It now appears any hope we may have held for Zaven Collins this season is gone. When he vanished in week nine, we pointed to his shoulder injury as the probable reason. Collins was back on the field in week ten, but he went from third fiddle to fourth with Tanner Vallejo out snapping him 26-23.
Where has Budda Baker gone? He opened the season like the same old Baker, hitting double-digit points in four of the first five games. Since that time, he has produced six or fewer points in three of the last five with more than three solo stops in a game once since week six. This is a reason to be concerned, especially considering the Cardinals have a bye in week 12, followed by matchups with Chicago and Detroit in weeks 13 and 15. Both of those teams have been poor matchups for safeties. I never thought this would happen, but it might be a good idea to have a plan-B for our playoffs.
His impact was minimal but Donte Fowler was back in action against Dallas after missing four and a half games. If the Falcons are going to bounce back from their week ten fiasco, they will need Fowler to get back to the form he displayed early in the year when he had a pair of sacks in the first four games.
Patrick Queen bailed us out with a couple of big plays in week ten, but he remains a high-risk start. Snap counts for Baltimore linebackers against Miami were very similar to what we saw in week nine. Queen saw 52% of the action with Chris Board 51%, and Josh Bynes 74%. Baltimore’s remaining schedule includes a pair of games with the Browns, the Steelers, Packers, Bengals, and Rams. All of those teams are solid matchups for linebackers but at this point, it looks as if Bynes will have the best opportunity to capitalize on them.
Tremaine Edmunds missed week ten with a sore hamstring. He was not on the practice field all last week and is considered day-to-day leading up to week eleven. As he usually does in small doses, A.J. Klein filled in nicely, going 6-1 with a pass breakup. He could be a solid stream play against the Colts this week if Edmunds is out.
The bye could not have come at a better time for a Bengals defense that did not look good the last two times they took the field. They will try to bounce back against the Raiders this week but will have to do it without nickel linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither who joined Jordan Evans on injured reserve last week. This could turn out to be a major plus for Germaine Pratt’s production. Cincinnati lost their third safety when Brandon Wilson tore his ACL in week nine. Markus Bailey should step into the third linebacker role but what will they look like in nickel packages? Pratt has turned in some good games as a two-down player and has not seen much of a sub-package role over the last two seasons, but he is probably a better option in coverage than Bailey, and we know Pratt can rush the passer. If you have a need at linebacker or just an open spot to stash an upside addition, Pratt is someone to consider.
The battered Browns took another injury hit when Troy Hill was carted off on a stretcher Sunday. The good news is that his injury is a neck sprain so he will recover, the bad news is Hill will likely miss significant time. The Browns turned to Grant Delpit as their slot defender to finish the week ten game. If Greedy Williams’ shoulder allows him to get back on the field, he would likely start on the outside with rookie Greg Newsome sliding into the slot.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah returned to action against the Patriots, but he did not assume the near every-down role he played in weeks five and six. Instead, he logged a 31% snap share, which was fourth among the team’s linebackers. Chances are, this is a case of the coaching staff easing Owusu-Koramoah back into action. That said, I suggest sitting him until he is back to a full workload.
Donovan Wilson was injured in week one. Jayron Kearse played at least 97% of the snaps at strong safety over the next seven games, including three games after Wilson returned to action. The defense played well and all signs pointed to Kearse having taken over the job. Until week ten at least. Kearse still had a major role but it was Wilson logging 94% of the snaps to Kearse with 72%. Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker also saw 44 snaps between them. Just like week one, Wilson was unable to do much with the opportunity in terms of statistical production, but whatever the Cowboys were doing sure worked against the Falcons. Until we get some clarity on the situation and production from someone, stay away from all the Dallas safeties.
After a two-game break, Trevon Diggs was back in the interception column against Atlanta. The pick went a long way toward his fantasy value, but the fact Diggs has a total of three tackles and two assists over the last three games is enough to dampen the spirits. In his defense, Diggs has been playing with a sore ankle, so maybe he will bounce back in the tackle columns as well. After all, he had 20 solo stops in over a five-game stretch early in the year, and the Chiefs are a great matchup for corners.
Baron Browning made his third start in week ten but lasted just 16 snaps before leaving with an ankle injury. With Denver on a bye, the team has not seen fit to provide an update on the severity of the injury. He was able to walk off without showing much pain, so hopefully, the week of rest and rehab will be enough to have him available next week. If he is your guy, however, be prepared in case he misses more time.
Trey Flowers continues to play through a sore knee. He left Sunday’s game yet again, as he has a few times in previous games, limping. As we approach week eleven, it is evident he will not be healthy before next season.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers may struggle to get pressure on the quarterback down the stretch. With Zadarius Smith already on IR, the team lost recent addition Whitney Mercilus to a torn biceps in week ten, and Rashan Gary to a hyperextended elbow. Mercilus is done for the season but Gary plans to try playing through the injury with a brace. Of course, this is contingent on the results of the MRI. Even if he is able to play, there is little doubt his game will be affected.
The Texans inside linebackers are high on the watch list this week as we look to see how they compensate for the loss of Christian Kirksey (thumb) for at least two more games. When we last saw Houston, it was Zach Cunningham in the every-down role, but he was far from the same productive player we had come to expect in the past. With a bye week to prepare, we could see Eric Wilson with a major role.
Darius Leonard has been dealing with a sore ankle for much of the season. He was down at one point in week ten after aggravating the injury, then limped off the field. Ultimately, Leonard missed just a handful of plays, but keep an eye on his practice status this week. If he is not able to play, look for E.J. Speed to get the call and be productive.
The Colts are easing Dayo Odeyingdo into action. He may not have an opportunity to start until next season, but it is a good sign that he got in on a sack and forced a fumble less than 50 snaps into his professional career.
Managers in tackle required leagues should take notice of Taylor Stallworth. Over the last two games, he has been working as the third man in the tackle rotation. More than a third of his 150 snaps on the season have come in those two games, along with six tackles, three sacks, and a batted pass. If he keeps producing, it will be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup for long.
After watching the 49ers run the ball on an excellent Rams defense Monday night, one has to wonder if they will follow the same approach against a lesser Jacksonville squad this week. This could prove to be a great matchup for Myles Jack and Damien Wilson.
Rayshawn Jenkins could benefit from the matchup as well, but there is an interesting side note with the Jacksonville safeties. As they did in week nine, the team deployed three of them extensively against the Colts. Rudy Ford worked as a slot defender and/or nickel linebacker on almost 80% of the snaps. The other interesting note is that Jenkins spent a good deal of time at free safety after working largely at strong earlier in the year.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs looked like a different team in week ten. The offense was back and the defense held Las Vegas to 14 points. Is it just a coincidence that the defense played so well right after moving Chris Jones back inside to tackle? There was a lot more to the resurgence than just Jones, but the move certainly contributed. He failed to make an impact in the box scores but Jones made a difference on the field. We will have to see if the numbers follow this week versus Dallas.
One place we should not expect to see much in terms of numbers is at the Chiefs linebacker positions. No Kansas City linebacker played more than 29 snaps in week ten.
Las Vegas Raiders
Maxx Crosby is hit or miss when it comes to sacks, with all five of his coming in two games. That said, he is showing a lot more consistency in the tackle columns of late. He has six tackles and two assists in the two games after the bye and has consistently pressured the quarterback. Long edge defenders with a big wingspan have been a problem for the Bengals. Call it a gut feeling, but I like Crosby a lot this week.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kenneth Murray returned to action in week ten, with a 75% play share in his first game back. Last week we heard talk about his role evolving. It did not look all that different in this game, but perhaps that had something to do with Drue Tranquill not being available due to covid. Tranquill should be back to face the Steelers this week. Between that and the possibility of the Chargers being without Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery, this might be the week we see Murray line up on the edge at times.
Bosa and Tillery were placed on covid IR on Tuesday. Both have a chance to clear protocol in time to play in week eleven, but we should plan as if they will not be available.
Los Angeles Rams
In the two games since replacing an injured Sebastian Joseph-Day, AShawn Robinson has been on fire. He went 5-1 versus the Titans in week nine and 4-4 against the 49ers on Monday night. The Rams are on bye this week but have the Packers, Jaguars, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Vikings down the stretch. As long as Joseph-day is out, Robinson is an every-week start in leagues that break out the defensive line positions.
For the third consecutive game, Brandon Jones and Jevon Holland have been the Dolphins full-time strong and free safeties respectively, with Eric Rowe seeing plenty of action as the third man in a lot of nickel looks. With Jason McCourty landing on IR this week, it is probably safe to expect this to continue for the rest of the season. Jones was 6-1 in week ten and has produced at least six combined tackles, with right around ten fantasy points, in each of those three games. Holland turned in his best fantasy total of the season, going 4-1-1 with a pair of pass breakups against the Ravens. He has not been as productive as Jones in the tackle columns, but Holland has provided the big play juice Miami was looking for when they drafted him. Since week seven, he has two sacks, an interception, and four pass breakups. Both of these players have earned roster spots in most IDP formats at this point with Jones a solid consideration as an every week DB3, even against the Jets who have not been as poor a match for safeties as one might think.
With Anthony Barr out, Nick Vigil returned to an every snap role in week ten. Unfortunately, that did not translate to statistical production as it did earlier in the season. For anyone in need at linebacker this week, keep a close eye on the status of Barr. If Vigil has an every-down role against the Packers with A.J. Dillon as the lead back, Vigil should have a lot more action come his way.
When Michael Pierce injured his elbow several weeks back, the Vikings did not expect him to miss much time. Six weeks later, he finally landed on IR. While Pierce has been out, Armon Watts has been a solid option for managers in tackle required leagues. With a potential return by Pierce hanging over his head, however, IDP managers may have been hesitant to give Watt due consideration. Now that Pierce is sure to miss more time, Watts’ stock is up without the risk.
Harrison Smith missed a second game with COVID and for a second straight game, converted corner Camryn Bynum put up good numbers. Smith cleared COVID protocol on Wednesday and will be back in action this week, sending Bynum back to the special teams' room.
The Vikings designated Patrick Peterson for return from IR on Wednesday as well. He is not likely to have a full role this week but could be activated in time to see some action.
New Orleans Saints
Last week I pointed out the recent success of former first-round pick Marcus Davenport. If you grabbed him then, you are a happy manager. If you did not and he is still available, you will pay a lot more to land him after the two-sack performance versus Tennessee in week ten. In the four full games he’s played this year, Davenport is 11-5-4 with a forced fumble. He has been consistent as well, with three solo stops in each of the last three games. If you are still not convinced, consider the Saints have games with the Eagles (this week), Jets, and Dolphins remaining on the schedule.
We watched for a couple of weeks as Kwon Alexander became more and more involved in the Saints' defense. Last week was when we would have expected him in a full-time role if that was going to happen. Unfortunately, Alexander’s playing time leveled off, well short of an every-down role.
New York Jets
Ashtyn Davis has been somewhat inconsistent on a weekly basis. Even with the loss of Marcus Maye, he turned in a disappointing 4-1 against the Bills in week ten. Managers that started him were saved by a fumble recovery, but the lack of tackle totals with such a strong matchup, will not instill confidence in IDP managers.
Michael Carter II II moved into a bigger role when Maye was injured in week nine. Thus it was anticipated Carter would step into the starting role going forward. Instead, the coaching staff plugged in Jarrod Wilson at free safety. With a remaining schedule that includes less than stellar matchups with the Dolphins twice, Texans, Eagles, Saints, and Jaguars, we should not get too excited about Wilson.
Over the last three seasons, we have seen the Jets plug-in player after player at their linebacker positions due to injuries, covid, etc. Guys like James Burgess Jr, Neville Hewitt, and Quincy Williams have turned their opportunities into quality IDP production consistently. So what does this tell us about Jarrad Davis, who totaled one tackle and one assist in a near full-time role last week, and is 4-3-0 in a starting role over the last three games? This guy likes to watch other players make a lot of plays.
T.J. Edwards has been in the lead role as the Eagles' middle linebacker over the last three games. Over that span, he is 18-16 with a pass breakup. Edwards has not shown much big-play potential but is a tackling machine versus the run and has shown signs of solid coverage recently. It does not hurt that he logged 95% of the snaps in week ten, making him the first Eagles linebacker to see more than 80% of the action in a game this year.
Along with settling on Edwards at middle linebacker, the Eagles appear to have settled on Davion Taylor at the weak-side position. Taylor has seen 70% or more, of the snaps at that position over the last two games, going 6-2 in week nine, 6-1 with two pass breakups in week 10.
The Steelers got some good news and some bad news on Monday. The bad news is safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is expected to miss week eleven after testing positive for COVID. The good news is, T.J. Watt may not miss any time with the knee injury he suffered late in week ten. The knee was initially thought to be worse and the team braced for the possibility Watt could be out for a few weeks. His availability for this week’s game remains in question as of Wednesday, but the MRI showed no structural damage, meaning Watt is not likely to miss more than one game if any. If Watt sits, look for Taco Charlton to get the start opposite Alex Highsmith.
On a lesser note as far as IDP is concerned, Joe Haden is day-to-day with a foot injury. Meaning the Steelers could be without their top corner when they face a Chargers team that has been a plus matchup for corners on most weeks. If Haden misses the game, James Pierre could be a sneaky good play. He had six solo stops and a pick when called upon in week five and finished 4-3 after stepping in when Haden went down against the Lions.
San Francisco 49ers
A couple of weeks back I mentioned how it looked like Josh Norman might be evolving into somewhat of a Jalen Ramsey role That has not materialized over the last two games but it could be because Norman has been dealing with fractured ribs. He is playing through the injury but has been working in a more traditional outside corner role over the last two games.
The injury news is not all bleak for the 49ers this week. Dre Greenlaw and Jaquiski Tartt returned to practice this week and could be activated in time to play against Jacksonville. Managers looking to beat the competition to the punch might want to go ahead and grab Greenlaw before he sees game action. After being out since the week one injury, we can expect him to be eased into action just in time for our stretch run. Once he is back at full speed, Greenlaw should regain his three-down role and be a quality every-week starter for us.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The rash of injuries at the corner position continues for the Buccaneers. They could be without Dee Delaney this week if he does not clear concussion protocol. That would make Jamel Dean the team’s number one corner with Pierre Desir starting opposite him and Ross Cockrell working in the slot/nickel position.
The injury bug spread to the defensive line last week with Vita Vea suffering an MCL sprain. His absence should mean more opportunities for Steve McLendon. The biggest impact for fantasy managers here might be at linebacker. Vea does an outstanding job of keeping blockers off the second-level guys. That said, McLendon is no slouch.
A lot is going on with the Titans defense this week. Bud Dupree is in limbo with an abdominal injury, Dane Cruikshank landed on IR with a knee injury, and David Long Jr Jr. is trying to come back from a hamstring issue before Monty Rice can steal his job. Rice was solid in week ten, going 7-4 on just shy of 70% snap share, and turning some heads in the process. With Jayon Brown in the final year of his contract, Rice and Long look like the future of the position in Tennessee.
Washington Football Team
Chase Young suffered a torn ACL in week ten and is done for the season. With Montez Sweat recovering from a broken jaw, it looks like James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill will be the edge defenders for the foreseeable future. It would not be a surprise to see Matt Ioannidis or even Jonathan Allen get some action on the outside as well. Neither of the big men is a quick-twitch athlete that can beat opponents with speed off the edge, but they are good pass rushers. Ioannidis had 7.5 sacks in 2018 and 8.5 in 2019 before missing nearly all of last year with an injury.
So much for any hope of Jamin Davis playing full-time down the stretch. After seeing 98% of the snaps in week seven, Davis played 79% in week eight and was back down to 56% in week nine.
That is all I have for week eleven. Best of luck in all those vital matchups this week.
Enjoy this article? Find more from John here.