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Some players have settled into steady consistent roles as we head into Week 4. Other players, however, are showing us that their week-to-week roles are going to be based on matchups and game plans. Many of those players are going to be anything but steady and consistent but if we can figure out when to play them, they can help us win games. We are also starting to see some changing landscapes due to injuries. The war of attrition is on!
Zaven Collins was rather quiet at 4-0, but I would advise continued patience. He was a bigger factor on the field and came within a sniff of some big plays, including a sack. One major contributor to his low numbers in Week 3 was a shoulder injury that kept him on the sideline for a bit and limited Collins to a 73% snap share. The injury is not believed to be serious and shouldn’t cause any missed time, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
J.J. Watt’s stock is looking up after recording sacks in back-to-back games. There is nothing to get too excited about here, but he has at least earned watch list status.
Think twice about starting your Arizona defenders this week. Carolina has been a poor matchup across the board. Opponents are averaging 30 solo tackles and 20 assists versus the Panthers to date. Pass rushers are making a little noise in the sack columns but the only defensive lineman to post more than two solo tackles against them was Myles Garrett in Week 1.
Nothing is imminent, but Troy Anderson continues to see his workload increase. He went from no snaps in Week 1, to nine in Week 2 and recorded three tackles on 19 plays in game three. Looking at the snap totals, it’s hard to figure out where he is working on those plays. Rashaan Evans (9-3 and 2 passes defended) and Mykal Walker (8-1 PD) played every snap in Week 3. I’ll take a longer look at this situation late in the week when time allows. For now, keep Anderson on your watch list.
Richie Grant put up 12 fantasy points in Week 1 and got on the watch list. His 3-3 in Week 2 was not enough to keep our attention but a near 20-point game in Week 3, which included six solo stops and a pick, is enough to land him on a lot of waiver lists. Part of the skepticism with Grant stems from the lack of production by Atlanta safeties in recent years. This is a completely different defense, so don’t overlook him.
Josh Bynes played part-time and did virtually nothing in the first two games, so his 8-2 with a pick in Week 3 was a shocker. Bynes’ snap total jumped to 71% but still fell well short of full-time. This is a player that is an adequate IDP option when he has an every-down role. Don’t put any weight on his Week 3 numbers until/unless he does it again this week.
Baltimore can’t seem to keep anyone healthy at the edge position. Justin Houston (groin) joined David Ojabo, Steven Means, Vince Biegel, and Tyus Bowser on the list of injured pass rushers. Reinforcements are on the way this week with the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul was relatively ineffective while with the Buccaneers last year so this move likely has limited IDP significance.
Marcus Williams came back to earth in Week 3 with a respectable five combined tackles and a pass breakup. This is nothing to panic about if you are one of the managers that snapped him up in the first two weeks, but there might be a little trouble in paradise. What made his so box score friendly over the first two games was moving up in big-nickel sets with Kyle Hamilton playing deep safety on about half the snaps. In Week 3, Baltimore showed considerably less of that look with Hamilton logging just 16 snaps. At this point, it is hard to tell if that was simply matchup-driven or a scheme change.
The Bills’ secondary has become a M.A.S.H. unit. Micah Hyde is done for the season with a neck injury, and Jordan Poyer is nursing a foot injury that kept him out versus Miami. Along with all the injuries at corner, Buffalo started Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamilton at safety, with Taron Johnson, rookie Kaiir Elam, and Christian Benford filling out the secondary. With Benford suffering a hand injury versus Miami, they will have to dig even deeper this week. Poyer is said to be progressing but is far from certain to be available against the Ravens, who are a solid matchup for safeties. If Poyer is out, Jaquan Johnson is his likely replacement.
Tremaine Edmunds put up a season-low mark of 3-2 versus Miami, but there is nothing to see here. The Dolphins’ offense sputtered, at least in the running game that produced 32 yards on 15 runs.
Is the mass rotation at defensive end over in Buffalo? Gregory Rousseau logged 63% of the snaps while Von Miller got 74% in Week 3. No one else played more than 12 snaps. This game had a strange flow indeed, so we should not put too much weight on what we saw here.
The Cardinals are a great matchup for corners with opponents averaging 15.3 solo stops, 2.3 assists, and 3.3 passes defended. If you want to take advantage of this, you will likely have to pick up someone besides Donte Jackson to do it. Jackson left the Week 3 game with a neck injury and his availability is in doubt early in the week. Jaycee Horn and C.J. Henderson are the likely starters, with Myles Hartsfield the expected nickel.
A lot of managers were disappointed with Jeremy Chinn after two games. He bounced back strongly in Week 3, going 6-2-1 with a pair of pass breakups while Xavier Woods all but took the game off. Keep in mind that Chinn also started brutally slowly last year but was a top-12 DB down the stretch. With him and Woods working as interchangeable parts, we are likely going to see more swings like this as the year goes on.
Yetur Gross-Matos is not getting it done. Time to move on if you haven’t already.
It was Roquan Smith’s turn to shine in Week 3. He went 6-10-0 with a pick versus Houston while Nicholas Morrow took the back seat at 3-3. Nothing changed here as both players were on the field full-time. Smith probably comes out ahead between these two on most weeks, but Morrow will get his share.
Eddie Jackson is known as a playmaker, but he usually doesn’t post great tackle totals. With 21 combined tackles and 3turnovers already, he is on pace to set a new career mark in both areas. putting up big numbers
Jermaine Pratt missed Week 3 with a sore knee and is no sure thing to return this week. Akeem Davis-Gaither took his place against the Jets and lit up the stat sheet with nine tackles and four assists despite a 69% snap share. This tells us that if he gets a chance to play full-time at some point, Davis-Gaither has the potential to be highly productive. That said, Pratt will not be out for long, so don’t get caught up in chasing numbers.
D.J. Reader is not out for the season but will miss some time with a knee injury suffered against the Jets. Josh Tupou is the next man up, but this should mean more playing time for rookie Zachary Carter as well. knee injury. More Zachary Carter or Josh Tupou? Reader was hurt relatively early in the game, yet Tupou saw only a slight increase in snap share while Carter’s playing time more than doubled in the game. The bottom line here is to keep an eye on Carter.
Trey Hendrickson had a breakout game with three sacks but be aware that he is dealing with a shoulder issue. He left Sunday’s game for a while but was able to return. Watch for his Week 4 status.
No one likes to see players get hurt, but sometimes there is a silver lining in that it gives others an opportunity. Jacob Phillips was already being worked in on a limited basis, but the season-ending quad injury suffered by Anthony Walker makes Phillips the Browns’ middle linebacker the rest of the way. With Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (groin) also going down, Phillips is in line for an every-down role as well. This is not Phillips’ first opportunity. He was a starter for a brief time in 2021 before suffering an injury that set him back a season. At the very least, he is going to get a long hard look with a major role. The sheer volume of opportunities should make him a solid fantasy option.
As I write this, there have been no details released on the condition of Myles Garrett after his car crash. As of early Wednesday, all we know is he suffered non-life threatening injuries and has been released from the hospital. The Browns are already paper thin at defensive end. If Garrett misses time, Alex Wright and Isaac Rochell will be the starters. If Garrett is your guy, have a plan B just in case. due to injuries,
Two Cowboys filled the stat sheet on Monday night but it was not the two most of us expected. Donovan Wilson exploded for 9-2-1 and a pass breakup, while Demarcus Lawrence was 6-0-3 on the night. This might be the best game of Wilson’s season if not his career, but the guy is going to be a solid fantasy option as long as he is not sharing the job with Jayron Kearse. Kearse did not practice last week but is expected back at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Demarcus Lawrence is an excellent three-down end but there is no doubt that his huge game had a lot to do with Micah Parsons. Parsons was virtually unstoppable in the first two games. The Giants decided he would not beat them. The entire pass-blocking scheme was geared toward keeping Parsons off Daniel Jones. That left both Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong with single blocking on a lot of plays. This is not going to be the last time we see this. Armstrong officially finished 1-0-1 but lost another sack to a penalty. Lawrence will not be available in many leagues, but Armstrong probably is.
The other side of the coin was Parsons at 0-1-0 and Leighton Vander Esch at 0-3-0. Parson was shut down by the Giants’ game plan. The good news is that others accounted for five sacks, so what New York did was unsuccessful. Parsons will be fine.
Sometimes I have to wonder if the stat crew watches the same game the rest of us do. Vander Esch did not make a lot of plays, but he had more than three assists. He was around the ball a lot and was on the field close to 85% of the snaps. Chalk the bad game up to the strange bounces of football, and don’t be afraid to plug him in again this week.
For managers in tackle-required formats, D.J. Jones is a factor on most weeks. That was not the case in Week 3. He batted a pass on the first series and was not seen again in the statistics. Jones entered the game with a sore ankle but left it due to a concussion. If he is your guy, follow the practice reports and see if he can get back on the field later in the week.
Josey Jewell made a splash in his season debut, going 5-4-1 with a fumble recovery on 95% of the snaps. Jewell is a solid if unspectacular player that will be a decent IDP option on most weeks. The ripple effect of his return is that Alex Singleton returns to the bench. For anyone holding onto hope with Jonas Griffith, give it up and move on. He is going to be stuck in the part-time role for the foreseeable future.
Baron Browning was seeing time as the third man at the edge position. He went down with what looked like a knee injury. Nick Bonitto took his snaps the rest of the game.
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