The 2022 fantasy football season is flying by. In fact, in most IDP leagues, the regular season is already halfway over. And that means many different things fir different fantasy managers.
Sure, there are managers who have teams that are just cruising along. They have watched Las Vegas Raiders edge-rusher Maxx Crosby pile up sacks and tackles. Regaled as Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith amassed stops and big plays with equal vigor. Done a little happy dance as safeties Donovan Wilson of the Dallas Cowboys and Talanoa Hufanga of the San Francisco 49ers went from late-round dart-throws or waiver adds to top-five fantasy options. They are 5-2, 6-1, or even 7-0, and all is well and good in the world.
There's a word for those people, but I can't print it here. Footballguys is a family site, after all.
For those fortunate fantasy managers, a loss in Week 8 is but a bump in the road. A temporary setback on the road to fantasy glory. This isn't to say they aren't trying to win. Only that there is less pressure if they don't.
However, for a lot of fantasy managers, that pressure is already ramping up by the week. They have waited in vain for Chicago Bears edge-rusher Robert Quinn to get it in gear. They have lamented a slow start from Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. Wondered if Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker will start producing like the elite defensive back he was drafted to be. With a bit of good fortune, they have been able to keep their team just above .500. Without it, they are 3-4 or worse and in danger of having the season get away from them.
Of course, underperforming players aren't the only issue those teams face. Wilson missed last week's win over Atlanta with a shoulder injury. Houston Texans edge-rusher Jonathan Greenard just landed on short-term IR. Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard has more name changes than big games this year. Never mind the byes that in Week 8 claim the likes of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James.
Frankly, how the holes in the lineup get there isn't as important as filling them. Finding an option to patch the gap created by injuries, byes or duds. Getting the fantasy points than can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
And that's where Living the Stream comes in.
DE Denico Autry, Tennessee (at Houston)
When the conversation turns to the best 3-4 ends in the league, the usual suspects come up, Cameron Heyward of the Steelers. Leonard Williams of the Giants. Calais Campbell of the Ravens and J.J. Watt of the Cardinals, even if they aren't the force they once were. Denico Autry doesn't get the accolades he deserves as a legit member of that club, but teammate Jeffery Simmons told ESPN's Turron Davenport that he's thankful to have Autry lining up next to him.
"I appreciate the Colts for letting him walk because it was a great pickup for us," Simmons said. "Me and Denico, we push each other. When he gets that 1-on-1, I can depend on him to win it and it makes it hard for teams to keep trying to double-team me."
It has happened without much fanfare, but after logging three tackles and a sack against the Colts last week, Autry is a top-10 defensive end in many scoring systems. The 32-year-old has now logged a sack in three straight games. And he is averaging more fantasy points per game than any of those other 3-4 ends I mentioned. With another plus matchup coming against the Texans, if you followed my advice and picked Autry up last week, it's ride-the-hot-hand time.
DE Rasheem Green, Houston (vs. Tennessee)
The Houston Texans have tried a little bit of everything on the defensive front this year, from young up-and-comers (Jonathan Greenard) to aging stars (Jerry Hughes) and journeyman veterans (Rasheem Green). Per the team's website, Green said that he believes the circuitous path he has taken to being a starter this year was actually something of a blessing in disguise.
"One of the biggest things I've learned from the guys I've played with and from being out there, being around a bunch of different coaches, I feel like the game is more mental than it is physical, for the most part," Green said. "For me personally, it's out there. It's not about the physical part. It's all mental, the preparation going into the week. I feel like that's the biggest difference for me."
After logging two tackles and a sack in last week's loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, Green has quietly posted at least half a sack in four of Houston's six games this season. In two of those games, Green also eclipsed five tackles. And this Sunday, the Texans will play host to a Tennessee Titans team that has had its fair share of issues protecting Ryan Tannehill.
DE Chandler Jones, Las Vegas (at New Orleans)
I haven't even written this recommendation yet, and I already regret it.
Jones was supposed to be an impact addition for the Raiders after racking up 10.5 sacks last year in Arizona and 71.5 over six seasons with the Cardinals. Instead, he's been all but invisible on the stat sheet—just half a sack in six games. Still, as Bill Williamson wrote for Silver and Black Pride, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels said that Jones has made an impact defensively that goes beyond sacks.
“He’s making a lot of plays that don’t show up in the stats. And that’s probably going to be not good enough for everybody to listen to, but he’s making plays in the running game. He drew multiple holding penalties yesterday,” McDaniels said. “I mean, there is ways to produce, and there is a way to impact the game beyond just the one column that everybody’s looking for. We didn’t always get the sack or the TFL, but we created it for somebody else to have it.”
That Jones has been an IDP disappointment this season is an understatement. But even if you believe that the 32-year is well past his prime and was a bad signing, it still doesn't change the fact that's due to get home. Past due, actually. And with a top-10 IDP matchup against a Saints team that has surrendered 15 sacks this season next up, Week 8 is as good a time as any.
Continue reading this content with a ELITE subscription.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, ESPN