There is a little shakeup at the Cardinals’ inside linebacker positions. Nick Vigil left Sunday’s game after four plays with a hamstring injury. As a result, Isaiah Simmons saw his biggest workload since Week 1, logging 83% of the snaps. It’s an interesting note, but Carolina’s offense was stuck in neutral, running the ball only nine times and completing 22 passes, so it only amounted to three tackles for Simmons.
After missing some time in the Week 3 contest with a shoulder issue, Zaven Collins was back to 100% participation versus the Panthers. Considering the limited opportunity, his 6-2 was fairly impressive. If Vigil is out this week, Collins would be a solid start, and Simmons worthy of consideration against an Eagles offense that has been an excellent matchup for linebackers, corners, and safeties.
Zack Allen finally woke up, going 3-3-1 with 3 batted passes. It would be nice to see him provide some consistent production, but that’s not likely to happen. He was hit or miss last season, posting double-digit points in seven games and five or fewer points in five others.
A quick check in on the Falcons’ linebackers, Mykal Walker and Rashaan Evans are still playing every snap. Troy Anderson’s playing time seems to have leveled out at around ten snaps per game. I like both starters this week against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers ran the ball just six times in Week 4. You can bet they are going to focus on getting Leonard Fournette going against the Falcons. I like safety Richie Grant in this one as well.
The Ravens have traditionally been among the league’s better defenses, but they are struggling greatly this year, including a pass defense that ranks dead last after four games. That could mean changes are coming. Kyle Hamilton was the consensus number one safety in this year’s draft, yet he played fewer than 20 snaps for the second consecutive game. It is not a coincidence that also, for the second consecutive game, Marcus Williams put up pedestrian numbers. Unless they get back to more of the three-safety looks like we were seeing in the first two games, we are not likely to see any more of those monster games from Williams.
One move the Ravens made that could pay dividends was the signing of Jason Pierre-Paul. He very quickly went from the unemployment line to playing 86% of the snaps against Buffalo. A better pass rush would go a long way toward helping the pass defense. We’ll have to see how much Pierre-Paul still has in the tank. Most people see a juicy matchup with Cincinnati this week, but the Bengals have allowed just three total sacks over their consecutive wins.
Matt Milano finished 11-2 against Baltimore and has put up 18 or more points in two of the last three games. Don’t count on that kind of production from him on most weeks. He was 11-3in the tackle columns over the first three games, combined with an interception return touchdown providing most of his points in Week 2.
If you need some help at safety, take a look at Damar Hamlin. He replaced Micah Hyde versus Baltimore, going 7-1 on the day. The Steelers have been a horrible matchup for safeties so far, but that is likely to change with Kenny Pickett under center, especially if he keeps throwing to the wrong color as he did in Week 4.
The Panthers lost Jeremy Chinn to a hamstring injury on the first series against Arizona. Initially, I thought it was Sean Chandler taking over at the position. Upon further review, it looks like Myles Hartsfield is the guy to look at. He took the lead role with Chandler seeing an uptick in sub-package snaps. The team has not given an update, but it sounds like Chinn could miss some time.
If Donte Jackson is your guy, keep an eye on the practice reports later this week. He left the field with what looked like a possible hamstring problem, but I’ve seen nothing about it as of Tuesday night.
Managers in tackle-required leagues might want to take a look at Justin Jones. He has not blown up yet but is 9-8-1 over the last three games.
Robert Quinn was 0-1-0 against the Giants. Time to move on if you haven’t done so already.
Jessie Bates III had a bounce-back game but don’t count on it being the beginning of an upward trend. His production was a result of a Bengals game plan designed to keep Jalen Waddle and Tyreek Hill from getting deep. Cincinnati played a deep zone allowing the receivers to catch balls underneath in front of the safeties.
We are always searching for trends to exploit. This is one that not everyone will notice. Logan Wilson is the centerpiece of the Bengals’ defense and their only full-time linebacker, yet he is being outproduced in the box scores by the part-time guys. Germaine Pratt went 6-3 against Miami and is 15-7 with a pass defended in three games. In Week 3, Akeem Davis-Gaither went 9-4 in the same role versus the Jets when Pratt was out. The weakside linebacker plays about 70% of the snaps in Cincinnati’s scheme. Missing 30% of the action is going to limit Pratt’s upside, but we could do a lot worse for a third starter. I like him this week against Baltimore.
Trey Hendrickson followed up a huge Week 3 with a donut in Week 4. It is hard to tell if his sore shoulder was an issue.
Myles Garrett was ruled out well ahead of the Week 4 game as he recovers from shoulder and biceps injuries suffered in his car accident, but there is optimism he can return in Week 5. That said, Garrett could be bothered by the shoulder for a while.
As expected, Jacob Phillips took over the middle linebacker position and played every snap in Week 4. His numbers were not great but he managed to lead the team in solo stops with a very respectable 6-1, despite the less than stellar matchup with Atlanta.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koranoah maintained the same role he’s had all season, going 4-3 on a 78% play-share.
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