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We have a situation in Arizona. De’Vondre Campbell suffered a calf injury in week 10 that had his status in doubt against the Seahawks. He ended up being active but was limited to 26 snaps. This opened the door for Isaiah Simmons who stole the show, going 9-2-1 on 45 plays. Simmons was everywhere. He made plays sideline to sideline and on both sides of the line of scrimmage. So the situation is, do the Cardinals try to put the genie back in the bottle, or do they continue to play the veteran that has done an excellent job over the first eight games? The fact that Simmons is a first-round pick, could have a major influence on the decision here as well. If Simmons is your guy, there is reason for excitement. If Campbell is your guy, there is a reason for concern. When it comes to Week 12, starting either of them is a risk.
Looking at the situation with Campbell and Simmons made me wonder if the coaching staff might see another option. Jordan Hicks has not exceeded five solo stops since week five and has zero splash plays through Week 11. Not to mention he has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points since week six. Could the move ultimately be to play Campbell and Simmons with Hicks the odd-man-out? Food for thought.
If Foye Oluokun is your guy, you are a little disappointed with his Week 11, but there is no reason for concern going forward. Oluokun played his normal share (98%) of the snaps, so we can write this one off as a fluke. He should rebound well versus the Raiders, who are a strong matchup for linebackers.
If you are a manager that puts a lot of stock in previous meetings between divisional opponents, you probably want to sit your Baltimore defenders this week. When these teams met in Week 8, the only Raven with more than three solo tackles was DeShon Elliot at 4-3-0.5. That said, the Steelers have been a plus matchup for inside linebackers in general, so Patrick Queen is worthy of consideration.
If you are looking for answers to why Jeremy Chinn (2-2-0) and Shaq Thompson (3-1-0) gave you so little last week, all we need to do is look at the other stats from this game. The most significant one being that Detroit running backs carried 13 times for 35 yards in this game, and the passing game was not a lot better. The Lions were shut out and embarrassed in this game. It is safe to say the Panthers will not get such a walkover this week versus Minnesota.
When last we saw the Bears, Akiem Hicks went limping off with a hamstring injury. Green Bay is not a good matchup for pass rushers anyway, but if you are considering Hicks, keep an eye on his practice status.
Safety Eddie Jackson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. He could be cleared in time to play, but be prepared just in case.
The Bengals record is not good but they had been competitive in most games before the Joe Burrow injury. It will be interesting to see how badly this club falls apart down the stretch. It could be epically ugly for Cincinnati fans, but the defense is going to be on the field a lot so IDP managers may be able to take advantage. Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates are now every week must starters. We will have to see if there are any changes at linebacker, of if the extra volume of plays makes someone an option under the current timeshare. The effect on defensive linemen could be the polar opposite. Expect opponents to get out to early leads and run the ball a lot, which will limit pass-rush opportunities.
Ronnie Harrison lasted six plays before leaving Sunday’s game with what was later diagnosed as a knee contusion. While this is good news in terms of severity, these injuries can be very painful and sometimes slow to heal if the bone is bruised. Harrison is considered day-to-day.
Olivier Vernon has been feast or famine in recent weeks, but when it’s time to eat, he eats well. Vernon has been playing better than 80% of the snaps over the past several games, so the playing time has been there. In the last three contests, he is 7-3-5, including a three-sack performance against the Eagles on Sunday. Vernon gets the Jaguars this week and has the Giants and Jets in weeks 15 and 16.
The Browns used a combination of Adrian Clayborn (2-1-1.5 on 57%) and Gustin Porter (1-2-0) to fill in for Myles Garrett who missed the Eagles game due to COVID. Due to bad timing and league protocols, Garrett is set to miss the Week 12 game as well. If you need a one week stream, Oliver would be a strong option. For those in deeper leagues, Clayborn might be a solid target as well against a Jacksonville offense that has allowed 12 sacks over their last four games.
Chidobe Awuzie returned from his hamstring injury and went right back to playing every snap en route to a solid 5-4-0 against the Vikings. If you are thinking about adding him, take a look at the Cowboys' remaining schedule first. Their next four opponents are Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. None of those teams are going to be passing a lot.
Leighton Vander Esch played 55% of the snaps in week 10 and 70% in Week 11. The team is giving us nothing in terms of breakdown, that would explain why he is not on the field virtually every snap. Washington should be a solid matchup for Vander Esch, but the recent gaps in playing time are concerning.
It has now been three weeks since Tracy Walker missed a game with a foot injury, and he has played in each of the last two. At this point, we have to assume his reduction in playing time (53% week 11) is performance-based and that he will not return to an every-down role going forward. The Lions had six safeties get on the field for at least 14 plays in Week 12. Duron Harmon played all of them, followed by Jayron Kearse, who was 5-1-0 on 70%, then Walker. It was productive while it lasted but the wave seems to have crashed.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers had three safeties on the field for half of the defensive snaps in week 11, and three corners on 73 of 84 plays. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage were the starting safeties with Raven Greene seeing a lot of action as a nickel linebacker hybrid. Greene turned a lot of heads by going 7-1-0 with a forced fumble in the game, but he can’t count on for any consistency as a part-time player.
Denico Autry missed practice last Thursday with an illness, then was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. The timing suggests he was positive for COVID, though there has been no confirmation. The timings also suggest that if it was indeed COVID, Autry might not play again this week. In Autry’s absence, Tyquan Lewis picked up almost 20 more snaps than his previous season-high of 30, reaching three solo stops for the third time in four games. If Autry is out, Lewis might make a solid fill-in against a Titans squad that has been a strong matchup for interior line tackle production.
Bobby Okereke saw his snap count slip to 65% and his tackle total to one against the Packers. This was largely a matchup based shift with the Packers spreading the field and using multiple receivers. The Colts countered, as many teams do, with extra defensive backs. Look for s strong rebound by Okereke this week against Tennessee, who is a great matchup. Baltimore’s inside linebackers combined for 20 tackles and assists against the Titans last week.
The Jaguars lost Josh Allen to a knee injury in Week 11. He is expected to miss some time, but the injury is not believed to be season-ending. With Allen sidelined, both Dawuane Smoot and K’Lavon Chaisson saw an increase in playing time over the second half. Look for that to continue with Jabaal Sheard possibly getting a few plays in relief.
Safety Josh Jones hit IR last week, followed closely by his replacement, Daniel Thomas, this week. Thomas suffered an arm injury (possibly broken) and is not likely to return this season. This turn of events points to Andrew Wingard starting at what has been a highly productive strong safety position, for at least the next few weeks. Wingard made two starts earlier in the season, combining for 12 tackles, 7 assists, and a pass defended in those games. The moral of this story, pick him up if you have a need at safety.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have played well, for the most part, this season but they are still looking for a pass rush. Their 11 sacks on the season rank 31st ahead of only Jacksonville. To that end, the organization signed both Tak McKinley and Vic Beasley Jr to their practice squad this week. It’s a stretch to be sure, but both of these guys are former first-round picks. If they are not able to contribute to a team so desperate, there is not much chance they ever will.
David Irving appeared to be heading for a bigger role before suffering an ankle injury against the Chiefs. Between COVID and injuries, the Raiders are in scramble mode upfront, and particularly on the interior line. Irving is an exceptional talent that can get after the passer from the inside. They are counting on him to contribute significantly going forward if he can stay healthy. It doesn’t look like this will be his breakout game, but managers in dynasty leagues may want to stash Irving with an eye on next season.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kyzir White was a late (Saturday) addition to the COVID reserve list in week eleven. With White unavailable, the Chargers turned to Denzel Perryman who played nearly every snap for the first time this season. The matchup with a dismal Jets offense led to marginal numbers but he should fare much better this week against the Bills if White is not cleared.
Kenneth Murry continued to struggle, going 4-3-0 on 77% of the snaps. Considering the opponent, those are not horrible numbers, but the inconsistent snap count remains an issue.
Los Angeles Rams
Micah Kiser exited the Monday night game with a leg injury after he was twisted awkwardly while making a play. As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been no update on his status. If he is not able to go, look for Troy Reeded to get the call. Reeder started week five when Kiser was out and had a monster game to the tune of 8-3-3. That kind of production would be a surprise, but he is more than capable of quality numbers with a solid matchup against the 49ers
New England Patriots
After totaling 12 tackles and assists on 85% of the defensive snaps in week 10, Kyle Dugger saw a slightly lesser role and made significantly fewer tackles against the Rams. That said, his 75% play-share is the second-highest of the season for Dugger who looks like he will have a much bigger part to play going forward than earlier in the season. From a talent and abilities perspective, Dugger could emerge as a fantasy star at some point. The only thing holding him back is playing time.
Chase Winovich did little in the box scores versus the Rams, but he has played a bigger percentage of the snaps in each of the last two games than in any other this year. This is the Patriots, so take that for what it is worth.
New Orleans Saints
Kwon Alexander’s snaps were up a little from 61% in his Saints Week 10 debut to 74% in his second game with the team. His production remained marginal at 3-0-0 with a pass breakup. Alex Anzalone was regularly playing more than 80% of the snaps before being benched in favor of Alexander. I expect Alexander to get to that level soon, but he may never be an every snap guy because the coaching staff likes what they have in their three safety looks.
Saints defenders were on the light side in the tackle columns last week. Demario Davis was the most productive at 4-3-1 with a pass breakup while Malcolm Jenkins and Chauncy Gardner-Johnson combined for 4-2-0. It is easy to figure out what happened here. Atlanta ran the ball 14 times for 52 yards and completed just a pair of passes to tight ends and running backs. The New Orleans defense is hitting on all cylinders right now. They have matchups with Denver, Atlanta again, and Philadelphia over the next three weeks, so the concern is, are they going to manhandle all three of these teams, keeping their defense on the sideline too much?
Trey Hendrickson is not making many tackles against the run but after a 2-1-2 versus Atlanta, he is currently tied for the league lead in sacks with nine and a half.
New York Giants
The Giants designated both Xavier McKinney and Oshane Ximines to return from IR this week. Both players can start practicing and could be activated for this week’s game against Cincinnati. The Bengals project as a poor matchup for tackle producing IDPs, and McKinney will need some time to get into game shape anyway, but the Giants have Seattle, Arizona, Cleveland, and Baltimore to close out the fantasy regular season. If McKinney can get back to the every-down role that was expected before the injury, he could be a great addition to your playoff run.
Cincinnati and Seattle present a pair of great pass rush matchup for Ximines, but he will likely be eased back into action after missing eight games.
New York Jets
Apologies to anyone that did not add Harvey Langi based on my comments about Blake Cashman being the long term answer. I still believe that is the ultimate plan, but the Jets were not completely forthcoming about the injury to Cashman. After being out for five weeks, it recently came to light that he is recovering from injuries to both hamstrings, thus the unexpectedly long recovery time. Meanwhile, Langi has been lighting up the tackle columns like a pinball machine. Cashman remains out of practice so there is a good chance he will be a non-factor for the remainder of this season.
Ashtyn Davis totaled 8-4-0 with a fumble recovery versus the Chargers and is making a case to be the long term starter at strong safety. With the Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, and Browns on the schedule between now and fantasy championship week, he has a ton of potential.
After peaking at 78%, T.J. Edwards saw his snap percentage slip slightly in each of the last two games. He logged 70% of the action versus Cleveland, with a mediocre at best stat line of 4-1-0. Meanwhile, Alex Singleton continues to impress with another big game and a stat line of 8-4-1 with a fumble recovery. There is little doubt at this point, Singleton is endearing himself to the coaching staff.
Rookie linebacker Davion Taylor got on the field for a few plays in week eleven, going 3-0-0 on 18 plays. He remains a watch list guy for dynasty managers,
When coach Tomlinson told us the team added Avery Williamson as insurance at inside linebacker, most of us thought it was coach speak. Three games into Williamson’s tenure with the team, it is apparent Tomlinson was telling it as it is. Robert Spillane was only 3-1-0 in Week 11, but he continued to play more than 90% of the snaps. Vince Williams also returned to his normal role, working 87% of the time against Jacksonville, while Williamson played eight total snaps.
In three games with the Seahawks, Carlos Dunlap is 5-4-3 and has become a player we can start every week. That is emphasized with this week's matchup against an Eagles team that has allowed more sacks (40) than anyone else in the league. Putting Dunlap in your lineup may be the easiest call you make this week, but if you don’t have him, see if Jarran Reed or maybe even L.J. Collier are available. Either of those guys is worth consideration in a pinch, with Reed being a must-start in tackle required leagues.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco gets Richard Sherman back this week. The Rams are a surprisingly solid matchup for corners so it will be interesting to see if they try to avoid Sherman. My educated guess is that Emmanuel Mosley will be the guy Los Angeles goes after.
The 49ers waived Kiko Alonso after a failed physical. He has been resilient, but the injuries may finally be catching up with Alonso.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Chiefs are a great matchup for corners and Tampa Bay corners tend to be productive even with mediocre matchups. With that in mind, Carlton Davis is a must-start this week. He has been the most productive and most consistent of the Buccaneers' corners. Jamel Dean is currently in concussion protocol. If he is cleared in time, he too would be a good starting option. If Dean is not cleared, look for Sean Murphy-Bunting to start and put up decent numbers.
Jayon Brown landed on IR this week with a broken elbow. Will Compton came on to replace him, finishing 3-3-0 on 33 snaps against the Ravens. Compton lacks the splash play potential of Brown but should be a reasonably solid pickup as a replacement. That said, look for Rashaan Evans to see near every down playing time with an uptick in both production and consistency.
Washington Football Team
So much for any hope of IDP value among Washington’s linebackers. After playing every snap in week10, Cole Holcomb went 1-1-0 on 43 of a possible 68 snaps against Cincinnati. Ironically, his 63% share of the playing time led all Washington linebackers. Jon Bostic and Kevin Pierre-Lewis each played 36 snaps with Thomas Davis getting 19 in his first action since week five. Bottom line, don’t play any of these guys against Dallas if you can keep from it. That is it for Week 12.
For many of us on the fringe of getting in, the playoffs start this week. Buckle those chin straps and study up. As a reminder, reality rears its ugly head once in a while and I will not be able to write the column next week. Hopefully, everyone will be back for round one of the playoffs. Until then, best of luck, and may the funny shaped ball bounce your way.
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