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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Ravens’ edge rusher Matt Judon was ejected from Sunday’s contest for making contact with an official.
Saints’ edge rusher Marcus Davenport is starting to come on. In addition to increased playing time, he has generated lots of pressure and has 1.5 sacks over the last two games.
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt had a massive day. He had nine total tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits against the Ravens on Sunday. He is quickly turning into an every-week start in spite of the matchup.
Jets’ linebacker Avery Williamson was dealt to the Steelers in a trade.
Eagles’ linebacker T.J. Edwards looked fantastic in his return from injury, logging 12 total tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. Part of this was the matchup, but Edwards may also be showing us he is the best linebacker to roster for this defense.
Packers’ linebacker Christian Kirksey has a chance to play on Thursday night, which would be great for his general managers who have missed him the past several weeks with a shoulder injury.
Chargers’ cornerback Desmond King was traded to the cornerback-needy Titans.
Ravens’ cornerback Marlon Humphrey has COVID-19 and is likely to miss their next contest.
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams is slated to return this week from his groin injury.
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There were some very significant injuries that sent shockwaves across the IDP landscape this week.
Patriots interior lineman Lawrence Guy suffered a shoulder injury.
Raiders interior lineman Maurice Hurst injured his ankle.
Saints interior lineman Sheldon Rankings suffered a mild MCL sprain.
Steelers interior lineman Tyson Alulu sprained his MCL.
Bears Roy Robertson-Harris exited Sunday’s contest with a shoulder injury.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s loss.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa left Sunday’s game with a possible concussion.
Steelers defensive end Cameron Hayward is dealing with a minor quad injury that is not considered serious.
Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley exited early with a groin injury.
Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin suffered a concussion.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay injured his ankle and did not return to action.
Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler hurt his neck and was concussed.
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Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers vs. San Francisco 49ers Offensive Line
The 49ers are giving up 2.8 sacks a game and the quarterback issues on the team do not help matters. Green Bay’s defense was just handed a bad loss and will look to get back on track Thursday evening. Preston Smith, Zadarius Smith, and Kenny Clark have been relatively quiet lately, but this matchup promises to change that trend.
Houston Texans Pass Rushers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line
It looks like Gardner Minshew will sit due to a fractured thumb, so either Mike Glennon or Jake Luton will get the start. Neither quarterback is very good and should struggle, especially since the line is giving up 3.3 sacks a game. Start J.J. Watt and Zach Cunnigham. Whitney Mercilus is also a decent bet to come up with a big play.
Washington Football Team Pass Rushers vs. New York Giants Offensive Line
Washington Football Team Defensive Backs vs. Daniel Jones
New York Giants Pass Rushers vs. Washington Football Team Offensive Line
Washington should have its way with the Giants in terms of big plays in the upcoming week. The Giants allow 2.9 sacks a game on average and Daniel Jones has been very bad about turning over the football. Fantastic starts this week include Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Deshazor Everett, Ronald Darby, and Kendall Fuller. On the Giants side, they should have decent success against a line that is second to last in the NFL currently. Jabrill Peppers and Kyler Fackrell are the most obvious beneficiaries of this matchup.
Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers vs. Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Losing Ronnie Stanley for the year greatly hurts Baltimore and makes them more susceptible to a very good pass rush this week. DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston, and Darius Leonard are all great plays this week with an elevated probability of ending up with a sack or another big play.
Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers vs. Detroit Lions Offensive Line
Ah, yet another year of Matthew Stafford taking a beating behind his offensive line. The 2.7 sacks per game place the Lions in the bottom third of protection units and the Vikings, who seem to have found their groove without their top pass rusher, are up next. Jalyn Holmes and Ifeadi Odenigbo are not starting lineup locks, but they both do have the potential to get a sack for general managers who need to shoot for upside.
Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers vs. Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
Against a line giving up two sacks per game, Frank Clark is a no-brainer start this week. The same is true for Chris Jones. Tanoh Kpassagnon is not someone to start if general managers have better players to start, but he is an option if upside in a lineup is needful.
Buffalo Bills vs. Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
Russ may be cookin’, but he is also getting sacked almost three times per game. The Bills finally have their rush going and it is likely they will get two or three sacks in this contest. Ed Oliver, Jerry Hughes, and Mario Addison are the best plays for those fishing for a sack.
Denver Broncos Pass Rushers vs. Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Atlanta Falcons Pass Rushers vs. Denver Broncos Offensive Line
Both teams are giving up over two sacks a game and should continue that trend heading into this contest. Denver’s Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed are the most likely to cash in for the Broncos. Grady Jarrett, Dante Fowler Jr, and Deion Jones are the most likely benefactors from the Atlanta side.
Steelers Pass Rushers vs. Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
New England Patriots Pass Rushers vs. New York Jets Offensive Line
A past-his-expiration-date Joe Flacco is likely in. Even though New England has been slumping, they will probably look very good on defense in this game against an offensive line giving up 3.1 sacks per game.
Miami Dolphins Defensive Backs vs. Kyler Murray
His line has been much better at protecting him this year, but Kyler Murray has been a bit loose with the ball. Additionally, the Dolphins defense, who just forced Jared Goff into two picks, seems to be humming. Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Bobby McCain, and Eric Rowe have the best chance of snagging one off Murray in this game.
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Tennessee Titans Pass Rushers vs. Chicago Bears Offensive Line
Tennessee had a fantastic matchup last week and did absolutely zilch with the opportunity. The pass rush unit is getting little-to-no pressure each game and the corners cannot cover down the field, making it easy for opposing quarterbacks to complete their passes. This week, they have another decent matchup against a team that just gave up five sacks in their last contest, but cannot be trusted to make the most of it. Harold Landry and Jadaveon Clowney must be benched until further notice.
Las Vegas Raiders Pass Rushers vs. Los Angeles Chargers Offensive Line
Los Angeles Chargers Pass Rushers vs. Los Vegas Raiders Offensive Line
Both teams are in the top half of the league in terms of sacks allowed. On top of that, Los Vegas does not have a great pass rush right now and Los Angeles may be without Joey Bosa. It is best to sit all options in this contest unless desperate.
New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers vs. New Orleans Saints Offensive Line
Both of these teams do not allow sacks very often, so we should see something of a big play stalemate in this contest.