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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Falcons Deion Jones sat with a shoulder injury, allowing full playing time for Mychal Walker. As long as Jones remains sidelined, Walker is a tremendous play.
When Monty Rice went down with an ankle injury, the Titans turned to special teamer Dylan Cole. David Long Jr may be back after the bye. If he is not, Cole might be worth a look, especially in deep leagues.
After seemingly falling out of favor in Houston, Zach Cunningham has played 100% of the snaps for three straight games and had decent fantasy output. When Christian Kirksey is able to return, Cunningham may not be a safe option. Until that time, however, general managers can continue to deploy him.
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Giants cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson (quad) and Darnay Holmes (chest) left their game and did not return.
- Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt was added to the COVID-19 list.
Titans linebacker Monty Rice hurt his ankle. Safety Kevin Byard was added to the COVID-19 list.
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr was ruled out with a hamstring injury. They have also placed Patrick Peterson on the COVID-19 list.
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Arizona Cardinals Pass Rushers versus Chicago Bears Offensive Line
Andy Dalton just cannot catch a break. He will face off against the fifth-best pass rush in the league this week. The Bears have given up a whopping 37 sacks in 11 games played. That makes Chandler Jones and Markus Golden must-plays this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Despite the middling record, the pass rush is producing at an elite clip. They will come up against a team allowing the second-most sacks in the NFL, just behind the Bears. T.J. Watt is currently on the COVID list, but if he is removed in time, he is a must play. Cam Heyward and Alex Highsmith are also strong starters this week.
Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
Even without Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin, this unit is still generating pass-rush pressure. Against a front that does not have much to offer in terms of protection, it should be a good day for D.J. Wonnum. He is the only player in whom we should place any level of trust.
Miami Dolphins Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
The Dolphins have suddenly come alive over the past three weeks and have a great chance of generating some big plays against a floundering Giants team that just fired their offensive coordinator. Emanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips, and Christian Wilkins are the best bets to end up with a sack here based on playing time.
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New England Patriots Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
New England has been getting after the quarterback with regularity, but the Bills have reverted to being a stingy unit in terms of giving up sacks. Matt Judon has been hot, but think about sitting him if you have better options. Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower are not worth the risk unless you have no other viable options.
Detroit Lions Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
Atlanta Falcons Pass Rushers versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
The story is the same for both pass rushes, so I’m including them together. Both have not generated much rush this year and they will go up against units that are among the top five in protecting their signal-caller. You likely were not considering any Lions or Falcons pass rushers anyway, but this gives general managers even more of a reason to veer away from them.