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.
Welcome to the final week of this column! If you made it to the championship, congrats! This week’s column will give you the rundown to help you get ready for the final tilt.
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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Christian Kirksey returned to play this week, but it was Neville Hewitt (100%) and Garrett Wallow (82%) leading the way for the Texans. It is conceivable that this might continue even with Kirksey healthy as the team enters evaluation mode.
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Bears safety Teez Tabor rolled his ankle and did not return.
â€‹â€‹Buccaneers pass rusher Shaquil Barrett is believed to have suffered an MCL sprain.
The Cardinals placed edge rusher Markus Golden on the COVID list.
Chiefs safety Tyran Mathieu sustained a quad contusion.
Eagles cornerback Steven Nelson exited with a hand injury.
- Giants defensive back Julian Love went on the COVID list.
- Jaguars pass rusher K'Lavon Chaisson and defensive lineman Malcolm Brown also went on the COVID list.
- Patriots pass rushers Matt Judon and Ja'Whaun Bentley went on the COVID list.
Titans pass rusher Bud Dupree has landed on the COVID list.
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Chicago Bears Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
The Bears have a second week in a row with a great matchup, one that could really help propel general managers to the championship in big play leagues. The Giants are not only suffering from a poor offensive line, but none of their quarterbacks are transcending the circumstances with their play. Akeim Hicks and Robert Quinn are great starts once again this week.
Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
We shall see if Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley can make it back, but that should not matter much, as this offensive line has allowed the second-most sacks in the league. You do not need anyone to tell you to start Aaron Donald. Leonard Floyd and Von Miller also make excellent starts in the championship round of big-play formats.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
The Bucs may be without Shaq Barrett, but they still can put pressure on Zach Wilson and his offensive line. Vita Vea and â€‹â€‹Ndamukong Suh are excellent interior options this week. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is really the only pass rusher we can trust.
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Cleveland Browns Offensive Line
Divisional rivalry promises to add something extra to what was already going to be a favorable pass rush matchup for both units. Even though Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt are both playing banged up, they are must-starts this week. Alex Highsmith and Cameron Heyward also are excellent plays. Beyond that, there are really no others worth trusting in our fantasy lineups
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
The 49ers pass rush has been heating up in recent weeks and they will come up against a unit that was surprisingly good last week but has not been for most of the year. There is an elevated chance that Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead could come away with one or two here.
New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
The Saints pass rush has not been great for most of the year, but they have started to come on lately. Pair that with a COVID outbreak among the Panthers and their already leaky offensive line and you have a recipe for a sack-laden game. Marcus Davenport and Cameron Jordan make fantastic plays this week.
Las Vegas Raiders Pass Rushers versus Indianapolis Colts Offensive Line
Normally, this would not be a matchup to target, as the Colts line is one of the better units in the NFL. However, it looks as if they could be without four of their five starters due to COVID and injuries. Keep an eye on who plays and who is ruled out. However, if all four linemen remain out, that could open the door for Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue to have great weeks. .
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Atlanta Falcons Pass Rushers versus Buffalo Bills Offensive Line
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Atlanta is the worst in the NFL at generating sacks, so no one who is sane is considering using any of their edge rushers against any team, let alone a team who is very good at protecting their quarterback. However, on the other side of the matchup, do not expect much from the Bills’ pass rush. In addition to the Bills’ pass rush cooling off significantly after a hot start to the year, Atlanta protects Matt Ryan surprisingly well.
Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers versus Green Bay Packers Offensive Line
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line
A divisional tilt can certainly skew outcomes. But when just examining the matchup, this looks like one in which sacks could be scarce given mediocre pass rush units going against protection units that are good. The Vikings edge rushers have a slight edge over the Packers in terms of sack probability, but both sets should probably be avoided if better options exist on your squad.