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 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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Bengals Defensive end Carl Lawson filled in admirably for Sam Hubbard. Lawson posted one sack, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits, all on 91% of the snaps. Stash him away in your dynasty formats.
Cody Barton is getting more playing time. He had a season-high 83% with Mychal Kendricks out of the lineup and the Rams leaning hard on their running game. This bodes well for Barton being more involved next year, so dynasty general managers may want to pick him up and stash him if they have space.
The Chargers linebacker situation remains high-risk-high-reward. Drue Tranquil wore the dot and logged the most linebacker playing time at 83%. Meanwhile, Thomas Davis fell down to 47% and Adrian Phillips continued to steadily increase in his second game back from injury.
Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker has put up two straight games with 100% of the snaps. If desperate for linebacker help, general managers could do worse, especially with the opportunity the defense typically has from week to week.
49ers defensive end Dee Ford aggravated his hamstring strain and is likely out for a few weeks.
Washington edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan hurt his right calf against Green Bay. He is questionable for this week.
Bears linebacker Roquan Smith tore his pectoral muscle in Thursday’s contest against the Cowboys and is out for the year.
Detroit linebacker Jarrad Davis sprained his ankle and is not looking likely to play this week.
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman strained his hamstring and is likely out for the next couple of weeks.
Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant fractured his forearm and is done for the year.
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara is questionable this week with a hamstring strain.
Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro exited the contest against Oakland with a concussion. It is unknown if he will clear the protocol in time to play against the Texans in the upcoming week.
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Ravens Pass Rushers vs. Jets Offensive Line
The Ravens defense is rolling, even producing several sacks against a normally stout Bills offensive line. They will have even less trouble with a unit that has been giving up multi-sack games to just about every team they have faced this year. It is difficult to know how the Ravens will deploy their linebackers in terms of playing time from week to week, but Matt Judon is probably the most likely of the group to benefit, as he is most consistently on the field. Patrick Onwuasor, Tim Williams, and Tyus Bowser also have an increased likelihood of getting to the quarterback this week.
Patriots Pass Rushers vs. Bengals Offensive Line
The Bengals gave up two sacks against Cleveland and are surrendering over three a game on the year. Play Jamie Collins Sr, Kyle Van Noy, and Dont'a Hightower if you need big points, but just be aware that as with Baltimore, it is hard to predict how this positionless football defense will choose to deploy these guys.
Seahawks Pass Rushers vs. Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
Seahawks Defensive Backs vs. Carolina Panthers Passing Attack
The Panthers are spiraling. They gave up five sacks against Atlanta, a team that has been largely unproductive this year in terms of the pass rush. On the year, Carolina has surrendered almost four sacks a game. Jadaveon Clowney, Jarran Reed, and Rasheem Green are great plays at their respective positions this week. Also, you might see an interception from Bradley McDougald, Quandre Diggs, Shaquill Griffin, or Tre Flowers against Kyle Allen, who seems to be turning the ball over with increasing regularity each week.
Texans Pass Rushers vs. Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Tennessee Titans Pass Rushers vs. Houston Texans Offensive Line
The Titans astoundingly did not allow a sack in their last game, but it is doubtful that a line that has given up an average of 3.8 on the year has suddenly become stalwart. Play Brennan Scarlett, Whitney Mercilus, and D.J. Reeder with confidence this week. On the other side, the Titans will probably be able to generate some pressure on an offensive line that gave up three sacks against Denver and is also averaging three a game on the year. Harold Landry, Jerrell Casey, and Jeffery Simmons are fine plays at their respective positions.
Philadelphia Eagles Pass Rushers vs. Washington Offensive Line
Washington gave up four sacks last game and have an average of 3.4 surrendered sacks per game on the season. Look for Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett to get on the board again this week.
Arizona Cardinals Defensive Backs vs. Cleveland Browns Passing Attack
Baker Mayfield is shockingly not that far behind Jameis Winston and is playing through a banged-up throwing hand. Budda Baker, Patrick Peterson, and Byron Murphy all have a better-than-average chance of coming away with a pick or two in this contest.
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers vs. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Line
As predicted, Arizona gave up sacks in bunches to the Steelers. They allowed five in the contest and are primed to give up a few more to Cleveland’s rushers. Sheldon Richardson and Chad Thomas, in particular, are worth consideration in your lineups.
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers vs. Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Detroit Lions Defensive Backs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Attack
Jameis Winston may be throwing a lot of touchdowns, but he is throwing nearly as many interceptions per game. Darius Slay, Tracy Walker, and Tavon Wilson are good bets among the defensive backs on this team to end up returning a pick.
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Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers vs. Los Angeles Rams Offensive Line
Surprisingly, even though the Rams struggled early with protection, their line has come together to be one of the top units in the league at protecting their quarterback. Demarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn are both hard to sit, but one might consider it against an offensive line that blanked Seattle and is giving up just 1.5 sacks a game on average.
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line
The Bills have been hot, but the Pittsburgh offensive line has been a top-six unit all year, despite having three different quarterbacks under center. That means that Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, and Trent Murphy need to find your fantasy bench this week and sit on it.