The dust is beginning to settle as we head into week four. Other than some impact injuries creating questions, we now have a fairly good idea of what is going on with most defenses. Here is the rundown of what I am seeing.
Jordan Hicks has been playing full-time since week one. The numbers finally caught up in week three, when he finished 7-5-1 with a forced fumble and a pass breakup. The Rams have not been a particularly great matchup but Hicks should be a solid start until/unless something changes here. We know the Cardinals were looking to trade him after the draft. Maybe the Giants will have some interest after losing Blake Martinez.
Isaiah Simmons is not getting every down opportunity but is seeing more than 80% of the action. His tackle totals could be a little inconsistent but the big play potential is enough to make Simmons a solid every week play.
There is a thin line between patience and stupidity when it comes to holding onto an underachieving player like J.J. Watt. If your luck runs like mine, he will blow up as soon as you decide to move on. That said, three weak outings in a row are enough for me to pull the trigger. I am moving on, so if you are going to sit on him one more week, you might want to start him.
The Falcons changed some things up in week three, fielding three safeties on nearly 70% of the plays. T.J. Green played nine snaps in week one and twenty in game two. Against the Giants, he played every snap opposite Erik Harris while Duron Harmon continued to see a decline in playing time. Green managed a rock-solid six tackles, two assists, and a pass breakup. It is too early to tell if this is the start of a trend or just a one-week splash. On the other hand, Green played well and what had been a shaky defense, held the Giants to 14 points. At the very least, Green is a guy to keep an eye on this week.
Donte Fowler may have found a home. It would be nice to see more in the tackle columns, but he has a sack and a forced fumble in each of the last two games. His stock is on the rise.
Marlon Davidson left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and did not return.
Chuck Clark racked up big numbers against Detroit, but it was the perfect storm so don’t get too excited. He had three tackles, two assists and three passes defended over the first two games before blowing up for 9-3-1 in week three. The Ravens had some injuries and COVID issues that likely contributed to the explosion but there is nothing to suggest Clark is going to continue to be highly productive.
If anyone was still holding out hope for Malik Harrison, this should be the last straw. Harrison played 17 snaps against Detroit, Chris Board logged 21, and Josh Bynes was activated from the practice squad to play 14.
DeShon Elliot left Sunday’s game with a Quadriceps injury. He was replaced by Brandon Stephens
Micah Hyde is not turning in eye-catching tackle totals but he has at least five combined stops and has been a major factor in the big play columns so far. With a sack, an interception, and three pass breakups, he has double-digit points in all three games to date. He is worthy of a roster spot and possibly even a third starter in most leagues starting three defensive backs.
After being on the field for less than 70% of the snaps in Buffalo’s week two blowout of the Dolphins, Tremaine Edmunds was back to full participation against Washington and put up his first decent totals of the season at 6-1. That is good news, but this week’s matchup with the Texans is not a great one.
It may not be a great matchup for the linebackers, but I like Greg Russeau in this one. He landed a pair of sacks in week two, has consistently gotten pressure on the passer, and Houston allowed four sacks to the Panthers last week.
Jaycee Horn suffered a broken foot versus the Texans and could miss the rest of the year. Rashaan Melvin was the immediate replacement but the team traded for C.J. Henderson on Monday. Henderson had been in the Jaguars’ doghouse and was inactive for week three, presumably due to an illness. He should be good to go for week four and could be in the Panthers lineup despite the short time with the team.
Justin Burris left Sunday’s game for a while with a groin injury but was able to return. After the soreness set in, it now looks like he will miss some time. Sean Chandler stepped in against the Texans and is set to be the starter for at least this week’s game.
Jermaine Carter’s playing time was back up to 75% in week three but his numbers remained far from impressive. It is hard to say if the snap count was part of the plan or came because the team was without their third safety after Burris went down.
I mentioned Morgan Fox last week, after he was all over Jets and Saints quarterbacks in the first two weeks, but did not have the numbers to show it. The trend of pressure continued in week three with the numbers slowly starting to catch up. Fox was 2-1-.5 against Houston and has a fairly good matchup this week with a Dallas offense that has allowed six sacks in their last two games.
Khalil Mack had his best game of the young season against Cleveland, recording a pair of sacks in the game. There was an injury scare when he left with a foot injury before halftime, but Mack was back on the field for the third quarter. That tells us he is not seriously injured, but keep an eye on the practice reports this week if he is your guy. Injuries tend to get a lot sorer a day or two after the game so he could be less than 100% for the juicy week four matchup with Detroit.
The Bengals are playing good defense in general but nothing has been more impressive than the turnaround of their pass rush. After finishing last in the leagues with 17 sacks in 2020, Cincinnati is currently tied for fourth with 10. They added four to the total against the Steelers in week three, all recorded by defensive linemen including one from each of the top three defensive ends. Getting pressure on the passer without having to blitz is always a goal of defensive coordinators. The moral of this story, there is a lot of IDP value to be found here, including the tackle positions.
Chidobe Awuzie left Sunday’s game with a groin injury and his week four is in doubt. Darius Phillips came on to replace Awuzie. With no word on the possible return of Trae Waynes, Phillips is likely to get the start against Jacksonville.
Logan Wilson is a key to the team’s newfound success. For the first time in nearly two decades, Cincinnati has a playmaking stud at middle linebacker. Through three games, Wilson not only has 30 combined tackles but also three interceptions. The Jaguars are not a great matchup at this point, but Wilson is a guy we have to start every week.
One other interesting note from Cincinnati’s week three, Akeem Davis-Gaither played more than snaps (45) than starter Germaine Pratt (36). This likely had everything to do with the Steelers falling behind and being in pass mode early, but it is something to watch going forward.
With Anthony Walker out, Malcolm Smith played virtually every snap in week two, but the Browns elected to spread the wealth against Chicago. This decision might have been impacted by the Bears’ inept offense, but regardless of why, the result was no Cleveland linebacker being on the field enough to make an impact, even with Sione Takitaki joining Walker on the sideline. Smith logged the most playing time at 67%, with rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah going 3-1-.5 with a pair of pass breakups on 51%. Elijah Lee (33%), and Mack Wilson (27%) filled out the play charts. Walker will miss at least one more game but could return as early as week five. If someone let him go when he landed on IR, now is the time to grab him.
Grant Delpit was back on the field in week two. He made a solid contribution, going 3-2-1 with a forced fumble on just 26 plays. That led to speculation his role would quickly expand. While that could still happen at some point, Delpit instead saw slightly less time in week three, in terms of both snap count and percentage.
With Keanu Neal on the COVID list and Micah Parsons playing defensive end, we thought it might be a good week to play Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. That plan sounded good in concept. Smith ended up seeing action on 50 of a possible 54 snaps with Vander Esch playing 44. The snap percentage was good but the results were not so much as the two combined for seven solo stops and one assist. Neal should be back in week four, so it is time to put the Dallas linebackers back on the bench. It would be nice to see one of these guys traded to the Giants, but don’t hold your breath.
With Josey Jewell out for the season, Alexander Johnson went back to being the Broncos’ every-down linebacker in week three. After scoring four and a half points in each of the first two games, he rode five tackles and a pair of sacks to a 16 point day versus the Jets. No one in a Broncos uniform has been piling up tackle numbers so far this year, including safety Justin Simmons who followed a solid week one with a tackle and two assists over the last two games. Like Johnson, Simmons bailed out fantasy managers with the big play in week three. Despite their struggles, both players should get strong consideration this week against the Ravens, who have been a great matchup.
Justin Strnad replaced Jewell and went 2-2-0 on 82% of the snaps. He too could be a decent start this week for managers in deep drafted leagues.
No matter who is running the show in Detroit, the questionable decisions just keep coming. This week there are two headscratchers. The big one being the release of Jamie Collins Sr. He was out of practice all last week with a non-injury designation and was inactive for week three as the team attempted to trade him. When they could not get a deal done, he was outright released. It is hard to say what happened behind the scene, but it is not hard to say that Collins was the team’s most productive and arguably their best linebacker.
The second head-scratcher was the reduced role for safety Tracy Walker. I have not watched the entire game and have seen nothing as of Wednesday to suggest this is an injury issue. Walker followed a big week one with a not-so-great performance against the Packers in week two, but then no one in a Lions uniform had a great week two. Walker started against Baltimore but was limited to 39 of a possible 58 snaps with career backup, Dean Marlowe, getting the rest of the playing time in base sets. In all, Marlow logged 44 snaps in the game. When he plays full time, Walker is usually one of the more dependable safeties in the IDP game. At this point, however, his value is in question going forward. If Walker is currently your guy, it may be time to swap him out for Will Harris who has 14 solo stops on the season, including six in each of the last two games.
Alex Anzalone has settled in as Detroit’s only full-time linebacker. He had another solid line versus Baltimore, finishing at 5-0-1. Despite a long history of mediocre play and sparse production, Anzalone seems to have found his sweet spot with the Lions.
The release of Collins opened the door for rookie Derrick Barnes to get on the field more. After logging 15 snaps over the first two games, Barnes got the start in week three. He ended up in a virtually even timeshare with Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Neither player showed up strong in the box score but the duo combined for seven tackles and an assist. If they continue to split time there will be no IDP value here, but if one player eventually takes over the job full time, he will put up good numbers. Reeves-Maybin has been a solid backup and spot starter for the Lions since 2017 while Barnes is a rookie that the coaching staff has been high on since early in the offseason. Keep an eye on this situation as it develops.
Romeo Okwara showed no ill effect of the shoulder injury, going 3-1-1 against Baltimore, and is a must-start against a struggling Chicago offense that allowed nine sacks in week three.
Trey Flowers did not play last week as he recovers from sore a shoulder and knee. Charles Harris got the start, recording his second sack of the season. Whoever starts this week against the Bears, has the potential to be productive. Keep a close eye on the late-week practice reports.
Green Bay Packers
We have established that De'Vondre Campbell is the player to have at the Packers inside linebacker position but unlike years past, the team is deploying two inside backers more often in 2021. While Krys Barnes is not playing full-time, he is not without IDP value. Barnes had eight combined tackles on 78% of the snaps in week one and had four stops with a fumble recovery despite playing less than half the snaps in week two. He left the week three game after suffering a concussion in the first quarter but managed a tackle and two assists on ten snaps before leaving. Barnes will see his playing time fluctuate from one week to the next so there will be ups and downs, but the guy is still going to give us a lot of solid weeks.
Last week I was critical of Zach Cunningham. Right on cue, he turned in the most productive game of his season to date. The question now becomes, is the big week from Cunningham going to be the norm, or was it the result of Kamu Grugier-Hill being out with a sore knee? Don’t let week three make you forget Cunningham and Grugier-Hill each played around 70% of the snaps in week two with Grugier-Hill going 6-3-1. Cunningham is coming off a strong game but it is not yet time to relax if he is your guy. Grugier-Hill returned to full practice on Monday.
Vernon Hargreaves III has double-digit fantasy points in two of three games and had five combined tackles in the other one. This is not a fluke. Hargreaves is a big physical corner that relishes contact. So much so in fact, the coaching staff strongly considered moving him to safety this summer and probably would have done so had they not been hurting at corner. He had 60 total tackles in 2019, 72 last year, and is currently on pace for 102 in this expanded season.
Like most teams, the Texans use a rotation at defensive end. The interesting note here is Houston swapped starters in week three. After having Charles Omenihu and Whitney Mercilus start the first two games, the Texans started Jacob Martin and Jonathan Greenard against the Panthers. No one had big numbers here but Greenard was 2-2-1 with a forced fumble on 55% of the snaps. With the team searching for long-term options, Greenard is worth watching. Mercilus recorded his second sack of the year, going 1-1-1 on 42% of the snaps. He can still get pressure on the passer but is not looking particularly strong as a run defender. We could see him settle into more of a sub-package role going forward.
One of the big questions heading into week four is, what is wrong with Darius Leonard? Simply put, he is not healthy. Leonard had surgery on his ankle in June and it is not yet 100%. He is tough as nails and is battling through pain every week with a sore ankle that would sideline most players. For those of us that drafted him as our LB1, there is nothing to do but be patient and hope he is 100% soon.
The good news for Indianapolis is they have another excellent linebacker in Bobby Okereke. His 6-2-1 in week three was the best production of his season to date and there are a lot of good weeks yet to come. That said, this week’s matchup with the Dolphins may not be one of them. Linebacker totals were low for Miami’s first two opponents. Denzel Perryman and Corey Littleton had 17 solo stops and seven assists between them in week three, but much of that resulted from 10 completions to the tight end. Before playing Okereke this week, consider that the Dolphins running game has left much to be desired thus far. They ran the ball 20 times against Las Vegas in a game that was decided at the end of a full overtime period.
Julian Blackmon led the Colts with 11 solo tackles against the Titans, but don’t hustle out and pick him up. A lot of that production came after Khari Willis suffered a groin injury, causing the Colts to shuffle their secondary a bit. Andrew Sendejo took over for Willis and would be in line for the start if he is not able to suit up.
Rookie corner Tyson Campbell has ascended to the starting role quickly. After playing 29 snaps in the opener and 55 in week two, he was on the field for every defensive play versus Arizona, going 6-2 with a pass defended. The Jaguars sent C.J. Henderson to the Panthers this week, opening the door for Campbell to continue as the starter. He will be tested often this week when Jacksonville faces a strong Bengals passing game. This is the rookie corner rule at its best.
Damien Williams had a solid day against Arizona, which was somewhat of a surprise considering his low snap count the previous week. He took the field on 85% of the snaps versus the Cardinals, finishing at 6-3 and creating some optimism for his value going forward.
It may not have much fantasy impact but is worth mention that Dawuane Smoot (41 snaps), saw more action than K’Lavon Chaisson (31), in week three.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ defense is struggling greatly and a lot of it has to do with their play in the trenches. Chris Jones had a great week one with a pair of sacks but has since vanished. Jarran Reed was supposed to be the replacement for Jones on the inside. He too has struggled to make an impact. Frank Clark was ineffective before he was injured. As a result, the group has but one sack and not many pressures between them over the last two games, with the lone sack belonging to Michael Danna. This group is far too talented for this to continue so be patient if you have one of them on your roster, especially if you have Reed or Jones who is dealing with a wrist injury.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders had another injury scare at the linebacker position when Denzel Perryman left the week three contest to have his foot or ankle looked at. He was able to get back on the field and went on to have a career day with 10 tackles and 4 assists. Following some disappointing years with the Chargers, Perryman has found new life in Las Vegas. Nicholas Morrow is nowhere near returning so Perryman seems to be locked in as the Raiders three-down linebacker for the foreseeable future. If he continues to play as well as he has thus far, Morrow will have a hard time getting the job back whenever he returns. Keep an eye on the practice reports just in case there is an issue with Perryman this week, but he looked fine.
Cory Littleton was productive against the Dolphins as well, going 7-3 in the tackle columns. He is not playing in every situation but has been on the field for at least 70% of the plays in every game. After looking like a fish out of water at times last year, Littleton has improved greatly in year two with the team. He is not going to be the stud he was with the Rams but is emerging as a solid LB3 candidate on most weeks. I like him in that role against the Chargers.
The 49ers waited four years for former first-round pick Solomon Thomas to break out. They eventually gave up. Like many talented players that struggle early in their careers, Thomas seems to have found his calling as a Raider. He never totaled more than three sacks in a season with San Francisco, yet Thomas has two and a half in two starts with Las Vegas, adding a forced fumble for good measure. Thomas passes the eyeball test as well and has looked like a different player on the field. There is no guarantee he is not a flash in the pan but with the shortage of productive interior linemen, Thomas is certainly worth a shot if you need help at the position.
Free safety Trevon Moehrig missed some time in week three to have his ankle looked at. Watch for a possible injury update, but he seemed to be fine.
Rookie Divine Diablo made his NFL debut in week three, logging 22 snaps. This is a young man the Raiders like a lot so keep him on your radar going forward.
Los Angeles Chargers
With his production and injury history, IDP managers with Derwin James find themselves cringing every time he makes a play. Many of those managers had their hearts skip a beat when James came off the field favoring his shoulder after a hit on Sunday. There was a big sigh of relief when he returned to the field a few plays later but we may not be out of the woods yet. On Monday we learned he had suffered a dislocated shoulder that popped back into place, allowing him to continue playing. These injuries are usually worse in the following days and this one could bother him for a good while. As of Wednesday, there was no update on the status of James, but it would be a good idea to have a backup plan ready for at least this week.
A good backup plan might be found in James’ teammate, Nasir Adderly. Adderly normally lines up at the free safety position, which has traditionally not been a boxscore-friendly role in Los Angeles. However, Adderly was 8-1 in week two and followed up with a 7-2 mark against the Chiefs. The coaching staff could elect to protect James by having him work as the deep safety more often, which is what it looked like they were doing when he returned in week three. This would, in turn, make Adderly the strong safety, playing closer to the line.
Manager with Kenneth Murray might be concerned about his lack of production in week three, especially when they see he only played about half of the snaps. Before anyone panics, this is almost certainly injury-related. Murray missed some time in week two with an ankle injury. He returned to that game, practiced last week, and was in the starting lineup against the Chiefs, but the ankle is not 100%. I have not yet been able to confirm this, but I believe he was taken off the field in some situational personnel as a way to limit the possibility of further/more serious injury. His snap count could be down a bit for the next two or three games but expect him to be full-go after the Chargers week seven bye, if not earlier.
Murray’s limited action allowed Drue Tranquill to get back on the field in a more significant role. Tranquill took full advantage, going 6-2-.5 on 34 plays. Another strong showing might be enough to make the coaching staff think hard about moving him ahead of Kyzir White once everyone is full go. That said, White was productive as well against the Chiefs with a solid 5-3-1 on 55 of a possible 79 plays.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams safeties had a slow day at the office against Tampa Bay but there is no reason for concern. The Buccaneers ran the ball all of ten times in the game. They will have a lot more opportunity this week versus Arizona.
Unless you are in a league with a lot of sleepy owners, Kenny Young and Jalen Ramsey are probably not available. Hopefully, you were the lucky manager to land them both. With an 8-2-1 in week three, Young moved into the top-10 and could climb further after facing the Cardinals. At this early stage, only the titans are a better matchup for inside linebackers.
Jalen Ramsey bounced back from the low tackle numbers in week two, with seven solo stops and an assist in week three. He is an absolute beast in the new role and is in line for a highly productive day against Arizona.
Safety Brandon Jones is coming off a 4-2-2 against the Raiders and has turned in surprisingly solid numbers for a guy that has played such a limited role. He is currently 11-3-2 with a fumble recovery on 88 plays. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the Dolphins moving away from their current four-safety rotation.
The Vikings desperately want D.J. Wonnum to emerge as the long-term starter at defensive end opposite Danielle Hunter. Unfortunately, it is not happening. Wonnum has been a total non-factor so far, recording three tackles and three assists on 132 plays. After working on 84% of the snaps in week two, he split snaps with Everson Griffen against Seattle with both seeing action on 34 plays. Griffen went 1-2-1 in his first significant action of the season and is already making it difficult for the coaching staff to keep him out of the starting lineup.
New England Patriots
Ja’Whaun Bentley had another solid statistical day, going 6-1 with a pass breakup against the Saints. His production has been strong over the last two weeks but this is an illusion that could bite us if we are not careful. We never know what approach New England will take from week to week. Bentley played 39 snaps in week one, 68 in week two, and 30 in week three. Percentage-wise, those numbers work out to be 72%, 93%, and 49%, with the 93% coming when Kyle Van Noy was out. We get much the same scenario at safety with Adrian Phillips, making it hard to trust anyone in this uniform as more than a weekly upside gamble.
New York Giants
The Giant took a major hit with the loss of Blake Martinez to a season-ending knee injury just a few snaps into Sunday’s game. Tae Crowder stepped into the lead role, going 4-7-0 in an every-down role. Crowder is no Martinez, but he is a good player in a great situation and should be at the top of our waiver lists this week. Reggie Ragland should also see an expanded role as he steps into the early-down base package role Crowder previously held. It might make sense for the Giants to claim Jamie Collins Sr or look into trading for someone like Jordan hicks or Leighton Vander Esch, but they are likely to allow Crowder a shot at proving himself first.
Another ripple from the Martinez injust could be more of the three safety personnel groups. That would be great news for those of us trying to figure out what is going on with Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney. So far it appears the coaching staff is having them take turns. Week one it was McKinney playing full time with Pepper getting less than half the snaps. In week two they traded places with Pepper playing 80% and McKinney 55%. Last week McKinney was back in the every-down role, working 61 of 62 snaps but this time Peppers saw almost 70% of the playing time, possibly due to the team being down a linebacker.
James Bradberry pulled a Houdini and vanished in week three. There is nothing to see here other than a coincidence. Bradberry played his normal role and was not injured. The Falcons simply did a great job of avoiding him. Of course, the Giants helped out by not having him travel with Calvin Ridley, who caught eight of the twelve passes completed to receivers. From that perspective, it might be a good week to sit Bradberry as the Saints have been a horrible matchup for corners so far. J.C. Jackson had four tackles against New Orleans last week and is the only corner to record more than two with this matchup.
New York Jets
We have seen the Jets make quality IDP contributors out of some mediocre linebackers over the last couple of years. James Burgess Jr and Neville Hewitt are the first two that come to mind. The tradition might continue this year with Quincy Williams. Blake Cashman is on IR, B.J. Goodson decided to retire, Jamien Sherwood was injured in week one, DelShawn Phillips finished that game but failed to impress, so the team turned to Williams in week two. Williams had an opportunity to start for Jacksonville in 2019 but failed miserably. He has started the last two games for the Jets, playing nearly every down, and is coming off the most statistically productive game of his career with six tackles and a forced fumble. Nothing is certain here but it seems like the job is Williams’ to lose at this point. We just have to remember, a tackle counts the same for us no matter how far down the field it is.
News hit late on Wednesday that Marcus Maye has an ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for at least a couple of weeks. The Jets are already short-handed at safety so Adrian Colbert and Jarrod Wilson are the expected starters for week four. It is worth mention that rookies Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen were both safeties in college though they have been converted to linebackers by the Jets.
The Eagles continue to rotate linebackers, severely limiting what could be an IDP gold mine. Alex Singleton led the way with 74% of the playing time against Dallas. T.J. Edwards started alongside Singleton but was replaced by Eric Wilson in passing situations yadda yadda... It is the same thing we have seen from this group since week one.
Milton Williams drew the start opposite Derek Barnett at defensive with the three-man rotation that included Josh Sweat, was virtually even. Barnett led the group with 55 snaps, Williams logged 47, slipping inside on some passing downs, and Sweat 49. Ryan Kerrigan and Patrick Johnson were also in the mix with 55 plays between them. While it would be nice to see the top-three guys get a few more plays, we are seeing a lot of good players get less than 70% of the playing time. This is the world we live in these days. If he continues to get around 50 snaps per week, Sweat could prove fairly productive.
The Seahawks got a scare when Jordyn Brooks left the game on a cart with what looked like a knee injury. After the game, we learned it was not a knee but a bad case of cramps in both legs. He was on the way to a strong statistical outing, going 5-2 before leaving the game. Brooks should be fine for week four and has a solid matchup with the 49ers; providing San Francisco can find someone healthy enough to carry the ball.
Benson Mayowa was inactive with a sore neck and Kerry Hyder Jr left the contest with a concussion in the first quarter. This allowed us to see what Darrell Taylor might be capable of if he were able to play enough. Taylor went 5-1-1 with a forced fumble on just 37 plays, making him 7-2-2 with a turnover on 86 snaps for the season. Keep that in mind just in case he ever gets to play a lot. Mayowa and Hyder are in doubt for week four but don’t get too excited about Taylor yet. Instead of cutting down the rotation by two players, the Seahawks had Alton Robinson step up and nearly triple his snap count from the first two games. This coaching staff is dead set against letting anyone thrive. Maybe they are afraid they will have to pay someone if their numbers are good.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are having trouble keeping corners healthy. With Jason Verrett already on IR, they lost K’Waun Williams to a calf injury and Josh Norman to bruised lungs in week three. Fortunately, Emmanuel Moseley returned from injury for the game. San Francisco signed Buster Skrine this week to fill out the depth chart.
Javon Kinlaw returned to action in week two but did not do much. He finally started showing up against the Packers with six combined tackles. The important point here is that he seemed to regain some of the power and quickness that made him a first-round pick last year. Managers in tackle-required leagues might want to consider slipping Kinlaw onto your roster while he is still flying under the radar.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Sean Murphy-Bunting out for a while and Jamel Dean dealing with a sore knee that could cost him some time, the Buccaneers reached out to Richard Sherman who signed the week. Sherman is expected to make an immediate impact though it is unclear if he will play full time right away.
Jason Pierre-Paul missed week three and is not practicing early this week as he recovers from a shoulder injury. Rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka got the start against the Rams and could get a second one versus New England. He had a full workload in week three but was not able to do much with it statistically. The Patriots have had their share of struggles, but one of them has not been keeping their young quarterback upright. Mac Jones has been sacked five times so far.
Jayon Brown was back in the starting lineup for week three. Unfortunately, he lasted just ten plays before the hamstring that sidelined him previously, tightened up. Brown was a full participant at Wednesday’s practice so chances are, the hamstring just tightened up on Sunday. Keep an eye on his status through the week and have a backup plan if he is your guy.
David Long Jr stepped in for Brown again and would be a solid backup play if you need one. He put up solid numbers in relief last season and had eight combined tackles after replacing Brown in week three.
Bud Dupree remains out of practice with his sore knee. The organization hopes he will get in a practice or two ahead of this week’s game and be able to go, but he is far from a sure thing. Tennessee is already very thin at the position after sending both Derick Roberson and Rashad Weaver to IR on Tuesday. Ola Adeniyi stepped up with two and a half sacks over the last two games and could be in line for the start.
Washington Football Team
The song remains the same in Washington where the only full-time player at linebacker or safety is Cole Holcomb who turned in a stellar 10-4-0 against the Bills. The Football Team rolled out a nickel base defense for this matchup with Jamin Davis and Jon Bostic in a virtually equal timeshare at the other linebacker spot. Bostic has seen his snap share shrink with each game thus far, kindling some hope for those sitting on Davis. While that is something to possibly look forward to, this week’s matchup with an inept Falcons offense is not.
Washington continues to shuffle their safeties. Landon Collins had a decent outing statistically, going 5-3 versus the Bills. The numbers are even better when considering his playing time was under 60%. Kamren Curl totaled 5-4 on 78% with Bobby McCain doing virtually nothing with his 70% of the pie. What is almost as annoying as the playing time shuffle between these three guys, they are shuffling positions as well. All three of them lined up both deep at times and in the box at other times. It would be nice to go back to the old days when a starter was a guy that played all the time.
About the only guy we can count on here outside of Holcomb is corner Kendall Fuller. He is 18-5-1 with a pass breakup on the young season, with seven solo stops in each of the last two games. Atlanta has not been a good matchup for corner either, but there is a chance Fuller will shadow either Calvin Ridley or Kyle Pitts in this one.
That is it for this round. Best of luck to you in week four!
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