash play this season. Managers in redraft leagues have probably given up on him long ago. Murray has been mediocre at best on the field so those in dynasty leagues may want to consider doing so as well, or at least relegate him to the taxi squad and hope something (like the coaching staff maybe) is different by next season.
Los Angeles Rams
There are several interesting notes from the Rams week 10 game. The first being that they opened in what was essentially a 5-1-5. They had four defensive linemen and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd up on the line of scrimmage. Micah Kiser was at middle linebacker, flanked by safety Taylor Rapp at linebacker depth. John Johnson III and Jordan Fuller lined up at the safety spots with Troy Hill and Jalen Ramsey on the corners. It was a very effective approach against the Seahawks but did not last long as Rapp lasted 12 before leaving with a knee injury that has already landed him on IR.
We saw enough before Rapp left to tell that Jordan Fuller was probably going to be the full-time strong safety when everyone is healthy. This tells us that Rapp’s value will be in question when/if he returns to action this season as expected. We also saw enough to say we could see a lot of big nickel base packages from this group at some point.
The stars aligned for Floyd in this game as he turned in the first three-sack game of his career, finishing at 5-0-3 with a fumble recovery. He was a near bust while with the Bears and is a poster boy for the difference a fresh start can provide. Floyd’s seven sacks this year already equals his previous career-best, set as a rookie in 2016.
The Rams also got a pair of sacks from rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, who saw his playing time nearly double coming out of the bye week. It has been a long time since the Rams had a pair of edge defenders who could get after the quarterback. The jury is still out but the early returns on their two offseason additions are looking good.
If you have a Miami defender on your roster not named Emmanuel Ogbah, keep him on your bench unless you are desperate. In week 10, no Dolphins player had more than four solo stops. No linebacker played more than 37 snaps. There were 19 defenders with stats and a total of 23 saw action on defense. There is simply not enough opportunity for anyone to flourish in the box scores.
Dynasty managers looking to the future may want to snap up D.J. Wonnum. Ifeadi Odenigbo has been seeing more time, but he has done nothing with it. Meanwhile, Wonnum has three sacks on the season and a pair in the last three games, along with several pressures. When Danielle Hunter returns next season, it seems much more likely that Wonnum will line up opposite him, though he will need to hit the weight room hard in the offseason to put on a few pounds of muscle if he is going to be a three-down player.
Eric Wilson continues to impress, adding another 5-2-1 and a pass breakup to his resume. After his performance and consistency, it will be difficult for the coaching staff to take him off the field when Anthony Barr returns next season.
New England Patriots
Rookie second-round safety Kyle Dugger saw his first significant role of the season against Baltimore, playing 85% of the snaps with a stat line of 7-5-0. He looked good on the field for the most part so the question now is, will he continue to see the playing time? That is a tough call when it comes to the Patriots who tend to change things up every week, but Dugger made his way onto the IDP radar with the productive outing.
Chase Winovich is the perfect example of the rollercoaster ride that comes with having a New England player on your roster. Over the first four games, he played about 65% of the snaps with at least half a sack in three of them. At that point, Winovich looked like a potential every week starter for us. Then came the team’s week five bye, after which Winovich was on the field for a combined 40 plays in three games. In week nine it was back to 67% playing time and against Baltimore on Sunday, he saw action on all but one snap, recording six tackles and an assist. The bottom line here is that Winovich is getting it done when they put him on the field, but it is hard to have confidence in his playing time.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints linebacker situation was high on our watch list heading into week 10. As expected, Kwon Alexander started, sending Alex Anzalone to the bench. Alexander played 61% of the snaps which is less than optimal, but not necessarily unexpected considering his short time with the team. He is a strong coverage linebacker so his playing time should grow quickly.
The other thing we wanted to see is how the linebackers lined up. Demario Davis not only shifted back inside, but he blew up for 8-4-1 and a pass breakup, which is his best production of the season by far. It was his first double-digit fantasy production since week three. Most managers with Davis on our rosters have been looking at him as a decent third starter for much of the season. We can now start thinking of him as an every-week must start.
New York Giants
Blake Martinez turned in his lowest numbers of the season in week 10 at 2-2-0. With the Giants on bye this week, that leaves IDP managers with a bad taste until week 12, but there is nothing to be concerned about here. Martinez is not injured and played every snap against Philadelphia. He will be fine going forward. The message his low output does send, however, is just how bad a matchup the Eagles are at this point.
New York Jets
When last we saw the Jets two weeks ago, Harvey Langi played 77 snaps at inside linebacker and went 9-1-0. That production and the trade of Avery Williamson had a lot of managers picking Langi up. If you are one of those managers, I would suggest thinking twice before plugging him into your lineup this week. I believe Langi got the call against New England only because Blake Cashman was still nursing a hamstring injury. If Cashman is still showing up on the injury report after the bye and does not play, Langi could be your Huckleberry, but if Cashman is healthy I think he gets the start. The Jets like him and see him as a long term option next to C.J. Mosley.
Many are expecting T.J. Edwards to eventually become the centerpiece of the Eagles defense. He had a solid outing against the Giants, going 4-8-0 on 75% of the snaps, but it was Alex Singleton with the big day. Singleton played every snap for the first time this year, totaling 9-7-0. He has been a steady contributor both on the field and in the box scores since taking over as a starter in week six and is endearing himself to both IDP managers and the coaching staff. I still like Edwards a lot both for the rest of this season and beyond, and would not be surprised if he and Singleton emerge as long-term answers for the team. As for the immediate situation, both deserve strong consideration as starters for us this week against a Browns team that will run early and run often.
Heading into last week we wanted to see how the playing time broke down at the Steelers inside linebacker positions. The general expectation being that newcomer Avery Williamson would eventually push Robert Spillane out of the starting spot. It might still come to that but it was not the case against Cincinnati. Spillane had another solid outing on the field, with a stat line of 4-1-1 on 75% of the snaps. The numbers are not flashy, but considering how the Steelers defense dominated this game, they could have been much worse. Meanwhile, Avery Williamson was on the field for 11 plays. The proof will come in week 11 when we see if Williamson’s role expands.
Vince Williams saw a drop in playing time against Cincinnati. If you read last week’s column or listened to our IDP podcast (The Audible), this was not a surprise. The question now becomes, was it purely a matchup based situation or will we see lower snap counts for Williams going forward? With Spillane playing well, the coaching staff could elect to use him and Williamson together in some/many situations.
Rookie fifth-round pick D.J. Reed provides a perfect example of how offenses target inexperienced corners (AKA the rookie corner rule). Due to a rash of injuries at the position, Reed has seen action in three games. In those games he has 21 solo tackles, an interception, 2 passes defended, and a fumble recovery, with 10 of those tackles coming against the Rams in his first start as a pro in week 10. With Quinton Dunbar (knee) and Shaquille Griffin (concussion/hamstring) unlikely to play in this short week, Reed is in line to make at least one more start. It is a safe bet that Arizona will follow the leader and try to exploit the inexperience.
San Francisco 49ers
Fred Warner was a disappointing 0-5-0 against the Saints but IDP managers need not fear. This was a fluke that came about due to the offensive game plan and blocking scheme. Warner is not injured and played his normal every snap role against the Saints.
San Francisco used a first-round pick on Javon Kinlaw who was drafted to replace DeForest Buckner. Kinlaw has drawn a lot of comparisons to Buckner in terms of playing style and ability and has looked good on the field all season. His play, however, had not translated to the box scores until last week when Kinlaw landed his first sack as a pro and finished 1-2-1.5. It is somewhat ironic that his first sack would come against a Saints team that is traditionally among the best at protecting their quarterback. San Francisco has a bye this week, followed by a pair of so-so matchups with e Rams and Bills, but in weeks 14 and 15 they face Washington and Dallas. Both of those teams are struggling and giving up a lot of sacks.
Washington Football Team
Cole Holcomb has been on our watch list since he returned to action in week six. We know he is a player the Washington coaching staff is high on, and his playing time has increases each week. Both Holcomb and Jon Bostic were on the field for every defensive snap against the Lions. Their numbers were nothing to get excited about in that game, but the full-time role for Holcomb could be good things going forward. As for this week, if the Bengals get Joe Mixon back, Holcomb becomes an LB3 candidate with some upside. Cincinnati was a solid matchup for linebacker before Mixon’s injury but not so much over the last few games.
One Washington player we definitely want to have in our lineups is Kamren Curl. In his two starts since taking over at strong safety, Curl is 12-7-2 with at least 14 fantasy points in each game. Meanwhile, six safeties have recorded at least five solo stops against Cincinnati in their last five games, and the Bengals struggle to pick up the blitz.
That does it for week 11. I wanted to give a heads up that there will not be an EOTG column in week 13. Best of luck to everyone as we get down to the nitty-gritty in this strange season.
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