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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With Khari Willis injured, it will likely be a tandem of Andrew Sendejo and George Odum for the foreseeable future. Odum will be the more valuable of the two for IDP, as he plays more often in the box.
We are learning that we cannot trust the Rams to keep the same linebacker usage from week to week. We thought that trading away Kenny Young would make Troy Reeder the full-time guy. Instead, it was Ernest Jones playing 89% of the snaps to Reeder’s 64%.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis returned this week for the Jets and was eased back into action at 68% playing time. Expect his time to increase and for him to become the full-time option next to C.J. Mosely.
Denver pass rusher Von Miller was traded to the Rams. While Miller’s production outlook will not change significantly, he is at least on a better team in terms of supporting talent.
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- Bears safety Eddie Jackson injured his hamstring.
- Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan hurt his knee.
- Browns safety John Johnson III sustained a neck injury.
- Chargers cornerback Micheal Davis left the contest with a hamstring injury.
- The Colts lost defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis (knee) and safety Khari Willis (calf) while playing against the Titans.
- Cowboys defensive back Trevon Diggs sustained a sprained ankle.
- Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter left Sunday Night Football with a torn pectoral muscle and did not return. He will miss the rest of the season.
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Cincinnati Bengals Pass Rushers versus Cleveland Browns Offensive Line
Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs versus Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
The Bengals have been one of the better teams at generating sacks this year and as evidenced by Baker Mayfield’s broken shoulder, the Browns have been one of the worst teams in terms of allowing them. It is a recipe that should allow Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and Larry Ogunjobi to have a good week in the stat column. On the other side of the matchup, the Browns can generate enough pressure to make Joe Burrow throw another interception or two. He has thrown nine on the year after the Jets game. Greg Newsome II, Greedy Williams, Grant Delpit, and Ronnie Harrison (assuming John Johnson III is out) make better-than-normal plays this week in the defensive back category.
Los Angeles Rams versus Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Los Angeles Rams defensive backs versus Ryan Tannehill
The Titans are back to their sack-allowing ways and lost Nate Davis to a concussion in the Colts game. Ryan Tannehill is dealing with a neck injury sustained when taking a sack and is not his normal, mobile self. They could not have picked a much worse time to face one of the top pass-rushing units in the NFL. Expect Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and newly acquired Von Miller to feast this week. Tannehill has also not responded well to pressure lately and has thrown interceptions in the past two games. He will face plenty of pressure in this one, so it is likely that Jalen Ramsey, Taylor Rapp, Jordan Fuller, or David Long could end up the recipient of one of these.
Pittsburgh Steelers versus Chicago Bears Offensive Line
While Justin Fields is giving fans a reason to be excited, the team is still allowing him to take a great many sacks. It should be no different this week facing an aggressive Steelers pass rush. You cannot bench T.J. Watt this week. Alex Highsmith and Melvin Ingram III III become attractive plays this week. Cameron Heyward is also a viable option. If Stephon Tuitt is back and a full-go, he also could be an acceptable start.
Indianapolis Colts Pass Rushers versus New York Jets Offensive Line
Indianapolis Colts Defensive Backs versus Mike White
The Jets have Mike White in the starter’s seat and despite a gutsy performance to beat the Bengals, White did take two sacks. Expect them to give up another one or two against Indianapolis this week, who themselves are coming off a three-sack performance against Ryan Tannehill. DeForest Buckner is a must-start option at DT on most weeks anyway. Kwity Paye and Kemoko Turay are high-risk, high-reward options this week. Also, defensive backs such as Andrew Sendejo, George Odum, Xavier Rhodes, and Kenny Moore II have an increased chance of picking off a mistake-prone Mike White, who threw two interceptions against the Bengals.
New England Patriots Pass Rushers versus Carolina Panthers Offensive Line
P.J. Walker evades pressure better than Sam Darnold, so if he is in, this matchup may not be nearly as appealing. If Darnold plays, it could be Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy will be the only two options we can possibly trust, even in a good matchup, because of variable playing time with the other pass rush options.
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers versus Denver Broncos Offensive Line
The Broncos have begun trading assets and preparing for a from-the-ground-up rebuild. A whopping 25 sacks, third-most in the league, may help to explain their failures as a team this year. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have really started to come on as a pass rush unit behind the likes of Micah Parsons, Randy Greggory, and Osa Odigizuah. All three are recommended plays this week.
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New Orleans Saints Pass Rushers versus Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
New Orleans’ pass rush is improving from where it was without Marcus Davenport at the beginning of the season but still could flounder this week against an Atlanta unit that is giving out a league-best 1.4 sacks per game on average. Tanoh Kpassagnon and Cameron Jordan along with Davenport are not advisable starts this week.
Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers versus Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Line
The Bills will finally come up against a matchup that is not favorable for them in terms of sacks. Jacksonville may not be able to generate wins, but they are doing a fantastic job of protecting Trevor Lawrence at a clip of only 1.6 sacks per game. Even as good as Gregory Rousseau has been, we will need to consider sitting him and Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and the other Bills interior linemen options because of this.