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Week two is in the books. Some of the things we saw in week one were confirmed and many were debunked as teams changed gears. There are several injuries to be aware of that will, or at least could have a significant impact going forward. Here is the rundown of what I am seeing as we lead up to week three. Other situations
With two solo stops in each of the first two games, J.J. Watt has been a disappointment. Despite their struggles on the scoreboard, the Jaguars have given up just two sacks to date, so the matchup is not great on paper. That said, Watt is one of those guys who tend to blow up as soon as you give up on him. I’ll be putting him on the bench this week but I am not yet ready to throw in the towel altogether. If the Cardinals pull away early, as many expect, there will be a lot of pass rush opportunity in this one.
Chandler Jones followed a record-setting week one with a goose egg in week two. This is a good example of what can happen when an offensive game plan is designed to take neutralize a great pass rusher. The other bad news here is that Arizona’s defense managed just one sack despite the Vikings' focus on Jones.
Isaiah Simmons had another solid outing in week two, going 6-2-0 on 82% of the snaps, but it was Jordan Hicks who saw the most playing time of the inside linebackers, going 3-3-0 on 97% of the playing time. Zaven Collins was once again the third weel, logging 41% of the snaps. Hicks did not necessarily look bad, but he failed to stand out for a second straight game. One would think that at some point, the coaching staff has to go with talent over experience.
Jalen Thompson had a strong game with eight solo stops. He has shown flashes in the past but let’s see two good games in a row before we get excited.
Rookie Marco Wilson left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Robert Alford Alford moved into the CB2 role with Antonio Hamilton moving up to nickel corner. As of Wednesday morning, there has been no update on Wilson’s status for week three Marcus Golden 2-1-1 FF, Chandler Jones shut out
The Falcons have struggled to find a pass rush in recent years. With three sacks against the Buccaneers, hope is rekindled, especially considering two of them came from the defensive line. Dante Fowler played 71% of the snaps and was 2-1-1 with a forced fumble, and last year’s second-round pick Marlon Davidson also got to Tom Brady. After holding the title of starter heading into the season, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner was limited to 11 snaps in week two.
Strong safety Eric Harris turned in another solid outing with five solo stops. He has not been flashy and has limited upside, but could be a steady contributor as a DB3.
A.J. Terrell suffered a concussion early in the game and is in doubt for week three.
Rookie Jason Oweh may not be an official starter yet, but he led Baltimore’s outside linebackers with 75% of the snaps on Sunday night. He made an impact with a key forced fumble and recovery, likely locking himself into the lead role going forward. Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser were the other two players to see significant time at 51% and 63% respectively.
In 2017 both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde were top-12 defensive backs. In 2018 and 2019, Hyde slipped into IDP obscurity with just the occasional solid outing. The first two games of this season suggest he might be significant again. Hyde has double-digit points in both games with a total of 13 combined tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. With Washington, Kansas City, and Tennessee among Buffalo’s next four opponents, the matchups could help to keep the trend going.
Tremaine Edmunds flopped in week two, going 1-2-0 against the Dolphins. Edmunds played 67% of the snaps in this game, which may have been related to the lopsided score, but it is hard to overlook the fact that Matt Milano was 5-0-1 with a fumble recovery and played 61 of 67 plays. It’s not time to panic if Edmunds is your guy, but it may be time for concern and preparation in case he flatlines again this week.
The Saints were horrible in week two. As a result, no Panthers defender recorded more than four solo or five combined tackles. When it comes to Jermaine Carter going 1-0-0, there is much more to the story. Carter played 95% of the snaps in week one. Against New Orleans, he was on the field for 13 plays. It was safety Sean Chandler who poached all the playing time, seeing 70% of the action as the third safety in a big-nickel base scheme. No one made many tackles so it is hard to say how effective Chandler can be in that role going forward, or which look the team will even use as a base on any given week.
Yetur Gross-Matos and Morgan Fox are nursing ankle injuries this week. Fox was 1-1-.5 against the Saints but had far more impact than the numbers suggest. He was all over Jameis Winston on seemingly every play, with several pressures and hits. Fox is a player that has looked good in the past and seems to be a great fit here. If he continues to play as well as he did in week two, the numbers are going to follow.
Haason Reddick added another sack and a half and is an early contender for the sack title.
Jeremy Chinn had another forgettable outing at 3-0-0, but it is hard to tell how much of that is due to the game script versus his new positional responsibilities. The watch and concerns continue.
The BBBears came through week three with a win and a healthy defense. The most interesting development from their matchup with Cincinnati will be to see if Roquan Smith can beat out Bobby Wagner for defensive player of the week. Smith made a serious case for the award, going 5-3-1 with a pick-six. The Bears totaled four sacks, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in the game.
Week two revealed that the big game by Germaine Pratt in the opener was indeed a mirage. With the same role in week two, Pratt was on the field 60% of the time and had one solo stop on the day. Meanwhile, Logan Wilson is starting to look like the player we thought he would. Wilson’s tackle totals were backward at 3-6-0, but he added an interception and was on the field for virtually every defensive play.
Cincinnati’s defensive ends were quiet in the opener but they showed up against Chicago. Trey Hendrickson finished 1-2-1.5 with a forced fumble while Sam Hubbard went 5-2-.5. Rookie Cameron Sample contributed 3-1-0 as the third man in the rotation. The Bengals lost this one but through two games, it is safe to say this defense is greatly improved.
Anthony Walker landed on IR with his hamstring injury. Speculation has him returning in week five, but until then, Malcolm Smith might be a good answer for a fill-in. Smith stepped into the lead role going 4-4-0 with a pick on 58 of a possible 61 snaps. No other Cleveland linebacker played more than 25. Smith has a history of quality production when given enough opportunity.
After missing all of his rookie season and the first game of his second, Grant Delpit finally got on the field in week two. Most of his 26 plays were as the third safety though I believe he saw some time as a nickel linebacker as well. However he lined up, the results were good. Delpit totaled 3-1-1 and forced a fumble. Look for his role to grow over the next few weeks. With Ronnie Harrison (5-2 on 87%) also playing well, we could see a lot of big nickel from the Browns.
There is reason for concern when it comes to John Johnson. He was on the field full-time again in week two but is now 6-3-0 through two games. With Harrison at strong safety and Delpit playing near the line in a safety/weakside linebacker role, Johnson has been relegated to center field duties, away from most of the action. Unless he can flip the big-play switch, his value could be marginal.
Delpit had the Browns’ only sack in week two, with Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett combining for 1-6-0. There is nothing to see here other than a simple fluke. Clowney and Garrett are healthy and should rebound nicely against the Bears' rookie quarterback.
Donovan Wilson’s goose egg was a leading mystery after week one. Late in the week, we learned he was dealing with a groin injury. What we don’t know, is when the injury happened. He was reported to have played 85% of the Cowboys snaps in the opener. So did he play through the injury, which would explain a lot? Wilson sat out in week two, which created a dilemma for us. Hopefully, you can stash him on IR until he returns but many of us do not have that option. What we do know, is Jayron Kearse has turned in a pair of solid games at the position. I am going to sit tight on Wilson for now unless/until I have to use the roster spot.
Micah Parsons was effective, landing a sack in his first game as a defensive end. With Randy Gregory set to return from the COVID list soon, Dallas should once again be in decent shape at the defensive end position.
The ripple effect of Parsons’ move to end was considerable on the linebacker position. It was reported that Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal would return to full-time roles with Jaylon Smith having an increased role, but leaving the field in sub-package situations. They lied to us. Vander Esch had a solid game at 4-3-1 but played 52% of the snaps. Smith played 76%, going 6-3-0 with Neal recording three stops on 72%. So we are still left with no full-time linebacker at the moment.
The Denver defense was hit hard on the injury front in week two. Both Bradley Chubb (ankle) and Josey Jewell (shoulder) landed on IR early in the week. Chubb should be back at some point but is expected to miss several weeks, while there is less optimism for Jewell. Malik Reed will step into the lineup at outside linebacker and is a quality replacement. At the inside linebacker spot, the situation is less cut and dry. Justin Strnad took over on Sunday and is the favorite to start this week. I have not yet had time to fully evaluate his performance on the field against Jacksonville, but from what I have seen, Strnad looked fairly good. From an IDP perspective, his 4-2-0 on 23 plays is strong enough to deserve a slot on many waiver lists.
For anyone thinking this might be an opportunity for Baron Browning to get on the field, that is a possibility but feels like a long shot at this point. The other twist here is the Broncos signing of Micah Kiser off the Rams practice squad. This move might be simply for depth, but Kiser has starting experience.
One more not on the Denver linebackers, Alexander Johnson played virtually every snap against Jacksonville and was a dismal 1-3-0 on the day. It was his second straight underwhelming performance.
As you probably know by now, I have never been impressed with Alex Anzalone. I am, however, one to give credit where it is due. He may have played the best game of his career on Monday against the Packers, and it showed in the box score. In the past, he has tried to run around blocks instead of taking them on, and/or struggled to get off blocks at the point of attack. Simply put, he was not physical enough, which led to poor production regardless of playing time. Part of Anzalone’s career-best 8-2-0, came from the Packers running the ball down their throat but he also did a much better job fighting through blockers and getting to the ball. One game does not trump his history of lacking production, but it does provide a reason for optimism. It will not hurt that the Lions are going to be behind a lot either.
After having far less than a full-time role in the opener, it was good to see Jamie Collins on the field for 97% of the snaps against Green Bay. His production was unusually low considering the overall situation, but Collins was around the ball a lot and should rebound nicely against a Baltimore team with more of a power-running game.
Romeo Okwara has all of two assists in two games, but I would advise against giving up on him. Granted, the Lions are not going to play with a lead much, so his rush opportunity could be a bit light overall, but Okwara has ten pressures in those games as well. We should also consider he is playing with a sore shoulder that is likely playing a part. With his general lack of production and a questionable matchup this week, sit him down but hold on another week or two before giving up altogether.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers finally have their man at inside linebacker where DeVondre Campbell is looking like a great fit. He went off for 10-3-0 and an interception against a Lions offense that struggled considerably for half of the game. Look for Blake Martinez-like numbers from Campbell the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Krys Barnes was relegated to part-time duty, seeing action on 44% of the snaps against the Packers. Expect his role to fluctuate from week to week going forward.
Justin Reid is taking to the free safety position well. His tackle totals have not been great but with an interception in each of the first two games and a forced fumble in week two, Reid has shown the big-play ability Houston coaches want from the position. with interceptions in each of the first two games and a forced fumble for a kicker.
Much has changed with the Texans' defense and so far, it has not been for the better where Zach Cunningham is concerned. He was 1-5 on 70% of the snaps in week two, which makes Cunningham 4-8-0 with a pass breakup over two games. He is too good a player and was likely drafted too high to give up on him already, but there is a reason for concern in that he has not looked like a great fit in the new scheme.
Christian Kirksey is not lighting up the tackle columns so far but he has not missed a snap and has a turnover in both games. If he can stay healthy, Kirksey is set to continue as the centerpiece of a defense that will be on the field a lot.
Kamu Grigier-Hill was a surprise 6-3-1 with a forced fumble on 72% of the plays against Cleveland. This would be more interesting had he played more than 17 snaps in week one, but it is enough to put him on the radar.
In years past, the Indianapolis stat crew has been very generous. That was not so much the case in week two with Darius Leonard being awarded 4-3-0 and Bobby Okereke 3-3-0. Both players are off to a slow start but they should right the ship in week three when the Colllts go to Tennessee. The Titans handed the ball to Derek Henry 35 times in week two with Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks combining for 19-10-1.
In week one, Myles Jack looked good and Damien Wilson played nearly 80% of the snaps. In week two, Jack was less impressive and Wilson’s playing time plummeted to 55%. Both players finished at 3-3-0 against Denver. We have to keep the faith with Jack but the Cardinals have not been a great matchup so far, so we may want to sit him this week. Wilson, on the other hand, is a strong candidate to get the ax this week.
Kansas City Chiefs
Ravens ran 41 times and threw 26 in their week two matchup with the Chiefs. That led to strong numbers from Nick Bolton (8-1) Anthony Hitchens (9-3) and Daniel Sorensen (7-3-1), but can we expect good numbers from these guys going forward? We know that Hitchens is a solid starter with some limitations. He will give us some good games and some marginal ones. Likewise, we have seen enough of Sorensen to know he will give us DB3 type numbers on most weeks. When it comes to Bolton, however, there is a lot of upside. His playing time expanded a bit in week two, up to 83% but it was his play on the field that caught my eye. This rookie is polished and looks like he belongs. If he continues to impress, it will be hard for the coaching staff to take him off the field once Willie Gay Jr returns, which could happen in a few weeks.
Las Vegas Raiders
Denzel Perryman managed 6-6-0 despite missing some snaps with cramps. He is, so far, the linebacker to have among the options provided by the Raiders, but there is an asterisk or two. Nick Morrow is expected to return at some point and was the starting middle linebacker before the injury. Initial expectations had Morrow possibly returning around week seven. Then there is Nick Kwiatkoski who missed week two with a concussion but is a good player that the Raiders like a lot. Perryman is the guy for now, but keep looking ahead if he is your guy.
Cory Littleton put up decent numbers in week one but totaled just 3-2 on 70% of the playing time in week two. He will have some good weeks along the way, but at this point is not someone we can start every week.
On the heels of his big week one, Mason Crosby was 2-0 in the box score against Pittsburgh, but he was much more effective on the field than the numbers suggest. Crosby created a lot of pressure and was highly disruptive versus the Steelers. He is a player that will be in my lineups every week at this point and could excel against a Miami offense starting a backup quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kenneth Murray was on the field for 79% of the snaps in week two but there is no reason for concern when it comes to playing time in the long term. In the short term, however, we need to keep an eye on the ankle injury that caused him to miss a few plays. Murray came back after getting some attention, so unless there is soreness or swelling during the week, he should be good to go. Drue Tranquill picked up the slack with three tackles in the limited action.
Nasir Adderly had a big day against Dallas, going 8-1 with a pass breakup. He had a handful of games like that last year but was far too inconsistent to be counted on as more than a matchup-based flier or bye week fill-in.
Jerry Tillery did nothing in week one so it is hard to get excited about his 4-3-.5 against the Cowboys. That said, he is a talented player that could prove a great fit as a 3-4 defensive end, so the solid numbers are enough to get him on our radar.
Los Angeles Rams
Kenny Young played every snap in week one and put up strong totals of 5-5-0 with a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. His numbers were a bit lower but he was on pace to play virtually every snap again in week two before losing his cool and getting ejected. Over the last few years, whoever held this role, was an every-week IDP starter. Unless the ejection somehow made the coaching staff sour on him, Young should be that guy this year.
I am seeing some managers move to get Troy Reeder this week. He was on pace for a slightly bigger slice of the pie before Young got the boot, but much of his production came after, so there is no reason to get excited about Reeder at this point.
In last week’s column, I plugged Jalen Ramsey hard. His numbers were way below expectations at 1-2 with a pick, but his role as a move-around defender did not change much. He should have a lot more opportunity against the Buccaneers this week.
The Dolphins have become New England South. They were blown out by Buffalo yet no player had more than five solo stops or six combined. On top of that, their defensive approach was completely different than what we saw in week one. For example, safety Brandon Jones played 11 snaps in week one. In week two he led the team in tackles, going 5-1 on 65% of the snaps. Eric Rowe went from 100% playing time in the opener to 41% against Buffalo. What it comes down to, the only Miami defenders we can trust right now are Jerome Baker and maybe Emmanuel Ogbah
Sheldon Richardson was nearly invisible again, going 0-1 on 23 snaps. It is time to move on.
New England Patriots
Josh Uchi saw his playing time more than double against the Jets, up to 35 snaps. He has a golden opportunity for another big day against the Saints who looked horrible last week.
After being on the field full-time in the opener, Kule Dugger slipped into an even timeshare with Adrian Phillips in week two. If there were any rhyme or reason to the playing time breakdown here, we might get some value from one of them. With all the linebackers available this year, Phillips is looking very inconsistent at best while Dugger is hit or miss as well.
Speaking of Patriots linebackers, Ja’Whaun Bentley played 93% of the snaps against New York, finishing at 6-2 with a pass breakup. If he gets that kind of playing time going forward, he too could become an IDP factor.
New Orleans Saints
With Marcus Davenport landing on IR, Carl Granderson moved into the starting lineup opposite Cameron Jordan. But it was rookie Peyton Turner who made the most noise. He shifted into the third-down/third man role, recording 4-1-1 on 31 plays. It is still early, but Turner has an opportunity to further impress over the next few weeks and the team has been looking for a steady, three-down starter at that spot for a long time.
New York Giants
James Bradberry is lighting it up. The super-sized corner is 11-3-0 with an interception in two games and has outproduced two of the three starting safeties. The Falcons have been forced to throw a lot, so look for another quality outing from Bradberry.
Strong safety Logan Ryan is currently the only safe play among the Giants’ three safeties. He is playing every down while Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney have taken turns in the number two role. McKinney played nearly full-time in week one. In game two, it was Peppers with 80% of the snaps and McKinney 55%.
New York Jets
John Franklin-Myers had another good game going 1-2-1 with a forced fumble. The tackle numbers are nothing to speak of but he has two sacks and a forced fumble already. If you are in need at the position, he could be an answer.
Last week I expressed some concern that Marcus Maye might shift back to free safety. So far that has not happened. The Jets gave Adrian Colbert the start at that position against New England. The Jets also promoted rookie Michael Carter to starter at corner, moving him past Brandon Echols. Carter responded by going 4-4-0 and is a candidate for the rookie corner rule going forward.
C.J. Mosley knocked the rust off in week one and was back to his productive former self against New England. The Jets threw us a curve at the second level, however, when they benched week one starter Del’Shawn Phillips and replaced him with Quincy Williams. Williams logged 53 snaps (91%) with about the same mediocre results (3-2) he produced as a starter for Jacksonville in previous years.
There is huge potential among the Eagles front seven, but they are spreading the playing time among too many guys. Of the front-seven, only Alex Singleton played more than 80% of the snaps and he was at 81%. Singleton still managed solid numbers of 5-6, as did Erick Wilson who was 5-5 in less than 70% of the action. Genard Avery, T.J. Edwards, and Davion Taylor split 69 snaps between them.
The team is using the same approach along the defensive line. After losing Brandon Graham to a season-ending Achilles injury, Derek Barnett led the way with 64% of the action while Josh Sweat saw 40%, Milton Williams 39%, Ryan Kerrigan 46%, and rookie Patrick Johnson 19%. Williams lined up on the inside for some of his playing time. Barnett will continue to start on one side but it is unclear who will get the call opposite him. Sweat had six sacks last year and just signed a three-year extension, so common sense would suggest he should get the first shot, but common sense is not as common as one might think these days.
The Steelers are not far behind Baltimore when it comes to injuries. Devin Bush and Joe Haden both missed week two with groin injuries, Tyson Alualu just had surgery on his ankle, T.J. Watt missed the second half of Sunday’s game with a groin, and Alex Highsmith missed practice on Wednesday with a groin. Things are getting mighty thin indeed. IDP managers could miss a golden opportunity if neither Watt nor Highsmith can suit up against the Bengals this week.
Robert Spillane stood in for Bush and picked up right where he left off last year, posting a solid 8-4. The Bengals are a better matchup for linebackers than they were for most of last year, so if Bush is out again, don’t hesitate to plug Spillane in at his spot.
Carlos Dunlap saw his snap total go down and was invisible for a second straight game. Kerry Hyder went the other way, going 3-1 with a fumble recovery, but the bottom line here is the Seahawks have returned to their old ways of rotating everyone. In all, seven defensive ends saw at least 18 snaps with Hyder, Rasheem Green, and Benson Mayowa all between 58% and 65% of the snaps.
Bobby Wagner’s 16-4-1 makes him a contender for defensive player of the week. Going to Minnesota, he has a strong matchup for week three as well.
San Francisco 49ers
Javon Kinlaw was active and had a major role, seeing action on 42 of a possible 58 snaps. He is still working to recover from a knee injury suffered last season, so it was good to see him make it through a full game. There are grand expectations for the second-year man, but if he does not get it in gear soon, redraft owners will have to move on.
Azeez Al-Shaair got the start and played every snap in week two, but his production was marginal. He put up quality numbers in a short stretch as a starter last year, and the Packers are an excellent matchup. If you are looking for a stream option, Al-Shaair should be a good play.
There was not much tackle production from anyone in a titans uniform last week. Seattle ran the ball 15 times for 61 yards so the opportunity was limited. With Carson Wentz hurting and the potential for a backup quarterback, the Colts should present a much different look.
Amani Hooker suffered a foot injury in week one landed on IR. Bradley McDougald saw considerable action in his place but was released early in the week, making Dane Cruikshank the anticipated starter at strong safety. The team hopes to have Hooker back by November.
Jayron Brown missed week two with a hamstring injury. The way last season unfolded, it was not a surprise to see David Long Jr./a> step up and log 98% of the snaps, playing over Rashaan Evans (57%) in sub-packages. If Brown is out again this week, Long could be a solid LB3 option.
Washington Football Team
Matt Ioannidis suffered a knee injury early in last week’s game. He returned but was mostly ineffective. There has been no update to suggest he will miss time or be limited, but he was certainly not the same after the injury last week, so beware of putting him in your lineup.
Jonathan Allen was quiet for most of last year. He is not going to be this time around. Two games into the season he sits at 6-4-3 and has already surpassed last year’s sack total. on the season.
The Football Team does not seem to want us to have great IDP production from their safety position. Landon Collins rebounded from a dismal week one with six tackles and an assist but was limited to 75% of the snaps. Kamren Curl moved back to free safety and played 74% with week one star, Bobby McCain bringing up the rear at just over half.
Jamin Davis watch is on but so far there is nothing to talk about. In fact, his playing time went down a bit to 27 of 69 plays (27%), Cole Holcomb continued as the every-down guy with Jon Bostic at 57%.
That does it for this week. Best of luck to you in week three!
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