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 $
The Browns had a lot of interesting IDP developments in week five action. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah hit 91% playing time, even with the return of Anthony Walker. If this continues, Owusu-Koramoah becomes very valuable going forward. Safety Ronnie Harrison got 100% playing time, which is something of a surprise after Grant Delpit’s 97% snap share last week. It will be interesting to see if that becomes a trend, but Harrison is worth a speculative pickup on the chance that it does.
The Cowboys cut Jaylon Smith last week and general managers were anxious to see how that might impact linebacker snaps across the group. Micah Parsons continues to get the bulk of the playing time, but it was both Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander Esch splitting time about equally at 50% and 46% of the snaps respectively. IDP sleeper Jabril Cox logged 6% of the snaps on the day.
Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham’s fall out of favor continues. Cunningham’s playing time descended to 52% this week. It appears that Kamu Grugier-Hill is the player to target, as he is getting full-time work next to Christian Kirksey.
Titans linebacker David Long Jr is the only full-time option right now with Jayon Brown moving to injured reserve and Rashaan Evans’ injury. He should be super productive on a defense that just is not good across the board.
$ INJURY SETTLEMENTS $
- Browns cornerback Denzel Ward left Sunday’s contest with a neck injury and was unable to come back.
- Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David sustained a low ankle sprain and is slated to miss some time.
- Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack exited early against the Titans with a back injury.
- Packers cornerback Kevin King exited early against the Bengals.
- Steelers linebacker Devin Bush suffered a leg injury against the Broncos.
- Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans left with a quad injury and Kristian Fulton could not return after a hamstring injury.
$ MONEY IN THE BANK $
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
The Titans are so banged up along their offensive line, recently losing Roger Saffold and Nate Davis in the Jaguars contest. They gave up three sacks against the Jaguars and are bound to surrender more against the very aggressive Buffalo Bills. Start Gregory Rousseau with confidence this week. Jerry Huges and Carlos Basham Jr could also get in on the action. Even the pass rushers not getting a lot of playing time such as Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa, and Efe Obada are better-than-normal desperation plays this week.
Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
The Giants are banged along their line and also have big injuries to Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay. It is going to be difficult for the Giants to not surrender multiple big plays in these circumstances. You would need a very good excuse if you were to bench Aaron Donald. Leonard Floyd also would be an acceptable starting play in most leagues this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars Pass Rushers versus Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
The Jaguars did get three sacks against the miserable Titans offensive line and should come up with similar production against a Miami unit that is struggling to protect whoever is behind center. Josh Allen is a no-brainer choice. Dawuane Smoot is worth consideration again this week. K'Lavon Chaisson got a sack last week and could get involved again in this favorable matchup.
Minnesota Vikings Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
Minnesota Defensive Backs versus Sam Darnold
Carolina gave up three in the last one against the Eagles and the Vikings pass rush has found its groove again with the reunion of the Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen tandem. They are the best bets to repeat in week six. Additionally, we have started to see Sam Darnold become more careless with the football in recent weeks. He threw three picks in the last contest. You could see guys like Harrison Smith, Xavier Woods, and Patrick Peterson become beneficiaries of one of Darnold’s errant passes.
Cincinnati Bengals Pass Rushers versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
The Lions just have not been able to find their way in terms of pass blocking, despite showing some fight. The Bengals have had no trouble generating sacks and have 13 in five games. Trey Henderickson and Sam Hubbard are the only two to go with in this contest.
Chicago Bears Pass Rushers versus Green Bay Packers Offensive Line
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Chicago Bears Offensive Line
This divisional tilt looks like it could be one in which each team nets at least three sacks per side. The Bears surprisingly lead the NFL with 18, but they also are second in sacks surrendered with 18. Missing Zadarius Smith, the Packers have generated only ten sacks, but Rashan Gary and Preston Smith have been heating up over the past two games. Dean Lowry is also a desperation play this week. On the Chicago side, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn are the only options we will want to place any trust in, and probably only in deeper formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pass Rushers versus Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
It is just the reality of the situation-- Geno Smith is going to take sacks behind a patchwork offensive line. They have given up 13 in five contests, or over 2.5 a game. Two or three are very likely here. T.J. Watt is in your lineup regardless of matchup. Cameron Heyward should be starting for your squad in all but the most shallow of leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs Pass Rushers versus Washington Football Team Offensive Line
Washington has been stingy about giving up sacks but did give up a couple in the last contest. That is a reasonable expectation heading into this contest especially. The Chiefs pass rush has not hit its stride, but this could be a turning point. If Chris Jones is back, he is a must-play this week. Mike Danna has proven to be an adequate option, even with Frank Clark back in the lineup. Clark needs to show something again before we can trust him as more than a boom-bust option.
Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus Houston Texans Offensive Line
While the Colts' pass rush has not been particularly prolific this year, the matchup is right for them to potentially steal two or three. You would play Deforest Buckner in most DT-required formats anyway, but he is especially a good option this week. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyqaun Lewis are a bit riskier, but the potential for reward is higher than normal.
$ INSUFFICIENT FUNDS $
None this week! All matchups are either favorable or neutral.