From 2018 through 2020, Budda Baker was an elite-tier defensive back for IDP managers. His production took a dive in 2021. Over the last couple of weeks, Baker has looked more like the fantasy star he once was, going 8-2 with a pass breakup in Week 8 and 7-4 against the Seahawks in Week 9. Unfortunately, his return to glory has been stunted by a high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out for two or three games. With Arizona’s bye coming up in week 13, we might not see Baker again until they go to New England in week 14. Deionte Thompson or Chris Banjo will get the call to fill in.
Zaven Collins is still not piling up big tackle totals, but he continues to put up good point totals with contributions in the big play columns. In Week 9 it was a pick-six. Collins was checked out for concussion shortly after the big play but returned to finish the game.
We are always watching snap counts because players can’t make plays on the sideline. The majority of the best IDP contributors are those that consistently see 90% or more of the playing time, but there are exceptions. Isaiah Simmons is one of those. Apparently, he doesn’t need to play more than 80% of the time to be highly productive. Simmons has averaged about 78% participation over the last five games with an average of 16.2 points per game.
Richie Grant had his best game of the season in Week 9, with eleven combined tackles and a pick. He has been a solid DB3 this year but beware of this week's matchup with the Panthers. Over the last five games, the best production by a safety against the Panthers is four tackles and two assists.
For those hoping the addition of Roquan Smith would not ruin the resurgent value of Patrick Queen, there is a reason for optimism. Smith played 76% of the snaps in his Ravens debut and will soon be an every-play participant. Queen’s playing time, however, was not impacted in Week 9 when he logged 96% participation versus the Saints. With the coverage skills and talent of these two players, Baltimore might join the few other NFL teams with two full-time, off-ball linebackers.
Kyle Hamilton had his most productive game of the season with six solo stops, while Geno Stone had his lowest production since becoming the starter at 0-1. Before you get excited and go get Hamilton, be aware that nothing has changed here. Stone played every snap while Hamilton served as the fifth defensive back in nickel sets. At 75% participation, it was, however, the biggest snap-share Hamilton has seen this year.
David Ojabo is expected to practice and debut in Week 11.
Gregory Rosseau left the Week 9 contest with an ankle injury and is considered week-to-week. He is a long shot at best to suit up against Minnesota this week. Shaq Lawson, A.J. Epenesa, and Carlos Basham Jr are all options to start while Rousseau is on the mend, but chances are the three will continue to rotate and split the extra snaps.
Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer were inactive against the Jets. Terrell Bernard stood in for Milano and was 2-5, while Jaquan Johnson went 5-5 as the starting safety. Both Milano and Poyer remain in doubt for this week, so if you need to plug a hole, these guys might be worth some consideration.
Taron Johnson left Sunday’s game with a possible concussion. Keep an eye on his status. Tre’Davious White has been designated to return and could be back on the field in Week 10.
Strangely, Donta Jackson was active in Cincinnati on Sunday but did not play at all. As of Tuesday evening, the Panthers have offered no explanation, leaving us to assume it was due to the sore ankle he has been nursing.
Derrick Brown left Sunday’s contest, but there was no injury involved. Brown was unable to continue due to an illness.
Backup defensive end Amare Barno showed up with a solid 3-0-1 against Cincinnati, but there is nothing to see here. He was in on just 12 plays.
Jeremy Chinn has been cleared to practice and designated for return from injured reserve. His status for this week is unknown as of Tuesday, but anyone that has been riding Myles Hartsfield will need to have a plan B in place.
Last week I speculated that Nicholas Morrow would be the beneficiary of the Roquan Smith trade but mentioned that Jack Sanborn was the sleeper to keep an eye on. The sleeper wins this time. Morrow stayed in his role as a three-down strong side backer going 2-2 with a pass defended, while Sanborn stepped into the middle linebacker role and put up seven solo stops with an 88% play share.
The Cincinnati box score is strange, but if you watched the game, it is not hard to figure out why. The Bengals dominated so completely early on that the defensive guys simply had no opportunity. Logan Wilson led the starters with four solo stops, while no one else had more than two. Markus Bailey (4-0-2) and Akeem Davis-Gaither (4-2) put up all their stats in the fourth quarter when the starters were enjoying the game from the sideline.
Cincinnati got Eli Apple back and Mike Hilton should return in Week 11, but Daxton Hill left Sunday’s game with a sore shoulder. If he is not able to go when the Bengals return to action in week eleven, Michael Thomas would be the next man up on the corner
When last we saw the Browns in action, Sione Takitaki had a great game, Deion Jones was 3-2-1, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah did not play. That all left us unsure if the production by Takitaki and Jones was real or an illusion. Owusu-Koramoah is still not practicing, so we may not get the answer to that question this week either. If he sits again, don’t hesitate to plug in either of the other two guys.
There is a lot going on in Lions camp these days. After sporting what was arguably the league’s worst defense through eight weeks, they decided to shake things up against the Packers. Corner Amani Oruwariye was benched with Jerry Jacobs and Mike Hughes seeing action opposite Jeff Okudah. Neither of those guys is an IDP option, but for anyone that was starting Oruwariye, you need to move on.
Corner was not the only position to see change, but the others were not planned. Malcolm Rodriguez played 19 snaps before leaving with an elbow injury. His status for Week 10 remains up in the air. Derrick Barnes stepped in and had a big day at 4-8-1 with a pass breakup on 50 of a possible 71 snaps. Barnes could be a nice sleeper for Week 10 if Rodriguez misses time.
Free safety Kirby Joseph had his breakout game cut short by a concussion. He was huge at 5-5 with a pair of picks and three passes defended before leaving the game. Keep an eye on his status late in the week.
This week’s watchlist includes Charles Harris. He returned in Week 9 but only played 14 snaps. So is this a case of him being eased in after missing several games or will his role remain limited going forward while the team rolls with their other rookie defensive end, Josh Paschal?
Continue reading this content with a ELITE subscription.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, ESPN