Before I get rolling here, I need to let everyone know there will not be an EOTG column in week 13. I’ll be back for week 14.
A lot of us are wondering what to do with Budda Baker at this point. The former star is simply not getting it done recently. One issue is a defense that has improved considerably but I believe the main problem is his health. Baker has been battling a rash of injuries over the last several weeks. He has shown up on the injury report with a concussion, a sore knee, groin, and most recently, a heel that had him questionable right up to game time on Sunday. The bye comes at a good time and should allow for some healing. Hopefully, he will be close to 100% for the three excellent matchups during the fantasy playoffs. Arizona has the Rams in week 14, Colts in week 16, and Cowboys in week 17 for those leagues that extended their season a game with the new NFL schedule.
While most positions are getting rather dried up on the waiver wire, there are some good options out there for those in need of a corner. A.J. Terrell has 34 combined tackles, five passes defended, and a pick over the last six games, with at least five combined tackles in five of those contests. He’s reached double-digit points in two of the last three, including a season-best of 20.75 in week eleven.
With a rash of injuries to edge defenders league-wide, many managers are looking to gey by with matchup-based streamers until we get guys back. Dante Fowler Jr Jr. is available in a lot of leagues and might be an answer for this week. He too was injured and missed a few games, but returned in week ten against Dallas. In the six full games he’s played to date, Fowler is 9-10-2.5 with a pair of forced fumbles and a batted pass. He was 2-3-.5 against the Patriots last week and has a juicy matchup with the struggling Jaguars this week. Jacksonville has allowed eight sacks in their last three games, including six to defensive ends.
There is a bit of good news for those of us sitting on Patrick Queen. His 75% snap share in Week 11 was the largest percentage of playing time he has seen since week four. Some managers might think the absence of Josh Bynes from the stat sheet against Chicago was another plus for Queen, but that is not so much the case. Bynes played his normal 70+ percent of the snaps.
Callias Campbell was forced out of the week eleven game with a foot injury. If you are counting on him, keep an eye on the practice reports and work on a plan B.
Not all the injury news is negative this week. Buffalo should have Tremaine Edmunds back when they face the Saints. He returned to practice on Monday.
Morgan Fox has been playing good football all season but has fallen short in the box scores. His play finally showed up on the stat sheet in week eleven with four tackles and a forced fumble. One game does not make a trend, but Fox could be worthy of consideration in deep-rostered leagues.
With Khalil Mack shut down for the year, the Bears needed someone to step up on the edge opposite Robert Quinn, who had a career day against Baltimore, going 4-1-3.5 with a forced fumble. Trevis Gipson might be the other guy. He chipped in 4-1-1 versus the Ravens. Just as importantly for many of us, Gipson is listed as a defensive end in many leagues.
Deandre Houston-Carson has been on a roll, averaging better than 15 points over the last four games. That chariot may turn back into a pumpkin this week though. Houston-Carson started his streak as a stand-in for Teshaun Gipson in week seven, then moved over to cover for Eddie Jackson in Chicago’s last three games. Jackson returned to practice last week and was a last-minute scratch for Sunday. He should be available to face the Lions on Sunday.
Our week eleven watch list included Germaine Pratt, where the hope was more sub-package participation due to injuries at the linebacker position. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. Pratt saw a slight uptick in snaps, working on 68% of the plays. The Bengals worked from a nickel base defense with three corners, replacing Pratt with Ricardo Allen in obvious passing situations.
After missing time with a high ankle sprain, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah returned to action in week eleven. He was not on the field with the starters and played 14 snaps before leafing the game after aggravating the injury. He is expected to suit up again this week but is unlikely to be fully healthy. Expect the rotation at outside backer to continue with Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson sharing the load.
Anthony Walker did return to his every-down role versus the Lions. His 5-3 in the box score seems light but is actually rather solid considering the matchup. It is safe to expect much more from Walker this week against the Ravens, who are a plus matchup for linebackers.
In a strange schedule sequence, the Browns will have a bye in week 13 then face off for the divisional rematch with Baltimore in week 14. I don’t remember teams ever playing the same opponent in consecutive weeks during the regular season.
The Dallas defense remains a moving target for IDP managers. In week eleven they played a nickel base scheme with Leighton Vander Esch seeing his second-highest snap share of the season at 72% and Keanu Neal on the field for every play. Micah Parsons started and saw extensive action at defensive end. With Dorance Armstrong coming to life (a sack in two straight games), and DeMarcus Lawrence set to return as soon, Parsons could shift back inside as soon as this week.
Someone forgot to tell the Broncos they are rebuilding. Instead, they are smack in the middle of the playoff conversation. The return of Bradley Chubb would give Denver a big boost. He was designated to return and began practicing on Monday, in anticipation of being active for week twelve.
When last we saw Baron Browning, he was leaving the field early in the week ten game, with a back injury. Browning missed the first couple of days of practice this week but is expected to return later in the week and play on Sunday.
Tracy Walker came out firing with a big week one, then faded quickly. In Detroit’s first eight games, he reached double-digit fantasy points twice. In two games since the Lions’ bye, Walker is 13-3 with ten-plus points in each. Since we are at the point in the fantasy season where we can start looking at playoff matchups, it is worth mentioning that the Lions face Minnesota, Denver, and Arizona weeks 13 through 15. All three of those teams represent quality matchups.
Amani Oruwariye is another corner that could be a solid roster addition. Since becoming a starter in week three, he has reached double-digit points in six of eight games, with his two highest point totals coming in the Lions’ last two games.
Jonathan Greenard missed week eleven with a sore foot but he put in limited practices all last week. That is usually a sign that a player is close, so it would seem there is a good chance he will play against the Jets this week.
Zach Cunningham was on the field for every snap again in week eleven, but this time he did something with the opportunity. Cunningham had his most productive game of the season, going 6-5 with a forced fumble and a pass breakup against the Titans. With Christian Kirksey on IR and recovering from a broken thumb, Cunningham is set for at least one more start. This week’s matchup with the Jets is not a great one, but if Kirksey misses another game after that, Cunningham could be in for a big outing against the Colts in week 13.
Since taking over the starting strong safety job in week eight, George Odum has five solo tackles in four straight games and scored almost 18 fantasy points versus Buffalo last week. If he is still in the lineup this week, expect Odum to make it five straight solid games thanks to a matchup with the Buccaneers.
After a stint on IR with a strained calf, the Colts hope to get Khari Willis back in time to play in this one. He is not a lock to be activated, but if he is, Willis is a must-start.
Darius Leonard continues to play every week but has been battling an ankle injury all season. He had surgery on the ankle in June but has never fully recovered. When asked about the ankle in early October, Leonard responded by saying, it’s still attached, that’s about it. He continues to make big plays with relative consistency, but when Leonard fails to make on, his tackle numbers are not enough to carry his value. The Buccaneers are not a team that gives up a lot of splash plays, so though as it may be, it might be a good idea to consider sitting Leonard this week if you have another quality option.
After a string of solid production that included 16 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble over five games, Dawuane Smoot was shut out by the 49ers. Adding insult to injury, he was replaced in the starting lineup by K’Lavon Chaisson who finished 3-1. The 52% play share was Smoot's lowest since week two. Atlanta has allowed 11 sacks over their last four games, including 7.5 to edge defenders. So the matchup is a strong one. With the rash of injuries at the position, a lot of IDP managers will have to give him the start. Let us hope last week was a fluke.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ defense has been a completely different animal in their last two games. Maybe it is just a coincidence that Chris Jones moved back to tackle two weeks ago, and maybe not. He still saw some snaps at defensive end but most of the damage Jones did in week eleven, came from the tackle position. With a line of 4-1-3.5, a forced fumble, and a recovery, Jones did plenty of damage.
Jones is not the only one to benefit from his move back to tackle. In nine games with Jones on the outside, Jarran Reed totaled 8-9-0. Over the last two games, Reed is 4-2-1.5. Jones is not going to be available in many leagues that breakout the defensive line positions, but Reed likely will be.
Las Vegas Raiders
Add Brandon Facyson to the list of corners that have stepped up over the last month or so. He stepped into the lineup in week six as the Raiders were trying to replace an injured Travon Mullen. In the five games Facyson has played, he has 22 tackles, 10 assists, 8 passes defended, and a pick, for an average of about 11.5 points per game.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kenneth Murray’s struggles continue. Early in the season, we thought the ankle injury was the only issue. Now we are left second-guessing that theory. Murray returned in week ten with a modest four combined tackles on 58 snaps, but at least he was in a role that would be productive once he knocked the rust off, right? Hold the phone on that one. Murray got the start against Pittsburgh but played just 15 snaps in the game and was shut out of the box scores, while Kyzir White logged 66 plays and Drue Tranquill 44. Murray has been battling the ankle issue since early in training camp, but I am seeing nothing to suggest he suffered a setback. Maybe more information will come to light but at this point, we have to assume Murray is a bust.
Brandon Jones has emerged as an outstanding IDP target since the Dolphins finally started playing him full time. We need to keep a close eye on his status for this week, however. Jones left the week eleven game with an elbow injury. The team has been mum on the status of Jones as of Wednesday morning, but they signed safety Will Parker off the practice squad on Tuesday, which could be a bad sign.
With the return of Harrison Smith from COVID, Camryn Bynum was bumped out of the strong safety role as expected. He made the start versus Green Bay as a slot defender but ultimately played only a handful of snaps in the game.
Defensive end Kenny Willekes saw some action in week eight then flashed in week nine, but has not seen the field defensively since. Sometimes NFL teams make lineup decisions that cause me to wonder if the coaches watch the same games we do. I still like Willekes in the long term, but for the moment he is waiver fodder.
New England Patriots
One day, Kyle Van Noy will tell his grandchildren about the time he went 5-3-2 with a pick-six against the Falcons. Right now, a lot of IDP managers are scrambling to get him on their rosters. With almost 48 fantasy points over the last two games, it is hard to argue against adding Van Noy, but there are two things to keep in mind. He doesn’t get to play the Falcons again this year and Van Noy was averaging 5.6 points per game before week ten, in the same role. If you have a hole to fill, he is a good option to roll with but don’t put him in your lineup ahead of a consistent quality player.
New Orleans Saints
Sometimes the stat sheet simply does not match the game. This is the case with the Saints and Eagles in week eleven. Philadelphia ran the ball a whopping 51 times in this game, yet middle linebacker Demario Davis recorded one tackle on 78 snaps. Sometimes there is just no explanation. It would far less shocking to see Davis bomb this week versus a Buffalo offense that has not even tried to establish a run game in recent weeks.
Kwon Alexander fared better against the Eagles, posting six tackles and an assist. The bigger news here is the 65 snaps he played, which was an 83% share. Previously, Alexander’s season-high was 46 plays in week nine. The Bills are not a great matchup for linebackers in general, but New Orleans plays Dallas in week 13 and Tampa Bay in week 15.
Marcus Davenport’s breakout season continued with a solid 5-4-.5 in Philadelphia, but he came out of the game nursing a sore shoulder. Davenport sat out Tuesday’s practice which is not a good sign considering New Oleand plays the late game on Thursday.
New York Giants
The Giants host Philadelphia this week, so should we expect a similar game plan from the Eagles in this one? Considering they just ran all over a very good New Orleans rush defense, why not? Tae Crowder has been adequate on the field and a solid third starter for many managers. He should have plenty of opportunities, but it is the safeties I like in this game. Logan Ryan missed the last game while on the covid list. He should be back in time for Sunday’s game.
New York Jets
One of the most important stories for IDP managers coming out of week eleven is the re-emergence of Quincy Williams. After three weeks on the back burner behind Jarrad Davis, the Jets coaching staff finally decided to put Williams back in the lineup nearly full time. He started on the weak side and went 7-7 on 63 of a possible 71 snaps. Meanwhile, Jarrad Davis was relegated to scraps, seeing action on nine plays and making one tackle. Now we just have to hope the coaching staff recognizes Williams is the better player and decides to keep in on the field for the rest of the season.
One thing we can count on from the Jets is players showing up in the box scores that we have never heard of, especially in the secondary. Last week it was corner Isaiah Dunn who racked up seven solo tackles, and safety Elijah Riley who had two tackles and four assists. There is a chance these guys could continue to play prominent roles, but we should not count on it.
One player I do expect we will continue to see is defensive end, Ronald Blair III. He spent much of this season on the practice squad but has been active for the last two games. Blair showed signs of starter quality play while with the 49ers, totaling 13.5 sacks while serving mostly as a rotational backup over four seasons. He is a strong run defender with a little pop in his pass rush. With all the edge defenders that are hurt, Blair deserves a spot on our watch list at the least.
The Eagles frustrated us early in the season with their indecision at linebacker. They could not decide on a starting tandem at the position, so instead rotated everyone. As is often the case in the NFL, those decisions were eventually made for them. The first step was the release of Eric Wilson after week seven. That coincided with Alex Singleton being benched in favor of Davion Taylor in week eight but those two still shared snaps to a lesser extent. That came to a sudden end when Taylor suffered a knee injury against the Saints. With Taylor expected to land him on IR, or at least miss a few games, there are no more decisions to be made. The two healthy players remaining are middle backer T.J. Edwards who has been on the field for nearly every snap over the last three games, and Singleton who played every down after Taylor left on Sunday. Both of these players should put up strong numbers going forward. Edwards is not likely to be available in most leagues, but Singleton may have been dropped during his four-game hiatus from fantasy value.
Darius Slay does not make a lot of tackles but has five turnovers and three scores in the last seven games. That makes him a gambler’s starter with good matchups against the Giants and Jets respectively, before the team’s week-14 bye. His availability for the Giants game this week is in doubt, however, as he is currently in concussion protocol.
The Steelers defense was handcuffed by injuries in last week’s loss to the Chargers. That should not be the case for their critical divisional meeting with Cincinnati this week. Joe Haden (foot), Minkah Fitzpatrick (covid), and T.J. Watt (hip/knee) are all expected to practice this week and play on Sunday. Watt missed the first meeting with the Bengals but has a sack in all nine games he’s played this year.
Interestingly, Seattle opened week eleven in a 5-2 with Rashaan Green and Benson Mayowa on the edge, Kerry Hyder Jr and Antwaun Woods at defensive tackles, and Poona Ford on the nose. It did not have much of an effect on the box scores but we did see both Green (77%) and Hyder (70%) get a significant boost in playing time. It was the first time since week seven that any Seahawks defensive lineman played more than 58% of the snaps.
With D.J. Reed sidelined by knee and groin injuries, the Seahawks lost his replacement, Tre Brown to a season-ending knee injury early in Sunday’s contest. As of Wednesday morning, there had been no update on Reed’s availability for week twelve, but he did not practice at all last week which is not a good sign. Seattle could be looking at Sidney Jones and Blessaun Austin as their starters versus Washington. Jones had a big game against the Cardinals, totaling 8-3 and a pass breakup. In his three starts this year, Jones is 17-7 with a pair of passes defended. Add him to the list of corners on the rise.
San Francisco 49ers
If you are wondering what happened to your 49ers defenders last week, here is your answer. The San Francisco defense faced a total of 42 offensive snaps against Jacksonville and 9 of them were incomplete passes. It is a safe bet there will be much more opportunity this week against the Vikings.
Azeez Al-Shaair left last week’s game with a stinger. The injury is not expected to keep him out of this week’s game, but the possible return of Dre Greenlaw could eat into his snap count. Greenlaw returned to practice last week but was not activated for the game. The clock is ticking on his window to be activated but there is still more than a week left before the team has to make a decision. Coach Shannahan said last week that even when Greenlaw is activated, he will not necessarily return to his full-time starting job right away.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have successfully weathered the storm of injuries at their corner position. Sean Murphy-Bunting was activated from IR and played nearly every snap opposite Jamel Dean on Monday night. The recovery was complete when Charlton Davis was designated to return on Wednesday. With all hands on deck, we should see Davis and Dean on the outside and Murphy-Bunting in the slot for the first time since week one. Davis totaled over 30 fantasy points in two games before the quad injury. Add him to the list of corners that could help with your stretch run.
Monty Rice made his third start of the season in week eleven. Unless David Long Jr returns from his hamstring injury, Rice will get a fourth against the Patriots this week. He has not yet played 70% or more in a game, but that could change this week considering New England does not use a lot of spread formations. Over his three previous starts, Rice has 13 tackles, 13 assists, a pass defended, and an average of just over ten points per game. his upside is limited but Rice could serve as a decent fill-in considering the good matchup.
That does it for week-12. Just as a reminder in case you missed it at the top of the page; there will not be an EOTG column next week. Best of luck to everyone and I’ll be back for week 14.
Enjoy this article? Find more from John here.