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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Once again, there are very few eye-popping IDP developments this week. There are only a few situations worth mentioning.
Linebacker AJ Klein has played over 90% of the snaps in the last two games with Tremaine Edmunds out of the lineup. As long Edmunds continues to miss, Klein is a fantastic fill-in play.
Safety Marcus Maye’s replacement in the lineup may be UDFA Elijah Riley, who played 90% of the snaps on Sunday. If not for Ashtyn Davis’ interception, he would have outdone Davis in most scoring formats with two tackles and four assists. With as much action as this defense is seeing in most games, he is a pickup that may have some value going forward.
Add the Jets to the list of teams we cannot trust to consistently deploy the same second inside linebacker in a nearly full-time role. This week, it was Quincy Williams replacing Jarrad Davis next to C.J. Mosely.
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Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr was ruled out in the second half of Sunday night's game with a concussion.
Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson injured his shoulder.
Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin was ruled out with a concussion.
Jets linebacker C.J. Moseley was evaluated for a concussion.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Brown suffered a knee injury.
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New England Patriots Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
New England Patriots defensive backs versus Ryan Tannehill
The Titans are very banged up right now at their offensive skill positions and that is a problem for the offensive line in terms of protecting Ryan Tannehill long enough to deliver the football to his inexperienced receiving group. It is a great development for a defensive unit that has been surging. Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy are the two pass rush players from this contest that all general managers should consider playing. Also, this is a really great matchup for the Patriots defensive backs. After throwing four interceptions on Sunday, it has become clear that Tannehill is struggling. Whether it be a lack of receiving talent on the field due to injuries, Tannehill’s problems with myopic vision down the field, or a combination of both, it is a recipe for turnovers. J.C. Jackson leads the league in cornerback interceptions and is a prime candidate to jump one of Tannehill’s routes in this contest. Jaylen Mills, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, and Kyle Dugger also make for decent plays this week.
Chicago Bears Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
The Bears putting Khalil Mack on season-ending injured reserve did not matter when they faced the Ravens on Sunday. They compiled six sacks. They will have another excellent draw for Week 12 when they take on the Lions. Despite the plus matchup, Robert Quinn is the only pass rusher that is trustworthy in fantasy lineups.
Los Angeles Chargers versus Denver Broncos Offensive Line
The Chargers have not had extreme success rushing the passer this year, but the opportunity is too good to ignore. Joey Bosa is unbenchable this week. Uchenna Nwosu and Kyler Fackrell are desperation plays that could pay off this week with this juicy matchup.
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Baltimore Ravens Pass Rushers versus Cleveland Browns Offensive Line
This one will be an important divisional tilt, but beyond that, both offense lines have struggled to protect their signal-callers due to injuries. It sets up well for Myles Garrett to have another productive sack-laden game for the Browns. On the other side of the contest, we can trust Calais Campbell, Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston, and Jayson Oweh to be solid potential options for general managers this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Bengals Offensive Line
While the Bengals have been successful in terms of record, they have still struggled to protect Joe Burrow. The Steelers are clearly missing T.J. Watt and Stefon Tuitt, but they still have a couple of very good pass rushers. Cameron Heyward has been playing well and should be started in all formats. Alex Highsmith is a more risky play, but he has high upside.
Carolina Panthers Pass Rushers versus Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
Washington Football Team versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
While there is no Chase Young and Montez Sweat in the lineup, it should not matter against a putrid offensive line that just cannot seem to protect Russell Wilson. Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen are interior options that could feast on a sack or two in this contest.
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Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
The Colts have been improving on defense in recent weeks, but they will come up against a very tough matchup when they face Tampa Bay, who have stoned most opposing pass rushes and currently have the lead in the league in sacks allowed. Do not count on Kwity Paye or Al-Quadin Muhammad to come through for you this week. It is still okay to start DeForest Buckner due to tackle volume, but lower any expectations in terms of big-play production.
49ers Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
Kirk Cousins has enjoyed the least-sacked year of his career, hitting the ground only 14 times in 10 games. That is likely to translate into a so-so 49ers pass rush coming up short in Week 12. Nick Bosa is the only pass rusher on the unit we would normally feel comfortable starting each week under normal circumstances. Feel free to bench him this week if better options exist on your squad.