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There must be a fountain of youth in Arizona. J.J. Watt’s numbers in Week 15 were a flashback to the early part of his career. At 4-1-3 with a forced fumble and a batted pass, he was the fantasy games’ top-producing defensive lineman for the week. This week’s matchup with the Buccaneers is not exactly favorable, but the way Watt has been playing since week eight, he is worthy of a start against anyone.
We knew it was coming. The Falcons were going to turn their attention to the future at some point. When they announced Desmond Ridder as the starting quarterback well ahead of last week’s game, we knew the time had come for them to turn the page, not just at quarterback but at linebacker as well. Troy Andersen moved past Mykal Walker on the depth chart, logging 45 snaps to Walker’s 13.
Andersen’s numbers were somewhat modest at 5-2, but then the Saints are not exactly a great matchup these days. Unfortunately, neither are the Ravens without Lamar Jackson nor the Cardinals with Trace McSorley under center. That said, Andersen should put up respectable totals against both of those opponents over the next two weeks.
Kyle Hamilton has arrived in terms of stat sheet production. His 6-1-1 with a pass breakup looks like starters' numbers, especially after he played 97% of the snaps in Week 14. The problem is that he, once again, was back below 60% snap count in Week 15. Granted, there are no bonus points for playing time, and Hamilton has been producing even with limited snaps, but it is hard not to get nervous about linebackers and safeties that are not on the field close to full-time.
Marcus Peters (calf) and Calais Campbell (knee) were both casualties of Week 15, and their status for this week’s game is in question as of Tuesday evening. Brandon Stephens would get the start at corner, while Campbell’s playing time would be absorbed by everyone else in the rotation up front.
C.J. Henderson played four snaps against the Steelers before leaving with an ankle injury. Keith Taylor stepped in and went 6-2 at the position. This week’s matchup with the Lions should help Taylor to another solid outing in the tackle columns, but Detroit does not give up a lot of big plays.
Jeremy Chinn is coming off a career-high eleven solo tackles and the second-highest fantasy point total of his career at 20.25. That will have him in the lineups of nearly every manager that has the option this week. Be aware, however, that the Lions are not a good matchup for safeties. Since week eight, all of the safeties they have faced (starters and backups) have combined for eight tackles and four assists per game on average, with zeros across all the big play columns.
When the Bears traded Roquan Smith, Jack Sanborn was their backup plan. There was no backup plan when Sanborn landed on IR this week with an ankle injury. There is a good backup plan for IDP managers, though. Joe Thomas came on to replace Sanborn and was productive, going 3-3-1. Chicago likes to keep both inside linebackers on the field, and Thomas could have some value. But it was Nicholas Morrow who stepped into the lead role, going 9-2 versus the Eagles. He should turn in good numbers again in Week 16 when the Bears face Buffalo.
The Bengals could be without Sam Hubbard (calf) and Trey Hendrickson (wrist) for the next few games, but don’t expect a big letdown by the defense. Cameron Sample and Joseph Assai are both good young players that would likely start for a lot of teams. Sample is comparable to Hubbard, capable on all three downs but more of a run defender that can rush the passer than a pure pass rusher. Assai is somewhat of a Hendrickson clone in that he is a pass rusher first but capable of playing early downs as well. Either or both have the potential to put up good numbers this week against the Patriots.
Cam Taylor-Britt posted a disappointing 2-1 versus the Buccaneers. Part of that was due to a shoulder injury ending his day early, but he played well into the second half, so the numbers were not good even before the injury. So what happened? It looked like Tom Brady and the Buccaneers saw Eli Apple as the weak link corner, despite Cincinnati having a pair of rookies at the third level for much of the game. Apple was thrown at often and finished at 5-2 with a pair of pass breakups.
The other rookie on the back end was Daxton Hill, who went 5-3 while replacing an inactive Mike Hilton as the slot/nickel corner.
And that’s why we never trust the Browns’ linebackers. Deion Jones played 97% of the snaps, but you would not know it by looking at the stat sheet. At least he picked up a sack and a pass breakup to supplement his weak 2-1 in the tackle columns. To be fair, the Ravens’ offense was ugly in this game, so his opportunity was relatively limited. Other than the 97% play share, it’s hard to get excited about the numbers or this week’s matchup with the Saints. Jones could be a solid play for us against the Commanders in Week 17, though. Tony Fields (46%) and Jordan Kunaszyk (48%) shared the rest of the linebacker snaps against Baltimore.
John Johnson was having a great game before leaving with a thigh injury. He was replaced by Ronnie Harrison, who would get the start if Johnson is out this week.
Jadaveon Clowney suffered a concussion right before the half and is not practicing early in the week.
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