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 only one thing to note this week…
With the linebacker position so incredibly thin, the Broncos’ Jonas Griffith might be worth a look. His snap share increased to 79% and he looked surprisingly competent while posting eight solos and one assist. With the position completely up in the air for Denver, it is worth grabbing him in dynasty leagues to see if he can develop into one of their two starters.
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The 49ers lost safety Talanoa Hufanga due to a knee injury.
The Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David exited Sunday night’s contest due to a foot injury.
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams sustained a shoulder injury. Safety Elijah Riley was ruled out with a neck injury.
Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa was placed on the COVID list and is questionable to be available for Saturday’s contest.
The Lions lost both linebackers Alex Anzelone and Josh Woods to shoulder injuries.
Ravens cornerback Tayvon Young was ruled out early in the contest with a concussion.
Seattle defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr was placed on the COVID list ahead of Tuesday night’s contest.
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In what is likely a semifinal or championship matchup week for most general managers, there are very few obvious favorable pass-rush matchups!
Cincinnati Bengals Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
This is an easy call, no matter whether Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley plays. Baltimore’s offensive line has not protected either quarterback and they will face a defense that is third in the NFL in sacks. Larry Ogunjobi, Trey Hendrickson, and Sam Hubbard are great starts this week.
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Backs versus Ryan Tannehill
A short week, a line in complete disarray, and a quarterback who is struggling to pass the ball with a lack of weapons are all good reasons to play your 49ers defenders this week and expect big plays. Nick Bosa is a must-start. D.J. Jones becomes a better-than-normal DT play. Arik Armstead makes a nice high-risk, high-reward start. Josh Norman, Ambry Thomas (assuming Emmanuel Moseley has not returned from injury), Jimmie Ward, and Jaqusiki Tartt are the most likely to come up with interceptions.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Cleveland Browns Offensive Line
Injuries and COVID have hit the Browns hard, making things worse for an already struggling unit. Rashaan Gary and Preston Smith are likely in for good days in this contest.
Chicago Bears Pass Rushers versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
The Bears really have only two players worthy of consideration this week and they are Akeim Hicks and Robert Quinn. It is a good week to play Hicks and Quinn due to the matchup with the 26th-ranked offensive line in terms of sacks allowed.
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Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers versus Los Angeles Rams Offensive Line
Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Lines
Both pass rushes are potent, but both are going up against squads that protect their quarterback well. That is not to say there may not be a sack or two on either side of this contest, but expectations need to be lowered for Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd, D.J. Wonnum, and anyone else you might think of playing in this contest.
New England Patriots Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus New England Patriots Offensive Line
The Patriots have a middling pass rush going against a good offensive line. Meanwhile, the Bills have a pass rush that has fallen to the bottom of the NFL ranks going against a unit that is also very good at protecting their quarterback. Consider benching all your pass rushers from this contest for better options.