At this point in the season, IDP managers are all over the place. Some are eliminated and looking to next year, and many are on the playoff fringe and need a win this week to stay alive. Hopefully, most of you are locked into a spot and going into this week with your fingers crossed that everyone stays healthy.
There are two things I would say to you all. It is never too early to start working on next year’s championship and leave no stone unturned if you still have a shot at winning one this year.
It’s easy to get lazy or complacent, especially if you are one of those managers that have had a great regular season and are sitting with eight or more wins. Don’t relax yet. There is nothing wrong with hoarding players you don’t need to keep them off a rival’s roster.
With Troy Andersen gaining momentum at the expense of Mykal Walker, things are looking bleak for Walker’s long-term IDP prospects. We might, however, get some more good production from him before it is snuffed out altogether. Andersen left Sunday’s contest with an ankle injury. As of Tuesday evening, there was no update on the severity. Walker picked up a few snaps against the Steelers and would be back in an every-snap role if Andersen is not available after this week’s bye.
The injury focus is on Lamar Jackson, but he was not the only Baltimore starter to limp away from Sunday’s ugly win. Patrick Queen’s day was cut short by a bruised thigh. That doesn’t sound bad unless you’ve had one before. It is not serious as far as recovery goes, but a bruised thigh is very painful and can be hard to play through, especially for a linebacker that makes a living taking on and shedding blockers. If Queen is a no-go this week, Malik Harrison would pick up some playing time, but Roquan Smith would be the biggest beneficiary.
Damar Hamilton was ejected for a big hit on a receiver, but that is not the reason for his third straight disappointing stat line. The ejection came very late, causing Hamlin to miss just three snaps. After posting strong numbers in six straight, Hamlin is 7-7 with two pass breakups over the last three games combined, making it hard to have confidence in him at crunch time. Matchups with the Jets, Dolphins, Bears, and Bengals are not bad, but unless he gets back on track this week, starting Hamlin in a playoff matchup would be a big risk.
Corner Jaylon Jones finished 6-2 against the Packers but was hurt near the end of the game. As of Tuesday evening, the Bears have said nothing about his injury or status, which could be a good sign that it was nothing to worry about.
DeAndre Houston-Carson 3-2 and Elijah Hicks 1-3 were very disappointing in their start versus the Packers. Houston-Carson should remain in the starting lineup after this week’s bye. Matchups with the Eagles, Bills, and Lions to close out the fantasy season should make him a solid option for us, but then the Packers were a good matchup as well.
Every year some backup players break into the starting lineup due to injuries and put up good numbers. When the next season rolls around, some of those guys keep the starting job, but a lot of them return to backup roles. It is always a challenge to determine which of those players are impressing their coaching staff as much as they are impressing us.
Jack Sanborn is going to be one of those guys. He has been everywhere since taking over the starting job, piling up 43-11-2 with a takeaway over five games while averaging 17.15 points per game. The only way we are going to know what the Bears really think of the young man is to see what they do to address the position in the off-season.
Cam Taylor-Britt was a disappointment in week 13 but then who would have thought Patrick Maholes would only complete 16 passes? If you picked up Taylor-Britt last week, don’t overreact and dump him too quickly. The Cleveland running game should provide more run-support opportunities, and a rusty Deshaun Watson could mean more big-play opportunities.
Germaine Pratt put up nine combined tackles in the first meeting of these teams and should be a solid LB3 for us this week.
Cleveland lost yet another linebacker when Sione Takitaki tore his ACL in week 13. That opens the door for Deion Jones, right? Well, maybe not. Tony Fields II had been seeing a sprinkling of snaps every week for the last month. He jumped up to 51% (33 plays) against the Texans and made the most of the opportunity. Fields finished 3-1 in the tackle columns but added a pick, forced a fumble, recovered one, and scored. Meanwhile, Jones went 1-1 on 19 snaps.
There are two questions here. The most important one is, who will get the starting spot the rest of the way? If the answer is Fields, the other question is, are we seeing the Browns strike again with another bad decision, or has Deion Jones fallen so far that he can’t even start for a team that is decimated by injuries?
One more note on Browns’ coaching decisions, After producing well while seeing over 95% of the action in weeks 11 and 12, Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah was 2-3 on 78% against the Texans.
Damone Clark garnered some attention after making a couple of starts and playing well in weeks 11 and 12. Anthony Barr returned to action against the Colts but found himself on the short side of a timeshare that saw Clark log 35 snaps and Barr 24. We are short on time for Clark to become a factor this year, but there are a lot of reasons to think he will be a much bigger factor in 2023.
Speaking of those safeties, Donovan Wilson is like a yo-yo from week to week. After putting up two tackles in back-to-back games versus the Vikings and Giants, he blew up for 9-1-1 against Indianapolis, despite playing less than 70% of the snaps. The bad part about Wilson, there is no rhyme or reason to his ups or downs, so starting him is a roll of the dice regardless of the matchup.
We have come to expect that Josey Jewell will play every snap when healthy and be highly productive. So his 7-11 from last week was not a big surprise. We also know that Alex Singleton will put up that kind of production when he plays enough. After playing an average of about 50% of the snaps over the previous four games, Singleton was not expected to soak up an 88% play share or rack up 9-8 against the Ravens. He did both. With Jonas Griffith on IR, Singleton is in line to see at least half of the playing time every week. That is enough to ensure he will be a high-floor option for us. Even with some less-than-stellar matchups the rest of the way.
Romeo Okwara was activated from IR last week. He was inactive against Jacksonville but could see some action this week versus the Vikings. It’s been a long slow recovery from the Achilles injury but keep in mind that this guy had 10 sacks the last time he was healthy for a full season in 2020. Okwara is not likely to help us much this year, but managers looking to the future might want to stash him.
Early in the season, Jonathan Owens was on fire. Then things went south, starting with a benching in week eight. Lovie Smith told us Owens was pulled out of the game so he could recharge. Whatever that was supposed to mean, it didn’t work. Since that time, he has been running at about an 80% charge, or at least he’s been playing about 80% of the snaps. Owens was 1-1 in week 12 and 3-2 last week. Maybe he needs to be plugged back in to recharge again?
The story is different for Jalen Pitre, who also saw a reduction in snaps for a few games. The difference is that Pitre continued to put up numbers and was back to playing every snap last week.
Not much went right for the Colts in their blowout loss to Dallas. One bright spot was the return of Kwity Paye, who was back from the ankle injury with a bang. Paye was 6-3-1 against the Cowboys, but just as importantly, he was not on a pitch count. Ifeadi Odenigbo played a few snaps, but for the most part, the Colts went with a three-man rotation featuring Paye and Yannick Ngakoue as the starters and Dayo Odeyingbo playing about 50% of the time as the third man.
Chad Muma was not moved into an every-down role in his first game as the starter, but you could not tell from his production. In fact, the 7-4-1.5 he racked up on just 58 of a possible 76 snaps (76%) might prompt the coaching staff to keep him on the field for that other 24% this week. Devin Lloyd might have been motivated by his role reduction. He played 22 snaps and put up his best numbers since week seven at 2-4. It was a head-scratcher when the Jaguars drafted two inside linebackers this spring. Maybe now we are seeing why the team just couldn’t pass on Muma when he was still there in round three.
Las Vegas Raiders
Chandler Jones must have been saving all his production for the second meeting with the Chargers. He has 70 total fantasy points on the season; 27.5 of them came in week 13 when Jones went 5-1-3 with a pass breakup. Was this his breakout game? Possibly but it has been far too long in coming for Jones to be trustworthy.
Instead of asking what happened to Denzel Perryman, we should ask what happened to the Chargers, who had been a top-shelf matchup for linebackers. Perryman ended up 2-5 on the day despite the Chargers high powered running game being shut down. Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelly combined for 17 rushes and 65 yards. Perryman has a fairly high floor for a guy that usually plays around 80% of the snaps, but it is hard to get excited about a matchup with the Rams this week.
Nate Hobbs returned to the lineup and picked up right where he left off in week five, going 8-0 with a fumble recovery. The matchups are not great with the Rams, Patriots, Steelers, and 49ers left on the schedule, but Hobbs may not need a strong matchup to be productive. He put up double-digit points in five of the six games he’s played this year, including a matchup with Denver early in the year.
Who is Isaiah Pola-Mao? He is an undrafted rookie safety out of USC that went 5-1-1 in a limited role against the Chargers. I would like to tell you how limited his role was, but even the stat service that gives us snap counts blanked on him and did not include him in the early stats dump. At this point, consider him a one-week wonder, but keep an eye on the Raiders’ stat sheet going forward.
After being cut by the Chargers three weeks earlier, Jerry Tillery got the start against them in week 13 and played 73% of the snaps. Maybe this was the coach throwing him a bone versus his old team, but I doubt it. I expect he will be either a starter or the third man in the rotation going forward.
Los Angeles Chargers
Sebastian Joseph-Day left Sunday’s game with what has been diagnosed as an MCL sprain. That is good news for the long term but he will probably miss time. With Jerry Tillery wearing Silver and Black, and Austin Johnson, Christian Covington, and Otito Ogbonnia on IR, the Chargers are shorthanded along the defensive line. Morgan Fox, Breiden Fehoko, and Tyeler Davidson are going to see a ton of playing time the rest of the way.
Drue Tranquill had an unexpectedly slow night, going 4-1 despite the plus matchup, but there is nothing to see here in terms of snap count as he played 58 of a possible 61 snaps. What I saw was a linebacker getting hammered by offensive linemen because the Chargers’ defensive line was overmatched by an average, at best, Raiders line. That could be a reason for concern.
Los Angeles Rams
Michael Hoecht had played 15 snaps this year through week eleven. With all the Rams’ injuries, he has played 84% of the snaps over the last two games. Hoecht went 2-4 in week twelve, which is not bad at all for a lineman against the Chiefs. In week 13, he did his best Aaron Donald imitation, going 3-0-2 with a forced fumble versus Seattle. He is looking at another start this week when the Raiders come to town.
For anyone that is still not convinced that players excel against their former teams, I give you Bobby Wagner, who lit up Seattle for 5-2-2 and a pick, posting his highest fantasy total of the season by a wide margin.
Akayleb Evans broke into the starting lineup in week nine and put up double-digit points in his first two games before missing weeks 11 and 12 with a concussion. He returned Sunday and played long enough to record six tackles and break up a pass before leaving with another concussion. Evans will miss time and could be shut down. With Cameron Dantzler and Andrew Booth Jr already on IR, the Vikings will go with Duke Shelley opposite Patrick Peterson.
New England Patriots
It seems like every week, some New England defender puts up big numbers. In week 13, it was Josh Uche’s turn. He racked up the best numbers of his young career, going 6-1-2 with a forced fumble. The problem here is always the same in that Patriots defenders 9not named Kyle Dugger) rarely string together more than a couple of games. If Uche ever escapes New England, he could be special.
New Orleans Saints
Kaden Ellis cooled off but still put up a respectable eight combined tackles. Peter Werner should be back after the bye week. Put Ellis on your early watch list for next season.
Add Carl Granderson to that list as well. Cameron Jordan will be 34 in July and is a high-mileage player. Marcus Davenport has shown good signs but is both inconsistent and injury prone. Granderson is not a premier pass rusher but will contribute and is strong versus the run. I can easily envision a not-so-distant future that includes Granderson and Payton Turner in significant roles if not as the starters. Granderson is 12-9-2 with a turnover over the Saints’ last five games.
New York Giants
Leonard Williams was on a roll, averaging over 13.5 points over a four-game stretch leading up to week thirteen. He left with a neck injury at the end of the third quarter, leaving his availability for the big matchup with the Eagles, in question. If he can get back on the field, Williams has some great matchups the rest of the way with the Eagles, Washington, Vikings, and Colts on the schedule.
After a couple of good outings that included an increased role, Jaylon Smith crashed back to earth in what should have been a great matchup with the Commanders. Not only did he finish 2-3 in an overtime game that ended in a tie, but Smith’s snap count was also back under 75%. He has another plus matchup this week against the Eagles, followed by a rematch with the Commanders.
The Giants’ struggles at linebacker have been great for those of us rostering their safeties. Julian Love had yet another monster game, going 11-1 against Washington. Jason Pinnock’s numbers were not great at 2-2 with a pass breakup, but he is seeing the playing time. Pinnock worked on 93% of the snaps in week 13, despite some struggles the week before.
Nick McCloud stepped into the starting lineup at corner and has put together a couple of productive games. After going 7-1 against the Cowboys, McCloud totaled 6-2 with a pair of pass breakups against Washington.
New York Jets
Whatever is keeping Quincy Williams from posting good numbers is not a lack of playing time. He recorded a season-low of 2-1 against the Vikings, despite playing a season-high 85% of the snaps. With the Bills, Lions, Jaguars, and Seahawks left on the schedule, Williams could come to life but I think the quality play of everyone around him is a big part of the problem.
Carl Lawson heating up as a pass rusher. He now has three sacks in the last five games
Kyzir White left the week 13 game with an injury to his leg. That opened the door for rookie Nakobe Dean to finally get on the field. Dean made the tackle on his first play and went on to finish 5-1 on just 15 snaps. There has been no update from the team on White, so maybe the injury is not an issue. Keep an eye on the Eagles’ practice reports and move on Dean if White is going to miss time.
How good has the Eagles’ pass rush been? The team collected 6 sacks on 26 dropbacks. Josh Sweat has four sacks in the last four games and a couple of good matchups on the schedule over the next two weeks.
The Steelers’ defense is not itself this year, starting with T.J. Watt, who simply can’t be fully healthy. He has a sack and a half In five games, with just half a sack in four starts since returning from the injury. Then we have Myles Jack, who looked fairly good early in the season but not so much recently. We are now seeing that he might not be as good a fit in the scheme as we thought after the first few games. Jack’s recent struggles lead to Devin Bush playing the most snaps, 85% and 87% of the teams’ top-three inside linebackers over their last two games.
Could we see a change at safety over the next couple of weeks? Ryan Neal fading. His numbers have been down for a while now, and they were joined by his 73% snap share last week. The team claimed Jonathan Abram off waivers when the Packers let him go last week. He was a horrible fit for Green Bay. They need two players with free safety skill sets to fit their scheme. Abram is more of a physical, in-the-box intimidator in the mold of Jamal Adams. Abram lacks the big play ability of Adams but can be that kind of physical presence.
Last week I suggested sitting Cody Barton in what was not a great matchup. He ended up playing 89% of the snaps, but Barton’s tackle totals were not great at 4-3. Fortunately, for those that played him, Barton picked up an interception to boost his point total. He should be north of 80% of the snaps over the next two games and is a great option this week versus the Panthers.
San Francisco 49ers
While watching the stats roll in during the first half of the early games on Sunday, I was left wondering what happened to Fred Warner, who had no stats through three quarters. He showed up in the fourth quarter and bailed out IDP managers with three combined tackles, a pick, and a couple of passes defended. Warner played every defensive snap in the game and was simply the victim of circumstance for three quarters. He should fare much better going forward.
Shout out to our Matt Montgomery, who has been high on Dre Greenlaw since the beginning of the season. Greenlaw has double-digit points in eight of the eleven games he’s played, including the last four, and is coming off a season his 25-point outing on the strength of 7-1 fifth a pass defended and a fumble recovery for a score. With the Buccaneers, Seahawks, Commanders, and Raiders left on the schedule, he should give us four more solid games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After two months on the shelf, Logan Ryan was not just activated from IR on Monday, but he suited up and played every snap. While that is great news for the Buccaneers, it is not much help for us. Ryan went right back to the deep safety role that kept his numbers down in September.
Injuries are mounting for the Titans, who may be without inside backer David Long Jr for a bit. Long left with a hamstring and was replaced by Joe Schobert. Monty Rice took over the other ILB spot when Zach Cunningham went down but may not be considered a three-down option by the team. Having played full-time for most of his career, Schobert is likely in line for an every-down role against Jacksonville.
The team also lost starting corner Christian Fulton to a groin injury. He was replaced by Tre Avery, who went on to finish 6-1 with a pair of passes defended.
That does it for this week’s offering. Best of luck this week.
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