Here we are at the mid-way point of the fantasy regular season already. Other than the normal attrition of an NFL season, things are beginning to slow down a little in terms of figuring out most personnel situations. Now we turn to micro-managing some week by week situations, injuries/COVID, and concentrating on the matchups.
Haason Reddick is not Chris Chandler but through one game, Reddick has done a great job of standing in for the team’s elite pass rusher. Reddick finished at 4-1-2 with a batted pass against Dallas. He could add to the sack total this week against a Seattle offense that has allowed at least two sacks in every game and is averaging three, including 2.1 per game to edge defenders.
When Deion Jones put up good numbers in Week 1, it looked like he might be back to his old ways. Since that time he has looked a lot more like the guy that was inconsistent at best all last season, and flat disappointing far too often. In 2019 Jones was outplayed and out produced by De’Vondre Campbell. This year is following the same script with FoyeOluokun in Campbell’s role. Oluokun has been on the field for all but two defensive plays over the last three games, which tells us the changes among the coaching staff are not going to have any impact on his IDP value.
A.J. Terrell missed a couple of games but picked up right where he left off, going 6-1-0 with an interception in Week 6. Terrell has the rookie corner rule on his side but the Lions have been a marginal matchup for corners in general.
The most interesting note concerning the Falcons corners is that Isaiah Oliver had a reduced role in Week 6, seeing 68% of the action. I have not seen anything about an injury to Oliver as of Wednesday morning, so if you have been starting him in those corner required leagues, this might be a good week to look at other options. Kendall Sheffield saw most of the action opposite Terrell, logging 91% of the snaps.
There is some good news for those sitting on Keanu Neal. The former fantasy stud turned DB3, was on the field for all but one play in Week 6. It was the first time he exceeded 90% of the snaps in a game since Week 2 of last season.
Looking at last week’s box scores would make one wonder if something had changed with the playing time at the Ravens inside linebacker positions. L.J. Fort managed another solid outing, going 6-1-0, while Patrick Queen had two tackles and a pass defended against the Eagles. In reality, both players had their normal workload with Fort logging 43% of the plays and Queen 88%.
Practice participation late last week pointed to Matt Milano getting back on the field but when the inactive list came out, he was on it. The Bills then lost backup Tyrel Dodson to a hamstring early in the game, That led to A.J. Klein stepping into a near every-down role to finish the game. Klein managed a nice stat line of 6-1-0 with a forced fumble. Milano practiced in full late last week before being a late scratch, so he should be available to face the Jets. New York has been a surprisingly solid matchup for linebackers.
The Panthers placed two defenders on the Reserverd/Injured list this week. Safety Justin Burris suffered a rib injury against the Bears and tackle Kwann Short was shut down due to a shoulder injury suffered the week before versus Atlanta. Zach Kerr and Bravvion Roy absorbed most of the snaps left behind by Short but neither is likely to have any IDP value. The injury to Burris came later in the game, so we did not get a good look at how the team will compensate for the loss. Burris was putting up decent numbers so this is a situation to watch.
Danny Trevathan has turned in solid outings in back to back games. Against the Panthers in Week 6, he logged more than 78% of the snaps for the first time since Week 1, going 6-4-0 on the day. Two solid games in a row is a trend, and he has a good matchup with the Rams. We could do a lot worse than Trevathan as our LB3 this week.
Things are starting to boil over in the Bengals locker room, particularly on the defensive side. This is a unit that has a lot better talent than the statistics and their record suggests. After playing less than half the snaps in consecutive games, Carlos Dunlap took to social media this week to complain about how, or how little, the coaching staff is using its best players. IDP managers have been complaining about this all season as we watch Logan Wilson’s playing time creep up slowly when he is clearly the team’s best linebacker. Who knows if the squeaky wheel will get the oil here, but for now we have to avoid anyone in the Bengals front seven.
Geno Atkins returned from a shoulder injury in Week 5. After being out for several weeks, it is easy to understand why his role was limited to 19 plays. It is not so easy to understand why he was limited to 18 in his second game back. If they don’t start putting their best defenders on the field more, Cincinnati could be looking for a new coach at the end of this season.
Xavier Williams took over for D.J. Reader and had a strong game against the Colts, going 3-1-1 with a forced fumble. It is only one week so we should not get too excited, but Williams stands to have a major role as the season continues.
Against the Colts, Logan Wilson cracked the 50% mark in playing time for the first time in his young career. He managed 52% of the snaps as his playing time has grown steadily since Week 2. Wilson’s snaps continue to come at the expense of Josh Bynes, who has seen his count go down at the same rate Wilson’s has grown. Now that they have their feet wet, hopefully, the coaching staff will jump in soon and make Wilson the full-time guy.
Vonn Bell is coming off his most productive game as a Bengal with nine solo tackles and a pass breakup against the Colts. He has a golden matchup this week. He and Jesse Bates combined for 18 tackles and assists when these teams met in Week 2.
Mack Wilson’s snap totals continue to increase slowly but he has not done much with the opportunity. He has been on the field for 83 plays thus far, with a total of four tackles and three assists to show for it. Mack played nearly half of the Week 6 game, going 2-2-0 on the day. He has a long way to go before becoming IDP relevant.
Reinforcements have arrived for the Dallas defense. Leighton Vander Esch returned from his broken collar bone on Monday night. He was on the field for just over half the defensive plays against Arizona, as the coaching staff eases him back into action. It was a quiet night for Vander Esch statistically, with the more important point being that he came through healthy. We can expect his role to increase this week versus Washington, with a good chance he will be back as an every-down middle linebacker.
The Cowboys also welcomed the return of Randy Gregory on Tuesday when he was activated from suspension. He has been suspended since before the 2019 season so it could take a few games to knock the rust off, and we have no idea where Gregory is in terms of conditioning. The organization hopes he will be another Aldon Smith, but that would be a stretch. What we do know is Gregory had six sacks on less than half the defensive snaps in 2018. If the physical skills are still good, he is in shaps, and he can stay out of the commissioner's dog house, Gregory could become a factor for both the Cowboys and IDP managers in a few weeks.
This would be a good week to consider sitting Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell. The Chiefs set a new record for rush attempts by an Andy Reid coached team on Monday night. That game was played in constant rain and way out of character. Before that game, no opposing linebacker had more than 4 solo tackles against the Chiefs since Kyzir White in Week 2.
Malik Reed had a good game in Week 6, going 3-2-2 as the outside linebacker opposite Bradley Chubb. Once Jeremiah Attaochu is healthy, Reed will go back to the third man role on the edge, and the Chiefs are giving up less than a sack and a half per game. There is no reason to think Reed will produce enough going forward to be a factor.
This might be a good week to play Trey Flowers. The Falcons are middle of the pack in sacks allowed at just over two per game, but defensive ends tend to make a lot of tackles against them. As a position, opposing DEs have averaged 10.3 combined tackles, and a sack when facing the Falcons. The strength of Flowers game is run defense.
Corners have also been solid with this matchup. Jeff Okudah has 16 tackles, three assists, and an interception over the past three games, so he too is a strong consideration to start.
Green Bay Packers
Week 6 confirmed that Krys Barnes is the lead man at inside linebacker. He was 7-3-0 on 88% of the snaps the Buccaneers. Ty Summers logged 34% of the playing time, going 3-2-0 on the day. The matchup with Houston is not particularly strong but Barnes has been highly productive when on the field. That should continue.
One other interesting note here, the Packers signed James Burgess Jr off Atlanta’s practice squad, which means he will be on Green Bay’s active roster. There are two interesting points to this move. First, it could be an indicator that Christian Kirksey is not coming back anytime soon. Second, Burgess was a top-15 linebacker after he took over the starting job in New York last year.
In two games as the starter, Tyrell Adams is 12-8-1 with a fumble recovery and two passes defended. He has out produced Zach Cunningham by almost 10 fantasy points, despite playing a little less than 85% of the total snaps in those games. This is no different than when Bernardrick McKinney was playing. Cunningham will be the better play most of the time but there will be games that go the other way. Both players are going to be quality starts in most weeks.
Here is a perfect example of how random the NFL can be, and why it is so frustrating to be a prognosticator. The Colts defense has been playing great, getting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and just generally making plays. So they go to Cincinnati where the quarterback has been under fire in every game and was sacked seven times the previous week, and the pass rush gets two total sacks, with zero production at all from either of the starting defensive ends. We’re on to Week 7…
The good news for Jacksonville is that Myles Jack was able to play after missing the Week 5 game with a sore ankle. The bad news is, he aggravated the injury against Detroit and was not practicing early in the week. Jack did not look completely healthy from the start against Detroit, lacking the quickness and explosion we had been seeing early on. Even if he is able to go against the Chargers, it might be a good idea to rest him until after the team’s Week 8 bye.
Dakota Allen stepped in when Jack missed Week 5 and did a respectable job, but we can’t count on Allen if Jack is out again this week. Against the Lions, Jack missed a total of 19 plays. Allen covered six of them with Quincy Williams getting the rest.
After missing two games with a sore knee, Josh Allen may be available to face the Chargers this week. The Jaguars desperately need someone to kick start their lethargic pass rush. It would be nice to have him as a starting option but between the sore knee that is not 100%, and a mediocre matchup with the Chargers, we might want to give Allen until after the bye week as well.
There is no need to sit Josh Jones who has been highly productive and is coming off a season-high of eight solo tackles. The Chargers are a middle of the road matchup for safeties but Jones is matchup proof at this point.
Kansas City Chiefs
Taco Charlton just missed getting another sack in Week 6, but he was able to get pressure on the quarterback and had an impact on the field despite seeing just 25% of the snaps. His play alone is worthy of more action, but it is the hamstring injury suffered by Alex Okafor that will force the coach’s hand. It may not be enough to make him an IDP factor, but the more Charlton plays, the better he looks. Sooner or later that is going to earn him a more significant role.
After seeing his snap percentage steadily increase in four consecutive games, and recording a 5-1-1 stat line in Week 5, Willie Gay Jr played two snaps in Week 6. This probably had more to do with the game script and weather than anything Gay did or didn’t do in Week 5.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders were on a bye last week but they still managed to make some noteworthy news with the signing of David Irving. The former Cowboy has not been able to stay on the field much over his six-year career, due mostly to off-field issues. When he is on the field and his head is right, however, this guy is special. Between 2016 and 2017 Irving played 789 snaps for the Cowboys, which amounts to about what would be 75-80% of the snaps in one season. In those games, he was 26-19-11.5 with five forced fumbles, a recovery, and 9 batted passes. Much like Randy Gregory, we have no idea where Irving is in terms of conditioning or mental approach, but the Raiders liked what they saw enough to give him a shot. One thing we know for sure, talent doesn’t go away and at age 27 the guy still has plenty of time left to resurrect his career.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were also on a bye in Week 6, which allowed them to get healthier. On the defensive side, they will have corner Casey Hayward back. They could get both Melvin Ingram III and Justin Jones back as well. Ingram and Jones were both designated to return from IR on Monday. If all goes well, they could be on the field in Week 7.
Los Angeles Rams
Troy Hill was a little gimpy in Week 5 but was back to his every-down role against San Francisco. The Bears are a much better matchup for corners with Nick Foles under center, so Hill should make a solid CB2 in this one
Now and then we see a journeyman type player fall into a situation that fits his skill set, and excel. Emmanuel Ogbah was a second-round pick by the Browns in 2016. He played in 40 games over three seasons there and was serviceable. He managed five and a half sacks with the Chiefs in 2019, but that was not enough to keep him with the team. The Dolphins picked him up for a song in free agency and after going 3-2-2 against the Jets, he has five sacks over the last five games, leaving him just half a sack short of his career-best of five and a half, with 10 games to go. Ogbah has been gobbled up in most leagues over the last two weeks. If he happens to be available, get him on your roster.
In Week 5 the Vikings decided to go with two rookies as their starting corners. They stayed with Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney again in Week 6 with those two going 9-2-0 and 7-1-0 with a forced fumble respectively. With Mike Hughes battling a neck injury, we are going to continue seeing the youngsters when Minnesota returns from their bye next week.
Ifeadi Odenigbo has been starting all season and getting plenty of snaps. Over the last two games, he has finally started showing up in the box scores, with a total of 3-5-2.5. There is now speculation that Danielle Hunter will miss the rest of the season, so Odenigbo could be a viable option the rest of the way.
New England Patriot
Ja'Whaun Bentley has been a three-down linebacker playing 80% or more of the snaps in every game this season. In Week 6, the production finally caught up to the playing time and he went 8-4-.5. This is the Patriots, so Bentley could play every snap in Week 7 and finish at 3-3-0, but at least we know there is hope if we are desperate. Who knows, the big game could be the start of a trend.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints activated Kiko Alonso from the PUP list early this week. They have given no insight into their plans, but he could get on the field as early as this Sunday. If he is close to full health, Alonso will probably replace Alex Anzalone at middle linebacker once he has knocked the rust off. If you need to beat the competition to the punch, pick up Alonso this week.
No one needs to be told to play Demario Davis every week, but if you somehow have a decision to make, he has a great matchup this week against the Panthers
New York Giants
Injuries to edge rushers put rookie seventh-round pick, Tae Crowder, into the lineup in Week 6. He seized the opportunity going 6-4-0 with a fumble recovery for a score. Unfortunately, Crowder will miss some time with a hamstring injury, prompting the team to sign Jabaal Shear off the Jaguars practice squad. This should finally leave the coaching staff with no option other than to start Marcus Golden.
You would not know it from the box scores, but Julian Love played 86% of the snaps in Week 6.
New York Jets
Last week we were left wondering if the coaching staff was planning to work rookie safety Ashtyn Davis into a role. That concern was erased when Bradley McDougald returned to every snap role against Miami. The concern with McDougald now shifts to his two-assist output versus the Dolphins. As bad as this team is, I have to believe this was a fluke.
The injury woes at linebacker continue for the Eagles who were without Duke Riley and T.J. Edwards in Week 6. The result was a near every-down role for both Nathan Gerry and Alex Singleton who both played at least 89% of the snaps. Gerry posted a season-best of 7-2-0 and a pass defended, while Singleton was 4-5-0. With attrition taking a toll on the linebacker position, Both of these guys could be stream options through the bye weeks.
Brandon Graham is 33 years old and off-season speculation had Josh Sweat ready to replace him as the starter. Grahm will have none of that and has been on a roll. He has never reached double-digit sacks in a season but stands at 15-1-5 with nine games to go.
The Steelers took a big hit on defense with the loss of Devin Bush to a torn ACL. Robert Spillane came off the bench to go 5-1-0 on about half the snaps. Coach Tomlin commented that Spillane will be the "primary guy" at the inside linebacker position going forward. This makes him a priority add for anyone in need at the position.
We think of the Titans as a between the tackles, power running team. They are that, but this is an offense that can move through the air as well. In their last three games, eight corners have recorded at least five solo tackles against them. Mike Hilton would be the best Steelers corner to target if he were completely healthy. Unfortunately, he is not practicing this week with a shoulder injury. Keep an eye on his status later in the week.
The Seahawks were off last week but they made a couple of interesting moves on Wednesday, signing Mychal Kendricks to the practice squad and moving safety Damarious Randall to the active roster. Neither player has immediate value, but both are capable if things break the right way.
San Francisco 49ers
The Patriots have been a plus matchup for strong safeties in most weeks. Unfortunately, Jaquiski Tartt suffered a groin injury in Week 6 and may not be able to take advantage of the matchup. Marcel Harris stepped in to finish versus the Rams and would be in line for the start if Tartt is not able to go. Considering the matchup, Harris could be a useful option in a pinch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antoine Winfield Jr missed a few snaps last week to have his shoulder checked out. All seems well but he was a limited participant on Wednesday, so keep an eye on him later in the week.
The Titans activated Adoree' Jackson from injured reserve this week and expect to have him back in the lineup soon. Titans corners tend to provide good numbers so Jackson could be a quality starter for us once he is back to full playing time.
Washington Football Team
Washington got Cole Holcomb back on the field for 65% of the snaps last week. Considering it was his first action of the season, the snap count was rather high, leading me to wonder if he will have an even bigger role going forward. Holcomb managed a team-high five tackles and an assist against the Giants. We know the coaching staff likes him a lot, so this could be our last chance for a pre-emptive pickup on Holcomb.
That’s it for Week 7. Good luck as we turn the corner and head down the backstretch.
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