Well, in IDP league,s we're in it now.
And by "it," I mean trouble.
Said trouble isn't new. Injuries are just part of the NFL—and fantasy football along with it. But three weeks into the season, those injuries are piling up.
On the defensive line, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers suffered a "significant" groin injury that will sideline him for the foreseeable future. He may be joined on the sidelines by Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, whose status for Week 4 is uncertain after he rolled his Porsche driving home from practice.
Thankfully, he's okay.
At linebacker, we're still waiting for the first game action of the season from Shaquille Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, who sat out a third straight game despite practicing all week. He's joined on the shelf by a pair of IDP-relevant linebackers who suffered injuries last week—Quincy Williams of the New York Jets will be out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain, while Anthony Walker of the Cleveland Browns is done for the season after tearing a quad muscle.
In the secondary, it's that much worse. Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings missed Week 3 with a concussion. Jayron Kearse of the Dallas Cowboys was sidelined by a knee injury. And now Tracy Walker's season is over after the Detroit Lions safety tore his Achilles tendon.
It was a rough week to be a Walker.
Now, not all those players will miss Week 4 as well—Smith is expected to play after clearing the league's concussion protocol. But this is also not an exhaustive list. There is no shortage of IDP managers with holes in the lineup. Teams that need a one-week plug-and-play—preferably one with a favorable matchup.
If only there was an article dedicated to helping folks find guys like that.
DE Trevis Gipson, Chicago (at NY Giants)
With Khalil Mack gone, the Bears badly needed someone to step up at the second defensive end spot opposite Robert Quinn in the team's new 4-3 front. As Larry Mayer reported for the Bears' website, third-year pro Trevis Gipson entered the season confident that Chicago's aggressive new defense would allow him to do just that.
"It just allows me to rush, going forward instead of backward and just fighting the man in front of me and not having to worry about little receivers or slot backs," he said. "That helps a lot. Our coach teaches us a lot of different moves and counters and how to play off each other, so I feel like that's a part of my game that's taken a step."
Gipson has admittedly been a hit-or-miss IDP option, largely because he's only cleared 40 percent of the team's snaps once. He's also coming off a doughnut in last week's win over the Texans. But Gipson also has a four-tackle, two-sack effort to his credit in Week 2, and on Sunday, the Bears face a Giants team leading the NFC in sacks allowed.
DE Jerry Hughes, Houston (at LA Chargers)
Jerry Hughes has been around the block a few times. As a matter of fact, in terms of NFL seasons, Hughes has been around the block 13 times. It's been a while since Hughes made a big statistical impact—he hasn't logged five sacks in a season since 2018. But while the 34-year-old may have originally been signed more for veteran stability on a young defense, as longtime Texans beat writer Aaron Wilson wrote for Click2Houston.com, Hughes has exceeded expectations since joining the team.
“What do we like about Jerry? I would say everything,” Texans GM Nick Caserio said. “This guy has been a rock star since the day he arrived. There’s a reason why he’s made it this far. He’s very diligent. He’s very professional. He has good leadership. Players respect him. He can still perform I would say at a pretty good level. I mean, that’s the most important thing, because it’s about production. Jerry has done a great job. Jerry has been awesome to work with; he really has.”
Compliments of a pair of two-sack games to open the season, three games in, Jerry freaking Hughes is the highest-scoring defensive lineman in many IDP scoring systems. That isn't going to hold, but Hughes is playing what amounts to a full-time role and faces a Los Angeles Chargers team Sunday that just lost left tackle Rashawn Slater to a season-ending injury.
EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (at Cincinnati)
After being drafted 18th overall by the Dolphins last year, Phillips had a solid season for a first-year pass-rusher, logging 42 total tackles and 8.5 sacks while playing just 54 percent of Miami's defensive snaps. Those 8.5 sacks set a new franchise rookie record, but Phillips told Dante Collinelli of All Dolphins that his focus in 2022 was more on improving his technique and less on what numbers that led to.
“I try not to look at numbers too much because I think being result-oriented is just a recipe for disaster,” Phillips said. “If you have this idea in your head, anything less than that is going to throw you off. So I think my whole thing is really just trying to take it day to day and focus on my preparation and focus on my process so that at the end of the day, I think it all culminates. You usually get the results you want at the end of the day.”
It's a good thing Phillips isn't fixated on numbers because his have been awful—four total tackles and a fumble recovery over the first three games of the season. With that said, the snaps have been there—Phillips has hit 70 percent twice in three games. And a Week 3 matchup with a Bengals team that has allowed a league-high 15 sacks this year is a tailor-made slump-buster.
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