If you have not done so already, it is time to part ways with J.J. Watt. Instead of building steam, he is going the other way with a tackle and a pair of assists in the last two games. Watt will eventually blow up for a game or two, but we simply can not afford to keep playing him on the chance we will get lucky on the right week. There are a lot of guys showing promise that are more deserving of the roster spot at this point.
Zaven Collins played four snaps in week four. Dynasty managers can stick him on the taxi squad for the big things he will eventually do. Everyone else should move on.
After playing every snap and putting up solid numbers in week three, T.J. Green played four defensive snaps against Washington.
Patrick Queen had a down week going 2-1 against Denver while Chris Board was 6-3, but there is nothing to see here. Queen was in his normal role, playing 57 of 61 snaps. Board did all his damage on 29 plays. Write it off as an outlier and don’t hesitate to play Queen this week against the Colts.
Matt Milano left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. He did not return to the game but the injury is considered minor. Milano might be able to go this week but be prepared just in case. A.J. Klein should see an expanded role if Milano is out.
Rookie Carlos Basham Jr was active for the first time in week four and made a good showing, going 1-1-1 on nearly half the defensive plays. Interestingly, only Jerry Hughes played more snaps among the Bills defensive linemen. The organization expects their two rookies to be the bookends of the future. Maybe the future will start sooner than we expected.
Shaq Thompson suffered a foot injury against the Cowboys and early updates suggest he could miss some time. The injury happened late in the game so we did not get to see how the Panthers will adjust. Julian Stafford is listed as the backup and will likely factor in, but he may not be the every-down guy. Jermaine Carter is a candidate for a bigger role and/or we could see more three safety looks with Sean Chandler in the linebacker role and Sam Franklin Jr. Jr. playing strong safety. Chandler replaced Justin Burris at strong safety after Burris landed on IR last week, and led the team in tackles against Dallas.
The Eagles’ offensive line is a hot mess due to injuries. They were missing four starters last week and are not a lock to get any of them back this week. Start Brian Burns and Haason Reddick in this one for sure and give Morgan Fox some consideration as well. He has been getting close a lot, this might be the week he finally breaks out.
The Panthers have acquired Stephon Gilmore from New England. He was on IR with the Patriots so he will not be able to contribute until week seven.
Chicago may be without Akiem Hicks who left Sunday’s contest with a groin injury. Angelo Blackson and Mario Edwards Jr saw more action with Hicks out but it was Trevis Gipson making more of an impact. Gipson was 2-1-2 with a batted pass but only played 25 snaps.
Alec Ogletree put up numbers reminiscent of his day with the Rams, going 10-2 with a pass breakup. Don’t be fooled by the mirage though. He will have a few good games along the way but nothing has changed with the situation. Ogletree had seven tackles and five assists combined over the first three games.
Larry Ogunjobi was off to a fast start against Jacksonville before being injured on the final play of the goal-line stand that turned the game around for Cincinnati. He was able to return but was noticeably not as effective with the sore knee. The good news being it is not a serious injury, Ogunjobi could be less than 100% against the Packers. Between the injury and the less than thrilling matchup, this might be a good week to leave him on the bench.
Trae Waynes signed with the Bengals before the 2020 season and finally made his first start for the team on Thursday night. It was good timing for the team as Chidooobe Awusie was out. The question now becomes, when everyone is healthy, who are the starters in a suddenly deep secondary? Awuzie is sure to be one. Eli Apple has played well and Miiike Hilton has been strong in the slot. We might find out this week with Awuzie and Jessie Bates III expected to practice and possibly suit up against the Packers.
For the second time in three weeks, Malcolm Smith led Cleveland’s linebackers in snaps playing 51 of 67 and tackles at 6-2. While he had better numbers than Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at 5-2, it was Owusu-Koramoah who turned heads on the field. The Browns are playing good defense now but could have something special once Anthony Walker returns and their rookie is ready to line up alongside him. When Walker was placed on IR in mid-September, he was not expected to miss more than three or four games.
Ronnie Harrison left the week four game after two plays and was placed in concussion protocol. There are conflicting reports about his having suffered a concussion but the fact remains that he will need to clear protocol before returning to action. Grant Delpit played full-time in week four with disappointing numbers (three assists), but there was very little opportunity in that game.
For at least one week, the Cowboys appear to have turned lemons into lemonade along their defensive line. They have been dealing with several injuries to this group forcing the drastic move of shifting Micah Parsons to edge defender for a bit. In week four, Randy Gregory and Terrell Basham were the starters at defensive end with Chauncey Golston filling out the three-man rotation. Rookie Osa Odighizuwa has stepped up and claimed one of the starting tackle jobs. All four of those players contributed at least half a sack with the group totaling four and Parsons adding a fifth versus the Panthers. With a pair of sacks against Carolina, Gregory will be a hot pick-up ahead of week five, and rightly so. Dallas should get Demarcus Lawrence back in a few weeks as well.
This unexpected but welcome success likely played a part in what is the biggest news of the week. With Parsons moving back to linebacker, the Cowboys have announced they are parting ways with Jaylon Smith. There are some teams in need of linebacker help due to injury and Smith can still get it done, so he will not be unemployed for long. Depending on where he lands, this is a player capable of top-12 production. It will be interesting to see what this does for Leighton Vander Esch as well, though I expect he will continue to split time with Keanu Neal.
Having lost Josey Jewell for the season, Denver might be first in line to land Jaylon Smith, who would be the team’s best inside linebacker the moment he set foot in the facility. Justin Strnad has been no more than adequate as Jewell’s replacement. Dallas will try to make a trade before outright releasing Smith. With their current record being good, Denver may have to offer something to land him.
The sore shoulder was not enough to shut down Romeo Okwara but the torn Achilles he suffered early in Sunday’s game will do it. If you need a replacement, look no further than the guy taking over for Okwara. Charles Harris was 3-1-1 with a forced fumble against Chicago but more importantly, it was his third consecutive game with a sack. Harris has never lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick (2017) but just maybe he has finally landed in a system that suits his skill set.
After releasing Jamie Collins Sr, the Lions started Derrick Barnes next to Alex Anzalone in week four. Barnes posted a modest four solo stops. That is rather impressive considering he played 18 snaps. Jalen Reeves-Maybin got most of the action, lining up for 38 of a possible 58, but he did little with the opportunity. Considering the Lions are in full-blown rebuild mode, it should not be long before they turn to the rookie and allow him to get some experience.
Chicago is a horrible matchup for safeties right now but that is not the only reason Will Harris and Tracy Walker gave us virtually nothing in week four. Neither player was on the field full time with Harris playing 74% and Walker 60%. There is plenty of potential here if one of these guys ever gets a chance to play all the time. Until/unless that happens, however, it is time to look elsewhere for safety help.
Green Bay Packers
Rookie Eric Stokes has been playing well and might find himself the Packers’ number one corner against Cincinnati. Jaire Alexander’s status is in doubt due to a shoulder injury and Kevin King has not yet cleared concussion protocol so he too is in doubt. Stokes racked up eight tackles and a pick against the Steelers last week and should have another busy day with the Bengals strong passing game.
The Texans made a pair of surprise changes to their starting secondary in week four. After getting blown out 40-0, it remains to be seen if they stick with the moves. Desmond King started over Vernon Hargreaves III on the corner and Lonnie Johnson replaced Eric Murray at strong safety. Both new starters put up good numbers. King finished with ten solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup, while Johnson went 6-2 with a pick. If you decide to grab one of these guys, I would advise against starting him this week just to be safe.
Jonathan Greenard suffered a chest injury in week four and was held out for much of the game. The injury is not believed to be serious so he should not miss more than a game or two. Greenard and Jacob Martin were the Texans starting defensive ends against Buffalo.
Khari Willis did not practice last week and missed the game with a groin injury. As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no update on his status for week five. Groin injuries can be tricky and are easily aggravated, so unless he gets in a full practice by the end of the week, it will be hard to trust Willis in our lineups. Andrew Sendejo got the call at the position last week and might be a viable replacement with the plus matchup against Baltimore.
Grover Stewart is a 315-pound defensive tackle but the Colts had him lining up at defensive end on early downs in week four. The big man got home for a sack against the Dolphins and could be a sneaky good play this week for those in tackle-required leagues.
In two games as a starter, rookie corner Tyson Campbell is 10-6 with a pass breakup and 19 fantasy points. One might think a matchup with the run-heavy Titans would be a bad time to start him, but that is not necessarily the case. In week two D.J. Reed totaled nine combined tackles against the Titans. In week three it was Kenny Moore II with seven solo stops, a pick, and two passes defended. In last week’s contest, Jets corners accounted for 19 solo stops. Of course, that number was helped by the Titans running 86 offensive plays in the game. The bottom line here is to start all of your Jacksonville defenders this week, including Campbell, inside linebacker Damien Wilson, and both safeties Reyshawn Jenkins and Andrew Wingard. Tennessee has allowed 17 sacks to date as well, so don’t leave Josh Allen out either.
Kansas City Chiefs
Some might write off the two-sack performance of Michael Danna as purely the result of an Eagles offense that was without four starters up front. I would advise against being one of those people. He showed promise last year as a rookie fifth-round pick, going 17-9-2.5 on 333 snaps. In two starts this year as a fill-in for Frank Clark, Danna is 5-1-3. Clark has struggled to stay on the field of late and has been ineffective more of the time when he does suit up. At the very least, Danna is a player to watch.
Willie Gay Jr is nearing a return to the field. Andy Reid said there is a chance he could be activated this week. The Chiefs linebackers have struggled and none of them were on the field for more than 66% of the defensive snaps in week four. Ben Niemann is questionable with a head injury so the team could certainly use the reinforcements. This could be your opportunity to beat the competition to the punch and pick up Gay.
Chris Jones looked great at defensive end in the opener but has since gone into the witness protection program, including a full goose egg in week four. Maybe the emergence of Danna will help take some of the attention away from Jones. The Bills have allowed one sack in the last two games with only the Rams and Washington giving up fewer on the season.
Daniel Sorensen racked up nine solo stops against the Eagles and has 21 over the past three games. With the Chiefs' defense struggling at all levels, we stand to see a lot of good games from Sorensen going forward.
Las Vegas Raiders
There were two big storylines with the Raiders defense in their Monday night loss. Injuries to corners Trayvon Mullen (foot) and Damon Arnette (groin) could leave the team short-handed for their week five matchup with the Bears. Ironically, Las Vegas signed Brandon Facyson off the Chargers practice squad on Tuesday to help fill the hole. Amik Robertson is in line to start opposite Casey Hewward if neither Mullen nor Arnette can go. Nate Hobbs should remain in his nickel/slot role.
The other news is much more positive in that Corey Littleton had his best day as a Raider, piling up 14 tackles, including 9 solos. On the heels of a 7-3 in week three, it is safe to say Littleton is now comfortable in his role and is back to being the IDP contributor we all drafted early in 2020.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kenneth Murray was battling an ankle injury heading into week three and aggravated against the Chiefs. He was listed as questionable leading up to week four, but apparently, the injury was more significant than initially expected. Enough so that Murray landed on IR this week. Drue Tranquill stepped into the lead role, playing almost 90% of the snaps against Las Vegas. His numbers were modest at 3-2 but that had a lot to do with the game script as the Raiders fell behind quickly. Tranquill is more than capable of quality production and is set to be the starter for at least the next three games.
Los Angeles Rams
Sebastian Joseph-Day was productive as the Rams nose tackle last season, going 35-19-1 on the season. The third-year pro is stepping up his game in 2021. Joseph-Day is 15-5-2 over the last three games with the Seahawks, Giants, Lions, Texans, and Titans on the schedule over the next five weeks.
If Taylor Rapp is your guy, keep an eye on the injury reports late in the week. He is nursing a sore ankle.
The Dolphins are truly the southern version of the Patriots. After totaling nine tackles, three assists, a pair of sacks, and a fumble recovery in weeks two and three, Brandon Jones was picked up in a ton of leagues ahead of week four. Against the Colts he was on the field for two defensive plays. Every time I see something like this from the Patriots or now, the Dolphins, my mind goes to the old song by the Who, with the line; we won’t get fooled again, but somehow we always do. Jones shows up on the team’s Wednesday practice report with an ankle but practiced fully.
Michael Pierce left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury. With Pierce out, Sheldon Richardson and Armon Watts took on bigger roles against the Browns, with both players putting up good numbers. The injury looked like it might be fairly serious but so far the closest thing we have to an update is a report that Pierce is not practicing on Wednesday. If Richardson gets on the field for a substantial number of plays, he can be highly productive. That said, the Lions are a horrible matchup for interior linemen. Opponents' tackles have averaged 2.2 tackles and 1.5 assists as a unit against Detroit, with no sacks from the interior positions to date. It might be worth adding Richardson and sitting on him until we get a more clear prognosis on Pierce, but keep him on your bench this week.
Blake Lynch totaled 7-1 with a pass breakup against the Browns. Those numbers have a lot of managers looking to add him this week. Before you make that move, be aware nothing has changed here. Lynch played 36 of a possible 78 snaps with his statistical success coming more from the Browns offensive game plan than a great game by Lynch. Nick Vigil was just 1-3 in the game but played all 78 snaps and is still the guy to have. That said, Vigil sat out practice Wednesday with a sore ankle, so keep an eye on the situation. Rookie Chazz Surratt would be the next man up according to the depth chart.
New England Patriots
Jamie Collins Sr will be heading back to the Patriots for the third time. There are a lot of places he could have gone that would be much better for IDP managers, but this is not a surprise. The problem is, New England does not play anyone in the front seven full time. That said, both Kyle Van Noy and Ja’whaun Bentley are banged up and Collins knows the defense as well as if he had never left.
Henry Anderson suffered a torn pectoral in Sunday’s game. He was not playing a lot but one less player in the rotation likely means a few more snaps for Christian Barmore going forward. His 55% playing time in week four was the most on the season for the rookie and equaled Lawrence Guy as the most of any Patriots interior lineman in the game.
New Orleans Saints
Pete Werner showed up with ten combined tackles on 40 snaps in week four. His 63% play share was by far the most opportunity he has seen so far but is still not enough to count on Werner as more than a what the heck play.
At a glance, it might seem like Werner’s snaps and production were poached from C.J. Gardner-Johnson who had one assist in the game, but that is not the case. Gardner-Johnson played his full compliment of 56 snaps (89%) but simply was not in the right place to put up numbers against the Giants offensive game plan.
New York Giants
Tae Crowder may not have put up eye-catching numbers, but he did assume the every-down role replacing Blake Martinez. Crowder has a great matchup this week against a Dallas squad that seems to have re-discovered Ezekiel Elliot.
There was modest production from the Giants safety positions in week four as well, but there is some impact news here. Jabrill Peppers was shut out after leaving with a hamstring injury late in the first quarter. This did not affect the team’s defensive approach, however. Instead, they simply inserted Julian Love who played 47 snaps.
Leonard Williams is dealing with a sore knee and did not practice Wednesday.
New York Jets
The Jets remain a work in progress but they are playing hard for their new coach and are playing well for the most part on defense. New York racked up seven sacks against the Titans with John Franklin-Myers getting his third of the season. He is getting some help from the rest of the group as well. Bryce Huff has a pair of sacks in the last two games and Quinnen Williams had his first big game of the year with two versus the Titans. Williams and Franklin-Myers are likely on rosters already, but keep an eye on Huff if you are in need.
Both C.J. Mosley(10-4-1) and Quincy Williams (10-2-1 pass defended) had huge games against the Titans. The gaudy tackle totals are compliments of the matchup that saw Tennessee run the ball on 34 of their 86 plays. We expected Mosley to be good this year but Williams is a huge surprise. In recent years we have seen some very average players post good numbers with the Jets. After watching the Jets in week four, I am not sure that is the case this time. As a starter for the Jaguars a while back, Williams looked uncomfortable. He was hesitant and slow to react, not very physical, and not productive. I am not sure what caused the lights to go on, but he was the opposite of all that against Tennessee. Now we just need to see if he can hold onto the job with Blake Cashman ready to return from IR. If Williams keeps playing as he has been, it will be tough for Cashman to get back on the field.
The Jets are a mess at safety. They got Ashtyn Davis back in week four, but Marcus Maye may not be around for a while. The ankle injury was expected to cost him some time, and now we can add a possible suspension after he was arrested for DUI recently. Michael Carter II took over for Adrian Colbert who suffered a concussion on Sunday, then Carter also left the game. Jarrod Wilson was buried on the depth chart four weeks ago, along with Davis. The two are likely to starter against Atlanta.
Javelin Guidry put up ten combined tackles while working as the slot corner in week four. Unless he ends up shifting to safety, this is likely to be an outlier for him, so we should not get excited.
Alex Singleton went 6-3 on 56 of a possible 67 snaps. Eric Wilson was 6-4 with a pick on 49 plays which was a slightly bigger percentage of the snaps than in week three, but nothing has changed in terms of the linebacker rotations. That said, after watching the Eagles more closely over the last two weeks, I may have figured out how to better anticipate when Wilson will be productive. Matchups are going to be everything with him. Wilson struggled against the more physical attack of the Cowboys in week three. He was pushed around and had a hard time getting off blocks. Versus the more quick and athletic-based offense of the Chiefs, Wilson was much more effective. So what does that mean for this week’s matchup with the Panthers? If Christian McCaffery plays, I like Wilson a lot. With Chuba Hubbard in the backfield, Carolina is more of a physical, north and south running attack. Since I have Wilson in several leagues, I’m crossing my fingers for McCaffrey to play.
In a surprise move, Tre Flowers benched in favor of Sidney Jones in week four. I am not seeing anything to suggest there was an injury involved, so at this point have to assume it was a coaching decision. Jones went 5-2 with a pass breakup, which is typical production for a Seattle corner.
Jordan Brooks has seen less than 70% of the snaps in each of the last two games but continues to be a solid LB3 option for us.
San Francisco 49ers
Don’t be a points chaser. Let someone else use their blind bid money or waiver on Dee Ford. Yes, he was 2-1-2 with a forced fumble in week four, but he played 12 snaps in the game.
Maurice Hurst was activated from IR last week and had a role against Seattle, recording one tackle on 20 plays. Hurst is a talented player looking to kick start his career with the 49ers after a disappointing three years with the Raiders. With Javon Kinlaw continuing to struggle, it will be interesting to see if Hurst can earn an increased role in the coming weeks.
Dre Kirkpatrick and Emmanuel Moseley were the starting corner against Seattle with both playing every defensive snap. Deommodore Lenoir was demoted and did not get on the field after starting the first three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ secondary is decimated by injury heading into their matchup with Miami. The most recent additions to the injury list are Charlton Davis who left early with a quad injury, and Antoine Winfield Jr who left with a concussion. Both players are looking iffy for week five with Winfield already being called doubtful. Tampa Bay is looking at Richard Sherman, Ross Cockrell, and Pierre Desir as their top-three corners with Mike Edwards likely starting at strong safety. The Dolphins are a dink and dunk offense with Jacoby Brissett under center, so skipping this mess entirely might be the best course for this week.
Jayon Brown has been battling a tight hamstring and has not played much since week one. He was held out of practice on Wednesday with a designation of did not practice (knee). This leaves me scratching my head and wondering if it has been a knee all along, or if the knee injury was a typo. Either way, Brown is not close to healthy and can not be started until we see a normal, full-time role.
Washington Football Team
It might be Jamin Davis time in Washington. We hate to see it come this way though. Jon Bostic landed on IR with what is expected to be a season-ending pectoral injury. Davis did not see a major uptick in plays versus Atlanta as the Football Team compensated by playing three safeties on 78% of the snaps, but with a week to prepare and a matchup with the Saints, Davis could be a much bigger factor in week five.
It is also worth mention that Cole Holcomb did not practice Wednesday with a sore shoulder. With the tackle totals he has posted through the first month of the season, it is no wonder Holcomb is sore. So far there does not seem to be any concern about his availability this week, but keep an eye on the situation if Holcomb is your guy.
That does it for this week. Best of luck to you as we enter the second quarter of the fantasy season!
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