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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There is very little to report this week…
With injuries to Anthony Barr and Erik Kendricks, the Vikings have deployed Blake Lynch and Nick Vigil in full-time roles. Vigil is the more valuable of the two for IDP purposes, but Lynch is worth a pickup if you are struggling at the linebacker position.
With Logan Wilson likely being out for the foreseeable future, it is worth picking up Germaine Pratt. While he is no Wilson, Pratt is very athletic and will receive a full-time role while Wilson remains sidelined.
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Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean was concussed.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa left the game with what was likely a concussion.
Eagles cornerback Steven Nelson hurt his shoulder.
Falcons safety Richie Grant suffered an ankle injury against the Buccaneers and did not return.
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey is rumored to have a season-ending shoulder injury.
Seahawks Jamal Adams hurt his shoulder and did not return.
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Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs versus Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson took seven sacks against the Steelers last contest and this AFC North matchup promises to deliver a similar upside for those starting Myles Garrett and Malik McDowell. Perhaps even Jadaveon Clowney can finish against one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Lamar Jackson has also struggled with interceptions as he deals with amplified pressure. Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, John Johnson III, and Ronnie Harrison could very well come away with one here.
Jacksonville Jaguars Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Backs versus Ryan Tannehill
The Jaguars may not be great right now on defense, but the Titans have been equally abysmal on offense. Look for Malcolm Brown, Josh Allen, and Roy Robertson-Harris to have productive days in big play formats. Additionally, Ryan Tannehill has been throwing interceptions left and right due to a combination of lack of starting wide receivers and increased tunnel vision due to pressure. The Jaguars corner situation is a bit of a mess due to injuries currently, but Nevin Lawson is the one option we can probably count on there. Rayshawn Jenkins and Andrew Wingard also make better-than-normal plays this week.
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Backs versus Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow is dealing with a pinky injury and playing behind a line that has once again struggled to protect him. San Francisco’s Nick Bosa could really make Burrow’s day a miserable one in their Week 14 contest. Even Arik Armstead has started to produce again in recent weeks, so he makes a nice desperation play in big play formats. Additionally, Burrow’s injury and line make him more susceptible to throwing interceptions as well, meaning that Emmanuel Mosely (if he plays), Josh Norman, K'Waun Williams, Jimmie Ward, and Talanoa Hufanga have an elevated chance of snagging a pick in this contest.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Chicago Offensive Line
Denver Broncos Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
The Lions are 23rd in sacks allowed and while the Broncos are not lighting the world on fire, they have been a unit that can generate pressure in favorable matchups. Malik Reed is a good start at defensive tackle this week. Dre'Mont Jones and Shelby Harris should be played this week as quality third or fourth pass rush options.
Seattle Seahawks Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
Seattle ranks near the bottom of the league in pass rush generated, but there is reason to think that this might be a week when we think about using some of their options because of the quality of the matchup. Without Tyrod Taylor and with a unit that ranks 27th in sacks allowed, we could see a day in which Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor end up on the score sheet.
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Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
Sit all interior options as well as pass rushers from his matchup. The units rank first and second in the NFL in terms of allowing sacks, so big plays are very unlikely.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
The writer is hesitant to advise sitting options from one of the hottest pass rushes in football, but the fact that they will go against one of the best protection units in the NFL should at least make general managers temper expectations for T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Cameron Heyward.
New York Jets Pass Rushers versus New Orleans Saints Offensive Line
Surprisingly, the Jets sit at about the middle of the pack in terms of sack numbers on the year. However, they will face a unit that has managed to protect three different starters and ranks 5th in the league in sacks allowed. Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Shaq Lawson should all find a spot on your bench this week unless you have no better alternatives.