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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 viewers' minds 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 some of the other players and situations that will likely 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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With DeShon Elliot done for the season, it appears Brandon Stephens will take his place. There may be some fantasy value there, especially in deeper leagues.
At this point in the season, we can now confirm that starting a Rams linebacker is a roll of the dice. â€‹â€‹This week, it was Troy Reeder out-snapping Ernest Jones. Both really should be serving in only emergency or bye-week fill-in roles on your rosters.
Like the Rams, the Kansas City linebacker situation is also a mess for fantasy purposes. Four linebackers played 40% or more of the snaps, but none played over 65%.
David Long has been sensational for IDP rosters, but his injury puts a big question mark on who will take his place in the lineup as the other full-time linebacker. Will the team roll with the disappointing Rashaan Evans or will they see what they have in Monty Rice? Snap counts from week nine will not be helpful in answering this question because Long was injured very late in the contest.
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Bengals linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither injured his left foot.
Bills safety Taron Johnson exited with a concussion.
Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain sustained a knee injury.
Browns' corner Greedy Williams left the game against the Bengals with a shoulder injury.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay aggravated a hamstring injury that had bothered him earlier in the year.
Titans linebacker David Long injured his ankle.
Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark was ruled out with a back injury.
Panthers' pass rusher Brian Burns exited Sunday’s contest with an ankle injury.
Ravens safety DeShon Elliot’s season is likely over after sustaining a torn bicep.
Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson injured his foot.
Vikings cornerback Bashaud Breeland had a groin injury.
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Arizona Cardinals Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
Cardinals Defensive Backs versus Sam Darnold
The loss of center Matt Paradis will sting a unit that has not been great anyway. It is unbelievably bad timing to go up against the Cardinals, who have been among the NFL’s best in pass rush this year, even without J.J. Watt. Expect Markus Golden and Chandler Jones to add a few more sacks to their yearly totals in this contest. As long as Sam Darnold is the starter, we can count on one or two interceptions in this contest. Bryon Murphy, Marco Wilson, Budda Baker, or Jalen Thompson are all possible benefactors.
Las Vegas Raiders Defensive Backs versus Patrick Mahomes II
Patrick Mahomes II has tossed 10 interceptions on the year. Though he avoided it in the last contest, the Raiders have enough pass rush to hurry Mahomes and force one here. Casey Hayward, Brandon Facyson (if Trayvon Mullen does not play), Jonathan Abram, and Trevon Moehrig are the most likely to come down with one.
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
After the drubbing they took at the hands of the Jaguars, we can expect to see an angry Bills team against a weak Jets front five. Jerry Hughes and Gregory Rousseau are the safest options, but there is merit in playing Mario Addison as well, since his playing time is not that far below that of Hughes and Rousseau.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
Detroit is not the worst team out there in terms of sacks allowed, but their opponent is exceptional at generating them. Expect this to go quite poorly for a line that no longer has Frank Ragnow anchoring it. T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward are no-brainer starts. Alex Highsmith is a more risky play, but he has high upside. If Stefon Tuitt makes it back, he is also worth considering.
Baltimore Ravens Pass Rushers versus Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
Miami Dolphins Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Both Baltimore and Miami have struggled to protect their quarterback and have improved pass rushes in recent weeks. Outside of Calais Campbell, Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston, and Jayson Oweh are the only three pass rushers to think about playing outside of bye week emergency situations. The playing time of Pernell McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson is just too low to take a chance on either of those guys, despite the good matchup. On the Miami side, Christian Wilkins and Emanuel Ogbah are the only two to start with confidence. Jaelan Phillips can be started in a pinch.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
Despite missing arguably their best pass rusher in Zadarius Smith, Green Bay has managed to stay relevant (21 sacks in nine games) with the contributions of Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Dean Lowry, and Kenny Clark. Potentially missing Clark due to injury hurts, but the matchup against the Seahawks is good enough that it probably will not matter. Smith, Gary, and Lowry are all worth playing this week.
New England Patriot Pass Rushers versus Cleveland Browns Offensive Line
The Patriots are just above the threshold for having a neutral sack matchup against the Browns, but the Browns’ recent struggles to protect Baker Mayfield tip the scales in favor of including the Patriots as a favorable matchup. Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy are the only two we will trust, but both should have a decent chance of coming away with a sack in this contest.
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Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line
Jacksonville’s record does not reflect it, but they have been good at protecting the quarterback. On the flip side, the Colts have been very middle-of-the-road when it comes to generating sacks. It is logical that DeForest Buckner, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kwity Paye, and Kemoko Turay will find themselves without a sack. Buckner is still playable due to tackle production, but the others probably should be left alone.
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
The Falcons may be mediocre in record, but they have done a reasonable job of protecting Matt Ryan. They have allowed only 14 sacks in eight games played. That is why it may be difficult sledding for the likes of Osa Odighizuwa, Randy Gregory, and Micah Parsons this week. Start them only if you have no better options.
Los Angeles Chargers Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
Minnesota recently moved into the top spot in terms of quarterback protection. They have allowed just 10 sacks in eight games. Pair that with the fact the Chargers have been struggling to get after the quarterback and it makes playing Joey Bosa, Linval Joseph, Jerry Tillery, and Uchenna Nwosu that much less attractive.