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Week 7 was riddled with major injuries on both sides of the football. This week I'll break down some changes in player usage and how these major injuries impact player value!
Edge Josh Paschal played 89% of defensive snaps for Detroit in Week 7.
The Lions drafted Paschal in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, but he started the year on the PUP list. He made his NFL debut on Sunday vs the Cowboys and played the same number of defensive snaps as teammate edge Aidan Hutchinson. While Paschal didn’t have a big game on the stat sheet, managers should be optimistic about his long-term value as it seems the Lions prefer to give their two edge starters a large portion of snaps.
LB Jacob Phillips is out for the season with a torn pec.
In Week 7, Deion Jones made his debut for the Browns and rotated with Phillips as they exchanged green dot playcalling duties. It would seem that this injury should elevate Jones into a significant role as the sole play-caller on defense. If this is the case, expect Jones to see about the same usage as Phillips did before the injury: a 100% snap rate.
LB Dre Greenlaw suffered a calf injury in Week 7 for San Francisco.
The 49ers’ defense struggled mightily against the Chiefs on Sunday, and injuries to multiple defenders were a contributing factor. Among those was Greenlaw, who had to exit the game early and was seen on the sideline with a wrap around his lower leg. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles filled in for Greenlaw in his absence but missed his only tackle opportunity and allowed a completion on both passes thrown in his coverage area. It is not yet clear if Greenlaw will miss time, but if he does, Flannigan-Fowles is worth an add in moderately deep IDP leagues.
LB Willie Gay Jr played 56% of defensive snaps for Kansas City in Week 7.
The Chiefs rested some of their starters near the end of the game because they were ahead by multiple scores, so Gay’s snap percentage does not tell the whole story. Gay played 67% of Nick Bolton’s snaps, but it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from this usage. Managers should add Gay and see if he returns to the snap rate he played before his suspension, nonetheless.
S Justin Simmons has played 100% of defensive snaps for Denver since he returned from IR.
Simmons was activated for the Broncos’ Week 6 game against the Chargers. Over the past two weeks, he has recorded nine combined tackles; not exactly big numbers. His 45% sweet spot snap rate isn't anything to write home about, either. Given all that, Simmons is still worth an add in leagues that start at least two safeties, as he should be a moderately productive safety if this usage continues.
This trend is pretty straightforward. Williams played 52% of defensive snaps, while Alexander played 65%. There is cause for concern regarding his usage going forward, as it is possible the coaching staff has finally decided to give the starting role to Alexander. An additional week to see if the trend continues would help draw a clearer conclusion, but in any case, managers should avoid starting Williams if possible and consider trading him off a decent week.
LB Christian Harris played 68% of defensive snaps for Houston in Week 7.
The Texans drafted Harris in the third round of this year’s NFL draft, but he started the season on the PUP list. In his Week 7 debut, he immediately out-snapped incumbent starter Kamu Grugier-Hill (who played only 32% of defensive snaps). The good news ends there, though, as Harris recorded only one tackle, four missed tackles, and allowed a reception on all three of his targets. Rookie linebackers tend to struggle in their first season, so no surprises here, but he is still worth a speculative add to see how his usage looks going forward. Additionally, KGH might be a droppable asset if he continues to play a limited role.
The tables have turned once again in Carolina. Thompson and Luvu were both active and started the game against the Buccaneers. Thompson played 100% of defensive snaps, while Luvu played only 66% of defensive snaps (his lowest rate of the season). It’s not a guarantee that this trend continues, as Luvu was coming off an injury, but managers should start making plans to look elsewhere for a starting linebacker if they intended to roll with Luvu after he returned from injury.
S Landon Collins made his season debut for the New York Giants in Week 7.
Collins played 32% of defensive snaps (the same amount as Dane Belton) and recorded one tackle while playing 96% of his snaps in the sweet spot. He is basically a sub-package linebacker at this point in his career. While this trend doesn't really impact safeties Xavier McKinney or Julian Love, it should be seen as the nail in the coffin for linebackers Tae Crowder and Jaylon Smith as their usage continues to plummet.
Hooker has been a do-it-all safety for the Titans since his rookie year, playing 62% of his snaps at free safety over his first three seasons. Before his injury in Week 3, he played only 23% of his snaps in the slot. In his return in Week 7, Hooker played 72% of his defensive snaps in the slot as the primary slot defender for the Titans. Meanwhile, Adams played 79% of his defensive snaps at free safety, leaving teammate S Kevin Byard to man the box safety role. Don’t expect Adams to remain as efficient a scorer as he was in Week 7, and shift your expectations with Hooker in this new slot role.
S Jaylinn Hawkins will miss Week 8.
S Dean Marlowe played every snap after Hawkins exited the Falcons' Week 7 game vs the Bengals. Marlowe played 53% of defensive snaps at free safety. Expect him to be a 100% free safety and add him in leagues where other free safeties are also being started.
S Brandon Jones is headed to IR.
Jones suffered a knee injury vs the Steelers in Week 7 and is set to miss at least four weeks. His likely replacement seems to be Eric Rowe, who has been productive as a box safety for Miami in the past. Managers should look to add him in most IDP leagues if he is available.