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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Steelers’ linebacker Avery Williamson could be a good pickup with Robert Spillane’s Monday night injury. Williamson was very productive when starting in New York and could pick up a good many tackles in this productive scheme.
Jaguars’ safety Josh Jones was back at full-time duty with the rash of injuries to the youngsters on the roster. He is another pick-up-and-play candidate, especially in leagues that reward generously for tackles.
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Dolphins’ edge rusher Elandon Roberts left the game with a chest injury.
Giants’ linebacker Blake Martinez hurt his back.
Steelers’ linebacker Robert Spillane was injured on Monday night. He left the game with a knee injury.
Vikings’ linebacker Eric Kendricks was a surprise scratch this past week with a calf injury suffered in practice.
Patriots’ cornerback Jonathan Jones hurt his neck.
Raiders’ cornerback Damon Arnette was concussed.
Jets’ safety Ashtyn Davis is likely out for the year with a foot injury.
Packers’ safety Raven Greene hurt his shoulder and did not return.
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Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers versus New England Patriots Offensive Line
The Rams are averaging three sacks a game. Meanwhile, New England has been giving up an average of two sacks a contest over their last three games and is a middling team on the year as a whole, giving up 1.8 per contest. Expect Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd to have a very active game. Donald is a must-start every week anyway, but Floyd is also a good play this week if you need big upside.
Chicago Bears Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
Houston Texans Pass Rushers versus Chicago Bears Offensive Line
The matchup is a good one for the Bears who have Akiem Hicks back. Deshaun Watson is the sixth-most sacked quarterback this year, and it is reasonable to expect Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn to add a few more this week. It is also a reasonable expectation that J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus will bring down Mitch Trubisky a few times. Chicago is giving up an average of 2.5 sacks per game, including two surrendered in their latest contest.
Arizona Cardinals Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
It is looking increasingly like Colt McCoy could be in action for another week. It will not matter either way, because Daniel Jones is also not being protected well behind a line giving up 2.8 sacks a game. For general managers, the best options for sacks are Haasan Reddick, Markus Golden, and Budda Baker.
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
The Bengals continue to let opposing pass rushers ravage their quarterback, giving up 3.7 sacks a game. Expect Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Greggory to have a great game.
Seahawks Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
Maybe it would be best to just say Jamal Adams is a great play this week, as the Seahawks do not seem to have many other effective pass rush options that are consistent. Adams is slated to have a very good week against a team allowing 2.8 sacks per contest.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
The Packers had a minor dip in production at the midpoint of the season, but have since turned it around and are averaging 2.6 sacks a game, including a whopping seven in their last contest. While the matchup is not as favorable as last week’s, Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, and Kenny Clark should be played here.
Los Angeles Chargers Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
A few special teams gaffs led to a game script that was not favorable for Chargers pass rushers last week against New England. That should not happen again against an Atlanta unit giving up 2.6 sacks per game and with no real special teams prowess of which to speak. Expect Joey Bosa to get back on track in this contest.
Washington Football Team Pass Rushers versus San Francisco 49ers Offensive Line
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers versus Washington Football Team Offensive Line
Both teams are weak along their offensive line and the strength of their teams is their pass rush unit. That means we should see a sack-heavy contest in which Jonathan Allen, Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Kerry Hyder Jr have good days.
New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers versus Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line
New Orleans Saints Defensive Backs versus Carson Wentz
The Eagles continue their death spiral, giving up an NFL-worst 4.4 sacks a game and an NFL-worst total of 15 interceptions. Cameron Jordan, Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Davenport (assuming he is back from concussion symptoms), Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, P.J. Williams, and Marshon Lattimore should all be in consideration this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
While Pittsburgh’s prospects of getting a sack are usually good each week, they do not have as good of a matchup as they have had over the past three games. That said, Josh Allen is prone to taking sacks, so there is a decent chance Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and T.J. Watt can pay off for general managers who play them.
Carolina Panthers Defensive Backs versus Drew Lock
Even missing games, Drew Lock continues to be second in the NFL in interceptions, throwing 1.44 interceptions a game on average. The Panthers may not generate a great rush in this one, but we might see Jeremy Chinn, Trey Boston, Rasul Douglas, or Juston Burris come away with one here.
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
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Jacksonville Jaguars Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Tennessee Titans Pass Rushers versus Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line
Jacksonville will fail to record many - if any - sacks in this game due to how well Tennessee is protecting their quarterback in spite of losing some starters along their line. They have averaged a surrender of only 1.8 sacks per game. In a tough contest against Cleveland last week, they gave up just three. Tennessee will fail to reach the quarterback often due to a lacking pass rush.
Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
The Buccaneers have had the bye week to rest and the Vikings have not been especially effective at generating sacks this year, especially with the loss of Danielle Hunter. D.J. Wonnum also did not play this past week and it remains to be seen if he will go in this contest. On top of that, the Buccaneers have protected Tom Brady well this season. Do not count on any Vikings pass rusher this week for those reasons.
Miami Dolphins Pass Rushers versus Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line
Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers versus Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
Miami will have trouble getting to a quarterback behind a line giving up just a little over a sack per game. On the flip side of this game, it will be hard for the Chiefs to sack Tua Tagovailoa if he releases the ball as quickly as he did against the Bengals. The Chiefs are also a bottom-third team in terms of generating sacks, so it is safer to just avoid playing Frank Clark or other Chiefs pass rushers unless no better options are available.
Denver Broncos Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
The Broncos may not have been effective on offense this year, but they certainly have been able to get after the quarterback. They are averaging 2.7 sacks a game. Unfortunately, they are coming up against a team that has been quite good at protecting Teddy Bridgewater and is giving up only 1.8 sacks a game. Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed are the best plays of the bunch and could notch a sack, but do not play them over options with better matchups.
Los Vegas Raiders Pass Rushers versus Indianapolis Colts Offensive Line
Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus Los Vegas Raiders Offensive Line
Indianapolis has had some key losses along their offensive line, but the Raiders have been extremely ineffective pass rushers, a trend that will continue into this week. On the other side, the Colts pass rushers will have difficulty getting to Derek Carr, who is playing some of the best football of his career behind an offensive line allowing just 1.8 sacks a game.