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 $
There is very little to report in terms of significant IDP movement this week...
A big thanks to former Footballguy Craig Zumsteg for the heads-up on the following item. As the Texans retool their team, we have seen the playing time of the established starters that are left fluctuate. One such development is that in three out of the four last games, Jonathan Greenard has played over 50% of the edge rusher snaps and logged six sacks in three active games. He is worth a pick-up to hold and see if the Texans reward him with an expanded role.
With Kenneth Murray and Drue Tranquill out, it was Kazir White getting the start. White will be valuable as long as he is getting full-time work, but when either Murray or Tranquil return, expect his snaps to dip significantly. In other words, enjoy the production while you can!
There were rumors heading into this season that the Chiefs might begin phasing out Daniel Sorensen and start playing Juan Thornhill more. It finally transpired in week six, with Sorensen slipping to 32% playing time and Thornhill playing full time with Tyrann Mathieu.
$ INJURY SETTLEMENTS $
Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and is questionable to play in the upcoming Thursday night contest.
The Cardinals placed interior lineman Corey Peters on COVID-IR just before their game with the Browns.
Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens was not able to play on Sunday with an elbow injury.
Packers linebacker Jaylon Smith injured his oblique.
The Patriots got very banged up in their contest on Sunday. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore left with a shoulder injury. Pass rusher Chase Winovich left with a shoulder injury and Ja'Whaun Bentley hurt his ribs. Defensive back Jonathan Jones was knocked from the contest with a rib injury.
The Raiders lost linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski to a foot injury.
Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen left early with a thigh injury.
Seahawks edge rusher Darrell Taylor left in the fourth quarter but avoided serious injury according to head coach Pete Carroll.
Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson will miss the next three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday.
$ MONEY IN THE BANK $
Los Angeles Rams versus Detroit Lions Offensive Line
Cleveland Browns Pass Rushers versus Denver Broncos Offensive Line
Denver has surrendered the third-most sacks of any team with 19 and is playing an aggressive Cleveland pass rush that will need to pick up the slack for a banged-up offense. Myles Garrett is an every-week start anyway, but you especially do not want to sit him in this contest. Jadaveon Clowney has been better in recent weeks about converting pressures to sacks, so it is safe to start him as well. Beyond that, there are not many trustworthy options on this team in terms of potentially producing big plays.
New York Giants Defensive Backs versus Sam Darnold
Carolina Panthers Pass Rushers versus New York Giants Offensive Line
"Play it again, Sam." That is what teams playing the Panthers are saying after witnessing Sam Darnold’s interception streak (six in two games). The fact that Darnold continues to be careless with the ball makes Adoree' Jackson, James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney, and Jabril Peppers even more appealing options this week. On the other side of the contest, one has to like the chances of the Panthers to get a sack or two against Daniel Jones. Edge rushers Brian Burns and Haason Reddick are the best plays and the only two we can really trust.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Rushers versus Chicago Bears Offensive Line
The Buccaneers pass rush has not been as potent as it was in 2020, but it could return to form against a Bears team that has allowed an eye-popping 21 sacks. Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh are good plays this week. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka could also be a fun but risky play for general managers who need some punch in their lineups.
Cincinnati Bengals Pass Rushers versus Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line
Baltimore Ravens Pass Rushers versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
Both teams are mirror images of one another in that they have surrendered 16 sacks through six games, but have also sacked the quarterback 14 times. Expect a nasty divisional tilt with lots of potential for big plays on both sides. On the Baltimore side, Odafe Oweh is the best bet. The rotational nature of Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston makes things a little riskier, but they are at least high-upside plays. On the Cincinnati side, Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Larry Ogunjobi, and B.J. Hill all have elevated odds of a big play or two this week.
New England Patriots Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
New England Patriots Defensive Backs versus Zach Wilson
The Jets have not been great at protecting Allen, giving up three sacks a game on average. Based on playing time, Matt Judon or Dont'a Hightower are the only two on whom we can really feel comfortable taking a chance. Also, Zach Wilson has been good for over one interception a game on average and threw one in his last contest against the Falcons. Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, J.C. Jackson, and Jaylen Mills are the best candidates to be on the receiving end of one or two of those turnovers.
$ INSUFFICIENT FUNDS $
Green Bay Packers Pass Rushers versus Washington Football Team Offensive Line
The Washington Football team has lost four of its last six games, but it is not because of the offensive line. Washington’s line has been one of the better units in the league and has protected Taylor Heinicke to the tune of only six sacks. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are not unstartable in deeper leagues but lower your expectations for getting a big play.
Miami Dolphins Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Atlanta Falcons Pass Rushers versus Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
This matchup should be a stalemate in terms of sacks. Despite their record, the Falcons have actually protected Matt Ryan well, giving up only eight sacks on the year. The Falcons, on the other hand, have struggled to generate them and sit fourth from the bottom of the league with a paltry nine.
Seattle Seahawks Pass Rushers versus New Orleans Saints Offensive Line
Both teams have had some difficulty getting to the quarterback in recent weeks. With the potential loss of the Seahawks' best pass rusher Darrell Taylor, it looks unlikely that will change for the Seahawks.