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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.
$ STOCK UP AND BANKRUPT $
Bills defensive end Gregory Rousseau took the lead in snaps, playing 20% more snaps than the next leading edge defender, Jerry Hughes. This may have been a product of the game script, but it will be something to monitor going forward.
Browns linebacker Anthony Walker was placed on injured reserve late last week, meaning he will miss at least the next few contests. It was veteran Malcolm Smith who replaced him in the lineup, playing 95% of the snaps. If you are struggling and need help at the position, it might be worth putting in a bid for Smith, who has been an experienced starter for multiple teams.
The Dallas coaching staff got creative and allowed Micah Parsons to play defensive end against the Chargers. He did not disappoint. It is possible the Cowboys will continue to utilize him in this manner, as he seems to be struggling more when he plays linebacker. The Cowboys corresponded by allowing Keanu Neal to play 72% of their linebacker snaps. It is not ideal usage, but Neal could be someone of interest in deeper IDP formats.
With Jamien Sherwood out, it was Quincy Williams instead of Delshawn Phillips who was the Jets linebacker playing primarily next to C.J. Mosley. Williams is worth a speculative pickup and can be a plug-and-play option until Sherwood returns to the lineup.
Giants safety Jabrill Peppers was back up to playing 80% of the time. It is not great, but it would be serviceable for general managers. Still, continue to bench Peppers until we are sure that his usage is going to remain stable and not change dramatically from week to week.
Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter went from 95% of the snaps last week to 30% this week. The Panthers played in their dime package for much of the contest against the Saints. While it may have been a one-off game plan, it is hard to trust Carter going forward.
As expected, with Marcus Davenport out Saints edge defender Cameron Jordan dominated snaps with 84% playing time. Peyton Turner did make his debut and made an impact on 41% of the snaps with five tackles (three for loss), a sack, and a quarterback hit. If he continues to play like this and not look like a rookie, expect his time on the field to increase.
Titans Bradley McDougald managed only 74% of the snaps against Seattle, suggesting that even with Amani Hooker out, he will not be trusted to be a full-time player. Since he can be a liability in coverage, that is an understandable choice.
$ INJURY SETTLEMENTS $
It was a busy week for injuries on the defensive side of the ball!
- Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence broke his foot in practice last week.
- Eagles defensive end Eagles Brandon Graham tore his Achilles and is out for the year.
- Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds left the game because of cramping and did not return, likely because there was no point in risking a more significant injury in a blowout win.
- Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb re-aggravated an ankle injury and is likely to miss some time.
- Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell was also knocked from the game with a significant pectoral injury. It was confirmed on Monday that his season is over.
- Falcons corner A.J. Terrell suffered a concussion against Tampa Bay.
- Jaguars starting corner C.J. Henderson left the game with a hip injury.
- The Packers lost Zadarius Smith to injured reserve for the foreseeable future with a back injury.
- Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt left the game with a groin strain and did not come back. Additionally, nose tackle Tyson Alualu suffered a fractured ankle.
$ MONEY IN THE BANK $
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.
Carolina Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
Both offensive lines have been surprisingly good so far, despite their below-average rankings. The Panthers have allowed only three sacks and Houston has surrendered just two. However, we could see that trend breaking for Houston next week, especially if the Panthers do what they did versus the Saints and play in nontraditional formations all day. It also does not hurt that the Panthers currently lead the NFL in sacks with 10. Brian Burns should be starting for most IDP squads anyway. Edge rusher Haason Reddick and defensive tackle Derrick Brown should also be given starting consideration this week.
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