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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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The Bills’ utilization of their pass rushers was interesting and somewhat unexpected. Despite Hughes and Addison being listed as the starters on the depth chart, Hughes (57%) and Gregory Rousseau (52%) led the way. Mario Addison (45%), A.J. Epenesa (33%), and Efe Obada (26%) played a lesser role. Boogie Basham did not get any playing time. If this holds, it will mean that Rousseau could have DL3 value sooner than expected.
The Seahawks played Rasheem Green the most of their edge rushers at 70% utilization. He did manage a sack. He is worth a look going forward, especially with a juicy matchup with Tennessee’s bad offensive line incoming. We will also need to watch to see if Kerry Hyder Jr (54%), Carlos Dunlap (53%), Benson Mayowa (42%), or Darrell Taylor (34%) can establish themselves as the clear #2 pass rusher or if this will continue to be a rotation that is messy for fantasy general managers.
As many of us suspected, the Eagles had a rotation going at linebacker in which no linebacker logged 100% of the snaps. Alex Singleton managed 60%, while T.J. Edwards played 40% of the snaps. Eric Wilson came closest with 85% usage. Unless things change, Wilson is the only one we can feel good about starting from week to week.
It looks like Jets linebacker Jamien Sherwood’s injury three snaps into his contest opened the door for Del'Shawn Phillips to start next to C.J. Mosely. We will see if Sherwood’s injury is a long-term situation. If it is, Phillips will be a valuable pickup this week.
Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone got full-time snaps but managed only three tackles. Expect there to be a change if this kind of output continues. If you have the bench space, rookie Derrick Barnes is someone to stash and hope for that outcome.
The Panthers had played Jermaine Carter as a full-time option at points in the preseason, but it was still a surprise to see him log 95% of the snaps. His one tackle and four assists were not eye-popping, but there will be better statistical days ahead if he remains on the field that much. If he is out there on your waiver wire, he becomes a priority pickup this week.
The Raiders linebacker situation over the summer was confusing in that we did not know who would get significant playing time next to Cory Littleton. K.J. Wright is arguably the best candidate on the roster, but the team deployed Denzel Perryman on Monday night. He’s the one to target in the upcoming waiver run.
It looked as if Troy Reeder was the starter when the team cut Micah Kiser. Instead, the team played Kenny Young 100% of the snaps, while Reeder saw just 28% of the work. If you gambled on Reeder, you were very disappointed. There is no use compounding the mistake. Reeder will be of interest going forward only if Kenny Young is hurt.
Erik Harris appears to be the Falcons safety to roster at this time. He played 92% of the snaps yesterday. No other Atlanta safety had above 79%.
Giants safety Jabrill Peppers may end up being an IDP dud this year. He played just 45% of the snaps. Bench him going forward until his usage picks up again.
Tennessee's defense is terrible presently, and there will be plenty of tackle opportunities. If Amani Hooker’s foot injury proves serious, it might be worth looking at Titans safety Bradley McDougald. McDougald also has an extensive starting history with other teams, so there is a track record of production when he has had full-time work.
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Chargers safety Nasir Adderley hurt his shoulder and did not return to action.
In addition to significant offensive losses, the Jets also saw safety Lamarcus Joyner (arm) and linebacker Jamien Sherwood (ankle) ruled out during their contest. Further testing showed that Joyner tore a tendon in his arm and is likely out for the rest of the year.
Lions corner Jeff Okudah has an Achilles injury that will sideline him for the rest of the year.
The New Orleans Saints also had some defensive players get dinged up. Defensive end Marcus Davenport suffered a pectoral injury, and it is unclear at this time if he will be able to play through it. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore suffered a thumb injury on Sunday that will require surgery. He is week to week.
Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker left with a foot injury.
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Note: In this section, matchups are listed in order of what the author is most confident will happen to what the author is least confident will happen. This section will become more extensive as the season progresses and offensive and defensive trends are established. For the first few weeks, it will be limited to pass rush predictions.
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
The Jaguars’ lackluster pass rush did not challenge Houston, but they will likely be overwhelmed this week facing Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney. Garrett is a no-brainer start, but Clowney requires a bit more faith to roll out in a lineup due to continued ineffectiveness in finishing at the quarterback. Takkarist McKinley makes a nice emergency play, but seeing as he is getting only a small portion of the snaps that Garrett and Clowney are getting, there is the risk he nets nothing.
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